All the news for Monday 18 June 2012
Kookaburras Olympic Team Announced
After years of preparation and countless hours of training, 16 players have been selected to represent the Australian men’s hockey team at the Olympics.
Six experienced athletes will travel to London for the Games with ten players who will make their Olympic debut and realise a life-long dream.
The Kookaburras took home bronze from Beijing four years ago but for the world number one team, it's gold they want in London.
Head Coach Ric Charlesworth said while the past week had been stressful for selectors, his thoughts were with the exceptionally talented players that had missed out.
“It is our job to make judgements about balance and covering every base but in the end there are players that are unlucky,” he said.
“This has been a long process over 12 months and many factors were considered.”
The Kookaburras leadership group will be led by five time World Player of the Year, Jamie Dwyer and will include Mark Knowles, Liam De Young, Eddie Ockenden and Fergus Kavanagh.
Star striker Des Abbott will be joined in the team by his cousin Joel Carroll, who has filled the opening on the backline, after Graeme Begbie suffered a serious knee injury in May.
“Joel earned his spot in the team through consistent performances this year. At the start of the year he was probably outside the 16, so he played his way into the team,” Charlesworth said.
Young striker Matt Gohdes, who is Jamie Dwyer’s first cousin and drag flick specialist Kieran Govers are exciting prospects and are expected to be key players to watch in London.
“Both played well at last year’s Champions Trophy and have progressed solidly and Kieran will be an option drag flicking on penalty Corners alongside Chris Ciriello,” he said.
Midfielder Tim Deavin will join fellow Tasmanian Ockenden in the line-up in his first Games.
“We really need his energy, he is a workhorse and we rely on his creative play in midfield,” Charlesworth said.
Goal scoring machine Glenn Turner had hip surgery last year to give him-self the best chance of selection, which has paid dividends.
Goal keeper Nathan Burgers has now cemented his place as the number one keeper in the team after a strong challenge from George Bazeley and Andrew Charter.
“He has a huge responsibility and a very important role and I hope he feels like there’s a lot of work to be done yet,” Charlesworth said.
The fight for selection is not over yet however, as two reserves will be picked and there are injury clouds over others.
“There is still a contest on for the other two spots and the final squad doesn’t have to be handed over until July,” Charlesworth said
The extra six players that will compete in a three test series in Cairns next week against New Zealand will still be vying for a trip to London.
“With our recent injury history, there is some doubt this will be the final 16 we take,” he said.
Matthew Swann, Simon Orchard, Liam De Young and Matthew Butturini will travel to Cairns to participate in the team's preparation but won’t play due to their injuries.
Des Abbott(NT) Nathan Burgers(QLD), Matthew Butturini(NSW), Joel Carroll(NT), Chris Ciriello(VIC), Tim Deavin(TAS), Liam De Young(QLD), Jamie Dwyer(QLD), Matt Gohdes(QLD), Kieran Govers(NSW), Fergus Kavanagh(WA), Mark Knowles(QLD), Eddie Ockenden(TAS), Simon Orchard(NSW), Matthew Swann(QLD), Glenn Turner(ACT)
Extended Squad for Cairns Series v New Zealand June 19-26.
George Bazeley(VIC), Kiel Brown(WA), Luke Doerner(VIC), Russell Ford(VIC), Rob Hammond(QLD), Glenn Simpson(VIC)
Hockey Australia media release
Dwyer leads strong Australia hockey team to Olympics
SYDNEY — Five-time World Player of the Year Jamie Dwyer will spearhead the Australian men's pursuit of gold at next month's London Olympics, it was announced on Monday.
The 33-year-old is heading for his third Games and scored the golden goal that earned Australia -- the current World Cup holders -- the Olympic title in Athens eight years ago.
"I'm so honoured to be named in the team," Dwyer said. "The Olympics only come around every four years and it's such a long road to get there, it's really a fantastic feeling."
Dwyer will lead a team of 16 to London, with 10 Olympic debutants, for an Australian side that is ranked number one in the world and strongly tipped for Olympic glory.
Apart from Dwyer, more seasoned campaigners include Mark Knowles, Liam De Young, Eddie Ockenden, Des Abbott and Fergus Kavanagh.
"We've got a few experienced guys on the team," Dwyer said. "The young guys look up to us and come to me for advice, and that's good.
"It's good for us to have the young guys on the team too, we'll feed off their energy."
The Kookaburras, under coach Ric Charlesworth, are widely expected to repeat the success of previous Games -- they are the only Australian sports team to win a medal at each of the last four Olympics.
"There is not much difference between us and the rest of the world," Dwyer cautioned.
"The competition is so close and it sure isn't easy to be at the top of the game.
"At the Olympics it all comes down to the last two games so it can be anyone's. We've got a good team though, we've prepared really well and we are fit -- I know we can do it."
Australia - Des Abbott, Nathan Burgers, Matthew Butturini, Joel Carroll, Chris Ciriello, Liam De Young, Tim Deavin, Jamie Dwyer, Matt Gohdes, Kieran Govers, Fergus Kavanagh, Mark Knowles, Eddie Ockenden, Simon Orchard, Matthew Swann, Glenn Turner.
Under 21s net five in Ulster
ULSTER 1 SCOTLAND 5 - UNDER 21 CHALLENGE MATCH (WOMEN) - BELFAST
Scotland women`s under 21 side easily maintained their unbeaten run of six games with a comfortable 5-1 victory over Ulster in Belfast today, the final build-up game for next week`s Celtic Cup and thereafter the European Junior Nations Championships in Russia later this summer.
The tone was set in only three minutes when an Alex Wilson`s cross from the right found Edinburgh University`s Sarah Robertson who fired a low shot past the goalkeeper for the opener. The Scots continued to press and an Ali Howie rebound shot just shaved the post, but in 12 minutes Robertson put the Scots youngsters two up, she eliminated two defenders, drove into the circle and unleashed a low shot into the net. Further chances fell to Hazel Hall and a snap shot from Stephanie McInally, but no further goals by the interval.
