The recent London Olympics saw the worst performance by an Indian Hockey Team in Olympics history. India lost every single match in the competition and was the only team to do so. The Indian government spent a huge amount of money for providing good coaching and infrastructure to the selected players. According to data, over Rs. 250 crores ( Rs. 2.5 billion ), including Rs. 20 crores on foreign coaches were spent. The question arises : after such huge investments and training, what went wrong?
Hockey has always been regarded as the national sport of India, even though the Sports Ministry recently made it clear that it has not declared any sport as the National Game. There was a time when this sport made India proud year after year in several world level competitions, including the Olympics. Till date India has won 8 gold medals, 1 silver medal and 2 bronze medals in the Olympics. Undoubtedly, these statistics encouraged the whole nation. Not only this, India has produced many outstanding players like Dhyan Chand also known as “The Wizard” of Hockey, Roop Singh, Dhanraj Pillay, Balbir Singh and several others. During their hockey career, they created history in the field. The series of gold medals in the 1928, 1932 and 1936 Olympics are itself a record in the history of the Olympics. In addition to this, India also won gold medals in the 1952 and 1964 Olympics.
In fact, if we go a little bit deeper into the results of the matches played by India in the above mentioned Olympics, it will give a clear idea about how Indian hockey dominated the world in the past.
While its true that India were placed in a tough group consisting of the Netherlands, Germany, Korea, New Zealand and Belgium, the real truth is that the plans and strategies with which India approached and played in the recent Olympics didn’t work for them. India finished last in the group and last in the Olympics.
Obviously, the back ground of Indian hockey is very strong. Of course, other nations including Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Great Britain who have been consistently dominating world hockey also have a strong background. But the point that really stands out in a most disappointing way is that India in the last few Olympics hasn’t played the game up to the expectations of the nation. Expectations were high when India qualified for the 2012 London Olympics beating France by 8 goals to 1. But all the expectations perished when Indiagave one poor performances after another. While its true that India were placed in a tough group consisting of the Netherlands, Germany, Korea, New Zealand and Belgium, the real truth is that the plans and strategies with which India approached and played in the recent Olympics didn’t work for them. India finished last in the group and 12th in the Olympics. This is the worst performance by an Indian Hockey Team in Olympics history. India lost every single match in the competition and was the only team to do so. In total they played five matches in which they scored only 8 goals and conceded 21. Unfortunately, India also lost the last match to South Africa 3-2, which was a decider for the 11th and 12th position. This was the last nail in the coffin.
Players like Bharat Chettri, Sardara Singh who are the stars of the present Indian hockey team failed to perform upto expectations in the field. Facts and figures from the last performances suggest that India were not the underdogs, but they played the game as if they were novices. Expectedly India should have won their matches with teams like New Zealand and Belgium. But unfortunately it didn’t happen.
The Indian government spent a huge amount of money for providing good coaching and infrastructure to the players. According to data, over Rs. 250 crores ( Rs. 2.5 billion ), including Rs. 20 crores on foreign coaches were spent. But the question arises : after such huge investments and training, what went wrong? Whether there was lack in preparation or there wasn’t enough match practice? These questions are yet to answered. Obviously, India needs better infrastructure, training and coaching facilities for hockey and the government should take suitable measures for making hockey more popular among the youth.
The pride and the glory which India has won in the history of international hockey is a phenomenal achievement. But now, alas, this pride and glory remains just a part of history. Serious questions on the abysmal performance of the Indian hockey team in this year’s Olympics will need to be answered. But we shouldn’t lose hope and we should believe thatIndia will learn from their mistakes, improve their performances and come back strongly in the next Olympics and also in the upcoming World Championships. However, that can happen only if the questions raised are answered honestly, the causes for the debacle in Indian hockey are identified in entirety, and necessary solutions and winning strategies are devised without delay.
HOCKEY NOT OUR NATIONAL GAME ?
A 10-year-old girl, Aishwarya Parashar from Lucknow filed a Right to Information (RTI) application seeking certified copies of orders related to declaration of National anthem, song, sport, animal, bird, flower and symbol. Her queries were transferred to the Home Ministry which forwarded the query related to National Sport to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. In a reply, Sports Ministry Under-Secretary Shiv Pratap Singh Tomar wrote to Aishwarya that the Ministry has not declared any sport or game to be the National Game of India.