All the news for Thursday 6 August 2015
Gurjinder Singh’s brace helps India win series by 2-0
New Delhi: Taking forward its winning spree, India Men Hockey Team yet again defeated France by 4-1 in the second match of the Europe Tour, being played at Wattigies Sports Centre today.
It was India’s Gurjinder Singh who proved his mettle by scoring a brace and stood confident enough to give a strong challenge to the French defence and helped India win the match by 4-1 and the series by 2-0 against France.
While, the French Team looked determined and displayed their best stick work throughout the first quarter, the Indian men were in no mood to give away the scoring to the opponents and took away the ball from them reflecting great speed and short passing skills. By the virtue of their even rotation all through the field, India was awarded with a penalty corner but it was efficiently saved by the French goalkeeper. France was continuously looking to pierce the Indian defence but India went on attack and Gurjinder Singh’s drag flick from a penalty corner opportunity in the 14th minute helping India open the scoring account and take the lead to 1-0 over France by the end of the first quarter.
undefined Entering the second quarter of the game and undeterred by the Indian attack, a field goal eventually landed from the stick of Baumgarten in the 21st minute which equalized the scores at 1-1. Both the teams made several forays to enter the opponent’s D and it was France who got a penalty corner but failed to convert it as Kothajit Singh saved the shot. India was seen attacking from both the flanks and found its second goal when Amir made full use of a penalty corner and took the rebound hitting the ball straight into the net in the 30th minute which gave India a 2-1 lead by the end of the first half.
Unfolding the third quarter of the game, the teams looked confident and made full efforts to utilize the scoring opportunities that came in. The Indian goalie PR Sreejesh stood as a wall for the Indian defence whenever France tried to penetrate the goal- box. The Indian men ensured good possession of the ball and after earning a couple of penalty corners, the luck favoured the Indian side as Gurjinder Singh successfully converted another penalty corner in the 44th minute to advance the scores to 3-1 in favour of India.
In the last quarter of the game, both the teams battled a tough fight between the sticks in order to restrict the opponent to score further goals. It was France who entered the India’s inner circle, but Birendra Lakra tackled the ball efficiently and deflected it. Just when France was trying to get control of the game, India showed their supremacy and scored the fourth goal through a penalty corner converted by Rupinder Pal Singh in the 52nd minute. While, France was seen hunting for a goal, India concluded the game and earned a much deserved win with 4-1 on the scoreboard.
India will play their next match against Spain on 10th August 2015 at 22:30 IST at Sant Cugat del Valles.
Red hot India fry French
Drag-flicker Gurjinder scores a brace in India’s 4-1 win
Comeback man Gurjinder Singh was in hot form on Wednesday. file photo
Wattignies (France): Drag-flicker Gurjinder Singh converted two penalty corners as India defeated hosts France 4-1 in the second match of the Europe tour here today.
Gurjinder (14th minute, 44th) scored twice while Mohammad Amir Khan (30th) and Rupinder Pal Singh (52nd) found the net once for India.
For the hosts, Gaspard Baumgarten scored the lone goal in the 21st minute.
India had defeated France 2-0 in their opening match of the tour.
India went for goals from the onset and opened the scoring in the 14th minute through a penalty corner conversion from Gurjinder.
But France drew level in the second quarter when Baumgarten scored a field goal in the 21st minute.
Thereafter, France had a great chance to take the lead from a penalty corner but Kothajit Singh made a goal-line save.
India attacked from both the flanks and in the process found their second goal when Amir scored from a rebound after the initial try from the penalty corner was saved.
In the third quarter, Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh stood like a rock to thwart a couple of efforts from the Frenchmen.
Gurjinder scored his second in the 44th from another set-piece to make the scoreline 3-1 in favour of India.
India continued to show their supremacy and scored their fourth goal through another penalty corner conversion, this time from the stick of Rupinder in the 52nd minute.
India now travel to Spain to play their next match at Sant Cugat del Valles on August 10.
India clinch second successive win against France in hockey
Wattignies (France), Aug 5 After clinching the opener 2-0 India men’s hockey team outclassed France 4-1 in the second match of the Europe Tour at the Wattignies Sports Centre here on Wednesday. Gurjinder Singh scored twice, Amir and Rupinder Pal Singh found the target once each for India, while Baumgarten pulled one back for the hosts.
