For the first time in my memory, I was watching India lose and yet was laughing like a hyena. It was a game I was watching in the Hero Honda FIH World Cup 2010 at Delhi and our marauding opponents were Spain. More on the reasons later.
The sport of hockey (field hockey for Yanks and Canadians) is a very physically demanding game, possibly the most strenuous team sport I know of. Though it never caught my fancy, I can appreciate the skill and strength required to play this sport and also why people may take a liking to it though I personally did not. This World Cup in India drew a lot of attention to this undeservedly ignored sport in which upto 40 years ago, India used to rule the roost. Since then India has slid down the pecking order and new powerhouses like Spain, Germany, Australia - all the usual suspects in a list of champion national teams have taken its place. It seems like a sport with immense potential for violence, with ultra-fit men smacking each other's ankles with sticks and smashing the rock hard ball at speeds upto 112 miles per hour. The melee that happens whenever the ball gets near a goal is breathtaking with swinging sticks, dancing legs and a seething mass of humanity in the goal zone which the camera has a tough time keeping a track of. It's a wonder that there are no fisticuffs breaking out between the players every 30 seconds or so!
This brings me back to the source of my laughter. The Spaniards had a big, bold "PRINCESS" written across their jerseys, their team sponsors and manufacturers of God knows what. All I know is that it looked ridiculous on a bunch of well built men aggressively celebrating every perfectly executed goal of theirs as they annihilated India. The poor guys, most of them obviously not proficient in English may have been feeling triumphant at disposing off the host country so easily but little did they realize the irony inherent in their uniforms! Maybe the Indians should have gifted crystal tiaras, pink evening gowns and glass slippers after the game to each of the players. Maybe then the "princesses" would know.