News for 15 March 2010

All the news for Monday 15 March 2010


Women's Youth Pan Am Championship

The USA Field Hockey Women's Under-17 National Team fell to Chile, 2-0, on Sunday in their second game of competition at the 2010 Pan American Youth Championship in Montevideo, Uruguay. The USA will face host nation Uruguay on Tuesday.

USFHA media release



Argentina bests Canada at Women's Pan Am Youth Championship

The Canadian women's national under-17 team were defeated by rival Argentina 5-1 Sunday afternoon at the Women's Pan American Youth Championship in Montevideo, Uruguay. It was Canada's second game of the tournament after defeating Paraguay a day earlier.

Canada's Sara McManus opened the scoring in the 11th minute on a penalty corner to take the early lead. However the Argentines would quickly respond taking a 3-1 lead into the second half.

The game also saw Canada's Bridget McGillivay and two Argentine players earn yellow cards.

The Canadians close out the round robin versus Mexico on Tuesday afternoon. The top two teams from each pool move on to the semi-finals on Thursday.

The Pan American Youth Championship serves as the continental qualifier for the 2010 Youth Olympics Games in Singapore.

Field Hockey Canada media release



Canada defeats Paraguay in Women's Youth Championship opener


The Canadian national under-17 women's team soundly defeated Paraguay 12-0 Saturday afternoon in their opening match of the Women's Pan American Youth Championship.

Canada controlled throughout the match demonstrating great team work. The defense, mid field and the attack worked perfectly. They also showed great strength in corners, with a show of options at the time of scoring.

Madeline Secco, Shannon Herold, Alex McCawley, Lauren Annable, Emma Plasteras, Sarah Keglowitsch, Hannah Haughn, and Sara McManus all scored for Canada.

The team next plays Argentina on Sunday afternoon.

The Women's Pan American Youth Championship serves as the continental qualifier for the 2010 Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

Field Hockey Canada media release



US World Cup Qualifier Roster Announced

USA Field Hockey and Head Coach Lee Bodimeade today announced the names of the players who will represent the USA in the 2010 AtaHolding Women's World Cup Qualifier, scheduled from March 26 to April 3 at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA.

Six of the world's top field hockey nations will travel 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 will welcome traditional Pan American rivals Canada and Mexico, as well as Belgium, 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 athletes selected for the 2010 AtaHolding Women's World Cup Qualifier are:

 

#
Name
Position
College
Hometown
26
Midfielder
Indiana
Shoemakersville,PA
27
Defender
Wake Forest
Doylestown, PA
8
Defender
North Carolina
Berlin, NJ
6
Striker
Delaware
Newtown Square, PA
23
Forward
North Carolina
Landenberg, PA
22
Midfielder
Princeton
Lewes, DE
7
Forward
North Carolina
Green Lane, PA
18
Midfielder
Wake Forest
Chapel Hill, NC
31
Jackie Kintzer
Goalkeeper
North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC
21
Midfielder
Wake Forest
Bristow, VA
17
Midfielder
North Carolina
Rehoboth Beach, DE
19
Midfielder
Old Dominion
Virginia Beach, VA
20
Forward
Maryland
Blue Bell, PA
1
Midfielder
Iowa
Mt. Laurel, NJ
28
Midfielder
Maryland
Mountaintop, PA
32
Midfielder
Princeton
North Wales, PA
11
Defender
Maryland
Wapwallonpen, PA
25
Goalkeeper
North Carolina
Grantville, PA

The USA Women qualified for a World Cup Qualifier with a silver medal performance at the 2009 Pan Am Cup. They met 2008 Olympic bronze medal winners Argentina in the gold medal match at the 2009 Pan American Cup in February, where Argentina edged the Americans in sudden death penalty strokes.

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 www.usafieldhockey.com.
Competition days feature three matches per day.
Additional ticket promotions will be announced soon, including discounts for military personnel.

USFHA media release



Canadian Women's World Cup Qualifier Team San Diego 2010


National Women’s team Head Coach Louis Mendonca announced today the final roster for the Ata Holding World Cup Qualifier 2010 in San Diego, California. The women will play their first game on Friday March 26 against team Belgium. Congratulations to the following athletes who have been selected to represent Team Canada.

Team

1. Baker, Katie................PEI
2. Collison, Katie.............BC
3. Culley, Thea................BC
4. Dowling, Laura............Ont
5. Flexman, Tyla..............BC
6. Gillis, Kate..................Ont
7. Jameson, Stephanie.....BC
8. Kozniuk, Anna.............BC
9. Lee, Ali.......................BC
10. Liu, Azelia.................Ont
11. Nesbitt, Stephanie......BC
12. Pendleton, Robyn.......BC
13. Raye, Abigail.............BC
14. Roemer, Diana..........BC
15. Sandhu, Poonam.......BC
16. Smith, Samantha.......BC
17. Stone, Amanda.........BC
18. Wishart, Kristine.......Ont

Reserves

19. Elmitt, Shannon..........BC
20. Henning, Danielle.......BC
21. Milosevich, Elise.........BC
22. Norris, Paige..............BC
23. Weber, Michelle.........Ont

Staff

24. Louis Mendonca - Head Coach
25. Sheena Scott - Manager
26. Andrea Reid - Physiotherapist
27. Nick Sandhu - Assistant Coach
28. John Desouza - Assistant Coach
29. Cassius Mendonca - Video Technician

Field Hockey Canada media release



Kookaburras the main attraction in Ipoh tourney

KUALA LUMPUR: Newly-crowned World Cup hockey champions Australia will be the main draw card for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament in Ipoh from May 8-16.

