Former Kenyan International and multi -Olympian Surjeet Singh Panesar also known as ‘Sindhi’ passed away on Wednesday, November 6, 2019, in Nairobi.
Surjeet Singh Panesar (Jr) affectionately known as Sindhi was born in Nairobi, Kenya. His parents had immigrated to Kenya from India in 1919.
He studied at Duke of Gloucester School in Nairobi and went to India for further studies in 1954. He studied at Maharaja Patiala Public School and Patiala University. He played hockey for his School and University teams and during School holidays he played for Mohindra College. Harbail Singh, the Indian National Team Coach, who coached the College team took him under his wings and had a big influence in his hockey. He also played football during this period.
On returning to Kenya in 1957, he joined Sikh Union Nairobi, a Club which his father, Mr Balwant Singh Lalton, a very active sportsman, had a very deep association with, he was one of the founders of Khalsa Club which later became Sikh Union Club.
He represented Sikh Union Nairobi from 1957 to 1980, winning the Ujjager Singh Rai Cup; Kesar Singh Cup; Siri Guru Gobind Singh Cup and Aggarwal Cup in the 1957-1958 season.
He represented Asian Sports Association and was a member of the team that won the Kenya Cup in 1958.
He was selected to represent Nairobi X1 against England at City Park Stadium, Nairobi on 19th September 1958 and the following year he continued representing Nairobi X1 as a centre forward in the matches against India in Kenya.
He was selected to represent Kenya against Rhodesia in Nairobi on 20 September 1959 and playing as a centre forward, he scored a goal, on his debut, in Kenya’s 4 – 0 win.
From this moment he became a regular for the National team, playing as a centre forward and was selected for Rome 1960 Olympic Games. He played in the three-Test match series against Pakistan in Nairobi on the way to the Olympics.
Following the East African Championships held in Zanzibar in 1962 and retirement of Surjeet Singh Deol (Sr), Sindh took over the pivot position of centre half and this is the position where he excelled. He played at Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games and started as a centre half at Mexico 1968 Olympic Games. Injury to the Left back and captain of the Kenya team after only two matches at Mexico forced Sindhi to take up the position of Left full back for the rest of these Games.
He was selected to represent Kenya at the first Hockey World Cup in Barcelona in 1971 where Kenya reached the semi-finals.
At Munich 1972 Olympic Games, Sindh played as right back. He retired from playing international hockey after these games and notably scoring seven goals from 32 games at the Olympics.
He is one of three Kenyans to have played at four Olympic Games alongside teammate Avtar Singh Sohal and Alexinho Mendonca who on the bright side made six Olympic appearances.
The hockey family in Kenya together with family and friends are mourning the loss of such a great sportsman. Kutoka kwa Magongo Kenya, twamuomba mwenyezi Mungu ailaze roho yake pema patakatifu na awape jamaa, ndungu na marafiki faraja wakati huu wa maombolezi.
Additional background information retrieved from http://www.sikhsinhockey.com/. A dedicated website for the Sikh Union members who play the beautiful game of hockey across the world.