Lal Singh Sohal

Lal Singh Sohal who played as a goal-keeper for Services, Hyderabad and Punjab in the National Hockey Tournaments, is at present employed with BSF Lal Singh Sohal though narrowly missed national colours, he was considered a top quality goal-keeper in the country during his playing days. Though his job and hockey duties, keeps him away from Sansarpur most of the time, but his permanent residence is still Sansarpur. The interview was conducted at his residence in Sansarpur.

Researcher first requested him to tell something about his early life and motivating factors. Lal Singh Sohal said that he had a humble beginning as his father was a small pot smith of the village. He had to undergo hard labour in his early days to help in family occupation. But his father, though he himself never played hockey, was a great hockey enthusiast and always encouraged him to play hockey during free time. Another person who took great interest in his hockey during his childhood was Gopal Singh Kullar . Lal Singh Sohal told the researcher that Gopal Singh Kullar used to congratulate his father saying that his son plays good hockey and should be encouraged to continue playing. Perhaps his father was motivated by Gopal Singh Kullar feels Lal Singh Sohal.

Researcher’s next question was how did he chose to play as a goal-keeper. Lal Singh Sohal smiled and said that he was not even 10 years when he started playing hockey. In those days, hockey gear was not made available to children as simple village people could not afford that. They had to play without pads etc. Most of the children of his age were afraid of playing as goal-keeper without pads but as he was physically strong and were doing hard physical labour even at that tender age, he opted for it. Later, Harbhajan Singh Kullar, who was a national player, once saw him keeping goals with out pads. He was very impressed by his work inside the goal and asked him to use pads. He started saving for the pads and after some time bought a second hand pair from scrap shop in two annas. He himself mended them and started using them. After getting the pads, he started practicing even harder and that ultimately paid him later in life and made him, what he is today, told Lal Singh Sohal.

Researcher’s next question was: You have represented several national teams with distinction and was considered a great goal-keeper during your playing days bust you did not get a chance to represent India. Any comments:

The question Lal Singh Sohal into deep thoughts and after a few moments, he said that as he had already told he had a small beginning and whatever he has achieved in life is due to hockey. So he has no regrets. He certainly wanted to play for the country as according to him no honour can be greater than that. Closest he could come to realise this dream was his selection for Indian Hockey Federation Patiala camp in 1978 among world cup probables. He further added that not only he but his two younger brothers Kishan Singh Sohal and Harbans Singh Sohal also played hockey for state teams in the national hockey tournaments. And both of his sons Balbir Singh Sohal and Rajwinder Singh Sohal have represented Punjab in national juniors and his daughter Jatinder Kaur Sohal has also played in national juniors. While mentioning his sons and daughter, he further added that Jatinder Kaur Sohal is among the first few girls from Sansarpur who have made to national juniors.

Researcher’s next question was: “ You have played for several years in various national teams, which are the games you cherish most ?”

Lal Singh Sohal said that though he played for Services, Hyderabad and Punjab, his tenure with Punjab team was very successful. Punjab won three consecutive national championship from 1981-83 when he was keeping the goals for them. Winning three consecutive titles was a feat which Punjab repeated after 30 years as earlier they had done so way back in 1949-51. Lal Singh Sohal also considers his association with BSF team as very satisfying. He told the researcher that due to the introduction of tie-breaker rule, goal-keeper’s role has become very crucial. He won several matches for BSF as on average he could stop 3 out of 5 penalty strokes during his playing days with them. His best performance was against JCT Phagwara in 1992 at Katni in a BSF v/s JCT game, where he successfully stopped all the 5 penalty strokes.

Last question of the researcher was, what in your opinion are the attributes of a good goal-keeper.

Lal Singh Sohal said that a good goal-keeper should be physically agile, must possess sharp reflexes and flexible body. A good height is always a plus point. But to become a successful goal-keeper, presence of mind and ability to make a right move at the right time are crucial factors. Only hard practice can train a person in these aspects and there are no short cuts to success.

With this researcher thanked him for the interview and took leave from him

Comments are closed.