Though the Indian men’s hockey team faltered at the final hurdle on Thursday, there was a silver lining for Sansarpur village, which has 15 Olympic and 12 Asian Games medals to its credit.
This tiny village in Jalandhar, Punjab, once known as the cradle of Indian hockey, bagged its first Commonwealth Games silver in hockey through Ravipal Singh, and the medal is an inspiration for the village to revive its legacy of producing champions.
Sansarpur has five Arjuna Awards to its credit and has produced 14 Olympians, including five who have represented Kenya and Canada.
Before Ravipal, the last man from Sansarpur to represent India in a mega multi-discipline event was Ajitpal Singh in the 1976 Olympics at Montreal. After him, Sansarpur appeared to lose its Midas touch.
“Like any other kid, I also grew up by listening to the tales of players winning Olympic medals. But since the 1976 Olympics, no player from the village has been able to make it big in the sport. Today, I am happy that I have again brought Sansarpur to the limelight,” said Ravipal. “It’s a great honour to be a part of the team and winning silver is an icing on the cake,” he added.
It was after a gap of 29 years, in 2005, that Indian hockey got to savour the flavour of Sansarpur again when Ravipal was named to the squad for the Robo Bank tournament in the Netherlands. He also played in the Champions Trophy that year before being dropped.
Ravipal earned a recall three years later for a four-nation tournament in Australia but was omitted again before bouncing back for the Delhi Games.
“From a decade or so, the village went into oblivion. I hope Ravipal’s Commonwealth Games silver will help it regain its past glory,” said Col Balbir Singh, an Arjuna awardee and a 1968 Olympics bronze medallist.