September 14, 2011 2:03:44 am
As the Indian team lifted the Asian Champions Trophy at Ordos,China,on Sunday,one player was constantly remembering the hard work of his coach Jasbir Singh Bajwa for more than a decade. For Chandigarh lad Rupinder Pal Singh,a product of the Chandigarh Football and Hockey Academy (CFHA),Bajwa was more than a coach at the Academy. And when Bajwa died due of a heart attack this July,Singh had promised himself to put on a fighting display at the China event.
He was more than a coach to all of us. When we were at the academy,he used to spend hours with us and even at the hostel,he used to help us with tips. Hockey was something which he always dreamt of and also made us believe the same thing. For him,we were the ones who would make him proud and I am happy to do so. When we won the title on Sunday against Pakistan,his words were echoing in my mind. He always used to say that we should all believe in our abilities and I am glad that we did it against arch rivals Pakistan, Singh told Newsline from New Delhi when the team arrived from China on Monday night.
Singh started playing hockey in Chandigarh when he enrolled in the Academy on the insistence of his aunt,who lives in Sector 37. The lanky defender took admission in Government Model Senior Secondary School,Sector 42 (GMSSS-42) and later GMSSS-35,and soon was inducted in the Indian junior team for the Singapore Challenge Cup.
He played in tournaments like the Malaysia 8-Nations Cup in the junior category before making his debut in the senior team in last years Azlan Shah Cup.
The junior tournaments in Singapore and Malaysia gave me a chance to play against some of the best teams in Asia. We played in Argentina after the Malaysian tour and it was a learning experience. When I was selected to the Indian senior team for the Azlan Shah tour,all my Chandigarh team mates were very happy. When I came back from the tour,I felt like a star. Kids would come to me at the Academy and seek my advice, shares Singh,who is currently an officer with Indian Overseas Bank (IOB) and posted in Chennai. When not on the job,he stays in Chandigarh.
Playing with Dharamvir & Rajpal was a dream
With two of his team members,skipper Rajpal Singh and forward Dharamvir Singh,too being products of CFHA,Singh believes that their presence has made his task easier,Rajpal has been an inspiration for the young lad.
It was a like a dream playing with seniors like Rajpal. He won the junior World Cup in 2001 and we would often meet him as kids. Dharamvir too has been a close friend and he will be joining the team soon after recovering from an ankle injury. It feels great to put Chandigarh on Indias hockey map. The win against Pakistan in the final will always be special, shared 20-year-old Rupinder.
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