News for 16 March 2010

All the news for Tuesday 16 March 2010


England result proves team GB will impress at London 2012

By Patrick Rowley in New Delhi



On course: England's fourth place finish proves they will be a force to be reckoned with at the 2010 London Olympics Photo: GETTY IMAGES


England's fourth place at the World Cup confirmed that the build-up for Britain's team for the 2012 London Olympics is nicely on course.

Despite their injury handicaps, England ensured their climb up the world rankings continues. And this team could be strengthened with the inclusion of two or three celts in a British line-up.

The experience of having at last played in medal matches at major is something that can't be bought. Our players will have benefitted from the experience. They will have seen at close quarters, the great mental strength needed in such matches.

At Delhi our top players had to be over-used and late selection James Tindall was someway short of true fitness.

England suffered in many ways from the absence of the two Mantell brothers and Matt Daly. Ric Mantell was the core defender but all all three would have been involved in corner drills.

The midfield and attack also suffered. A lot of the potency the team showed in winning the European Cup was missing.

Star players, Jackson and Middleton, need to be helped to get space from support players. We needed Hawes further up the field, not replacing Ric Mantell at full back.

Jackson did confirm his pure class and, with his seven goals, was just one behind the leading scorers.

He and most of the team will have strengthened their claims for 2012 Olympic selection. One to be added to the list was undoubtedly Beeston's Adam Dixon, the most improved player in the team.

The Telegraph



Olympic Hockey athletes support Sport Relief Mile

The Great Britain women’s hockey team will be supporting Sport Relief this week through a unique challenge dreamt up by members of the squad training for the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The ‘Stick and Ball Mile’, as it has been dubbed by the group, will involve teams of six dribbling a hockey ball with their sticks for a mile up and down the length of the hockey pitch at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre in Buckinghamshire where the team trains.

Announcing their participation, Great Britain Head Coach Danny Kerry said, “We enjoy an amazing life and we all realised we need to give something back.  Sport Relief provides the perfect opportunity to combine what we do in preparing for London 2012 with a good cause.”

In an exciting twist, a competitive element has been added with the squad ambitiously attempting to break the record for a mile around a track.

“I thought it would be good to have something of a challenge and to continue along the theme of the Sport Relief Mile,” said Kerry.  “The women’s World Record for a mile has stood since 1996 (Svetlana Masterkova 4mins 12secs) and we wondered if we could beat that time running with a stick and a ball in a relay format.  I think the girls are pretty nervous about it all, however if my trusty B grade in ‘O’ level maths stands up I think we could just do it!  Time will tell.  Apparently the staff are going to enter a team too and I have a feeling the girls will be well motivated if they get to ‘whoop’ a staff team in the process..... It should be an interesting four minutes or so!  The staff have asked for a head start, which I’m not sure is quite in the spirit of the thing.”

The Great Britain Hockey Sport Relief Mile will take place from 10:30am on Tuesday 16 March.

Great Britain Hockey media release

BBC South will be covering the record attempt for Sport Relief.



Attard looking forward to Townsville series


Playing for Australia and the Hockeyroos has been a dream come true for Townsville and Mackay native Teneal Attard.

In her youth, Teneal, played for the mighty Wests Hockey in Townsville. She was crazy about hockey from an early age and at every chance she got she represented her region in State and National Games.

Teneal will be amongst the Hockeyroos team to play in Townsville next week when Australia takes on Argentina in a 4 test series at the Townsville Hockey Complex.

Teneal, a hero amongst Townsville’s hockey and sporting groups, loved her time in Townsville as a youngster, attending Hermit Park State School and William Ross.

Teneal has been honoured to wear the green and gold over the past five years, and cannot wait to hear her hometown come to life and support the Hockeyroos.

“It is great to see international hockey matches being played in the regional areas. As a junior hockey player growing up in Townsville I always wanted to watch and learn from the best players in the world. These games will show a high level of skill, speed and the endurance required for the new form of hockey and I do believe this series will drive the interest of young and old participation,” said Teneal.

Teneal, who missed the 2009 Champions Trophy due to a knee injury, says she is pleased with the Hockeyroos progress in 2010 and this series will give the team a good opportunity to prepare for their upcoming World Cup Qualifier series in Chile.

“Missing out on the opportunity to play a final (at the 2009 Champions Trophy) in front of a home crowd was disappointing, but the hardest thing was that I couldn’t be out there helping my teammates.

It has been a tough pre-season over in Perth, but we have worked hard together, and it feels great to be back out on the pitch with them,” said Teneal.

Teneal said the Hockeyroos would need to be at their best when facing Argentina in Townsville.

“Argentina is one of the best teams in the world and they deserve the utmost respect. They are a determined team who are skillful, fast and have good set plays. We will need to ensure our defence is solid and looks to avoid giving away any soft penalty corners. Through the midfield there will need to be a high work rate, giving options out of defence and building the play, and upfront it will be imperative that we put away opportunities when they come,” said Teneal.

Hockeyroos v Argentina series
Game 1 – March 24 – 6.00pm
Game 2 – March 25 – 6.00pm
Game 3 – March 27 – 4.00pm
Game 4 – March 28 – 4.00pm

All matches are at the Townsville Hockey Complex. To purchase tickets please phone 07 4778 4810.

Hockey Australia media release



First European spots snapped up

Reading, in Men’s Premier Division, and Leicester, in Women’s Premier Division, both won at the weekend, and that meant – coupled with other results – they secured European hockey in 2010-11as they will finish the season at the top of the table. Their ranking and the league winners will be decided at the EHL Championships.

Surbiton gifted the first European qualification place to Reading in Men’s Premier Division after losing 5-1 at Beeston followed by a 1-4 loss at home to Brooklands MU. Reading’s 2-1 win over Bowdon put them seven points clear at the top of the table with just six points available for the remainder of the season. Whilst Brooklands MU managed that fine win away at Surbiton, the day before they had succumbed to a 5-2 loss at Cannock. Ironically, Brooklands remain in the relegation play-off place after Hampstead picked up a 5-4 win at home against Cannock on Sunday to maintain a three point buffer in eighth. East Grinstead moved within a point of Surbiton, in third, having picked up four points over the weekend. They began with a 6-2 win over Hampstead and Westminster and were then held to a 1-1 at home against Beeston, Martin Jones equalised Dave De Prez’s opening goal in the 53rd minute for the visiting side. Both East Grinstead and Surbiton have now confirmed their spots in the EHL Championships.

