Online Children's Magazine from India
August 29, the birthday of hockey wizard Dhyan Chand, is celebrated in India as ‘National Sports Day’. On this day, every year, the country’s most prestigious decorations in sport, namely, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, the Dronacharya Award and the Arjuna Awards are given away by the President of India. The ‘Dhyan Chand Award’ is conferred annually by the Government of India for lifetime achievement in sports.
Born in Allahabad in 1905, Dhyan Chand grew up in Jhansi, where his father was based as a havaldar in the British Indian Army. He joined the Army as a 16-year-old and, and his mesmerizing stick-work prompted them to allow him to concentrate on the game. He took part in the inter-provincials and made an immediate impact on the national scene.
The Indian Hockey Federation was formed in 1925, and Dhyan Chand found himself on the ship to New Zealand and Australia for exhibition matches in preparation of the Amsterdam Olympics of 1928. At the Amsterdam Games, he scored two out of the three goals India pumped in against the Netherlands in the final.
At the 1932 Olympics, India drubbed USA by 24 goals to one. Dhyan Chand netted eight, and his brother Roop Singh scored an equal number of goals.
At the 1936 Berlin Games, Adolf Hitler was witness to the finals between India and Germany, and was awestruck by the jugglery of the wizard. The German players were themselves passive spectators as Dhyan Chand and his boys weaved magic around them. With their self-esteem at stake, the Germans resorted to rough tackles. One such tackle broke the wizard’s tooth. Returning after first aid, and after India were leading by eight goals (of which Dhyan Chand had scored six), he advised his players to play a possession game to teach the Germans a lesson in good, clean hockey. It is said that Hitler met him after the match and offered to elevate him to the post of Colonel if he migrated to Germany. Dhyan Chand politely refused the offer.
Once, while playing in an exhibition game in Germany, a spectator is said to have offered her walking stick to Dhyan Chand in exchange of his seemingly ‘magic’ stick. The legend managed to display the same skills with the walking stick and even score a few goals!
In 1935, Dhyan Chand met the cricket legend, Don Bradman in Australia after an exhibition game. Holding his hands, the ‘Don’ said, "You score goals at will, as we score runs in cricket!"
Dhyan Chand had decided to phase off his hockey career after the Berlin Games. But in 1947, East Africa invited an Indian team to play some exhibition matches there. The condition was that Dhyan Chand should be included in the team. At 42, Dhyan Chand scored 61 goals in 22 matches and held the East Africans spellbound.
Dhyan Chand retired from international hockey in 1948, and was for a short time in charge of the National Institute of Sports at Patiala. His son Ashok Kumar played with a lot of credit for India in the 1970s. The legend expired on
3 December 1979.
last updated on: 5/16/2021
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