Sunday, December 3, 2023

Sukhjeet Singh: My father has played most important role in my hockey career

Sukhjeet Singh attributes his hockey success to his father, a former hockey player who gave him a hockey stick when he was four years old.

Since then, Sukhjeet has overcome numerous obstacles on his way to the Indian Men’s team and the path towards Paris 2024.

“My father had a big hockey stick,” he says. “My father cut that big stick and gave it to me when I was about four or five years old. My father would come home from work and take me to the ground to teach me hockey.

“So my father has played the most important role in my hockey career. My hard work and my father have played the most important roles in this.”

Sukhjeet then went to the Hostel in Chandigarh, where he spent seven years before moving on to play with departmental teams for Sindh Bank, Punjab Police, Indian Oil, and then Punjab National Bank. He was chosen for Indian Men following a standout performance for the Punjab National Bank team at the Inter-Departmental National Championships in Bangalore in 2018.

Unfortunately, Sukhjeet’s biggest test in hockey came in the form of a back injury after he was selected.

“That was the most difficult period of my life. I’ll never forget that time because I’d never known such agony. I couldn’t even sit on the bed and eat; moving was a different story. It was a very dark time for me; I didn’t know if I’d even be able to walk again,” he explained.

“I saw my father crying when he picked me up from the airport. I thought to myself that my father had sent me to represent India and when I came back, I was walking using a roller walker. My father hugged me and I started crying as well. My father encouraged me to keep my faith and instilled confidence in me. My father used to give me massages to help me recover. There were no physios over there, my father did everything, he was my rock during those uncertain times, and he prepared me to play again,” he elaborated.

Sukhjeet recovered from this setback and made his debut in the FIH Pro League 2021-2022 season. Since then his growth as a forward ensured a spot for him at the Men’s World Cup and the Hero Asian Champions Trophy Chennai 2023 and India’s qualification for next year’s Olympics.

He says: “The senior players help us out, if we don’t understand the structure, or if we don’t know about something, we go to them. Also, the coach has coached us in a way that no matter who the striker is, if we are unable to convert a goal, then we need to create a chance for our teammates.”

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