After years and years of training, 17 year old Kabir Khan got the honor of representing the nation as the youngest debutant Hockey player in the world. No wonder he was on seventh heaven when he stepped on the field for his first match against the arch rivals, Pakistan in the 5 match series hosted by India. In his very first match, he scored 2 goals and proved his caliber in front of the whole nation. At the end of the series, Kabir Khan had scored 12 goals and was named as the Player of the Tournament.
Khan continued to play at his best for the tournaments held in the next 2 years. But, no one knew that he would be the one who will be the player who can take India’s name to new heights at the 1992 Olympics. The Indian hockey team was in their purple patch during the early 90s. The rise of Kabir Khan was one of the main reasons for this achievement. The Olympics of 1992 brought even more happiness when Khan made India win the finals against the mighty British hockey team. Khan was given the Most Promising Player of the Tournament award. He was also roped as the captain of the Indian Hockey team in the next few months.
Kabir Khan was known for his quick passes and brilliant strategies for penalty strokes. He had never missed a single penalty stroke in his entire career. Having achieved a lot at a young age, he became a role-model for children who at one point of time didn’t like to see or play hockey and were moving on to play other sports like Cricket, Badminton and Tennis. Kabir brought back the spark of playing hockey and gave birth to new talents in every part of the nation. It was not only in India where Kabir was famous. He was known all over the world for his fantastic hockey playing techniques and was an idol for many new players. Kabir Khan had changed the way the world looked at the sport of hockey.
But, all of the respect and fame which Kabir Khan had made in his career of 16 years, went on in the drain because of one goal, one match and one trophy. It was the World Hockey Tournament where India was facing Pakistan in the finals. The atmosphere in both the nations was high in spirits and every citizen was patriotic for its own country. The environment in the Indian dressing room was no different. Kabir Khan, who was leading the Indian team in the 3rd World Hockey Tournament had pledged to bring the cup home. But, during the last minute of the match, India was trailing by 1-0 and desperately needed a goal when Kabir Khan was fouled and had to take a penalty shot. Unfortunately, he missed the shot by inches and India lost the match. Later the media circulated an image of Kabir Khan in which he was seen shaking hands with the Pakistan captain and smiling which raised many eye-brows on him and his Muslim religion and his connection with the fixing of the match. This one match costed Khan of his entire reputation as the world’s best hockey player. Though, he wasn’t found guilty for any crime, he was banned by the Indian Hockey Federation from playing hockey.
7 years after the incident, Kabir Khan’s named started to float on news channels again. But, this time, he was on news as he was named the captain of the women’s hockey team. No doubt, the ban of Kabir Khan affected the state of Indian hockey, but he was determined that he’ll bring back India it’s pride. In the 7 years of isolation, Khan prepared many plans through which he could’ve done that one goal which hadn’t caused the shame to his name. But, now he was on a mission to make a new team out of the talented yet ruthless girls which consisted the Indian Women’s Team.
The beginning of the training days were no less than torture to him but once he’d made his mind fixed that he’s not going to give up on the girls, he became strict and it resulted in a revolt against him. The team didn’t had any unity amongst them but they were together in the decision in which they didn’t want him as the coach. But, at his farewell party, the players were eve-teased by some boys which brought the girls together and beat them up. They realized why their coach was giving them lectures of playing as a team and sticking to one another and pleaded him to not to resign.
The practices and the matches started to be fruitful and the Indian Women’s Hockey team was qualified for the World Hockey Tournament. India was playing at its very best and reached the finals to meet 3 time world champions, Australia. The Australians were known to play fiercely and did not give up in any way. Thus before the start of the match, Kabir Khan have a motivational speech to the team to play with all their heart and to give their best in the next 70 minutes of their life. Those 70 minutes will decide their fate. The 70 minutes are not like any other 70 minutes but the most important 70 minutes that they could ever have. At the end of the match time, both the teams were tied at 2-2 and the winner was to be decided by penalty shoot-out. India could’ve lost the match if coach Khan hadn’t hinted the goalkeeper to stay in the middle and not move left or right when the shooter went for the shot.
It was all because of Kabir Khan that a rustic yet talented team won the World Hockey Tournament. It was because of that win that his name was clear of the blotch of a traitor. He was welcomed home with open arms and without any grudges of any past.
He became the hero again. He was never less than a hero, though.
Disclaimer: All the characters in the above story are fictional and the events are created by the writer. There are not related to any person alive or dead. The character of Kabir Khan prior to his incident in a part of an assignment and no offense is meant to the writers of the film Chak De! India! 🙂