Despite Olympic disaster, Rajpal remains hopeful
Kuch Kariye Kuch Kariye…. the lyrics of the theme song from Chak de! India blare in your ear as you call striker Rajpal Singh.
The song sounds ironical, making one wonder what would be going through the ace winger's mind after India failed to make it to the Beijing Olympics. "What can I say? I am heartbroken of course. We had been practising for the last 11 months for the qualifiers. One bad day the whole team failed to click, and we were out.
“Though we won the Asia Cup and were placed third in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and Champions Challenge Trophy, those weren't our main targets. After our dismal performance in the Doha Asian Games, our main aim was to qualify for the Beijing Olympics," said Rajpal.
"The result in Chile was heartbreaking not only for us but for every hockey lover. It should serve as a wake up call for everyone — officials from the Indian Hockey Federation, the players and all those who are directly or indirectly associated with the sport," he stressed.
But, despite the disaster, Rajpal is optimistic. "Tomorrow is another day. Chile is now past and we should start focusing on the future. The media also has a responsibility. This failure should not stop kids from picking up hockey. Instead, it should motivate them help raise its standard.
“Our being out of the Olympics does not mean that nobody will play hockey anymore. We are all professionals. We will continue playing the sport for our respective employers and Indian hockey will definitely bounce back."
The next main targets, Rajpal added, were the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the World Cup. "We have two years, we can rebuild the team. But before that, we will be focussing on the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup," he said.