News for 27 March 2010

All the news for Saturday 27 March 2010

 


All times local GMT -7

Day 1 - Friday 26-03-2010 10:00 Belgium 2 : 0 Canada
Day 1 - Friday 26-03-2010 12:15 Korea 4 : 0 France
Day 1 - Friday 26-03-2010 14:30 USA 7 : 0 Mexico

Tables

Rank Teams Played Wins Draw Lost GF - GA GD Points
1 USA 1 1 0 0 7 - 0 7 3
2 Korea 1 1 0 0 4 - 0 4 3
3 Belgium 1 1 0 0 2 - 0 2 3
4 Canada 1 0 0 1 0 - 2 -2 0
5 France 1 0 0 1 0 - 4 -4 0
6 Mexico 1 0 0 1 0 - 7 -7 0

 



Three shutouts on Day 1 of the ATAHolding Women’s Hockey World Cup Qualifier

Three shutouts occurred on Day 1 of the ATAHolding World Cup Qualifier. The day began in sunny San Diego with the most evenly played match between Belgium and Canada. With Canada’s defense able to fend off Belgian’s attack, the match was scorless until the 52nd minute off an Anouk Raes field goal. Soon after, Belgium’s Jill Boon added another goal. Belgium’s 2-0 lead over Canada late in the second half was good enough for the win.

In the second match of the day, a relentless France squad met the apparently jetlagged Koreans. Yet, fatigue did not seem to be a factor for Korea as they took a 3-0 lead over France at the half. France’s defense held strong, however, in the second half, holding Korea to only one goal. With France unable to convert any scoring opportunities of their own, Korea came away with the 4-0 shutout behind keeper Soo Ji Jang.

Host USA squared off against Mexico for the final match on Day 1. In what ended up being the most lopsided match of the day, the USA jumped out to a quick start going ahead in the third minute off a field goal by Captain Carrie Lingo. Despite the staunch goaltending of Mexico’s Captain Jesús Aide Castillo Marin, the USA went into halftime up 3-0 over Mexico. The second half of this match was much like the first, with USA strong on the attack and a quick score at the start of the half, as Rachel Dawson scored off a penalty corner in the 40th minute. Mexico’s defense stifled the rest of USA’s penalty corners in the second half; but the United States held on for a 7-0 win in which seven different players scored.

ATA Holding World Cup Qualifier Women 2010 San Diego
Results Centre
Friday 26 March
10:00 BEL : CAN 2:0 (0:0)
12:15 KOR : FRA 4:0 (3:0)
14:30 USA : MEX 7:0 (3:0)

WorldHockey



USA Defeats Mexico to Open Competition

CHULA VISTA, CA - The USA Field Hockey Women's National Team defeated Mexico today, 7-0, to open competition at the AtaHolding Women's World Cup Qualifier at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA. The winner of the Qualifier receives a berth in the Women's World Cup in Rosario, Argentina this September.

The USA put on a dominant offensive performance, as seven different players scoring for the Americans. The result puts the USA at the top of the tournament standings after one day of competition.

"We're happy to get the win," said Head Coach Lee Bodimeade. "We didn't get much opportunity to see Mexico before the tournament, but obviously we're pleased with the result."

"We wanted to get out and put an impression on Mexico," said team captain Carrie Lingo. "We were very excited to finally get the tournament started and every stepped up."

Lingo set the pace for the USA, with a field goal in the third minute. Katie Evans followed with a goal in the 11th, and Michelle Kasold snatched a misplayed ball from Mexican goalkeeper Jesus Castillo Marin for a gal in the 15th minute.

"Right now, we're focusing on handling the ball," said Bodimeade. "We're looking at finishing on the front end and defending at the back end."

Rachel Dawson opened the scoring in the second half with a penalty corner rebound. Caroline Nichols buried a penalty stroke in the 54th, and Sara Silvetti and Katie O'Donnell each added a goal to complete the scoring for the USA. 

