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Posted at: Jan 7, 2018, 12:37 AM; last updated: Jan 7, 2018, 12:37 AM (IST)

Happiness raised to the power of Six

Six brothers – no matter what they do, where they live – come together each year to organize a hockey tournament in memory of their parents
They are six brothers with one pursuit: perpetuate the memory of their parents among those who love hockey. So, Sardar Balwant Singh Kapur Memorial Hockey Tournament and Mata Parkash Kaur Cup belong as much to them as the teams, players and coaches. 

Come December, no matter wherever they are, the six leave their work behind and gather at their parental home in Jalandhar to organize the event. This has been their annual ritual for 14 years. And no, there are no sponsors, and sorry, no politicians are invited. The cash prizes are stated to be the highest, at least in this part of the state: the winner team gets Rs 1.25 lakh followed by Rs 80,000 and Rs 60,000 and Rs 40,000 to the second, third and the fourth teams. Six best players are also given Rs 7,500 each.

Hockey is a revered symbol of respect for Gursaran Singh Kapur (81), Harbhajan Singh (78), Manjit Singh (75), Manmohan Singh (72), Tirath Singh (67), and Hardeep Singh (58). Together, they fondly remember how keen sports-lover their father was -- a mere mention of him lights up their faces. "Our father retired as a superintendent with the municipal corporation. After his death in 1995, all of us sat together and thought of doing something to keep his memory afresh in our minds," recalls Harbhajan. "After years of discussions and tossing up ideas over phones and emails, we zeroed in on hockey in 2004. We knew nothing much was being done on the individual level to promote the sport. So, we thought of starting a tournament for under-17 boys." Thus was born Sardar Balwant Singh Kapur Hockey Tournament.

When the Kapur brothers suffered another tragic loss of their mother in 2008, they named the trophy after their mother's name i.e. Mata Parkash Kaur Cup.

This time, 18 teams from as far as Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Delhi, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh took part in the tournament. The organizers say a Pakistan team had approached them, but relations between the two countries came in the way.

Manjit Singh and Tirath Singh — both Jalandhar residents — are tasked to prepare the groundwork the whole year. The four others — the youngest Hardeep Singh lives in London — stay in touch for updates about the plans.

"We may skip meeting each other on festivals like Diwali or Gurpurab. But this tournament is something we can't go without because of our deep emotional attachment," says Hardeep. They never thought of a sponsor? “This was started by us brothers, and we will bear the cost come what may,” is their common response. "We also want the tournament to remain free from politics, because we hold this as very emotional and personal," says Gursaran Singh, the eldest. 

His younger brother, Manmohan Singh, says coaches, too, are given cash prizes separately. "We do not want the players to suffer after the tournament is over." When the tournament started in 2004, the prize money for the winning team was Rs 40,000, while the second and third team received Rs 30,000 and Rs 20,000, respectively. The best players were given Rs 5,000 each. 

The brothers don't keep a cost-benefit account book. "Who needs any hisaab?” they ask. “If we start doing this, we'll never remain the same. We are doing this for our parents. Money can never throw us apart,” says Manjit.

Shamsher Singh, the coach of the winning team CRZ Sr Sec School, Sonepat, says the tournament is a respected event, and that he has been attending it for seven years. “The best part is that the organizers welcome their guests with love and respect. From accommodation to the availability of food, everything is well-planned,” says Singh.


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