Friday, May 16, 2014

At 24, international debut for Jasjit

He has not come through the hard-grind of Academies. He in a way represents amateur-kind of players, who don’t compromise studies for the sake of hockey. Yet, in a short span of taking of up hockey, knocked the doors of Indian team. And makes his international debut not in a run-of-of the mill stuff, but in the mother of all battles, the world cup.
    Here you have Punjab’s puttar Jasjit Singh, who is a kind of Viren Rasquinha as he is doing Masters in Business Administration nowadays.
   The 24-year old has been included in the Indian team bound for The Hague. Perhaps after Cedric Pereira, now settled in Perth, Australia, a player is making his international debut in a world cup. Cedric was a surprise choice for the first world cup held in Barcelona.
   “He trained well, we all felt he can be a good choice”, asserts smiling Roelant Oltmans, who first tested him in the Hockey India League early this year. Jasjit Singh was part of the medal winning team 2014.
   “The coach, selection committee are all unanimous of his choice, its unfortunate he had suffered a minor injury before the Europe Tour, and missed it”, elaborates Oltamans.
   Jasjit was on the other day had to face the same question from the media at the Holiday Inn where the world cup team was announced, amidst the galaxy of 1975 World Cup goldies. The question was: Don’t you feel the pressure to play your first tournament in World Cup?
   The smiling assassin has only one answer: “My coaches say differently. Because I did not play any other tournament, I will be natural, and play my game. This is what I also believe the scene is going to be”
   Its not often one come across in India a player making international debut at the age of 24 – considering his colleague in The Hague team Mandeep Singh is six years junior to him, and has already been in the international circuit for well over two years – but Jasjit Singh, who was picked up among the 90-odd probables after the Pune Senior Nationals when Michael Knobbs was at the helm of affairs, could not make any headway further than continue to play for his college team Khalsa in Jalandhar, but his days could not be denied for long.
    With a strong midfield where captain Sardar Singh is well anchored, the think tank seemed to have taken a risk of sort in picking up the new face.
    It’s a reward for Jasjit, who hardly had any stints in any hard-grind academies, where in fact the academics is the first casualty due to heavy work load, who had only practiced on the Jalandhar Surjit Hockey Academy turfs on Sundays.
   “My mother used to take me to the Turf on Sundays because the Academy will have holiday, we can get to play on Turf”.
   Jasjit, who joined Indian Railways a couple of years ago, and posted in Jalandhar, relished any position in the midfield, and it gives elbow room for coaches insofar as his utility value is concerned.
   Tailpiece: Jasjit is a Kular, a clan which produced n-number of internationals in the 50s and 60s, which included Ajit Pal Singh and Udham Singh, a four-time Olympian. Yes, he is a Sansarpurian.
   The squad:

Goalkeepers: P.R. Sreejesh, Harjot Singh.
    Defenders: Gurbaj Singh, Rupinderpal Singh (vice-captain), V.R. Raghunath, Birendra Lakra, Kh. Kothajit Singh, Manpreet Singh.
   Midfielders: Sardar Singh (captain), S.K. Uthappa, Dharamvir Singh, Jasjit Singh, Chinglensana Singh;
   Forwards: S.V. Sunil, Ramandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Nikkin Thimmaiah, Mandeep Singh.
   Standbys: Gurpreet Singh (goalkeeper), Vikram Kanth, Gurinder Singh (defenders), Danish Mujtaba, Devindar Walmiki (midfielders), Lalit Upadhyay, and Yuvraj Walmiki (forwards).

Coach almost quits...

THE national hockey squad were within a whisker of heading into the World Cup without a chief coach after an upset K. Dharmaraj decided to quit yesterday.
    Angry at being treated as an outcast and irked that repeated requests for a contract fell on deaf ears, Dharmaraj decided enough was enough.
   Surviving on a monthly allowance of RM4,000 for the last five months, Dharmaraj skipped the squad’s training session yesterday as he prepared to walk out.
   However, word reached Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah and his quick action resulted in the issue being resolved yesterday evening, just 16 days before Malaysia begin their World Cup campaign.
   Even then, MHC didn’t cover itself in glory over the incident, especially as it had no one but Dharmaraj to turn to after Paul Revington quit as national coach.
   “I really don’t understand why some of my coaching staff and I were treated like outcasts. Despite repeatedly knocking on the doors of MHC, we never received any feedback on our contracts.
   “I did not even know how much my salary scale was for the past five months, and was living on a monthly allowance of RM4,000,” said an upset Dharmaraj after the issue was resolved.
   Tengku Abdullah instructed MHC treasurer Datuk N. Radhakrishnan to settle the matter.
   “After waiting for five months, I was finally called to the MHC office on Wednesday and asked to sign a contract which only increased my salary by RM2,000 from my juniors contract.
   “That was the breaking point, as I was promised many things before this but was then handed a pathetic contract to sign.
    “My wife also told me to quit, as I was being treated badly by the very officials who had promised me many things. I also wonder why when the MHC president finally found out about it, it was easily resolved,” said Dharmaraj.
    Dharmaraj, based on his achievement in guiding his charges to a fourth-placed finish in last year’s Junior World Cup, is in the running for Coach of the Year at Monday’s national sports awards.
    He has proven his mettle with the senior side as well for after having replaced Revington, he guided the team to a silver-medal finish behind Australia in the Azlan Shah Cup.
    That was followed by a bronze medal finish in the Champions Challenge 1 in Kuantan.
   “The issue here was not about money but I was peeved with the way they handled my case as I kept knocking and knocking my head against the MHC door, with no answer.”
    Malaysia are in Group A of the World Cup with Australia, England, Belgium, Spain and India.