Anyone can be a father. It takes someone special to be a dad. This has been the dad-son relationship between Ashok Kumar and his father Major Dhyan Chand.
“He was very special to me. He taught me the game and how to play it right," said Ashok Kumar about his father and the hockey legend Major Dhyan Chand while speaking to FPJ on the eve of his father’s birthday tomorrow (August 29), which is also observed as the National Sports Day.
"He is much more than thousand school teachers (no hard feelings for teachers, he says smiling), he was not just a my dad, but teacher, mentor and much more, a very good friend," recalls Ashok of the hockey wizard Major Dhyan Chand.
Ashok Kumar was a part of the team that won Hockey World Cup in 1975. And he scored the winning goal in the final of 1975.
This year is super special as Indian men’s hockey team made it to the podium after 41 years, and our women missed their podium for the first time ever, finishing fourth at the Tokyo Games.
Ashok Kumar was known for his exceptional skills and ball control. He welcomed the Indian government's move to rename the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award after his father. The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, which started in 1991-92, will now be called the Major Dhyan Chand Khel Ratna Award.
“I am thankful to our Prime Minister who made the change in the name of the award,” said Ashok Kumat while talking to FPJ from Jhansi, wherein a number of activities have been lined up for the National Sports Day.
Ashok Kumar felt that this is the right time to take a decision like this as the entire nation is celebrating the achievements of our hockey teams at the Tokyo Olympics.
"Sports awards should be named after sportspersons. This is a start and we are very happy. Dhyanchand belongs to the whole country," enthused Ashok Kumar.
There is no doubt that our athletes and sporting fans have kept Major Dhyan Chand's name alive even today. And now this Khel Ratna award will take that legacy forward.
“Dhyan Chand is still alive in our hearts. Every person in the country, even kids know about Dhyan Chand. Changing someone's name from Dhyan Singh to Dhyan Chand was a huge honour in itself."
"An athlete has to sacrifice a lot to make his/her name and carry the legacy of the sport forward. So it is better to name awards and stadiums after sportspersons. An athlete dedicates 8-10 years of his/her life towards the sport, and therefore, they deserve to be honoured. And this kind of honour (renaming a prestigious sports award) for an athlete, his friends and family will remember forever.
This day has always been special and Jhansi, a district in Uttar Pradesh, where Major Dhyan Chand lived for most of his life time, is packed with activities. Amid them are over 15 former internationals and Olympians, who will assemble wherein they will sign off the day playing an exhibition match against the women.