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WT20: How Hockey keeps security cops Gagan Ajit Singh & Rajpal Singh fit

Hockey skills help Punjab Police officers Gagan Ajit and Rajpal Singh excel

Mohali: The Pakistan and New Zealand cricketers will not be the only star attraction for fans today at the PCA Stadium here. Former India hockey stars Gagan Ajit Singh and Rajpal Singh will also be in attendance.

Former India hockey stars and Punjab Police officers Gagan Ajit Singh (left) and Rajpal Singh at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali yesterday. Pic/Harit N Joshi
Former India hockey stars and Punjab Police officers Gagan Ajit Singh (left) and Rajpal Singh at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali yesterday. Pic/Harit N Joshi

The Punjab Police officers will be on duty as part of the security set-up for the ICC World T20 matches here. Gagan Ajit is Superintendent of Police (Chandigarh city), while Rajpal is Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) traffic.

Being a sportsman is an added incentive in the armed forces, said former India captain Rajpal. "Having played sport all our lives, our fitness and reflexes are sharper. It's an advantage that we (sportspersons) have over others. Our quick decision-making skills, which we execute during matches, is also applicable here when on duty, particularly in emergency situations," Rajpal told mid-day yesterday.

Planning crucial, felt Olympian Gagan. "Planning goes into both hockey matches as well as security arrangements and both challenges are different in their own way. The pressure to perform though is in both jobs," said Gagan.

The large scale security arrangements can make anyone anxious, but Rajpal felt anxiety is a good thing before a big game or big event like this. "I've always maintained that it is important to have some butterflies in the stomach. Otherwise, it's difficult to perform. I'm feeling that right now," said Rajpal.

While Gagan has hung up his hockey stick for good, Rajpal still participates in the inter-police championships. Gagan and Rajpal are, however, are bitter about the way they left their favourite sport. Gagan never played for India again after 2007 while Rajpal was sacked as skipper and then dropped from the team despite winning the inaugural 2011 Asian Champions Trophy in China.

"The authorities were never asked a single question then, and now it's too late to open that chapter," said Gagan. Rajpal, however, is more worried about Asian hockey going down. "We just have one Asian team that has qualified for the Rio Olympics, thanks to India winning the Asian Games. The other Asian teams went through the qualifiers, but failed to make the cut. So, what does that tell you about hockey in Asia," said Rajpal.

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