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Determined Sukhjeet Singh overcame a serious back injury in 2018 to make his India debut four years later

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Bhubaneswar : In 2018, when Sukhjeet Singh had received his first-ever call up for the Senior National camp, he was ecstatic and was keen on making the opportunity count. But as fate would have it, he severely injured his back during a routine recovery process and eventually found himself out of the 33-member core group for the national camp.
The years that followed involved a lot of grit and determination which helped him claw his way back into the reckoning. Sukhjeet, who made his India debut at the recent FIH Hockey Pro League match against Spain in Bhubaneswar, recalled his days of struggle to return to hockey. “It was a very bad phase of my life. I was bed-ridden for almost five months and the recovery process was very challenging. Whenever I felt like I was losing hope of making a comeback in hockey, my family and friends stood my me to support me and motivate me. They always believed I had it in me to make the India cut someday.”
Jalandhar-born Sukhjeet started playing hockey from a tender age of six after his father Ajit Singh, a former hockey player for Punjab Police, inspired him to pick up the stick. After learning basic skills in Jalandhar’s academy, Sukhjeet moved to Shivalik Public School in Mohali where he honed his skills further. A gifted forward, Sukhjeet began getting recruitment offers from various public sector departments basis his performances in various domestic events and plied his trade for Sindh Bank, Punjab Police and Indian Oil before he could get a permanent placement in Punjab National Bank. “From 2017, I have been playing for Punjab National Bank and started getting recognised for my game. Though I lost a chance in 2018, I was determined to make it back to the camp and worked really hard on my game and fitness.”
“I feel the Hockey India Senior Men Inter-Department National Championship is a great platform particularly for players like me. This tournament gave me another chance to prove myself and I was the top scorer of the tournament and Punjab National Bank finished third,” he said.
Having made a memorable debut at the iconic Kalinga Hockey Stadium, Sukhjeet feels he has the potential to work harder and remain in contention to play for India this year where there are several key tournaments like the Asia Cup, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games apart from FIH Pro League matches. “When I came into the camp earlier this year, I had to work on understanding the structure of how the Senior team plays and I would often pick Mandeep and Lalit’s brains. I would ask them questions about the structure the forwardline maintains and they were very helpful in getting me up to speed. It feels great that I got a chance to play for India and I look forward to making this opportunity count,” Sukhjeet concluded.

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