All the news for Sunday 29 March 2009
Bowdon denied a maximum
By Patrick Rowley
Bowdon Hightown Ladies failed at the last hurdle in their attempt to be the first club in the English League to collect maximum points in a season. The champions were beaten 3-1 at Canterbury.
But Canterbury’s joy was short-lived when they learnt that Olton had won their final game and pipped the Kent club by a point for the second place in Europe next winter.
Bowdon led Canterbury when Tina Cullen scored her 24th of the season and could have been two up but for a goal line save.
But when Bowdon were twice reduced to ten players by suspensions, Canterbury took control. In an eight minute spell late on, Natascha Brennan scored two and Cindy Botha one for Canterbury.
Olton were twice pegged back at Poynton but won 3-2 with Denise Marston-Smith (two) and Holly Chipman (correct spelling) their scorers.
In the Women’s Conference North, Durham University won 6-2 at Sunderland to claim the title and qualify for the premier league play-offs while Ben Rhydding were relegated.
AHL - Round 4 Men's update
Results from Friday 27th March & Saturday 28th March
Victorian Vikings 2 Canberra Lakers 0 (1 – 0 Half time)
VIC – Cirello 13m PC / 41m PC
The Victorian Vikings turned out victors over the Canberra Lakers tonight, with a 2 -0 win in game one of this fourth round clash.
The game began with the Lakers immediately working their way into attack, starting with the ball and forcing Victoria into defence.
The Lakers were awarded a penalty corner in the 7th minute however the shot was disallowed. This gave Victoria an attacking opportunity, working their way up the field.
The first goal of the match came through a Victorian penalty corner and a well executed drag flick by Chris Cirello in the 15 th minute giving the Vikings an early lead.
Victoria created another attacking opportunity, leading to a one -on -one situation with Viking Alistair McLennan and ACT goalkeeper Nathan Burgers. As McLennan attempted to drag around the keeper, Burgers pulled of an impressive save, clearing the ball to teammate Seyi Onitiri.
The Lakers continued to fight for possession, penetrating their attacking circle but Victoria’s strong defence managed to hold them off, as opportunities went begging.
In the 25th minute, the Lakers received a penalty corner but was unable to convert, and almost found themselves in trouble as Victoria forced their way into the Lakers defensive circle.
The intensity built as both teams battle for possession, each wanting to put away another goal. With less than a minute until half time the Lakers tried to force Victoria out of their defensive half and into attack, but to no avail. The half time score was left at 1 -0 to Victoria.
Victoria began the second half with the ball and straight away the Lakers fought for possession.
Despite having attempts to score early, the Lakers struggled to move the ball past the Victorian defence.
After receiving a penalty corner in the 40th minute, another well -executed drag flick by Viking number 6, Cirello gave them their second goal, and a 2 -0 lead.
Another penalty corner was awarded to Victoria in the 45th minute but was not converted, however this didn’t affect Victoria’s tenacity to attack.
The Lakers were awarded another penalty corner in the 52nd minute of the game but they couldn’t convert, instead the Vikings stole possession and were awarded their own corner at the opposite end. The Lakers strong defence held off Victoria’s shots, giving the Vikings their own medicine and creating attacking opportunities, but with no result.
A mis -trap by the Lakers midfield saw Lakers goalkeeper Nathan Burgers, in an attempt to keep possession, run out of his circle and slap the ball out of trouble. But a Victorian quick hit almost caught him out, as the ball was transferred to their high striker as Burgers sprinted back to his goal to defend.
The Lakers continue to attack, penetrating the Victorian circle and almost got themselves within one, however a slap hit from Josh Hawes just inside the circle, was deemed to have hit Iain Davidson’s foot instead of his stick, despite his protests.
With only two minutes left on the clock, both teams battled for possession, with the Lakers able to create attacking opportunities only to have them broken down by the Victorian defence.
As neither team could hold possession in the last minute, the game ended with the Victorian Vikings winning 2 -0 against the Canberra Lakers.
OAMPS Queensland Blades 2 NSW Waratahs 1
(1-1 half time)
QLD – Wilson 15m FG, Gibbs 54m FG
NSW – Govers 19m FG
The OAMPS Queensland Blades defeated the NSW Waratahs 2-1 in a top of the table clash of the men’s Australian Hockey League (AHL) at Toowoomba Hockey Stadium this afternoon.
