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Cyprian Fernandes: Stranger than fiction!
Thanks Diljit Bahra and Sikhs in Hockey
Mexico City 1968 Olympic Games, Japan Team Walk out
India's pool match against
Japan featured one of the most amazing incidents in the history of Olympic
hockey. They won the match by five goals to nil without actually scoring a
They were awarded the match
by the technical delegates of the International Hockey Federation when the
Japanese team walked off the field before the final whistle and refused to
return. With 15 minutes to go, the British umpire Archie Young awarded a
penalty stroke against the Japanese. Inamur Rehman, who had replaced Inder
at inside left, was breaking into the circle when there was a clash of
sticks as he went to pass the Japanese back Katsuhire Yuzaki.
The umpire decided that Inam
had been fouled and presumed that a certain goal had been prevented.
therefore, awarded the most drastic penalty. The Japanese did not first
realize what decision the umpires had made. They thought the whistle had
gone for a foul against their player. When the truth quickly became
apparent, they surrounded the umpire, protesting and indicated the nature
of the foul committed not by their player but by Inam.
The umpire stuck firmly to
his decision indicating a second time that he had awarded the
penalty-stroke. With that several of the Japanese players threw down their
sticks in disgust. In great anger, their captain led the team off the
The Jury of appeal chairman, Stewart
McIldowie of South Africa ordered the Japanese manager to get his team on
the field within 30 seconds but because they were so upset there was never
any chance that they would return.
When the whistle went for the
game to resume, the Indians were still on the field watching incredulously.
At least three minutes had elapsed. The Japanese did not reappear and the
umpire blew his whistle again indicating that the game was over.
Balbir Singh (Services) was
the Indian player who was waiting to take the penalty stroke.
The Japanese, it was revealed
afterwards, were strongly favoured to win the Fair-play trophy which was
being awarded at Mexico City Olympics tournament for the first time.
Munich 1972 Olympic Games
The 11 days of these Games
were perhaps the greatest Olympic festival ever. However, on the morning of
5 September, the Games were interrupted when eight Arab terrorists,
representing the militant group "Black September" entered the
Olympic Village, took hostage and then killed 11 members of the Israeli
Olympic team - all this only 20km from Dachau. The Olympic Games were
suspended for 34 hours and a mass was held in the main stadium to
commemorate the victims. The flags of all the countries were flown at
half-mast. But the Games continued at the insistence of the IOC President
Avery Brundage, who famously said "The Games must go on !"
On 7th September 1972 a
Memorial service was held in the Olympic Stadium in memory of the 11
Israeli athletes who had been gunned down by Palestinian terrorists the day
Sadly the Munich Games of
1972 will always be remembered for the wrong reasons. But for Sikhs these
games saw 30 Sikh players playing hockey representing India, Kenya, Uganda
These Games also saw the
emergence of the Ugandan Hockey team who had nine Sikhs making their one
and only Olympic appearance. Uganda went to these Games at a great
disadvantage. They were virtual novices on the world stage. Three
draws one against the eventual champions Germany were great results
and they did finish with their solo Olympic victory.
The political climate in
Uganda shortly after the Olympic Games meant that all the Asian players had
to leave the country on their return.
The pool match between India
and Kenya on 2nd September 1972 saw 15 Sikh players on the field at the
same time 10 for Kenya and 5 for India. Both the teams were captained
by Sikhs, Harmik Singh captaining India and Avtar Singh Sohal captaining
Kenya. India won that match 3 2, all five goals being scored by
Sikhs, Mukhbain Singh scoring two and Harmik Singh one for India and
Davinder Singh Deegan scoring two for Kenya.
Sikhs scored a total of 35
goals at the Munich Games.
The Munich Games were to have
been followed by a special match between the Olympic Champions and a World
XI. Because the hostage crisis
caused a whole day of the Olympic programme to be lost, the Munich final
was played on the day the World XI match should have been staged.
