News for 30 June 2012

All the news for Saturday 30 June 2012


India thrash France 8-2 in friendly hockey match

LILLE (France): Indian hockey team's preparations for next month's Olympic Games began on a confident note with a 8-2 route of France in the first of the two friendly matches.

India led 3-2 at the half-time after the home side had taken an early lead late on Thursday night.

SK Uthappa scored the equaliser with a field goal while Sandeep Singh's penalty corner strike gave India 2-1 lead. Gurvinder Singh Chandi made it 3-1 but France reduced the margin through a penalty corner variation just before the interval.

India stepped up the tempo in the second half and added five more goals without reply to reduce the home side to submission in the match played on the conventional green turf and in overcast conditions.

Two minutes after resumption, Shivendra Singh scored a field goal -- a deflection off a VR Raghunath attempt -- and backed it up with a second strike off a Gurbaj Singh pass within a minute.

Raghunath scored a penalty corner goal in the 40th minute to put India 6-2 ahead.

Later, Sarvanjit Singh scored a field goal before Sandeep Singh, playing as centre forward, added a field goal to complete the route.

The second friendly match will be played on blue turf at Le Touquet.

PR Sreejesh, Birendra Lakra, Tushak Khandker and SV Sunil were rested in today's match which saw international debuts for Nitin Thimmiah and Pradhan Somanna.

The Times of India



Ritu Rani scores hat-trick as India thrash Singapore 9-0


BANGKOK: Skipper Ritu Rani led form the front with a hat-trick as India spanked Singapore 9-0 for their second successive Group A win in the sixth Women's Junior Asia Cup Hockey Championship.

Vice-captain Poonam Rani also scored three goals on Thursday as the team followed up its 15-0 win against Sri Lanka.

Vandana Katariya scored off a sixth-minute penalty corner to open the scoring.

Seven minutes later, fellow forward Anupa Barla increased the lead with a field goal. Poonam scored off a penalty corner in the 22nd minute while Lily Chanu Mayengam added a field goal just before the break to ensure that India held a 4-0 lead.

Poonam pumped in two field goals within 10 minutes of resumption while captain Ritu Rani scored a hat-trick off penalty corners in an 11-minute span from the 57th minute in a match in which India enjoyed 95 per cent ball possession.

Though Singapore packed their defence, India scored frequently, converting six of the 15 penalty corners they forced.

In another Group A match, China beat Sri Lanka 21-0 while Korea defeated Pakistan 19-0 in a Group B game.

India will play against China on Monday before taking on Malaysia in their final league game the following day.

The Times of India



Indian eves thrash Singapore 9-0 in junior Asia Cup hockey

BANGKOK: Skipper Ritu Rani scored a hat-trick as India secured its second successive victory in the sixth women's Junior Asia Cup Hockey Championship with a thumping 9-0 win over Singapore in a Group A league match on Thursday.

Besides Ritu's hat-trick, vice captain Poonam Rani also scored three goals as the team followed up its 15-0 win against Sri Lanka.

Vandana Katariya scored off a sixth minute penalty corner to open the scoring. Seven minutes later, fellow forward Anupa Barla increased the lead with a field goal. Poonam scored off a penalty corner in the 22nd minute while Lily Chanu Mayengam added a field goal just before the break to ensure that India held a 4-0 lead.

Poonam pumped in two field goals within 10 minutes of resumption while Ritu scored a hat-trick off penalty corners in a 11-minute span from the 57th minute in a match in which India held ball possession for close to 95 per cent of the time. Though Singapore packed its defence, India scored frequently, converting six of the 15 penalty corners it forced.

In another Group A match, China beat Sri Lanka 21-0 while Korea defeated Pakistan 19-0 in a Group B game.

India's will play against China Monday before its final league game with Malaysia the following day.

The Times of India



Ireland fall to Scotland in Celtic Cup opener

Ireland got their Celtic Cup campaign off to a low-key start as Scotland claimed the opening game of the competition with a rugged 2-1 win in Lisnagarvey this evening.

