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what a lovely story.
looking forward to the next three
Looking forward to this series, thank you for sharing
First of the Four-Part series
Punjab's Mithapur village contributes 3 – skipper Manpreet, Mandeep and Varun – while nearby Khusropur village sends one — Hardik — to the Tokyo Olympics squad
There was a time when Sansarpur Village, adjoining Army Cantonment in Jalandhar, made its dominance felt in the Indian hockey and earned global fame for producing a dozen of Olympic medallists from a tiny settlement, the nearby villages also benefited because of the hockey culture. The sport, which Sansarpur got from the British Army during the pre-independence era, spread to adjoining areas and Mithapur village was one of the beneficiaries.
Many of the players in the current Tokyo-bound squad picked the sport during Pargat’s tenure as director sports. Apart from giving exposure to the village kids of playing on the astroturf, the Punjab state league in which there were 400 teams also played a pivotal role in broad basing of hockey in the state.
In 90s, it was Mithapur which inherited the legacy from Sansarpur with the emergence of Pargat Singh, who went on to lead the country in two successive Olympics. Before Pargat, Sarup Singh (1952) and Kulwant Singh (1972) from the village played in the Olympics. The fame Pargat earned during his playing days, helped him in becoming the first Olympian from Punjab to win a state assembly election. He is a second-time MLA from Jalandhar cant.
Then came the lure of the foreign land, for greener pastures, which motivated the local youth to migrate and drugs too played a role in slow and steady decline of hockey culture in the area. For youth, foreign dreams took priority over anything else. And the fate of Mithapur was no different.
Visit to the village that has almost merged into Jalandhar gives you a look of concrete jungle, replete with big houses and mansions, half of which are unoccupied, as their owners are settled abroad.
These unoccupied houses played a major role in motivating the generations to look towards the foreign shores for better life. But thanks to the emergence of hockey culture again, now the youth of the area gives priority to donning the national jersey over foreign dreams.
To be continued 1/4