CHENNAI: 2016 seems to be the year of fairytales. First it was Leicester City who shocked the world with their Premier League triumph. Then Iceland and Wales won hearts with gutsy performances at the Euros. Not to mention the formers not-so-shocking, yet stunning, win over a dismal England side in the pre-quarterfinals.
Back home, Indian Railways have continued that trend. Beating an IOCL team filled with current India players is no easy deal, but they made it look simple. Having gone behind to a VR Raghunath penalty corner in the final of the 90th MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament here on Sunday, they responded in the best possible way. Displaying pace, power and the hunger to achieve, the Railwaymen came out 2-1 winners to clinch the title they so dearly craved.
“This is the result of lots of hard work, and our focus on fitness has paid off. If you see right throughout the tournament, we were the fittest team over the last ten minutes. In the final also, when IOCL were looking for that equalising goal, out fitness levels helped us keep them at bay, and clinch our first Murugappa title,” said Railways coach R Suresh Babu.
IOCL manager Kamlesh Parihar revealed his team had been set up to counter this very strength. “We knew Railways was going to play fast hockey, so the plan was to slow the game down. I wouldn’t say our fitness levels were inferior, just that today was their day, and we have to accept that fact,” noted Kamlesh.
Devoid of any big names, but filled with probables knocking on the doors of the national team, Railways showed that team spirit and the drive to succeed will always bring glory, something that Leicester also displayed in abundance during their surprise run to the title. And where the Foxes had the indefatigable N’Golo Kante, Railways had Jasjit Singh.
“I normally play in defence, but the coach asked me to play in centre midfield for this tournament. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and the challenge was to improve my fitness, knowing the position requires so much running. I’m happy all that endurance training worked, and I hope this will be the platform for me to break into the national side,” said the 26-year-old.
A bright start to the upcoming season, and one hopes this accomplishment is the first of many to come for the crowd favourites.