What is common among Canada, Kenya, and Malaysia ?
If your answer is “people of Punjabi descent”. Yes, there may be near unanimity on it.
But there is another strong common link. And that is hockey.
Now when Kuala Lumpur is playing host to the 13th FIH Hockey World. Cup for Junior Men, the common links have become obvious.
While Canada and Malaysia are among the participants in this FIH elite event, Kenya has joined the hockey festivities by bringing its development team for both training and competition programme.
The Canadian team has 12 players of Indian origin. Of them nine are Punjabis. Though Malaysia does not have a player of Indian origin in its present squad, its hockey body – the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) is headed by Subahan Kamaal, who is of Indian origin. And one of the Assistant Coaches of the team, Baljit Singh Charun Singh, is of Punjabi descent.
The visiting Kenyan team is from one of the oldest Hockey Clubs – Sikh Union Club. This Club is credited with producing largest number of Hockey Olympians of Punjabi descent.
Avtar Singh Sohal stands tall among this group of Punjabi Kenyans. He is a six-time Olympian, four times he went as a player, fifth time as a Coach and sixth time as an FIH official.
“We are celebrating 100 years of our Club in 2025. As a part of the celebrations, we have decided to reconnect our new generation with the sport that gave us so much honour and pride. We want to give it back.
“We have brought here 25 players of 12-18 age group for a training-cum-competition programme, thanks to an invitation and hospitality offered by former Malaysian captain and Olympian Sarjit Singh.
“We are playing against the local teams and after the end of the Junior World Cup, we will have a couple of games at Bukit Jalil National Hockey Stadium,” adds Avtar Singh Sohal. Accompanying him are Jass Phlora, Jerry Singh, Manjit Singh Teddy (Technical Director of Kenyan Hockey Union), Nindy Singh, Del Mudher, Maninder Singh Bansal besides others.
The Sikh Union Club is the only Club to have a private AstroTurf. In 2025, it plans to organise a major sporting event to coincide with its centenary celebrations by inviting teams from two Punjabs (India and Pakistan), besides Malaysia, Canada, England and Australia.