News for 31 December 2013

All the news for Tuesday 31 December 2013

Balbir turns 90, laments state of Indian hockey

FIH President Leandro Negre congratulates Balbir Singh Sr. on being featured by the IOC as an "Iconic Olympian" prior to the 2012 Games

Chandigarh: The last of the hockey icons, Balbir Singh Sr turned 90 on Tuesday, looking back with satisfaction at his long and rewarding tryst with hockey, which he calls his "first love", but sad at the state of the game in India.

Gentle and soft-spoken as ever, ramrod straight Balbir belies his years. Triple gold Olympian and a victorious Olympic captain, he was also the chief coach and manager of the team that won the one and only World Cup hockey title for India in 1975.

Chosen as one of the 16 "iconic Olympians" across all disciplines since 1896, the start of the modern Olympic era, Balbir was honoured by the International Olympic Committee during the 2012 London Olympics alongwith other great sportsmen such as legendary sprinter the late Jesse Owens.

Balbir remains the holder of Olympic and world record for the most goals scored by an individual in an Olympic men`s hockey final for scoring 5 out of the 6 goals against Holland in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics. He captained the Indian team that won the title in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

Despite an outstanding career, Balbir remains a modest man and has to be coaxed into talking about his achievements. "I was very lucky", he says.

He calls hockey "my Goddess, my first love and my darling". He is still waiting for his "hockey fairy" who would help India regain its glory in the game.

Asked about the state of Indian hockey, Balbir replies, "very bad. I did not want to say this word. I feel dejected. I am sad".

He recalled that when he was being honoured during the London Olympics, the Indian team had not won a single match which had shocked him. "Balbir comes and Balbir goes but India is there forever. It is India which is more important".

What is wrong with Indian hockey, he was asked, to which he replied, "coaches, training, physical fitness, the way the game is run". Balbir reckons that depending on foreign coaches alone to lift the standard of hockey in the country may not be enough as they are "over qualified" for the job.

"There are very good foreign coaches, they are highly qualified but they are over-qualified for our conditions. We must get our intelligent coaches, educated ones, trained abroad. They should get the training so that when they come back, they can continue till they retire.

"Now, foreign coaches, come and take salaries, sorry to say that, and they go back. If we can get our own coaches trained, get all the training facilities abroad, they can come back, serve the country. Then they will feel honoured to serve the country. We have talent, our boys are good, but we lack in training and physical fitness. We should be among the top 4-5 teams. We should be there", he said.

The hockey legend enlisted a number of other reasons for the declining standard of Indian hockey which, he said, has been given a "step-motherly treatment". The long-standing feud between the two federations -- Hockey India (HI) and Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) -- was also hurting the game.

"Unfortunately, there are two federations. Because of the division, our hockey has suffered a lot", he points out.

"training is also one of the reasons, because our coaches are qualified, but nowadays, foreign coaches come, they train their (style) hockey. We should get our coaches trained, so as to produce many more coaches.

"Then, we have given hockey step motherly treatment. Other sports, No.1 is cricket, it is in limelight, the players are highly paid, always on TV, cameras are there. They are treated as actors. But hockey poor chaps, sorry", he said.

Balbir has devised an innovative three-tier revival plan for Indian hockey which he believes can improve the standard of the game.

Elaborating on his scheme, he said "It's a hockey league. We should hold it once a year and we finish it within a month. If there is a national league in place of a national championship and there are at least 30 teams, divide them in three divisions, according to their merit as per the latest national hockey championship. Top to bottom, according to their rankings, divide those teams into three. Top division 10 teams, then second 20-30 and then the third 20-30.

"You split up the teams. The top 10 will fight among themselves and you will have specific financial incentive. Then you have a system in place for promotion and demotion. Then in the number two league, you would be promoted to the next group. The same rule you follow for football all over.

Balbir said that shortcomings in technique and skills can only be overcome by repeated practice.

"Practice, it's the key. Penalty corners, there were times when we use to score from penalty corners also. Individual training is also important. Time and again, we use to practice penalty corners. Excellence, then, is not an art but a habit. I always used to tell the players, the top spot is always vacant. Anybody who works hard can reach there" he said.

Asked whether the current set of players lack desire to excel, Balbir said they have become more money-minded.

"They are more money-minded these days, that is normal also because money is required. Money is very important. In my hockey league, there is a prize money for the coaches, for the teams, for the associations also.

Balbir, who lives with his family here, says that turning 90 means entering the "golden decade" of his life.

"It is like the golden goal in my beloved game. Whoever scores that goal wins. Now I am up against the Almighty God. Whenever He scores I will lose and will have to go. But I have lived a full life for which I am grateful to God".

