Goalympics: Olympic Hockey Bronze and Golden Goaly Sreejesh

Olympic Bronze, Tokyo 2020: Indian Men’s Hockey Team. Credit: NDTV

India is jumping with joy after winning an Olympic Bronze in the Men’s Hockey, Tokyo 2020. Hurrah for the Indian Men’s Hockey team that ended the 40 year drought in Olympics since 1980. Last time the Men’s Hockey Team won the GOLD in the Moscow Olympics, 1980. A shout out to the Women’s Hockey Team that entered the Olympic Semi-finals, a first ever! Salute to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who had the far sightedness to sponsor both Men and Women’s Hockey Teams after Sahara pulled out! The media is filled with stories of how these young men and women, largely from humble backgrounds, made it to the top by sheer grit and support of their family and friends.

Of the men’s team one player who stood out for me was the Goalkeeper of rhe Men’s Team, Sreejesh! The women’s team Goalkeeper, Savita Punia, was no less. While Sreejesh saved the final Penalty shot in the 5-4 Olympic victory against Germany, Savita saved NINE shots, seven of which were Penalty Corner shots, against Australia to get India into the semi-final for the first time. I do not normally watch hockey or football games. Actually I hardly watch any game except cricket, mainly as my husband is glued to it!! Used to watch Wimbledon semi and finals closely, but no more! While watching football or hockey in high prifile games, it is the Penalty corner shot that I feel is grossly unfair. My heart goes out to that lone Goaly on whom the entire team and, in this case the country, depends.

Three cheers to the Goal Keepers Sreejesh and Savita! Amul joins in cheering them on.

The media was in super hype mode after the historic win. We listened to an interview with Sreejesh and other players with Rajdeep Sardesai. Sreejesh came out as simple, so were the others, and with a sense of humour. As he explained, being a goaly is a lonely job so he has made friends with the goal post and has a conversation with it. I loved the idea as I have a conversation with our stray adopted cat Percival! When the ball hits the goal post and saves a goal, he says ‘Thank you buddy’ to the goal post! Sreejesh’s antics after he saved the last goal and won the Bronze for India was very amusing and described by Mihir Vasavada in Indian Express, August 5, 2021.

I quote, “The goalkeeper P. R. Sreejesh sprinted twards the far corner of the field, slid on his knees, pumped his fists and roared at the empty stands. He jogged back, paid an emotional tribute by lying on the ground with folded hands in front of the goal mouth. Somehow found his way to the top of the goal post, made funny faces and laughed hysterically!” How cute is that! I was unable to find a video of his antcis, but the newpapaer had this photo of him atop the goal post!

Goal Keeper Sreejesh atop of the goal post after the amazing Olympic victory. Indian Express, August 6, 2021.

As the media declared, this Bronze was GOLD to India and the amazing Hockey Team. India Team celebrating the Golden Moment of the win, Sreejesh, No. 16 in Yellow T-shirt!!

Wishing our Men’s and Women’s Hockey Teams more glory in the future! Wishing the Hockey Teams and India more such Golden Moments!

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