By SHRI RAM SHAW
New Delhi/Jaipur, 03 June: Yuvraj Walmiki, famously known as the Prince of Indian hockey goes candid as he talks about the struggles in his life and how hockey helped him become a better human being on the latest episode of ‘SportTiger Talks’. He also spoke about the Indian hockey team’s prospects at the Tokyo Olympics, the memorable final against Pakistan at the Asian Champions Trophy and his journey in the entertainment industry, including his experience at the reality show – Khatron Ke Khiladi.
Yuvraj, who started playing hockey just to see his picture in the newspaper, spoke about his early days of struggle. He talked about how he grew up in a 10×10 room in Mumbai with no proper facilities for electricity and water and the passion that kept him going. He said, “I don’t have any competitors, I keep competing with myself to become a better human and work hard every day. In the end, it worked out well for me and to wear the tricolour badge on our chest is probably the biggest motivation for every sportsman.”
Yuvraj is very optimistic about the chances of the Indian hockey team in the upcoming Olympics. “One thing I will definitely say is that Indian hockey right now is doing wonderfully well under (PR) Sreejesh and Manpreet (Singh),” the hockey player said, adding, “I still have this gut feeling, In case, Tokyo Olympics takes place, the Indian hockey team will bag a medal this time, I have this strong belief in my heart.”
The Indian hockey team boasts 8 gold medals at the Olympics – the most by any team in the history of the Games. Yuvraj believes a medal at such a big stage would help the hockey players in India get the requisite importance in the current generation that prefers cricket over any other game.
2011 was a breakthrough year for the ‘Prince of Indian hockey’ as he represented India at the Asian Champions Trophy where he was the shining star in the finale against Pakistan. Notably, India had won the tournament after defeating Pakistan in the final in a penalty shootout after regulation and extra time ended scoreless. Yuvraj expressed his happiness on being part of such a historic match and said, “When the Indian flag was being raised and the Pakistan flag was coming down, at that moment, I felt that I have done something for the country as the national flag was being raised because of me.”
He also opened up on the scenario during India-Pakistan matches. “India vs Pakistan is always a special match. During that time, no strategies work because emotions themselves play such a huge role. We’ve always been tough on them. I do have friends from the Pakistan hockey team as well. When it comes to the game, we’ll all meet up nicely but when we put our foot on the ground, we don’t see left or right, we just focus on winning that match because we can’t lose against them at any cost,” said the player.
Yuvraj has been exceptional in the field of hockey but has also had his stint in the entertainment industry. He has acted in a web series and was also a part of the reality show ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’. Sharing his experience from there, Yuvraj said, “It’s wonderful and you know what happens is that when you are being named as the first one to do it, it’s always special. I have been, in most cases, the first hockey player to do so. The experience was wonderful, I got to see the Bollywood side as well and since the time I did ‘Khatron Ke Khiladi’, I have lots of friends from the TV industry who have now turned into family-like Jai Bhanushali, Raghav and all.”
Yuvraj, who is a big fan of former India captain Dhanraj Pillay has also played in the German Hockey League for 8 years. He has played a total of 52 matches and scored 14 goals for India. He was a key member of the 2014 Hockey World Cup team in the Netherlands.