While it was the French who looked determined and displayed their best stick work throughout the first quarter, the Indian men were in no mood to give away the possession to the opponents and took away the ball from them displaying great speed and short passing skills. By virtue of their even rotation across the field, India were awarded a penalty corner but it was efficiently saved by the French goalkeeper.
France constantly looked for opportunities to pierce the Indian defence, but the visitors went on the attack and Gurjinder Singh’s drag flick from a penalty corner in the 14th minute helped make the tally 1-0 as the first quarter came to an end. France came back strongly in the second quarter with Baumgarten scoring a field goal in the 21st minute. Thereafter they were awarded a penalty corner but the shot was nicely saved by Kothajit Singh.
The Indians were quick to respond with attacks from both flanks, and reaped rich rewards as Amir hit a rebound from a penalty corner into the net. India led 2-1 at halftime. After the breather, India stepped on the gas once again keeping France under relentless pressure while at the other end Indian goalkeeper P.R. Sreejesh stood as a wall for the defence whenever France tried to penetrate the goal-box.
The Indian men ensured good possession of the ball and after earning a couple of penalty corners, luck favoured the tourists, with Gurjinder successfully converting another penalty corner in the 44th minute. India now led 3-1. Rupinder then hammered in an insurance goal in the 52nd minute. After winning the series 2-0, India now travel to Spain and play their next match on August 10 at Sant Cugat del Valles.
India beat France 4-1 in second hockey Test, clinch series 2-0
NEW DELHI: Gurjinder Singh scored a fine brace as India convincingly beat France 4-1, in the second and final match of the two-match series, to kick-start their European tour in emphatic fashion.
Team India convincingly won the two-match series 2-0 against France and will now travel to Spain for three games. India defeated France 2-0 in the first match of their Euro Tour.
Gurjinder (14th minute, 44th) scored twice while Mohammad Amir Khan (30th) and Rupinder Pal Singh (52nd) found the net once for India. For the hosts Baumgarten scored the lone goal in the 21st minute.
India started on a positive note as they held possession to push the French players back with short passes. Rupinder Pal Singh hits Team India's first penalty corner low to the right, but a good save by the French goalkeeper denied them from scoring.
Akashdeep Singh took India's second short corner as he pushed the ball to VR Raghunath, who flicked it wide of the post. Satbir Singh earned another penalty corner for India and Gurjinder Singh finally converted it beautifully to hit the back of the net. India were leading 1-0 after the end of the first quarter.
However, France fought back hard and scored a brilliant field goal to level the terms 1-1 with 9 minutes to go in the second quarter. India once again took lead after scoring on the brink of half-time by virtue of a brilliant rebound by young Mohammad Amir Khan. With this fine goal India went into the breather with a 2-1 lead over France.
France started well in the third quarter as they created back-to-back opportunities but Indian goalkeeper PR Sreejesh came to the fore to deny them any breakthrough. France earned an early short corner but Sreejesh once again made a fine save.
On the other hand Indian players scripted a fine move on the counter attack, immediately after the penalty corner, as Gurjinder slotted his second goal to read the scoreline 3-1. India were leading 3-1 after the end of the third quarter.
Rupinderpal Singh converted a penalty corner to make it 4-1 against France as India took full control of the proceedings in the final quarter of the match.
India will play Spain in their next match of the Europe tour at Sant Cugat del Valles on August 10.
The Times of India
More athletes to join coaching bandwagon
BENGALURU: Hockey player Rani Rampal has opened the doors to a new career opportunity for high-profile sportspersons at the Sports Authority of India. At least seven others have been shortlisted and will be roped in as assistant coaches in the future.
In what is seen as a win-win situation for both the athlete and SAI, the assistant coaches will work in various capacities - as a talent scout, coach and mentor of young trainees and a force that would broadbase sport in the grassroots.
SAI, which has roped in Olympians as assistant coaches in the past, saw huge promise in the move.
