All the news for Friday 25 December 2009
By S. Thyagarajan
Beaten but not disgraced... the Indian women's hockey team that finished runner-up in the Asian Cup in Bangkok. It lost 3-5 to China in the final. AP
Two Champions Trophy tournaments, five continental competitions, two World Cups for juniors, a string of challengers and qualifiers kept the tempo at a high octave through the year. But at the end of it all, the power equations remained unaltered save for a few surprises, like England winning the European Championship.
Eventful as ever, competitive hockey enlarged its dimensions and depth and enhanced its international profile and technical excellence in 2009. The events that unfolded had the elements of incandescence, entrapping the enthusiasts in an emotional melange. Pity of pities that India was isolated for the major part, entangled as it was in a set of negativities arising from appalling mismanagement of the administrative apparatus.
Two Champions Trophy tournaments, five continental competitions, two World Cups for juniors, a string of challengers and qualifiers kept the tempo at a high octave through the year. At the end of it all, the power equations remained unaltered save for a few surprises, like England winning the European Championship.
It isn’t difficult to identify the outstanding team of 2009 — the vote goes to Australia, coached by the stalwart, Ric Charlesworth. The Australian men not only left their imprint as the best in the region but also signed off in style with a fantastic win in the Champions Trophy in Melbourne, where, for the first time, the FIH (International Hockey Federation) permitted one TV referral for each team in a match. Australia’s 10th title-victory in the tournament underscored its scale of consistency. Small wonder, Jamie Dwyer of Australia was adjudged the best player of the world.
Interestingly, the emergence of New Zealand as a major player not only in the Oceania group but also the world could not have been better exemplified than by its twin title victories, in the World Cup qualifier at home and the Champions Challenge in Salta, Argentina, in December. The outcome confirmed New Zealand’s participation in both the World Cup (New Delhi) and the Champions Trophy (Monchengladbach) in 2010.
Equally impressive was the showing of the New Zealand’s women’s team which cut short the Aussie dominance in the Oceania group by winning the qualifier for the World Cup in Rosario, Argentina, in 2010.
While the victories of South Africa and Canada in the continental events somewhat confirmed the trend, the triumph recorded by England against Germany in the final of the European Cup in Amstelveen (the Netherlands) made the critics sit up in amazement. The English squad, led admirably by veteran Barry Middleton and supported well by Richard Mantell, Ashley Jackson, Ben Hawes and James Tindall, lowered the colours of the World Champion, scoring a 5-3 win. The home team had to be satisfied with a bronze. The top four — England, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain — made the grade for the next World Cup.
The best result for Germany in 2009 came at the men’s junior World Cup, jointly organised by Malaysia and Singapore. For the first time the tournament had 20 teams in the fray. Germany defeated the Netherlands 3-1 in the final to win the gold, while Australia defeated New Zealand 4-1 to claim the bronze medal.
Notwithstanding the presence of stalwarts such as Teun de Nooijer and Taeke Taekema — the top scorer in the Champions Trophy — the Dutchmen failed to match the showing of their women. The bronze medal in the Nations Cup and the fourth place in the Champions Trophy in Melbourne showed that the Dutch squad was slipping down the ladder. The same can be said of Spain which now ceases to be the force that it was under Maurits Hendriks. This was evident from the fact that Spain finished fourth in the European Cup and fifth in the Champions Trophy.
In Asia, Korea held the centre stage, winning the Asia Cup against Pakistan in Kuantan to ensure its place in the World Cup. Korea also performed beyond expectations in the Champions Trophy to claim the bronze medal. Nam Hyun-woo and Seo Jong-ho figured among the best scorers in Melbourne.
There were perceptible indications of Pakistan moving up despite the administrative imbroglio back home. Finishing second in the Asia Cup meant Pakistan had to win the qualifiers in Lille (France) to book its berth for the 2010 World Cup. The team pitched in beautifully, thanks to the triumphant return of Sohail Abbas, and finished on top to seal its berth for New Delhi. Pakistan also finished runner-up in the Champions Challenge in Salta.
A noteworthy event was the elevation of China to the top 10 in the men’s rankings, two places ahead of India, at the end of the year. The confidence gained from the victory in the Azlan Shah tournament did not help India in any way. On the contrary, the team tumbled from one disaster to another. It finished fifth in the Asia Cup and lost to Pakistan in the tournaments that mattered.
Palpably jaded and going down in a whirlpool of controversies, India figured in the news for all the wrong reasons.
