R Gomez and Kartar Singh playing in hockey match between University of Malaya and Singapore Khalsa Association at Padang during National Day Festival of Sports on 3rd June 1961



Sikhs in Hockey in Singapore

by Amardeep Singh

Sikhs were brought to Singapore in the mid-1800s by the British. Singapore first served as a penal colony for independence fighters in India. Singapore was the mid-point in the route the British used in transporting troops to Hong Kong. Around the same time, Sikh troops were also brought to Ipoh, Malaya by the British to quell the violence amongst the Chinese clans and the Malay chieftains.

This cohort formed the first settlement of Sikhs in this part of the world. Subsequent Sikh arrivals were migrants in search of greener economic pastures. As the numbers of Sikhs swelled, the societal needs and contributions of the society increased too.

In the Singapore sports arena, Sikhs were very well represented on the hockey fields.

One of the main bodies that provides the Sikhs with a formal national presence is the Singapore Khalsa Association (SKA). The SKA has been in the forefront of meeting the societal needs of the Singaporean Sikh community. They have contributed a fair share of representatives to the Singapore national hockey team.

Apart from the SKA, there were other Sikh-centered hockey teams, such as the Yishun Sikhs and Sikhs Sports Club which were formed in the past 20 years.

As in anywhere in the world, Sikhs are well represented in the services too. The Police and Armed Forces teams have provided some top-notch Sikh players. Following closely was Singapore Airlines, which up to very recent times were a permanent feature in the local premier league.

Then, there were Sikhs who played for other hockey teams and who were undoubtedly very talented players. The Singapore Indian Association and the Singapore Recreation Club immediately comes to mind.

The Singapore hockey team has had a number of Sikh coaches too. In the early seventies, they were coached by Balkrishen Singh and also Hardial Singh (from India). Singapore's own Harbhajan Singh Loomba was the Singapore coach from 1974-1978.

Ajit Singh Gill of Singapore Khalsa Association represented Singapore at the Melbourne Olympic Games in 1956 and under the captaincy of Vear Singh of Singapore Indian Association, Singapore won the 1973 SEAP Games for the first time in her history.

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