Louise Campbell and Ali Howie had opportunities early in the second half, but it was not until 52 minutes that the Scots notched their third, at a penalty corner Haddington`s Nikki Mollison sent a powerful low drive past the goalkeeper`s right foot. Four minutes later an attack up the right found Kerry Hall and her cross was driven into the roof of the net from a first time shot by McInally. The fifth goal soon followed, at a well-worked penalty corner routine Wilson stopped the ball for Howie whose well struck shot went across the goalkeeper. In the dying minutes of the contest the Irish pulled one back from a set piece, but little more than a consolation by then.
"At a pre-match team meeting I asked the girls to raise their game, they responded to the bait and we set the tempo right from the start. This was a much improved performance today, much more like a team hoping to gain promotion into Europe`s top eight in the Europeans," said Dave Stott, Scotland`s coach.
Scottish Hockey Union media release
Scotland`s youth in action
SCOTLAND 6 NORTH OF ENGLAND 2 - UNDER 18 CHALLENGE MATCH AT AUCHENHOWIE
Scotland`s under 18 girls completed the double over a North of England under 21 side with a convincing 6-2 victory at Auchenhowie, courtesy of a hat-trick from CALA Edinburgh`s Amber McNeill. Borders Fjordhus` Emily Newlands opened with a penalty corner strike in 10 minutes, just after that McNeill beat two English players and fired the ball into the top corner of the net. Not long before the interval Inverleith`s Sarah Jamieson made it three with a shot from a narrow angle.
After the interval the English recovered some of their composure and brought the score back to 3-2 ten minutes into the second half. The Scots went back into the attack and GHK`s Maisie Morris deflected the ball into the roof of the net after a well-planned penalty corner routine. McNeill completed her hat-trick in the final ten minutes, firstly she fired a reverse stick shot into the roof of the net from the top of the circle, then with two minutes to go McNeill scored with a rebound after Jenny Eadie`s initial shot had been saved by the goalkeeper.
Scottish Hockey Union media release
U16 series level
SCOTLAND 1 ULSTER 3 - UNDER 16 CHALLENGE MATCH AT INVERCLYDE (BOYS)
Yesterday Scotland`s under 16 boys suffered a reversal of fortunes when this time they lost 3-1 to Ulster at Inverclyde, leaving the series level with one game remaining.
The Scots youngsters had the edge in the first half and chances to take the lead fell to Cameron Good (CALA Edinburgh), Ruairidh Grossart (Grange) and Rory Pritchard (Glenalmond), but they found the Irish goalkeeper in fine form, and the game was goalless at the interval.
The Irish started strongly in the second half and forced the Scots to defend deeply, and within eight minutes of the restart were two goals up. The Scots soon retaliated, a move involving Grossart and Pritchard forced the Irish goalkeeper into a good save, but Watsonians` Stuart Nickerson picked up the rebound, slipped the ball to CALA`s Patrick Christie who turned the defender and fired the ball high into the net. The Scots were now going for the equaliser, the best chance falling to Glynhill Kelburne`s Andrew Duff but his effort was blocked by the keeper. The Irish killed the game off with a third goal nine minutes from the end.
SCOTAND 3 ULSTER 3 - UNDER 16 CHALLENGE MATCH AT INVERCLYDE
Honours were finally even between Scotland and Ulster`s under 16 boys, earlier both had won a game 3-1 and in the final confrontation the sides finished with a thrilling 3-3 draw. The Scots youngsters had the best of starts, in three minutes at their first penalty corner Surbiton`s Alex Harper slipped the rebound past the stranded goalkeeper after Andrew Duff`s initial shot was blocked. But by the interval the home side found themselves 2-1 down, despite having several chances to add to their total.
In 51 minutes the Scots were back level, the move was created by Watsonians` Nickerson, the ball came to Harper whose pass through a crowded circle found Ruairidh Gossart, he touched it on to Rory Pritchard and the Glenalmond schoolboy stroked the ball home from close range. A stray pass up front led to an Ulster counter-attack which gave the visitors a 3-2 lead.
In a dramatic closing couple of minutes, the initial shot at a penalty corner was blocked and in the ensuing scramble to clear the danger the ball fell kindly to Grossart who promptly smashed the ball into the net for the equaliser. The drama did not half there, Duff had a late chance to steal a win but his effort went narrowly wide and then the Irish were awarded an overtime penalty corner but fortunately it came to nothing.
Coach Allan Law was delighted with the effort put in by his squad and in particular the improvement shown over the weekend. There was praise also for development umpires Gref Cunningham and Duncan Ruzzack who handled the games very well.
Scottish Hockey Union media release
Awards Ceremony celebrates achievements in Scottish hockey
Catriona Ralph - Player of the Year
Scottish Hockey marked the end of the domestic hockey season with a celebration of both individual and collective achievements at the Aberdeen Asset Management Annual Awards last night.
Hosted at the Apex International Hotel in Edinburgh, eighteen players, coaches and officials were presented with accolades to recognise excellent performance in their field, while a number of volunteers were also honoured for their valued dedication and commitment to the sport. Clubs were also presented with league and cup competition trophies and medals.
The evening was hosted by Katie Still, BBC Sport presenter, who is a former National League hockey player and keen supporter of the sport herself.
Robert Heatly, Chief Executive Scottish Hockey, said:
"The Aberdeen Asset Management Annual Awards is an important event in our calendar, as it is the opportunity for our members to be recognised amongst their peers for outstanding performance and commitment to the sport of hockey in Scotland. My congratulations extend to all the clubs collecting competition trophies and the individual award winners."
James Thorneley, Aberdeen Asset Management, said:
"This is the first year of our three year sponsorship of Scottish Hockey and we're delighted to be acknowledging the achievements of key players, coaches and volunteers within the sport.
