There Is No Place For Hockey In The Indian Sports Mix

here is no place for Indian hockey in the Indian sports mix, as seen by the metrics below.

Sports Leagues: Cricket has IPL, football has ISL and badminton has PBL. There are professional leagues in India for kabaddi (PKL), volleyball (PVL) and wrestling (PWL). Table tennis has its own league - Ultimate Table Tennis. The Hockey India League has been missing in action since the 2017 edition.

Television Viewership: Young sports fans have a surfeit of sports to follow on Indian television. IPL season viewership is over 400 million. PBL season viewership is in the realm of 160 million. ISL and PBL have season viewership of around 130 million. Ultimate Table Tennis season viewership is around 16 million. Currently, there are more people watching table tennis than hockey on Indian television.

Sponsors: The IPL title sponsorship was ₹2,199 crore for 5 years (Vivo). The PKL title sponsorship is ₹262 crore for 5 years (also Vivo). Hero Moto Corp, which used to sponsor hockey, has a 3-year, $25 million title sponsorship deal with the ISL. The PBL has a title sponsorship of around ₹12 crore by Vodafone. If and when Indian hockey wakes up from its slumber, where is the money left for corporate sponsorship of a hockey league?

Endorsements: More televised sports equals more viewership eyeballs which translates to product endorsements for the stars. Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni have over ₹100 crore in endorsments. Sachin Tendulkar retired back in 2013, and has ₹40 crore in endorsements. Badminton star P. V. Sindhu endorses 11 products for ₹35 crore. There is currently not a single Indian hockey player who has endorsements.

Celebrity Assocation: Celebrities are associated with most sports in India except hockey. The ISL has film stars Salman Khan, Ranbir Kapoor, Abhishek Bachchan, Chiranjeevi and Nagarjuna as team owners. The IPL has Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta and Juhi Chawla as team owners. Sports star Sachin Tendulkar is a team owner in the PBL, while Virat Kohli is a team owner in the PWL. Without a televised or on-ground product, there is no reason for celebrities to associate themselves with hockey.

While Indian hockey continues to dwell on its past, other sports in India are moving past hockey in terms of key metrics that determine the health of a sport, such as sporting leagues, television viewership and corporate sponsorship.

World Cupper And Animal Lover Jasjit Singh Kular

Article courtesy

asjit Singh Kular, former India player, comes from a family of doctors. Although not one himself, the defender and drag-flicker extends his pedigree to the care and well being of stray animals who battle the odds for survival.

Jasjit has three pet dogs; his village home in Sansarpur had a range of animals - cows, buffaloes and numerous birds - which developed a love for animals in him.

The Sansarpur hero, who donned India colours at the The Hague Hockey World Cup six summers ago, shuttles between his job with the Railways, keeping fit, and assisting an NGO called Animal Protection Foundation which cares for strays.

"Dogs have suffered as the lockdown had meant restaurants and eateries shut down, thereby depriving them of food," he revealed. "I donned PPE gear in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic to help stray animals in trouble. We helped 300-400 dogs a day. Cows and buffaloes face survival challenges too, especially the male species which are discarded by their owners as they have no commercial value."

Jasjit explained, "There's little being done on the ground to save these animals. And this neglect leads to animal behaviour borne out of hunger and frustration that can harm humans, for no fault of the animals."

Jasjit appears to be a thoughtful and caring citizen, and a worthy ambassador of the sport. On 6th July, when the lockdown was at its severest phase, Jasjit made the following request through his social media account:

It's a humble request to everyone to donate at least ₹100 every month from your savings to Animal Protection Foundation so that we can carry out surgeries, medicines, boarding of injured dogs, transportation, doctors' fee and many other daily expenses. Your ₹100 can collectively become thousands, and will be helpful to treat animals everyday. I would like to share that our NGO is under debt right now. We need around ₹50K - 60K every month to carry out our operations." requests interested visitors to open their heart and do their bit towards the kind-hearted and strong-willed Jasjit Singh Kular's chosen cause.

Hockey In Pre-Independent India Of 1920

Article by K. Arumugam of, Photograph credit Hockey Museum

he year 1920 marked an important phase for Indian hockey. The Beighton Cup, the oldest trophy outside of Europe, had celebrated its silver jubilee early that year. Named after the then Legal Remembrancer of the Government of Bengal, and the donor of the trophy, Mr. T. D. Beighton, the cup was stolen a few years prior but a replica was put in place to continue the legacy. Xavier's Club, an exclusive Anglo-Indian outfit, won the silver jubilee edition of the Beighton Cup, beating Calcutta Football Club.

1920 also saw the famous Lakshmibilas Cup won by the Dacca (now Dhaka and capital of Bangladesh) based Bisveswar Sports Club. It was big honour for both the Xaverians and Bisweswarians as it was their maiden success on such a big stage.