Alison Bell’s deflected shot in the 49th minute set them on their way and Ailsa Wylie’s penalty corner goal clinched the tie with 14 minutes to go.

Chloe Watkins did make for a lively finish when she volleyed home from close range after the superb Aine Connery set her up with a mazy run and shot with nine minutes left.

The first half saw both sides create plenty of chances with Amy Gibson worked by Alex Speers and Anna O’Flanagan. Speers, the Irish skipper, also saw her effort from Nikki Symmons pass incredibly taken off the line by a scrambling Aileen Davis.

Four Irish corners could not produce a go-ahead goal though Audrey O’Flynn went within inches of breaking the deadlock. As did Connery, the star Irish performer, with an upright reverse in a golden period just after the break.

But Scotland’s goal built their confidence and they played the closing quarter with confidence. A win on Saturday over Wales will see them retain the title while Ireland’s only hope is if the Welsh beat the Scots, keeping Sunday’s game live.

In the men’s competition, Scotland netted three times in the second half to run out 3-0 winners over Wales, joining Ireland at the head of the four-team group.

Ireland 1 (Chloe Watkins) Scotland 2 (Ailsa Wylie, Alison Bell)

Ireland: E Gray, M Harvey, C Sargent, E Clarke, A Speers, A Connery, N Symmons, A O'Flynn, C Watkins, N Atcheler, A O'Flanagan

Subs: P Smithwick, M Crowley, N Evans, S Quinn, S McCay

Scotland: A Gibson, A Bell, C Ralph, S Judge, H Cram, K Marshall, R Merchant, N Kidd, S McGIlveray, M McLellan

Subs: N Skrastin, A Davis, N Lloyd, L Clement, A Wylie

Men’s Celtic Cup: Scotland 3 (K Bain 2, A Forsyth) Wales 0


Standings: 1. Scotland 3pts (+3) 2. Ireland 3pts (+2) 3. South Africa 0pts (-2) 4. Wales 0pts (-3)

Saturday: Wales v Scotland (women), 1pm; South Africa v Wales, 2pm; Ireland v Scotland (men), 4pm

Sunday: Wales v Ireland (women), 12pm; South Africa v Scotland (men), 12pm; Ireland v Wales (men), 2pm

Irish Hockey Association media release



Scotland women in driving seat in Lisburn

Scotland`s women under coach Gordon Shepherd continues to defy the world rankings, Ireland are four places above the Scots, but it was Shepherd`s charges who emerged with a 2-1 win over Ireland in the opening game of the Celtic Cup in Lisburn.   The result means that the Scots only need to draw with Wales to retain the trophy for another year.

Scotland dominated the early proceedings, a Nikki Kidd drive went just over the crossbar while minutes later Holly Cram intercepted a pass in the Irish circle, her initial shot was saved by the Irish goalkeeper, Catriona Ralph followed up with a shot from the top of the circle but this time the keeper saved on the line.   Nicola Skrastin created the next opening, she passed the ball on to Sam Judge but her fierce drive was saved by the keeper diving to her right.

However, the Irish started to come back into the game, Aileen Davis cleared off the line by scooping the ball over the bar and then Amy Gibson in the Scotland goal saved a high drag flick from an Irish penalty corner.   Gibson was again called into action to clear the ball after another Irish attack ended in a goalmouth scramble.

The Irish came out for the second half fired up and Gibson in the Scotland goal had to look lively on a couple of occasions.  The opener for the Scots came from a solo run by Ali Bell, she drove up the right into the circle and fired the ball past an unsighted Irish goalkeeper.  Minutes later the Scots went two up at their first and only penalty corner of the contest, the ball was switched left to Becky Merchant who passed it back to Ailsa Wyllie and the Grove Menzieshill player swept the ball into the net.

The Irish pulled one back through Chloe Watkins, but it was the Scots who pressed near the end and further chances fell to Cram, Judge and Nicki Lloyd.