We are particularly keen to congratulate John Bell on being named Aberdeen Asset Management Coach of Year, as one of the key objectives of our support for Scottish Hockey is to facilitate the professionalisation of coaching."
John Bell - Coach of the Year
Amongst the award winners was John Bell, the Aberdeen Asset Management Coach of the Year, whose Inverleith Ladies team has achieved back-to-back promotions and a domestic cup in the last year.
Alan Forsyth - Player of the Year
Alan Forsyth of Glynhill Hotel Kelburne and Catriona Ralph of Clydesdale Western were the Men's and Women's Player of the Year respectively. Both will be in action for Scotland this summer when the national squads play in the International Hockey Federation (FIH) World League competitions.
Please visit the Annual Awards page for full list of winners.
Scottish Hockey Union media release
'Greed' sinks big hockey deal
SA star Justin Reid-Ross (File)
Johannesburg - The “intervention” and “greed” of South Africa’s Olympic heads this week cost the country’s desperate men’s hockey team a big sponsorship deal and apparently threatens to rule out another deal to the value of millions of rands.
The Games’ preparation of the team, which has been without a sponsor for the past eight years, is at risk after Clere Active on Tuesday withdrew its offer to contribute R350 000 to training camps, international matches and a televised advertising campaign.
Clere Active marketing manager Karen Kruger declined to confirm or deny whether the sponsorship was cancelled, but several sources involved in the negotiations told City Press that the “intervention” and “greed” of the South African Sports Council and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) and the “hopeless management” of the South African Hockey Association (SAHA) sank the agreement.
Clere Active representatives approached Saha on May 10 after Marissa Langeni, the controlling body’s chief executive, and Dave Carr, SAHA president, made desperate pleas for support.
Clere Active offered to act as a joint sponsor, but by earlier this week SAHA had not yet signed a memorandum of understanding.
In addition, City Press was told SASCOC announced on Tuesday it would take part of the sponsorship and warned that Clere Active “may not be involved with the team in any way” during the Games.
This was apparently “the last straw”.
Langeni confirmed to City Press that the team still had no sponsor.
“We are currently in talks with a company for funding,” he said.
City Press understood that these negotiations - apparently with a construction giant - reached a dead end, reportedly because SAHA and SASCOC insisted on an amount of R3m.
“The talks are at a sensitive stage, but I am hopeful we will soon reach an agreement,” Langeni said.
The team was virtually guaranteed a place in London after being crowned African champions.
Champion teams from every continent have automatically gone through in the past but SASCOC decided the team had to win a tournament in Japan last month to gain entry.
SASCOC did not intervene in the sponsorship of the men’s hockey team, but “opportunistic sponsors who want to get on the Games gravy train can keep their money”, said SASCOC president Gideon Sam.
“We cannot allow sponsors only to come on board now ... Where were they for the past four years, when we asked people to become involved in the build-up to the Games?” he asked.
“It would be unfair to the sponsors who have gone the long road with us and comply with all our requirements. We can’t make an exception.”
Final chance for hockey stars to impress
Bernadette Coston © UJ Sports
Rising hockey stars will have a final chance to impress national selectors ahead of September’s Junior World Cup qualifier when they meet at the national student hockey champs at the University of Johannesburg next month.
The University Sport South Africa (USSA) championships will see teams from 19 tertiary institutions, as well as a Namibian invitational side, compete for honours in the two premier divisions from July 1 to 7.
The A-section sides will do battle on the UJ Astroturf while the B-section teams lock horns at the Kaspersky Randburg Astro.
UJ Hockey manager Elize le Roux said the university was looking forward to hosting one of the sport’s biggest annual events.
“It’s always an honour. It provides a great platform on which students can come and compete.”
She said it was one of the final opportunities for players to get noticed before the qualifying tournament for the world cup, which takes place in India in February, 2013.
Le Roux said avid supporters could expect to see top-class hockey with the likes of national U/21 women’s team members Nika Nel, Jenna du Preez and Kaila Flemming turning out for the home side.
She said players like UJ striker Lloyd Nicholson and link Gerald Mpopo would be contenders to earn a spot in the junior mens’ team following the USSA tournament.
According to Le Roux, the university had a strong hockey tradition and was hoping for another podium finish. Last year, the men’s side finished runners-up while the women placed third.
The latter will however be without the services of the world’s leading goal-scorer Pietie Coetzee and Bernadette Coston who are part of the senior national team for the London Olympic Games in August.
Former UJ hockey stars Marsha Marescia, Lisa-Marie Deetlefs, Lance Louw, Erasmus Pieterse and Thornton McDade have also been included in the Olympic squad, which was announced last week.
University staff member Anton van Rooyen will accompany the men’s team as manager, while Beijing Olympian and former student Adrian Carolan will act as video analyst for the women’s side.
Le Roux said one of the USSA tournament highlights would be the UJ alumni function on Friday, July 6.
“It will be a unique opportunity to bring the alumni hockey community together again. It promises to be a good get-together to catch up and any former players, coaches and managers are welcome to attend.”
MHC puts off decision on foreign coach
By Jugjet Singh
THE Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) executive board meeting yesterday failed to reach a decision on hiring a foreign coach to replace Tai Beng Hai.
The board deliberated on the matter, but said it needs at least two more weeks to decide on the foreign coach.
"There was no decision taken on a replacement for Tai Beng Hai as the president (Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah) said more time was needed to find a replacement coach," said senior vice-president Dr S. Shamala.
After Beng Hai failed to take Malaysia into the Olympics, the MHC went looking for a foreign replacement.
The front-runner among the foreign coaches is Paul Revington of South Africa, who last coached the Irish team to the silver medal in the Dublin Olympic Qualifier.
And he might just bring in his trusted lieutenant Arul Selvaraj, a former Malaysian international who was assistant to Revington in Ireland.
The other possible candidate to replace Beng Hai is Australian Paul Gaudoin.
