Young Australian striker Arunaaslam Kiran wants his team and former champions to lift the Junior Hockey World Cup again, but, at the same time, his heart beats for India as he has his roots in Tamil Nadu.
“I want my team to win the Cup again, but at the same time, I feel that India too are a very good side here and favourites,” Arunaaslam Kiran , 21, told HT on Thursday. “India will definitely be a challenge. We went to Johor (Malaysia) last year and they beat us. We haven’t played them since, but I played them in the Australian Hockey League (AHL) and beat them in the shootout,” he added.
“Playing against India is always a big challenge. Malaysia is cool too, but I prefer playing India,” said Kiran, who started playing hockey at the age of five.
Though he was born and brought up in Melbourne after his father migrated from Malaysia nearly 35 years back, his connection with a little-known town of Tiruppattur in Vellore district is still intact, as there is an ancestral house. “I have been to my ancestral home twice, and would love to visit again,” Kiran, who scored five goals for Australia in qualifying matches, said.
Like many kids in south India, Kiran’s head too was shaved after birth and his ears pierced. “Though we live in Melbourne, we follow all Indian traditions like puja and other rituals as it keep us connected with our roots,” said Kiran, who has been enjoying delicious Lucknowi cuisine all these days.
He says that his mom is a great cook and even teaches him the finer nuances of cooking. “I do a little bit but I have to learn more. Mum’s a pretty good cook, typical south Indian stuff. She makes a lot of chicken curry that I love.
“I took to hockey after seeing my brother play. But even though he quit the game, I continued my passion. It’s been 16 years since I’ve been playing hockey.” A fitness freak, Kiran, who received five stitches above his right eye after a ball hit him during training two days back, does special drills for fitness.
“For me and the others (Australian team), fitness remains a priority. We work hard on our fitness as it’s the base for all sport.”
Admiring the physical fitness of the Indians, Kiran says the Indians too have got better with time. “They are very good, very fit and there are some fast boys too. Now, the Indians are considered more skilful, whereas the Europeans and the Aussies are considered to have more raw strength.”