The Indian hockey team is considered the most successful in the history of the game. Currently ranked fifth in the world, the Indian men’s hockey team has won record eight gold medals in summer Olympics games. The current Indian team is led by Manpreet Singh and coached by Graham Reid.
Hockey India, India’s apex body for hockey, recently announced a 20-member team for the FIH Hockey Pro League 2020. India did not participate in the 2019 edition of the league. This year, India has decided to participate in the tournament and will be making its debut against the Netherlands on January 18, 2020 at Odisha’s Kalinga Stadium. The Indian team is sponsored by the Odisha state government in a sponsorship deal that will continue till 2023.
FIH Hockey Pro League
FIH Hockey Pro League is a new tournament which the Federation of International Hockey has brought in to make hockey more entertaining and popular among the fans. It is also an effort to generate more revenue for the game. In this tournament, nine teams, both men’s and women’s, will participate while playing home and away matches for 6 months in the first half of the year.
History of the Indian hockey team
India is the most successful team of all time in the world of hockey. It has won record eight gold medals in summer Olympic Games. If those, 6 golds were won consecutively starting 1928 in Amsterdam, In the 1960 Rome Olympics, India won a silver medal. The team had an unbeaten record of 30 straight victories in the period between 1928 and 1960. India also won two Olympic Bronze medals — in 1968 and 1972. India’s last gold medal came in the 1980 Moscow Olympics. The Indian hockey team also won the 1975 World Cup, its only world cup trophy, and 5 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup titles, and three Asian Games gold medals.
India has produced some of the best players in the world of hockey, despite the fact that the game of hockey developed on its own in India without any state or private support. Dhyan Chand is considered the most talented hockey player ever. Because of his skills, he was known as ‘the Wizard’ or ‘the Magician’. Legend has it that after Germany was defeated 8-1 in the final of 1936 Olympics, Adolf Hitler offered Dhyan Chand a position in the German Army, which the Indian Wizard declined.
India produced some of the best players of all time during India’s golden period of Hockey. Balbir Singh Sr, K D Singh, Kishan Lal, Leslie Claudius, Charanjit Singh, Gurbux Singh, Vasudev Baskaran, Dhanaraj Pillay, Dilip Tirkey are some of the gems that India produced.
The decline of hockey in India
After the 1980 Moscow Olympics, Indian hockey never reached the level it had previously seen. That was India’s last gold medal in the Olympics. Since then, India has failed to finish on the podium in either the World Cup or the Olympics. Lack of sponsorship, lack of government interest, rise of cricket as a popular sport, and bureaucratic mess are said to be some of the key reasons for hockey’s decline in India. The team, in a first, even failed to qualify for the 2008 Olympic Games.
However, efforts are being made anew to revive hockey in the country, especially with the IPL-style Hockey India League and a revamped federation that has brought in foreign coaches and better team support.