On Teachers’ Day, Indian hockey players reminisce about people who shaped their lives

For Indian women’s hockey goalkeeper Savita, her father has remained her biggest teacher and motivator.

By Subhayan Dutta

On Teachers’ Day, Indian hockey goalkeeper and former captain PR Sreejesh led a stream of tributes to teachers and coaches who made what they are today. 

The veteran shot-stopper particularly credited his teachers for helping him develop a strong mentality that helped the two-time Olympian take the good and the rough over the years. 

Sreejesh’s life lessons started when he was just 12, when he had to leave his house to join GV Raja Sports School, which offered better prospects in sports, but soon felt homesick.

“I would cry during almost all sessions and always wore a dull look in classes because I missed home and my family terribly,” PR Sreejesh told Hockey India.

“My teacher, who had noticed this, called me and said, be patient… Don't think of the issues that you can't control.

“Those words stayed with me forever and now in 2020 it applies more so than ever where a lot of things are not in our control and the best thing to do is to just focus on what we can,” Sreejesh said, pointing out to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

On Teachers’ Day, Indian hockey goalkeeper PR Sreejesh thanked those who helped him in his early days. Photo: Hockey India

For India’s emerging women drag-flick specialist Gurjit Kaur, it was her hockey coach who had a similar influence on the player throughout her formative years.

"My guru Sardar Sharanjith Singh guided me in my early days as a hockey player and then through my college days,” Gurjit Kaur said.

“I received the best guidance and support from my coaches that eventually helped me enter the national coaching camp," the 24-year-old added.

Not all teachings, however, were limited to schools and training grounds.

Indian women’s team goalkeeper Savita Punia has her guru in the house itself in the form of her father who kept her motivated in the toughest of times.

"My father has been my greatest teacher,” said Savita, who has also been grateful for the support she received from her family.

“He has always guided me, especially in my toughest times when I was injured and taught me to never give up and made me tough and perseverant.

“His words keep me motivated even when I am not having my best day on the field," she added.