All the news for Wednesday 11 July 2012
SA hockey women edged in five-goal battle against Great Britain
JONATHAN COOK in London
The South Africa women’s hockey team put in a much-improved performance in their 3-2 defeat by world number four Great Britain at Bisham Abbey Tuesday night.
It wasn’t easy to bounce back after Monday’s 6-0 loss in the first unofficial Test match but captain Marsha Marescia’s girls in green gold did just that, coming back from a 3-1 half-time deficit to push hard for victory before going out by the odd goal in five.
GB opened the scoring after 11 minutes through a soft, yet well-taken effort against the run of play that was finished off by the influential Chloe Rogers.
The London 2012 hosts went 2-0 up from their first penalty corner four minutes later, Crista Cullen firing at the far post for corner injector Ashleigh Ball to deflect in.
Worse was to come when left-side striker Sulette Damons hobbled off after being struck a fearful blow to the foot, but SA soldiered on and seven minutes from half-time world record goalscorer Pietie Coetzee pulled a goal back with her team’s second PC, which she steered low to GB keeper Beth Storry’s right (2-1). This was after defender Lenise Marais had intercepted to set up SA’s first PC in combination with Coetzee.
However, GB regained their two-goal cushion soon after when the outstanding Chloe Rogers shrugged off tackles in a crowded area near the right baseline before World All Stars 2011 striker Alex Danson finished off from close (3-1).
Keeper Mariette Rix made several good saves in the match to keep SA in the game and penalty corners three and four soon after the changeover culminated in a powerful Kate Woods slap shot bringing the scoreline to 3-2.
Damons finally returned to the fray after treatment and the match heated up considerably as both sides went in search of victory but it was GB who finished the match the better side on the night, Marais saving a PC on the line, although SA won the PC count 5-4.
There was much good for world number 12 South Africa to take out of the match against their more illustrious opponents and it stands SA in good stead as they head into the Four Nations in Bremen, Germany where they play the hosts on Thursday, New Zealand on Saturday and close off the 12-day tour against Belgium on Sunday.
SA Hockey Association media release
SA Men look to end tour on a high
PJ van Rooyen in Santander
South African men's hockey coach Gregg Clark is looking to iron out the last of his side's issues when they wrap up their 17-day tour of Ireland and Spain on Wednesday evening in an unofficial Test against India in Santander.
"It's certainly an opportunity for us to try and put right one or two key aspects of the game where we still haven't hit our straps," Clark said.
"In terms of our focus that we set ourselves before we started the tour, and how we wanted to finish on this tour, it's a very important game for us."
A spirited fightback from the South Africans in their first match against India on Sunday evening was not enough to salvage a result, as India closed out a narrow 6-5 victory in the highest scoring game of their tour thus far.
"We were a bit disappointed with our performance against India, despite the fact that we scored five goals. We conceded far too many soft goals," Clark said.
The coach added that his side had placed a lot of emphasis on putting together two good halves of play, maintaining a consistent level of concentration and not having to chase the game after the half-time break.
"We have got better at it [playing well for 70 minutes]," he said.
"Yesterday was poor against India in the first half but much better in the second.
"Something we tried to focus on in Ireland was making the transition from the first half to the second half because we didn't get it right in a couple of the games there.
"For the most part, we are well on our way to where we want to be."
Earlier in the week, South Africa had a chance to train on the new blue turf -- in preparation for the one they can expect at the London Games -- before playing their first competitive match on the surface.
"For the India game, we had one-and-a-half training sessions on the pitch," Clark said.
"Its always difficult to adjust to a new pitch. This is our first blue turf experience.
"I don't think its been a massive transition, but I'm sure it does have an effect."
Courtesy the South African Press Association (SAPA)
SA Hockey Association media release
Black Sticks Men lose opening clash with Belgium
The Black Sticks Men have lost 2-1 to Belgium in the first of a series of Olympic warm-up matches in Lier, Belgium last night.
