Ensuring an exciting and new experience as maintained in the past, CRED, a unique member only credit card bill payment platform has introduced a video series featuring prominent sports persons as well as coaches titled “The Long Game”. The featured veterans will share their experiences, life lessons and insight gained by them over the years both in personal as well as professional lives.
CRED The Long Game – a multi-episode series featuring celebrated personalities shares invaluable tips, personal anecdotes and experiences from their decorated careers. These icons turn back the clock to their memorable moments and share lessons which can be applied to daily lives. Previous episodes have featured Mithali Raj, Kapil Dev, Sunil Chhetri and Jhulan Goswami. The latest episode has featured Dhanraj Pillay, retired veteran Indian Hockey player and former captain of national team.
With a career spanning over 15 years including four Olympic games, World Cups and Champion Trophies, Pillay takes a trip down his memory lane and shares with us his struggles, cherished memories and how he made his way to the top. On mentioning the huge responsibility of his fond nickname “Toofan”, Dhanraj Pillay, known as one of the fastest hockey players in the world, unfolds his journey as the India’s Hockey Tornado. He recalls, “Yes. I had the nickname of Toofan (Hurricane) and when I read articles about this, I was very happy. More responsibility fell upon my shoulders. If the media is giving you this kind of name and if you don’t perform, the media will drag you down too. At that time, I had this inferiority complex – when somebody speaks to you in fluent English, and you can’t understand them. But that helped me also to learn from them and talk to them. Hockey has given me a name and hockey has given me everything. Never have an inferiority complex. You’re good and that’s why you’re there and you will definitely achieve your goals.”
Further in the video, he talks about who his younger self was and how through his passion and hardwork, he was able to create a space where he could grow professionally. He addresses himself, “Dear Dhanraj, the younger Dhanaraj Pillay, who he was and what he used to think after a game. There was also poverty, we didn’t have a hockey stick at home. He had to ask the neighbors for a stick. Hockey was very expensive, and I used to wonder if I would be able to become a player for India. But all this confidence was given to me by my mother. She would say that things will change. Whatever you are today, be humble, be grounded and success will be yours. But you need to work towards your goal. You need to give 100% and you will be successful.”
In a profession such as sports, where unexpected setbacks are not uncommon, Dhanraj remembers the time when his team humbly accepted their loss at the Commonwealth Games, “At the Commonwealth Games we were playing really good hockey until the semi-finals, and I was completely confident that day that we would definitely win. Almost 10-12 thousand athletes were there. In spite of that we were a very good team. We were playing all out and they were defending. Till 67th, 68th minute India was dominating. They got a penalty corner, and they deflected the ball into the goal, and we were all shocked. We lost that match by one goal. I can tell my players that no team is less than you, when you go into the field give your 100% and it is important to respect your opponent too.”
While talking about one of the most sensitive issues, Pillay remembers the time when he was dealing with racism in Holland, “Forgive me Amma. There are a lot of stories in this book. The incident that I remember the most was during my second match with Pakistan in Holland. The Pakistan coach, I think he heard that this new boy is very fast, and he can do anything. I could hear from the bench, ‘Get the black one. He’s running too much, get him.’ I remember this like it happened yesterday. I never had to face any kind of racism before where people called me ‘black’. Over the years, when I became a senior player, my juniors used to call me ‘Pillay Bhai’ or ‘Anna’. I used to take that also, and I took this also. Calling whatever names, as long as you are giving your 100% in the field, you don’t experience the negativity. In your life, good things and bad things happen but never take it to your heart.”
On being honored with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, Dhanraj Pillay expresses his bliss and reiterates his undeterred determination while sharing few crucial qualities essential to sports persons, “Discipline, dedication and determination. Every athlete should have these three things. I was not in India when the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award was announced. I was playing in Germany. I was the luckiest person; I was the happiest person when I saw my mother going to Delhi to receive the awards. I’m the only player in this country who has played for 15 years on AstroTurf and got whatever I had dreamt of. Without a dream or without hard work you won’t be able to reach where you want to. Till the last breath or till the last minute of the whistle, I used to fight. Anything can happen. So, don’t give up. Because, till the last minute or the last 10 seconds also, the tables can turn.”