Bhubaneswar:Mexicans love their culture – their folk music, food, colourful embroidered clothes and last but not the least their Mexican hats. But most importantly, the hockey players adore an Indian star.
No, it’s not either Shah Rukh Khan or Salman Khan. He is former Indian hockey captain Sandeep Singh. Yes, you heard right. To the Mexican men’s hockey team Sandeep is an inspiration for his brave deeds.
“Sandeep Singh inspires us. We watch videos of him on the net. He is huge example to us for battling all odds and emerging victorious, we all want to emulate him,” said Miguel Leon taking the help of a translator at the Kalinga Stadium, Tuesday.
Haryana-born Sandeep made his international debut in 2004 but a freak shooting incident where he took a bullet in his waist almost ended his career. He was almost paralysed and confined to a wheelchair for a year.
However, Sandeep’s immense determination saw him return to the national fold. In 2009, he led India to their first Sultan Azlan Shah Cup triumph after 13 years. His life’s journey was documented in the film ‘Soorma’ which received nationwide appreciation last year.
However, it’s not only Sandeep in particular that the Mexican players look up to. They keep tabs on other Indian players as well through various social media platforms.
“There are many other Indian players we follow to keep ourselves updated. We derive inspiration from them,” added the young Mexican star.
The Mexican men’s hockey team are currently here for the FIH Series Finals and they have been clubbed with Japan, USA and South Africa in Pool B.
India and Mexico have never played against each other except the 1968 Mexico Olympics and 1972 Munich Games. On both occasions, India emerged victorious against the North American team by an identical 8-0 margin. Incidentally these were the only two occasions Mexican hockey has been visible at global events.
This is Mexican hockey team’s maiden visit to India and they are in complete awe of what they have seen.
“We are really excited to be here. The reception has been great and the hockey stadium looks stunning,” quipped Miguel. He also informed that these kinds of tournaments will not only help Mexican hockey but benefit the players as well.
“This is a good opportunity for us to showcase our talent and also a chance to learn from the sides who are ranked higher than us,” pointed out Miguel.
Speaking on their expectations from this tournament, Miguel said that gaining experience is their prime objective and winning at least a game their goal.
In a country where football is passion who do the upcoming hockey players look up to?
“We have quite a few hockey players of repute. Our coach Pol Moreno is one of them. Then there is Francisco Aguillar who plays in Europe regular, I also play sometimes in Spain,” Miguel informed.