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President Awardee Sumrai is India Samurai (8/29/2017)
--K. Arumugam
Nothing is happier and worthier happening to this writer than star women hockey player Sumrai Tete getting deserving honour at the hands of President of India today on the occasion of India’s National Sports Day.

Sumrai Tete, an officer with Indian Railways, has been a pillar of Indian national teams for about 15 years, must have been a record of sort.

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She is the permanent left-half, though national coaches changed from Maharaj Krishon Kaushik (90-94) to Balbir Singh Services (95-97) to Gurdial Singh Bhangu (1999 to 2002) before coming back to the first mentioned again (2003 to 2006). These coaches would agree to the fact: One outstanding player in their arsenal was nothing but Sumrai.

Sumrai has been their Samurai.

Impeccable in anticipation, hawkish on tackles, Sumrai never put a stick wrong. She is perhaps a solitary star in those times who was hardly substituted in the entire duration of match!

She would never complain. Her legs would never tire.

She is coaches’ delight.

Always humble. With simple habits Sumrai symbolished the Indian hockey’s elegance of past on the international fora. (Pic: Sumrai, first from right) is celebrating Delhi Asia Cup win

Sometimes, even most of the times, simplicity doesn’t work.

That she did not get Arjuna award in her playing times, had to wait for its equivalent Dhyan Chand Lifetime Award till this year, is proof thereto.

Its pity that players, whose contribution to team’s successes has not even been half compared to her, span of playing career even less, got their Arjuna even as she was sidelined, and without murmur from her.

These all because those victors belonged to ‘Vocal States’ and the most had built invisible connections.

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Sumarai was not only a humble being, but habitually avoided limelight too, a tribal trait anyway you can say.

After selecting Shankar Laxman for annual award, it is the best decision that Hockey India took – to recommend her name for the award – insofar as past timers are concerned.

It was surprise of those times when the gifted Sumarai was asked to lead the Indian women hockey team, defending champions, for the Melbourne Commonwealth Games. She was the senior most of course but had been sidelined in the past despite her status in the team. However, somewhere wisdom dawned in the powers that be to honour and highlight the simpleton.

What a result the team churned out.

The final was witnessed by the Australian Prime Minister. It was in the last moments that the Australians could strike the long goal for the title. India was somewhere below tenth in the rank while the Aussies were number one team.

Had Sumarai not got injured in the last ten minutes, she was any case could not have played the final but for grit and determination, we will have different Melbourne story to tell.

“Sumrai was unfit for the final, else the title was within our grasp” rued Chief coach MK Kaushik.

That’s Sumrai. That’s her game. That’s her significance in the team.

Greetings Sumarai. From a writer who followed your entire hockey career.

Some of Sumrai's record
Asian Games Bronze
Commonwealth Games Silver and Gold
Afro-Asian Games Gold
Asia Cup Silver and Gold
Multiple National Games and National Championship winner

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