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News for 17 January 2020

All the news for Friday 17 January 2020

2020 FIH Pro League (Men)
Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar

18 Jan 2020 19:00 (GMT +5:30)     IND v NED (RR)
19 Jan 2020 17:00 (GMT +5:30)     IND v NED (RR)

Live streaming and full game replay on https://fih.live (May be Geo blocked if there is TV coverage)

FIH Match Centre

Kalinga crowd will motivate India against Netherlands, says Lalit Upadhyay

Ahead of his team’s FIH Hockey Pro League debut this coming weekend, India attacking midfielder Lalit Upadhyay looks ahead to the mouth-watering double header against the Netherlands that takes place at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. 

What is the atmosphere in your team like ahead of your first FIH Hockey Pro League match?
Lalit Upadhyay: “We are very excited to play against the Dutch team as they bring a tough competition on the field all the time, so we are very excited to play against them.”

How has the team been preparing in the past few weeks?
Lalit Upadhyay: “The team has been putting in a lot of hard work over the past few weeks. As we all know they are [one of the] world’s best teams, so it’s good to get the opportunity to play against them in the Pro League. We are looking forward to the matches at the weekend. My team is geared up to face the Netherlands.”

How will you approach the games against the Netherlands?
Lalit Upadhyay: “We will be taking this competition just like any other – one game at a time. This will be a good challenge for our debut in the Pro League, as the team is really excited to play against the Netherlands.”

What, if anything, do you think will be different between the Pro League and other international fixtures?
Lalit Upadhyay: “It’s a good opportunity to play in the Pro League because all of the top teams in the world are participating, so we can have some good matches against them. So, we can have a good experience which we can also take into the Olympics.” 

What sort of reception are you expecting from the supporters in the stadium?
Lalit Upadhyay: “The Kalinga Stadium has been amazing for us – we have never seen a stadium where the supporters play such a huge role. It’s very motivating for us to have such great support from the fans.”

What is your message to the fans ahead of your opening matches?
Lalit Upadhyay: “We want to thank each and every [person] who has supported us all the time. We want more people to come to the live matches at the stadium as that really motivates us to perform at our best. Thank you very much.”

To find out how you can watch all the action from Bhubaneswar, please visit our broadcast page by clicking here. In territories where broadcast rights agreements are not in place, fans can watch live match action from the FIH Hockey Pro League via the FIH.live global broadcast platform. To visit FIH.live, click here.

To see the confirmed match schedule for the FIH Hockey Pro League, which includes links to ticket sites for each of the matches, please click here. For information about how to purchase tickets for the FIH Hockey Pro League matches, please click here.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on the FIH Hockey Pro League via the event websiteand through FIH social media channels -Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


Official FIH Pro League Site

Nervous anxiety across hockey world as FIH Pro League’s critical season gets going

The Hockey Insider:

The finance guys across several leading hockey-playing nations are pensively doing the sums, seeking ways to cut costs and reduce the outgo of hard-earned money as the FIH Pro League gets into the swing for its critical make-or-break season.

Launched last year as an ambitious FIH event that was to transform international hockey, the global Pro League left the participating nations scrapping the barrel. Far from the windfall it was supposed to be, the huge costs were not easily digested in the absence of global title sponsorship amid the economic slowdown.

The dazzling hockey skills on the turf did cause excitement among the fans, but the trappings of success for the FIH Pro League were not visible beyond the field during the inaugural season. All this despite some buzz being created by the home-and-away format that evoked interest from sports buffs in participating countries.

Did it surprise the FIH bosses that the almost-assured model they had propounded fell way short of producing a financial bonanza! Was the commercial non-success a reflection that football-style experiments in hockey’s scheduling had not clicked instantly!

Marketed to the hockey fraternity as a sure-shot formula to get the cash registers ringing, the FIH Pro League was not merely stepping into the arena vacated by the tottering Hockey World League, but also reducing the space for multiple-nation tournaments.

The most prominent casualty of the FIH Pro League’s launch was the once-elite Champions Trophy that got dropped from the roster. Other international tournaments – especially those scheduled in the first half of the year – are also feeling the pinch as top teams are no longer going to be available. After all, hockey’s traditional tournament-focused schedule is no longer favoured by the mandarins at the Lausanne headquarters of the FIH.

