Khelo India: Top scorer with 7 goals in tourney, mason’s daughter builds Haryana title victory

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After Haryana’s 4-1 win over Odisha in the girls’ hockey final in the Fourth Khelo India Youth Games at Tau Devi Lal Sports Complex, skipper Sonam hugged the rest of her team-mates and patted each one of them to celebrate the title win. The Shahbad player, whose father Phoolchand works as a mason, was the top scorer for Haryana with seven goals and her two goals in the final against Odisha set up the title win for the hosts.

“Being a girl, it was not easy to convince my parents to send me to play hockey. My father works as a mason at Shahbad and he wanted me to study hard. But when I joined the hockey academy at Shahbad, they supported me. Even though my father’s earnings are not enough for running the household, he has always tried to give me whatever he can. Our coach Gurbaj Singh has been supporting me for the last seven years. To win the title for Haryana here means special for all of us,” Sonam told The Indian Express.

If Sonam’s seven goals in the tournament set up Haryana’s dominance, another Shahbad player Gurmail Kaur’s five goals in the tournament also fashioned Haryana’s title win. Kaur, whose father Sukhdev Singh owns a two-acre farm at Madipur village near Shahbad, started hockey at the insistence of her aunts Harjinder Kaur and Lakhwinder Kaur, both of them being international hockey players. The youngster, who was the top scorer in sub-junior nationals in 2019, had also been selected for Indian junior camp earlier this year.

Haryana team players celebrate after winning the title in girls’s hockey in Khelo India Youth Games at Panchkula. (Express Photo by Jaipal Singh)

“While I started hockey due to my aunts, I idolised former Indian drag-flicker Sandeep Singh sir and that’s why I opted for being a drag-flicker. All my family members, including my aunts, had come to watch the final. To win the title in front of them feels special for us,” said the youngster.

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Coach Gurbaj Singh sounded confident that the girls can make it to the Indian junior team in future. “It was a dominant display by the team and I am glad that our strikers converted the chances in the final and also kept the Odisha forwards in control. There was a pressure of winning at home but the girls handled the pressure well and won the title. Hopefully, they will be motivated after this win and will try their best for the Indian junior team,” the coach said.

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