About 2,000 km away from Calcutta (now Kolkata) where these two events took place in 1920, the famous Aga Khan competition was also a grand success in Bombay (now Mumbai). Lahore (now in Pakistan) based civil team, North Western Railways, won the 24th edition, narrowly defeating Hornets Club. Also, after hovering over different venues, the Aga Khan Cup finally found its home, the Bombay Gymkhana Club in Bombay.

What happened at Kolkata and Mumbai proved the fact that hockey had matured as a competitive sport in India. Vast stands, triple the number of participating teams compared to their maiden events, good gate collection and newspaper coverage meant the Indian hockey was poised to go places.

In fact, it did.

No fewer than a dozen schools, all catering to affluent sections of society, ran hockey teams and were successful in producing quality players. Those schools, mostly of the boarding variety, were located either in metro cities or hill stations such as Wellington, Darjeeling, Mussorie, Mount Abu, etc. The majority of these institutions were run by either Irish Christian Brothers or Jesuit Priests.

There was also another front where hockey was actually taking a giant leap. It was in the cantonments. Besides annual inter and intra-military hockey competitions, a new hockey tournament called the Coronation Cup was instituted in Delhi.

Back in 1911, King George V and Queen Mary had visited India for the Delhi Durbar. At Coronation Park, which lies 15 km away from present President of India's Rashtrapati Bhavan, the visiting King had announced the moving of India's capital from Calcutta to Delhi. On that occasion, in the run up to the grand reception, hockey teams all over India had assembled for what came to be called the Coronation Cup.

However, 1920 is also remembered for a globally significant happening in hockey. That year, in the Belgian city of Antwerp, field hockey was played at the Olympics for only the second time.

The 1920 Olympic hockey tournament was played as a four-nation round robin event. Great Britain beat Denmark 5-1, hosts Belgium 12-1, and were awarded a walkover in their final game against France to secure their second successive Olympic hockey gold.

Hockey In The Kolhapur District of Maharashtra

Rajaram Rifles Hockey Team of the erstwhile Kolhapur princely state, 1946
Article by Ranjit Dalvi, photo by Amar Bhosale, courtesy

olhapur State was founded in the year 1700 by Maharani Tarabai Bhonsale, the widow of Chhatrapati Rajaram, the second son of Chhatrapati Shivaji. She turned out to be the nemesis of Aurangzeb, who had marched to the Deccan with the fond hope of capturing Kolhapur easily.

The first ever organised battalion of Indian natives, the Maratha Light Infantry (MLI) was formed in 1768 by the British. The same regiment popularised hockey in the 1950s and 1960s.

Olympians Shankar Laxman (1956, 60, 64 Olympics), Bandu Patil (1964 Olympics) and Major Shantaram Jadhav (1960 Olympics) always struck a chord in the hearts of hockey aficionados. They all played for MLI, and were in the forefront when the MLI won major tournaments in the country. The MLI headquarters at Belgaum (Karnataka) is just two hours drive from Kolhapur (Maharashtra).

The Federation and state hockey units should have made efforts to form district-level and taluka-level units to build a proper grassroot structure in hockey. With both the Indian Hockey Federation and Hockey India having failed to do that, it really hurts.

To stress the fact, let us take the example of Kolhapur, my native district. Although the origins of the game there are not clear, the first documented proof is an old photograph of Line Bazar Club posing with a trophy in 1938 or 1939 after winning a hockey tournament. It would be safe to surmise that the sport must have originated in Kolhapur a few years before that.

The Rajaram Rifles Training Centre, the State's own police force, won the hockey title in the 1945-46 edition of the Kolhapur Olympic Sports event.

There are presently 18 hockey clubs in Kolhapur, 14 of which are in Line Bazar, an area which gets its name from the infantry lines set up by the British after they established a residency in the princely state. There are schools and colleges which promote hockey, not just in the city but also in nearby towns like Ichalkaranji which is a flourishing textile manufacturing hub, and taluka places like Islampur and Bhudargad-Gargoti. Most of the hockey is placed on chat or gravel pitches here.

Despite having such a broad base, those at the helm of affairs at the Maharashtra Hockey Association failed to realise the potential of this region. Why did it take 33 years after independence to form the Kolhapur district hockey association?

The story of hockey in India would have been quite different with a proper structure in place in districts such as Kolhapur. And mind you, India has 718 districts now! Imagine the amount of raw talent that's waiting to be tapped at the district and taluka level in the country!

-- Author Ranjit Dalvi is a sports writer, radio and television commentator, national-level umpire, and a former Managing Committee member of The Mumbai Hockey Association Ltd.

Photograph of the Month

he Photograph of the Month for October 2020 is of Argentinean hockey legend Luciana Aymar, who has a statue in her honour in Buenos Aires. Luciana was one of the stars of the Las Leonas, a term that was born during the 2000 Sydney Olympics to represent the fighting lionesses of the Argentinean national women's hockey team.

