News for 29 March 2013

All the news for Friday 29 March 2013

Euro Hockey League Preview: Rotterdam vs Reading

Reading HC

Sixteen teams will be whittled down to just four semi finalists by the end of this weekend as Europe's finest clubs head to Amsterdam for the Euro Hockey League KO16. The third match of the KO16 Amsterdam tournament sees a clash between two former medallists in the Euro Hockey League: 2010 finalists H.C. Rotterdam (NED) and Reading HC, the 2011 Bronze medallists.

Watch the match LIVE on the Euro Hockey League website at 13:30 (UK time) on Friday 28 March. Click here >>

EHL preview:

H.C. Rotterdam handed out a 13-0 thrashing to Scotland’s Grange HC in Pool C of Round 1.1 Barcelona, with star striker Jeroen Hertzberger grabbing five goals in the rout. They followed it up with a hard earned 2-2 draw with Germany’s impressive Berliner HC, showing that they are once against strong contenders to win their first ever Euro Hockey League title.

Reading HC took part in Round 1.2 East Grinstead, falling to a 4-3 defeat in their opening Pool B match against potential Quarter Final opponents KHC Dragons of Belgium. It was the third Euro Hockey League meeting between the two teams in three years. However, Reading bounced back with a 2-1 triumph over France’s St Germain HC to book their place at KO16 Amsterdam.

The last Euro Hockey League meeting between Rotterdam and Reading came in the 2008-09 season, when Rotterdam emerged as 2-1 winners at Round 1.2 Lille. 

The winner of the contest will face either KHC Dragons (BEL) or Linagarvey HC (IRL) in the EHL Quarter Finals. More information about both teams can be found below.

Euro Hockey League’s KO16 Amsterdam event will see sixteen teams reduced to the four tournament Semi Finalists over four days of intense knock-out competition. The event takes place in The Netherlands at Amsterdam H&BC’s Wagener Stadium from Friday 29th March until Monday 1st April 2013. To learn more about the event, please click here

KO16 MATCH 3: H.C. Rotterdam (NED) v Reading HC (ENG)
MATCH TIME: Friday 29th March - 14:30hrs (Central European Standard Time).*
WINNER PLAYS: Either KHC Dragons (BEL) or Lisnagarvey (IRL) in the Euro Hockey League Quarter Finals.  The match is scheduled to take place on Sunday 31st March at 1430.*

H.C. Rotterdam (NED)
vs Grange HC (SCO) Won 13-0
vs Berliner HC (GER) Drew 2-2 

H.C. Rotterdam are one of the giants of the Euro Hockey League, having won one Silver and three Bronze medals since the introduction of the competition in the 2007-2008 season. They have come close on so many occasions, but there are plenty of reasons to believe that 2013 really could be their year. Rotterdam have a squad that contains some of the biggest names in world hockey, including outstanding Australia defender Mark Knowles as well as New Zealand stars Simon Child, Nick Wilson and Steve Edwards. However, their talismanic star is without question Jeroen Herzberger, the lightning quick Dutch international forward who is the all-time EHL top scorer with a staggering 31 goals.  Expect him to add a few more to his tally this weekend. At the time of writing (15/03/2013), the Dutch giants were sitting second in the Hoofdklasse, just one point behind league leaders Oranje Zwart.

Reading HC (ENG)
vs KHC Dragons (BEL) Lost 4-3
vs St Germain HC (FRA) Won 2-1 

2003 European champions and current English champions Reading HC have taken part in every edition of the Euro Hockey League and have certainly had some success. The team has never failed to reach KO16, and in 2011 they became the first English team to win an EHL medal by defeating Oranje Zwart to take Bronze. Although Reading have some terrific individual players such as England and Great Britain stars Richard Mantell, Simon Mantell, Darren Cheesman, Tom Bertram, Richard Springham and Jonty Clarke, their success lies in a total commitment to team-work, which makes them a very difficult side to beat.At the time of writing (15/03/2013), Reading HC were sitting third in the England Hockey League, 15 points behind runaway leaders and fellow EHL representatives Beeston HC. 

