Sikh Hockey Player (B.1951)
The opinion may be divided among hockey fans as to who was the best deep defender between Prithipal Singh and Surjit Singh. However, none can deny that both possessed extraordinary skill, sound tackling and fine recovery besides unleashing thunderbolts from the heavy blades of their sticks. Both served the~,ountry in the Olympics Games and a host of international tournaments with deep commitment to the game. it was tragic that Surjit Singh after his retirement from the game, died in a road accident near Kartarpura in Jalandhar district while arranging to organise his benefit tie at Jalandhar. While Surjit Singh was unassuming and soft spoken, he had great differences with Indian Hockey Federation bosses over the raw deal given to the hockey players. Like Bishan Singh Bedi in cricket, Surjit always upheld the player’s cause. He was pained to find how hockey players were treated like `herd of cattle’. Frustrated and disillusioned, Surjit Singh hung his stick during the prime time of his career.
Born on October 10,. 1951, Surjit Singh played for Guru Nanak Dev. University and later for Combined Universities team. Being talented he played a compact game from the very beginning and did not have to exert much to catch the selectors’ eye. Once in the national team he did not look back and gave dazzling performance during his short but eventful career during which he. became the players’ spokesman. Surjit Singh, made his debut internationally in the second World Cup Hockey Tournament in Amsterdam in 1973. He was a member of the Indian team which under the leadership of charismatic leader Ajit Pal Singh won the third World Cup Hockey Tournament at Kuala Lumpur in 1975. Later, he participated in the fifth World Cup Hockey Tournament, the 1974 and 1978 Asian Games. He once again played under the leadership of Ajit Pal Singh in the Montreal’Olympic Gaines in 1976 when Indian hockey nosedived.
Surjit Singh was acclaimed as one of the best full backs in the world. In 1973 he was included in the World Hockey XI. Next year he was a member of the All-Star Hockey XI. Surjit Singh was also the top scorer-both in the Esanda International Hockey Tournament at Perth in Australia and the 1978 Asian Games. –
Surjit Singh served the Indian Airlines for a few years. Later he joined the Punjab Police. Surjit was simple but he endeared himself to many with his pleasing personality. The world was shocked when .it came to know abut his death in such tragic circumstances. However, soon friends and fans got together to form the Sudit Singh Memorial Hockey Tournament Society at Jalandhar to keep his memories fresh by organising a highly competitive tournament. With Mr Jagjit Puri as is secretary and the current India hockey captain Pargat Singh as a Vice-President, the society has not only been organising high-class competition year after year, it has also been holding camps for junior boys to make hockey stronger at the grassroots level. The society’s fine functioning has given such impetus, to the game in the region that bright and talented. players are coming up in every age group. What better tribute will be to Surjit Singh who always considered it a sacred duty to fight for the cause of hockey and the players’ rights.