Sunday, December 30, 2012

Indian hockey In Year 2012




Oh! What a year it has been for Indian hockey. If it were a movie, it would sweep away all the awards for the drama, emotion and high octane action it produced in the last one year. Quite clearly the year graph of Indian hockey has so ups and downs (most of them downs) that it just looks like alive of a married couple



Let’s take a look down the memory lane and check out how the year 2012 has been for Indian hockey:



The Flying Start



Indian team after qualifying for Olympics
The year started with just one question in everyone’s mind, will India qualify for the Olympics after it failed to do so the last time? The answer was Yes and No. Indian men team after beating France 8-1 in the final of Olympics qualifiers did reach Olympics after a gap of eight
years but on the other hand the women team which was trying to qualify for last 32 years will have to wait a bit longer to qualify again after losing to South Africa in the final 3-1. Indian men team who beat France 8-1 in the final scored 44 goals in the 6 matches played averaging 7 goals a game with Sandeep Singh top-scoring with 16 goals in the tournament. 



India’s victory in the final of Olympics qualifiers once again brought hockey into limelight and India which is known for its cricket craziness once again fell in love with hockey. Rajesh Kalra, chief editor to Times of India wrote this in his article- ‘The Indian national anthem played at the end of the presentation ceremony. I had goose pimples listening to it as all other around sang out aloud. As I looked around, I noticed a Sikh gentleman near me, his eyes turned moist. Such feelings and emotions just cannot be describedwhich just said one thing, India was once again in love with hockey.



The Rebel Rises



At the time when Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) and Hockey India (HI) were at loggerheads, Nimbus Sports teamed with IHF to come out with World Series Hockey (WSH), a thing every Indian fan had been waiting for. In the era of IPL and BPL, the arrival of World Series Hockey was just the boost Indian hockey needed. Nimbus sports signed on the while Indian team and other big names in world hockey for its inaugural edition. Hockey India, the ruling body of hockey in India, did not allow the participation of Indian players in the tournament so the tournament went ahead without the presence of top Indian and foreign players. 



Despite the absence of top players of the world, the tournament was a huge success with the stadium pulling large crowds and with TV viewership reaching 31.36 million of the tournament. The tournament brought out many young stars like Devinder Walmiki, Gurjinder Singh, Lalit Upadhyay among others and also resurrected the career of seasoned players like Prabhjot Singh, Deepak Thakur and Arjun Halappa. Though the tournament was labelled ‘unsanctioned’ by Hockey India and Federation of International Hockey (FIH), the ratings suggested that the tournament was huge success.



The Mighty Fall



After the success of Olympics Qualifiers and World Series Hockey, Indian hockey was on a rise and it felt that there was nothing in the way that could derail the upward climb of Indian hockey. Just when everything looked good, came the mighty fall which shook Indian hockey. Everyone, from former players to fans was expecting just one thing from Indian team, Gold medal but the fate had something else in mind for Indian hockey. The current players promised medal to the fans and former players but their performance in the Olympics was embarrassment for every Indian hockey fan.



Worst ever finish for India in Olympics
Indian team under Captain Bharat Chetri, failed win or even draw a single game in the tournament finishing at disappointing 12th place. Indian team promised to play 70 mins of good hockey, did manage to play 70 mins of good hockey but over the course of full tournament. Starting on a positive note (yes, we lost but played well) the performance started deteriorating and by the end, Indian hockey team just looked like a local Indian team without any motivation and power to fight back.



Hockey-Nothing official about it



So when the fans were thinking what else can go wrong for Indian hockey after a disastrous Olympics, a RTI query from a 10 year old kid gave India a big blow- Hockey is not the national game of India. 



Less said about this, the better. Can’t and never expected something like this to happen to Indian hockey, ever.


100 year war



Just like the war between Kingdom of England and Kingdom of France, the war between Indian Hockey Federation and Hockey India keeps stretching on and on with each other threatening to destroy Indian hockey to gain power. Various committees including Federation of International Hockey were formed to solve the problems between IHF and HI but it looks like a never ending battle. The poor performance in the Olympics also fuelled the fire between these two. Looking the current situation between these two, Indian hockey team might win a medal in the Olympics, but the war between these two will never end.



The Slow Rise



After going through ups and downs throughout 2012, Indian team was invited to play Champions Trophy after a long gap of 6 years. It was looking like money making exercise by FIH, but the performance of Indian team suggested otherwise. Indian team reached the semi-finals of Champions Trophy after 8 years where they lost to Pakistan, just like they lost in 2003 and 2004. Also India finished runners up in Asian Champions Trophy with suggested that Indian hockey, slowly is getting back on track. The best part of these performances- it was a young team in the absence of seasoned stars which helped India reached at this spot.



The Legend Lost



Leslie Claudius succumbing to liver cirrhosis
At the time when Indian team was slowly rising, Indian hockey lost another pillar, this time legend Leslie Claudius. Claudius was being treated for cirrhosis of liver and had to be hospitalised four times in the past 11 months. Like on the hockey pitch, he battled hard and came out out a winner more often than not, before finally succumbing on Thursday afternoon.



An eminent member of India's golden generation, Claudius storied career saw him winning three Olympic gold medals - 1948 (London), 1952 (Helsinki) and 1956 (Melbourne) - and a silver (1960, Rome). He along with Udham Singh were the only two players in the history of hockey to have won four Olympic medals. Leslie Claudius might have left this world, but he still keeps on inspiring hockey players all over India.



The Competition Brews Up



And finally following cricket’s IPL, Hockey India came out with its own league; Hockey India League to compete with Indian Hockey Federation backed World Series Hockey. Hockey India roped in all the top players of the world in 30 days, 5 team (one team still unsold) tournament Sardar Singh fetching the highest price of Rs.42,90,000 for Indian player with India teammate VR Raghunath going for Rs. 41,80,000. The costliest player of the auctions was Dutch veteran Teun De Nooijer. Hockey India League which begins on January 14 will surely keep fans glued to TV.



The year 2012 has been a year to forget with disappointment on all sides from performing badly in the Olympics to losing a legend. I just hope that the year 2013 breathes a new life in Indian hockey.

Did we miss anything, let us know in the comments section below












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