The governing body, confronted with the financial woes afflicting the competing countries, agreed to re-tweak the home-and-away schedule so that one country hosts double headers over a weekend in the 2020 schedule. The away games will then come into the frame when both bilateral contests are switched to the other nation in 2021. The home-and-away matches would thus be spread over two years, but it will cut to half the staging and travel expenses for all nations. The accountants at the world body and the participating nations are all hoping this formula would make the FIH Pro League financially viable. That, however, may not be enough if all nations do not attract adequate sponsorship.

The Hockey Insider has observed nervous anxiety prevailing in international hockey circles over the FIH Pro League, which has turned the game on its head. Several key officials of the current FIH hierarchy were supporters of the plans to introduce the Pro League, despite the apparent disruption it would cause to the national competitions in several leading hockey nations. Bombastic figures of financial boon were cited to silence all questions, but the main proponents of this league within the FIH staff, including the Chief Executive Officer, had moved away from the world hockey body before it got launched. While the key staff moved away to greener pastures, the Pro League was left in the hands of people who had played little or no role in strategising it.

Such diverse are the territories where hockey is popular around the world that the FIH found it problematic to find a global title sponsor. Instead, local sponsorship from hockey’s supporting corporates now made better sense to the FIH’s marketing agents, but here too the dimensions were varied.

The absence of India, which had been a major revenue provider for international hockey for the past decade, also hampered the audience figures that could have attracted a major telecast partner. This year, there is a lot of excitement in FIH circles with India coming into the frame. India make their Pro League debut with a double header against The Netherlands in the first weekend of the men’s competition.

Will India’s entry help turn around the fortunes of the Pro League that had threatened to push major national federations toward insolvency? The question will only be answered after a couple of months, but the stakes for the FIH are extremely high. After all, the very continuation of the FIH Pro League could depend on balancing the accounts at the end of the second season.

The Hockey Insider has learnt that the disruption of domestic leagues in many countries continues to be a cause of heartburn among clubs that have traditionally paid the players’ salaries. Not just the club coaches, even those in charge of the national squads were frustrated when best squad was not always available throughout the season. A top-notch women’s team coach told The Hockey Insider about the embarrassing public debate that followed observations that all the top players were not available throughout the Pro League.

The trauma for many nations was the manner in which their domestic leagues were disrupted and rendered subservient as the premier scheduling slots were taken away by the FIH Pro League. The flow of profits to the national federations, and a spill-over to the domestic leagues could have reduced the clubs’ raging anger. But the financial bonanza is not visible, despite the lucrative projections that preceded the launch of the FIH Pro League.


Destination Tokyo as 2nd FIH Pro League takes off

s2h Team

Destination Tokyo as 2nd FIH Pro League takes off This time around, the FIH Pro League will be a means to an end.

With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on the horizon, all nine teams in the men’s league and seven in the women’s have their eyes firmly placed on the Japanese capital where the sport’s ultimate event gets going in August. Into its second year, the Pro League, designed to raise the profile of hockey globally will serve as a workshop for nations priming themselves for the Olympics – widely considered the sport’s ultimate event. The six-month global league, a first in sport, revved back into action in Changzhou, China, on Saturday.

The Netherlands, World No.1 in the women’s game, put it across the seventh-ranked hosts 3-0 and 4-2 at the Wujin Stadium in a double-header – a significant change from the home-and-away first edition last year.

The roles of home-and-away games between nations will be reversed next year.

The double headers seek to reduce travel costs and fatigue and the adverse impact on the environment and, along with the elimination of the Grand Final contested by the top finishers in the league, represents a new and improved version of the ambitious project.

The entry of India (World Ranking: No. 5) and the top financial drivers of the sport is expected to provide a major fillip to the men’s league which starts on Saturday.

The setting is potentially stirring with India squaring up to the third-ranked Netherlands in the cauldron of the 15,000-capacity Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.

The Kalinga is one of 20 venues in 11 nations that will host Pro League matches, totalling 144 over both genders fielding nine nations each.

