India men’s hockey team star Hardik Singh recalled how the lack of opportunities at the top-level almost forced him to shift to the Netherlands and play club hockey back in 2017. Four years down the line, the midfielder has now been selected in the 16-member men’s squad for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
For Indian Men’s Hockey Team Midfielder Hardik Singh, hockey is in his DNA. Being a fifth-generation hockey player in the family, Hardik, who recently made the cut to the 16-member Indian Men’s Hockey squad for Tokyo Games 2020, is keen on continuing his family’s legacy. He expressed, “I will give my 100% to carry on with my family’s legacy and make the whole country proud.”
The 22-year-old midfielder, who has been a regular feature in the team since Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneshwar 2018, said that there is a lot of competition for a place in the midfield, but that only makes team’s bench strength look strong.
“It now feels great to be a regular part of the Team, well equipped in the midfield. There is a lot of competition for places in the midfield, but that only shows that our bench strength is very strong. We have built that fighting spirit over the past few months, and that is one of the key reasons for our resurgence,” said the young midfielder, who will be making his debut at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
While speaking about his hockey journey, Hardik said, “My journey has been slightly different from my teammates. Some may think that I have had an easy ride, but that’s not the case. I come from Khusropur village near Jalandhar in Punjab. I was very lucky to be part of a family where Hockey was in our DNA. I was very fortunate to be around so many hockey players, I always got advice from all corners of the house and my family has had a huge impact on my career.”
He further added, “My grandfather used to be a Hockey Coach in the Indian Navy. He was the one who helped me pick up the sport and understand the basics of the game. I started playing on the field almost immediately and enjoyed the practice sessions.”
The Jalandhar-born player also spoke about his uncle and former India drag-flicker Jugraj Singh’s influence on his career. Not getting the opportunities at junior level, the then 19-year-old Hardik was on the verge of giving up his dream of playing for India to ply his trade as a professional in the Dutch League in 2017. But, it was uncle Jugraj, who motivated Hardik to stay back and focus on national team selection.
“As a 14-year-old, I moved to Mohali Hockey Academy for further training and quickly rose through the ranks. I also represented India in the Sub-Junior category, however, opportunities at the top level never came my way. In 2017, I was on the verge of giving up my dream of playing for India and almost decided to move to the Netherlands to play club Hockey. But my uncle, Jugraj Singh made me sit and rethink my decision. Jugraj Paaji has been a huge influence in my life. He has mentored me in every part of my life and continues to do so,” said the midfielder.
“After his suggestions, I put in more blood, sweat, and hard work. And finally, my hard work paid off as I was included in the core probable for the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy after winning the Player of the Series at a domestic tournament in Mumbai. Then, the 2018 World Cup happened which was like cherry on top,” he concluded.