Indian hockey team, both women and men have raised the expectations of the whole nation in the last few years. Let’s look at their journey.
- Hockey may not officially be the national sport of India, but it sure is one of the most popular games. India has had a golden run in hockey through the ages.
- Six consecutive gold medals in Olympics from 1928 – 1956 being the most spectacular achievement.
- India has performed pretty well at the Asian Games as well. Though we have had a lot of podium finishes, the gold has eluded us multiple times.
- The men’s Indian hockey team captured the imagination of the entire nation by winning the gold at the Incheon Asiad. A similar feat was expected in the 2018 edition of the game. Unfortunately, they got ousted by the Malaysians in the semis.
- Our eves are very much in the game. We might we sound too optimistic, but we expect nothing but the gold from them!
Most of us have grown up assuming that hockey is the national sport of India. However, that is not true since the government has not declared any sport as the national sport. The official tag may be missing, but the sport takes a special place in the hearts of all Indians. The sport has brought laurels for India in various tournaments. In fact, there was a stage when the name hockey was synonymous with India. After all, the best hockey player in the world, Dhyan Chand, was from India!
The journey of the sport in India has had its share of ups and downs. After the golden era, there was a downfall for a few years. Yet again, the expectations from the team are increasing. Both, the men’s and women’s hockey teams had a spirited run at the Asians Games. However, the gold hopes from the men’s team have been shattered. Let us hope the eves make us proud.
Did You Know?
Field hockey was introduced in the Asian Games in the year 1958 at the Tokyo Asiads.
History of Hockey in India
The roots of the game go way back. In India, the British played a key role in the popularity of the sport. In 1885, the first hockey club was opened in Calcutta. Slowly and steadily various tournaments were organized.
The Indian Hockey Federation was established on November 7, 1925. The next few decades were definitely the golden era of hockey in India. From 1928 to 1956, India men’s hockey team won six consecutive gold medals at the Olympics.
Indian Men’s Hockey Team
FIH World Ranking: 5
Coach: Harendra Singh
Captain: P.R. Sreejesh
Asian Games Medal Tally
India won its first Asian Games medal in field hockey in 1958. It was the first time field hockey was included in the Asiads. India had to settle for a silver medal.
Currently, the Indian men’s hockey team is ranked 5th in the world. We have had a glorious past, but the future is uncertain. Slowly but steadily team is finding its roots and was clearly the favourite to win the Asiads. However, the entire country was heartbroken when India lost to Malaysia in semifinals. The team was assumed to be a sure shot gold medal winner. Before we decipher what went wrong at the 2018 Asian Games, let us browse through the many achievements of the hockey team.
India made a sparkling debut in hockey as the Asiads. We got the silver medal in 1958 and again in 1962 Jakarta Asian Games. The next edition of the game turned out to be even better as we finished first. The yellow metal came home! The place was Bangkok and the year was 1966.
The next few years, the team was missing out in the finals and had to settle for a silver medal. Finally, the next breakthrough came in 1998. India won the gold at the Bangkok Asian Games in the men’s hockey.
The 2006 edition of the games was a big downer as we couldn’t even get a podium finish. However, the men’s team has gotten stronger day by day. They made us extremely proud by winning the gold at the Incheon Asian Games and favourites yet again.
Indian men’s hockey team in action
Goalkeepers – PR Sreejesh (Captain), Krishan B Pathak
Defenders – Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Birendra Lakra, Surender Kumar, Rupinder Pal Singh, Amit Rohidas
Midfielders – Manpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam (Vice-Captain), Simranjeet Singh, Sardar Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad
Forwards – S V Sunil, Mandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Dilpreet Singh
India scored a total of 76 goals before the semis! All of their victories in the pool stages were high scoring. They managed to thrash Indonesia (17-0), Hong-Kong China (26-0), Japan (8-0), and Sri Lanka (20-0). The only setback was the shocking defeat of 3-5 at the hands of South Korea.