On the future of Beng Hai, Shamala said: "He has been given the mandate by the executive board to do development work, and will be in charge of the Project 2021 team."
And for the Project 2017 squad, the board had decided on Lim Chiow Chuan and Lailin Abu Hassan as coaches.
"The board also could not come to an agreement on whether to accept the resignation of Hashim Yusof (the former MHF secretary and later an office-bearer) as the president said the matter should be left to his discretion at a later date," said Shamala.
However, the board did decide that the Asia Cup next year will be held in October to accommodate the Junior World Cup which will be held in November.
"No other major decisions were taken by the board as many of the matters needed more deliberation time," said Shamala.
New Straits Times
MHC still can’t decide on choice of national coach
By AFTAR SINGH
KUALA LUMPUR: It’s still a mystery who will replace Tai Beng Hai as the national hockey coach.
The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) executive board who met yesterday could not come to a conclusive decision, saying they needed at least two more weeks to decide on the choice of foreign coach.
Beng Hai was heavily criticised for failing to steer Malaysia to the London Olympics. Malaysia finished a disappointing third in the qualifier in Dublin in March behind champions South Korea and Ireland. Malaysia last featured in the 2000 Sydney Games.
The front-runner for the job is said to be Paul Revington of South Africa, who last coached Ireland. The other candidate is Australian Paul Gaudoin.
Beng Hai, whose contract only expires at the end of the year, has been redesignated to do development work and will be in charge of the Project 2021 team.
The board also named Lim Chiow Chuan and Lailin Abu Hassan as coaches of the Project 2017 team. It was also decided that the Asia Cup, to be hosted by Malaysia next year, would be held in October to accommodate the Junior World Cup in New Delhi in November.
“No other major decisions were taken as many of the matters need more time for deliberation,” said MHC senior vice president S. Shamala.
The Star of Malaysia
Beng Hai will be back in 2021
by Vijhay Vick
OUTGOING national coach Tai Beng Hai will return to helm the national team, provided he proves his credentials in unearthing new talents.
Beng Hai has also been entrusted with producing more coaches instead of just concentrating on players.
If Beng Hai does so, the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) may opt for him to head the Project 2021 squad.
“We have discussed long-term plans from 2012-2021. For now, Beng Hai will be appointed director of coaching to nurture more coaches. This may enable his return to the senior team as the Project 2021 boys mature,” said MHC president Tengku Abdullah Shah.
“We are lacking in this area. Ex-players will be brought in to assist as well. We need to produce a team of high-performance coaches.”
Though Beng Hai’s new position is above the national coach in the organisational chart, Tengku Abdullah stressed that the new national coach will not report to Beng Hai.
Instead, Beng Hai and the new coach will complement each other.
Tengku Abdullah added the the new national coach will be announced in a few days but confirmed it will be between South African Paul Revington and Paul Gaudoin of Australia. Revington, though, is the more likely candidate.
“We have yet to sort out the finer details. We’re looking at a four-year contract but it will be performance-based as well. They must reach the targets set.
“Everything (including re-appointment of Beng Hai) will be sorted out by end of the month. Their current contracts will be terminated, with new contracts being handed to them,” added Tengku Abdullah.
Vijayanathan's memoirs launched
By Jugjet Singh
Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid (left) and Datuk G. Vijayanathan after the launch of the Memoirs of Mr Hockey in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Pic by Nurul Shafina Jemenon
THE book launch of the Memoirs of Mr Hockey by Datuk G. Vijayanathan, was officiated by Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Viji, as he is popularly known, was the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) secretary for 26 years and also a world top umpire from 1973-1976.
He has also gained fame for umpiring the 1975 Kuala Lumpur World Cup final between India and Pakistan where he awarded the "controversial" goal to India which clinched them the World Cup with a 2-1 score.
"It is indeed an honour to have served hockey for such a long span, and I dedicate this book, written from my experience in the sport for over six decades, to my late wife of 51 years, Rajaletchmy, and my two daughters," said Viji.
The 638-page book on his memoirs not only covers his family life, but to a large extent, includes what he learnt, achieved and parted on and off the field.
The book launch was attended by close to 500 of his friends, as well as hockey players from the 1975 World Cup squad.
New Straits Times
Viji’s ‘Memoirs of Mr Hockey’ launched
KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk G. Vijayanathan, the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) secretary for 26 years and world-class umpire from 1973 to 1976, has written a book aptly called ‘Memoirs of Mr Hockey’.
The book was launched by former chief secretary to the government Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid at a leading hotel in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Viji, as he is popularly known, umpired the 1975 Kuala Lumpur World Cup final between India and Pakistan. He awarded the controversial goal which gave India a 2-1 win.
“It’s an honour to have served hockey for over six decades. I dedicate this book to my late wife of 51 years, Rajaletchmy, and my two daughters,” said Viji.
The Star of Malaysia
German hockey player Keller prepares for fifth Olympics, targets second gold
BERLIN: Natascha Keller, born into Germany’s best-known hockey family, prepares for her fifth Olympics. The striker played her first international aged 17 and now, almost 18 years and more than 400 caps later, Keller heads to London in search of a second Olympic gold in what she has said will be her last Games.
“I’m proud to have her on my team,” Germany’s women’s team coach Michael Behrmann said. “She’s like a good wine. She gets better with age.”
Behrmann has previously even gone as far as to say the team can only be successful with Keller in it. The playoffs for the German club championship earlier this month made clear what he meant.
Keller suffered an injury in the first half of Berliner Hockey Club’s semi-final after scoring a goal that was subsequently disallowed.
The 34-year-old was off the pitch for much of the game, being treated for her injury, but on her return was straight back into the action. With her team losing 3-0, Keller scored twice to almost change her team’s fate.
While some of her younger team mates were in tears well after the end of the match, Keller quickly regained her composure. “Shame, maybe it was my last German championship,” she told the pack of reporters.
