Not too long ago, Jagdish Soren was making waves at the sub-junior and junior national levels. A student at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) hostel in Sundergarh, Orissa, Soren was regarded as a hockey player with a bright future. The script, sadly, did not quite pan out as planned.
Within a year of being asked to leave the SAI hostel in 2008 - 'for his performance not being up to the mark at the senior level - Soren was trying his best to make ends meet as a daily wage labourer. Last month, at the age of 18, Soren died of brain malaria in Bangalore where he had migrated to work as a construction labourer.
A native of Saunamura village - the same hamlet former India skipper Dilip Tirkey made famous, Soren had been picked at a selection camp conducted by SAI at Balisankara block in 2001. He was part of the Sundergarh Town High School's team that finished second in the 21st
Sub-Junior Nehru Gold Cup in 2003 and went on to represent his school's junior team in the Nehru Gold Cup in 2005, 2006 and 2007.
After seven successful years at the hostel, Soren's performances were suddenly not good enough for the senior level. With no other option, he left the hostel and returned to his village.
Having lost his father as a child and his elder brother having migrated to Goa to work as a daily wage labourer, Soren too decided to look for work as a daily wage labourer.
He migrated to Bangalore in the first week of December to work at a construction site, but was diagnosed with brain malaria within a week. H died on December 17.
Soren's death only made things worse for the family. With his elder brother unemployed, the only source of income for the Soren household was their father's meagre pension.
"It is very tough. My elder son, his wife, his two children and me now have to make do with my widow pension," said 55-year-old Goranti Soren.
SAI coach Pradeep Sarangi though sad about Soren's demise, said he had followed the rulebook when he threw him out.
"His performances had deteriorated. He had to leave the hostel. I had told him to keep in contact so that some thing could have been done. This is really sad," he said.
It indeed is.