Tuesday, 8 December 2015

A triumph after 33 long years


India won the bronze medal at the 
2014-15 FIH World Hockey league


India recently beat South Africa 3-0 in the test series. I think it is an amazing achievement and deserves all the applause showered by the people. An ever bigger achievement probably was India's bronze medal at the FIH World hockey league last week. 

Everyone knows Indian hockey is no longer what it was 3-4 decades ago. India has never been the same especially after the synthetic turfs were introduced around the early 80's. That is when our last medal came at a world level event, when India beat Pakistan to clinch the bronze at the Champions trophy 1982. And after 33 years, we finally overcame the draught. 

That itself speaks volumes of this triumph in Raipur. Imagine, none of the current players were even born when India won its last world level event! 

THE JOURNEY

The world hockey league has a complicated round robin format. Simply put, 56 teams competed in the 2014-15 edition. The top 8 teams get a bye to the semi final round while others qualify by playing round 1 and then round 2. The final round consists of 7 teams qualifying from the semi final round and one host nation (India) making up the 8th. These teams are divided into 2 pools and based on their standings after round robin matches, the quarter final (knockout) line-up is formed.

India did not have a great round robin, where it lost 2 matches and drew one. But tides turned in the knockouts dramatically. India beat the United Kingdom in the quarters 2-1. Inspite of an inspired performance in the semis, India lost narrowly to Belgium 0-1. But in a dramatic 3rd place match, India stunned the world no. 2 Netherlands 3-2 in the penalties (after a 5-5 scoreline) to clinch the bronze


Rupinder Pal Singh(left) after equalising, making the score 2-2.
He had a horrendous game initially but made amends
by scoring this goal. He also scored the final goal in the
 shootout to become an unlikely hero eventually.

THE WAY FORWARD

I think a victory like this is always a great morale booster for any team. Next up in 2016 is the Sultan Azlan Shah cup, the Champions trophy and then the Rio Olympics (for which India have already qualified by winning the 2014 Asia cup). 
I also think it will help our team go a long way if people at least appreciate and make the players feel that they have done India proud. We only need to be a little more aware. We pounce at the opportunity to criticise when India fail to get any medals at the Olympics. I think if we want to criticise, we also must appreciate their efforts when they achieve something. 


A little trivia for the readers.
The second to the left is Sardara Singh.
He is the captain of the Indian hockey team.

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