News for 14 April 2013

All the news for Sunday 14 April 2013


Black Sticks power to Four Nations victory


Photo courtesy www.photosport.co.nz

The Black Sticks Women have finished the first Four Nations in emphatic style after defeating Korea 3-0 in the final at the ITM Hockey Centre in Whangarei today.

The Kiwis certainly saved their best performance at the tournament for last, putting on a clinic on both attack and defence.

It was a fast start from both sides but New Zealand took control late in the first half and scored two goals in quick succession thanks to Sian Fremaux and Katie Glynn to go into halftime up 2-0.

The momentum stayed with the Black Sticks in the second half with Fremaux putting the icing on the cake with her second goal of the game to seal the win.

Black Sticks head coach Mark Hager was pleased with his side’s resilience in the final, having lost to Korea earlier in the tournament.

“It was our best performance by far in all of our four games. Our ability to control play was pretty good and we dominated large periods. Every player had a good game today,” Hager said.

“The pleasing thing is that we’ve kept improving and we now go into a new tournament. We have five new players coming in so it’s a fresh start for us again.”

Earlier in the day Argentina overcame USA 3-0 to secure third place in the first of the two Four Nations tournaments.

The Olympic silver medallists never looked troubled and quickly opened up a three goal buffer thanks to Delfina Merino, Giselle Juarez and Sofi Maccari.

USA responded with a much more effective defence after the break, keeping Argentina scoreless in a goalless but entertaining second half.

With the first leg of the Four Nations complete, teams now head to the Gallagher Centre in Hamilton where leg two begins on Wednesday with the finals to be played in Tauranga next weekend.

All weekend games will again be live streamed on the Hockey New Zealand website.

RESULTS:

Argentina 3 (Delfina Merino, Giselle Juarez, Sofi Maccari)
USA 0
Halftime: Argentina 3-0

New Zealand 3 (Sian Fremaux 2, Katie Glynn)
Korea 0
Halftime: NZ 2-0

Hockey New Zealand Media release



Young U.S. squad gains valuable experience playing against world’s best at Four Nations tournament

Argentina, 2012 Olympic silver medalists topped Team USA, 3-0, in the final match


WHANGAREI, New Zealand – April 13, 2013 – The No. 2 world ranked team and 2012 Olympic silver medalists topped the U.S. Women’s National Team tonight in the final match of the first leg of the Four Nations tournament in Whangarei, New Zealand. The U.S. did not allow a goal in the second half, but three goals by Argentina in the first half led to a 3-0 final result.

“It was a difficult first half for us,” said head coach Craig Parnham. “Argentina outplayed us in a number of areas and took a 3-0 lead. The positive is that we showed a great deal of resilience and fight to finish out the game in the second half.”

Argentina put away three goals in a span of ten minutes, scoring in the 9th, 16th and 19th minute for a comfortable 3-0 lead at the end of the first half. Stefanie Fee (Virginia Beach, Va.), Rachel Dawson (Berlin, N.J.) and Lauren Crandall (Doylestown, Pa.) showed great composure in the backfield in the second half, diminishing opportunities for Argentina inside the circle and holding the silver medalists scoreless.  

Argentina brought a full-strength, star studded squad to the Four Nations tournament, with the majority of players silver medalists from the London Olympics. Star midfielder Luciana Aymar, a four -time Olympic medalist, seven-time International Hockey Federation (FIH) player of the year and arguably one of the best players in the world joined eleven of her Olympic teammates on the pitch in New Zealand this weekend.

The young U.S. Squad, featuring thirteen athletes with less than 10 caps, will have four more matches to learn and compete against the world’s best. Next week’s Four Nations tournament will be played in Hamilton and Tauranga, New Zealand.

“This week has been valuable exposure for several athletes in our group and we continue to work hard and develop our game going into next week’s Four Nations tournament,” said Parnham.

The U.S. will open the second half of the Four Nations tournament against Korea on April 17, followed by host New Zealand on April 18. The U.S. will wrap up their Four Nations campaign next weekend, facing Argentina on Saturday, April 20 and a final playoff match on Sunday, April 21.  Both weekend matches will be streamed live on Hockey New Zealand’s website.

