Junior World Cup heroes win many a heart

Amidst all the attention regarding the World Cup glory, different state Governments have announced cash awards, including Punjab (Rs 25 lakh), Haryana (Rs 20 lakh), Odisha (Rs 8.3 lakh), for players from their states and Hockey India has announced Rs 5 lakh for each player.

Junior World Cup winning hockey players at a felicitation function organised in Kolkata.   -  Y.B. Sarangi

The junior hockey World Cup title triumph has proved to be a magical experience for members of the Indian team. The rare glory has fetched the players scores of fans across the country, including many from the City of Joy.

Seven junior World Cup winning players, including skipper Harjeet Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Vikas Dahiya, Varun Kumar, Gurjant Singh, Simranjeet Singh and Dipsan Tirkey, who are participating in the 121st Beighton Cup here, are floored with the show of affection from their admirers.

“Almost every day we are being invited for felicitation functions and several hockey lovers are meeting us. The kind of love and respect we are receiving is extremely encouraging,” said Gurjant Singh, who scored a fine goal was adjudged the man-of-the-final against Belgium.

On Sunday, the West Bengal Government and the Bengal Hockey Association (BHA) had organised a function to honour these players.

“It was such a proud moment for us. Everyone said we are the future of Indian hockey and it feels encouraging to hear that. Even the taxi drivers here recognise us and now people are hopeful that we will bring back more trophies. Such expectations and support will only urge us to work harder,” said goalkeeper Vikas Dahiya.

Amidst all the attention, different state Governments have announced cash awards, including Punjab (Rs 25 lakh), Haryana (Rs 20 lakh), Odisha (Rs 8.3 lakh), for players from their states and Hockey India has announced Rs 5 lakh for each player.

The cash award is a bit boost for the players, who mostly come from humble backgrounds. "I have experienced poverty but hockey has given me a new life. With the money I got from Hockey India League (HIL) and Rs 10 Lakh from Hockey India awards this year.

"I could build a house in my home town Kurali. The cash awards for winning the World Cup will boost our confidence and help us stay committed to win many more tournaments," said Harjeet.

Elsewhere, players such as Mandeep Singh, Santa Singh, Parvinder Singh, Gurinder Singh had a memorable homecoming when they reached their homes in different parts of Punjab.