Balbir ( 4th from left, standing) with the NS Veterans Team in Kedah last December
It is with profound sadness that I report the death of former international Balbir Singh. He was 51 years old and leaves behind three boys and his wife.
Balbir, who represented Malaysia, RMR and Yayasan Negeri Sembilan in the 1980's to 1990's, suffered a heart attack while representing Malacca Sikhs in a tournament in Singapore this afternoon (Sunday).
He was walking towards the centre of the pitch when he collapsed.
One of the first to rush to Balbir was his long time friend and team mate Gurmit Singh.
"He just collapsed and we tried to revive him. There was a faint pulse and he was rushed to the hospital but was pronounced dead," said Gurmit who was in tears when contacted in Singapore.
"It was all of a sudden. One minute we were joking and now he is gone. I just cannot believe it."
Balbir was a member of the YNS team in 1995 that won the Overall Championships in the MHL.
Prior to that Balbir played for RMR and served the Armed Forces for 18 years, his last post being a Sargent Mejar.
Balbir represented Negeri Sembilan in the National Veterans Tournament in Kedah last December and was instrumental in helping the team emerge champions.
"It is truly a sad day for hockey as Balbir was one of the more fitter players during his hey days. He made up for his lack of skills with hard running and was a very disciplined player. I am shocked at his demise and still cannot get over it," said MHC Vice President Manjit Majid Abdullah who is also in Singapore.
Balbir , who hails from Malacca, was a member of the three men RMR strike force that drove fear into the hearts of their opponents, the other two being Mohd Nor Hussain and Yusof Sameon.
HRH Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah, the President of the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) who is currently attending the Asean Football Federation meeting in Manila has extended his condolences to the family of Balbir.