News for 02 July 2013

All the news for Tuesday 2 July 2013

SA hockey men expect same style from Pakistan in Malaysia


After a 3-3 draw with world number four England and a 6-4 defeat by world number 13 Malaysia, the world number 12 South Africa men’s hockey team know they need a win against world number five Pakistan Tuesday in their final Pool B match at the World League Semi-Final tournament in Johor, Malaysia.

The 3 pm (SA time) clash is to be televised live on SuperSport 7.

“Pakistan offer another stern test and that is the beauty of playing at the highest level of world Hockey,” said SA head coach Charlie Pereira Monday. “Their playing style is similar to Malaysia and if we learn from our mistakes and apply ourselves to counter-cover principles, we have a shot at a result.”

SA captain Austin Smith was thinking on similar lines: “We now look to Pakistan and how we can turn things around. They will play in a similar fashion to Malaysia so much needs to be improved by then.”

SA vice-captain Rhett Halkett was pleased that midfielder Clint Panther reached his 50th Test match cap against Malaysia and was also chuffed with Jethro Eustice’s first international goal, but Pakistan is foremost in his mind.

“Pakistan now becomes a crucial fixture for us with regard to where we finish in our pool and ultimately who we face in the quarter-finals. Pakistan will present plenty of the same playing-style characteristics, so we need to ensure that we learn from the Malaysian game and bring a far more intelligent and mature performance.”

There are still four games left in the tournament and SA are guaranteed a place in Thursday’s quarter-finals due to the tournament format.

“Malaysia were a different proposition to SA,” said Pereira. “In front of their home crowd they are formidable. They were also very keen to reverse the losing trend against us and as often happens you learn more from losing than you do in winning.

“We did not start well and our penalty corner defence, which has been so good until now, took strain. As the first half developed we took control and started to build good phases with the ball and were successful down our right, creating circle entries which resulted in penalty corners that got us back in the game. It was 2-1 at half-time, which became 2-2 early in the second half, and we had a great chance to go 3 -2 up. Then we got an unlucky yellow card and with numbers down it disrupted our structure and plagued us for the balance of the second half.”

Pereira said that once SA went behind the team became scoreboard focused and started chasing the game, which left South Africa exposed to counter-attacks. “Not a great performance, and some complacency before the game may have contributed to our downfall and that is the nature of sport. This will make us stronger as we analyse and then make changes to our game.”

Smith said SA were poor all over the field. “We did well to get back into the game but after going down again at 3-2 and 4-2 we went searching too much and left too many gaps all over the field. Malaysia outplayed us in the one-on-ones, which made any sort of control of the game difficult.”

Halkett said it was an electric atmosphere. “The stadium was packed, we always knew Malaysia would be a different team in Malaysia but it is obviously a very disappointing result for us, as we know we are capable of beating Malaysia on most days. However, that does not take away any credit from Malaysia who were clinical in front of goal and at set-pieces.”

Halkett said that SA fought back brilliantly, twice, but then started to chase the victory, the structure fading slightly, which exposed the defence, and this played directly into Malaysia’s counter-attacking ability.

“There are still plenty of positives for us from this game and a few lessons to be learned. We can score goals and create chances at any stage of the game. But errors and turnovers in certain critical areas of the field were punished. That is international hockey. Unfortunately, sometimes this is how it goes.”


Rassie Pieterse (Southern Gauteng), Gowan Jones (KZN Coastal Raiders); Austin Smith (capt, Western Province), Francois Pretorius (Northern Blues), Rhett Halkett (vice-capt, WP), Lance Louw (SG), Jethro Eustice (SG); Jonty Robinson (NB), Clint Panther (SG), Wade Paton (KCR), Tim Drummond (KCR), Nick Gonsalves (SG), Taine Paton (KCR); Julian Hykes (SG), Craig Haley (WP), Pierre de Voux (WP), Miguel da Graca (SG), Lloyd Norris-Jones (WP).

* SA meet Pakistan in their final Pool B match at 3 pm (SA time) Tuesday in a clash to be televised live on SuperSport 7.

SA Hockey Association media release

Everything to play for says Koji

The constant change to the rules has made it difficult for Japanese players to adjust to the high level hockey and this is what has affected their style of play.

“We are not use to the high stick rule, it has made our players a bit confused. However having practice here for four days, we are getting a lot better,” said 29 year old Koji Kayukawa who is also the skipper for this year Japanese team in the World League Semi Finals in Johor Bahru.

“Our team keyword is work hard and work together. I believe if we fulfill this, we will have good results,” he said.

Japan drew their opening match 3-3 against Korea, coming from 0-3 down at one stage but were hammered 7-1 by Argentina in the second match on Suday. They complete their pool matches against Germany on Tuesday.

Koji’s sister used to play hockey and that was what started it all. His was torn between two sports, baseball and hockey. However, his love for hockey became greater and when he had to choose it was not hard.

