Children

King of the field

AN ALL TIME HIGH: Winning the Junior World Cup.

AN ALL TIME HIGH: Winning the Junior World Cup.   | Photo Credit: PTI

For Harjeet Singh, playing hockey was his greatest joy. With limited finances and other obstacles, his passion for the game is what saw him reach great heights.

Hockey, changed his life and that of his family too. Harjeet Singh, a 20-year-old skipper and mid-fielder of the junior men’s hockey team from Kurali in Punjab, ruled the midfield, helping India control the game from the beginning. He also played an instrumental role in helping the junior team emerge successful when he led the Colts in Valencia in Spain last year where they won the four-nation Invitational Tournament beating Germany in the finals.

A moment of pride for the country, it is the second time this year that the Indian junior men’s hockey team beat Belgium. However, this win is momentous because it is the first in 15 years. India beat Belgium 2-1 to bag the 2016 Hockey Junior World Cup at the Major Dhyan Chand Hockey Stadium in Lucknow. It became the second team, after Gagan Ajit Singh’s colts in 2001, to win the coveted title. This is also the first time that a host nation has won the Cup in 11 editions.

Focus

Harjeet, the son of a truck driver, began playing hockey with the kids in his neighbourhood. He hadn’t heard of any hockey heroes and the one he looked up to was a local player who “created magic on the field”. Finances were always a problem, as his father did not earn enough to support his sports career. When Singh had to buy his first kit, his family had to borrow money.

Initially, his family supported him. But as time went by, they asked him to stop playing and focus on his studies. They thought it would be almost impossible to make a career out of hockey. But young Singh, had other plans. “I used to sneak out of the house and play at the academy. I must have been around nine or 10 at that time,” he said.

By the time his family got wind of what was going on, Singh had carved a niche for himself. He left his village to join the famous Surjit Singh Academy. He was welcomed, when he returned in 2013 — it was the year he had been named the most promising player at the Sultan of Johor Cup in Malaysia. Now, three years later, he has undoubtedly made a name for himself and done the country proud.

Singh’s mantra for success is simple — play simple hockey. “We just concentrated on playing simple hockey. We played the final like a final,” he said, euphoric, after winning the trophy.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2020 6:56:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/King-of-the-field/article17012840.ece

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