* Note: Match times and schedule subject to change due to the requirements of television or other factors as determined by EHL. All times are Central European Time (GMT +1).

England Hockey Board Media release


Euro Hockey League Preview: Beeston vs East Grinstead

Ashley Jackson for East Grinstead

Beeston have been the most impressive performers in England Hockey’s Premier Division this season. Their outstanding form has seen them win 14 of their 18 matches to finish top of the league, although the title will be decided when the championship play-offs take place in the coming weeks. The Bees fell to a 2-1 defeat against fellow EHL competitors Reading HC last Sunday in what was essentially a meaningless match, but they are expected to be back to their brilliant best in Amstelveen this weekend.

East Grinstead come to KO16 in good form, claiming three wins and a draw in their last four league matches. Their recent revival has helped them recover from mid-table obscurity to within striking distance of the end-of-season play-offs with one match still left to play. However, all thoughts of the England Hockey League will be put completely out of their minds this weekend. In February, East Grinstead suffered a crushing 6-1 home defeat against The Bees. A victory over their English rivals in the Euro Hockey League would go a long way towards banishing the memories of what was a bad day at the office for the team lead by player coach Mark Pearn.


The winner of the contest will face either HC Bloemendaal (NED) or Club de Campo (ESP) in the EHL Quarter Finals.

The event takes place in The Netherlands at Amsterdam H&BC’s Wagener Stadium from Friday 29th March until Monday 1st April 2013.  To find out more about the event, please click here

KO16 MATCH 5: Beeston HC (ENG) v East Grinstead HC (ENG)
MATCH TIME: Saturday 30th March - 09:30hrs (Central European Standard Time).*
WINNER PLAYS: Either HC Bloemendaal (NED) or Club de Campo (ESP) in the Euro Hockey League Quarter Finals.  The match is scheduled to take place on Monday 1st April at 1200.*

Beeston HC (ENG)
ROUND 1 RESULTS                  POOL A
vs Grunwald Poznan (POL)         Won 6-0 
vs Amsterdam H&BC (NED)        Won 5-4 

Beeston HC have been slowly gaining confidence in Europe’s elite club competition since making their debut in 2009, but this season they have really come of age. The Bees produced two stunning performances in Round 1, crushing Grunwald Poznan 6-0 before getting the better of European giants Amsterdam H&BC 5-4. The result against Amsterdam was a real head-turner, confirming that they are a forced to be reckoned with. The squad contains many internationals, but attack-minded summer signing Harry Martin – who at 19 years of age was the youngest member of the Great Britain team that competed in the London 2012 Olympic Games – is a certainly one to watch and could shine in the Wagener Stadium this weekend. 

East Grinstead HC (ENG)
ROUND 1 RESULTS                 POOL D
vs SC Stroitel Brest (BLR)          Won 5-0 
vs Waterloo Ducks (BEL)            Lost 2-1 

2013 has already been a good year for Round 1.2 hosts East Grinstead thanks to the fifth successive National Indoor title they won in January. That triumph was topped in February when they won the EuroHockey Indoor Club Trophy, earning them a place in the elite Champions Cup competition in 2014. “EG” will be determined to replicate that level of performance here in Amsterdam, and will be motivated by that 2-1 defeat on home soil at the hands of Waterloo Ducks. 35-year-old player coach Mark Pearn is still a hugely influential force, but their marquee player is Great Britain star Ashley Jackson, the brilliantly creative attacking midfielder who flicks the ball like no other. 

* Note: Match times and schedule subject to change due to the requirements of television or other factors as determined by EHL. All times are Central European Time (GMT +1).

England Hockey Board Media release

Lisnagarvey representing in the EHL KO16

Lisnagarvey head to Holland today to face Belgian side Dragons in their EHL KO16 game tomorrow evening. The Ulster side qualified for the 2012-2013 Euro Hockey League by winning last year's Irish Hockey League, defeating YMCA in the final.

‘Garvey will be hoping to welcome back influential players Timmy Cockram and Daniel Buser to their ranks after recent injuries, and the form of Greg Thompson and Mark Raphael will be key if ‘Garvey are to produce an upset and progress to KO8.

