By: Dr. Arif Mohammad, Associate Editor-ICN
Dhyan Chand is the name which is known by every sports loving person in and around the country. He was born on 29th August 1905. The sports fraternity of India celebrated National Sports Day on this day to celebrate one of the finest field hockey player’s birth anniversary.
The great Dhyan Chand who was a force to reckon with his dazzling stick work, played as Centre-forward for the county. Dhyan Chand’s fabulous performances in the Olympics earned him the title of “Wizard”.
He represented India in three consecutive Olympic Games in 1928 Amsterdam, 1932 Los Angles and 1936 Berlin. He was known for his extraordinary goal-scoring feats. In addition to earning three Olympic gold medals, his influence extended beyond these victories, as India won the field hockey event in seven out of eight Olympics from 1928 to 1964. It is believed that after India defeated Germany in the 1936 Berlin Olympics final by 8-1, Adolf Hitler offered him a senior post in the German Army, to which Dhyan Chand refused.
(A “Hail Hitler” salute for the Indian team that arrived in Berlin during the Nazi regime. Dhyan Chand is in dark overcoat along with other team members)
This era become known as Dhyan Chand Era. Hockey during Dhyan Chand Era was something unique, pleasant to watch and very absorbing. The reason being that each player was devoted to the game. Hockey was their religion. They devoted hours together individually to master the classic strokes, rhythmic movements automatically followed. Skill, speed, adroit passings, body-swerves and unselfishness are the five essential ingredients of the Dhyan Chand school of Hockey which is unsurpassable as spectacle.
Dhyan Chand was the inventor of the famous ‘doublings dribbling’, which means he could fool and dribble past a host of opponents on either side. Inspite of such wonderful qualities, he was never seen carrying the ball himself unnecessarily. He had a unique art of passing the ball in the direction of either corner flag for his wingers (right-out/left-out), from his own half, with three touches of three ball, in this manner he scored many goals. It is important to note here that the present players should realise the importance of passing the ball in the direction of corner flag from their own half instead of carrying the ball selfishly.
Due to Dhyan Chand who was a supreme player of his own caliber, India won three Olympics before independence. And a Sydney (Australia) sporting writer described in his writings that the “Dhyan Chand is slightly build, but is tremendously active and has the born leader’s ability to figure out a situation long before it eventuates. He has the eye of a hawk and the speed of a grey-hound. He showed us how to go clean through a mass of opponents in their circle, not by hitting like one possessed, but weaving the ball through and guarding it by turning his stick from side to side”.
The secret of Dhyan Chand’s greatness lay in making the game look easy. He employed the minimum of perspiration and the maximum of inspiration. Without any apparent effort or strain, he managed to achieve matchless results. Dhyan Chand was correctly referred as Juggler, Magician, Wizard. Whatever he was called, there was no doubt this slightly built Hockey genius was a great among players.
In his autobiography ‘Goal’ he documented that he played international matches from 1926 to 1949 and scored 570 goals in 185 matches.
Dhyan Chand died on 3rd December 1979 one year before India won its eighth Olympic gold medal in field hockey. Since then, the Indian team has been a pale shadow of the glory years and to some extent have resembled a tragedy when compared with their illustrious past.
The Government of India awarded Dhyan Chand India’s third highest civilian honour of Padma Bhushan in 1956. Though he was felicitated with Padma Bhushan, Dhyan Chand couldn’t get the Bharat Ratna. On June 7, 2017, former Union Sports Minister Vijay Goel had written to the Prime Ministers’ Office requesting the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian honor, to be awarded to hockey legend Dhyan Chand. But still he is not awarded Bharat Ratna, here we could again request to Indian Government to award Dhyan Chand with Bharat Ratna which could be a real tribute to him.
(Source: Modern hockey and the rules by Gian Singh and Kuku Walia)