Despite dominating the second spell of the unofficial test, the Kiwis couldn’t grab an equaliser after the home side took a 2-1 lead into the halftime break.
Black Sticks coach Shane McLeod said the match was played at a frenetic pace.
“If we’d showed more patience and skill on the ball, I’m sure the result would have been different.”
Belgium took the lead in the 16th minute from a penalty corner and the Black Sticks responded a minute later with their own penalty corner goal. A drag flick from Andy Hayward hit the crossbar and Simon Child latched on to the rebound to level the scores.
The Belgians regained the lead in the 26th minute with a field goal and managed to hold the one goal margin for the rest of the match.
McLeod felt his team would be a lot sharper for today’s second test after only arriving in Belgium three days ago.
The Black Sticks face the Belgians in a second friendly in Brussels tonight, before two unofficial tests against the Netherlands in Utrecht on 13 and 15 July.
Hawke’s Bay is the Principal Partner of the Black Sticks Men and Women.
Belgium 2 New Zealand 1 (Simon Child). HT: 2-1.
Hockey New Zealand Media release
Black Sticks upset by Belgium
The New Zealand men's hockey side have made a scratchy start to the final stages of their Olympic preparations with a 2-1 defeat to Belgium in Lier, Belgium, this morning.
The Black Sticks are ranked seventh in the world, four places higher than Belgium, but couldn't capitalise on their second-half dominance.
New Zealand coach Shane McLeod said the match was played at a frenetic pace but expected his side would be a lot sharper for the second match overnight (NZT) given they arrived in Belgium only three days ago.
"If we'd showed more patience and skill on the ball, I'm sure the result would have been different,'' he said.
Belgium took the lead in the 16th minute from a penalty corner but the Black Sticks responded a minute later when Simon Child latched onto a drag flick from Andy Hayward that hit the crossbar.
The Belgians regained the lead in the 26th minute and held one-goal margin for the rest of the match.
The two sides meet again in the second friendly before New Zealand play two unofficial tests against the Netherlands, ranked No 3 in the world, in Utrecht on July 13 and 15.
Belgium 2 New Zealand 1 (Simon Child). HT: 2-1.
The New Zealand Herald
Black Sticks men suffer surprise loss to Belgium
The New Zealand men's hockey team have made an inauspicious start to their pre-Olympic Games campaign in Europe, suffering a 2-1 defeat to lower-ranked Belgium in Lier, Belgium, this morning (NZT).
Despite an improved showing in the second half of the unofficial test, the Kiwis failed to grab an equaliser after the home side had taken a 2-1 lead into halftime.
''If we'd showed more patience and skill on the ball, I'm sure the result would have been different,'' said Black Sticks coach Shane McLeod, who hoped his side would be much sharper for tomorrow's second match, having only arrived in Belgium three days ago.
In a match played at a good clip, 11-ranked Belgium took the lead in the 16th minute from a penalty corner, before the seventh-ranked Black Sticks responded a minute later with a penalty corner goal of their own.
A drag flick from Andy Hayward hit the crossbar and Simon Child latched on to the rebound to level the scores.
But the Belgians regained the lead in the 26th minute with a field goal and managed to hold the one goal margin for the rest of the match.
After tomorrow's second match, in Brussels, New Zealand head to Utrecht for another two unofficial tests against world No 3 the Netherlands.
Belgium's Olympic squads announced
Men's and Women's teams trimmed to 16
Tom Boon will join his sister, Jill, at the 2012 Olympics. It is the only sibling pair in hockey at this Olympics. (Photo: )
Belgium became the latest Olympic team to trim its team list to the final 16 for the upcoming London 2012 Games. Both the men’s and women’s teams were announced by head coaches Pascal Kina (women’s) Colin Batch (men’s). Having both teams in the Olympics is a major boon for Belgium. It is the first time that the women have ever qualified for the Games and the second straight appearance for the men’s team after a near 30-year absence from the Olympic program.
