CHENNAI: “My youngest sister had to drop out of school because we could not afford her fees. It wasn’t a nice feeling at all.” Amit Rohidas says this with a tinge of disappointment.
Life before entering the big league wasn’t a good experience for him. “Since we didn’t have any property or fields of our own, my father used to work in others’ fields to make a living. Money was not as forthcoming as we would have liked. But after getting drafted by Ranchi Rhinos in the Hockey India League (HIL) for `16 lakh in 2013 (it was `18 lakh this year), all that changed. Slowly, I started buying necessary items for the house. I also got my sisters educated, and they’re all doing well now,” noted the 23-year-old.
Amit got to rub shoulders with the likes of Moritz Fuertse (Germany), Ashley Jackson (England) and Floris Evers (The Netherlands) during the league. And he has only gone from strength to strength since. Currently in Chennai representing Indian Railways at the 90th All-India MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup, the Odisha native has had a good time.
“The first time I came here, I was less experienced, and things didn’t go as well as expected. But this time, I’ve played much better, and the team has also done well. We’ve topped the pool stages, and are looking ahead to the semifinal clash against BPCL. I like the city, and have gotten used to the way of life here,” he said.
Amit aims to break into the national squad. “HIL helped me get a lot of experience, while also helping me financially. But I know I have to improve a lot in order to make the national team. The current squad is very settled, and breaking into the team won’t be easy. Especially after they’ve done so well recently, including the Rio Games. But it’s a challenge I’m willing to take head on.”
Hailing from Saunamura village, the place Dilip Tirkey comes from, Amit obviously idolises the former India defender and captain. “He is a big influence in my life. If Odisha is one of the hotbeds for hockey in the country currently, he is the reason for it. He brought the sport to the state, and encouraged youngsters like us to pick up the stick.
“I’ve had the good fortune of meeting him as well. He did share some points with me, and that was such a great experience. Both of us are defenders, so that also helped connect. I’ve started concentrating on penalty corners, and since he too was a specialist, getting his advice helped as well,” concluded the former junior India captain.