Head coach Kyle Lunn is looking forward to the venture: ‘Obviously it's a great honour and very exciting to represent Ireland at this stage of the competition against the very top teams in Europe. For the majority of our squad this will be the highest level they have competed at, so it is something everyone is looking forward to.'

The Dragons side will feature former Irish International Stephen Butler and a number of Belgian internationals, but Lunn was also quick to highlight the talents of both teams; ‘With an exceptional record in the EHL and some top players such as Jeffrey Thys and Florent van Aubel, we have to be realistic and accept that Dragons will go into the game as favourites.

However we showed in the first stage of the EHL in East Grinstead that, on our day, we can match the very best and will therefore go into the game looking to cause an upset, and in a one off game, anything can happen.'

Whilst the recent inclement weather slightly hindered ‘Garvey's preparations, Lunn was keen to take the positives from the rest period. ‘Our preparations for the game have been disrupted due to the severe snow, with our game last Saturday being cancelled and training this week being disrupted. But on the plus side, our guys have trained well over a long period and having a break from competitive fixtures has given our players some useful downtime ahead of a big game.'

‘Personally, I think it's great that this group of players can write another chapter in the history of Lisnagarvey, as the club has a proud record of representing Ireland in Europe, with this being the club's 15th European trip. We also have a superb group of supporters so it should be a fantastic weekend for the whole club.'

Everyone at Irish Hockey would like to wish Lisnagarvey a safe trip to Amsterdam and the very best of luck against Dragons.

To watch the game (29th March, 17.00 CET), visit

Irish Hockey Association media release

Freixa dreams of Final Four

This Saturday in Euro Hockey League's KO16 Amsterdam event, Spanish superstar Santi Freixa will play against a team that for many years he never wanted to face – Atlétic Terrassa.  Not only is Atlétic the club where he first learned how to play the game, but their team also contains many of his life-long friends.

"Amsterdam is my team and I am part of the Atlétic family", the Beijing 2008 Olympic Silver medallist told "Even five years ago I was very afraid of playing against Atlétic, but now I only see positive things. I'll play with my friends in black against my friends yellow with two umpires, a lot of spectators and many more watching on TV. What more can I ask for?"

Atlétic Terrassa and Amsterdam H&BC come into the KO16 weekend in similar situations. Both teams made slow starts to their respective league campaigns, with Atlétic sitting fourth in the Spanish Premier Division while Amsterdam are currently fifth in the Dutch Hoofdklasse. However, both sides achieved creditable results at the weekend, with Atlétic grabbing an important victory over Terrassa rivals Club Egara while Amsterdam battled to a 4-4 draw with fellow EHL competitors H.C. Rotterdam.

"Atlétic will be in high spirits after beating Egara, and we have not lost a game since the winter break,” continued Freixa. “Both teams are clearly confident."

Looking ahead to the match, Freixa believes that the meeting has the potential to be something of a goal-fest. "I think it could be similar to last year's EHL match between Atlétic and Bloemendaal (Bloemendaal were 4-3 winners). It will be a very special game to play in."

Regarding the possibility of returning to his home club, Freixa ruled out any immediate plans and said that he is very much living in the moment. "My life in Holland is great, although the long winter is very challenging. My future is just concentrating on tomorrow, when I will go to the office to work before going to training in the evening, so I have quite long days. At night, I dream of reaching the Final Four of the EHL."

England's U16 & U18 Boys & Girls in Four Nations action


England U16 girls NAGS 2013

England's U16 & U18 boys and girls teams are in action over Easter weekend with the boys travelling to Valencia to take on hosts Spain, Netherlands & Germany while the girls stay on home soil to host Scotland, Netherlands and Germany at Lilleshall National Sports Centre in Shropshire.

For many of the players, especially at the Under 16 age group, this will be the first time they have represented England on their pathway along hockey’s single system and we wish them the best of luck as they embark on a new chapter. There is also a huge thank you and congratulations to extend to the coaches and teachers at their clubs and schools who have helped them to reach this level.

