Former Indian women’s hockey captain and coach Shashi Bala and her 15-year-old son Agrim Thakur died on Sunday after her Alto collided with a Tata Ace mini truck on the Jalandhar-Ropar highway.
Bala, 45, was posted as a coach in Kapurthala and was travelling to Chandigarh with driver Tarsem Singh, who also suffered fatal injuries. Bala made her debut for the Indian senior hockey team in 1987 and played till 1998 after which she donned the mantle of a coach.
As a player, she went on to captain the Indian senior team in the FIH Hockey World Cup qualifiers in Zimbabwe in 1997 and then represented India in the 1998 FIH Women’s World Cup played at The Netherlands.
“Her death is a big loss for Indian hockey. She was then made the captain when I was the coach and I remember her as a hard working half-back who would also excel as a centre-forward. She was one of the senior members who played in the 1998 World Cup,” says Col. Balbir Singh (Retd) who was the coach of the Indian women’s team from 1994 to 1998.
Working as the Chief Office Superintendent at the Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala, Bala was coaching the Railways after which she was appointed manager of the Indian Railways team during the senior nationals held in Bhopal in 2013-14. She was also a selector in the four-member committee for junior players of Hockey Punjab.
“When I made my debut, Shashi didi was a senior member of the team and we would often train with her. Later I also joined Railways and we would go for tournaments and I was the coach during the 2013 nationals when she was the manager of Railways team. We all are shocked by her death,” said former Indian captain Pritam Siwach.
Meanwhile, RCF Kapurthala GM Alok Dave has promised all the support to Bala’s family and also sent a Indian railways official at the spot.