M Saeed of Pakistan and Kenya's Captain Surjit Singh Rihal battle it out during the Kenya v Pakistan match at Montreal in 1975

Surjit Rihal


Surjit Singh Rihal


 Date and place of Birth 14.11.1948 in Nairobi, Kenya
 School / University Lyallpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar
 Club Sikh Union Nairobi
 Playing position Centre half
 First international 13.12.1969 v Malawi in Dar es Salaam
 Last international 02.01.1981 v Pakistan in Lahore
 Olympic Games Munich 1972
 World Cups Barcelona 1971; Amsterdam 1973 (capt)
 Hockey idol Surjeet Singh Panesar (Kenya)



Olympic Games






 Munich 1972 27.08.1972 Group B

 Kenya 0 - Poland 1


 Munich 1972 28.08.1972 Group B Kenya 1 - Australia 3


 Munich 1972 30.08.1972 Group B Kenya 1 - Netherlands 5


 Munich 1972 31.08.1972 Group B Kenya 0 - Great Britain 2


 Munich 1972 02.09.1972 Group B Kenya 2 - India 3


 Munich 1972 03.09.1972 Group B Kenya 2 - New Zealand 2


 Munich 1972 04.09.1972 Group B Kenya 2 - Mexico 1


 Munich 1972 07.09.1972 Class 13 - 14

 Kenya 1 - Argentina 0



Surjit Singh Rihal was born in Nairobi, Kenya. His parents had emigrated to Kenya from Punjab in 1940. He started playing hockey while studying at Juja Road Primary School, Nairobi. Edgar Fernandes (1960 & 1964 Olympian) was in charge of hockey. He continued playing hockey when he moved to Technical High School, Nairobi and was the captain in 1965.

He went to India for further studies in 1966, played for Lyallpur Khalsa College Jalandhar until 1969, captaining the team in 1968/69 season. The College team won the Inter-College Championships during this period. This is the period when he learnt most of his hockey skills as the College regularly played against teams such as Border Security Force, Punjab Police, Signals and the Indian National Team in the camp. He went on to represent Punjab University who won the Inter-University Tournaments and played for Rest of India against the Indian National team in 1968.

He returned to Kenya at the end of 1969 and continued his studies at Nairobi University. He played for the University team and joined Sikh Union Nairobi, one of the most famous Clubs in Kenya. He played for the Sikh Union team from 1969-1989 and was the captain of the team in 1981-1982. His younger brother, Surinder Singh, played for Railway Gymkhana Nairobi and later for Sikh Union in 1973-1974 before moving to the UK.  

He earned his first international cap for Kenya when he was selected to play against Malawi in the East and Central African Hockey Championships held at Dar-es- Salaam in 1969. He scored a goal (penalty stroke) on debut. He represented the National team until 1981.

He played and captained the Nairobi Provincial Team in the Inter-Provincial Tournaments from 1969-1981.

He was selected to represent Kenya at the first World Cup held in Barcelona in 1971 and was the captain at the second World Cup held in Amsterdam in 1973.

He was selected to represent Kenya at the Munich 1972 Olympic Games. He scored 2 goals against Australia and Holland (both penalty strokes). He was selected for the World X1 at the Munch Olympic Games.

He was appointed the National team captain in 1973 and remained in the post until he retired from international hockey in 1981.

He was selected as captain of the Montreal 1976 Olympic team. The team was in the Olympic Village in Montreal when Kenya, together with other African countries, pulled out of the Games for political reasons at the last minute.

As a teacher at Nairobi School in Kenya, Surjit coached the school team from 1971-1986.

Surjit was selected the first 'Hockey Player of the Year' in 1976 and was awarded the 'Jivraj Khacra Shah Gold Medal' in 1977.

After retiring from playing international hockey, he turned to Coaching. He was the Coach of Kenya Juniors at the All Africa Championships in Nigeria in 1978 and the European Tour in 1980 and assistant coach for Kenya's team at Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games. He also took up Umpiring and was a National Class Umpire.

In 1992 he moved to Canada and became the coach of Quebec for both the men and women teams.

He now resides in the UK.


World X1 at Munich 1972 Olympic Games

The Munich 1972 Olympic Games were to have been followed by a special match between the Olympic Champions and a World XI. Horst Wein and Patrick Rowley had been charged with running and selecting the World XI. Because the hostage crisis at the Games caused a whole day of the Olympic programme to be lost, the Munich final was played on the day the World XI match should have been staged.

The 26 players short listed for the World XI were:

A Carrera (Spain); P Dearing (Australia); M Sikking (Holland); A Belavantheran (Malaysia); M Kindo (India); M Zaman (Pakistan); M Peter (W. Germany); A Solie (Belgium); Ajit Pal Singh (India); A Kumar (India); B Cotton (GB); H. Droese (W. Germany); F Fabregas (Spain); J Fabregas (Spain); F Rehman (Pakistan); B Govinda (India); R Haigh (Australia); Islahuddin (Pakistan); C Keller (W. Germany); T Kruize (Holland); Kuldip Singh Bhogal (Uganda); S Maister (New Zealand); S Anwar (Pakistan); M Shahnaz (Pakistan); Surjit Singh Rihal (Kenya); U Vos (W. Germany).