Loughborough Students moved up into 5th thanks to a 3-1 win on their travels to University of Exeter; that result condemned Exeter to automatic relegation, with just six points on the board, in their first season in the top flight. Bowdon, Cannock and Hampstead & Westminster are all four points clear of the relegation play-off spot, and within a win of an EHL Championship place, leaving much to be settled on the final two games of the season.

Leicester’s 15th win of the season in Women’s Premier Division was enough to secure their European qualification spot. They did so in emphatic fashion, away from home, rifling eight past local rivals Olton & WW, with Kerry Williams contributing half of their goal haul. Reading and Slough both won, 3-1 at Bowdon Hightown and 4-1 at Canterbury respectively to maintain their good form leading into the EHL Championships in which both have confirmed places. University of Birmingham leapfrogged Olton & WW and Canterbury to move into fourth place after they put four unanswered goals past relegated Trojans; Jenna Woolven netting twice. Bowdon Hightown lost their second game of the weekend at Brooklands Poynton 4-3, and they sit precariously above the relegation play-off place, one point clear of Clifton, in eighth. Clifton and Bowdon Hightown face off on the final day of the season; depending on their results this weekend, it could go to the wire.  

Canterbury, Brooklands Poynton, and Olton & WW will all be fighting for an EHL Championship place but also knowing that they aren’t yet safe from the relegation play-off places.

Canterbury remain two points clear at the top of Men’s Conference East after player/coach Kwan Browne’s hat-trick led his team to a 6-0 victory over Sevenoaks. Old Loughtonians kept that two point gap by winning 3-2 at home against Harleston Magpies. Chelmsford’s 7-1 loss at Holcombe means that the best they can now achieve is a relegation play-off place. Indian Gymkhana remain in ninth, three points behind Bromley & Beckenham after both sides lost away from home.

Deeside Ramblers, who were only promoted into the EHL at the beginning of the season, wrapped up the Men’s Conference North title after playing out a 0-0 draw at home against second placed Sheffield Hallam Civica; eight points separate the two. They will join Team Bath Buccaneers in the promotion play-offs. Sheffield University Bankers and Barford Tigers, tied on sixteen points in eighth and ninth places, ended their game in parity after Marcus Booth scored a late equaliser to cancel out Jimmy Singh’s goal that had looked close to being a winner. Belper, in seventh, lost at home to Durham University and are just three points clear of Barford and Sheffield UB.

By far the tightest division for relegation, Men’s Conference West sees eight teams still not from the threat of the drop. Guildford in third place on 23 points after a 0-0 draw with Fareham, are just four points clear of Bournville and Stourport, who on 19 points, occupy eighth and ninth spot. Plymouth Marjon, six points behind the two sides after an 8-2 loss to Stourport, need six points and lots of goals to entertain the prospect of safety. Stourport’s 8-2 win came on the back of a 2-1 loss at University of Birmingham, but that was enough to draw level on points with Bournville who lost 4-2 at Whitchurch and dropped two places. Old Georgians moved up a place thanks to a 3-1 win which drew them level with their opponents Havant.

Ipswich had Charlotte Anderson to thank for a 67th minute winner to keep them at the top of Women’s Conference East. Joelle Weston had looked to have secured a point for St Albans before Anderson added to Camilla McWhirter’s 50th minute goal for Ipswich. Sevenoaks had a more convincing scoreline as they beat Horsham 4-0 away from home, they clawed back three goals on Ipswich and just five goals difference separate the two sides. Frances Lee threw her side a lifeline by scoring in the 70th minute for bottom side Northampton Saints against Southgate. St Albans and Southgate are four points clear of Northampton Saints and one point clear of Cambridge City after Cambridge lost 3-1 at Chelmsford.

Sutton Coldfield took the maximum six points from their games at the weekend to capitalise on Durham University’s 1-1 draw at Belper in Women’s Conference North. Vicky Woolford scored five over the two games as Sutton Coldfield recorded wins against Sheffield Hallam, 5-2 and Belper, 4-0. Those results pulled Sutton Coldfield to within three points of leaders Durham University, leading to a tense finish to the season in the division. At the bottom, Liverpool Sefton need two wins from their final two games and must hope for other results to aide in their plight to avoid relegation, their 2-1 loss at Beeston on Saturday was their tenth of the season. Doncaster’s 3-1 at Bradford Wakefield opened the gap over the relegation play-off spot occupied by Sheffield Hallam, who lost to Sutton Coldfield, to four points.

Cannock and Barnes HE both registered their lucky thirteenth wins of the season to remain tied at the top of Women’s Conference West on 41 points. Barnes’ 2-0 home win over Exe appeared more comfortable than Cannock’s 3-2 win over third placed Buckingham that required a 68th minute winner from Lucy Spencer. At the other end of the table Swansea’s 2-1 win over Bournemouth opened a three point gap over their opponents at the foot of the table. Swansea, in ninth, pulled to within two points of Aldridge who lost 1-3 at home against Firebrands.

England Hockey Board Media release



Browne hat-trick keeps Canterbury on top


T&T men’s hockey team captain, Kwandwane Browne, scored a hat-trick to lead Canterbury to an emphatic 6-0 flogging of Sevenoak in the England Hockey League Men’s Conference East, yesterday. Browne, rated among the best players in the Pan American region opened the scoring for Canterbury as early as the ninth minute from a penalty-corner before he made it 2-0 in the 26th minute with another penalty-corner for a 2-0 half-time cushion. Within two minutes of the resumption, Canterbury went 3-0 ahead thanks to Ross Gilham-Jones and two minutes later he added his second of the match for a 4-0 lead.

Browne then scored from another penalty-corner in the 40th minute to complete his hat-trick and league best 20th goal of the season before Mathew Bunyan added another five minutes from the end of the 70-minute match. With the win, Canterbury stayed top of the table with 43 points from 16 matches, two ahead of Old Loughtonians with two matches left for both clubs. Loughtonians had a 3-2 victory over Harleston Magpies while in another match, second from bottom of the ten-team table, Indian Gymkhana, the team of T&T’s Terrence Baptiste went under to Oxted 4-2. In Conference West, T&T’s Allan Henderson and his Guildford team-mates drew goalles with Fareham to stay third on the table with 23 points well off of leaders Team Bath Buccaneers (43 points) while second place Whitchurch has 26 points.

