MOMENTS AFTER Indian hockey player Varun Kumar’s father, 57-year-old Brahma Nand, received cash award of Rs 50 lakh from Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in Chandigarh Thursday, the truck driver from Mithapur village in Jalandhar called his 22-year-old son over phone. “Putar, aaj da din nahi bulda sanu (Son, I will never forget this day).
With Kumar being in the national camp in Bhubneswar for the upcoming Hockey World Cup, Nand had come to receive the prize on Kumar’s behalf and remembered Kumar’s early days in the sport and his own financial struggles.
“As a truck driver, I have driven trucks to states such as Rajasthan and Maharashtra. But the fact that playing hockey has seen Varun representing India in foreign land has been the biggest motivation for all the family. When Varun started playing hockey at K P Stadium, Mithapur, I still used to drive trucks for other companies and it meant that I had to manage expenditure for getting Varun hockey sticks out of my monthly salary of Rs 5,000. Later I took a loan and bought a used Tempo to ferry goods locally. As he used to play in national tournaments, it meant that I would approach the financier for lending money to give to him. Whatever I could do, I did which also included making extra trips to ferry goods to earn extra money. I had never thought such a day would come and to get the state honour is like getting a new truck for me,” shared Nand.
While Kumar started playing hockey at K P Stadium in Mithapur along with Indian captain Manpreet Singh, Mandeep Singh and Talwinder Singh and the full-back was a member of the Junior World Cup winning Indian team in 2016.
Eight players from Punjab were part of the team, which also included Kapurthala youngster 21-year-old Krishan Pathak. Pathak, whose father Tek Bahadur Pathak originally belonged to Pangrang village in Nepal before joining Punajb Irrigation department as crane operator, lost his mother at the age of 12 and lost his father before the Junior World Cup, lived with his uncle Chandra Bahadur Pathak in Kapurthala. The goal-keeper has been Indian’s second choice goal-keeper after PR Sreejesh and is also at the Indian hockey camp for the upcoming World Cup. “Krishan’s father’s work as a crane operator would see him staying away from home and Krishan stayed with me. I work as a helper in the Rail Coach Factory in Kapurthala and he used to see players play at the stadium in the factory. He was selected for training and later trained at Surjit Academy in Jalandhar. When he lost his father two days before his debut for Indian junior team, it was a emotional moment for him but he told us that he wanted to play to fulfill his father’s dream,” said 50-year-old Chandra Bahadur Pathak.
For Krishan Pathak, the enhanced cash award of Rs 50 lakh has meant that he can think of getting his own house in Jalandhar. “Whatever I am is due to hockey and this is a moment to remember for all my family. My father’s work as crane operator meant that he left me with my uncle and I would miss his presence during training. When he died, it was the biggest loss for me. He would have loved to see me winning the junior world cup. I plan to spend this award money for building a home in Jalandhar and my father will be blessing me from heaven,” Krishan Pathak told The Sunday Express from Odisha.