One thing that is important in the sport of hockey is to honour players (and officials) who achieved and given back much to their chosen sport. It is encouraging to read about the extraordinary achievements that sets them apart, especially when you have not appreciated their feats until you read about them. What is more encouraging is when they are honoured later in life for their legacy to the sport in years gone by. This premise has prompted the sharing with readers of two player’s achievements in the light of their recent awards for contribution to hockey. Both these players come from different parts of the world and from different eras.
Balbir Sing Senior (India)
If you are not from India and under 90 years old you may be forgiven for not knowing the Oldest Living Sporting Legend of India today and hockey player Balbir Sing Senior. In 2018 he is in his 95th year. What makes him royalty in India and certainly to the rest of the world one of the all time greatest hockey players? During 2012 London Olympics – he was chosen as one of only sixteen “Iconic Olympians” (8 men & 8 women) from ALL participants in ALL sports disciplines since 1896 (The start of The modern Olympic Era) by the Custodians of Olympic History – THE OLYMPIC MUSEUM LAUSANNE. He is the only sportsperson from World hockey who was been honoured in this manner. If that does not speak for itself what does.
His impeccable playing, coaching, and management career in hockey is inspiring.
- He is a triple Gold Olympian-1948 London, 1952 Helsinki, 1956 Melbourne (Captain)
- His Goal scoring records are so astonishing that his fans across the world lovingly nicknamed him ‘The Goal Machine ‘
- 1948 London Olympics –
-scored 6 of 9 goals against Argentina in his Olympic debut
-scored the first 2 goals in 7th and 15th minute in the Olympic finals against England on their home turf.
- 1952 Helsinki Olympics –
-scored all three goals against England in Semi-finals.
-scored 5 of 6 Goals in finals against Holland. ( Olympic and World record)
Many in India might NOT KNOW that THIS IS The OLDEST STILL Unbroken / unmatched World Record in the history of Olympics ( more than 65 Years)
- 1956 Melbourne Olympics – Captain
Scored 5 Goals against Afghanistan before he suffered multiple fractures in his right hand ( His injury was kept a closely guarded secret so as to force the opponents waste two/three of their players just marking him.
- The only person to have the honour of being flag bearer of the entire Indian Contingent twice 1952 and 56 Olympics.
- Recipient of First Padma Shri (India’s national citizen award) awarded in Sports Category( 1957)
- As Chief Coach / manager – Accompanied Eight Indian Teams for International Tournaments . Each time the Team had a podium finish. The feet includes The Historic 1975 Kuala Lumpur World Cup Gold when he was Chief Coach Cum Manager .The only World Cup Gold for India to date !In short – The man who has devoted all his life to Hockey -his first love – As a player, Captain , Coach , Manager, Sports Administrator, Hockey writer. Keep on powering Balbir Sing Senior.
Warren(Buster) Birmingham (Australia)
Australia has produced many hockey legends over the decades. The Hockey Australia Hall of Fame enlightens us of who they are. Some we may know, others we may recall and some we are not familiar with. It is for this reason it is important to bring to the attention of aspiring hockey players their feats and what is possible.
One of those names is Warren Birmingham. If you are a rising representative player in NSW you may know who he is. He has been the Hockey NSW Coaching Director for the past five years. He chose not to renew his contract with HNSW. From all reports he has helped representative hockey in NSW move forward through the innovations and program designs he implemented.
In 2017 Birmingham was inducted into the NSW Hall of Champions having represented Australia 200 times between 1982 and 1994, including two Olympic Games, four World Cups and 11 Champions Trophies. He was captain of the Kookaburras at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona when the side claimed a silver medal.
He also won the International Player of the Year in 1992 and was remarkably selected in nine consecutive World XI teams. Hockey Australia honoured his efforts in 2008 as one of the inaugural inductees of Hockey Australia’s Hall of Fame.
Go Hockey News wishes Warren the best as he embarks on his next phase of his life. Hopefully he will continue to give back to hockey his expertise.