India has created a powerful niche in the field of sports. Whether it’s cricket, tennis or badminton, Indian players like Sachin Tendulkar, Mahesh Bhupati and Saina Nehwal have established benchmarks in the world of sports. But, despite being so glorious in sports, our country is lagging far behind in one sport, and its recognition, our national sport- Hockey.
Yes, a miserable reality is that we do not give much importance to our national game, Hockey. In fact, if we ask people about any hockey player, most of them are dumbfounded because they are not au fait about any of the noteworthy hockey players.
So, to bring it to everyone’s notice, here we have a list of less-known hockey players who are lost in the dusty pages of history, or not even that much.
Dhyan Chand: This name is the first that strikes our mind whenever we think about hockey. Dhyan Chand Singh is one of the best hockey players of the world that India has ever seen. He has probably been the only Indian player ever in any sport whose skills were so magnificent that it generated a number of myths about his abilities as a hockey player. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1956 and has won 3 Olympic golds.
Balbir Singh Dosanjh: Popularly known as Balbir Singh Senior, he has been a former Indian Hockey player who has represented the nation in 3 Olympic Games and won gold every single time. He also coached the Indian Hockey team for some time. He was the first hockey player to be awarded the Padma Shri.
Dhanraj Pillay: He has been one of the most efficient Hockey players of India and had captained India for few good years. An extremely good forward with sharp attacking skills, he has been awarded with the Padma Shri and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award.
Udham Singh Kular: Famous as Udham Singh was known to be one of the finest Hockey players India has ever seen on it’s land. Singh has been the only Hockey player in the history of the game to have been able to grab 3 Gold Medals and 1 Silver Medal in Olympic events.
Leslie Walter Claudius: An Anglo-Indian by origin, he holds a Guinness World Record for being the part of a Hockey team which 3 gold and 1 silver in the Olympics. He was conferred with Padma Shri in 1971.
Shankar Lakshman: He was goalkeeper of the Indian team in the 1956, 1960 and 1964 Olympics that won two gold medals and one silver medal. He was the first goalkeeper to become captain of an international hockey team and was awarded the Arjuna award and the Padma Shri by the Indian government. He was captain of the Indian team which won the gold in the 1966 Asian Games.
Mamta Kharab: Known as the ‘golden girl’ of Indian women hockey team, Kharab was born on 26 January 1982. She was declared the best player and the best scorer in the Junior Asia Cup hockey tournament held in Malaysia. Here, India won the bronze medal. She has also played a leading role in India’s victory in the Commonwealth Games held in Manchester in 2002. She scored the Golden Goal in the final against England in which India won the gold medal after 32 years.
There was a time when these players has some amount of recognition. And people were excited for hockey. The sport has a considerable significance in Indian sports. Sadly, with time other sports- especially cricket, started emerging with more achievements that lowered the number of hockey fans.
And at present, India , being a cricket-crazy nation isn’t interested in knowing about the hockey legends and even the current players. Our nation has failed in propagating a respectful stature to our national game that it is entitled to. At their time, some hockey players took this sport to another level but today, their names are not known to most of the public.
Presently, people prefer to go towards sports other than cricket, the ones which have gained media attention. Infact, the present hockey team is suffering from miserable conditions. The sports authorities, also, do not proliferate much priority to the hockey teams because of their low profile and popularity.
Our country must provide hockey the recognition it deserves so that more people are encouraged to join this sport and Indian hockey gets back to the peaks of success. If we still do not start giving hockey the attention it is rightful of, then this sport may lose its identity in abyss.