Kumar – A Truly World Class Keeper

Keeper S. Kumar was voted as the Best Goalkeeper of the World Hockey League Round 3 in London.

It was the highest accolade for the 38 year old keeper that hails from Tampin, Negri Sembilan.

His ability in between the posts was aptly rewarded by the coaches/officials of the various teams who were part of the selection process.

Kumar pulled off breathtaking saves to help Malaysia finish fourth and in the process qualify on merit for the 2018 World Cup in India.

” I am truly honoured to win this award and I must thank my team mates who played very well in front of me,” said Kumar when contacted in London.

Kumar has won 15 international best goalkeeper awards, starting at the 2007 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

He was also the best keeper in the 2009 Invercargill World Cup Qualifier before picked as Asia’s Best Player by the Asian Hockey Federation in 2010.

Kumar, who was converted from a footballer to a Hockey keeper by the late V. Sivapathasundram in 1994 at the Tunku Besar Secondary School, has represented the country since 1998.

He also played in the Hockey India League from 2013-2015 for Uttar Pradesh Wizards, ironically coached by current India coach Roelant Oltmans.

Never one to seek any recognition or rewards, as Kumar has not been accorded a single state or federal medal for his heroics for the nation, Kumar hopes to carry on as long as his body can withstand the rigorous training that a keeper has to undergo.

” It is not easy as the training takes a toll on my physique but my love for the sport overcomes everything,,” said Kumar.

Kumar underwent a personal tragedy twice, as his father died in 2010 during the Delhi Commonwealth Games and two years ago lost his second son just before the Olympics Qualifiers got underway in Antwerp.

” It has been a difficult period this past two years but my wife has been a pillar of strength for me, the support of family members and friends vital in keeping me focussed,” added an emotional Kumar.

This unassuming lad had a dream to start his own keepers academy in Tampin someday, and hopefully someone will step forward to make his dream come true.

Kumar, who idolises Dutch keeper Ronald Jensen will now focus on the Asia Cup this September in Dhaka, and it will be a walk down memory lane as he won the bear keeper award in the 2007 Chenai Asia Cup, the first international award as best keeper.

Malaysians can sleep easy as long as Kumar is in between the posts as this Father of two aims to continue serving the country as long as his body allows him to.

And Olymans jokingly told Kumar to retire as he often denies Indian players if glory, such is the respect he has earned from the international fraternity.

No amount of words can describe the sacrifices and commitment this lad has shown and is truly a role model.