Courtsey , Kashmir Times, Author Shevali Raina : Historians believe that hockey existed in many of the world’s early civilizations. According to them buried deep in Nile’s valley lies the village of Beni Hasan famous for its tombs. A drawing on one tomb shows two men holding sticks with curved ends and standing over a ball. The Arabs, Greeks, Persians, Romans all played variation of the game. One of the world’s oldest known sports the term ‘hockey’ is believed to be a French origin meaning a shepherd’s crook.The modern game we know as hockey or field hockey evolved in the British Isles in the 19th century. It was a popular English school game. The British army helped in spreading hockey internationally through their British empire. With their effort hockey especially boomed in India and Pakistan. The London Hockey Association was formed in 1886. The International Hockey Federation was formed in Paris in 1924 followed by International Federation of Women’s Hockey in 1927.
Talking about the birth of hockey in Jammu and Kashmir, it became active in Kashmir in 1950 and later in 1952 it was introduced in Jammu. The Jammu and Kashmir Hockey Association was formed in 1950.
Hockey competitions at that time were held in Science College where local clubs use to participate. The J&K hockey association organized the tournaments and selected the team through these competitions. Rather than local clubs, departments like Forest, SRTC, Post and Telegraph, AG Office, Fire brigade etc had their own teams of hockey.
Past and Present status of hockey
Winning six Olympic gold medals in hockey during 1928 and 1956 is a matter of pride for Indians. When we retrospect at the past the record breaking victory of hockey at Olympic level makes us feel proud even now. At that time India was not in a state to provide special facilities to sports, winning twenty four consecutive matches was simply incredible. Bringing home six gold medals made Indian Hockey team famous all over the world. Not only at national level but at state level also hockey had a good standard.
In 1981, National hockey tournament was played in Meerut ,1982 Jabalpur,1983 Bhopal,1984 again Meerut and in 1985 Manipur in which J&K junior national team has played till semi-finals. Gurmeet Kaur another coach of hockey acclaims that “In All India Rural Sports Tournament (held between 1984-1985), J&K has grabbed 02 silver medals and 4 bronze medals.” Senior national hockey championship was held in 2000 in Jammu in which senior national team of J&K qualified for national games which was later held at Ludhiana.
Veteran players like S. Man Singh (SRTC), Shakti Singh Jamwal (Lions Club very skilled player now working as a gazetted officer in AG office), Waryan Singh (Lions club), Retd. DySP Jagjit Singh Jagga (Khalsa club presently Secretary General of Jammu and Kashmir Hockey Association) have promoted hockey in true sense in Jammu and Kashmir.
Past of the hockey speaks for its glorious victory but what about the present status of hockey in India and our state? Every third person is aware of the pathetic condition of hockey at national and state level and no one seems to be interested about it. Presently hockey is going through a baffling situation. It seems as if Indian hockey is saturating day by day. People are no more interested in hockey. Very few hockey tournaments are held in our country and state. In Jammu very few tournaments of hockey like ‘Martice Memorial’ organised by J&K police and ‘Shere-i-Kashmir Gold Cup’ are held yearly. In retrospect, competitions like Indira Hockey Gold Cup, Amar Shaheed, Jaginder Memorial State Championship, Ashwani Kapoor Memorial cup were organized in the past. “Very few inter-school level hockey competitions are organised in our state. J&K hockey associations seem to be too busy and are not interested to organize any match. This is a big reason for the disinterest of children in hockey,” says senior player of hockey Hermannen Singh. Further he adds “children are not getting any facilities, no hockey academy is built at Jammu city. How will children benefit and therefore they are losing interest in hockey”.
Reasons for the failure of Hockey
Talking at the big level i.e. at national level the condition of hockey is known to every one. The major loopholes or drawbacks which are leading to the decline of hockey are as following:-
1) Very few cadre from school
2) Very few international and domestic level competitions.
3) No participation of departments at state level.
4) No encouragement to youth.
5) No more grounds left for practice.
6) No more job facility.
The very first reason which has lead to the decline of hockey is almost negligible response from schools. According to Hermannen Singh “the youth of Jammu and Kashmir seems to be unaware about this game or either they are no more interested in this game because of the na‹ve attitude shown by the Youth Services and Support (YSS). It becomes the duty of the YSS to organize tournaments at school level”.
The second reason which has led to failure of hockey at state as well as national level is negligence shown towards international games. Earlier international tournaments like Indira Gold Cup were organized which gave hockey players a big confidence to compete at international level. But IHF seems no more interested in organising such games. At the state level there are very few hockey tournaments in which players can participate or exhibit their talent. J&K Hockey Association seems to be sleeping and showing no more interest in organizing tournaments at state level.
Earlier departments like SRTC, Forest, AG Office, Fire brigade etc had a major contribution in representing hockey but now except J&K Police department no other department has its team. This is the third and the major reason for the failure of hockey in J&K state.
Youth of the state is no more encouraged to participate in hockey. Parents do not encourage their wards to participate in hockey because this game is glamour less and youth finds no future in it like cricket hence they are no more interested. At the school level students are not encouraged to play hockey, same is the condition at colleges also.
Another big egregious reason for failure of hockey in state is very few grounds for practice. Except K.K. Hakku’s Astroturf ground which is again not for the beginners there are no more grounds of hockey where it can be practiced. The condition of Green Field ground is again pathetic. Players feel difficulty for practicing hockey. Same is the condition nation wide.
The last and the biggest reason for failure of hockey in India and Jammu and Kashmir is no job opportunity. Because youth is finding no more security in hockey, they are no more interested to play this game. According to Mohit Panda “Hockey is a tough game and presently it is not in demand. Why the youth of today will play hockey when there is no job opportunity in it. Yes a game like cricket assures security of future; hence youth love to play it”.
How to promote hockey?
1) At school and college level hockey should be promoted. If hockey has to be promoted in true sense, then cadre from schools and colleges should be given maximum opportunities. Inter school hockey and college tournaments should be organized. Students should be encouraged to participate. Proper facilities like hockey kits should be given to students. Moreover, camps should be organized in summer vacations so that more and more of children can participate.
2) Secondly, big tournaments like Sher-e-Kashmir, Joginder Memorial State Championship, Guru Tegh Bahadur Memorial Cup etc should be regularly held. Not only big tournaments but competition at local level should be promoted. With this all state associations has a responsibility to organize domestic level competitions. This will lead to maximum participation.
3) Departments like SRTC, Forest, Fire brigade, AG Office etc should form their departmental hockey team so as to save hockey at state level. Looking at the plight of hockey at national level similar departmental teams should be formed at national level. Not only government departments but corporate sectors can also form their hockey teams.
4) In order to save hockey from saturating and if nation wants to see hockey booming again media can play a big role in it. Movies like “Chak De India” have promoted hockey in true sense in our nation. Similar other steps can be taken by media to promote hockey. More limelight should be given on our national game. More of such movies should be made which support hockey in true sense.
5) Job opportunities should be there in hockey so that players feel secured for their future.
6) Parents can play a big role in encouraging their wards. Parents can initiate their wards to participate in hockey. Young generation can be a tyro in bringing the change in the condition of hockey. If history has to be re-written again then it’s the youth of our country which has to come forward and not only youth but the hockey association and each and every person who is linked with hockey have to perform its role outstandingly.