SCOTLAND  2    IRELAND   1  (WOMEN)

Scottish Hockey Union media release



Bain on target in Lisburn

Two goals from Kenny Bain gave Derek Forsyth, Scotland`s new head coach, a debut win in his first official tournament with a convincing 3-0 over Wales in the opening day of the Celtic Cup in Lisburn.   The Scots go top of the pool on goal difference from Ireland who beat South Africa 4-2 in an earlier game.

Despite a goalless first half the Scots dominated proceedings and could have been well ahead at the interval.  There were no shortage of chances, Bain shot wide of the right hand post, Willie Marshall`s drive was blocked by the Welsh goalkeeper and Fergus Dunn`s drag flick at a penalty corner suffered the same fate.

But three minutes into the second half the Scots finally had their noses in front, Bain received the ball at the top of the circle and unleashed a diagonal reverse stick shot that fired past the keeper at his left hand post.  Chris Nelson had the chance to double the lead but his efforts produced a brilliant double save from the goalkeeper.   Wales then had their only sustained period of pressure but Scots keeper Allan Dick was on hand to frustrate their two chances at goal.

A fierce reverse stick shot by Ross Stott flew wide of the post, but the second goal was not long in coming, a fierce cross from the right by Forsyth found Bain, the striker was under pressure from a Welsh defender but still managed to nudge the ball over the line.   The game was over as a contest with three minutes left, a brilliant inter-play mover by Nelson and Bain opened up the Welsh defence, the latter crossed the ball from the base-line and a diving Forsyth slotted the ball home for the third.

SCOTLAND  3  WALES  0  (MEN)

Scottish Hockey Union media release



Ireland defeat: SA did not execute, says head coach Gregg Clark

PJ VAN ROOYEN in Ireland


South Africa failed to execute the chances that were handed to them by Ireland in Thursday evening's Celtic Cup opener, according to national men's hockey coach Gregg Clark.

The South Africans lost 4-2 to the hosts in wet and slippery conditions at the Lisnagarvey Hockey Club, and Clark believed his side were wasteful in front of goal.

"We left a lot of chances out there," Clark said after the match. "We had the chances, we had the opportunities, we just didn't execute."

Ireland took the lead early in the first half and looked weary at times but ultimately held their nerve to secure a confidence boosting victory over the tourists.

With the weather looking threatening overhead, after it had rained for most of the afternoon, the visitors at times struggled underfoot, often slipping and falling as the wet turf took its toll.

Clark, however, said conditions could not be blamed for the loss and that the team needed to get used to wet weather as the London Olympics would be played in similar conditions.

"It's a slippery pitch where we played tonight," he said. "The feedback from the test event in London was that it's a very slippery and bouncy pitch, so it will be the same for everybody in London.

"We can't really complain about that too much, we just made it too easy for them."

The South Africans last played nearly two months earlier during the Olympic qualifying tournament in Kakamigahara, Japan, but Clark said he had refused to focus on the gap in match practice and rather placed emphasis on a positive mindset going into the opening match of their European tour.

"We tried to not use the 50-days issue as an excuse, although we were aware that there may be some rustiness," the former SA player said. "We felt if we brought a mental perspective to the game of heightened focus on performing well that would negate the rustiness.

"We did enough to win that game comfortably."

Clark's team had several opportunities to win the match, including a missed penalty stroke by Andrew Cronje, with the ball hitting the crossbar and nearly bouncing in, and the coach said he was pleased with the number of chances they had created.

"Statistically we won the game in every department apart from on the scoreboard," he said. "We played really well in patches, our structures worked, we created the chances we needed to win the game, but we made some really bad errors which hurt us."

South Africa will need to recover quickly, as they take on Wales on Saturday in the next round of Celtic Cup fixtures, before they face Scotland on Sunday.

Ireland posed arguably the toughest test for the South Africans, and Clark said it would be fair to predict that SA should win their next two matches.

"I would be really disappointed if we didn't win the next two games," he said.

