Hockey – The ancient game
Hockey is one of the world’s most ancient games. It is older than even the ancient Olympic Games. The British Empire made hockey popular in the Indian sub-continent in the late nineteenth century. The first hockey club was formed in Calcutta in 1885. There were no major national tournaments during that time. In 1895, Beighton Cup in Calcutta and Aga Khan Tournament in Bombay were organized.
Game of India – Hockey
Despite the ever-growing popularity of cricket, Hockey has managed to hold a respectful status among popular games played across the globe. It is often referred as the National Game but no official gazette has been released in this regard. The peak time of Indian hockey team was from 1928 to 1956, when it brought all the six consecutive Olympic gold medals home that were held during those years. The end of its glory were perhaps the result of the death of the star hero Dhyan Chand, the introduction of Astroturf (still a rarity in India) and the migration of many hockey-playing Anglo Indians to Australia. Recently, the few wins have rekindled the interest of the Indians in the forgotten game and have managed to grab a little bit of attention to the hockey sport team starts such as Dhanraj Pillay.
Journey of Indian Hockey
India did not have any governing body for hockey. On 7th November, 1925 all the hockey associations and clubs congregated in Gwalior. This meeting led to the formation of Indian Hockey Federation (IHF). The Indian players got the international exposure after the formation of IHF.
India’s first international tour was to New Zealand. India played 21 matches, won 18, lost one and drew two matches. They scored 192 goals in those matches and Dhyan Chand’s hockey skills befuddled the opposition in every game.
IHF applied for global affiliation and it got the approval of International Hockey Federation (FIH) in 1927. That meant India could participate at the 1928 Summer Olympic Games. Hockey returned at the Olympics after 1920 Antwerp Games – after a hiatus of eight years.
Hockey was chosen as the National Game because of the team’s unparalleled distinction and matchless talent at the time. During the phase, India had played 24 Olympic matches and won all of them scoring 178 goals and conceding only 7 goals. The only other achievements of the team later that are worth mentioning are the gold medal in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and the gold medal in the 1980 Moscow Olympics. It will be a good idea to train the talented children in hockey right from school level, providing them the necessary funds, training and facilities to preserve the Indian glory.
The glorious history of Indian Hockey Federation begins with the entry of India into the Olympics games. The tour was a huge success with India winning 18 out of the 21 matches and the legendary Dhyan Chand was the cynosure of all the eyes scoring over 100 goals of the 192 Indian accounted for.
During Amsterdam Olympics Games of 1928, Dhyan Chand scored 14 goals in the tournament and India did not concede a single goal. When the team landed in Bombay after their triumph, it was greeted by large number of fans. Hockey had gripped the entire nation.
The match began in Amsterdam in 1928 and India went on a winning spree in Los Angeles in 1932 and Berlin in 1936 and thus bagged a hat-trick of gold medals at the Olympics.
Post Indian Independence; the Indian team achieved another hat-trick of gold medals at the 1948 London Olympics, 1952 Helsinki Games and the Melbourne Olympics.
During the Golden Era, India played 24 Olympic matches, won all 24, scored 178 goals (at an average of 7.43 goals per match) and conceded only 7 goals. The two other gold medals for India came in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and the 1980 Moscow Olympics”.
It’s an honour for Hockey India to felicitate the legends who brought the country on the forefront in the game and because of which many teams were apprehensive while facing us on the field. I am sure, history will repeat itself very soon and the players of this generation too will give us the same joy.