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The Jugraj Singh story: From selling water bottles at Wagah Border to winning silver at Commonwealth Games

Jugraj Singh

Bengaluru, September 10: The Indian men's team's upcoming star Jugraj Singh has spoken about how hockey transformed his life and about the healthy competition prevailing among the drag-flickers in the squad.

"We've some excellent drag-flickers in the team right now, Harmanpreet, Varun and I. We always push each other to do better and it allows us to perform variations in matches as a team which comes in handy in tough situations especially since hockey teams properly scout to understand each team's drag-flick routine, so we practise variations to make sure that oppositions struggle to read our routine," Jugraj said while appeareing on Hockey Te Charcha ­- a podcast series initiated by Hockey India.

The 25-year-old, who was part of India's silver-winning squad at the recent Commonwealth Games 2022 in Birmingham spoke about his journey from humble origins to the Indian men's hockey team.

"I started playing in Attari when I was in the third grade. I shifted to Delhi for four years soon after college to play for the Punjab National Bank (PNB) hockey academy which gave me my first start. It was in the PNB team that I started playing competitive tournaments where I was spotted by the Navy hockey team who offered me a position in their senior squad, after winning the silver medal at the national tournament. After which I was eagerly waiting for that one chance to play in the senior Indian men's hockey team. I put in a lot of work preparing myself for that chance and I finally got selected for the senior Indian men's squad which was an extremely proud moment for me," Jugraj added.

"One must fight with all his will power to achieve anything they want in life, and I did the same. I never stopped fighting and never gave up which resulted in me getting that one opportunity that I needed to prove myself," he added.

Jugraj Singh

The defender who made his debut for the senior team at the FIH Hockey Pro League 2021-22 went on to explain his humble origins, the sacrifices of his father, who worked as a border coolie at Wagah Border and how he overcame those adversities.

"We as a family didn't have a lot of money, my father was the only one who used to earn when I was a kid. In my childhood my brother and I used to go to the Wagah Border to help our father out where we sold water bottles, snacks, etc to tourists alongside him.

"Our financial situation was so bad at times that we had to eat the same meal every day for a week, but I'll be eternally grateful to my father who made so many sacrifices for us to make sure that we go to school no matter what. He always encouraged me to play hockey also as he realised that I had a passion for it."

Jugraj signed off by narrating how adversity brought out the best in him, "Overcoming those adversities as a kid really helped me grow and evolve as a person and I understood the importance of hockey and how it could transform not only my life, but the lives of the people in my family. It's because of my father that I recognised the value of hard work and earning things for yourself which helped me overcome financial and personal adversities and it made me a better player. Now I've everything that I wanted as a kid and it's all thanks to hockey which helped me transform my life."

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Story first published: Saturday, September 10, 2022, 13:36 [IST]
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