"We have opened the doors to non-Olympians now. Hockey players such as Rani will serve as huge inspiration to the trainees. They also bring with them the experience of playing at the highest level. Inducting outstanding sportspersons at the entry level will help us raise the profile of Indian coaches in the long run besides giving them an opportunity to shape their professional careers after their playing days are over," top sources told TOI.
The flexibility that SAI has promised makes the offer hard to refuse. For instance, Rani, who is currently a Group C employee at the Railways, has been offered a job in Group B with a likely monthly pay of around Rs 40,000.She will continue to play for India and devote a few weeks during the off season to grooming young players at the SAI centre where she will be deputed.
Out-of-turn promotions too are possible for Rani depending on her performance besides opportunities to update her knowledge of coaching. "It is a dual hat that players like Rani will wear from now on. They will look at the game from a coach's point of view while playing, learn as they play and utilise this knowledge when they work with the trainees," the sources said.
The Times of India
Hockey stars celebrate one year until Rio 2016
Hockey stars from around the world have been joining in the one year until Rio 2016 celebrations
5 August marked one year until the Rio 2016 Olympics begin and the hockey world has been celebrating
With only 365 days until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games begin, the hockey world has been busy sharing its excitement.
With nine men’s and nine women’s teams already qualified, hockey stars from around the world have been joining in with some of the 'one year to go' celebrations.
Team USA showed their creativity with a great image on Twitter that you can see here, as they declared: “Today marks one year until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Are you Rio ready? We are!”
New Zealand’s Olivia Merry was also looking ahead, posting on her Instagram: “365 DAYS TO GO TO RIO!!! Along with these facials there is a lot of blood, sweat and tears to come over the next year! It has been an amazing journey so far and I have to thank a lot of people for getting me to where I am today!!”
Belgium’s Felix Denayer meanwhile is looking forward to the Olympic flame arriving in Rio as he posted on his Twitter: “One year before the Olympic flame arrives in Rio #ShareTheDream #TeamBelgium”
Netherland’s Lidewij Welten reflected on her London 2012 experience as she posted an old photo on her Instagram, saying: “One more year....#wheredreamscometrue #rio2016”
Hockey India were also busy on their Twitter, tweeting: “The countdown begins! India’s Olympic dream, now just a year away! #IndiaKaGame #Rio2016”
Their captain, Sardar Singh, also provided this insight on http://www.rio2016.com, saying: “We have a year left and we’re working hard because now is the time to get everything right,” he said. “We are training very well and looking forward to a good performance in Rio. Hockey is our national game so everyone in India wants us to win the Olympic Games.”
An easy way to find hockey players is by using the Olympic Athlete Hub, by clicking here. Alternatively follow the FIH on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
To find out which men’s teams have already qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, click here.
To find out which women’s teams have already qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, click here.
The Olympic hockey competition line-up will not be completed until the conclusion of the Continental Championships taking place later this year.
Why not join in the celebrations and share your excitement using the hashtags #1YearToGo and #RoadToRio. Don't forget #Hockey as well!
Big names back for Ford NHL
A flashback to Central's Kayla Whitelock (left) celebrating a goal during the 2009 National Hockey League Women's final, Porritt Park. Photo: photosport.co.nz
A handful of well-known players are returning to the turf for the 2015 Ford National Hockey League which starts at the end of this month.
The pinnacle event in New Zealand’s domestic hockey calendar, doubles as a national selection tournament with the 2015/2016 National and Development Squads being named in September.
Former Black Sticks captain Kayla Whitelock (Central) as well as Emily Naylor (Central), Krystal Forgesson (Auckland), Charlotte Harrison (Auckland) and Cathryn Pollock (nee Finlayson) (Central) are all returning on the women’s side. Capital Men are also welcoming back former Black Stick goalkeeper Kyle Pontifex.
Whitelock, who gave birth just three months ago to her first child, said she is enjoying being back on the turf with her Central teammates. She said she will see how her performance at the Ford NHL goes before putting her hand up for international selection.
“My first on-turf training was about a month ago and it did feel a bit funny being back. But I’m just taking it step by step and starting with the basic stuff first.
“The big thing for me is building up my fitness gradually so I don’t have any knee issues. So interval training, building up my core, and a real focus on speed and power – that’s what I’m really lacking at the moment.”
