EXCLUSIVE

India Ka Game - Was the 2018 Hockey World Cup the boost Indian hockey needed?

In the end, the difference was only of one goal, but that goal has further delayed the ‘resurgence’ of Indian hockey, which has been in the making for many years. Once India lost to the Netherlands 1-2 in the World Cup quarterfinals on 13 December in Bhubaneshwar, Odisha, a much-anticipated tournament ended prematurely for the host.

That India had drawn with Belgium 2-2 in an earlier group match - Belgium won the title beating the Netherlands in the final on 16 December - shows the narrow margin that separates the top teams of the world. Belgium won the final in penalties over the Netherlands, who had won their semifinal against Australia in a shootout too - marking out the slender differences between teams. Belgium have now moved to the No. 1 spot in FIH (International Hockey Federation) rankings while India remain in the same position at No. 5.

Just weeks earlier, the Indian men’s hockey team had begun a campaign aimed at reinvigorating the sport in the country—it was not be their first attempt at doing so neither was it an overstated ambition nor the intended task. At best, it would have been a byproduct of how things would have shaped out if the team had won the title.

This is the third time the country hosted a men’s hockey World Cup. India has not won this title before or since 1975, which was roughly the beginning of its decline in the sport from which it never fully recovered.

About the Writer

Arun Janardhan is a Mumbai-based independent sports and features writer-editor.@iarunj

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