It is the town of the ‘Nizams’, however within the Hyderabad of 2001, a go to to the hockey camp of India’s junior males had no resemblance to the town’s ‘monarchical’ heritage. A 12 months in the past, on the 2000 Sydney Olympics, India fell painfully in need of getting into the semis, once more. On the flip of the century, probably the most adorned Olympic sport of the nation crossed twenty years with no medal. The circumstances on the junior camp for the World Cup, labelled “pathetic” by gamers, had been virtually an announcement of ‘punishment’ for the game’s miss in Sydney.
To then consider that crew to show Indian hockey’s fortunes round would have individuals laughing at you again then. However in Hobart, after expletives in Punjabi by coach Rajinder Singh for errors after which placing Netherlands out of the match, an Indian hockey crew stood on a World Cup podium just for the second time after 1975.
It additionally introduced some aid from the lingering ache from Sydney 2000. On each events, a 12 months aside, it was ‘tears’, however in Hobart, the accompanying emotion was of pleasure.
One of many gamers amongst that champion 2001 junior India crew on the rostrum was Viren Rasquinha.
“I feel that was among the finest experiences I’ve had in my life,” mentioned Rasquinha, who as of late weaves the Olympic desires for promising stars, because the Director and CEO of Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ) — an organisation that helps Indian athletes of their quest for glory on the Video games.
In case you suppose that the Hyderabad camp expertise is one factor he would need to change in that Junior World Cup journey, then you’re mistaken. Rasquinha supplied a contemporary perspective to that, when he rolled the clock again to 2001.
“If you look again at these instances, I feel the instances once you had no cash and no amenities had been truly ones that deliver again the perfect reminiscences,” mentioned the previous Indian central midfielder, who additionally went on to captain India.
“Sure, the amenities had been so unhealthy, the meals was so unhealthy. The whole lot was unhealthy — the bottom to coach on, the working space for endurance coaching. The bogs had been pathetic. However the humorous factor is at that time of time, none of us felt that means, as a result of we had been simply embarking on our careers and hungry to do one thing for the nation.” Rasquinha informed

(Picture Courtesy: Viren Rasquinha)
Rajinder was one huge motive why the gamers overcame such shabby coaching circumstances after which turned their marketing campaign round from dropping to Australia (1-2) after which knocking out Netherlands (4-3), beating Germany (3-2) within the semis and ending in model by humbling Argentina (6-1) within the ultimate.
“Rajinder did an excellent job in protecting the crew collectively, motivating the crew, guaranteeing that we loved our hockey,” mentioned Rasquinha. “He created an important surroundings within the crew. I’ve handy it to him.
“I feel one factor about Rajinder was that he was at all times constructive, at all times encouraging. His man-management abilities had been glorious. He knew when to make use of the ‘danda coverage’ (stick) and when to be a buddy and put an arm across the participant.
The “danda coverage” was one which gamers dreaded. Not that he would hit a participant, however one the place the Punjabi in him got here out all weapons blazing. Now, twenty years later, the gamers can fondly snigger about it, however not again in 2001 although.
“Every time he was pleased, he would communicate in Hindi and English. And when offended, he would communicate in Punjabi, and solely gaalees (abuses),” Rasquinha, who lives in Mumbai, recalled with a smile.
Viren additionally went on to share a small anecdote, not from the 2001 marketing campaign however somewhat later, when Rajinder was in command of the senior males’s crew.
“I feel we had been enjoying a four-nation match in Australia. It was in 2002 or 2003. We had been enjoying South Korea. At halftime, we had been down 0-2 and performed terribly within the first half. We got here into the dressing room and bought s**t-abused by him (Rajinder) in full Punjabi ‘gaalees’ at his greatest. We got here out for the second half and gained the match 3-2, scoring three targets in quarter-hour.
“I beloved the man. In his personal means, he was very distinctive,” mentioned Rasquinha on a nostalgic word.
Because the match progressed in Hobart, India grew to become the crew to envy. Jugraj was on the highest of his sport as India’s first authentic drag-flicker. Devesh Chauhan in purpose was pulling off ‘superman’ saves and Deepak Thakur‘s poaching abilities within the circle had the ‘midas contact’.
It was little shock then that Chauhan was named the ‘Goalkeeper of the Match’ and Thakur remained the highest scorer.
Recalling these names took Rasquinha down reminiscence lane.
“After I look again, what a crew that was! Within the purpose, we had Devesh Chauhan and Bharat Chhetri. In defence we had Jugraj and Kanwalpreet Singh. Within the midfield there was Bimal Lakra, Vikram Pillay, myself, Ignace Tirkey and Praboth Tirkey. The forward-line had Bipin Fernandez, Arjun Halappa, Gagan Ajit Singh, Deepak Thakur, Prabjot Singh, Inderjeet Chadha, Rajpal Singh.
“Jugraj was the principle drag-flicker within the crew. He was in prime kind within the junior World Cup. Deepak Thakur, I keep in mind, was the principle scorer for us. I feel 13 members of that squad graduated to the senior crew virtually instantly,” the 41-year-old additional informed
‘Most of these names went on to be a part of one of many hockey classics that unfolded on the 2007 Champions Trophy, the place India got here again from the useless in opposition to archrivals Pakistan to script a fairytale turnaround and gained 7-4.
However in 2001, when Rajinder’s boys landed in Hobart, the likes of Gagan, Rajpal, Rasquinha, Halappa and so forth had little clue that they’d go on to grow to be India’s poster boys two weeks later. The truth is, the landing in Hobart gave them a cultural shock of kinds.
“Hobart is a really small metropolis. Once we got here out of the airport, we truly thought there was some ‘bannd’ (closure) or one thing. We landed round 4 pm within the night. There (then in Hobart), you noticed one automotive in 5 minutes, nobody on the street. And for me coming from Mumbai the place there are such a lot of individuals on the roads, it was so unusual,” Rasquinha remembered.
Rasquinha continued, recalling minute particulars from that memorable journey.
“Hobart is within the mountains. The climate throughout the World Cup was very treacherous. It was going from chilly to sizzling to wet within the span of some hours. Generally it was so chilly and windy that for many who had been sitting on the bench, I keep in mind, we had tons of blankets. To begin with you had been moist with (enjoying in) the rain, after which once you got here and sat on the bench, you cooled down in a short time. The wind was blowing like something.”
The 1-2 defeat in opposition to Australia had hit India laborious, a lot that it put Rajinder’s boys getting ready to elimination.
“We had been virtually eradicated after we misplaced to Australia. I keep in mind we beat Holland in one of the crucial essential league matches. We needed to win that sport, had been main 4-3 after which the ultimate hooter sounded. However Holland bought a penalty nook (simply earlier than that). That they had scored off the three earlier penalty corners they bought within the match. So Ignace and I rushed out (of the put up) with our our bodies on the road. It was simply insanity.”
However there is a backstory to that last-minute effort in opposition to the Dutch.
It occurred throughout a morning stroll, and Rasquinha narrated it virtually as if the participant in him was popping out punching the air.
“Holland had been staying in a five-star resort and we had been at a small motel. One morning, we got here out for a stroll. The Dutch gamers had been additionally going for a stroll previous our motel. They had been laughing at us.
“So it felt very nice to beat them 4-3 and put them out of the match.”

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