The Kookaburras are among the six foreign teams who have confirmed participation. Three other teams are from the just concluded World Cup in New Delhi – South Korea, who finished sixth, India (eighth) and Pakistan (12th). China and Egypt complete the foreign cast.

The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) secretary, Hashim Mohamed Yusof, said that Australia’s success in the World Cup would certainly draw a bigger crowd to the tournament this year.

“We have drawn up the fixtures and they have been ratified by the International Hockey Federation (FIH),” he said. “I am sure the sides from the World Cup will parade some new faces as their seniors may have quit the team. But we still expect top-class action.”

Malaysia begin their campaign against Pakis­tan, who may have to field a new team following the resignation of all their 18 World Cup players after the disappointing 12th-place finish.

After the match against Pakistan, Malaysia will play against South Korea the next day. Their other matches are against Australia (May 9), Egypt (May 10), India (May 12) and China (May 13).

The top two teams from the round-robin competition will play in the final on May 16.

Malaysia made it to the final last year and were beaten 1-3 by India. Malaysia were also losers in two other final appearances – beaten by India in 1985 and by Australia in 2007.

The Star of Malaysia



We have paucity of hockey talent in India: National selector

V Narayan Swamy


NEW DELHI: Do India have to continue with the present line-up? Six players from the 2006 Monchengladbach World Cup figured in the 12th edition here with a few among them not very inclined to make things better after having pushed India to an ignominious 11th position four years ago.

New Delhi 2010 might have seen India climb up three rungs but the performance hasn’t been too encouraging—just one win over Pakistan and a hard-earned draw against South Africa. It has been only defeats beyond that, with three goals in half a jiffy by Argentina brutally exposing India’s frailties in the play-offs.

So, where did India go wrong? In tactics, strategy or in selection of players?

According to a national selector, the fault lies in the selection itself. But then, these ‘errors’ had to be committed because hockey in India does not throw up enough choices these days owing to sheer paucity of talent.

"Otherwise, why would we still persist with the 30-year-old Prabhjot Singh, who is clearly past his prime and did nothing right in this World Cup?’’ the selector said as he dissected India’s pathetic run in the World Cup. "We wanted world class players for this tournament. But what we saw at the selection trials was hardly inspiring.’’

Indictment, in a way, of how the game is being run in the country but the selector said the committee had to settle for the mediocre because that was all the country had. "We knew Deepak Thakur, Prabhjot and a few others were not the best in the world but were the best on view at the trials. We had no reason to believe that Thakur hadn’t recovered fully from an injury he sustained last year. The medical reports stated he was fully fit. Of course, fielding him in a big tournament after he was out for a year was not right,’’ the selector said.

Analysing the performance of the team, he said: "Sandeep is overworked in the defence. He is not fit or flexible enough to take the load. That has had a negative impact on his dragflicks because he has no energy left to work on them. Dhananjay Mahadik and Bharat Chhikara are just not fit for world-level competitions. Perhaps, Diwakar Ram could have been used more.’’

The selector felt Gurbaj Singh, Sardar Singh and Rajpal Singh stood out among the lot as did Shivendra. "Arjun too did his bit but he is getting old. In fact, we have a team which is fast aging. We need to find replacements soon.’’

That brings us to the question: Will the team management bring back those in the core group who were unceremoniously dumped midway through the camp? Prabodh Tirkey (arguably India’s best left half among the present lot) and VS Vinaya can bolster the midfield further. VR Raghunath can give the coach more options in the defence and penalty corners while Roshan Minz and Hari Prasad can add variety to India’s attack along with SV Sunil, who missed the World Cup owing to an injury.

The thinktank can also study the talent pool that chief coach Jose Brasa’s predecessor Joaquim Carvalho had formed or conversely, rely on the junior talent that AK Bansal has honed. A mix and match here may see the Indian team post a rather healthy look.

In any case, Brasa needs to look beyond this set of players to find replacements for those in crucial positions. A visit to national-level tournaments to scout talent will not be a bad idea either. With the Commonwealth Games seven months away, some changes may yield the expected results.

Team India dissected

Defence:

The weakest point in the Indian team. Sandeep Singh is still a slow learner in trapping and passing, too nervous when it comes to trapping under pressure from the opponents. Dhananjay Mahadik has to get his basics right. His trapping and passing leaves a lot to be desired. Thoughtlessness pervades this area. Bharat Chhikara, who also doubles up as a left half, dribbles for no reason and is easy prey for the opposition. This has led to more goals against India from the right flank. Diwakar Ram needs grooming so that he becomes more adroit and nifty as a defender. He has been a bull in a china shop thus far. Retackling still needs to be mastered by these players. As for goalkeepers, it is time Adrian D’Souza got an able ally. PR Sreejesh can wait. It is time to bring back Bharat Chetri.

