News for 02 January 2012

All the news for Monday 2 January 2012

Cougars and Wanderers champions on Tayside

Caledonian Cougars, one of the Scotland squads, clawed their way to 5-3 victory over Scottish champions Inverleith in the final of the Grove Menzieshill Invitation Indoor Tournament at DISC in Dundee yesterday.

The first half belonged to Inverleith`s Chris Grassick and the Cougar`s Allan Law, both scored twice for a 2-2 half-time score.  Law opened with a penalty corner in only two minutes, but Grassick replied also from a set piece, and then took advantage of a defensive error by Gavin Byers to give the Edinburgh side a 2-1 lead.  In a dramatic last minute before the interval, Law made it 2-2 from another set piece, then Grassick put his overtime penalty corner wide of the target.

Inverleith looked to be on their way just after the break when Stephen Dick put them 3-2 ahead, but after a gap of ten minutes with no goals, Chris Wilson equalised following a break through by Byers.  It was the Cougars who stepped up the pace in the closing minutes and strikes from Gareth Hall and Gary Cameron ensured their 5-3 victory.

Earlier Inverleith lost their unbeaten record in the final pool match with a 6-5 defeat at the hands of the same Caledonian Cougars, courtesy of the last touch goal from Michael Ross as both side seemed to be  squabbling over penalty corner awards.   The Edinburgh side were uncharacteristically slow off their mark and found themselves four down after 15 minutes through strikes from Gareth Hall (2), Gavin Byers and Ross, Stephen Dick got a consolation for Inverleith just on the interval.

Inverleith came out a different team in the second half and fought back to 4-4 through two goals by Derek Salmond and another from Chris Grassick.  Ross struck again to give the Cougars a 5-4 lead, Grassick again equalised with a shot that went in off a defender, but Ross` last gasp counter gave him his hat-trick and the Cougars the points that took them into the final along with Inverleith.

Hosts Menzieshill finally broke their duck with a 4-1 win over Wales, a result that put them into the bronze medal play-off.  But it was the Highland Jaguars who took the medal with a narrow 3-2 win over Menzieshill.

Sam Sangster was the toast of Scottish champions VWS Dundee Wanderers, her penalty conversion gave the Taysiders a 2-1 win over the Scotland senior squad and the gold medal in the women`s final. After the sides had drawn 5-5 in normal time, only Kareena Marshall scored her penalty for Scotland, Nikki Kidd and Amy Brodie missed, but Vikki Bunce and Sangster were both on target for Wanderers.

In four minutes Susan McGilveray opened for the Scots but within seconds Amy Rowan had equalised following good work by Julie Bryce.  There was then an exchange of penalty corners, Sangster found the target first, only for Becky Merchant to score with a high shot.  Bunce proceeded to give Wanderers a 4-2 half time lead, the first went into the roof of the net from a set piece, the other came from a good passing move that opened up the Scottish defence.

Within five minutes of the interval the score was level at 4-4, both goals came from Kidd, the second from the spot after a foul on the line by Sangster.  Both goalkeeper Carmin Dow and Bunce were called upon to make crucial saves as Scotland pressed for the winner, but it was Wanderers who took a 5-4 lead through Ashleigh Bunce after good work from Rowan.  In a dramatic denouement, Kat Cameron equalised for Gordon Shepherd`s charges and the chance of the winner was spurned when Marshall missed the target from the spot.

Scotland kept their perfect record in the pool matches with another not so convincing 4-1 win over Grove.  It took Shepherd`s charges a minute before the interval to strike through Amy Brodie, but almost immediately Jennifer Smith levelled the scores.  In the second half Scotland moved ahead through Nikki Lloyd through a penalty corner, Brodie grabbed her second and the final goal came from Susan McGilveray.

Wanderers route to the final was fraught with self-inflicted problems when the Scottish champions surprisingly lost 2-1 to Grove.  After a goalless first half, it was Grove who took the lead when Louise Carroll converted from the spot.  Although Bunce equalised a few minutes later, schoolgirl Rachael Campbell scored the winner, leaving Wanderers to rue their poor finishing.   The Taysiders responded in style by whipping the USA under 21 side 8-0, set piece expert Sam Sangster scored a hat-trick, Bunce and Amy Rowan both had doubles and Julie Bryce got the other.

The bronze medal play-off was an all American affair with the senior squad beating their juniors 5-0.


Scottish Hockey Union media release

My achievements went unnoticed and it hurts: Sardara Singh

NEW DELHI: He has been chosen in FIH's world XI for the second consecutive year but star hockey player Sardara Singh is furious that his state government did not even acknowledged the feat.

Sardara is lone Asian player in International Hockey Federation's world eleven this year.

He was the only Indian in the FIH team, selected on the basis of performance in 2010 also.

