Facebook Twitter Google RSS

Priyesh Bhana Hockey: Priyesh Bhana New Zealand Player with Indian origin

Priyesh Bhana is a New Zealander but his Indian roots and his sizzling runs have made him a crowd favourite in the ongoing Hockey World Cup.

The diminutive Bhana is among a number of players of Indian origin playing hockey not only in New Zealand, but also in Canada, Malaysia and Kenya. The sport is popular among the Indians in New Zealand and at least one of them has invariably found a place in the national squad. No wonder, he is such a big hit with the crowd at the National Stadium and is enjoying very moment of his stay here.

Bhana's grandparents settled in New Zealand and since then the family has adopted the country as their home. But the Indian bond in the family is still strong, says Bhana.

So, when a quirk of fate gave him a chance to come to India after Simon Child pulled out at the last minute due to security concerns, Bhana's family decided to tag along to see him in action and visit their ancestral home in Gujarat.

"I wanted to play in the World Cup and I was happy when the opportunity came my way. My family was very keen to come here and watch me play," Bhana told IANS.

"We are very excited to visit our ancestral homeland. We are happy that hockey has given us the opportunity. My parents and brother are here. In fact, my father was born in New Zealand and my mother is from Zambia. It's a special trip for us. We plan to go to our ancestral home in Machaad village in Gujarat.

"The opportunity could not have come at a better time, because I am playing in my maiden World Cup," says Bhana, who along with Arun Panchia, are the two Indian origin players in the New Zealand team.

Incidentally, Bhana's debut for New Zealand also happened in India.

"It's my second visit to India. I came here to play the Punjab Gold Cup in Chandigarh in 2008. People were very warm and caring towards me. I learnt about the Indian culture," says Bhana, born in Hawera, Taranaki.

New Zealand were invited to play in the Punjab Gold Cup after Pakistan pulled out and Bhana got his first chance to don the national colours.

Bhana took to the sport at a young age of four and after learning the ropes with the help of other Indian-origin players like Umesh Parag and Mitesh Patel, he made up his mind that he should make it to the national team.

"I picked up the sport from my brother Dharmesh and then I took it seriously as I grew up and played for North Harbour before making it to the national team."

"There are lot of Indians from various provinces who play hockey in New Zealand. I run a coaching programme for them."

As for New Zealand's chances in the World Cup, Bhana is hopeful that they can reach the semifinals.

(News published under the licence from Indo Asian News Service)

Featured Update

Nokia launches Nokia X, Nokia X+ and Nokia XL Android Smartphones

25 February 2014: Nokia has announced the launch of Android smartphones in the Mobile World Congress held at Barcelona, Spain. The company ...