Last week, Henderson was on target for Guildford in a 3-2 loss to Buccaneers. At the end of round 18 matches, the winners of the three Conferences (North, East, West) playoff with the ninth placed team in the Premier Division with two places in the Premier Division up for grabs. The last placed team in the Premier Division having automatically been relegated. At the other end of the Conference tables the tenth placed clubs will be relegated with a playoff between the three ninth placed teams to determine who stays up and who is relegated. The top team in this playoff stays up in their Conference and the other two clubs are demoted to their respective regional leagues while the five regional league winners will be promoted.

The Trinidad Guardian



Don't ignore the lessons

S. Thyagarajan


Chennai: The 12th hockey World Cup is now history. That it went off without a major hiccup, after all the misgivings in the initial phase, is a matter of satisfaction for those behind the venture. True, there were irritants, like excessive restrictions in the name of security. They were inevitable in the wake of the threats emanating now and then.

A heartening feature was the spectator response. A goodly crowd braved the weather, security checks and discomforts related to searching for ticket counters and seating arrangements, to witness a brand of hockey not often seen in and around the country.

For those with blinkers that the sub-continental ethos is the alpha and omega of hockey, the quality and content proffered by the exponents of modern mode and methods proved an eye-opener.

The competition projected an insight into what constitutes the approach on synthetic pitches.

That a near capacity crowd turned up to watch Australia and Germany fighting for the title is a testimony to the hunger for witnessing something refreshing in the system that old-timers always dismissed with contempt. How archaic the Asian style is became evident. Even Korea, which prides itself on having synthesised different methods, could not progress beyond the sixth.

Modern hockey

The presence of an appreciative audience for the final on Saturday is an endorsement for the virtues of modern hockey, which is threaded on the ingredients of speed, skill and shooting power.

The integration of teamwork and individual excellence was evident in the workouts conceived and executed by Australia, Germany, England, the Netherlands and Spain.

Small wonder then that the next Champions Trophy in the German city of Monchengladbach will be a competition between Europe and Oceania. New Zealand, which surprisingly finished ninth in Delhi, has made it by virtue of winning the Champions Challenge event.

The World Cup has purveyed to the home audience that modern hockey, as designed by ingenuous coaches, is as much a spectacle as the repeatedly talked about and lamented sub-continental system of short passing, dribbling, body dodge and what not. It is easy to visualise the essence of all these as part of the modern tapestry. Yet, what is mind-boggling is the velocity at which the moves are planned and executed.

Did we not witness the ball play and dribble of Teun di Nooijer, Jamie Dwyer or Mattias Witthaus? Did anyone miss the artistry of solo runs by Pol Amat or the loping runs through the defence by Ashley Jackson, or the power and accuracy behind penalty flicks by Luke Doerner or Taeke Taekema?

The crowd today loves to see sport played at different velocity in which proficiency is paramount. The World Cup established it unambiguously. No longer can they be taken for a ride by coaches or ill-informed administrators parroting modern hockey lacks the virtues of Asian inputs.

Neither Pakistan nor India has finished anywhere near the podium in World Cup since 1994.

The lesson is clear. Learn and adopt modern techniques and tactics. Else, our hockey will become a relic.

The effort to create an illusion that Asian style still is the best cannot sell anymore with Indian, or even, Pakistani spectators.

The Hindu



Triple humiliation for India – and how

K.Arumugam


On the opening day of the Delhi World Cup, strange results occurred. Australia lost to England while India defeated Pakistan.

Events later proved it was the lone defeat of Australia and lone win for India in the whole of World Cup.

But our policy makers and politicians -- who masquerade as sports administrators -- jumped to some nasty conclusion on that day.

A television reporter asked Suresh Kalmadi to compare Jose Brasa and Ric Charlesworth after India-Pak match.

Kalmadi said before the national media: “Brasa is better than Charlesworth”.

We don’t know the knowledge base of Kalmadi on this subject, but whenever the television channels repeated his wisdom, I had to only hid my laugh.

12 days later, Chaleswroth’s boys stood on the podium, Kalmadi along with the FIH president walked proudly and presented the gold medals to Australian team.

I am not sure Kalmadi remembered his comparison at that moment, but hopefully not.

For a moment I only shudder to think had only Charlesworth continued on his Indian mission, which he left even before it commenced, India would have been a better team than it was in the last fortnight.

Then national coach Joaquim Carvalho never allowed Ric to interact with players, the bureaucracy, in full wavelength with KPS Gill, put all the brakes in Ric’s moves forward, they even had him stranded in Australia when the Men’s Olympic qualifier was held in distant Chile.

Then KPS Gill, Carvalho and all crooks had to leave hockey scene unceremoniously with the Chile disaster.

It was expected the situation will be better once these gentlemen left, but as quirk of fate would have it, some SAI officials and the new Sports Minister MS Gill turned out to be the villain of the piece.

MS Gill, during Hyderabad Junior Asia Cup finals said; “Why is Charlesworth not here. We have players whose house is full of gold medals, they can be better coaches than him, and we can pay them one tenth of what we pay to a foreigner”.

This was, call it innocence, ignorance or arrogance, he said these. Charlesworth did not come for Hyderabad because he was to attend Legends Hall of Fame function in Perth, for which he informed SAI two months in advance!

I had the opportunity to be with Charlesworth covering a full tournament. It was in Kazan, Russia.

We were the only two from India, and I am very much impressed the way he involved with the women’s team. He was passionate, running to the team in the half time, advising and guiding, and addressed India as ‘we’.

MK Kaushik was the only Olympian or coach who welcomed Charlesworth in India, and extended professional courtesy.

At Kazan, I recorded his interview where he clearly mentioned he will quit India soon and he had made up his mind.

During Kazan days, he had amble problem as there was no one in the whole of ministry to renew his work permit, and was even asked to stay extra five days in Moscow!

Then came MS Gill, the Ad-hoc Committee, and other uncertainties, which paved way for Charlies’ early return to Australia. He did not waste his time, quickly took up Aussie men’s assignment.

When he wanted to meet Sports Minister to discuss the problems, he refused him audience, Charleworth had to request Australian High Commission to get his appointment! Such was the humiliation the legend had to undergo here when he opted to coach us under Promoting Indian Hockey Project.

