Bengaluru, 1st October 2023: Indian Men’s Hockey Team forward Sukhjeet Singh, 26, attributes his hockey success to his father. Sukhjeet’s father, a former hockey player, gave him a hockey stick when he was four years old; since then, Sukhjeet has overcome numerous obstacles on his way to the Indian Men’s Hockey Team. On the most recent episode of Hockey Te Charcha, a podcast series launched by Hockey India, he delves into the complexities.
~The lad from Jalandhar speaks on his arduous journey as a hockey player on the latest episode of Hockey Te Charcha podcast~
“My father had a big hockey stick. My father cut that big stick and gave it to me when I was about four or five years old. My father would come home from work and take me to the ground to teach me hockey. So my father has played the most important role in my hockey career. My hard work and my father have played the most important roles in this,” Sukhjeet Singh said.
Sukhjeet then went to the Hostel in Chandigarh, where he spent seven years before moving on to play with departmental teams for Sindh Bank, Punjab Police, Indian Oil, and then Punjab National Bank. He was chosen for the Indian Men’s Hockey Team following a standout performance for the Punjab National Bank team at the Inter-Departmental National Championships in Bangalore in 2018.
Unfortunately, Sukhjeet’s biggest test in hockey came in the form of a back injury after he was selected. “That was the most difficult period of my life. I’ll never forget that time because I’d never known such agony. I couldn’t even sit on the bed and eat; moving was a different story. It was a very dark time for me; I didn’t know if I’d even be able to walk again,” he explained.
“I saw my father crying when he picked me up from the airport. I thought to myself that my father had sent me to represent India and when I came back, I was walking using a roller walker. My father hugged me and I started crying as well. My father encouraged me to keep my faith and instilled confidence in me. My father used to give me massages to help me recover. There were no physios over there, my father did everything, he was my rock during those uncertain times, and he prepared me to play again,” he elaborated.
Sukhjeet recovered from this setback and made his debut for the Indian Men’s Hockey Team in the FIH Pro League 2021-2022 season. Since then his growth as a forward ensured a spot for him at the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar – Rourkela and the Hero Asian Champions Trophy Chennai 2023.
Sukhjeet is now in China on a mission to win the gold medal at the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022. “The senior players help us out, if we don’t understand the structure, or if we don’t know about something, we go to them. Also, the coach has coached us in a way that no matter who the striker is, if we are unable to convert a goal, then we need to create a chance for our teammates and that’s what we’ll try and do at the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022,” Sukhjeet had commented on preparations before leaving for China.
The Indian Men’s Hockey Team is currently on top of the table in Pool A at the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022, having beaten Uzbekistan, Singapore, Japan, and Pakistan. They will face Bangladesh in the last match of the group stage on 2nd October with the aim to finish within the top two spots and advance to the Semi-Finals.
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About HOCKEY INDIA
HOCKEY INDIA (HI) is the governing body with exclusive mandate to direct and conduct all activities for both men and women’s hockey in India. It is recognized by the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, Govt. of India as the sole body responsible towards promoting Hockey in India.
Headquartered in New Delhi, Hockey India was established on 20th May, 2009 and is affiliated to the International Hockey Federation (FIH), the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and Asian Hockey Federation (AHF).
Committed to the development of Hockey in the country, Hockey India with the assistance of Sports Authority of India and Department of Sports, Government of India, trains players at sub-junior, junior and senior level. The governing body engages in Coaching the coaches with International Standard certification programs, educates and equips technical officials and umpires to find a foothold in international arena, provides world-class infrastructure and International exposure for the players besides regular international competition. Hockey India has also pioneered in bringing top International hockey events to India such as the FIH Men’s World Cup in 2010 and 2018, FIH Champions Trophy in 2014, FIH Junior Men’s World Cup in 2016 and 2021, FIH Hockey World League Final in 2017. With its vision to popularize the game and constantly promote it, Hockey India brought the Indian Men’s Hockey Team into the top three in the world. Hockey India is also dedicated to getting the Indian Women’s Hockey Team into the top three in the world.
Odisha – the Eastern State of India – is known for its love for Hockey and over the years it has evolved to be the Global Hub of Hockey. The State successfully hosted the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018, followed by the FIH Men’s Series Finals Bhubaneswar Odisha, FIH Olympic Qualifiers Odisha, and FIH Hockey Pro League 2020-21. Odisha has previously hosted the Champions Trophy 2014 and the Odisha Men’s Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017. Odisha also hosted the FIH Men’s Hockey Junior World Cup in 2021.
Kalinga Lancers, the team owned by the State, were the winners in the Hockey India League 2017. Taking a step further towards realising the dream of restoring the glory of Indian Hockey at the global level, the State is sponsoring the Indian Hockey Teams till 2033.
Odisha also hosted the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023.