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Mangaluru: S V Sunil - From playing hockey with bamboo stick to winning Arjuna Award


Abhijith N Kolpe
Daijiworld Media Network – Mangaluru

Mangaluru, Aug 30: Somwarpet Vittalacharya Sunil, better known as S V Sunil is an Indian field hockey player well known for his swiftness on the field. Regarded as one of the fastest players in the game, Sunil made his international debut at the young age of 18.

With 11 years of experience, presently S V Sunil is one of the key members in the Indian hockey team. He was part of the team in the year 2008 for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, in which India won the silver medal. In 2011, he played in the Champion’s Challenge and scored four stunning goals, the most by any Indian forwarder. He was also part of the team that secured gold in 2014 at the Asian Games at Incheon. Sunil was part of the team in the Hero Champions Trophy 2016 and won the silver medal.

S V Sunil received the prestigious 'Arjuna Award' from president Ram Nath Kovind on the birth anniversary of hockey wizard Dhyan Chand on August 29.

Arjuna awardee S V Sunil spoke in an exclusive interview with daijiworld.



Excerpts


Q: Congratulations on your achievement. How do you feel having won the 'Arjuna Award'?

A: Thank you. It is a great feeling to receive the Arjuna Award after playing for 11 years for my country. I have been recognised for my contribution. My hard work and dedication has finally paid off.


Q: You are just 29 and have an experience of more than a decade. Tell us how you could manage to do that.

A: I hail from Somwarpet from Kodagu district. Hockey is in the blood of Kodavas. I joined Blue Star Hockey Club at Madikeri and stayed at a hostel in Belagavi during the initial days of my training in hockey. I received good support from senior players as I learnt good techniques and skills. I also learnt how to handle pressure after I joined the senior squad. Grooming under senior hockey players improved my game.


Q: What is the contribution of your family and the people of Kodagu in your development?


A: Hockey has made me the person I am today. I am able to support my family through hockey. I have plans of building an academy in Kodagu, but not finding time for it due to my busy schedule. I will fulfill this dream after my retirement. I will also organise a two-month summer camp for children at Somwarpet hockey club and sponsor hockey sticks and jerseys for the participants.

I have also started a hockey tournament in the name of my father the late S M Vittala Acharya. Top teams from Kodagu take part in this tournament. I will be organising the second edition of this tournament in January-February next year in Kodagu.


Q: How was the infrastructure at the time when you started playing hockey?

A: We used to play on a normal ground as there were no artificial turf grounds. As our family was financially poor, I used to play with a bamboo stick which had a curve at the bottom.

I started playing on turf grounds after I joined hostel. I found it quite difficult to get used to the conditions.


Q: It will not be wrong to say that Kodagu is a nursery of Indian Hockey. What attracted you to this game?

A: Every Kodava likes hockey. Children and elders alike follow the game. Several local tournaments were organized in our hometown where people used to come in large numbers including myself. I started liking the game. When someone from our hometown would represent our country, he would be taken in an open jeep procession. Looking at this, I felt that I would get the same honour if I play for my country. That made me play hockey.


Q: Other than receiving the Arjuna Award, any golden moments in the field of hockey?

A: An unforgettable moment is when we secured the gold medal in Asian Games at Incheon in 2014. The last time we won the gold in the Asian Games was in the year 1998. Clinching the gold after 16 long years was a great feeling as that also secured a place for us in the Olympics.


Q: Hockey has been low on popularity in the past few years. Any plans of popularising the game?

A: Hockey has improved a lot in the last 5-6 years. We have reached 75 percent of the target, but there are all the chances of making it 100 percent. The popularity of the game is not like that of cricket. If people have to be drawn to the game, we need to win a tournament like the World Cup or secure gold at the Olympics. This will definitely increase the fan following, viewers and craze towards hockey.

The next World Cup is round the corner and it will be held in India. If we finish in the top four, we get a chance to advance to the next level. After the emergence of Hockey India League, a lot of young talents have been unearthed.


Q: Who recognized your talent in hockey at such a young age?

A: Unfortunately for me, no one recognised my talent at that time. The coach of Indian team Joachim Carvalho noticed my skills while I was playing against the Indian team in a practice match. He called me to the practice camp and this is how it happened.


Q: Stars and cricketers are recognised even by children in Kodagu and Dakshina Kannada. Do you feel that an achiever like you, playing for 11 years, is not given the recognition you deserve?


A: I get recognition and respect in Kodagu. I am connected to Dakshina Kannada as my father hailed from Karkala. People in Mangaluru do not play hockey and hence do not follow the sport.


Q: Yours has been a great journey. Do you have any message for your fans?

A: Parents say education is important and I agree with that. At the same time, sports and games play an integral part in an individual’s development. Sports make you physically fit and if we balance both education and sports, we can have bright future.

Comment on this article

  • Francis Saldanha, Bahrain

    Thu, Aug 31 2017

    The starting point of all achievement is desire. The discipline you learn and character you build for setting and achieving a goal can be more valuable than the achievement of the goal itself. Proud of you S.V.Sunil. Happy to know that you are well connected to D.K. Huge Congratulations!

    DisAgree Agree [5] Reply Report Abuse

  • Vishal, Belman

    Thu, Aug 31 2017

    Congrats SV Sunil. You deserve this. We wish you success.

    DisAgree Agree [8] Reply Report Abuse

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