It will come as a huge surprise to those of the current generation, perhaps, when I say that the Indian men’s team played its first-ever match on artificial turf in Moscow hardly nine days before the 1980 Olympics.

Used to playing on grassy ground in India, our boys had the first experience on the turf playing matches against the host. Each practice session or match, with the expertise of our coach Balkishan Singh, we used it to the best of our capabilities. No doubt, it was a great learning experience discussing the finer details of the behaviour of the turf with the leather ball.

Our boys, comprising mostly under-21 players who had played only in the junior nationals, though inexperienced, were hungry. The few senior players were myself, M. K. Kaushik, Bir Bahadur Chettri and Sylvanus Dung Dung.

Most of the European countries including Spain and Germany had artificial turfs and had…

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