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Rupinder Pal Singh - A success story on and off the hockey field

Rupinder Pal Singh has said that the Indian men’s hockey team are eager to defend their gold medal in the upcoming Asian Games 2018 in Jakarta.

other sports Updated: Jul 24, 2018 23:25 IST
Saurabh Duggal
Saurabh Duggal
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Rupinder Pal Singh,Rupinder Pal Singh hockey,hockey
Rupinder Pal Singh on Tuesday said the team is eager to defend their title at the upcoming Asian Games. (HT Photo)

From travelling in a sleeper class and skipping a meal to save money so that return ticket could be bought to affording a Rs 25 lakh car —is the transformation that Faridkot-born Rupinder Pal Singh’s life has gone through over the years. Courtesy: Hockey.

Ace drag-flicker Rupinder, who made a comeback in the Indian squad for the Asian Games, is a success story, both on and off the field.

Coming from a humble family, where his elder brother —former state-level hockey player —had to sacrifice his own career in sports and also left education midway to opt for a marginal job to support their father financially, so that Rupinder could pursue hockey.

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Of late, Rupinder has become one of the lethal drag-flickers of Indian hockey with 90 goals in 190 international matches to his credit and he is expected to play a pivotal role at the continental games to be held in Indonesia next month.

With the success in his hockey career, he has lifted his financially struggling family.

“Hockey is a saviour for me. I still remember the days when I had to think twice even for spending ₹ 50, but now thanks to the sport, I am able to provide my family a decent lifestyle,” says Rupinder, who is an officer with Indian Overseas Bank, Chennai. “Not to mention, hockey has brought immense respect and recognition.”

The beginning

Rupinder started his hockey career from an academy in Ferozepur but it was his six-year stint at Chandigarh Hockey Academy that helped him earn national colours.

“I still remember that when I came for the Chandigarh hockey academy trials (2002) accompanied by my elder brother, we had got just Rs 200 and in that we managed our travel and meals,” recalls Rupinder.

“My father used to have a sports shop in Faridkot, but he had a major setback in business and we lost everything. My family had gone through lot of hardships, but they always made it clear that their financial woes wouldn’t be a hurdle in pursuing my passion. It is because of their efforts that I am here doing the country’s honour,” adds Rupinder, who has been a regular in the Indian squad since 2014 Asian Games.

Comeback in national fold

After the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, where India missed a medal, Rupinder was dropped for the Champions Trophy in Holland. But he was picked again for the upcoming Asian Games.

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“For a player nothing is as satisfying as making it to the Indian team. Last one year was immensely challenging for me. Injury forced me to stay away from the national squad for most of 2017. But, I was back in squad towards the end of the last year. Though, I was dropped for the recent Champions Trophy, I am back for the Asian Games and hopefully, I will not let my coaches down who have shown faith in my abilities for such an important outing,” says Rupinder, who was part of 2014 gold medal winning Asian Games squad.

Target Jakarta

India will be defending their title in Jakarta next month. The top honour guarantees a ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and an early qualification will be helpful in preparing better for the Olympics. “Penalty corner can be a game changer for any team. So, we are working on many combinations and for sure we will have a good conversion rate. Winning gold at Jakarta is our target,” says Rupinder.

First Published: Jul 24, 2018 21:17 IST