New location, age-old passion for Parminder Singh

Compelled to relocate in Canada due to events beyond his control, the former India player stays connected to the sport and has a keen eye on Indian football.

Parminder Singh follows Indian football through the internet and television.   -  R. V. Moorthy

His attitude to football was unambiguous. He was the central figure in the team’s response to the opposition. Parminder Singh’s towering presence on the field was the inspiration for whichever team he represented — India, Punjab or JCT. He could be a striker when he wanted. Dominate the midfield as a matter of right. And defend with gusto. He was a rare complete footballer.

He bad begun as a goal-getter and then adapted to play the central midfielder because his team demanded so. He had exemplary flourish even when tackling. No rough play. His name never found entry in the yellow card section of the referee’s notebook. “I know. I never gave them a chance because I firmly believed that you don’t win a battle by taking recourse to foul play. Only cowards indulge in foul. If you are good, you can win the duel by playing clean football,” Parminder told Sportstar from Canada, where he has been living for the past few years.

‘Can’t stay away from football’

Settled in Edmonton, he coaches an Under-19 team. “I can’t stay away from football,” he says. “At 61, it keeps me fit when I coach the boys. I am indebted to the football circuit we had in my playing days. I would not miss any tournament. I remember we would spend four months in the south playing one tournament after another. That fitness has helped me stay on my feet.”

Parminder had little choice in 2011 when JCT was disbanded. “I was worried for my family. There were no jobs. The situation in Punjab was not good at all as the drugs issue was so menacing. I had to shift base to Canada to help my son find employment. I felt sad at leaving India but things were beyond my control.”

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His connection with India is through the football that he follows on the internet and television. “I follow Indian football. There is progress, no doubt. But it was disappointing that India did not travel to Jakarta for the Asian Games. The team could have gone at no cost to the government.”

He welcomed the Indian Super League (ISL). “It is good because it brings financial security to the players. I would, however, want only four foreigners in the club. If you give away the key positions to them how do you groom your home talent? You don’t learn football sitting on the bench. Have to get out there (field).”

Parminder plans to visit India soon. “Would be great to connect with my old friends,” he sounds excited.

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