Hockey is the national game of India. It is rather hard to believe considering the adulation cricket gets in our country. The Indian Men’s hockey team is the most successful in Olympic history with 8 gold medals, 1 silver and 2 bronze. After its poor performance in the Athens Olympics finishing at 7th place, Indian hockey has only stared down the barrel since then. After that there was a spate of controversies surrounding Indian hockey and its poor administration leading to India not qualifying for the Beijing Olympics for the first time in Olympic history since 1928.
From the legendary Dhyan Chand to the inspirational Dhanraj Pillai, India has produced many a hockey talent. How the team went from being a world-beater to a pushover has been a heart breaking sight to see. The team has tried to revive itself after the Olympics’ debacle with changing a number of coaches and the way it was being administered. Under the guidance of Coach Jose Brasa, they gave their fans something to cheer about after finishing first in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in May and winning bronze in the Asian games held during November 2010. After that they now have the ominous task of qualifying for the London Olympics under new Coach Michael Nobbs.
In the Asian Championships held during September 2011, India emerged winners beating Pakistan 4-2 as goalkeeper S Sreejes starred for India with magnificent saves as the match turned into an ill-tempered one with the Pakistan coach being at his abusive best. On October 1st, Hockey India selected the team to tour Australia later this month with Bharat Chetri being named as captain replacing Rajpal Singh while prolific mid-fielder Ignace Tirkey was named the vice-captain. Coach Michael Nobbs seems to be adopting this new method of trying out new captains for every series as part of the Olympics preparation process. Experienced forwards Tushar Khandekar and Bharat Chikara have been recalled to the side along with rebels Sardara Singh and Sandeep Singh after the two apologized to Hockey India. The defence is made up of Manjeet Kulu, Rupinderpal Singh, V R Raghunath and Sandeep Singh as Danish Mujtaba, Ravi Pal, Sarawanjeet Singh, Rajpal Singh, Yuvraj Valmiki, SV Sunil, Gurvinder Singh Chandi, Tushar Khandekar and Bharat Chikara make up the forwards. The Indian team will also participate in a Super Series tournament and a 3-nation international tournament in Australia. With the revival of the Indian Hockey team lately, all eyes will be on them as they set out to re-establish themselves!