USFHA media release



Australia U21 Men's Squad Selected for Junior World Cup Training

Following the conclusion of the Be The Influence U21 Men’s National Championships in Brisbane, a 26 athlete squad has been selected to train in preparation for the Junior World Cup, which will take place in December.  The squad will be reduced to 18 athletes later in the year following the AHL.

As he announced the squad, Men’s National Junior Coach Paul Gaudoin said, “Making this decision has been a very difficult process for the selectors; a number of players have been unlucky to miss out. The selection gives us a balanced squad as we look towards the Junior World Cup. The U21 National Championships were the final part of the process and the players needed to play well on top of the activity they’ve previously undertaken.”

Junior World Cup Squad (26 athletes)
(Listed alphabetically by surname)
Daniel Beale (Queensland)
Robert Bell (Queensland)
Simon Borger (Queensland)
Andrew Butturini (GK) (Queensland)
Ed Chittleborough (GK) (South Australia)
Tyler Cowley (Victoria)
Tom Craig (New South Wales)
Matthew Dawson (New South Wales)
Justin Douglas (Queensland)
Jack Elliott (New South Wales)
Will Gilmour (Victoria)
Blake Govers (New South Wales)
Casey Hammond (Victoria)
Jeremy Hayward (Northern Territory)
Cameron Joyce (South Australia)
Aaron Kershaw (New South Wales)
Matthew Lim (Western Australia)
Adam Luck (GK) (Northern Territory)
Luke Noblett (New South Wales)
Flynn Ogilvie (New South Wales)
Matthew Pembroke (Queensland)
Kane Posselt (Queensland)
Jayshaan Randhawa (Victoria)
Daniel Robertson (Western Australia)
Byron Walton (Victoria)
Dylan Wotherspoon (Queensland)

Further information about the squad’s program in preparation for the Junior World Cup will be published in the next week.

Hockey Australia media release



Beeston reach finals after dramatic win over Reading


Reading Beeston Harry Martin

Beeston edged a tense penalty shootout 4-3 to beat Reading and win through to Sunday’s final of the NOW: Pensions Men’s Hockey Championship.

Despite Reading creating numerous chances in the opening stages of the game, it was Beeston who opened the scoring as Carl Smith deflected a shot in to make it 1-0 with 12 minutes played.

Reading continued to press forward but couldn’t find a way through a tough Beeston backline and were still trailing at the break.

Beeston captain Adam Dixon put Beeston a step closer to the final after angling a shot over the onrushing keeper to find the roof of the net on 48 minutes.

But at two goals down, Reading still came forward and looked dangerous. It was no surprise when they finally pulled one back through a reverse stick shot from Chris Newman but with just seven minutes remaining, time wasn’t on their side.

Then, in the final minute of the game, a slick move from Reading found Tom Carson through on goal and his strike found the top of the goal to make it 2-2 and take the game to extra time.

Despite a host of chances for both teams in extra time, the sides couldn’t be separated and the game went to a penalty shuffles.

There was still nothing between the two teams after the first round of shuffles ended 2-2 and it came down to sudden death.

After Harry Martin tucked away coolly (pictured), the pressure was too much for Simon Mantell and he missed his chance, allowing Beeston safe passage to the final.

Adam Dixon, Beeston captain, said: “It was a cracking game, fair play to Reading. We relaxed a bit too much at the end of the final quarter and let them back in.

“We’re looking forward now to tomorrow's final and we'll watch the next game with interest to see who we'll be facing.”

Harry Martin, who scored the winning stroke said: “I was nervous taking the second penalty after missing the first but Adam backed me and it paid off.”

England Hockey Board Media release



Surbiton book finals battle with Beeston


Surbiton v Canterbury Jonny Ruiz

Surbiton and Canterbury lit up an explosive semi-final with eight goals as the London outfit beat their Kent rivals 5-3 in the NOW: Pensions Men’s Hockey Championship on Saturday.

It was Surbiton who drew first blood as Alex Penney struck from a penalty corner after 25 minutes to make it 1-0.

But Canterbury didn’t take long to respond and some great build up play put Ben Alberry through on goal and the marksman made no mistake with his shot.

