Mar 10, 2010
In Search of Lost Glory : Indian Hockey
India's World cup campaign started with a bang but ended with a creep. One has to feel for Indian Hockey, which has been struggling to regain its lost glory of yesteryears for decades now. But alas without public support and Govt funding.
For Indian hockey, the Gold medal in 1980, Moscow Olympics was the last hurrah! That victory however, wasn't quite as sweet, as the Olympics were conducted in the shadow of half the world boycotting them, including arch rivals Pakistan. It also happened to be the only victory for Indians on artificial surface.
Will India ever regain its lost glory? Will it ever, even come close to dominating the sport? Much to my own dismay, the answer to both the questions is an unequivocal, NO. There is no choice but to accept it.
The sport acquired a totally different dimension in early eighties. It coincided with the Europeans taking up Hockey seriously, the introduction of artificial Turf as a playing surface as opposed to natural grass and a much larger number of nations taking up the sport. Till the seventies the sport was lacking in popularity worldwide, only a handful of countries played the game. Most of the dominant nations in the sport were members of the British Empire. This included India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand and, of course, England. Other nations have come to the forefront in more recent times to make the game a truly worldwide sport. It would therefore be fair to assume that the competition during Indian Hockey's golden years was not quite as tough as it is today.
With its lack of popularity(pitted as it is against Cricket), the kind of funding it receives, the dismal level of player satisfaction, sheer lack of incentives to Hockey players, it seems inconceivable that the revival of the game is at all possible. Tribal belts of Jharkhand and Orissa, which are famous for producing some of the finest hockey players, are gradually drifting away from the sport. Similar is the case with Punjab. Lack of adequate infrastructure in terms of astro turf stadia, being prohibitively expensive, will continue to plague Indian Hockey. Our players who learn to play on natural surfaces will not be able to compete on artificial surface, given the huge difference in style, technique and pace required on Astro turf.
But, the biggest barrier to India's success in Hockey is 'Cricket', which has become a multi billion dollar industry and continues to grow in popularity by the day. For more on this read earlier post on this blog, 'Cricket and the Olympic medal'.
The current season has seen Hockey in India dipping to fresh lows, with unprecedented player protests and revolt. But the worst is probably not over, with latest allegations (at the time of writing this post) of match fixing in the India – Pak match.
Is Indian Hockey in its death throes?
at 1:08 PM