How uncle Jugraj's advice changed midfielder Hardik Singh's career

Former Indian dragflicker Jugraj Singh's advice changed midfielder Hardik Singh's career, motivating him to focus on securing a spot in the national team.

Shifting his focus to the national team selection helped Hardik Singh earn a call up for the 2018 Hockey World Cup.   -  BISWARANJAN ROUT

Hardik Singh wanted to ply his trade as a professional in the Dutch League back in 2017 when his uncle Jugraj Singh’s advice of focussing on national team selection changed the course of young Indian midfielder’s career.

Jugraj, one of the most feared drag-flickers during is heyday motivated nephew Hardik, who is now aiming to become an “evolved player” with an aim to seal a spot in the national team for next year’s Tokyo Olympics.

The talented player from Khusropur village near Jalandhar in Punjab said he was on the verge of giving up his dream of playing for India in 2017.

“I went from the sub-junior level to the senior level at a good pace after I joined the Mohali Hockey Academy as a 14-year-old. However, after a few years, I found myself in a situation where I lost confidence about being a regular player in the Indian squad,” he said.

“I thought about going to the Netherlands in 2017 to play club hockey there. But then my uncle Jugraj Singh convinced me that I should continue working hard and I will be a regular player in the Indian squad.

“Thankfully, I stayed back and I have been lucky to play in big tournaments like the Hockey Men’s World Cup in 2018,” Hardik was quoted as saying in a Hockey India media release.

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The 21-year-old had played an important role in the gold medal-winning campaign at the FIH Men’s Series Finals and was also part of the Indian team which defeated Russia in the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers last year.

“The days leading up to the Olympics is going to be very crucial for all of us,” Hardik, who has played only 37 matches for the senior Indian team so far, said in a release issued by Hockey India (HI).

“I am very happy about the fact that I could perform for the team at the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers, however, I am very determined to become a much more evolved player and become a regular member in the Indian team for the Olympics,” the youngster said.

“I have been working on my game in whatever capacity I can in the last few months and I am sure that my hard work will pay off one day,” he said.

Hardik said he is fortunate to be playing alongside Indian captain Manpreet Singh whom he emulates.

“I am very fortunate to be playing alongside someone like Manpreet Singh, who gives everything he has in any match he plays for India. He covers the entire ground brilliantly and I hope I can be as good as him in the upcoming years,” said the 21-year-old.

The Indian team will resume its FIH Pro League season in April next year against hosts Argentina.

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