Nilakanta eyes senior show

Hockey player upbeat

By Robert Sapam in Imphal
  • Published 6.01.17
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Nilakanta Sharma (centre), Kothajit Singh (right) and Chinglensana Singh in Imphal on Wednesday. Telegraph picture

Imphal, Jan. 5: Junior hockey World Cupper Shanglakpam Nilakanta Sharma has set his sights on the senior level in the coming days.

This was stated by the midfielder himself, who was feted by Manipur hockey authorities, along with other international players, at Singjamei in Imphal West on Wednesday for their achievements. Nilakanta was in the winning team that defeated Belgium 2-1 in the final of the Junior Hockey World Cup in Lucknow recently.

Nilakanta, a resident of Kontha Ahallup Makha Leikai in Imphal East, took to hockey in 2003 and started playing for Posterior Hockey Academy, Manipur, and later got the chance to attend the national camp after enlisting himself with Bhopal Hockey Academy in 2011. He got international exposure in 2014. He features in the Hockey India League in Dabang Mumbai colours, his fourth season with the team.

"I have benefited beyond expectation from our Aussie trainer Cody Tribe. He understands my physical attributes and whatever I have learnt from conditioning and training, I owe 50 per cent of my success to him. But my focus will be to try for the senior team, which is my dream and I hope to achieve it some day," Nilakanta said.

Manipur Hockey president and Olympian Ksh Thoiba Singh said: "We should invest in preparing more worthy players than ourselves. We need to focus hard for the development of hockey not only in the state but also in the country." The Olympian feels that the government should also encourage the juniors with incentives.

Apart from the lone hockey astroturf at Khuman Lampak, Singh feels that early completion of a turf at SAI NERC Complex at Takyel will hugely benefit in grooming more players.

Apart from Singh, Indian senior team regular and Olympian Kh. Kothajit Singh, Olympian Ch. Chinglensana and other internationals, including K. Ibungo Singh, M. Rabichandra Singh and Th. Suman Devi, hail from Manipur.