Intro: in recent years, Indian hockey has faced challenges and struggled to maintain its former glory on the global stage
Hockey holds a special place in the hearts of millions of Indians as the country’s national sport. With a rich history that dates back to ancient times, hockey has been a part of India’s sporting culture for centuries.
History of Hockey from the Mughal “Gend-jai’ to current form
The game’s origins can be traced back to the Mughal Empire, where it was known as “Gend-Jai,” meaning ball-game. However, it was during British colonial rule in the late 19th century that the modern version of hockey gained popularity in India.
The British introduced the game to India, and it quickly caught on, with the first hockey club established in Calcutta in 1885. The sport spread like wildfire across the country, and soon, India became a dominant force in international hockey. The Indian men’s hockey team won its first Olympic gold medal in 1928 at the Amsterdam Games and went on to win six consecutive gold medals from 1928 to 1956. This remarkable feat established India’s dominance in the sport and earned them the title of the “Golden Era” of Indian hockey.
How Indian hockey shaped its destiny in modern India
However, in recent years, Indian hockey has faced challenges and struggled to maintain its former glory on the global stage. The rise of other sports, lack of infrastructure, and a decline in talent development programs have contributed to the decline of Indian hockey. India’s men’s team faced a drought in major international tournaments and struggled to achieve the success of the past.
Nevertheless, in recent times, there are signs of a potential resurgence of Indian hockey. The Indian men’s team delivered an outstanding performance at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, securing a historic bronze medal. The achievement brought renewed hope and enthusiasm among hockey enthusiasts in the country. The women’s team also showcased their talent, reaching the semi-finals and finishing fourth in the tournament.
Furthermore, efforts are being made to revitalize the infrastructure and development programs for hockey across the country. The government, along with various sporting bodies, is investing in the construction of world-class stadiums and training facilities. Grassroots programs and talent identification initiatives are being implemented to nurture young talent.
The success of leagues such as the Hockey India League and the introduction of new formats, like the Hockey 5s, have also played a significant role in rejuvenating interest in the sport.
While it may be too early to determine whether Indian hockey is making a complete comeback on the global stage, the recent achievements and the renewed focus on development are promising signs.