Spectators watching the ongoing All India Sahibzada Ajit Singh hockey champion trophy matches at Prithipal stadium in Punjab Agricultural University become quite curious whenever they see a masked player displaying his skills with the curved stick on astroturf.
Wearing a colourful black and yellow mask, he could easily have been misconstrued as a WWF wrestler, but for his athletic frame.
He is an international hockey player Inderjeet Singh Chadha who could not fulfill his dream to play in the Olympics despite his calibre, due to politics in Indian hockey.
Ask him why he wears the mask, and he remarks sarcastically, "I just like to keep my face covered now while playing so that hockey selectors do not see me and select me in the national team by mistake."
Prodded further, he said, "I wear this mask to keep my head cool since it is specially made for this purpose. I bought this mask from the US where me and Deepak Thakur go to play leagues. This mask is very useful in playing hockey matches during daytime. Moreover, my coach says I am a very short-tempered player; so it's better for me to wear it to keep my head cool."
Chadha, who hails from Kusumbadi village in Fatehgarh Sahib district, has been playing hockey since 1992, but was allegedly given step-motherly treatment by national selectors. However, he still has a passion for the sport.
After suffering due to politics in Indian hockey for a long time, Chadha has now made up his mind to follow his father into politics, but for the betterment of hockey.
"I have begun to see my future in politics only now, not like selectors of Indian hockey, but like my father Harnek Singh, who is a Congress politician. I will always promote players as whatever I am today is because of hockey," he added.
"No doubt, I am representing Indian Oil, one of the top hockey teams in the country. But I will finally go into politics to reach a level where I can help wipe out politics from Indian hockey so that talented youths and deserving players were not deprived of chance to play for the country just because of politics," Chadha added.
Those who know him vouch for his kindheartedness. His teammates pointed out that he was always eager to help the needy. If a hockey player approached him and asked for his hockey stick worth thousands of rupees, he readily gave it away, they said.