Blade’s striker Jason Wilson scored a field goal in the 15th minute and Waratahs’ Kieran Govers responded with a field goal for NSW in the 19th minute, bringing the score to a 1-1 draw at half time which reflected the tight contest between the two teams.
Queensland’s Ryan Gibbs scored another field goal for the home side in the 54th minute, which was all that separated the teams when the final siren sounded.
NSW Waratahs’ manager Geoff Paterson said Queensland’s strong defense prevented NSW from converting some of their opportunities in attack, but the Waratahs will seek to avenge their loss tomorrow in a game that could have gone either way this afternoon.
The OAMPS Queensland Blades, on course to make their eighth consecutive AHL grand final appearance this year, will challenge NSW again tomorrow in game 2 of round four in Toowoomba.
Both teams will look to make an impression tomorrow in their last game before Finals Week begins on April 6 in Hobart.
Tassie Tigers defeated Southern Hotshots
Score: 5 - 1 (half-time 2- 0)
TAS – Geoff Cock FG 7th min, FG 19th min, FG 47th min, PC 54th min, Marcus Richardson FG 65th min
SA – Tom Wickham FG 39th min
Goal magnet Geoff Cock found the back of the net four times today to give the Tassie Tigers a resounding win over the Southern Hotshots in Hobart this afternoon.
The Tigers hit the lead early with an unmarked Cock at the top of the circle punching the ball into the goal for his first. The Tigers kept the pressure on with several more penalty corners. The Hotshots looked dangerous a couple of times when they managed a fast breakaway but the Tigers strong defence cleverly turned it back into attack for the Tigers allowing Cock to score his second goal before half time.
The Hotshots came out strongly in the second half and Tom Wickham accepted a sharp pass from the left to slot home a goal for the Hotshots but it wasn’t long before the Tigers started peppering the attacking circle again and eventually Cock got his hat trick with a fine deflection high into the net.
The Tigers finished strongly with Cock scoring his fourth with a trademark drag flick and Marcus Richardson sealed the match for the Tigers by clinically finishing off a series of precision passing.
Tigers coach Andrew McDonald was pleased with his team and the result. “We had much better finishing and some strong performances from Geoff Cock and Tim Deavin. However, we have anther big test tomorrow”.
The Hotshots coach Mark Dell’oro complimented the Tigers on their performance today. “They were more proactive and took their opportunities. They were very strong defensively. Even when we came back reasonably well in the second half, the Tigers weathered the storm.” He believed the challenge will be to rebound tomorrow.
Tomorrow’s re-match is at 2pm at the Tasmanian Hockey Centre.
WA Thundersticks 3 DEF Northern Territory Stingers 2 (1-1 half time)
WA – Hearn 23m FG, 57m PS, Charlesworth 42m FG
NT – Lockley A. 32m PS, Carroll T 51m FG
In a game that many reported as simply a percentage booster for Western Australia, The Northern Territory Stingers stood up and showed the Australian Hockey public why they should continue to be part of this elite competition.
Ravaged by injury and work commitments, the Stingers took the field with several players playing out of position. The late inclusion of Travis Carroll from the hockey wilderness along with a parochial Darwin crowd, gave the team the boost it needed coming into a game against the defending AHL champions. The WA Thundersticks took until the 23rd minute to open the scoring, with a field goal to striker Greg Hearn. This was countered by a converted penalty stroke to Adrian Lockley in the 32nd minute left both teams on one goal at half time.
In the second half both teams pushed forward in an attempt to break the game open, with Stingers Keeper Leon Hayward making some athletic saves, and NT’s strikers making some close misses. WA’s Jonathon Charlesworth broke the deadlock in the 42nd minute with a field goal. In steps Travis Carroll. Without a serious game of hockey in over six months, Carroll made a break and put a tomahawk shot into the goal from what most said was an impossible angle.
With the crowd on their feet the NT boys lifted, but their balloon soon burst with Greg Hearn converting a penalty stroke in the 57th minute for an infringement in the circle. Just six minutes later, Robert Duguid was given a yellow card and the Stingers were down to 10 men. Instead of accepting defeat, the NT Stingers pressed hard, and with two penalty corners in the last minute, they thought there might be a chance. Unfortunately, the scramble to put the blocked penalty strikes into the net were to no avail.
