great of the fast-moving game of hockey, Major Dhyan Chand was born on August 29, 1905 and passed away on December
3, 1979. A commemorative postal stamp was issued on
his first death anniversary in salutation to the world’s top hockey maestro.
When India now takes steps to regain supremacy
in the fiercely competitive game it is important to note that other countries
have adopted innovative methods to beat off challenges. A flash-back takes us
to the days when Dhyan Chand
strode the field during the golden era of Indian hockey.
began playing the game with Jhansi Heroes. Enrolment
in the Army in 1922 gave him an opportunity to gain proficiency in the best
standards. Dhyan Chand then
caught the eye of the selectors and was chosen to play in the inter-provincial
Championships. With his powerful wrists and bursts of speed he made a mark and
impressed the country’s hockey administrators. He was chosen for the team that
played in matches in New Zealand. Coming into prominence Dhyan Chand got opportunity to
play in Australia also on the way back home.
twin-tour paved the way for reinclusion of hockey
among the Olympic disciplines. The Indian team with Dhyan
Chand playing as center-forward played in Britain as a warm-up for the Amsterdam
Olympiad. At the Folkstone Festival, Dhyan Chand scored 36 of the 72
goals scored by the team, he dazzled on the field with an unbeaten record of scoring 23 goals
against five opponents without yielding any against. He was the super-star in
the matches against Austria, Belgium and Denmark as well as Poland in the final. By virtue of his
amazing skill he was soon hailed as a juggler with the stick.
only three teams in hockey competition, India, Japan and the U.S.A. In the match against Japan, Dhyan Chand scored four goals and his younger brother Roop Singh, three. In the second encounter versus USA, India hit up a cricket-like score of 24
against a solitary one by the opponents.
On the way
homewards, India was engaged in friendly matches
against Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), Singapore, Japan, Germany and a few others in the Continent. India won 33 and drew the other two. Dhyan Chand captained India on visits to Australia and New Zealand in 1933. India won in all and 584 goals were
scored. The Captains tally was 200. The Cricket Supreme who was surprised
asked, “Were the goals hit up by a hockey player or a cricket batsman?”
wizard as he was by then acclaimed. Dhyan Chand led India at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. India won all the five contests. Dhyan Chand’s spellbinding
dribbling as if the ball was glued to the stick bewildered the Germans. Some
wondered whether a magnet was concealed within the stick. Dhyan
Chand allayed their suspicion by changing the stick
midway in the course of the game. He continued slamming the goal-post again and
again. The captain was at his superlative best at his final appearance,
shooting six of the eight goals against Germany in the last match.
after he retired “Dada” as he was fondly called was invited to play in Afghanistan during the country’s Independence celebrations. King Zahir Shah did him the honour of
a get-together at tea. On the journey back homewards, Dhyan
Chand’s admirers Pakistanis including his former
team-mates jam-packed the stations wherever the Frontier Mail with the All
India Dhyan Chand XI
halted. All the platform tickets were sold out at Lahore where admirers gathered to
have a glimpse of the great player. His carriage was loaded with food and
world wide fame, in Austria, the Viennese were so much moved
with the magical prowess of the supreme that a statue was built there depicting
him with four hands holding four sticks.
Dhyan Chand was conferred Padma Bhushan in 1956. A hockey
stadium in Lucknow was named after him. The great
wizard had the satisfaction of seeing his son Ashok
Kumar play as an international donning the national colours.
Disclaimer : The views expressed by the
author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the
views of PIB