Defending champions Australia (World Ranking: 1), runners-up and World champions Belgium (WR: 2), The Netherlands (WR: 3), Olympic champions (Argentina, WR: 4), India (WR: 5), Germany (WR: 6), England (Great Britain, WR: 7), Spain (WR: 8) and New Zealand (WR: 9) comprise the men’s league. Defending champions and World Cup holders The Netherlands (WR: 1), runners-up Australia (WR: 2), Argentina (WR: 3), Germany (WR: 4), England (Great Britain, WR: 5), New Zealand (WR: 6), China (WR: 10), Belgium (WR: 12) and USA (WR: 13) make up the women’s field.

The first edition carried risks of a very ambitious project. It waded through club vs country conflicts with an innovative 32-strong squad per team, entailed huge travel, stay and organizational expenditure and tested the pulling power of hockey which produced chequered results.

The 2019 Pro League also brought in its wake setbacks and controversies and it included two traditional giants of the game – India and Pakistan – not featuring. India withdrew from the women’s league, citing it to be an unfavourable path to the Olympics. Hockey India then pulled out the men’s team in solidarity with the women.

The other Asian exponent Pakistan, enduring tough times, withdrew from the league for paucity of finances and were subsequently banned.

India’s place was filled by Spain but Pakistan’s last-minute withdrawal reduced the field to eight nations. The inaugural league witnessed a technological marvel in a temporary pitch at Twickenham Stoop, England, a rugby fortress that drew huge crowds and suggested a model for the future.

The inception year also witnessed some stirring matches, incredible comebacks and high-scoring matches as travel-weary teams grappled with the roster.

The innovation of providing a bonus point for shootout wins following drawn matches added an interesting dimension to the league and provided a twist to fortunes in the final analysis.

With guaranteed national broadcasting, live streaming and growing stadium patronage, the league gives hockey the hope of emerging from the fringes. Most home games drew passionate support which augurs well for the next two years of commitment but, sadly, that wasn’t always the case.

Spectator response in Germany was abysmal. The Netherlands, much the home of modern hockey, witnessed vast empty spaces in the iconic Wagener Stadion, even for the semi-final against Belgium.

What the response will be for the India vs Netherlands match-up at the Kalinga stadium remains to be seen, especially since the second match clashes with the third and final One-day International against Australia in a land where cricket is king.

Still, the pro league has done much to up exposure of top level hockey and a chance to attract GenNext to the sport with whom the future lies.

Notions of elitism, incidentally leveled at the now defunct Champions Trophy, were allayed by the FIH who instituted the Inter-Continental Cup.

The newest competition formulated by the world body will provide one team to replace the bottom-placed team at the 2022 Pro League.

An unprecedented prize purse of $250,000 at the inaugural league, meagre when compared to say, soccer or cricket, represents an encouraging first step of its kind by the FIH.

Hopefully it will lead to a giant step for hockey which bids to rid itself of the shackles of amateurism and justify the name of the league which aims to bring about the transformation.


Indian hockey team to not take part in 2020 edition of Sultan Azlan Shah Cup

India are the second most successful team in the Azlan Shah Cup, having won it five times with the last title coming in 2010 when the trophy was shared with South Korea after the final was abandoned due to bad weather.

(Getty Images)

The Indian hockey team will not take part in the 2020 edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia as it will coincide with their preparations for their away Pro League matches in Germany.

The annual invitational tournament, usually a six-team affair, will be held from April 11-18. India will, however, be busy with their Pro League assignment in Berlin on April 25 and 26. Before that, the Manpreet Singh-led side will be in Bengaluru for the preparatory camp from April 6-19.

“We will be in Bhubaneswar till the end of February and then we go back to Bengaluru. Then back again here in May. We were going to go for Sultan Azlan Shah Cup but our calendar is pretty full so unfortunately the timing didn’t work out,” said India chief coach Graham Reid. “Also, they changed the dates to April, so we had to cancel (it).”

For the last two years, the tournament was being played in March. The last time India skipped the tournament was in 2014.

After Australia, India are the second most successful team in the Azlan Shah Cup, having won it five times with the last title coming in 2010 when the trophy was shared with South Korea after the final was abandoned due to bad weather.

