Yuvraj drops in at MHA to win League

Aug 15, 2013, 00:41 IST | Ashwin Ferro

Dejected hockey ace's last-minute inclusion in Central Rly side pays dividends

A day after MiD DAY wrote about talented hockey player Yuvraj Walmiki’s dejected mental state having been constantly ignored from the national team, fate shone on the youngster.

Yuvraj Walmiki
CR’s Yuvraj Walmiki (left) gets past Indian Navy’s S Ambika during the Super League final at the MHA-Mahindra Stadium yesterday. Pics/Suresh KK

Not in the form of a national berth, but through an opportunity to play the striker’s role for Central Railway in yesterday’s Super League final against Indian Navy.

 Walmiki arrived at the Mumbai Hockey Association-Mahindra Stadium at 1 pm yesterday to be interviewed by a TV channel when he met CR coach Javed Sayed, who was at the MHA office for some administrative work. 

The duo exchanged pleasantries before Sayed casually inquired if Walmiki was available to play in the final scheduled for 4pm. The 22-year-old instantly agreed as he has not yet formally joined a club/institution outfit.

Javed Sayed
Central Rly coach Javed Sayed

As things turned out, he played a key role in CR’s 3-2 win over Navy. “Yuvraj is a registered MHA player and we had registered only 18 players for this League instead of the maximum limit of 22. We still had four slots vacant.

So, I spoke to the MHA officials and they gave me the nod. Yuvraj eventually made the difference for us in the final today,” a jubilant Sayed told
MiD DAY after his team was crowned Super League champs.

After CR’s Narad Bahadur scored a brace off penalty corners (10th & 19th mins), Yuvraj delivered a pin-point defence-splitting pass to Boon D’Souza inside the navy striking circle. Boon tapped the ball to teammate Deepak Lakra, who slammed home to make it 3-0.

Navy however, fought back with a goal each from S Ambika (39th) and Rana Pratap (67th), but as fate would have it, the Walmiki-inspired goal ended up being the match-winner.

“I’ve known Javed for a long time and respect him. He was a fine player himself. So, when he approached me to play, I could not turn him down. Besides, I couldn’t refuse the golden opportunity of playing in a Super League final,” Walmiki said.  

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