Koji admires former Japanese professional baseball player Tatsunami Kazuyoshi who uses the number 3 on his shirt, hence the number on his jersey.

He made his debut for Japan when he was 20 years old in the Four Nation match between Japan, China, Korea and India.

Koji believes that his team still has a chance and it is the last eight match that he said was important to their fortunes.

“Ranking is not important. What is important is the enthusiasm and togetherness as a team you put when playing the game. For me I see this as a fight with myself and for myself,” he added

“My worst moment was when we lost to South Africa for the London Olympic Qualifying in Japan”.

“Our team has not been in the Olympic for 45 years and it will be my goal to make a new history for Japan,” said Koji who loves to play with his children  during his spare time. He has also developed a taste bud for the Korean food called bulgogi thanks to his coach.

Official WHL R3, Johor Baru Microsite

Nabil game for a fight

As the saying goes, it's not about the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

That describes Malaysian skipper Mohd Shahrun Nabil who started his love for sports with football but somehow grew his talent more in hockey. 

Even though small in size, he is now captain of the national team and he plays with such vigour and determination, that size means nothing as he takes on much bigger opponents to take control of the midfield.

Shahrun Nabil playing hockey at the age of 10 and made his debut at the age of 18 in 2006 Asian Games in Doha. And ever since then he has gone on to cement his place in the national squad.

Having led the team to a draw ( 4-4 against Pakistan) and a win (6-4 against South Africa), he feels the team are on the right track in their quest to avoid world number 1 Gewrmany in the last eight.

“If you are prepared and put your heart into it, there will always be a chance. You always have to take that chance to score whenever there is an opportunity,” he said.

“Malaysia made history when we won the silver medal at the Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010 and I was very proud to be a part of the team” he said speaking about his best moment in hockey.

“We have England in our next match and they too will be out to finish as high as they can, so there is much at stake in the game.

“A draw may do, but we will not be playing for a draw as planning such things could backfire. So while we need a point our aim is to net all three.”

Shahrun Nabil believes that the new qualifying format gives teams a lot more opportunity to qualify for the World Cup.

“There is one spot in the Asia Cup but  there are  three spots up for grabs in Johor Bahru. So we got to take the chance here as the Asia Cup will prove to be difficult as India too have not qualified,” added Nabil.”

“The friendly with the Germans has built up a bit of confidence even though we lost two one. We know now if we are ready or not. It also gave us a chance to perfect whatever skills that needs to be perfected.”

Official WHL R3, Johor Baru Microsite

Bobby Crutchley is left hot and bothered

By Graham Wilson

Crutchley says the team need to find some consistency

WHILE England’s women qualified for the World Cup over the weekend, attention has turned to the men in Malaysia, who have what coach Bobby Crutchley calls a must-win clash against the hosts in Johor.

England have two draws to their name, against South Africa (3-3) and Pakistan (2-2), in the World League.

Malaysia have beaten South Africa 6-4 and drawn 4-4 with Pakistan.

Captain Barry Middleton said: “There is a bit more pressure on us against Malaysia, but we will come back ready.”

And Crutchley added: “We need to find that consistency. I have been impressed with the resilience we have shown in the stifling conditions out here.”

Captain Barry Middleton thinks England will come out fighting against Malaysia

Jason Lee’s women will be tired but happy despite their 3-0 defeat against Australia in the final of the World League in London. Captain Kate Walsh was immense in her leadership but is already looking to the European Championship.

She said: “Australia played a fantastic tournament. Around the circle they looked like Aussie teams of old.

“The Europeans are on the horizon and I’d like to go and get something better than a bronze. I’ve got five of them already!”

Daily Express

Malaysia need victory over England to avoid big teams in last eight


JOHOR BARU: Malaysia need to win their last match against England to top Group B to ensure they avoid the big teams in the quarter-finals of the World Hockey League semi-final tournament.

They lead the group with four points and if they beat England today, the should top the group – a fact which coach Paul Revington said was not on the agenda.

Malaysia are having a good run in the tournament having scored 10 goals against fifth and 12th ranked opponents. They drew 4-4 with Pakistan and then beat South Africa 6-4. Just three weeks ago they lost three Test matches to the South Africans.

For Revington the strong start was a surprise and he wants the players to maintain the momentum.

“Their strong start in two consecutive matches surprised me and I would like to see that happen more often. But we must also be careful not to throw away the lead like we did against Pakistan. We were leading 3-1 and 4-2 but ended up with a draw,” said Revington.

Against the South Africans the Malaysians had a two-goal lead and then it was 2-2 at one stage. Only a smart fightback saw them taking the lead and winning the match.

Revington said that England, ranked at number four, will be a different proposition.

“They have a new team with only six or seven survivors from their London Olympic squad. But they are still very experienced players and will be able to guide the younger ones. They may not be as strong as the last team but nevertheless a tough outfit to play. They also know what we can do and will be ready,” he said.

The Olympians in the English team are Ashley Jackson, Nick Catlin, Richard Smith, Dan Fox, Harry Martin and Barry Middleton.

