News for 25 March 2010

All the news for Thursday 25 March 2010

USA Women Ready for World Cup Qualifier

The USA Field Hockey Women's National Team held a practice match with Belgium today at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA. Both teams are in preparation for the AtaHolding Women's World Cup Qualifier, to be held at the Training Center beginning this Friday through Saturday, April 3.The USA took a 1-0 victory in the contest, as Katie O'Donnell scored on a tip-in deflection off a pass from Kayla Bashore.

Six of the world's top field hockey nations have travelled to San Diego for a chance to play in one of the world's top international competitions.Playing on their home field, the USA Women's Olympic Field Hockey Team welcomes traditional Pan American rivals Canada and Mexico, as well as France and Korea. The tournament champion will head to the BDO FIH 2010 Women's World Cup Rosario, Argentina in September. USA Field Hockey, the national governing body for field hockey in the United States, will host the Qualifier.

"The game went well," said Team Captain Carrie Lingo. "It was nice to get a scrimmage match under our belt before the tournament begins on Friday."

"We got out to bit of a shaky start, but it was good to get out and run around," said defender Rachel Dawson. "We've been training with inter-squad scrimmages, so it was good to get out there against a competitor we'll see in the coming weeks."

The practice match, played in three 20-minute periods, was scoreless through two sessions, as both teams had a handful of scoring opportunities. O'Donnell finally scored in the third, and the USA held on for the win.

"I was a really nice goal," said Dawson. "A nice tip-in."

"Going into a tournament like this, there's some nerves that go into it," said striker Katie Evans. "Having a scrimmage like this is good to shake everything loose."

World Cup Qualifier2010 AtaHolding Women's World Cup Qualifier competition begins on Friday as Belgium faces Canada at 10:00am. The USA opens competition against Mexico on Friday at 2:30pm. The USA defeated Mexico 6-0 in their last international confrontation in January 2009 at the Pan American Cup.

"Everybody is ready to get out and start," said Lingo. "We're pushing through our final preparations and anxiously awaiting Friday."

"I think we're really coming together as a team and you're going to see it in this tournament," said Evans. "Just keep watching."

Tickets to all games are now available. The AtaHolding Women's World Cup Qualifier features 18 matches over six days of competition.
Half-price tickets can be purchased online for as little as $5.00 per person per day at
Competition days feature three matches per day.
Additional ticket promotions are also available, including discounts for military personnel.

USFHA media release

Canada settling in ahead of Qualifier in San Diego

By Sheena Scott

After spending the first two days settling in and getting used the USA Olympic facilities and turf in Chula Vista, California, Team Canada faced an eager Korean hockey team for an exhibition match on Day 3 of their journey towards the World Cup Qualifier tournament.

After two 25 minute halves of some highly paced hockey in the sun, the Koreans beat the Canadians 1-0 on a well taken shot that beat Azelia Liu in the far corner.  Both teams used the time to adjust to the bounces of the pitch and Team Canada was confidently rolling on all 18 members of their team.

With neither team giving up much of their key strategies for the tournament, the game was a hard fought battle with both teams showing that they have come to San Diego well-prepared.

The team will spend the evening recovering and meeting in order to plan for another exhibition game against Mexico on Wednesday afternoon. The remainder of the week will be spent practicing to gear up for the first game of the tournament on Friday against Belgium.

Field Hockey Canada media release

Argentina hold out the Hockeyroos

Argentina 2 Hockeyroos 1 (1-1 half time)

Argentina have emerged as winners during the first game of the four test series against the Hockeyroos, winning 2-1 tonight in Townsville.

Buoyed by the home crowd the Hockeyroos got off to a good start, doing the majority of the attack in the early stages of the game.

This included the first two penalty corner attempts of the match, however neither were converted. Australia looked likely to score when a scramble in the circle saw the ball head towards the open goal, however some quick reflexes from the Argentinean goalkeeper saw her beat the ball back to the line and keep the match goalless.

