It was the time Spartan cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar stood in front of the Indian hockey team and delivered a message that still inspires them to this day.
In a special episode of the hugely popular Spartan Sports Talk podcast recorded in Mumbai, former Indian hockey captain Sardar Singh spoke about an inspiring session conducted by The Master Blaster ahead of the 2014 World Cup.
“He had a two-hour session with my team and he shared lots of his experiences. And I think still it’s helping us,” Sardar told Spartan Sports Talk.
“He said playing for your country, you know we have a billion people, so not everybody gets that chance so you guys are lucky. He said you could get a billion dollars but when you score a goal for your country, that is priceless.”
“Sachin is like a God of cricket. Everyone follows him. Still we talk.”
The man considered one of the all-time greats of Indian hockey said he is confident the Hockey India League can be the catalyst for the national team to return to the top of the world rankings.
Now in its fifth season, Sardar drew comparisons to the turnaround of the Indian Cricket Team following the formation of the IPL. Their cricket counterparts went on to win the World Cup in 2011.
Speaking exclusively in a special Episode 4 of the hugely popular Spartan Sports Talk podcast recorded in Mumbai, Sardar said he could sense things were progressing in the right direction.
“India won the ‘75 World Cup on the grass but after that artificial pitches came along and then in the last 25 to 30 years we went down,” Sardar said.
“So I think the Hockey Federation is doing a really good job.”
“We don’t get much time to play against the world’s best teams like Australia, Germany and Holland. We just meet them in the World Cup or the Olympics.”
“So the Hockey India League is really good. It is one month. The world’s best players are playing with us. Our youngsters are really learning from them off and on the field and how they prepare themselves.”
India was eliminated in the quarter-final stage of the Rio Olympics by eventual silver medallists Belgium.
The men’s team is currently ranked number six in the world.
Sardar is again part of the Jaypee Punjab Warriors squad which is looking to defend it’s HIL title.
In this episode of Spartan Sports Talk he discusses his hockey ambitions going forward following the disappointment of being stripped of the Indian captaincy in a year where he dealt with controversy and some serious off-field allegations.
“Yeah it was hard, you know. It was hard when I heard all these things.”
Sardar said he is now focused on being a leading contributor for the team as it looks towards a successful campaign at the next Olympics in Tokyo.
To listen to the full SPARTAN SPORTS TALK podcast with Sardar Singh CLICK HERE