The Indian men's hockey team were in for a surprise as batting legend Sachin Tendulkar visited them in New Delhi to wish them luck for the World Cup. The Little Master shared his experience on the cricket field and also gave words of encouragement to the players on the challenges of playing such a big tournament.
According to an official release by Hockey India, Tendulkar was instrumental in pointing out how it was all about handling pressure and maintaining a positive attitude, irrespective of the situation.
"Do not allow pressure to come to you irrespective how strong you feel the team is. Start each match with a positive attitude and do a thorough preparation on each team that you are meeting, understand their weaknesses and strengths and accordingly prepare yourself. You have to keep your mind positive all through as hockey is a fast game hence you have to keep yourself free of pressure. Always remember no team is stronger than you. Visualise this in your mind and you will realise that your body automatically starts responding positively," he said.
The maestro recalled his first international match for India and how nervous he was initially. He mentioned how talking to senior players helped him keep calm under pressure and it is the same advice he gives to any youngster he comes across.
"My first match of my career was not that great as I could not score and because of which I had sleepless nights. I finally spoke to my seniors and they motivated me to not take pressure and be at ease and control of my game which helped me score 58 in my next match. I still follow this and share the same with every youngster that I meet," emphasised Tendulkar.
"Do not take failure to heart as everyone fails. But with those failures and experiences you will learn and grow. We all are here because we have a passion for what we are following. Stick to that passion for all the times to come," he added.
Tendulkar's presence clearly had an impact on the players and coach Terry Walsh was all praise for the legend's advice to his team.
"It was a privilege to meet the legend of cricket. He is a great thinker and the time spent with the boys will have a resounding impact in the mind of the players. He spoke about the importance of positive approach in life and how one can attain success with a powerful mind and a positive approach."
The captain of the team, Sardar Singh was clearly bowled over by meeting his hero and he made no secret about it.
"It's an honour for me that I got to meet him and after meeting him I am feeling very positive. It's not only with me, I can see the same effect within the entire team as we feel a new force and excitement. I take this opportunity to thank him for speaking to us and instilling this self-confidence of being as strong as our opponents."
The World Cup begins in The Hague on May 31 with India starting their campaign against Belgium on Saturday. India won the tournament in 1975 when they defeated Pakistan 2-1. In 1973, they lost in the final on penalties to Netherlands.