Vaisakhi Hockey brings honours to Nairobi Sikh Union, Kenya Police

It was a pleasant revenge for Kenya Police as it had suffered a shock 0-3 defeat at hands of Jaguars in the earlier  league round.

Team Parvasi – Inside

Rekindling hopes of reviving old days’ galory, Vaisakhi Hockey Tournament organised by the 96-year-old Sikh Union Club, Nairobi, raised hopes of increasing participation of Sikh Diaspora in revival of hockey in Africa.

The seven-day event ended on a positive note as intermittent showers failed to deter the spirit of men’s finalists – Jaguars and Kenya Police – after the veterans team of the hosts, Sikh Union Club, Nairobi, defeated Matador of Malaysia in a close and exciting final.

It was a pleasant revenge for Kenya Police as it had suffered a shock 0-3 defeat at hands of Jaguars in the earlier  league round. Played under intermittent showers, Kenya police had to pull every trick up its sleeve to down spirited Jaguars 3-2 in a game that saw even the movement of the ball was restricted by flooding of the field with continuous downpour.

Though Matador of Malaysia had brought a young experimental side and the London Tigers, a wing of the Sikh Union , London, had joined the hosts Sikh Union, Nairobi, the limelight was stolen by the local teams composed of Kenyans. While Jaguars looked strong contenders after their fine showing in the league matches, the incessant rain in the final proved too much for them. Even after taking the lead twice in the game, the Jaguars fell to a penalty stroke in the last five minutes to lose the final and the trophy.

The local team with two imported players, including 2018 World Cupper Yuvraj Wamiki and Romesh Kumar, were not enough to prevent hefrom suffering a 2-5 defeat at the hands of Jaguars in the last pool game. The local team needed to win the last game with a margin of two or more goals to make the final. But Jaguars frustrated her attempts.

We need to do a lot more, commented Global Sikh sports star and six-time Olympian Avtar Singh Sohal, after the team faile to make the gold medal round.

The final day games were witnessed by Kenyan Chief Secretary for Sports and Youth Welfare Ababu Namwamba and only an MP of Indian origin – Sunjeev Sonia Kaur Birdi – provided a good feast of hockey. Sunjeev Sonia Kaur Birdi was the first woman of Asian origin to be nominated a Member of Parliament in 2013.

Born to the family of Mechanical Engineer Surinder Singh Birdi and Kuljinder  in Nairobi, Sonia is now attached with the Ministry of Sports and Youth Welfare.

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Ababu Namwamba also formally inaugurated  Dasmesh Stadium that has Kenya’s first private club astroturf. Sikh Union Club with its floodlit astroturf stadium plans to renovate the stadium by adding spectators stands to it. It would also organise more international tournaments to give exposure to both Sikh Diaspora and local Kenyans to develop their hockey skills further.

Earlier the hosts lifted the veterans trophy as their opponents, Matador, were handicapped by their skipper and Olympian Sarjit Singh who had to rush back to Malaysia after the death of his 95-year-old father a couple of days ago.

Sarjit Singh (veterans) and Yuvraj Walmiki (men) were declared best players of the tournament that saw nearly 30 matches being played in the two sections. The tournament also witnessed three generations of Jaswant Singh, popular as Santa, playing in the tournament. Besides Jaswant, his son and grandson also played here.

Former Olympian Harvinder Sibia, who accompanied the UK teams, saw his son leading London Tigers here. Also on the field was Ravinder Singh Lally who was a member of the fourth placed Kenyan team in the 1971 World Cup. Ravinder had the misfortune of being dropped from the 1972 Olympic team at the last minute as his spot went to an affluent and lesser known player.

Also felicitated at the concluding ceremony was Avtar Singh Sohal, who played in four Olympics, went as a Coach in the  fifth and went to sixth as an official. His record remains unprecedented till now.

Final Standings:

Veterans : Sikh Union Nairobi 1, Matador (Malaysia) 2.

Men: Kenya Police 1, Jaguars 2.

Prabhjot Singh


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