Since Hockey was first played in the 1928 Summer Olympics, Indians were the predominant side of the sport until the 1964 Olympics held at Tokyo, winning 7 out of 8 Gold medals and a Silver. The last time India won an Olympic medal in Hockey was during the Moscow Olympics in 1980. For the past 35 years, India has suffered some major pitfalls in the sport globally resulting in the decline of Indian Hockey. What went wrong for a sublime side like the Indian Hockey Team? Here’s a list of few elements that could have possibly affected their performance.
- INTRODUCTION OF ASTROTURF
Hockey was initially played on grass but after the 1980 Olympics, the classic grass courts were replaced by artificial Astroturfs. This posed a huge challenge for the Indian team as all the hockey pitches in India were grass-made and the players found it hard to get accustomed to the new surface.
- MODERN HOCKEY DEMANDS A LOT OF PHYSICAL STRENGTH ALONG WITH SKILL
Indians have the skill but when it comes to physical endurance, the Europeans and the Australians pose a bigger threat, which makes it hard for our players to cope with. Astroturf makes dribbling and passing comparatively quicker than grass and demands exceptional stamina.
- NOT ENOUGH SUPPORT FOR THE GROWTH OF THE SPORT
When Astroturf was first introduced, none of the stadiums in India was fitted with the surface. Later, very few stadiums were remodelled with it which ensured only a handful of them got a chance to practice. If only all the stadiums had been equipped with Astroturf, India would have produced world-class players at a very young age. Since the amount of money invested in the sport was not good enough to support its growth, the glory of the sport has slowly declined over the years.
- CRICKET’S DOMINANCE OVER OTHER SPORTS IN INDIA
Yes. Cricket is India’s most celebrated sport. But the amount of sponsorship and exposure that Cricket receives has shadowed the other sports and crippled its growth. If Hockey is given as much importance as Cricket, a lot of youngsters would be inspired to take up the game and move forward.
Hockey is definitely one of India’s most glorious sports’. It is high time our nation realises it and extends huge support towards all our Hockey Heroes and the sport itself. Let’s raise our voices and back the Men’s and the Women’s Hockey Team in their Rio 2016 Olympics Journey. May they bring back laurels to Our Motherland!
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