"We had a nice rotation of players," said Bodimeade. When nine penalty corners awarded to the USA resulted in only one goal, Bodimeade smiled and said, "It sounds like there were some missed opportunities for some players to have two goals."

Mexico had few attacking opportunities and U.S. goalkeeper Amy Tran saw limited action in the backfield. For her part, Mexican goalkeeper Marin made several great saves to limit the USA goals to single digits.

The USA will face France tomorrow, Saturday, March 27 at 2:45pm Pacific. France lost to Korea earlier today, 4-0.

USFHA media release



KL worry for Johor

By Jugjet Singh


JOHOR are frank enough to admit that they do not have the players to stop Kuala Lumpur's charge in Division One of the Razak Cup at the Kuantan Stadium today.

Both teams clashed for the bronze medal last year, with Johor coming out battered and bruised in their 6-3 defeat.

"We have some good players in our team, but fitness is not on our side as we did not have enough time to train for this tournament," said Johor team manager Sarjit Singh.

Johor have two penalty corner flickers in their outfit, but both of them, according to Sarjit, are a little rusty.

"Baljit (Singh) and Nor Hafiq (Gaffar) have yet to get their act together after two matches, while KL's Amin Rahim is in top form.

"I believe KL will go the distance this year, as they have a good penalty corner flicker in Amin," said Sarjit.

Johor, despite being a hastily assembled team, feel they are good enough to play for the bronze again.

"So far, the best teams are KL and Perak, who I predict will play in the final. As for Johor, we aim to play in the bronze play-off," said Sarjit.

RESULTS -- Division Two Group A: Sabah 2 Kelantan 3, Singapore 3 Kedah 0; Group B: Selangor 3 Perlis 1.

TODAY -- Division One: Kuala Lumpur v Johor (3pm), Armed Forces v Penang (5pm), Malacca v Perak (7pm); Division Two: Terengganu v Pahang (3pm), Selangor v Brunei (5pm).

(Matches at Kuantan Stadium Pitch I and II. of the Kuantan Stadium).

New Straits Times



Women ready to face boys

THE Malaysian women's hockey team returned from their seven-match tour of New Zealand on a high, and are now confident enough to challenge the boys in the Junior Hockey League (JHL).

The women are preparing for the World Cup Qualifier in Santiago, Chile where they will be up against the hosts, Australia, Ireland and Scotland for the single ticket to the World Cup in Rosario, Argentina on Aug 29-Sept 11.

During their New Zealand tour, Malaysia played four matches against that country's national team which they lost 2-0, 2-1, 2-0 and 4-0, and in three matches against their development team, they won 3-0, 3-0 and 4-3.

"We received confirmation from the FIH (International Hockey Federation) that the tournament will be held in Chile, even though the country was recently hit by a massive earthquake," said MWHF secretary S. Shamala.

"And during the New Zealand tour, which was the first time NZ agreed to host the Malaysian women, the girls learnt much from the team who had beaten Australia for direct entry into the World Cup.

"The matches were intense with a lot of body contact and robust play which gave us the opportunity to evaluate our attacking and defending strategies."

And now, the girls are ready to challenge the boys in the JHL.

"We are grateful to the MHF (Malaysian Hockey Federation) for allowing the women to compete in the JHL. We have submitted our training programme and the MHF will prepare a schedule to accommodate us," said Shamala.

To date, 16 teams have confirmed for the JHL which starts on April 9.

New Straits Times



Club Aman to defend title

THE fifth edition of the Datuk Dr S.S Cheema veterans hockey tournament will be held at Club Aman in Kuala Lumpur today.

Eight teams have confirmed participation for the tournament, which is for players aged 40 and above.

Club Aman are the defending champions while others in the fray are Ipoh Lads, Mugs, Talisman, Thirty-Fifty Ipoh, Penang Sports Club, Air Force Veterans and Negri Sembilan Sikh Union.

