Our national sport is getting back its worth, love and value. With a young brigade and a successful coach, Indian hockey has regained its importance all over the world. Stunning teams like Australia, the Indian hockey team seems unstoppable. The magical performances of our players are not just limited to the movie screens with movies like Chak De India. It is a reality now – Indian hockey has big plans.
This month saw our Indian hockey team emerge victorious over Australia, considered the top-ranked team. An emphatic 3-1 triumph over the kookaburras in the hockey series at Perth on November 9 proved to be a booster right before the Champions trophy to be held in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha, from December 6.
In the four-match field hockey series, India defeated the World Cup champions on their home soil for the third time. The first match was on the Oz side as they won it 4-0. In the next three matches, the Indian team bounced back with a score line of 2-1, 1-0 and 3-1, respectively. An incredible show by player Akashdeep Singh with two goals besides SK Uthappa with one goal, in the fourth and final Test helped India win the title of the series. On the other hand, the only goal from the Asutralian side was scored by Tom Craig.
India’s historic win was the first to beat Australia in a bilateral series. In total, India and Australia have played five Test series in which Australia won three times and the fourth match ended in a draw. It was also special for Captain Sardar Singh as he played his 200th international match at Perth. After this loss, Australians plan to clinch the Champions Trophy and revenging the Indians. Indians too have set their eyes on the Champions Trophy title. Clarifying the defeat, Australia’s coach, Graham Reid said that their team spent only five days together and this series was only to provide them practice and experience.
Coaches Graham Reid and Terry Walsh
The four-match series was an experience for both the Indian and Australian team ahead of the Champions trophy to be held next month. Termed as a practice match for the players, the Australian side had players from the World Cup troop as well as six players who have appeared in almost 100 international matches. Though the Aussies five main players – Jamie Dwyer, Mark Knowles, Joel Carroll, Kieran Govers and Matthew Butturini – will not be playing the Champions trophy this year due to injuries, Coach Graham Reid plans something special for the World Cup and Commonwealth Games winners. Reid has long-term targets set on 2016 Rio Olympics.
Indian coach Terry Walsh had been making headlines due to various reasons and his resignation was indeed disturbing news. But the coach didn’t let all of this affects his team and its performance. Walsh did not shy away from experimenting the players and combinations on field. Captain Sardar Singh was given rest in one match and returned the next day. Goalkeeper PR Sreejesh showcased great goalkeeping skills. The Australians tried to give a good fight to the Indian side but it was Terry Walsh’s side that had an upper hand.
As India emerged victorious 3-1 over Australia in the four-match series, Indian team players cleared that it wasn’t easy to beat the World Cup winners. According to forward player SV Sunil, Australia wasn’t a feeble team and it was a great accomplishment to beat such a team and that too on their home soil. The players agreed that Indian fans must be thinking that the Indian hockey team succeeded in beating the Australian side by playing a second-tier team with junior players. The Indian hockey team men do not look distressed over such comments as they agree that there is still time to make a positive image of Indian hockey in all Indian hearts.
Young blood in Indian team
Sunil, Indian forward player, worked really very hard and it paid off as he scored a very important equalizer goal in the second match against the kookaburras. Stability, velocity, counter-attacks, brain-strength are all aspects that the Indian side has worked upon. With the young blood in our Indian hockey team, the national sport seems to be flourishing.
As the triumphant Indian Men’s hockey team arrived at the airport on home soil, everything looked normal. There was no grand welcome for the ones who conquered the World Cup winners. Love and respect for the game and players should not only be limited to social networking sites. The team should have been received well with pride and warmth. Why only limit our wishes to Facebook and Twitter? The authorities as well as the fans should acknowledge this shortcoming. Our Indian hockey team beat a powerful Australian side and delighted the Indian fans. But the Sardar Singh-led team received a very unenthusiastic reception at the airport.
To boost the morale of our players, we need to honour our heroes on their success. After all it’s our national sport and they have just qualified directly for the 2016 Rio Olympics! Don’t they deserve some importance and acknowledgement? Just like this incident where the stars of Indian hockey weren’t received with pride, the women’s hockey team too wasn’t talked about on winning a bronze medal in the Incheon Games.
With the positive performances of the Indian hockey team, there is no doubt that Indian hockey will rise eventually and bring several accolades. So let’s know our national sport a bit better and begin the quest towards making Indian hockey popular – not just on social networking sites!