Monday, February 4, 2013
Baljit receiving the Most Promising Player 10 years ago at the Klang Sikhs Open.
NATIONAL hockey player Baljit Singh tied the knot yes terday with Jesvin Kaur, and instantly became a rare species heading for extinction.
No, it not another marriage pun or joke, but he could well be the last Sikh hockey player to represent Malaysia for a long time to come.
The Sikhs have a proud hockey history in Malaysia, as the first Punjabi player to represent the country was Gian Singh in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.
And after that Sikhs became a regular fixture at hockey fields around the country, and at one time had at least three players representing the country.
Sarjit Singh and Mohindar Singh even hold the distinction of being skippers, but sadly, the Lions are shying away from the sport in Malaysia.
Sukhvinderjeet Singh, Jagjit Singh, Sarjit Singh (1984 Los Angeles Olympics); Maninderjit Singh, Apthar Singh (1996 Atlanta Olympics); Tara Singh Sindhu, Ranjit Singh Gurdit, Kartar Singh Chandra (1964 Tokyo Olympics)....
The selected Olympian list is much longer than the above, and if one was to name Sikhs who represented Malaysia at the World Cups, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and Sea Games it would even take up more space.
Present at the wedding reception in Kuala Lumpur yes terday were national coach Paul Revington, assistant coach Arul Selvaraj, and Baljit’s team mates.
And there were also many past and present hockey players who came to the dinner, including Sarjit.
The former skipper and double Olympian was looking a little down, so the scribe asked Sarjit what was the matter, and he replied that he felt sad that Malaysian Sikhs are no longer interested to play hockey and even the present national juniors does not even have one.
However, there could well be some reason to look forward to, as two venues in Kuala Lumpur are actively training young Sikhs.
One is at Kelab Aman and the other is at Gurdwara Kampung Pandan, which is possibly the only place of worship in the world that has a quarter hockey pitch in its com pound.
Dedicated coaches, who were themselves former players at various levels, volunteer their time to teach the basics of hockey to about 30 Sikh youths over weekends at the Gurdwara compound.
It might take more than five years for this batch of players to make their mark in the Junior Hockey League and then move up the ranks, and hopefully, save Sikhs from being an extinct race in a sport which they once made their presence felt in Malaysia.