New Straits Times



JBHA looking for participants

THE Johor Baru HA is calling for entries for its Closed League tournament which is scheduled to start in the first week of April.

The league matches will be played during weekends at the MBJB Hockey Stadium in Jalan Tebrau and in Taman Daya.

So far, nine teams have confirmed their entries -- JB Harimau, Johor Police, Johor Sikhs Sports Club, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Maktab Sultan Abu Bakar, Combined Banks, JB Teachers, SK Taman Perling and SK Pasir Gudang.

Entries close on Wednesday and teams interested in competing should contact secretary Harbhajan Singh at 07-2211377/07-2219377 or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

New Straits Times



Rest seniors for Azlan: Harendra Singh

BANGALORE: National coach Harendra Singh feels India ought to rest the seniors for the Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament, to be held in Ipoh, Malaysia from May 6 to 16.

"This would be our first exposure tournament after the World Cup. I would prefer a squad comprising players from the development squad and those who did not figure in the recent World Cup. This will help us broaden our pool of players. And, those who do well at the Azlan Shah should be rewarded with berths in the national team," Harendra told TOI.

Harendra argued that Australia, who are one of the participants in this year's tournament, were sending their development team, with just a smattering of the seniors, including Grant Schubert, Kieran Govers and Kiel Brown — who took part in the World Cup.

Australia coach Ric Charlesworth too was quoted as saying that he had deliberately chosen a young squad for the tournament as it would help in exposing the Kookaburras to quality teams and add to the depth of the squad.

"I feel Australia have already dropped a hint about the things to come. If my guess is right, they may not field their best players at the Commonwealth Games too," Harendra said.

The camp for the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament may begin in the latter half of April. "We will decide after chief coach Jose Brasa returns to India in the first week of April after his vacation," Harendra said. "A decision on the team composition — whether it will be the seniors or the development team — will also be made then." The other teams in the tournament include Korea, China, Pakistan, Malaysia, Egypt.

The Times of India



SAIL beat MP Academy 2-3 in Obaidullah Khan Gold Cup

BHOPAL: Hosts Madhya Pradesh Academy went down 2-3 to Steel Authority of India (SAIL) in the All-India Obaidullah Khan Gold Cup hockey tournament at the Aish Bagh Stadium.

SAIL surged ahead in the 15th minute when their captain Amardeep struck a field goal but MP Academy got the equaliser through skipper Shailendra Bundela, who scored off a penalty corner in the 38th minute.

SAIL went ahead again in the 46th minute through a field goal by Sunil Topno but MP Academy equalised again in the 64th minute, when Bundela converted a penalty corner for his second goal.

But in the next minute, Topno scored again for SAIL to round off the tally.

The Times of India



Pakistan may play series in Spain

KARACHI: Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has received an invitation from their Spanish counterparts to play a hockey series in Spain from July 9-16.

“The Spainish Hockey Federation has invited us to play a hockey series in July. They have given us a choice either to play a series against them or play a triangular tournament in which France would also be involved,” a reliable source said on Friday.

He said that the final decision of featuring in the event would be taken by the new executive board, which would meet within a week. “Most probably the board would decide in favour of featuring in the tournament as this would be very helpful for the players,” he added.

He further said that Pakistan would be having an edge over Beijing Olympics silver medalist Spain as they have beaten Spain in the World Cup pool match recently. Although Pakistan defeated Spain in the pool match of the World Cup held in Delhi, India, Spain clinched the fifth spot whereas Pakistan ended on 12th spot.

The News International



Former Olympians hockey crusade!

By Zakir Hussain Syed


As soon as the Hockey World Cup in New Delhi concluded and Pakistan emerged as the last team in the event, a group of former Olympians held a blazing press conference in Karachi to launch ‘Save hockey’ campaign.

