India losing to Australia
India's Hockey Olympic campaign was dented after a loss at the hands Australians.

“Hockey”, India’s national sport has always been in the limelight. Be it the eminent legends like Major Dhyan Chand, Roop Singh, Udham Singh, Dhanraj Pillay, or in today’s date Sardar Singh and Sandeep Singh, hockey has always produced world-class athletes for the nation. But have we ever wondered that how drastically a mighty Indian Hockey Team which was winning gold medals on the trot in the Olympics became a team struggling to qualify in the top 8? What led to this sudden downfall?  

Conversion from grass to Astroturf: – 

From the year 1975 onwards the International Hockey Federation came to a decision of playing all the international games on an AstroTurf. This turf replaced the conventional grass that was initially present on the field. And consequently, the downfall of Asian Hockey began. India and Pakistan, two teams which were the Kings of Dribbling on grass that provided better grip struggled to meet the requirements of the turfs. Since these federations were relatively poor constructing local Astroturfs on a large scale and maintaining them for players to practice was relatively difficult. The 1976 Montreal Olympics was the first major global event where turfs were introduced, and the immediate outcome was poor results. However, this could have been avoided if the Asian federations would have protested this change. Also, if a sport like a tennis can be played on multiple fields like clay, grass, and turf, why not hockey? 

One of the greatest squad in the history of Indian Hockey

Lack of support from the government bodies: – 

With the Indian men’s hockey team getting thrashed 7-1 to the ever-dominant Aussies in the game a thought just always crosses my mind that are we really supporting hockey as much as required. Back in the day, hockey was the only sport that gave us hope of representation of our talent at the World Stage and hence the game was massively backed by the people. Do we have the infrastructure that the sport requires? Are there World-Class coaches in our country? Is the domestic hockey circuit well structured? Are hockey scouts able to find the talent that is needed for the hour? These are a few questions that we as a country need to ponder upon. 

Lack of inspiration: – 

For a young generation to take up a sport seriously a beacon light is required!! If it was not for Sachin Tendulkar who would inspire Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. If it was not for Zaheer Khan who would inspire Jasprit Bumrah. This analogy is more than applicable for hockey. For a sport to grow, you need players who inspire the young crop. After Dhanaraj Pillay’s retirement, India has only established a few names who can be considered as the most elite players in the world. 

To wind up this article, I would say that although there are a few lapses in management and development of the sport, there is always room for improvement. If immediate steps are taken and hockey is made the spotlight of India the drowning boat of Indian hockey can be mended within a short span.