Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Birth of the Hockey World Cup


World Cup Hockey

The Birth of the World Cup

The World Cup was born in a time of war....

The move to have a competition at world level, in between the Olympic years, was first initiated in 1969 through a joint proposal by India and Pakistan at an FIH Council meeting on March 30, and approved by the FIH on October, 26, 1969.

The person who brought this concept to reality was Air Marshal Noor Khan, the then president of the Pakistan Hockey Federation. He got a 61 cm. high trophy made of gold and silver, and formally presented the trophy to the FIH on March 27, 1971.

On that very same day of March 27, 1971, another momentous event was happening in East Pakistan. The military ruler of Pakistan, General Yahya Khan, ordered an army crackdown, unleashing an orgy of looting, rape, kidnappings and murder. Dhaka, the capital of East Pakistan, was in flames.

Pakistan was the original venue for the inaugural World Cup, which was proposed to be held in October 1971. However, at that time, war clouds hovered in the subcontinent. The Pakistani cricketer Abdul Hafeez Kardar led a campaign against India's participation in the hockey World Cup, threatening to burn down the stadium if the Indian team played. An Indian Airlines Fokker Friendship aircraft was hijacked to Lahore airport, where it was burnt.

With Pakistan unable to host the tournament under such volatile conditions, the honour of organising the first World Cup went to the city of Barcelona, at the Real Club de Polo grounds.

Less than two months after the inaugural World Cup, war broke out in the Indian subcontinent, Bangladesh was liberated, and Pakistan was dismembered.

The landmasses of West Pakistan and East Pakistan, isolated from each other by more than 1000 miles of geography, with no common linkages throughout history, sharing neither language nor culture, would now be countries in their own right. The 2-nation theory that religion alone could be the basis for creating a country, was shattered for ever.
Eight-time Olympic champions India have won the World Cup only once, in 1975 at Kuala Lumpur. India came 3rd in the first World Cup, 2nd in the second World Cup and 1st in the third World Cup. Since 1975, India has not won any medal in the World Cup, failing to even reach the semi-finals, with one miserable performance after another.

In contrast, neighbouring Pakistan has gone from strength to strength, playing in 6 finals of the 9 World Cup tournaments held so far, winning a record four times and coming runners up twice.

The following pages will chronicle the saga of India in the World Cup.


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