Commonwealth Games 2018: Canadian hockey pride - Ludhiana’s Panesar brothers
Hockey was his first love but financial constraints didn’t let Balbir Singh Panesar, a resident of Chacharali village in Ludhiana, pursue his dream. He had to move to Canada in 1976, four years after his father, Waryam Singh, had migrated there for greener pastures.
Then only 14, Balbir gave up his passion to help his father and support their family. But four decades later, Panesar’s two sons have realised his dream.
The siblings — Sukhpal and Balraj —have made it to the Canadian hockey team and are part of the country’s contingent for the Commonwealth Games 2018 in Gold Coast that starts on Wednesday.
“It is a memorable moment for the family. As a hockey lover, what more can Balbir ji ask for? Both his sons have made it to the national squad for a prestigious outing such as the Commonwealth Games,” said former Canadian hockey player and Olympian Sukhwinder Singh, who has closely followed the Panesar brothers graduating to international level.
Balbir along with his wife will be in Gold Coast to watch their sons donning the jersey of their adopted country. Elder son Sukhpal, 27, who is known as Sukhi in hockey circles, made his international debut in 2010 and has played over 100 games for Canada, including the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and 2016 Rio Olympics.
The younger one, 25-year-old Balraj, will be competing in his first major multi-discipline event. He made his debut in 2014 and has played 27 matches.
Adding to the legacy of United Brother hockey club
United Brother Club, which was established in 1987, traces its lineage to migrated Indians. Balbir, who used to play for the club, introduced his three kids to the sport and eventually Sukhpal and Balraj made it big.
“Ours is among the top hockey clubs in Canada and except for the goalkeeper, all other players in the team are of Indian-origin,” says Sukhwinder, who migrated to Canada in 2000.