In fact, seven players in the team, have less than 10 international appearances.

England drew 3-3 with South Africa and then held Pakistan to a 2-2 draw. They can still top the group if they beat Malaysia and if Pakistan fail to beat South Africa by a big margin.

Malaysia will be banking on Mohamed Razie Rahim and Faizal Saari to deliver against England. Razie has four goals to date while Faizal has three.

The Star of Malaysia

Determination is the key to victory, says Shahrun

JOHOR BARU: National skipper Mohammed Shahrun Nabil believes in the heart-soul-determination adage to win matches.

And of late, the national hockey team, seems to be following this attitude, going by their display in the on-going World Hockey League semi-final tournament, which is also a qualifying meet for the 2014 World Cup.

Shahrun can still remember the days when the national team entered the pitch overawed by the occasion and the big names in the opposing teams.

“It was no surprise that we lost and were well beaten in some matches. But the present bunch of players have shown they are made of sterner stuff and do not fear any team,” said Shahrun, who was made skipper when coach Paul Revington took over in October last year.

“If you are determined and put your heart and soul into each match, the chances of coming out as winners are higher,” said Shahrun.

He added that with each tournament under Revington, the team have gained in confidence and there is a great amount of team unity.

Nabil also leads by example and as a midfielder he is one of the vital players who ensures that the various departments can click.

In the on-going tournament, Malaysia drew 4-4 with Pakistan and then beat South Africa 6-4 in their Group B matches.

“We play England next and they also want to finish in a higher position – so there is much at stake in the game.

“A draw may do for us to finish among the top two but why take the chance. We do not want to play for a draw and winning is a culture we must adhere to in all our games,” he added.

Nabil believes that the new qualifying format gives teams a lot more opportunities to qualify for the World Cup.

“There are three spots up for grabs in this tournament. So we got to take our chances here instead of trying to get in at the Asia Cup. The friendly with the Germany has built up a bit of confidence for the team before the tournament started even though we lost 1-2. Playing the big teams is always one way to improve and also to learn. We must never stop learning. For now I will get the players to focus on the England game and not think of the next match just yet.”

The quarter-finals is slated for Thursday

The Star of Malaysia

Do the math!


Malaysia’s Nabil Fikri Mohd Noor (left) controls the ball during the match against South Africa in the World League Semi-finals in Johor Baru on Sunday. Pic by Mohamad Shahril Badri Saali

MALAYSIA play World No 4 England today in the World League Semi-finals where a win would see them top Group B and avoid the big guns in the quarter-finals.

The plan right now is to avoid Germany and Argentina in the last eight, and by beating the English, Malaysia might just play Japan in the crossover.

The math is simple, but the task at hand is almost monumental.

Every team in the World League in Johor Baru aim to win at the quarter-finals stage as it would give them two more chances in the semi-finals and third-fourth placing match to seal the three tickets to the World Cup.

"To score 10 goals in two matches is really satisfying but in the same breath, we let in eight goals and that is cause for worry," said Malaysia's coach Paul Revington.

Malaysia drew 4-4 with Pakistan, after taking a 3-0 lead, and were then rewarded for their sharpness in the semi-circle when they beat South Africa 6-4 on Sunday.

Faizal Saari, who seems to love playing at the Taman Daya Stadium where he started his 'career' by scoring eight goals in the 2009 Junior World Cup, called for extra help from the stands to achieve their target.

"The fans at Taman Daya have been great, but I appeal to them to turn up in bigger numbers to cheer us when we play England. It makes a big difference to our game, and we need their help to make it past a higher ranked England," said Faizal, who has scored two goals.

But Malaysia would need more than their legion of cheering fans to beat England as they are no pushovers.

"We have had to make some major changes to the team after the London Olympics, as some retired, while others are carrying injuries. It's unfortunate, but that is part of team re-building and what the new players lacked in experience, they covered up by sheer determination," said England coach Bobby Crutchley.

"And I have a bunch of players here who are willing to give their best in every match, and it would be no different against Malaysia."

After draws against Pakistan (2-2) and South Africa (3-3), England are looking for a win against Malaysia.

"Malaysia have speedy forwards who can take on any defender, and we have to be wary of their counter-attacks. I believe it would be a tough match but we are ready for it," added Crutchley.

Revington, normally very optimistic, was a little cautious when asked about Malaysia's chances against England.

"By rank, we are far off but those are just numbers and I believe all the teams, with the exception of Germany, are of equal strength and only sharpness in the semi-circle will separate the winners from the losers," said Revington.

New Straits Times

MHC: Results will determine coaches fate

THE Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) management committee have left the fate of national coaches to merit.

The committee, which met on Sunday, was supposed to discuss the fate of juniors coach K. Dharmaraj and 1Mas project director Lim Chiow Chuan, who were said to have played a part in chief coach Paul Revington's abrupt resignation two weeks ago.

