Indian Men’s Hockey midfielder Hardik Singh has been in and around the sport since his childhood. The 22-year-old has made the cut to the 16-man squad selected for the Tokyo Olympics. Hardik is the fifth generation hockey player in his family and hence he will look to make them proud on the global stage.
He expressed, “I will give my 100% to carry on with my family’s legacy and make the whole country proud.”
The 22-year-old who has managed to cement his place in the Indian midfield in the last couple of years admits that there is a lot of competition for a place in the starting eleven. He feels that the competition adds strength to the Indian bench.
“It now feels great to be a regular part of the team, well equipped in the midfield. There is a lot of competition for places in the midfield, but that only shows that our bench strength is very strong. We have built that fighting spirit over the past few months, and that is one of the key reasons for our resurgence,” said the 22-year-old midfielder.
Hardik will be making his Olympics debut in Tokyo. Speaking on his journey the youngster said, “My journey has been slightly different from my teammates. Some may think that I have had an easy ride, but that’s not the case. I come from Khusropur village near Jalandhar in Punjab.”
“I was very lucky to be part of a family where Hockey was in our DNA. I was very fortunate to be around so many players, I always got advice from all corners of the house and my family has had a huge impact on my career.”
He revealed how his grandfather was a hockey coach in the Indian Navy and how he was the one to push him towards the sport. “My grandfather used to be a Hockey coach in the Indian Navy. He was the one who helped me pick up the sport and understand the basics of the game. I started playing on the field almost immediately and enjoyed the practice sessions.”
The Jalandhar born midfielder also spoke about his uncle, Jugraj Singh, a former India drag flicker and his influence on the youngster’s journey. Hardik was on the verge of leaving the game when he frustrated with the lack of opportunities in junior level. Hardik was on the verge of giving up his dream to play for India and was on his way to the Dutch League. At that moment it was his uncle who motivated him to stay back and wait for his opportunities.
He remarked, “As a 14-year-old, I moved to Mohali Hockey Academy for further training and quickly rose through the ranks. I also represented India in the sub-junior category, however, opportunities at the top level never came my way.”
“In 2017, I was on the verge of giving up my dream of playing for India and almost decided to move to the Netherlands to play club Hockey. But my uncle, Jugraj Singh made me sit and rethink my decision. Jugraj Paaji has been a huge influence in my life. He has mentored me in every part of my life and continues to do so.”
“After his suggestions, I put in more blood, sweat, and hard work. And finally, my hard work paid off as I was included in the core probable for the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy after winning the Player of the Series at a domestic tournament in Mumbai. Then, the 2018 World Cup happened which was like a cherry on top,” Hardik concluded.