Autobiography of Hockey Wizard Dhyan Chand
Published by Sport & Pastime, Chennai, 1952
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|Gandhiji was then in Simla for the
Gandhi-Irwin talks. The IHF entrusted Newham with getting Gandhiji's blessings
for India's participation in the Olympiad.
With great difficulty, Newham succeeded in meeting Gandhiji amidst his hectic political activities and explained his mission. Gandhiji in his own characteristic way asked Newham, "What is hockey?" A crest-fallen Newham had to return home unsuccessful.
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he president of the IHF was Mr. M. Hayman, who was also a very influential member of the Railway Board. Mr. Pankaj Gupta was the Honorary Secretary of the IHF.
These two officials, undeterred by the lack of finance, were determined to send an Indian team to Los Angeles. When the money that was collected fell far short of requirements, Hayman and Gupta borrowed a large amount of money from Punjab National Bank in Kolkata to make up the deficit. The affiliated associations of the IHF later approved of their daring action, and took collective responsibility of that loan.
In those days the nation took very little interest in sports. It would have been considered preposterous for any bank to advance money for a sporting team to undertake a tour abroad, where the only return, if any, would be glory for the nation or dismal failure. Therefore, all honour to the Hayman-Gupta venture, and to Punjab National Bank for sportingly advancing the money.
There was one more attempt made by the IHF to raise funds, but unfortunately it did not materialise.
In those days the political atmosphere in the country was at a high pitch. Gandhiji was then in Simla, engaged in talks with Lord Irwin. Someone suggested that if Gandhiji gave his blessings to India's participation in the Olympiad, and consent to an appeal issued in his name, the question of finance would be easily solved.
Mr. Charles Newham was then in Simla in a professional capacity as a journalist. The IHF entrusted Newham with the task of approaching the Mahatma. With great difficulty, Newham succeeded in meeting Gandhiji amidst his hectic political activities and explained his mission.
Gandhiji in his own characteristic way asked Newham, "What is hockey?" A crest-fallen Newham had to return home, his mission unsuccessful.
The Mahatma was so engrossed in political problems and in the freedom movement of our country, that he had little time to devote to things like cinema or hockey or cricket. I have no doubt that had Mr. Newham succeeded in his mission, more than enough money would have been available for the tour.
However, I do not know how the Government of the time would have viewed this matter. Even sports had to draw heavily upon the patronage of an alien government, which would have surely frowned upon any Gandhian influences on their largesse.
Anyway, we were able to scrape up the barest minimum of funds for the tour, with a sea journey from Colombo to Los Angeles and back via the Pacific.
However, assistant manager Pankaj Gupta held a round-the-world ticket, and he was reluctant to leave his team behind in Los Angeles and return home alone. Somewhere en route to Hong Kong, Gupta told the team a plan whereby all players would be able to travel on round-the-world tickets.
He suggested that members of the team should not demobilise immediately after return to India, but undertake a tour of India, travelling every night and playing at selected centres. By such a process, Gupta explained, sufficient funds could be raised to meet the cost of the return trip via the Atlantic Ocean and the European continent.
Needless to say we fell in readily with this plan. Gupta then proceeded to persuade Hayman and Sondhi to agree to his plan. Hayman put down two conditions.
One was that after Los Angeles, we would have to forego all out-of-pocket allowances (£2 per week). The other was that on the return journey across Europe, the team should play whatever matches the management arranged for us.
All of us were extremely anxious to visit Europe, and so we chorussed our acceptance of Hayman's conditions.
Los Angeles Invites You To California