The birth pangs of the unresolved formation of the new administrative body and the appointment of Jose Brasa of Spain as India’s coach generated heated debate.
India’s tours of Europe, Argentina and Canada helped Brasa study the limited material available, but the coach was unhappy with the Government’s apathy towards procuring sophisticated gadgets for coaching. There were even reports in the media of dissidence within the team and Sandeep Singh’s brushes with Brasa on the issue of captaincy.
In contrast, the Indian women’s team performed better, winning the Champions Challenge II in Kazan and picking up the silver medal in the Asia Cup in Bangkok. Skipper Surinder Kaur, dependable strikers Jasjeet Handa, Rani Rampha and Saba Anjum, mid-fielders Asanta Lakra and Mamta Kharbab, supported by Subhadra Pradhan — the player of the Asia Cup 2009 — were prominent in India’s showing in every tournament. The coach, M. K. Kaushik, needs special mention for the way he has handled the team. It is a pity that the junior outfits, men and women, flopped, finishing ninth in the World Cup.
A moment of pride for the umpiring fraternity in India came when Satinder Sharma earned a golden whistle during the World Cup qualifier in Invercargill.
Going by how events panned out in 2009, a vibrant agenda appears to be on the cards in 2010.
Impressive Selvaraju earns another call-up from Berlin
KUALA LUMPUR: National hockey forward S. Selvaraju (pic) has received yet another invitation to feature for Berlin club in the German League next year.
The Perak player first played in a foreign league in Germany in 2006 and scored five goals in 12 Division One matches for Moenchengladbach. Last year, he played for Berlin and scored seven goals in 10 matches.
The 24-year-old said that the Berlin team management were satisfied with his performance last year and they had given him an offer to play for them again.
“I am really happy to play in the league alongside some world-class players,” said Selvaraju.
“Germany are ranked No. 1 in the world, having won the 2006 World Cup and also the 2008 Beijing Olympic. It will definitely be a big benefit for me to play in their league. It will help me to improve on my game and scoring ability.”
Last October, Selvaraju also had a stint in New Zealand for Division One side Midlands. He scored four goals in eight matches.
He added that the German League was expected to begin in April after the World Cup Finals in New Delhi in March.
“Our national team will start training at the end of February after the completion of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL),” said Selvaraju, who has 72 international caps to his credit.
“And I am not sure whether I will get the release to play in the German League as the national team will be playing in two tournaments in April and May.”
Malaysia will play in the inaugural Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) Champions Trophy, which will be held in Ipoh from April 13-18 at the Sultan Azlan Shah Stadium. Malaysia will also host the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup at the same venue in May.
The Star of Malaysia
Manager George says main priority is to appoint new coach
By AFTAR SINGH
KUALA LUMPUR: George Koshy’s term as manager of the Malaysian hockey team was until the 2010 World Cup Finals in New Delhi in March.
But the team failed to make the grade after losing 1-2 to New Zealand in the final of a qualifying tournament in Invercargill last month.
George said that he did not even want to think about the post.
“I am not too concerned whether I will remain as manager of the national team or not,” said George.
“The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) have a more important appointment to make and that is for the post of national team coach.
“The manager only performs a support function in the team. But the coach plays a big part in charting the fortunes of the team in tournaments.”
George was named as national team manager for the first time of the side for the Champions Trophy in Kuala Lumpur in December 2007.
And he was given a full-time appointment from January this year. The MHF then named former international Tai Beng Hai as the interim coach with Nor Saiful Zaini as the assistant until they appoint a foreign coach.
George added that the national team had showed overall improvement with the ability to play in a very high level competition.
“They proved this by defeating world No. 2 Australia 1-0 in a three-nation tournament in Australia in August,” he said.
“Malaysia, who are ranked 16th, came very close of beating eighth ranked New Zealand in the World Cup qualifiers. We took a 1-0 lead but it was unfortunate that we lost in the last 13 minutes of the match.
“Some of the juniors in the national team have also showed a lot of promise and I believe that we need to further motivate them mentally and tactically to be on par with the top teams in the world.”
The juniors in the national team are defender Ahmad Kazamirul Nasruddin, midfielder Mohd Marhan Mohd Jalil and forward Faisal Saari.
On Tuesday night, George celebrated Christmas with the MHF officials, coaches, national players and family friends.