The final Belgium team lists are:
De Groof, Stephanie
De Vos, Charlotte (C)
Khouzam, Nadine (GK)
Van Lindt, Lieselotte
Van Regemortel, Anne-Sophie
D'Hooghe, Aisling (GK)
De Saedeleer, Alexandre
Truyens, Jérôme (C)
Vanasch, Vincent (GK)
van Aubel, Florent
Van Hove, Benjamin
Van Strydonck, Elliot
Leroy, Manu (GK)
Women's Field Hockey Aims To End Olympic Drought
by Jeff Tiberii
Paige Selenski (right) of the United States fights for the ball against two Mexican opponents in a women's field hockey match at last October's Pan American Games in Mexico. Dario Lopez-Mills/AP
As one of the world's most popular sports, field hockey produces celebrities in Argentina, the Netherlands and Australia. But the sport is relatively obscure in the United States, where members of the women's national team receive a small monthly stipend and their notoriety comes from outside the country.
Later this month, the group heads to London, where it will try to earn the first American medal in the sport in 28 years.
With a back-and-forth rhythm like basketball and shots on goal that can exceed 100 miles per hour, it's not that hard to understand why field hockey is immensely popular in other parts of the world.
"We're seen as celebrities; we tend to have police escorts to the field," says Claire Laubach, a defender on the U.S. Olympic team who has made several trips to play in South America.
"And we usually stay in the same hotel as the Argentinean team," she says. "Just outside the hotels, they have barricades to keep the people back. It is quite the experience."
The U.S. women's field hockey team hopes to win its first Olympic medal since 1984. Claire Laubach (left) celebrates scoring in a U.S. win over Canada at the 2011 Pan American Games, with teammate Melissa Gonzalez. Jorge Saenz/AP
The scene is quite different here in the States.
Last month, the Americans played that same squad from Argentina at an exhibition game in Norfolk, Va. There were no police escorts or barricades at the game, which was sparsely attended despite free admission.
The generally anonymous U.S. team is a tight-knit group. For the past year, they've largely put careers and relationships on hold while training and living together in California. There has been rock-climbing, pumpkin-carving and training with SEALs. Yes, the kind from the military.
Michelle Kasold, a striker for the U.S. squad, recalls that day.
"Basically five straight hours of anything from pushups to crawling on the ground," she says, "to carrying boats, to carrying logs, to anything that they could think of."
After failing to qualify for the Olympics in 2000 and 2004, the U.S. women logged an international upset last fall by beating Argentina to earn this country's first-ever gold at the Pan Am games and qualify for the Summer Olympics in London.
Laubach says that while training with the Navy SEALs wasn't necessarily fun, it provided a sense of unity.
"It's just interesting to see how everyone deals with the stress that they're under," she says. "You will see some people rise to it, and some people will fall to it. But you will see the people who rise to it don't just go on without the other teammate, they help them along. I think it is interesting to see the dynamics that come out of it."
Laubach and Kasold are both graduates of Wake Forest University. So, too, is the captain of the team, Lauren Crandall. That gives the small private school in Winston-Salem, N.C., more ties to the 16-woman team than any other school.
Wake Forest coach Jen Averill calls her former players' accomplishments "ridiculous — it's just unbelievable pride."
When Crandall, Laubach and Kasold played for Averill at Wake Forest, they won three Division I national titles. Now they're taking aim at an Olympic medal — a goal the American team hasn't reached since 1984, three years before Kasold was born.
"I think about each day individually, but visualize what it would be like," Kasold says. "I see us standing on the podium because I know that we're good enough, we're capable of doing it. So I see it as the final product, the end, the goal."
Seven of the team's members were on the 2008 Olympic squad that finished eighth in Beijing. This group is confident and prepared for what awaits in London — including sellout crowds at one of the biggest venues of the games.
Thanks to PHF, Qasim Zia and Asif Bajwa, Pakistan hockey team has missed the Olympic medal bus.
By Sardar Khan
The Olympics are now around the corner but unfortunately, it seems that Pakistan hockey team has missed the Olympic medal bus. Some two decades ago, Hockey used to be the lone hope for Pakistani nation expecting Pakistan would at least bring one Olympic medal.
