Mumbai: Indian hockey stars Rupinder Pal Singh and PR Sreejesh believe that the Pakistan hockey team should visit India to play tournaments whenever possible.
Relations between the two arch-rivals have been strained over the last couple of months, due to increasing tensions along the border.
The bad-blood between the two countries also seems to have spilt into the world of sports. Earlier this year, Pakistan were barred from participating in the Kabaddi World Cup, which took place in Ahmedabad.
Also, with the Junior Hockey World Cup set to kick off on Thursday, December 8, it is not yet clear whether Pakistan will participate in the tournament.
India’s star drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh and skipper PR Sreejesh, who were both in Mumbai a Hockey India League (HIL) shoot, believe that Pakistan should tour India, despite the political differences.
“As a sportsperson, I feel that you should always play in events whenever you get the chance,” said Rupinder, while speaking with Deccan Chronicle. “But these are safety issues, so the situation is different.”
When asked about India’s recent victory against Pakistan, in the final of the Asian Champions Trophy the 26-year-old said that playing against Pakistan is always special.
“It's always a different feeling when you play, and especially win against Pakistan,” he said. “Our matches against them are also totally different (from the other games).”
Rupinder, who ended the tournament as its highest scorer with 11 goals, also went on to state that on a stage as big as a cup final, winning the medal always takes precedence over winning against the arch-rivals.
“But at the end of the day, what counts is the number of medals you win. So that was a good feeling for us, to win gold at the Asian Champions Trophy,” he said.
India skipper and PR Sreejesh also said he believes that Pakistan should travel to India, and went on to say that it would not be unsafe for the Pakistani hockey team to travel across the border.
“That is their issue, but if you look at it security wise, India is not a bad place to be,” Said Sreejesh, when DC caught up with him in Mumbai. “But it's up to the ministry and the association, and they are the best people to take the decision on that.”
The India goalkeeper-captain says that once the match is over, there is friendly banter between the Indian and the Pakistani players.
“Before the tournament it's always different,” said Sreejesh. “We would always share a smile (even before the match), but after the game it's much lighter. We meet at the dining table, and share a coffee together.
“Obviously they are representing their country, and are there to win the match. But the issues happening outside the field gives a different picture of the game,” said the 28-year-old....