The flood of hockey talents emerging from the state of Punjab is very much in the public domain – the state serves as a key supply line to the national side. Hockey Punjab only reinforced the growing status of being a major hockey talent hub winning the 11th Hockey India Senior Men National Championship outduelling Uttar Pradesh Hockey in a shootout at the Major Dhyan Chand Hockey Stadium in Pimpri, Pune.
Of course, the final against Uttar Pradesh Hockey was a hard-fought affair with both teams giving nothing away but Punjab’s overall superiority in the senior nationals was never in doubt. Admirably led by Olympian and fullback Rupinder Pal Singh, Hockey Punjab fielded a largely young side – as many as ten players were making their senior nationals debut. Rupinder served the team’s cause on a regular basis – he scored twice in their 3-0 semifinal win over Hockey Maharastra close on the heels of his brace in the 2-1 quarterfinal over Hockey Chandigarh.
Hockey Punjab scored 23 goals in their league matches over Hockey Uttarakhand, Hockey Andhra Pradesh, and Hockey Andaman and Nicobar. Besides the strong leadership of Rupinder, the Punjab outfit was well served by the likes of Lovepreet Jainth, Ranjot Singh, Sudarshan Singh, Parampreet Singh, Sankalp Singh, and goalkeeper Kamalbir Singh, who effected four fine saves in the final shootout.
Hockey Punjab Coach Balwinder Singh put things in perspective. “As many as 10 players were making their senior nationals debut, which shows how talented this group is. We showed great character. Goalkeeper Kamalbir Singh made excellent saves in the shootout. Really happy to be on the winning side.”