Whitelock said the Central team is young but there are some good players, including English import Becky Herbert, and she hopes the preparation will count when it comes game time on the 29 August when Round One kicks off.
Naylor, New Zealand’s highest capped player of all time, is also excited to be back and playing for Central.
“I still have to make my decision to see if I’m available for national selection – I need to see how my body copes with the next month and a bit of training and competition. I only want to make that commitment if I know I can put 100% into it.”
Krystal Forgesson, who has been a weapon up front for the Kiwis, has also hinted at coming back from retirement while Cathryn Pollock has also signalled a return. Well-known striker Charlotte Harrison has made her intentions clear that she too is keen to be back in the mix.
Round One and Two will be hosted in various venues around the country with the main tournament week from 12-20 September at the Whangarei ITM Hockey Centre.
Weekly Passes are now available and are cheaper online than at the gate. Daily passes are available at the gate only. Click here for more information on the Ford NHL.
Hockey New Zealand Media release
Tenaga coach worried about poor penalty corner conversion
By Aftar Singh
KUALA LUMPUR: Coach Nor Saiful Zaini is concerned with Tenaga Nasional’s poor penalty corner execution.
Tenaga started off their Premier Division campaign in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) with a 2-1 win over Maybank last Sunday.
All their goals came from field attempts – one each by Mohd Shahril Saabah and Nik Mohd Aiman Nik Rozemi - despite Tenaga earning six penalty corners, which were all squandered.
They have four capable penalty corner flickers – Mohd Amin Rahim, Aminudin Mohd Zain and Syed Mohd Syafiq Syed Cholan and Mohd Firdaus Omar.
“I am worried that we are not scoring from the penalty corner set-pieces. This is not good for us. Penalty corners are crucial in the outcome of a match,” said Nor Saiful, a penalty corner specialist in the national team during his heyday.
“We have been working on the set pieces in training for the last three days. I hope we get it right in the next match against UniKL (Universiti Kuala Lumpur) on Friday.
“We need to score from penalty corners, not only to win the match but also to regain our confidence,” added Nor Saiful.
Tenaga are the only side in the six-team Premier Division to rely solely on local players. They are powered by two national players – goalkeeper S. Kumar and forward Shahril Saabah.
Tenaga have also roped in six Project 2016 players – defenders Aminudin, Mohd Amirol Aideed Mohd Arshad, midfielders Nik Mohd Aiman and Mohd Najib Abu Hassan, Mohd Firdaus and Syed Mohd Syafiq.
Unlike Tenaga, UniKL failed to win their opening match on Sunday. They were beaten 2-1 by Sapura.
Nor Saiful has warned his players not to take UniKL for granted.
“We can expect a close fight from UniKL. They have three good foreign players. We also have to watch out for Patrick Neil Schultz, who is good with his penalty corner flicks,” said Nor Saiful.
Last season, Tenaga finished third in the league and third in the overall championship.
The Star of Malaysia
Malvern still unbeaten in Players Sports hockey festival
Courts Malvern moved to within a win of topping the round-robin stage of the inaugural Players Sports Under-21 Hockey Tournament after stretching its unbeaten streak to four matches at the National Hockey Centre, Tacarigua on Tuesday night.
Starting the day with two outright wins and a penalty stroke shoot-out win from its first three matches, Malvern overcame some early resistance and whipped Queen’s Park Cricket Club 3-1.
For the winners, Jeshajah Drayton (31st) and Kristien Emmanuel (34th) and Teague Marcano (54th) got a goal each for a 3-0 advantage before Jordi O’Brien netted 51st minute consolation item for the Parkites.
With the win, Malvern pushed its points tally to 11 from four matches and two more than the visiting Guyana Under-21s which recorded its second 2-0 win over a T&T Combined Squad with Rosario Ramsammy (29th) and Keon Mc Kenzie (34th) on target.
Last night, Malvern was expected to face Guyana Under-21s in a virtual round-robin decider ahead of the semifinals tomorrow (Friday) while Queen’s Park Cricket Club (four points) tackled the winless Combined Squad.
Tonight, (Thursday), the final day of round-robin play, T&T Combined Squad come up against Malvern at 6 pm and Guyana Under-21s meet Queen’s Park at 8 pm.
