Beautiful sunset view, a warm cup of tea, a bunch of friends, casual talk on a Saturday night, couldn’t ask for a better setting than this. Rajani ( Srinu’s wife ) happened to mention casually that Srinu would be gone most of the weekends as he was accompanying her daughter for her hockey games. Srinu was her coach.
I thought to myself, wow Srinu must be really good at skating as thats the basic requirement for ice hockey. Turns out Srinu was her field hockey ( or simply hockey in Indian context ) coach. I was taken by a complete surprise. Because playing hockey is almost a crime in India. With no or very little support from the government of India, with no major sponsorships, with very little media coverage and even that little is only when there is a controversy or when the indian team didn’t have the shoes to play hockey, such is the sorry state of the game. The only reason why it’s still surviving is the players who stil play hockey and people who still love the game. Srinu is definitely one of them.
My curiosity levels shot up and the casual conversation was not casual anymore. Srinu happened to mention an incident when he was in college. He went to play a district level hockey tournament, when he received a call that he and his friend had to leave immediately for a selection camp to play at the state level. The call got him so excited, he just took off. He didn’t inform his family. Not because he didn’t want to, but he chose not to because his family didn’t want him to play hockey in the first place. So Srinu went missing for 2 days straight, all for the love of the game.
Obviously, life needs to move on and so did Srinu. He moved to the US in 1997 in pursuit of his career. The next decade or so went in establishing his family, securing education for his children, but his love affair with the game still continued. He stepped up as a coach to his daughter and when she started playing leagues, Srinu encouraged her further by travelling with her, guiding her and being there for her as a coach and as a father.
Life throws many challenges when one needs to choose between family and passion and 99% of the times the family wins. But in Srinu’s case, his families support ( primarily Rajani ) helped him enjoy his family life with passion and Srinu did full justice to both.
This commitment, passion towards the game helped him scale new heights. He is now representing the US hockey team in the first ever “Masters World Cup” to be held in England in August. Although Srinu doesn’t tend to agree with me on the magnitude of his achievements, to me, representing a country at an international stage on any day and any where is an accomplishment that’s second to none, hands down !
It doesn’t matter where you are, what you are and certainly who you are, dreams do come true. I’m not saying it, Srinu proved it . So thank you Srinu, for being our Hero !