So the score ended at 3-2 to WA. Australian men’s coach Rick Charlesworth would have been happy to see the performances of Travis Carroll and Leon Hayward, and a much improved performance by the Stingers.
WA Coach Paul Gaudoin said “It was a tight game that went right wire. We expected a competitive match coming up here and that’s what we got. The Stingers keeper was outstanding. We are looking forward to a good game tomorrow.”
NT Co-Coach Bob Bulasch said “We are happy but obviously frustrated. Missing key players hurt us, but the players who played in different position really stood up. I think we attacked a lot more than they were expecting.”
Victorian Vikings 3 Canberra Lakers 2 (2 – 1 Half time)
ACT – Hotchkis 4m PC; Wallace 53m FG
VIC – Ford 16m FG; Smyth 29m FG; Cirello 38m PC
The Canberra Lakers have suffered another defeat at the hands of the Victorian Vikings, going down 3 -2, but certainly not without a fight.
The game began at a high intensity rate as the Lakers looked to avenge yesterday’s 2 -0 loss.
In the 3rd minute the Lakers were awarded a penalty corner, and while Victorian goalkeeper George Bazeley saved a well -executed corner, the rebound was struck by Laker Daniel Hotchkis who put the ball in the net, scoring the first goal and gaining the early advantage.
As possession swapped hands throughout the opening of the half, in the 16 th minute a Victorian breakaway left the ACT defence unawares and Viking Russel Ford ran the ball along the backline to score a back stick hit in the top right corner of the net, levelling the score to 1 -1.
The Lakers and Vikings continued to fight for possession, both teams penetrating their opposing circle but the play continually transferred up and down the field, neither team managing to defeat the opposition’s defence.
A failed penalty corner variation by the Vikings in the 28 th minute was no deterrent, as they continued to attack, passing through the Lakers defence and finding Ian Smyth who scored their
The play continued to build and the Lakers fought for possession to score again before half time but Victoria managed to hold them off, keeping the score at 2 -1 at half time.
To start the second half, the Lakers went with an overhead to their high striker, which was intercepted by Victorian defender Chris Ciiello, giving Victoria the early chance to attack. A penalty corner awarded shortly after saw the Viking defender add to his goal tally and create a 3 -1 lead over the Lakers.
Both teams persisted to fight for the ball, neither managing to break the other’s defensive structure.
Victoria had another chance when an attacking opportunity in the 42nd minute resulted in a corner, but they were unable to convert.
The Lakers continued to press, scrummaging for every ball, as youngest teammate Jack Wallace caught a floating ball, moving it fluidly through the middle and past four defenders. Seconds later he found himself head first in the net as he scores the Lakers second goal, bringing the score to a one -goal difference and the Lakers within striking distance.
The intensity continued to build as both teams struggled to keep possession, with the Vikings desperate to hold the Lakers out, while the Lakers were throwing everything they had into getting the ball into their circle.
Goal chances amassed for the home side, but none could be converted.
Victoria fought back and received a penalty corner in the 64th minute of the game, making the home crowd nervous, but Lakers goalkeeper Nathan Burgers impressively saved a well -executed drag flick, keeping the score at 3 -2.
With less than 2 minutes left on the clock, the Canberra Lakers had another chance to equalise, when Ben Bishop ran the ball along the baseline, into the circle looking for the corner call, only to be denied.
Victoria cleared the ball out of defence, throwing an overhead ball to their high striker, leaving the Lakers no chance to retrieve as the seconds on the clock ticked away.
The game ended with the Victorian Vikings winning 3 -2 against the Canberra Lakers.
Hockey Australia media release
Scottish Cup draws are out
The Scottish Cup semi-finals draw, performed live on BBC Sports Weekly this morning, determined that Subway National League leaders Azzurri Kelburne will face, currently fourth place, Grange.
The last time Kelburne met Grange, two weeks ago at Peffermill, a 1-1 draw resulted and hockey fans can bet both sides will be giving their all for a spot in the Cup Finals.
This leaves second place Western Wildcats challenging Inverleith with Western coming out on top 3-1 when the sides met at Auchenhowie last week.
In the women's draw, Milne Craig Western came out of the cup first to play Giffnock Ladies, meaning current table toppers Bonagrass Grove take the pitch against, second in the league, Porcelanosa Kelburne making for a cracking semi-finals match.
