You have to learn the rules of the game. And then, you have to play better than anyone else.” So goes a famous quote, applicable to almost any field. For Mahesh Anand, president, Nippon Paint India, the quote is an apt description of his passion for hockey.
A native of Chennai, Anand fondly remembers growing up in Palayamkottai, where hockey was considered a religion and not just a sport. The cultural ethos of the place had a strong impression on him and he was drawn into the game. Anand was part of the junior hockey team when he was 11 years old. “At that time, owning a hockey stick was a matter of great pride for us,” he says. Incidentally, this was during the same period of India winning a gold medal for hockey at the Moscow Olympics in 1980. “Owning a hockey stick was rare back then, and those who had it, we called them ‘Indian maharajas’,” he adds. The continuous encouragement from his school coaches and the felicitation of the country team at an international level had left an indelible mark on young Anand.
Reminiscing his early association with the game, he recalls how an inter-school hockey competition with a rival school would be like an India-Pakistan match. A team victory in one such match earned Anand his very own hockey stick, which was gi