With Australia withdrawing from competition last year, also due to the Pro League, India had a good chance of winning the event. However, they were beaten by South Korea in a penalty shootout (4-2) after the regulation time score read 1-1 in the final.

Meanwhile, Malaysia or South Korea, both of whom have not qualified for the Olympics, could visit India for a Test series in the run-up to Tokyo. “Malaysia might come to Bengaluru at the end of March for a series,” added Reid.

After India play No 3 Netherlands, world champions Belgium and defending champions Australia in the first two months of the year, their next Pro League tie will be against Germany in April.

Hindustan Times

FIH reject Hockey Ireland call for independent video referral review after Olympic qualifier controversy

By Liam Morgan

Hockey Ireland had called on the FIH to review the video referral system

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has rejected calls from Hockey Ireland for an independent review of the video referral system, following a controversial incident which cost the country a place at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

In a letter to the FIH, Hockey Ireland said the worldwide governing body should commission an external analysis of the technology, after criticising a decision made by the video umpire in the nation's defeat to Canada in an Olympic qualifier in November.

Canada, trailing 6-5 on aggregate in the final second of the second leg, were awarded a penalty stroke after calling for a video review for obstruction.

The host nation converted from the spot to send the tie into a shootout, which they won 5-4 to book a place at this year's Olympic Games at the expense of Ireland.

Hockey Ireland said the incident should trigger a review "to ensure the development of minimum standards to guarantee the necessary quality and consistency for the effective use of video referral in hockey and mitigating against another federation experiencing a similar situation".

In an interview with insidethegames, FIH chief executive Thierry Weil claimed the technology in hockey is among the best in sport and dismissed calls for an independent review.

Weil also defended the call made by the umpires, claiming there was "no question" that they "had all the angles to make their decision".

Canada were awarded a penalty stroke by the video umpire in the last second of their Olympic qualifier in November ©FIH

"When we talk about video umpires, we have one of the best systems around," Weil told insidethegames.

"When I first came to the FIH, I saw it and thought 'football should have looked at that from a long time ago' and should have learned from other sports, especially hockey, about how it is done.

"You should always develop the technology if you can, but the discussion is there was something wrong in the quality which was given to the umpires and we clearly say there is nothing wrong.

"Our reply was based on them asking us for a position and asking us to make clear steps in showing evidence to them and to the world, which you can never do.

"If you start to do this, where do you end?

"Every Monday you will have to send videos and replays and reply to different things from different people.

"There is a never-ending story and, as long as human beings are involved in umpiring, there will be some mistakes and that needs to be accepted.

"That doesn’t mean I am saying now it was a mistake."

Irish players and officials slammed the call made by the video umpire on social media, while a war of words has since developed between the two organisations after the FIH criticised the response from the country.

"The level of disquiet and upset among the Irish and some of the wider hockey communities around the world, on social media in particular, has gone well beyond disappointment," the FIH said, according to the BBC.

"It has been particularly disappointing to read of some of the comments made by the players about the result."

Hockey Ireland has since hit back, insisting it has "made it clear that it respects the decision of the umpires and has never sought to challenge this".

"The organisation, its players and management have at all times conducted themselves in a measured way in response to this issue," the body added.

"Hockey Ireland does not condone any negative reaction directed at the umpires, nor can it be held in any way responsible for the reaction of the global public on social media platforms."

Inside the Games

Van Doren extends contract with Bloemendaal

Arthur van Doren has confirmed he will extend his stay at HC Bloemendaal with Glenn Schuurman, Floris Wortelboer and Florian Fuchs also confirming they will extend their stays at the club beyond the current season.

On the other hand, Mats de Groot and Oliver Polkamp have indicated that they will stop playing top hockey after this season and give priority to their working career.

** You can see Arthur van Doren and HC Bloemendaal live at the #EHLFINAL8 at Easter; click here for tickets

De Groot has had seven successful seasons with Bloemendaal as a reliable and highly appreciated member of their defence. Polkamp joined the club this season following many years with HC Rotterdam and one season with Hurley.

Top hockey board member Pepijn Post says he is delighted to keep a good chunk of the club’s big names together into the future: “When the first official ball rolled in September, Flop [Floris Jan Bovelander]  and I start thinking and taking actions for the following season. To stay at the top, it is always important to keep the group together, but also always be qualitatively improved.

