It was a joyous moment for former Chandigarh Hockey and Football Academy (CHFA) trainee Gurjant Singh. He had been named in the Indian junior hockey team for the 5th Sultan of Johor Cup to be played in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, next month, and his family and coaches at the CHFA were an elated lot.
Singh said, “There was nobody in our village who played hockey. When I would visit my maternal grandparents near Batala, I would watch my cousins play hockey and they also had decent jobs. In 2005, I played there for three months but soon I shifted to the Chandigarh Hockey and Football Academy. It was an arduous routine for all of us as we had to attend high school apart from playing for the academy and Chandigarh in national tournaments.
Now, playing for the Indian junior hockey team means a lot for me. My former coach, Jasbir Bajwa, died in 2011. He would have been very happy to see me playing for the Indian junior team. Our coach, Gurminder Singh, also supported us a lot,”shared Gurjant Singh, who has been selected as a forward in the 18-member hockey team.
Gurjant also starred in Chandigarh’s title win in the U-17 School Nationals in Chandigarh and U-19 School Nationals played in Madhya Pradesh apart from featuring in Chandigarh’s title win in the U-17 Nehru Cup played in Chandigarh during the later part of the last decade.
Later Gurjant also guided the Punjab U-21 team to the title in the U-21 nationals in 2012 before shifting his base to Haryana. Gurjant was also a part of the Indian junior team which toured Europe earlier this year and has played for the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) on a scholarship.
“I would keep meeting our seniors, Rupinderpal Singh and Dharamvir Singh, who play for the senior Indian team, when we trained at the academy. Playing and winning the titles in the school nationals for Chandigarh and later for Punjab did boost my confidence. Incidentally, Rupinder, who is now drag-flicker in the senior team, is a distant relative of mine. I have been seeking tips from him,” shared the 20-year-old forward, who completed his training from CHFA in 2011.
Indian junior team’s chief coach, Harendra Singh, also believes that Gurjant will improve with time.
“Gurjant has been shaping well for the team. He is a keen learner of the game. This tour is important for him as it will provide him an opportunity to compete against the best players in Asia,” shared Harendra.
And with skipper Harjeet Singh also hailing from Kurali near Chandigarh, Gurjant is confident.
“Harjeet has been a constant support and is the most capped player in the junior circuit. He also comes from Kurali, and we often share stories about our Chandigarh days,” shared Gurjant, who was a student of Government Model School, Sector 42, and Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 35.