The Star of Malaysia
The National Sports Council have yet to hear anything from the Malaysian Hockey Federation with regards to the plan to hire Dutchman Roelant Oltmans as the National Coach.
And contrary to what has been reported, NSC has already informed MHF on just how much they are willing to commit with regards to the salaries for the former Pakistan and Dutch coach.
A MHF official had gone on record to say that MHF were unable to make a decision with regards to hiring Oltmans as NSC Director General Dato Zolkples Embong had not attended the Management Committee Meeting held on December 13 in Penang as he was away for the SEA Games.
"We have already discussed the appointment and as so far as NSC are concerned we have made a commitment to a certain amount of money to hire the coach,"said Dato Zolkples when contacted by this blog last night .
"So really it will be for MHF to determine if they want to go ahead with this appointment as NSC can only assist and have no direct say with regards to the candidate."
"As far as I know MHF has yet to revert to us if the deal has gone through and we are in the dark as everyone else."
Zolkples added that MHF has also yet to revert to NSC on the renewal of contracts for local coaches.
It is learnt that the contracts of Tai Beng Hai and Nor Saiful Zaini will expire on December 31.
"I am not aware of any request made to extend their contracts,"said Zolkples.
"As far as I know there was a discussion with regards to having two local coaches to assist Oltmans.
"So far the names have not been forwarded to NSC and we will await for them to decide on this matter.
Malaysian Hockey blogspot
Developing game understanding in young athletes
By Shiv Jagday, FIH coach
I vividly remember playing mini hockey on the roof of my school back in 1957. I was 9 years old, a rather fat boy, matching skills with the players double or triple my age group. Mind you, these were players, who played hockey, just for fun and socialising in the evenings, as there were no Televisions and other electronic toys, we have these days, to keep us occupied.
Let us learn to respect players'and other cultures
Media Watch: Players are not machines. They are not there to give their countries medals all the times.
If a country is mature enough to send a sport team to a tournament held in another country, it should also be mature enough to understand and appreciate cultures of other countries.
What happened in Pakistan – media running a moral story on their own players – is what is not desired at any time in any part of the world.
After the tournament is over, if some players mingle with the officials and others who helped them during their whole stay, what is wrong in it?
We are nowhere to comment what happened in Pakistan, in normal case it should not be our concern at all, but the problem here is the players who are at the receiving end of the hate campaign is all well known faces in India also, and have lot of sympathizers and supporters, as most of them were part of Premier Hockey League as well.
The same players their country’s media and some officials are hounding are excellent ambassadors of Pakistan whenever or wherever they played.
No sporting teams nowadays visits Pakistan due to spurt and all pervading terrorism, but at this juncture what that country not needed is -- in the interest of that sporting country – is exactly what is going on now.
The problem in this part of world is, the television world is experiencing a new found freedom and it is an emerging industry. It is certainly not a mature medium nowadays, they are unaccountable for their acts of omission and commissions. Most of the television channels are mischief mongers as well. Televisions are ruining many peoples’ live, but they should spare national players. It has not happened in Pakistan.
In these conservative societies all of a sudden some culture vultures descend on the scene and assume the role of moral policing. Therefore we are not amused some officials in Pakistan all of sudden naming the players and telling they sullied the images, did something against the ethics, ethos, etc etc.
Societies at large have to be cautious about these culture vultures who never consider human values and human rights.
Unnecessarily a couple of girls were also brought into the disrepute on the basis of some photos. At no fault of theirs, they are put into unnecessary discomforts.
What we appeal is, leave the sportsmen to be sporting, let the societis not hound them.
We respect players, their sensibilities and their role in keeping the fellow beings in good humour. They have every right to choose the occasion and relax. It is nobody’s business except the players themselves.
Our sympathies are with the players and those who stood by them.
Hockey India affiliates 19 state units
CHENNAI: A total of 19 of the 33 erstwhile units of Indian Hockey Federation has been recognised by the Hockey India, which is scheduled to hold its elections next month as per the requirements of Union Sports Ministry and the International Hockey Federation.
According to minutes of a November 30 meeting of the apex body signed and circulated by president of Hockey India AK Matoo to State Olympic Associations, affiliation to 12 units were approved without any issues and seven states are approved subject to state Olympic Associations' scrutiny of proper representation for women and other related issues.
Both Bengal and Gujarat were extended affiliation based on documents furnished. Karnataka's application and relevant documents were found in order but affiliation would be granted after receipt of letter from Karnataka Olympic Association, said the minutes, a copy of which is with PTI.
