News for 11 July 2013

All the news for Thursday 11 July 2013

Teams confirmed for Hockey World League Finals

Events in Argentina & India scheduled for late 2013 / early 2014

Following the completion of the Hockey World League Semi Final event in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, the International Hockey Federation is delighted to confirm the line-up for the HWL Finals events that take place in Argentina and India.

The Argentina Hockey World League Final will feature the women’s teams of Australia, China, England, Germany, Korea, The Netherlands, New Zealand and host nation Argentina. Australia, England and China achieved a top four finish at the HWL Semi Final in England, joining Rotterdam qualifiers Germany, The Netherlands, Korea and New Zealand.

On the men’s side, India qualify as hosts of the Hero Hockey World League Final, being joined by the top three teams from the men’s event in Rotterdam – Belgium, Australia and The Netherlands. The results from the competition in Johor Bahru mean that Germany, Argentina and England have guaranteed their participation in the New Delhi event. New Zealand have also qualified by virtue of being the highest ranked of the two fourth place finishers from Rotterdam and Johor. Following the release of the latest FIH Rankings, the Black Sticks are now 5th in the world, ahead of Korea who are joint 6th. The updated FIH World Rankings can be found by clicking here.

Argentina Hockey World League Final – Women
Tucuman, Argentina

30 November – 8 December 2013
Teams: Argentina (hosts), Australia, China, England, Germany, Korea, Netherlands, New Zealand.

Hero Hockey World League Final – Men
New Delhi, India

10-18 January 2014
Teams: India (hosts), Australia, Argentina, Belgium, England, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand.

FIH site

SA Hockey stars recover from Dengue Fever

The South African Hockey Association said in a statement Wednesday that national players Jonty Robinson and team captain Austin Smith have recovered from Dengue Fever, a mosquito-borne illness, which they contracted during the World League Semi-Final tournament in Johor Bahru, Malaysia last week.

“Austin and Jonty are well and will be flying to Amsterdam and South Africa respectively and will arrive at both destinations on Thursday,” said SA Hockey Association CEO Marissa Langeni.

“Austin flies to Amsterdam on Wednesday evening while Jonty and team doctor Gavin Shang, who has been at the players’ side while they were recovering in hospital in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia over the last few days, will be back home on Thursday.”

The players plus Dr Shang moved with Dr Shang from Johor Bahru to Kuala Lumpur over the weekend due to improved support from South Africa’s medial contacts there, while the duo were also attended to by local medical staff.

While in hospital in KL, Smith and Robinson had their blood counts closely monitored, were in good spirits and were released once medical staff had ascertained that they had recovered.

SA Hockey Association media release

We’ll play our hearts out: Imran

Pakistan can take heart by the fact that, along with Korea, they are the joint most successful team in the Asia Cup. PHOTO: EXPRESS

KARACHI: After a dismal show at the recently concluded Hockey World League (HWL), critics of the Pakistan team see qualifying for the World Cup as an uphill task, but captain Mohammad Imran is confident they can defy the odds and secure a berth at the global event.

Despite topping their group, Pakistan failed miserably in the knockout stages to finish seventh in the eight-nation HWL, which offered the top three sides tickets for the 2014 World Cup that will take place in the Netherlands.

The only way the Greenshirts can book a place at the coveted event now is by winning the Asia Cup that will be held Malaysia later this year.

Former greats remain skeptical of the team’s chances at the event where they will contest against fancied opponents like South Korea, Malaysia and India who will be eager to win the title as well.

‘Luck wasn’t on our side’

Imran said he was not overly disappointed with the team’s performance in the league in Malaysia and was hopeful it can win the all-important Asian title.

“Our overall performance was fine,” Imran told The Express Tribune after returning home on Tuesday night after the HWL stint.

“Our players’ fitness showed significant improvement. We also made comebacks and dominated the opponents. Our performance in defence and forward also improved.

“But some missed chances and errors during crucial stages cost us badly. We lost the match against South Korea [quarter-final] despite taking a double lead. It was because we conceded a goal at the wrong time. The missed penalty stroke [by Shakeel Abbasi] when we were trailing 4-3 proved expensive.

“The luck factor was not with us as we also missed our key players Rashid Mehmood and Mohammad Fareed due to injuries in a warm-up game, with our senior most player Waseem Ahmed being ruled out due to an accident.”

However, Imran said Pakistan still have a realistic chance of qualifying for the World Cup and vows his team will produce the goods by winning the Asia Cup next month.

“It is a must-win event and we will go all-out for it,” he said. “The opponents will be tough but they certainly are not invincible. We did well against them in the past as well.

“By overcoming our weaknesses like not missing goal-scoring opportunities, we can win all our matches in the tournament.”

The captain also advised against making major changes in the team.

“Few changes might be made but the current lot is the best available talent we have. I am also satisfied with the working of the team management. Our coaches Akhtar Rasool, Hanif Khan and Tahir Zaman are mentoring us well.”

Pakistan fall in world rankings

In the wake of the poor show in HWL, the Greenshirts fell two places to eighth in the global rankings issued by the World Hockey Federation (FIH) yesterday.

Germany head the table followed by Australia and the Netherlands. England are fourth while New Zealand are ranked fifth. South Korea and Spain – joint sixth – are the other teams ahead of the Greenshirts.

