SINGAPORE - Among the Victoria School (VS) B Division hockey players, Jangra Aditya is considered a late starter, having taken up the sport only three years ago.
Yet the left-wing forward emerged as their hero on Tuesday (May 17) by scoring a hat-trick to help his side beat Raffles Institution (RI) 3-0 in the National School Games final.
Playing without their injured captain K Ashvin, 2019 runners-up VS drew first blood after just three minutes when Jangra scored, to the delight of the supporters who were still streaming into the Sengkang Hockey Stadium.
The 15-year-old then gave them more reasons to cheer when he doubled their lead just seven minutes later and completed his hat-trick eight minutes into the third quarter.
Receiving a quick cutback from the right, Jangra skipped past an RI defender with some neat stickwork and volleyed the ball past the goalkeeper for his last goal.
An elated Jangra, said: "It was quite an underdog moment for me because I had the least experience on the team while most of my team have at least seven to eight years of experience. It felt great to score, especially scoring three goals in the final."
The Secondary 4 student was quick to credit his teammates as well for the dominant performance. "My team was amazing. I know that I ended up scoring the goals but it is thanks to my team" he added. "Their defending was great, the midfield's transfer was amazing. I'm thankful that I was there to score goals for my team and contribute to it."
VS coach Nordin Manaff, 55, was delighted for Jangra. "We pushed him very hard. We saw the potential and knew that he could achieve such a performance. It was very good that he was able to rise to the occasion and live up to expectations.
"The win means a lot to us. It opens the door for the boys and the school to believe that we can be the best and hopefully continue to succeed in the future."
Sidelined due to an eye injury sustained in the semi-final with Seng Kang Secondary School, Ashvin, 16, was proud that his teammates won in his absence.
"I think they played really well. They listened to the coach's game plan, playing calm and confidently. They did well," he said.
"I was scared that they may think too much about my absence and lose focus during the game. But they didn't. They focused on what mattered and pulled through with the win."
Despite the loss, RI captain Thievyan Koban ...