India’s last hockey gold was in 1968 ( India won hockey Gold in 1980 Moscow Olympics , but that was a watered down version of olympics in view of boycott of the games by large number of nations) and thereafter new strong powers in the form of Germany and Netherlands emerged. European style of hockey was power game replete with long passes and fierce hits. Change in the rules of the game also helped the European style power game. However, there was a crescendo in the form of India’s World Cup victory against arch rivals Pakistan in 1975. Led by redoubtable Ajit Pal Singh, the team had icons like Govinda, dribbling expert Ashok Kumar ( son of all time great Dhyanachand) , Harcharan , Michael Kindo, who became overnight heroes. Pakistan had lightening fast forward Samiullah, another all time great and Islahuddin . 1975 was probably a year of blockbusters. Apart from Indian hockey team’s World Cup victory, it was also the year of the release of Bollywood’s all time hit Sholay. Like we all remember Sholay dialogues line by line, many of us hockey aficionados remember the entire line up of our teams 2-3-5 formation of our 1975 winning outfit ! And now after 41 years, led by midfielder Manpreet Singh, we re-wrote history by winning bronze after defeating a formidable Germany in the playoff. Coming on the heels of great show by Rani Rampal’s girls, this great achievement by Manpreet’s boys has elated the nation. Suddenly, all the roads are leading to Mithapur, a non – descript village in the outskirts of Jalandhar, Manpreet’s home.
This is truly what India and its hidden potential is! It’s soil is full of raw talent such as Lovlina, Mirabai, Mary Kom, Phogat sisters, Ravi Dahiya, Manpreet, Rani Malik, Dutee, Neeraj Chopra and PV Sidhu etc. We just need to invest in them – by giving our mind share, providing them with facilities, diet, training, making them financially secured and encouraging them the way we encourage and applaud our cricketers. And state of Odisha has set an example by sponsoring National hockey team. Other states, corporate, social organisation should follow Odisha example and then we will see a different India- a sporting powerhouse!
Let’s invest in our players and talents instead of wasting it on things that weaken our nation to fulfil our resolve to be a general powerhouse – a superpower in real sense! For the time being let’s celebrate the victory of Manpreet’s boys and other great performances by our boys and girls!