The Four Nations tournament is an annual event played at Easter which usually features England, Netherlands, Germany and Spain and which once again is the line up in the Boys event. However, the Girls have a slightly different look this time round with Scotland replacing Spain. This will be the second time Lilleshall NSC has hosted this event, having been the venue for the Boys’ equivalent two years ago. The teams play off against each other on the first three days of competition with a final between the top two and a third/fourth play-off on Easter Monday.

With more bad weather hitting areas of England last weekend, Lilleshall has been under snow much of the week but the staff at the venue have worked hard to get the pitch clear for the event and all eyes now turn to the forecast and temperature in hope the pitch will remain playable. We are pleased to report that teams have been training on the pitch without problems.

Spectators are welcome along to Lilleshall to support the Girls. Admission to the venue which includes a stand and catering is free.

Click here to see the match schedule & results for the U16 Girls
Click here to see the match schedule & results for the U18 Girls
Click here to see the match schedule & results for the U16 Boys
Click here to see the match schedule  & results for the U18 Boys

Results for the Girls and Boys will be available on our website throughout the weekend and you can follow the action from Lilleshall on twitter too. If you Tweet us make sure you use #4NationsHockey

England Hockey Board Media release

UniKL up for stiff test

By Jugjet Singh

UNIVERSITI Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) will be engaged in a make-or-break Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) weekend, as they will face two of the top-rated teams in the Premier Division at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Today, they go head on against Tenaga Nasional and on Sunday, meet table toppers Maybank.

UniKL coach Arul Selvaraj will be more than happy if his side can secure two points from both matches.

UniKL only have three points after two matches.

"It cannot get any tougher than this and I will be really glad if we survive the weekend without a thrashing. If we can get one point from each of these two teams, it will be a bonus," said Arul.

However, he cautioned that UniKL have the ability to wipe the smiles off their opponents' faces.

"Let's face facts -- TNB and Maybank are a class above and we have to be realistic. TNB are virtually the national team while Maybank have a solid midfield with (Pakistani) Shakeel Abbasi and Shafqat Rasool pulling the strings.

"I have a bunch of youngsters who skill wise are second to none and can trouble even the best. But they lack the confidence as well as big match temperament," said Arul.

KLHC, after winning four points from their opening two matches, are on the right track in their title defence. And their longest serving player Chua Boon Huat, feels the team have the right mixture to cap another successful season.

"When there was an exodus of players before the season began, many thought that it was curtains for KLHC. But those who remained vowed to do better. The management also secured six foreign players and that was a right choice," said Boon Huat.

The national players who left KLHC for Terengganu are Shahrun Nabil, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Azlan Misron, Ismail Abu, Ameerullah Aziz and Fitri Saari.

They signed six foreigners and leading the cast is Pakistan national team skipper Muhammad Imran who scored five goals in the recent Azlan Shah Cup.

Results -- Division One: UniTen 1 UitM 2, Sunday 2030 KL 1 TNB Thunderbolts 4, SSTMI 2 Ipoh City Council 5.

Today -- Premier Division: Nur Insafi v Terengganu (Universiti Sains Malaysia, 6pm), UniKL v Tenaga Nasional (National Stadium Pitch II, 6pm), Maybank v KLHC (National Stadium Pitch II, 8pm).

New Straits Times

Former champions aim to collect full points from two tough matches

Up to the challenge: Tenaga coach Nor Saiful Zaini (centre) and goalkeeper S. Kumar (right) are confident they are up to the challenge this weekend.

KUALA LUMPUR: Former champions Tenaga Nasional face a tough weekend in search of their first win in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL)

They play Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) today before taking on Sapura tomorrow knowing that nothing short of maximum points will put their title ambitions back on track after two straight draws.

They drew 4-4 with newcomers Terengganu and 3-3 with double champions KL Hockey Club (KLHC). Tenaga stand-in manager Nor Saiful Zaini admitted that this was a crucial weekend for them.

“The only way to stay in the title mix is to collect full points from both matches. We are not underestimating the two teams,” he said.

“Our target is to win at least one of the two titles at stake this year. So, there’s no way we want to be left behind in the chase for the league title.”

Nor Saiful said that the team was more settled now after the two matches.

“Yes, we have more national players this time around. But they are still young and need time to play as a unit. We are confident of turning our fortunes around but, like I said, it has to start with victories this weekend,” he said.

