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Hindustan Times: From humble beginnings to the silver screen: meet the Harjeeta of Kurali (5/14/2018)
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Hindustan Times: From humble beginnings to the silver screen: meet the ‘Harjeeta’ of Kurali

Saurabh Duggal

The success story of former Indian junior hockey team skipper Harjeet Singh will hit the big screen next week in a bipic titled ‘Harjeeta’.

On December 18, 2016, a Kurali boy guided the Indian junior hockey team to a junior World Cup victory. Fast forward to next Friday (May 18, 2018) and the success story of the then-junior team skipper will hit the big screen.

Meet Harjeet Singh of Kurali, who led the country to a spectacular win and added his name in the annals of Indian hockey. Ammy Virk, Punjabi singer and actor, portrays Harjeet’s successes and hardships in the biopic ‘Harjeeta’.

The world cup triumph got Harjeet overnight fame. He went from a stipend job to a regular job of an officer in Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited.

He also got cash incentives to help him upgrade his humble dwelling into a decent accommodation. But perhaps his the most memorable gift is the upcoming biopic.

However, nothing came easy for the youngster. Harjeet, 22, is the son of a truck driver and had to struggle both on and off the field and overcome odds, including poverty.

“At times it seems that I am seeing a beautiful dream. Few years ago, there was a time when making ends meet used to be the biggest challenge for the family, but even during those hard times, my family extended their best possible support so that I could pursue hockey. Today, thanks to my parents and coaches blessings, I have a movie on my life. I never thought of this even in my wildest dreams,” says Harjeet Singh.

“Hockey is life for me. It has transformed everything. There was a time when I had no option but to borrow worn out shoes from my seniors and get them stitched, as I couldn’t buy a new pair. Today, the sport has given me respect, fame and an opportunity to improve the socio-economic status of my family,” adds the midfielder.

‘Wanted to be in newspapers’

For Harjeet, the long journey began 11 years ago, and is still on. After watching the village kids going to a hockey academy in the locality, he got interested in giving the sport a try and got hooked.

“Initially it was kabaddi, which fascinated me. Only after watching some seniors playing hockey, I got interested in the sport and came under the wings of coach Amritpal. I come from a rural area with very limited exposure, so even after a couple of years of joining the sport I had no idea about the Indian team.

“It was only photographs of Indian team in the newspapers that motivated me to emulate me heroes. I wanted to be in newspapers,” says Harjeet.

National squad blues

Harjeet got his first call for the national team for the junior Asia Cup in 2012. “I was in the camp in Bangalore when the team was announced and was told to deposit the passport in a week. I was in a fix whether to celebrate or feel sorry of losing the opportunity, as I didn’t have passport.

“Getting the passport made in a week time was almost impossible for me, as travelling back to my village from Bangalore in train would take 2-3 days. So, traveling by air was the only option, but I had no money for air fare. I found myself helpless and started crying,” he recalls.

“Junior team coach Baljit Singh Saini saw me crying and when I apprised him the situation, he gave me money from his own pocket. I got the passport made on time and rest is the history,” recalls Harjeet, who has played in 50 matches for the senior team.

“Right now it’s on and off for me in the seniors squad. So, my next target is to cement my place in the senior’s team.”

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