Those that observe Indian sports activities could be shocked to study that India’s nationwide recreation is just not cricket, however hockey.
And until about 30 years in the past, the proof was there for all to see. Thereafter, the decline was steep. Hockey obtained Europeanized – the usage of synthetic turf made it a a lot sooner recreation, successfully shifting the emphasis from stick-work and artistry to hurry and passing. In different phrases, health took priority over talent.
The outcome was the drying up of medals in worldwide tournaments. Hockey first featured on the Olympics in 1908, when England gained. It was subsequent performed within the 1920 version, England gained that too. Thereafter, the pre-war hockey golds had been monopolized by India – taking part in underneath a British flag — in 1928, 1932 and 1936. When the Olympics resumed in 1948, India claimed the hockey gold once more, making Dhyan Chand the one participant within the historical past of the sport to win 4 Olympic golds.
India’s domination continued after independence, and so they gained gold on the Olympics in 1952 and 1956. Pakistan who gained silver in 1956 emerged as rivals and took gold on the 1960 version of the video games. India gained it in 1964, and Pakistan gained it again in 1968. The seventies noticed a gold draught for each groups although Pakistan did win silver in 1972. India’s final gold on the Olympics got here within the 1980 Moscow Olympics an occasion that the Caucasian hockey giants boycotted as did Pakistan.
The primary hockey World Cup was performed in 1971. The subsequent three editions happened in 1973, 1975 and 1978, and the occasion was held each 4 years, thereafter. Pakistan made the inaugural cup their very own and Holland took it in 1973. Then got here India’s well-known victory in Malaysia, in 1975, and that was the final time Indian hockey stood on prime of the world. Synthetic turf was launched and has been blamed ever since for India’s decline.
However those that see the roots of India’s decline as a hockey superpower within the shift to synthetic turf fail to clarify why Pakistan who performed the identical form of recreation with emphasis on talent and artistry tailored properly to the brand new state of affairs and continued to dominate. In truth, Pakistan gained the following two world cups, in 1978 and 1982, the latter occasion hosted by India. There was a short lived blip as Pakistan didn’t win any medal on the 1986 version, however went on to gather silver on the 1990 World Cup hosted in Pakistan, and gold on the 1994 version.
India’s decline started within the 70s and Pakistan’s, 20 years later. Are there any classes for India, on this? There’s a college of argument that contends that Pakistan’s hockey was administered by their military, and the workforce did greatest once they had army rule. There may very well be a grain of fact on this, because the Pakistan workforce did greatest within the 1980’s once they had relative political stability, and a army authorities underneath Normal Zia. Throughout the identical interval, Pakistan did properly in cricket, too.
The lesson that India can draw from Pakistan’s rise and subsequent fall from hockey grace is that efficiency improves when there’s good administration to again it. There is not any dearth of expertise, as amply demonstrated within the commonwealth video games, the place India got here again from a two-goal deficit to win the semi-final in opposition to England. All that is wanted is administrative will to again the expertise. Can India construct on the CWG success and reclaim their hockey supremacy? Time, as ever, will inform.