Hockey is our national game. It is played throughout the country. It is not a costly game so even the poor students can play hockey. A hockey stick and a ball is all that one needs to play hockey. Our country has been the world champion in this game for a number of years. Even now India is one of the world’s strongest hockey teams. The world admires our country for its excellence in this game.
Hockey is a game which is full of action and suspense. The players continue running with the ball and try to pass it on to one or the other player of their team so as to score a goal. Each team has eleven players including the goalkeeper. This game is played so fast that all the players keep on running all the time. This game calls for a high standard of physical fitness, mental alertness and team spirit. By constant practice, players can achieve a high degree of mobility and maneuverability and become experts in this game. India has produced first-class hockey players. Dhyan Chand was known as the hockey wizard. He achieved worldwide fame. Some sports critics feel that the standard of Indian hockey is on the wane.
As early as in 1928, India had become the world champion in hockey by winning the gold medal in the Amsterdam Olympic Games. India lost the gold medal in hockey for the first time in the Rome Olympics. It was still one of the first three teams in hockey. The Indian Hockey team was so badly mauled in the Montreal Olympics that it was relegated to the seventh position. Indian hockey was able to regain its lost position by winning a gold medal at the 1980 Moscow Olympics. We have not won a single medal since 1980 at the Olympics. We have not had medals in World Cup either. However, we won the Asian Cup at Kuala Lumpur in 2003.
Hockey is my favourite game. Whenever a hockey match is played in Delhi, I invariably make it a point to see it. Last Sunday I saw a hockey match which was played between our school team and the team of Model Higher Secondary School. Both the teams were evenly matched. A number of students had come to witness the match between the two leading school teams of Delhi.
At 3.45 p.m. sharp, the players of both the teams assembled in the playground. Mr. Yashpal of Model School was already present in the playground. He was the referee for this match. He is reputed for his impartial decisions. The players of our school were wearing green shirts. The players of the Model Higher Secondary School had come in red shirts. Every player was holding a hockey stick in his hand.
As soon as the referee blew the whistle, the game started. The spectators clapped. The game was slow initially for the first few minutes but gained momentum soon. The ball was moving very fast between the players of the two teams. The eyes of the spectators were set on the ball. They were watching every action and move of the players with interest.
During the first 30 minutes of the game, neither side could score any goal. Both the teams became very impatient. They now started playing the game more resolutely. They became aggressive in their moves. Each side was trying its level best to score a goal. Though the Model School team had been dominating the field, yet it could not score a goal because the defenders of our school team were equally strong.
However, just before the interval, Mr. Manish, the captain of our school team succeeded in scoring the first goal of the match. The spectators hailed this achievement by clapping. The players of our team embraced Mr. Manish to express their happiness.
After the interval was over, the two teams started playing the game with greater enthusiasm. With one goal already scored, the players of our team were full of confidence and were dominating the field. But suddenly, Mr. Rakesh of Model School was able to convert one penalty stroke into a goal. Now both the teams had scored one goal each. The spectators apprehended that the match might end in a draw.
But the players of our school did not lose heart. In a game like hockey, the fortunes of teams change very fast. Just 10 minutes before the close of the match, Mr. Aran of our school team was able to score another goal. The students of our school were very happy. They cheered our boys. Our schoolboys were now in very high spirits. The Model School team started playing a defensive game. At the end of the play, the referee declared that our school team had won the match by two goals to one.
The Principal of our school congratulated the players of our hockey team for this victory. He praised the team-work displayed by our team during this match. He said though the Model School team had lost the match, yet its performance was very fine. He wished that team well. He shook hands with the players of both teams. Thereafter, we came back to our homes.