New Zealand plans to celebrate centenary of 1926 Indian Army hockey team tour to NZ: Envoy

New Delhi, Apr 12 (PTI) New Zealand has planned to mark the centenary of the 1926 tour of an Indian Army hockey team, which included a young Dhyan Chand, to that country as part of its vision to celebrate the “breadth of our sporting relationship”, its envoy said on Friday.

Outgoing New Zealand’s High Commissioner to India David Pine said 2026 will be a “special year of our relationship”.

He was speaking during an interaction hosted by think-tank Ananta Aspen Centre here.

Asked about his nation’s plan to mark the centenary of the historic tour, the envoy said, “Yes, we want to use it as a trigger to celebrate the breadth of our sporting relationship.” He said an informal committee has shaped up and things will grow with time.

“In 2026, we are looking to celebrate that. In 1926, the Indian Army Hockey Team came to New Zealand with great Dhyan Chand. They stayed for three months,” Pine said, adding the touring team absolutely changed the way people engaged with it.

“So, we will celebrate all our sporting connections,” he said, adding that beyond cricket, weightlifting, judo, boxing and other sports connections will be celebrated.

New Zealand is also expecting visit of an Indian prime minister to that country in year 2026.

“It’s been a long-standing invitation,” he said.

The Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) was formed in 1925, one year after the formation of the International Hockey Federation (FIH), according to the official website of the Olympics.

“The IHF organised its first international tour in 1926 to New Zealand, where the Indian hockey men’s team played 21 matches and won 18. The tournament saw the emergence of a young Dhyan Chand, who would go on to become arguably the best hockey player the world has ever seen,” it said.

According to New Zealand Indian Sports Association website, the touring 1926 Indian Army hockey team is “significant in both Indian and New Zealand sporting history because it was the first overseas tour by an Indian hockey team”.

“The star player of this team was Dhyan Chand whose magical Indian dribble and goal scoring captured the imagination of the public wherever he played. He toured again in 1935 as captain of the all-India team and was a member of the victorious Indian teams at the 1928, 1932 and 1936 Olympic Games,” it said.

Source: PTI News


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