Tomorrow (Friday), following the conclusion of the round-robin, the top team will face the fourth placed finisher while second and third will lock horns in the semifinals, from 6 pm ahead of Saturday’s third place match and final which flick off from 4 pm.
Players Sports Under-21 Hockey Tournament summarised results:
Courts Malvern 3 (Jeshajah Drayton 31st, Kristien Emmanuel 34th, Teague Marcano 45th) vs QPCC 1 (Jordi O'Brien 51st)
Guyana U-21 2 (Rosario Ramsammy 29th, Keon Mc Kenzie 34th) vs Combined Squad 0
Guyana Under-21s 2 (Aroydy Branford 24th, 57th) vs Combined Squad 0
Courts Malvern 1 (Jeshajah Drayton 33rd) vs QPCC 1 (Jarryon Paul 12th) – Malvern won 2-0 on penalty stroke shoot-out
Current Players Sports U-21 Men standings
Teams P W L PSW PSL F A Pts
Courts Malvern 4 3 0 1 0 15 5 11
Guyana U-21 4 3 1 0 0 9 6 9
QPCC 4 1 2 0 1 7 6 4
Combined Squad 4 0 4 0 0 0 14 0
PSW - Penalty Shootout win
PSL - Penalty Shootout loss
The Trinidad Guardian
Interview: Anna Flanagan
Written for The Pundits by @keeganKruger. Photos Courtesy of Red Bull
We first had a chat with Australia’s Anna Flanagan back in 2013 and since then, the Hockey star has made quite a name for herself in the world of Hockey. Australia has been dominating the sport for quite a while now and Anna has been instrumental in their recent success. @keeganKruger was keen to touch base again and here’s what Anna had to say about her life as a Hockey star, the sport in general and the upcoming Olympic games.
The last time we spoke to you was back in 2013, it was when hockey was going through an experimental stage with rules. Do you feel the game has change tremendously since then? And what are your thoughts on some of the new rules?
I do feel the game has changed a lot since then, and is continuing to evolve for it to become more viewer friendly. It is such a fast sport that I think for the profile of hockey it was inevitable that some things would have be changed as technology and media also improve. I think the new long corners are far better than when it would get locked in the pocket. The quarters are something I am still getting used to, and although I think it suits teams that are not as fit, if it is better for the sport then I understand.
The one rule change that has happened is the fact that we have four quarters instead of just two halves. Have you felt that matches have become more tactical with this change or has the quarters just served more as an extra rest period?
I think that matches are more tactical because you are able to get a message across in that time, and may not need as many substitutions.
Your teammate Jodie Kenny has been in wonderful goalscoring from the penalty corner this year, is there any reason why we haven’t seen you take more flicks? Or is it just a case of why change it up if it is working?
We both love taking the flicks but ultimately we scout our opposition and look at the best way to score regardless. Jodie has scored a huge number of goals this year and that is a credit to good preparation as well as execution. If I get the shot I will give it everything but I want us to win and get the goals however we can!
The sport has made massive strides all over the world and we starting to see the so called “smaller nations” really compete more. What do you think has been the real reason for the sport making such strides?
I think the FIH are doing really well in marketing the sport and getting to these smaller nations. You can play hockey anywhere, with pictures of kids playing on the dirt in some countries. It is expensive to get the turf down and this is not viable in many countries so they need the help through any funding possible. Hockey is such a global sport and if given the chance any country can be competitive.
I follow you on Instagram and it seems that you really enjoying your club hockey out in the Netherlands. How’s the experience of playing in another country been?
I loved playing in the Netherlands because you get a competitive game every week. The girls were all really welcoming and I learnt a lot about the different style. In saying this it was also very challenging with the language barrier and being there by myself, but an unforgettable experience that I am grateful for.
Outside of hockey, what would you say your hobbies are?
I like skateboarding, going to the beach, writing, shopping, going for coffee and hanging out with friends.
Playing a team sport means you spend many hours with your teammates, who would you say you get along with the most in your national side?
My room mate Georgie Parker is a striker in the team and my best friend. We also live together in a share house so spend even more time together and cause havoc.
After having already achieved so much with the national side, would you say you’re still as motivated as you were when you started? And how do you keep your motivation up?
