The sound of your racing heartbeat is louder even against the deafening cheer of the crowd. The adrenaline rush of breaking away from the defender and heading for a goal with every eye in the arena following you as you swiftly guide the puck for a perfect score is a feeling unparalleled. And one that Randstad India's Paul Dupuis looks forward to every time he steps on to the rink with his hockey stick in tow.
As a Canadian, ice hockey is a sport he has grown up with. “I was three-years-old when I put on my skates and got on to the rink. So I learnt how to skate right after I learnt how to walk.” And at five, like most kids he began playing ice hockey. Dupuis associates his best memories of playing the sport as a child on his father’s hand-made rink in the backyard. The 50-year-old's face lights up as he describes his first attempt, “I remember sitting at the picnic table and dad tying up my skates and helping me with my equipment. Excitedly, I got on to the rink and as predicted within seconds, I fell. It’s never pretty. But the sport teaches you to bounce back, no matter what.”
The expat CEO, who is currently stationed in Bengaluru, regrets not being able to play the sport as often as he’d like. While the annual visit to Canada does result in some quality time on the rink, the executive who had earlier stints in Singapore and Tokyo had put together a team that continues to be active. “Our team has people from across the globe and we participate in various competitive hockey tournaments in Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, etc. These tournaments take place atleast once a year,” he says and expands about how he’s had the chance to play alongside highly skilled players over the years.
Within the country, Dupuis has found new avenues to pursue his hobby while helping out for a bigger cause. His team is soon to participate in a tournament organised by The Hockey Foundation in Ladakh. “For most of the kids there, ice hockey is their favourite pass time. And we saw this as a great opportunity to coach them and help them out with new equipment,” he explains. With no ice rink available in the garden city, skating in CubbonPark, biking and yoga are currently part of his fitness regime.
The ice hockey aficionado, who adds how he developed several close friendships thanks to the sport also credits the game for instilling the importance of team spirit. “One person on the team might be a superstar, but can’t do it all by himself. Ice hockey is a sport that gives credit to both the person, who scores the goal and the one who assists. Letting others take credit is an important aspect in an organisation.” He believes that being a part of multiple teams on the rink have helped him grow as a leader. Strategising and making the optimum use of available resources are two things he’s learnt during his time as a player. “You don’t have to be the best player on the team, and yet, your contribution is just as important,” he says as he sums up his biggest learning from the sport.