Family carries Dhyan Chand's legacy

Updated: 16 March 2008 15:52 IST

Last week, Indian hockey team failed to make it to the Olympics. They lost the hockey qualifier to Great Britain. This loss triggered national outrage.

Family carries Dhyan Chand's legacy

Jhansi:

Last week, Indian hockey team failed to make it to the Olympics. They lost the hockey qualifier to Great Britain. This loss triggered national outrage.

Jhansi, a city which has produced some of India's greatest hockey players including the Don Bradman of hockey, Dhyan Chand. But at the Dhyanchand stadium in the city, it's cricket, not hockey that remains the rage.

The Heroes Park named after hockey wizard Dhyan Chand, is completely abandoned.

For 94-year-old Shribaghwan Das Bandookwala, a close friend of hockey wizard Dhyan Chand, the magic of that age is unforgettable.

"People even changed his stick, but the magic was in his game. People used to be so crazy, they would shut all the shops and go to watch hockey," said Sri Bhagwan Das, Dhyan Chand's friend.

Today, mention hockey and anger swells in him.

"Don't talk about hockey, the standard has fallen so much," said Das.

At the Dhyan Chand stadium cricket practice is in full swing but on the other side hardly any players playing hockey, the same is the state of the stadium here.

About six years ago astroturf was being laid in the stadium for hockey matches.

Budding hockey player, 14-year-old Ashok finds it tough to practice.

"It's very difficult to play without a turf. It is our luck, but what can I do, I love to play hockey," said Ashok Kumar, hockey player.

Even the coach has resigned; he knows the national game has been overtaken by the national passion - cricket.

"There is not enough money in hockey so parents prefer cricket," said M A Khan, hockey coach.

But there is one place in Jhansi that Dhyan Chand's magic still lives on - at his home, in the heart of his big family, his seven sons and four daughters. They hardly saw him in their growing years as he was away, mesmerizing the world.

"Hitler asked him to stay back in Germany but he refused to leave India," said Sohan Singh, Dhyan Chand's son.

Dhyan Chand's son Ashok Kumar became an international player, scoring the winning goal in 1975 Olympics. His other sons and nephews followed the game but many gave up midway.

"I played national for four years but then there were no jobs. That is why I had to leave hockey," said Sanjeev Singh, Dhyanchand's grandson.

But hope lives, the youngest to join the game is Dhyan Chand's granddaughter Jyoti.

"I want to make a name for myself like my grandfather. If he were alive, India would never have lost in hockey I cannot do anything for Men's hockey but I can win for Women," said Jyoti Singh, Dhyanchand's granddaughter.

Let's hope she lives up to her words.

Topics : Hockey
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