P R Sreejesh; A gift to Indian Hockey from God’s Own Country

By Playspots Feb 7, 2022

Paarattu Raveendran Sreejesh started to concentrate on goalkeeping in hockey at the age of 12 when his coaches- Jayakumar and Ramesh Kolappa of G V Raja Sports Thiruvananthapuram suggested him to make such a move after watching him play. There starts Sreejesh’s long career in hockey as a professional player. Sreejesh throws back and says “that marked my turning point where I could end up playing Nehru Cup and later on to the national junior team in 2004.”

Being a kid who was brought and raised in a remote village Kizhakambalam, Ernakulam, Sreejesh had his own challenges to move forward, yet the sportsmanship in him was much vibrant. Back in 2008, he made his debut in the senior national team at the South Asian Games in Colombo. Following in 2008 Junior Asian Cup, he was awarded as the best goalkeeper, and that marks to be one of the major early achievements of this veteran.

Sreejesh was unstoppable thereafter. India bagged Gold in Asian Champion’s Trophy held in Ordos City in 2011 and Silver in 2012’s game held at Doha; there he turned to be a marquee player with his saves and possession. 2014’s Asian Games held in Incheon, South Korea should be resonated as India’s Gold would have been a hard nut to crack if Sreejesh was not present there at the goal post with his stunning saves and defense. Moments are countless where Sree proved himself to be ‘The Great Wall of Indian Hockey team’. When legendary midfielder Sardar Singh has stepped down the captaincy of the Indian Hockey team, P R Sreejesh was the best choice right infront of Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) to lead the team unanimously. Under his leniency, India bagged silver in the 2016 Champions Trophy held in Australia. 2016 Olympics in Rio too was a remarkable event for Sreejesh as he led the team into Quarter Finals where India lost to Belgium by two goals. But the reverberation of the team was quite surprising in Tokyo 2020. After the medal drought of long 41 years, Indian hockey team bagged the historical bronze at Tokyo 2020 Olympics under the captaincy of Kizhakambalam’s own P R Sreejesh. Right after the match, Sree tweeted “Let me smile now.”

Sree was awarded Arjuna Award for Hockey in 2015. In 2017 Sreejesh was honored by Padma Sree and the highest sporting honor of India- Khel Ratna back in 2021. Another historical moment that hit Sreejesh in 2022 was that he has been elected to be the first-ever Indian sportsperson to win the most renowned World Athlete Award organized by World Athletics. Officials state “The veteran goalkeeper was an integral part of the bronze medal-winning Indian hockey team at the Tokyo Olympics.”; after announcing his name.

33-year-old Sreejesh is all focused on his 2022’s hectic schedule targeting to play yet another beautiful games before waiving off from the field. Sreejesh is currently employed as Chief Sports Organiser with the Government of Kerala’s Department of General and Higher Education. His native Kizhakambalam often remembers this veteran as they even named a road after his name as “Olympian Sreejesh road” connecting his house.