During their match against Netherlands at the Sydney Games, Argentinean players placed the image of a lioness on their shirts for the first time. The image was designed by then-player Inés Arrondo, together with coach Sergio Vigil's sister-in-law. Argentina won that match, and Las Leonas were born.

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the formation of Las Leonas, Marcelo Bielsa, soccer coach of Leeds FC, wrote the following to the team.

"Not all teams have their own name. Like all idols, Las Leonas are a popular property that makes the Argentine people proud, but especially the group of women which gave rise to it 20 years ago. The Lionesses, a symbol of national sport, are part of the heritage that our country, like every country, needs."

Since 2000, Argentina women have won two World Cups (2002, 2010), a record seven Champions Trophy golds (2001, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016) and two Olympic silver medals (2000, 2012).

Money Matters

Article by Martin Ross, courtesy

nvestec, the international bank and wealth management group, will not continue its sponsorship of England Hockey and Great Britain Hockey. The firm came on board nine years ago as a sponsor of the Great Britain and England women's international hockey teams, but will not extend its backing beyond the expiry of the current contract in August 2020.

England Hockey said, "When the relationship with Investec began in 2011, it was pioneering and far-sighted to enter into a partnership with a women's sport. This creativity, vision and courage has been rewarded, and a decade later and with progress to make, women's sport is in a very different place in the national consciousness and mind-set of sponsors."

The news leaves the women's team searching for a new sponsor in time for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which have been pushed back by 12 months because of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Investec was England Hockey's principal partner, sitting above a pool of official partners and official suppliers in the governing body's sponsorship pyramid. In 2019, England Hockey brought in a total of £449,000 (€508,000/$551,700) in sponsorship revenues.

Investec had also been the principal partner of the Women's Hockey League, Schools Championships for girls and Investec London Cup - an international women's hockey invitational tournament. The wealth management company had signed a four-year sponsorship extension in 2016.

Media Matters

Article and photograph credit My City Links

n the occasion of National Sports Day on August 29, a webinar was organised by the Naval Tata Hockey Academy, Bhubanesvar, to remember hockey magician Major Dhyan Chand and visionary Sir Dorabji Tata.

Moderated by Rajiv Seth, Project Director, Naval Tata Hockey Academy, and Diksha Tiwari, Communications Head, XEBS Centre of Excellence in Sports Management, the session started with a tribute to Sir Dorabji Tata and Major Dhyan Chand, showing interesting glimpses into their lives.

Farzan Heerjee, Chief of Protocol and Sports, Tata Steel, spoke about how Sir Dorabji Tata seeded the sporting culture in India and made sports an integral part of the social fabric of the Tata Group.

Panelists included luminaries like Gurbux Singh, Ashok Kumar, Dr. Vece Paes, his son and Indian tennis great Leander Paes, and hockey defender Dilip Tirkey. They shared memories of the country's golden years of sports, and highlighted key issues for the future.

Ashok Kumar revealed how he skipped his B. Com examination in Kota to join the Mohan Bagan hockey team, so that he could play under the wings of Gurbux Singh and Dr. Vece Paes. He also shared how his iconic father was a simple man at home despite greatness following Major Dhyan Chand everywhere.

Gurbux Singh and Dr. Vece Paes recollected their Olympic days, while Leander reminisced about his young days growing up with "Gurbux uncle" and his father, and learning leadership skills from them, both Olympians.

Dilip Tirkey, now Chairman of Odisha Hockey Promotion Council, spoke about his young days in Sundargarh, and the inspiration he received from some of the greats of Indian hockey like Pargat Singh.

The session ended with some questions from the students of the girls' hostel of the academy and the audience.

Fun With Numbers

Statistics by B. G. Joshi

he October 2020 edition of Fun with Numbers is on Olympic or World titles won by both parent and child.

  • 3 generations of the Keller family have played in the Olympic hockey final - Erwin Keller (1936 silver), his son Carsten Keller (1972 gold), and his children Andreas (1992 gold), Natscha (2004 gold) and Florian (2008 gold).
Country Parent Parent Gold Medal Child Child Gold Medal
India Dhyan Chand 1928, 32, 36 Olympics Son Ashok Kumar 1975 Kuala Lumpur World Cup
  Ahmed Sher Khan 1936 Olympics Son Aslam Sher Khan 1975 Kuala Lumpur World Cup
Pakistan Munir Dar 1960 Rome Olympics Son Tauqeer Dar 1984 Los Angeles Olympics
Germany Carsten Keller 1972 Munich Olympics Son Andreas Keller 1992 Barcelona Olympics
      Daughter Natascha Keller 2004 Athens Olympics
      Son Florian Keller 2008 Beijing Olympics