Sunil and his teamates won it for his father

April 13th, 2009 - 7:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Govinda By Avishek Roy
New Delhi, April 13 (IANS) When India forward S.V Sunil was informed of his father’s death during the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament at Ipoh, his teammates wanted him to return home. But, like the true soldier that he is, he decided to stay back and do his national duty. It was a tough call and the young man from Coorg district of Karnataka, went on to inspire his team to win the cup for the fourth time.

“It was one of the toughest decisions of my life,” Sunil told IANS from Ipoh.

His father S.M. Vittalacharya was bed-ridden with lung problem and passed away three days after Sunil left for Malaysia.

“It was disturbing. I was caught in two minds. I wanted to go back home and at the same time play for my country. The teammates and the coaching staff were very supportive. They told me to fly back and attend the last rites of my father. My father wanted me to play for the country and I wanted to fulfil his wish. I gathered all my courage and decided to remain with the team,” says Sunil.

“When I told my teammates that I wanted to play, they were first surprised, but once I made up my mind they stood by me and gave me tremendous support. I got the strength to take the field only because of the moral support I got from the teammates and the support staff.”

He feels, the personal tragedy made him stronger, giving him the will to fight to achieve the goal his father had set for him.

“I wanted to win the Cup for my father. Thanks to my teammates I was able to do it, the team winning the trophy after 13 years. Everyone in the team was with me in dedicating the victory to my father.”

Just as Sunil got the strength to get on to the field, his teammates, too, were inspired by his dedication.

Coach Harendra Singh and captain Sandeep Singh said they wanted to win it for Sunil.

“This victory is for Sunil. You can see the commitment he has shown. The sacrifice of Sunil was an inspiration for the entire team,” said Harendra.

Skipper Sandeep says Sunil’s mental toughness showed the way to the team.

“Imagine somebody being struck with such a personal loss and still deciding to serve the team’s cause. Rarely does one come across such acts of courage,” says Sandeep.

Hockey is Sunil’s first love and why not? He hails from a place that has given India hockey Olympians M.P. Ganesh, B.P. Govinda, M.M. Somaiya and A.B. Subbiah. In the present team Sunil’s teammate Arjun Halappa is also from there.

The rewards in the sport may not be tempting enough, but Sunil has no complaints.

“I picked up the game from my elder brother who also played a good grade of hockey. The game has given me everything. I am a Havildar in the army and I am due for promotion.”

The talented forward, who played his first senior international at Chennai in the 2007 Asia Cup and was part of the team that won silver last year in Azlan Shah Cup, says his aim is to win an Olympic medal for the country.

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