Indian hockey has been on an upswing since a decade
"Hockey has not been on a decline. In fact, it has been on an upswing from 2008 onwards," opines popular commentator and analyst Siddharth Pandey.
The Tokyo Olympics was one of the biggest high points for Indian hockey in many years. While the men's team returned with a medal for the first time since the 1980 Moscow Olympics, the women qualified for the semifinal for the first time ever.
It was quite certainly a surreal moment for everyone, including fans, experts and former hockey stars of the country – all of whom had tears rolling down when the women's team defeated Australia in the quarterfinal and when the men defeated Germany in the bronze medal match.
While a lot of people considered this performance to bring an end to the country's decline in hockey, popular commentator and analyst Siddharth Pandey disagrees. He believes that Indian hockey has been on an upward scale for almost a decade.
"Hockey has not been on a decline. In fact, it has been on an upswing from 2008 onwards. We did not qualify for the Beijing Olympics, which was rock bottom for Indian hockey, and the only way from there has been up. After that, the men's team qualified for the 2012 London Games and finished last; in Rio they finished in the top eight and in Tokyo, they returned with a bronze. Same with the women's team, what they have done is miraculous, and they are ahead of the curve," Pandey said during an interaction named The Incredible Indian Hockey Revival in Tokyo.
Siddharth Pandey believed that the country currently has a good system in place, which has helped Indian hockey come out of the darkness it was in more than a decade ago.
"One crucial thing everyone needs to understand, you do not get great results overnight in elite competitions. You need to put a system and process in place, which we did, and the results are showing now. Hockey is not on a decline; it is on an upswing. We are very comfortable in our own swing with the system we have in place, the structure we have got, the coaches we have got, and everything is falling in place," Pandey asserted.
Hockey is thriving in India at the grassroots, and the existing system has helped the country bring out extremely talented players from the grassroots, which has helped the country put up the kind of performance it did in Tokyo.
"I can assure you if you go to parts of Odisha, Jharkhand, Purvanchal, Mizoram, there is a lot happening in Indian hockey at the grassroots. It is definitely not perfect; there is still a lot that needs to be fixed. But, first, the narrative that Indian hockey is on a decline needs to change," Pandey explained.
The Incredible Indian Hockey Revival in Tokyo was a session moderated by popular sports broadcaster and analyst Gaurav Kalra on audio chatting platform Bakstage.