Bhubaneswar, Nov 2 (IANS) Being in the 33-man core group seemed like a dream to Mohammed Raheel Mouseen, who was called-up for the Senior Men’s National Camp this year but he is counting his lucky stars after making his debut at the iconic Kalinga Hockey Stadium, Bhubaneshwar against the New Zealand Men’s Hockey Team on 28th October 2022.
It was an unforgettable day for Raheel, who had visited Bhubaneswar with his friends from the SAI Hockey Hostel in 2014 to watch the Indian team play against Pakistan in the FIH Champions Trophy, not knowing that fate would have him play his first match for the Indian National team in the same stadium 08 years later.
“I came here to watch the Champions Trophy game with my hostel mates. It was so crowded that day; I remember waiting in long queue just to get a ticket. I was so amazed by the sheer atmosphere in the stadium that day for India-Pakistan Semifinal and I wondered what it would be like to play in this ground,” recalled the Bengaluru lad.
“Making my debut here was really, really special. The funny thing is, I didn’t even remember all this till a batchmate who travelled with me called me up before my debut match and reminded me. That’s when it hit me, I got major goosebumps and it felt like I was going to explode with happiness. My parents were very happy when I told them that I’d be in the starting XI, my father was so proud of me that he kept going on about it for a few good minutes and this obviously made it even more special,” he says about his whirlpool of feelings a day before the match.
“The morning of the match was also special, obviously I was nervous and excited and anxious and a lot of other things but I also had trust that I am capable of performing at this level and that calmed down my nerves a little bit. Then I talked to Nilakanta about it and he advised me not to think about anything negative, have belief in my skills and do what I usually do on the pitch, no need to complicate anything.”
Playing in the Kalinga Hockey Stadium which had die-hard fans of the game turning up in large numbers, Raheel said it was a very special feeling particularly when the national anthem played.
“When I stepped onto the pitch and saw the huge crowd that had come to watch, I was already awe-struck but when they were singing the national anthem, I had goosebumps all over. I knew this is the moment I have been waiting for, the moment for which I worked so hard over the last 08 years,” he said when asked about the match.
“Going forward I want to keep performing well, get some experience under my belt, work on my consistency,” he said.
India takes on New Zealand again on 4th November 2022 in Kalinga Hockey Stadium, Bhubaneshwar where Raheel hopes to pick up where he left.