Inspiring stories of passionate people: The hockey wizard – Major Dhyan Chand
Dhyan Chand was born on 28 August 1905 in a Rajput family of Prayag in Uttar Pradesh. After his birth, his family moved to Jhansi, where Dhyan Chand spent his childhood and most of the later years of his life. After his early education, he joined the Indian Army as a soldier at the age of 16.
The seeds of artistry in hockey were planted and nurtured in him by Subedar Major Tiwari of his regiment. Dhyan Chand got so passionate with this game that he spends several hours every day mastering and innovating new techniques in this game. Indian team participated in the Hockey Tournament for the first time in the VIII Olympiad held at Amsterdam in 1928. India won the championship by 3-0. Out of the three goals two were scored by Dhyan Chand. In 1932 Olympics at Los Angeles, Indian team under the captainship of Lal Shah Bukhari again won the championship. India defeated America by 24-1 and thus set a world record. Nine out of 24 goals were scored by Dhyan Chand and ten by his younger brother, Roop Singh.
For me he was the great hero that India ever produced in sports. Unfortunately for him there was no TV to spread his fame, get all the revenue for advertising. A referee asked his stick to be checked as he suspected there was glue in his stick as the ball did not leave the stick when he dribbled and ran forward.
Once upon a time Indian Hockey team was on foreign tour. We played 48 matches and won all of them and Dhyan Chand scored 400 international and over 1000 overall goals alone and helped India win 3 consecutive Olympic gold medals. India was unbeatable for 20 years. We beat USA in an Olympic match by 24 goals which is still a world record and probably the worst sporting defeat of USA ever. Dhyan Chand lead INDIA both in the Hockey Field and Battle Field.
Once Major Dhyan Chand was not able to score a goal against the opposition team. After several misses, he argued with the match referee regarding the measurement of the goal post, and amazingly, he was proven right!
“ He spends several hours every day mastering and innovating new techniques in this game “
In the X Olympiad held at Berlin in 1936, Dhyan Chand captained the Indian team. India defeated Germany by 4-1. Dhyan Chand exhibited such a wizardry with his hockey stick that speculation was rife that a magnet was embedded in his hockey stick to attract the ball. His hockey stick was ordered to he changed but his play continued to hold the spectators, and his opponents spellbound. The Second World War intervened and the subsequent Olympiads were not held.
Hitler was so impressed by Dhyan Chand’s wizardry with the stick that he offered the Indian a chance to move to Germany and the post of Colonel in his army but he refused the offer with a smile and continued his service in the Indian Army.
Sir Don Bradman and Dhyan Chand once came face to face at Adelaide in 1935. After watching Dhyan Chand in action, Don Bradman remarked ”He scores goals like runs in cricket” Residents of Vienna, Austria, have set up a statue of him with four hands and four sticks, depicting his control and mastery over the ball.
In his last days, he was short of money, but he never coached any foreign team for the fear of his team defeating the Indian team. He guided and coached a large number of hockey players. His son, Ashok Kumar, under his inspired coaching added luster to Indian Hockey by representing India in international tourneys.
Dhyan Chand retired from the Army in 1956 with the rank of Major. The President of India conferred on him the award of Padma Bhushan in recognition of his outstanding services to the cause of Indian hockey. He passed away on 3rd December 1979.
What made Dhanchand so different inspite of the fact that he did not get his due from outside world and public: It was his sheer determination, passion and love for the game and his devotion towards his passion that made him stand out from the rest of the world. The wizard of hockey, remains even today unchallenged and has become a legend forever.
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