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BANGALORE, 16/04/2008: Indian hockey team coach Joaquim Carvalho at the National camp at the SAI (South) Centre in Kengeri near Bangalore on April 16, 2008. Photo: K. Murali Kumar

BANGALORE, 16/04/2008: Indian hockey team coach Joaquim Carvalho at the National camp at the SAI (South) Centre in Kengeri near Bangalore on April 16, 2008. Photo: K. Murali Kumar   | Photo Credit: K_Murali Kumar

“Sardar Singh is a complete hockey player,” states Joaquim Carvalho, remembering how he spotted the talented midfielder some years ago. It was around 2005-06, he recalls.

“I used to coach the Indian Oil team and we were playing a match against Namdhari XI in a domestic tournament in Bangalore. I saw a skinny Namdhari youngster, who was on the bench, practising at half-time. I was very impressed with his skills and asked our manager to find more details about him in order to recruit him for our team. That is how Sardar joined Indian Oil. After that, he kept on improving,” says Carvalho.

Carvalho has seen a lot of Sardar’s ability and is well qualified to give the correct picture about the gifted player. “Sardar has got a beautiful body balance with the stick and has exceptionally strong legs. He crouches so low on the ball and runs swiftly. He stands out with his slap shots and ball control. He can walk into any top side in the world,” he points out.

Carvalho, who coached the Indian team in Chile six years ago, reels back to the 2008 Beijing Olympics where India lost in a qualifying event in Chile and failed to make it to the world event. “Sardar is a never-say-die person and loves to win everything. That failure made him a more determined player,” he says. The 1980 Olympic gold medallist, Zafar Iqbal, is also a big fan of Sardar. “He is an intelligent player, too good with his passing, defence and distribution. No doubt, he is the best player in the country and I hope he continues to play for many years to come,” says the Delhiite.

“In the ongoing Hockey India League (HIL), he is the leading player among the Indians. Sardar reminds me of Ajitpal Singh, the great centre-half, even though I will rate Ajitpal a little higher,” he adds.

According to Zafar, the hard-working Sardar would have emerged a far better player had he got some top class team mates. “This would have enhanced his game. This is one of the biggest drawbacks in the Indian team. Many players find it difficult to strike an understanding with him.”

Harbinder Singh, a member of the 1964 Olympic gold medal Indian team, too vouches for Sardar’s talent. “We need a few more Sardars in order to strengthen our National side. He is managing things almost single-handedly and that is why he is having all the wears and tears. Our coaches should use him wisely and give him adequate rest to prolong his career. Especially, this year, India has to play in so many important tournaments and he will play a key role for the team,” says sHarbinder.

Carvalho, himself an Olympian, feels it is high time Sardar learnt how to “distribute his stamina” in order to play an important role for the side.

“Off the pitch, Sardar is a nice individual and a gentleman to the core,” he adds. Harbinder agrees. “Sardar is very obedient and has a lot of humility. These qualities are taking him forward.”



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Printable version | Sep 27, 2020 8:22:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/ability-unlimited/article5689781.ece

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