A city school has given renewed hope to hockey lovers that talent exists in the narrow alleys of the state.
The first season of Hockey India League (HIL) had six players from Government Model Senior Secondary School Boys compete on Astro turf with world-class players.
Over the last 2-3 years, the school has produced 11 players of note, some of whom have also been blooded at the international level and have looked the part.
Parvinder Singh (forward) Ranchi Rhinos; Ganganpreet Singh full-back defence, Jarmanpreet Singh, Gurvinder Singh (mid-fielders) Punjab Warriors; Harjeet Singh (mid-fielder) Uttar Pradesh Wizards and Vikramjeet Singh (defence) Delhi Wave-riders are reliving every moment of the league and the international exposure it brought them and share heir journey to fame with HT.
Harjeet Singh, or Tuli as known by teammates, was bought for Rs 1.5 lakh. “I started playing hockey at the age of 14 at my native Niholka village. I shifted to Jalandhar in 2007 and gave trails for Surjit Hockey academy. This was the big break I needed for my career.”
In 2011, I was selected for Junior India hockey team and in 2012, I was part of Junior Asia Cup team, where we bagged the bronze medal. He added the money he has earned will be used to support his family.
Jarmanpreet Singh alias Jarman in the team, was bid fro Rs 4 lakh. He plans to use the amount for his training and to emerge as a better player. Jarman was part of the Indian hockey men's team for Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in 2011 and 2012. He said, “Our school teachers have supported us. It is difficult to devote time to studies with a busy schedule of tournaments and practice. Teachers ensure that they help us with the syllabus and pass our exams.”
Ganganpreet, alias Ganga, also bought for Rs 1.5 lakh, who comes from a family of farmers, said, “I took to hockey in 2006 at Batala. I came to Jalandhar in 2007 and since then hockey has been the focus of my life. I eat, sleep, drink and study hockey.”
From my fee from the tournament, I bought myself a laptop so that I could keep in touch with the foreign players and analyse their videos, helping me become a better player. Ganganpreet has played junior nationals in 2011 and 2012.
Gurinder Singh, bought for Rs 1.5 lakh, whose inspiration for hockey has been the Olympian Dharamvir, said, “Playing in the same league with world-class players was a dream come true. The league helped build my confidence and improved my game.”
The four youngsters want to win the Junior Hockey World Cup (2013) that will be hosted in Delhi. The honour board of hockey players that belonged to the school include Manpreet Singh, the Olympian, Mandeep Singh, Satbir Singh, Sukhmanjeet, Talwinder Singh, Akashdeep Singh and Prabhdeep Singh.
The man behind all these budding players, coach Avtar Singh, said, “within 4-5 years, a lot of young players have made a mark for themselves. Previously, 400-500 players attended the trials. Over the years, the number has risen to 1,000. With players making the international hockey grade at a young age, their careers are longer.”
He added that the young lads are focused and were using international exposure from the HIL to fine-tune their skills.