In a historic moment, India’s men’s hockey team defeated Germany by 5-4 to clinch a bronze medal. While this isn’t the first time the country is boasting a win under Manpreet Singh’s captaincy, this being an Olympic victory after 41 years makes the moment second to none.
During the course of his field career, Manpreet has played 259 international matches, winning a steady stream of golds. But his own journey to the field has a history of its own.
As a kid from the small village of Mithapur in Jalandhar, Manpreet was an ordinary boy who passed his time playing video games and listening to music all day. At the age of 9, when he saw his father and brothers play hockey, he was inspired to try out the sport as well. But this was unacceptable to his family for the hazards of being a sportsperson.
Sharing his story with Hindustan Times, he revealed, “One day, when I was 10 years old, my brother locked me in a room just as I was about to leave for coaching. However, I managed to get out and join him at the coaching ground. He was angry and about to hit me, but the coach said I should be given a chance to learn the game since I was so keen.”
The early stages of his sports career were riddled with complications even after that. Manpreet’s father passed away in 2016, leaving the weight of raising three children on his mother’s shoulders. Despite this, his determined approach meant that his mother would do everything in her power to help him see his dream through. She worked odd jobs to sustain the family and supported her son’s dream against all odds.
“If she was not there, I would be nothing. I owe everything that I have earned in my career to her,” Manpreet told PTI in an interview.
The making of a true captain
The star champion says various sports persons like boxer Mary Kom, former hockey captain and flag bearer Parjat Singh, and Christiano Ronaldo have lit a spark in him through different phases of his life. “Their success stories have been a big inspiration for me,” he also told HT.
Today, Manpreet is known to have led multiple sportsmen and entire teams.
While he made his debut at the 2012 London Olympics, in 2013 he was leading the junior national team. His captaincy also won the gold at the Men’s Hockey Junior World Cup, the Asian Games in Incheon, and the 2013 Sultan of Johor Cup, as well as silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
And yet, any interaction with the established leader points towards his focus on the game and his team. In an interview with SportsAdda, he said “…We have a culture in this team where there is no distinction between senior players and junior players. Everyone in the team drives each other on to play without hesitation or fear.”
“From growing up and playing hockey in Mithapur village to being named the flag bearer for the Indian contingent is a big honour for a player like me. It is a matter of pride as well as motivation – for the Indian hockey team as well as fans – and I hope we return with a medal from Tokyo,” he had told The Indian Express.
Clearly, all efforts have ended up shining bright and bronze as he hoped.
Here’s what hockey team captain Manpreet Singh has to say about being a world champion:
It was my father’s dream to see me play for my country. Achieving all this and becoming the captain, I now want to bring back the past glories for the sport. #createdwithadidas @AdidasIndia_ pic.twitter.com/BFLFC00UIZ
— Manpreet Singh (@manpreetpawar07) July 12, 2021
Edited by Divya Sethu
Feature Image Source: Twitter