Hockey legend Balbir Singh Junior passes away
Balbir Singh Junior, who was a member of the silver medal-winning 1958 Asian Games Indian hockey team, died here at the age of 88, his daughter Mandeep Samra said on Tuesday. He is survived by his wife, daughter and son. “My father passed away in sleep on Sunday morning due to heart failure,” his daughter said.
His son is settled in Canada and could not attend the last rites of his father because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Born on May 2, 1932, at Sansarpur in Jalandhar, also known as the nursery of Indian hockey, Balbir Singh Junior had played alongside legends like Balbir Singh Senior, Leslie Claudius, Prithipal Singh, Balkishan and Charles Stephen among others.
Singh took to hockey when he was six years old. He studied at Lyallpur Khalsa College in Jalandhar and was first selected to play for the Indian hockey team in 1951 during the tour of Afghanistan. He was part of the Punjab state hockey team and also captained Panjab University team. Later, he also played for the Indian Railways team that toured European countries such as Spain, Switzerland and Italy. The team also played Test matches in Netherlands.
In 1962, he joined the Army as an emergency commissioned officer. He played for the Services hockey team in the national tournaments at Delhi. Singh retired as a Major in 1984 and later settled in Chandigarh. Post retirement he took keen interest in playing golf.
Hockey India condoled the death of Balbir Singh Junior. “On behalf of Hockey India, I express my deepest condolences to Balbir Singh Junior’s family. His contribution to Indian hockey will always be remembered and the hockey fraternity mourns his demise,” HI President Gyanendro Ningombam said.
Punjab Governor V P Singh Badnore, who is also Administrator Union Territory Chandigarh, expressed condolences at the passing of the hockey player. Badnore said that Balbir Singh Junior, who represented India in many international championships, will be remembered for his outstanding contribution to the sport.