Happy days are here again for Indian hockey
boon for sports
Happy days are here again for Indian hockey
What a splendid run it has been! Indian hockey never had it so good for the last two decades or so. The bleating lambs have suddenly turned roaring tigers. The entire hockey fraternity is upbeat with a renewed vitality. So much so that of late, the cricket craze and the hockey rage are running abreast. It is not that we have achieved the ultimate. The World Cup, an Olympic gold or the Champions Trophy have remained elusive to us for quite a long time now. But yes, this latest acquired awesome capability by India to demolish any opposition is unbelievable. The Indian hockey team for sure has made it to the elite top notch teams like Netherlands, Germany, Australia, South Korea, England and Pakistan. We no more are jittery jumble when we take on strong opposition. This is not to suggest that we are head and shoulders above these hockey playing giants. Again, it will be a sheer folly to expect podium finishes every time this team competes in the premier tournaments and also that there are no reverses in store for us in the future.But of course, it can safely be assumed that henceforth, we will not be conceding our matches meekly. This rejuvenated squad is formidable enough to fight it out. Or in other words, to be moderate, this squad can now beat the best teams in the business quite often. It has all the ingredients to withstand the fierceness to toughest of encounters. India’s incredible showing in some of the major meets abroad during the last few months with some impressive victories over mighty opponents has fetched us glory and some prestigious titles also fell into our kitty. Tournament wins at Hamburg and Sydney, where we had to rub shoulders with some strong teams, have lifted our morale leaps and bounds. But our most euphoric triumphs were undoubtedly at the Asia Cup in Kuala Lumpur and AAG at Hyderabad, where we convincingly drubbed, Pakistan in both the finals.
But in the warmth of exultation, one cannot numerous shortcomings which we still have to overcome to become undisputed champions. While most of the drawbacks can be taken care of in a phased manner over a length of time, the most conspicuous of them is conceding goals in the dying minutes of the game. We repeatedly landed in this trance but did precious little to break this vicious hoodoo. It all began with the Sydney Olympics-2000 when Poland scored against us in the penultimate minute of the match to force a 1-1 draw thus depriving us of the semi-final berth. We continued to be plagued by such dismal display time and again. But our most agonising moments were in the lung-opener against Holland at the Champions Trophy in Amstelveen, where again, after cruising along merrily with a 3-0 lead till 62nd minute. Holland pumped in four goals in a row in the last eight minutes to inflict an ignonimious defeat on us. Our stamina to last seventy minutes if had become suspect in the eyes of the critics. But as of now, it is a matter of satisfaction that we have to a great extent got rid of this scourge. On the contrary, we are frequently scoring goals in the last 5-7 minutes of the play and on a good number of occasions, after trailing for the better part of the game, have turned the tables on our rivals.
After all what is it that has brought about this marked change in the fortunes of Indian hockey? Well, as the saying goes — nothing succeeds like success. Apart from some spectacular wins against top teams of the world, a string of resounding victories against Pakistan in a short span has drastically changed the mindsets of our countrymen. Millions of hockey lovers at homes and on the field have sprung up from nowhere. Most of them know the composition of the team. With an intense sense of belonging, they have promptly learnt the subtleties of the game. Every goal scored for or against is being hotly discussed in the right perspective. One more heartening feature is that names like Jugraj Singh, Pillay, Gagan Ajit, Prabhjot, Sandeep Michael and Dilip Tirkey are on the lips of hockey enthusiasts. This enormous response to the heroics of our players from the millions of appreciative hockey fans has transformed the whole scenario.
The instantaneous jubilation spilling over to the bazars and streets from houses and restaurants never sounded so sweet. Elders, children and even naive women remain glued to their TV sets. Students at schools and colleges have started playing truant. Government offices and private establishments have begun to look deserted due to hockey fixtures which was limited to cricket only until recently.