Midfield:
The best news has been its resilience, having saved India from trouble in the defence. But not to the extent the Aussies, for example, do. Arjun Halappa is imaginative, although given to doing too many things himself. He has a fine sense of tackling and ball retrieval and has adequate athletic skills as he crosses over to the attack zone. But he can limit his overzealousness a bit and allow the forwards to take over. Sardar Singh and Gurbaj Singh also suffer from overdoing the playmaking part but they have made an impact in retackling, leading to quick turnovers. Gurbaj has to curb his reckless streak, particularly when he falls back to help the defence. Tushar Khandker is a natural go-getter and hence should be used more in the frontline. Vikram Pillay has been assigned too many roles. He falls back to defend as well as clears the flanks with his runs at the other end. His tasks can be better focussed in the midfield and defence.

Forwardline:
A set of players who have returned a mixed bag. Overelaboration is their bane. Rajpal Singh still thrills with his runs, control and body dodge, so does Sarwanjit Singh. Deepak Thakur should realise his limitations and bow out. Ditto with Prabhjot Singh, who is a shadow of his nimble self three years ago, when he starred for India in the Asia Cup. Shivendra Singh has shown enough gumption during penetration while Gurvinder Singh Chandi has the nip but looks clueless in the circle. Overall, the players here need to show the same level of fitness throughout. With the accent on a complex bout of passing around the circle, the forwardline needs every bit of energy to carry them through a 70-minute match.

Penalty corners:
India went into the World Cup with three specialists. But none of them made it count. The dragflicks were either anticipated or never came off. Sandeep was at his best against Pakistan. But the others - Mahadik and Diwakar - were listless. There were no variations too despite having focused on them at the Pune camp.

What needs to be done...

Groom fresh talent to form a strong development team. Australia have a development squad as good as their senior team.

Replace some of the dead wood with fresh legs.

Jose Brasa should interact with top coaches in the country and hold more clinics so that a uniform method of coaching is worked out. This will ensure that players chosen for the senior team will not have to go through the basics again.

The Times of India



We’ve had enough. It’s time for change

B Shrikant

India finished eighth in the 12-team FIH Hockey World Cup held here. Coach Jose Brasa is satisfied with the performance and the players are happy. Why? Because this is India's best finish since the 1994 World Cup in Sydney.

But the picture is far from rosy. India managed just one win — against Pakistan, and managed to draw with South Africa. In the other matches, they ended up at the wrong end of the result and if the humiliating defeats to Australia and Spain are put in perspective, surely it is not 'satisfying'.

It's time officials take time off battling each other to take drastic steps to improve the game.

Here's what HT thinks can be done:

Conduct elections ASAP:
For Hockey India to function properly, there has to be an elected body in place as soon as possible. The affiliation issue needs to be solved and decision-making decentralized.

Administrative reforms
Most federations in the world are run by professionals. The Indian system has not worked and power has to shift from honorary administrators to professionals.

Long-term development plans
The focus has to be on the next important tournament. So, target the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. Dedicated people are needed to implement the plan.

Talent spotting and nurturing
The fact we don’t have good replacements for players like Prabhjot Singh, Deepak Thakur, Arjun Halappa and Vikram Pillay proves that our talent-spotting and nurturing process is faulty.

Concentrate on grassroots

The players are taught faulty technique, which is exposed when they make it to the big stage. Changing technique at that level and making them adapt to them is futile. The federation should have foreign experts to train coaches who will work with youngsters.

Focus on the 12-16 age group
The future stars will come from this group but we don’t have proper teams at the sub-junior and junior levels. The players are picked tournament-wise and the best fail to graduate to the next level.

Foreign aid
It is time our former players realise that the Europeans have left us far behind. We should start using their system of training and nurturing youngsters.

Conduct national championships
From the sub-junior to senior level, the national championships are where the selectors can spot talent. But the federation has been lax in hosting the events. There has been no competition for quite a few years.

The last event the federation hosted at the senior level was the Asia Cup in 2007 and Junior Asia Cup in 2008. There has to be a proper calendar with equal number of tournaments.

Transparent selection
Like cricket, there should be paid selectors who are held responsible for their decisions. They should have a tenure and be independent of the federation. They should be assisted by talent spotters every level.

Be patient

Both the federation, government and fans should give the coaches and players time for the changes to take affect. There is no magic wand to bring instant success. It will take own time and sacking players and coaches has to stop.

Hindustan Times



Hockey World Cup an eye-opener for all

NEW DELHI: If anything, the just-concluded men's Hockey World Cup was an eye-opener in more ways than one. For all their hopes and aspirations, India would have realised where they stand in the pecking order and how much more they need to improve to compete with the best.

At the same time, Australia, winners after a 24-year break by dethroning Germany, set new benchmarks in modern hockey.

For Australia, it must have been particularly satisfying to win the top prize following their success at home in the 2009 Champions Trophy. Their coach, Ric Charlesworth now holds an unique record of winning the World Cup as a player (he was the captain of the 1986 Cup squad) and coach in which role he notched a fabulous double.

Under Charlesworth, the Aussie women's team had won the World Cup (1994, '98) and the Olympics (1996, 2000).

Charlesworth, who is an avid Shakespeare fan, got his tactics right in the final with the Aussies excelling in the midfield where the battle was won and lost. Not allowing Germans much room to build up attacks, the Aussies played a brilliant up-and-down game, with their fitness helping them to sustain a hectic pace.

Ultimately, it was more to do with strategy than individual flair that proved decisive and surely, other teams, not the least India, have plenty of catching up to do.