“UniKL and Sapura also have reliable players and have been on team-rebuilding exercises the last few years. I think the results of the first weekend have shown that no team can be taken for granted.”

Tenaga’s quest for a double joy this weekend will hinge on the form of three key players – skipper Mohd Amin Rahim, who is also their penalty corner specialists; goalkeeper S. Kumar; and former national skipper Mohd Madzli Ikmal. All three are at the heart of the Tenaga defence.

Tenaga also have an exciting forward line comprising Faizal Saari, Amir Farid, Mohd Ramdhan Rosli, Mohd Azzami Adabi and Mohd Firhan Azahari.

Faizal, last year’s top scorer in the MHL, has already notched four goals in two matches. He is also adapt at taking penalty corners as he is the national team’s main flicker.

“What’s exciting about this group of players is that they are all very young and members of the national team. So this is a chance for them to mould themselves into a good attacking unit and enhance their playing potential. I expect this combination to be lethal but it will come with a lot of hard work. They must be committed,” said Nor Saiful.

Another interesting clash today will see leaders Maybank taking on KLHC. A win for the Tigers will confirm them real as title contenders.

The match is also important for the champions to get their title tilt back on track.

The Star of Malaysia

Defending champions continue winning streak

By Jugjet Singh

NATIONAL Under-16 defending champions Kuala Lumpur maintained their unbeaten run when they hammered Selangor 6-1 in Group A at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

In the semi-finals, Kuala Lumpur will face Malacca while Perak will meet Terengganu, who defeated Negri 4-2 in the last match of the day to finish second in Group A.

Selangor scored first off Asyraaf Adris in the ninth minute but Kuala Lumpur, who had already qualified for the semi-finals before the Selangor match, went on a rampage with goals from Shahfirul Aqmaib (13th), T. Kavinash (35th), Wan Haziq (39th, 46th) and Falih Hassan (41st, 63rd).

In Group B, Perak topped the table when they demolished Pahang 5-1 while Malacca, who beat Johor 4-2, finished second.

The Perak goals were scored by Aiman Zahari (seventh, 34th), Muhamed Najme Ahmad (43rd, 46th) and Johari Sani (61st). The Pahang consolation was scored by Surtisno Saimin in the 28th minute.

As for Malacca, Ahmad Najme (23rd), Faid Farhadh (26th), Zairie Nizam (36th) and Amirul Hakim (69th) delivered the goods.

The Johor goals were scored by Amirul Hanis (19th) and Syazwan Shsh Nizam (35th).

RESULTS -- Group B: Johor 2 Malacca 4, Perak 5 Pahang 1.

Group A: Sabah 3 Perlis 1, Kuala Lumpur 6 Selangor 1, Negri 2 Terengganu 4.

TODAY -- Semi-finals: Kuala Lumpur v Malacca (4pm, Pitch I); Terengganu v Perak (6pm, Pitch I).

All matches at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

New Straits Times

Perak turn on the style to whip Pahang and book semis ticket

By Ashreena Pillai

KUALA LUMPUR: Perak bounced back in style to thrash Pahang 5-1 in their Group B match and qualified for the boys’ semi-finals of the MHC-Milo-NSC Under-16 hockey championships at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

Perak, who were held to a 1-1 draw by Johor on Wednesday, struck first in the seventh minute through a Mohd Aiman Zahari penalty corner.

Sutrisno Saimin pulled one back for Pahang in the 20th minute before Aiman put Perak ahead again with another penalty corner just before the break.

Needing either a win or a draw to qualify for the last four, Perak turned on the power in the second half to score through Mohd Najme Ahmad Hayazi (43rd and 46th minutes) and Mohd Johari Sani (61st).

Perak top Group B with 10 points and will meet Group A runners-up Terengganu next.

“I’m glad the boys managed to put yesterday’s (Wednesday) setback behind them and start playing their usual hockey. Most importantly, though, they stuck to the game plan,” said Perak coach Mohd Nizam Mohd Hashim.

After failing to progress beyond the group stage last year, Mohd Nizam doesn’t mind his team being tagged as underdogs this time.

