India hockey captain Manpreet Singh to marry Illi Saddique in Punjab

Updated: 25 July, 2020 08:00 IST | Ashwin Ferro | Mumbai

India hockey captain to marry Illi Saddique on December 2 in Punjab; couple believes hockey medal at next year's Tokyo Olympics will be the perfect gift to live happily ever after.

Manpreet Singh and Illi Saddique
Manpreet Singh and Illi Saddique

INDIA hockey captain Manpreet Singh is a busy man these days. And for a change, it's not hockey that's keeping him occupied but something probably more important. Manpreet, 27, is busy preparing for his wedding to fiancee Illi Saddique, 26, a Malaysian resident, on December 2, in Punjab.

'Wedding planning is tough'

"Wedding planning can be quite a difficult job and stressful too, particularly in my case, since I have to do all the physical work myself though I do have my mum and Illi for advice and support. They are always available no matter how busy they are and that makes the whole task a bit smoother and easier for me," Manpreet tells mid-day from his home in Mithapur village in Jalandhar, Punjab.

The couple have been dating for nine years now, ever since they met and fell in love at first sight on the sidelines of the 2012 Sultan of Johor Cup in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, where Manpreet was leading the junior India team and Illi was an ardent fan. Illi, meanwhile, is busy planning and coordinating everything over the phone all the way from Malaysia. "It's difficult because I'm unable to be there physically to plan everything. Instead, I have to do it via Skype or FaceTime with Manpreet, his mum and our wedding planner. I can't thank Manpreet enough for all the effort he's putting in. He's even choosing my lehenga," says Illi, who works with a private University in Malaysia, overseeing the planning, business development and student recruitment activities in the South Asian market.

So, any reason for the specific date? "Oh, yes," quips Illi. "We had initially planned it for December 30 as that's my birthday but after discussing with Manpreet and his family, we chose 02/12/20. It adds up to seven, which is our lucky number. Also, considering Manpreet's brother lives in Italy and he too has other relatives abroad, December is the perfect holiday season for all," she adds. The COVID-19 pandemic, however, is a cause for concern and the couple realise this.

"The reception will be in Jalandhar. We have shortlisted a few venues that we have seen [virtually] but it all depends on this pandemic. If the situation does not permit, we will have the wedding ceremony at [Manpreet's] home which is something close to our heart. Initially, we had planned to invite around 1,000 guests but again, keeping the pandemic in mind, we may have to reduce that number, depending on the government restrictions prevalent around that time. We will finalise things in the coming months," explains Illi.

Honeymoon plans are also subject to the pandemic situation and the uncertainty is making the couple nervous. "But it's good to be nervous because that ensures you will not be overconfident,"

says Manpreet. "We are planning a Europe tour for our honeymoon but if we are unable to travel due to the pandemic then we will explore some beautiful Indian locations," adds Illi.

'Hockey will be priority'

Hockey has always been Manpreet's first love and interestingly, post-marriage Illi is happy to play second fiddle. "Hockey will remain Manpreet's priority even after our wedding. We will continue things the way they have been for the last nine years, which is connecting with each other as much as we can during our free time via video and phone calls. However, the only difference now will be that I will be with him at home whenever he is on a break from the national camps or tournaments, unlike earlier, where I used to be over 2000 miles away in Malaysia," says Illi.

And finally, Illi has even thought of a perfect wedding gift too. She says: "An Olympic hockey medal next year will be the perfect start to our married life. Seeing how the Indian team has been performing in the last year or so and given the support from Hockey India, I'm confident Manpreet and his team are on track to make India proud in Tokyo. It will be an honour for me to be by his side, seeing him achieve his dreams."

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First Published: 25 July, 2020 07:30 IST

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