Eventually the Hockeyroos were rewarded for their early work, with captain Madonna Blyth celebrating her 150th match in style after pouncing on a rebound from a penalty corner attempt, putting the Hockeyroos in front at the 18 minute mark.

Argentina seemed unfazed and stuck to their game plan, gradually becoming more dangerous as the half continued.

The visitors were given an opportunity when the Hockeyroos defence was caught off guard momentarily, with Macarena Abente on the end of a deflection which beat goalkeeper Rachael Lynch, leveling the score.

Lynch went some way to make amends only minutes later, making a good save to control Argentina’s growing momentum.

With Sarah O’Connor and Stacia Joseph performing well in defence the Hockeyroos took to the pitch full of confidence after the half time break, and looked likely to one again gain the lead when they were awarded a penalty corner only minutes after half time. However they were unable to convert once again.

Argentina made them pay the ultimate price only minutes later when they converted a penalty corner of their own, giving them a 2-1 lead with 17 minutes remaining.

With the Hockeyroos awarded a penalty corner just before the full time whistle a draw seemed a real possibility. Although the ball went in the goal was not allowed due to the hit not being above the backboard, with Argentina running out 2-1 winners.

Hockey Australia media release

India draws the fourth and last test in Japan

s2h Team

Japan held India 2-2 in the final Test of the four match series at the Gifu Green Stadium, Kakamigahara today.

Japan sealed the series winning the first three Tests convincingly but an inspired display by the visitors denied them a clean sweep.

The two teams were locked 1-1 at half time.

Saundarya Yendala scored a brace when she slammed home in the 7th minute giving India the lead and then converted a penalty corner in the 39th minute.

For Japan Rika Komazawa and Mie Nakashima were on target in the 9th and 62nd minutes from open play and penalty corner respectively.

The Indian defence stood out against repeated Japanese onslaughts which resulted in eleven penalty corners, as against three earned by India.

India will now play Asian champions China on their twin tour in a three Test series at Shanghai commencing next Tuesday.

The Indian women team is in preparation for the World Cup at Rosario. Argentina in July-August to be followed by the Commonwealth Games at Delhi and the Asian Games at Guangzhou later in the year

Indian women hold Japan 2-2, lose hockey series 0-3

NEW DELHI: An impressive India held Japan to a 2-2 draw in their final game of the four-match women's hockey Test series at the Gifu Green Stadium, Kakamigahara on Wednesday.

The 2-2 result, thanks to double strike from Soundarya Yendala, salvaged some pride for the Indians though they lost the series 0-3.

The Indians, who are preparing for the World Cup in Rosario, Argentina, in August-September and the Commonwealth and Asian Games, had lost all their earlier three matches.

The Indians came up with an inspired performance and their defence stood up against repeated Japanese onslaughts, which resulted in 11 penalty corners.

India earned just three penalty corners. Soundarya slammed home in the seventh minute giving India the lead before Japan's Rika Komazawa restored parity two minutes later.

After a 1-1 stalemate at the breather, Soundarya again gave India a 2-1 lead by finding the target four minutes after resumption (39th minute) via a penalty corner conversion.

After taking the lead, the Indian defence was under severe pressure but stood firm for more than 20 minutes.

The repeated Japanese attacks finally bore fruit with the home side getting the equaliser eight minutes before the final whistle (62nd minute) through a penalty corner conversion by Mie Nakashima.

India have already qualified for the World Cup as the runner-up of Asia Cup while Japan play a qualifier in Kazan, Russia, next month to make the grade in the mega event.

India will now travel to Shanghai to play Asian champions China, who have also qualified for the World Cup, in a three-match Test series commencing next Tuesday.

The Times of India

Ric Charlesworth Clarification - First Person to Win World Cup as Player and Coach

Hockey Australia wishes to clarify that Kookaburras coach Ric Charlesworth is the first person to win the Hockey World Cup as player and coach following the Kookaburras recent 2-1 victory over Germany at the 2010 World Cup in India.

