29th August, The national sports day
The 29th August of each year is observed as ‘Indian National Sports Day’ throughout India since 1995 to celebrate the birth anniversary of Major Dhyan Chand, the legendary hockey player of yesteryears who wielded his willow as a magician of rare caliber performing the impossible with his magic wand. The decision to this effect was taken by the government of India in 1994 to December and implementation was done the next year on Chand’s birth anniversary.
Padma Bhushan Major Dhyan Chand:
Padma Bhushan Major Dhyan Chand was born on the 29th August 1905 in a lower middle class family in Allahabad. In 1922, he joined the Indian Army and practiced hockey in his own unit under Brahmin regiment of services. Subedar major Bale Tewary, a good hockey player himself who was in good terms with the British army officials, could spot the talent and promise of Dhyan Chand and tutored him the finesse of the game. Initially, the game of Dhyan Chand was characterized by selfishness as he was an excellent dribbler, seldom passing on the ball to others for better results. Major Tewary transformed his selfish game into a passing game which created effective openings for conversion into goals.
Dhyan Chand took the suggestion of Major Tewary seriously and practiced accordingly with excellent results. Once during watching of a hockey match with his father from the spectators’ gallery, he saw a side trailing by two goals. He told his father that, given an opportunity to play with the losing team, he would have made them winners. One British official who was also present as a spectator, give him chance to play with the losing team and surprisingly, the losing team won with four-goal difference.
From Dhyan Singh to Dhyan Chand:
Pankaj Gupta was the second coach of Major Dhyan Chand as he spotted him playing hockey with a piece of stick on the open field in the moonlight. Dhyan Chand was named as Dhyan Chand by Pankaj Gupta. Gupta was so much excited at the single-minded devotion of Dhyan Singh that he was sanguine that Dhyan Chand would shine in the hockey firmament as the moon in the sky. His statement became prophetic and his rename became literal. Hard labor, concentration and time management made him towards perfection centimeter by centimeter.
Dhyan Chand as center forward:
Dhyan Chand’s first major success was championing his regiment in the inter services hockey tournament at Delhi while captaining the team. Everybody was spell-bound with his artistry and finesse. However, his game was confined to inter services and intra services tournaments held between 1922 to 1926.Dhyan Chand was a member in the 1926 Indian hockey team’s tour of News Zealand. India played 21 matches there, winning 18, drawing two and losing one. Altogether 216 goals were scored in the tournament of which India scored 192 and conceded 24 goals. This tournament launched Dhyan Chnad as a center forward in a big way and he found a permanent place in the Indian team in that position.
Three Olympic gold medals:
Dhyan Chand made his debut in 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. His powerful display saw India winning nine out of11 matches, drawing one and losing another. India scored 72 goals in the tournament conceding 18 goals in the process. The English media nick named him as the ‘hockey wizard’. India won the gold in the final defeating Holland 3-0 with Dhyan Chand scoring a couple. So, the golden years of Indian Hockey began. With Dhyan Chand’s contribution, India, also won gold medals in 1932 and 1936 Olympics.
Major Dhyan Chand breathed his last on the third of December 1979 at Jhansi. It is an irony of fate that his last few years were spent in financial distress without any support from any quarters. The government of India introduced a life-time achievement award known as Dhyan Chand Award after his death in addition to the existing Arjun Award, Dronacharya Award, Rajiv Gandhi Khelratna Award and Tenzing Norgey Award. But it would have been different if he were honored, awarded and rewarded during his lifetime.
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