There is confusion whether or not field hockey is the national sport of India. But there is no doubt about the glorious history of this game. Even its history is much richer than other popular sports in India like- cricket, football, tennis, basketball, and chess. Once there was a golden era for Indian hockey. India ruled the international field hockey until the mid-1970s. So far they won the record number of eight Olympic gold medals which is still unbeaten. India also won its inaugural men’s Hockey World Cup held in 1975. India was the first non-European team to be a part of the International Hockey Federation.
However, due to increasing popularity of sports like cricket and lack of sponsors, field hockey is facing the threat of being demolished. To bring back its good time and save the once India’s popular sport, Indian government should take all the necessary steps.
Dhyan Chand surely deserves the supreme position for of his glorious record in the history of Indian hockey. This legendary player is also regarded as one of the best players of all time. He was given the name “The Wizard” because of his skill and control over the ball. For this reason, Dhyanchand is famous as the most talented player ever in India.
He has achieved many records for his country during his international career. Thanks to his superb performance, India could win gold medals in 1928, 1932, and 1936 Olympics. He played his last game in 1948. Scoring 400 international goals, he holds the record of highest goals scored. He was conferred the Padma Bhushan award by the Government of India. To pay him a big honor, Vienna sports club has created a status of him consisting of four arms and four sticks.
The interesting thing is that ‘Chand’ is not part of his name. As he used to practice in the moon light after his duty hours at the Army. For this reason, his fellow players called him Chand which is in English called ‘Moon’.
Balbir Singh Sr.:
Balbir Singh Sr. is another great player in the history of Indian hockey. He is widely famous as one of the best centre-forwards India has ever produced. He was the second player who represented India for winning gold medals in three consecutive Olympics organized in London (1948), Helsinki (1952) (Vice Captain) and Melbourne (1956) (Captain). He was also the member of Indian hockey team which won silver medals at Asian Games 1958 and 1962.
He made the record of scoring the most goals by an individual after scoring 5 goals in India’s 6-1 victory over Netherlands in the 1952 Olympic Games in which India won a gold medal. However, his record is still unbeaten.
Under his coaching and management, India became the third placed team in the 1971 Men’s Hockey World Cup and won the 1975 Men’s Hockey World Cup. In 1957, he was given the Padma Shri award and became the first sports personality to be honored with this prestigious award.
Mohammed Shahid is world famous for his dribbling skills. Fos this reason, he is considered to be one of the best players to have ever played in the Indian hockey. He was named the ‘Best Forward’ of the 1980 Champions trophy and was part of the Indian team in the 1980 Olympic Games held by Moscow in which India won the gold medal. Because of his contribution to the game. He was given Arjuna Award in 1980-1981 and Padma Shri in 1986. His skills and ability helped him picking up a place in the Asian All-Star team in 1986.
He and Zafar Iqbal formed a very good partnership that was able to disarray even the strongest defenses in World Hockey those days.
Undoubtedly Dhanraj Pillay is one of the best forwards in the world of hockey. He was the former captain of the Indian hockey team. And he is widely famous for his dribbling skill. His dribbling was so fast that he could easily pierce through any defense any time. The popularity of this charismatic player has even crossed the borders.
Dhanraj Pillay has achieved many national and international awards as a result of his performance in the game. He was given the Arjuna Puraskar in 1995 and the K.K. Birla Award (1998-99) for excellence in Sports. The Government of India has paid him honor by giving Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 1999 and Padma Shree in 2000.
He was the only Indian player who was selected in the World Eleven side during the 1994 World Cup at Sydney. He is distinguished from other Indian players because he is the only player to have played in 3 Olympics, 3 World Cups and 4 Asian Games for his country.
Ajit Pal Singh:
Ajit Pal Singh was the former captain of the Indian hockey team. And he will always be remembered as one of the most outstanding centre-half in the world during his time. Ajit Pal Singh has also become part of the history after leading India to a thrilling victory in the third world cup hockey tournament at Kuala Lumpur in 1975.
Since making his international debut with a tournament held at Bombay in 1960. He has represented India in three Olympics consecutively between 1968 and 1976. Under his leadership, Indiawon silver medals in 1970 and 1974 Asian Games. He became the first sports personality from India who was appointed as India’s chef de mission for 2012 Summer Olympics.
To give him accolade for his contribution to Indian Hockey. He was awarded Arjuna Award in 1970 and the Padma Shri award in 1992.
Famous as a pillar of the Indian hockey team. Udham Singh is famous as one of the finest hockey players of India. Since making his international debut with the Hockey Series against Afghanistan in 1949, he represented India in four Olympic Games. He became the second Indian player after Leslie Claudius, who won three gold and one silver medal in the Olympic Games. If he had not left out due to his injury. He could become the only Indian player to represent his country in five consecutive Olympic Games.
In the honor of his great contribution to the Indian hockey game. He was awarded the Arjuna Award in 1965. However, he was also the coach of the Indian hockey team which won a Silver Medal at Mexico Olympics 1968 and the Asian Games in Bangkok in 1970.
Gagan Ajit Singh:
Gagan Ajit Singh, son of legendary hockey player Ajit Singh, is unquestionably one of the efficient strikers of the Indian hockey team at present. He took the game professionally in 1997 during a test series against Russia. Under his leadership, Indian junior team won the Junior World Cup in 2001. He played for his country in the 2000 and the 2004 Summer Olympics where India finished in seventh place on both occasions.
Besides playing in the local hockey clubs, he has been playing for HC Klein Zwitserland, which is a field hockey club from Netherlands since 2005. He was also the lone player from India to be selected in All-Asian Men hockey team (2002). He has the record of scoring the highest number of goals in the famous All India Gurmit Singh Tournament and Jawaharlal Nehru Tournament of 1997 for Air India.
Finally, he was given the prestigious Arjuna Award by the Government of India in the year 2002.
Ashok Kumar is not only known by his father’s name. Dhyan Chand, who is a legend hockey player, but also he is famous as one of the great Indian hockey players of India. He earned name and fame for his exceptional skills and ball control. He was one of the few players who played in the World Cup four times. However, he will be remembered for scoring the winning goal to ensured India’s 2-1 victory against Pakistan in the 1975 Men’s Hockey World Cup held in Kuala Lumpur. He also represented India in two Olympic Games. He was presented the Arjuna Award in 1974.
The interesting thing is that Dhyan Chand saw his son playing international hockey for the first time in 1974 during the Asian All-Stars game.
Leslie Claudius is one of the most famous players in the history of Indian hockey. He is also considered to be one of the best halfback players ever played in this game. This legendary player was a member of the Indian hockey team. They won the Olympic gold three consecutive years in 1948, 1952, 1956 and a silver medal in 1960.
He became the first player to have played in four Olympics. He was also the first player who played hundred international matches. Along with Dhyan Chand, he was often considered India’s greatest hockey player ever. He was also the coach of the national team which finished second the 1960 Olympics in Rome.
He died on 20 December 2012 at the age 85.
Baboo Nimal was a professional field hockey player playing in the fullback position. He was one of the key players of the Indian hockey team. They won the gold medal at the 1936 Summer Olympics. However, he played only three matches including the final of the Olympic Games. He breathed his last on February 21, 1998.