Bhubaneswar, India – The glimmer of hope we saw when India’s men’s field hockey team beat Germany en route to the bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was short-lived.
The enthusiasm and excitement that host India had when it entered this year’s FIH Hockey World Cup was extinguished when it lost 5-4 to New Zealand on 22 January.World No. 6 India finishes below average 9th Tie with Argentina overall.
The sending off is the latest in a series of blows to the winning domestic sport. 8 olympic gold From 1928 to 1980 (six times between 1928 and 1956), he holds the overall record for best Olympic performance with 83 wins in 134 matches.
After the disappointing World Cup results, hockey commentators and enthusiasts have noted poor player performance and political issues related to the game.
No Indian team has reached the semi-finals since the last World Cup 1975 Tournament Winnerfailed to qualify for the 2008 Olympics. Hosts India failed to reach the quarter-finals this year after being eliminated in the quarter-finals of the 2018 Men’s Hockey World Cup, which was won by Belgium.
“We are concerned about the future of the team and are looking to address the issues and concerns of the 2024 Paris Olympics and the Asian Games, which are the qualifiers for the Olympic Games this year,” said the former captain. was news agency in india“The main concerns right now are the limited exposure of the team and the lack of practice in open tournaments, which could help improve the game.”
He said the team had failed to secure one of its supposed strengths – scoring from penalties. The team, led by captain Harmanpreet Singh, criticized Poor penalty corner conversions (5 out of 26), inconsistent performances, losing the ball at crucial moments, weak defense, etc. His two keys in midfielder Hardyk his Singh and goalkeeper his PR Three Jesh Injuries to his players did not help.
The southeastern Indian state of Orissa has produced top hockey players such as Dilip and Pravod Tilky and has hosted two World Cups in a row. But while the state is touted as the home of hockey, it still lags far behind other countries when it comes to world-class infrastructure.
Game experts say one of the main reasons for the decline of hockey in India is the limited number of synthetic pitches in the country.Although the number has increased 40 across India, including 17 in Orissa, over the past few years the number of these pitches is much lower compared to European countries. The rise of artificial turf has put Indians at a disadvantage because they mainly play and grow on grass. Orissa plans to lay at least 24 more artificial grass pitches over the next few years, but some experts believe this is still not enough.
“The game has changed since the introduction of synthetic turf in the 1970s,” says Sandeep Mishra, a senior sports journalist from Orissa. “Speed, strength and stamina are important, skill is not. By the final quarter, players appear fatigued and can no longer maintain tempo. The game is played on grass and skill is the determining factor. India was dominating the world of hockey when it was 1999. We couldn’t build enough artificial grass pitches in our country.Our players usually started their careers on turf and later moved on. will be introduced to artificial turf at
The state government introduced a school hockey program in April. In this program, one school in each of the 30 districts has a hockey club with 25 to 30 members. These clubs play district-level hockey games every Sunday. Most districts also have a sports academy that recruits students from the village and trains them in sports. Despite these efforts, ground level infrastructure is still lacking compared to other countries.
“The average lifespan of a stadium is 8 to 10 years, but the lifespan of our academy dates back to 2007. “It is in poor condition. Some of these girls are playing at state and national level.How can they train on this turf?Amit Lohidas, the vice-captain of the Indian team also trained at this academy .”
The Orissa government has invested heavily in building stadiums, sponsoring men’s and women’s national teams, and co-owning hockey clubs, but Mishra said the country wanted to expose its players to a more competitive game. It is said that there is a need.
“We practice more and play less,” Mishra said. and top players stay in camps, unable to attract sponsors and spectators At least an optimal number of national and international competitions will improve performance and create a larger talent pool I think it will.”
Some experts lament the frequent changes in the coaching staff and debate whether foreign coaches have helped the game in India. Some say it has been ignored in favor of a more European style of hockey taught by foreign coaches.
“European-style hockey is like playing carrom, with more power and more hitting. You need power,” said veteran sports journalist Chandrashekhar Luthra. “[It’s] Best suited for our physique. So we are losing power there. These Western coaches also teach theoretical strategies that are difficult for players from small villages to understand. Having a translator is not the same. “
According to Mishra, a balanced coach can make or break a player and a game.
“It’s most important to choose a coach who understands not just the game, but the players, their minds, their abilities and skills, and their intelligence and background,” he said. A reasonable tenure must be given for this to happen.In India, coaches are constantly blamed for poor team performance and are frequently fired.”
Graeme Reed, an Australian who helped his team win a bronze medal at the Olympics after failing at this year’s World Cup, resigned as an Indian coach. This leads to another round to find a coach to bring the team to the Asian Games.
fail to restore the public interest
Questions have been raised as to whether continued investment in hockey, once considered India’s national sport, has paid off.Odisha spent $8.2 million to host the 2018 World Cup.numbers spent on The 2023 World Cup was many times more expensive at $130 millionThis included the funds spent on building the largest all-seat field hockey stadium in Roukela, Orissa.
However, some argue that the doubling of efforts by the state of Orissa to boost hockey has made the sport a state-centric sport.
“Hockey was a highly respected and beloved national sport until the late 90s, but politics and personal rivalries forced the game to move to Orissa,” said Luthra. “The move made the game too regional and state-centric as sponsors, mostly public sector businesses, started going to Odisha.”
This trend has led to hockey being perceived as a regional and state game, with less scrutiny on the game and players, he said.
“The Indian hockey team, which was once the top of the game, is now not even a powerhouse in Asia because there are no domestic leagues or academies anymore,” he said.