October 3, 2023

After Malaysia’s hard-fought victory against South Korea, securing a spot in the semifinals of the Asian Champions Trophy, the spotlight shifts from the hockey pitch to the silver screen for head coach Arul Anthoni and assistant coach Kumar Subramaniam. With the release of Rajinikanth’s movie ‘Jailer’ coinciding with the tournament, the two coaches, both originating from Tamil Nadu, have their sights set on catching the film and, if luck favors them, even meeting the legendary actor himself.

Anthoni, hailing from the town of Kumbakonam, renowned for its flavorful filter coffee, cherishes fond memories of playing in Chennai during the Chief Minister’s Trophy in 1996. Now based in Ireland, Anthoni has been making the most of his time in Chennai, welcoming a stream of relatives and acquaintances. He shared his excitement, saying, “This is the longest stay I’ve had in Chennai, and all my cousins have been coming over. But more than anything, we now have a chance to watch Rajnikanth. We know he is a phenomenon and have experienced his fandom in Malaysia, but we have to experience it here in Chennai.”

In contrast, Subramaniam brings a different perspective to his connection with Rajinikanth. The former player, who has traversed a challenging journey, has turned towards spirituality in recent times. Beyond his admiration for the actor, Subramaniam draws a deeper connection based on spirituality. He explained, “Of course, I’m a fan of the actor, but the bigger connect I’ve with him is around spirituality. Whenever I’m in a bad phase or feeling low, it is Rajinikanth who comes as a guiding light.” Subramaniam recounted a significant instance during his suspension due to doping, where Rajinikanth appeared in his dreams, offering him a rope to hold. Subramaniam’s suspension was later lifted, reinforcing his perception of Rajinikanth as a spiritual guide.Subramaniam expressed his unique perspective, saying, “Lots of people see God in their dreams, who comes as a guiding light. But for me, it has always been Rajinikanth…who comes dressed in a white dress. I’ve woken up many times and see there is no one around me. So to meet him would be a special moment.”As these coaches balance their roles on the field and their excitement for a cinematic experience intertwined with personal sentiment, their journey reflects the diverse and interconnected passions that shape their lives.