Every Olympian in India asked why was Australia did not give him men’s coaching job and they said that to justify their dislike for Charlesworth – whose only sin is speaking truth, calling spade a spade.

Had he been allowed to continue in India, he would have coached our team for almost 2 years, we would have certainly fared far far better.

Now on 13th March, he proved all of them wrong, from Kalmadi to MS Gill, to Joaquim Carvalho.

He became the first World Cup gold medalist to coach a national team to World Cup gold.

This he achieved in India, and we Indians finished far lower than most of the teams.

The home World Cup loss of face is cumulative sin of all those former Olympians, ministers, IFH and IOA bosses.

The FIH went with a booty which is ours in normal situation, their Tournament Director humiliated India with Shivender’s ban, and then the coach we berated led his wards win the Cup. If you look at one way -- and it is the correct way -- India has been humiliated not once or twice, but thrice in the last fortnight.

We deserve this. It is of our own making

Stick2Hockey.com



World Cup Players Report Card

K. Arumugam


An analysis of the Indian World Cup team.

1 Gurbaj Singh:
Undoubtedly the hero of Indian campaign, maintained a high degree of consistency against all teams, though outstanding against Pakistan and England. What a defence spiliting crosses, what a cool head, what a hard pushes. Great job in a major tournament.
Excellent to Outstanding

2 Shivendra Singh: Was brilliant all through, Indian scoring depended on him solely as every other star failed. His role was felt when he was not there for two crucial matches. After scoring every goal, he saluted the crowd, its time now we should salute him.
Excellent

3 Arjun Halappa: Delhi was best of his three World Cups. As an attacking midfielder, he created goal scoring chances more than anyone else in the team.
Excellent

4 Sardar Singh: Untiring, could manage consistency in most matches.
Very good

5 Tushar Khandkar: Was asked to play in an unfamiliar position in midfield, and as the tournament wore on came into the attacking mode as well.
Good to very good

6 Vikram Pillay: He showed some inspired performance in defence and attack. Fared better than Monchengladbach.
Very good

7 Bharat Chikkara: Gave excellent performance in first two matches before fading into ordinary, considering he is an out and out forward, and had to play all important left-half position, his role demands some appreciation.
Good

8 Adrian D’Souza: He was up against the best, but the Indian defence was ordinary. Was at his best against England, over all better display than all the top tournaments he played in so far. Though one can always say his personal best need not be the event's.
Good

9 Diwakar Ram: Unfortunately under-utilized player, taken into the team as after thought. Given minimum chances, still he scored a goal even the push was not stopped properly.
Good

10 Sarwanjit Singh: Despite under-rated and given minimum chances, he was not bad at the upfront.
Good

11 Sandeep Singh: Can easily be branded villain of the campaign as he failed with penalty corners – its coach and captain’s job to choose who should take the penalty corner, therefore he cannot be blamed for the responsibility he was entrusted to -- but at least in three matches showed semblance of solid defence. If compared with Sohail Abbas, he comes out better.

12. Dhananjay Mahadhik: It is the first tournament anyone had a chance to see the new comer playing. Got maximum chance, was inconsistent. Performance dipped steadily after first two matches.

Note: Other five players (Prabhjot Singh, Rajpal Singh, Gurwinder Chandi, PR Sreejesh, Deepak Thakur) do not merit any analysis or ranking. Danish Mujataba is excluded as he was hardly given any chance to play.

Stick2Hockey.com



Olympians hope PM will help save Pakistan hockey

By our correspondent


KARACHI: Pakistan’s World Cup debacle has created a clear-cut division among the ranks of former Olympians and internationals, who are now engaged in a war of words with each other.

Led by several legendary Olympians, one of the groups has threatened to launch a nation-wide campaign in case sweeping changes are not carried out within the Pakistan Hockey Federation.

On Monday, a pro-PHF group of former Olympians and internationals came out in the support of the federation and declared that some vested interest elements are trying to cash on Pakistan’s World Cup disaster.

However, Islahuddin Siddiqui, who is at the forefront of a campaign to remove PHF secretary Asif Bajwa, made it clear that he and fellow Olympians just want to save Pakistan hockey.

“Our appeal to the Prime Minister is to save the national game,” he told ‘The News’. “A total of 47 Olympians and 43 international players are supporting our campaign and we are confident of doing our best for Pakistan hockey.”

The campaign has the support and blessings of former greats like Shahnaz Sheikh, Samiullah, Akhtar-ul-Islam, Qamar Zia, Shahbaz Sr, Qamar Ibrahim, Ayaz Mahmood and Naveed Alam. Islah said that they are hoping to hold a meeting with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani — PHF’s chief patron — to apprise him of the sorry plight of Pakistan hockey.

“We are sure that the prime minister would give us time from his busy schedule. We want to tell him what’s hurting Pakistan hockey,” he said. Meanwhile, former Olympians are planning nation-wide protest rallies if their calls went unheard.

Islah also took strong note of a pro-PHF press conference at the Hockey Club of Pakistan (HCP) saying that the PHF has made it a “hub for conspiracies”. “Our prestigious Hockey Club of Pakistan has become a hub for conspiracies and the PHF is spending precious funds to counter a genuine campaign by former Olympians to save our hockey,” he alleged.

Pakistan crashed to a disastrous 12th position in the World Cup that concluded in Delhi last Saturday. It was the country’s worst-ever showing in its hockey history and has ignited widespread calls for a major surgery within the PHF.

The News International



Poor back-up, lack of coordination affected hockey team performance

ISLAMABAD: Poor back-up support, lack of combination and improper physical fitness resulted in poor performance of hockey team in the Hockey World Cup in Delhi, said Minister for Sports Ijaz Jakhrani.

The minister informed the National Assembly on a Calling Attention Notice that a report had been sought from the Pakistan Hockey Federation and as soon as it was received, he would inform the House.

He shared the sentiments of grief of the whole nation as well as the House and said, “it was really a bad performance. I have sought a detailed report.”

However, he said, in an initial inquiry the PHF had identified three reasons including poor back-up support, lack of combination and improper physical fitness, for team’s poor performance.

Jakhrani said, “we hoped, the team will play the semi-final.  But, it stood 12th, that is pathetic. The Executive Committee of the PHF is also probing this debacle.”