After all, Australia and Germany are not known to sit on their laurels and by the time 2012 Olympics begin, rest assured, the two teams would have something different and better up their sleeves.

Barring Korea, who were trifle unlucky to miss out on the semi-finals, the other two Asian teams, India and Pakistan, huffed and puffed with their outdated style of play. If Pakistan were a team divided and finished last, then India appeared clueless in most matches and it will take a lot to convince the discerning that the hosts indeed have improved.

Moving up from th 9-12 bracket to the eighth place finish is numerically an improvement, but it does not necessarily reflect progress. Poor preparations and avoidable controversies certainly affected India's build-up for the World Cup, but that has always been the case with Indian hockey prior to every major competition. So much so, it has become some sort of a wretched tradition!

Before one talks about tactics and technique, India's fundamental issue was about their players being match fit. At the highest level, fitness is the foundation and the rest flows from there. The Australia-Germany final emphasised this point. Even the Netherlands flagged in the semi-finals against the Aussies, as did England facing Germany in the other knock-out game.

For the Dutch, the bronze medal was small consolation considering the abundant talent they had with the likes of Teun de Nooijer and goalkeeper Guus Vogels leading the pack. In contrast, England reached a plateau and could barely perform against Germany.

In the current scenario, it will take a couple of generations for India to entertain realistic hopes of getting among the top four, much less win the gold medal at the Olympics or the World Cup. The best way out of the mess that Indian hockey is in would be to look at talent at the sub-junior level and chart out an eight-year programme, leading up to the 2016 Olympics. It is pointless to talk about the current crop of players in the 25-30 age group.

Perhaps, India could take a leaf out of Germany who fielded a young side with an eye on the 2012 London Olympics. That they made it to the final was a bonus, but the young players in the team would have gained immensely by the experience and reached their peak two years from now.

In conclusion, the tournament was an eye-opener also for the FIH which needlessly mucked around with Indian hockey on the pretext of helping it restore to its "old glory". FIH would have gawked at the kind of funding available in India. In the end, the economics outweighed all other considerations and for sure, the bosses will be keeping a sharp eye on India, if only for this.

The Times of India



Olympians launch campaign to oust Bajwa

KARACHI: Around 86 former Olympians and internationals on Sunday launched a campaign demanding the sacking of Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary Asif Bajwa, holding him responsible for the national team’s worst ever performance in the World Cup in New Delhi.

“We demand that the President of the federation Qasim Zia immediately sack Bajwa because he held total powers in the federation and team and had taken on dual roles of secretary and chief coach/manager,” former captain Islahuddin Siddique told a press conference.

The conference was attended by number of former Olympians and internationals including Waseem Feroze, Akhtar-ul-Islam, Qamar Ibrahim, Ayaz Mehmood and Qamar Zia while Islahuddin also displayed a document which had signatures of other former greats including Khalid Mehmood, Khawaja Zakauddin, Mansoor Ahmed and Naved Alam.

“When Bajwa enjoys complete power, he must take complete responsibility for the debacle in the World Cup as well. He is responsible for our worst ever performance at the top level,” Islahuddin said.

Akhtar-ul-Islam a former secretary of the federation said that the movement wanted PHF President Qasim Zia to remove Bajwa in three days time.

“If he does not do that, we will launch a countrywide campaign against Bajwa and the federation and also meet with the President and Prime Minister to inform them of what is happening,” he said.

Qamar Ibrahim also lashed out at Bajwa and said, “No matter what the (coach) Shahid Ali Khan says now everyone saw on television who was the chief coach of the team. Bajwa acted as chief coach despite being the manager of the team,” he said.

Ayaz Mehmood, member of the 1984 Los Angles gold medal winning Olympic team, said if the PHF President didn’t sack Bajwa then they would press the government to appoint an ad-hoc committee to run hockey affairs.

“We cannot allow our national game to fall to such depths. We have had bad performances in the past but never like this. There was no team spirit or management visible in the World Cup,” he said.

The Pakistan hockey squad that returned quietly home last evening was booed at the Lahore airport by the people who also chanted slogans against Qasim Zia and Asif Bajwa.

Sources close to the team said that some players were unhappy with the way Bajwa managed the team.

“We didn’t go to the World Cup to listen to abusive language, nor was they any proper plan for us for such a big competition,” one player said without wanting to be named.

The News International



Former hockey stars unite in bid to ‘rescue hockey’

By Shazia Hasan


KARACHI: Eighty-nine former hockey players including Olympians and internationals, seething with rage and disgust, have banded together on one platform to rescue the sport from those conspiring to destroy it.

“Bajwa Bhagao, Hockey Bachao” was the slogan on all lips when 89 heroes of the game came out to express their revulsion and sorrow over Pakistan hockey’s demise, with the aggrieved nation.

“We give Pakistan Hockey Federation [PHF] President Qasim Zia a three-day ultimatum to remove the culprit behind the game’s massacre — his secretary Asif Bajwa,” they announced.

“Otherwise, we will organise into a proper pressure group and meet with the game’s Patron-in-Chief Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and even the President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari. We will do whatever it takes to rescue hockey,” they warned.

“Bajwa says that they would like to forget what happened in the World Cup and look ahead at the future. Well, we too want to look ahead but he is in the way. Get him out of the way, he is blocking our view,” lamented Pakistan’s most successful captain Olympian Islahuddin Siddiqui.

