Having just returned from the unfortunate Asian Games campaign in Guangzhou, where the Indian Hockey team ruinously lost to Malaysia after a golden goal, Arjun Halappa has gotten straight back into the hockey, playing for Air India at the Shastri tournament here in Delhi.
Regarding the team's loss in China, Arjun was frank: "During the Golden goal we lost concentration, we couldn't believe we were playing it.
We shouldn't have been there, we should have won before. So we lost our heads and gave away the game. It was unfortunate, but we're all human" he said on pitch 2 of the Dhyan Chand Hockey Complex, after Air India tied 3-3 to Namdhari XI after leading 3-2 with mere minutes to go.
"I guess we made the same mistake here" Arjun said with a wry smile. Truth be told, Air India were down 2-1 50 minutes into the match, after taking the lead in under eight minutes with a penalty corner from flicking specialist Len Aiyappa. Arjun played a full game with fellow Asian Games squad mates Gurbaj Singh and Vikram Pillay.
"Yes, I'm tired, but it's been two years since I played for Air India, and it's important to play for your company. Everyone wants to play for theirs, it's not just the money, it's the exposure." Indeed, Arjun was selected by Air India in 2002, and by the end of 2004 he had been selected for the national team.
Since then, he has been a regular of the squad. His thoughts on China "As a place, fantastic. As a player, very frustrating."