The Olympics are starting from 27th of July while hockey competitions are due to take off from 30th July, but there are hardly any hopes of Pakistan (the former three times Olympic Champions) reaching the podium though officials of Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) have been making tall claims till recent past.
The present set up of PHF comprising of Qasim Zia the president and Asif Bajwa the secretary have been completely off target as per bringing Pakistan hockey back on the right track. Qasim Zia hailing from the ruling PPP and Asif Bajwa reportedly having the back up of PML N MNA Kwhaja Asif are least bothered about the pathetic performance of the Pakistan team despite the fact that due to their political backing, the present set up of PHF has sucked reportedly over one billion rupees from Govt in last 3 years but the results have been shameful.
The players of have been crying that PHF has not paid them their due daily allowances as well as the prize money announced by Prime Minister for winning the 2010 Asian Games were not given to them till late.
Pakistan, by stroke of luck was able to win the 2010 Asia Games gold medal but PHF failed to capitalize on that and did not include the fresh blood in the squad that resulted in Pakistan finishing the worst ever 7th out of 7 teams in the recently concluded Azlan Shah hockey tournament, shockingly yet PHF and team officials were satisfied with the results . Not to forget that Pakistan had also finished 7th out of the 8 teams competition in Champions Trophy held in December 2011.
Ironically under the present PHF officials, Pakistan hockey is creating new records of hitting new lows in terms of performance. In 2010 world cup, Pakistan team had finished 12th of 12 teams that was the worst ever showing by any Pakistani team.
The PHF officials Qasim Zia, Asif Bajwa and their team have in fact been the Destroyers in Chiefs of Pakistan hockey but since they have the support and backing of the two ruling parties in Center and Punjab, no one can hold them accountable thus the destruction goes on.
Due to the unmerited nepotism and discrimination, they have made some highly talented youngsters to leave the shores of Pakistan who are now playing league hockey in Europe for good sums of money. One of the talent that has been murdered in broad day light is Imran Warsi who was the best short corner expert after Sohail Abbass but he was so demoralized and discouraged that he decided to play abroad. Warsi later emerged the top scorer in World Series Hockey event held in India. Center Forward Shabbir Ahmed Khan, is another example who left Pakistan hockey for the reason that he was mostly kept side lined to accommodate a close relative of a top PHF official that forced him announced his retirement . Unfortunately the list can go on and on.
One feels that the funds PHF has been extracting from various sources seems to have been misused as there has been no benefit of those funds to the players who don’t even have permanent jobs to earn their bread and butter. The only lucky ones are handful of some former Olympians and international players, hired to train young lads and produce players but the result is none. These coaches or employees it seems are getting paid for wrongfully defending the worst ever performances of Pakistan hockey team in the media when some former greats like Islahuddin, Akhtarul Islam, Ayaz Mahmood and Shahnaz Shaikh criticize the their poor showing.
It is not out of place to mention here that when Pakistan hockey team lost final match of the 1972 Olympics, the then President of Pakistani Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto had initially ordered that the whole team be sent to Adyala Jail for such a pathetic showing . He kept the whole team waiting for two days in Islamabad but later on Mr. Butto spared them and conveyed the message to the team that the Mr. Bhutto did not want to see even their faces for what was termed the shame and disgrace they had brought to the nation.
This shows that how important hockey was for leader of the stature of Mr. Bhutto but unfortunately, the present set up of PHF and the Govt officials are least bothered. Having Australia, Spain, Great Britain, Argentina,and South Africa in their pool A, Pakistan’s chances of reaching too the podium almost impossible, realistically speaking .Pakistan had last won Olympics in 1984 and it would be great feat even if Pakistan finished in top six in the 2012 Olympics, though sentimentally, one wishes that Pakistan wins Olympic gold medal.
