Veteran hockey player and Mumbai forward, Yuvraj Walmiki has revealed that he had anticipated his picture with brother Devindar Walmiki singing the national anthem going viral, during India’s 2015 Hockey World League Semi Final campaign.
Both the Walmiki brothers were regular starters in the tournament with senior brother Yuvraj playing his 50th match for India and Devindar making only his second appearance for the country.
Prior to their second group match against the then world No. 17 side Poland, Yuvraj had asked his brother to stand by his side during the national anthem.
“Before the match, I was telling him that whether we win or lose, only my photo is carried in Bombay’s (Mumbai) newspapers,” Yuvraj Walmiki said during an Instagram Live session with table tennis player Mudit Dani.
“So for fun, I told him to stand next to me (during the national anthem) so that he also gets in the papers.”
Coming from a comprehensive victory over France in the previous match, India were the favourites against Poland.
They went on to win the match 3-0, with both the Walmiki brothers registering their names on the scoresheet.
After Yuvraj Walmiki had received the ball from Birendra Lakra and chipped it over Polish goalie Arkadiusz Matuszak for the first goal, his brother Devindar had wrapped up the win for India by deflecting a Chinglensana Singh’s shot. Apart from the brothers, captain Sardar Singh had scored India’s other goal.
The media, however, decided to carry the picture of the scoring siblings singing the national anthem clicked before the match.
“The next day, the picture was all over the news and it got so viral that he decided to stand beside me for the rest of the tournament,” he said. “So it was really a wonderful experience.”
It was a special moment for Yuvraj Walmiki.
“Coming from a humble background and then going on to represent our country was really special and more so for me as I was playing my 50th game for India at that moment,” he reasoned.
An inspiring newspaper clip
Born in a 16x16 shanty near Mumbai’s Marine Lines station, both Yuvraj and Devindar Walmiki had seen their parents struggle to make both ends meet.
However, a 10-year-old Yuvraj Walmiki’s life changed when his school friend showed him a newspaper clipping.
“A classmate of mine, whose father was a working doctor of the hockey stadium, came to us showing his father’s clip in the newspaper,” he recalled. “I also wanted to play hockey for that.”
Initially playing under the tutelage of renowned hockey coach and Dronacharya awardee Marzban Patel and representing the Mumbai Republicans team, Yuvraj Walmiki went on to make his senior team debut in 2010.
In his international career, Yuvraj Walmiki has won a gold medal in the 2011 Asian Champions Trophy, a silver medal in the 2011 Hockey Champions Challenge and a bronze medal in the 2012 Sultan Azlan Shah bronze.