Raghbir Singh Bhola

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Ragbhir Singh Bhola
Personal information
Nationality Indian
Born Aug 21st 1927
Multan, British India, Pakistan
Residence New Delhi, India
Education Delhi Technological University
Employer Retired Group Captain Indian Air Force
Spouse(s) Kamla Bhola
Sport Field Hockey
Olympic medal record
Men's field hockey
Representing  India
Gold medal – first place 1956 Melbourne Team Competition
Silver medal – second place 1960 Rome Team Competition

Raghbir Singh Bhola (born August 21, 1927) is an Indian field hockey player.

Early life[edit]

Raghbir Singh Bhola was born to a middle-class family in Multan (now Pakistan) on Aug 21st 1927. His ancestors belonged to Pind Dadan Khan and grandparents moved to Multan around the end of 18th century. He went to Government Model High School in Khanewal, which was known for its sporting facilities (Cricket, Volleyball, Field Hockey, Athletics etc.). Due to this exposure, Raghbir developed an aptitude for sports. The standard for sports in his school was high and he only got an opportunity to play Field Hockey when the senior players did not turn up. His interest in sports was furthered by Dr. Khuda Baksh Awan, a civil surgeon at Khanewal who encouraged him to play with his children.

Growing up in Khanewal without electricity and only one communal water hand-pump, Raghbir learned the value of hard-work at a very young age. His father used to wake-up the family early to collect water every day and do other chores around the house. This coupled with high moral values inculcated by his grandmother, made Raghbir tough and taught him to face life cheerfully and take victory or defeat in his stride.

He moved to New Delhi for higher studies pre partition.

School & College Level Hockey[edit]

Raghbir was selected as part of the Government Model High School Field Hockey team and won the Interschool XI Championship. Later he moved to New Delhi, for higher studies, where he represented D.A.V High School, Paharganj. After graduating from High School and being a bright student Raghbir did Electrical Engineering from the Delhi College of Engineering( now Delhi Technological University), where he also played hockey for the Brothers Club at the inter-collegiate level.

Indian Air Force[edit]

After completing his Electrical Engineering from the Delhi College of Engineering, Raghbir Singh Bhola joined the Indian Air Force in Feb,1952. While undergoing training at the Air Force Technical College, Bangalore he was inducted into the Services Hockey team to play in the National Hockey Championship in March 1953. The Services team won the National Hockey Championship for the first time - this was beginning of Field Hockey career at the National Level.

From 1954 to 1960 Bhola captained the Indian Air Force Field Hockey and Services Hockey team (except in 1956) and won the Inter Services Hockey Championship three times and the National Hockey Championship twice.

In 1962 Raghbir Singh was selected by the Indian Air Force to undergo a two-year post graduation course in Electrical Engineering at the College of Aeronautics, Cranfield University, UK which he completed successfully.

International Good Will Tours[edit]

Raghbir was the only player selected from the Services Selection Board (SSB) for the Indian Field Hockey National team to participate in a goodwill tour of Singapore and Malaysia in February 1954. His assets were his ability to run very fast and back hand stroke. The international exposure and learning from this trip helped him master his skills while playing as a left wing.

In 1959, Bhola was again selected to accompany the Indian Field Hockey team on a goodwill tour of Egypt, Italy, Spain and Germany, in preparation for the 1960 Rome Olympics

Participation in Olympics[edit]

1956 Melbourne Summer Olympics[edit]

Since the Services team had won the National Hockey Championship in 1956 at Jalandhar, the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) selected Raghbir Singh Bhola to be part of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics Indian Field Hockey squad. In preparation for the Olympics, Bhola underwent vigorous training at Indian Military Academy, Dehradun. The team was captained by Sr. Balbir Singh and played so well that it reached the top; defeating Afghanistan 14 goals to nil, USA 16-0 and Singapore 6-0 in the group games and Germany 1-0 in the Semi Finals. India defeated Pakistan in the Finals 1-0, and brought home the gold medal

1960 Rome Summer Olympics[edit]

For the 1960 Rome Olympics, Raghbir was once again selected to represent the Indian Field Hockey team, this time captained by L. Claudius. Bhola demonstrated his best performance during this time, scoring a total of 6 goals in the tournament. He scored 3 goals against Denmark, 1 against Holland, 1 against New Zealand and the 1 only goal (scored in extra time) against Australia in the Quarter Finals. Raghbir's extra time penalty corner goal against Australia carried India into the semifinal where they beat Great Britain (1-0). India and Pakistan reached the finals again. Pakistan scored a goal in the first 10 minutes of the game after which India made several attempts to even the score but were unsuccessful due to good saves by the Pakistan goalie.In the last 4 minutes of the game, Bhola got the ball, dodged Right-Half, Right-Front Back, entered the shooting circle and took a full-blooded left hand stroke at the goal, missing the mark by 6 inches. India lost to Pakistan and got a silver medal.

Indian Hockey Federation - Selection Committee[edit]

From 1966 to 1975, Raghbir Singh Bhola was a member of the selection committee at Indian Hockey Federation (IHF), where he worked to make the selection process more transparent, rather than selecting players on whims and fancies.

International Umpire[edit]

Raghbir Singh Bhola was selected by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) as an international umpire for a period of 5 years.

Manager of the Indian Hockey Team[edit]

Bhola was appointed by the IHF as the manager of the Indian Field Hockey team for the following tournaments:

1. Rene Frank International Tournament, India 1970

2. Tour of New Zealand 1975

3. Montreal Olympics 1976

TV Commentator[edit]

He was the commentator of matches played in the 1982 Field Hockey World Cup held in Bombay. 12 Nations participated in the tournament with Pakistan taking the top honors

Indian Government Observer[edit]

Raghbir Singh Bhola was appointed to go as a government observer with the Indian Field Hockey team at the following tournaments:

1. Field World Cup, Sydney 1994

2. 4 Nation Pre Olympic tournament, Atlanta, USA 1995

3. 4 Nation Pre Olympic tournament, Brisbane, Australia 1996

4. Asian Games, Bangkok, Thailand 1998

Arjuna Award[edit]

In 2000 Bhola was awarded the Arjuna Award for life time achievements in Field Hockey.

Personal life[edit]

Ragbhir Singh Bhola currently lives in New Delhi, India and is married to Kamla Bhola. They have three daughters and three grand kids.