Stumped as I am to pitch upon the appropriate epithet to describe my feelings towards the momentous victory of India over the formidable opponent Germany in the bronze medal match at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, I am overwhelmed that after 41 years of anxious waiting, the Indian hockey team will be decorating itself with a medal.
The dedication and determination of these boys have drawn us out of those dark days where Indian hockey struggled to cope with the swift movements of European teams.
The credit for this transformation should go to the Australian coach, Graham Reid, who has ensured that this team goes toe-to-toe with any opposition it meets, matching their pace, precision and panache and then outrunning and outmaneuvering them in key positions of the pitch.
A 5-4 scoreline against four-time Olympic champion Germany – a European pioneer of the total game with a hefty mix of Deutsch brawn thrown in – is the ideal illustration of the progress made by India.
Manpreet Singh and his men have defeated three European teams in Germany, Great Britain and Spain, playing such total hockey where their intensity and tempo have overawed their opponents. While moving up or dropping deep to neutralise attacks on their citadel, the Indians have moved in cohesion, invariably outnumbering their opponents.
This win is Indian hockey’s revival story, it’s the story of India adapting to and mastering the modern style of the game. The players and the support team have done their part and now it’s the duty of the country to show this sport the love it deserves.
Hockey needs money, hockey needs attention and hockey needs nurseries. Nurseries in every corner, the revival of the traditional tournaments, and the resurrection of the sport in lands it once dominated, before ceding the space to cricket.
August 5, 2021 will be forever etched in the history of Indian hockey and like any other fan of this sport in this nation, I am not able to keep my emotions in check. It is the right reward for all of us, for all those years of heartbreak.
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