BHUBANESWAR: The journey from a ball-boy to the India’s World Cup squad has been long and arduous one for Hardik Singh. Hot property of Hockey India League 2016, the 20-year-old had decided to quit Indian hockey to join overseas professional club at one point of time.
But destiny had other plans. Five years back, Hardik was a ball-boy at the first edition of HIL in 2013. His stocks rose when he performed consistently and was named vice-captain of the team for Sub-Junior Asia Cup 2016. The team bagged gold and he went on to become hot property for HIL where he played for Punjab Warriors.
It was only a matter of time before he made it to the senior team but he was not picked. A frustrated Hardik almost left Indian shores in 2017 to play club hockey overseas but his family stood by him and persuaded him to rethink. Hardik stayed back.
As he made his debut in the senior team against South Africa on Wednesday, his mother Kamajit Kaur was in the stands to cheer for him.
“He is playing for his country and I am cheering for the team. Like all mothers, I used to back him during the bad days. November 28 was a big day for Hardik when he put on the blue jersey and I did not want to miss the sight,” said Kamaljit.
When kids used to play with toys, Hardik would ask for hockey sticks. He started playing hockey in Class II in his village Khusropur in Jalandhar under the guidance of his grandfather Preetam Singh Ray who was a hockey coach in Indian Navy.
Hardik is not the only player who represented the nation in his family. His father Varinderpreet Singh Ray, now DSP of Gurdaspur, was an International hockey player. In fact, the 20-year-old is the third generation hockey player in his family representing the nation. Olympian Gurmail Singh, Arjuna awardee Rajbir Kaur and paternal uncle Jugraj Singh had also played for the nation, informed Kamaljit.
While Hardik’s father is expected to reach Bhubaneswar shortly, Kamaljit is amazed by such wonderful arrangement for the Hockey World Cup in the City. “The most surprising thing is the houseful crowd which cheers for every match. “The City is neat, clean and peaceful,” added Kamaljit.