He also described the resign of trainer at the nick of the time as a reason for lack of fitness.

“Rehan Butt and Akhter Ali were injured and inclusion of more junior players resulted in lack of coordination,” he added.

Jakhrani said Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani had doubled sports budget and formed a Task Force to improve the performance.

“In addition, a Fitness Committee as well as  Evaluation and Monitoring Committees have been constituted to continuously monitor preparation and performance in the area of sports,” he said.

To a question about pre-payment to players, he said they were not paid anything additional but their arrears of South Africa visit were paid.

The minister said there sholud be collaboration between Sports and Education Ministries for talent hunt and bringing talented players to national teams.

Associated Press of Pakistan



Shahid rules out wrongdoing in Hockey World Cup

KARACHI: Deposed Pakistan Chief Hockey Coach Shahid Ali Khan Monday ruled out any wrongdoing and foul-play by the players in the World Cup where they finished at the bottom in the 12-nation competition. “We heard these rumors of match fixing and under performing.  But it was all ridiculous and unfounded,” he told reporters at Hockey Club of Pakistan Stadium here.

He said he was stunned to see below par performance by his Pakistan team but he never felt they were involved in any wrongdoing.

“Pakistan team really played badly and I would have never thought that we will finish at the bottom,” he added.

Shahid Ali Khan, who was dismissed the Pakistan team coach, said defeats against South Africa proved disaster which plunged them down.

He accepted his mistakes of depending on the seniors players and said they let the team down.

He denied that PHF Secretary Asif Bajwa was all in all and was acting like Manager-cum-Chief coach, “We were working in consultations,” he pointed out.

Shahid there was element of bad luck for Pakistan team as two of Sohail Abbas’ penalty corner strikes hit the cross bar which changed the result in the opening match against India.

He said there are still good players in Pakistan team to serve the team in Asian Games and Commonwealth Games and he expressed the hope they will reverse their retirement which they took in desperation aftyer 2-3 defeat against Canada.

Associated Press of Pakistan



Former Olympians strongly backs PHF


LAHORE - A group of former Olympians on Monday put their weight behind Pakistan Hockey Federation and urged the critics to stop their negative propaganda against it, despite teams shameful last finsih in World Hockey Cup in India.

“PHF is under immense criticism by some former Olympians who are involved in a negative propaganda campaign to promote their vested interest “said former olympians,Arshad Ch,Muhammad Usman, Anjum Saeed, Zahid Sharif and international player Muhammad Rasheed at a news conference here.

They said it was a sour reality that Pakistan team performed to a very low level in the Cup and finished at last and  dismal show has left everyone in a shock.

“We are not here to defend  performance of Pakistan hockey team we have gathered to extend our support to PHF for its overall efforts for the cause of hockey “,they said.

The press conference took an ugly turn when Anjum Saeed tried to lead it by speaking time and again to media taking majority of the questions which left his colleagues irritated,mostly Zahid Sharif was about to answer the questions but Anjum interrupted on occasions.

They urged the critics to lend support to PHF in this hour of trouble and to sit together to table useful suggestions for the revival of the game.      

Arshad Ch said admitted that it was the worst ever defeat of the team in World Cup and PHF has taken good decisions by sacking  team management and selection committee.

“The critics has demanding for bringing in changes in the set up of PHF which is not a justified demand as the present regime of PHF has done a lot for  overall development of the game introducing a number of reforms”,he said.

Muhammad Usman said establishing hockey academies across the country and forming junior teams was a part of PHF plan to revive the game under a long term plan.

“Our disappointed performance in the Cup does not mean end of hockey and we have to find ways to come out from the present crisis “,he said.

He said PHF secretary was being targeted by some quarters and he alone was not responsible for teams debacle.

“People related to the game are fully responsible for this loss but it is not fair to target Bajwa alone “,he said.

Anjum Saeed alleged that a group of former olympians have designed a conspiracy against the present set up of PHF,ignoring its 18 months solid efforts for the cause of hockey.

Anjum went so emotional at one stage that he raised slogans in favour of Bajwa and President,PHF,Qasim Zia.

All the former olympians were of the view that Isuallah ud Din,Samiullah, Shahnaz Sheikh,Ayaz Mehmood ,Tahir Zaman and Naveed Alam remained associated with the game for long time but failed to lift  sagging fortunate of the game.

They termed Islah as  main culprit for putting the game at the brink of disaster and said his (Islah) main focus was to get a slot in PHF or in team management, the way he was associated as coach, selector and being a office bearer in PHF.

“Now all of them are engaged in a war of words against PHF in their pursued to get back into the national hockey federation and all of them have their one point agenda to get a position in the PHF “,they alleged.

Associated Press of Pakistan



Infrastructure needs improvement to gain lost glory in Hockey: Rana Farooq

ISLAMABAD: Former head of Hockey inquiry committee of Olympic Games and Federal Minister for Textile Industry Rana Muhammad Farooq Saeed Khan on Monday emphasized to improve the basic infrastructure of Hockey and only then Pakistan Hockey will get its lost glory. Addressing Meet the Press program organized by Rawalpindi Islamabad Sports Journalists Association (RISJA), the minister said Hockey must be strengthened at school and college levels to improve the quality of play in the country.

“There was a time when Pakistan had good repute due to its best play in Hockey all over the world and we are determined to regain that glory in this field”, he said.

Responding different questions he said that he was always against the monopoly on different key posts in Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF).

“I suggest that the four key positions of PHF including President and Secretary must be distributed among four provinces”, he said and added that it seems ridiculous to give four posts to a single person. He maintained that taking this step will definitely enhance the performance of PHF.

To a question, Rana Farooq told that even though he was not the Sports Minister yet he would forward all these suggestions to the relevant people.

He said that he had come to know that Asif Bajwa pressurized the team to render their resignations and after some time be controlled by him (Asif Bajwa) and suggested that Asif Bajwa must resign which would be beneficial for the PHF.

To another question, he said that an inquiry committee would definitely be constituted to probe the poorest performance of the hockey team in the recent world cup.

Associated Press of Pakistan



Ex-Olympians wants Bajwa to stay as Secretary

KARACHI: Former Olympians have said that Secretary General of Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has been punished by President of the federation Qasim Zia by removal him as the Manager of Pakistan team following team’s worst-ever 12th spot in World Cup in India.

