Once denied entry to the India squad because of poor health, Surinder Kaur is now a pillar of strength for the women’s hockey team. Last year’s Arjuna Awardee, who has been leading the squad for the last two years, has also been named captain for the upcoming Commonwealth Games.
From the beginning of her career, the 28-year-old from Shahbad has been a fighter. Be it poverty or a career-threatening injury, Surinder has emerged a winner and also earned the tag of a goal-machine.
“It’s only because of Surinder’s never-say-die attitude that she has been able to reach this stature,” says coach Baldev Singh. “I remember her being dropped from the national squad because of low haemoglobin levels. She worked really hard on fitness and today is rated among the best in the country. Not just that, she has also alleviated her family’s poverty,” says the Dronacharya awardee coach.
Surinder started her international career with the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games but had to skip some major international tournaments in 2002 and 2003 because of injury. But she earned a place in the national squad for the 2004 Asia Cup and since then has been a regular.
She was also part of the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games silver medal-winning team and the same year the team won bronze in the Doha Asian Games. In 2008, she was named captain.
“For the last two years, our focus has been on the CWG and we want to win gold in front of the home crowd,” Surinder had said before leaving for the World Cup, which starts in Argentina from August 29. “We will face tough teams like Australia and New Zealand in the pool matches and that will give us enough practice for the CWG…both teams are part of the Commonwealth, so it’s good to know their strategy,” she said.
Women’s hockey made its CWG debut in 1998 at Kuala Lumpur.
India fared well, finishing fourth. Ever since, they has reached the finals on both occasions, clinching gold in the 2002 Manchester Games and silver in the 2006 Melbourne Games.
“This time too our main opponents will be Australia and England and we will try our best to win back the title we lost in Melbourne,” said Surinder.
Because of her extraordinary achievements, the Haryana government has offered Surinder the post of deputy superintendent of police.
“She’ll be donning the uniform on her return from the World Cup.
The team will complete the final phase of training for the CWG at the National Institute of Sports, Patiala. “We get the best facilities for training at NIS. The gym facility is good and the food is also to our taste…we are really hopeful of a good showing at the CWG,” said Surinder.