Monday, December 30, 2013

Indian men’s hockey team kickstart preparations for Hockey World League Final

The Indian senior men’s hockey team have begun their final preparatory camp for the upcoming FIH Hockey World League Final to be held at the Major Dhyan Chand National Hockey Stadium in New Delhi from January 10-18.

The 28 probables are going through the paces under the watchful eyes of head coach Terry Walsh and other members of the support staff. The camp will run till January 9.

India are  placed in Pool A alongside Germany, England and New Zealand, while Australia, Netherlands, Belgium and Argentina are placed in Pool B. India will launch its campaign against England on January 10, they face New Zealand on January 11 and wind up their league engagements against Germany on January 13.

The FIH Hockey World League Final will serve as vital preparation for the national team for the 2014 World Cup to be held at the Kyocera Stadium in The Hague, Netherlands from May 31 to June 15.

Meanwhile, striker Gurwinder Singh Chandi, who has been battling a prolonged ankle injury is named among the probables. Another striker Danish Mujtaba, who also  has been coming off a long-standing knee injury is also part of the probables.

Drag-flicker Gurjinder Singh, who was one of the finds of the 2013 Junior Men’s World Cup also finds his place among the probables.

Nippy junior striker Affan Yousuf, who was overlooked for the the 2013 Junior Men’s World Cup, is also named among the probables.

The probables are expected to be pruned down to 18 at the end of the camp.

Probables:  PR Sreejesh,  PT Rao, Harjot Singh; Defenders: Harbir Singh Sandhu, Rupinder Pal Singh,  V R Raghunath, Birendra Lakra, Gurmail Singh, Amit Rohidas, Kothajit Singh, Khadangbam, Gurjinder Singh; Midfielders: S K Uthappa,  M B Aiyappa, Dharamvir Singh, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, Sardar Singh, Manpreet Singh, Danish Mujtaba, Satbir Singh; Forwards: Nikkin Thimmaiah, Nithin Thimmaiah, S V Sunil, Mandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, 5. Ramandeep Singh, Gurwinder Singh Chandi, Affan Yousuf, Yuvraj Walmiki.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Eyebrows raised over Oltmans, Walsh serving as coaches of HIL franchise teams

Controversy is something every sporting event wishes to steer clear of. And the second edition of the Hero Hockey India League (HIL) seems to have embraced one with the Sports Authority of India (SAI) voicing its disapproval over the association of Hockey India High Performance Manager and national men’s team head coach Terry Walsh with the upcoming Hockey India League (HIL) as coaches of franchise teams - Uttar Pradesh Wizards and Kalinga Lancers (Odisha).

It is learnt that the Sports Authority of India is unhappy with the development as it feels that both Oltmans and Walsh can serve the national team better by spotting talent in the high-profile league and work towards enhancing the supply line for the national team.

Significantly, SAI has shot off a letter to Hockey India categorically stating that both Oltmans and Walsh cannot take up such assignments as they are hired for the specific purpose of coaching the national teams.

SAI may have a point here, but it is equally interesting to point out that there is a clause in the duo's contracts with SAI which states these coaches can be freed from national duties for FIH-sanctioned competitions conducted by Hockey India at no cost to government.

Clearly, the whole episode makes one wonder whether the Indian team is going to benefit from their presence as coaches of franchise teams or whether the country may miss out on talent-spotting due to their involvement in the HIL as coaches.

There is a line of thinking in SAI circles that Oltmans and Walsh are being paid an attractive packet and therefore should have refrained from taking up other responsibilities, which points to a conflict of interest.

It’s not a question of whether who is right or wrong (SAI or Hockey India) – the bottom line is that Indian hockey should not suffer!

Ranchi to host 2nd Hockey World League women's Round 2 event

Ranchi will play host to the second edition of the FIH Hockey World League Round 2 women’s tournament to be held from March 7-15, 2015 following the completion of the mens’ and women’s Round 1 matches to be held between July and October 2014.

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) released the dates and venues of the 2nd FIH Hockey World League men’s and women’s Round 1 and 2 matches.

It may be hosted that Ranchi had successfully hosted the inaugural Hero Hockey India League – in fact, the city staged both the semifinals and the final of the league – not just that, the home team cornered glory pipping Delhi Waveriders at the post.

Hosts India will be pitted alongside China, Russia and five other qualifying teams from the round one and two events.

Besides Ranchi, the Spanish city of Valencia and Uruguayan capital Montevideo will host the other two FIH Hockey World League women’s Round 2 events.

The men’s FIH Hockey World League Round 1 events will be held in Kingston (Jamaica), Sveti Ivan Zelina (Croatia), Dhaka (Bangladesh), Hradec Kralove (Czech Republic) Harare (Zimbabwe), Lousada (Portugal)
Veracruz (Mexico) Muscat (Oman) and Fiji.