Gall grabbed his first of the game on 31 minutes as he steered home a shot that had struck the frame of the Canterbury goal to make it 2-1.

But Canterbury came back again and Dave Matthews smashed a shot which took a deflection before landing in the Surbiton goal.

The pace of the game showed no signs of easing as Chris Grassick put Surbiton 3-2 with another deflected shot, with the ball flying in over the keeper’s head.

Surbiton then had the chance to go two goals clear for the first time when they were awarded a penalty stroke but Gall’s effort came crashing back off the crossbar.

But Surbiton didn’t have to wait long for their fourth as Jonny Ruiz struck with ten minutes to go (pictured).

Gall rounded off a great move to nab his second and put the game beyond doubt at 5-2 on 67 minutes. Despite Andrew Dunn pulling one back for Canterbury in the closing stages, Surbiton went on to book their place in the final against Beeston.

“We didn't play our best hockey today, but we're really pleased with the result and we took our chances well,” said Surbiton captain Ben Tibble.

“It was a good team performance which is something we've been working on all year, rather than relying on individuals like we have done in the past. It's great to secure our place in Europe, but it's all about the game against Beeston tomorrow.”

England Hockey Board Media release



Beeston and Surbiton preparing for finals clash


Reading Beeston Harry Martin

Beeston and Surbiton will face each other in the final of the NOW: Pensions Men’s Hockey League on Sunday, and if the semi finals are anything to go by a thrilling encounter is in store.

Beeston needed penalty shuffles to scrape past a strong Reading side in their semi final, while Surbiton put five goals past Canterbury on their way to the final and a chance to secure the £2500 top prize from new Title Sponsor NOW: Pensions.

The clash between Reading and Canterbury for third spot is also crucial to both teams, with third place in the Euro Hockey League up for grabs.

Meanwhile, four other teams were also providing scintillating hockey in their bid for a place in the NOW: Pensions Premier Division next season.

After finishing ninth in the top flight last season, Southgate will be aiming to preserve their place with a big win over Cardiff & UWIC at 10am, but much depends on the result of the Sheffield Hallam v Wimbledon match at noon.

Victory for the Yorkshire side will ensure that they top the table and play in the NOW: Pensions Premier Division next season, but all four teams are still in the mix and it is all to play for in Sunday’s thrilling finale.

England Hockey Board Media release



Southgate boost survival hopes


Wimbledon v Southgate 3 - John Strelini

Southgate boosted their hopes of avoiding relegation when they secured a dramatic 5-3 victory over Wimbledon in the NOW: Pensions Men’s Hockey League play-offs at Reading Hockey Club’s Sonning Lane base on Saturday.

The lead changed hands three times in the clash between Premier Division outfit Southgate and Conference East champions Wimbledon, as the game exploded into action after a cagey first half which was edged 1-0 by Wimbledon.

The opening goal came after good work by Olympian Richard Alexander, and it was Jonny Kinder who lifted the ball over the goalkeeper in the 11th minute to put Wimbledon ahead.

That proved to be the only goal of the first period, but the second half soon sprang into life.

Southgate captain Dan Shingles pulled his side level on 38 minutes when he rifled the ball into the top left corner, and his side were ahead following their second goal from Andrew Westbrook, who scored with a back post tap-in from a reverse stick cross in the 46th minute.

Wimbledon pulled back level on 50 minutes through Kinder again, and they retook the lead through Ben Hawes on 56 minutes with a spin flick.

But three goals in the final eight minutes saw Southgate stun their rivals and take the win in dramatic fashion.

Frank Pretorius scored with a diving deflection at a 62nd minute penalty corner, and bagged his second on 68 minutes to put Southgate 4-3 ahead, volleying home off a defender’s foot.

Finally, Dave Wilson gave Southgate a two-goal lead with a goal at a penalty corner in the final few seconds.

“We knew this would be a big game and we’re delighted with the result,” said Southgate captain Dan Shingles afterwards.

“Wimbledon are a fantastic side and we put in a really solid second half performance. This was a crucial win after losing last weekend and I’m really pleased with how the team responded after a fairly stern half time team talk.

“Sheffield Hallam will be a tough side to beat tomorrow but after today, we’ve put ourselves back in the mix.”

