Happy Birthday Sandeep Singh!

What a day to have your birthday on, young lad! After steering India to a stellar 8-1 win over France yesterday and making those Olympic rings tattooed on your arms proud, have a blast today. Very well done, you! Happy happy birthday to you! Hope you kick ass at the World Series as well!

 

 

 

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WE DID IT!!!

I am so so happy and so so proud of the Men’s National Hockey tonight. Such a young team, inexperienced at that, and what a phenomenal performance! For those of you who are clueless about what I am writing,  India defeated France by 8-1 to secure a place at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games! YAY!!

Indian players and officials pose with the trophy after their win over France in the London 2012 Olympic Games men's field hockey final qualifying match in New Delhi February 26, 2012. Eight-time champions India secured their place in the men's hockey event at this year's London Olympics after routing France 8-1 in the final of qualifying tournament on Sunday.

India's Sandeep Singh, with raised hand, celebrates his fifth goal of the match against France during the 1st-2nd placed playoff match of field hockey Olympic qualifier in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012.

The 30th Olympic Games, and Olympics #19 for the Indian Hockey Team who have won the Olympic gold 8 times in the past. What a feeling to be redeemed. This is the same team that failed to qualify for the Olympics in the first time of Olympic History in 2008. And they’ve achieved their dream tonight and they’ve made supporters of the national game proud!

Coming from such humble backgrounds and making it to the top with little endorsements and money, they’ve shown that passion and dedication can make everything possible. Credit must also go to our new coach Michael Nobbs, who virtually turned this team around. His strict coaching methods and good use of the players and their abilities have given this team a brand new face. This team is now raring to go and face the competition at the Olympics this July.

One more special mention for our penalty corner specialist, the master of the drag flick, Sandeep Singh. Few would believe that this is the man who was seriously hurt in a freak shooting incident 6 years ago, just days before the Indian team left for the Hockey World Cup in 2006. He’s risen from the ashes like a phoenix and has stamped his mark in every match that he has played. Top-scoring in the tournament with 15 goals, Sandeep’s time has come, and he’s peaking at the ideal time for India.

India's Sandeep Singh (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against France during their London 2012 Olympic Games men's field hockey final qualifying match in New Delhi February 26, 2012.

All in all, it’s been a tremendously satisfying process to watch the Indians rout all the competition in their way and make it to the glorious position of the winners of the Olympic Qualifiers tournament. I know, things will only get better! 🙂

 

4 more years to the Olympics, maybe.Who cares?

So tonight and the loss to South Africa in the finals of the Olympic Qualifier Finals means that the Indian Women’s Hockey team has failed to qualify for the London Olympics. This means that the team has to wait for 4 more years to try and qualify for the next Olympic games.

But here’s the real deal – who cares?

South African players celebrate their victory against India for the final position of the FIH London 2012 Olympic Hockey qualifying tournament at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi on February 25, 2012.

Shelley Russell (C) of South Africa celebrates a goal with teammates during the women's field hockey match between India and South Africa for the final position of the FIH London 2012 Olympic Hockey qualifying tournament at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi on February 25, 2012.

It makes me so mad. It makes me so angry. It makes me want to hit my head against the wall when there is such a step-motherly treatment for the so-called national game of my country. And it makes me sad to see the state of the team, the state of the players, their well-trained, muscular opponents outclassing them even when our team clearly has ample more skills and talent.

It makes me mad when a male laughs and asks mockingly, ‘Is there a women’s team? Oh I seriously didn’t know’ . I feel like pointing them towards the amazing female players that our women’s team has and the stupendous effort they’ve made to reach the finals of this qualifying tournament. If only people would care enough to pick up and actually read the newspaper that is delivered to their home everyday.  It makes me sad when people have such low expectations from the women team and demand the opposite from the male team. Why? Why the difference in perception? Since when has it become fashionable to bring down and mock female participation in sports? Do women play only so that male spectators can come to jeer and ogle? Do they? Do they?

South Africa's Lesle-Ann George (L) fights for the ball with India's captain Asunta Lakra during their London 2012 Olympic Games women's field hockey final qualifying match in New Delhi February 25, 2012.

It breaks my heart when virtually no friend of mine follows this glorious sport. The sport that has won India 8 Olympic golds. It makes me sad that people would actually watch a TV premier of a movie and not the Olympic Qualifier finals for their national women’s team. It makes me so so sad. It makes me so angry.

But as I said, who cares?

The team will slog on for the coming 4 years and try to make it to the Olympics, try to better their ranking. But will anything change? Will the perception change? That is why our team desperately needed the win tonight – to shut up a lot of people and show them how the game is played. To show them that women don’t play with any less passion or dedication when compared to men. To show that we have an equal stake. Yes we do.

Do you care?

Bidding goodbye to Polio.

Today, India celebrates one full year since it’s last reported case of Polio. India is one of the PAIN countries, the only remaining countries where Polio is still an endemic disease. PAIN consists of Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and Nigeria. Just years ago, this health program seemed stalled but it is to the credit of the government which has been promoting Polio vaccination on a big scale to make eradication possible.

India is closer to Polio eradication than it was ever before. And it all thanks to the medical administrators and the medical officers who have shown immense dedication and sincerity towards this task. And also worthy of a mention are Rotary International, WHO and the Gates Foundation.

A killer disease, Polio causes paralysis hours after contraction of the virus. If the efforts continue on the same scale, very soon, we shall bid good-bye to this horrible disease and get one step closer to making Indian kids healthy.