Zee News


My TRUST in the ALMIGHTY tells me! It will happen One Day !!!

by Balbir Singh Senior

Every one has a dream - I did too. It all started at the age of five when I watched the boys playing Hockey from my house window . Coming from A village, The Game fascinated me to the extent of falling in love with the game .My dream was to play like those big boys in the field. I tried to convert my dream into reality by taking first step by playing against the house wall with the rubber ball that was given as a birthday gift to me by my dear father. In the school, I first started to play for team 'C' then 'B' and soon got promoted to team 'A'

When I was in school I saw a news reel that showed Major Dhyan Chand Ji Playing in Olympics and scoring goals . At that time I used to play as A goal keeper and some times as a Full back in my school team . It was my dream to score Goals more than Major Dhyan Chand Ji But - how would it be possible ?Since I was not one of the forwards in the team . Then came the change in scene - the centre forward of the team fell sick and I took his position .It was the wish come true for me .from there on there was no stopping - from school to college from college to university,then Nationals and Internationals .

Yes , I admit - dada Dhyan Chand was my role model ! My inspiration and my dream must have been so strong that It actually made me work passionately towards achieving so much at the world platform , and destiny too played its role. I not only managed to score goals , but was able to create world record of scoring most goals in any Olympic men's Hockey final ( 5 of 6) during 1952 Helsinki Olympics and that record is still unbroken to date . I am proud of the fact that I have been able to contribute towards the honor of my country in my own modest way . As I always say,' BALBIRS COME AND BALBIRS GO BUT INDIA STAYS FOREVER!' that's the teaching from my freedom fighter father, S Dalip Singh and I have followed it to date .

Whenever I think of my records and achievements , I always feel it has been possible only because of the blessings of my parents, teachers And Coaches .I give full credit to my team mates as well, together we wrote the glorious hockey history of India . Then I owe my gratitude to my better half , my wife who stood by me always. She actually was the driving force in shaping my hockey graph .Not many would know that I played all three Olympics as a married man. She was my pillar of strength and even though she is not physically with me now ( like so many of my loved ones and wellwishers) she is always with me.

After having tasted the top most honors in Hockey during our time and then to see the poor present state of Indian Hockey- It is worrisome and I will not hide my feelings that it actually disturbs me . I have written ' A Revival Plan for Indian Hockey '-Based on the little experience of hockey that i have, as A Player, As a Captain , As Coach and Manager and a sports Administrator over the last 75 years.

I will be 90 on 31st December, 2013 & This Hockey Plan would be-

MY RETURN GIFT TO MY COUNTRY, (Which has given me so much! ) with the prayer, AND MY TRUST IN HIM TELLS ME - I will live to see my 60 year old unbroken Olympic record broken by an INDIAN Hockey player and Indian Hockey on the top once again !


I wish you all ' A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR - 2014'

& Good Luck with all your dreams!

Remember -The room at the top is always vacant - Work Hard & U will surely Achieve it !


Balbir Singh's Facebook page

Irish Men's Squad Confirmed for Spain

Mick McKinnon, the interim National Men’s Hockey Coach, has today announced a squad of 17 who will travel to Spain Terrassa from the 10th – 16th January as the team continue preparations for their Champions Challenge 1 taking place in April 2014 (Malaysia). McKinnon will add a further 2-3 players to his selected squad post fitness testing, these will be announced nearer the time.

The tour will also include three matches against the world number 8’s.  Commenting on the tour Mick McKinnon said “It's an inexperienced squad but a great opportunity for these players to push themselves into the frame for tournament selection.  We have a number of players unavailable due to a combination of reasons, injury, exams and work but this provides a chance for these guys who have been working hard in regional and national camps to show what they can do on the international stage.”

“This trip is the first step in creating further depth in the squad, which in turn will create the necessary competition for places to drive us forward” he continued.

Ireland Squad – Spain 2014
David Fitzgerald (Monkstown)
Stephen West (TRR)
Richie Shaw (Glennane)
Stephen Brownlow (Glennane)
John Jackson (Reading)
Mark Loughrey (Pembroke)
Drew Carlisle (Banbridge)
Michael Robson (Annadale)
Peter Brown (UCD)
Jason Lynch (Lisnagarvey)
James Corry (Instonians)
Nick Burns (UCD)
Ross Canning (UCD)
David Carson (Monkstown)
Shane O’Donoghue (UCD)
Alan Sothern (Pembroke)
Jeremy Duncan (UCD)

Match Schedule
11 January – 15:30. At RC Polo Barcelona.
13 January – 15:30. At Club Egara.
15 January – 15:30. At Atlètic Terrassa Hockey Club.

Irish Hockey Association media release


UniKL on a double mission in MJHL

By S. Ramaguru

The jubilant SSTMI-Thunderbolt players celebrate their 2-1 victory over UniKL in the Malaysian Junior Hockey League final last year. UniKL has set the target of becoming league and overall champion this year. - Filepic

KUALA LUMPUR: Former league and overall champions Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) have set their sights on the double in the coming season of the MHC-Milo-NSC Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL).

UniKL made their debut in 2009 and captured the league title. They then managed to win the overall title the next season.

“We have set a higher target for the new season as we’ve an experienced team. We have retained nine players from last year’s squad,” said team manager Mohamed Faiz Isa.

Mohamed Rodhanizam Mat Radzi, a former international, is the coach of the Division One outfit. He will be assisted by Saifu Azhar Mohamed Afandi. Besides the two, UniKL also have a panel of coaches to help in the team’s development. Those in the coaching panel include A. Arulselvaraj, Mohamed Nasihin Nubli and M. Nadarajah.