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) had previously advised that Charlesworth was the second to do so after Hans Jorritsma won for the Netherlands in 1973 and coached the Netherlands to victory in 1990 and then Pakistan in 1994.

However further research revealed that while Jorritsma was a member of the 1973 Netherlands national squad, he was not selected in the 1973 World Cup squad and did not play in any of the 1973 World Cup matches.

The achievement adds to Charlesworth’s already impressive hockey resume which includes:

Hockeyroos (1993-2000)
1996 Atlanta Olympics Gold Medal
2000 Sydney Olympics Gold Medal

1994 World Cup Gold Medal
1998 World Cup Gold Medal

1998 Commonwealth Games Gold Medal

1993 Champions Trophy Gold Medal
1995 Champions Trophy Gold Medal
1997 Champions Trophy Gold Medal
1999 Champions Trophy Gold Medal

Kookaburras (2009 – present)
2010 World Cup Gold Medal

2009 Champions Trophy Gold Medal

Hockey Australia media release

World cup was a learning experience: Rajpal Singh

CHANDIGARH: Notwithstanding their dismal show at the World Cup, Indian hockey captain Rajpal Singh on Wednesday said it was a learning experience for his team and would help them to prepare for the Asian games.

"We may have lost in the World cup, but the players after getting lot of experience from the tournament are now looking at the Asian games ahead," Rajpal said after being felicitated by the Punjab University at its convocation.

"Our focus now is Asian games," the Chandigarh-lad said adding that the players are now looking at the Commonwealth Games as a preparatory tournament for the team.

Expressing satisfaction at the blend of old style and attacking hockey played by the team, he said that the boys were contributing a lot towards the game.

Rajpal said that the bench strength of the team was strong and players are looking forward to the upcoming major events.

The skipper, however, admitted that the defence of the team was weak.

"In the World Cup, other teams quickly managed to read our strategy which led to our downfall in the games against opponents," he said.

The lanky forward said that the players are working hard and exuded confidence of a better performance by the team in the Asian Games.

The Times of India

Rupees One lac for each World Cup goal a reality.

K. Arumugam

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan is ready to disburse rupees one lac each for each Indian goals scored in the recent World Cup.

The team, which scored 15 goals, is to get Rs. 15 lac from Madhya Pradesh government. The chief minister himself announced this while inaugurating the 68th Obaidullah Khan Gold Cup tournament in Bhopal.

It is to be seen how the purse will be shared by the Indian hockey team, as goal is just a reflection of team work, name of scorers are just for the sack of statistics.

This hockey lover chief minister in the recent past gave Rs. 1 crore towards the women hockey players who were then demanding gender parity with Hockey India. For a symbolic gesture, he also wore a black band on the occasion of him disbursing the said purse.

The chief minister watched the full match between Punjab National Bank and Bharat Petroleum which the later won by a good score of 3-2. He also awarded the man of the match prize to BPCL's Birender Lakra.

While speaking on the occasion, the sport loving Chief Minister said that money is not a problem for developing hockey sport as his state budget is about Rs. 50k crores!

During the opening ceremony, he also honoured Olympians like Mukhbain Singh, Harbinder Singh, Ajit Singh besides local heroes Ashok Kumar, Jalalludin Rizvi, Inam-ur-Rahman and Samir Dad.

13 teams are participating in the ongoing Obaiduallah Cup.

They are: Bharat Petroleum, PNB, Indian Oil, ONGC, West Central Railway (Jabalpur), South central Railways (Secunderabad), Punjab and Sind Bank, Air India, MP State Hockey Academy, South Eastern Central Railway (Bilaspur) Army XI and Steel authority of India Ltd and Sports Authority of India.

Rs. 10-lac prize money Obaidullah Cup commences

K. Arumugam

Aisbagh stadium on the eve of opening ceremony of Obaidullah Khan Gold Cupon Wednesday, the 24th Mar 2010.

Rs. 10-lac prize money Obaidullah Tournament starts today in Bhopal

Thanks to Madhya Pradesh Government, the vintage Obaidullah Khan Gold Cup has become the top prize money tournament of India.

