“I was very young when my father would take me to watch Khasi Cup (decades-old tribal hockey tournament). It was a very natural thing to pick up hockey especially when you are from the Sundargarh region. I was mesmerised by the sport. It brings respect and honour in our villages if you are good at it,” says Indian Junior Men’s Hockey Team defender Suman Beck who is from Rajganpur, situated 40kms from Rourkela district in Odisha.
Having joined the Sundargarh Sports Hostel at an early age, Beck learnt the tricks of the trade from the very best in his state. “I was really influenced by Lazarus Barla, Roshan Minz, Prabodh Tirkey who would always give sound advice whenever they visited us in the sports hostel. They always said, ‘hockey will give you a new life if you stay focused and committed to being the best’. I had also heard so much about Dilip Tirkey, his achievements and early struggle. Though I have met him, I am very inspired by his story. I really want to be like these stalwarts and emulate their success. They are a huge inspiration in our region and now the onus is on us to bring laurels to the region,” says Beck, a reliable defender in the Indian Junior Men’s Hockey Team.
Beck was part of the India team that won the Bronze in 2017 Sultan of Johor Cup and the Silver in the 2018 and 2019 editions of the prestigious tournament. Hailing from a financially challenged family, his father who earns daily wages by working in farm lands, Beck is familiar with hardships from a very young age but never lets it deter his goals. “Almost every player from Odisha has come from extremely challenging backgrounds and we never let this affect us. In fact, it makes us determined to achieve in the sport and earn recognition,” Beck opines.
Having rubbed shoulders with players from the Indian Team during the camps in SAI, Bengaluru, Beck says his game has improved since he was first picked for the Junior National Camp. “I came into the national camp in 2017 and compared to now, I was very raw and was not aware of the structure and systematic way of training. Players like Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Birendra Lakra who are all very good defenders in the Senior Team help me from time to time. Both the Senior and Junior core group has a big pool of talented players and we really have to show our mettle to get selected. My next goal is to do well in the Junior World Cup qualifiers (Junior Asia Cup),” Beck says.
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