For South Africa’s hockey Olympian, work trip turns into sporting adventure

For Rusten Abrahams, a chance business trip to Mumbai turned into a real sporting adventure.
Abrahams, who was a member of the South African ice hockey team at the postponed Tokyo Olympics, arrived in Mumbai earlier this year to further his career as a strength and training consultant.

While doing so, the 25-year-old midfielder also ended up playing in the Mumbai Hockey League for one of the city’s most prestigious and oldest clubs, the Bombay Republicans, which has produced players such as former Indian captain Viren Rasquinha, as well as goalkeepers including Adrian D’ Souza and Suraj Karkera.

The main local ice hockey competition began on May 14 and will end on Sunday. Abrahams, who was in Mumbai when the league started, coordinated with the local hockey association to facilitate his participation before beginning training for the team before being signed for the league, which is returning after nearly three years. Abrahams blended in seamlessly The Republican side is one of the youngest in the league, with an average age of 19 to 20, said coach Dipika Murty. “He’s a stable player and has brought new energy to the team, so he was a real godsend for us,” she added.

An international player, let alone an Olympian, playing in the Mumbai league is almost unknown. Abrahams has been part of the South Africa national outdoor and indoor hockey teams since 2017. A skilled midfielder, he was part of the South African team that excelled at the Tokyo Olympics.

Abrahams said playing in a domestic league in India helped him further hone his skills. “Hockey in India manifests itself in a different format, there’s a solid game structure, a contrasting pace, and that’s very interesting to me. The fast, swift movements and impressive attacking styles are also something I was fortunate to witness,” he said.

Read  MLS launches new initiative to advance underrepresented coaches

In a way, it was a win-win situation for both sides. While Abrahams gained notoriety from his games in India, the young Republican players also benefited from his presence in the dressing room.

All of the Republican team’s players made their league debuts, while the club – so named because it was founded 60 years ago on January 26 – stayed true to its traditions and fielded a young squad to discover new talent. “There is a big difference in his level of play. So he’s helped us improve our recording skills a lot,” said 19-year-old Saurabh Mayekar.

Abrahams’ adventures weren’t just limited to the hockey field. On his days off, he passed through Elephanta Island, several temples and ancient monuments. “My visit to Pune is something I appreciate very much, the people were extremely friendly and the area was relatively safe,” said Abrahams.

As a rigorous training player, he’s adapted fairly well to the high-carb Indian diet, occasionally indulging in the classic butter chicken and Mumbai’s popular snack vada pav, with paneer being his absolute favourite.

Though he misses home, Abrahams noticed similarities between the fast-paced lifestyle of his hometown of Johannesburg and the bustling city of Mumbai. “That might explain why I don’t feel very homesick,” he added.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button