England Hockey Board Media release



Sheffield and Cardiff play out thrilling 4-4 draw


Sheffield v Cardiff Phil Roper

A thrilling 4-4 draw between Sheffield Hallam and Cardiff threw the promotion race wide open as Conference West met Conference North in the NOW: Pensions Men’s Hockey League play-off in Reading on Saturday.

Sheffield Hallam already had a win under their belt but Cardiff were desperate to get off the mark and it made for an entertaining brand of end-to-end hockey.

Phil Roper starred for the Yorkshire side, scoring all four of their goals. His first came after just six minutes as he hooked in a penalty corner.

But a Brendan Creed mistake gifted Cardiff the chance to level from the spot on 23 minutes and Tim Jones slotted the penalty flick home.

Cardiff had barely finished celebrating their goal when Roper swept home from open play to restore the lead for Sheffield Hallam within 30 seconds of the restart.

But the disappointment of falling behind yet again didn’t deter Cardiff and they responded in the 32nd minute when a shot deflected in off Sheffield Hallam keeper Jamie Cachia to make it 2-2.

However, Sheffield won a penalty stroke straight after and Roper coolly fired home to once again put his side in the driving seat.

In the second half, a driving slap from Rich Howson on 45 minutes once again levelled things up for Cardiff and then with 10 minutes to go, Roper notched his fourth from a penalty corner.

It looked like Hallam were going to take all three points with a 4-3 win but then on 66 minutes, Liam Brignull made it 4-4 with a deft lob to ensure Cardiff shared the spoils.

Phil Roper said after the game: “We played well in patches today but some small mistakes cost us the win. There’s definitely still a good chance of us going up but we will stay realistic and focus on getting a result against Wimbledon tomorrow.

“It was good to score four goals and if I had to pick a favourite, I’d choose the penalty stroke for a change.”

England Hockey Board Media release



Grove Menzieshill & Kelburne advance to Scottish Cup Final

Grove Menzieshill and Glynhill Hotel Kelburne will contest the Men’s Arthur McKay Scottish Cup final on Saturday 25 May after their semi-finals wins at Peffermill today.

The defending champions went through to the final with a devastating 9-0 win over rivals Western Wildcats.

The scorers for the Paisley side included Lee Morton, Alan Forsyth, Johnny Christie, Scott Sutherland, Ross McIntyre, Ed Greaves and Willie Marshall.

Chris Anderson’s Grove Menzieshill defeated Inverleith 3-0 in the first of the day’s semi-finals and will relish their first final appearance in a number of years.

In Men’s Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 2, McWhinney Uddingston closed the gap on second place Falkirk GHG to a single point with an excellent 7-2 win over their promotion rivals at Auchenhowie today.

Aberdeen GSFP also kept themselves in the promotion hunt after a 5-4 win against Alpha Data Carnegie, who lost out on an opportunity to move out of the relegation zone.

Leaders Dundee Wanderers maintained their position at the top of the league by defeating Stepps 6-4 away from home.

Esrkine Stewart’s Melville consolidated their position as leaders of Men’s Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 3 courtesy of a 2-1 victory at Ayr today.

They moved ten points clear of second place Harris Academy, who play Aberdeen University tomorrow.

Elsewhere, FMGM Monarchs took advantage of Ayr’ loss to the league leaders to move up to third in the table with a comprehensive 5-0 defeat of Giffnock, while Perthshire suffered a set-back to their promotion prospects, going down 6-4 at home to Aberdeen University.

In the bottom half of the table, Stirling University defeated Waverley Inveresk Trinity 3-1 and 2020 Renewables Greenock and Stirling Wanderers played out a 2-2 draw.

Scottish Hockey Union media release



Title celebrations for Grove Menzieshill

Grove Menzieshill were crowned the 2012/13 champions of Women’s Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 1 today.

A 1-1 draw with second place Milne Craig Clydesdale Western at Titwood ensured they grained the point they needed to retain their league title.

The Taysiders now have two games left against CALA Edinburgh and Edinburgh University, and with the title in the bag, the next target is to go the entire league campaign unbeaten.

