Forgotten hockey hero Sandeep Singh eager to coach

Sandeep Singh, who's been out of the national side since 2014, wants to train young Indian drag-flickers at the grass-roots level. He speaks about his coaching ambitions, his plans for the next HIL and his upcoming biopic.

Sandeep Singh, at 30, is looking ahead of what he'd like to do once he retires from the game.   -  PTI

Every sportsperson has a shelf life and former India hockey captain Sandeep Singh admitted that age is not on his side for a national comeback. He is now eager to mentor youngsters wanting to master the art of drag-flicking.

Sandeep, regarded as one of the world's most dangerous drag-flickers in his heyday, has been out of the national team since 2014.

A fighter to the core, Sandeep did not give up and continued his hard work on the turf, plying his trade in Australian and European leagues as well as the Hockey India League (HIL) to prove his mettle but eventually, a back injury during last year's HIL dashed all his hopes.

"My dad always tells me 'jo suraj subah ko ugta hai wo sham ko asth hota hai' (the sun which rises in the morning is bound to set in the evening). I too had my time and I tried to be as stable as possible to sustain for a longer period. I have played enough hockey and now I just want to give something back to the game for which I am here today," Sandeep told PTI in an interview.

"I have specific plans. I have a lot of ideas, desi ideas which I want to implement in coaching. I want to work with Indian drag-flickers at the grass-roots level and train them. Skill wise and going by conversion rate I am still the No.1 drag-flicker in India.

"On and off I am taking coaching lessons in Australia. I have plenty of ideas which I want to implement and share with youngsters. I can assure that if given a chance, I can improve 5 to 20 per cent in every drag-flicker in each session. But I don't (know) how and whom to approach in Hockey India," he said.

Sandeep was hit by a stray bullet during a train journey to join the national team for the 2016 World Cup in Germany. He came back two years later and went on to become one of the best drag-flickers in the world.

"Even though I still desire to play for the country one last time but deep down I know my international career is over. It is very difficult to get into the national team again. Age is not in my hand," he said.

Sandeep feels hockey players of international repute, like cricketers, should be given a fitting farewell.

"I know hockey is not as popular as cricket in India but I hope in future, every renowned hockey player should be given a fitting farewell rather than ignoring them," he said.

Sandeep is not playing in the ongoing HIL for reasons, which he refused to divulge, but is eager to make a mark in the lucrative league next season by honing his skills in Australia and England.

"I won't like to disclose the reasons behind why I am not playing in the current HIL but I will play in Australia for St George Randwick Hockey Club in March and then for Harvard Hockey Club in England in September and hope to make comeback in the league next year," said Sandeep, who played for Ranchi Rays in last HIL.

Sandeep is also excited about a biopic on his life which is scheduled for release next year.

"The biopic is being produced by actress Chitrangada Singh. It will hit the theatres next year. It's in advanced stages now and the casting will be done soon," he said.