A few days back on founders day, A new building at the Naval Tata Hockey Academy (NTHA) was jointly inaugurated by Tata Sons emeritus chairman Ratan N Tata and Chairman N Chandrasekaran in the steel city. Previously it was the efforts of Ratan Tata & Tata Group that established the academy on founders day a few years back.
Indian Hockey Federation President
Naval Tata’s life had space for big business, labour relations, sports administration, charity endeavours and a load of laughs. His heart had room for all that is good about human nature. He was the first president of the All India Council for Sports and also served as vice-chairman of the International Hockey Federation, the game’s governing body, for more than a decade.
Indian hockey was one of the beneficiaries of Naval’s capabilities. He was the administrative head of the game in India when the country won gold in three successive Olympics. India’s participation in the first of these, the London Olympics of 1948, was in doubt till the last minute for financial reasons. Naval met Jawaharlal Nehru and somehow convinced him that it was in newly independent India’s interest to have her hockey team take on the world.
Standard of Other Countries are Going Up
Like many Indians, Prime Minister Nehru has been spoiled in later years by their continuous success.
After India had retained the gold at the Helsinki Games in 1952 through a narrow 1-0 victory over Pakistan.
Nehru expressed his disappointment to Naval at the team not having won by a ‘tennis score’! “Naval, is our standard going down?
“No, sir,” Naval replied, “the standard of other countries is going up.” Talk about the portents of the future.
This wonderful stretch of success, powered by players such as RS Gentle and Leslie Claudius, was in some part thanks to the support guaranteed to Indian sport by the Tata Sports Club, which Naval nursed with affection and competence for close to 50 years.
His efforts helped a lot of Indian athletes in realising their dreams.
Naval symbolised all that is best of the Tata spirit of giving back to society and the communities in which its enterprises grow. His caring and endearing nature, his abiding concern for those as poor as he once was, his love of a good laugh, and his instinct to trust even those not worthy of it made him one of a kind.