For many 15th August is a date of Independence, for some it’s a date which set India above everyone who wished to rule over it. Fight for freedom did cost us a lot of blood, a lot of sacrifices and some worst consequences. Today where everyone is busy getting the most of their life, be it working for a multi-national company or scoring distinction to get to study abroad. And we still assume to live in Free India? Answer to every question changes with changing mindset. We do want our country economically strong to beat the value of dollars. We do want the country to grow in every form but we don’t want to try or fight, like our freedom fighters did , like Centre-forward Balbir Singh did.
Wind the clock back to August 12, 1948, 11 Indian men marching on the turf of Wembley Stadium to fight against a nation, against the injustice, against Great Britain with no guns but a hockey bat. The stage was set for Olympics final and Balbir Singh, the captain of the first Indian hockey team, who was once handcuffed by the Britishers to be inducted for police force and play for Punjab, was all set for a payback. Although the British officer who ordered the arrest warrant, Sir John Bennett, came to welcome the Indian team when they first arrived at London for the scheduled match and hugged Balbir, but it wasn’t enough for our tormented captain. The whistle blew and the game began. Centre forward, Balbir, all in his aggression mode the first goal against Great Britain, thereby, leading India in the game and rubbing off the humiliation he faced. His team thought he might have finally gave a mile to his soul, until then, Balbir scored the second goal, leading India to 2-0 and hereby marking his name in the history. The Britishers seemed with no form and although they had refused to play a team from India since it was one of their colonies. On that day, they had no choice but to face the storm.
The country till 1948 paid a heavy price for its freedom from the British Raj and one among those was partition of India and Pakistan. In one of the largest movement of population in history, India didn’t loose the land, but India did pay the price. Millions lost their lives, families and friendship and loved ones were now claimed as dead bodies. With all these losses raging inside the Indian hockey team, Tarlochan Singh scored the 3rd goal for team India. Just when the British team decided to gain the momentum and march down the game with fury, Pat Jansen hit the 4th goal and the Indian team stood in tears with all the sense of pride and freedom as the referee blew the final whistle and the Great Britain had to kneel again in front of India’s resolve. After 1948, hockey provided the country a sense of sweet revenge and a reason to look forward with pride and this is how hockey became India’s national sport.
India’s national sport that gave country pride, is currently being overshadowed by a game which was originally being discovered by British. 72 years of independence, it’s no time to celebrate, it’s time to ask yourself and to all others, do we really care about the sacrifices made to live and breathe in Free India? Do we really live in Free India? What is our national sports?