There were six hockey stalwarts in the forefront of this campaign. For a moment let us accept the heartfelt anguish of this group over the dismal state of Pakistan hockey and their genuine concern for its improvement but then one also needs to look at ground realities. Islahuddin Siddiqui, a great Pakistan player, was the coach of Pakistan hockey team for umpteen years. The Pakistan squad that he managed in Sydney Olympics, unlike the present team, was a potential gold medal winning combination but mainly because of Islah’s poor coaching strategy, Pakistan could not finish amongst the first three. Everybody knows the blunders that he committed. It was the starting point of Pakistan’s downhill slide from which we have not recovered. However, let us forget this limitation for the moment. Islah was a very prominent member of the PHF executive board and Qasim Zia frequently consulted him. He is thus as much a party to this failure as anybody else because all the key decisions including appointment of Mohammad Asif Bajwa as team manager were taken with his consent and approval. He should have been the first one to resign to show his mettle but he immediately shifted sides and now pretends to be the biggest well-wisher of Pakistan hockey. Akhtarul Islam was an ordinary player. May one ask what contribution did he make to give Pakistan hockey a strong base when he was in a position to do so as PHF secretary? So much for his concern. Let us not discuss Mohammad Shafiq because everybody knows his background and credentials. Former center-half Ayaz Mahmood has returned after a long posting in Moscow and is not even fully familiar with national hockey scene. He has been a former coach of Pakistan team. How many titles did he win for Pakistan through this key office! Out of this entire lot, only Samiullah had been rational throughout. He had been frequently advising the PHF to downplay the minor successes and he was the only expert who said that even if Pakistan finished sixth or seventh in this World Cup, it would be creditable.

I have been literally shocked by the venomous outburst of Shahbaz Senior against Asif Bajwa. There could have been personal reasons for this personal attack that I am not aware of but it was most unbecoming of a player of his calibre and class. Again he was on the PHF executive board and a definite party to all the decisions including Asif Bajwa’s appointment. Why did he not object to his appointment then? Why did he wait so long? I clearly remember that when the Pakistan Sports Journalists forum organised a workshop in Islamabad, he was one of the expert speakers on hockey. While I criticised the performance of Pakistan team, he was all praise for the efforts of the PHF and performance of the team. He obviously has a short memory and for some odd reason has indulged in personal score settling. He also said that he was offered the post of national coach but he could not accept this position because of his family commitments. However, his personal vendetta against Asif Bajwa is beyond comprehension.

Shahnaz Sheikh, another great player of his time, is the eternal advisor of PHF whether they like it or not. He always sends his recommendations for betterment of Pakistan hockey and so it is no different this time. And what results did he achieve as coach of Pakistan team during the World Cup in Germany. When Qasim took over as PHF president, he had two main responsibilities. First to secure funds for cash-starved PHF, which he did, and for the first time in our history, hockey players are being paid decent amounts like cricketers. He has also secured a commitment from the Prime Minister for permanent jobs for hockey players and the federal sports ministry is now in a process of getting this decision implemented. His second major responsibility was to streamline national competitive structure from grassroots to national level. This is being done. Asif Bajwa has strictly followed the commands of the executive board and has made a positive contribution towards developing an effective nursery base and involving various tiers of government hierarchy in the provinces to coordinate hockey. Perhaps Asif Bajwa’s biggest fault has been the unwanted extra load that he has been carrying in the PHF. While with people around him, on basis of political influence, are trying to pull him down. Admittedly, Asif Bajwa took on too much too quickly but does it mean that he should be sacrificed at the alter of egos of selfish players who invariably side with success and are the first ones to leave when the boat is sinking. Asif Bajwa should be given a chance like all others and then let time prove his suitability or otherwise for national responsibility. In the meantime let all these former players give their suggestions to the PHF president for betterment of Pakistan hockey. Such an act alone will bring credibility to their public concern for our national sport. They should all help to develop a scientific system and that is what Pakistan hockey needs most at this critical juncture.