"The juniors will play in the Junior World Cup in December while the seniors' target is to qualify for the World Cup in Netherlands next year.

"That is our KPI for the coaches. We did not discuss the coaches at all at the meeting. They have major assignments and we want them to do their job without interference," said MHC president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.

The committee, however, did endorse sending a mixed team to the Myanmar Sea Games on Dec 11-22.

"This is to honour requests from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar who are keen on promoting hockey.

"If we send a strong team and win our matches with big margins, it will have an opposite effect. We may be favourites for gold, but we also have to play our role to help develop hockey in this region," said Tengku Abdullah.

New Straits Times

Gap is widening

SOUTH Korea coach Shin Seok Kyo feels the gap between Asia and the rest of the world is getting wider.

With Belgium, Australia and Netherlands qualifying from the World League Semi-finals in the Netherlands, the only door for India to qualify is to become champions in the Asia Cup in Ipoh on Aug 24-Sept 1.

India finished sixth of eight teams in the Netherlands.

And in the Johor Baru World League, South Korea, Japan and Malaysia look like the outsiders for the three available tickets.

"After this, we have the Asia Cup which only offers one ticket, while the European teams have EuroHockey to increase their number," said Seok Kyo.

And if all three Asian teams in Johor Baru fail to make the grade, the Asia Cup will be a highly prized tournament.

"We have not been playing very well in Johor, but then, our target is the quarter-finals where we aim to win and claim our World Cup spot.

"It will not be easy as all teams in Group B have shown tremendous improvement," the coach added.

If Malaysia, Japan and South Korea fail in Johor Baru, only one Asian team might end up playing in the Netherlands World Cup next year.

New Straits Times

Electric Ireland Irish Women left to rue missed chances

The Electric Ireland Senior Women's team were left to rue a number of spurned chances as Wales grabbed a late equaliser from a penalty corner to deny Darren Smith's side the victory on the occasion of skipper Alex Speers' 150th Cap.

The game played in fine conditions at Mossley Hockey Club in Newtownabbey began with Ireland taking control of proceedings very early on. As early as the 3rd minute Ireland could have edged themselves in front as great play from Anna O'Flanagan to take down an accurate Audrey O'Flynn arial ball led to the forward player weaving her way through the Wales defence before setting up Katie Mullan who couldn't convert the opportunity. Ireland dominated possession with Wales only real chance coming about as a result from slack Irish possession in their own half of the field. Nikki Evans, Chloe Watkins and Deirdre Duke all went close for Ireland with strikes on goal but as the teams headed for the break, the home support were bemused as to how Ireland didn't have the lead their play deserved.

The early part of the second half was a scrappy affair as neither team grabbed the opportunity to take the game to each other. Naomi Carroll had the best chance for Ireland in these early exchanges as her mazy run and shot was palmed away by the welsh keeper. With 20 minutes to play, Ireland were awarded their first penalty corner of the game following good work from Frazer & O'Flanagan but Audrey O'Flynn's resulting drag flick flashed wide. With 13 minutes to play, Ireland finally grabbed the lead as the impressive Nikki Evans touched home from close range following more great vision from Naomi Carroll for the Green Army.

It was a breakthrough that Ireland deserved and the lead should have been extended less than a minute later when Emily Beatty set up O'Flanagan in front of goal who saw her scuffed effort blocked comfortably. Ireland were punished for their wayward finishing when with only 3 minutes remaining Katherine Budd converted Wales first penalty corner of the day to secure what seemed for large parts of the game like an unlikely draw.

Ireland went all out in the remaining few minutes to try to restore their lead however time ran out for the Green Army and they were left disappointed with the draw in the end.

Speaking after the game, Electric Ireland Senior International Coach, Darren Smith said "It was a faltering performance today. We were a little tentative and gave the ball up a bit easy at times. In the attacking third we lacked precision at key moments. Overall, we are still a work in progress and we have to make sure that we give the players good clarity in what we need to achieve as a team. Tomorrow is another great opportunity to do that"

Ireland will face Scotland tomorrow at Mossley Hockey Club with a 7pm start. Ireland International Shirley McCay will continue the recent milestone achievements with the Electric Ireland Senior International Team by earning her 150th cap.

Ireland 1 (N. Evans)
Wales 1 (Budd)

Irish Hockey Association media release

Canada Shuts Out Wales in Game # 1

Cruising to a 2-0 victory

Following two full rest days Team Canada was well prepared to take the field against Wales. Both teams exchanged pins, shook hands, cheered and then prepared for the opening whistle under wet and rainy conditions in Dublin.

The Canadians seemed a little bit hesitant and nervous right off the bat, but they opened the scoring after a few minutes, with a textbook field goal from Brienne Stairs. The Canadian press forced a Welsh defender to cough up the ball, deep in their defensive end. Kate Gillis quickly snatched up the ball and fed Brienne Stairs at the stroke spot for a beautiful one-time sweep into the net.