"It is a big achievement but I am sad that no one from Haryana Government has congratulated me, forget about giving any prize. I am hurt that my achievements went unnoticed. Look at the cricketers, everyone goes gaga over their each and every achievement and hefty prizes are announced," said the midfielder.

He also feels that encouragement is must to give best performance which is lacking in his case.

"Haryana government has taken many steps to promote sports in the state and I am surprised that when their own player is earning accolades at top level and they don't even care to notice it. I have won many player-of-the-tournament awards in last two years but who cares?" he rued.

Sardara, DSP in Haryana police, also felt bad that he was not considered for the Bhim award by the state government. He is yet to get the Arjuna award.

"I had joined Haryana police in 2008 as DSP and am getting the monthly salary only. No promotions or no performance based incentive. That is the difference between hockey and cricket but I have no regrets. Hockey is my passion and I always want to be a part of winning team," he said.

Busy in preparing for Olympic qualifiers to be held in New Delhi from February 18 to 26, Sardara wants to give his best.

"I am cent per cent confident that we will not only qualify for London Olympic but will also win every match with handsome margin."

The plight of Indian Hockey players was in limelight last year also when they were offered Rs 25000 as prize money after winning the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy and the players had rejected it.

The Times of India

New year, new trials

B Shrikant

Challenges are inevitable in life and facing them head-on is the best way to succeed. Some tests are simple and do not tax us much, others are arduous. Some bring small changes while others can shake up our life and put it on a new course.

The world was just recovering from World War II and participating in sports was the last thing on people’s minds. But the successful hosting of the Games by London (and the Winter Games by St Moritz, Switzerland the same year) proved that sports can apply balm to wounds caused by bloody conflicts.

Promoted as the “Austerity Games” and held on a shoestring budget, London 1948 was also crucial for India, as the country took it on as its first sporting challenge as an independent nation. India stood up to the task to win their first gold medal as a free country in men’s hockey.

Tough times ahead

Six decades later, London gets ready to host the Olympics once again even as major nations are facing an economic meltdown. As top leaders of the world try to steer their countries past recession, India too is battling economic slowdown, and sports — Olympics in particular — can be the much-needed succour in such troubled times.

Except for India’s triumph at the cricket World Cup, there were not many defining moments for Indian sports in 2011 — as compared to 2010. The London Olympics present our sportspersons with a chance to build on our success at the Beijing Olympics (one gold and two bronze), Delhi Commonwealth Games and Asian Games at Guangzhou.

Though three medals at the Olympics is too little for a country of over one billion, London provides us a chance to improve on the Beijing tally. India have made big strides in shooting, boxing, wrestling, archery and tennis, and London will be a chance for the likes of Gagan Narang, Abhinav Bindra, Vijender Singh, Sushil Kumar, Mahesh Bhupathi and Leander Paes to win medals. The clock is ticking for some and London may be their last Olympics.

Sports bill conundrum

Indian sports waged some crucial battles in 2011 — none more important than the attempt to bring in a new legislation to improve administration of sports federations.

The sports ministry has proposed a law that promises to rescue federations from the clutches of powerful politicians and powerbrokers. The ministry’s attempts, coming after the Commonwealth Games scams have, as expected, run into roadblocks.

Sports minister, Ajay Maken, and the Sports Bill will face their Waterloo in 2012 when it is expected to come up before the Cabinet for clearance and Parliament for endorsement. If Maken wins, the Bill will change the face of Indian sports. The Bill’s defeat will ensure that status quo prevails.

Our next big challenge would be to free itself from the clutches of the ‘dope’ monster that bit seven athletes in 2011. The one-year ban handed to the six quartermilers reinforces India’s infamy as the country that tolerates doping and whose administrators do their utmost to save the cheats from strict punishment. India had suffered embarrassment on this front at the 2004 Athens Olympics and the challenge in 2012 would be to avoid any further humiliation. The government, federation and National Anti-Doping Agency need to put in place a stricter regimen to tackle the menace. Blaming a foreign expert is too simple a solution for a serious issue like doping!

Hockey’s berth pangs

Indian hockey will also be hoping for a revival. Having failed to qualify for the Beijing Olympics and clinch a direct berth for London, the men’s team is forced to go through a winner-takes-all qualifying tournament once again. Failure to make it to the second successive Olympics would be a disaster that will set Indian hockey back by many years. Solving the governance issue would be another problem that would keep the stakeholders busy.

Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna have come together seeking Olympic glory. They face the arduous task of winning a medal that has eluded Bhupathi and Leander Paes in three Olympics (Sydney, Athens and Beijing).

Failure is an opportunity to begin again, this time more wisely. The year is a chance to fulfil the promises made in 2010.