The women’s FIH Hockey World League Round 1 events will be held in Kingston (Jamaica), Singapore, Siauliai (Lithuania), Hradec Kralove (Czech Republic) Harare (Zimbabwe),
Veracruz (Mexico) and Fiji.

As many as five nations - Kingston (Jamaica), Hradec Kralove (Czech Republic), Harare (Zimbabwe), Veracruz (Mexico) and Fiji will simultaneously hold the men’s and women’s Round 1 events.

The dates for the men’s and women’s Round 1 events are July 1-6, July 11-13, September 2-7, September 5-7, September 9-14, and October 3-5.

The men’s FIH Hockey World League Round 1 events will be held in Singapore, Lancaster (USA), and Capetown (South Africa). The dates for the men’s and women’s Round 2 are January 17-15, February 25-March 8, March 7-15 and March 14-22.

It may be worth mentioning that the FIH Hockey World League is held by FIH every two years - the final of the men’s inaugural FIH Hockey World League will be held in New Delhi from January 10-18. India made it to the final by virtue of being the host nation.

VMC seals Baroda District Hockey Association office for non-payment of taxes

The Baroda District Hockey Association (BDHA) is going through a tough time. The association seems to be on a collision course with Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) – the latter sealed its administrative office recently for non-payment of taxes amounting to over Rs 15 lakh.

The Baroda District Hockey Association’s non-payment of taxes includes dues towards property taxes and water connections.

The Baroda District Hockey Association – a non-commercial organization – is now looking up to the Vadodara Municipal Corporation to offer tax exemption or give them some stipulated grant.

The Baroda District Hockey Association (BDHA) functions with the aim to train players and promote the national sport of India.

The BDHC conducts its day-to-day affairs through donations of well-wishers and will not in a position to pay up such heavy taxes.

The BDHA ground has been given to the association on a lease by the erstwhile rulers of Baroda state.

The association has put in a request to Vadodara Municipal Corporation (VMC) Commissioner Manish Bharadwaj and is hopeful of a favourable settlement with regards to payment of taxes.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Black Sticks eves to feature in international tourney in USA

New Zealand women's hockey team will feature in a four-nation international tournament slated to be held in the United States from February 6-20 next year.

The venue of the tournament is yet to be confirmed, and the event will pit New Zealand eves alongside hosts USA, England and one more nation, whose confirmation is yet to be sealed.

Black Sticks coach Mark Hager has inducted several changes in the side, calling up veterans Emily Naylor and Bianca Russell to the national fold. Emily Naylor will bring plenty of experience to the side having made 225 international appearances. Both Emily Naylor and Bianca Russell were not part of the New Zealand side for the Hockey World League Final in Argentina.

Bianca Russell will replace fellow goalkeeper Sally Rutherford.

Stacey Michelsen, Aniwaka Roberts and Rose Keddell mark a return to the side after recovering from their respective injuries. Hager has also included the likes of strikers Michaela Curtis and Sian Fremaux.

The USA tournament assumes a lot of importance given the 2014 Women’s World Cup is just months away and quite obviously a lot of places are for grabs.

New Zealand had finished fifth at the Hockey World League Final in Argentina earlier this month.

The squad: Sam Charlton, Sophie Cocks, Michaela Curtis, Rhiannon Dennison, Krystal Forgesson, Gemma Flynn, Sian Fremaux, Amelia Gibson, Rose Keddell, Olivia Merry, Stacey Michelsen, Emily Naylor, Brooke Neal, Anita Punt, Aniwaka Roberts, Bianca Russell, Kayla Sharland, Liz Thompson, Petrea Webster.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Former Pakistan greats protest outside Parliament, demand sacking of PHF officials

All is not well in Pakistan hockey. The national men’s hockey team failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time ever and with the warring factions of POA keeping their egos ahead of national interest, Pakistan’s participation in 2014 Asian Games slated to be held in Korea is also in jeopardy.

There is a general air of disgust over how the national team has performed on the international stage as well as uncomfortable questions being asked about the officials of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF).

A bevy of former Olympic greats staged a protest outside the Parliament in Islamabad against the inept functioning of the Pakistan Hockey Federation, calling for the sacking of the present PHF officials and demanding a probe against them.

Former greats like Samiullah, Shahnaz Sheikh, Muhammad Saqlain and Qamar Zia held placards expressing anguish over the state of hockey in the country.

Significantly, no parliamentarian showed any interest in listening to the grievances of the protesting former hockey greats.

Pakistan are three-time Olympic champions (1960, 1968 and 1984) and four-time winners of the World Cup, an event they introduced in 1971.