This is the story of India’s greatest sportsperson- Major Dhyan Chand.

Words fall short to describe the greatness of a sportsperson whose birthday is our national Sports day and whose name precedes the highest sporting honour of India. The man in focus here is the greatest hockey player that ever played the game, with 570 goals in just 185 games, Major Dhyan Chand.

Dhyan Chand was born in 1905 in a Rajput family. Rajputs were the warrior clan of the pre-colonial era. Under the British, they now served the British India Army. Chand’s father Sameshwar Singh was also a soldier of the British Army. The Britishers brought many new things to India. The most likeable of them were sports. The Britishers introduced sports like Cricket, Hockey, and Polo.
Indian soldiers were encouraged to learn these sports. Sports kept them fit and also served as a bonding session. 

Dhyan Chand’s father played hockey for his regiment. This was how Dhyan first learned about the game. Interestingly, he was not very fond of the game. He instead loved wrestling. After being posted in many places, Chand’s father finally settled in Jhansi, a place in modern-day Uttar Pradesh. Wrestling was part of the culture in the region and Chand found it very interesting. For the next three years, Chand would regularly go nearby Akhada to learn Wrestling. These three years of training did not go in vain. There is no similarity between wrestling and hockey. Yet the physicality Chand gained was credited to his wrestling days.

Hockey came into Chand’s life as all his friends, who were mostly kids of Indian military officers, loved playing hockey. Chand picked up the game quickly and would play at home with his brothers as well. When Chand was enlisted in the army, he was an automatic choice for the regiments hockey team. Chand was part of the 1st Brahman Regiment. In the next four years, Chand played a lot of domestic hockey and made a reputation for himself.

In 1927, Chand was picked for representing the national team when the Indian army was touring New Zealand. The Indian team arrived in New Zealand through a long and taxing voyage. The cold weather in New Zealand did not help either. Most of the Indian players fell sick. A young Chand was given plenty of opportunity. The Indian team won 18 and lost just 1. Dhyan Chand received the much-deserved reward and was promoted to the rank of Lance Naik.

A year later, the Olympics of 1928 began in Amsterdam. Indian Hockey Federation was created and the very first team representing India in Hockey was created. In its debut Olympics, the Indian hockey team outperformed every other team. In the group stages, the team beat four other teams without considering a single goal. They continued the pattern by beating the Netherlands in the finals 3-0. During this event, Chand was India’s top scorer with 14 goals in 5 matches. European newspapers were singing his praises and named him the wizard. Chand’s skills were so unrealistic that the authorities even checked his hockey stick for magnets.

In their second Olympics of 1932, their reputation and history created a wave of terror in their opponents. Indian team played the home side US in the final. They managed to beat the opponents with a scoreline of 24-1, which is still a record for the biggest win in the Olympics. Team India scored a total of 35 goals in the tournament, out of which 25 were from Chand and his brother Roop Singh.

In the 1936 Olympics final, India was up against the host nation Germany. Adolf Hitler was one of the spectators. Germany had miraculously held the Indian side to just one goal advantage in the first half. But in the second half, Chand decided to let go of his spikes and played barefoot. India won the match 8-1. Hitler was so impressed by Dhyan Chand that he even offered him German Citizenship with a higher rank in the Army.

An Indian sportsperson winning a medal is always a joyous side. But in a pre-independent India, Dhyan Chand’s performance brought home more than just joy. It brought a sense of pride and self-belief, something that was rare in Indians back then. While the entire regime of the British was busy convincing Indians of their inferiority, there was one wizard who was busy mesmerizing the world. One more Indian with a stick in his hand, contributing to India’s independence in his own way.

FAQs about Major Dhyan Chand

Dhyan Chand Award?

It is awarded annually by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. 

Dhyan Chand death?

3rd December 1979.

Dhyan Chand Age?

74 years.

Dhyan Chand achievements?

The greatest hockey player that ever played the game, with 570 goals in just 185 games is Major Dhyan Chand.

Dhyan Chand stadium?

The Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, is a field hockey stadium in New Delhi, India.

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