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Hockey In India

The game was first introduced in Calcutta by the British Army in 1885 by virtue of being a port city and the head office of the East India company. The Beington Cup and the Aga Khan tournament for hockey was established shortly thereafter.


XIX Commonwealth Games-2010 Delhi: Hockey.
Image Courtesy: fxgallery.com

Origins of Hockey in India

The origins of the modern version of the Hockey game is credited to the English public schools in the early 19th century. The first club was established in 1850’s in south-east London but the modern rules grew out of sport played by the Middlesex county clubs as part of a winter sport.

Teddington hockey club changed the ball to a sphere and introduced the idea of a striking circle or a ‘D’. The Hockey association was founded in late 1800’s and due to the British army the game began to spread among different countries. The international rules board for hockey was formed in 1900 and the first international game was played five years earlier between Ireland and Wales (Ireland winning 3-0).

In India, the game was first introduced in Calcutta in 1885 by virtue of being a port city and the head office of the East India company. The Beington Cup and the Aga Khan tournament for hockey was established shortly thereafter.

Hockey Associations

Men’s Hockey was played in 1908 and 1920 during the Summer Olympics and was dropped in 1924. This led to the creation of the International Hockey Federation or the Fédération Internationale de Hockey sur Gazon (FIH) as an international body by seven European countries. Hockey was re-introduced in the 1928 Olympics and have been a regular feature since then.

The Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) was created in 1928 as part of the organizing body for the Hockey team to be sent to the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics.

Indian Olympic Association (IOA) was created to manage the hockey in India. They recently appointed a five-member selection committee that will work with FIH to promote and grow hockey in India.

Indian Hockey Team was the first non-European team to be part of FIH.

India at the World Cups

19713rd PlaceBarcelona, Spain
19732nd PositionAmstelveen, Netherlands
1975WinnerKuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Hockey victory in Champions Trophy Image Courtesy; Indiatimes.com

In the last world cup, held in Netherlands in 2014, India Men’s Hockey Team finished a poor 9th position. Hopefully in the next world cup to be held in Bhubaneshwar, the team can hope for the home advantage and do a lot better.

It was the first non-European team to be a part of the International Hockey Federation. Current ranking as on Jan 2017, India Men’s Hockey Team is ranked 6th in World FIH Rankings (as of Oct 2016).


India in the Olympics (Gold and Silver Medal)

India first participated in 1928 Amsterdam Olympics where the world got to witness the heroics


Image Courtesy: Wikipedia.org

of Dhyan Chand in the Hockey field. The team was unbeaten in the tournament and shocked everybody by their playing ability and got India their first Olympics Gold medal.

The Indian men’s hockey team continued their strong performance and between 1928 to 1956 won 6 Gold medals.

1928Gold MedalAmsterdam Olympics
1932Gold MedalLos Angeles Olympics
1936Gold MedalBerlin Olympics
1948Gold MedalLondon Olympics
1952Gold MedalHelsinki Olympics
1956Gold MedalMelbourne Olympics
1960Silver MedalRome Olympics
1964Gold MedalTokyo Olympics
1980Gold MedalMoscow Olympics


In the recently concluded Rio Olympics, India Men’s hockey team went to the quarter finals stage. The total haul of India at the Olympics in Hockey has been 8 gold,1 silver and 2 bronze medals.

Switch to AstroTurf or ‘Synthetic Field’

Early 1970’s saw the emergence of ‘synthetic grass’ for the hockey playing surface with the approval of almost of all the European nations. The 1976 Olympic games at Montreal saw the introduction of this surface for hockey. The artificial turfs called as ‘AstroTurf’s’ changed the level playing field and modified a lot of aspects of the game. The adoption to the Astroturf was cost intensive and caused a major problem for developing and third-world countries where open fields presented an easier option to just play hockey.

The switch to AstroTurf’s hurt countries like India and Pakistan who dominated the game till then. The artificial field were too expensive to manage and operate and affected the growth of hockey in India. Since 1970’s the European nations like Germany, Netherlands etc. have dominated the game especially at the Olympics.

Women’s’ Hockey

Similar to Men’s hockey, the origins for women’s hockey is also credited to the English people. The first hockey games were played in late 1800’s and early 1900’s without much support. Due to the lack of

support from the existing associations, a separate association for women’s hockey – International Federation of Women’s Hockey Association (IFWHA) came into existence in 1927. This did not include many of the European nations, where they used to play hockey under the purview of FIH.

It wasn’t until 1982 that the two bodies completely merged and everything came under the body of FIH. This unification helped the inclusion of women’s hockey as part of the Olympics from 1980.

India Women’s Hockey

India Women’s best performance at the world stage came in the inaugural women’s hockey tournament


india-womens-hockey-team after qualifying for Rio Olympics
Image Courtesy: IndiaToday

at the 1980 Moscow Olympics where they finished 4th. The Women’s team enjoyed considerable success in the Commonwealth and the Asian games – incidentally they won the Gold medal at the inaugural 1982 Asian Games held in Delhi. The team qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics but unfortunately were eliminated in the group stage and eventually finished in 12th position.

The Women’s Hockey is currently ranked 12th in the FIH world rankings (as of Aug 2016).

Similar to the Hockey India League, there have been discussions around a hockey league for women – hopefully we will witness the starting of a women’s league soon.

Hockey India League

Hockey India League is a professional league that is held every year, usually in the earlier months. Hockey India League is come of age and is currently in the 5th year of its existence. The current edition of Coal India HIL is scheduled from Jan 20, 2017 to Feb 26, 2017 and has 6 franchise teams participating.

Future of India Hockey

Despite a lull during the 70’s, Indian Hockey seems to have found their footing and hopefully the popularity of both Women’s and Men’s Hockey should enable Indian Hockey to become better in the coming years. Whether Indian Hockey will regain their lost glory remains to be seen!


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