Fifteen-year-old Kirandeep Kaur of Malaysia is all set to create history. She becomes not only the youngest player to represent her country in the ensuing Asian Games but also the first Sikh girl to represent Malaysia.
Kirandeep, who was introduced to hockey by her father Gurdeep Singh when she was just five year old, made her international debut in the Hockey Series Open, a six-nation tournament held under the banner of the International Hockey Federation in Singapore in June this year.
Before celebrating her 15th birthday on July 22, Kirandeep had not only played all six games in the Singapore tournament but had also accompanied the Malaysian team on a tour of Australia.
Since her name was not in the original list submitted by the Malaysian Hockey Confederation to the Olympic Council of Asia for participation in the 2018 Asian Games, a subsequent request by her parent body was recently approved. Kirandeep Kaur has now been accredited as a player for the Jakarta Asian Games.
Kirandeep Kaur owes to revolutionary coach K. Dharmaraj, a former Malaysian international player, who placed his confidence in her for the Singapore tournament.
Malaysia won the Singapore tournament and Kirandeep Kaur scored her first international goal in the final against Thailand. Malaysia won the final 6-0.
According to reports in Malaysian media, there were many obstacles in her way to gaining the historical spot, and a last minute frantic appeal had to be made to include her in the ‘long list’.
Long List is names of athletes submitted by the respective National Sports Associations in January through their National Olympic Committees to the Olympic Council of Asia.
Kirandeep Kaur was only called up for training by Dharmaraj in May, and the Form Three student of SMK Bukit Bandaraya in Bangsar was promptly included in the World Series in Singapore a month later.
She was then selected for the hockey playing tour in Brisbane recently, where Malaysia drew two matches and won three — Kirandeep Kaur also scored Down Under.
She will not only be the youngest Malaysian women, but also the youngest among the men who made their international debut at the age of 14 in Singapore, celebrated her 15th birthday during the Brisbane Tour, and now representing the country at an Olympic Qualifier.