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Indian hockey’s instant heroes–Aslam to Walmiki (9/17/2011)
--K. Arumugam
Indian hockey’s instant wonders – Aslam Sher, Mamta to Walmiki

Sports is strange and funny. There are players who sweat out over the years, talented, hardworking, yet stardom is not their own. Stardom goes to those who do something at some occasion that count. That strikes the whole nation. That changes the world for themselves, and for the sport they profess. Over time and space, our sport hockey has witnessed these phenomenon quite often.

undefined Ashok Kumar, BP Govinda, Md. Shahid down to Dhanraj Pillay, for instance, worked over a decade or more to become what they are now – all time heroes -- while the instant variety stole the limelight in a match or tournament, and remained undisputed kings in the hearts of millions thereafter -- forever. Hockey of today is combination of these survivalists and the sms variety in question.

The character of instant variety of stars is they are not much visible before. They are there here and there, but on a day, which is theirs, rises to dizzy heights. Many combination and permutations propel them what they are today.

undefined PR Sreejesh and Juvraj Walmiki are today’s instant varieties.

Aslam Sher Khan, to me, is the first ‘Instant Star of Indian Hockey’. Some may question this, quoting the likes of Mohinder Lal (who scored the only goal of the 1964 Olympic final) and Railways Balbir Singh – master of many crucial goals. Let us for now don’t enter into debate, instead devour instantly our instant stars.

Aslam was not even in the first eleven, has been confined to the bench throughout the tournament till in the Semis (1975 World Cup), till his moments dawned. Surjit Singh was failing to convert penalty corners, the time was running out, within three minutes from whistle, the score clearly in favour of Malaysia (2-1), at this juncture Aslam sent in, as a desperate step to retrieve the situation. He scored the equalizer, the rest is history. Yes, in the extra time it was Harcharan who scored the winner which paved way for our only World Cup win. But Harcharan is not our hero, because he has been in all the matches, known to score goals, but the surprise and suspense element Aslam had in those decisive spell made him our First Instant Hero.

undefined In the women’s domain, this title undoubtedly goes to Mamta Kharab, her golden goal in the Manchester Commonwealth Games will reamin etched in the country forever. Till then, Mamta was just a cog in the wheel where the likes of Pritam, Majinder, Sita Gossain, Helan Mary and Surajlata Devi strode like a colossus. Her goal catapulted to the top, head and shoulders above the rest.

Mark Patterson in 1989 after the Nairobi Marshalls Cup, Ashish Ballal in 1998 Asian Games turned out to be super heroes, bordering instant variety. Ballal was almost not in the team but for coach Kaushik’s insistence. That made his case stronger and powerful.

One match against Pakistan in the 2003 Champions Trophy, which India won dramatically 7-4 threw Jugraj Singh to instant variety, the last one till Ordos dawned the other week.

Almost analogous situation propels both Sreejesh and Walmiki. Both are now household names.

Sreejesh has been slotting out for over six, seven years since made his senior debut in 2004. Close competition, return of never-fading comeback kid Bharat Chetri, form of Baljit Singh and Adrian D’Souza, his own hero, made this lanky star often left out of major teams. Now, he was in Ordos whether riding on the form or due to sidelining of Adrian is matter of conjecture. But the matter that counts is he grabbed the chances that came his way. He saw to it Pak does not do much damage in penalty corner drills and then came out with two spectacular saves in the new-style penalty shoot out. He is now talked about, and is instant star.

But the hero of Ordos is Walmiki.

undefined A wonder of talent spotted long ago by ever-green Merzban Patel ‘Bawa’. Walmiki was supposed to play in the last Junior World Cup. However, a selector from his city favoured another forward from the same city, Victo Singh. He lost out a great chance. He waited. Was in the Bangalore camp, won the heart of new coach Nobbs. Scored on his debut match itself. Not many noticed. Went on to score some more goals, not many considered them vital till in the final penalty shoot out, the youngster did his job of scoring perfectly.

He returned. Entire hockey community was there in the Airport to receive him. His day has come. The entire Mumbai media knows he is from almost a slum area, his house does not have creature comforts. It is time to lap it up, sum it up, focus all, media added enough masala to shake the consciousness of political class. Now, within 48 hrs after landing his hometown, he has become an instant star – almost worth gift Rs.20 lac. It is difficult to tell now whether its his goals or his living conditions that made him an instant star.

Sports is nothing without these instant stars. More so, hockey will be poorer without them.

Aslam Sher Khan to Walmiki, our delights.

Pic Captions: From top: Aslam Sher Khan, PR Sreejesh, Jugraj Singh and Walmiki

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Instant Hero
by Shane Sadanand on 9/22/2011 7:04:15 PM
It is nice to read about present and past heroes of Indian hockey. But why did you omit this name- Rajiv Mishra -hero of the 1996 junior world cup whose career was blasted by the IHF. I feel sorry to miss that name in the list. He is an evergreen hero to me.

by Editor Arumugam on 9/26/2011 9:37:09 AM
Hi sir, tks for the message. Yes, Rajiv Mishra came on the scene in a big way. He is also star of Indian hockey, will do justice to him in the next opportunity. Tks once again to remind of that great star

by Shane Sadanand on 9/27/2011 3:00:34 PM
Dear Arumugam sir, thanks for your offer of an article regarding Rajiv mishra.It is long pending.I think his carrer story should be taught in Indian schools and colleges to remind the future generations to know how a budding carrer can be ruined by an idiotic sports federation.It happens still now.I think Rajiv mishra is still a TTE in indian railways. I had the opportunity to read to read an article in "India Today" sometime back about Rajiv. ( I still keep that article in my diary for the past 3 years) I have to remind you one sentence of that article(By Sarada Ugra)"love me fo a reason, and let the reason be love". I still love this man for the beauty of hockey he exibited on 1996 junior world cup.
Budding Star!!
by Renganathan K on 9/19/2011 11:21:47 AM
Good luck to the Budding Stars of Indian Hockey!! Lets bring the glorious Era of our national Game!!