Sixteen days earlier than Ajit Pal Singh turned 28 in 1975, he captained India to their maiden – and to this point the one — World Cup hockey triumph. On the 46th anniversary of that momentous title win, achieved after beating Pakistan 2-1 in a fast-paced last at Siaran Langsung Dari Stadium, Merdeka (Kuala Lumpur), 73-year-old Singh on Monday recalled the ultimate and the celebrations that ensued.
Singh additionally vividly remembers the reception and felicitations that the group acquired in varied cities on its return to India. The group performed 10 exhibition matches at varied locations within the nation and have been felicitated wherever they went.
The MP Ganesh-led India had come near successful the World Cup in 1973 as properly, however misplaced to the Netherlands 2-Four on penalties within the last. Singh was a member of that group as properly.
Singh spoke to IANS on the 46th anniversary of India’s historic World Cup triumph.
Q: How do you keep in mind March 15, 1975?
On this date the perfect factor of my life occurred — historical past was made. I get goosebumps recalling that day.
Do you keep in mind distinctly what you probably did that day for the reason that time you get up in Kuala Lumpur?
Undoubtedly. Successful a World Cup comes hardly ever in a single’s life. I distinctly keep in mind the match, the celebrations, the place all we went after the triumph, how we returned to India and so on.
At what stage through the World Cup did you realise that the Indian group was able to successful the title?
It was after we beat Germany 3-1 in a Pool B league match. We had crushed England 2-1 within the first league recreation and drew 1-1 with Australia. And after blanking Ghana 7-0, we misplaced to Argentina 1-2. However within the final group league match, in opposition to Germany, we needed to beat them to qualify for the semi-finals, as Australia was at six factors and had we misplaced we might not have certified for the semis.
How powerful was the ultimate in opposition to Pakistan?
It was a fast-paced match. We have been within the area, enjoying, so we didn’t realise that. Nevertheless, those that watched the sport from the stands instructed us that it was a pacy recreation. The Pakistani group at all times had a robust ahead line, and that group too was sturdy. We, nonetheless, defended very properly in opposition to their forwards.
How did you spend time between successful the ultimate and until the time you went to sleep that day?
First, there was a celebration on the stadium. Then we returned to our group resort. The environment was completely different. Strictly talking, there was no mixed group celebration as such. Gamers have been free to go wherever they wished to; they went out with their mates and issues like that. As you recognize, there have been loads of Indians dwelling in Malaysia. Lots of these Indians took the gamers to their both properties or golf equipment as a part of the celebrations. One among my mates took me to the rooftop of a resort the place a couple of individuals have been current. We opened the champagne there. By 10.30 pm or 11 pm, I returned to my resort room. We have been too drained after the ultimate match. The subsequent day once more some individuals invited us, although I do not keep in mind the precise particulars now.
From Kuala Lumpur to we went to Singapore, the place the Indian group, significantly the Punjabi group, organised a reception for the Indian group. We additionally went purchasing there. Then we landed in Chennai, the house metropolis of then Indian Hockey Federation president M.A.M. Ramaswamy (1974-1980), the place there have been celebrations in marketplaces and highway reveals for a few days. From Chennai, we got here to Delhi the place receptions have been organised at a number of locations, together with the airport. We additionally met Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and different dignitaries, earlier than the gamers left for his or her locations.
Did the Indian gamers get any financial reward for successful the World Cup?
Successful a World Cup shouldn’t be a small achievement. We performed 10 exhibition matches at varied locations after getting back from Kuala Lumpur with the World Cup. They gave some sum of money to gamers. They need to have commercialised hockey, like they did with cricket later. They did not transfer with the altering instances. One instance is the introduction of synthetic turf for hockey in 1972. In India they put in the primary synthetic turf about 10 years later. On this interim interval, we received the World Cup. Why did not they set up it after the 1975 World Cup triumph?
Indian hockey gamers nonetheless do not get match charges.
I might reasonably say that, all mentioned and carried out, they’re getting at the least one thing now. Till some years in the past, they would not get something. When the group would come after successful one thing, they’d solely get shabashi (a pat on their backs) and officers would say “Nicely carried out, and now win the following event as properly”. In my time – within the 1970s and the 1980s – gamers can be happy if they’d land jobs by enjoying properly. Additionally, within the 1970s and the 1980s, hockey was the No.1 sport of India and cricket was at No.2. However within the 1980s, cricket went up and up and hockey’s recognition went down.
Are the members of the 1975 getting collectively right now to rejoice?
No, nothing as such. A number of years in the past, I used to ask gamers at my place for dinner and so on.