“Apart from World Cup debacle, Bajwa has done good for the game as the Secretary by introducing several new steps including Central Contracts for player, launching of academies etc and took Pakistan to the final of Asia Cup last year,” they told a joint news conference at Hockey club of Pakistan Stadium on Monday.

Former Pakistan full-back Danish Kaleem flanked by ex-forward Saleem Sherwani and former Pakistan Captain Ahmed Alam accused their senior Olympians of hatching a conspiracy to remove Asif Bajwa and to take control of the PHF.

Prominent Olympions including Ex-Olympian Iftikhar Syed, Pakistan deposed coach Shahid Ali Khan, international Jan Muhammad, Asif Ahmed Khan, Muhammad Ali, Abdul Rasheed, Ghafoor Ahmed and others were also present on the occasion.

Earlier, the Press Conference was held by Senior Olympian led by messrs Islahuddin Siddiqui, Ayaz Mahmood, Qamar Ibrahim, Akhtar-ul-Islam, Qamar Zia and others in which they demanded removal of Asif Bajwa within 72 hours also as Secretary General PHF on Sunday.

Danish and Sherwani said like anybody else in the country they were highly disappointed and dejected with Pakistan team’s poor performance in India.

They said they were expressing their view point through democratic way and have right to speak.

“Those Olympians who spoke against PHF and demanded removal of Asif Bajwa within 72 hours also did nothing for the promotion of hockey while at helms of affairs as coach,manager and secretary,” 1984 Los Angles Olympic gold medalist Saleem Sherwani, alleged.

Sherwani lauded Asif Bajwa for ensuring cash incentives for players for Rs. half a million each before the world cup and increased their daily allowance to $100.

They claimed that Asif Bajwa was working to improve the base of Pakistan hockey and can not be held responsible for all the disaster in the World Cup,Senior Olympions observed.

Associated Press of Pakistan



Bajwa not responsible for World Cup debacle: Shahid

KARACHI: Former Olympian Shahid Ali Khan, who recently resigned as the coach of the Pakistan hockey team, said that Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary Asif Bajwa has been wrongly held responsible for the team’s poor showing in the World Cup.

Earlier on Sunday, more than 80 former Olympians launched a campaign demanding the sacking of Bajwa, holding him responsible for the national team’s worst ever performance in the World Cup in New Delhi.

They demanded of PHF President Qasim Zia to sack Bajwa otherwise they would press the government to appoint an ad-hoc committee to run hockey affairs. However, some other Olympians and International players gathered here on Monday at Hockey Club of Pakistan and told reporters that Asif Bajwa should not be held responsible for the World Cup debacle and the former Olympians who are demanding his resignation are doing this for their personal interests.

“Pakistan hockey has been moving in the right direction since the present setup took over. This federation has been working well for the uplift of hockey and coaches and other officials have been given proper remuneration. It has never happened before,” Shahid said.

“We worked very hard and we expected that we would occupy at least sixth or seventh spot but it was our bad luck and our boys failed to deliver.” Former Olympians Ahmed Alam, Saleem Sherwani, Dansih Kaleem, Iftikhar Syed and other former international players were also present on the occasion.

The News International



Splinter group of former players support Bajwa

By Shazia Hasan


KARACHI: As a reaction to the action taken by former hockey legends a day earlier in a bid to rescue hockey from the hands of destruction, Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), too, organised a press conference by current and former players claiming to be on their side at the Hockey Club of Pakistan (HCP) on Monday.

One day prior, PHF President Qasim Zia was given a three-day ultimatum by 89 former hockey legends to sack his secretary Asif Bajwa or else face further music.

Speaking on Monday, former Olympian Ahmed Alam said that the PHF was being realistic when it said that they couldn’t really think of winning the World Cup before the mega event. “But taking this in the wrong way, many Olympians criticised the federation for making the Asian Games the target rather than concentrating on the World Cup,” he said.

The 68 former players that the PHF claimed were on their side also included a name or two from the list of the 89 legends who are against Bajwa. Besides many of them happen to be the federation’s paid employees.

“This is not an election so we are not counting how many Olympians are on whose side,” Ahmed Alam clarified.

Defending PHF Secretary Asif Bajwa, he said: “What kind of a secretary would he be if he didn’t have any say in the team selection, etc?”

Meanwhile, Danish Kaleem clarified that he was not a PHF employee to be speaking in their favour. “Bajwa alone cannot be blamed for the World Cup debacle. And whether we are paid or not by the PHF has no bearing on what we say,” he said.

“There are various other factors leading to the team’s bad performance in New Delhi. The players were under tremendous pressure having to play the qualifiers also in order to feature in the event. They also had to feature in the Champions Challenge-I event in Argentina, another qualifier, for the Champions Trophy. And it all showed in their decision to retire so suddenly. We all think that it was a very emotional decision on their part,” said Ahmed Alam.

When asked about Qamar Ibrahim’s information about some junior boys claiming not to have announced their retirement, he said: “Well, he hasn’t named those boys. Tell us who they are and then we’ll to that accusation.”

Talking about the legends who have united to collide with the PHF until the federation president decides to sack his secretary, he said: “Our junior boys know about PHF President Qasim Zia’s accomplishments. He is the proud holder of 14 medals after all. But they ask us who is this Qamar Zia to be making all this noise,” he commented.

About the others who are a part of the Rescue Hockey Movement launched on Sunday, he said: “What has Islahuddin Siqqiqui done for Pakistan? He even prevented his son from playing for the country.”

About former federation Secretary Akhtar-ul-Islam, he said: “He is the man who didn’t even pay the boys their daily allowance for the SAF Games hockey event.”

To a question, he said that Qasim Zia is the only person able to bring Pakistan out of the current deadlock and Asif Bajwa is his choice for secretary. “We invite the other hockey legends to join hands with the both of them in order to strengthen Pakistan hockey,” he said.

“The PHF president already took action by dissolving the team management and selection committee now let’s just leave it at that,” he concluded.

The meeting was also graced by Kamran Ashraf, Saleem Sherwani, Shahid Ali Khan, Iftikhar Syed and Gulfraz Ahmed Khan along with several current players.

