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No softening of stance despite heredity

india Updated: Feb 22, 2012 00:30 IST
Sharmistha Chaudhuri
Sharmistha Chaudhuri
Hindustan Times
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India take on Canada in the Olympic Qualifiers on Wednesday, and if Sukhwinder 'Gabbar' Singh is to be believed, the hosts will find the going tough.

The 33-year-old forward, who was among the scorers in Canada's 15-1 thrashing of Singapore at the National Stadium on Tuesday, believes there are no friends on the field. "We will be playing India but we'll go all out for a win," said Gabbar.

After representing India in the School Asian Championship at Chandigarh in 1994, Gabbar decided to shift base when he wasn't picked for the national side. Moving to Vancouver, he played for the United Brothers Hockey Club in 1997.

After starting off as a taxi driver, he is a fire fighter when not donning Canada colours. Gabbar is not the only Indian in the squad. Midfielder Jagdish Gill, who hails from Kolkata, gives him company. The 27-year-old, who quit the sport in 2004, migrated two years later in search for greener pastures. After finishing his studies and working in a beer company, he was coaxed by friends and family to start playing again.

In 2009, Jagdish got back to training and earned his first international cap in September last. "It was a good decision to get back to the sport," said the Rocky Balboa fan, who is a close friend of Sandeep Singh.

Captain Ken Pereira, a veteran of 342 internationals, also has his roots here. His family hails from Goa but they migrated in 1967. A veteran of two Olympic Games (Sydney 2000 and Beijing 2008), he is gunning for a third appearance.

It was his famous match-winning goal at the 1999 Pan American Games which earned Canada an Olympic berth in Sydney. Called 'Kenny' by friends, the 38-year-old also turns out for the Dutch club H.O.C. Gazellen-Combinatie.