Few days before, I saw Virender Sehwag saying something on a tv commercial. He was saying that, he was not playing this time and will join as a spectator. I thought what happened to him? Why he is saying like Sourav Ganguly said in an ad when he was out of Indian team (remember that Hoo Haa India ad?). Then I came to know that he is promoting Hockey World Cup for Hero Honda. After that Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore and Priyanka Chopra followed with their versions. I also said, “it’s Hero Honda ad, not Hockey ad”. I was simply wrong. While people were going to forget hockey with popularity of cricket, this promotion worked really well. And many Indian watched first match of India in Hero Honda FIH World Cup 2010, Delhi against Pakistan. And the stadium was full of supporters, were cheering Indian team by blowing whistles and saying “Chak de India”.
Hockey – the national game of India. But how many Indians know it? Ask a random Indian, “What is our national game?”. If you hear “Cricket” from them, don’t feel amazed (However I never asked anyone). It’s something like when you ask “What is our national flower?” and people answering “Rose” (I had asked few people and got that answer. Once one friend was praising Indian National Congress for being secular and choosing Hand as their electoral sign as Hand and criticizing BJP for choosing Lotus as their electoral sign and supporting Hindutva (Hinduness). It did not come to my mind at that time, but I think she does not know Lotus is our national flower.). Similarly, I have seen people answering, that Vande Matarm is our National Anthem (Vande Matarm is our national song and Jana Gana Mana is our national anthem). Hockey was chosen as our national game, because at that time in India, people were loving this game and was one of the most popular games, similar to football. Cricket was not that much popular in India. But now the wind has changed. Now cricket is the most popular game of India. And if someone forgot anything about hockey or does not like hockey, then we should not blame them.
But the promotion by Hero Honda really worked well. When I knew ICC World Cup will be played in 2011 in Asia since 3 years, I came to know about FIH Word Cup via this ad campaign. I watched when India was playing its first match of the tournament with Pakistan. India played really well. I really enjoyed it and millions of other Indians too. Indian players were playing with great confidence, which was visible from their body languages. This was because millions of Indians supported them. That was a free trial of the product (Indin Hockey) for a new customer (Indian supporter) and the result was quite good. So the supporter will love to watch the next match. And I will sure watch the next match tomorrow. All the best for my team India.
Hockey, when I was a kid
When I was a kid, I saw people playing cricket and football. And we kids play games like hide and seek, thief and police, our own version of basket ball (where we have 7 pieces of small tiles piled up, called as basket, one guy hits those with a ball and opposing team players need to place them correctly. The basket breaker team will throw the ball to hit basket keeper team player, and if the ball hits, then you can’t touch the baskets.. blah blah…) and some other country games. When I grow up by some years, we friends tried to play some real game, and we have two options, cricket or football. We could play anything and anywhere. Normally we played on the side spaces of a main field where people play cricket or football, or some open spaces inside colony or some open spaces near the non busy street. We needed some stuff to play. To play football, arrange some waste papers, poly bags and some threads, if available. Prepare a ball big enough to hit that by our foot. We studied in school that our former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri was playing hockey with these type of ball and some normal stick to use as hockey stick. But I don’t think we have taken the idea from the book. We knew this art before. And for cricket we have used any stick or wood board which can be substituted as bat or own footwear as bat, buy a rubber or plastic ball, or prepare a paper ball(sometimes I played with ripen eggplants too). For wicket draw it on wall with small piece of brick or break some small trees to get stick for the wickets. Similarly, we tried to play hockey with a plastic ball and sticks just twice. Well, actually I want to say that we got enough opportunity to play cricket. Then some football, but no hockey. This is happening with hockey. However it’s our national game, but no one is getting much opportunity of play hockey at the entry-level. Our Govt is not promoting this at school level. They should supply enough kit to every school. If they are unable to do it, then think over to change our national game to cricket.
When did I watch Hockey?
Titan Cup 1997 – I was in class seven. I started to watch cricket at that time. I was watching football matches live near my home in annual tournament since I was in class 2 to class 8. But I watched a hockey match quite late. It’s 31st July, 2002, when Indian Women’s Hockey team was playing to South Africa in Commonwealth Games, Manchester quarter-final. South Africans were playing good and were leading with three goals. Just before the time finishes, Indians played really well and scored three goals to force extra time. And a golden goal by Jyoti Sunita Kullu and India won that match to enter semifinal. The match was trilling and you can compare the thrill with any thrilling cricket match. I watched the semifinal and the final with England. India played well in those matches too. The final was exciting too. And a personal note: “Many English players were beautiful too 🙂 .”. After that I have watched one match in a IPL type tournament, where Orissa Steelers was playing with some other team. I never got chance to watch it since 2010 world cup.
Why cricket is popular and there is a lot of money?
The game of cricket is designed in such a way that it takes a lot of time to complete, this means it wastes a lot of time. As the game is slower than football or hockey. So you have enough time to understand the game. There is enough time to view replays, if you are watching it on TV. But hockey and football are for 70 minutes and 90 minutes respectively. The game is fast and exiting. So you may not understand the game when you watch it for the first time. But watch it for few more times, you will understand it and love it. I have learned basics of tennis by watching a match for 30 minutes. You try it and you will understand and love.
Similarly, there is a lot of money in cricket. Take an example of TV relays. In between every over, you can show one or two ads. When player gets out, you will have a commercial break. And if it is drinks, then few more ads in that commercial break. If one player got injured, then some ads. Also you will find some ads on the screen when the play is going on, as siders (I don’t know what to tell them). So, there is enough time to show ads and earn money. But in hockey, before start of match, 3 or 4 ads. At the time of half time, 3 or 4 ads. Before second half starts 2 or 3 ads. And no ad after the match. No ad after the goal. No ad when there is an injury for foul or accident. Don’t ask me how to increase ad spots in a hockey match relay. If you do, I will say, do differed live and put some ads at exiting points. Or if you want to telecast live, then ask the players to take test for a minute after few minutes and then resume the game from that point. I know, these will never work, otherwise the game will lose the excitement.
Also, largest cricket stadium of India can hold 82,000 spectators in it, where largest hockey stadium of India can hold 25,000 people.
So there is more money is cricket, so the game is improving, gaining popularity. Companies are more interested to sponsor an event in cricket, so why they should waste their money here in hockey? So, Govt. of India has to do everything to promote hockey.
I also pray for Indian hockey team and at last I will say Dhak Dhak Goal