“We are letting Qasim Zia off the hook for now as he has been doing his job of generating funds for the federation. That is after all what is expected of the PHF president. But his secretary Bajwa has been giving him wrong feedback,” said the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics gold medallist Ayaz Mahmood.

Islah added: “But we will hold Qasim Zia responsible as well if he doesn’t take any step now. He should listen to us, 89 hockey stars assembled to save our national sport from dying an untimely death, if he wants to get the full picture of what really is going on in Pakistan hockey today.

“Poor Shahid Ali Khan didn’t want to say anything after the team’s return from India but he took Bajwa’s side as he must have been briefed to do so. Frankly, you cannot expect any of PHF’s paid employees to say anything against their bosses,” pointed out Islah who was speaking on the basis of facts and figures.

“Tahir Zaman and Shahbaz Senior are big players to part ways with the federation. Shahid had no business criticizing them for what they did,” he said.

“And can someone please tell me if goalkeeper Nasir Ahmed was simply taken on a picnic? Why wasn’t he brought in after Salman Akbar failed to stop as many as 19 goals? We didn’t expect this of Shahid Ali Khan, who has also been a great goalkeeper of his time besides being a former goalkeeping coach,” Islah said.

Another person accused of switching teams to side with the former legends in their cause was Waseem Feroz. “I have always sided with hockey and the green shirts, not Bajwa,” he said while clarifying his position.

“Bajwa may be young or dynamic but that doesn’t mean that he be allowed to dance on his seniors’ heads,” he added.

Meanwhile, another Olympian and former coach Qamar Ibrahim stated: “The junior boys trust me as I have worked with them in the capacity of coach. I don’t want to disclose names here but some of them after returning told me that they never announced their retirement. They reasoned they had their entire career ahead of them, why would they want to retire? Perhaps this, too, was one of Bajwa’s schemes of saving face by transferring the blame from himself to the boys.

“I was also shocked to hear former captain Akhtar Rasool utter that such things happen. Perhaps that is why the PHF has no legend on its side other than him,” said ex-Olympian goalkeeper Qamar Zia.

“We have proudly raised the Pakistan flag all over the world. There was a time when Pakistan had each and every hockey title to its name. We were world champions, Olympic champions. We created and won the Champions Trophy, too. But where are we now?

“Imagine how we feel looking at the current situation. We have a right to be angry when we see a team ranked at number seven in the world coming 12th. The FIH had earlier suggested holding a 16-team World Cup in order to save some teams, including Pakistan, from playing in the qualifiers. If that happened, we would have come 16th out of the 16 playing teams, too,” he said with disgust.

“The reasons behind Pakistan performing so poorly in the World Cup when the boys were capable of doing much better need to be investigated,” he added.

“We are not getting personal by attacking Bajwa alone here,” said former federation secretary Olympian Akhtar-ul-Islam. “We just see failure as the responsibility of the PHF secretary.”

“We have the best interests of the sport at heart. We have not come out looking for seats within the federation here but we are available for our country whenever the need arises,” Islah clarified.

“We think it was brave of Qasim Zia to dissolve the team management and selection committee but we wonder what is keeping him from making the most obvious and important decisions of all, which is getting rid of his secretary, the root of all problems here.

“Bajwa came through the backdoor when Olympian Khalid Mahmood, who happened to have captained the Pakistan team, which won the first World Cup, was removed through one letter. He may have come through selection or election, it does not matter. He has just been unable to do anything positive for hockey during this entire time.

“Pakistan is a great country and hockey, a great sport. Please don’t belittle it by playing games within the game of hockey,” Islah concluded.

The 89 players also included Samiullah, Kaleemullah, Hanif Khan, Shahnaz Sheikh, Naveed Alam, Rashid-ul-Hassan, Mohammad Saqlain, Tariq Aziz, Saleem Sherwani, Jahangir Butt and Arif Bhopali while those who couldn’t attend the meeting were available on the phone lines.

Dawn



Hockey team returns sans captain

By Mohammad Yaqoob


LAHORE: While the manager of the Pakistan hockey team, which earned the worst-ever 12th position in the World Cup, says that he does not know how to defend the boys’ poor show, the chief coach has asked for an apology from the nation.

Talking to reporters at the Lahore airport soon after the team’s arrival from New Delhi, India, Manager Asif Bajwa and Chief Coach Shahid Ali Khan failed to provide any reason for the debacle.

“Yes it is our worst-ever defeat, which none of us can really defend. I will talk to PHF President Qasim Zia after which he can do whatever he wants to do with me,” said Asif Bajwa.

Keeping in view the team’s performance during the past one year, Bajwa as well as the other team officials had remained optimistic for Pakistans better results in the mega event. Pakistan earned the right to feature in the World Cup after winning the qualifiers. The past year also saw the team reaching the finals of the Asia Cup and the Champions Trophy.

But everyone was surprised when they even lost to lowly-ranked India, South Africa and even Canada in the World Cup to end up at the bottom.

“It is a difficult time for hockey but strong nations always pull through such situations. We should all work together to lift the team’s morale at this crunch time,” he said.

Meanwhile Coach Shahid Ali Khan said: “I want to apologise to the entire nation for not being able to measure up to their expectations.

