India Colts defender Suman Beck on Thursday said hockey stalwarts from Odisha like Lazarus Barla, Roshan Minz and Prabodh Tirkey are "huge inspiration" for youngsters in the tribal region of the state.
Beck got inspired by these legends and picked up the sport to emulate their success.
"I was really influenced by Lazarus Barla, Roshan Minz, Prabodh Tirkey who would always give sound advice whenever they visited us in the sports hostel. They always said, 'hockey will give you a new life if you stay focused and committed to being the best'. I had also heard so much about Dilip Tirkey, his achievements and early struggle. Though I have met him, I am very inspired by his story," Beck said in a statement.
"I really want to be like these stalwarts and emulate their success. They are a huge inspiration in our region and now the onus is on us to bring laurels to the region," he added.
Odisha has produced scores of international hockey players and has a rich tradition where kids from a young age develop a natural flair for hockey, it was not a surprise that Beck chose to enroll himself for hockey lessons at the age of 11.
The defender hails from Rajganpur, situated 40 kilometres from Rourkela district in Odisha.
"I was very young when my father would take me to watch Khasi Cup (decades-old tribal hockey tournament). It was a very natural thing to pick up hockey especially when you are from the Sundargarh region. I was mesmerised by the sport. It brings respect and honour in our villages if you are good at it," Beck said.
Having joined the Sundargarh Sports Hostel at an early age, Beck learned the tricks of the trade from the very best in his state.
Beck was part of the India team that won the bronze medal in the 2017 Sultan of Johor Cup and the silver medal in the 2018 and 2019 editions of the prestigious tournament. Hailing from a financially challenged family, his father who earns daily wages by working in farmlands, Beck is familiar with hardships from a very young age but never lets it deter his goals.
"Almost every player from Odisha has come from extremely challenging backgrounds and we never let this affect us. In fact, it makes us determined to achieve in the sport and earn recognition," he said.
Having rubbed shoulders with players from the Indian team during the camps in SAI, Bengaluru, Beck said his game has improved since he was first picked for the junior national camp.
"I came into the national camp in 2017 and compared to now, I was very raw and was not aware of the structure and systematic way of training. Players like Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Birendra Lakra who are all very good defenders in the senior team help me from time to time. Both the senior and junior core group has a big pool of talented players and we really have to show our mettle to get selected. My next goal is to do well in the Junior World Cup qualifiers (Junior Asia Cup)," Beck concluded. (ANI)