On the occasion on National Sports Day, let’s remember the maverick Major Dhyan Chand who was a beacon of hope and changed the way we see sports in our nation today. He was popularly known as ‘The Magician Of Hockey’ & ‘The Wizard for his uncanny hockey talents.
Today we celebrate 114th birth anniversary of one of the greatest hockey players in the history of the sport, Dhyan Chand was born on August 29, 1905. He created history through his goal-scoring ability and went on to won three Olympic gold medals in 1928, 1932 and 1936 respectively. The Hockey legend has been bestowed by the Government of India awarded Chand India’s third highest civilian honour of Padma Bhushan in 1956. To honour his stature and numerous records his birthday is celebrated as National Sports Day in India every year.
He was born to mother Sharadha Singh and father Sameshwar Singh. His father was in the British Indian Army, and he also played hockey in the army. At the 16 years of age, he joined the Indian Army as Sepoy. His friend’s ha nicknamed him ‘Chand’ as he used to practice hockey before dusk under the moonlight. If reports are believed Hockey authorities in the Netherlands once broke Indian hockey legend Dhyan Chand’s hockey stick to check if there was a magnet inside.
Dhyan Chand had outrageous skills on the field and his natural ability to find the back of the net which was unmatched. This led him to his selection in the Indian Army team at the age of 20 and was part of the New Zealand tour in 1926, the team won 18 out of 21 matches out of which drew two and lost one. This led to Dhyan Chand Ji to be promoted to the rank of Lance Naik on his coming back to India.
The Wizard played army hockey tournaments and regimental games between 1922 and 1926. He made his debut with the Indian national hockey team made on 17th May 1928 his Olympic debut against Austria, winning 6–0, in which Chand scored 3 goals. Dhyan Chand scored the most number of goals at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics and a total tally of 14 goals.
At the Los Angeles Olympics, Chand played alongside with his brother Roop and went to score 25 out of the 35 goals by India. During the Berlin Olympics, Chand once again was selected without formalities. Chand top-scored with 3 goals, Dara scored 2 and Roop Singh, Tapsell and Jaffar one each to defeat Germany in the finals for 8-1.
The match was attended by the top brass of Nazi officials such as Hermann Goering, Joseph Goebbels, and Adolf Hitler came to support their ‘superior Aryan team’ against defending champions India. Hitler, it is believed, was so upset that he left the stadium even before the match came to the closure. Post seeing his performance Adolf Hitler himself offered Dhyan Chand the citizenship of Germany along with a post of Field Marshal in German Army, which he refused.
The legendary cricketer Don Bradman had fondly remembered watching Dhyan Chand play in 1935 and was quoted saying that, “He scores goals like runs in cricket.” Olympian and former Indian field hockey player hockey Zafar Iqbal tells ThePrint, “He was an exceptionally humble man. I met with him twice in the Indian Airlines colony in 1978 as he stayed with his son Ashok. Dhyan Chand was such a grounded person that once we traveled together to his ancestral home in Jhansi in the 3rd class of railways and we were standing during most of the journey as there was no space in the unreserved coaches.”
He scored over 400 goals in his career, from 1926 to 1948 and retired from the army at the age of 51 in 1956. He held the rank of Major at the time of his retirement. Chand’s autobiography, Goal!, was published by Sport & Pastime, Madras in 1952.
But the sad part is that this legendary personality is getting lost in the history books and it’s up to us to keep him relevant and share his stories among the next generation. One question which I bother me a lot that we in India say we are sports-loving nation but we don’t watch all the sorts and only one bias towards one sport. Also if our team loses we start abusing the players instead we should support them and wholeheartedly.
But the sad part is that this legendary personality is getting lost in the history books and it’s up to us to keep him relevant and share his stories among the next generation.
One question which I bother me a lot that we in India say we are sports-loving nation but we don’t watch all the sorts and only one bias towards one sport. Also if our team loses we start abusing the players instead we should support them and wholeheartedly.