Everybody agrees on “India is important for the progress of hockey in the world of sports” but is India moving in right direction?
It has been a year of ups and downs for Indian Hockey, with World Series Hockey getting postponed because the national players were busy in preparing for Hero FIH Road to London: the Olympics Qualifiers, which India won in style to book their ticket for London.
World Series Hockey wrote a new chapter in the history of hockey with highest ever prize money. The month-long league was not only hit in stadiums or TV screens in India but also served entertaining hockey throughout the world with worldwide live telecast and live streaming on internet through YouTube i.e. another first in hockey’s history. But the in-fight in for the administration of Hockey in India, between Hockey India (HI) and Indian Hockey Federation (IHF), has been killing the momentum of this one of the best hockey league in world.
Some players were not even considered in probables’ camp for Olympics and a relatively younger squad was sent to London only to bring back wooden spoon in world’s largest sporting event, where India used to be undisputed king of Hockey in the first half of 20th century.
Disappointed fans cried, asked for the change of coach and considering players from WSH, but Hockey India showed faith on coach Michael Nobbs. And with Rio in mind, the age-old selectors selected even younger squad for 34th FIH Champions Trophy, played in Melbourne in 1st week of December, where India and Pakistan entered as wild card entry.
With this young squad, which was selected after neglecting the best defender and forward from Hockey India’s National Championship, India went on to reach semi final of prestigious Champions Trophy for the first time after 2004, but lost to Australia and Pakistan in Semi Final and Bronze Medal match respectively to miss their 2nd Bronze medal in the Champions Trophy.
The same squad, with just 3 changes, won four consecutive matches including one against Pakistan, and became first team to reach finals of 2nd Asian Champions Trophy, Doha, and lost next two matches against Malaysia (inconsequential league match for India) and Pakistan (the final), thus failed to defend their title of Asian Champions.
Junior World Cup 2013, being hosted in Delhi, will one big tournament in the year apart from inaugural edition of Hockey India League, which will start from 14th January 2013 in Delhi, involving five franchise based teams in home and away matches before playing semi finals and classification matches.
My wishes for the new year are to see bigger and better season of WSH which is caught in HI-IHF crossfire, Rangaswamy Cup being given away to the National Champions and most importantly all the players being considered for probables of national team whether they are from WSH or HIL, but all this is possible only when one genuine governing body for Hockey in India is established.
Come-on! India … Chak de! …
for lifting the profile of hockey in the world of sports!!!