SA Press Association (SAPA)

SA Hockey Association media release



Day 1 of Ireland v Scotland U18 Girls

Ireland scored three goals in each half to comprehensively beat Scotland, in the first of their three match series. A brace from Amanda Haslam and Katie Mullan, plus a goal a piece from Claire Foley and Elaine Carey to secure victory.

They play again tomorrow at Lisnagarvey H.C with a 6pm start.

Irish Hockey Association media release



Scots youngsters against Ireland

IRELAND 6  SCOTLAND  0  -  UNDER 18 GIRL`S CHALLENGE MATCH


Although the first half was a fairly even affair, Ireland`s three goal lead did not reflect the difference between the sides.  The Irish goals came from open play and were due mainly to Scotland`s defensive mistakes.

"We`re very positive looking forward to tomorrow`s game where we hope we`ll be much fresher after all our travelling and a late night game," said Louise McIntyre, Scotland`s manager.

IRELAND 3  SCOTLAND 2   -  UNDER 16 GIRL`S CHALLENGE MATCH

Scotland coach Bill Robson admitted that his young charges struggled physically with the Irish in the first half and found themselves 3-1 down at the interval, Kerry-Anne Hastings (CALA Edinburgh and Mary Erskine School) got Scotland`s only counter from a rebound at a penalty corner.   The Scots youngsters had a much improved second half which they won 1-0, again Hastings found the net from a penalty.

Scottish Hockey Union media release



England U16s & U18s take on Belgium

It's a busy weekend for England's Under 16 and Under 18 teams with matches against Belgium on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

England's U16 boys and girls travel to Antwerp in Belgium for their three match series while the U18s are both at home, at Canterbury Hockey Club's Polo Farm ground.

The Belgium series comes ahead of U16 fixtures against Scotland in Stirling later next week.

Stay in touch with the teams' results via the EHB website International Results page.

England U16 & U18s v Belgium


Date     Time     Fixture
Sunday 1 July     16:00     England U16 Boys v Belgium
Sunday 1 July     16:00     England U16 Girls v Belgium
Sunday 1 July     17:30     England U18 Boys v Belgium
Sunday 1 July     17:30     England U18 Girls v Belgium
Monday 2 July     15:00     England U16 Boys v Belgium
Monday 2 July     15:00     England U16 Girls v Belgium
Monday 2 July     17:30     England U18 Boys v Belgium
Monday 2 July     17:30     England U18 Girls v Belgium
Tuesday 3 July     09:00     England U16 Girls v Belgium
Tuesday 3 July     09:00     England U16 Boys v Belgium
Tuesday 3 July     10:30     England U18 Girls v Belgium
Tuesday 3 July     12:30     England U18 Boys v Belgium

* match times all BST.

England Hockey Board Media release



The final push to London has started


Australia completed a clean sweep of New Zealand. (Photo: Murray Clemence Anderson / Hockey Australia)

The one–month mark for the 2012 Games has come and gone and the participating Olympic teams are in the final stages of getting ready for the big show. This week’s International Hockey Round-up takes a look at some of the series between the teams that will soon be packing their bags for London.

The Dutch men are getting used to the London weather and food ahead of time. They are playing two test games against Olympic host, Great Britain. The Dutch won the first game, 2-1. More important for the Dutch than the victory was the return of Teun de Nooijer who hadn’t played since the last match of the regular Dutch season on May 6. He missed the Dutch play-offs and the EHL Finals as well as six weeks of preparations due to a foot injury and achilles problems.

The New Zealand men were guests in Cairns last weekend but suffered a clean sweep at the hands of the World Number 1 Australia. After hefty 6-1 defeat on Friday, the Black Sticks were never able to quite catch up and conceded Saturday's and Monday's clashes 5-1 and 4-1. The final test was also a special occasion for London bound New Zealand goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex who celebrated his 150th cap after making his debut with the Black Sticks in 2001.