Given her family, Keller was simply following a well-trodden path when she chose hockey. Her grandfather Erwin won hockey silver at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. Her father Carsten was part of Germany’s gold-medal winning team at the 1972 Munich Games, and brothers Andreas and Florian, took gold in 1992 and 2008 respectively. The sports consultant — hockey is largely an amateur sport — already has a gold from the 2004 Olympics in Athens, in an impressive list of honours which includes European championships, the Champions Trophy and being named International Hockey Federation world player of the year in 1999.
She is among only a handful of international players whose name has a ring beyond hockey, a marginal sport in much of Europe.
Keller is keen to break a recent series of fourth places for Germany after the team, ranked third in the world, missed out on medals at the Beijing Olympics, the 2010 World Cup as well as the last two editions of the biennial Champions Trophy tournaments.
Indian hockey team focused to win: coach Michael Nobbs
Indian Hockey Coach Michael Nobbs
New Delhi: India's hockey coach Michael Nobbs says the one good thing about the present lot of players is that they are neither euphoric nor weighed down by history. Their obsession happily is "only to win".
Nobbs, who has a decent record since taking over the reins of the team a year ago, feels the odd victory over the countries in the top five in the world is nice but India should be doing so more often and for that it should be playing them regularly.
The Indian team under his charge has won the Asian Champions Trophy, finished second in the Champions Challenge, topped the Olympic qualifiers and took the bronze in the Azlan Shah Cup where the field included five teams. India can expect to play in the London Games.
"They are neither euphoric nor weighed down by the glorious past of Indian hockey. These boys know only to win. So it will be very difficult for me to predict where India would finish in the Olympics. The preparation is a work in progress and the boys are showing signs of improvement every day," Nobbs told IANS.
Nobbs believes playing the world's top five teams - Australia, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Britain - regularly will surely restore the old order in world hockey when India were among the elite club of countries.
"We have to win against the top five teams on a regular basis and that alone will change things in Indian hockey for better. We still have some way to go to get there and we have to plan it all meticulously," said the coach.
Nobbs feels the victory against Olympic hosts Britain in the bronze-medal play-off match at the recent Azlan Shah Cup showed they could stand up to the Europeans.
"The win against Britain was very important because we haven't beaten a top European team for a long time. The win will keep them in good stead ahead of the Olympics," he said.
India are clubbed in pool B at the Olympics with Germany, the Netherlands, South Korea, New Zealand and Belgium and Nobbs realises there is little room for errors against such strong opponents.
Asked if his boys have the ability to match the European teams in terms of fitness, he said: "We have improved a lot in terms of fitness and I am confident that the boys can match the best in the world. They have been put through high-altitude stimulation training here and I am pretty happy with their physical condition. I think our exercise physiologist David John has done a great job with the team."
Nobbs, however, laments that his players are not powerfully built like their European counterparts.
"I wish the Indian players had some more power. When we took over, the players were 10-18kg lighter than the European players. We have worked hard to reduce the difference. The New Zealanders are the best example for Indian players. The Kiwis are very strong and today they are now one of the fitter teams in world hockey," he said.
The Australian was confident that his players, with their all-round skills, will put up a tough fight against the European teams. He said another good thing about the present India team is that it is not carrying much of the baggage that was there when India last played at the Olympics in Athens in 2004.
The 16-member squad has only Ignace Tirkey and Sandeep Singh who were part of the squad at Athens where the eight-time Olympic champions finished seventh. The two were also there in Santiago (Chile), where India lost the final of the qualifier to Great Britain and missed the Beijing Games for the first time in 80 years.
Nobbs feels barring the two players, the others haven't suffered the heartbreak and that adds to the "feel good factor" in the team.
"Barring Ignace and Sandeep, the remaining players came up in the last four years. I don't think what has happened in the past will have a bearing on the young players. They are a motivated lot and are excited to do well in the Olympics," said the Australian.
The chief coach was happy that his players are multi-dimensional and defended Sandeep, an ace drag flicker, whose defensive skills have been suspected. "I won't say Sandeep is a poor defender. In every team you will find one or two players who are selected on the strength of their special skills. Australian Luke Doerner is an example. Sandeep is one of the best drag-flickers in the world and that makes him special," Nobbs added.
While Nobbs is satisfied with the preparation of his team, he feels that finishing is an area of concern for India. "We are still working on our finishing. We are creating several openings but unable to finish as well as we should. It is a concern, but again it is a work in progress," he said.
I almost quit hockey, says Sardar Singh
PUNE: When Indian hockey returns to the Olympic fold at the London Games this year, its fortunes would revolve around one man - Sardar Singh.
Considered one of the best players produced by India, Sardar, who was named in the All Star team by the world governing body FIH for two consecutive years, will have a crucial role to play with his ability to switch from defence to attack in no time.
What he is capable off on the field is well-documented. Not many, though, know that Sardar almost quit hockey seven years ago.
"In 2005, I was with the junior Indian team on the tour of Pakistan and we were playing in Lahore stadium. I was asked to play up front which was new to me. During the whole 70-minute period, I didn't get a touch at all. I thought, 'this game is too difficult, maybe I am not up to it'," Sardar, brother of former India player Didar Singh, said.
"I didn't have much interest in the game and I wanted to settle down," said the ace medio. Then, a call up to the senior camp reignited the passion. Sardar began to put in more hard work on and off the turf, and the results began to show within months.
"The Sardar I saw in 2005 when he was not picked for the India junior team and the one I saw two years later were two different Sardars," forward Tushar Khandker said. "He was fitter, stronger and his game had improved a lot."
Both his coaches and teammates point out that during practice Sardar is the first person to enter the pitch and the last person to leave. The reverse pass that he had patented was a product of the extra one hour effort he puts in everyday.
"When I was young, the coaches told me that I was a bit slow. So I started to work on my weaknesses one by one. Everyone is his own coach because nobody can tell you what your weaknesses are, only you know," Sardar said.
