BENGALURU, Jun 30: Olympic-bound men’s hockey team mid-fielder Hardik Singh had almost given up on his India dream and was planning to pursue a club career in the Dutch League before his former drag-flicker uncle Jugraj Singh stepped in to inspire him.
Hardik said he comes from a family that had hockey in its blood but he started feeling straight-jacketed due to limited opportunities at the top level.
His grandfather was a coach with the Indian Navy and his uncle Jugraj was a top-notch drag-flicker of the time.
The 22-year-old from Khusropur village near Jalandhar in Punjab said his “journey has been slightly different from my teammates.”
“I was very lucky to be part of a family where Hockey was in our DNA. I was very fortunate to be around so many hockey players, I always got advice from all corners of the house and my family has had a huge impact on my career.
“As a 14-year-old, I moved to Mohali Hockey Academy for further training and quickly rose through the ranks.
“I also represented India in the sub-junior category, however, opportunities at the top level never came my way. In 2017, I was on the verge of giving up my dream of playing for India and almost decided to move to the Netherlands to play club Hockey,” he said.
At this stage an inspiring intervention by Jugraj helped him get back the motivation.
“My uncle, Jugraj Singh made me sit and rethink my decision. Jugraj Paaji has been a huge influence in my life. He has mentored me in every part of my life and continues to do so,” said the midfielder.
“After his suggestions, I put in more blood, sweat, and hard work. And finally, my hard work paid off as I was included in the core probable for the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy after winning the Player of the Series at a domestic tournament in Mumbai.
“Then, the 2018 World Cup happened which was like cherry on top.”
Hardik says the Indian hockey team has a very healthy competition for places and he is determined to make it count at the upcoming Tokyo Games.
“I will give my 100 per cent to carry on with my family’s legacy and make the whole country proud.”
“It now feels great to be a regular part of the Team, well equipped in the midfield. There is a lot of competition for places in the midfield, but that only shows that our bench strength is very strong.
“We have built that fighting spirit over the past few months, and that is one of the key reasons for our resurgence,” said the young mid-fielder. (PTI)