Nearing the end of the first half, it seemed that Canada was in control of the game. Goaltender Lauren Logush had only been tested two times, while the Canadians had generated seven shots on the Welsh keeper. The score remained 1-0 at halftime.

With countless chances in the circle, Canada could not find the back of the net for the second time until the 55th minute. A short corner, won by Stephanie Gardiner, lead to Karli Johansen’s third goal of the tour. Johansen drag-flicked the ball perfectly into the low right corner and Canada took a decisive lead.

Canada continued to put the Welsh defenders under pressure, but could not capitalize on any more of their chances. Time ran out, and Canada remained on top.

“A win is a win,” quotes Maddie Secco, “but we have lots of room for improvement.” Canada will get two more chances to bring up their level of play.

Canada plays Wales again on Saturday June 29 at 3:30pm Irish time (7:30am Pacific).

Field Hockey Canada media release

HIL has the potential to become a global brand: Jaitley

NEW DELHI: Hockey India League advisory board member Arun Jaitley says the franchise-based event, which was launched only this year, has "the potential to become a global brand".

Jaitley complimented all the participating teams and franchises of HIL for successfully and prefessionally organising the inaugural season of the league.

"Hero HIL has the potential of becoming an international global brand and is on the road to achieve it," Jaitley said today at the fifth franchise workshop of HIL at a city hotel here.

"With the introduction of Hero HIL, we see that fans and audience are watching and engaged in the sport. In the last 2-3 years, hockey is on the road to recovery," added the senior BJP leader.

Jaitley further said that the inaugural season of HIL was free from any controversy and played with good integrity, which was a result of the strong administration.

In the workshop, which was attended by representatives from each of the franchises, HIL orgainsers made presentations and detailed analysis on the results of the inaugural season of the league, a Hockey India statement said.

Plans were also discussed on how to make the league more successful in the second season starting from January 23 next year.

The Times of India

Riaz, Lobo sidelined as Kaushik joins Indian hockey

Nobbs’ role under scanner

Harpreet Kaur Lamba

Hockey India’s decision to rope in former men’s and women’s coach Maharaj Krishan Kaushik to assist chief coach Michael Nobbs has evoked surprise. The move depicts all is not well within the set-up.

India, who are oscillating between the attacking style of play and the European way - that they learnt successfully under former coach Jose Brasa - have been on the back foot in the last two years of international hockey.

Nobbs has struggled to put in a proper system of play and poor results have been evident, and even if Hockey India secretary Narinder Batra chooses to say "he doesn’t like to discuss a coach’s performance", the federation’s latest move shows it has lost faith in the Australian.

“Changes were needed and changes will help us,” is how High Performance director Roelant Oltmans explains the decision to include Kaushik. “We wanted an experienced man and Kaushik has shown in the past, that he is good.”

Sources suggest that Nobbs’ performance has been under scrutiny ever since the London Olympic Games last year, where India finished last. Questions have been raised over his technical acumen and the players too have been unhappy with the confusing style of play.

Oltmans in fact, the think-tank confirms, had to preside over team meetings - both pre-match and during match intervals — during the recent Hockey World League Round 3 tournament in Rotterdam, despite Nobbs’ presence.

“Nobody has a fixed term,” Batra said when asked if Kaushik’s appointment hinted at a change in guard at the top.

Former India skipper Zafar Iqbal says Kaushik’s name was suggested to HI to plug in “the communication gap between the players and the coach.”

Asked about Nobbs’ impact on Indian hockey, Zafar agreed “things haven’t been positive”.

“Nobbs is okay.. the reports are not very positive. But Kaushik’s appointment will be a positive step. He will help plug in the communication gap between the players and the coach since he understands Indian hockey very well.”

Indian coaches Mohammed Riaz and Clarence Lobo, both of whom have been involved with the senior team since the last many years, have been asked to "sit out for sometime".

“Yes, both of them will be rested for sometime. We will evaluate how the team progress under the new set-up and decide accordingly,” Batra said.

The Asian Age

Yet again another lost hockey generation

By Deepak Sheth

Now that a relatively junior Indian cricket team has done well in an international tournament, all Indian hockey fans will wonder, when will they will see even a fraction of that kind of success in their favorite sport. The long-suffering Indian fans do not want too much, just a smidgeon of good news.

It also gives us a good opportunity to take stock of the situation that is Indian hockey, maybe learn some lessons from the cricket success, now that Hockey India has firmed up its complete control of hockey in India and its commercial arm, the Hockey India World League and now that they have a high-performance director in Roelant Oltmans, and chief coach Michael Nobbs has had two years under his belt and the Indian men national team has an additional coach in Maharaj Kaushik. Also on the horizon, very shortly, is another make or break situation, i.e. Asia Cup, and it's consequence--qualification for the World Cup. We've been through one ignominy of not making it to one Olympics, is not making it to a World Cup also around the corner!

In the lead up to the next big dance and a follow-up of the previous disaster, published below are comments taken from the hockey section – Times of India, with appropriate side comments to put things in perspective.