Hindustan Times

With OTHL school on New Year day

K. Arumugam

An unexpected honour of my NGO and equally pleasant unexpected visit of an Olympian to a school which I patronize for hockey, marked my modest new year day. Not many great things to share with you all, but the narrative is to bolster myself on what I am obsessed with nowadays and will, in all likelihood, to be so in the new year too.

Indraprastha Sports Promotion Club, of which SN Sharma is the Chairman, is unknown to me till the last week. A coach attached with one of the One Thousand Hockey Legs’ project invited me to be present on new year day ‘as they wish to recognize my NGO work in Delhi’.

So, early in the morning I set out to reach another part of Delhi, was there to receive a shawl and a gift on behalf of Hockey Citizen Group. World Cupper Rajesh Chauhan, founder of Jai Bharat Hockey Academy, played perfect host to me.

The venue is quite close to a school in Ashok Vihar in West Delhi, which is the furthest from my normal place of NGO activities.

This distance showed. Despite being in the Delhi’s One Thousand Hockey Legs project – my idea of introducing 500 school children in to hockey sport in each city each year - this school was the least progressed. We haven’t even invited this school team for the Delhi OTHL Cup held recently. This was not fair.

The school is ear-marked for a specific JJ Colony – meaning a cluster where poor section of people reside. We have sent so many coaches to train the boys of 6th and 7th class on working days, but somehow things did not work out.

They were given training only on Sundays on a mini-football ground owned and permitted by DDA. According to volunteer coach who trained the boys on Sundays, it was not suffice to form a strong team.

He is correct. Therefore, the focus this time was on this school. All spade works were done well on time so as to utilize the unexpectedly long winter break for schools, last week of December to 15th of Jan this year.

The problem again was coaches, not many willing to come. This was big set-back. I had to overcome. Having taken all the permission to utilize the ground on the whole of winter break, and having spent so much time on mobilizing required number of boys for the special initiative, the opportunity cannot be let go just like that.

So, I turned my self a trainer for about a week before two coaches whom I have been cajoling over a week turned up on the same day.

I landed up in the school after Indraprasta Sporct Club Function. All the 27 boys including 13 new ones were there to greet me.

New Coach Sunil was hands on the job.

Soon came a call from MK Kaushik, who was also supposed to be in the earlier function and came there after I left.

I invited him to the school, as it is very near to where he was then. So, it so happened a perfect New Year Day for the boys.

They will be seeing an Olympic Gold Medalist in front.

As a way of introducing the Olympian, I asked the boys which is the biggest tournament in sports.

‘ODI’, pat came a reply, the second one was heard saying ‘Commonwealth Games’.

So, the students had a lecture on what is World Cup, Olympics etc and soon it was a hockey education session.

Kaushik motivated the boys with his characteristic charm.

New coach informs us there are a couple of outstanding players here, and at least half a dozen of them could become a player of worth.

These are the words that kept ringing in my ears as I returned home after spending nearly eight hours on hockey which includes 3-4 hours on travel.

One thing is for sure: This school is no longer a weak one among the Delhi’s OTHL schools.

It is coming up in style.

With this feeling, another New year starts

Hasan Sardar offers to resolve rift between PHF, ex-Olympians

KARACHI: Pakistan hockey star Hasan Sardar has offered the role of a mediator to resolve stand-off between the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) and estranged Olympians.

“Being former Olympian, I feel perturbed with regard to the ongoing controversy between some former hockey players and the PHF and wanted to play a role in resolving the issue,” the former centre-forward said on Sunday.

“Estranged Olympians and the PHF should come forward, sit together and resolve their differences to help revive hockey in the country,” he maintained.

Stating that the PHF should immediately pull out of the legal battle and respectfully invite the former Olympians to listen to their grievances, Hasan said that he is ready to help resolve the row between ex-Olympians and the PHF.

“It’s my earnest desire that the two parties come to terms with each other and I am keen to work for it,” remarked Hasan, who is also the former chief selector.

It is pertinent to mention that over a dozen Olympians including some of the former Pakistan captains like Islahuddin Siddiqui, Mohammad Shahbaz Sr, Shahnaz Sheikh and others wrote a letter to the prime minister, levelling allegations against the PHF that also included the accusation of human-trafficking.

“Today is the start of a new year and ex-Olympians and the PHF officials should sit together to resolve once and for all that they would only work for the betterment of the national game,” said the former Olympian.

Stating that the row between the PHF and the former Olympians has made the country a laughing stock all over the world, he said: “The country has given me everything in hockey and I earnestly want an end to the ongoing episode.”

“Pakistan hockey team needed support of all stakeholders to help Pakistan secure a better position in the upcoming London Olympics,” he commented.

Pakistan finished worst-ever 7th in 2008 Beijing Olympics and at the bottom in 12-nation Hockey World Cup held in New Delhi in 2010.

“All players deserve respect that can ensure unity in their ranks which will in turn serve the cause of hockey,” Hasan concluded.