While ice hockey is being played for close to 100 years, in our country it is still fresh rather compared to the international hockey world. Based in Ladakh, the team don’t have much of a fan-following, but the sport is definitely growing with every passing day.
During the 1970s, a team of Indian army soldiers took up the sport for the first time in India’s snowy north. Since then India has never been a superpower in the sport but in a land of cricket, considering what they’ve had to go through, they’re already winners. 19 years later, in the land of cricket, the Ice Hockey Association granted membership to the Indian Ice Hockey Federation, something which many countries have still now failed to achieve.
It took India some time to arrive on the international scene as infrastructure was a major issue. After the conditions slightly improved, the team made its national debut at the 2009 IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia, which happened to be a new competition aimed at supporting the ice hockey loving countries in this part of the world.
Their international debut tournament did not go, as exactly planned. The team conceded 34 goals and scored one for themselves in the three games they played. After taking a year off, they were a part of the 2011 edition of the competition. Luck was not on their side either as they allowed 101 goals in five games.
Passion finally overcame obstacles for American ex-pat Adam Sherlip, who has been coaching the side since 2009. Led by him, the team finally managed to defeat Macau by a score of 5-1, which happened to be the country’s first every victory in this sport back in 2012. Although they could not qualify for the semi-final from Group B, which had Macau and Malaysia, this victory was special in its own way. The United Arab Emirates won the tournament after defeating Thailand 3 – 0 in the final.
No emotion can beat the joy of the players singing the national anthem under the beautiful tricolor. Something stirs you when it’s a matter of country, the effect and feeling of being a part of your great country are beyond comprehension. It works for all sporting nations and the same feeling was experienced when the players chanted ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’ (Victory for Indian Motherland!) after the match.
That was indeed the most inspiring moment. The result comes after that.