The PHF officials though making tall claims once again of doing well in the forthcoming Olympics but the keeping in view that Pakistan finishing 7th out of 7 teams in Azlan Shah and finishing 7th out of 8 teams in champions trophy where Pakistan could hardly beat South Korea in extra time, and then keeping in view the 6-1 thrashing by upcoming Belgium team, the writing is clearly on the wall.
Unfortunately, the PHF officials don’t realize to bother that due to their attitudes, ill planning and poor showing, they brought bad name to Pakistan and tarnished the image of the country and Pakistan hockey. One wish that some one at the top tries to emulate former President Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to notice the performance of the team. Here one feels that the players can not be blame but the PHF officials should be held accountable and responsible.
Article submitted by the author
Lessons to learn from 6-5 win over SA: Nobbs
Santander, Spain: India survived a late fightback from South Africa in an 11-goal humdinger here on Sunday to beat them 6-5 in the first friendly hockey Test, and their coach Michael Nobbs believes the experience will keep the team in good stead at the London Olympics.
"We learnt quite a few things today as a result of this game that will help in the coming matches and at the Olympics," he said. "It looked to be, after some of the other games we had [against Spain], a little bit easier, but whenever you get complacent, things happen; and this was just the case here."
Nobbs said his team was under pressure for the 10 minutes Bharat Chetri was suspended, allowing South Africa to come back and equalise. "We started at our usual tempo and were playing well. We scored early and had the vast majority of the play. A counter-attack led to our captain [Chetri] taking out a South African forward and then getting suspended for ten minutes. This put us in quite a bit of disarray for that time as we had rested Sreejesh for the game and then had to play Ignace [Tirkey] in the goal for 10 minutes. We also had a penalty stroke against us for this tackle and they scored, so it was 1-1."
The Australian felt the players erred by getting defensive even when leading 6-1 in the second half, which allowed the South Africans a look in. "We had about twenty minutes to go and stepped right back, and at this level that's a mistake and they started to come back. Some poor play resulted in us giving away a field goal and two corners in which they scored,” he said.
The closely-fought game helped Nobbs assess his players’ fitness after three matches in four days. "We have just played three games in four days and this was [a] test to see how we coped with fitness playing a team that is fresh. Although the score looks close, the final goal they scored was in the last minute of a corner."
India will take on South Africa in the second Test on Tuesday after a rest day on Monday.
Hockey coach Michael Nobbs is quietly confident about India’s chances at the Olympics
Beijing will always remain a painful memory for Indian hockey.?While the entire nation basked in unprecedented success, including Abhinav Bindra’s historic individual gold medal, the hockey fraternity was still struggling to come to terms with the act that their team had failed to make an Olympic appearance in eighty years.
Forced to compete with the lesser mortals to book their tickets to London this time, the eight-time champions secured their spot in style. With a confidence-boosting bronze medal finish in May’s Sultan Azlan Shah where six of the participating teams from London competed, India goes to the quadrennial bash with great hopes.
Completely aware of the daunting challenge, coach Michael Nobbs spoke to Deccan Herald about India’s chances, his goals and the energy in the team. Excerpts...
When you took charge last July, the only goal on your mind was to play at the London Olympics. Now that you are just weeks from realising that, how does it feel?
It’s a really nice feeling that all that you’ve planned in the last 8-9 months has attained fruition. The team has definitely improved a lot since I took charge and they are a happy bunch now. Although it’s the first step towards our goal of redeeming Indian hockey, we are still far from being the best. As I’ve said repeatedly many times in the recent past, we are a work in progress and have lots to do before being called a strong force.
Just like most others in the squad -- except Sandeep Singh and Ignace Tirkey -- this will be your maiden Olympics as well. Your thoughts…
It’s taken more than 40 years of me being involved in sports to achieve it, so it feels great. Participating in the Olympics is something indescribable and only the elite few get a chance. It’s an assembly of the best athletes across various disciplines, so if you are part of it, you can only imagine how fantastic it feels.
The team has good mixture of youth and experience. How do you rate our chances?
