On Thursday, the Indian Men’s Hockey Team won the historic bronze medal in the Field Hockey event of the Tokyo Olympics after defeating Germany 5-4 in the Bronze medal play-off. The Indian men’s hockey team secured their first Olympics medal in 41 years.
One of the major reasons for the remarkable performance of the Indian Hockey Team in the Tokyo Olympics is the spectacular display of leadership and skills by Indian goalkeeper Parattu Raveendran Sreejesh, who not only made brilliant saves to deny goals for the opposite side but also inspired the young players in the squad.
Several netizens took to social media to hail the Indian goalkeeper for his performance and leadership. Some users, however, remembered an unpleasant incident 8 years ago, when this talented player of the Indian hockey team was confronted by a bunch of hyper-aggressive Shiv Sena workers who had called him a ‘Pakistani’.
Reportedly, PR Sreejesh – fondly known as “the wall” of the Indian Hockey team, was once confronted by the Shiv Sainiks during a tournament in Mumbai who had stormed into a stadium and even inside teh players’ dressing room, desperate to find some Pakistani players.
In January 2013, ahead of a Hockey India League match in Mumbai, the Shiv Sena workers had confronted the Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh over a suspicion that he was a Pakistani player. The Shiv Sena workers had organized a protest in January 2013 outside Mumbai Hockey Association’s stadium against the participation of four Pakistani players in a scheduled practice session of the ‘Mumbai Marines’ team.
The Shiv Sena players had entered the stadium searching for Pakistani players, who had arrived in the city a few days before the tournament in Mumbai. Sreejesh, who was part of the team, was present at the stadium when Shiv Sainiks had stormed into the ground.
As per reports, The Shiv Sainiks had created a ruckus at the stadium and had demanded to enter the players’ dressing room.
A Shiv Sena worker confronted PR Sreejesh, asking, “Are you Pakistani?” leaving the Indian goalkeeper shocked.
The former Indian captain quickly gave a stern response to the Shiv Sainiks, saying, “Yaar apne India ke players ko to pehchante nahin ho, Pakistani players ko kaise pehchanoge? (You cannot even recognize players from India, how will you recognize Pakistani players?)
Apparently, Mumbai Magicians, a franchise of Hockey India League, had signed up Pakistani players Mahmood Rashid, Fareed Ahmed, Muhammad Tousiq and Imran Butt for the tournament. However, the signing of Pakistani players did not go well with the Shiv Sena workers, who protested outside the stadium. As a result, the Pakistani players had to be vacated from the ground for security reasons.