“I will not show any hesitation in accepting responsibility for the defeat. Just like we have been taking credit of the team’s good show in the past, we have to accept our failure, too,” he added.

Shahid dispelled the impression that Asif Bajwa, who is also the PHF secretary, had been taking unilateral decisions.

“We made all decisions after consulting each other and it will be wrong to say that Bajwa has been enjoying an upper hand,” the coach said.

He said former Olympians like Islahuddin Siddiqi, Khalid Mahmood and other seniors were only criticising the team management to get some place in the federation for themselves. He said that they had been working with the PHF for the last 30 years and wanted to be a part of it again.

Soon after the national team lost the last match to Canada to finish 12th in the mega event, the PHF president dissolved the entire team management and the selection committee, headed by Hasan Sardar.

Shahid, who is no longer the team’s coach, said that the PHF had provided every facility to the players, which included offering them central contracts. He advised the former players not to hatch any conspiracy against the federation. Criticising Olympian Shahbaz Senior, he said that the former Olympian wasted no time in leaving the PHF in this difficult time even after enjoying various benefits from its current management.

“Shahbaz is working on an agenda to bring in Tahir Zaman as the next coach,” he pointed out.

Shahid said that he would be handing over his report to the PHF in the next couple of days. The players’ decision of retiring, he said, was something which they did on their own.

Meanwhile, Rehan Butt, a key player, said that all the players decided to retire as they felt bad about performing so badly. Captain Zeeshan Ashraf did not accompany the team, which flew back home instead of returning via the Wagah Border, the route through which they had left for New Delhi.

A demonstration was also held at the airport against the national team’s poor performance. The people demanded the immediate removal of all the PHF officials.

Dawn



Black Sticks forced to make some tough calls

By Terry Maddaford


Shortcomings in the national men's hockey team were painfully exposed at times during this World Cup.

Like those charged with gearing this teeming metropolis to the required standard to host a Commonwealth Games, Black Sticks coach Shane McLeod faces a very similar challenge.

After falling well short of the top four or top six target they had set themselves here, the squad as a whole must quickly regroup or find themselves in a similar battle to meet their "a medal at least" aim for October's Commonwealth Games.

Of the Commonwealth countries, Australia, England and hosts India all finished ahead of New Zealand. If Games' medals had been at stake they would have missed out.

And, as South Africa showed in taking the Black Sticks all the way to a nail-biting penalty stroke decider, they will be no easy-beats.

Behind in a flash and forced to play catch-up, New Zealand eventually took the lead, blew it and needed a desperate last-second penalty corner conversion to take the 9th-10th play-off to extra time and a shootout which, again, they had to come from behind to win.

The Commonwealth Games will be more of the same with Australia a short-priced favourite and England just as likely to claim silver.

Then there is a wounded Pakistan who will journey across the border with a new-look team and management as they set out on the biggest salvage job in world hockey.

The scrap for Commonwealth Games bronze promises plenty. If New Zealand are to be in that contest, McLeod now knows what lies ahead.

At anything but full strength this team struggles. Without four key players - Simon Child, Phil Burrows (for all but the first two games), Hayden and Brad Shaw - the Black Sticks were without a quarter of their expected starting line-up. As the rest showed there is a huge gap between the best and the rest.

McLeod said he was prepared to make the hard calls. He will need to.

With July's four-nations tournament in Nottingham - at the same time as the women's Champions Trophy - and the men's Champions Trophy in Germany soon after (July 31-August 8), McLeod must prepare accordingly.

"South Africa had a real desire to scrap all the way with their hustle and bustle style," said McLeod.

"They showed us up. We have set high standards. But we fell short of them out there.

"Some players did not perform. We need to freshen up our squad [bring in new players]. It would be a crime if we didn't do that. The process, in that regard, has already started. I have to be prepared to make the hard calls - and I will."

In looking back, McLeod will feel his senior players, Ryan Archibald, Blair Hopping, Dean Couzins, Shea McAleese, Burrows and goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex met expectations.

Young striker Nick Wilson too showed out as he took responsibility to lead the forward line in Burrows and Childs' absence. He might be struggling to add many more names to this list.

"We will name a new squad in the next couple of weeks," said McLeod.

* Australia made up for the disappointment of losing the last two finals to Germany when they claimed a deserved gold medal with a 2-1 win.

The Netherlands scored first and last and bounced back from 1-3 at one stage to beat England 4-3 for bronze. And the Black Sticks did not leave empty-handed after winning the Fair Play Award.

The New Zealand Herald



Argentina team in Goa on a holiday

PANAJI: The Argentinean hockey players tucked away their sticks and flew down to Goa from New Delhi after finishing seventh in the World Cup. The South Americans arrived in the state on Monday afternoon to soak up the sun here. Pablo Lombi, coach of the side, said the team was on a holiday.

"It’s our first trip to Goa and we were advised to come here by Clarence Lobo (coach of the junior India team)," he said.

Goa gave the Argentineans a good option given the two-day wait for their flight out of India.

Pablo was glad to know that Goa has a strong football culture with the IPL champions Churchill Bros being based here.

"Many of our players love to play football but they don’t play it too well," he said in a lighter vein.

The Times of India



Padmore keeps Magnolias in check

Nigel Simon



Maritime Harvard Checkers’ Candace St Rose right, and Arielle Du Quesnay of Carib Magnolias battle for the ball in their T&T Hockey Board Women’s Championship match at the National Hockey Centre, Tacarigua on Saturday night. Checkers won 2-1. Photo: Anthony Harris.

