Sunday, the 28th February marked a very important achievement to the spirit of Indian hockey as the Indian team routed Pakistan 4-1. The stage was set for the relatively young guns from our side to show what they are capable of and they delivered the stuff in great fashion. A lot has been spoken about the state of Indian hockey in the recent past. First, the agitation by the players for Hockey India’s delay in payment of salaries to the national team and later heavy outburst by critics and former players on mismanagement by the organizers in terms of security and ticket sales ahead of the world cup. By and large, Indian hockey has been ignored by bureaucracy, sports organizations, media and most importantly, the fans over the last two decades. General opinion is that the sheen of the national game of India was lost in 1975 when Pakistan thrashed the then Indian team 7-0, and ever since, the glamor for the Men in Blue has been long lost.
This year’s world cup is a very important platform for Hockey India to stage a come-back and India’s win over Pakistan in their opening game couldn’t have come at a better time. The result was soothing and media immediately stepped forward to share the joy in a grandiose manner. But the question is how many of us were witness to that commanding performance from the young Indian side? Did the pre-match hype serve its purpose? How many of us waited anxiously to watch the match? For one, I certainly did. Ad campaigns spearheaded by cricketer Sehwag and ace shooter Rathore were aimed at instilling a sense of patriotic emotion in sports lovers and help take Indian Hockey to a next level. There cannot be a better time for Indian hockey to re-emerge and gain viewership than now. India is the host for this year’s world cup and fortunately, New Delhi responded in great fashion. The stadium was jam-packed and the noise was astounding, which was a much-needed support for the young tigers from the Indian side.
This spirit should spread to other parts of the country and sports lovers should exhibit their solidarity in getting behind the Indian team for this world cup. Viewership should increase to restore the bygone pride of our very own national game. The win over Pakistan should serve as a catalyst and change the face of Indian hockey. Critics have expressed doubt over India’s competitiveness in this edition of the world cup with majority in the team being youngsters. But the coaching team won a strategic victory on Sunday by resting ace goal keeper Adrian D’Souza to keep Sohail Abbas at bay who is known for his corner kick finishes. The young man in Sreejesh who replaced D’Souza did spring a surprise with a couple of unbelievable saves. The young team showed a lot of promise in their 70 minute display at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium at New Delhi. I strongly believe India can spring a surprise this year with a lot of hidden talent in upcoming youngsters. All they need is support and we are responsible for providing it when it matters. The New Delhi crowd played a 12th man with their deafening noises at the stadium, which is a very important factor in high voltage events like a world cup. That is definitely a great sign for Indian sports in general as the recent terror attacks in the country have disturbed sentiments in the sporting arena with IPL, Champions League and the Commonwealth games going under the scanner. To restore India’s pride at the world stage, effort is required from the grassroots level viz. We the People!! Let us all join hands to cheer Team India throughout the world cup and prove ourselves to the world.
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