In a bizarre coincidence, both sets of fixtures will be played out in the league this weekend, offering possible insight into the women’s semi-finals outcome.
The Scottish Cup semi-finals take place 2nd May with the finals on 16th May both at Peffermill Playing Fields.
Last year's Scottish Cup winners were Azzurri Kelburne who beat Grange 3-1 and Milne Craig Western who defeated Giffnock 4-1 for the title.
Specific times for semi-finals matches this year will be announced here soon.
Scottish Hockey Union media release
Pakistan ready for Ipoh, says Shahid
By our correspondent
KARACHI: Pakistan hockey coach Shahid Ali Khan is satisfied with the homework done by his charges ahead of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup getting underway in the Malaysian city of Ipoh next week.
Shahid, a former Olympian, told 'The News' on Saturday that his players have been working hard during the preparatory camp under progress at the National Hockey Stadium in Lahore and now fully ready for the five-nation tournament to be played from April 5-12.
"We have carried out extensive training sessions during the few days available to us and there has definitely been a marked improvement," said Shahid, who was appointed as Pakistan coach last month.
The Azlan Shah Cup will be Shahid's first assignment as national coach and the former Pakistan goalkeeper says he would try to get the best out of his boys during the tournament.
"The Azlan Shah Cup has become a very important tournament for us because it will be played just a few weeks before the Asia Cup, which is our biggest target this year," he said referring to the fact that the Asia Cup will get underway just about three weeks after the conclusion of the Ipoh contest.
The Asia Cup was supposed to be played in Dubai but has now been shifted to Malaysia and will get underway from May 9. The team winning the Asia Cup title will qualify for the 2010 World Cup in India.
Shahid said that he and fellow team coaches emphasized on a few key areas during the camp including short corner conversion, defense and goalkeeping.
He said that in the absence of drag flick ace Sohail Abbas, who is currently playing professional hockey in Europe, Pakistan will rely on the services of Muhammad Imran and Ehsanullah. "Both of them are good short corner experts and I'm confident that they will do well in Malaysia," said the coach.
Pakistan will fly out for Kuala Lumpur on April 1 from Islamabad - a few days before their opening match of the tournament against hosts Malaysia. The other competing teams in the tournament are India, New Zealand and Egypt.
The News International
Hockey coach banks on veterans for Asia Cup success
By Shazad Ali
KARACHI: While Pakistan hockey coach Shahid Ali Khan concedes veteran players Sohail Abbas and Waseem Ahmad didn’t make any impact in the past, but he believes only their presence can ensure a victory for Pakistan at the Asia Cup in May.
The Olympian says that apart from penalty corner specialist Sohail and half-back Waseem, he wants to see forward Rehan Butt and goalkeeper Salman Akbar back for the cup in Malaysia.
‘I agree Pakistan didn’t do much despite Sohail and Waseem’s recall for World Cup in 2006. We finished at sixth despite having them back. But I strongly believe we might win the Asia Cup having them in the squad. But if we rely on juniors, there is no chance. I will not be comfortable with having a squad with junior players,’ the coach told Dawn.com from Lahore on Friday.
Shahid was, however, unconvincing when asked how Pakistan would be able to achieve lost glory having Sohail and Waseem in the squad, although green shirts never won a major title when the pair was even at its zenith.
‘All I can say is that it’s better to have such experienced players but only on condition that they must be physically fit and be at the camp three weeks before the event,’ he said.
Since Sohail, Waseem, Rehan and Salman are busy playing leagues, the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has called them up for Asia Cup camp which probably starts soon after Pakistan team returns from Ipoh where they feature in Azlan Shah Cup, which rolls off April 6.
Although Sohail and Waseem were once indispensable for the national side, their rollercoaster careers are tainted with several cases of indiscipline. While Sohail rose as a brilliant star on world hockey horizon, he degenerated into a fallen hero, chiefly because of ditching Pakistan team, preferring to play in European leagues over national duty.
He first made headlines when he along with team-mate Waseem opted to play league abroad, skipping back-to-back four-nation tournaments in Australia some six years ago.
He and Waseem tendered apologies and were included in the Champions Trophy squad by the then PHF president Gen Aziz Khan and secretary Brig Musarrat Ullah Khan after a meagre Rs100,000-fine.