National defender, Patrice Padmore scored with a seconds left on the clock as Maritime Harvard Checkers ended the 100 per cent winning record of Carib Magnolias in the T&T Hockey Board Women’s Championship Division on Saturday night. Magnolias looked on course for a fifth straight win when Stacey Siu Butt found a way past Checkers goalkeeper, Petal Derry midway through the first-half at the National Hockey Centre, Tacarigua. However, just before the half-time whistle, national captain, Patricia Borneo drew Checkers level.

The second-half was a very tense affair with Derry coming up trumps on several occasions to keep out Magnolias and just when it seemed both clubs would settle for a draw, Padmore beat goalkeeper Jenna Lee Kim from close range for the winner. Despite the loss, its first in five matches, Magnolias remained top of the table with 12 points, two ahead of Checkers while Stag Malvern has seven points from three matches. Next are Ventures and Notre Dame, both with five points, but from four and five matches respectively.

Over at the Dwight Yorke Stadium, Training Field, Bacolet, the Dames needed two goals from national midfielder, Blair Wynn to earn a draw with Paradise which also got a double from Maurisa Mc Nicholson while Ventures battled to a 0-0 draw with Paragon on Friday at Tacarigua. In the lone Men’s Championship Division encounter on Saturday, Chad Pedro’s 19th minute field goal was enough to secure all three points for visiting Notre Dame against Paradise at Bacolet.

Results

Friday
Championship Women

Ventures 0 vs Paradise 0.

Veterans

QPCC 7 (Robert Mouttet 3, Gary Griffith 2, Raphael Govia, Rondl Murray) vs Paragon 1 (Sherbert Mc Kie).

Saturday
Championship Men

Notre Dame 1 (Chad Pedro 18th) vs Paradise 0.

Championship Women

Checkers 2 (Patricia Borneo, Patrice Padmore) vs Magnolias 1 (Stacey Siuy Butt).
Notre Dame 2 (Blair Wynn 15th, 56th) vs Paradise 2 (Maurisa Mc Nicholson 5th, 42nd).

Boys’ Under-19
Notre Dame 5 (Aidan De Gannes 10th, 69th, Dillon Mason 21st, 32nd, Darnil Trancuso 42nd) vs Paradise 0.

Girls’ Under-19
Notre Dame 0 vs Paradise 0

Trinity Women
Petrotrin 3 (Dara Ransome 3) vs Ventures 1 (Cherill Franco).

Trinity Men
Carib 3 vs Petrotrin 0

The Trinidad Guardian



Tit bits

Moulin Parikh


Tit bits from the World Cup finals

Huge crowd

As expected the finals between Australia and Germany was an eagerly anticipated contest. There were huge queues outside the stadium with divided support for both teams. Inside the stands the cheerful crowd painted a colorful picture. It was a delight to see Indian women’s hockey team seating in the stands and trying to absorb as much as they can by watching the two champion teams. It is a good move by the authorities considering the step motherly treatment meted out to the women’s team in the past despite them performing much better than their male counterpart.

Argentina roots for Australia

Few players of the Argentina team too made it a point to watch the finals. The boys from Latin America had turned up to support Australia. The reason for that is not too difficult to understand. Argentina had lot 3-2 to Germany in their Group A match and it severely affected their chances of finishing in top three. Once Australia took lead courtesy Luke Doerner's drag flick off a penalty corner, the Argentineans celebrated in their own quiet way.

Fans can’t get enough of National Stadium

It was heartening to see Delhi crowd giving a standing ovation to both the champions, Australia and Germany, who fought equally well. It is imperative that top class display of hockey is appreciated and the crowd too deserves to be congratulated, for they played their role to perfection. It was largely perceived that Indian fans only showed up for home team’s matches, but that notion was changed on Saturday with the large turnout. Both teams were egged on and it showed in their performance. The fans waited patiently even after the closing ceremony and only left the stadium once the Delhi cops took charge of the matter. Surely, the National Stadium is one venue; you want to keep visiting time and again.

Titbits from past days

Overseas fans miffed at poor hospitality


When Major Dhayn Chand stadium became the first venue of the Commonwealth games to be unveiled; the sporting world received a masterpiece. There is absolutely no doubt that India now has one of the best hockey stadiums in the world with top class facilities. The fans filled the stadium on the opening day as the World Cup kicked off signaling a positive sign. However, just three days into the event, and the shoddy work by the organizers coupled with heightened security measures, are ruining the pleasure of die hard fans who have traveled miles to be in Delhi.