Like all champions, Sardar never settles for second place. Asked about fans' low expectations from the Indian team at the Olympics this year, he said: "Everybody says that we will finish fifth-sixth. But I know the talent in the team. I think we can reach the semifinals, at least. I want to be like footballers like Messi and Maradona. I want to win for the team," Sardar said.
The Times of India
Hockey India’s tactic leaves its officials fuming Saurabh Duggal
For the first time in the history of Indian hockey, a foreigner has been appointed team manager for the Olympics. But what is seen as a tactical appointment for the London event has left a couple of senior Hockey India officials bitterly complaining that the India return to the Olympics after eight years and face a huge challenge in their bid for a podium finish. The federation thus named the team’s Australian exercise physiologist David John as manager so that he can sit on the bench and help compatriot and chief coach Michael Nobbs rotate the players. However, the move has not gone down well, two senior HI officials have shot off a letter to secretary general, Narinder Batra, protesting the appointment of a foreigner.
Voices of dissent
HI vice-president, Pratap Satpathy, also general secretary of the Orissa association, wrote to Batra on June 15 opposing the decision.
“To the best of my knowledge, since Independence, the Indian hockey (federation) had never appointed a foreign national as manager of the Olympic team. A manager to me is the ambassador of the country,” Satpathy said in the letter and dubbed John’s appointment an insult to millions of Indians. “Will it not be embarrassing to watch a foreigner leading our hockey team? Are we setting a precedent?” he asked. “I have reservations against this appointment and register this as my strong protest.”
Even during the British rule, the Indian hockey team had an Indian manager at the Olympics. Swami Jagannath was the manager at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
A HI senior vice-president, TP Sinha, who heads the Jharkhand association, has also registered his protest. “As regards the appointment of a foreign national, I totally agree with Satpathy,” Sinha wrote to Batra.
Tanvir Dar Hockey Academy prevailed upon Den Bosch 4-2
Den Bosch is one of the biggest hockey clubs in Holland with over 2,500 members. Many big names of Dutch hockey including Mark Lammers, Jerome Delmee, Mathias Browyer, Peit Hein Geeris, among others have appeared in the Den Bosch colours.
Having watched the exciting test match between Pakistan and Holland at Zoetermeer the previous evening, the Dar HA boys were facing a strong Don Bosch Men’s first side boasting five former junior Dutch Internationals.
As seen on quite a few times on this tour, the Pakistani lads began sluggishly and had to pay for that. They conceded a penalty corner in the second minute, duly converted by Bram Van Groesen whose strong flick had been anticipated by the goal keeper but its power carried the ball into the net. The goal spurred the academy boys. In the fifth minute, Bilal Mahmood, Dar HA’s most prolific striker, received a long high ball near the circle but failed to beat the last defender. They had two more chances in the next two minutes. On the right flank Salman side stepped two defenders in a horizontal direction and entered the striking area. His strike came off the post and the resulting rebound was surprisingly missed by Bilal. It was immediately followed by a penalty corner but the indirect drill was easily disturbed by the Den Bosch defenders. The hosts asserted themselves and after a fluent move, the attempt on the goal went wide in the 10th minute. Their pressure continued for sometime without threatening the Dar HA goal. After a lack luster period, the Pakistanis equalized through a penalty corner in the 18th minute when Bilal Qadir expertly put a penalty corner in. A few minutes later Bilal had another chance. Khalid Bhatti’s excellent long hit found Bilal in a fine position but his reverse try was a mishit. Den Bosch had two opportunities of their own. A 25th minute Den Bosch penalty corner was superbly saved by the custodian Waqas Butt who jumped superbly to see off the fast and high flick. The next minute field attempt went off the mark. Though the pace of the match wasn’t fast but there were scoring opportunities galore in the last minutes before the first hooter, especially for the visitors. Sikander’s top of the circle shot was well stopped by the net minder. An indirect drill on the third PC couldn’t be completed. Then a captivating move involving four players ended with an Awais cross missed by Bilal Mahmood. A Den Bosch striker also failed to capitalize on a cross from a hand shake distance in the last minute.
HALF TIME 1-1
Dar HA lads had a penalty corner immediately after resumption but could not be availed due to poor stoppage. Next few minutes saw Den Bosch looking to reestablish the lead but some bad luck and good goal keeping kept them away. 11th minute saw a wonderful ball by Awais was not connected by Bilal Mahmood. Then a Den Bosch forward’s edge of the circle back hander went high over the bar. However, Dar HA went ahead in the 18th minute when a Rizwan manufactured PC was converted by Salman through a strong hit. Soon Den Bosch also had a PC. The strong push beat the net minder but Asad stopped it at the goal line. Over the next five minutes chances went abegging at both the ends. Dar HA managed to double the lead in the 25th minute. A long scoop sent by Sikander from his own half was well taken by Bilal whose first time pass was flicked into the net by Awais. Den Bosch had two PCs in the 25th minute but goalie Waqas Butt was equal to the task. With six minutes left, Bilal Mahmood entered the circle, dribbled past a defender and slipped the ball into the goal to make ti 4-1 for the Dar HA. Last few minutes were all Den Bosch who repeatedly entered the Dar HA circle and made quite a few attempts including their 6th PC but were mainly thwarted by Waqas Butt; the net minder had his best game of the tour. Finally their persistence paid off in the 34th minute when some neat passing was given the finishing touch by Joep Burgerhof whose fierce top of the circle shot gave Waqas no chance.
Tanvir Dar Hockey Academy, Pakistan: 4 (Bilal Mahmood 2, Salman, Awais)
Den Bosch, Holland 2 (Bram Van Groesen, Joep Burgerhof)
Ijaz Chaudhry writes on hockey and other sports. For more about him and his work, visit: www.sportscorrespondent.info
Pakistan hockey : The Ipoh disaster (IV)
By Zakir Hussain Syed
The poor form of the Pakistan hockey team not withstanding, it was quite apparent that this team lacked spirit and fighting qualities that have always been the hallmark of the most Pakistan teams in the past. Admittedly some of Pakistan’s best players were missing because of FIH-Indian Hockey League controversy but even without their inspiration, the urge was so obviously missing. One sincerely hopes that ambition of some senior players to become the national captain and the allied grouping with the players was not behind this lack of spirit.