“We didn’t qualify last year, so we’re kind of like the underdogs, which is okay for us. The way I see it, we’ve got nothing to lose,” he said.

“We’ll go all out for a win tomorrow. There is no turning back. The boys want to be in the final and we’ll do all we can to make it a reality.”

In the other Group B match, Malacca qualified for the semi-finals for the third year in a row after beating Johor 4-2 to finish second in the group with seven points from four matches. Malacca coach Mohd Aras Khamis’ side will face Group A winners KL in a rematch of last year’s final.

The Star of Malaysia

Young squad stepping up to U.S. Women’s Team for Four Nations Tournament

Craig Parnham has named a balance of youth and experience for New Zealand’s upcoming Four Nations Tournament

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – U.S. Head Coach Craig Parnham has selected a squad with a balance of youth and experience for two upcoming Four Nations tournaments in Auckland, New Zealand April 4-21, featuring Argentina, Korea, New Zealand and the United States, displaying his commitment to develop and implement fresh talent into the senior high performance program. Parnham has included eight athletes with less than 10 caps to the U.S. roster for the tour. Five collegiate athletes, including, Caitlyn Van Sickle (University of North Carolina), Maxine Fluharty (University of Maryland), Nikki Parsley (Northwestern University), Amanda Fleischut (Drexel University) and Emma Bozek (University of North Carolina) will look to make their debut wearing red, white and blue for Team USA.

“This tour will provide us with the opportunity to look at a wider, youthful group of players in a different environment than we normally do and that is important for the future of the squad,” Parnham said. “Our development is in its infancy and we are still having a look at players and seeing what players are out there and available. We are excited about the opportunity to play some of the best teams in the world. It is not often that we get to play against Asian teams such as Korea and it will be a valuable experience for the future development of these younger players.”

Team USA is set to touch down in New Zealand next Friday, providing ample time to adjust to the 20-hour time difference before opening the first half of the tournament against Argentina on April 10. The U.S. will then take on two other top world-ranked opponents, Korea and New Zealand, on April 11 and April 13 and wrap up the first half of the tour on Sunday, April 14. The second Four Nations Tournament will commence on April 17 with the U.S. facing Korea, followed by New Zealand on April 18. Team USA will have a rest day before facing Argentina on April 20 and a “playoff” round on April 21.

“For us, this tournament is about continuing the work we have already started and developing our team, style and structure,” said Parnham. “Some tactical and technical areas will be addressed from the review of World League Round 2 in the first part of the program and as far as results go, it is about taking it game by game, understanding the opposition that we are playing, and learning as we go.”

Joining the large number of first-timers on tour will be a group of seasoned veterans including, two-time Olympians, Lauren Crandall (Doylestown, Pa.), Rachel Dawson (Berlin, N.J.), Katelyn Falgowski (Landenberg, Pa.) and more recent staples on the U.S. Women’s Team, Melissa Gonzalez (Mohegan Lake, N.Y.), Michelle Kasold (Chapel Hill, N.C.), Torrie Albini (Escondido, Cali.), Lauren Pfeiffer (Mount Laurel, N.J.), Jackie Kintzer (Robesonia, Pa.) and Shannon Taylor (Midlothian, Va.). The tournament will be the second competition for the United States under new Head Coach Parnham.

Following the Four Nations tournament, past and present collegiate all-stars and members of the current National Squad, Junior National Squad and Development Squad will come together for the Women’s National Championship, held this year at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Va., May 23-29. Parnham will identify the 2013-14 U.S. Women’s National Team and the core group of players going forward at the conclusion of the selection tournament.

The following athletes have been named to the Four Nations Tournament in New Zealand: Jackie Kintzer (Robesonia, Pa.) Alesha Widdall (Whitney Point, N.Y.), Lauren Crandall (Doylestown, Pa.), Megan Dawson (Berlin, N.J.), Meghan Beamesderfer (Iowa City, Iowa), Stefanie Fee (Virginia Beach, Va.), Caitlyn Van Sickle (Wilmington, Del.) , Rachel Dawson (Berlin, N.J.), Katelyn Falgowski (Landenberg, Pa.), Melissa Gonzalez (Mohegan Lake, N.Y.), Maxine Fluharty (Millsboro, Del.), Michelle Kasold (Chapel Hill, N.C.), Nikki Parsley (Milford, Del.), Amanda Fleischut (Doylestown, Pa.), Torrie Albini (Escondido, Cali.), Lauren Pfeiffer (Mt. Laurel, N.J.), Shannon Taylor (Midlothian, Va.), Emma Bozek (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.)

