India’s national sport has got its rightful image. Sardar Singh as the national men’s team captain inspired the players to put in their best show and hockey attracted the trending sports leagues in India at the right time. The third edition of Hockey India League (HIL) is about to commence on January 22, with the opening match being played between Kalinga Lancers and Ranchi Rays in Bhubaneshwar.
The strong-built Sardar Singh who has inspired many hockey players around India made his first appearance when India’s junior team toured Poland in 2003-2004. Sardar’s major debut was in 2006 played against Pakistan. Apart from being the national team’s captain, the hockey star also plays for his State Haryana and is a Deputy Superintendent Police in the State. The 29-year old Sardar Singh captained the team at the 2008 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
The year 2010 proved to be a fortunate one for Singh as he was incorporated in the 18-men FIH all-star team. He was also signed up by the Belgian Club (KHC Leuven) in the same year to play in the Belgian Hockey League. Above all, Sardar Singh’s remarkable performance in the 2013 Asia Cup landed him a contract to play for the Dutch Club, HC Bloemendaal. He was a replacement to player Teun de Nooijer in the Dutch Club.
The Player of the Tournament
The raining year of leagues saw Premier Hockey League shape up in 2005 where Sardar Singh showed his skills for Chandigarh Dynamos team. He became part of Hyderabad Sultans after that for three seasons until 2008, becoming the captain of the team. Hockey runs in the blood as his brother, Didar Singh, too, is a drag flick master and represented India, played for Haryana State and also Chandigarh Dynamos team.
With hard slog, dedication and the will to be successful towards the sport, Sardar Singh got recognized and his worth was proven when Singh was bought by the Delhi franchise for USD 78,000 (42.49 lakh Indian Rupees) becoming the highest paid marquee hockey player at the first edition of Hockey India League (HIL). Captaining the Delhi team, Delhi Waveriders, Sardar Singh’s boys finished second in the inaugural HIL. Singh was announced the Player of the Tournament.
Now, with the third edition of HIL about to begin, Sardar Singh is all geared up to win the title for Delhi Waveriders. The defending champions will look forward to another title added to their cap this year with Sardar Singh captaining the team in the preceding seasons. The advertisement of HIL on TV channels featuring Sardar Singh and the song Oye Sardara has already caught everyone’s interest. Two-wheeler brand Hero Honda has rightly felicitated Sardar Singh as they named him their brand ambassador. Sardar Singh along with star Jamie Dwyer are the brand ambassadors for the much-hyped Hockey India League.The Hero hockey India League will be shown LIVE on Star Sports.
Hockey’s brand value is increasing
Indian hockey’s success has fascinated investors to step forward and invest in the sport. It’s not only cricket stars that are seen endorsing brands in commercials on TV. Indian hockey stars are in the queue. Qualifying for the Rio Olympics has been a big achievement and Indian hockey’s brand value is surely increasing. Deals worth Rs 4.5 crore have been signed by midfielder Sardar Singh, drag flicker Sandeep Singh and striker Shivendra Singh. Yes, it’s not as much capital as other popular sports but at least investors are recognizing the worth of our hockey players. Besides these three players, other young players are also in line when it comes to the advertisement world. Brands related to cola, sport apparel, fitness products and cement are showing interest in Indian hockey for endorsements. Support from all areas will indeed raise Indian hockey.
From teammates to coaches and fans, all have been heaping praise on the ideal captain. He has had a long journey and has toiled hard to earn that praise. Singh was rewarded with player of the tournament in the 2012 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup where India bagged Bronze. When India won the Gold in the 2012 summer Olympic qualifiers, the 29-year old was declared player of the tournament. In 2010 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup where India won the tournament, Sardar was announced player of the tournament.
He participated in numerous tournaments such as 2006 Sultan Azlan Shah Tournamnet (Team India won bronze), 2006 SAF Games (team won second place), 7th Junior Challenge Open Men’s in 2006 at Poland (second position), BDO Hockey Champions Challenge in 2007 (bronze medal), Indo-Pak Series in 2006, Four Nations Hockey Tournament in Germany (bronze medal), Four Nations Hockey Tournament in Lahore (second position) and 2007 Hockey Asia Cup where the team succeeded in clinching the gold medal.
A victory after a break of 16 years was evidence enough that our national sport has regained its name. To it, a silver medal in the Commonwealth Games was an added triumph. Sardar Singh proved that hard work and team efforts can change things. Looking at the recent success Sardar Singh makes sure that he will work towards making the sport more pleasurable so that more and more youngsters join hockey and look up to it as a career. The captain has his feet on ground even after good performance and team performance and believes that improvement has room everywhere.
Sardar Singh will be marrying fiancée Ashpal Kaur Bhogal, England junior hockey player.
Uthappa and others
And the trend will follow after Sardar Singh’s faultless leadership. Youngsters in the team like Manpreet Singh, SK Uthappa and Birendra Lakra are the ones who have ample time to prove their worth and they admit that their idols motivated them to do well and reach the squad. With fewer than 40 international caps, these youngsters have a bright future ahead. Uthappa who is playing in the same team as idol Sardar Singh feels that Singh is an unsurpassed leader and player. That is why he has always idolized the national team captain. Not many have the chance of enjoying the same dressing room as their idol!
On the other hand Manpreet sees Pargat Singh as his idol. Lakra is all praises for Dilip Tirkey. All youngsters in the team have some idol or the other and they are ready to give their best performance in London Olympics since it is a dream-come-true for them.
Youngster Akashdeep too sees an idol in Sardar Singh. Declared the best junior player of the tournament in the 2014 Hero Men’s Champions Trophy, Akashdeep played a crucial part towards the team’s entrance into the final game of 17th Asian Games. The young hockey player has a lot of potential and much of it will be seen in the HIL this year. Just like his promising performance in the last edition of HIL, he will look forward to playing a game just like his idol, Sardar Singh. Akashdeep will seek more motivation and encouragement from his Delhi Waveriders skipper. Playing with Singh will only enhance his skills.
As India won the historic Hockey Test Series 3-1 against world champions Australia, Sardar Singh had another reason to celebrate – completing the 200th International cap for India. The brand ambassador of brand Hero Honda proved that he himself is a hero. No wonder he is considered the best player of our nation as well as one of the best around the world.