Horst Wein and Patrick Rowley
had been charged with running and selecting the World XI. They never did
announce the names of the World XI players. Had the special match gone
ahead, the World XI would have, without any doubt, included several Sikh
The 26 players short listed
for the World XI were:
A Carrera (Spain); P Dearing
(Australia); M Sikking (Holland); A Belavantheran (Malaysia); M Kindo
(India); M Zaman (Pakistan); M Peter (W. Germany); A Solie (Belgium); Ajit
Pal Singh (India); A Kumar (India); B Cotton (GB); H. Droese (W. Germany);
F Fabregas (Spain); J Fabregas (Spain); F Rehman (Pakistan); B Govinda
(India); R Haigh (Australia); Islahuddin (Pakistan); C Keller (W. Germany);
T Kruize (Holland); Kuldip Singh Bhogal (Uganda); S Maister (New Zealand);
S Anwar (Pakistan); M Shahnaz (Pakistan); Surjit Singh Rihal (Kenya); U Vos
Avtar Singh Sohal (Tari) of
Kenya became the first player to Captain an Olympic team at three
consecutive Olympic Games and play in four Olympics. His achievements of
playing in 167 internationals was recorded in Guinness Book of Records from
1979 - 1985.
For the first time since 1920
a European team won the Gold Medal. Germany beat Pakistan, 1 0 in the final
to win this honour.
India s team was captained by
Kenya s team was captained by
Avtar Singh Sohal.
Uganda s team was captained
by Rajinder Singh Sandhu.
When Indra Gandhi
Asked: Why Sikh Players only
An extract from Mr Ashwini Kumar’s speech made at a
function on 25 April 2006 at Ashoka Hotel, New Delhi to felicitate the top
10 Sikh hockey Olympians of India. I was present at this function which was
attended by the National press of India and several Olympians. Dil
“In 1974 when I was an Inspector-General in the Border
Security Force I received a call from the Prime Minister’s Office that Mrs Indira Gandhi wanted to
see me urgently that evening. I was on an inspection visit to some border
posts in Kashmir near Gulmarg. I was stunned at this SOS from the PMO. A
chopper flew me from Gulmarg to Srinagar from where I took a regular flight
of the Indian Airlines to New Delhi.
“I could not guess the reason for the summons. There was
not much happening in either the Border Security Force or Jammu and
Kashmir. Anyway, I reached Delhi and went to call on the Prime Minister at
the appointed time.
“After a formal exchange of greetings, I mustered some
courage to ask the Prime Minister: Madam, you asked for me. Is there
“No, nothing much. The only
reason I have called you here is to tell you that the Education Minister
recently pointed out to me that you have been recruiting too many Sikh
hockey players, said Mrs Gandhi. I kept quiet though I was very upset. I
returned to the guest house and signed my letter of resignation from the
presidentship of the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) and sent it immediately
to the then President of the Indian Olympic Association, Raja Bhalendra
Singh. All my friends in sports in general and hockey in particular advised
me against this step. But I was determined. I had so much faith and trust
in my hockey players, most of whom were Sikhs. I could not have left them
The contribution of Sikhs to
Indian hockey has always been immense and I salute them."
Mr Ashwini Kumar is a well-known
Sports administration. He was Deputy Chef de Mission at the 1956 Olympic
Games and Chef de Mission in 1960 and 1964 and at the Commonwealth Games in
1954, 1958 and 1970; head of the Indian hockey delegation at the Olympic
Games in 1964 and 1968; President of the Indian Hockey Federation for 16
years; former Secretary General of the Indian Olympic Association; member
of the Commonwealth Games Federation and of the Asian Games Federation;
Vice-President of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) for more than
15 years; President of the Indian Basketball Federation; President of the
Punjab Olympic Association (12 years); elected Life President of the Indian
His IOC History reads as
follows: Member of the IOC from 1973 to 2000; Honorary Member since 2000;
member of the Executive Board (1980-1987, 1992-1996); Vice-President of the
IOC (1983- 1987); member of the following Commissions: Olympic Solidarity
(1980-1984), Olympic Movement (1983-1987, 1992-1996), Mass Media
(1983-1989), preparation of the XII Olympic Congress Congress of
Unity (1985-1987), Radio (1983-1987), Council of the Olympic Order
(1983-1987); security delegate (1983-2001)