'Balbir Singh Sr Hockey Foundation' launched
'Balbir Singh Senior Hockey Foundation' was launched here on Wednesday with the legendary player himself donating the entire amount of Rs. 30 lakh, which he had got from Hockey India this year.
Mohali: 'Balbir Singh Senior Hockey Foundation' was launched here on Wednesday with the legendary player himself donating the entire amount of Rs. 30 lakh, which he had got from Hockey India this year.
An announcement for setting up of the foundation was made by the legend's grandson Kabir at a function held at International hockey stadium here today.
The foundation has been launched "with specific focus on regaining world supremacy in hockey once again", Kabir said.
The 91-year-old triple Olympic gold medallist presented the first cheque by donating Rs 30 lakh, which he had received from HI in March this year as part of the lifetime achievement award conferred upon him at a function held at Delhi.
Prior to this, a commemorative function was organised at the stadium to mark the 67th anniversary of the event when tricolour was hoisted for the first time on this day in 1948 in London's Wembley stadium after India had defeated England to win the Olympic gold in men's hockey, a win in which Balbir Senior played an instrumental role.
Braving sultry weather conditions today, Balbir Sr, wearing a blue blazer and a red tie, climbed up steep stairs of the stadium here to hoist the tricolour at the function amid thunderous applause from the crowd that also included budding hockey players.
Besides, Balbir Sr's family and friends, present on the occasion were Chandigarh Hockey Association's senior functionary Yash Pal Vohra, sports sociologist S K Gupta, Punjab Cricket Association's CEO, Brig G S Sandhu (retd) and former India hockey player Madan Mohan Singh.
After unfurling the tricolour, Balbir Sr recalled, "It was a proud moment for all of us when we defeated England, which had until a year ago ruled India for a long period, on their own turf (in 1948).
"I still remember that before the match started, the Wembley stadium was reverberating with the noise of English fans. As we took an early lead and later on pumped another goal, after the half time some English fans started rooting for India, saying make it half a dozen (score 6 goals)," he remembered.
Balbir Sr said that August 12, 1948 was "greatest day in independent India's sporting history" and should be celebrated each year.
"Now I wish that India wins an Olympic gold and we again get a chance to unfurl the flag," the iconic centre forward said, wishing the Indian hockey team good luck for the future.
Notably, in 2012 London Olympics, Sr was honoured as the only Indian among 16 chosen Olympic legends across modern Olympic history.
His world record for most goals scored by an individual in the men's hockey final of Olympics still remains unbeaten. Balbir Sr had scored five goals in India's 6-1 victory over The Netherlands in the gold medal match of the 1952 Helsinki Games.