One Team One Dream: A delightful obsession of fans of Indian Hockey
New Delhi, August 18, 2021
Indian hockey is riding on a euphoria The national team has won an Olympic medal, a bronze, after 41 years and for some old-timers it was a "dream come true".
But before the Manpreet Singh-led team broke the four-decade-old Olympics jinx, Indian hockey went through very tough and turbulent phases and most of the fans had lost hope of this sport's revival in the country and the game saw a massive dip in its popularity.
Most of the former Olympians and international stars were quoted as saying that their children are not interested in this sport any more and in this scenario of gloom and doom, there was a group of people who kept their unflinching faith in Indian hockey. And members of this group were spread all across the globe.
Raja Namdhari, a young businessman from West Delhi, who is one prominent member of that group, said, “We always had faith in Indian hockey. We not only supported it but also prayed for its success. We felt bad when the team lost and were overjoyed when the team tasted rare success."
Raja became a hockey fan after watching Namdhari XI play in the domestic tournaments. The Namdhari team was a force to reckon with in the then flourishing hockey circuit in the '80s and '90s.
“I loved the game and soon started interacting with others who had passion for Indian hockey," he said, adding, “All of us supported our national team without any condition. We stood by the team in its worst period and now rejoice in its success."
“I was fascinated by the commitment of these fans who came all the way from England, New Zealand, Canada, Finland, Luxembourg and a few other European countries and the USA just to support Indian hockey," he said.
“Even before I became part of this group, I used to follow the Indian hockey team around the world and we were conspicuous at stadia because most of the members wore white turbans.
"We never asked for any financial help from anybody, we spent our own money and resources while traveling across the world. We had only one motto, 'Support Indian Hockey, Support Indian Team', without any condition or qualification," he said.
It was only in 2010 during the New Delhi World Cup and Commonwealth Games that this group of passionate "hockey lovers" officially gave themselves a name -- One Team One Dream (OTOD).
Since then, the group has grown by leaps and bounds, having a core group of about 50 members and over ten thousand followers on social media.
OTOD gives its unflinching support to the Indian hockey team and wants to see the team succeed at every event, with the ultimate goal of seeing India winning at the Olympics and the World Cup again.
What makes OTOD unique is its unconditional and total devotion to Indian hockey. "We were with the team through thick and thin, and when even some former players lost hope our group stood by the team like a solid rock," Raja said.
The membership of the group is a true representation of different cultures and faiths, in which friendships have developed and grown through hockey, bringing people together from around the world to witness Indian hockey succeed.
The group had made all plans to be at the Tokyo Olympics. “We had out tickets booked, rebooked, accommodation and match tickets ready but we’re greatly disappointed due to the restrictions and ban due to the pandemic. For many members it would have been their first Olympics," said Raja.
Not to be deterred, 15 members of the OTOD met at Bangalore and stayed at the KSHA Club, where they watched the matches and cheered the team on the big screen. The joy of the group was to be seen as both the men's and women’s teams reached the semi-finals and the men went on to win the bronze.
To celebrate, the team brought out two T-shirts to commemorate this great victory and members were seen at Delhi and Bhubaneswar at the celebrations.
Many former hockey stars and coaches including Narendra Singh, Mukul Pandey, Ashish Ballal, Mohammed Riaz, Bharat Chetri and Anwar Khan have now become part of OTOD.
The OTOD group has made some plans to promote the game and will unveil them in late October or early November this year.