Sardar Singh confident of making it to World Cup

As a team, we lack consistency, says dejected Sardar--- statements when taken together are an oxymoron, being against each other, proving that a stellar player like our Indian hockey captain is also exhibiting the same lack of consistency in his statements, that he laments about his team members. It behooves him to refrain from making such public statements. Plus, are you really confident that you can beat Malaysia(not done since quite a few years) Pakistan, South Korea [nearly never] and Even Japan , when you could not beat even a second-tier nation like Ireland and even China does not make it easy. And what with this inconsistency as mentioned above, your defense being perennially leaky, the PC battery chronically misfiring, and comment after comment from players modern and old, indicating the lack of basics of hockey, in your team members, including trapping, passing , leaving gaps, poor marking etc. etc.       

India need to compete against top teams regularly: Oltmans--- so playing against the world's best in the Hockey India World Hockey league is not enough, playing an Olympics and coming a miserable 12th is not sufficient experience. A preparatory European tour prior to these qualifiers was inadequate. Having extended camps, including incestuous playing against each other continuously, however monotonous,(nauseatingly knowing each other's moves and tactics] is not considered adequate preparation. So how much is enough, continuous tours without a break? How much expenditure for a poor country like ours is adequate to ensure a decent showing, hundred million dollars? And when does the country ask for a return on their investment. Is 45 years, long enough or do these guys need many more years still.

Viren Rasquinha optimistic about India qualifying for next World Cup. (Most of us hold him in high regard -- his going to MBA school and all, being a doctor's son, trying to do something for hockey] This is a typical inane statement being made by hockey players knowing fully well the lack of truth in it. Or is it really journalistic manipulation by the writer of that piece.

But an effort can be made to pinpoint the reasons for all this.

Player selection:--- role of the selection committee.

One common thread in all our recent disasters has been a player like Sandeep Singh. He represents a proto-typical Indian hockey player (missing “the basics”  so said-- coach Brasa) that singularly destroys a team. Misguided., Mistrained, wrongly encouraged, wrongly selected, wrongly (a perennial hockey power] employed, since childhood. He does have a bullet, P C shot, on his day, which is rarely. But he has been at the heart of most of our disastrous performances over the years. It is not surprising that this happens because it is natural for those around him to play very tentatively, what with his extremely poor defensive skills. His penalty corner prowess is handily overtaken by the amount of goals leaked by him, as also his extremely poor positioning. It can be rightly conjectured that he would've probably made a very good cricket player in the realm of a hitter like Yuvraj Singh, but is too slow for the rigors of an average hockey match. This story can be repeated again and again with many players on the  “current favorites of the selection committee list“. Time and again allegations of regional bias have surfaced. And does one forget easily the antics of one Mr. Jyotikumaran, the epitome of influence peddling.

Most selection committees have similar “scandalous stories” like this current one being the incomprehensible reselection of the above-named and Shivender Singh in spite of a memorably disastrous Olympic campaign. Now that India is on the brink of not making a World Cup tournament, does any one of the committees or its members have the honesty or the integrity to own up to their mistakes, let alone resign. It is inconceivable that both current foreign coaches, honest individuals as most foreign coaches are (fond memories of Jose Brasa) bear responsibility in these mis-selections, when the rest of the India's hockey players are purposely kept away from their watchful eyes. When is the last time you saw Mr. Oltmans, or Mr. Nobbs take in a local Murgappa tournament or Mumbai Gold cup or the matches of the Karnatak hockey league. Yet we have seen on national TV football coaches go far and wide, including transatlantic voyages just to watch a couple of players in important club matches. Also, is it fair to blame the administrators of Hockey India, when the arbitrators of the selection process are the selection committee?

Selection criteria

There are very few standards established for criteria of selection. Deselection of players is done on the basis of inane statements done to collaborator journalists in the press, and particularly in some hockey websites that act as virtual mouthpieces of the administration. When data indicates that a particular player is fastest with the ball on a stick, then to deselect him, with a unverified statement, that he is slow, does not pass the smell test, opening him up to the criticism that he is interested in propagating certain individuals from his state. Also, verifiable and published online standards, would lead to transparency, whereby the deselected would get concrete reasons for their deficiencies. Weeded out would be deficient players and “wrong horses”would not be persisted on for years a la Sandeep & Gurbaj. What is urgently needed, are players well schooled in the basics, overall, all rounders, can pass well and keep control of the ball and are primarily good defenders and tacklers. Also important is if players are replaced by others, they should decidedly be better than those who they're replacing. For example, the current midfield (with the exception of Sardar Singh would be no patch on the likes of vinay, mahadik,ravipal, and cheeyena, and an open competition among these players, rigorously supervised with rigid criteria would be the only way to decide this.

The conceptual thinking blunder.