Belgium (9th) and Argentina (10) complete the top ten while India stood at 11th.

The Express Tribune

Revs needs more time, but likely to leave

Having led Malaysia to a creditable fifth placing in the World Hockey League, national coach Paul Revington has yet to make up his mind if he is to continue coaching the national team.

Although early indications were positive that the 39 year old South African was going to stay and coach the team in the Asia Cup next month, it is learnt that recent developments have forced a rethink by Revs.

And he is only expected to make a final decision next week, and it looks more then likely Revs will be parting ways with the Malaysian Hockey Confederation.

Malaysia has a fantastic reputation of driving out good coaches with astute politics both with the hockey fraternity and a government agency.

The likes of Terry Walsh, Volker Knapp and Paul Lissek have all undergone this superb phenomena that can only be matched by the likes of India and Pakistan.

It is learnt that some officials are keen to see Revs go and from their recent remarks in some papers, they have made snide remarks belittling the efforts of Revs.

What these so called hockey "minded" personalities fail to realize is Revs coached the team to finish above two teams ranked higher then Malaysia, I.e Pakistan who are fifth and South Africa who are 12th in the FIH Rankings.

Another issue is the fact that Malaysia lacks quality international matches, and as an indication, in 1998 Malaysia played 52 international matches within a space of 8 months prior to the Commonwealth Games.

And for those who may not know this, the original Harimau Muda, formed in 2005 played a total of 65 matches in one year under the tutelage of Dato K. Rajagobal, and after that played in the Premier League of MSL.

And look at MHC, have they managed to arrange any attachment programs and managed to "sell" our players to play in overseas leagues? Tengku Abdullah the MHC President has time and again stressed on this, but has anyone got off their butts to make it happen?

Frankly Revs should just pack up his bags and leave. The Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin promised Revs that he will personally look into his grouses but it has been lip service so far. As for the NSC DG, least said is best for since March an issue was raised but he had to protect his favorites.

But the straw that broke the camels back is that some officials have already been scouting overseas for a replacement for Revs. It is a small world, and Ho matter how astute you are in hockey politics, we have been confirmed as runners up in the best comedy act, second only to India who are the masters.

Malaysian Hockey blogspot

Former coach Paramalingam demands action


KUALA LUMPUR: Former national coach C. Paramalingam wants players who did not perform up to the mark in the recent World Hockey League semi-finals in Johor Baru to be dropped from the squad.

He said that new blood should be injected into the national team to replace players whose performances have become “stagnant and stale”.

“Some of them cannot cope with the pressure and it was obvious in the matches against Pakistan and Germany,” said Paramalingam, a former Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) coaching committee chairman.

“In the opening match against Pakistan, we had a 4-1 lead but defensive lapses resulted in us letting Pakistan off the hook and struggling to a 4-4 draw.

“The forwards did well to score four goals but the backline made the same old mistakes.

“We should had won that match and finished in the top two in the group ... and avoided playing against Germany in the quarter-finals.

“But the defence was again a big letdown against Germany as we conceded six goals in 18 minutes.

“The goalkeeping department also needs to be looked into seriously for letting in soft goals.”

The Star of Malaysia

Project 2013 all set for Europe stint


KUALA LUMPUR: The Project 2013 squad will fly to Europe for a two-week playing tour in preparation for the Junior World Cup in Chandigarh, India, from Dec 6-15.

The squad will leave on July 20 and play nine matches – three each against England, Belgium and Poland.

Project 2013 squad coach K. Dharmaraj said that his players needed to play as many matches as possible to prepare for the Junior World Cup.

“I’ll take 20 players for the tour, including the seven who are playing in the World University Games in Kazan,” said Dharmaraj, who guided Malaysia to victory in the Junior Asia Cup in Malacca last year.

The seven are G. Kavin Kartik, Shahril Saabah, Dangerous Lee, Mohd Hafiz Zainol, Mohd Hazrul Faiz and twins Shazril Irwan Nazli and Shazrul Imran Nazli.

Dharmaraj will not have the services of five national players – Faiz Helmi Jali, Mohd Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin, Mohd Fitri Saari, Mohd Firhan Ashaari and Meor Mohd Azuan Hassan – for the playing tour as they are preparing for the Asia Cup in Ipoh next month.

“The five will only join us for training after the Asia Cup ends on Sept 1. For now, I’ll give a chance to other players in the training squad to feature in Europe,” said Dharmaraj.

The Project squad will also play in the annual Sultan of the Johor Cup from Sept 21-29. The other teams in the fray are Argentina, England, India and Pakistan. Dharmaraj said they would also play in a six-nation tournament in India before competing in the Junior World Cup.

“Although 16 teams will compete in the Junior World Cup, I don’t know why FIH (International Hockey Federation) are taking so long to release the draw,” he said.

“The draw should have been released by now as the Junior World Cup is five months away.”

The teams featuring in the Junior World Cup are Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, Egypt, France, Germany, India, South Korea, Holland, New Zealand, Pakistan, Russia, Spain and Malaysia.

The Star of Malaysia

Sacking Nobbs is no solution

A combination of factors makes foreign coaches feel shackled

S. Thyagarajan

Roelant Oltmans.

The catalogue of sacked hockey coaches is enlarging. While the advocacy from many sections continues to see the foreign coach as a panacea, the results are proving contrary.

