Ahlawat, who has been based out of Edmonton in Canada since 2005, and was one of the first coaches at CHFA along with the late Jasbir Singh Bajwa, said he had no idea about the development.
Ahlawat said Thursday morning in Canada that the first thing he did after hearing the news was to chat with his former apprentice. “We spoke after the Indian hockey team won a bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics. Rupinder was very emotional and was talking about Jasbir Bajwa sir. I remember, I went to Faridkot in 2002 for talent hunt to select the first batch for CHFA and I was impressed by the physique of a young Rupinder. As we worked on the fundamentals including hitting, dodging, stopping, he showed his talent and within six months, I started training him to drag-flick. It will be my biggest reward to see him finish his career with an Olympic bronze medal for scoring over 100 goals for India and three at the Tokyo Olympics,” said Ahlawat, who now runs a construction business in Canada.
Rupinder, whose father Harinder Singh runs a sports shop in Faridkot, started playing hockey at Baba Sher Shah Wali Academy in Ferozepur in 1999 and moved to Chandigarh in 2002 to join the first batch of 25 trainees of the Chandigarh Hockey Academy. before being. Chachi, who lived in Sector 37, stayed at Rupinder Academy and studied at Government Model Senior Secondary School, Sector 42 and later GMSS-35. He made his junior India debut at the Singapore Challenge in 2007 before playing for the Indian junior team in the Eight Nations Cup in Malaysia. He was later handed the senior India debut in the 2010 Azlan Shah Cup.
Over the past 11 years, Rupinder has been a part of the 2014 Asian Games gold medal and 2014 CWG silver medal winning Indian hockey team, besides being a member of the 2018 Asian Games bronze medal winning Indian hockey team. Singh, who scored 11 goals in the 2016 Asian Champions Trophy, scored a total of 119 goals in 223 matches for the Indian team. Rupinder, a drag-flicker, is the maternal uncle of former Indian hockey player Gagan Ajit Singh.
“It has been a long journey for me as a hockey player for the last 21 years and ending my career with an Olympic medal around my neck is the best memory I can ask for. I started playing hockey at Baba Sher Shah Wali Academy, the brainchild of former Punjab DIG Hardeep Singh Dhillon, and remember going to Ferozepur with my elder brother. When I joined CHFA in 2002, it marked my debut as a professional hockey player and I always remember training under Late Jasbir Bajwa Sir, OP Ahlawat Sir and our coach Iqbal Singh Sir. I can only wish that my journey inspires more and more youngsters,” shared an emotional Rupinder.
Rupinder’s longtime teammate and fellow trainee of the first batch of CHFA, Dharamvir Singh recalled his days as trainees as the time he spent in the Indian hockey team. “We shared an instant bond when we joined Chandigarh Hockey Academy. I remember we joined the academy in June and there were no holidays till December. Therefore, each of us treated each other like a member of the family, which continues to this day. Later, we played in Indian junior teams as well as senior team including 2014 Asian Games and 2014 CWG. I still believe that Rupinder still has 3-4 more years of hockey left. I wish him all the best,” shared Dharamveer, who is posted as DSP in Punjab Police in Kurali.