The Indian hickey team lost every single match at the Olympics … Including to South Korea, Belgium, and South Africa. That India lost to Netherlands, Germany, and New Zealand sort of seemed to be an assumption. This is the point when it seems to be very tempting to write the epitaph of Indian hockey. But lets look at an analysis of the point at which Indian hockey is.
Hockey in India has been at the receiving end of apathy for decades now, at least two, would you say? And yet, every two years, once during the Asian games, and once during the Commonwealth games, or the Olympics we that Indian hockey is going downhill, harking back to the glory days of Indian hockey, when we saw (here i am talking about my generation) players like Pargat Singh, M. P. Singh, Mohammed Shahid, Zafar Iqbal, Jude Felix, Merwyn Fernandes, or Salim Sherwani, Hassan Sardar, Samiullah, Karimullah play hockey for the subcontinental giants, or the fact that India has won 10 medals in hockey, out of which 8 have been gold medals. One thing we need to understand, and expect, is that it will take at least 4-5 years for Indian hockey to reach somewhere close to the glory days. This is a long term strategy, and while we should certainly try for a podium finish at Rio, we shouldnt expect it, i feel.
Having said that, lets look at the other side. Today, India is at a point where we can either choose to be the dominant team among the minnows, or be the minnow in the big league, and we have reached from the former to the latter. This, i feel, has come with comparative ease, and the credit should go to the players, coach, and administrators, though frankly, my knowledge of hockey comes from what i watch, or what i read. Having said that, what is surprising is that even though we lost, the quality of hockey played by the team is far inferior to what they played at the Olympic qualifiers, or at the Azlan Shah cup recently. While losing to Netherlands and Germany was expected, the team played a good game versus the Dutch, and if we see how the Dutch demolished Great Britain in the semi-final, India certainly played very well. I suppose the team started losing their way from the match versus Germany, and from there, it was downhill. Maybe its, like former skipper Dhanraj Pillay says, something outside the field which was bothering the team members.
Whatever way it be, we need to look at the picture in its entirety, and see how Indian hockey can, given encouragement, reach the levels of past glory.