Again, it is amazing that time and again, comments about the Indian team performance have always centered around a weak defense, leaking penalty corners, weak defensive midfield, allowing too many circle penetrations, soft goals and yet for some inexplicable reason, a considered decision was made to strengthen the attacking part of the team and play an Australian style of play. But traditionally the Australian back 7, be it in a club format or international, have never been weak and their midfielders have always been their towering strength, a situation completely different from traditional Indian hockey teams, both at club and international levels, particularly in the last 30 years. Hence the statements of Mr. Nobbs that he would like India to play like Australia and then switching that statement to playing like Germany. It can be rightly said that the style best suited for India would be a blend of the total hockey style of Holland with some traditional Indian/Pakistani touches in counterattack. So the die was cast. Two years back when European style hockey with Indian touches was abandoned for a more open Australian style . This compounded all our weaknesses and set us back even further from the gains made during the Brasa era. This blunder falls squarely on the shoulders of Hockey India.

The Fallacy of banking on youngsters:

Youngsters basically mean a buildup of the team with minimal to moderate expectations. This has to be explained to them and the nation. Again, due consideration should be given to quality and the need of the hour. To subject the player to the rigors of “national team” international competition without previous exposure can lead to very disastrous consequences as happened with India. Judicious mixture of seniors with youngsters is always a better solution. The fight between two associations and the singular exclusion of all seniors except for deficient but loyal ones, did not help matters

Style of play :

We have mainly 2 styles of play,

1. Over dependence on Sardar Singh, and make him do everything, a decidedly dangerous tactic. Not only is he putting in huge minutes which will shorten his career. But also, with no backup, in case, he's out of form, injured, indisposed, India is basically at half strength. Another very serious problem is that with Sardar Singh in full attack mode, the weak Indian defense is subjected to a very dangerous counterattack when he and his men are stopped. It would be more beneficial for him to dump the ball from a deeper position and to develop inter-midfield play rather than carry the ball and do "midfield to “always forward” play.

2. long, hard hits into the circle, hoping for a lucky deflection into goal– a primary reason for the lack of consistency of the Indian team. This style of play yields very little and harms team build up play.

Exposure to foreign lands and Lessons learnt from cricketing success

Our cricketers are routinely playing in foreign leagues. Mr. Oltmans complaint can easily be settled if players were selected with European experience. We have a number of players with solid European experience, including Vinay, and, Cheeyena(Barcelona] Mahadik (Germany, Austria]', the Walmiki brothers (Germany) . Also, it would help if they are played in their traditional positions, Yuvraj(midfield Germany ), Uthappa (centre half).

Cricket has a tremendous pool of players to select from, what with small side streets and towns and villages all teeming with cricket players. Where there is plenty there is a chance for quality. There have been no visible plans afoot even in the traditional high interest states like Karnatak, Orissa, and Punjab, to revive school hockey and recreational hockey.

There are great fears that qualification for the World Cup is already lost. There is ample evidence to confirm that. There are many reasons for this predicament. It behooves all well-meaning Indian hockey supporters to pay attention to them so that they are not repeated. The time has come to concentrate on the youngsters. God save Indian hockey.

Author submitted article

Gomez fires Petrotrin three points clear

Nigel Simon

Paragon women team players celebrate a goal against Malvern in a recent T&T Hockey Board Women’s Championship Division “Big-Four” match at the National Hockey Centre, Tacarigua last month en route to a 3-1 victory and the title. Photo: Anthony Harris.

Graeme Gomez scored a double as defending champion, Petrotrin came from a goal down to beat Notre Dame 4-1 and open a three-point lead at the top of the T&T Hockey Board Men’s Championship Division at the National Hockey Centre, Tacarigua, on Sunday night.

However, early on, it looked as though the Oilmen would be in for a shocker when Tobias Ottley put the Dames ahead before Gomez and teammates Wayne Legerton and Evan Farrell, who added one each, secured a seventh win from eight matches for the Oilmen. They now lead with 22 points, three ahead of Defence Force, while third-placed Paragon is a further three points back after slamming Paradise 7-1.

Leading the way for Paragon was national player Cogie Butler with a hat-trick in the 19th, 32nd and 60th minutes while Kiel Murray added two, in the 25th and 27th.

Akim Toussaint (14th) and Jabari Perez (32nd) were the other scorers for Paragon which trailed 1-0 to a Dwayne John 17th-minute item for Paradise.

Also on Sunday, Corona Fatima got second-half goals from Colin Young (a penalty), Shane Newallo and Dominic Jaikaransingh to shut-out out Queen’s Park CC 3-0.

The win was the first in nine matches for Fatima to move above Paradise and Malvern at the foot of the table with five points.

A day earlier, Paradise men had much better fortune as they scolded Malvern 5-3 with Dwayne John (16th & 48th), Desmond Archer (9th), Vernell Rivers (46th) and Theron Stoute (55th), the scorers. Malvern got its items from Marcano brothers, Teague (14th), and Tariq (50th) and Kristin Emmanuel, in the 25th.

Henry double draws Paragon closer to Dames

Zene Henry scored a pair of goals as Paragon continued its rich vein of form with a 7-1 crushing of Paradise in the Women’s Championship Division on Sunday.

