All the news for Friday 26 December 2014
Indians make an impact with gritty performances
Y. B. Sarangi
The Asian Games gold at Incheon this year instilled a lot of self-confidence in the Indian players.
Never before has the Indian hockey team won an Asian Games gold, a Commonwealth Games silver and a fourth spot in the Champions Trophy in the same calendar year. Add to this a sixth-place finish in the World League Final and Year 2014 presents a picture of prosperity in terms of achievements at the elite stage.
Despite a hectic calendar, the Indian players made an impact with a series of gritty performances. They beat four top-ranked teams — Australia, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium — to showcase their potential.
The year started with the World League in Delhi, where India regrouped under chief coach Terry Walsh to creditably take the sixth position.
Walsh gave priority to the process in place over instant results and backed the boys even though India managed a ninth place slot in the World Cup in The Hague.
The Aussie worked out a method, combining organised structures and attacking style of play, and India benefited from it.
In the Commonwealth Games, the country gave a good account of itself to retain the silver medal.
India made history of sorts by regaining the Asia Games crown after 16 years. It was double delight as the achievement earned the country a berth in the 2016 Rio Olympics. It also instilled a lot of self-confidence in the players.
However, Walsh’s resignation on the heels of the success left everyone shocked. The Aussie demanded more freedom in decision making and the provision to work from his home base when the team was not busy with any camp or tournament.
This got a new twist when Hockey India (HI) President Narinder Batra asked the Aussie to clarify USA Hockey’s allegations of “financial irregularities” against him and said HI would appoint a new coach in the New Year. The team, nevertheless, continued to perform well and beat Australia 3-1 in a series Down Under.
The ninth-ranked side shrugged off a poor start in the Champions Trophy in Bhubaneswar to beat World Cup silver medallist, the Netherlands, and Belgium to make the semifinals.
On the domestic front, Hockey India League (HIL), which saw Delhi Waveriders take the title in 2014, handled a mini setback well by finding substitutes for two franchises who pulled out before the third edition.
Internationally, Ric Charlesworth coached Australia to its second successive World title before bidding adieu.
While trying to come to terms with the changes, the Commonwealth Games winner managed a bronze medal in the Champions Trophy.
Germany, which had some below-par showings, made a strong turnaround by claiming its 10th Champions Trophy title.
Pakistan surprised all by making the final of the event after 16 years.
In the women’s section, Argentina edged out Australia to bag the Champions Trophy and give a befitting farewell to the legendary Luciana Aymar. Host the Netherlands defeated Australia to win the World Cup
India, which had a mixed year, took pride in its Asian Games bronze medal.
The women’s team coach Neil Hawgood unexpectedly put in his papers, necessitating the search for his replacement as well in 2015.
Akashdeep excited to play with Sardar, Simon in HHIL
Akashdeep Singh of Delhi Wavedivers celebrates a goal with his teammate during the Hockey India League match in New Delhi. File photo
After playing a vital role in India’s campaign in 17th Asian Games and Champions Trophy, Akashdeep Singh is now hoping to produce another steller performance for Delhi Waveriders in the Hero Hockey India League (HHIL) starting next month.
The young striker, who idolises India skipper Sardar Singh, said he is lucky to play under him and is looking forward to once again share the dressing room with him.
“It has been a great prospect to play under Sardar’s leadership and I am one of those lucky ones to not only play under his guidance in the Indian Men team but even in the Hero Hockey India League where we are with Delhi Waveriders,” said Akashdeep, who was awarded the Best Junior Player of the Tournament in the Champions Trophy.
“Watching him play as well as discussing the game with him has helped me to learn a few tricks of the trade and has enhanced my game immensely. He inspires me and many others to become the player we want to be and make a difference to the game when on the field.
“I am really looking forward to the League as we both personally are looking at a big challenge from the rest of the teams and the aim to retain the title this year too,” said Akashdeep, who bagged the Upcoming Player of the Tournament award for the last edition.
On the upcoming Hero Hockey India League, he said: “I have had amazing experiences at the last two seasons of the Hero Hockey India league as it is one of those rare golden chances where one gets to play along some of the finest hockey talents from world-over.
“One such player is Simon Child and playing alongside him in the forward position has been a big experience for me.”
The inaugural day of the 3rd Hero Hockey India League will see Kalinga Lancers taking on Ranchi Rays on January 22 in Bhubaneswar.
Hero Hockey India League will be telecasted LIVE on Star Sports.
National Hockey Championship to kick off on Friday
KARACHI: The 61st National Hockey Championship, organised by the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), is all set to commence from Friday until January 10, with a total of 16 teams in action at the Sialkot Hockey Stadium.
The importance of the tournament has increased after the national team won silver medals at the Asian Games and then at the Champions Trophy in 2014.