“First of all, we are of course happy with the extension of Arthur; he is the most eye-catching and sought after player of the world at the moment. Of course, we are also looking further to talented reinforcements from outside the club but we are also actively working on the development of four talents from the current JA1.

“We understand and respect that Mats and Oliver put an end to their career. Mats, in particular, has had a fantastic period at Bloemendaal.

“With Glenn [Schuurman] and Roel [Bovendeert], he is the longest playing player in the current group. Mats has been invaluable inside and outside the field. We look forward to crowning the season with him and his career in April and May.”

Euro Hockey League media release

UHC’s Janne Müller-Wieland to build a “hockey forest” to offset carbon footprint

UHC Hamburg’s Janne Müller-Wieland is looking to build a “hockey forest” as a measure to offset the carbon footprint that is created by the demands of the sport’s growing schedule.

On her Go Fund Me page created along with fellow German internationals Nike Lorenz and Anne Schröder along with Delf Ness, they have already raised over €5,000 for the project and are encouraging others to support.

“Last year, the FIH Pro League changed a lot for us, the German women’s national team – and the whole hockey world,” they say on the Go Fund Me site.

“The new format, a world league, required us to travel the world from Germany via Australia and New Zealand to Argentina, each for one game.

“The FIH have already reacted and changed the format for this year so our travel is halved by playing two matches at each venue but our carbon footprint is still too high. Even the average CO2 consumption of humans is currently far too high.

“We are aware of our CO2 emissions and our responsibility for our planet and therefore want to act now: We are planting a Hockey Forest! With the help of the Grootbos Foundation we will be planting trees during our next camp in South Africa to offset CO2 emissions.

“This forest will of course also be available for other nations, hockey players, fans and supporters. So if you want to do something about your carbon footprint – join us and plant your tree in the hockey forest!

“Each tree costs € 25. We make sure that your trees are planted in our hockey forest and send a certificate with the coordinates of the trees. All trees that are donated before January 31, 2020 will probably even be planted by us personally!

“We are aware that we can hardly offset our entire CO2 emissions with this forest, but we also don’t want to let this stop us from starting. We hope that many other nations, athletes and supporters will join us and that we can make a contribution to climate protection.

“Our goal is to plant 2020 trees in the Olympic year … So let’s go!”

** Click here with details of how to support the project

Euro Hockey League media release

England Hockey Jaffa Super 6s

This weekend sees the Jaffa Super 6s Division Two and the finals of the Junior Super 6s.

Jaffa Super 6s Division Two is made up of the top three teams from each of Division Two North & South which was played a fortnight ago.

Women’s Division Two at Nottingham Trent University features Bedford, Gloucester Cuty, Guildford. Ipswich, Stourport and Trojans. Men’s Division Two is being played at UWE Bristol,with outdoor Premier Division title chasers Old Georgians lining up with Bedford, Doncaster, Olton, Oxted and West Herts. The top two will qualify for Division One next season.

The Junior Clubs competitions take place at three venues. Both Under 16 tournaments are at WV Active, Wolverhampton., the Girls' U18s at Repton School, the Boys' U18s at Phoenix Leisure Centre, Telford. The winners and runners-up from the five regional tournaments are divided into two pools of five with cross over semis before the final.

Girls U16 Pool A, Repton, Thirsk, East Grinstead, Cheltenham, Harleston Magpies,
Girls U16 Pool B, Beeston, Wakefield, Surbiton, Isca, Knole Park,

Girls U18 Pool A, Beeston, Marlow, Canterbury, Cheltenham, Bowdon,
Girls U18 Pool B, Repton, East Grinstead, Southgate, Clifton Robinsons, Wakefield, ,

Boys U16 Pool A, Repton , Kingston Upon Hull , Surbiton, Mid Somerset, Cambridge Nomads,
Boys U16 Pool B, North Stafford, Brooklands, Canterbury , Clifton Robinsons, Old Loughtonians,

Boys U18 Pool A, Belper, Harrogate, East Grinstead, Saffron Walden, Ashmoor,
Boys U18 Pool B, Repton, Bowdon , Sevenoaks, Ipswich & East Sussex, Team Bath Buccs,

You can see full schedules and squad lists on our Competition Management System and this will be updated with live scores over the weekend.