If you are too old you don’t win anything, and if you are too young inexperience can weigh you down. You need to always try and strike the right combination which we believe we have now. Having said that, we will be glad if we can finish on the podium.
We’ve been working extremely hard but know the stiff job ahead of us. The top 12 teams in the world will be out there and it’s going to be a massive slugfest. You need to play consistently well for two weeks. According to me, gold is Australia’s to lose while about four teams will be competing for silver and bronze.
A day before leaving India, the entire team had a chance to interact with former hockey Olympic champions. How motivating was that?
I don’t think it gave us any motivation. We respect history and the phenomenal achievements of these stalwarts. History is history and the true essence of a champion is to create history themselves. Some of them got goose bumps when they felt the medals and are proud to be part of nation that showed the world how to play the game. Having said that, we want to create our own history.
Right from the start, you’ve laid huge emphasis on fitness. What’s the level now?
The fitness level has been at the highest. (Exercise physiologist) David (John) has been doing a fantastic job with these guys and the results are to be seen. We had brilliant high-altitude training session in Pune and that has really improved our stamina. As you know, fitness is a continuous process and we hope to maintain the high standards.
For a long time defence was our major concern. However, while that has improved our strikers have been extremely wayward, especially against big teams in the recent past which could cost us dearly?
When you the play the big teams you only get a few chances and you need to make them count. Our strikers have been getting into good positions but have fluffed too often. It’s only in the last two months that we’ve started to play the big teams and our boys are learning. The conversion ratio is a concern and we are working on it.
Sandeep Singh says hockey will win an Olympic medal
Sandeep Singh says hockey will win an Olympic medal AP Photo
New Delhi: If there's one Olympic medal dear to every Indian, it has to be hockey. Winner of eight gold medals at the Games but medal-less since 1980, the national game carries India's hopes of a medal every time the team participates in the Olympics. And this year is no different.
The talk from a top-six finish is slowly shifting to presence on the podium come August 11. The team's upward graph since Michael Nobbs took over as coach could be one of the reasons. But who better to tell why a medal is not beyond India than the team's star drag-flicker Sandeep Singh.
The Indian team is on an acclimatisation tour of France and Spain, from where they will land directly into London for the Games. And while the team seems to be peaking at the right team, Sandeep tells what makes the team confident of winning a medal in London.
We're just two weeks away from the Olympics. Are you happy with the preparations?
Yes. We are playing regularly since qualifying for the [London] Olympics. We played South Africa before the Olympic qualifiers, then the Olympic test event, Azlan Shah and now this European tour [of France and Spain]. That is sufficient preparation. The European tour will help us acclimatise for London as we are here almost a month in advance.
How's the team coping up with the blue turf?
There is no problem with the blue turf. We are playing on it for three months now, and I and Raghu [VR Raghunath] are doing well [in terms of penalty-corner conversion]. We are ready to play on the blue pitch in London.
Other than you and Ignace Tirkey, no one in the team has ever been at the Olympics. Do you think the youngsters will be able to cope up with the pressure?
The results [since qualifying for the London Olympics] tell we have improved and the youngsters are doing well. You saw Dharamvir scored two goals against South Africa. So the youngsters are good and have it in them to go all the way.
Finally Sandeep, what are India's realistic chances in London - a top-six finish or back at the podium after 32 years?
We hope to finish on the podium. We will take one match at a time and strategise according to the strengths and weaknesses of every team. We have been watching the videos of our opponents at the Olympics. Hopefully, you will see better results this time.
'Moscow feat still gives me goose bumps'
By Deba Prasad Dhar
I still have vivid memories of the 1980 Moscow Olympics final. We had taken a healthy lead (India were 3-0 up) but Spain bounced back gamely by netting two goals. We kept our poise and won 4-3 to clinch the gold. I remember we scored three goals through penalty corners. More than 30 years have passed, but the celebration scenes, warm hugs from teammates, and the victory lap give me goose bumps even now.
Along with the hockey association officials, a swarm of people had gathered outside the airport to welcome us. I hadn’t seen anything like that in my career.
