A Kenyan hockey group touring India just isn’t an occasion that will enthuse many, not even the die-hards. However, when the African minnows travelled to New Delhi within the 90s, one man from Sehore on the outskirts of Bhopal bunked workplace and made the journey to the Capital.
It wasn’t simply to watch Kenya play. He, as an alternative, wished to meet the group captain with a moderately uncommon request. A couple of years earlier, India had performed a sequence in Kenya and he was determined to discover out the names of the 2 goalscorers lacking in his record.
It was this dedication to his craft that made Baboolal Goverdhan Joshi, who handed away on Tuesday due to Covid-19, one of the distinguished hockey statisticians with an unparalleled physique of labor. He was 67.
At a time when skilled sports activities had devoted groups to preserve statistics, Joshi was a one-man military in a sport that was bereft of any such knowledge, particularly on Indian gamers. He went to excessive lengths to make sure that not a single aim scored by an Indian went unrecorded. This, regardless of the game not being extensively telecast, matches being performed at irregular intervals and barely any data accessible on the internet, making stats-keeping that a lot tougher. Yet, for shut to 5 many years, he has been a go-to man for federations, gamers and journalists for all of the numbers associated to hockey, extra so the Indian recreation.
B.G Joshi ji was that man who remembered our achievements higher than us.Ever-smiling & at all times prepared to assist, he’s chronicled Indian hockey for five many years.With the passing of Joshi ji, I’ve misplaced an expensive pal and hockey fraternity has misplaced certainly one of its largest asset.#RIPJoshiji pic.twitter.com/Ny2YnuiObO
— Dhanraj Pillay (@dhanrajpillay1) April 20, 2021
A retired engineer with the Madhya Pradesh Water Resource Department, Joshi’s tryst with numbers started with the 1970 Asian Games in Bangkok, when he began protecting notes for himself listening to radio commentary of India’s matches. As India received three back-to-back World Cup medals, beginning with the bronze in 1971 and culminating with a gold medal in 1975, Joshi’s curiosity within the sport grew additional.
It was throughout this era that he began protecting stats significantly – first by making a £10 subscription to the World Hockey Magazine, which the International Hockey Federation (FIH) printed month-to-month with all match knowledge (“The subscription cost was more than my monthly salary, but still I somehow managed,” Joshi typically recalled).
He even paid advance cash to a newspaper vendor in Bhopal for copies of The Hindu, which he referred to for hockey match reviews. Once a month, Joshi travelled to the state capital to gather his bundle because the day by day wasn’t delivered to Sehore. After an honest database was established, a regional newspaper began publishing his stats through the 1978 World in trade for a token quantity.
That inspired him to journey for hockey by taking go away from work. He began by visiting nationwide coaching camps, the place he collected knowledge of each Indian participant first hand. When he visited Lahore for the 1990 World Cup, he collected knowledge of gamers from the main nations from the group brochures.
It’s a apply he continued until the very finish by way of roughly the identical means: meet gamers and officers in particular person and collect knowledge as many hockey matches should not proven on TV even as we speak and sketchy particulars accessible on-line. The stockily-built man with hearty laughter was an unmissable presence at each main hockey event, particularly those held in India.
“He did painstaking work to keep his records updated,” Joshi’s son Shravan stated. “He used to dictate each stat and I fed it on the computer. And like a teacher, he used to rebuke me for any spelling mistake or wrong entry I made,” Shravan stated.
His son wasn’t the one one to get an occasional firing. Joshi would even chide the FIH for his or her improper maintenance of stats and infrequently urged Hockey India, the game’s home governing physique, to preserve the historic knowledge associated to the Indian gamers. Joshi would immediately right the errors made within the official accounts by referring to the volumes of labor he carried alongside.
Even in routine conversations, he would randomly throw stats and trivia, at occasions even reminding the visiting groups of the importance of their targets. “We have to figure out a way to not just preserve his legacy but also carry it forward. He invested his entire life for this, we can’t let it go waste,” Shravan stated.
Joshi, who travelled to completely different components of the world for hockey, had only one want left from his bucket record: to watch India play on the Olympics. The Tokyo Games had been on his want record. As destiny would have it, his final submit on Facebook was about India on the Olympics. “Indian hockey team’s performances (against Olympic champions Argentina) in preparation for the Olympics, which are three months away,” he wrote, “bring a smile to my face.”
Joshi’s submit quantity 1226 (after all, he numbered them!) summed up the person: a die-hard with unwavering religion within the group and at all times smiling.