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

The Daily Times



Islah looks at minister to salvage hockey

By Shazia Hasan


KARACHI: Hockey legend Islahuddin Siddiqui has said that the Olympians will continue with their campaign to root out the biggest cause of the recent World Cup debacle —Asif Bajwa.

Speaking to Dawn on Friday, the most successful captain of the Pakistan hockey team ever said that they were only awaiting some action from Minister for Sports Mir Aijaz Hussain Khan Jakhrani.

“It has been a week since Jakhrani Sahib had come down to Karachi to specially meet with us and hear our grievances regarding what has been going on within the Pakistan Hockey Federation [PHF] that has hurt the game so badly that a team having the potential to come fifth or sixth in the Word Cup ended up at the bottom instead.

“He had reassured us of taking some important steps in the right direction in a few days but we haven’t heard from him since,” Islah continued.

“We put our campaign on hold despite requests from the media as well as the well-wishers of hockey here because we trusted Jakhrani Sahib to do what will ultimately result in the uplift of the national game.

“We have and are receiving so many invitations from all over the country to make our voices heard there. The response to our call is overwhelming. We know now that the nation is with us as the people do get our point of view. The stalwarts of hockey only want what is good for the game and we will do all we can to make sure the game gets back its glory,” he asserted.

Talking about the Olympians’ next step, the former chief coach and selector said: “We are holding a ‘Meet the Press’ in Islamabad on Saturday where all of us who gathered in Karachi as well as our friends in Islamabad will present their viewpoint about what ails hockey today.”

Islah and his team also hope to meet with the president and prime minister of Pakistan while in the capital.

“We would be very grateful if the president and the prime minister, who is the patron-in-chief of hockey in Pakistan, can also take some time out of their busy schedules to meet with us,” he said.

Dawn



PHF names technical officials

Staff Report


KARACHI: The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has announced technical officials for a smooth conduct of the National Hockey Championship to be played from April 3-18 at the Hockey Club of Pakistan Stadium Karachi here. Pakistan International Airlines (PIA), National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), Habib Bank Limited (HBL), Pakistan WAPDA, Pakistan Army, Pakistan Navy, Port Qasim Authority, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and Karachi Electric Supply Corporation (KESC) will take part in the 15-day premier activity.

“Olympian Iftikhar Syed will be the tournament director, while Tariq Sheikh (Sialkot), Ansar Mahmood (Gujrat), Dilawar Hussain (Narowal), Haroon Saeed (D. G Khan), Muhammad Shafiq Bhatti (Lahore), Javed Iqbal, Qadeer Ahmad, Younas Siddiqui, Azmat Pasha, Arif Hayat and Dr SA Majid (Karachi) will act as tournament officers,” said a spokesman for the PHF here on Friday.

The judges are Ehsan Tipu (Sialkot), Allah Dad (Jhang), Rana M Afzal (Bahawalnagar), Rana Arif Qayyum (Rahim Yar Khan), Nadeem Khan (Sahiwal), Muhammad Saleem (Multan), Muhammad Saeed (Faisalabad), Muhammad Ajmal (Lahore), Habib Ur Rehman (Punjab), Manzoor Ahmad Saadat (Kohat), Ahmad Ali (Quetta), Talat Mehmood, Azeem Khan, Shahid Habib, Musarrat Hussain, Naseem Hussain and Muhammad Umar (Karachi). Rashid Mehmood Butt will be the umpires’ manager while Saeed Ahmad (Karachi), Jamil Butt (Army) and Dilawar Hussain Bhatti (WAPDA) will act as assistant umpires managers.

The detailed umpires are Haider Rasool (ABL), Syed Zulfiqar Haider (Police), Rana Muhammad Liaqat (AG Punjab), Muhammad Mushtaq (WAPDA), Kamran Sharif (Army), Anwaar Hussain (Army), Khawaja M Naveed (Rawalpindi), Ihsan Ul Haq (Rawalpindi), Syed Kamran Shah (WAPDA), Haq Nawaz (Haripur), Chaudhry Muhammad Tanveer, Mohsin Ali Khan, Faisal Ismail, Hanif Ud Din, Raja Anwar Kamal, Muhammad Arshad and Shahid Parvez (Karachi).