The battle for runners-up and the second European qualification spot is now between Milne Craig Clydesdale Western and Edinburgh University. A win for the Glasgow side at home to CALA Edinburgh next weekend would be enough to guarantee second spot.

Dundee Wanderers defeated CALA Edinburgh 5-1 at Meggetland to ensure they will finish at least fourth.

In the scrap to avoid the drop to Division 2, Western Wildcats moved out of the relegation zone with with a comprehensive 4-1 home win over fellow strugglers Inverleith.

Grange EL also recorded a vital 2-0 success at home to Glynhill Hotel Kelburne to move two places up the league to sixth position.

Meanwhile, in Women’s Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 2, Watsonians are guaranteed to finish in the top two places after a 2-0 win away to Highland today maintained their position at the summit of the division.

However, second place GHK Ladies remain only one point behind the league leaders after a vital 5-2 win at home to third place Erskine Stewart’s Melville FP.

Mathematically, the former pupils are still in with a shout of grabbing second place but it looks likely that it will be a shoot-out between the current top two sides to determine the title and the promotion play-off spot.

Hillhead Ladies’ 2-2 draw away to Haddington means they are out of the running for promotion.

In the only game of the day in Women’s Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 3, Stirling Wanderers and Aberdeen Ladies played out a 1-1 draw.

Please visit the Women's Aberdeen Asset Management National Leagues for all today's results and the league standings.

Scottish Hockey Union media release



No complacency, warns coach

MHL: Dharmaraj wants KLHC to take Terengganu seriously

By Jugjet Singh



KLHC’s Kevinder Singh (left) checks Terengganu’s Thung Wei Chia during their match in the Premier Division of the square off again in the second round of the Malaysia Hockey League in Kuantan on April 5. KLHC won 5-0. Pic by Afif Abd.Halim

KUALA Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) coach K. Dharmaraj has cautioned his charges not to take the first round result against Terengganu as a yardstick when  the teams meet again in the Premier Division of the  Malaysia Hockey League today.

Double champions KLHC whipped Terengganu 5-0 last weekend in Kuantan, but Dharmaraj is wary of the East Coast side who had pinched six of their best in a pre-season signing frenzy.

"Terengganu have the players to upset any team on their day, and I have had the pleasure of coaching some of them for many years before they moved on, so I know their strengths.

"We did beat them with a high score last weekend, but that can't be used as an excuse to take them lightly.

"My players know the score, and they will give their best again," said Dharmaraj, who is also the national juniors coach.

Last season, KLHC had beaten Sapura 5-0 in the first leg, but ended up with a 1-1 draw in the return leg.

"I have pointed this out to my players, and they know their work is cut out, and there is not going to be a Sunday stroll for us," said Dharmaraj.

Good news for Dharmaraj is that his squad is injury free and the Pakistan signings have proven to be assets.

This has resulted in KLHC cruising towards the league title as their nearest contenders are Tenaga Nasional and Maybank, while the rest have fallen by the wayside.

Result -- Premier Division: Maybank 4 Tenaga Nasional 3.

Today -- Premier Division: UniKL v Sapura (National Stadium I, 6pm), Nur Insafi v Maybank (National Stadium II, 6pm), KLHC v Terengganu (National Stadium II, 8pm).

New Straits Times



Tigers thrive on three early strikes to edge Tenaga

By S. RAMAGURU



Early strike: Maybank’s Hairul Nizam Rani celebrates after scoring the first goal in the seventh minute against Tenaga Nasional Saturday. —M. AZHAR ARIF/The Star.

KUALA LUMPUR: Maybank had to rely on three early strikes to humble Tenaga Nasional 4-3 in their Premier League match of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

The Tigers, however, had to stave off a late Tenaga fightback before securing full points.

It was Tenaga’s first loss in the league.

It was sweet revenge indeed for Maybank, who lost 5-2 to Tenaga in the first round.

The win allowed Maybank to catch up with Tenaga, who remained second, on 15 points. Tenaga have a better goal difference.

In yesterday’s match, Maybank took just seven minutes to open accounts through Hairul Nizam Rani’s field goal.

A minute later, Pakistani Shafqat Rasool found ample space in the D to slot home goal No. 2.

Maybank continued to go on the offensive and in the 30th minute, earned a penalty stroke which another Pakistani – Shakeel Abassi – flicked past goalkeeper S. Kumar.