With winners purse of Rs. 5 lac, runners up Rs. 3 lac and the third Prize Rs 2 lac, the Obaidullah Cup has commenced in Bhopal today.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan was present on the opening match today.

The tournament is played on knock out basis.

With about Rs. 5 lac as prize money in each Nehru Senior Cup and Junior Cup were so far the top billed prize money domestic tournaments in India.

Obaidullah Cup, renewed with vigour this year, is played on the historic Aisbagh stadium, located in the heart of the hockey conscious city.

Next tournament on the anvil is Bombay Gold Cup that starts in the first week of Next month in Mumbai Mahindra Hockey stadium.

Gold Cup hockey tournament: BPCL defeat PNB

BHOPAL: Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL) defeated Punjab National Bank 3-2 in the opening match of the prestigious All-India Obaidullah Khan Gold Cup Hockey tournament at the Aishbagh Stadium.

Mid-fielder Birendra Lakra of BPCL was declared the man-of-the-match for making excellent moves that produced two field goals for his team.

Gurvinder scored the first goal in the match for the PNB in the 23rd minute but the lead was short-lived as BPCL launched fierce attack and ripped apart the defence of the opposition side by scoring three goals within three minutes.

For BPCL, Gurpreet Singh sounded the scoreboard through a penalty stroke in the 25th minute and equalised the score 1-1. Later, Tushar Khandekar and Hari Prasad scored two field goals in 26th and 27th minutes respectively to make the scorline read 3-1.

However, in the second half, the PNB team played an attacking game and reduced the margin as Bruno scored another goal in the 48th minute.

A total of 13 teams from across the country are taking part in the tournament, which is being held after a gap of eight years.

The week-long tournament, which is being organised this time by the Madhya Pradesh Directorate of Sports and Youth Welfare, will end on March 29.

Apart from BPCL and PNB, the other teams which are vying in the competition are ONGC, Air India, Indian Oil, Punjab and Sindh Bank, Indian Army, South Estern Central Railway (Bilaspur), West Central Railway, SAI XI, South Central Railway, Madhya Pradesh State Hockey Academy and SAIL.

A number of international players including Indian National Men's Hockey team captain Rajpal Singh, Deepak Thakur, Diwakar Ram, Arjun Halappa, Shivendra Singh, Vikram Pillay, Tushar Khandekar, William Khalko, S S Gill and Prabhjot Singh are participating in the tournament that was first held way back in 1931.

Local stars who will form part of the tournament include Olympian Sameer Dad, Irshad Ali, Imram Ali and Altaf-ur Rehman.

The Times of India


Gold cup for next Obaidullah Hockey tourney winners: Chouhan

BHOPAL: Winners of the All India Obaidullah Khan Gold Cup Hockey tournament would be presented with a gold trophy from the next edition onwards.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan made this announcement last night after inaugurating the week-long tournament at the Aishbagh Stadium.

Chouhan also announced to give Rs 18 lakh as promised to the Indian Hockey team for scoring 18 goals in the World Cup played in Delhi recently.

Chouhan had announced to give Rs one lakh per goal to the Indian hockey squad.

The Chief Minister said Madhya Pradesh government is committed for the development and promotion of the sport.

"Bhopal is known as the nursery of hockey and the sport would not be allowed to die in the state," he said.

Noted commentator Jasdev Singh, on his arrival in Bhopal, praised Chouhan's efforts and said he is optimistic that the country would regain its past glory in hockey.

The Times of India

Minister ‘opens’ astroturf


Calcutta: Nearly three months after the century old Beighton Cup matches were held, union sports minister M.S. Gill ‘inaugurated’ the astroturf of Sports Authority of India (SAI), Eastern Centre, on Wednesday afternoon.

Neither the SAI nor the Bengal Hockey Association (BHA) officials seemed to have intimated the minister that he was inaugurating a venue where the Beighton Cup final was played a few months back.

If this wasn’t enough, the manner in which the SAI director S. Harmilapi denied about Beighton matches being held was even more baffling.

