Fate can be cruel. Ask Vijay Surve. At 60, the former national hockey player sells tea at Guna’s Station Road Area to make both ends meet, after failing to earn a decent livelihood.
The father of two does not allow his children pick up hockey stick, fearing the same fate will befall on them. “I don’t want my son (Arpit) and daughter (Apeksha) face similar situation and end up on losing side like me. I want them to focus on study, instead of spending hours on hockey field,” Surve said.
Before his brief stint in national team, Surve began playing hockey in 1971 and represented Madhya Bharat Hockey team against Punjab Police during the Lal Bhadur Shastri Hockey tournament eight years later. “But when I didn’t get support and opportunity, I quit hockey and started selling tea to earn livelihood,” he said.
“It was my dream in childhood to emulate hockey wizard Dhyanchand and bring laurel to the country. I have no complaint (about hardship) as it was my personal decision to quit hockey. But there are hundreds of retired hockey players who quit the game due to lack of employment. The government should take note of it and help them come out of pitiable condition.”
Former hockey star and Olympian Aslam Sher Khan felt lack of education could have hampered employment prospects of Surve. “In 60s and 70s, many national-level players played almost throughout their life. Many of them did not even pass matriculation and hence did not have any job,” Khan said. “This is why one can see many such players doing menial jobs and die in penury. Surve could be one such case. The state should ensure that each and every player who played at national level should get a job to help them as well as draw attention towards hockey,” he said.