The Jaffa Super 6s is making a return on Sunday 2 February 2020 and you can be there pitch side to watch all the non-stop action. We're back at the Copper Box Arena, an Olympic legacy venue on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Tickets are now on sale and can be booked by clicking here.

The Jaffa Super 6s is the sport like you've never seen or experienced it before! Played indoors, fans will be treated to top-class hockey as teams battle it out to decide who’ll be crowned indoor champions.

England Hockey Board Media release

Zidane on recovery road, Govers off the hook

By Jugjet Singh

(From Left) Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) competitions committee chairman Datuk Seri Anil Jeet Singh, MHC president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal visiting Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Abdul Jalil. - Pic source: Facebook/MalaysianHockeyConfederation

Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) received pleasant news ahead of their encounter against whipping boys TNB Thunderbolts in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) today.

Joint leaders with Tenaga Nasional after three matches, UniKL players Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Abdul Jalil, also known as Zidane, and Kieren Govers received nasty ball-knocks in their previous matches.

Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin broke his jaw and had to undergo an operation on Thursday.

On Friday, he tweeted: “Anddd... It’s done! Alhamdulillah! Everything went well. Thank you all for your prayers and wishes.”

Govers, who is still recovering from a knock behind his ears, had vented his frustration on Facebook regarding the ‘safety of players’ and ‘code of conduct of a certain official’ in the MHL.

As expected, he was hauled up by the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) competitions committee for his posting but was let off the hook with a reprimand.

“We had a chat with Govers regarding his Facebook post and he apologised verbally and will write in an apology soon.

“So we gave him a soft reprimand. We consider the matter closed,” said MHC competitions committee chairman Datuk Seri Anil Jeet Singh.

Govers then posted on his Facebook: “I’m an outspoken guy who stands up for things. MHL is a great competition, let’s work together to make it a safe environment to keep playing in.”

He did not play against Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) on Wednesday, when UniKL whipped the university side 7-0.


Men: TNB Thunderbolts v UniKL (Pitch One, 5pm), HockAdemy v Tenaga Nasional (Pitch Two, 5pm), Terengganu HT v UTM (Tun Razak, 5pm).

* matches at National Hockey Stadium unless stated.

New Straits Times

Powerless Tenaga has Saiful shocked

Looking lost: TNB’s Syarman Mat Tee (left) and Mohd Amirol Aideed Mohd Arshad trying to stop Maybank’s Amirrullah Zainul during their Malaysia Hockey League match on Wednesday. — MUHAMAD SHAHRIL ROSLI/The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Tenaga Nasional may have the services of 13 national players but they have hardly showed any sign of that pedigree in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) so far. And coach Nor Saiful Zaini is not at all pleased.

The seasoned campaigners, who have been a staple feature in the MHL since 1987, have been a letdown in the first three matches, although they won all three.

Tenaga opened their campaign by beating TNB Thunderbolt 3-1 and then outplayed minnows Kedah-Nurinsafi 6-1 before struggling to beat Maybank 2-0 on Wednesday.

The Tenaga players have been together for a few years now, both in the club and at national level, but are still fumbling with basics like stopping the ball and making simple passes.

Their defence, led by two national players Faiz Helmi Jali and Syed Mohd Syafiq Syed Cholan was shaky while the midfield led by Mohd Amirol Aideed Mohd Arshad, Shello Silverius and Norsyafiq Sumantri seemed lost.

The strikeforce comprising four national players in Mohd Akhimullah Anuar Esook, Mohd Noor Firdaus Rosdi, Mohd Shahril Saabah and Mohd Azrai Aizad Abu Kamal were also firing blanks against Maybank.

Nor Saiful Zaini was really annoyed with his team’s performances.

“We won our first three matches but our performances were nowhere near our best. We have many national players but they failed to play to true form. They are playing as though this is the off-season,” said the former international.

“They can’t even stop the ball and they make basic errors. My players are also not fit enough for the league.

“I am having a headache watching them play in the league. I only had less than two weeks to prepare the team.

“My main focus now is how to motivate the players to play to their true form. I also need to work on their fitness,” said Nor Saiful.

