It was an Olympics like no other and the welcome that bronze medal-winning hockey players received was equally unprecedented. Emotions ran high as the entire Mithapur village eagerly awaited the arrival of its Olympic hockey heroes — captain Manpreet Singh, Mandeep Singh and Varun Kumar.
Excited to accord a rapturous welcome to the Tokyo hockey players, budding players, wearing the Indian hockey team’s jersey, packed the local ground since early morning, even though the medallists reached there in the afternoon.
At present, around 40 youngsters are taking training at the Youth Sports Club, Mithapur. Belonging to humble families, the young players from Mithapur village were overwhelmed by the occasion today. Many of them spent a sleepless night, continuously thinking of how they would meet the Olympic players who have brought laurels to the country and what they would say to them. It was a dream-comendash;true moment for them when they met their hockey heroes. It was a surreal feeling for the young players to rub shoulders with them.
Harvinder Singh (17), who has been playing for the past 10 years, said: “For the past two days we had been planning on how we would welcome all the three players.” Singh’s mother, a tailor and a sole earner, works day and night to make both ends meet. “I didn’t know how to react when I met Manpreet paaji whom I admire a lot,” he said.
Whenever these hockey stars visit Mithapur village, they always meet budding players and share their knowledge of the game. “One thing I have learnt from him is that you have to have a goal in life and should work continuously towards attaining it without losing the focus,” said Harvinder.
Other players, Gurjot Singh and Navjot Singh, both 17, shared the same emotions. They said they felt so proud and fortunate to meet their hockey stars.