'Happy to get David's pat'

'Happy to get David's pat'

Gurbaj Singh

He does not have the popularity of Sandeep Singh nor the flamboyance of Prabhjot Singh but the hard-working Punjabi has been a vital component in the midfield, doing his job with conviction and little fuss.

“I like it that way,” said the 23-year-old right-half after a training session here at the Sports Authority of India campus on Monday. “Eventually it is what you do on the field that matters. I am here for a purpose and I am just trying to achieve it.”

Born in Firozpur, Gurbaj took to the sport just like any of his other hockey-mad village kids. Having developed a special liking to the national game, he enrolled himself at the now defunct Ramesh Chandra Hockey Academy where he trained under Jagdeep Singh and veteran coach Cedric D’Souza from 2001-2005. During his stint at the academy, Gurbaj got his first national call-up when he was picked for under-16 Asia Cup in Dhaka in 2003.

A fine performance there and consistent shows thereafter in the ensuing three years helped him graduate to the senior side, making the cut to the Doha Games squad, following which Gurbaj has never looked back. A stickler for discipline and training, Gurbaj was lost for words when Indian team’s new exercise physiologist David John lavished enormous praise on him, calling him the fittest player of all the national probables camping here. “I am really happy that David rated me so highly,” said a deligted Gurbaj.
“I do lay a lot emphasis on fitness and thrilled that it’s paying off. Hockey is a very physical sport and one needs to be extremely fit. So, apart from our routine training on the pitch, I do a lot of exercises trying to boost my endurance and speed.”

“Domestically, we don’t have much tournaments. Even when I am not on national duty, I make sure I train hard. There is no substitute for it,” added Gurbaj who, thankfully, has not suffered any injury since his debut.

Currently, the World Series Hockey -- a league to be conducted by Nimbus and Indian Hockey Federation and scheduled to be held at the end of the year -- is making a lot of headlines and Gurbaj refrained from pledging any commitments. “Let the dispute between Hockey India and IHF settle down. I do not want to make any statement now.”

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