Published: 29th August 2019
Why is Dhyan Chand's birthday celebrated as India's National Sports Day? Here are 5 reasons
The hockey great's birthday is celebrated as the National Sports Day and awards are presented to extraordinary sports persons on this day
Dhyan Chand was born Dhyan Singh on August 29, 1905, in Allahabad to mother Sharadha Singh and father Sameshwar Singh. His father was in the British Indian Army, and he played hockey in the army. The legendary hockey great got his title Chand as he liked to practice at night (chand literally means moon in Hindi). The Government of India has decided to celebrate his birthday as National Sports Day since 2012 in honour of the great player but he was denied the Bharat Ratna in 2014 when Sachin Tendulkar eventually got it along with CN Rao. As we celebrate his 114th birth anniversary and National Sports Day, we revisit some of his extraordinary feats.
1. On his 17th birthday, he enlisted in the 1st Brahmans of the British Indian Army as a sepoy (private) which later became the 1/1st Punjab Regiment. Chand exclusively played army hockey tournaments and regimental games between 1922 and 1926. Known as The Wizard or The Magician of hockey for his superb ball control, Chand played internationally from 1926 to 1949 and scored 570 goals in 185 matches.
2. On May 17, 1928, the Indian national hockey team made its Olympic debut against Austria, winning 6–0, with Chand scoring 3 goals. Dhyan Chand scored the most number of goals at the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. He scored 14 goals. During the Los Angeles Olympics, Chand along with his brother Roop scored 25 out of the 35 goals by India. During the Berlin Olympics, Chand once again was selected without formalities. Chand top-scored with 3 goals, Dara scored 2 and Roop Singh, Tapsell and Jaffar one each to defeat Germany in the finals for 8-1.
3. Due to his outstanding performance, Dhyan Chand was appointed as ' Lance Naik' in 1927 and in 1932 was promoted to Nayak and subsequently to Subedar in 1936 when he was Captain of the Indian hockey team. Later on, he went on to become Captain and was eventually promoted to Major.
4. After India defeated Germany in the 1936 Olympics final 8-1, Adolf Hitler offered him a senior post in the German Army. Chand refused but was reportedly terrified given the Fuehrer's reputation shooting people when disobeyed. But Hitler understood his argument that his family was in India and would be hard to relocate them.
5. Legend says that Dhyan Chand's ball control was like a magnet. This led to his stick being broken to check whether it actually had a magnet or any such thing that would explain why the ball almost stuck to his stick.
Dhyan Chand retired from the army at the age of 51 in 1956. He was a Major at the time of his retirement. Chand’s autobiography, Goal!, was published by Sport & Pastime, Madras in 1952.