Four coaches have endured uncomfortable tenures, each leaving a trail of unpleasantness, complaining of maltreatment by officials, bureaucracy and the players.

There is no surprise how the Michael Nobbs episode played out. The Aussie was under pressure to show results after India finished last in the London Olympics. The recent failure in the HWL in Rotterdam only hurried his exit.

Apart from a victory at the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy at Ordos (Mongolia), Nobbs’s record is anything but exemplary even granting the success in the Olympic qualifier against mediocre opposition.

Starting from the adventurist appointment of Gerhard Rach before the Athens Olympics, the saga of foreign coaches is a poor commentary the administration’s vision. Ric Charlesworth’s brief tenure and that of Spaniard Jose Brasa ended in failure. The latest in the procession is the hapless Aussie.

Showing the door to coaches for failures is no remedy. A combination of factors makes foreign coaches feel shackled from day one. There are too many command structures to confuse them. Constant scrutiny from former coaches/players, media and administrators inhibit them a good measure.

The failure has also been on account of the meagre talent available to them. Whatever the input, it is extremely difficult to mould a team that is basically mediocre, deficient in fundamentals and in poor physical shape to counter the energy, enterprise and efficiency of European outfits. India struggles to share points even with a country like Ireland.

The Nobbs era is behind us. It is time to look ahead. What course Hockey India is charting remains unclear.

The ball is in Roelant Oltmans’s court. The High Performance Coach will be the caretaker till the Asia Cup next month at Ipoh where India faces a must-win situation to seal a place to the World Cup 2014.

On credentials, the Dutchman is more than a substitute to Nobbs. But he must deal with the same situations and circumstances as Nobbs. He has no magic wand to transform everything. His stint in Pakistan was a flop compared to that of his colleague — Hans Jorritsma — who steered the team to win in the 1994 World Cup at Sydney.

No sustained effort

Hockey India cannot escape blame for the current impasse. There has been no sustained effort to enlarge the base. The dual administration and separate national tournaments have scattered talent and destroyed many. HI should seriously consider granting amnesty to players who figured in the PHL. Only this will bring more players to the national fold for the coaches/selectors to evaluate.

It would be naïve to assume that no differences existed between Nobbs and Oltmans on matters of coaching. Both were together for the last few months with the national teams.

One is tempted to recall the famous quote of the stalwart coach, Balkishen Singh who said: “Coaches are like watches, no two of them agree.” That probably rings true today.

The Hindu

M K Kaushik appointed as Coach of the Men's national Team

New Delhi : Hockey India today appointed Olympic Gold Medalist Mr. Maharaj Krishan Kaushik as coach of the Senior Men Hockey team.

Mr. Kaushik will assist Mr. Roelant Oltmans, Director, High Performance, Hockey India who will now take the charge in place of Mr. Michael Nobbs till the appointment of the new chief coach. Mr. Kaushik will join the training camp of the senior men team starting from 16 July, 2013 at SAI Centre in Bangalore for the preparations for the 9th Asia Cup to be held in Malaysia next month from 24 August- 1 September 2013.

Ms. Elena Norman, CEO, Hockey India today handed over an appointment letter to Mr. Kaushik.

On welcoming Mr. Kaushik for his appointment as a national coach, Dr. Narinder Batra, Secretary General, Hockey India said “Mr. Kaushik had the desired credentials to work with the senior men team. I am hopeful that with his contribution the team will make improvement in the coming days and wish the team good luck to win the 9th Asia Cup and book their berth for the FIH World Cup 2014”.

Mr. M K Kaushik who was a member of the team that won the gold medal at the 1980 Olympics in Moscow said “I am happy with my appointment with the senior men team. I have experience of working with different people from the coaching fraternity and will give my best”.

Mr. Kaushik who retired as Deputy Director of Sports, Government of Haryana had earlier coached both the senior men and women teams. Under his coaching, India men team had won their last major international tournament, the 1998 Asian Games, Bangkok. In 1998, he received the Arjuna Award. Also, Indian women team had won bronze medal at the Doha Asian Games in 2006 under his coaching

Brief Profile of MK Kaushik

K. Arumugam

We published brief profile of MK Kaushik in September 2008 when he was appointed Men's chief coach. However, the erstwhile IWHF objected this to IHF, and wanted him for the women's team. Sports Minister MS Gill intervened and asked him to continue with women. Had he continued with men then, so many unpleasant things would not have occurred.

We reproduce the same article here, as he makes the cut after five years.

The onus has fallen on MK Kaushik. The present women’s coach will be the Man Friday for men’s team.

MK Kaushik of ‘golden boot’ fame will be assisted by Ramandeep Singh, Harendera Singh and AB Subbaiah as his deputies.

The official announcement is expected to be made tomorrow.

A brief profile of MK Kaushik

I represented the combined Universities in 1972. I earned the nation’s colours in the 1975 Afghan tour which was followed by Quide-e-Azam Cup in Pakistan. A 4-nation in Malaysia, the Esanda World Cup in Australia and the Pre-Olympics tournament in USSR followed before I became one of the proud gold medalist of the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Next year, I was part of the Indian’s Europe tour and then the Bombay World Cup.

My international career came to a happy end with a silver medal at the Asia cup in 1982. With about 60 caps as a right winger, I completed hockey coaching course in the National Institute of Sports, Patiala, After brief stints of coaching my then employer Tata Sports Club team and then the IFFCO team, I served as an assistant coach to the national men’s side in 1989 and 1990.

