‘Rejection a motivation’
After being in the wilderness for months, Prabhjot Singh has bounced back.india Updated: Feb 22, 2010 22:55 IST
The story of Prabhjot Singh stands out. He has risen like a Phoenix not only to stage a comeback to the India team but has been its best player in the last couple of years.
Everyone thought Prabhjot’s career over when he was dropped after the Champions Trophy in 2005. What went against him were the comments from former coach, Gerhard Rach, who questioned the forward’s fitness and inability to retackle after losing the ball in the rival half — a common problem with forwards practicing the Asian style. A slump in form at the 2005 Champions Trophy exacerbated Prabhjot’s problems and he was in the wilderness for several months.
Rejection was a motivation as the 30-year-old from Masania village in Gurdaspur, Punjab, fought back into the team and was adjudged the best player at the 2007 Asia Cup in Chennai.
“There are ups and downs in life. The key is to not lose focus. I worked on my game and made a return,” said Prabhjot, who made it to the senior team as part of the fearsome threesome (Gagan Ajit Singh and Deepak Thakur were the other two) of the 2001 Junior World Cup-winning team.
“The same people who dropped me after the Champions Trophy in 2005 hailed my performance in the Asia Cup. My belief in my ability was vindicated and since then I have managed to do well for the team,” Prabhjot told HT at the Pune camp last month.
What did he do to not only get back his spot but also become the team’s best player?
Former coach Joaquim Carvalho unravelled the mystery. “Prabhjot remodelled his game. He worked on his fitness and developed the ability to retackle in the rival half,” said Carvalho, who played a crucial role in Prabhjot’s return.
Along with improving his fitness, Prabhjot realized that he had to conserve energy if he wanted to thrive. He improved his reading of the game and started getting into position early. He now plays a bit deep in the left flank and uses his speed to outrun the defenders and get into good position.
Success was instant and he has not looked back. Prabhjot was India’s best player in the Olympic qualifiers in Chile in 2008 and the crowning glory was his selection to the World Hockey All-Stars Team in 2009.
Discarded at one time, Prabhjot emerged as the players’ choice for skipper after leading them successfully in the struggle for incentives. Though Hockey India refused to budge and retained Rajpal Singh as captain, the controversy is behind Prabhjot.
The snub has again proved to be a motivation for Prabhjot and he wants to help India regain the World Cup. “The recent controversies have brought the players closer and we are playing well as a unit. I am confident we can win back the Cup.”