“The players have been in training for quite a while. They should have no problems playing as a team,” said Faiz.

“We also have four players with the experience of playing in the senior Malaysia Hockey League (MHL). They are Mohamed Hafif Elkan, Nor Azrul Abd Rahman, Norsyafiq Sumantri and Mohamed Azwar Abdul Rahman. Penang’s Mohamed Rahimi Iskandar, the top scorer in the recent National Under-21 Championships, is our latest recruit.

“I believe this team can match the best in the league,” added Faiz.

UniKL’s biggest threat to their title ambitions is defending double champions SSTMI-Thunderbolt.

The other teams in the seven-team Division One are KLSS Junior-MSS Kuala Lumpur, Malacca High School, Anderson, SSTMI Juniors and Petaling Jaya Municipal Council (MBPJ).

UniKL will start their campaign on Jan 11 against promoted KLSS Junior-MSS KL.

In order to achieve the double, UniKL have paid a lot of attention on their penalty corner execution.

“We have four flickers – Mohamed Hafif Elkan, Mohamed Zulhaziq Hashim, Mohamed Rahimi Iskandar and Abdul Rauf Nazri – and we want them to try and out-stage each other. That way the players will give their best. They will also train harder at making sure they get a first-team place.

“We plan to take one step at a time and make sure that we bag full points in each match. With just seven teams in the fray, there is basically no room for mistakes. We have just six matches in the run-up to the league title, so every match is crucial,” said Faiz.

UniKL also have two experienced goalkeepers and Faiz believes they hold the key to their title ambitions.

Mohd Fitri Jasni was a member of the 2013 squad while Penang’s Mohamad Adi Fazri Ab Rahim is a new addition. Mohamed Adi was honoured with the best goalkeeper award in the National Under-21 Championships.

“At the end of the day the performance of the team in each match is what counts. For the players, a good performance in the MJHL will also mean a chance to vie for a place in the senior squad to play in the MHL. That in itself should serve as an incentive,” said Faiz.

The Star of Malaysia

Ali’s last moment goal gives NBP hockey title

LAHORE: The National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) won the National Hockey Championship, overpowering defending champions Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) 4-3 on sudden-death in a pulsating final at the Johar Hockey Stadium here on Sunday.

The score in the hotly contested final remained 2-2 at the end of regulation time, and the shootout stage also did not end the stalemate.

Finally, the match went into the nerve-racking sudden-death stage where the NBP displayed better nerves than PIA.

Centre-forward Ali Shan scored the winner amid jubilation of his team-mates and officials as the NBP eventually claimed the coveted national title.

Earlier, the final started at a slow pace as both teams took time to set the tempo.

After some attacks and counter-attacks from both sides, PIA took lead in the ninth minute through Mohammad Zubair who converted a short-corner.

Shafqat Rasool’s field goal in the 22nd minute put PIA 2-0 ahead and this scoreline remained until the end of first half.

At this stage, it appeared PIA will defend the title easily.

However, the NBP in the second half bounced back strongly with their belligerent forward line making some productive moves. Dilber took control of the ball in the 43rd minute and scored the bankers’ first goal to reduce PIA’s lead to 2-1.

In the 65th minute Kashif Rasul converted a short-corner as the NBP made it 2-2 after which the scoreline stayed same until the end of shoot-out stage.

Earlier, Wapda edged out Sui Southern Gas Company 5-4 to seize third position in the national event.


PHF urged to revive hockey at grass-roots level

LAHORE: Participants at the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) seminar on Monday suggested the federation to organise five- and seven-a-side hockey events at club, school and college levels by providing them required equipment and facilities in order to improve standard of the game.

The seminar, part of the federation’s programme titled ‘PHF Vision 2014-18 Resurgence of Hockey’, was conducted by FIH Grade-I High Performance Coach Tahir Zaman along with FIH coaches Khawaja Junaid and retired Colonel Nadeem Ahmed Bhatti.

Former Olympians Manzoor-ul-Hassan, Rasheed-ul-Hassan, Mohammad Akhlaq, Kamran Ashraf, Shahid Ali Khan, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Sarwar, Nadeem ND, Mudassar Ali, Adnan Ashraf, Salim Khalid and Rehan Butt were also amongst the participants which also included umpires.

The participants suggested measures for improving the standard of umpiring and the professional functions of other technical officials relating to the game of hockey.

It was also recommended that PHF academies should be fully equipped with modern training facilities.

A long-term plan under the name of Hockey Welfare Organisation was another notable recommendation made during the seminar. It was advised that all top players of national teams should be insured with free medical treatment as well.

Furthermore, it was also proposed to look after deserving former Olympians and international players requiring financial assistance.

In his concluding remarks, PHF secretary Rana Mujahid said the federation intended to develop consensus for formulating short- and long-term plans in order to uplift the national sport.

The official added that the PHF also wanted their coaching, umpiring and technical officials to come under a proper accreditation system with certain field hockey qualifications.

Mujahid vowed that the federation would also invite other former senior Olympians to incorporate their suggestions in the ‘PHF Vision 2014-2018 Resurgence of Hockey’ programme.