Bengaluru, May 25: At the age of only six years, Indian woman hockey player Sunita Lakra was almost forced to join Sports Authority of India (SAI) in Rourkela to learn hockey.
Her father sent her to SAI. It was long back in 2002. Lakra could not dream of today's achievement she gained by playing her 100th international match in the recently concluded third Test in the India-New Zealand hockey Test series.
Sunita spoke from her home in Rajgangpur on Wednesday (May 24), “Actually in our locality in Rajgangpur most of the boys and girls are addicted to football.
"My father thought playing football is riskier. Hockey, comparing to football is safer. So he forced me to learn hockey at the SAI hostel."
But 26-year old national defender was potential right from her childhood. Amulya Nandy, the SAI coach who saw her from her beginning at Rourkela SAI, also had praise for his one of the best students.
Nandy spoke from Rourkela. He said: “Her father was a farmer. Sunita also had three elder brothers and mother. So her father was, as usual, struggling with poverty.
"Sunita came in the selection trial with a bamboo hockey stick. But she was so potential that in the opening day of the three-day selection trial, Sunita caught our attention by her speed and dribbling skill. I presented a modern hockey stick to her on the very second day of the selection trial."
Sunita, who had debuted in the senior Indian squad in 2009, has preserved that gift.
But Sunita, in spite of having earned the status of playing in the 100th international match for the country, has regret.
She still has not yet been able to meet Sardar Singh, the midfielder and former Indian skipper. Sardar is the idol of Sunita.
She added: “I often watch the video of Sardar's training and practice to try to learn his accuracy. He is so precise in sending defence-splitting passes that amaze me.
"I want to bring that accuracy in my game. Above all, I dream of meeting him at least for once and seek his advice to improve my game standard."