Helsinki, football and ice hockey is what comes to mind at the first mention of Finland. With a population of around 5.5 million, the North European country lives happily in peace and hardly makes the news for any wrong reason. And among those 5.5 million is the 5-year-old Arjunjit Singh, who has been inspiring the Finns in Vantaa to play field hockey in a country known for its ice hockey.
Born to a former hockey player Vicky, Arjun was introduced to hockey in Finland itself as his parents decided to settle in Europe in 2004. Arjun was born five years later in 2009 after Vicky got his finances in order by establishing himself as a restaurant owner.
"Hockey is in my blood," says Vicky. "And I wish my son too follows the game, at least I can try. Rest is up to him and the almighty," said Vicky, who has his roots in Moga, Punjab.
Vicky has been the flagbearer for introduction of field hockey in Finland as the man from Punjab has been successful in convincing the country's government to put a hockey board in place, of which he is a member.
Wanting Arjun to learn hockey from a young age, Vicky introduced his son to the Helsinki Warriors Club early and as the young man approaches his sixth birthday in January, he wants to be on the hockey field all the time.
"With football all around him in Vantaa, Arjun became a fan of the beautiful game and was glued to TV every time a football match was on. Messi is his favourite player, but I always wanted him to follow hockey.
"Once I introduced Arjun to the astro turf for the first time, it didn't take time for him to like football but love hockey. Rest, as they say, is history and he is now a regular member of the Warriors club. Last but not the least, he is the first Punjabi to play hockey in Finland," said the proud father.
Giving an example of Arjun's enthusiasm for hockey, Vicky describes an incident from a match.
"Once, playing for the Warriors club, Arjun got a cut on the forehead. I picked him up with blood all over my shirt and took him to the hospital. He got stitched up and as I was driving him home, he asked me 'When is our next match?' I said, 'In an hour from now.' And he replied, 'Turn the car. I want to play'. When we reached the playing field, Arjun was welcomed back with a standing applause," Vicky described with his eyes welling up.
"I don't know whether he will continue to play hockey or switch to football or do something else in life, but when I see him play hockey and inspiring others to take to the game, it gives me a lot of satisfaction," Vicky said of Arjun, whose favourite player in the Indian team is Dharamvir Singh.