In addition, Kristin Thompson, Pauline Joseph, Felicia King and Avion Ashton added one each for the recent Big-Four winners to cancel out Shonika Anthony’s lone item for Paradise.

With the win, Paragon improved to 15 points from seven matches, one adrift of defending champions Notre Dame which has a match in hand while Malvern is third with 13 points after its 5-1 thumping of Paradise on Saturday.

For the Malvernites, national women’s team striker Oire Trotman fired in a hat-trick in the second, 17th and 54th minutes while former national captain Sherlan Cabralis (24th) and her cousin, Daniella Cabralis (57th) added one each while Kathrina Scott scored for Paradise in the 28th.

Meanwhile, Queen’s Park was crowned champions of the Trinity Men’s Division after challenger Paradise fell 3-2 to Carib in its penultimate match.

Randall Ramsammy got the decisive item for Carib in the 68th minute after Jael St Louis twice put them in front, in the eighth and 48th minutes only to be pegged back by Jarel Thompson and Shaundelle Felix, in the 43rd and 54th minutes.

The defeat left Paradise on 19 points with one match left to play, six behind Queen’s Park, while Malvern stayed second ahead of Paragon on goal-difference with 22 points each.

Sunday’s results

​Under-19 Boys:

Paradise 8 (Omari Brathwaite 9th, 15th, 26th, 35th, Nave Roach 31st, 36th, Keauno Brathwaite 24th, Deon Joefield 37th) vs Carib 0
Men’s Championship:
Paragon 7 (Cogie Butler 19th, 32nd, 60th, Kiel Murray 25th, 27th, Akim Toussaint 14th, Jabari Perez 32nd) vs Paradise 1 (Dwayne John 17th)
Fatima 3 (Colin Young 58th pen, Shane Newallo 61st, Dominic Jaikaransingh 70th) vs QPCC 0
Petrotrin 4 (Graeme Gomez 2, Wayne Legerton, Evan Farrell) vs Notre Dame 1 (Tobias Ottley)
Women’s Championship:
Paragon 7 (Zene Henry 2, Danielle Thompson, Kristin Thompson, Pauline Joseph, Avion Ashton, Felicia King) vs Paradise 1 (Shonika Anthony)
Trinity Men:
Carib 3 (Jael St Louis 8th, 48th, Randall Ramsammy 68th) vs Paradise 2 (Jarel Thompson 43rd, Shaundelle Felix 54th)

The Trinidad Guardian

Achievements celebrated at Aberdeen Asset Management Annual Awards

Scottish Hockey hosted the Aberdeen Asset Management Annual Awards 2013 last Saturday evening, when both clubs and individuals were celebrated for their achievements this season and throughout many years of participation in hockey.

Pam Scott, Acting Chief Executive, said, “The Aberdeen Asset Management Annual Awards Dinner is a real highlight in the hockey calendar and on behalf of Scottish Hockey, I warmly congratulate clubs and individual players, coaches, officials and volunteers for their excellent achievements. I hope that all who attended enjoyed their evening."

Aberdeen Asset Management Annual Awards 2013: Roll of Honour

Aberdeen Asset Management Youth Coach of the Year – Women’s Team

Leigh Pendreigh (CALA Edinburgh)

Aberdeen Asset Management Grassroots Coach of the Year

Euan Miller (Western Wildcats)

Aberdeen Asset Management Coach of the Year – Men’s Team

Scott Warden (Dundee Wanderers)

Aberdeen Asset Management Coach of the Year – Women’s Team

Rhona MacLennan (Watsonians)

Umpire of the Year - Men

Martin Madden (Clydesdale)

Umpire of the Year - Women

Sarah Wilson (Grove Menzieshill)

Youth Umpire of the Year - Women

Kerri Targett (Perthshire)

Youth Umpire of the Year - Men

Gavin Cruickshanks (Grove Menzieshill)

Volunteer of the Year

Janice Moir (Merlins Gordonians)

Young Volunteer of the Year

Lauren Boag

Thistle Award

Anne McGregor (Loch Lomond)

Thistle Award

Maureen Golden (Grove Menzieshill)

Thistle Award

Murray Laing (Western Wildcats)

Thistle Award

Lilian McNab (CALA Edinburgh)

Order of Merit

Billy McPherson (Grove Menzieshill)

Order of Merit

Linda Clement (Grove Menzieshill)

Order of Merit

Emily Maguire

Honorary Member

Ged Curran (Dundee Wanderers)

Honorary Member

Laura Bartlett

Honorary Member

Lee Cousins (Inverleith)

Young Player of the Year - Men

Lee Morton (Kelburne)

Young Player of the Year - Women

Nicki Cochrane (Edinburgh University)

Player of the Year - Men

Michael Christie (Kelburne)

Player of the Year - Women

Linda Clement (Grove Menzieshill)

Scottish Hockey Union media release