Sportspersons, especially in our country, go through trials and tribulations at every stage of their career whether it is training for hours on end or the pressure of representing India on the world stage. It is no surprise then that they realise the value of good teachers and coaches. Some sportspersons share the contribution of their coaches in bringing them glory on the field.
‘Inspired me to balance sports and studies’
Rajpal Singh, former Indian men’s hockey captain and Arjuna awardee, fondly remembers the contribution of Dr. Gurpreet Singh, professor in the physical education department of Punjabi University as well as his coach, under whose guidance he trained for almost 14 years. “He always prodded me to strike a balance between sports and studies. It was under his guidance that I went onto do my bachelors in physical education as well. I owe him a lot,” he says.
‘My guiding light’
For Harveen Sarao, gold medalist at the World University Games as well and the 2007 Asian Games in the air pistol event, it was her father, Sukhpal Singh Sarao, who also donned the hat of her coach. “From district-level events to playing the international circuit, he has always stood by me like a rock. He would guide and support me over the phone when I had to travel outside the country alone. He understands me perfectly,” she says.
‘Rose because of him’
“I wasn’t a good enough player,” Sanjeev Maria, international footballer, is humble enough to say. “It was because of Panjab University’s football coach Bhupinder Singh that I really rose and ended up doing so well in my career. Under his guidance, my game received a major boost and I went on to represent India.”
‘She went out of her way so I could play’
Seema Antil Punia, Asiad discus medalist, is instantly reminded of Rekha Dahiya, her history teacher from school in Sonipat. “She was my constant source of motivation. Not only did she inspire me to do well in sports and would guide me in my studies so that I don’t lag behind. Even now, I make it a point to visit her every time I go to Sonipat. She has to be the principal of my alma mater,” she says.