Most people complain heavily against nepotism and favoritism in India. They hate it when an average rich boy trumps over a poor hardworking intellectual. The same can be said for the relationship between cricket and field hockey in India. In 1976, Olympics changed the field from grass-based turf to synthetic. India at that time could not afford it (since the budget always favored cricket). Since then, the Indian hockey culture is dying faster than the Great Barrier Reef.
People need to be educated about India’s immense contribution to the game of hockey.
India was the first non-European country to register itself to International Hockey Federation (FIH) in 1928. They bagged a gold medal at the Amsterdam Olympics that year.
The Indian hockey team achieved a winning streak of six gold medals in the Olympics from 1928 to 1956. Their streak broke with a silver in the 1960 Rome Olympics.
India’s first international hockey tour was a huge success against New Zealand. Out of 21 matches, India won 18 and lost one. The other two were draws.
A small village in Punjab, Sansarpur is known to have produced 9 Olympian hockey players. Among these Olympians is Ajitpal Singh, who captained the World Cup-winning hockey team in Kuala Lumpur, 1975.
Singh is the most common surname in the Indian hockey team. In fact, once a foreign sports journalist wrote: “Singh initiated the move. After dodging past the defender, Singh passed the ball to Singh, who centered it to Singh and Singh scored the goal with a reverse flick”.
England avoided playing hockey Olympics till 1947. They feared an embarrassing loss against India, one of their colonies.
Hockey’s Beighton Cup is the world’s most old event. It started in 1895 and was unaffected by the World Wars.
India has been victorious uninterruptedly in hockey from 1928 to 1960 with 30 wins.
The splendor of Indian hockey’s picture painted by these facts is immeasurable. Recently, India won the Junior Hockey World Cup in Lucknow. The German forward Christopher Ruhr was gaga over the Indian team. He projected India’s win in the 2018 World cup and 2020 Olympic hockey medal.
Through Coal India, the Hockey India League (HIL) is trying its best to strike a chord with the nation. There are six teams representing Delhi, Odisha, Maharashtra, Punjab, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh. Two of these − Ranchi Rays and Uttar Pradesh Wizards − are co-owned by Subrata Roy, the Sahara India Pariwar honcho. Subrata Roy was also seen in the Junior World Cup final to support the Indian team. An intervention to help this under-appreciated game from affluent patrons is the need of the hour.
It’s time to stop the discrimination and give the national game its rightful place.