Kenya’s hockey team in the 1970s and 1980s

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the Kenya mens field hockey team was one of the best in the world. The best performance ever by Kenya was in 1971 when they finished 4th at the world cup. Most notable was the two victories over West Germany (3-0 and 2-1). Avtar Singh scored 4 goals in that tournament to finish as the second leading scorer. Tarlochan Chana, Jagjit Singh and Ravinder Singh were Kenya’s other star players.

Kenya also participated in the 1956, 1960, 1964, 1968, 1972, 1984 and 1988 Olympics. There were some notable performances in those early days. Despite qualifying for the Olympics for the very first time in 1956, Kenya acquited themselves well by drawing two games.  1960 was notable because Kenya beat West Germany and Italy whom they thrashed 7-0. In 1964, Kenya yet again shocked the world by recording wins over giants Australia (1-0), Great Britain (1-0), New Zealand (3-2) and the biggest shock of them all, a 3-1 win over the Netherlands. Kenya finished 6th out of 15 teams.

Whereas the Kenyan teams of the 1970s were fully made up of Kenyans of Indian descent, by the 1980s, indigenous Kenyans had started to make inroads. Most notable among these were players like Peter Akatsa and Chris Otambo, the latter of whom was once rated the best player at his position in the world. Besides qualifying for the Olympics in 1984 and 1988, Kenya also won the gold medal at the 1987 All Africa games. Other notables of that era were Simi Goyal , Lucas Alubaha, Parminder Saini, Michael Omondi, Jitender Panesar, Sunil Chabra and Paul Omany.


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