The super cop of yesteryear, K.P.S.Gill has amply demonstrated his prowess. As the Indian Hockey Federation chief, he has infused confidence from top to bottom. And the job accomplished by the chief coach Rajinder Singh and his deputy Baldev Singh is simply marvellous. In fact, this duo has emerged as the spearhead of our resurgence. Their meticulous planning, shrewd strategies and innovative tips have synergised into this ebullient team. Rajinder Singh in particular is cool as ice. His steely nerves, calm and composed postures in the hopelessly adverse situations on the edge of the ground are his most precious assets. His fortitude is marshalling his troops in the worst of the situations is stupendous. Our distinct subcontinental style of play always had those dazzling dribbles, body swerves and rhythmic sprints. But the latest reinforcement with absorbing tumbles, robust slides and sturdy tackles have provided the team that incisive edge over others. It goes without saying that this is all courtesy Rajinder Singh.
We always had great magic weavers of
the stature of Pargat Singh, Mohammad Shahid, Zaffar Iqbal, Somayya,
Baskaran, Mukesh and many more of their ilk who rendered yeoman’s
service to Indian hockey. But unfortunately, they donned India colours
at different times, spread over last 20 years. All these years, we were
undoubtedly at the receiving end as their innate skills did not serve
our cause at all. Such individualistic talent could never make the
desired impact on the whole lot as they could never come together in the
same squad. It is at present that the team has clicked as a well-knit,
fighting-fit outfit. It seldom happens that a bunch of such vastly
talented players make such a squad where individual brilliance of every
single player regiments into this kind of force. The most pleading sight
about this squad is that every player regiments into this kind of force.
The most pleasing sight about this squad is that every player chips in
one way or the other like a well-oiled machine. It hardly matters as to
who provides that final touch to push the ball into the rival goal.
Quite recently, one must have witnessed many such goals where all the
spadework was done by our deep defence, foraying right into the rival
circle but in the final analysis the goal scored was credited to one of
our forwards! Today India can easily field two equally strong teams as
we have about two dozen highly illustrious lads, who can easily make it
to the playing eleven. The show must continue. We are not far from
extending our supremacy to the international arena. Athens Olympics
should be a good hunting ground for us!
boon for sports
The district headquarters of Sangrur, bordering Haryana today can legitimately boast of some good swimming pools, including the indoor swimming pool at the General Gurnam Singh Public School thanks to the efforts of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Sarvjit Singh, who is himself a national-level swimmer and has shown keen interest in improving facilities for budding swimmers.
The existing 50-metre pool at the War Heroes Stadium has been renovated at a cost of Rs 31 lakh. The filtration plant is being installed and will be operational soon. The indoor swimming pool at the General Gurnam Singh School has been built at a cost of Rs 30 lakh. The historic town of Malerkotla, a subdivision of Sangrur, will also have another indoor swimming pool which is likely to cost Rs 32 lakh which will be in addition to a small pool at the Malerkotla Club. Barnala, another subdivision of Sangrur, also has a 25-metre swimming pool.
With swimmers of Sangrur already proving their potential at every meet, things are likely to improve tremendously with all this infrastructure coming up at various places in the district. The General Gurnam Singh Public School won maximum medals in the CBSE swimming meet and Mani Karan of the same school won a medal in the national subjunior meet held recently. Sangrur also did well in the state-level subjunior and junior meets and in the state school competition.
Badminton is another popular game in Sangrur, especially in Malerkotla subdivision. A new hall of international standard with two wooden courts has been constructed at a cost of Rs 18.50 lakh. The Indira Gandhi Stadium at Dhuri where another hall has been built was till recently frequented by stray animals. It has now undergone a transformation. Besides the badminton courts, there is a sufficient space for placing four table tennis tables and a room for installing a multi-gym. Proper bathroom and toilets are in existence.
Another subdivision of Sangrur is Sunam
which has produced an international athlete, Sunita Rani (Gold Medal
winner at the Busan Asian Games) and many boxers of international
repute. Sunam has an indoor hall for boxing and badminton which was in
bad shape till renovation started some time ago. In a month or so the
hall will have two badminton courts and one boxing ring with all modern