Our Sports Reporter
GUWAHATI: The former Indian hockey captain Sandeep Singh was in the city recently. During his stay Sandeep, the youngest hockey player who represented India at the Olympics and present Sports Minister of Haryana, took some questions from The Sentinel and local media. Here is the excerpt.
The Sentinel (TS): How do you see the chances of Indian hockey team in the next Olympics?
Sandeep: Due to COVID-19 we had suffered a lot as some of our players tested positive. It also hampered the training. But the situation is the same for almost all the countries. So I feel we have a very good chance in the Tokyo Olympics and both the men and women team can finish the tournament within top four.
(TS): There is a tattoo of an Olympic ring in your hand. Any special reason !
Sandeep: Yes. In 2006 I was hit by a bullet during travel by a train and was bed-ridden for several days. I was very depressed that time and desperately trying to return into the field. During those days I got this tattoo in my hand which motivated me all time to fight and make come back.
(TS): Reason behind your entry into politics...
Sandeep: Actually I observed that most of the time players didn't get all facilities which they should get during his playing days. I too face a similar situation and you can say it was the prime reason that I have joined politics. We have made several changes in the sports policy. Earlier an athlete from Haryana, who participated in Olympics, received Rs 15 lakh from the government after he returned into the state participating in the Games. But now we are giving 50 percent of that amount before the Olympics so that he or she can participate in the games after doing better preparation.We have also taken several schemes to provide help to the sportspersons in different levels.
(TS): You are running a hockey academy. Please share a little detail.
Sandeep: I have one hockey academy at Sahabad. At present there are nearly 150 players in that academy who are taking training regularly. I believe many of them will represent state and country in the coming days.
(TS): You said that rural areas of the country need more attention in sports field. Would you please elaborate a little.
Sandeep: It is the fact that 80 percent players in our country come from the rural areas. So we should give special attention in those areas. I feel we give more emphasis to build stadiums rather than developing ground. If we develop more and more grounds in rural areas it would help us a lot to produce more quality players.
(TS): Haryana will host next Khelo India. Share about your preparation.
Sandeep: Actually it was the reason that I am in Guwahati. Your city hosted the game last time in a very beautiful way. So I decided to visit the city and talk to the officials of the Sports department and Assam Olympic Association to collect some ideas on the organizing part of the Games which we will host in 2021. Hope we will also organize it in a very beautiful way.