USFHA media release

Expert to assist Fiji

Mereseini Marau In India

NEW DELHI - The Fiji Hockey Federation has indicated that they are interested in utilising the services of an Indian hockey expert.

After their outing in the Hockey World League Round 2 in New Delhi last month, the team management realised that in order to prosper in hockey, they needed Indian brains and skills.

As hockey is a national sport here in India, what other better option is there than picking the brain of an Indian.

Ravinder Rawat is no stranger to the national teams who participated in the Hockey World League in New Delhi.

He was the liaison officer for the national women's team.

And all players in the women's and men's teams loved him.

National head coach Hector Smith indicated his interest in bringing Rawat over to Fiji after he saw his skills when he helped guide the teams during their training in New Delhi.

Smith said that it was the knowledge and skills possessed by Rawat that they were looking for.

And being popular among the players was an added bonus.

Federation development officer Tai Smith said she was working on a proposal regarding Rawat and hoped that he would come to Fiji in August.

Rawat is looking forward to come to Fiji.

"I really enjoyed being with the Fiji team while they were here and they had told me that they wanted me to come to Fiji," he said.

"I'm looking forward to go and share my skills and knowledge with them."

The Fiji Times

Hockey is now more about power than skill: Olympian Jaswant Rajput

Kolkata:  He was part of the hockey team which won independent India's first Olympic gold medal, but Jaswant Singh Rajput, who played both as a left-half and centre-half, dislikes watching the national team of which he once was a proud member.

"Hockey is now a hit and run game. There is no offside. It is now more about power than skill. I no more watch the game, especially after the way India has been performing," Rajput, now 85, told IANS in an interview.

Part of the gold medal winning Indian hockey team at the 1948 Olympics and a member of the squad at the 1952 Games, Rajput is livid at the administrators of the sport and the lack of talent.

"It is heartbreaking to see the lack of talent in Indian hockey. The administrators are to be blamed. They ruined the national game of the country. Why would children take up the game? There is neither money nor fame," said Rajput.

Born in Delhi, Rajput picked up the game during his school days and went on to represent Delhi University, where he was spotted by the national selectors. Immediately after his entry into the national team, he was bound for the 1948 Olympics.

Rajput, who started off as a left-half but later in his career preferred playing from the centre, was known for his excellent dribbling skills and ball control.

On the advice of good friend and teammate Leslie Claudius, Rajput shifted his base to this West Bengal capital after returning from the London Games. Since then, a two-room rented accommodation tucked away in a dingy bylane in centre of the city has been his abode.

Describing himself as a fan of former Indian captain Dhanraj Pillay, Rajput conceded that he is not aware about the current crop of players.

"There is no talent in the team. The last player whom I loved watching is Pillay. He was a class player," said Rajput who "tried watching India play at the 2012 Olympics - also at London - but could not stand the humiliation the team suffered.

"Why do you want me to watch India play? To see them getting humiliated game after game," he asked, expressing his anguish on seeing the demise of a team which had once conquered the world.

The octogenarian is also unhappy at the government's neglect of the national game and wants former players to don the role of administrators.

"During my days playing hockey was a matter of pride and honour. But today people hardly recognise hockey players. The need is to make it as popular as cricket. Only then can the game be revived," he said.

Rajput who was passionate about hockey which had given him everything, however, quit the game at the height of his career.

"Those days sports was about pride and honour. It was about representing your country and not a profession. Hockey was my passion, my life but at the same time I needed to earn a livelihood.

"Since I had started my business I had to quit the game because it would have been criminal on my part not to give my 100 percent to the game which had given me everything," said Rajput who had started the city's largest service station of the time immediately after returning from the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.

