Hockey was presented in India in the year 1885 by the British army where it soon became popular among Indians and went on to become the national sport of India post-independence. The Indian hockey team has been one of the most successful teams in Olympic history with a medal tally of 8 gold, 1 silver, and 2 bronze medals.
Hockey in India is governed by Hockey India, a panel set up in 2008 after the dismissal of the Indian Hockey Federation by the Indian Olympic Association. In 2011, Hockey India and Indian Hockey Federation joined force thanks largely in part to the milestone proposal under the leadership of Ajay Maken, the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Youth Affairs and Sports. Today it serves to select and prepare the team as well as facilitate their contribution in international events.
The men’s hockey team has enjoyed monumental success worldwide as stated above. They were the first non-European team in history to be inducted into the ranks of the International Hockey Federation, and won their first Olympic gold in 1928. Since then, they went on a still-unbeaten winning streak until 1956 by which time they had racked up a total of six gold medals in every Olympic event in that period. A huge blow to hockey came in the identifying round of the 2008 Beijing Olympics where they were knocked out of the qualifiers by Britain, leading to their first no-show in an Olympic event since 1928. However, this only proved to serve as a motivator, thanks to which they mopped the floor with their opponents in the 2012 Olympics in London where in the finals they scored an overwhelming victory against France, clinching the gold 8-1.
One of the most widely identified Indian hockey players is Dhanraj Pillay. Living a hand-to-mouth existence in his youth at the Ordinance Factory housing colony where his father was a groundsman, he and his three brothers were actively motivated by their mother to play hockey. They played in muddy fields with broken sticks and discarded balls where he learnt the basics of the sport before joining his elder brother in Mumbai where the latter was playing for a club and had already showed India in several international tournaments.
Coached by his brother and later by the then coach of the Indian team Joaquim Carvalho, he quickly rose through the ranks and caught the eye of selectors for the Olympic team. Since then, there has been no looking back with a large number of results and several private awards to his credit. Today he serves on the board of selectors for the Indian Olympic Organization, helping to select Indian hockey players who will represent the country in the largest worldwide sporting forum.