I was elevated to the helm of coaching for the Indian girls thereafter. In the four years tenure between 1991 and 1994, I built a crack team from the scratch, training them for 48 international matches involving 11 tournaments / test series.

I was made the chief coach for the Men’s side in July 1998. I trained them for two tournaments – Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games and Bangkok Asian Games, in a tenure that lasted for five months.

The team won the Gold after a gap of 36 years and is now history.

Excerpts from 'Golden Boot: Triumph and trauma of a coach', co-authored by MK Kaushik and K. Arumugam


Matches trained: 13
Matches won by India: 10

Achievements in women's hockey

Asia Cup bronze 1993
Asia Cup Gold 2004
Afro-Asian Games Gold 2003
Asian Games Bronze 2006

Note both records shown above are up to 1999. After that he gave silver at both Women's Asia Cup in 2009 and Melbourne Commonwealth Games.

Kaushik appointed men’s coach

New Delhi - Hockey India (HI) today appointed former Olympian M.K. Kaushik as a coach of the senior men’s hockey team. Kaushik will assist High Performance director Roelant Oltmans of Holland, who will now double up as a chief coach till a suitable replacement for Nobbs is found.

Kaushik said he was happy with his appointment as a coach of the men’s senior team “as I have the experience of working with different people from the coaching fraternity and will give it my best”.

Kaushik’s appointment comes in the wake of the Sports Authority of India terminating the contract of Michael Nobbs at the recommendation of HI, as the Australian coach had failed to live up to the expectations and requirements of the Indian team as the chief coach, despite drawing a hefty salary of Rs 5 lakh per month.

Hockey India Secretary-general Narinder Batra, welcoming Kaushik’s appointment, said Kaushik had the “desired credentials” to work with the senior men team.

“I am hopeful that with his contribution, the team will make improvement in the coming days and wish the team good luck to win the 9th Asia Cup and book their berth for the FIH World Cup 2014”, Batra added.

Kaushik, who recently retired from the Haryana Government as deputy director of sports, will join the men’s training camp for the Asia Cup, starting on July 16, at the SAI Centre in Bangalore. The 9th Asia Cup, to be held in Malaysia from August 24 to September 1, will be India’s last chance to qualify for the 2014 FIH World Cup.

Kaushik, member of India’s Olympic gold medal winning team at the 1980 Moscow Games, is a former chief coach of the men’s and women’s national teams. Under him, the Indian men, led by Dhanraj Pillai, won the 1998 Asian Games gold at Bangkok, and the Indian women won the bronze medal at the Doha Asian Games in 2006.

The Tribune

HI ropes in Kaushik as coach, will assist Oltmans

NEW DELHI: Olympian Maharaj Krishan Kaushik was on Wednesday appointed as a coach of the senior men's hockey team, just two days after chief coach Michael Nobbs was shown the door because of non-performance.

Kaushik, a member of India's last of the eight Olympic gold medal winning side in 1980 Moscow Games, will assist high performance director, Roelant Oltmans, who will now double up as a chief coach till a suitable replacement for Nobbs is found.

Kaushik's appointment comes barely 48 hours after Australian Nobbs was prematurely relieved of his duties by Sports Authority of India for failing to produce the desired results.

However, Nobbs had insisted he was not pushed out and that he quit the job on his own terms because of his deteriorating health condition.

Kaushik will join the national camp at the SAI Centre in Bangalore starting July 16.

Kaushik's first assignment with the men's team will be the ninth Asia Cup to be held in Ipoh, Malaysia from August 24 to September 1, which India need to win to qualify for next year's World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands.

Reacting to his appointment, Kaushik said: "I am very happy. It's an honour for any player to coach his country, I have experience of working with different people from the coaching fraternity and will give my best."

"I will now sit down with the entire team management and find out solutions which can help India qualify for next year's World Cup," he said.

Kaushik, however, said pressure would be high on India in the upcoming eight-nation Asia Cup.

"In Rotterdam the pressure was less but in the Asia Cup the pressure on the Indian team will be immense and we will have to perform under pressure," Kaushik said.

Welcoming Kaushik's appointment, Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra said: "Mr. Kaushik had the desired credentials to work with the senior men's team. I am hopeful that with his contribution the team will make improvement in the coming days and wish the team good luck to win the 9th Asia Cup."

It may be recalled that it was the same set of office-bearers of Hockey India who removed Kaushik as coach of the senior women's team following allegations of sexual harassment by some members of the side. He was subsequently absolved of the charges following an enquiry by the sports ministry.

Kaushik, who retired as deputy director of sports, Government of Haryana, had earlier coached both the senior men's as well as women's teams.

Under his coaching, the India men's team won its last major international tournament, a gold in the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok.

An Arjuna awardede in 1998, Kaushik also guided the Indian eves to a bronze medal at the Doha Asian Games in 2006.

The Times of India

Indian coaches are not good enough for modern hockey: Charlesworth

Ric Charlesworth. Hindu

NEW DELHI: Australian hockey legend Ric Charlesworth is in favour of a foreign coach for India as he feels Indian coaches "are not good enough to fulfill the requirements" of the modern-day game.

"I think India needs a foreign expert. I can say it from my experience that Indian coaches are not good enough to fulfill the requirements of modern hockey," Charlesworth said.