They abruptly ended their international careers soon after 2004 Champions Trophy in Lahore, saying they wanted to pave way for youngsters. Furious over their ‘retirements’ PHF ordered them time and again to report to national camps but ate humble pie after being snubbed by the duo.
In a bid keep to their contracts with foreign clubs intact, the pair rejoined the squad in 2006 to represent Pakistan at Madrid Champions Trophy and World Cup in Monchengladbach, Germany only to leave Pakistan in the lurch once again.
It was in December 2006 that PHF president Zafarullah Jamali banned them along with controversial centre-half Mohammad Saqlain, half-back Ghanzafar Ali and defender Dilawar Hussain, for preferring to play in foreign leagues rather than reporting at Doha Asian Games camp.
Jamali back-tracked and reversed his decision, calling them all except Saqlain for the national duty. Ghazanfar and Dilawar reported but Sohail and Waseem again stayed away from national camp.
Sohail was also sacked last May by his department SSGC for remaining absent without leave to play in foreign league.
For Shahid, the Ipoh contest, which will see minnows such as Egypt and Malaysia in action along with better rated New Zealand and India, will be a training tour for which two uncapped players – Sibtain Raza and Zeeshan Ali – have been included, although they never represented even a junior side.
‘I expect my side to at least reach the final at Azlan Shah Cup,’ said Shahid without predicting the final’s outcome.
Interestingly, despite being a former top class goalkeeper, Shahid believes that only one custodian in Nasir Ahmad will be enough for the tour. While Shahid wants to give the two youngsters a chance, he doesn’t see any goalkeeper in the camp worthy enough to be included for the exposure.
Shahid, who has been assigned the task till Asia Cup, says ideally a long-term commitment is better than short stint, but the decision to extend his tenure depends on PHF.
In another surprising and unprecedented move, after naming the squad in Lahore, the team management has asked the standbys to leave.
BJSS within striking distance of top spot
By Jugjet Singh
BUKIT JALIL Sports School (BJSS) will get a chance to top the Division Two standings of the Malaysia Hockey League when they meet Malacca today.
Leaders Bandar Penawar Sports School (BPSS) have a rest day and BJSS, with six straight wins, will be playing a team which has lost three and drawn one match.
The imbalance is quite obvious, and with only five more matches to go before the league title is decided, BJSS coach S. Prakash is cautious.
"Nine of my players competed in the National Under-16 where they played seven matches in a row, and even after a few days rest, they could not perform well against Setapak High (on Friday, BJSS won 2-0).
"I hope they will fare much better against Malacca who have many Malaysia Games players," said Prakash.
The BJSS squad this year is made up of Under-17 players, but they have held on well against more experienced opponents in six matches.
"We don't want to burst the bubble at this stage, because at least three other teams are also in the running to claim the title, if we draw or lose."
TOMORROW -- Division Two: Bukit Jalil Sports School v Malacca (Tun Razak Stadium, 5pm), BJSS Juniors v Kijang Mas (Tun Razak Stadium, 7pm), Anderson v BPSS Juniors (Azlan Shah Stadium, 5pm), Tenaga Nasional v Olak (KLHA Stadium 5pm).
Division Three: Matri v Selangor (Kangar, 5pm), TBSS- Tampin v Penang (Tampin, 5pm), English College v Perlis (Johor Baru, 5pm), Temerloh v Kuala Selangor (Kuantan, 5pm).
Monday -- Division Three: Nur Insafi v Selangor (Sungai Petani, 3pm).
New Straits Times
BJSS get chance to regain lead in Division 2 against MSN Malacca
KUALA LUMPUR: Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) will get a chance to regain the lead in Division Two (Under-19 category) of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) when they play MSN Malacca at the Tun Razak Stadium here today.
BJSS are second in the standings with 18 points, a point behind Bandar Penawar Sports School (BPSS). But BJSS have a game in hand.
BJSS coach S. Prakash has preached caution, saying MSN Malacca had the experience to stop them.
“We cannot underestimate any team as the league enters its crucial stage. Teams not in the title race are fighting for a top-six finish. So every match counts for them,” he said.
“I feel that the Malacca side have players who can hurt us and I don’t want my players to take them for granted.”
The coach, who has guided BJSS to two doubles in the previous Malaysia Junior Hockey League, said it will be good to regain the lead as the MHL enters the last lap.
After today’s outing, BJSS will have just four matches left to play — and they are all tough ones, including a showdown with BPSS on April 10.
