Hockey regains glory

Hockey regains glory

The venue was undoubtedly the perfect backdrop for Indians to motivate themselves, while exuberant zeal held them in good stead all through the coveted championship. 

The venue was undoubtedly the perfect backdrop for Indians to motivate themselves, while exuberant zeal held them in good stead all through the coveted championship.

That it was Lucknow and more importantly Dhyan Chand Stadium which have a historical relevance, must have bolstered the Harjeet Singh-led hosts and helped them regain the Hockey Junior World Cup after a 15-year gap to join Germany as the only team to have won the title twice.

If the crowd was large and boisterous in rooting for the home team, it is a good augury because the country’s stock as a hockey powerhouse nosedived since a while now.

Irrespective of whether the second coming has brought the sport back in focus in India or not, what is clear is that the resurgence is being dreaded by European nations, which still fear the stock-wizardry that Indians are naturally attuned to.

This is notwithstanding the fact the sport has been relegated to the pits in cricket-mad India. Looking at the larger picture, hockey has enjoyed a very productive year.

The senior team had a reasonably good outing in Rio Olympics, with the icing on the cake coming in the form of the Asian Champions Trophy triumph and a silver finish in Champions Trophy.

In this backdrop there certainly can be a sense of optimism that hockey is inching its way up in the popularity charts, an elevation for which credit should go to Roelant Oltmans, the chief coach of the senior men team, who, incidentally, was the manager for the colts.

His contention that the boys dished out near-perfect hockey is a tribute to the manner the youngsters coped themselves to the varying situations at every level of the event.

The gains have been quite impressive, which, as the team coach Harendra Singh pointed out was in the emergence of 18 golden gems.

A bigger positive is that the youngsters regaled on astro-turf, which inarguably, must be the biggest plus from the Indian point of view.

A major worry for the country’s administrators has been the inefficiency on such surfaces, which the Europeans and Australians seemingly thrived upon.

Meanwhile, even as there is a noticeable euphoria, thanks to the new-found enthusiasm, the administrators running Hockey India would do well if they get down to business straightaway.

One should take lessons from a similar achievement Down Under in 2001 and what happened in the subsequent years. The team was on cloud nine after the Hobart tryst with glory.

But a couple of years later, the young turks, who were supposed to dominate the world scene, more or less paled into insignificance.

One cannot pinpoint as to where things went awry because the then powerful Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) became the laughing stock of the nation due to ego battles for one-upmanship.

To make matters worse, even the fine discoveries failed to sustain the form they displayed during the World Cup once they graduated into the senior category. This is where things have to be addressed in their right perspective.

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