Tenaga, who wasted the two penalty corners they earned in the first half, came back after the break revitalised and narrowed the deficit through Mohd Firhan Azhaari in the 46th minute. Then, seven minutes later, Tenaga got their second goal through Faizal Saari, who netted his 10th goal of the campaign.

This set the stage for a final flourish from Tenaga but, with just five minutes left, Amirulla Zainol scored Maybank’s fourth goal when he slotted home from close range.

Still Tenaga never gave up. Mohd Amin Rahim got their third off a penalty corner a minute from time but it was too late.

The Star of Malaysia



Project 2013 coach hauled up for outburst


KUALA LUMPUR: Project 2013 assistant coach K. Gobinathan has been referred to the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) disciplinary board for “conduct unbecoming” during the ongoing Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).

The MHL technical committee, who met on Friday, decided to refer the coach to the board since they are unable to deal with the issue as Gobinathan, a Maybank employee, is not registered with any team for the MHL.

He was alleged to have shouted at the umpires during a match and also towards the match technical official. The report against the coach was made by technical official Surjit Singh.

Technical committee chairman M. Gobinathan said that the coach was interviewed and admitted that although he was not registered, he had been coaching UiTM, a Division One outfit.

“He also admitted to shouting from the sidelines.

“But he claimed it was in the form of instructions to his team.

“As he is not a registered member of any team, we’re unable to make a decision and have decided to refer the matter to the disciplinary board.

“He is a coach in the national set-up and, as such, the matter is being taken seriously,” he said, adding that the alleged incident occurred during the game between UiTM and Sunday 2030 on April 6. The game ended 3-3.

The Star of Malaysia

 



'I want to retain natural flair of Indian hockey'

Rutvick Mehta


Chief coach of junior men’s national team Gregg Clark tells Rutvick Mehta that consistency will be the key if India are to go all the way in the junior World Cup.

What does this assignment mean to you?

I’m very excited about the challenge, but am also very aware that it is a tough project and a lot will be expected of myself, the team, and the rest of the support staff.

India recently went to the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup with a relatively inexperienced team, and did not fare too well (finishing last). How do you rate India’s current crop of juniors?

I think they are a very talented group of young players. Obviously, it was difficult for India to excel at the Azlan Shah with such an untested group. The talent is there but a lot of hard work is required if we want to excel in the Junior World Cup (JWC) later this year. I think if we can work on our consistency in all aspects of the game, both individually and collectively, we will be a formidable team.

You have a one-year contract. Is it too short a time to expect drastic changes?

I worked with some of the junior players in the HIL (Hockey India League). I can share valuable information on technical improvements and get the squad to play to an effective game plan. I think there is enough time if the proposed build-up programme comes through.

You have worked with the likes of Mandeep Singh as coach of Ranchi Rhinos. Do you think the experience of working with some of the boys is an added advantage?

Absolutely. I think we have developed a good relationship. Hopefully that experience will permeate through the group and we can all work towards a common goal — which is to try and get onto the podium in December at the JWC.

Apart from Mandeep, Manpreet Singh and Malak Singh, did any other youngster make you take notice of his talent during the HIL?
There were many who caught my eye. They are all talented but are also wonderful human beings, which makes working with them an absolute pleasure. Their work ethics are good and they are thirsty for knowledge.

Do you desire improvement in any specific areas before the World Cup?
I don’t want to give away too many secrets. But I wish to retain as much of the natural flair and creative ability of Indian hockey, while trying to eradicate inconsistency. And perhaps, I would like to bring in a bit more structure to their play.

DNA



Foreign coach for Junior India is unthoughtful and unfortunate

K. Arumugam

MY LAST WORD: So, a foreign coach for our men’s Junior national team. Is it a good move or otherwise? South Africa’s senior national team’s chief coach Clarke is our Junior India’s chief coach. It relegates incumbent Baljeet Saini to a deputy status.

This is Clarke’s decision, it is his career option. However, the point that should not be lost sight of is, he relegates himself from coach of a senior team to junior.

