International hockey began in 1895 and the game was brought to India by the British army in the early 19th century. The game flourished in and around cantonment towns and among the enlisted men of the services, but the people to whom the game came most naturally were the Punjabis, the athletic and hardy people of pre-partition India.
Hockey became the National Game of India. The epic of hockey on the subcontinent began in 1925 and India won six straight Olympic golds, starting in 1928 under the captaincy of Jaipal Singh with the support of the legendary Dhyan Chand. The 1932 Los Angeles Olympic Games recorded the highest win margin when the Indians defeated the hosts 24-1 to win the gold. India scored 178 goals (at an average of 7.43 goals per match) and conceded only seven goals. The goals were scored by two brothers: Roop Singh and Dhyan Chand. This was a remarkable series of victories, considered the golden era of hockey in the country and, clearly, India was the World Champions.
Then, in 1960, for the first time since India began playing hockey in the Olympics, we lost to Pakistan. Subsequently, India won two more gold medals in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Alas, that was the last. India did win silver and bronze medals for a few years, but since 1976 India have not been called the “Hockey Champions” again.
Two decades later, six Olympic Games have gone by, with expectations unfulfilled. The questions now are: Is hockey still our National Game? What caused this debacle or decline? Can the present Indian Hockey Federation offer us a ray of hope?
Well, that is not for us to decide. But we can debate whether this game is worth fighting for. What is hockey all about? Hockey is a fast and skillful game played in over 80 different countries. It is a thrilling game, which provides plenty of fun to young and old, men and women. The aim of hockey is very simple: your team of 11 players tries to move the hockey ball up the pitch and into the opposing goal by using hockey sticks alone. Meanwhile, the 11 opponents do all they can to stop this happening and, instead, try to move the ball into the goal at your end of the pitch. In many ways hockey is similar to football with respect to patterns of team play, marking, running with the ball and support play. But the important differences are the toss-up and pass back, and that a goal can be scored only if it has been shot from inside the shooting circle.
I often ask myself why hockey is not played in our School. Is there a lack of equipment? No! Do we have a shortage of grounds? Of course not! I think the answer lies in reviving the game. In The Week dated 2 April, 2000, Vinod Kumar writes from London: “We know how sad our position is when it comes to our National Game, Hockey” Why can’t we produce Olympic champions? In the answer to this question lies the future of Indian sports. And, if our child aspires to be a gymnast, let us not put him off simply because India has never produced a great one. It should be a challenge for one and all, young or old, sportsman or engineer, to inspire our P.T. masters and students to make a beginning and play the game with the facilities we have, and there will surely emerge many more champions of the game. I look forward to that day.
|Author: Malhar 12 Oct 2009||Member Level: Gold Points : 2|
|Overjoyed by India’s excellent showing in International Cricket in 2008, MAK Pataudi, former India Captain, strongly advocated that Cricket be declared as India’s National Sport. Instant sharp reactions by diehard Hockey supporters, including some former Gold medal winning Olympians followed, as expected. Some of them even dared Indian Cricket team to win six world cups in a row before demanding the status!|
Ironically, Leslie Claudius, former Indian Hockey legend doesn’t mind Hockey being stripped of the privilege. His words "Hockey doesn’t have future in India" echoes the disgust, frustration and grief shared by millions of Indians who care about Indian Hockey. All the former stalwarts, who take pride in India’s glorious past, literally turned blind as KPS Gill and other administrators killed the sport. None of them dared to stand up and challenge the autocratic IHF officials. State of Hockey seems to have gone down to the point of no return. So yes, why not elevate Cricket, the sport in which Indians are doing well of late to the status symbol?
India made its debut in international Cricket in 1932. By then Indian Hockey had already won its first Gold in Olympics. India could not win a single test for next two decades, while gold medal winning spree continued even after independence. The five gold medals prior to independence must have been one of the factors in proclaiming Hockey as National Sport. Strangely, Indian Hockey’s decline started in sixties as Indian Cricket just started to make its mark.
Pre-independence Cricket was controlled by Maharajas. As the administration came to the Merchants, Wankhedes and Salves, Cricket started to spread. Hockey though, disintegrated, affected particularly by the partition. India’s performance prior to World Cup in 1975 had started to drop. There was chaos in IHF too at that time. The world cup win should have been a booster for Hockey. IHF could not capitalize on the world cup victory and immediately plummeted in 1976 Olympics.
BCCI, on the other hand, perfectly encashed the 1983 world cup win. Cricket following has been rising ever since. Pictures of Kapil Dev lifting the Prudential Cup has inspired world beaters like Sachin and Co. Rising economic clout of Indian society was shrewdly tapped by Dalmiya and same is being done by Lalit Modi. India is the financial capital of World of Cricket today. What is more, Indian team too is good enough to stake claim for being the best in the world today.
Huge following. Good infrastructure. Shrewd marketeers. World class performers. Everything in Cricket's favour. Dwindling public inerest. Hopeless administration. Shameful results. Everything against Hockey. So, should the government go with Pataudi's wish and declare Cricket as India's National sport? Sure, why not? But it should also withdraw Tiger's status as National Animal! After all, Indian forests are fast becoming bereft of tigers too!!
Hockey Or Cricket: What should be India’s National sport?
the post was originally posted by me on my blog : The wide World of sports : http://indsport.blogspot.com