The Daily Times



Hockey bosses set youth development as key goal

By Terry Maddaford

Taking a proactive rather than reactive approach, New Zealand Hockey are determined to build a solid youth-based foundation - and prepared to base this on the models used by the leading nations - to move their game forward.

Coaches from the 16 National Hockey League teams will also be given the opportunity to be part of the programme aimed at building the coaching base and having full-strength teams well-prepared for the 2013 Junior World Cups and beyond that the 2016 Olympics.

The lack of depth at the highest level was exposed at the men's World Cup in New Delhi where players called in as replacements were found to be off the pace required at the highest level.

In losing Brad and Hayden Shaw through unavailability, Simon Child who opted out and captain Phil Burrows through injury early in the tournament, the Black Sticks' lack of depth was quickly evident.

"We have to build a depth of talent through our junior high performance programme," said HNZ chief executive Hilary Poole.

"We want to use the 2013 Junior World Cup as the initial focus. We sent teams to those tournaments last year but they were just pulled together on a user pays basis which meant not necessarily the best players went.

"Last October we selected two national junior squads of 18 men and 18 women who had played in the national under-18 tournament.

They will have four training camps this year. Last year they had only one. We are now looking for international competition for these players."

If and when funding allows, HNZ hope to follow the Australia, German and Dutch model where up to 30 of their best players are given an early exposure to international play.

"We will look to reselect the squads late each year with the best of the under-17 and under-18 year-olds moving up to the under-21 academies and from there on to the development squads (up to 10 players) and later the national squads which will remain at 24.

"Our young women players have been given an early opportunity to play internationally," said Poole. "We have been invited as the Oceania representative to play in the Youth Olympics in Singapore in August along with Argentina, Holland, Germany, South Africa and Singapore."

Poole said her sport remains very vulnerable to "funding ebbs and flows" but is determined to find the ongoing funding needed to support the programme. In the meantime, national women's coach Mark Hager is preparing for a three-match series with Argentina.

Hager is without four of his most experienced players with Katie Glynn, Krystal Forgesson, Emily Naylor and Kayla Sharland in Europe playing for a Dutch club side.

"Provided they are not involved in any relegation play-offs, they will be back for the series against India in May," said Hager. "With these players missing the Argentina series it is the chance to have another look at some of the younger players. It will also be the first time Piki Hamahona has played for me."

After the Indian series Hager will name his 18 players for the Champions Trophy in Nottingham in July.

They will prepare for that six-team tournament by playing in a four-nation competition in Holland with Argentina, China and the Dutch - all teams bound for Nottingham.

The New Zealand Herald



Canadian officials appointed to Commonwealth Games

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has confirmed the appointment of three Canadian officials to the 2010 Commonwealth Games to be held October 3 - 14 in New Delhi, India.

Gillilan Batey, of Victoria, and John Hrytsak, of Calgary, will be umpiring during the women's and men's hockey tournaments respectively.

Brenda Rushton, also of Victoria, will serve as a judge during the women's event.

Chelsea, Quebec's Yan Huckendubler will also be travelling to India after being named as one of the Canadian Media Attachés by Commonwealth Games Canada.  Yan has been assigned to cover Canadian athletes in archery, boxing, table tennis, and field hockey.

Field Hockey Canada media release



Bajans target T&T for hockey festival

Teams from regional powerhouses T&T, Guyana and Jamaica are expected here for the popular Banks International Hockey Festival which celebrates its 25th anniversary this summer. This year, the week-long tournament has attracted teams from South Africa for the first time and they will clash with the usual contingents from the Caribbean, United States and Europe.