Punjab Hockey Association (PHA) President Ajmal Khan Lodhi is the organising secretary of the championship, while PHF associate secretary Anjum Saeed will be the tournament director and Danish Kaleem will be his assistant.
The teams featuring in the championship are PIA, NBP, Steel Mills, PQA, HEC, Police, PTV, Army, Navy, Pakistan Air Force, Sindh, Punjab, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Gilgit-Baltistan, Kashmir and Islamabad, with NBP defending their title.
There will be no prize money in the championship; the winners will only get a trophy at the closing ceremony.
“We won’t be giving any prize money due to shortage of funds, but winning a national championship and being declared as national champions is in itself a matter of pride for a team,” PHF secretary Rana Mujhaid told The Express Tribune.
On the other hand, some of the Olympians said the PHF should announce handsome prize money for the national championship so that the participating teams play with full strength and commitment.
“Instead of asking the government for funds every time, the PHF should market itself in a positive manner to attract sponsors,” said Samiullah Khan.
He further said that if India, whose performance was no better than Pakistan’s, can gain sponsorship to promote the game, the PHF can do the same.
“The PHF should strike while the iron is hot. Pakistan won two silver medals just recently, so this is the right time to act fast,” concluded Sami.
The Express Tribune
Walton eyes a Wembley goal
By Graham Wilson
Sally Walton wants to start the new year on a high by helping Bowdon Hightown to reach the Super 5s indoor finals at Wembley Arena on January 25.
Last year she felt the embarrassment of a 9-2 defeat in the final against Reading and the London Olympian has also seen her international ambitions take a back seat with the pain of two separate ankle ligament injuries. England, meanwhile, went to the recent Champions Trophy in Argentina without her.
She switched her outdoor attentions from Bowdon Hightown to being a player-coach with Wakefield, who are currently top of the Conference North division along with Brooklands Poynton, but she has gone back to Bowdon for this winter’s indoor challenge.
Walton said: “I’m still involved in the national set-up and I am aiming for the Olympic qualifiers in June.
“I am still hungry to play and keeping injury free is going to be the key for me.
“We obviously want to get to the final at Wembley so the object is to finish top of the league, get through the semi-finals to Wembley and then make up for our final loss last year.”
Reshuffle sees Lancashire's Garstang continue fierce rivalry with Clitheroe and Blackburn
By Josie Rice
Pride and passion: Garstang Ladies are one of Lancashire's oldest clubs
Why do you love hockey, when did you first get into it?
It's fast, aggressive, competitive, a team game, there are highs and lows. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, technical and very sociable! I first played hockey 14 years ago. I was looking for a competitive sport and netball just did not cut the mustard.
What's great about the set up?
Garstang Ladies prides itself on being a friendly and family club. There is the opportunity to play serious, high level hockey and also to play just for fun. The committee members are extremely passionate about the club which makes a huge difference into the efforts that are put into things off the pitch. The club is currently developing at an alarming rate with recruitment drives and extra curricular promotional activities.
Two years ago, the club was on the ropes and was struggling to compete with other larger clubs in the area. We considered down sizing to just one senior team, but with a cabinet reshuffle we managed to keep the club together through good times and bad, where many teams might have folded.
Are there any feisty clubs that make for a good derby clash?
GLHC have had a consistently long-standing battle with Clitheroe & Blackburn Hockey Club. Whenever, wherever, whatever the weather, it is always a very tempestuous affair. We have had illegal goals (in our eyes of course), yellow cards, dangerous fouls, intentional fouls, fights, slanging matches, refusal to shake hands, refusal to go and share refreshments, verbal quarrels between the coaches and, of course, because this has been 'the way' over all these years, as a player you jump to conclusions before the next match has even begun.
Who is the club stalwart/long-serving member?
Until very recently, Margaret Crofts 'Mags', who played until she was 60. She was not only a club stalwart but a stalwart in defence too. She played in our Ladies 2's until her retirement and was the rock in the backline. She has played at the club for 15 years and was also part of the committee for many years and was like a 'Mum' to most players. The club misses her enormously.
Our longest serving member is Sarah Skelton, the 1st team goal keeper – she has been with the club since 1992 and still plays at a very high standard. She is the treasurer and kit girl for the club and the club would struggle without her.
How many teams are there and what's the social side like?
There are three senior Ladies squads at GLHC who play in the Central Lancashire Women's Hockey Association. There are continual events throughout the year such as the Halloween fancy dress quiz night. It is important as a club to cater for everyone who is involved such as the young kids right through to senior players. We host an annual race night to generate much needed funds to enable the club to run.
Is there a thriving junior membership?
The club's coaches are heavily involved in local schools coaching hockey so we are currently seeing a rapid increase in our junior section just over the last six months. We enter U12s, U13's and U15's tournaments so that these age groups can experience competitive hockey. Because of the size of our club we now need more coaches to cater for our growing membership.