I am probably more motivated now than ever. Being so close to Rio and having a few ups and downs this year, I really want to be playing at my best in a years time so that I give myself and the team the best chance at standing up on that podium getting a gold medal.
To end off, are you brave enough to make a prediction for Gold, Silver and Bronze medallists at the upcoming Olympics?
The only thing we are aiming for is gold, and we believe we have the talent and work ethic to get there. It is now a race to Rio to see who can improve the most between now and then.
We’d like to thank Anna for making the time to answer some of our questions and wish her the best of luck with the future.
What is the Pakistani hockey player really worth?
— Photo courtesy FIH
Pakistan hockey. It is not unusual to talk about it in the past tense now.
World Cup winners, Olympics giants; the kings of hockey. The way things have turned out, all of it seems like a myth.
It is very easy to start blaming the individuals running the hockey federation for Pakistan's predicament but there are many reasons for the game's decline. The behaviour of the government towards the national sport tops that list.
Financial issues have always dogged the national federation. And with the passage of time it demanded an increase in funding from the government which I think is logical considering how elite sports bodies function throughout the world and the economics behind it. But you will be surprised to hear that the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) does not even own a single stadium, let alone generate enough revenue to support itself.
A top-class facility with a state-of-the-art training centre should have been a given. Basic accommodation in or around this complex could have saved thousands on hotel expenditures. But the government quite simply lacks the vision to undertake such a project and to expect the PHF to lead on this front is a foregone conclusion.
As things stand, it is clear the government and PHF have trust issues as highlighted by the decision to audit the federations accounts. According to some reports the previous government had released 1.2 billion rupees to the federation in 2009. Olympian Samiullah was right in saying that “any sport in the country could have been boosted with money like that.”
If the reports are accurate, and we can only judge when the audit is complete, then there is a massive lack of planning and misuse of money. The PHF has been knocking all doors with the hopes of getting funded or sponsors but they have struggled. It is a natural outcome of the federation not being transparent in its financial dealings and the public and private sectors not seeing any results.
At the end of the day, like so many other national sports bodies around the world, it has to sustain itself. And that can only come if competent people are in place.
In the tenure of PHF president General Aziz Khan ( 2000-05 ) and secretary Brigadier Musaratullah Khan (2000–06) there was a proper marketing team functioning of PHF. Headed by Sardar Naveed Haider Khan it did a great job. I have no hesitation in saying this.
Players like Mohammad Imran can only be saluted for their efforts. — Photo courtesy FIH
The ‘funding’ issue by no means a new development. But my question is what has the federation done on its part to resolve it? Why have they only relied on the government for funds when clearly it to has been dictated by politics?
Currently, there is a marketing department only in papers and shockingly the official website of the hockey federation is down most of the time if not completely offline. To the common man, that is the most visible indicator that funds given by the government, if any, have gone down the drain. The finance department is clearly also a figment of the imagination.
What was Pakistan doing in the past that cannot be replicated now? We are well beyond the ‘Astroturf’ argument. Nothing in life stays as it is and much like the other aspects of it, sport too goes through an evolution. The challenge for sport teams, much like everything else, is to adapt and the process should be taken as such. Unfortunately, for the longest time we used the change in playing surfaces as an excuse for whenever we lost.
We fell off the pace so much that we now rank 10th in the world, sandwiched between Korea and Spain. Teams like Belgium, Argentina and New Zealand have left us in their trails.
The ‘naan-cholay’ diet
The incompetency of the federations and even the government officials who are responsible for the demise of the national sport ultimately trickles down and it is the players who suffer the most.
When Pakistan failed to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics, the first such instance and coming straight after the embarrassment of not qualifying for the World Cup in 2014, the national captain, Mohammad Imran, finally broke his silence.
Imran's outburst came after the PHF and coaching staff did not waste a single minute in blaming the players for Pakistan's humiliation.
“Naan Cholay [bread and chick peas] eaters cannot achieve the desired results and no one should have expected victory in the Hockey World League semi-finals,” Imran said upon his return from the Olympics qualifying tournament in Belgium.
