Although the invention of hockey is dated back to around 1000 BC in Egypt, the modern version of the game was started in England in the mid-18th century. Soon after that, hockey became a widely played sport around the globe. With the founding of the International hockey federation (FIH) in 1924, most of the countries came together to join the committee. Today the FIH has around 137 national associates whose team continues to perform year after year at the global level.
New games originated in various part of the world inspired by the technique and rules of hockey such as field hockey, Ice hockey, bandy, Ice sledge hockey, roller hockey, and street hockey. In addition to this, hockey became so popular that colleges, states, and countries everywhere started their own league to showcase talents of their own.
HOCKEY IN INDIA
Hockey was a very successful sport which was slowly coming up in most of the countries. In India, Calcutta was one of the first clubs which started in 1885, and soon Bombay and Punjab followed suit.
Soon the Indian Hockey Federation was formed on 7 November 1925. India entered the FIH as the first non-European team.
The Indian Men’s hockey team made its Olympic debut in the 1928 Amsterdam games and cruised to its first gold medal without conceding a single goal. 1928 to 1956 was considered as the golden era for the national team. The Indian Men’s team remained unbeaten in the Olympics, gaining 6 gold medals in a row while winning 24 games straight scoring 178 goals, and conceding only 7. The Indian Women’s national team made its debut in the Summer Olympics of 1980 in Moscow. The team secured its first gold medal at the inaugural Asian Games in 1982.
Today the Men’s national team is ranked 4th in the world with 2060.14 points. After the gold medal streak ended in 1956, India won gold on 2 other occasions (1964,1980) at the Olympics. However, the Women’s national team(Nicknamed ‘Nabhvarna’) is ranked 9th in the world with 1543 points.
The hallmark of the ruthless domination of the golden era was of the wizardry hockey legend- Dhyan Chand. Nicknamed ‘The Wizard’, Chand was one of the best players ever to play the sport. He had an impeccable record in all of the Olympic games he played. He was one of the very first sportsmen to make the country proud at a global level. He was regarded as the greatest sportsman of India at that time and even today people celebrate his birthday(29th August) as National Sports day across the country. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1956 from the Government of India. The Dhyan Chand award is given to the best talents for their lifetime achievement in sports and games.
Field hockey is considered as the National sport of India. India has produced some fine talents in the game of hockey who have proven to be the best at the global level.26 women and 62 men from the national hockey team have been awarded the Arjuna award from 1961. Being the national game of India, hockey is gradually gaining popularity due to national level leagues but still remains behind the highly opined cricket in publicity and audience.