During our annual family vacation this past summer, we went to India. While I was visiting my family and traveling, I saw an excellent Hindi movie called Chak De! India, which I enjoyed very much. The plot interested me because I am a young field hockey player and fan from California. In the film, Coach Kabir (played by Shah Rukh Khan) is trying to develop a women’s Indian field hockey program in a male dominated sports environment. This plot reminded me of my present hurdles in the United States, trying to develop a boys program in Northern California. In the U.S., only girls play field hockey.
In the U.S., girls are the queens of field hockey with their high school and college teams. Colleges actively recruit girls to play field hockey and offer full athletic scholarships to these fine female athletes. On the flip side, men only have a senior or junior national team. That’s it. No high school or collegiate level teams. Growing up in California, I have played all the usual American team sports, including baseball, basketball, soccer, and hockey (ice and street). When I was five, my father showed me the website of the U.S. Men’s Field Hockey National team. I noticed that there were Indians on the senior team, and was proud to note even a couple Sikh players. This was very exciting and caught my imagination. I decided to add field hockey to my collection of youth sports. This decision started me on a remarkable youth sports career and movement.
My father and I first joined an introductory youth field hockey program at Stanford. We learned the fundamentals of the game, and soon I was playing with great confidence. I made new young friends (boys and girls) and grew my skill set. Soon I was scoring goals for my small club team based at Stanford University for International competitions like the annual California Cup in Moorpark, Calif. every Memorial Day weekend.
Over the past six years, my passion for the game has grown and I continue to play for my newly formed boys club team, the Stanford Storm. Our club of boys between the ages of 9-13 is based in Los Gatos, Calif. All the boys love playing field hockey and we enjoy the success we have in the sport. We participate in youth leagues and tournaments all over the U.S. for the fun of the game and to showcase boys playing field hockey.
This is where Chak De! India comes in. Just like Coach Kabir recruited girls to play field hockey, I enjoy being an ambassador for boy’s field hockey in America. My goal is to develop and recruit boys to play field hockey in America and eventually become an international power in the sport. There are no high school or college opportunities yet for boys, just a celebration of India’s native and beloved sport in the hands of a few boys in America.
Brij Singh is a forward with the Stanford Storm, a field hockey club based in Los Gatos, Calif. For more information, contact Brij at firstname.lastname@example.org.