Are there any festivals you participate in that make for a great hockey weekender?
The one and only Easter Hockey Festival in Blackpool. We have at least three months of 'build up' discussions on this, which you either love or hate depending on whether you attend or not. The Ladies 1's head coach is the main organiser of the festival so we have no option but to be completely immersed in all that goes with a 'hockey weekender'.
What else is unusual with your club?
We are called 'Garstang' but we play in Preston, due to a lack of astroturf facilities.
Sum up the club in six words...
Friendly Inclusive Competitive Well Structured Club.
For more information on Garstang Hockey Club, go to the club website.
USA Field Hockey Confirms that it has no Financial Issues with Terry Walsh
For seven years, Terry Walsh was USA Field Hockey High Performance Technical Director. More recently, Mr. Walsh was head coach with Hockey India.
During recent negotiations with Hockey India, Mr. Walsh was surprised to hear that Hockey India may have received communications from USA Field Hockey.
Those communications were said to criticize Mr. Walsh because he did not obtain a Sportstec software license for USA Field Hockey.
This law firm, on behalf of Mr. Walsh, demanded an explanation from USA Field Hockey. We are glad to report that the attorney for USA Field Hockey (Mr. Steve Smith) wrote, on December 10, 2014: "Finally, the assertion that USFHA criticized Mr. Walsh's failure to obtain a software license for Sportstec software directly from Sportstec on behalf of USAFH is simply incorrect."
This confirms that there were no financial issues related to the services rendered by Mr. Walsh for USFHA.
Antonio R. Sarabia II Attorney, IP Business Law Inc
Field hockey star headed to NCAA
by Nick Greenizan
Semiahmoo Secondary Grade 12 student Kendra Sandhu will play field hockey next season at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. - Nick Greenizan photo
Had a nearby field hockey team not been critically short of players during a practice five years ago, Kendra Sandhu may have never bothered to pick up a field-hockey stick.
Instead, she would have focused on soccer – the sport she had played “ever since I could walk.”
But when the Surrey-based India Field Hockey Club – which Sandhu explained was close to her Surrey Youth Soccer team – mentioned they were seeking new recruits, the now-17-year-old Semiahmoo Secondary student decided to take a shot at a new sport.
“I went out for one practice, and I just fell in love with it right away,” she explained.
Unlike many youngsters – who may not be so inclined to stick with something they struggle with initially – Sandhu said that the challenge of trying something new appealed to her.
“I think what kept me involved in it early was the fact that it was so hard. It is so much different than soccer, and that was intriguing to me – the idea of learning more about something I’m not good at,” she explained.
After years of playing soccer, where you use your feet rather than your hands, the toughest part to get used to, she said, was simply holding the stick.
“It’s seems simple, but it’s only flat on one side, so you have to know how to hold it, how to turn it to use the inside when you hit the ball – it’s just different.”
The feeling of being wanted – regardless of whether or not the club was in dire need of new players – also helped pique her interest that first year, she admits.
“The club kept asking me to play, because I was practising and getting a bit better. And when you’re in Grade 7, and people are specifically asking for you, you feel kind of special, like ‘maybe I’m really, really good,’ even if I wasn’t at the time,” she laughed.
Sandhu’s dedication and perseverance paid off last month, when she agreed to a field hockey scholarship with Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa.
After visiting “five or six” schools on one family trip earlier this year – “We flew into Boston, then drove around, doing a bit of a circuit,” she said – Sandhu chose Lehigh because of its picturesque campus, as well as the warm welcome she received.
During her visit, she said, a group of field hockey players approached her out of the blue to welcome her to the school.
They showed her the campus and the dorms, and introduced her to the rest of the team.
“I figured they were just wondering why I was there, but they came up and said, ‘Hi, we heard you were coming,’” Sandhu, who plays for India Field Hockey’s premier team, explained.
“They were just so nice. That was a key factor for me – that they were so welcoming.”
And now, even with her post-secondary future secured, she admits the whole process has been something of a whirlwind. At first, she planned to stay in Canada for university, but only because she didn’t know such opportunities to play in the United States existed.
Sandhu credits her dad, Sukhi, for opening her eyes to the possibilities.
“He emailed a few schools for me, and sent them some of my game footage and asked if they were interested,” she explained. “I really just owe a lot to my parents. If it wasn’t for them, none of this would have happened. This is something that I’ve wanted for so long, but it wouldn’t have happened without them pushing me to reach my goals.”
Sandhu will head east soon after her Grade 12 year at Semiahmoo is over – Lehigh’s field-hockey preseason schedule begins in July – and leaving home won’t be easy.
“It worries my parents a lot, but I think I’m ready for it,” she said.
“But I’m a bit nervous, being on the other side of the country where you don’t have your parents and your family with you every single day.
“It’s going to be tough, very bittersweet, but I’m looking forward to it.”
The Surrey Leader