No matter where they are, hockey enthusiasts never miss a match. However, Indian Hockey might not have been so strong if one significant change had not happened. And that remarkable change was the Nehru Hockey Tournament.
Recently, India finished second in the Commonwealth Games 2022, losing to Australia. And this is not the only time India has ruled the field; there are countless instances in the past where the team of 11 hasn’t backed an inch. In one way or another, the Nehru Hockey Tournament has a role to play here. How? Let’s read ahead and find out!
How did the Nehru Hockey Tournament serve as a turning point for Indian Hockey?
Well, it was in the year 1960 when Pakistan defeated India in the finals of the Rome Olympics. The match ended with a struggling 1-0 defeat.
And this was not enough; India was defeated again by Pakistan in the Djakarta Asian games by 2-0. These defeats, along with the demise of Jawaharlal Nehru in 1964, made the founding members think and start a tournament to look for new talent and take Indian Hockey to a new level.
Fortunately, these people were visionaries who created a tournament that started showing effect in the beginning months. In October 1964, India reclaimed their Olympic title by smashing Pakistan 1-0. The strange and kind of magical thing about the new tournament was that the tournament didn’t start until December 1964, and the Indian Hockey Team had prepared enough.
The first tournament
The magic of the tournament was visible as the first edition of 1964 witnessed a flying start. It might surprise you that around 18 players from the gold medal-winning teams of the Tokyo Olympics participated in the tournament.
The tournament was marked by the remarkable opening and closing ceremonies attended by renowned dignitaries like Mrs. Vijaylakshmi Pandit. She inaugurated this brilliant tournament. The final match between Northern Railways and Southeastern Railway was attended by Mr. Lal Bahadur Shastri, the P.M of India at that time.
He distributed prizes to the victors of the tournament, which was the Northern Railways.
The popularity of the Nehru Hockey Tournament grew so much that it became a prime spot for dignitaries to attend once a year. The finals of the Nehru Hockey Tournament were attended by various popular dignitaries of the nation over the years, like Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Gyani Zail Singh, G.S. Pathak, and Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy, and many more.
Birth of more tournaments
It goes without saying that the tournament was so popular that many other tournaments started after that. For example, the Nehru Junior Hockey tournament (Under 17) was started in 1972. And after 11 years, in 1983, the Nehru sub-junior (under 15) tournament was started.
The third tournament started in 1993 when the champion teams of various colleges across the country participated. Though these tournaments became super popular in the future, they somehow reduced the prevalence of other Hockey tournaments like the Aga Khan trophy, Beighton Cup and Gold Cup.
The surfacing of outstanding players
Over the years, the Champions College tournament that began in 1993 helped the nation. Many new and better players were introduced to the Indian Hockey team, making the country proud. The Champions College tournament’s priceless players are Prabhjot Singh, Sandeep Singh, Sardara Singh, Deepak Thakur, Ignace Tirkey, and Devesh Chauhan.
One of the reasons the Nehru Hockey Tournament has been tremendously popular is because of the location. Since the beginning of the tournament, it has been hosted by the Shivaji Stadium in Delhi (with some exceptions). However, on some occasions, the tournament was also hosted by other locations like Gurugram, Chandigarh, and Bhopal.
Today also, the charm and excitement of the tournament have not decreased. Teams from all over the country tend to participate and chisel their names in the hall of fame.
If you are a keen hockey lover and want to watch old matches, you can. Various online portals on the web have those matches, but you need to be careful with them. These websites may be old and could probably be risky. Hence, it will be best to rely on a PC VPN to watch the matches. It will encrypt the data and ensure that no cybercriminal is successfully attempting to steal your data. Additionally, a Virtual Private Network can unblock access to reliable sports streams, meaning you won’t need to find potentially unsafe ones.
The Nehru Hockey Tournament has been a game-changer for Indian Hockey. This annual event not only polished the skills of the players but also helped in finding new talent. The tournament has been graced by many popular faces over the years and has given us some outstanding players. It all started with a vision to make India the best in Hockey, and we can say that it has somewhat achieved its motive.