History of National Sports Day: Why August 29 is celebrated as National Sports Day?

History of National Sports Day: August 29 marks the birthday of Hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand

India celebrates National Sports Day to commemorate the birth anniversary of Hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand across the country on 29 August. This day is observed to spread awareness on the importance of sports and daily activities in everyone’s life in the wake of need to stay fit and healthy.

The President of India honours eminent sports individuals for their contribution to the country. Major awards such as Khel Ratna, Dronacharya Awards, Dhyan Chand Award, Arjuna Awards are given to selected sportsperson.

The selection committee for sports awards has nominated two athletes for the highest sporting honours (Khel Ratna) of India in 2019. Rio Paralympics silver medallist Deepa Malik and wrestler Bajrang Punia have been nominated for Khel Ratna.  Khel Ratna is awarded for outstanding and spectacular performance in the field of sports for more than 4 years.  Cricket all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja and Poonam Yadav are amongst 17 others nominated for Arjuna Awards.

Why National Sports Day is celebrated on 29th August?

National Sports Day in India is celebrated on 29th August. On this day, “The Wizard” Major Dhyan Chand took birth. He is regarded as the greatest hockey player of India. He is also known for his superb control, creativity, magical touch, extraordinary goal-scoring feats. Under his leadership, India won three Olympic gold medals in 1928, 1932 and 1936. In his 22 years of career from 1926 to 1948, he scored more than 400 goals in his lifetime.

Major Dhyan Chand reached the pinnacles of glory multiple times and no one has reached to his level of hockey so far.

He was born on 29th August in 1905 in Pryagraj which was earlier known as Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh.  Fascinated with serving the country, he joined the Indian Army when he was just 16 years of age.  He was so passionate about the Hockey that he even used to practice it at night. His friends named him Chand for practising in the night.

Achievements of Major Dhyan Chand

Dhyan Chand was the highest goal scorer in the 1928 Olympics, Amsterdam. He scored 14 goals in that tournament.  In the following Olympics in 1932, India defeated the USA by 24-1, a world record which was broken in 2003. Major scored 8 goals while his brother Roop Singh scored 10 goals.

Major Dhyan Chand was made the captain for New Zealand tour in December 1934 by Indian Hockey Federation. India played 48 matches on NZ tour in which the captain played in 23 games. He scored massive 201 goals in those matches. The legendary hockey player played his last match for the Rest of India against Bengal in 1948.  The match ended in a draw.

Autobiography on Major Dhyan Chand was published in 1952. After retiring he taught players at coaching camps. He was later appointed the chief Hockey coach at National Institute of Sports, Patiala.

Dhyan Chand spent his last few days in Jhansi. He was diagnosed with liver cancer.  He died in the hospital in 1979 and was cremated in Jhansi.

For his contribution to the National sports of the country, he was awarded India’s third highest civilian award, Padma Bhusan in 1956.

The noteworthy memorial dedicated to Major Dhyan Chand is the highest award for lifetime achievement in sports and games named after him. Indian Postal Department issued stamps to honour “The Wizard” after his death in 1979.  The National Stadium of Delhi was also renamed after him as a tribute. British Government has named an Astroturf pitch in London in the name of Indian Hockey legend.

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Importance of National Sports Day

The day recognizes the contribution and achievements of Dhyan Chand to India’s National sports.  Spreading awareness about the importance of sports and games is one of the prime motives of celebrating National Sports Day.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the ‘Khelo India’ scheme last year on National Sports Day. This is one of the many schemes related to sports launched by the Indian government on Major Dhyan Chand’s birthday.

Indian Prime Minister has launched Fit India Movement across the country today. The inaugural event took place at Indira Gandhi Complex in New Delhi.  PM Modi administered a fitness pledge to the people of the country.  This movement is aimed at encouraging people to take more part in sports and fitness in their daily life.

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