Charlesworth's comments came two days after fellow Australian Michael Nobbs was prematurely relieved of his duties as India's chief coach because of non-performance.

Nobbs, who took over the charge in 2011, was offered a five-year contract and handsome salary, but his association with Indian finally ended on a bitter note within 2 years.

Nobbs, thus became the fourth foreigner to be shown the door before completion of the tenure. Before Nobbs, Spaniard Jose Barsa, Charlesworth and Germany's Gerhard Rach coached the Indian side but were pushed out due to several issues.

Charlesworth said he was surprised by India's decision to select Nobbs over Roelant Oltmans for the chief coach's post.

"There are many questions. Firstly, if I was given a choice between Oltmans and Nobbs, I would have chosen the Oltmans who is more experienced," he said.

"Why did they choose Nobbs then? And if he was made the coach, he should have been given the support he needed," said Charlesworth, who is presently the coach of Australian team.

Charlesworth also feels that a good structure and long-term planning is the need of the hour for Indian hockey, which is struggling to regain its glorious past.

"I think it is not easy to work without support. What Indian hockey need at the moment is a good structure. They must have long-term plans. India must provide whatever support a coach needs, and the expectations should also be realistic," he said from Perth.

"I will suggest that whoever becomes the new coach, he should be allowed to complete his term and must be given the support he needs," Charlesworth said.

Asked about his experience with Indian hockey, he said things are much better now.

"Nobbs and Brasa did not face problems which I had to face during my tenure. They were in much better position. I had no support and was expected to do miracles," he said.

Charlesworth's tumultuous association with Indian hockey lasted just 10 months in 2008 during the regime of KPS Gill-led erstwhile Indian Hockey Federation.

Charlesworth feels India can win the upcoming eight-nation Asia Cup, which they need to do qualify for next year's World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands.

"India has an experienced High Performance Manager in Oltmans. They can put things together and win the Asia Cup," he said.

He was also of the view that a coach alone can't change the fortunes of a side.

"If you talk about India's poor performance in FIH World League Round 3, I must say that they were unfortunate. The format of the tournament was tricky. India got a tough pool and then they had to face Australia in the quarterfinal," Charlesworth said.

"In any case a coach has to take some blame for poor show, but the players and officials are equally responsible."

The Times of India

Indians need to play the Indian-style hockey:

Chander Shekhar Luthra

Roelant Oltmans

Legendary Dutch coach Roelant Oltmans feels that although the Indian hockey team has shown improvement under Australian coach Michael Nobbs, there is a need for "fresh ideas" in order to take the team to the next level.

For the first time, Oltmans dropped hints that India need to play its own traditional style of hockey in order to succeed against powerhouses like Australia, Holland and Germany.

After his appointment in January this year, it was Oltmans’ report at the end of the FIH World League semi-final at Rotterdam last month that led to Nobbs’s getting the marching orders. In an interview with dna, Oltmans, who guided The Netherlands men’s team to gold medal in 1996 Atlanta Olympics and the world championship crown two years later in Utrecht, talked about a roadmap for the 2016 Olympic Games in order to put India at par with other top nations. Excerpts…

How will you chart the road map for Indian hockey?
India has improved under Michael Nobbs. Compare the team with what it was before he took over. But the time now is to take the next step. And we in Hockey India felt that it was time to look for a new coach, who could infuse fresh ideas and incorporate new training methods for the Indian team.

Don’t you think Nobbs’s sacking is a knee-jerk reaction to India’s failure to qualify for the FIH World League recently in Holland?
Look, I had a long discussion with coach Nobbs during the course of the event in Holland. We both felt that it’s time to move forward and look for someone who can take Indian hockey to the next level. We have a bunch of players who have shown tremendous improvement during his tenure. You can see that the current Indian team is really getting better and better by having more experience of playing top level games. The fact that they came fourth in the last Champions Trophy is a testimony to their improvement.

Nobbs was emphasising that India play a mix of European and Austrian style. What is your take on this?
It doesn’t make any sense for India to play European, Australian, Chinese or some other style. Indian players should be playing the ‘Indian style’ and only that will help them if they really want to challenge the big teams. I really don’t see any fault in the sub-continent style of hockey. The only thing I want them to do is to play a lot of international matches against top teams. Moreover, fitness is something which is very important in modern-day hockey. We’ve improved a lot in recent times and we need to introduce new methods to improve our agility and endurance.

Is there anyone in your mind to replace Nobbs?
The development is so recent that it will take some time to get the right person for the job. For the moment, I’m taking over as coach for the upcoming Asia Cup later this month. Our priority now is to qualify for the FIH World League and in the meanwhile there will be coaches from around the world who will apply for the job. We’ve time before taking a call on the next suitable person for the job.

So, that means you have no particular name in mind for the job?
We want the best guy for the job who can take Indian hockey to the next challenging level. But there is a process to follow before deciding on the name.
But whosoever we select will be there for at least three years, till the 2016 Olympics.

You are talking about the Olympics 2016. Do you think that the present bunch of players, are the ones who will carry on till then?
There is lot of work that needs to be done. There are a lot of young players who have made it to the senior team. Moreover, there is the Junior World Cup towards the end of this year and all teams around the world do rope in performers from there into their senior sides. India will also keep an eye on the juniors and hopefully, we’ll be richer in talent after that. You can get back to the top level overnight. I feel to go up will take some time, maybe between four to eight years.