The ERGO Masters in Düsseldorf saw the German men emerge as the clear winners after topping Spain 6-3 and the Dutch 3-2 and tying the Belgian Red Lions, 3-3. The results put Germany on top of the podium with seven points, ahead of Belgium in second place who lost 0-3 to the Netherlands, but wrestled down Spain for a 1-0 final day victory. The Netherlands finished in third place, ahead of a slightly disappointing Spanish team on goal difference.

In Pan American action, the American and Argentina women’s closed their four-game series in the U.S. last Saturday. The last match ended with a 2-2 tie, with Noel Barrionuevo scoring both goals for the World Champions, while Melissa Gonzalez and Paige Selenski found the net for the hosts.

The Dutch women were also busy as they wrapped up a series against China last weekend. After two lopsided defeats in the first two matches (1-4 and 0-5), China came closer in Game 3 with a 2-5 final score last Saturday, had their best showing in a 1-1 draw on Sunday.

The German women are entering the final stages of their preparations for London, starting a week-long camp in Worms and Mainz. Apart from training and the official uniform presentation, the team will be playing three test matches against the Belgian women, scheduled for tomorrow Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday.

South Africa’s women are currently in a three-week camp at home and are travelling to Europe shortly. They will be facing the Netherlands in two test matches on Thursday and Friday before travelling to London for two test matches against Great Britain and Germany for the Bremen 4 Nations event the week after.

Finally, the South Africa men are competing in the Celtic Cup this weekend, held at Lisnagarvey HC in Northern Ireland. Their first encounter with the Irish guests brought an unexpected 4-2 loss after which head coach Gregg Clark commented "Statistically, we won the game in every department apart from on the scoreboard. We played really well in patches, our structures worked, we created the chances we needed to win the game, but we made some really bad errors which hurt us." Clark remained confident however and predicted that South Africa should win their next two matches. "I would be really disappointed if we didn't win the next two games," he said. South Africa plays Wales on Saturday and Scotland on Sunday. South Africa and Ireland will meet again next weekend in Dublin, when the two are joined by Belgium for a 3 Nations meet.

FIH site



In the Spotlight.... Netherlands women

A closer look at the 24 teams at the London Games



The Dutch women have had much to celebrate since the 2008 Games. (Photo: FIH / Frank Uijlenbroek)

'In the Spotlight' is a series that will profile each of the 24 participating teams at the London Olympic Games. It will provide a glimpse of what to expect as each squad begins its London quest. Between now and the Olympic opening ceremony a new team will be featured every 2-3 days. Today, we feature the Dutch women's national team.

The Basics:
The Netherlands Women are currently ranked 1st in the FIH World Ranking with 2063 points, just 33 points ahead of nearest rivals Argentina. The Dutch have played in the last seven Olympic Games, only missing the 1980 Games due to the boycott in Moscow. From those seven events, two gold, one silver and three bronze medals have accrued with 1992’s sixth place their worst performance, and they go to London as reigning champions. In 2010, they were World Cup runners-up to Argentina in Rosario but won the 2011 Champions Trophy on home soil and the EuroHockey Championship in Mönchengladbach. February saw their recent run stalled with bronze in Rosario’s 2012 Champions Trophy.

The Road to London:
As European Champions, the Netherlands claimed one of the two automatic slots from the continental competition to London along with final runners-up, Germany.

Players to Watch:
At just 27, Dutch skipper Maartje Paumen’s is already among one of the legends of the game. A powerful presence in the centre of the back or pushing on into midfield, she has the ability to spray passes to the flanks, and the reach to pick off big tackles. It is her corner ability, though, which she is most famed for as one of the most fearsome – along with South Africa’s Pietee Coetzee – penalty corner exponents. She was named the 2011 FIH Player of the Year, is the top scorer in Champions Trophy history and scored in every single game of the Netherlands’ 2010 World Cup campaign. Naomi van As adds a graceful figure to midfield while Lidewij Welten is a key threat from play in and around opposition goalkeeper’s pads.

