Bandra boy Keegan Pereira making it big at Hockey World Cup

Nov 29, 2018, 08:24 IST | Ashwin Ferro

I don't know," he hesitates. "It's very tough to get into the Indian team so I'm not sure if I would've made it."

Bandra boy Keegan Pereira making it big at Hockey World Cup
Canada's Keegan Pereira after his team's 1-2 defeat to Belgium in Bhubaneswar. Pic/Ashwin Ferro

Keegan Pereira, 27, didn't know too much when his parents migrated from India to Canada when he was just seven years old. He also didn't know too much when he played his first international tournament — a World Cup — for Canada eight years ago in New Delhi, then just a teenager. Yesterday, however, as central midfielder, Pereira knew just exactly how to handle the pressure out there in the middle and played his heart out as his World No. 11 team went down fighting 1-2 to World No. 3 Belgium.

The last eight years have seen Pereira grow from a rookie to a senior member of a team that is slowly but surely finding a firm footing in world hockey. "Earlier, all of us in the national team had to do jobs besides playing hockey but now, things are different. I play professional hockey in Germany and the sport is full-time for me now," Pereira tells mid-day after the opening match of the World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium here yesterday.

Pereira began playing hockey at the age of six in Mumbai and represented St Stanislaus High School, Bandra in the Mumbai Schools Sports Association-conducted inter-school hockey league in the U-8 category. "I don't recall much, but we had a good hockey team back then in school. Our rivals were Don Bosco [Matunga] and we lost to them in the semi-finals," said the Toronto resident, who is looking forward to meeting his family in Bandra soon. "I'm planning to visit my grandmother, my aunts and cousins in Bandra. Let's hope it works out. It's been a while since I've seen them," he said.

The Indian hockey team too have grown leaps and bounds over the last decade with all players well-placed in premier companies and fully occupied with hockey. So, does he wish he had stayed back in India? "I don't know," he hesitates. "It's very tough to get into the Indian team so I'm not sure if I would've made it."

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