The Minutes state that application from Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Punjab and Goa have been received but kept pending due to issues. Due to legal tangles, the affiliation issues of Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan have been kept pending, while Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Puducherry have not yet applied.
As per the Minutes, the last date for receipt of applications for affiliation was December 15 and decisions on applications received after this would be taken by the body to be elected on January 27 next.
The minutes copy signed by all the 15 attendees also states that a five-member committee, including Vidya Stokes, Narinder Batra, Mohd Mushtaque Ahmed, Rajeev Mehta and Amrit Bose had been set up to resolve relevant issues within the next ten working days.
Units affiliated are:
Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar, Chandigarh, Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Andaman and Nicobar, Tripura and Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Orissa, Uttrakhand, Andhra, Kerala, Manipur, Mizoram, Gujarat and Bengal.
Following members attended the November 30 meeting held in New Delhi.
Hockey India members:
AK Matto (President), Vidya Stokes (Sr Vice President), Narinder Batra (Treasurer), Mohd Musteque Ahmed and Rajeev Mehta (members of HI), Jagbir Singh (Director, Planning), RK Shetty, Victor Ellis, Ikram Khan, K.Krishnamurthy, Gurbux Singh, Amrit Bose and Charanjit Raheka (invitees) and Lalit Kumar Bhanot (IOA representative).
The Times of India
Hockey India leaves sport in a mess flashback 2009
By Anand Philar
One step forward, but three steps back. That was the story of Indian hockey in the year gone by.
To say that Indian hockey is currently a rudderless ship caught in a storm on the high seas is to put it mildly. Matters have become worse with wolves in sheep’s clothing indulging in a coup of sorts to form Hockey India whose modus operandi, if not its very existence, is open to question.
For all purposes, the Indian Hockey Federation has been rendered defunct with the stroke of a pen as it were, as Suresh Kalmadi’s Indian Olympic Association used any and every pretext to take over the administration. The resultant chaos among the affiliated state units is to be seen to be believed.
Caught in these churning and frothing political waters, the sport took a backseat. India finished a poor fifth at the men’s Asia Cup and ninth in the junior World Cup. These results, shocking as they are, indicate a bleak immediate future though the sport still thrives by way of tournaments across the country.
The Indian women’s team provided a silver lining by finishing runners-up to China at the Asia Cup in Bangkok to qualify for the 2010 World Cup while nothing much can be read in the success at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament that included New Zealand, Pakistan, Malaysia and Egypt.
Spaniard Jose Brasa was eventually appointed national coach after months of dithering and bickering, but the failure to qualify for the elite Champions Trophy tournament despite a bronze in the qualifying competition in Argentina earlier this month reflected the true position of Indian hockey in the international pecking order.
Contributing to this depressing scenario was the reported ‘dissension’ in the squad during a recent camp at Pune, contrary to the self-righteous denials. The fact that skipper Sandeep Singh was replaced by Rajpal Singh for no known reasons ahead of the campaign in Argentina was a clear indication that nothing was hunky-dory with the team.
The Indian men’s team played a couple of bilateral series in Canada and Argentina, but these ventures were of little value even if they provided some data on the form and fitness of players. On the one hand, the national selectors spoke about ‘developing’ a new Indian team, but on the other, they brought back the very players who were part of the disastrous 2006 World Cup campaign when the side finished 11th out of 12 and were subsequently omitted.
Through the year, there was such uncertainty in the administration that even those on the inside could not differentiate one end of the stick from the other. The murky goings-on as the vested interests fight for control over Indian hockey cast a long shadow.
To top it, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) was guilty of pandering to the upstart Hockey India that was formed with the blessings of the IOA. The sport’s world governing body was hasty in granting recognition to the new unit that had no backing from the majority of the state associations. When the affiliated units of the erstwhile IHF went up in arms, the FIH realised its folly.
In the meantime, Hero Honda consented to be the title sponsors for the 2010 World Cup in New Delhi. However, with no legitimately elected administrative body in place, the FIH slapped a Nov 18 deadline for fresh elections to Hockey India, a pre-condition to India’s participation in the World Cup. Here too problems arose and the FIH agreed to shift the deadline to one month prior to the start of the World Cup (Feb 28).
Indian hockey’s fortunes on and off the field nosedived during the year. The sport suffered not so much for want of talent but more due to the absence of a viable system, much less vision or direction, and that is not saying anything new.