Tenaga’s next match will be against Hockey Academy (Hockademy) of Kuala Lumpur today at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil and Nor Saiful is hoping his players can play rise to the occasion and play like champions.

Tenaga will wrap up the first round matches against reigning overall TNB Cup champions Terengganu on Jan 22 and league champions Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) on Jan 29.

The Star of Malaysia

Veteran Baljit is all excited about baby


KUALA LUMPUR: Former international Baljit Singh Charun, the most senior Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) player in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL), has won numerous titles both with UniKL and Tenaga Nasional.

He has won 215 caps for Malaysia and has been named the Best Player in the MHL in 2009.

For all his accolades, he is as excited as a rookie now. After seven years of marriage, he is looking forward to becoming a father. His wife Jasvin Kaur is expected to give birth to their first child in early February.

“I want 2020 to be a great year for me and my wife with the arrival of our baby next month. I have achieved almost everything in hockey and now is the time to start a family,” said Baljit, who represented Malaysia between 2007 and 2016.

The defender has been a pillar of strength for UniKL since 2012 and he has been like fine wine, improving with age.

However, he refuses to get comfortable and believes there is much work to be done in guiding the youngsters in the team.

“I have seen UniKL go from being the whipping boys in our early days in the league to being champions. Personally, I am happy with my own performance in the last three matches. We are getting closer to forging a good understanding with our foreign and local players,” he said.“The most significant point is we are giving a lot of opportunities to our development squad players to play. In the last three matches, they have been picking up pace and their level of confidence is growing,” said Baljit, who made his debut for the national team during the 2007 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

The development squad players are Mohd Farhan Mohamad Zain, a second-year student of UniKL Malaysia France Institute, midfielder Krishanraj Singh Gill, a former SMK Datuk Bentara Batu Pahat student, Mohd Faid Farhadh Mohamad Shah and Muhamad Firdaus Fauzi.

Baljit’s advice to the younger players in the team is to: “Gain as much knowledge and experience from the seniors, be committed and discipline is most important.

“I am sure that within a year or two, these players will graduate to play important roles in UniKL hockey team,” said Baljit, who started his hockey career with Kuala Lumpur City Hall in 2003.

He joined Tenaga Nasional in 2004 and played for them for eight years – helping the team win the overall title in 2004, 2007 and 2009.

He joined UniKL in 2012.

Defending League champions UniKL have nine points from three matches and they are expected to continue their winning ways against TNB Thunderbolt at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil today.

The Star of Malaysia

The players were crying to be heard

By Jugjet Singh

NSTP/File pic

The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) conducted a post-mortem on the London Olympic failure on Tuesday, and this scribe was invited to be a panellist.

Having no idea of the others who will make up the panel, it was a pleasant surprise to meet the who’s who of the Malaysian sports circle.

But it must have been an uneasy experience for the men and women’s hockey players who were called up.

A burly policeman in full uniform, a silently observing man in a suit from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, MHC top guns, a legendary athlete turned psychologist, a former national junior coach, a three-time Olympian... the list was impressive.

The panellists sat in a circle facing their subjects, who walked into the room one at a time.

Ladies first was the only politeness shown to them, but none of the hockey players clammed up as they answered the questions.

Even though some choked up and cried, it was not out of fear but out of love for the sport.

A box of tissue made its entry for the women, while one male had to excuse himself and went out for a few minutes to calm himself.

Again, it was not because they were being harassed or threatened.

They shed their tears while explaining what happened or what should have been done.

The women were passed off in a fast and furious manner because they were a ‘success’ story and were never expected to qualify but to give their best in the Olympic qualifier.

Everybody was more interested in why the men’s team failed in the Asian Games final, the FIH Series final and the hammering by Britain in chilly London.

The string of failures came even though they were provided with everything, except their underwear.

This scribe was expecting the men to clam up as they normally do when interviewed after a match, but all of them proved me wrong.

They spoke from the heart and nailed some problems squarely on the head.

So, the critics who called it a shambolic post-mortem on social media will be proven wrong soon.

MHC are serious about their next four-year plan, and they will talk to the coaches next to find out the other side of the sob story in London.

If only the men could play as well as they spoke.

New Straits Times

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