Sport is the major ingredient of healthy and active living but how many of them see the light of the day, only a few get recognition. Cricket is the one that is stealing the limelight because it has been commercialized and requires less infrastructure at the grassroots level or to say at a small level to enjoy the game, wherein hockey requires more at this stage, hence its popularity. Even the rich history of our national sports hockey of 8 Olympic titles has been unable to stop our slide from pride to shame. Seldomly is something being done to conquer the fort which was India’s asset? It seems we have dug our own grave by displaying our stubbornness or showing a lackluster attitude in adapting the modern techniques of the game, thus leading Indian Hockey o its present state-the dark age.
Let’s figure out the culprits that played the spoil sport for Indian Hockey.
Introduction of artificial grass as this playing surface took the steam out of the Indian players because it paced the game much beyond their energy levels than the supportive natural grass. But rest of the world was quick to learn the traits in acclimatizing itself to Astroturf as they began with the facility from the grassroots level and this paid off for them in the form of big titles falling in their kitty, time and again. In India, we are nowhere near it, hence the downfall.
The abolition of offside rule from field hockey rubbed salt on India’s woes. It snatched the strategic advantage of short and direct passes which India enjoyed, before the scrapping of this rule. Now the Indian players are caught gasping for breath as they have to run long distances to tackle the high paced, fiery opposition.
The paucity of funds is another spoilsport which is creating hurdles for the management, thus restricting the players from adapting to the new techniques. Non-commercialization of hockey is one reason, creating roadblocks for the game to gain a foothold in remote areas too and this has made sponsors skeptical about their investments into this game. Our government has to step in with a special allocation to breathe a new lease of life into the sport so that hockey can also live the life of cricket. Sports academies are therefore not resulting in hungry players.
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The tussle over the control of hockey in India between Hockey India and Indian Hockey Federation is posing another hurdle in reviving the game.
Lack of penalty corner specialists as per international standards is eluding them in hitting the deck when the opportunity comes their way.
Revolt of players at times for nonpayment of their remuneration.
The p-factor (politics) dribbling Indian Hockey of its ground which needs a complete full-stop.
Non-commitment of some senior players to deliver the goods with ego coming in between.
With so many culprits around, how can one survive? Should we assume it to be the end of the road for Indian Hockey? Where does Indian Hockey go from here? The silence at these levels is creating jitters. The sports hostels are churning out more losers than champions.
Though the situation does look depressing at the moment, things can be improved over a period of time. India needs to adapt to a long term planning to change the face of the game in the country. What India needs is the guidance of hockey legends, an administration of the likes of BCCI which is manned by professionals who are laden with the desired knowledge, competence and power to turn things in their favor, even in the face of adversity. Marketing the game to the height of cricket should be one of their aims. Another factor which we can implement is brought in corporate to run the game with an offer good returns. If this happens, I can say that we would soon relive the days of Dhyanchand and bring more Dhyan to hockey.