The power of familial inspiration: Former India handball captain guiding his son to U-19 WC glory
Multi-sport families are rarity in India, with most children opting to pursue the same sport as their father or mother. The U-19 World Cup semi-final saw the rise of a prodigal talent in Anmolpreet Singh, whose 72 runs helped India seal a final berth.
A closer look into his family lineage reveals a glorious sporting heritage. His father, Satvinder Singh captained the Indian national handball team in the 1994 Commonwealth Championship. He said, “I took up handball when I was very young. I used to play it locally as a part of the summer coaching camp in Patiala. Within year or so I was selected by the state and by 1982 I was in the Asian Games squad.”
Once you enter the Singh family household, you noticed dozens of trophies promptly lined up in the living room. A venture into their backyard highlights the presence of several cricketing greats in the family. One would make the mistakes of association the awards or prizes to a cricket prodigy in the family; however, in this case it belongs to a handballing great.
Singh added, “I represented India for 22 years, before retiring in 2002. Unfortunately, because of my handball career I couldn’t devote much time to my son. I used to leave Anmolpreet in my sister’s house. His cousins used to play cricket and he used to go with them and play on the field. Those were his baby steps into the sport.”
“The biggest mistake every parent makes is by pushing their child too far, either they end up losing confidence or gain too much of it. As a sportsperson I realised that it was far more important for me to be his friend. I used to motivate him, because the situations he is currently facing I have already faced them before.”
On Tuesday, Anmolpreet came in at number 3 with India reeling at 23/1. Anmolpreet, along with Sarfaraz Khan consolidated the innings and helped the team reach a defendable target of 267. Satvinder said, “When he was around 6-7, we decided to put him into a cricket club. This also helped us out because no one was ever there in the house. Slowly when I started going for his matches, I realised he had immense potential.”
After beginning his career as a batsman for local Patiala club, Black Elephant, Anmolpreet was quickly selected by the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) junior team. Within a few years, he was representing the Punjab U-16 team, at the miniscule age of 13.
“He said I don’t want to play, I asked him to take it on the chin and move on”: Satvinder Singh
Satvinder said, “I still remember during an under-16 match, Anmol was facing a very fast bowler. He was reaching around 125, and at his age that was a lot. So he was hit badly in the stomach, and the bowler was also taunting him. So after the game, he was complaining about the pain. I told him that without pain there is no gain. He didn’t want to play, but I motivated him and asked him to take it on the chin. Next tournament he faced the same bowler, and him for 30 runs in two overs.”
The multiple national handball medallist was quick to add on how the sport helped Anmolpreet. He said, “It’s simple actually, handball is an all round game, my son has played district level but his interest never lied there. However, his time in handball helped him a lot during his cricket career. To play handball one needs – strength, fitness, agility and stamina. So when he used to play at young age, it trained him for cricket unknowingly. Now his upper body strength from handball helps hi hit the big shots.”
Speaking about the team’s chances of winning the U-19 World Cup, he added, “It’s a sport anything can happen. But what is vital is that he learns and keep growing from this experience. Once he comes back, he should not become over confident.”
The Singh household has kept every bat used by Anmolpreet in the house and Satvinder is optimistic about the World Cup winning one as well. He added, “If he wins, that will be the greatest success, he will out do my accomplishments. The bat he gets will be signed by Rahul Dravid, so that will also be a part of the collection.”
On Sunday, Anmolpreet will aim to fulfil his father’s legacy against West Indies in the final.