Having played 10 years of international hockey, 30-year-old Sardar Singh has gone from being a talented youngster to a prominent statesman of Indian hockey.
Amidst ups and downs on personal and professional fronts, Sardar has learnt that harmony within one’s own self and with one’s peer group is essential as it reflects in the team’s performance on the field.
Speaking to The Hindu, Sardar, who plays for Jaypee Punjab Warriors, looked back at his journey and expressed his desire to secure medals in the Olympics and the World Cup before hanging up his stick.
“When I started (in 2006) as a junior, I saw the team was divided into different groups. I did not have much idea as to what was going on. But I played regularly along with senior players and learnt a few things from them.
“We are lucky that the present group of players, who have been playing for the last four-five years, understand each other well. The seniors gel well. If we have good friendship off the field, then we will perform well on the field. These small things help build the team.
“When I was the captain I was keen on building a good team. Over the years our ranking has improved. We have to work on this as the 2018 World Cup, to be hosted in India, is important for us,” said Sardar.
Sardar said he loved to overcome challenges, be it professional or personal. “When I started I did not have a card for the first three-four years, because I was very cool on the ground. In the last few years I got several cards. I analysed and saw that when I carry whatever is happening outside the ground to the field, I (tend to get disturbed and) get cards. When you don’t maintain your performance, then people expect.
“There were some allegations about which I don’t want to speak. Some people may dislike you, but that is important. Otherwise you cannot improve in life.”
The former India captain loved being pushed by the up-and-coming players, whom he needs to mentor. “When we go into a camp with junior players, it feels good. We get a lot of competition. You get to know how much your body needs to train. Then the experience helps. In order to avoid injuries and play for a long time, one has to take proper diet and look after one’s body well. You need to recover in time to get ready for the next match.”
Sardar does not regret that he was not part of the team that won the Champions Trophy silver medal last year. “No problems. Good that my teammates achieved it for the country. Of course, sometimes I feel that I missed out on it, but we will win a Champions Trophy medal again. We should also aim at winning medals in the World Cup and the Olympics,” Sardar signed off.