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Inspired by Sardar and Manpreet: Sumit Kumar

THIS IS NOT the first time that 20-year-old Sumit from Sonepat, Haryana, is in the Senior Men’s national camp. His first call up was in 2013 when a group of 48 probables was named for the Asia Cup. It was then that he got to witness stalwart players like Sardar Singh, Sreejesh, SV Sunil among others who inspired him with their work ethics.

“I saw how hard they worked. Even when it came to off-the-pitch training like gym and running, they gave their 100 per cent. I wanted to be like them,” stated Sumit. 

The young midfielder was credited with a call-up for the national camp here in SAI, Bengaluru, after his scintillating performance in the Uttar Pradesh Hockey Junior World Cup Men Lucknow 2016 as well as the 2017 Coal India Hockey India League where he played for Ranchi Rays.
   
At the camp, where 33-member core probables are working towards winning a place in the national squad for the upcoming Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in April, Sumit is happy he gets to work closely with his idols Sardar Singh and Manpreet Singh.

“Both are midfielders and I get to learn a lot from them. We play a lot of practice matches and I am always excited when I am in their team. I watch how they handle the ball, they are very confident when they feed the ball to forwards, they think on their feet and I get to learn how to react from situation to situation in the match,” explains Sumit, who plays either as a left centre half or right centre half.

While his confidence levels are much higher compared to his first stint in the senior camp, Sumit attributes much of the learning to Coal India HIL.

“Back in 2013, my exposure was very little. I always played under pressure and feared making mistakes and wondered how seniors might react to the mistakes I make,” recalls Sumit, who formed the midfield along with Harjeet Singh, Santa Singh, Nilakanta Sharma and Manpreet at the Junior World Cup. “But I got over these inhibitions, thanks to Coal India HIL where I got to train and play with some of the best players in the world. I personally feel that our success at the Junior World Cup was mainly because of Coal India HIL as it gave us a lot of confidence to play under pressure,” Sumit said.

From a humble background, Sumit’s father works as a driver in Varanasi, he says the respect his family commands in his village after winning the Junior World Cup makes him feel proud of his achievements.

“No one in my village really believed in my abilities or thought that I can make a living out of hockey. But last year, I won the Ponty Chadha Upcoming Player of the Tournament in 2016 Coal India HIL where I was awarded Rs 20 lakhs. The Junior World Cup success also helped change the people’s perception back in my village,” he expressed. 

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