Sardar Singh at the Idea Exchange in Delhi, Friday. (Express Photo by Amit Mehra)
Expressing serious concern over the high number of drug addicts in Punjab, the captain of India’s hockey team, Sardar Singh, has said that if not for the game, he could have been “one of them”.
Speaking at The Indian Express Idea Exchange, Sardar said he has heard stories of young players at local hockey academies being drawn to drugs. He said sports should be used as a tool to provide direction to the youth.
“Agar hockey na khelte toh hum bhi unme se hote (If not for hockey, I could have been one of them). I believe sport can be used as a tool to control it,” said Sardar, who is a DSP with Haryana Police. “If kids go to the ground and focus on training, they won’t have time to indulge in anything else. So if we introduce more sports, we can save our youth from these things.”
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Sardar said the impact of drugs was visible across Punjab. “It’s been quite a while since I have travelled across the state. But Punjab had acquired a name… For instance, the physique of any normal person used to be so great. Dekhne mein maza aata tha (You felt good just looking at that). But now, these things have become less so,” the 29-year-old said.
When asked if there was any link between the rise in use of drugs and hockey’s decline in Punjab, Sardar said he “believed so”. Sansarpur and Shahbad were among hockey hotbeds in Punjab and Haryana but the talent pool emerging from these nurseries has reduced considerably, he said.
“Some time ago, I had heard that at some academies in Punjab, a few kids were involved in drugs. Small children at local academies… I haven’t seen it myself, but I heard about it two-three years ago; especially in villages. It’s a very wrong thing. People talk about government but even they should understand. But yes, this could also be a reason (for hockey’s decline),” he said.
“But if we improve facilities in these regions, promote sports and with a little more help from the government — they’re already doing well — the situation can be improved,” he said.
Sardar, who will lead the team at the Olympics in August, said he wasn’t knowledgeable enough to comment on cen…