Harmanpreet Singh: One for the future

Back in October 2014, when he first came into the spotlight after being the top-scorer in India’s triumph at the Sultan Of Johor Cup in Malaysia, the one thing that stood out about Harmanpreet Singh had been his composure.

Harmanpreet Singh was named the Best Junior Player at the Champions Trophy.   -  Getty Images

Back in October 2014, when he first came into the spotlight after being the top-scorer in India’s triumph at the Sultan Of Johor Cup in Malaysia, the one thing that stood out about Harmanpreet Singh had been his discipline.

Then 18-years-old, the shy defender was hailed as much for his calm mind as the ability to read and learn the game on the move. Two years hence, the boy from Amritsar has repeatedly it was no fluke, evident from his being named the Best Junior Player at the Champions Trophy.

“I have always been told that a calm mind wins more matches than a fiery temper. Aggression on field must ensure victory for the team, not a penalty,” he had said back then and even with the senior team in London, he showed the same maturity. Everyone from the opposition to the commentators praised his composure and his clean tackling.

As a defender, Harmanpreet’s game is a delight to watch. He is adept at stealing the ball cleanly from the opponent, hardly ever pushes or pays rough and is keenly aware of both the ball and the advancing striker. He not only learns from the team’s training sessions but also the opposition during games. Both coach Roelant Oltmans and junior India coach Harendra Singh have been full of praise for the youngster’s learning skills.

As a drag-flicker, Harmanpreet provides the much-needed backup to the battery of V. R. Raghunath and Rupinderpal Singh. His shots have speed, accuracy and variation. Interestingly, Rupinder was the man he grew up idolising before coming in for the senior pro at London as Oltmans tested new players. Rupinder himself is full of praise for the youngster.

“Players like Harmanpreet have shown their mettle with a good show. The coach’s idea of a rotation policy was to give them a chance to test their abilities both mentally and physically and I feel they have done well for themselves,” Rupinder said, his views echoed by captain Sardar Singh.

With his next target being the Junior World Cup now, to be hosted by India in December, Harmanpreet would be the one to look out for.

Cash award

Hockey India on Saturday announced a cash prize of Rs. 2 lakh each for the players and Oltmans, and Rs. 1 Lakh each for the other coaches and rest of the support staff for the silver-medal performance at the Champions Trophy. An additional prize of Rs. 1 Lakh was also announced for Harmanpreet Singh for being adjudged the best junior player of the tournament.

“It is a proud moment for all of us. The way the team played against Australia is commendable. I congratulate the players, the coaches and the support staff for their hard work and dedication. I believe we are on the right track for road to RIO,” HI president Narinder Batra.