Mahan Singh was born on 31st January 1902 in Sahni, a village near Sanehwal in Punjab, India. He had his early education in Sanehwal and at Government High School Ludhiana. He later went to Lahore for further education and was well versed in Persian, Punjabi, Urdu and English. In 1921, at the age of 19, […]
Mahan Singh was born on 31st January 1902 in Sahni, a village near Sanehwal in Punjab, India. He had his early education in Sanehwal and at Government High School Ludhiana. He later went to Lahore for further education and was well versed in Persian, Punjabi, Urdu and English.
In 1921, at the age of 19, Mahan Singh emigrated to Kenya and joined the East African Posts and Telecommunications Administration Headquarters in Nairobi.
He had a dream to make Kenya a force to be reckoned with in the world of hockey.
For nearly half a century Mahan Singh worked to realise this dream by recruiting equally passionate players and perfecting the game using both skill and science.
In 1931 he was one of the founders of the Sikh Union Nairobi and served as its Secretary for 20 years. Through the Sikh Union he helped develop hockey in East Africa which eventually led to Kenya’s participation at Melbourne Olympic Games in 1956.
1938 was a breakthrough year for Mahan Singh and Kenyan hockey when he was made captain of a mixed race Kenya Hockey team which toured South Africa and Rhodesia.
During a visit to India in 1946, Mahan Singh held talks with the Indian Hockey Federation, the aim being to link Kenyan and Indian hockey.
The result was a tour to Kenya from the Indian hockey team in 1947. This tour was a display of the expertise of the Indian hockey team which entertained many East Africans.
For the first time Kenyans saw star players in Dhyan Chand, Manna Singh and Dig Vijay Singh who collectively triggered great enthusiasm for hockey in Kenya by their hockey wizardry.
The Indian hockey team were equally impressed with Mahan Singh’s knowledge of the game. He knew the successes and failures of each and every move in the game but was always enthusiastic to learn more.
This tour was one of the major highlights in Kenyan hockey history and subsequently India officially toured Kenya in 1949.
The Tata Sports Club toured Kenya in 1952 and India returned twice more in 1959 and 1963. Due to Mahan Singh’s knowledge and determination Kenyan hockey improved with each tour.
He became a FIH international umpire in 1961.
This was when Kenyan hockey reached its peak and when Mahan Singh became known as the Father of Kenya Hockey .
Mahan Singh retired from hockey management in 1961 and went on to train the Kenya Women’s Hockey Team who gained much success against an International Wanderers team and then went on to tour India in 1968.
Mahan Singh was the Secretary of the Kenya Hockey Union from 1949.
He was elected as the President of Kenya Hockey Union in 1957.
In 1959 the East Africa Hockey Union was created and Mahan Singh led the Kenyan delegation to a conference in Kampala, Uganda.
Mahan Singh continued to play hockey well into his 60’s and was still a strong player at that age.
Mahan Singh died after suffering a heart attack on the beach at Malindi on Friday 17th January 1969 aged 67.
He will always be remembered as the “Father of Kenya Hockey”.