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Devindar Walmiki optimistic of returning to hockey team

September 24, 2013 08:32 IST

Devindar Walmiki optimistic of returning to hockey team

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Laxmi Negi

Ignored for the under-21 Sultan of Johar Cup in Malaysia, Devindar Walmiki tells Laxmi Negi he’s not giving up on making the team for the junior World Cup.

The Walmiki brothers are a force to reckon with in Mumbai hockey. Two years ago they made a name for themselves following impressive performances for the country.

Yuvraj, the elder brother, shot to fame after playing a stellar role in India's triumph in the 2011 Asian men's Champions Trophy in Ordos, China, and scoring in the penalty shoot-out as India beat Pakistan 4-2 in the final.

He immediately became a permanent fixture in the senior men’s team even as younger brother Devindar led the India Under -21 team in an international tournament in Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

Cut to 2013, the Walmikis still live in a 10x10 feet shanty in Marine Lines, Mumbai, but their fortunes that soared considerably have dwindled; both brothers are out of India reckoning.

Yuvraj was dropped from the senior team for reasons unknown to him and is playing in Germany for Bundesliga club TGF Frankenthal, while Devindar was surprisingly ignored for the third Sultan of Johar Cup in Malaysia.


Photographs: Coutresy: Devindar Walmiki/Facebook

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Devindar Walmiki optimistic of returning to hockey team

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Laxmi Negi

While Yuvraj, it is believed, is unable to find a place in the senior India squad because of lack of form and fitness as also competition from many up and coming youngsters, livewire midfielder Devindar is now nursing his wounds by playing in Mumbai’s local league for his employers, Central Railway.

But being dropped from the junior squad is no case of sour grapes for Walmiki junior. He admits that while it was disheartening, he took the setback in his stride and used the internet for motivational videos in a bid to bounce back.


Photographs: Coutresy: Devindar Walmiki/Facebook

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Devindar Walmiki optimistic of returning to hockey team

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Laxmi Negi

The first line that caught his eye was, ‘Look into the mirror… that is your competition’. It got him hooked and today he has a zillion motivational quotes on his phone. So much so that they even inspire his brother miles away in Germany.

Now, the brothers have vowed to return where they belong. The first target on junior Walmiki’s radar is getting back into the team well in time for the Junior World Cup, to be held from December 6 to 15, in New Delhi.

The 21-year-old Devindar turns a little teary eyed as he points out that making it to the team will be an achievement he would love to dedicate to elder brother Yuvraj.

In 2009, Yuvraj attended 12 junior national camps. He was on the standby list but failed to make it to the World Cup-bound junior team to Malaysia and Singapore.

“My career has just started, but if I make it to the junior World Cup squad I want to dedicate it to my brother. What he could not do, I want to do it for him,” says Devindar.


Photographs: Coutresy: Yuvraj Walmiki/Facebook

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Devindar Walmiki optimistic of returning to hockey team

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Laxmi Negi

India’s junior team coaches Gregg Clark and Baljit Saini are believed to have sent positive signals to Devindar and he is hell bent on working even harder and stepping up to the plate.

Terming his journey from 2008 as one “from darkness to light” -- his family lived without electricity for 40 years in a Mumbai shanty until last year -- he attributes much of his rise to his first coach, Merzban Patel. He says, “Bawa”, as Merzban is fondly addressed, “helps me stay positive and take failure in my stride.”

For now, though, he has the soothing and inspiring words of sports legends like Pele and Michael Johnson to stay motivated.


Photographs: Coutresy: Devindar Walmiki/Facebook

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