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HOCKEY ICON

Odds couldn't damp the Sardar spirit



PICTURE PERFECT: Sardar Singh's parents were lucky to be part of a sect which backed his passion

The entire value of their land holding couldn't equal the cost of their son's hockey equipment. Today, the equation has changed.

In the sleepy village of Sant Nagar in Haryana's Sirsa district, Sardar Singh's house is easy to locate. He is a hockey icon and vice captain of the Indian team currently in London. It wasn't the case earlier.
For Sardar's parents Gurnam Singh and Jasveer Kaur, who are the force behind the player, it has been a journey fraught with struggles. Dr Gurnam was a registered medical practitioner (RMP) in the village and with a monthly income of just Rs 1, 000-1, 200 was hardly earning enough to make ends meet for his family of four. The family could not even afford thinking about spending on the diet and the sport kit of young Sardar.

"I still remember when Sardar was around 12 years and demanded hockey shoes worth Rs 1, 000, my wife spent an entire day to convince him to give up playing the game, as it would be a waste of time and energy, " recalls Gurnam, adding "The game was not lucrative at that time. "

Sardar's mother Jasveer, 48, recounts how Sardar was highly talented in hockey but she used to feel bad while avoiding meeting him as she was unable to meet his demands.

Followers of the Namdhari sect of Sikhs, the family had some unproductive, arid land and there was no other source of income. Gurnam even tried his luck abroad and went with his relatives to Bangkok but could not earn much there and came back disappointed.

Sardar's dreams got wings only when the head of Namdhari sect, Guru Jagjit Singh, identified his talent and admitted him at a hockey academy in Ludhiana.

"Today, it seems like a dream because we have gone through a phase when the value of our entire property/assets was much lower than the total value of equipment lying in Sardar's personal gym, which was recently set up at his home in the village, " Jasveer says.

But Sardar was so crazy about hockey that he used to sneak away on his father's cycle in the afternoon to practice at the ground. Jasveer remembers that Sardar's passion for hockey was fuelled by watching his elder brother Didar Singh, who has also played at the national level.

Today, their two-room accommodation has been replaced by a palatial house with a swanky Volkswagen car parked outside. Sardar is also a DSP in the Haryana Police.

Despite the celebrity status of their son, Gurnam and Jasveer remain down-to-earth and humble. Their only wish is a medal for India at London and they are looking forward to arranging Sardar's marriage once he returns.

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