Former India hockey player Raghbir Bhola passes away

Bhola, who played as a left winger for India has also worked as a FIH international umpire, TV Commentator, government observer at the Olympics

File Photo: R.S. Bhola played for India in the 1956 Melbourne, and 1960 Rome Olympics besides touring Singapore and Malaysia in 1954 and Europe in 1959.

Hockey Olympian and former India selector Group Captain Raghbir Singh Bhola passed away in his sleep at his residence here on Monday. He was 92.

Bhola was a member of the Indian team at two Olympics — 1956 and 1960 — winning gold and silver respectively. The Indian Air Force veteran, born in Multan in Pakistan on August 21 1927, completed his studies from the Delhi College of Engineering and joined IAF as an aeronautical engineer in 1952. He was part of the national championship winning Services side in 1953, the first time ever, and made his India debut in 1954.

He was also selected by the IAF for a two-year post graduation course in Electrical Engineering at the College of Aeronautics, Cranfield University, UK In 1962 and retired from the IAF in 1978. Bhola was awarded the Arjuna for Lifetime Contribution in 2000

Bhola was also one of the few former India players to continue their association with hockey after their playing days in several capacities. He was a national selector in the erstwhile Indian Hockey Federation regime for almost nine years, was inducted as an international umpire by the FIH for five years, was appointed manager of the Indian team on several international tours and was the government observer till the late 90s, including the 1994 World Cup and the 1998 Asian Games.

Even till the late 2000s, Bhola kept himself abreast of the developments in hockey, including attending seminars and workshops at his own expense before poor health forced him to withdraw. He is survived by his wife Kamla, three daughters and three grandsons.