Many believe the India jersey is priceless. But when there’s a figure as high as R1 crore riding against it, patriotism could well take a back seat. At least that’s what Indian hockey’s cool crorepati Gurjinder Singh believes.
The Chandigarh Comets’ defender and drag-flicker, who was adjudged Most Valuable Player of the inaugural World Series Hockey that concluded on Monday, took home the national game’s biggest individual prize cheque till date — R1 crore. Besides, he also shared the Golden Stick award for most number of goals (19) with Chennai Cheetah’s Pakistani drag-flicker Imran Warsi. The duo split the R25 lakh cash prize between them.
“It’s a weird feeling… this crorepati tag. I’m just overwhelmed by it all,” teenager Gurjinder (18), who was travelling to his home in Gurdaspur district’s Batala town, told MiD DAY from Chandigarh yesterday.
“I don’t know how my family will react when they see me. They were over the moon when I called them last night to tell them about my awards. My father (Sarwan) is a farmer. He has toiled hard all his life and I’d like to dedicate this to him,” said Gurjinder.
Surprisingly, the star defender was unaware of the individual prizes on offer, to start off with. “Going into this tournament, I didn’t know much about the individual awards. My aim was to see my team win, but unfortunately that didn’t happen,” added Gurjinder, whose team squandered a 1-4 lead against Pune Strykers and eventually lost the semi-final 3-2 via tie-breaker.
Another good news for the hardworking defender came in the form of a phone call from one of his academy coaches at Indian Oil in New Delhi. “I was recently picked by the IOCL Academy and I’m lucky that within three months they have offered me a job thanks to my WSH performance,” said Gurjinder.
The excitement in the voice from the other side of the phone however sobered down when questioned about his future plans. The Team India jersey could be a far-fetched dream for the youngster considering Hockey India have not approved the erstwhile Indian Hockey Federation-backed WSH.
The teenager though realises there’s no point in sweating over the prized blue jersey for now. “If I am talented and good enough, I will definitely be picked into the Indian team. I’m sure the fans and India’s hockey-loving public will back me. Hockey India must understand that we players are earning a livelihood by playing the game,” he said. But what if HI does not relent and continues to ban all those associated with the WSH?
I will play WSH again
“It’s fine by me. I will play in the WSH again, even if it means that I will never be able to play for India. At such a young age I have earned what most senior players have not been able to despite having been around for decades.
“My loyalties lie with WSH just as my responsibilities are towards my family,” explained Gurjinder. Coming back to what he plans to do with that cool crore, Gurjinder said: “My friends expect me to throw a party, which I will. But my priority will be to add another room to our family home. I will also try and buy a flat for myself.”