The Star of Malaysia
Learn from tragedy
COMMENT BY S. RAMAGURU
MOHD Fadhirul Razmin’s life was tragically cut short on Wednesday. He was seven months short of his 16th birthday.
The Nur Insafi player and four of his team-mates were on their way to training in Sungai Petani when they were involved in a car crash in Butterworth.
Goalkeeper Mohd Hanif Kasman, who suffered serious head injuries, is still in the intensive care unit at the Penang General Hospital while the other three — Mohd Fadli Zabidi, Sabir Ismail, Mohd Azrul — are recovering at the Seberang Jaya Hospital.
Sadly, it has taken such a tragic incident to highlight the need for hockey teams to ensure that their players are properly insured.
Shockingly, many teams playing in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) do not have proper insurance coverage for their players. In fact, even the State HAs do not have insurance schemes for their players.
There are some states, like Perak, who buy insurance for tournaments organised either by the Perak HA or the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF). As for Nur Insafi, they did not provide any insurance coverage for their players. Fortunately, the MHF, jointly with the National Sports Council (NSC), have insurance coverage for all who take part in their tournaments.
MHF secretary Hashim Mohd Yusof said they had insurance scheme for all their tournaments, be it for players, tournament officials and administrative staff.
“As for clubs and State HAs, we do not know if they provide such a coverage. We do not have any regulations to compel them to buy insurance (for their players and officials) but we encourage them to do so. This is basically a financial decision which the relevant parties must look into,” he said.
Perhaps the MHF can learn from the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) when it comes to insurance matters.
The FAM have, since 1999, made it compulsory for teams to have insurance coverage for their players. It is clearly stated in the competition rules that teams who do not provide insurance coverage will be barred from taking part in their tournaments.
And the State FAs are required to pay the premiums first before they are allowed to compete in any tournament.
An FAM official said that the yearly insurance premiums for each state could range between RM16,000 and RM20,000. And the insurance, he added, also covered the players’ medical expenses.
The FAM clearly take the matter seriously. Only last week they threw out Johor Baru City Hall from the Premier League for not joining the insurance scheme.
It is clear that teams have a duty to their players to provide insurance coverage for them.
Under FAM’s insurance scheme, the states and clubs need not pay the medical bills either as it is taken care of by the insurers.
The MHF must follow in FAM’s footsteps as far as insurance coverage for players is concerned.
The competitions committee must take the bold step of ensuring that teams have insurance coverage when they take part in tournaments.
There are many companies specialising in sports insurance and their premium varies depending on the risk factors of the sports concerned. So, financial woes should not be used as an excuse.
Let’s hope that Fadhirul’s death will prompt a change which will only serve to make hockey a better sport — for players and officials.
The Star of Malaysia
All for one and one for all with World Cup in mind
Tai Beng Hai
I BELIEVE in my players, and they believe in me, and together, we are giving our best to elevate the standard of Malaysian hockey at the international level.
The training regime has been tough, as my team of coaches and I have been pushing them to the maximum for the past three months, and the plus point is that instead of complaining, my players took up the challenge to improve.
The wake-up call is at the break of dawn, 6am, and we start by building stamina with a variety of training drills. The results are there for all to see, as the National Sports Institute records have shown a marked improvement in every player after only three months.
Right now, fitness is no longer a worry for me, as the boys showed when we played seven matches in South Korea recently.
We played three matches in a row, took a two-day break, and then another four matches in a row and there was a very little drop in standard as all the players could keep their normal pace.
Time was what I did not have when I was offered to coach the team in January, as the Azlan Shah Cup and Asia Cup were just a few months away.
But I took up the challenge because my passion is hockey, as I enjoyed every moment of my life when I was donning the national jersey.
And there has been no looking over my shoulders to see if a foreign coach will be appointed to replace me, as this set of players, who I had trained as juniors when I was assistant to Sarjit Singh for the 2004 Junior World Cup, are among the best I have seen so far.
In fact they remind me of my teammates in dedication and commitment.
Right now, the team are eager to prove themselves in the Azlan Shah Cup as they have not played in a tournament for a long time.
Our trip to South Korea (where the team won three, drew two and lost two matches), was a refreshing change as I saw promise in many players who have been merely floating before.
