The last few months have not been easy for Chinglensana Singh. The Indian men’s hockey team left-back fractured his right ankle during the Hockey Nationals earlier this year and since then, he has been racing against the clock to make a comeback ahead of the Olympic qualifiers in October. However, the veteran from Manipur had something to celebrate on Thursday as he received the prestigious Arjuna Award for his achievements. Since making his debut in 2011, the 27-year-old has been a regular for the national team and he has played over 200 matches in his career.
Hindustan Times caught up with Chinglensana Singh as he talked about his early days, the secret behind his success and how the Arjuna Award will motivate him in the future.
How are you feeling about receiving the Arjuna Award?
I am really happy to receive the Arjuna Award and on the individual level, this is the biggest award of my career. This medal was possible because of the support of my teammates and in the upcoming tournaments, this achievement will motivate me to perform even better for the national team.
Tell us about your early days when you started playing hockey.
In my village, hockey was the most popular sport when I was growing up. There were a number of good players from that area and that helped me in pursuing the sport. My family was also a huge support and although there was no coach in my first club, all the senior players helped us. When I started playing for the national side, I got a job in Railways and that was a huge deal for me.
Do you want to do anything in order to improve the infrastructure for hockey in Manipur?
In Manipur, there is not much infrastructure when it comes to hockey. You will hardly find places which sell hockey sticks and you have to import them from Punjab. But, I am trying to help the upcoming players from the state and I try to provide them with the basic equipment. My plan is to open an academy in the future but right now, the main focus is on improving my game.
What is the update on your injury? Will you be fit ahead of the qualifiers?
It is very important to maintain your fitness as the competition in the national team is quite high and it is always quite difficult to make a comeback. I am trying to recover from my injury ahead of the qualifiers and although I am not quite hundred percent, I will joining the national camp with the team.
You have played more than 200 games for India. What is the secret behind your longevity?
The sport has changed a lot since my debut. Discipline and fitness are the main things in hockey at the moment and maintaining that helped me in playing 200 games for the national team. There is no place for any junk food and I make it a point to follow the schedule given to us by the trainers.