“You people don’t know. The matches were held at SAI but not on the astroturf,” said Harmilapi to the utter shock of some of the scribes who had covered the Beighton final between Indian Oil Corporation and South Central Railway held on the astroturf last December.

On a different note, the sports minister spoke at length with the media on various issues ranging from the hockey team’s performance to the preparations of the government for hosting the Commonwealth Games.

He was categorical in stating that he wouldn’t like to see any politicking and factionalism within the hockey team. “We have spent Rs 15 crore to built a world class hockey stadium in New Delhi. A lot has been spent on imparting world class coaching facilities including hiring a foreign coach (Jose Brasa). I have no problems with a team losing but one should always give his hundred per cent on the field. There is no place for factionalism and politics when you are representing your country,” he said.

The minister informed that Rs 350 crore were spent on CCTV cameras that will be installed across New Delhi as a part of the security measures. “We don’t want to leave any stone unturned as far as the security is concerned. ” he said.

The Telegraph, India


Gill's delayed inauguration of hockey turf

KOLKATA: Union Sports Minister MS Gill on Wednesday inaugurated the artificial hockey turf at SAI Eastern Centre without the knowledge of Beighton Cup been played on the newly-laid surface.

The 114th edition of Beighton Cup was held in December first week with more than 10 matches held on the newly-laid artificial turf of SAI Eastern Centre.

When contacted Bengal Hockey Association secretary Gurbux Singh said "special permission" was taken from SAI to hold the premier tournament as the sport minister's arrival was delayed.

"We had taken permission to hold the tournament on the artificial turf. Gill was supposed to come in October to inaugurate the artificial turf. But he could not come as per schedule due to bye-elections in that area after state sports minister Subhas Chakraborty's death," former India captain said.

Director of SAI Eastern centre S Harmilapi was not available for comment.

Earlier a SAI release stated: "The work of relaying of hockey turf started in February, 2007 and the estimated cost was Rs 250.29 lakh. The work has been completed by CPWD in the year 2009."

The Times of India

Starry KL bow in style


KUANTAN: Kuala Lumpur got off to a good start in the Razak Cup hockey tournament when they defeated defending champions Malacca 2-0 in a Division One match at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium here yesterday.

KL, who are gunning to win the title for a record 19th time in the 48th edition of the tournament, went on the offensive from the start and took the lead in the 12th minute through national forward Nabil Fiqri Mohd Noor.

The team with six internationals in their ranks created many more chances to score in the first half but drew blanks.

The second goal for KL came off the penalty corner with national midfielder Mohd Shahrun Nabil scoring in the 40th minute.

Malacca, who had the services of former national forward Chua Boon Huat and current national forward B. Namasivayam, failed to impress and they were lucky to lose by a small margin.

KL coach Nor Saiful Zaini said that he was satisfied with his team’s performance even though they missed a number of sitters.

“We are playing in a round-robin format and we need to score as many goals as possible in every match to qualify for the final,” he said.

“I am also happy with the performance of three Under-21 players – Harvinder (Singh), Mohd Syamin (Mohd Yusuf) and Fahed (Saifullah). They played well. However, we need to tighten the defence. We allowed Malacca to create a few scoring chances.”

KL will be seeking to claim full points against Penang today.

“My players are highly motivated after the win over Malacca and we should get the better of Penang, who only have the services of one national player (M. Jivan),” said Nor Saiful.

Perak also got off to a winning start, beating Negri Sembilan 3-1 in another Division One match.

National forward Azlan Misron (10th), Mohd Noor Khairul Azrain (33rd) and Mohd Hafifihafiz Hanafi (64th) scored for Perak. Negri’s goal came from M. Ragesh Waran in the 61st minute.

Hosts Pahang started in Division Two with a thumping 9-0 win over Brunei in Group B.

