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First India cap most memorable: Raja

Vadipatti Raja, a former Indian hockey player, fell in love with the sport during his tender years in Vadipatti. He has plied his trade in various top division leagues in countries such as Australia, Germany, Holland, Malaysia and the Philippines.

First India cap most memorable: Raja
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Vadipatti Raja

Chennai

Vadipatti Raja was also the captain of the Indian men’s team during the South Asian Games last year. During the valedictory function of a summer camp organised by Vadipatti Raja Hockey Academy (VRHA), he spoke to DTNext regarding on a variety of topics. 

Excerpts: 

Who inspired you to take up the sport of Hockey? I was inspired by the likes of Dhanraj Pillay, Dhyan Chand and Prabhakaran for the dedication they had towards the sport. 

You have played in various top division leagues around the world. Did you face any language barriers while competing in those? I faced a lot of criticism during the early stages of my career. During those situations, basic hockey terms and hand signals helped me in communicating with my team mates. It was my will power which made me fight all odds.

Were there any differences in technology and support staff? Those leagues have separate coaches appointed for each department. More importance was laid on meditation, fitness and nutrition. In India, the tactics were discussed only in terms of presentations whereas in countries like Australia, Germany and Holland, we had a separate video/performance analyst who provided the much-needed inputs. We (India) will also have to go a long way in terms of providing world class equipment to the current players.

Which was the proudest moment of your career? I felt on top of the world when I received the first cap for the Indian national team.

With a relatively short international career when compared to other hockey players, which are the moments that stay close to your heart? I was privileged enough to receive the ‘Best Hockey Player of Asia’ award. Captaining the Indian national hockey team for the South Asian Games in 2007 was another memorable experience. I also had a few decent outings during the Champions Trophy in 2005, Under-18 World Cup and India vs France Test series.

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