And the obvious question that is now asked when they are going to take the marriage vows? “We got engaged recently. Both the families decided to keep it a low-key affair as we didn’t want too much hype since Manpreet is focusing on his 2014 World Cup preparations. The engagement was the greatest and happiest moment for both of us as we intend to take the relationship to the next level. We would like to thank all our family members as their support and prayers meant a lot to us. As far as our marriage is concerned, we hope to get hitched after the 2016 Rio Olympics,” Illi says in an exclusive interview.
Illi met Manpreet during the 2012 Sultan of Johor Cup in Johor Bahru – where the former led the country to a runners-up finish. So was it love at first sight? “I think we were destined to meet at the Taman Daya Hockey stadium . He came, he saw and conquered. I like everything about him,” Illi gushes.
Born in the Malaysian city of Johor Bahru, Illi was the third in the family of four girls – her elder sisters are working while her younger sister is a college student. She assists her mom in her family business. “My mom was an officer in the Malaysian Army and now she's in the Security Agency Business. I graduated last year in business administration and law studies. I’m currently helping my mom in her security agency business,” she quips.
Often near and dear ones have different ways of following their loved ones in action. How closely she follows Manpreet in action? “I never miss out on any single tournament involving him be it on tv or being present myself at the Stadium cheering and supporting him,” she clears the air.
Any divided loyalties when Malaysia is playing against India? “Obviously I’m supporting the love of my heart first and the team he is in, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love my country Malaysia. I will still wishing them luck and all the best in their matches. As for Indian hockey I feel the national team will bring back the glory days CHAK DE .. !!,” she says with a tinge of excitement.
Illi feels blessed to be associated with Manpreet’s family. They have been great to me .. My mamaji always treat me as her daughter first instead of her bahu and I'm too closed with my sister and brother-in-law. I feel really blessed and could not ask for more,” she lavishes praise.
She doesn’t mind at all polishing her ‘desi’ culinary skills for Manpreet. “I enjoy cooking chappatis for Manpreet - he's not fussy about food, he enjoys anything that I cooked for him. I have made chappatis a couple of times but still in the process of learning to make it round instead of square (grins). I have also prepared several Indian food items such as fried bindi, butter chicken, aloo jeera, aloo goobi, chilly chicken, punjabi choole, paneer, jeera rice, etc,” she elaborates.
Illi is keen to be in The Hague for the 2014 World Cup. “I have plans to be there and will try my best to be there. Would love to watch Manpreet and the Indian team fare well,” she signs off.