The man may be pained at the current status of his beloved game, but he can never forget a scene which still plays out in his mind - seeing the tri-colour unfurl at the Wembley after India thrashed Britain 4-0 to win the Olympic gold for the fourth time in a row.

"Our flag on their soil - what more could we want? It is a feeling which can only be experienced...," said the man, proudly displaying his gold medal.

Rajput, who still enjoys his morning walk with old friends, admits that after hockey, the city - for him still Calcutta - is his second love.

"My daughter is angry that I refused to move to Canada with her, but how can I leave my beloved Calcutta? The city has always been a faithful lover, though I badly miss Leslie (Claudius), he was such a great friend," said Rajput, who leaves alone in the city after his wife passed away a few years back.

He closed down the service station two years ago due to his advancing age and now lives on his savings, which are quite adequate.

NDTV Sports

For Olympic hero Manuel Fredericks, life is still a fight

P. K. Ajith Kumar

Manuel Fredericks, India's Olympic medal-winning hockey goalkeeper, at a coaching session at Kannur. Photo: S.K. Mohan

As Manuel Fredericks swings the hockey stick vigorously at the dusty ground of St. Michael’s Anglo Indian School here on Thursday, he hardly looks his 66 years.

Neither does he look like the Olympic medal winner who has had a tough life since hanging up his boots.

He was the goalkeeper of the Indian team that won the bronze in men’s hockey in 1972 and is the only Keralite to win an Olympic medal. But Kerala has not recognised him yet. Neither has Karnataka, his adopted State; nor, for that matter, the hockey administration. He earns his living by coaching school children in Bangalore.

Now, he is on a rare visit to his hometown, in Northern Kerala. “But, I don’t come here often; it is very expensive to travel, you know,” Fredericks says.

Yes, it would cost you Rs. 400 to travel from Bangalore to Kannur by bus.

Valuable tips

He is not tired even after sweating it out for nearly two hours, giving valuable tips to some hockey players attached to a couple of local clubs.

“I would love to coach a Kerala team; you see, I am as fit as any young coach,” he says at the end of the coaching session on the very premises he used to play as a kid.

“It saddens me to see Kerala conceding goals in double digits at National tournaments.”

He admits he is saddened by the way he has been ignored by just about everyone. “I applied for the Dhyan Chand Award seven times, but never got it,” he says.

“It is the greatest honour in Indian hockey, and I could use the Rs. 5 lakh that comes with it.”

Five years ago, Fredericks thought he might receive some help after all, when the then Kerala Sports Minister M. Vijayakumar allocated him land to build a house here. “But after all these years, I have not got it yet,” he says.

“That Minister genuinely wanted to help me, I know.”

Former Union Sports Minister, Ajay Maken, had last year announced during the London Olympic days that former Olympians would be absorbed as coaches by SAI. And Fredericks certainly would have welcomed such a job offer; he could have taught a thing or two to young goalkeepers.

Not bitter

Fredericks though is not bitter but is rather a proud man who opens up about his difficulties with reluctance.

He is much happier to tell you about his exploits under the bar in Munich all those years ago.

“Though we could only win the bronze, we were good enough for the gold,” says Fredericks, who was the Indian custodian for about a decade.

“That team had players like Ashok Kumar, Ajit Pal Singh, Harcharan Singh, M.P. Ganesh and Kulwant Singh; we had crushed Great Britain 5-0 and Australia 3-1.”

Yes, he clearly remembers the Munich massacre too.

“The incident took place just 60 yards away from where we were staying,” he says.

“We were preparing for our semifinal match with Pakistan, which was then postponed by a day. I still could recollect that loud noise of gunfire.”

But the memories of India’s 2-1 victory over Holland in the bronze-medal play-off and his meeting with the then Pakistan president Zia-ul-Haq are sharper.

“After a Test match with Pakistan at Lahore, I was congratulated by Zia, who said ‘I was the real Indian goalkeeper’,” he reminisces.

“I also remember playing in front of actors like Sunil Dutt, who appreciated me.”

It is memories like these from the distant past that help Fredericks forget his worries of the present.

The Hindu