Mohd Aminuddin Abu scored a hat-trick (2nd, 43rd and 64th) and the other goals came from Ahmad Kazamirul Nasruddin (14th, 52nd), Ismail Abu (47th, 66th), Mohd Hafiz Zainul (34th) and Mohd Al-Fadhir Kasim (45th).

The Star of Malaysia

Sabah set up base in Klang for MJHL

KUANTAN: Sabah Hockey Association will use the Pandamaran Stadium in Klang as their training base and venue for matches in the Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL), which begins on April 9.

The team under the charge of coach Paul Raj from Selangor will be making their debut in the MJHL, which was introduced in 1995.

Paul is also in charge of the Sabah team for two other national tournaments this year – the ongoing Razak Cup in Kuantan and Sukma (Malaysia Games) in Malacca in June.

Paul, who has been training the Sabah team for a month, said that the Razak Cup and MJHL would serve to prepare a strong team for the Sukma. He added that the Sabah HA’s priority this year was for the team to do well in Sukma.

“Sabah have a young squad of 12 Under-19 boys featuring in the Razak Cup. Four are Under-21 and two others are Under-22,” said Paul, who holds the credential of having coached Selangor in all age-group tournaments.

“We are competing in the Razak Cup to know the strength and weakness of the team.”

Sabah are in Group B of the Razak Cup Division Two competition and they open their campaign tomorrow against Kelantan. Their other opponents are Singapore, Kedah and Police.

Sabah will feature in Division Two of the MJHL comprising nine teams.

Their opponents are Datuk Taha School, Tunku Besar School, Pahang Sports School, Johor Sports Council, Matri of Perlis, SMK Pengkalan Permatang, Ipoh City Council, SM Teknik Klang and Penang Free School.

The Star of Malaysia

Hockey Photographer Gains Top Recognition

Sports Journalists recognise England Hockey Board picture service photographer

Photographer Ady Kerry, who provides the photographs for the England Hockey Board’s royalty free hockey picture service, was recently commended by the Sports Journalists Association (SJA) at its Annual Journalism Awards earlier this month.

Ady’s work for the England Hockey Board (EHB) includes weekly photography from matches in the England Hockey League Men’s and Women’s Premier Divisions and shots from international hockey matches played here in England.

It is a credit to Ady and the work he and the EHB is undertaking together that his folio was highlighted by the SJA judging panel despite not having been shortlisted.

Since the beginning of the 2009-2010 England Hockey League season, Ady’s photographs have been available for media outlets to download free of charge from an online gallery.  In providing this service free of charge, the EHB continues to encourage and assist media outlets at regional and national level in reporting on hockey with readily available, high quality images.

Ady Kerry said, "It is very gratifying that a prestigious body such as the SJA should recognise hockey within its awards even though at times it struggles to get column inches within the media.

"Quality imagery will help raise the profile of the sport as more media organisations take up the picture service provided by the EHB, helping to take hockey to a wider audience, and potentially make it back page news."

Mark Armitage, the EHB’s Commercial & Membership Services Director, said, “It is pleasing to know that the Sports Journalists Association has recognised the work that Ady is doing with the EHB.  We offer a level of service to the media that we believe is unrivalled for a sport of the size of hockey and I would encourage any newspaper or sports website that hasn’t signed up for our free photography service to do so.

“We have some excellent events coming up from which photography will be available including the exciting England Hockey League Championship Playoffs, the men’s and women’s national cup finals, the international Samsung Women’s Champions Trophy tournament in Nottingham in July and its accompanying Men’s Four Nations tournament featuring Great Britain.”

The EHB's royalty free picture service is available to all regional and national media organisations via a gallery within photoshelter, through a password system.

