More than 165 years after the British grabbed the empire of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, a young team from the United Kingdom has come to annex the junior hockey gold cup named in his honour.
The annual six- day tournament began on Tuesday at Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) here. This is the first time in its 12-year history that a British under-17 team is a contender. The UK Lions Hockey Club are here with their families to compete in the international league.
In the past, teams from Pakistan are a regular, but this year, they are not invited following the worsening of the relations between the neighbours. Amritsar Hockey Club organises this tournament.
UK team manager Graham Bell is a big fan of Indian hockey. “Indian hockey players have unmatched technique. Our club came up in 2003. We began as an under-13 squad. The players travels with the parents, and have gathered from England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. We, a group of nearly 50, are enjoying the weather in Punjab and the players are developing their techniques competing with the under-19 trainees of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh academy,” he said.
Indian Hockey rules lions' hearts
The academy trounced the Lions 7-2 but Bell is unruffled. “We have brought a young team to learn the Indian techniques. We have always respected the Indian hockey history, its players, and tactics,” said the British manager, looking forward to taking the team to the Golden Temple and the retreat ceremony on the Attari-Wagah border.
Neil McIntyre, one of the UK players, said his team was all excited and raring to go. “The side has several English, Scottish and Welsh junior internationalists and we hope to put up a good show against the hosts. We have confidence in our techniques but the flow in today’s match wasn’t up to the mark. The platforms, however, will help cultural exchange between players. We have made Indian friends,” he said.