Indian Men’s Hockey Team midfielder Hardik Singh once again proved that consistent hard work leads to success by bagging the Hockey India Balbir Singh Sr. Award for Player of the Year 2022 at the 5th Hockey India Annual Awards 2022 held in March 2023 in New Delhi.
In the latest episode of Hockey Te Charcha, a podcast series launched by Hockey India, Olympic medallist and experienced campaigner Hardik Singh spoke about winning the Player of the Year award. He also opened up about getting ruled out of the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar - Rourkela and how he never stopped working hard to be where he is today.
“I never thought that I would ever win this award, but I know for a fact that I was working hard for the last three to four years and my hard work paid off,” Hardik said before adding, “I think it’s an inspiration to receive this award, which also ensures that I am appreciated by the people of India for playing well.”
Hardik also recalled how he dreamed of winning the award after seeing Manpreet Singh, who led India to a Bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, win it in 2019.
“I think, back then, Manpreet won this award, and I was just sitting there and thinking that one day I’m going to bag this award. So, I was working hard every day, and then the Tokyo 2020 Olympics came, which was a big opportunity for me to prove that I have an important role in the team. There was also the 2023 Hockey World Cup. So, I believe it was all done step by step,” Hardik said.
The 24-year-old also stated that such awards keep players motivated and inspire them to give their best.
“I really appreciate Hockey India and the jury, who thought that I am capable of receiving the Player of the Year Award. Moreover, I think these awards keep the senior, as well as the junior players motivated as there’s always a hunger to perform better and that helps you to keep getting better and better,” he said.
“Also, receiving the award in the presence of Hockey legends like Dhanraj Pillay, Gurbux Singh, and Harcharan Singh was itself a big achievement for me and it inspires me to keep improving as a player,” he continued.
Further talking about his personal growth as a player, Hardik said, “Currently, I’m really happy how I’m getting better day by day, how I’m improving, and how I’m developing my skills at every session because back in 2017-18, I got into my comfort zone which proved to be harmful to me as I was not playing well and was dropped out of the team eventually. So, I had to reset myself to bounce back.”
“As a player, you have to work hard every day and have to give your 100% in every training session. You have to step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself to grow as a player,” he added.
The Punjab-born player also revealed how big a setback it was for him to get ruled out of the 2023 Hockey World Cup midway due to an injury. “The World Cup was really a big chance for me to prove again that I’m a big stage player. I was doing really well in the tournament and then the injury came. So, I was in shock because I was doing everything to give my best performance in the tournament.”
“After Tokyo Olympics, all my focus was on the World Cup, and I was giving my 100% in everything, be it in the gym or training session or pool session. All I was thinking about was that my hard work isn’t paying off because I was getting injured and doing nothing about it. But I was still cheering for the team from the sidelines and trying to be positive as I didn’t want to be a crybaby. It’s a team game, if my side is winning, then I am also winning, and if they are happy, I am happy too,” he added.
Meanwhile, Hardik Singh shared his thoughts on playing under newly-appointed Indian Men’s Hockey Team Chief Coach Craig Fulton, who recently joined the ongoing National Coaching Camp which is being held at Sports Authority of India (SAI), Bengaluru.
“I think whenever you try to make a champion team; you need a champion coach also. Craig has been successful with the Ireland team and with the Belgium team. He brings that positive aura and the champion’s mindset that we need right now,” Hardik said.
“Craig’s ideas and his structure of playing the game and how to read the opponent is really incredible. He’s more like a tactical coach, so there’s going to be more work on that front. I think Craig will need some time to get acclimated to the atmosphere in India; it’s a different atmosphere, so we need to be patient with him. But we are sure of creating some good memories with him,” he added.
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