Dhyan Chand (1905-1979)
- August 24, 2020
Dhyan Singh was born on August 29th, 1905 in Allahabad (present-day Prayagraj). His father, Sameshwar Singh, was in the army, and he had two brothers – Mool Singh and Roop Singh. On his 17th birthday, Dhyan Singh followed in his father’s footsteps and got enlisted in the British Indian Army.
When Dhyan Singh first joined the military, he didn’t know anything about hockey. In fact, the closest he had ever come to hockey was hitting balls along the streets of Jhansi. However, Dhyan had a natural flair for the game.
Dhyan Singh’s superior, Subedar-Major Bale Tiwari, saw potential in him that no one else did. He took it upon himself to train Dhyan, and, in no time, his efforts paid off. Dhyan Singh was indomitable. At the end of each day, the sepoys would be dead tired, but one man would still stand strong, playing hockey into the wee hours of the morning. It was this night-time habit of his, practising hockey under the moonlight that earned him the name Dhyan Chand!
Illustration: Harsho Mohan Chattoraj
Dhyan Chand was a dedicated player, and soon, his skills caught the eyes of the British. He got the chance to visit New Zealand to play hockey against the locals there. By the time he and his team were back, he was already a star! Word of his marvellous exploits on the hockey field had spread like wildfire.
Things were looking up for the hockey wizard. Soon, the International Olympic Association decided to include hockey as one of its sports. There were trials held in the nation to form the best team. Dhyan Chand swooped through the qualifiers without breaking a sweat. In no time, he was selected to represent India in the Olympics. When the team was ready to leave, there were only three people who had come to see them off. The players, while disappointed, didn’t lose hope and knew...