PHF chief Qasim Zia and his team must ensure that the team that is finally selected to represent Pakistan at the London Olympics is not plagued by problems of this type. The PHF has already recalled Shakil Abbasi, Mohammad Wasim and Mohammad Imran, which will make a world of difference. However, it is felt that if Pakistan can finish amongst the top five in the London Olympics, it will be creditable.
Let this also be placed on record that the Pakistan hockey team’s last three major successes were achieved under foreign coaches: World Cup and Champions Trophy titles under Hans Jorritsma and the Asian Games after a gap of twenty years under Michel Van de Heuval. Does this signify anything!
As usual, it was a pleasure meeting with Thusith Preira, the finance manager of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC), to get an update from him about the recently held Asia Cup and the possibility of it becoming a regular part of international calender. Dr Amarjeet and his wife Sylvia were gracious hosts as usual. Dr Amarjeet informed me about some of the latest developments in sports medicine. I hope he can come to Pakistan one day and deliver a lecture in the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) on this important subject in collaboration with Dr Waqar who is doing a fine job in developing this vital specialization in Pakistan.
Malaysia is fast developing and is now considered one of the most friendly countries in the world to visit. Thus it is now a very popular destination for all types of tourists from Australia to Middle East with increasing investment by foreigners. The hotel industry is doing roaring business and so are many other vital sectors of their economy. Prosperity and well being is also bringing its problems. According to a survey, obesity is now becoming a major problem, especially amongst women.
The government has responded to this issue by introducing an official help line but the way Malaysians love their food with rice and noodles as its integral components, it is going to be one hell of a problem to check this trend.
Malaysia has now become the center of Asian hockey replacing India and Pakistan. Apart from the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup that is an annual feature, they are now planning to host a regular Asian Hockey Championship. They have established a state of the art hockey academy with regular courses. Most importantly, their own team is now performing creditably and for a change they now have vast popular backing proved by capacity crowds whenever Malaysia was playing. They are also concentrating on technical specialization with the help of foreign experts. The famous Dutch penalty corner specialist Floris Jan Bouvelander was one of the shortlisted candidates to become the coach of the Malaysian team. Thus they are taking all the right decisions to strengthen their hockey base. A great deal of credit for this leading role by Malaysia in sustaining Asian hockey goes to Sultan Azlan Shah himself who is a die hard hockey follower and the tradition is now being carried forward by the family.
(Zakir Hussain Syed is Pakistan’s internationally renowned sports administrator, sports broadcaster and sports analyst)
The Daily Times
Ex-Olympians call off protest against hockey team
Pakistan finished last at the Azlan Shah Cup. -Photo by AFP
LAHORE: A six-day protest camp staged by some former Olympians against poor performance of the national hockey team in the Azlan Shah Cup finally ended at the National Hockey Stadium on Saturday.
Three Olympians — Naveed Alam, Mansoor Ahmed and Mohammad Saqlain — with other hockey fans were present in the protest camp.
Naveed, while addressing a news conference, said that the six-day protest must have created an impact on the performance of the national team.
He admitted that national team performed better in the recently-concluded tour of Europe, claiming that it was the result of the pressure, which he and his group exerted on the PHF through the protest camp.
Naveed emphasised the team should win the gold medal in the upcoming London Olympics, adding that otherwise, the management should go home.
It is pertinent to mention that Pakistan secured a miserable eighth position under the coaching of ex-Olympian Naveed Alam at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Soon after Naveed finished his speech, PHF’s supporters, who also remained in front of the protest camp throughout the six days, started chanting slogans in favour of the PHF.
Meanwhile, Arshad Chaudhry, a PHF official, who is also a member of the national selection committee, said some Olympians were protesting not for the betterment of hockey, but for furthering their own agenda. He claimed the national team had improved remarkably in Europe having focussed on mistakes they committed in the Azlan Shah Cup.
The PHF welcomes positive criticism, the official said, adding that the manner some Olympians adopted in protesting against the team’s performance was not correct.
Defending Pakistan’s defeat in the opening match against Belgium on the European tour, he said the players could not acclimatise in the first match having played in Ipoh, Malaysia.
Pakistan drew the two-match series 1-1 against Germany after winning the first 4-3 and losing the second 2-0. In the last match of the tour, Pakistan played out a 3-3 draw against Holland.
Straight talk: Better watch out
By Humair Ishtiaq
Pakistan finished last in the Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia. – Photo by AP
The recent drubbing the national hockey team was subjected to at the Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia is yet another occasion for all concerned to wake up and do something. They — including the Pakistan Hockey federation — can’t do much about the national game, for the gap between us and the rest is only going to widen with time, but they can certainly do something to preempt such a fate in their own respective context.
It is time to salvage whatever is left in our midst in the name of a system because the basic fault for the decline in hockey lies not with the players, but with the lack of system that pervades all other spheres of national activity.
Take education, health, economy, governance, anything; characteristics of the system remain very much the same: absence of institutions, absence of accountability, adhocism, nepotism, across-the-board frivolity, lack of understanding and, on top of it all, a serious lack of intent to understand, perform and deliver. The only difference in the realm of sports is that, unlike most other sectors, it has an easy scapegoat; the players take the flak while the administrators continue to make hey because for them the proverbial sun continues to shine, which is such a pity.
Come to think of it, among the segments in our society that have played a major part in making Pakistan a well-recognised country in the world, sport has always been among the top few. It has been so from the very beginning. It was hockey and squash in the early years that introduced the country across the world, and they were followed not much later by cricket and subsequently by bridge, snooker, boxing and even sailing in which Pakistani sportsmen excelled, winning regional and international laurels that earned recognition and goodwill for the country.