Dawn



Hockey players to back Bajwa in meeting with minister

By Shazad Ali


KARACHI: The “retired” Pakistan hockey team is likely to put its weight behind Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Secretary Asif Bajwa when it meets the federal sports minister on Tuesday

Aijaz Hussain Jakhrani is scheduled to meet team for a grilling session following Pakistan’s worst ever World Cup performance in New Delhi, where they finished last.

Sources told Dawn.com that the players are expected to back Bajwa and the PHF at the meeting, saying they would not play if Bajwa is removed.

“The players have been instructed by Asif to tell the minister that they want him (Bajwa) to remain the secretary or they will not play for Pakistan. If that really happens then it will promote player power just the way it was promoted before 1996 Olympics when a group of players led by Shahbaz Ahmad revolted against the PHF and their demands were accepted,” sources said.

While rounds of verbal spat continued between a PHF-backed group and some disgruntled Olympians in the wake of World Cup debacle, Jakhrani has decided to meet the team members in person to inquire the reasons behind the poor performance.

The group consisting of many Olympians sidelined by Bajwa unleashed a campaign against the PHF, particularly secretary, but has been praising the federation chief Qasim Zia who has always been at the forefront to defend his secretary.

Meanwhile, Bajwa has been battling against his rivals and in the process organised press conferences in Karachi and Lahore on Monday to ward off the challenge.

“There might be some big changes within two or three days and Asif Bajwa is likely to be removed from his position as Qasim Zia might be meeting the prime minister on Tuesday.”

Zia’s meeting with the PM may be followed by a major re-shuffle in the federation and if Bajwa is removed, his place may be taken up by former coach Ayaz Mahmood or Rana Mujahid.

Mahmood is a former Olympian who was initially named chief coach but Shahid Ali Khan was later brought in to replace him as he was not relieved of his duties by PIA. It remains unclear if he will accept the position and if he does, whether it will be on his own conditions or the PHF’s.

He last worked with the federation as the junior team coach in 2002, after which he parted ways with the PHF, saying he would like to spend time with his family and work for PIA instead of holding an official position with the PHF.

As things stand, the next few days remain crucial for Pakistan hockey as the composition of the national team and federation will be decided therein.

Dawn



Little match practice sank Pakistan: Shahid Ali Khan

By Our Sports Reporter


KARACHI: Former national team chief coach Shahid Ali Khan has said that all rumours about the players indulging in match-fixing during the recently-concluded World Cup are absolutely baseless.

Speaking to the media at the Hockey Club of Pakistan (HCP) on Monday, he said that match-fixing was something not very common in hockey.

“I was asked the same question about match-fixing in New Delhi, too, though this rumour originated from the Pakistan press. I will deny this allegation here again,” he said.

When asked why he didn’t think of replacing goalkeeper Salman Akbar with his reserve goalie Nasir Ahmad, even after Salman failed to stop as many as 19 goals, Shahid said: “Salman was the regular goalkeeper so we decided to stick with him. Nasir, too, is a very good goalkeeper. In fact together they are the best in Pakistan but what if we played Nasir in a match and he too conceded four or five goals?”

Defending former team manager Asif Bajwa, who is accused of throwing his weight around and making all the decisions himself, he said: “As the team management, we took all decisions after consulting each other.”

Speaking in favour of the senior players, he said: “Yes, it was my decision to bring them back into the side as I wanted to create a good combination of young players and experienced players. It was also thanks to the seniors that we were able to play in the World Cup.”

Asked why then was another talented senior Mohammad Saqlain ignored, he explained: “Because his replacement Waseem was playing better than him. Besides we cannot have two centre-halves.”

When asked if he will still want the seniors to be a part of the Asian Games squad, he said: “I will be handing in my report soon to the PHF president. It has various recommendations besides telling what went wrong.”

Asked what he thought went so horribly wrong at the World Cup for a seventh position team to finish at the bottom, he said: “Offhand I can tell you a few things.

“Number one is lack of match practice. We hardly played with any of the top teams in the past year.”

When reminded that they had played the Netherlands only recently besides playing a series with England, he said: “Yes, but they were obviously not enough.

“I also think that we reached our peak too early during camp. That was also why we were able to draw 4-4 and 2-2 in the two matches we played with the Netherlands.”

About the players’ retirement, he said: “It was a very emotional decision on the players’ part. We didn’t want them to do it but they, too, were disheartened after not being able to deliver despite being facilitated by the federation in the form of central contracts, etc.”

He also clarified that none of the players were pulled by the team management for his performance.

Finally, he said: “I was looking forward to coaching the team till the Asian Games at least but what can I say after our recent performance? I am fine with Qasim Zia’s decision of dissolving the team management.”

Dawn



Where are the 'Green Shirts'?

By Taimur Sikander


The 'green shirts' - slowly fading away. -Photo by AFP

My search for the Pakistan hockey jersey started on March 2, the third day of the 2010 Hockey World Cup when Pakistan edged number-three ranked Spain 2-1. It was a surprising result as no one had expected the high-flying Spaniards to be outgunned by the ‘green shirts’. The outcome was especially pleasing to fans who had witnessed an inaugural day pummelling of the Pakistanis at the hands of hosts India.

True, the Spaniards experienced a blip but Pakistan did show some fight. Shakeel Abbasi's runs from the half-line into the Spanish D, as he zigzagged between the defenders were a pleasant throwback to the days when individual wizardry alone could win you matches. Abbasi's display prompted many at Karachi's Sports Bar to compare his skill to Argentinean striker Lionell Messi. “The ball just seems like it’s stuck to him,” the small group of fans said while comparing his penetrative moves.

Although a 2-1 win for Pakistan was a positive result, many experts believed the route to the semi-finals was an uphill - if not impossible -task. The moment, however, was welcome respite, so much so that it drove enthused colleagues from Singapore to inquire, “Where can we find Pakistan jerseys?” I paused to recall an instance where I may have spotted a white jersey with green trim or the alternate green jersey with white trim hanging in some sports shop. My photographic journey into the past did not yield any positive results, so I took it upon myself to find a Pakistan hockey jersey for the visiting supporters. But before I set out on my trail I asked them why was it that they wanted a Pakistani jersey? “They're pretty popular,” they said. Surprising, since the last time Pakistan won the World Cup was in 1994. Nonetheless I set out the next morning.

