Nirmal Milkha played key role in laying first hockey turf in Chandigarh

Former Indian women volleyball captain Nirmal Kaur, who passed away in a hospital here on Sunday due to Covid-19-related complications, was instrumental in getting the first hockey turf laid here in 1991.

This was amongst the many tasks she performed in different capacities after quitting playing volleyball.

Nirmal, wife of legendary athlete Milkha Singh, had served as Director Sports, Chandigarh Sports Department. And in that capacity she was instrumental in getting the first hockey turf laid in Chandigarh. She retired from the post in 1993.

In September 1984, Nirmal joined the Chandigarh Sports Department as joint director and was promoted to the post of Director Sports in August 1988.

Before joining the Chandigarh administration, she was deputy director in the Punjab Sports Department.

“Since she knew sports thoroughly, she laid a solid foundation for a coaching programme in Chandigarh. In 1989, she appointed a first batch of more than 13 coaches in different disciplines including athletics,” a coach of the Chandigarh Sports Department told IANS.

To further give a fillip to coaching in Chandigarh, she appointed the second batch of coaches in 1993.

“There are 23 posts of coaches in the Chandigarh Sports Department. After she retired in 1993, her successors didn’t expand the coaching department despite having more coaching centres in the city,” said a former basketball coach of Chandigarh sports department.

Her family issued a statement after she passed away, even as Milkha Singh himself who is admitted in a Chandigarh hospital after being affected Covid-19.

“A back bone of the Milkha family, she was 85 years old. It is tragic that Flying Sikh Milkha Singh ji couldn’t attend the cremation which was conducted in the evening [on Sunday] as he is still in the ICU,” read the family statement.

“The family has expressed grateful thanks (sic) to everyone for their solidarity and prayers right through the battle which gave them the strength to face it bravely.”

Nirmal and is survived by her husband, a son, and three daughters.

Milkha Singh has been under the observation of a medical team comprising senior doctors of the institute since his hospitalisation on June 3.