Brasa talks up Siva’s chances

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S. Sivamani is one of the promising young hockey players in Tamil Nadu. What makes the 21-year-old stand out is his fierce drive.

The ultimate aim of many players in his age group is to secure a well-paying job with government and public sector units.

But Sivamani has loftier ambitions. “A desire to play for India is my driving force. I believe that I have the talent to achieve that goal,” he said.

Sivamani, who appears for Indian Bank as ‘guest’ in domestic tournaments, has got a great opportunity to prove his credentials to a wider audience.

Chennai Cheetahs have roped in the midfielder for the inaugural edition of the eight-team World Series Hockey, starting from February 29. Sivamani is one of the youngest players in the Cheetahs’ squad.

“I’m thrilled about my participation in the WSH. I hope the tournament will be a turning point in my career. I’m ready to step up to the plate,” he said with a confidence that is the hallmark of champions.

Cheetahs coach Jose Brasa, who was at the helm of the Spanish women’s team when they won the Olympic gold in 1992, said Sivamani would be his trump card.

“This boy is going to be my secret weapon. He has what it takes to excel in the big league. I’m seeing improvement in his game every day. Siva has a bright future,” he added.

Sivamani said he is learning a new lesson in practice every day. “My apprehensions on how I would be treated by international stars in the Cheetahs’ roster were dispelled in the first training session itself.

Our captain, Brent Livermore, is such a down to earth person that it is difficult to believe that he was a member of Australia’s gold-medal winning team at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Brent never hesitates to share his experience with me.

He is impressed with my prowess in reverse hit,” he added.

Growing up in Madurai, Sivamani played tennis, at the insistence of his father, initially before he switched his attention to India’s national game.

“Those who watched me play hockey told my father that I was cut out for the game. I also knew instantly that hockey was my calling,” he said.

A stint with Sports Authority of India (Chennai) gave the linkman a lot of opportunities to brush shoulders with the big boys of city hockey.

“I also gained invaluable experience by playing in the Bengaluru super division, which has many top teams such as Army, BPCL and IOC, as a member of SAI’s centre of excellence team. Now I can’t wait for Chennai Cheetahs’ first match in the WSH,” the skilful player said.

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