Olympic hockey player Hardik Singh nearly gave up his dream in India and was planning to pursue a career in the Eredivisie before his former uncle Yujraj Singh stepped in to inspire him.
Hardick said he came from a family that had hockey in their blood, but was starting to get confused by the limited opportunities at the higher level.
His grandfather was an instructor in the Indian Navy and his uncle Yugraj was one of the finest transporters at the time.
“His journey was a little different from my teammates,” said the 22-year-old from Khosrowpur village near Jalandhar in Punjab. “I have been very fortunate to be part of a family where hockey has been a part of our DNA. I have been very fortunate to have so many hockey players, I have always received advice from around the house and my family has had a huge impact on my career.
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“Being 14 years old, I moved to Mohali Hockey Academy for further training and quickly rose through the ranks.
“I also represented India in the junior category, however, I never had opportunities at the top level. In 2017, I was on the verge of giving up my dream of playing for India and almost decided to move to Holland to play hockey club.”
At this point, Yograj’s inspirational intervention helped him regain motivation.
“My uncle Gujraj Singh made me sit back and rethink my decision. Gujraj Bhaji has had a huge impact in my life. He guided me in every part of my life and still does,” the midfielder said.
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“Following his suggestions, I put in more blood, sweat and hard work. Finally, my hard work paid off as I was tipped to the potential core of the 2018 AFC Champions Cup after winning the MVP award at a local tournament in Mumbai.
“After that, the 2018 World Cup happened and it was like the cherry on top.” Hardik says the Indian hockey team has a very healthy competition for places and is determined to make it important at the upcoming Tokyo Games.
“I will give 100 percent to continue my family’s legacy and to make the whole country proud.”
“It feels great now to be a regular part of the team, well equipped in midfield. There is a lot of competition for places in midfield, but it just shows that our bench strength is very strong.
“We’ve built that fighting spirit over the past few months, and that’s one of the main reasons we’re coming back,” the young midfielder said.