FT| The Indian Men's Hockey Team suffers a heart-breaking defeat against Malaysia as the match progressed to a sudden death in the intense Semi-Final clash at the @asiangames2018. #IndiaKaGame #AsianGames2018 #INDvMAS pic.twitter.com/AqftyfqwZ5
— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) August 30, 2018
The journey till the semis was so stellar, that nothing short of a win was expected from the men in blue. However, the match got tied at 2-2. Harmanpreet Singh (33rd) and Varun Kumar (40th) scored for India, whereas, Faizal Saari (24th) and Muhammad Razie Rahim (59th) got goals for Malaysia. In the shoot-off, Malaysia got the better of India and went on to win 7-6. The Indian men’s hockey team was stunned.
The loss will also affect India’s selection for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. “Malaysia are the deserving winners. We committed too many unforced errors and paid the price. We did not keep things simple and tried to show our Indian skills and by doing that we lost the momentum. It is a big setback for Indian hockey. The road to the Olympics is a lot bumpier now. We missed the easiest chance to qualify,” chief coach Harendra Singh told the Firstpost.
Indian Women’s Hockey Team
FIH World Ranking: 9
Coach: Sjoerd Marijne
Captain: Rani Rampal
Asian Games Medal Tally
The women’s hockey team has been pretty average compared to the men’s team over the years. They first won the gold at the 1982 Asian Games. The edition of the games took place in New Delhi and our girls defeated Korea in the finals. It was a proud moment for the entire nation. At the 1986 Asian Games in Seoul South Korea, the team had to settle for a bronze. The next two editions of the games were even worse as the girls couldn’t get a podium finish. They made a comeback in 1998 at the Bangkok Asiads. Our spirited hockey players won the silver!
The next few editions were not as good for the team as the previous ones. The girls won two more bronze medals. While one came in the 2006 Doha Asiad, the other one was from the Incheon Games in 2014.
The quest for gold is on since 1982. Will the girls repeat the glorious feat of 1982? Their performance has significantly improved in the last few years. The team has entered the top 10 of the FIH rankings.
Asian Games 2018 – Indian Hockey Team
Goal Keepers: Savita (vice-captain), Rajani Etimarpu
Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka, Deepika, Gurjit Kaur, Reena Khokhar, Sunita Lakra
Midfielders: Namita Toppo, Monika, Lilima Minz, Udita, Neha Goyal, Nikki Pradhan
Forwards: Rani Rampal (captain), Vandana Katariya, Navneet Kaur, Navjot Kaur, Lalremsiami
Indian women’s hockey team celebrating their win in the semifinals
In the pool stages, the eves were absolutely stellar! First, they smashed Indonesia 8-0. Then they literally drowned the Kazakhstan team 21-0! Their defence has been brilliant in the tournament and it helped them to oust Korea (4-1) and Thailand (5-0). The team defeated China 1-0 in the semifinals to enter a final after 20 years. Gurjit Kaur was the lone goal scorer. It is truly a historic moment for hockey fans. The women’s team reached hockey finals in Asiads after 20 years! Our golden girls will be up against Japan in the finals. Vandana Katariya and Rani Rampal have been in top form throughout the tournament.
India’s coach Sjoerd Marijne gave his feedback of the contest to the Times of India. He believes the wins were because of the excellent teamwork and every player contributed to it. He said, “The team surely did not play to its potential in the first half. They stepped up in the second half and I am really happy for these girls. I know how much work they put in to be here. They trained really hard for this event. Japan will be a tough challenge but the team is up for it.”
“The final against Japan will be exciting for sure but we are determined to give everything on the pitch to win the match. The team knows that they came here to only achieve one thing, and that is the qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. We will make sure that we play like the best team in Asia and work hard to achieve our goal,” the confident captain, Rani Rampal said in an interview.
The wait for a gold in women’s hockey has been really long. The last gold medal came home 36 years back! The win will also be extra special as it will help the team to directly qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The team is highest ranked in Asia. After the men’s disappointment, our hopes of the girls have increased even more. We are sure they won’t disappoint us!