| Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | 7 Aug 2017 | Asia Samachar |
THANKS for the memories Malaysia! These were Baljit Singh Charun’s parting words to Malaysian hockey, marking the exit of the last standing Sikh. The memories were good initially, but towards the end, he faced some terribly testing times which he rather forget.
“There is no more reason for me to hang around the training squad, as the coach (Stephen ven Huizen) keeps avoiding me regarding his future plans with me.
“Also, if I am not good enough to represent the country in the Sea Games, that shows the level of confidence the selectors have in me,” Baljit told Jugjet Singh of the Malaysian newspaper New Straits Times.
Sikhs used to dominate hockey in Malaysia, but are now as rare as a white rhino, and Baljit is the lone Lion carrying on the proud tradition in the World League Semifinals in Antwerp, Belgium, wrote Jugjet in an article for Asia Samachar in 2015.
Sea Games is the lowest category for World No 12th ranked Malaysia, and even with a juniors outfit, the country beat a senior Singapore side to the gold medal at their own turf in 2015.
In an immediate response to the story, Perak Sikh Union (PSU) said Baljit was one of Perak’s key players in the Gurdwara Cup, a Sikh competition with teams from Malaysian states and Singapore.
“This year Baljit was a part of our team that won the Hockey Championship in the Gurdwara Cup games which was held in Kl. He demonstrated sheer dedications and sportsmanship during the games. We wish more youths will follow Baljit’s footsteps and indulge themselves in sports and shine like a star in whatever sports they choose,” it said in a Facebook posting.
Baljit joined Tenaga Nasional 2004 and helped them to three overall titles in the Malaysia Hockey League in 2004, 2007 and 2009. He made his senior international debut at the 2007 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. After which he helped the country win silver at the 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games, and played in many other tournaments including the gold at the 2013 Sea Games, the NST article said.
“Things changed after I helped Malaysian qualify for the Hague World Cup (2014). I gave everything I had in the qualifier (World League Semifinals in Johor 2013) to help the country finish fifth and qualify for the World Cup on merit,” he said.
After the Johor WL Semifinals, the coaching circle was in a turmoil as chief coach Paul Revington came under severe personal and professional attack and decided to leave in a huff. In came K. Dharmaraj, and Baljit’s exit from the sport started.
“After playing one of the best tournaments in my life and qualifying for the World Cup, I felt that the break that I was looking for has finally arrived. I’m going to play in a World Cup.”
But it was not to be. As from being among the top-three defenders in Revington’s squad, Baljit became a shadow in Dharmaraj’s team. And shockingly he was replaced with German-born Kevin Lim, whom Dharmaraj saw playing only once in a tournament in Australia. Baljit’s nightmare started the day he was told that Kevin Lim would be replacing him in the Hague World Cup.
SEE FULL STORY HERE
In a follow-up story by the same author, entitled ‘Van Huizen: No issues with Baljit…’, national chief coach Stephen van Huizen said Baljit has contributed immensely for the last 10 years, but fell a few rungs to younger players recently, and that’s why he was placed in the development squad.
Baljit was then moved to train with the indoor hockey team preparing for the Sea Games, and when he failed to be selected, he quit the sport for good on Monday.
“He has always been a hardworking player, serious in training and never had any issues with any of us (team management) and that’s why I was surprised to read that he felt that I was avoiding him.
“Anyway, I called Baljit and spoke to him and explained the situation where a few players moved up the rung and he had to be placed in the development squad and then indoor hockey.
“Maybe there was miscommunication between both of us as I was busy training the field hockey players while Baljit was with the indoor squad.
[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE! Visit our website: www.asiasamachar.com]
Malaysia upset India in World Hockey League Semi-Finals (Asia Samachar, 23 June 2017)
Harbhajan Singh Loomba: Singapore’s hockey maestro (Asia Samachar, 16 Dec 2016)
Last Sikh standing in Malaysian hockey (Asia Samachar, 26 June 2015)
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