Sacrificing one's career for a younger brother is rare but Amarbeer Singh didn't think twice before taking the decision. Today, his sacrifice is paying dividends as Rupinder Pal Singh is making waves at the national level and is looking to cement his place in the India hockey team as a drag-flicker.
Rupinder was the only silver lining in India's pathetic performance at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup last month. As he chases his dream, Rupinder is indebted to his brother, whose sacrifice ensured he kept playing instead of taking up a job to support the family.
"My elder brother was also a good player. But our financial condition was such that only one of us could have pursued the sport. He gave up hockey so that I could play," Rupinder told HT on the sidelines of the Hockey India Senior National Championship on Sunday.
Rupinder, who is representing Tamil Nadu in the tournament, came into the spotlight when he struck a hat-trick against Great Britain in Ipoh, Malaysia, his first international outing with the senior team as the main drag-flicker. He also scored in the 1-1 draw against Australia.
Having made his mark in the Azlan Shah Cup, Rupinder now wants to cement his place in the team. For that, he knows he would have to displace Sandeep Singh.
"Sandeep has been the main drag-flicker but I believe I'm getting close to my goal. Diwakar Ram and I are competing to upstage him. Going by my conversion rate and strength, I am closer to taking over the spot," he said.
Rupinder, who has been mentored by Jugraj Singh, has picked up his guru's kamikaze rushing style during penalty corner defence and is not afraid to place his body in the line of fire. "Why fear when you are representing the country. I tried the technique against Korea in Ipoh. Though I got hit on the right thigh, I will continue to do the same as it is a part of the game," he said.
Hopefully, the young drag-flicker will be able to translate his talent into a successful career as India are in dire need of such players.