Rupinderpal: 'If you don't have competition, you don't improve'

A Champions Trophy silver medal, a World League bronze, an Asian Games gold and two Asian Champions Trophy gold medals for the Indian National Hockey side are some of the high points of Rupinderpal's decorated career.

Rupinderpal (center) thinks that the HIL has emerged as a path-breaker in hockey.   -  Sandeep Saxena

For the last seven years, Rupinderpal Singh has been almost a constant feature in the National hockey side and has contributed in India's recent accomplishments in top level tournaments.

A Champions Trophy silver medal, a World League bronze, an Asian Games gold and two Asian Champions Trophy gold medals are some of the high points of Rupinderpal's decorated career.

The towering full back, who has improved his defence and drag-flick by leaps and bounds, has also excelled in his leadership roles for the National team as well as Delhi Waveriders.

The 26-year-old, who is leading Waveriders in the fifth edition of the Hockey India League (HIL), enjoys the pressure of being pushed by contemporary penalty corner specialists, including the up-and-coming players.

“If there is no competition, you do not improve. You work hard to improve and enjoy the process,” said Rupinderpal. For Rupinderpal, the key to stay relevant is to improvise one's game.

“I work on my variations. Whatever strategy I have in my mind, I share with the coaches and take their inputs to fine-tune it. I visualise all those strategies in different situations and prepare myself to face various opponents.”

Rupinderpal, who has spent five years with Waveriders, feels a special bonding with the team. “It has been a nice journey so far. As a captain I want to give my 100 per cent. It is difficult to give 100 per cent in each game because we make mistakes. But it is very important how you prepare yourself for the next match (without getting frustrated by a below par performance).”

Rupinderpal thinks that the HIL has emerged as a path-breaker in hockey. “We have seen so many rule changes in the HIL all these years. These experiments bring a lot of excitement to the league and because of the gripping action, the viewership of the event has increased over the years,” said Rupinderpal.