Pressure brings best out of me, says confident Oltmans

NEW DELHI: Roelant Oltmans realises the burden of expectations he will carry as an interim coach of the national hockey team during the Asia Cup but the Dutchman is confident that adversity will bring the best out of him.

"I am there for just 6 weeks. But I am up for the challenge otherwise I wouldn't have accepted the offer. I love such situations because I love to handle pressure. It motivates me to do better," Oltmans, who will coach the team after the unceremonious exit of Michael Nobbs, said.

The legendary Dutch coach said that his focus will primarily be on three things -- preparation, performance and result.

"I know Indian team will feel the pressure but I am focussed at preparing my wards well for the Asia Cup. What I have to look at in these six weeks will be preparation, performance and then results. A good preparation will get you performance and from a good performance comes results and that's what I have always believed in," he stated in a confident tone.

Oltmans, who is also the High Performance manager with the Hockey India (HI) knows that his task is cut out.

"My immediate task is quite clear. We have a short period of time at our disposal --- exactly six weeks and in that period, I have to prepare a good team which is capable of winning the Asia Cup," he said.

"In the last 2 years we have improved out fitness levels. But there are three areas which we need to focus on -- possession, non-possession and turn-overs. In these areas, we have to make clear improvements. We will work our hearts out to get this done.

Oltmans made it clear that he is happy with his job as High Performance Director of Hockey India.

He also played down talks on MK Kaushik replacing Michael Nobbs as India's chief coach.

"It is very clear that I will be the coach for six weeks and after the Asia Cup I will go back into my job as Director, High Performance. This is a temporary arrangement because there was very little time for someone to replace Nobbs before Asia Cup," Oltmans said.

"We need time to appoint the right person. We have big task at hand and this is why I accepted the offer. We are looking at future and we are looking for a foreign coach," added the 59-year-old, who also coached the Pakistan and Netherlands national teams in the past.

Oltmans, however, refused to fully agree with Australian hockey legend Ric Charlesworth who was of the view that there are not good enough Indian coaches who can fulfil the requirements of the modern-day game.

But the Dutchman said there is a dearth of hockey coaches in India as compared to the number of players.

"We all know we have to improve the coaching level in the country but off course there a number of good coaches. It's not that there no good coaches in India. For instance, Baljit Saini, Mohammad Riaz, Len Aiyappa are capable coaches and I am sure they will be future coaches of Indian hockey," he said.

"But if you talk about the number of hockey players in the country and the number of coaches to educate them, for sure I feel we need to work on developing more coaches."

Oltmans said patience is the need of the hour for Indian hockey which is struggling to regain its glorious past.

"We need to have patience. You cannot expect a team to start performing again after years of non-performance. It is not possible. I always said it will take six to eight years before we can perform consistently at the top level," he insisted.

"In the meantime, we are aiming for very good results. And for this we need to believe in the current players. They are good players. I believe in these boys, I believe in the structure that we have presently," Oltmans said.

The Times of India

Debate over foreign coach flares up again

Y. B. Sarangi

Indian hockey has got rid of its fourth foreign coach in Michael Nobbs and triggered the debate on the need for a foreign coach.

The discerning contend that India has made the bottom half of the world rankings its home for quite some years now and the miracle of a revival has remained a distant dream.

“It shows how poorly we plan things. The sacking of Nobbs indicates that our plan is failing (every time). It means the administration has to take responsibility,” said Ashok Kumar, a member of the 1975 World Cup-winning Indian team.

Aslam Sher Khan, another member of the 1975 team, also pointed to the administrative incompetence.

“Without any Government recognition, (Hockey India secretary-general Narinder) Batra and company are running the show at the mercy of the International Hockey Federation (FIH). So, the (HI) policy is totally in the hands of FIH.”

Aslam said the trend of ‘ad-hocism’ and the existence of two federations must end to put Indian hockey back on track.

“You have to set the house in order. Sacrifices have to be made.”

Joaquim Carvalho, a former India coach, also laid the blame at HI’s feet. “It is a blunder committed by the administration. When Nobbs had no credentials as a coach of any prominent team, why he was chosen over someone like Roelant Oltmans? Our closeness to Australian hockey and pay package were given as the reasons, but where do we stand now?”

Carvalho alleged that the best available talents were not selected and Nobbs never asserted himself in team selection.

Should India insist on a foreign coach?

“We need a technical advisor and an Indian coach who has good communication and man management skills. We need a good physical trainer to keep our players in top shape,” suggested Carvalho.

“At the end of the day, you have to come back to indigenous coaches. You may have a director as an expert, but you must develop the Indian coaches. They know our players well and can extract the best out of them. Just look at wrestling for example. Indian wrestlers are doing so well at the Olympics level,” said Aslam.

The other important area the former stars suggested was grooming of the youngsters.

“Very little work is being done to develop players at the grassroots. It should be taken care of,” said Aslam.

Ashok Kumar prescribed proper handling of junior players. “There is a huge gap between senior and junior levels. We just want to win tournaments and every department wants that by hook or crook.

“Unless we work on areas like power, stamina and accuracy at junior level, how can we improve the quality of the players? There should be a panel of competent Indian coaches who convey modern ways of teaching hockey to coaches at the block level.”

