Simranjeet’s Olympic bronze a reward for 14-year self-imposed separation from parents : The Tribune India

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tokyo olympics | Men's Hockey

Simranjeet’s Olympic bronze a reward for 14-year self-imposed separation from parents

24-yr-old midfielder scored a brace against Germany in India’s 5-4 win in the bronze medal match in Tokyo Olympics

Simranjeet’s Olympic bronze a reward for 14-year self-imposed separation from parents

Simranjeet Singh of India celebrates with teammate Sumit of India after scoring. Reuters



Gaurav Kanthwal

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 5

Midfielder Simranjeet Singh’s passion for hockey was such that he chose to come back to his ancestral village, Chahal Kalan in Batala, leaving behind his family in Pilibhit 14 years ago. Father Iqbal Singh and mother Manjit Kaur had migrated to UP for farming some years back.

While father Iqbal Singh found his love for farming in the 32 acres of fertile land in UP, son Simranjeet’s passion for hockey bloomed in the grassy playground of Guru Nanak Hockey Academy in Chahal Kalan, 10 km from Batala in Gurdaspur district.

The village already has three sons who have represented India at the international tournaments and several who have played at the national level.

Till Class IV, Simranjeet had studied in Pilibhit along with his younger brother Arshjeet Singh who later moved to Australia. The half-yearly visits of uncle Rashpal Singh, a hockey enthusiast, and cousin Satinderjeet Singh, the best hockey player among the siblings, egged Simranjeet’s desire to follow his trail.

The news clippings of Satinderjeet’s hockey feats only fanned the fires of the 10-year-old wannabe. Given the environment and the facilities in their village, 25 km from Pilibhit, it looked impossible. The 10-year-old was spurred to pack his bag and seek destiny in Punjab.

So, when the extended family was heading back to Chahal Kalan, Simranjeet held his aunt’s hand and insisted that he be taken along.

It has been almost 14 years Simranjeet has been staying in Chahal Kalan and honing his skills at the Surjit Hockey Academy in Jalandhar before joining the national camp. The 24-year-old made his India debut in 2018. From besting siblings in Punjab, Simranjeet didn’t know when he turned to beating the best in the world.

The historic brace (17 minutes and 34 minutes) Simranjeet scored against Germany in India’s 5-4 win in the bronze medal match has proved that the decision he took 14 years ago, was right.

Simranjeet Singh’s uncle and aunt at Chahal Kalan on Thursday morning. 

“All the 10-year-old wanted to do then was play hockey. Every six months he had to be pushed to go and meet his parents in Pilibhit but his heart always remained here,” said uncle Rashpal.

Coach Ranjit Singh, who spotted Simranjeet’s talent at Chahal Kalan, later inducted him in the Cheema Hockey Academy in Shahabad from where the budding player carved his way into the Surjit Hockey Academy, a conveyer belt for junior and senior Indian national hockey team.

“Our boy is mad for hockey. Maybe he felt secure in a joint family and did not feel the need for active presence of his mother and father. But, yes, hockey is very big part of his life,” said the 50-year-old father figure. 

“His father was not too inclined to hockey but I was, probably, that is why he chose to stay with me,” he concluded.

An underprivileged kid staying away from his parents for the sake his career is not new, but, a well-off kid chosing to stay away from his parents and brother is not heard very often in Punjab.

Simranjeet’s childhood coaches say his uncle has all along kept a hawk’s eye on the lad’s progress to ensure that he does not go astray.

While father is doing good in the farmlands of UP, son Simranjeet is not doing bad either in Tokyo. He can now boast of being an Olympic bronze medallist in the sport he loved since childhood. This morning the 24-year-old, who plies his trade for Petroleum Sports Promotion Board in the domestic circuit, just got richer by Rs 1 crore—and the count is expected to go up in the coming days.

For Chahal Kalan, it was a red letter day as two of its sons, midfielder Simranjeet and forward Gurjant Singh, not only represented the country but combined to score the fifth goal which took the game away from Germany. 


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