New Delhi: Paying tribute to Major Dhyan Chand on his 109th birth anniversary, which is being celebrated as the National Sports Day, Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Friday said the best way to honour the hockey wizard's memory is to inculcate the qualities he displayed on the field.
"August 29 marks a significant day in the history of sports in India. The legendary hockey player, Major Dhyan Chand was born on this day, 109 years back. He redefined Indian sports in hockey at the global level. To commemorate his invaluable contributions, we celebrate his birthday as National Sports Day every year," the minister said.
Major Dhyan Chand is India's greatest hockey player who scored over 1000 goals between 1926 and 1948. He helped India win three Olympic gold medals including the first in 1928.
"He is inspiration personified. He became synonymous with hockey. He became the parameter of hockey by which other players' calibre is measured. It is surprising to know that Dhyan Chand, who came to be known as hockey magician, started playing hockey only after joining the army at the age of 16. It was from there that he started playing hockey," said the Minister.
"After that, Dhyan Chand rose in the hockey field like a meteor. We should imbibe a lesson from the life history of Major Dhyan Chand. Many of our young players are talented. No doubt, but do they have the determination to succeed the way Major Dhyan Chand did?" he added.
Sonowal said India is not short on resources anymore and the players need to step up their game.
"It's time that we do some kind of heart searching. Mind you, there are tens and thousands of children playing hockey in the country. We have more than 100 synthetic surfaces for field hockey in India," he said.
"Compare this with a small country like Belgium which has only 16 surfaces. The best way to pay tribute to Major Dhyan Chand is to inculcate his qualities of discipline, hard-work and determination in our hockey players and also in other sportspersons," he added.
"India is on a continuous stride to set new heights for its performance in world sports. We just need to keep this momentum by keeping the ideals set by Major Dhyan Chand, who we remember today."