Harbinder Singh, a 1964 Olympics gold medallist who has worked as a government observer in the HI selection panel, was still optimistic. “The junior squad at present is talented. They have to take the spots of the seniors. They were given the exposure in some events, so that their performance does not go down when they graduate to the higher level,” said Harbinder.

Meanwhile, HI on Wednesday confirmed M.K. Kaushik’s appointment as coach of the Indian team. He will join the National camp, starting at the SAI centre in Bangalore from July 16, in the run-up to the Asia Cup next month. High Performance Director Oltmans will take Nobbs’s place till the appointment of a new chief coach.

The Hindu

Don't give our hockey to foreign hands: MP Ganesh

Rutvick Mehta

Michael Nobbs might have been unceremoniously sacked as coach with three years still remaining of his contract, but former Indian hockey players feel the axe should have fallen long back on the Australian.

“He has done nothing but spoilt Indian hockey,” said MP Ganesh, former captain and coach, who was part of the team that won bronze in the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. “We should have woken up to this fact soon after the London Olympics. It was clear that he was not capable of handling the team and was taking Hockey India for a ride. The association made the biggest mistake in hiring him.”

Three-time Olympian Mukesh Kumar echoed similar views. “We gave him too many opportunities even after our disastrous Olympics. He had a policy of just throwing out seniors, which is not a good thing. A coach should know how to motivate them and carry the team forward along with the juniors.”

Nobbs’s idea of bringing in the Australian style of hockey into the Indian system also irked the veterans. “Nobody can change hockey in India, it is in our blood.

India requires a coach who can understand the varied social, psychological and mental state of different players, not someone who is hell-bent on imbibing their style of hockey,” Ganesh, who won the Arjuna Award in 1973, said.

“It is simple — Don’t give Indian hockey to foreign hands,” he added.


Hockey coach Michael Nobbs fired

Hockey coach Nobbs relieved of his charge after team fails to deliver; Kaushik fills in temporarily.

Chander Shekhar Luthra

Michael Nobbs at Balewadi Stadium in Pune last year. - Aniruddha Rajandekar/DNA

Ending speculations after India’s failure to qualify for the FIH World League next stage in Rotterdam last month, Hockey India decided on Monday to show coach Michael Nobbs the door.

The writing was on the wall for the Australian as India finished sixth in the Hockey World League Round III in The Netherlands last month, instead of the top three needed in order to qualify.

Nobbs became the fourth foreign coach to get marching orders in recent years after Spaniard Jose Brasa, Australian Ric Charlesworth and Germany’s Gerhard Rach. The Australian was at the helm of Indian hockey for almost two years but failed to bring the best out of the faction-ridden Indian players.

Last year Nobbs survived the sack after India finished at the bottom at the London Olympics because he was given the benefit of doubt as he had not spent enough time with the team then.

On Monday, confirming Nobbs’s ouster, Sports Authority of India director general Jiji Thomson said: “We have decided to terminate Mr Nobbs’s contract after a one-month notice period. There is a clause in his contract for this and after my meeting with HI today, this decision was taken.”

HI secretary general NK Batra also said that “MK Kaushik will be taking over as Indian hockey team coach for the time being”.

“Kaushik’s name has been sent to SAI for approval. But this is a temporary arrangement as we will be looking for Nobbs’s replacement after the Asia Cup later this month. Kaushik will stay on as coach even after the new appointment,” said Batra on Tuesday.

However, Batra refused to divulge any names for the top job. “It was decided during our meeting with Nobbs and (high performance manager Roelant) Oltmans on Friday. Nobbs too felt that that India needs a coach who can take Indian hockey to the next level. The decision regarding the new chief coach will be taken only after we receive applications from the interested people from around the world,” Batra told this paper.

Nobbs will be given a proper send-off once he returns to India after a few days.

For the moment he has flown back home to Australia after his meeting with HI top brass. “He is in Australia and will be back on July 14th. It is not that we are pushing him out. We will send him in a graceful manner,” Batra said.

Batra informed that Oltmans will now be in charge of the camp of Indian team for the Asia Cup in Bangalore, beginning on July 16. “Oltmans is a very reputed figure in the world of hockey and he will be handing the team affairs till the next appointment,” added Batra.

Kaushik vindicated

Meanwhile, Hockey India’s decision to appoint Kaushik as coach has been a vindication of sorts for a coach who was forced to take back seat in run up to the Commonwealth Games following “charges of sexual harassment” by a women’s hockey team player.

“We’ll be deciding on Kaushik shortly,” was how Thomson reacted when asked how soon Kaushik’s case will be cleared. Kaushik’s first assignment will be next month’s Asia Cup, which India need to win to confirm a World Cup spot.

dna has learnt that there is deep discontent within the Indian team which was apparent during last month’s FIH World League Round 3 in Rotterdam.

“There was discontent in the camp and Oltmans had to take charge of team meetings,” a senior HI official told dna. But when asked which areas are of concern for HI and need to be addressed immediately by the new chief coach, Batra said: “Our defence is weak. We also missed several scoring chances.”

It was Nobbs who brought in scientific advisors to take care of the physical conditioning of Indian players. But HI top brass is disappointed over his failure in terms of providing good results. The only good news that came during his tenure was India’s qualification to London Olympics.