People ask me whether I was surprised by our gold feat. Let me tell you I always expected us to win. We were an energetic outfit, a mixture of youth and experience. We had a strenuous camp in Bangalore that set the pace for the tournament.
At team meetings, we didn’t overanalyse our opponents. But I have to say that our left-in Mohammad Shahid was brilliant, for he would always catch the opponents off guard. We attacked more from the left side and he was the key.
What was more, we were feeding on one another’s success. Yes, we had our strategies, but our bonding off the field was special, which did the trick.
The win changed the way people perceived us. We started getting better facilities and the Indian government, too, was benevolent. Wherever we travelled, we were called the Olympic heroes. Moscow transformed our lives completely.
—Maharaj Kishan Kaushik was a member of India’s last Olympic hockey gold medal-winning team at Moscow in 1980. He also coached the Indian women’s hockey team. He spoke to Deba Prasad Dhar
Lopsided matches disappoint fans
There have been goals galore in the IOB-Syed Ahmed memorial all-India hockey tournament but the on-field action has been anything but absorbing.
Too many one-sided contests have taken the gloss off the competition. A neutral observer who turns up at the venue in the hope of watching a cracker of a contest is bound to get exasperated at the manner in which some of the unfancied teams have thrown in the towel without even looking to compete, leave alone causing an upset.
The margin of victories gives a clear indication as to how mind-numbing the matches have turned out to be: 10-0, 9-0, 9-2, 9-0 and 5-0.
A common feature in almost all the matches played so far, barring one or two, has been the capitulation of the weaker teams.
True, they are at a distinct disadvantage in terms of the quality of players they have at their disposal but the least that is expected of them is to go out on the field and give it their all irrespective of whether they win or lose.
Miracles do happen sometimes and there is no point in giving up on hope even before striding out onto the turf.
Getting an opportunity to test their mettle against teams that are streets ahead of them should be considered a god-send by these lowly teams, for that is how they can aspire to reach their level of competence.
What was particularly distressing to notice amongst the minnows was there being no determination, no sense of pride involved and one can’t be faulted for presuming that a defeatist attitude has been entrenched in their psyche.
Elucidating on the reason behind the lack of many stimulating encounters, Reehan Ahmed, who is the organising secretary of the tournament, conceded that the matches haven’t been as exciting as one would have hoped for and listed out a variety of reasons.
“The teams that are usually at the receiving end of a mauling are from districts where they are deprived of state-of-the-art facilities.
They are inferior to their city counterparts in every aspect ranging from fitness levels to the finer points of the game. The tournament usually gathers steam from the quarter-final stage onwards when on average all the matches go to the wire,” he said.
Reehan, who wishes to call a spade a spade, also came down heavily on the unscrupulous administrators who according to him are a bane to the sport.
“There is no accountability on the part of the administrators. They are only intent on feathering their own nest even at the expense of the players’ future being put at risk.
It’s not as though there is no talent to choose from at the district level. They are not getting enough opportunities to make the grade to the next stage. Most of these players haven’t had the experience of playing on an astro-turf before.
That is why they are found wanting. And as if that were not enough they are receiving scant support from the powers that be,” he added.
Spectators will have a lot more to look forward to if the tournament only involves top teams of Chennai. But Reehan says his aim is to give a platform to teams that have no exposure.
“We are indeed aware of the ways to make the event more interesting in the early stages. At the same time, we are duty bound to provide exposure to district teams,” he added.
For someone who inherited the passion for the game from his inspiring father Syed Ahmed, who was a player of great repute, Reehan has moved heaven and earth to make this tournament a grand success.
One could only hope that the administrators share the same concern and love for the game to bring back the glory years and give the fans something to cheer about after years of agony and despondence.
The Asian Age
Terengganu show Kelantan no mercy
TERENGGANU gave a clear reminder why they are one of the favourites for the hockey gold this year when they thrashed Kelantan 11-1 in a Group A match yesterday.