The search started in Clifton and Defence, two of the more upscale areas in Karachi but ones where finding sports equipment is relatively easy, albeit a little expensive. Five stores but no score. Some hours later I came to a store that claimed to be a leader in sports goods. Everything from full-body, state-of-the-art swimsuits and the latest Manchester United jersey but no 'green shirt.' It seemed a little odd since the practice by stores is to stock up on merchandise for a particular sport during its World Cup. At least that's the case with football, cricket and even tennis during the slams. But then again, it could have been the fact that people in Clifton and Defence were just not a big market for hockey as were the 'Rooneys' and 'Kakas.'

Thursday March 4, I decided to give Karimabad and Nazimabad a shot - humbler localities but ones known for their sporting talent and street smart people. As Pakistan prepared to take on a dominating England side who had already beaten favourites Australia in their first game, I proceeded on my own mission hoping tradition was still alive in these areas. I checked out the two major stores in the area but both were overloaded with cricket equipment. Even the street-side stalls did not bring about any positive match. The day promised much but in the end disappointed, just like Pakistan’s 5-2 loss to England. Pakistan had matched England well in the first half but lost steam and focus in the second to go down from 2-2 to 5-2.

The same night I asked a senior sports reporter, with a keen eye on hockey, about whether he knew where the Pakistani jerseys would be available. “You’ll probably need to take them off the players’ backs,” he joked. “Stores just don’t want to keep stuff that doesn’t sell. Your best bet is to ask the federation or the players. The players were handing their jerseys out during the Champions Challenge Cup in Argentina. They were going fast and were especially popular with the women,” he added. I recalled an instance during the tournament when a local expert referred to Pakistan as the “kings of hockey” but failed to understand how they were still viewed in that regard ranked number seven in the world at that time.

Tuesday March 6, Pakistan were preparing to take on South Africa who had suffered the worst ever World Cup defeat in history at the hand of Australia. The Aussies turned on the style to beat South Africa 12-0 and in the process eclipsed the previous record held by Pakistan when they beat New Zealand 12-3 in 1982. The Pakistanis needed to beat the South Africans with a similar margin to hold on to any hopes of reaching the semi-finals. What followed was South Africa’s first ever win over Pakistan in the history of the game. Pakistan were eliminated from the semi-finals race and with the remaining two games against power-packed Australia and a lowly Canada, a finish among the top 5-6 teams was the eventual goal.

My goal, however, remained the same: to find a green shirt. A chance visit to Lahore presented an opportunity to further scan the markets and since the Pakistan Hockey Federation is based in the city it seemed the most logical place to find related merchandise. As I boarded the plane the attendant was passing out the daily newspaper. Splashed across the front page was Pakistan’s shock loss. Through the course of the flight I got to discuss the slump with a banker on his way to a meeting in Lahore. For survey purposes, I jumped at the opportunity to ask him right away whether he recalled ever seeing a Pakistan hockey jersey in stores. The answer was an emphatic no, “not even during the 90s,” he said. “Somewhere between the introduction of expensive astroturfs and Javed Miandad’s famous last-ball six against India, hockey just lost its mass appeal,” he added. That explained the lack of ‘official’ merchandise in the stores to some extent. But still it was the World Cup, did the retailers have no interest or was it the public or both? The two days spent in Lahore and the several markets scanned still did not reveal any ‘green shirts’, however, I did manage to get a few numbers and tips on stores in Sialkot, the city that supplies the world with sports goods.

Pakistan were to play Australia on March 8, their toughest match yet, but one that had little meaning attached to it. The feeling among fans of the ‘green shirts’ was one of indifference. There was also a realisation that the current lot of ‘stars’ in the Pakistani side who were nearing their mid-thirties could be the last generation of recognised players from the country. The country had managed to remain in the hearts of hockey fans around the world on the back of legendary performances in the 70s, 80s and 90s but who would carry the torch now? Pakistan lost to Australia 2-1, a decent result considering the form of the Kookaburras. The despair did not properly set in until the ‘green shirts’ unbelievably lost their last game against minnows Canada 3-2 on March 11 to finish at the bottom of the table. It was the worst ever showing for the country that had introduced the idea of the World Cup for hockey in 1970.

The search for the jerseys still continued until March 15, two days after Australia had defeated Germany in a thrilling contest in the final to win the World Cup. The stores that I called in Sialkot sounded quizzical when I inquired about the merchandise and replied with sarcasm. “You mean the team that finished last and has now resigned?” they remarked. All members of the Pakistani squad resigned after finishing last in the World Cup leaving the game in the country at the crossroads.

My mission was a failure too. All I found was information that a company called Forestblu made the Pakistan jerseys and that stores did not even bother to keep cheap replicas. So I decided to present the visiting supporters of Pakistan a couple of hockey sticks, the next best thing I guess. The hockey sticks and other related hi-tech equipment was available in abundance at stores but the green shirts, nowhere to be seen.

Dawn



Army men, women win at hockey championships


Fiona Le Blanc, left and her Maritime Harvard Checkers team-mate Patrice Padmore double-up on Carib Magnolias’ Stacey Siu Butt, second from left, in their T&T Hockey Board Women’s Championship Division match at the National Hockey Centre, Tacarigua on Saturday night. Checkers won 2-1. Photo: Anthony Harris.

Defence Force men and women teams were both in winners row when matches in the T&T Hockey Board Championship Division continued on Sundat at the National Hockey Centre, Tacarigua. In the Men’s Championship Division, the “Teteron Boys” rebounded from last week’s 2-1 defeat to unbeaten leaders Queen’s Park with a similar 2-1 win over Paragon.

Edison O’Brien and George Froix got a goal each for Defence Force to cancel out Keston Paul’s field goal for Paragon. With the victory, its third from four matches, Defence Force improved to nine points, six adrift of the Parkites.

Earlier on in the Women’s Championship encounter, national forward Charlene Williams and former national defender Grace Cupid scored a goal each as the “Teteron Women” blanked Paragon 2-0 for their first win of the season in four attempts. It was not all gloom for Paragon as a Kern Lee field secured a 1-0 triumph in their Trinity Men’s Championship.

T&THB Results:

Sunday
Championship Women

Defence Force 2 (Charlene Williams, Grace Cupid) vs Paragon 0

Championship Men
Defence Force 2 (Edison O’Brien, George Froix) vs Paragon 1 (Keston Paul).

Trinity Men
Paragon 1 (Kern Lee) vs Defence Force 0

The Trinidad Guardian