King of Hockey

Sanjana Roy Choudhury

Avtar Singh Sohal Tari The Greatest Sikh Sportsman Away from India

With Cricket Maestro Sachin Tendulkar in Rio

Even though the Kenyan hockey team did not participate in the Rio Olympics, Tari was present as an observer of FIH, and with his hockey-loving friends. ‘I have been cheering for the Indian side since 1964 Tokyo Olympics as in Rio. I cheer for them when they play against any other country but Kenya. I am emotionally attached to India,’ adding, ‘in Rio I had the opportunity to meet Sachin Tendulkar and we spent a lot of time together. Tendulkar is a very gracious boy. I am very fond of the game of cricket and follow the fortunes of the Indian side very closely.’

An Inspired Life

Tari is nothing short of an inspiration for players and lovers of hockey the world over. But he has had his fair share of critics too. And laughingly Tari says, ‘My father was my fiercest critic. After I would score a goal I would be congratulated by everyone, starting from my teammates, my coach and so on. Elated, I would reach home expecting nothing but praise from my father. Far from it, he would not even bring up the goal or goals I had scored; he would always grill me about the ones I missed! I realized the value of this much later when playing professionally.

‘I have to mention the role my wife has played in my career. Here she had a husband who would be walking out of the house with his hockey stick slung over one shoulder. Not once, not ever, did she bring to me the problems and issues she would have at home. I owe a great deal of my success to her.’

A Lesson for Youngsters

Discipline. Love for the game. Honesty. Hard work. Diet. These are the magic words Tari advises not just a youngster aspiring to be a hockey player should follow, but also every sportsperson. ‘And never lose your cool on the field. That is so important. One needs to stay focused, and I can proudly say that not once have I lost control of my nerves on the field.’

Tari’s parting shot: ‘Apart from the above, respect for one’s parents, coach, seniors and teammates is extremely crucial. It helps develop one’s personality and character. And most importantly, prayers, and the blessings of Waheguru! You will never fail.’

Sanjana Roy Choudhury