Normally, no coach would ever downgrade himself from senior team’s charge to junior. Mostly, junior national coaches get promoted to senior teams, and it is natural. However, perhaps the Indian market value must have counted on Clark to swim against the current. May be that he eyes on future, of landing in India, stationing here may turn out to be the game changer in the long run.

My concern here is not a coach’s dilemma or his job option.

I wish to highlight just three aspects.

Firstly, can a national team’s chief coach be appointed barely 6 months before a major tournament?

Secondly, the reasons behind going for a foreign coach for junior team too

Thirdly, the process followed for selecting a post of such nature.

Last thing first.

Selection of junior coach does not follow a transparent process. We never know such a thing was in the asking in the first place. No prospective candidates were called for, neither interviews taken place, nor any others, including Indians got a fair chance to stake their claim.

About two years ago when the search for the Chief Coach to succeed Jose Brasa had started, a genuine process was followed. Three candidates were shortlisted and interviewed before Michael Nobbs was narrowed down.

No open or genuine process was followed now in the case of Clarke. All we know is, sudden announcement in one fine morning; “Yes we got him” kind of stuff.

It was unfortunate no process was followed for appointing Performance Director too. I don’t think both are matter of coincidences, but an indication the way we do things.

Second issue is, need for foreign coach for juniors.

This is a serious matter, it entails serious discussion. First thing to be noted here is absence of national debate. One of the briefs for our senior national team chief coach was to groom future Indian coaches, and it is written in the contract. Foreign coach for juniors negate this stated objective.

Ok even that is too much to ask for from Nobbs, what was the reason for importing coach for junior team? Did anyone involved in the major decision consider every aspect of such a major move, including its long term impact in Indian scene?

India follows some sort of socialistic sports model, the core of which is jobs offer to sportspersons.

This scope drives Indian sports especially games like hockey which has no market driven massive following but has emotional connect and thus gets huge support from governments of the day.

It’s the coaches at the institutions, academies, and government agencies who focus on juniors.

They keep their ears on the ground, search for good players, groom colts, all in their effort to make a good team for their institutions.

It is these coaches on the ground who help career of young players, promote them, help them land in camps, jobs, etc.

That’s why despite many debacles on senior sides, Indian hockey still produce good players in numbers.

Every coach working at the grassroot dreams of being Sub-Junior or Junior India coach. Many of them got it. They always delivered.

Take for example: Only two teams did well in the recently held Hockey India League, Delhi and Ranchi teams.

Why?

They got right young players in their ranks, as Baljeet Saini and AK Bansal are primarily junior India coaches working with youngsters. They know where the talent is.

Its government support and grassroot coaches, who sustain Indian hockey.

Appointment of foreign coach for Junior teams therefore is not merely a question of managing 18 players for success in a couple of major tournament s– which almost is the case for senior teams.

Issues here are grassroot talent scouting, grooming them, working in different social milieu, and then motivation to undertake all these tasks.

A foreign coach for junior team has the potential to break the Indian system. Today, if Hockey India leaves out 200 prospective players and still has equal numbers to play for the country, whom it should thank?

It should thank coaches who work at grassroot and groom talent, and all of them are Indians. Its not fair to ignore everyone of them, and thrust an outsiders without understanding the pulse and dynamics of our system. Coaches at grassroot level need encouragement, and it can come through their elevation to junior teams, where they can have a final say.

An Indian who understands our system must have a final say in junior coaching because of complex factors which are very specific to this country, articulation of those things in public in particular will not enhance our nation’s image.

For instant, any player can fool a foreign chief coach on his age but not an Indian coach unless and until he allows it or overlooks it. So irrespective of documents, right people can be in the team.

Nothing more to be told on this count than stating the fact that why some stalwart players were not in the 2005 Junior World Cup team.

The coach, Harendra Singh was an Indian, who saw to it that those actually over-aged are politely sidelined. Otherwise, at least two players could have played their second Junior World Cup!!

Here it is also worth mentioning the truth that the same coach took only youngsters in the first Premier Hockey League team so that he can select a good team for that year’s Junior World Cup. Can such rationale and risk occur if he knows he will not be training the world cup team?

His successor AK Bansal saw to it about 80 percent of junior India campers were sent out of the camp on age fraud.