Coach:
Max Caldas, a former Argentine international but long-time Dutch resident, took over the head coach’s role in November 2010 having been the assistant coach in 2006 when the Netherlands won the World Cup and the Beijing Olympics. Since taking on the role, the Dutch have won the European Championship and the 2011 Champions Trophy on home soil before coming third in Rosario earlier this year. Caldas started his coaching career in earnest after injury put paid to his playing days, the highlight of which included a Pan-American gold and Champions Trophy bronze. He had been in Holland for four seasons with Klein Zwitserland and stayed in the country to pursue coaching, attaining success with Leiden and Amsterdam’s ladies first team before taking on the Bloemendaal men’s team.

Strengths:
Defensively, the spine of the team, with Willemijn Bos and Maartje Paumen central, is an immaculate one as they managed to win the European title conceding just twice in five games. In doing so, they kept the world number three and four sides Germany and England blank in the knockout phases. Their penalty corners are one of the most lethal in the women’s game while their ability to create space down either flank creates plenty of chances.

Weaknesses:

Since the 2010 World Cup, enforcers like Janneke Schopman and Minke Smeets have retired, leaving a big amount of leadership responsibility to fill for their fresh-faced panel. Argentina are their recent Achilles heel, ending their title hopes at the last two major events as the trickery of Luciana Aymar and Carla Rebecchi has been their undoing - something they will need to pin down should the sides meet. Caldas pin-pointed Great Britain as favourites for gold in the wake of the Investec London Cup and so they need to be extra wary of the hosts in the group phase.

Crystal Ball:
The to and fro between the Netherlands and Argentina in recent times leaves them as the two fancied sides for overall glory. For Max Caldas’ side, the group phase looks the friendlier of the two, though Great Britain on home turf will be a more than tricky final pool game should any points be dropped en route. Their corner prowess and mean defence should see them have the tools to progress to the latter phases.

FIH site



PHF to announce squad for London Olympics tomorrow

Staff Report


ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Hockey Federation’s (PHF) selection committee will announce the national squad for the London Olympics after conducting trials on Sunday. The selection committee is headed by former Olympian Hanif Khan while Arshad Ali Chawdhry and Khalid Bashir are its members. The training camp of the national senior probables is in full swing in Abbottabad. In the London Olympics, Pakistan will face Spain in their opener on July 30, while they will take on Argentina on August 1. In their third match, Pakistan will play hosts Great Britain on August 3. On August 5, they will face off with South Africa. In their last pool match, they will clash with world champions Australia on August 7.

Probables:

Imran Shah, Muhammad Irfan, Sohail Abbas, Syed Kashif Shah, Mohammad Rizwan Junior, Fareed Ahmed, Rashid Mahmood, Muhammad Tousiq, Muhammad Waqas, Shafqat Rasool, Abdul Haseem Khan, Mohammad Rizwan Senior, Mohammad Umar Bhutta, Mohammad Khalid Bhatti, Shakeel Abbasi, Ali Shan, Rehan Butt, Waseem Ahmad, Muhammad Imran, Salman Akbar, Tasawar Abbas, Ammad Shakeel Butt, Dilber Hussain, Imran Butt, Muhammad Zubair and Aamir Shahzad.

The Daily Times



Rodhanizam and Robert face one-year ban for playing in unsanctioned league in India

By S. RAMAGURU



Mohamed Rodhanizam Mat Radzi

KUALA LUMPUR: Two former Malaysian national hockey players face at least a one-year ban for participating in the unsanctioned World Series Hockey (WSH) in India in March.

Mohamed Rodhanizam Mat Radzi and Robert Alcantara, who turn out for Sapura in the local league, had played in the WSH without a formal release letter from the Malaysia Hockey Confederation (MHC).

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) have insisted that action be taken against the two players. They had sent a letter to the MHC in April but the Malaysians did not act on the request.

FIH then sent a reminder setting July 9 as the deadline for a reply as to what action had been taken against the duo.

MHC secretary general Johari Abdul Aziz said yesterday that they will start an immediate investigation and institute a disciplinary hearing against the players.

