Together in action, but HIL auction separates 2 city academy players

For most part of their careers, former Chandigarh Hockey and Football Academy players Rupinder Pal Sigh and Dharamveer Singh have played for the same side, be it Chandigarh team or Punjab teams in the domestic season. On Sunday, as Rupinder Pal Singh was picked up for $ 56,000 by the Delhi Franchise and Dharamveer Singh for $52,000 by Punjab Franchise in the Hockey India League players' auction held in Delhi, it meant that the duo will be facing each other in the coming league.

"It's exciting to be picked up for such a huge amount for the league. I did not expect this much and it came as a surprise. My base price was $9,250 and it was good to see the franchises fighting to get me in the team. Dharamveer has been my senior in the academy and we were sitting together, following the auction on the Internet. He has been lucky that he will play from the Punjab franchise. But the Delhi team has also got a lot of players from Punjab," said the lanky defender, who was also part of the Indian team which took part in Champions' trophy in Australia recently.

Dharamveer, who made his debut for the senior side during the Canada Tour in 2009, also played in the Champions trophy and was also a member of the Indian hockey team in London Olympics. Dharamveer, who originally hails from Khairabad village near Ropar, has been a regular in the Indian hockey team. "I suffered a knee injury after the 2010 Asian games and made a comeback last year. It's been a tough journey but I am happy with my performance so far. Punjab and Mumbai teams were bidding for me, and I feel happy that I got a high price offer. We will get a chance to compete along with some of the world's best hockey players and it will benefit our game. I plan to invest this money in buying some land in my village," said Dharamveer, whose base price was $ 9,250 in the auction.

The duo trained under hockey coach Jasbir Singh Bajwa at the Chandigarh Hockey and Football Academy early in their career and Bajwa's sudden death last year meant a personal loss to the duo. The youngsters give Bajwa the credit for their success. "I joined the academy in 2002 and Bajwa sir trained us at the academy. He was a mentor to all of us, including Dharamveer Singh. Whenever we wanted to train, he would support us and spend hours with us. Whatever we are today, it is because of him. We wish he was here today with us to see this huge day in our careers. We are leaving for Asian Champions Trophy in Doha on Monday and we want to win the title there," said Rupinder Pal, 21.

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