Yes people, I am one of the last remaining, almost extinct hockey fan you’ll find in India.
The degrading state of our national sport (yeah, it’s our national sport) is not a hidden thing. It is actually one of the most well-known facts about hockey. As a nation that likes to see winners everywhere, the Indian Hockey team falls not only a tiny bit short- but VERY short on expectations. Well, I like hockey because of the nature of the game and not for the team. Although it hurts to see the Indian team losing most of their matches, but in the end it barely matters. I am here for the sport, bro.The only thing that I can’t seem to understand is that we like soccer (well, I love soccer) even though we don’t have any Indian players there, right? So, why can’t the same thing happen for hockey? It is as interesting as soccer and it scores over soccer actually- it is just seventy minutes long (or short, whatever suits you). It’s probably because hockey is not a popular sport, sad for it.
Our players try to perform but they can’t, why? There are many reasons for it. Earlier we had grass fields and now we have turfs. Indian players, born and bred in the villages were excellent on grass fields but turf does not suit them that much. Hence, the constant defeats. Though, by now they should have developed their skills on turf as well- it has been so many years since its introduction in the international hockey arena. But India has almost no turf grounds and we just got our first turf stadium a few years back. So one can see, we lack the infrastructure. But that’s about the team- the national team. Let’s take a look at the overall hockey scenario.
Overall, hockey- whether field hockey or ice hockey- it’s popular. Best teams are Australia (they are good at every sports), Germany (umm, them as well), the Netherlands, Britain, Spain, Belgium and then South Korea as well. This December only, India had the chance to organise the junior world cup. Our team did not fare well but some very good hockey was seen. I saw the Germans and they were marvellous as always. The surprise of the tournament was France- they made it to the finals and won the silver medal. It was a great chance for us Indians to witness some real class hockey- with measured passes, swift goals and quick running. Our team seemed very slack- there was no fire in them to win. Many a times they played fairly well but when the opponents had the ball, they would instantly come under pressure. This is one of the major failings of our team- they carry the ball, they can’t seem to goal even though they make it to the D in every two minutes and frankly our defence sucks, especially the goal keeping.
For every team that was there- the best thing about them was the passes and the goal keeping- even Pakistan- to whom we lost. This problem is not just with the junior team but with the seniors as well. I saw a huge difference between our players and players from team such as Germany. They were just awesome! In Germany, they have clubs to hone the skills of the players. No wonder, they and the Australians are always the top contenders. Personally, I love watching their matches. I am well aware that very few people in India love hockey but I hope that despite the bad performance by our team, people will again start watching hockey because this sport shouldn’t be missed at any cost. And I also hope that the media will broadcast hockey matches frequently, especially now since both men’s and women’s world cup will fall in 2014. The 2014 world cup will provide India yet another attempt to try to regain their past glory although they still struggle with ever changing coaches. All I can do is to wish them all the best for the tough ride ahead.
P.S- Field Hockey IS the one famous team sport where even the women’s version stands at par with Men’s.