“For the first time in the history of the festival, teams from South Africa will meet at the Hockey Centre to compete against our local teams and others from Germany, UK, USA, Canada and many more across the globe,” David Rouse, chairman of the Festival Organising Committee, told CMC Sports. The tournament, which will run from August 14-21, will be contested in women’s men’s, mixed and veterans’ categories. Rouse said the festival will be expanded this year to include activities to bring a celebration element to the event.

“This year the organising committee is planning a range of fun-filled entertainment events to help players and supporters re-live the early years of the festival when fun and frolic and all-night partying played a major role in the enjoyment of the festival,” he revealed. “In order to do this, the committee will try to schedule matches in such a way that they end earlier on specific days, and at the same time maintain the number of matches.” (CMC)

The Trinidad Guardian



It’s more like ice hockey now

A.T.P. Sarathy


Well begun is half-done. That is the old adage. After India’s performance in the recent World Cup hockey tournament in New Delhi, there could be an amendment. Well begun is one-eighth done. India ended up eighth best.

Field hockey followed the broad pattern of association football with the playing area for hockey being smaller. Football could do with one referee and two linesmen and hockey had two umpires. "Mind your half", used to be an occasional shout from a hockey spectator when an umpire whistled for an infringement of playing rules occurring not in the half of the field he was needed to supervise.

There haven’t been many changes in the football rules. Hockey, on the other hand, amended and introduced many rules over the years. There are no "bullies" now. Neither at the start nor during the course of play, for example.

What impacted most on the evolution of the game was the scrapping of the ‘obstruction’ rule. A player was not permitted to turn his back partially or otherwise when moving forward with the ball to avoid being tackled by an opposing player.

Watching Australia play India in the second match of their league series in the B group, I could not but marvel at the felicity and speed with which they made their half-and-quarter turns to avoid being tackled. There was a touch of finesse in that too. It was almost like a blizzard blowing through the Indian defence.

The Indian defenders were totally flummoxed. There was no such thing as marking their men. With such a confused lot in front, the goalkeeper was reduced to be a spectator. His reflexes were of little use. In about 48 hours after that 4-1 win over Pakistan, this was something like a K.O. blow. And they couldn’t really recover.

Australia won the World Cup but not a forward carried a halo. Not one distinguishing player. But why? In seeking an answer to that you will find how the scrapping of the obstruction rule has changed the game. Football continues to have spotlights on the forwards. Not hockey!

Dutch drag-flicker Taeke Taekema is a star player. It is Sandeep Singh for India. It may be contended that goals in hockey are scored from hits in the ring, while in football long distance shots can fetch goals.

The art of the dribble got sublimated over the years of transformation from the original concept. Even seasonal league games used to draw good crowds because of the art of liberal display. There are no more players of the calibre of Udham Singh, Balbir Singh (Sr), Peter Manuel, Bandu Patil. No Inam-ur-Rehman or Shahid from UP, leave alone Kumar Digvijay Singh (Babu), his great predecessor. Shahid was, perhaps the last of them. They were all Olympians except Manuel.

You don’t get two wingers moving in such harmony as Islahuddin and Samiullah of Pakistan. They were delightful to watch. There was speed, grace and guile. Goals are vital to decide any match but the crowd came to watch supreme artists the game offers.

Olympian Gurbux Singh of Western Railway was one of those later players who could make the ball do their bidding.

Drag-flickers can never be crowd pullers. Former Australia captain Ric Charlesworth has suggested marketing the game but that is not going to fill the stands. There needs to be something to please the eye.

After the Olympic Games in 1952 in Helsinki the then president of the international federation said that Indians cheated in the ‘bully’. The bully got banished later. Thrice Olympian Randhir Singh Gentle (coincidentally, one of the umpires in the World Cup has his name Gentles, on his back) used to move up and stand right behind an opponent about to receive the ball from his teammate and claim ‘obstruction’. Over a period this exploitation of the rule must have led to the abolition of the rule.

Whatever the reasoning and justification behind the change of some rules field hockey today is more like ice hockey.

The Asian Age