“When the hooter goes off,
When the final score’s revealed,
When the nations celebrate”
The number 8 has got quite an unique position in Indian hockey across the times, as the nation culminated at the quadrennial event with 8 gold medals from the 1928’s Amsterdam games to the 198o’s Moscow games and has been a victim of not making to the very same event for 8 horrendous years from 2004 to 2012. Hockey’s gone through many a shamble and have seen the worst of humiliations in the recent times.
As a hockey fanatic, it‘s aching and agonizing to put reality to paper. It’s even hard for me to think of the glorious past and reminisce what’s gone pathetic, for we produced some of the greatest ever players the world of hockey has ever seen. From the immortal Dhyan Chand to the greatest right winger Kishan lal, to the tensy gifted Leslie Claudius, to the game’s finest custodians Shankar Lakshman and Leo pinto, we as a nation introduced to the world and were a witness to their magic sticks which struck gold.
Times have changed and so has the governing body. It was after the 1980 games that the decline started gathering pace event after event. One can never forget the events that took place after India lost the Asian games final against a Pakistan side where a Ranjan Negi was been made the scapegoat and the nation went blabbing. The result this time was a bottom finish at the 1986 World cup.
If the bottom place at the ’86 world cup was gloomy, then what on earth do we name 9th March 2008, where a Indian hockey team failed even to qualify for the games. Or the latest London fiasco where we took the wooden spoon, both first of their kind in our glorious history.
Frankly admitting, players after 1988 were adept. Be it one the greatest in the modern times Dhanraj pillay to the latest Sardar Singh, we’ve had players with knack and dexterity. But to what avail when we can’t mould them properly and deploy them on a world stage?
As I try to decipher what’s gone pathetic, it’s something even the greatest detective cannot decode. With a governing body that can neither perform its duties nor look after the welfare of the players, the reality will wear a grim look and the stories will be pale until a miracle happens. The consternation over the woeful, horrendous executions can only be forgotten when there forms a national joint body which focuses on the physical and mental fitness of the players. Only then will the seeds of hockey in India grow fruits that are the sweetest.
If not, Hockey will continue to go down the drain, and a day will come when nobody picks up the stick again. Hopefully, at least by then, let us all give our beautiful game a decent burial.
A Hockey fan in Anguish.