HONG KONG—Khalsa-A clinched the Premier League title and the team then dedicated the trophy to their verdant supporter and his family, Sardar Buta Singh Gill who passed away at the start of the year.
The team went all out from the first whistle in their search of their fifth title in six seasons and were looking to finish off the season in style with no other team likely to take the crown off them regardless of the outcome against Singh Shaba Sports Club, who had to settle for third after their 4-2 result at the final whistle at King’s Park on Sunday on March 19.
While on the island side, Hong Kong Football Club-A hosted Hong Kong Cricket Club-A but despite their goal prowess with a 7-0 demolition over their visitors, they had to settle for second best.
This season’s captain for Khalsa-A, Arshad Mohammad was glad their season was finally over as it had been a long and arduous journey with many rivals and fans alike literally writing them off with the departure of three key players in central positions at the season’s onset in September, which was made all the worse with the sudden and untimely death of their top and keen supporter Buta.
“All of the players wanted to win the title to repay their devotion to the man who for many years has helped the club financially which saw us win not one but five crowns in seven seasons, making for a timely and emotional tribute to their loyal supporter on Sunday,” Arshad said.
“It has been a hard season for all of us, as many of the clubs have improved and many thought with the departure of three key players, other critics had written us off but I must first salute my players for their hard work and especially the dedication they mustered after Buta’s passing. He will be sorely missed as he was I am sure here beside us in spirit today and I am sure he celebrated alongside us in our victory as this was surely our dedication not only to him, but to his family as well,” Arshad said.
Having said that, Khasa were down to serious business from the word ‘Go’, as they secured goal 1 with five minutes left of the first half, compliments of a Sukhjeet Singh deflection.
Then three quick-fire goals put Khalsa in a commanding lead, two off the stick of Barkat Singh (penalty corners) and the last from Sukhjeet but SSS-A rallied back with Simrandeep Singh, scoring twice from penalty corners but it was a case of a few goals too late. Except for these late goals Khalsa goal tender Arvinder Bindu Singh had an excellent game.
Khalsa-A will be hunting for the double as the league now turns to the Holland Cup.
Meanwhile, Khalsa as a club had other reasons to celebrate as a day earlier (Saturday), they hosted a mini junior hockey tournament for a fifth year running.
Tournament director Gurcharan Singh was delighted with the turnout as they hosted 480 children playing in four age categories: U-6, U-8, U-10 and U-12 in a 10-aside, 10 minute a-game format at King’s Park, to commemorate the 350th birthday of Sikh Guru Gobind Singh.
Gurcharan Singh, is hoping to take the tournament back to Happy Valley which is currently under renovation, as Khalsa had to turn away entries this year.
“We had hoped that Happy Valley would be reopened in time for this year’s tournament but you cannot have it all,” said Singh, who is looking at June or later to stage another event.
“This year we had 48 teams, slightly smaller than last year’s when we had our biggest turnout with 67 teams but don’t forget we held it at Happy Valley where there are two pitches compared to King’s Park solitary pitch,” he added.
Eddie So is a seasoned sports journalist and photographer and has worked for a number of media companies in Hong Kong over a period of more than 20 years.