Throughout his junior career,Chandigarh hockey player Harjot Singh had a dream of meeting and playing with former Pakistan skipper Rehan Bhutt. As a trainee at Chandigarh Football and Hockey Academy,Singh would also converse with Indian goalkeeper Baljit Singh Dhadwal to hone his skills. Even though Chandigarh Comets team lost against Pune Strykers 3-2 via a tie-breaker in the World Series of Hockey semifinal in Mumbai,Singh was eager to spend more time with Bhutt seeking tips to improve goalkeeping.
Its a great opportunity for a youngster like me. We grew up idolising these players and when we see players like Rehan Bhutt,Shaqeel Abaasi,Brent Livermore in the training sessions,it gives us a boost. I did not play in the first few matches but then Rehan bhai saw me in the nets and opted for me. He spent a lot of time with me and would also ask penalty corner expert Gurjinder Singh to make me practise low shots, says the youngster,who is a student of Government Model School,Sector 42.
The 18-year-old learnt the nuances of the game under the tutelage of the late hockey coach Jasbir Singh Bajwa and Gurvinder Singh,and would also seek help from Dhadwal at the Sector 42 Hockey Stadium. Singh was the first choice goalkeeper during the academys Malaysia tour and impressed the Chandigarh selectors with his low saves and sound technique. The youngster was picked up by the Chandigarh franchise for World Series of Hockey last year and has made his presence felt during the event. I have played in eight matches so far and we have lost only one match in which I have played. As a player,it is tough to start goalkeeping because we are not in the limelight always. A lot of my cousins would ask me why I wear a helmet. They want to see my face but such is the life of a goalie in hockey. The Malaysian tour was a learning experience for me and I am glad that the Chandigarh team gave me a chance, says the youngster,who hails from Fatehgarh Sahib near Chandigarh.
With the presence of players like Pakistans Syed Imran Warsi,Shakeel Abaasi,Rajpal Singh and Prabhjot Singh,the youngster has performed well for the Comets and has impressed Comets coach and former India assistant coach Harendra Singh. He is a quick learner of the game. The way he adapts to the penalty corners and the drag flicks is awesome. Rehan and Gurjinder have spent a lot of time with him and we can see that in his game. Junior players like these can learn a lot while playing with Olympians and international players from other countries, says Chandigarh Comets coach Harendra Singh.