Thanks to Major Dhyan Chand, an Indian field hockey legend, August 29 has become a special day for all in India. National Sports Day in India is a day for all to not only remember the the hero that Chand was, but also to celebrate all that is good in sports.
As the celebrations got going nation-wide, Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal made sure to reiterate to all that remembering Chand meant understanding the qualities he played with.
Chand has long been considered India’s greatest hockey player. He scored over 1,000 goals between 1926 and 1946, helping lead India to three Olympic gold medals. The first medal was won in 1928.
“He is inspiration personified,” said Sonowal. “He became synonymous with hockey. He became the parameter of hockey by which other players’ caliber is measured. It is surprising to know that Dhyan Chand, who came to be known as hockey magician, started playing hockey only after joining the army at the age of 16. It was from there that he started playing hockey.”
The recently-completed International Hockey Stadium in Raipur was officially opened on what would have been the 109th birthday for Chand.
“The best way to pay tribute to Major Dhyan Chand is to inculcate his qualities of discipline, hard-work and determination in our hockey players and also in other sportspersons,” Sonowal added. “India is on a continuous stride to set new heights for its performance in world sports. We just need to keep this momentum by keeping the ideals set by Major Dhyan Chand, who we remember today.”
The new stadium in Raipur will seat up to 4,000 fans, with the blue turf being a fan favorite. The opening ceremony also featured a scrimmage between India ‘A’ and India ‘B’.