Malaysia GamesTerengganu's Faizal Saari showed no signs of the ankle injury which had troubled him during their opening game against defending champions Federal Territories with the national striker helping himself to six goals at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium. Also on the scoresheet for Terengganu were Syamirul Aiman Bidin, Wan Mohd Hazrul Wan Nawi, Muhamad Syafiq Nordin, Muhd Sufi Ismat Rohulamin and Muhamad Firham Ashari. Kelantan's only goal came from Mohamad Khalilie Husna Mohd Yusoff.
A happy Nik Rozemi Nik Mohamed, the Terengganu coach, said he considered the win as an important step towards qualifying for the semi-finals.
"It was our intention to win big today (yesterday) as we are expecting it to be a close fight to qualify for the semi-finals," said Nik Rozemi.
"With Federal Territories and Perak in contention for the two semi-final slots in the group, we want to make sure we hold a healthy goal difference should it go down to the wire."
Terengganu play Negri Sembilan today before meeting Perak in their final group match tomorrow.
New Straits Times
Norhasikin intends to help Terengganu win women’s hockey
THIS is Norhasikin Halim’s fourth consecutive Sukma outing with Terengganu in women’s hockey and the 21-year-old national player has only one wish: to help her team win the gold medal.
And she is all fired up to give it her best here after scoring four goals in five matches in the Asia Cup in Bangkok last week.
Terengganu last won the Sukma women’s hockey title 20 years ago in Johor.
She made her Sukma debut in 2006 (Kedah) and the team reached the quarter-finals. In 2008, Terengganu hosted the Games and finished runners-up – losing to Pahang. Two years ago in Malacca, they came in third.
“This is my last Sukma and it will be big blow to me and my team-mates if we do not win the gold medal,” said Norhasikin after scoring a 14th-minute goal in the 10-1 thrashing of hapless Kelantan in a Group B match yesterday.
Their third straight win takes Terengganu a step closer to reaching the semi-finals.
Terengganu, who defeated the Federal Territories (FT) 2-1 and Negri Sembilan 4-1 earlier, must beat Kedah today to seal a place in the semi-finals.
Yesterday, Nurul Najah Farhani Abdul Rashid (13th, 15th), Rashidah Mahmad (24th, 42nd) and Siti Sarah Mohd Idris (30th, 47th) scored a brace each for Terengganu, whose other goals were scored by Sharifah Nadiah Syed Mohd (18th), Nor Aini Mohd Tajuddin (50th) and Nur Aisyah Hashim (64th).
Norshafiqah Mazlan scored the consolation goal for Kelantan in the 67th minute.
The Star of Malaysia
Disney Field Hockey Showcase expands in 2013
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – As part of USA Field Hockey’s mission of growing the game and creating premier events for members, the Disney Field Hockey Showcase will introduce new changes for their event taking place February 6-10, 2013. Plans were approved last month to expand the event to see more competition throughout the tournament.
When the tournament first started in 2005, a mere 55 teams participated. In 2013, Disney Field Hockey Showcase will welcome 192 teams to compete at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Florida, a jump of 16 teams from 2012. There will be 96 U19 teams and 96 U16 teams. The teams will be seeded into 16 pools per age group using the USA Field Hockey Rankings. Rankings will be taken after the Regional and National Club Championship points are awarded to provide equality between pools.
Each of the 16 pools will consist of 6 teams. After the 6 teams play each other once, the pool winner will advance to the playoffs with a round of 16 games on Saturday night followed by Quarterfinals, Semifinals, the 3rd/4th playoff and Final game on Sunday. Teams who are not pool winners will play a placement game on Saturday night for USA Field Hockey Rankings points. This new format will provide for a minimum of 6 games to be played by each team.
Open registration for 2013 Disney Field Hockey Showcase will begin at 10am Eastern Time on August 1, 2012. Early registration is available to all participating teams of 2012 Disney Junior Field Hockey Showcase. For more information, call 407-938-3439 or visit disneyfieldhockey.com.
USFHA media release