“All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”– this proverb aptly highlights the importance of physical activities in our life. Sports is not just about training; it’s a culture that should be promoted by all countries. In India, National Sports Day is celebrated every year on 29th August the birthday of the legendary hockey player Dhyan Chand.
He helped India win 3 Olympic gold medals in 1928, 1932 and 1936. He was also the captain of the Indian hockey team from 1933 till the end of his career. One of the most talked about highlights of Dhyan Chand’s career was when India faced Germany in the Finals of the 1936 Olympics. He scored 3 goals in that match in which India crushed Germany 8-1. His awe-inspiring performance in that match had impressed even Adolf Hitler, leader of the Nazi Party of Germany.
In a career that spanned more than 22 years, Dhyan Chand scored over 400 goals. Known to be a true sportsman both on and off the field, Dhyan Chand is considered to be a legendary figure in hockey. His astounding skills have been glorified in various apocryphal stories and anecdotes, so much so that he has been dubbed as the “Hockey Wizard”. He was also called as Major Dhyan Chand for his association with the Indian Army.
In 1956, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest civilian award. He is the only hockey player to have received this honour till date. Dhyan Chand contributed to sports even after his retirement; he was the Hockey Coach Chief at the National Institute of Sports and also tutored at several coaching camps.
Even decades after his death, Dhyan Chand’s legacy lives on. Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi has been named after him. In India, the lifetime achievement award in sports, the ‘Dhyan Chand Award’, was initiated in 2002 to honour people who have contributed considerably throughout their career in sports. Other prestigious sports awards like Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna, Arjuna Award and Dronacharya Award are also awarded on this day to sports achievers and coaches across various sporting fields. 29th August is also celebrated as the Annual Sports Day in many educational institutes across the country to focus on the importance of sports in the day-to-day life of people. It is also considered to be an occasion for encouraging youngsters to take up sporting activities as a profession and build a reputation not solely for themselves but also for their country as well – one of the dreams of the immortal Dhyan Chand.
– Ankan Bhattacharyya