Indian-origin players in US Jr. Hockey Team are excited to come to India for World Cup


As the Junior Hockey World Cup is set to take place in Bhubaneshwar, India this month, several national teams have started arriving. There is much excitement given that India is hosting a tournament and is also a favorite to win it as well.

The US team is in fact coached by former Indian junior coach Harendra Singh. In addition to that, the team also features 5 Indian-origin players.

Jatin Sharma, Mehtab Grewak, Gurcharan Johal, Amrinderpal Singh, and Shomik Chakraborty will be the 5 Indian origin players who will play for the U.S team this year.

Incidentally, Jatin Sharma’s father was a player himself who began coaching teams in California when he shifted there for work several years ago. His son picked up the sport subsequently and was coached by his father before making it to the National team.

Harendra, who coached defending champions India to the Junior World Cup title in 2016, was roped in by USA Field Hockey earlier this year; and they don’t want to miss out on his inside knowledge and first-hand experience of Indian conditions and players.

They are centered around San Francisco and his dad founded two Hockey clubs namely the Hayward Hawks and Stanford Lightning Youth Field Hockey club.

“It was an amazing feeling. For a lot of kids growing up, that’s the dream, the Junior World Cup. Once we heard the news that we’re gonna go, that was a dream come true,” said Jatin Sharma, as the team was to fly out of California.

The other Indian-origin players hail from Washington DC, Arizona, and other towns in California.

Shomik Chakraborty and Jatin Sharma have featured for the Men’s Senior team already given that they have performed well at the junior level. Their entire world cup campaign has been funded through personal donations and fundraisers.

The reason for this is that field or turf hockey is not that popular in America and hence does not get the attention and necessary funding required for it to progress. The senior team gets considerable funding but junior players have to rely on their families and donors to sustain foreign trips for tournaments.

“The Indian hockey community here in America, I think, is pretty big, especially in California,” said Sharma.

“Growing up, almost like 80% of my team was a lot of Indian-origin kids. A lot of the older people who moved from India to America brought the sport with them. They try to grow the sport over here because the sport of hockey is not very big. The Indian community does a lot for the sport.

After shifting base to the US, Sharma’s dad founded the Stanford Lightning Youth Field Hockey club and later the Hayward Hawks Field Hockey Club around the San Francisco Bay area.

Now, Sharma helps his dad in coaching the Stanford Lightning U-10s.

A tournament in India gives a chance to the families of these players to visit their ancestral villages and towns, but the pandemic era has forced the world to re-think and decide differently. So only the family of Mehtab, will be traveling with the team this time.

“I wanted to go with my family to Punjab, but I have to come back to Moorpark in Los Angeles. We have a senior team camp starting, I think, the day after we get back from the Junior World Cup.”