Hockey is the oldest known ball and stick game. Records exist of it having been played in Persia in 2000 BC. In medieval Europe, pictures of men playing a game with hooked sticks appear on stained-glass windows at both the Canterbury and Gloucester cathedrals. It became so popular by the Middle Ages that it was banned in England for a time because it interfered with the practice of archery, which was the basis for national defense. The name hockey probably derives from the French hocquet, or shepherd's crook, and refers to the crooked stick.
India dominated the sport for three decades, winning all six Olympic gold medals and 30 consecutive games from 1928 to 1956. The first Balbir Singh, who was followed by four more players of the same name who also played for victorious Indian teams, scored five goals in a 6-1 gold-medal victory over the Netherlands at Helsinki in 1952.