Coaches like them know the pulse, they know where the system rot, where the system is dynamic, how to get the best out it.

Otherwise too, India juniors performance overall has been good. They won Silver in 1997, Gold in 2001, finished fourth in 2005. They are the Asian champions.

When these successes do not translate into senior levels, at least on global level (not on Asian level ) we all genuinely understood the need for technical and tactical improvisation in our systems, and therefore underscored the need for a foreign coach for senior teams to find, fix and implement the elusive finish.

Now, it seems the foreign coach thing is overdone, extrapolated without understanding the basics.

Filling foreigners at every gap is not the solution, quite probably it has become a fashion now in our set up.

HI nowadays seems happy with foreign lot because they are more pliable, malleable and tactile than Indian coaches, some them even set new standards!

These peripheral gains should not form cornerstone of national policy.

Thirdly and most importantly is the first point I mentioned the opening paras.

Tenure and timing.

Junior World Cup is just six months away. Is a coach magician to produce a winning team in six months? If it is so, why most successful countries appoint coaches after major tournaments and give them four or seven years to function.

It is really questionable why such an established player-coach like Clark agrees to undertake a junior team at this juncture.

Wisdom suggests the offer should have been made after the Delhi Junior World Cup so that he can fully gear up for the next number. A national consensus would have risen by then.

But who will refuse when the offer comes on a platter?

The situation now is interesting.

The person who competed, but lost out to chief coach post is now Performance Director, who will control the incumbent chief coach.

A person who has not coached senior national team is now national chief coach of another country.

A person who coached senior teams for long spells is now junior India coach.

Though no one questions anybody’s competency. but the strange things stark.

Foreigners who showed on India get posts , while Indian claimants like V. Baskaran (India qualified for the Junior World Cup under him after missing out previous two numbers), Jagbir Singh (had stints as national team assistant coach, and played long in Europe), Harendra Singh (India won first Junior Asia Cup), AK Bansal (India retained Junior Asia Cup)…and the list goes on.

Most importantly what is the fault of present coach Baljeet Singh Saini, the stylist midfielder who led Indian team for the Milton Keyness Junior World Cup, after India missed out previous two.

The decision to appoint foreigner for Junior team is unthoughtful, unfortunate, will adversely impact overall ground scenario, and importantly undesirable.

However, we note with our humility that no former coach or player came out against this decision, and silence is sign of acceptance. But I have m view and it is done now.

Stick2Hockey.com



'Where are the coaches at grass root level?'

Ruchir Mishra


NAGPUR: Unlike cricket, hockey hasn't prospered the way it should have been even though India won eight Olympic gold medals. The administrators didn't pay enough heed towards the game's development when its popularity was at its peak between 60s and 80s. It pains former Olympian Ashok Kumar, a son of hockey wizard Major Dhyanchand. The ex-Indian captain feels while money has come to the game the professionalism is still lacking.

"While there are international coaches for the national team, where are the quality coaches at the grass root level? There should be uniformity in coaching pattern and that's where the Indian hockey is lacking. There's nobody to guide state-level, university players and that's hurting us as we don't get players who are ready to perform at the highest level. What we need is skillful players who can make the difference. You bring the best coach in the world but unless you have quality players, he can't do much. Quality players will only come if you have right person to identify the talent at the early age," Kumar, who is in the city, said while interacting with journalists.

Kumar doesn't oppose the foreign coach but he said that it would have benefitted the country had the governing body opted for foreigners 20-25 years ago. "Australians and Europeans picked things from Indian hockey, added power to it and now they are ruling the roost. We should have trained our coaches to pick the nuances of modern day hockey. It didn't happen that time and it's not happening now," he said.

One of the issues which worry Kumar is the fraudulent in the age category tournaments. "We lose out many good talents because of this as players with more age playing in the Under-16 tournament. It starts from schools and when they start playing competitive, they lack skills because they didn't face enough competition at the junior level," he said.

Kumar said lack of astro turf is also hurting the country. "There are lot of tournaments these days but most of them are organized on the grass fields rather than astro turf. It's surprising that the city like Nagpur doesn't have a single astro turf. When our youngsters are not getting the basic infrastructure, how can we expect performance from them?" he said.

The Times of India