Arjun Halappa has often enthralled hockey fans as he weaves across the field with a grace and swiftness that has made him one of India’s top players. For a young man who once claimed that he took to hockey mainly to improve the financial condition of his family, Arjun Halappa scaled the heights when he was appointed as the captain of the Indian hockey team in April 2011.
It was perhaps a fitting honor bestowed on one of the most experienced members of the Indian hockey team.
His Early Days
Arjun Halappa is the son of former club-level hockey player B K Halappa who has represented the East Bengal Hockey Club. The family belongs to the Kodagu area of Karnataka. Arjun Halappa had received his hockey playing genes from his father, and as a young boy, he played school level tournaments before joining the Centre of Excellence, SAI, Bangalore in 1998.
His Career in Hockey
Arjun Halappa’s first break at the national level came in 1999 when he was selected for the Senior Nationals at Hyderabad. In the same year he also made his debut at the international level in the juniors’ category when he was selected on a tour of Europe. He firmly established his reputation as a talented hockey player with immense potential when he posted eight goals in the 2000 Junior Asia Cup.
His transition from junior level to men’s hockey was smooth and his international debut in Indian men’s hockey was against Egypt in March 2001. He has represented India in almost all the top international tournaments since then and is the most capped player in the current Indian team.
The midfielder is an Olympian having represented India in the 2004 Olympics. He was also a part of the 2010 Commonwealth team when India won a silver medal and the 2001 team that won the gold during the Champions Challenge in Kuala Lumpur.
His Role as the Indian Hockey Captain
Arjun Halappa was appointed as the Indian hockey captain for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in April 2011 – an honor that many felt was long overdue for a man who has worn the Indian cap 233 times. When he took over as the hockey captain, Arjun Halappa became the sixth hockey player from Kodagu to lead the Indian hockey team. His illustrious predecessors were M P Ganesh, B P Govind, M M Somaiah, B P Subramani and A B Subbaiah.
Arjun Halappa may have taken to hockey as a result of his family circumstances, but his grit, determination and talent have made him one of India’s top players.