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  • Malkiat Singh Duhra

History of Field Hockey

Modern-day field hockey was developed by the British during the late 18th century. It was introduced as a popular school game. Field hockey is one of the most ancient games in the world and was played in Egypt about 4000 years ago and the history of hockey can be traced back to 1527 in Scotland. It is also reported that a stick and ball game was developed in Persia. In Punjab, people used to play hockey-like games in old times known as Khodo Khundi (ball hockey). Field hockey made its way to the Indian army during British rule in 1850. The first hockey club was formed in Kolkata in 1855 and later it was popularized in Bombay and Punjab provinces.

The hockey association was made in 1907 and The Indian Hockey Federation (IFS) was formed in 1925. The Indian hockey team went to New Zealand in 1926 and played 21 matches and won 18. Major Dhyan Singh proved to be the best player on the team. In Olympic Games, India played for the first time in 1928, in Amsterdam, and won a gold medal. Major Dhyan Singh, Allen, Norris, Pinniger, Yusuf, Gateley, and Cullen were some of the brilliant hockey players.

The Indian hockey team won Olympic gold medals in 1928, 1932, and 1936. Major Dhyan Singh was made captain in 1936 of the hockey team. After independence in 1947, hockey players were divided into three parts, India, Pakistan, and British. Even then Indian hockey players proved excellent in the Olympics. India found a new genius in the legendary, Balvir Singh Sr. (village Haripur, Jalandhar) as he steered them to a second hat-trick of Olympic gold medals in 1948, 1952, and 1956, this time as an independent nation. Balvir Singh was vice-captain in 1952 and captain in 1956. This period was one of the most significant in the history of hockey in India and in the World, and India dominated in the Olympics.

From 1928 to 1956, was the golden period for the Indian hockey team. India's hockey team remained unbeaten in the Olympics, gaining 6 gold medals in a row (1928,1932,1936,1948,1952,1956). The Indian team has won a total of 8 gold medals (also in 1964, 1980) one silver (1960), and three bronze medals (1968, 1972, 2021) in the Olympics. In the golden era of the Indian hockey team, India loomed large in world hockey and proceeded some of the finest players the game has ever seen. During this dominance, one name that clearly comes to mind is Balvir Singh. For almost three decades, the Indian team had five players with the same name. Balvir Singh Sr reached the pinnacle of success at Helsinki in 1952 when he scored 5 goals in a 6 -1 gold medal victory over the Netherlands. The four later Balvir Singhs played with the later Indian champions.

The Indian stranglehold over the Olympic hockey gold medals came to an end when Pakistan defeated India in the finals of the 1960 Rome Olympics. However, the record created by India is likely to stand strong through ages, as no other country has ever managed to come close to it, let alone beat it. Talking about some of the legendary and outstanding players of India hockey, Major Dhyan Singh, Balvir Singh, KD Singh, Ajit Pal Singh, Dhanraj Pillay, Dilip Tirkey, Prithipal Singh, Udham Singh, Pargat Singh are some names that come to mind instantly. Thanks to their exceptional gaming techniques and enduring enthusiasm, the position of India in the field of hockey achieved new heights.

Punjab has always played a significant role in this game which is indicated from the list of Sikh captains of the Indian Hockey Team as given below.

  1. Ajab Singh

  2. Ajit Pal Singh

  3. Ajmer Singh

  4. Avtar Singh

  5. Balvir Singh Sr

  6. Baljit Singh

  7. Brajinder Singh

  8. Gagan Ajit Singh

  9. Gurbux Singh

  10. Gurdev Singh

  11. Harvinder Singh

  12. Harmik Singh

  13. Mohinder Pal Singh

  14. The Pargat Singh

  15. Prithipal Singh

  16. Raj Pal Singh

  17. Ramandeep Singh

  18. Sandeep Sigh

  19. Sardar Singh

  20. Sarjit Singh

  21. Surjeet Singh Deol

  22. Surjit Singh Rihal

  23. Surjit Singh

In 1980, the Indian hockey team won a gold medal in the Olympics and after that, the team couldn’t win any medal till 2021 (41 years) in the Olympic Games. But in the Tokyo Olympics, 2021, the Indian hockey team won a bronze medal which is the result of the hard work of players and the right selection of players for the Tokyo Olympic Games. Following is the list of players for the Tokyo Olympics.

  • Forwards: Mandeep Singh, Shamsher Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Lalit Kumar, Gurjant Singh

  • Midfielders: Hardik Singh, Manpreet Singh, Vivek Sagar, Nilakanta Sharma, Sumit

  • Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Surender Kumar, Amit Rohidus, Barendra Lakra

  • Goal-keeper: PR Sreejesh

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