England Hockey Board Media release

My recent visit to India during World Cup (I)

By Zakir Hussain Syed

My first visit to India was way back in 1960 after my graduation from FCC College Lahore. Since then I have made frequent visits for broadcasting assignments and official meetings. One memorable visit was in 1978 when Pakistan and India resumed hockey series after a long gap. The test match in Bombay was played in a packed cricket stadium and there was such a crowd that we had to leave our transport and make our way to our broadcasting position through people waiting for their turn to enter the ground. Just before the gate, a beautiful girl, wearing a saree, stopped us. She was in tears. She told me that she had come from Bangkok to watch this series but could not get a ticket. I gave her my ticket as I had another identity card from the organisers and ran up the stairs to our position. Abdul Waheed, manager Pakistan hockey team, took a masterly initiative when he went around the packed stadium with baskets full of flowers and threw these flowers at the spectators. This transformed the entire atmosphere and suddenly people began to clap for Pakistan. Pakistan won easily, they were so superior. When we went to Bangalore the same girl was waiting in the hotel with a garland of tube roses. That picture of her putting the garland around my neck still adorns my album. She went to all the places where we played. Former Olympian Munir Dar, who was with us on that tour, never forgot this and kept pulling my leg long after this visit. It was great fun.

I was in Malaysia for a brief assignment when I was informed about my visit to India for the Hockey World Cup. When I returned, there were only three days left before my departure. The visa councilor at the Indian High Commission went out of the way to not only issue me a visa in a day but was kind enough to personally ring me to inform me that my passport had been stamped with the visa and I could send somebody to collect my passport. As I had not been able to book a hotel in advance because of the uncertainty about the visa, I had to request a friend in New Delhi to book a hotel for me. He booked accommodation for me in a hotel in Gurgaon while my visa was for New Delhi only. Gurgaon falls in Haryana. I landed in the hotel unpacked and was doing my homework when there was a knock at the door. When I opened the door there was the hotel manager accompanied by a police official. This surprised me because my visa was exempted from police reporting. He started interrogating me in typical police mannerism. I told him that I would move to a hotel in New Delhi the following morning. On this note he left but after ten minutes there was another knock and there was the manager and another police official politely asking me to shift to another hotel in New Delhi immediately. I went down to the manager’s office and requested him to arrange some accommodation for me. Finally late in the evening, he was able to find a suite for me in a hotel called Singh Palace in Karole Bagh. When I landed there, I found that some other Pakistanis including Akhtar Rasool, Arshad Chaudhry, Rana Mujahid and Khalid Rasool were also staying there. The hotel was small, clean but at quite a distance from the major Dhyan Chand Stadium, the venue of the World Cup. I subsequently found that I was fortunate to find accommodation there. The hotel was owned by one Amarjeet Singh whose family owned four more hotels in that area. We received such uninhibited affection and love and hospitality from them and the great Papaji that it was truly unbelievable. Every night Papaji laid a huge feast for us on the roof of the hotel where all the members of their family vied with each other to make us feel at home. Papaji had special halal meat and khroras brought from a Muslim butcher, supervised the cooking personally and then made sure that we ate until we could barely get up. They enjoyed Sardarji jokes with us while from our side Mando and Akhtar Rasool matched them word for word.

(Zakir Hussain Syed is Pakistan’s internationally renowned sports administrator, sports broadcaster and sports analyst)

The Daily Times

Varakrishnan dies

FORMER Johor Razak Cupper and state hockey coach K. Varakrishnan, 63, passed away at the Sultan Ismail Hospital in Johor Baru yesterday after a long battle with kidney failure.

K. Vara, as he was popularly known, was also a veteran journalist and used to string for the New Straits Times and Bernama and also wrote for sports magazine Mingguan Sukan.

Until late last year he was also a contributor to the AAM monthly magazine Drive before he was diagnosed with kidney failure which required dialysis three times a week.

Johor Hockey Association (JHA) deputy president A. Harbhajan Singh described Vara's passing as a "great loss to the hockey fraternity" in the state.

"He played a major role in the development of the game in the state when he was the secretary of the Batu Pahat District Hockey Association in the 70s and 80s," said Harbhajan, who described Vara as a dedicated and committed official in his duties.

The funeral will be held today and the cortege will leave for the Kebun Teh Hindu crematorium at 1pm from his residence at No 144, Jalan Tembusu 17, Taman Rinting, 81750, Masai, Johor.

New Straits Times