“FIH are adamant that we take action as the duo had played in an unsanctioned tournament without being released by the MHC.

“I have written to the players for an explanation. We will meet with them and their club Sapura before deciding on the next course of action,” he said.

Besides the two Sapura players another Malaysian, Jiwa Mohan, also took part in the WSH but he had secured a release from Hockey Australia as he was playing in the Western Australian League at that time.

Jiwa turned out for the Chandigarh Comets while Rodhanizam and Alcantara played for the Karnataka Lions. Both teams entered the semi-finals but ended up losers and finished joint third.

Jiwa played a total of 14 matches, Rodhanizam eight and Alcantara seven.

If the duo are banned, they will not be able to play in any official tournament for a year. It could even be increased if FIH are not happy with the outcome of the probe.

“For the moment, let us get all the facts first. We have to get the team lists to ensure the duo played in the WSH. Like I said earlier, we need to investigate before taking any action. We will give FIH an answer by July 9,” he said.

The Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) is set to start on Sept 20. The duo may also not be able to play in the Razak Cup, which is also in September.

“We are not sure of the exact terms of the ban. We will have a better idea once our investigations are completed,” said Johari.

The Star of Malaysia



An interesting session with Australian hockey legend Charlesworth

By Zakir Hussain Syed


I first met Richard Charlesworth in early nineties when he was playing as centre half for the Australian hockey team and I interviewed him for Pakistan Television. A couple of years later, he became the captain of Australian team and we had more opportunities of interaction during various international hockey events. What I always liked about him was his frankness, honesty and forthright approach towards issues, his personal achievements notwithstanding and a track record that could be the envy of greatest sports personalities.

Apart from the distinction of captaining the Australian hockey team, he represented his state in cricket, became an elected member of his state parliament, guided the Australian women’s hockey team to Olympic and World glory and is now trying to achieve similar glory for the Australian men’s team. He was appointed hockey coach of the Indian team but he resigned after a few months because he could not stand interference in his work by officials.

Though the Australian team were not competing in the recently concluded Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia, Charlesworth was there to observe those teams that were going to compete in the London Olympics to enable him to prepare counter strategies. We discussed many issues over a cup of coffee. My first question to him was about the hockey rules. “The rules board is dominated by the Europeans and they make rules that would suit the European style of play especially in the striking circle where they adopt negative tactics like physical obstruction or placing the ball behind their bodies without being penalized. In different international events where we had the facility of TV referral systems, we were able to get such decisions reversed on a number of occasions earning penalty corners instead of free hit in favour of our opponents. It proves the point that I have made,” Charlesworth replied.

He said the Europeans, unlike us in this region, frequently play against each other in the European leagues or bilateral exchanges. “We should evolve a similar system in Asia and have at least one annual hockey event on a regular basis with Australia, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, South Africa, New Zealand and South Korea to keep our skills at par with the Europeans. Such a competition would also give South Africa an opportunity to develop their hockey. Why should they suffer if there is no decent competitive forum in their region!”

Charlesworth also criticised the Federation International Hockey (FIH) decision to change the penalty stroke rules. “A serious infringement in the striking circle is penalized with a penalty stroke. So it should be taken and played as such instead trying to make it look more attractive for television viewers!” He was a little disappointed with the performance of the Pakistan team. I tried to defend the Pakistan team by saying that there were a large number of young players in this team. Charlesworth readily named seven young players who had been playing for Pakistan for more than three years. “If you represent your national team at the highest level for three or four years, you are no longer a youngster but a mature member. I personally feel that you are going to have a problem with your coaching systems. It is now going to be very difficult for any foreign coach to live in Pakistan and train your team. That might add to your difficulties,” Charlesworth maintained.

Just before we finished, he asked how was former Pakistan cricket captain Imran Khan doing as a politician? I told him that Imran had been able to develop a very strong base amongst the young population of Pakistan and was drawing huge crowds but it remains to be seen if Imran can convert this support into an election victory. He wished Imran the best of luck and success.

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

The Daily Times