While part of Imran's statement was to be taken literally, the Pakistan captain was also highlighting the total lack of professionalism in handling the affairs of hockey in the country. Unfortunately, many experts in the country missed the point.
The PHF organised lectures on nutrition on occasion but where are the professionals to implement what is being taught? — Dawn photo
But it's not just hockey, all sports in the country have suffered due to a lack of professionals in the national federations. Many athletes have gone on record to reveal that they never received a single penny of the amount announced as a reward by the government for their achievements.
Victories and victorious athletes have only been used as photo ops by the government and political parties.
The system has failed, they say. In reality, there is no system.
Now, apart from hockey not being played in schools, there is no domestic calendar and no coaching standard. But we should not ignore the condition of our players.
What Imran said last month is the bitter truth. He should have said that a long time ago.
In the national training camps, considering the standard of the food that is offered, our green-shirted warriors should be saluted for even their losses.
There is no professional physiotherapist, physical trainer, nutritionist, video analyst and goalkeeper trainer with the team. There is one doctor with the team but I never understood his role.
This is the situation at the national level, so you can only imagine how bad it will be at the lower levels.
Despite of all of this, they still manage to bring home a few medals. The silver medal in Asian Games and Asian Champions Trophy 2014 are examples. For me these players are the real heroes.
What's in a diet?
Proper nutrition plays an important role in any sport and now there's a whole science to how athletes prepare.
All the other hockey nations are investing in their infrastructure by providing their players the best facilities and bringing in professional coaches, trainers, physiotherapists and nutritionists. In our training camps, Rooh Afza and dates serve as ‘energy boosters’. At breakfast, the players get a vitamin and I think that's where the doctor's role ends. Sitting in our homes, then, we expect are players to fly on the field.
I understand that our players have different eating habits as most of them come from rural areas. Even the ones from the cities, though, prefer to have traditional food. Even when the team is abroad Pakistani food is arranged especially for the players. No heed is paid to the ingredients of the food and how they would hinder in the recovery process of players.
Can the players really be blamed if they choose to play abroad and skip national camps? — Dawn photo
There were players like the legendary Sohail Abbas who always set an example for the rest of us. He used to buy his own supplements and follow a plan for fastest recovery and strength. I have seen players just appearing for dinner in the training camps because if they skip they are fined. They then proceed to go out and have their own dinner.
So in effect, the management creates a situation for the player where they don't have too many choices. Sohail Abbas did what he did because he educated himself and played under professional in foreign leagues.
The PHF organised lectures on nutrition on occasion but where are the professionals to implement what is being taught?
Every time when we get a foreign coach, the priority shifts to fitness and diet. There's marked difference in the fitness levels of players under foreign coaches.
There is a dire need to understand how sport works and the complexities around it. In Pakistan, neither the game is valued nor the player.
What is a Pakistani hockey player worth?
When it comes to appreciating the efforts of our hockey players, there should be no doubt.
Our players get Rs 15,000 rupees as a daily allowance on foreign tours and it is a fact that they haven't received it on many tours in the past. Yet, they continue to fight for the country. So we should not doubt their love for the sport and country.
We must keep in mind that it is not only the players who look towards the PHF, but the lives of their families are also put on hold due a to lack of steady income.
Players who do have jobs do not earn anything close to what international stars do which makes daily allowances a very important part of their finances.
During training camps, the players get 1000 rupees and that too isn't a given. Thanks to some international leagues where Pakistani players are still in demand, there is a source of income. But that opportunity only comes when you've played for your national team. What about the countless guys playing domestically?
Can the players really be blamed if they choose to play abroad and skip national camps?
Tired and hopeless, the players have seen officials getting richer by the day and expected to remain silent. When they speak out, they are reminded about their contract with the federation.
But the PHF must understand that it exists because of the players not the other way around.
Salman Akbar is a veteran goal-keeper who made his debut for Pakistan in 2001. Termed by Olympian Shahid Ali Khan as one of the most hard-working players in the game, Akbar has won the 2003/2004 Champions Trophy bronze medal, 2005 Rabo Trophy, 2006 Commonwealth Games silver medal and the 2010 Asian Games gold medal with Pakistan. He has 230 international caps and represented Pakistan at two Olympic Games and three World Cups.