The girl at the Hockey Stadium


– Sahar Ali

Talk about matches in Mumbai, Football boleto Manchester United, Cricket? Obvious hai Wankede aise lagta hai jaise aur koi game aati hi nahi. What to do cricket aur football ki baat hi kuch alag hai you may say. Lekin my lord, i beg to differ. You haven’t experienced the magic of the game of hockey.

Then you would ask me, what would a girl like me know of the game ? I  set out to watch Hero Hockey India Leagues 2nd match between our very own Mumbai Magicians and Uttar Pradesh Wizards and I hope I can prove you wrong.

Reaching an hour earlier, I caught some interesting events that occurred before the match began. So firstly the two teams came in huge luxury coaches followed by the guest for the evening Mr. Mohit Burman. This was my first real encounter with a hockey team and mind you it was VERY interesting (Psst. Ladies, next time go and watch a match, the teams have some really hot men!) The match began with the introduction of the teams, Mumbai Magicians with their patent song Aala re Aala, Mumbai Magicians Aala, and Uttar Pradesh Wizards with their song Sahara.

Indian Standard Time ke complete opposite me jaate hue (pun intended) this match kick-started at 8.00 PM sharp The first ten minutes involved lots of missed targets, the crowd trying to identify some players, and trying to figure out what was happening. The gripping point of the match was when Mumbai earned a penalty and converted it into the first goal of the match with Gurjinder Singh’s skilfulness in the 12th minute. Aur usike saath humari audience ubhar padi to what was termed to be a key goal. Excitement was setting in, the crowd was following the match with more interest now that our Magicians cast their first magic spell already.

At the end of first quarter, the score was 1 – 0.Beginning of 2nd half ,Mumbai Magicians Captain Glen Turner smashed the ball right into the goal escalating the score board making it a 2-0. Ensuring not to lag behind too much, UP earned a penalty and converted it to their first goal by Raghunath bringing back the lost momentum among the crowd and players.

At  half time, the absolutely unexpected happened, Bollywood  pataka  Sherlyn Chopra came up the stage and spoke to the crowd telling them how she feels ‘awesome’ about watching the match live  further adding a piece of her ‘own’ mindstating that, ‘If Cricket is India’s religion, Hockey is India’s tradition!’ Taliyon ki gadgadahat post the statement was quite expected. After all, what better way to glam the sport!

Back to the game now, post half time, wizards came out charged and skid across the ground like greased lightning. Conversion of another penalty into a goal by Raghunath levelled the scores while Siddharth Shanker striked the first field goal making it a total of 3 goals for the team. Finally, the Wizards were turning down the Magicians engaging and enthralling momentum set in the first quarter.

In the last quarter, Raghunath  struck his 3rd goal putting the Magicians in a tight spot. However, in the 57th minute, Sarvanjit Singh scored a goal for Mumbai making the scores 3 – 4.

And then at the blow of the horn, the Uttar Pradesh Wizards made their winning move. Full Chak de India moment for me.

Now as I pen this down, what clouds my memory is not the match, but the vibrant crowd that filled with match with higher levels of drama and action. On the one hand were a bunch of college students who didn’t even know that it was a Mumbai Magicians hockey match and not a Mumbai Indians cricket match, and on the other hand were a bunch of hockey loyalists who were happy, sad, angry, upset and overjoyed with every goal a team scored or failed to. Those from the neighbouring residential towers who couldn’t make it to the stadium, sat in their balconies aur mast live screening ka maza utha rahe the.

So no, it’s not about what game is being played, it’s about the spirit that the game brings with it. Afterall, chahe Wankede ho  ya Mahindra hockey Stadium, jaha vada pav aur chaar dost mil jaye…with some desi bollywood numbers, mumbaikars will always find some reason to celebrate.

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