As India defeated arch-rival Pakistan to win the Asian Games hockey title after 16 years in Incheon, a celebratory mood took over the hostel premises of the Chandigarh Hockey Academy (CHA) in Sector-42 Sports Complex on Thursday evening. After all, two former CHA trainees – Rupinderpal Singh and Dharamvir Singh – had helped their side corner glory, after the two teams played out a 1-1 draw in regulation time.
In the one-on-one shoot-off situation, Rupinderpal and Dharamvir, apart from Akashdeep Singh and Birendra Lakra, scored the goals as India beat Pakistan 4-2 in penalty shoot-out. The Asiad gold medal, India’s overall third and first since the Bangkok Asian Games in 1998, also helped the champions earn a direct entry into the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
“The boys were glued to the television throughout the match, and every free-hit conversion was met with lot of cheers. While they are happy that India won gold, the fact that their seniors scored for the side added the icing on the cake,” said CHA coach Gurminder Singh, who worked on Rupinderpal and Dharamvir’s skills during the duo’s stay at the academy from 2002 to 2008.
“Whenever Rupinderpal and Dharamvir get time, they visit the academy for training. So, children are personally attached to them. With the two players delivering goods for the national team for quite some time, trainees look up to them. The duo’s success acts as a morale booster. Who knows, the next Asian Games squad from India may have a couple of CHA trainees,” the coach added.