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Last month, Sardar Singh landed in a Dutch seaside town to play for the iconic Bloemendaal Hockey Club. While filling the void left by Teun de Noojier on the field, he spends his time away from it exploring the countryside, discovers Mihir Vasavda
'Wie helpt Sardar met zijn huis?'
Within days of his arrival in Holland as Bloemendaal HC's foreign signing for the season, this short message on his club's website caught Sardar Singh's attention. But with Dutch just about as familiar to him as Greek, he had no idea what it meant. With his club-provided accommodation — a small, comfortable home in the countryside — needing urgent attention from electricians and plumbers, Sardar was to soon forget those puzzling words.
The mystery was solved a few days later when a group of locals — armed with handyman tools, wires, cleaning equipment — landed at his doorstep. "The club said you need help setting up your house," they told a puzzled Sardar. The air was cleared when they told the Indian star that "Wie helpt Sardar met zijn huis?" meant "Who'll help Sardar with his house?"
Over the next five days, Sardar had too many helping hands. "The locals painted the house, got some electrical stuff done, got curtains and cleaned up the house for me. I think that was a very good gesture. It took them around 4-5 days to do it; it was really nice of them," he says. It was a welcome that made the star guest feel at home. Sardar, for his part, instantly felt a sense of belonging to Bloemendaal HC and to Holland.
It wasn't originally meant to be Holland, though.
Back home from the Asia Cup in July, Sardar had to choose between spending time with his family and a short stint with a club abroad. "In the last five years, we've hardly spent time at home. It's always been camps, tournaments and camps again. In between, we get a break of two weeks or so," he says.