Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hockey fever at the Commonwealth Games 2010 in Delhi

Guys, I just came back from the hockey semi-final between the Commonwealth Games (CWG) host country India against its old conqueror England and must admit that I have discovered my second favourite team sport! It’s like football, because its structure is the same: one big field, 11 players each side, all running to get the ball in the opponent’s goal. Even though the rules are a bit different, tactics and runways are the same. So if you like football, then you’ll probably like hockey as well. It’s like footballs little brother. The exciting and fresh thing about hockey is that you don’t know the moves and tricks the players are performing and thus it seemed like amazing football tricks all the time! It’s also really fast and how they can dribble, pass and receive the ball is just incredible…
Since a couple of years India knows that it will host the CWG in 2010, billions of Euros has be spent (actually 7 billion EUR, which is 2-3 times as much as at a World Cup) more or less reasonable. The big sport event with 71 Commonwealth Nations turned the last two month I’ve been in Delhi into a big chaos and nobody was expecting it to be ready in time. Only a few optimists have been remaining and could hope for an “Incredible India” wonder to happen and then on the 3rd October it was finally the big day, when the event which divided India in pros and cons, was present. The fact that the government pushed all the small street marketer and stands out of the city, the big corruption around the huge amount of money spent, the crucial schedule and the already apart-falling and breaking bridges and building ceilings were in nobody’s mind anymore! Nevertheless the government still seems to be really worried about terror attacks, because what you see on the streets right now, could also take place in Afghanistan. Huge army troops are patrolling the stadiums. Military is even hiding behind sand sack barriers and in observation decks pointing with big guns on passengers. It almost looks like India is in a war…
The CWG were only about to happen for 11 days and by the time some of my friends and I finally made a decision to witch games we should go, most of the tickets were sold out already. Luckily we got tickets for the semi-final India against England, what was actually not known at the time we bought our tickets. The price was incredible cheap; if you consider the 250 rupees (bit more the 4 Euros) we had to pay for a game of the best four teams. At work we were already talking about all the India hockey games as it is the most prestigious sport at the games. No wonder that right before the closing ceremony the hockey finale will be played. In exactly this match India will now face Australia and an entire nation hopes to see a different score than the 7:4 defeat in the group game.

Back to the semi-finale! My first hockey game will be legendary for me and comes close to my first football match what I watched with my grandfather in 1994, when Brazil and Italia were battling each other in 120 minutes and penalty shooting of the World Cup finale! The same happened today, when India equalised the 3:1 handicap from the middle of the second half. India was playing as it was their last game and deserved to get extra chances in the additional time. Unfortunately they missed a penalty during the 1st half of the two times 7.5 minutes additional time and so made it exciting until the shooting. The longer the game continued the more people realised that India really was able to go into the CWG finale for the first time. Therefore more and more often the fans were standing up, singing and cheering for their team. We were right in between them and also supported our India. The atmosphere was really peaceful and fun to participate. When the Indian hockey goal keeper saved one of the English penalties then everybody was jumping around crazy, but still had to wait for some more minutes until it was official that India bet England. In their happy mood a lot of people come to us for sharing their happiness with us, taking pictures and having small talks. At the end I discovered another parallel to football, because England seems to be weak in penalties in both the sports ;-)

Besides all the negative media releases of the CWG in the last weeks, it was a nice evening with a perfect score.

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