Updated April 3rd, 2024 at 16:43 IST

Hardik Singh credits uncle Jugraj Singh for shaping his career

Hardik, a star mid-fielder from Khusropur village near Jalandhar in Punjab, says he was on the verge of giving up his dream of playing for India if his maternal uncle Jugraj had not motivated him to stay focussed.

Hardik Singh | Image:Hockey India
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If it was not for a timely advise from his uncle and former India drag-flicker Jugraj Singh, men's team vice captain Hardik Singh would have shifted to the Netherlands back in 2017 when he was striving hard to kick open the door of national camp for himself without success.

Hardik, a star mid-fielder from Khusropur village near Jalandhar in Punjab, says he was on the verge of giving up his dream of playing for India if his maternal uncle Jugraj had not motivated him to stay focussed.

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"I progressed from the sub-junior level to the senior level at a good pace after I joined the Mohali Hockey Academy as a 14-year-old. But after a few years, I found myself in a situation where I had lost confidence after being ignored for the national camp.

"At that time, way back in 2017, I thought of shifting base to the Netherlands to play club hockey there. I gave up hope of representing India. If he (Jugraj) had not guided me at that time, I wouldn't be here now. When you are doing well, you need good guidance," Hardik told PTI in an exclusive chat.

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"He advised me to explore hockey in the country more and improve my game. That time I was 18-19 year old. So I thought let me give me some more time and explore my hockey in India," he added.

"He (Jugraj) told me you have age on your side. You have the game, you can shine even by staying back in India. Play for domestic teams and show your skills so that people can know about you," he said.

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"If not for his guidance I wouldn't have been here today because I didn't have so much patience." Hardik's decision to stay back yielded desired results as he went on to become the mainstay in the Indian team's midfield and was also a part of the Tokyo Olympics bronze medal-winning squad besides being a member of the Hangzhou Asian Games gold medal-winning side.

He was also part of the silver medal-winning side of 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

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Recently, Hardik was named FIH Player of the Year as well Hockey India Player of the Year.

"As an individual I am happy about the awards, but our greater focus is on the team as hockey is a team game. If one player out of the 16-member squad doesn't play well, it will harm the team," he said.

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Jugraj said as an athlete, Hardik too had his setbacks but he just reminded him about the significance of representing the national flag and that motivated the star midfielder.

"It is a proud feeling for the entire family about what he has achieved so far but the journey is not over yet. So I advised him to work hard and he will get the results. He also did a lot of hardwork," Jugraj told PTI.

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"But in between some moments come when one suffers setbacks. In 2017 there were some setbacks for him but the entire family backed him and made him understand.

"He was dropped from two camps so he thought he would never be called back. I just told him that you can earn anything outside the country, but the feeling of representing the tri-colour is different. That thing got stuck on his head and after that he never looked back." 

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Published April 3rd, 2024 at 16:43 IST