Antwerp: Young player Jasjit Singh Kular's fine show in the ongoing World League Semifinals has brought a village on the outskirts of Punjab's Jalandhar city back into the focus of the hockey fraternity.
Jasjit hails from a small village Sansarpur, on the fringe of Jalandhar city that used to be the hub of Indian hockey in its heydays.
Known as the hockey village among the sports buffs, Sansarpur was a tiny hamlet that provided a number of Olympic medal winners when hockey was a craze and India were the prima donnas of the international game.
Coming from a village synonymous with Indian hockey, the sport was an obvious childhood passion for Jasjit, but it was not until he got into college after turning 18 that he seriously pursued the game.
"I was a late starter and did not get serious about playing hockey until I got into college," says Jasjit.
"For one whose village is Sansarpur, the passion for hockey was always there. I used to play as a child, but ours is a family of doctors and the focus was scientific education," said Jasjit, who scored two goals in the 3-2 win over Malaysia that placed India in the last-four round.
"It was as a student of Jalandhar's Khalsa College that I got into hockey seriously," he says.
The late-starter bloomed pretty quickly, making the national team in less than five years after playing his first competitive game. Jasjit made his international debut as a half-back during the 2014 World Cup at The Hague against Belgium.
At the World Cup, within the limited time he was fielded, Jasjit even got his name on the score-sheet against Malaysia in open field play.
His big chance to make a mark came when India's new coach Paul van Ass picked him as a drag-flicker and he got the opportunity to be the main penalty corner shooter in the absence of injured V R Raghunath and Rupinder Pal Singh.
Jagjit justified the faith with the two late goals from rising drag-flicks that went into the net and ensured India's victory. These two goals, says Jasjit, were his first from drag-flicks in international hockey.
The success of this 24-year-old player has brought the spotlight back on Sansarpur, which has so far produced 14 Olympians ? nine for India, four who went on to represent Kenya and one for Canada.
In 1968, seven players hailing for the village, featured in the Mexico Olympic Games. Five of these did duty for India and two others representing Kenya.
The five in the Indian team were Ajitpal Singh, Jagjit Singh, Balbir Singh (Services), Balbir Singh (Punjab) and Tarsem Singh. Hardev Singh and and Jagjit Singh featured in the Kenyan squad.
Until Jasjit came along, no player from Sansarpur had featured in an Indian squad for a decade. As this young player asserts, the supply of hockey talent from Sansarpur to the Indian squad is not finished.