[dropcap]A[/dropcap]ugust 29 is celebrated as the National Sports Day in India as it marks the birth anniversary of hockey legend and former Indian captain Major Dhyan Chand.
Dhyan Chand, often referred to as ‘The Wizard’ for his incredible hockey skills, was born in 1905. In 2012, the Government of India designated August 29 as the country’s ‘National Sports Day’ to commemorate his birth anniversary.
National Sports Day was celebrated with great enthusiasm with walkathons and football tournaments held across the country in the first couple of years. The first year saw FICCI hold sporting events all across India with the help of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and other sporting bodies.
On National Sports Day, the President gives out all the sports-related awards like the Arjuna, Dronacharya and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna to honour sports persons and coaches who have made the nation proud with their service in their respective sports.
Remembering Dhyan Chand
- It was August 29, 1905, when India’s most successful hockey player of all time was born in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh.
- Dhyan Chand is officially known as ‘Major Dhyan Chand’ as he enrolled in the Indian army at the age of 16. His mentor, Subedar Major Bale Tiwari, recognised his talent for hockey in his early days and guided him through the initial stages of his career in the sport.
- Dhyan Singh used to wait for the moon to come out and then practice all night in the moonlight and thus he received the nickname ‘Chand’ from his colleagues.
- He captained India throughout his playing career and helped India win three Olympic medals – in 1928, 1932 and 1936. He scored more than 400 goals in his career which spanned over 22 years.
- During the 1936 Berlin Olympic finals, Chand top scored and the Indians won easily, defeating Germany 8-1. That match represented the pinnacle of India’s hockey success; guided and inspired by Chand, they made for a virtually invincible team.
- Dhyan Chand contributed to the game even after his retirement. He became the Hockey Coach Chief at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala for a while, and also taught at many coaching camps in Rajasthan.
- A cursory glance at his history tells us that Dhyan Chand is the greatest sportsperson that India has ever produced.
Countrymen pay tribute to Major Dhyan Chand
Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid his tributes to one of the biggest names in Indian sports and also urged people to take time out and place special emphasis on sports and fitness related activities.
Over the years, it has been a practice to give the Arjuna and Khel Ratna awards by the President of India to celebrate exceptional performances by the athletes on this day. However this year the date has been pushed to September 25 which would allow all the Indian athletes to return home from Indonesia.
Minister of Information and Broadcasting, as well as Youth Affairs and Sports Rajyavardhan Rathore, also paid his tribute to Major Dhyan Chand on his birth anniversary.
In a tweet, he called everyone to give tributes to one of the country’s greatest sports icons by inculcating sports as part of their lifestyle.
Many sports persons, Bollywood actors and politicians tweeted on the same, few of them are below: