News for 18 March 2010

All the news for Thursday 18 March 2010

Hockey's Olympic Athletes Rise to the Challenge for Sport Relief

Photo Neil Neville/EHB

Members of the Great Britain women’s hockey team rose to the challenge of supporting Sport Relief on Tuesday as they dribbled their way to the fastest mile with a hockey stick and ball in a time of four minutes and four seconds, smashing their target of Svetlana Masterkova’s one mile track record of four minutes 12 seconds.

The six participating squad members – Reading’s Laura Bartlett, Alex Danson and Emily Maguire and Leicester’s Crista Cullen, Hannah MacLeod and Kerry Williams - ‘dribbled’ the mile in a relay format in an exact time of four minutes, four seconds and 87 milliseconds.

The Sport Relief ‘Stick and Ball Mile’ took place during the squad’s training session at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre in Buckinghamshire and was filmed for the BBC’s South Today programme.

Cheered on by their watching Great Britain teammates, each member of the group ran one half of the pitch per shuttle before passing the ball on to the next athlete.  In total they ran 17.6 lengths of the pitch.

Defender Crista Cullen explained afterwards why the squad had been so keen to take part: “We’re at a very exciting stage of our preparations ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games in London and it is nice to be able to take part in Sport Relief to benefit the young people of this country and others around the world, many of whom will hopefully be inspired by the Olympics.”

Reading and England Hockey’s Alex Danson takes part in Great Britain Hockey’s Stick and Ball Mile for Sport Relief.Photo Neil Neville/EHB

Forward Alex Danson added, “It was great fun doing the Sport Relief Mile in our own unique way.  We were ecstatic to break the world record but more importantly we are so happy we had the opportunity to do our small bit for such a great charity like Sports Relief.  It shows how anyone can take part and have a lot of fun, but best of all, it doesn’t have to just involve running!”

You can rise to your challenge by entering the Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Mile on 21 March.  Just 60 miles north of Bisham Abbey NSC, Milton Keynes is playing host to one of the largest Sport Relief Miles in the UK, with other Miles happening all over the UK. To find and enter your nearest Mile visit

Great Britain Hockey media release

Canadians victorious over Mexico

The Canadian women's national under-17 team defeated Mexico 12-1 Tuesday afternoon in their third and final game of the round robin at the Pan American Youth Championship in Uruguay.  The team will now face Chile in the semi-final on Thursday.

Goal scorers for Canada were Emma Plasteras (4), Alex McCawley, Sara McManus, Sarah Kreglowitsch, Maddie Secco, Annabelle Hamilton (2), Lauren Annabelle (2), and Hannah Haughn.

Canada finishes the round robin with two wins and one loss.  Twelve goals were scored by Canada in each of their victories.  The loss came to Argentina on Sunday.

The Pan American Youth Championship serves as the continental qualifier to the 2010 Youth Olympics this summer in Singapore.

Field Hockey Canada media release

USA beat Uruguay to enter semis

USA 3, Uruguay 2

The USA Women's Under-17 Team defeated host nation Uruguay, 3-2, on Tuesday, in their third game of competition at the 2010 Youth Pan American Championship in Montevideo, Uruguay. Emily Wold, Allison Evans and Laura Gebhart scored for the USA.

"For an under-17 team to handle a very hostile environment and boisterous crowd and come away with a 3-2 win is tremendous," said Head Coach Shellie Onstead. "It bodes well for the future of USA Field Hockey."

The USA opened a one goal lead in the first half off a penalty corner rebound from Wold. The second half was tightly contested, as Evans scored on a rebound off a backhand shot on goal. Uruguay cut the lead to one with a goal ten minutes later, but the Americans answered just 90 second later, as team captain Gebhart scored a goal on a world-class sliding deflection.

“The atmosphere was exhilarating," said Gebhart. "The team kept its composure throughout the match and we were able to finish on some key opportunities in the attacking circle."

The USA completed round-robin play with a record of two wins and one loss. Three of the four teams in Pool B finished with the same record,and final standings were determined by goals.

The USA finish second in Pool B and will face Pool A champion Argentina on Thursday for a spot in the tournament final. Argentina finished round-robin competition undeafted with three wins and outscored opponents 29-1. Chile will face Canada in the second semifinal.

USFHA media release

Asian Champions Trophy postponed

ISLAMABAD: The Asian Hockey Federation has postponed next month's Champions Trophy in Malaysia after South Korea pulled out and Pakistan lost its entire team and management staff in the wake of a disastrous World Cup campaign this month.

"We received a fax message from the AHF today and they have postponed the event," Pakistan Hockey Federation secretary Asif Bajwa said on Wednesday.

China was the other team set to contest the four-nation Champions Trophy at Ipoh, Malaysia from April 13-18.

Bajwa said no new dates for the Champions Trophy has been communicated to the PHF.

PHF president Qasim Zia sacked its entire team management, including coach, manager and selectors, after Pakistan finished last in the 12-team field hockey World Cup at Delhi last week.

All 18 players in the Pakistan hockey team also resigned soon after they were beaten 3-2 by Canada in the play off match for the last two places.

Bajwa said that Pakistan had not requested to postpone the Asian Champions Trophy.

"Since the entire (Pakistan) team had resigned, there was no selection committee in Pakistan and no team management, probably AHF had thought Pakistan was also doubtful for the event," Bajwa said.

Bajwa said Pakistan has confirmed it will participate in Azlan Shah Cup.

Sports minister Ijaz Jakhrani on Tuesday asked the PHF president not to accept players' resignation.

The Times of India

Asian meet postponed

Ajitpal Singh

THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) confirmed that the 1st Asian Champions Trophy, scheduled to be held in Ipoh on April 13-18, has been postponed indefinitely after South Korea and Pakistan pulled out.

MHF secretary Hashim Yusoff said he received notification on the matter from the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) on Tuesday.

"Korea did not state their reason while Pakistan lost their entire team and management staff after doing badly in the recent World Cup," said Hashim yesterday.

"AHF has yet to inform us (MHF) on the new dates. We will decide whether to host the tournament after they release the new dates."

China were the other team set to contest the four-nation Champions Trophy. Pakistan Hockey Federation president Qasim Zia sacked the entire team management -- including coach, manager and selectors -- after Pakistan finished last in the 12-team World Cup in Delhi last week.

Hashim said the postponement of the tournament will not affect the national team's preparation for priority tournaments.

"The national team's first international assignment of the year will be the Azlan Shah Cup (Ipoh on May 6-16).

"We may arrange international friendly matches for our team ahead of the event," he added.

The national squad, who have started training, are preparing for the New Delhi Commonwealth Games in October and the Guangzhou Asian Games a month later.

New Straits Times

Australia tops ABN AMRO World Rankings

Australia has taken over the first position of the ABN AMRO World Rankings after winning the Hero Honda FIH World Cup. The Kookaburras took over the lead from Olympic Champion Germany, who is now ranked second.

The result of the Hero Honda FIH World Cup provided more changes in the ABN AMRO World Ranking. Netherlands is back in the top three, while India entered the top 10, moving from the 12th to the 9th position. Argentina advanced four places and is now ranked 10th.

Please click here for the latest ABN AMRO World Rankings.


India jumps three ranks in FIH chart

Shashank Gupta in his Blog

India has gained three ranks in the FIH ranking chart, thanks to its participation and finishing 8th. The FIH website has on 15th March updated its ranking, as per this Indian fans can breathe easy, at least for a while, as India have come up from being 12th to 9th ranked.

India jump up the rankings, thanks to 8th ranking in the World Cup 2010.

As expected, the World Cup champions, for the first time in last 6 years, Australia have pushed off Germany from their rank 1 spot marking their dominance in World Hockey,official. This is only the 2nd time since 2003 Australia has been able to gain that spot. The other time being only in 2005.

As per the last updated rankings, on 14th Dec, Australia, 1993 points, was closely following Germany, at 2088 points. Earning 1000 points from WC 2010, Australia now have 2605 points (along with other various calculations).

Netherlands and Spain who have dominated the 3rd and 4th position from 2004, exchanged their spots. From 2008 onwards, Spain maintained the 3rd spot. However, this time due to poor fare (5th) at the recently concluded World Cup, they have swapped positions with Netherlands, which has becomes the 3rd ranked now.

Korea and England have held on their 5th and 6th positions respectively. v Pakistan and New Zealand, like Spain and Netherlands, have swapped their rankings. Pakistan has slipped down to 8th where as New Zealand must be a content lot faring 7th in World rankings. Although, New Zealand finished 9th in the World Cup but Pakistan finishing 12th has helped their cause.

Moreover, since Champions Trophy contributes to the ranking and none of the below ranked teams will contest with the Black Sticks there, they are sure to improve their rankings in Monchengladbach where the Champions Trophy will be held, later this year in August.

India and Argentina - both missed the Beijing Olympics - have pushed aside Belgium and China - both missed 2010 World Cup - off from the 9th and 10th spots to mark their recovery in the International arena, possibly.

Canada have retain their 11th ranking and South Africa have improved marginally to be ranked 11th after pulling off few good surprises at the World Cups where they fared a remarkable 10th.

So, for Indian fans the only hope now to fair better in the FIH World Rankings, is Guangzhou Asian Games, late this year, which will contribute to these rankings. Every tournament before that, will be a feeler only.


India ranked No. 9

Chennai: India returned to single digit ranking in the World hockey list after finishing eighth in the recent World Cup.

India is now placed at 9, three places above the 12 that it occupied before the start of the Delhi World Cup. India's tally of points now stands at 1360 in the latest updated ABN-AMRO world rankings of the FIH.

Expectedly, Australia, the winner of the World Cup, takes the No 1 spot, pushing the leader, Germany to the second.

Top ten: 1. Australia (2605 points), 2.Germany(2388), 3. Netherlands (2215), 4. Spain (2053), 5. Korea(2005), 6. England (1930), 7. New Zealand (1560), 8. Pakistan (1523), India (1360) and Argentina (1349).

The Hindu

Mamta Kharab accuses Hockey India of showing apathy

NEW DELHI: Recovering from a knee surgery that rules her out of action for the next five months, ace forward Mamta Kharab on Wednesday alleged that Hockey India has dumped her in hour of crisis, not even bothering to inquire about her health after the operation.

Mamta, who suffered a knee injury at a training camp in Bhopal and underwent a major surgery in Mumbai last week, is almost certain to miss the World Cup in Argentina and the Delhi Commonwealth Games later this year.

More than the surgery, Mamta said, it was Hockey India's apathy which pained her more.

"I got injured during an evening practice session and a MRI on left knee confirmed damage to the cartilage. I had gone through the surgery under the supervision of Dr Anant Joshi, who has advised me complete bed rest. I would not be able to play for next five months," Mamta said from Mumbai.

Asked whether Hockey India was taking care of her, Mamta said sarcastically, "I have serious doubts whether they are bothered to know about it. Forget about bearing the expenses, the officials didn't even call to ask about my well being.

"I am deeply hurt by the apathy shown by Hockey India. Despite playing international hockey for almost 10 years, I have been treated like this. They will say that they were busy with the World Cup but now the tournament is over and I still did not receive a single call," she said.

"I am staying at my relative's place here and managing on my own, while the expense of my surgery has been given by Madhya Pradesh government," she added.

Mamta was not happy with the attitude of her teammates and national coach MK Kaushik, who are now on tour of Japan and China play four-Test series.

"My chief coach (Kaushik) too ignored me in this critical time. Not a single official, except physio Vikas Dhawan, has talked to me in the last 10 days," said Mamta, who was instrumental in India's gold medal finish in 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games.

"People make tall claims to promote Indian hockey but the reality is very gloomy. We have to go on strike to get our dues and inspite of achieving laurels for the country, it's a pity that nobody takes care of us," she added.

Mamta, however, vowed to make a comeback before the October 3-14 Commonwealth Games.

"My surgery was successful and I will be able to start practice after five months. World Cup is out of question but I will try hard to play in Commonwealth Games although it's not an easy task," she said.

"We as a team have been practising hard to do well in the Delhi event. India will be among top contenders and it will be a dream-come-true to win in front of our own people. I will try my level best to be fit by that time," she added.

The Times of India

Indian women hockey team arrives in Japan

NEW DELHI: Indian women hockey team, led by Subhadra Pradhan, have arrived at Gifu to play a four-match Test series against Japan commencing at Kakamigahara from March 19.

After the four match Test series, which ends on March 24, Indian team will move to Shanghai on March 25 to play another five-match series against Asian champions China.

The other two matches between India and Japan will be held on March 21 and 22.

This twin tour is in preparation for the Women's World Cup to be held at Rosario, Argentina in August-September this year, a Hockey India release said on Wednesday.

The squad is scheduled to return on April 4.


Goalkeepers : E Rajini, Yogita Bali;

Defenders: Subhadra Pradhan (capt), Jaspreet Kaur, Eti Srivastava, Joydeep Kaur, Preeti Kiro;

Midfielders: Deepika Thakur, Mukta Barla, Kirandeep Kaur, Thockchom Ranjita Devi, Rosalin Ralte, Ritu Rani, Sunita Lakra;

Forwards: Saba Anjum, Chanchan Devi, Rani, Monica Badran, Poonam Rani, Soundarya Yendala, Rosalin Dung Dung.

Officials: MK Kaushik (National Coach), Vasu Thapliyal (Coach), Sandeep Somesh (Coach), Khalid Modi (Coach), Vikas Dhawan (Physio), R Gandhi (Trainer), M Basavaja (Videographer), H Nalini (Video Analyst), Madhu Yadav (Manager).

The Times of India

Black Sticks women take on Argentina

A youthful Black Sticks Women’s team is set to face the experienced Argentinean team later this month.

Ranked as the number two team in the world, the Argentinean women’s team – aptly named Las Leonas (The Lionesses) – will bring its fast, attacking style to New Zealand for a three test series against New Zealand. The three test series is being played in Hamilton (March 31) and Tauranga (April 2 and 3).

Black Sticks Women’s Coach, Mark Hager, says the opportunity to play against such a high calibre team is crucial for the women’s build up this year.

“With the women’s World Cup, Champions Trophy and Commonwealth Games all in the latter part of this year, this series will give the team another chance to put their skills to the test on the international stage.”

Hager has picked a young team of 20 players from his squad. The more experienced Black Sticks players such as Kayla Sharland, Emily Naylor and Krystal Forgesson are currently overseas, along with Katie Glynn, and were not available for this series.

“Our focus is on the long game. The team has a huge year of hockey in front of them, and every game which builds our international exposure helps towards this.”

New Zealand Black Sticks: Kate Saunders, Piki Hamahona, Sally Rutherford, Ella Gunson, Beth Jurgeleit, Clarissa Eshuis, Lucy Talbot, Sam Harrison, Cathryn Finlayson, Gemma Flynn, Anna Thorpe, Laura Douglas, Kate Mahon, Natasha Fitzsimmons, Jasmin McQuinn, Stacey Michelsen, Anita Punt.

Hockey New Zealand Media release

‘We want right people in hockey’

KARACHI: Former hockey Olympian Qamar Zia said that Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) President Qasim Zia’s offer of inducing the former Olympians in the selection matters of the hockey team would not sway them from their ‘Save Hockey’ campaign.

One of the leading figures among the former Olympians who have stood to change the PHF setup after Pakistan team’s poor showing in the World Cup, Qamar Zia on Wednesday said that they would continue to struggle for the upliftment of the national game and bring in former greats in the PHF setup, who have immaculate past.

“Qasim Zia’s offer of hiring Olympians would not move us from our mission and we would continue our country wide struggle for a major overhaul of PHF setup for the betterment of the game of hockey,” he said.

More than 80 Olympians gathered on Sunday and demanded a resignation from PHF secretary Asif Bajwa and some changes in the PHF establishment.

“Our three-day deadline would end tomorrow and we will resume our ‘Save Hockey’ campaign and would meet Pakistan prime minister and president to convince them to bring in some changes in the PHF so that hockey could come on the right track,” he said.

“We only want right people working for Pakistan hockey so that we could see our national game flourish, once again.

“It is very sad to see hockey in such a state and the passion to do something for it is the only reason that Olympians from all over the country have gathered,” he added.

The News International

Pakistan hockey players take back resignations

ISLAMABAD: Less than a week after they resigned owning moral responsibility for their flop show in the World Cup in Delhi, Pakistani hockey players have taken their resignations back.

Pakistan finished 12th in the World Cup, but the players agreed to take back their resignations after a meeting with Federal Sports Minister Ijaz Jakhrani.

According to sources, Jakhrani asked the players to withdraw their resignations, saying they were still 'good enough' to serve the nation. Jakhrani said he has also asked the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) President Qasim Zia not to accept the players' resignation.

Asked whether PHF secretary and team manager Asif Bajwa would be sacked or not, Jakhrani said a final decision would be taken by the PHF. "I will consult with the higher authorities and if we feel that by sacking Bajwa Pakistan hockey can improve, we will remove him," The Daily Times quoted Jakhrani, as saying.

The Times of India

National Hockey at HCP from April 3

KARACHI: The 57th edition of National Hockey Championship will be played at Hockey Club of Pakistan Stadium here from April 3 to 18, Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) announced on Wednesday.

Ten departmental teams PIA, NBP, SSGC, HBL, WAPDA, Army, Navy, Port Qasim, PAF and KESC will take part in the championship, a spokesman of PHF said.

The championship will be played on round robin league. The players born after January first 1979 would be eligible to take part in the championship.

The championship will be played according to the regulations issued by the FIH enforced by PHF.

Associated Press of Pakistan

Remarkable fortnight for Maritzburg College and South African hockey


IT has been an extraordinary couple of weeks for Maritzburg College hockey.

The school has had five Old Boys representing South Africa at the Hockey World Cup in New Delhi, India – a tournament that took place from February 28 to March 13.

And on March 6, after the SA Indoor Hockey Interprovincial Tournament at Pietermaritzburg's YMCA, another five Old Boys were selected for South Africa ahead of the Africa Qualifiers scheduled for Namibia in May and the Indoor Hockey World Cup in Poland next February.

Gareth Carr, Marvin Harper, Taine Paton and older brother Wade, plus Tommy Hammond have been sweating buckets in muggy Delhi on the way to helping the SA outdoor team earn 10th place - their equal-best ever final position in the World Cup.

South Africa have moved up from 13th to 12th in the world rankings

The SA men's indoor hockey side includes Ryan Gray, Darryn Gallagher, Simon Johnson, Stuart Gower-Jackson and Shaun Davenhill, that's no less than 10 different Maritzburg College Old Boys in the national teams of the two closely related hockey codes.

Marvin Harper (2003), Wade Paton (2004), Tommy Hammond (2002), Taine Paton (2007) and Gareth Carr (1999)

In addition, highly regarded umpire Ayden Shrives is one of the rising stars in world hockey while Dale Isaac is an SA indoor reserve, to make 12 Old Boys on the international stage.

Just three months ago SA were only ranked 15th in world hockey

In a feature published in The Witness over a decade ago, College first team hockey coach for the past 29 years, Mike Bechet, said that his goal as a schoolboy coach was always to prepare boys for the next phase of their careers.

Imparting a pride and love for the game has inspired them to reach for higher honours, such as Olympic Games and World Cup representation.

And in that, Bechet has surely succeeded beyond most school coaches' wildest dreams, while the strong hockey culture at what was, and still is, primarily a rugby school should stand the test of time.

Post-India, the World Cup highlight being a memorable win against world number seven Pakistan, South Africa have moved up from 13th to 12th in the world rankings.

And SA were just five minutes away from beating India in the next match before a late goal saw the match drawn 3-3. India have moved from world 12 to ninth.

SA could have been playing for a seventh-place World Cup finish had they held on.

And the agonising golden goal penalty stroke that cost them ninth place against New Zealand in Delhi contributed to just the one-place jump up the world rankings.

Nevertheless, their progress is heartening.

Indeed, just three months ago SA were only ranked 15th in world hockey, but jumped two places after finishing fifth at the Champions Challenge in Argentina at a tournament won by New Zealand, who beat Pakistan in the final.


1 Australia; 2 Germany; 3 Netherlands; 4 Spain; 5 South Korea; 6 England; 7 New Zealand; 8 Pakistan; 9 India; 10 Argentina; 11 Canada, 12 South Africa; 13 Belgium; 14 Malaysia; 15 China; 16 Japan; 17 France; 18 Ireland; 19 Poland; 20 Austria; 21 United States; 22 Russia; 23 Scotland; 24 Czech Republic; 25 Chile; 26 Egypt; 27 Wales; 28 Italy; 29 Trinidad and Tobago; 30 Switzerland.

SA Hockey World

Oltmans in June at Malaysian National team if his contract is taken over

National hockey squad is expected to touch the former experienced Dutch coach, Roelant Oltmans in June this year.

Deputy President of the Malaysia Hockey Federation (PHM), Nur Azmi Ahmad said, the possibility is based on many things that need diperhalusi before both parties reach agreement.

According to Nur Azmi, PHM through negotiation president, Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah to a former coach of the

Netherlands and Pakistan is being run in New Delhi, India in conjunction with the World Cup hockey tournament that just stretch out the curtain, last week.

Tengku Abdullah is still negotiating’ with Oltmans in some things and see the positive things I see so far.

They include’ binding contract with the club in addition to the old agreement in several matters involving the practice squad contract of the country," he said when contacted from New Delhi, yesterday.

Therefore, Azmi told the country's hockey squad will be based entirely on the two local instructors, Tai Beng Hai and Stephen Van Huizen in the face of the Champions Trophy Asia and the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh.

"They will be responsible for full national squad trained in two tournaments that took place later in April and May," he said.

Malaysia will face challenges with teams that played in the World Cup recently, South Korea, besides China and Pakistan on Champions Trophy Asia in 13 to 18 April this.

Oltmans was currently still having binding contracts with Larensche Mixed hockey club from the Netherlands.

He had led the Netherlands won the 1998 World Cup and 1996 Olympic gold medal in Atlanta, United States.

In addition, he also had experienced training team Pakistan in the 2004 Summer Olympics at Athens.

Meanwhile, Azmi reveals PHM delegation in New Delhi also held discussions with several foreign coaches from other countries including Australia squad to train other countries Oltmans.

"We have many options but is still a preference Oltmans PHM if negotiations are successful," he said.

Utusan Online

Financial woes force Olak out of this year’s MJHL

KUALA LUMPUR: Former champions Old La Sallians Association (Olak) will not feature in the Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL) this year.

Olak were one of the few teams who had been in the MJHL since its inception in 1995.

Olak first won a title, the league, in 1997. The following year, they bagged the league and overall titles. They also won the double in 1999. Their last success was taking the overall title in 2000.

Olak assistant team manager Joseph De Silva said that they were unable to field a team this year because of financial woes.

“It’s not cheap to have a team playing in the MJHL. We used to get few private sponsors to help us put up a team but we are unable to do so this time,” he said.

It’s sad that Olak will not be featuring in the MJHL. They had a reputation of having produced national players, among them defenders Mohd Madzli Ikmar and Mohd Amin Rahim and midfielder Reduan Ponirin.

Madzli was the national team skipper for the World Cup qualifiers in Invercargill, New Zealand, last November.

Amin is the country’s top penalty corner flicker and was the top scorer in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL), which ended last month, with 13 goals for Tenaga Nasional.

The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) secretary, Hashim Mohamed Yusoff, said that it was sad that a pioneer team like Olak would not feature in the MJHL this year.

“To date, 16 teams have confirmed participation in the MJHL, which begins on April 9,” said Hashim.

Four of the teams will be making their debut – UniKL, Sabah Hockey Association, SMK Teknik Klang and SMK Pengkalan Permatang of Selangor.

The others in the fray are double champions Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS), BJSS Juniors, Bandar Penawar Sports School (BPSS), BPSS Juniors, Anderson, Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ), Matri Perlis, SMK Datuk Taha, Kuantan Sports Council, Johor Sports Council, Tunku Besar School and Ipoh City Council.

Hashim said that they were hoping for more teams to sign up before the closing date for entries tomorrow.

Last year, a record 23 teams took part – 13 in Division One and 10 in Division Two.

The Star of Malaysia

Time is ripe for a Hockey 8s league

Samir Pai

The recent World Cup on our shores took the game of Hockey a few notches up in terms of viewer participation and general interest in the sport. Every sport professional identify that for the game to grow, the nerve center of the game has to be bestowed on India.

Another under-performance from the India team leaves us with two options of analyzing the tournament! First, was it an opportunity lost, in regaining our past glory or was it a tournament that germinated an idea that Hockey and its Indian component, had all the right attributes, to emerge as the second Indian sport discipline, that had the viability of creating a sports business model with mass following attributes? I rest my judgment on the second option, self being a sports professional.

My opinion is not emotive in its reasoning. I however believe that people at helm of affairs of Indian hockey and business houses wanting to invest in the sport, have to take into consideration the following internal and external environment, before they decide on their judgment on Indian hockey.

These are my observations on the environment in which Indian hockey exists and the opportunity it provides as India’s second mass sport with a robust business model:

Need to move away from the past glory factor: Color TV and live sports broadcasts started around 1982-83. An Indian victory in the 1983 cricket world cup and a corresponding failure of Indian hockey, to get a podium finish in the 1984 Los Angles Olympics, marked the start of the long gap between the two sporting disciplines, which would subsequently emerge in the years to come and in turn decide their contrasting social and financial status.

What needs to be put into perspective is the fact that we need to completely stop the grossly unfair comparison between Hockey and cricket. This is all the more pertinent from a business point of view. Comparisons with cricket vis a vis valuations, sponsorship amounts and TV ratings; is uncalled for.

Despite the underachievement in terms of performance by the Indian team; the Hero Honda world cup has been a successful financially event in terms of sponsorship and ROI for everyone concerned, right from the broadcasters, organizers to the sponsors. It is a different matter that the value of the same is no where compared to the IPL or big ticket cricket events.

But a comaprision is like saying that no business model is viable unless its product has a global reach. Other sectors of business sees successful brands of various sizes and niches. Their success is not in their top lines, but more in their bottom sector. The most important lesson for Indian hockey organizers from the recent world cup is that they have to move away from the “past glory” emotive selling point. Yes hockey draws an emotive response from the consumer, but making the” Past glory factor” the line of communication, results in disappointment from the consumer point of view and affects the brand equity of the product. undefined

The future line of communication therefore should revolve around the fact that India is a top 10 side in the world and ever improving; support India in its path to the top. If the consumer is informed of the present stand of Indian hockey, its approach and path to achieve a top position; it will result in consumers having more realistic expectations from the game.

Performance has nothing to do with the financial power or the mass adulation enjoyed by a sporting discipline! If that was the case England would win a majority of soccer tournaments and India would replicate the same in cricket. More than the fans it is important for the business investors in hockey to adopt a pragmatic rather than an emotive approach, the results will surely follow.

2. Opportunity to create Hockey’s equivalent of the IPL: Ironically city or region based teams forming a league was pioneered in India with Hockey & the PHL (Premier Hockey League), later replicated by the ICL and followed by the IPL in cricket. However the PHL had a few chinks or fundamental flaws in its impressive product, which need to be ironed out before it is again revived. The PHL in its original avatar was run by the infamous IHF, led by KPS Gill and the now tainted former secretary Jyothikumaran.

Though ESPN, did its best in terms of packaging the tournament; it was run like a boot camp and players were divided into various teams without any team identification or private participation in terms of team owners. A different owner adds to the identification factor for the teams and creates vibrancy in the league. This is one factor that did not catapult two sports leagues in India into mass products, PHL and ICL.

A different owner also adds to the level of competition and accountability factor for players and stakeholders. Another major disadvantage was the fact that the tournament was played in only one location, taking away a critical component of league sport: a home and away fixtures and schedule. If these two chinks are ironed out, PHL as a format will work wonders for Indian hockey and its constituent global fraternity, especially the remuneration & social factors of all international players.

3. Modification of the basic product to make it more television friendly: For a sport to survive in the modern contemporary world where it competes with various other forms of entertainment, to earn its share of the pie from the entertainment dollar; it is of paramount importance to emerge as a television friendly product.

The huge success of EPL and IPL lies in its fundamental laying of importance as a television friendly product. Similarly Hockey has to identify its weaknesses as a television sport and take radical decisions, to deliver a better television product.

Hockey could be a more attractive sport if the playing composition of a side could be reduced from eleven players to eight or nine and four quarters of 20 minute each. Many hockey stalwarts have said about it in the past. The positive impact on the on-air advertisements for the same can be best gauged by even a lay man.

The reason of having 9 players is to reduce the crowded scenario in the penalty circle and encouragement of more field goals, making the game more attractive and consumer friendly. This is all the more relevant and feasible today with the rotational substitution implementation in the game. As a fan it was my first time experience away from the 4-4-3-2 (European) or the 5-3-2-1 (Asian and Australian) combinations, used in earlier hockey formats. If I could add my own suggestion, how about florescent pink balls instead of the traditional white, it sure is more necessary for the fast paced hockey.

In the final analysis time is ripe for a Hockey 8s league (PHL or IPL format) to mushroom out of India.

A study and proposal by Samir Pai of Zee digital, Mumbai