Batra said there was no point in continuing with a coach who lacks motivation and commitment. “Nobbs seemed to have been lacking in motivation as well as commitment. A national team can’t be coached by somebody who is not motivated and committed,” the HI secretary general said. “So, both the parties felt it’s time for us to move on.”


Bad selection telling on hockey team's performance, says HC

A day after hockey coach Australian Michael Nobbs was sacked due to the poor performance of the team, the Bombay high court on Wednesday expressed its displeasure over the sorry state of affairs concerning our national game. “You choose incompetent people and the net result is reflected from the poor performance of the national team,” a division bench of justices VM Kanade and KR Shriram said.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Olympian and Arjuna awardee Rekha Bhide, challenging a May 29 Hockey India inquiry committee report, labelling her biased against an umpire, who belonged to a minority community.

The petition said Bhide was being targeted because she had objected to the appointment of a foreign national as coach of the Indian team against the wishes of Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra. It says the issue of appointing the coach was scheduled to be discussed during the executive body meeting of Hockey India in June 2012.

As she had to travel for a tournament, Bhide says she expressed her objection to the appointment of a foreign coach by e-mail. However, a foreign coach was eventually appointed and an inquiry was initiated against Bhide for making baseless allegations, the petition said.

Her counsel Niranjan Mogre submitted that the findings of the inquiry report were based on hearsay and on the basis of statements given by two office bearers of Hockey Maharashtra, allegedly interested in her ouster from the sporting body.

The bench reacted strongly after Hockey India counsel Dr Birendra Saraf in his argument highlighted the glorious past of Indian hockey. It also disagreed with the action against Bhide on the basis of hearsay as evidence. “Somebody overhears something and you remove that person from the post. We are extremely unhappy with the way this matter is being handled,” the court said.

The court ordered that status quo should be maintained with respect to the posts held by Bhide — Hockey Maharashtra president and Hockey India vice-president.


My own World Ranking

Ernst Baart

fihThe international hockey federation FIH published their new world ranking today. As usual and expected a document without surprises… In a sport such as tennis the fluctuations in the ranking are somewhat more visible because players can only accumulate points for one year. Because every year the same important tournaments are being organised and points can be defended, won or lost. In most team sports the cycles tend to be longer, usually 4 years. Either based upon a World Cup every 4 years, the Olympics every 4 years or both as is the case for hockey. So nations, because I’m talking about the ranking of national teams, accumulate their points over 4 years but only the points won in the present year are counted for their full value (100%). The points for older years suffer from devaluation every year, 75% after 1 year, 50% after 2 years and only 25% after 3 years. I think it’s a fair system… however it also means the ranking does not always reflect the actual strengths of the nations at that moment in time. For example in case of the men’s national teams the ranking issued today does not at all reflect the actual ranking in my humble opinion.

Below you’ll see the ranking the FIH and my own opinion of the actual ranking today…


FIH Country Me Country
1 Germany 1 Australia
2 Australia 2 Germany
3 Netherlands 3 Netherlands
4 England 4 Belgium
5 New Zealand 5 Argentina
6 Korea 6 New Zealand
6 Spain 7 England
8 Pakistan 8 Spain
9 Belgium 9 Korea
10 Argentina 10 Pakistan

For these countries, especially the sub top countries the ranking could be of major importance with regards to qualifying for the next World Cup or the next Olympics for example. So one could argue for another ranking system that might better reflect the actual strength at that particular moment in time. However since sports administrators often do not excel in long term planning the system we have today might be better to prevent short term thinking. It might take somewhat longer to rise in the ranks but it rewards those who think and plan ahead and work towards short, middle AND long term goals, as it should be…Of course this is only my opinion based upon the many games I’ve seen, but not on hard facts. I think the top 3 is a solid top 3, well separated from the sub top challengers. There is still a substantial gap between numbers 3 and 4. But I think 5, 6 and 7 are very close to each other. Between 7 and 8 there is a bigger gap once again, and 8 , 9 and 10 are also very close to each other.

The World League should replace the Champions Trophy & Challenge

For the first time points were included for the “new kid on the block”, the World League… Those qualified for World League Round 4 (that is 8 nations) all got the points for the 8th ranking until the Final round of this event is played next January in India. So whether you came in 1st, 2nd or 3rd in Round 3 did not effect your ranking… Now all that is left to play for this new event in international hockey some first conclusions are in order. On the positive side the World League is opening up international top hockey to more nations and is beneficial for the fast risers in the ranking, such as Belgium for example. It gives the rising countries from the sub top better opportunities to play the top nations more often than the old system with Champions Trophy and Champions Challenge. However I think it’s somewhat strange that the FIH, who has excelled in fast adaptations of rules to make the game more attractive still has not abandoned the redundant Champions Trophy & Challenge events. It would make sense to keep the name Champions Trophy which could be used for the World League Round 4. But it’s about time the FIH will take and communicate the decision to free up some time on the international calender by merging the World League and the Champions Trophy.

And while I’m on the topic of rule changes and decisions made or to be made by the FIH… let me already tell you my next blog regarding hockey will be about why I think the recent decision to choose once again for a blue pitch in Rio is wrong, why the own goal rule should be abolished (we’ve tried it and do not like it) and why the recent tests with the raising of the stick above the shoulder would be a good change for hockey… ;)

Ernst Baart's blog

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England Hockey Board Media release