In a sport where the most common second name is Singh,it wouldnt appear unlikely that brothers should be part of the same squad. But it is not very often that three brothers get the chance to make it to the national side,all at the same time. Especially if they arent called Singh.
Indian hockeys Brothers Walmiki are now on that less trodden path. Yuvraj,Devinder and Anup Walmiki men of humble background and sublime stick skills have been together at the national camp in Bangalore since April 8.
Yuvraj,the eldest of the three,is part of the senior team probables for the World League semifinals. His cousins Devinder and Anup have been shortlisted for the junior team for the World Cup later this year.
The best known siblings in the Indian national hockey team so far have been Dhyan Chand and Roop Singh. But never have three players from the same family been part of the national set-up.
The Walmikis,all strikers,realise its a special moment for them. During much of their lives spent in a shanty near the Mahindra hockey stadium here,the brothers have been driven by the aspiration to play for India. Together.
It means a lot to all of us. It is a dream we shared since our childhood,so it is indeed very special to be a part of the national team set-up, says 23-year-old Yuvraj. We have always been pretty competitive against each other and it has motivated us to do well. The competitive spirit rubs off on each other.
Yuvraj was sidelined from the national team last year after chief coach Michael Nobbs told him to improve his physique. And 21-year-old Devinder was banned for a year after he played World Series Hockey,which was deemed unsanctioned by the International Hockey Federation. Anup,19,however,made steady progress,becoming an integral part of the junior squad.
Devinder sees Yuvraj as his role model,and the man who helped his career get back on track. He (Yuvraj) is the reason I am here. He was very supportive through the past year,helping me take the right steps so I could return to national reckoning, says Devinder.
The brothers dream is to be together in Indias starting eleven. Being part of the camp is a small step in that direction. We know it wont be easy but we are ready to work hard. Hopefully,one day you will see three Walmikis in the national team at the same time, says Devinder.