Indo-Canadian hockey players feeling ‘at home’ in Junior World Cup
Lucknow: The Canadian men’s team that faces India in a Hockey Junior World Cup pool match here on Thursday has a strong desi flavour with as many as 13 Indian-origin players in the 18-man squad.
Two among the Canadian U-21 team — Floyd Mascarenhas and Ganga Singh — were born in India and an opportunity to connect with their roots makes their trip to India special.
India will begin their tournament campaign against Canada in Pool D that also has South Africa and England.
The experience the Indo-Canadians have so far had in the country of their ancestors has been indescribable.
“From what I’ve seen and from talking to other guys who have played there before, it’s definitely something that everyone else has described as something you can’t comprehend,” Mascarenhas was quoted as saying by fieldhockey.ca on Wednesday.
Mascarenhas, a defender, moved to Canada when he was only two years old. He said hockey is a popular sport in Canada.
“It’s nothing like any other place in the world, the scale of hockey there.”
Twenty-year-old Parmeet Gill of Brampton, Ontario, a place with a strong Indian presence, and team-mate Ganga Singh travelled to India in the past summer and trained at a hockey school for two months.
“Basically, we lived in this academy, we trained twice a day for five days a week, we ate there,” Gill said to fieldhockey.ca.
“We basically lived and breathed hockey for two months with those guys, learning Indian hockey.”
Gill said the trip wasn’t mandatory. But they planned it because of the importance of their India roots.
Gill has trained in Vancouver with Canada’s junior team for the last several months.
“The Indo-Canadian atmosphere is really great,” he said. “I feel a community vibe here in India. I feel at home in India.”
The mutual feeling aming the Indo-Canadians makes the tournament even more meaningful to them.
“I have a family here in India as well coming out to watch,” Gill said.
“So, a really strong support system from both countries.”