Back with a banghttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/back-with-a-bang-6/

Back with a bang

It was just another day with a hockey match underway at the Mahindra Hockey stadium between Mumbai and Maharashtra for the West Zone Senior National Hockey Championship.

It was just another day with a hockey match underway at the Mahindra Hockey stadium between Mumbai and Maharashtra for the West Zone Senior National Hockey Championship. There was little that was exceptional about the proceedings,in fact the fare served up was pretty average. This year too,as expected,Mumbai would dominate the tournament and this match with easy scorelines. The predictions did not seem to disappoint either for Mumbai routed Maharashtra 5-0.

But,there was one player who stole everybody’s attention with a fine contribution apart from the two goals against his name. The jersey no. 13 centre forward flummoxed opponents with his surprise runs and smart passing. His effectiveness in the D-area could not be doubted either with the scoreboard echoing his aggressive and skillful dribbling.

About four years ago,in 2008,the same young lad,Osaf ur Rehman,had just been selected for a national camp at Bhopal as standby for the team headed to play Argentina. Rehman,in his teens then,had also been part of the probables list at the Doha Asian Games 2006. But as fate would have it,the prolific striker met with a tragedy that left him out of the game for the next two years.

“I was on my bike when a drunken auto driver hit me and crushed my right leg. My leg was completely damaged and an iron rod was fitted in as replacement for the crushed bone.” says a still visibly-disappointed Rehman. With doctors advising him complete bed-rest for the next six months,Rehman’s dreams of wearing the Indian jersey had been blown to splinters. He lay bed-ridden for close to a year.

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The 24-year-old came from a family of 11 siblings – including five brothers who all played hockey in some tournament or the other. Rehman’s brother Altaf-ur-Rehman is a former international hockey player too. His father runs a small shop in Bhopal and his mother is a housewife.

After being away from the hockey turf for almost two years at a stretch,it was always going to be difficult to make a comeback but it was Rehman’s sheer determination and willpower that helped him lift the stick again. “My doctor asked me to undergo fitness and physiotherapy sessions and helped me in strengthening my leg movements. I also undertook hamstring exercises besides knee exercises to get back to my normal fitness. My coach and parents also helped me immensely,” says Rehman,now working with the siganls and telecom department as helper with the Western Railway.

Having a rod inside the body can be daunting not just physically,but psychologically too. Former India cricketer Sairaj Bahutule,who met with a car crash at a tender age of 17,had received multiple fractures and had an iron rod inserted in his elbow and yet made a remarkable comeback in only six months time. Says the former leggie,“You need a lot of positive energy to recover because any trauma brings a lot of negative thoughts. One starts doubting himself. So mental toughness is a must in such situations apart from working hard towards the comeback.”

Current Mumbai hockey team coach,Ramesh Pillay,sees similar strength of will in his 24-year-old,ward who made his comeback in 2011. “He is working very hard and it is evident in the matches. It’s good to have him back,”says Pillay.

Rehman,signs off on a hopeful note. “I have always dreamt about playing for India. That’s my only reason to work towards a comeback.” says Rehman as he returns to the turf for his next match against Gujarat. The result is 18-0 and he has scored a hat-trick. He’d rather look at it as four years of strengthening his resolve than four years simply lost,when his contemporaries like Vikas Pillay edged ahead and donned India colours.