We played against university sides which had many Korean national players, and I returned home with a better understanding about my team. Some of the players performed better in different positions and this, I believe, will be an asset in the next two important assignments.
The Azlan Shah Cup will be a great chance for the team to impress, and start their climb back into the respectable hockey playing nations' bracket. We are Number 15 today, but I believe the ranking does not reflect the true capabilities of this set of players.
I believe in my players, even though only Egypt (No 21) are ranked below us in the Azlan Shah Cup, while New Zealand (No 7), Pakistan (No 8) and India (No 10) are above, my players are eager to show results, and the tournament will be an exciting one, as we are looking at a podium finish.
After that, there will be a final push for the Asia Cup, and everybody knows the score -- it will be difficult to win the title and qualify for the (2010) World Cup but not impossible -- and like every other aspirant, we will give our best.
The writer is the National Hockey Chief Coach.
New Straits Times
'Mutiple leaders good for game'
V Narayan Swamy,TNN
BANGALORE: Sourav Ganguly and many other international cricketers have frowned upon the idea of multiple captains but for Australian sports gurus like Ric Charlesworth and John Buchanan, a group of leaders in a team is pretty much the way forward.
Hockey legend Charlesworth, who pioneered the concept of multiple leaders when he spearheaded the Australian women’s hockey team to glory twice at the Olympics in 1996 and 2000, has backed Buchanan and his theory of more than one captain for the Kolkata Knight Riders, saying "hierarchies (in a team) hardly fetch the best results."
"I believe hierarchical leadership is an anachronism in this time. I do not think it gets the best results," Charlesworth told TOI. "In my opinion, the best teams have a critical mass of leaders who take responsibility for what happens, make decisions and solve problems. The more the better."
The gist of the theory, which goes by the moniker of ‘flat leadership’ in management psychology, is that all athletes have to be part of the leadership process. "Flat leadership helps and requires all athletes to be engaged in the process and so challenges them to help the team do well. Otherwise, they become social loafers waiting for others to do things," says Charlesworth.
The Aussie veteran hasn’t merely expounded this theory in hockey alone. Having served as the high performance manager of New Zealand Cricket until 2007, Charlesworth tried to introduce the concept among the Stephen Fleming-led Kiwis but "for various reasons it did not go forward."
Stressing on the concept’s importance in cricket, Charlesworth, who played the game for Western Australia in the 1970s, says: "Perhaps the release of pressure would be good for players. Captaincy in cricket can be very demanding. No doubt John Buchanan has thought it through. When I played for Western Australia, we had many players contributing to our decisions. I assume Kolkata has many influential players with something to offer. But finally, it is not the answer to performing... what is needed most is skill."
As the coach of the Australian men’s national hockey team, Charlesworth, says he will continue to work with the idea of a leadership group. "It has been practised for years and we will work in this way."
Charlesworth’s predecessor in the men’s hockey team, Barry Dancer, who embraced the concept as wholeheartedly as many other coaches during his time, had this to say: "It stems from the fundamental argument that one leader can sometimes generate followers or no followers. We do not want followers. We need players responsible for their own actions and who are proactive. This increases productivity."
The Times of India
Vizag Steel Cup from Monday
VISAKHAPATNAM: The Andhra State inter-district super league men’s tournament for the Vizag Steel Cup will be held at the Port Diamond Jubilee stadium here from Monday to April 2.
The top six teams of the State inter-district hockey championship held at Guduru in August last, will participate in the round-robin tournament.
Visakhapatnam (winner of the first super league tournament held in 2004 at Hyderabad), Nellore, East Godavari, Kurnool, Kadapa and Chittoor (runner-up of the last super league), will participate in the tournament here, joint secretary of District Hockey Association D.V. Satyanarayana Raju said on Saturday.
The Visakhapatnam Steel Plant is sponsoring the tournament while the Visakhapatnam Port Trust is supporting the event by providing the hockey field and accommodation to the players and officials at its stadium.
20th International Easter Hockey Tournament
From Melinda Adams
The players of more than 24 teams from 9 different countries will once again meet the weekend of April 11-12, 2009 at the 20th International Easter Hockey Tournament in Valkenswaard, The Netherlands. The aim of this tournament is a challenging high level competition for under-16 players. A demonstration game will be held between the first women’s teams of Oranje-Zwart and HOD prior to the start of the tournament.
Read more at http://www.iet-online.nl