The thread running through all these success stories, however, was that of individual talent. From Hanif and Fazal to Wasim and Waqar, from Shahnaz and Islah to Hasan and Hanif, and from Hashim and Roshan to Jahangir and Jansher, none of them — and, of course, many, many more — was thrown up by the system; they all made it big on the basis of their natural skill, individual effort and even personal investment in terms of initial training and grooming. The latest to join the ranks is Aisamul Haq, who recently made it to the semi-finals of the French Open and has hit the purple patch on the international tennis circuit for quite some time. He is no exception on this count.
Pakistan Tennis Federation can surely take no credit at all for what Aisam has been able to achieve on the circuit.
There has never been any concrete effort to have a system that may harness the natural talent. Even the highest offices in the land poke their mighty nose in the affairs of the various federations and associations, all that is done for the sake of accommodating the blue-eyed.
Beyond that, there is little concern for anything else. The net result is that instead of producing giants, the federations are churning out pygmies and using them as scapegoats to continue enjoying the goodies themselves.
Had the decline been confined to one area, we could have called it bad performance. Had it been so bad in a few games, we could have called it a coincidence. But the massive decline is no coincidence. The malaise definitely runs much deeper. And it is the same malady that plagues our very existence as a nation. By the same token, the cure has to be the same: put in place long-term systems that shall be professional and accountable.
We have before us the example of how things slipped out of hand in hockey which once used to enjoy the same popularity as cricket. When people stopped bothering about what the PHF was doing, the game went from bad to worse. Cricket faces the same threat today.
Mismanagement has caused Pakistan hockey dearly; the biggest loss being in the shape of talent scarcity which is inevitable when the national team stops performing well at the international level. Youngsters have lost interest and the game is all but dead. It is a lesson that Pakistan Cricket needs to learn in a hurry.
Of late the national cricket team has not been on a bad patch. In fact, it is doing pretty well compared to how things have often stood in the past. The Pakistan Cricket Board would do well to avoid taking the path that the PHF and other bodies did. Every setback in hockey should work as a warning to the PCB because the latter is not always seen to be steering clear of the path that was once undertaken by the PHF.
University girls drown in Vikings’ goal spree
By AYUMBA AYODI
Caroline Ngarachu, the USIU goalkeeper (L), faces attack by Vikings players (R) during their KHU league match at City Park Stadium on Saturday. Vikings won 2-1. PHOTO|FILE
An aggressive Vikings punished Multimedia University 5-0 on Sunday at the City Park Hockey Stadium and surged to second place in the women’s National Hockey League.
The score-line was a clear manifestation of Vikings’ dominance sprinkled by goals from Kara Lee, who struck a brace in fifth and 57th minutes off a penalty corner and field goal respectively.
Susan Muchai (13th), Vivian Achieng (44th) and Benazir Omotto (58th) also contributed to Vikings’ haul.
Myriad of chances
The margin would have been greater but Vikings, who pinned Multimedia virtually in their half, squandered myriad of chances.
Vikings moved to second place with eight points with the victory against the varsity side being the second of the season, having stunned Sliders 1-0 earlier.
Vikings also claimed goalless draws against fellow varsities sides Strathmore and Kenyatta for their tally.
“It was a good run having dominated in every facet of play but we should have sunk in more was it not for our poor finishing,” said Vikings skipper Omotto.
Earlier on Saturday, Telkom Orange not only stretched the women’s league lead to 18 points but also unbeaten run, crushing Kenyatta University 5-1 with Jackline Mwangi Jow brilliantly striking twice with field goals in ninth and 30th with field goals.
Sharon Odinga (33rd), Glennis Namasake (55th) and Audrey Omaido’s (64th) field goals would wrap up Orange’s bounty harvest to uphold their unbeaten run to six matches. Beryl Atieno converted from the spot in the 65th minute for Kenyatta’s consolation goal.
Visiting Nakuru and Kimathi University snatched vital points when they overwhelmed Thika Rovers and Mount Kenya University 4-0 and 2-0 respectively in men’s National League.
Skipper Ali Musa showed how it’s down when he struck twice from penalty corners in the 29th and 56th minutes.
Harminder Singh (29th) and Kenneth Alusama (45th) would supplement Musa’s efforts from field goals.
Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) drew with Kenyatta University 2-2 while Parkroad also played to a 1-1 draw with Multimedia University.
Multimedia Varsity record fourth straight win
By Oscar Pilipili
Multimedia University recorded their fourth straight victory in the Kenya Hockey Union men’s national league after they edged out Kenyatta University 1-0 in a tough match at City Park Stadium.
Prolific scorer Geofrey Asira handed Multi-Media the all important goal that saw them bag maximum points and consolidate their top position in the league.
The victory saw Multimedia who are leading the 16-team league improve their points tally to 12.
Asira said: “It’s the joy of every player to score crucial goals for his team and I’m happy to have helped my team (Multimedia) harvest important points.”
“The goal was not individual efforts but great team work among all players who were on pitch when the goal came. A team can only perform with co-ordination of all players starting from goalkeeper, defenders, midfielders and strikers,” Asira said.
According to Asira, Multimedia’s target is to win the National league and qualify to play in the high-profile Premier League next season.
“National league is the most competitive category of the competition
Mount Kenya University won their opening fixture after they overcame National Youth Service (NYS) 1-0 in yet another low scoring match at the City Park Stadium.
After a goalless first half, Mount Kenya finally hit the target with winning goal from Vincent Kuya in the 59th minute.
Kuya picked a loose ball inside the circle, pierced through the defense of NYS and let go a powerful drive that landed in the net with a thunderous sound.
Meanwhile, Kerugoya Girls High School have engaged a higher gear in their training geared towards East African Secondary Schools Championships.
Kerugoya will be defending the title during the regional games to be held in Bujumbura, Burundi in August.
The Standard Online