Monday, February 4, 2013

Baljit fast becoming a rare breed...

 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.

Baljit Singh's grand reception..

 MEGA PARTY.. National coach Paul Revington, his assistant Arul Selvaraj at the wedding dinner hosted by Baljit Singh and Jesvin Kaur.
TEAM SHOT.. Baljit with his playing buddies.