The Unforgettable Legacy of Avtar Singh Sohal: A Hockey Journey.

Today we start a legends edition and we look at one of the Kenyans who has been in the Olympics for the country and this is Avtar Singh Sohal. Here he is sharing his story.

I am Avtar Singh Sohal, but most people know me as Tari. Born in 1938, I had the honor of representing Kenya in hockey at multiple Olympic Games. It all began in 1960 in Rome, where I finished at the respectable 8th position. Four years later, in Tokyo, I had the privilege of captaining the team and we finished 6th. The journey continued in 1968 in Mexico, where I once again led the team as captain. Despite our best efforts, we finished 8th. In 1972, at the Munich Olympics, I competed for the last time and we finished 13th.

Hockey has always been my passion, and I dedicated myself to the sport. I proudly donned the Kenyan jersey from 1957 to 1972, earning a total of 167 caps. My journey in hockey began in Nairobi, where I played for City Primary School and the Duke of Gloucester School. Little did I know then that it would lead me to such incredible heights.

After retiring from playing, I embarked on a coaching career. From 1978 to 1988, I had the privilege of serving as the Kenyan National Coach. It was a great honor to coach the team at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. But my involvement in hockey didn’t stop there. I also took up umpiring and was awarded the FIH International Umpires badge in 1980. My expertise in the sport led me to be a judge at the 1988 Seoul Olympics.

My contributions to hockey extended beyond Kenya. In 1971, I had the honor of captaining Kenya at the 1st World Cup of hockey in Barcelona. Additionally, I served as an assistant coach in the 1983 Amsterdam World Cup and as a judge in the 1994 Sydney World Cup. My dedication to the sport led me to be appointed to the FIH Development and Coaching Committee in 1988.

Recognitions and awards have been a testament to my commitment to hockey. In 2000, I was bestowed with the Diploma of Merit by the FIH for my services to the sport. I also received the FIH Coach & Trainer Awardee in 1998. Notably, I held the Guinness World Record from 1972 to 1985 for having the most international caps. In 2005, I was honored with the Head of State’s Commendation (H.S.C.).

My involvement extended beyond the national level as well. I served as the Vice Chairman of the KHU in 1990 and held the position of Match Secretary. Additionally, I chaired the Nairobi Hockey & Umpires Association from 1980 to 1982. Throughout these years, I remained a dedicated member of the Sikh Union Nairobi, serving as a committee member from 1970 to 2010. My journey as a player for the Sikh Union spanned from 1955 to 1978, and I continued to contribute as a coach until 2020.

Looking back, I am grateful for the opportunities I had to be a part of the hockey world. It has been a remarkable journey, filled with challenges, victories, and lifelong connections. Hockey will forever hold a special place in my heart, and I am humbled by the recognition and appreciation I have received for my contributions to the sport.

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