Adversity brought the best out of Indian junior hockey team captain Uttam Singh, who braved years of neglect and poverty but didn’t lose hope to finally shine bright and bring smiles to his parents’ faces.
Born to a modest family, Uttam grew up in Karampur district of Uttar Pradesh, before moving to Ludhiana Hockey Academy to pursue his passion for the game.
“My family used to live in a house made of mud and clay till 2019, we lived a very basic life and it was only once I moved to the hostel, I had the privilege of having a fan and cooler in my hostel room,” Uttam said on Hockey te Charcha — a podcast series initiated by Hockey India.
“My parents used to sleep without any such facilities and this didn’t sit well with me. I wanted my folks to have the best of amenities as well and I knew a career in hockey will change my fate,” said the skipper of Junior Asia Cup-winning side.
“The difficult times were just beginning though, I felt like I made a wrong decision of sticking with hockey when I wasn’t getting selected in the junior team even after spending a decade playing hockey. Playing Junior National Championships for UP in 2017 too wasn’t enough to warrant an Indian team call up. But I never got discouraged for the sake of my parents, all I had to do was perform better in the next Nationals,” he added.
Uttam finally broke into the Indian junior men’s team in 2019 on the back of his performance in the Hockey India National Championships for Air India and has since then led the national side to a top place finish at the Sultan of Johor Cup and most recently the Junior Men’s Asia Cup.
“Knowing what my parents and I have faced I know I must never get ahead of myself and at the same time I never want to settle. This is just the start, I want to achieve much more,” he said.
The Asia Cup mission accomplished, Uttam’s focus has now shifted to the Junior World Cup to be held in Kuala Lumpur from December 5 to 16.
“Our coach says that he wants winning to become a habit for us, our exploits must continue after the Sultan of Johor Cup and Junior Asia Cup victories, our complete focus is now on the Junior World Cup. The expectations to win at the Junior World Cup are realistic, it is based on our previous performances. We also play with the senior men’s hockey team regularly and the matches are close more often than not. So, we know that the potential is there, we need to polish ourselves and live up to the expectations,” he said.
By The Bridge