He once donned national colours and is still actively playing in the Malaysian Hockey League.
But for Baljit Singh Charun, looking at his young charges improve their game puts a smile on his face.
Baljit, who turns 33 on Sept 22, is the ‘baby’ of the Matador Hockey Club coaching family.
Set up two years ago, Matador focuses on grassroots hockey to unearth new talent and help build a better pool of players for the country.
The other coaches include Olympians Sarjit Singh, Maninderjit Singh and former internationals Balbir Singh and M. Nadarajah.
“My seniors (coaches) will often get my views about how the young ones would think, how they would approach the sport and instructions.
“They grew up and were coached in a different environment and I’m glad they value my input,” said Baljit.
“The idea is for the children to have fun. That’s an important element – to get them back on the field every weekend.”
He said the biggest satisfaction is to see how they improve.
“Seeing them grow puts a smile on my face.”
However, Baljit admitted it was difficult adapting to coaching at the lowest level.
“We have to teach them the basics, from A to Z. But it’s such a crucial period as one wrong lesson and the player will pick up bad habits which will be difficult to correct.”
Maninderjit echoed similar sentiments.
“The grassroots is interesting yet challenging. The idea is to create interest for more people to play hockey and bring families together,” said Maninderjit.
He added the club’s passion to develop hockey has won the hearts of sponsors, as evident during the launch of the club’s jersey over the weekend.
The club raised RM99,000 by selling advertisements on its playing attire.
MAZ International School contributed RM35,000 while e-hailing company MyGo gave RM25,000. Other sponsors are MAC Security Consultant (RM15,000), Johor Sikhs Sports Club (RM12,000) and Selangor Sikh Association (RM12,000).
“Sponsors tend to look at the history of a club, the people involved and the activities carried out.
“If a club has a good track record and organises many activities, the sponsors would naturally want to part of the club’s success story. I believe this is the main reason why we have enjoyed generous funding from our sponsors.”
“We need their support as the price of infrastructure has shot up. The money raised will be used for various activities throughout the year.”
Sarjit, meanwhile, said being part of Matador was like returning ‘home’.
“This is where we all started … grassroots hockey. Some of our members are former hockey players and their children now play the sport. It’s about spending time with family while enjoying the game.
“That’s what sports is all about, enjoying every second of it.”