Musical chairs

Procuring tickets still remain a mystery and the online facility is proving to be a big headache for the spectators. Moreover, the VIP ticket holders, who shelled out 1000 rupees for the ‘Heritage seats’ got a rude shock when they were asked to get up from the designated ‘VIP boxes’ to accommodate VVIPs and due to ‘security reasons,’ on the advice of the Delhi Police. The VIP ticket holders have been shifted to the opposite end and, now, allotted seats in the same bay, meant for tickets priced for Rs.500. Most of the fans who have bought tickets amounting to 1000 rs are overseas fans and are clearly miffed with the organizers. “We have come all the way from England to watch the World Cup and bought premium tickets for better facilities. We were asked to vacate the area meant for tickets worth 1000 despite having valid tickets,” says Jazzman, a member of the Indian Gymkhana group flashing his ticket. The Indian Gymkhana is bunch of 30 enthusiasts, who travel world over to catch major sporting actions. The group boasts of a local team in England and has been represented by the likes Dhanraj Pillay, Jude Felix in the past. A closer look at the ticket reveals that Gate number two, the entry gate was changed to three using a pen. “We have no extra facility and paying extra for no particular reason. This is highly unfair,” fumes another member. “We have traveled for six Olympic Games, the previous World Cup in Germany, the cricket World Cups but never seen such a shoddy management.” When this reporter tried contacting the ticket supervisor of Gate 2, he covered his card and refused to explain about the lack of facilities, clearly setting a poor example in front of his junior volunteers who had gathered.

Dusty seats

Often small issues, if handled well can enhance one’s experience of watching hockey and make it a joyous event. The bucket seats provide a relaxed viewing experience and not many Indian grounds have this facility. The National stadium has comfortable seats but absolutely no cleaning, has angered fans. With construction work in full swing in many parts of Delhi, most seats are covered with layers of dust. “They have thousand volunteers but no one cleans it. We have to find our own ways to clean seats and that too after paying high amounts; this is least you can expect from the organizers,” say fans jointly. The stench inside the washroom can make you sick and the organizers, who were on inspection, cleverly avoided the area.

Lose money as you enter, return early to leave richer

The security measures that are in place are an exercise in patience. No Indian sporting event till now has barred spectators from carrying money. Yes you’ve read it correctly; carrying coins inside the stadium is not allowed. Right at the screening counter, a small box is kept where each one has to literally empty his pockets. There is no record of the amount of coins deposited and you are free to pick as many as you like when you leave, albeit if available. “This is completely ridiculous, one cannot give an explanation for such a stupid decision, says Shirish Gupta who incidentally happens to work in a bank. “I had three new coins and had to ‘gift’ them. I was told to collect it while returning, but not a single coin was to be seen,’ he explains and demands to know, who takes it. The cops on duty only smile when asked for this ‘out of the box’ measure and reply wittingly. “You can keep it, if it is your lucky coin.”

Stick2Hockey.com



From Mumbai to Delhi, veteran fan makes it two in two

Moulin Parikh


L.Mathias of Hyderabad drew suspicion from policemen with his frequent trips around the Major Dhyan Chand stadium. He stood at every small gate from three to five, gazing at the newly structured walls with wide eyes, even as thousands around him moved frantically to reach in time and grab their seats for India’s classification match against Argentina. He seemed to be in no hurry and threw a bewildered look.

“The last time I was here, I could see action from a distance, but now it has been replaced by these magnificent walls overlooking the hallowed playing area,” he says admiring the architecture. He is referring to his last visit, which was nearly three decades ago, when India were thrashed by Pakistan 1-7 in the finals of Asia Cup. The gaze quickly gives way to glow as he goes about sharing stories of ‘the best days of his life.’ “India Gandhi (India’s PM in early 80s) was adamant and wanted to host Asian Games at all cost. The response was dull initially but it picked up and reached a stage where people were ready to pay any amount to watch India play. I was lucky to get a ticket for 10 rupees.”

World Cup almost like a pilgrimage However, the ticket that he is most proud to posses is the one that has let him entered the National Stadium to renew the golden days all over again. “I set off from Hyderabad, my hometown, without much planning. I did not know that procuring a ticket in Delhi will take me same amount of time, it took me to reach here,” he says with a chuckle. “Bhaiya mein to budha ho chukka hoon, internet ka mayajal kahan se samoonga, (I am too old to understand the online booking process).He got some aid from his tech savvy friends, who booked online tickets for him, but it did not meet success. It led him to a small sight-seeing trip around to Delhi which included visits bank branches that sold tickets and coffee joints.” The bank staff did not have tickets, so I asked for coffee outlets as they too provide tickets. The staff could not understand and instead offered coffee, may be because of my age,” says the 70-year old. The hard work paid off at the Café Coffee day outlet and it was an overwhelming moment.” I was so happy after getting the ticket that I missed the glass door and banged straight into it. Some young boys came running to help me but I was never hurt!” he says proudly about the pain that was dissolved in joy.

The die-hard fan from Hyderabad was even present for the first hockey World Cup that India hosted back in 1982. “There was a great danger of tickets being stolen as the crowd interest was tremendous. My friend in Mumbai had bought tickets and kept it with him,” he says, reminiscing about the time when hockey was still popular. “We wanted to see the opening ceremony but a sudden strike and I was left stranded at the Grant road station. I somehow managed to reach but my friend was already inside the stadium and after lot of cajoling, I could convince the cops and made it just when the ceremony was about to start, sitting alongside my pal,” giving us an example when cops were more considerate and less suspicious.

He is saddened with over the top security arrangement in place for the ongoing World Cup. “I was looking for some photographs of the tournament but guess the only way it can be done is through a mobile phone with camera facility. The security system that is in place here, rob you of the excitement.”

The excitement may have dipped but it has not hindered his enthusiasm. He signs off by asking whether the tickets for the Commonwealth Games be available at the venue too apart from the online system. It is clear that his next visit to Delhi will be in October. The game needs such pure admirers.

Stick2Hockey.com