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News for 10 January 2021

All the news for Sunday 10 January 2021

Ireland coach: Hockey World Cup qualification process a 'complete and utter shambles'

Mark Tumilty is calling for FIH to put in place a consistent route to the tournament as Ireland may already be out of the running

Stephen Findlater

SHAMBLES: Ireland Men's Hockey coach Mark Tumilty fears his sides's chances of reaching the World Cup are gone before they even began. Picture: INPHO/Bryan Keane

Irish men’s coach Mark Tumilty has labeled the 2023 World Cup qualification process as a “complete and utter shambles” with the Green Machine potentially already out of the running for a place.

He is calling for the International Hockey Federation (FIH) to put in place a consistent route following the recent announcement all qualifiers would now come solely from the continental championships.

In the past, like the Olympics, there were two avenues to qualify but the FIH changed this in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Europe was awarded seven tickets to the men’s World Cup – and six to the women’s – which must come from the 2021 Euros.

Ireland, however, are no longer in the eight-team top tier following their relegation in 2019 – a result which ultimately saw Tumilty appointed in place of Alexander Cox – and seemingly out of contention.

“Why can't there be a standard qualification process so you have a clear understanding of your four-year cycle?” Tumilty told the Irish Examiner.

“I have seen three different qualification processes in relation to the World Cup. It was going to be home and away games, like the Olympic qualifier. Then it was changed to a 12-team tournament with five teams qualifying. Now we have ended up with what the FIH have come up with.

“We can use Covid as an excuse, but the Olympics is always chopped and changed and the World Cups have chopped and changed. We had the World League then the Hockey Series...”

There is a glimmer of hope, though, with the European Hockey Federation canvassing to see if regional qualifier of some sort would be viable to open up opportunities for a wider range of countries to qualify.

For Tumilty, he is acutely aware of the impact it could have on whether senior players stay on or decide to retire with no elite competition on the table before 2024.

“There should be an opportunity to qualify for a World Cup; it can’t be based on how a team did back in 2019, from a tournament no one had any idea would have any bearing on four years' time.

There will be some guys who were 24 then and could be into their 30s for the next World Cup which is madness.

Tumilty’s panel is currently on a rest period, fortuitously side-stepping a proposed warm-weather trip to South Africa this month. That tournament was also due to feature India, Britain and Belgium but was pulled five days before tip off, meaning Hockey Ireland avoided incurring costly cancelation fees.

On the women’s side, Sean Dancer’s side will play their first international opposition in a year this week with five uncapped ties against Spain in Murcia to kickstart their Olympic year.

The coach is grateful to be back in Olympic preparation mode after a personally strenuous year. In total, he spent a total of 42 days in isolation as he had to attend to personal issues in both Australia and New Zealand before returning to Ireland without his family as originally planned.

“It’s not something I want to ever experience again,” he told the Irish Examiner. “From August onwards was difficult without that personal support network with family on the other side the world, and not be able to really connect.

“It took a big strain on me personally. Probably what helped me get through was the support of the [Irish] squad. The motivation that I got when I turned up to training to see people that wanted to be there. It certainly helped me and it made it worthwhile for the last four months.”

As for the Spanish series, it is a welcome series after inter-squad matches and ties against the Irish Under-19 boys were the staple of Olympic preparation for the past four months.

“We need the games now; we can train all we want, but progress will be when we are tested against good opposition and Spain are very good. Facing the boys are a great way for us to push ourselves and practice a few things but it doesn’t replace the competition that you're going to get from a European and world bronze medalist.”

The side travel with the panel of 23 named before Christmas with Megan Frazer the only injury issue as she continues to manage her return to full tempo.

The Irish Examiner

Cradle for Olympic field hockey talents to be built in west China

LANZHOU, China(Xinhua) -- The Chinese Hockey Association has listed 20 schools, 10 of them in west China, as National Olympic Reserve Bases for Hockey Talents.

The 10 schools in west China are located in Gansu Province, Sichuan Province, and Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Gao Xiang, principal of the Sports School of Jingyuan County in Gansu Province, is inspired by the fact that his school is on the list.

"Three schools on the list are in Gansu. This is a new start for us to explore more field hockey talents. And I hope that my school could be a cradle for them," Gao said, adding that his colleagues have been looking for young talents in primary and middle schools in Jingyuan County for years.

The hockey team of the Sports School of Jingyuan County was established in 2008. More than 20 players from the school have made the hockey team of Gansu province and the national youth teams.

"Over 150 young talents are under our coaching now," Gao said, adding that more than 200 hockey talents have been raised at his school.

According to the original plan, the hockey team of the school would have been to winter training in Sichuan Province since January. But Gao and his team decided that all team members would take their training at school during the winter vacation because of the strict measures taken on controlling COVID-19.

Sun Jiangang, the head coach of the hockey team, proposed that all team members would train at school for one month to maintain the intensity of the game.

Today, besides Jingyuan County, youth hockey is booming in places such as Lanzhou City, Jiayuguan City, and other areas in Gansu Province. Sports School of Gansu Province and Sports School of Lanzhou City are also named as National Olympic Reserve Bases for Hockey Talents.

"The youth hockey players who participate in regular training span the age groups of primary school, junior high school and senior high school in Gansu now," said Zhang Xiangyi, director of the Youth Sports Department of Gansu Provincial Sports Bureau.

Xinhua Net

Why Not Bharat Ratna for Dhyan Chand, Asks Former Hockey Captain B.P. Govinda

Calls for Dhyan Chand to be conferred with the Bharat Ratna has been growing with cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar being the only sportsperson to have been conferred thus far.

Dhyanchand (Photo Credit: Twitter)

Hockey wizard Dhyan Chand was a "great man, great human being and a great player" and it is a surprise that he has not yet been conferred with the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour, says former India hockey captain B.P. Govinda.

"The Bharat Ratna is conferred in recognition of the laurels that people brought to the country and so on and it is based on recommendations and nominations. I say that (when) so many people have recommended (Dhyan Chand's name for the honour) why not give it to Dada?" Govinda, who is remembered as a fiery forward who was part of the India team that won the 1975 World Cup, told IANS.

"Being a hockey wizard and someone who is well known around the world, why not? Why shouldn't he get it? People have compared Dhyan Chand to what Pele was to football. I knew 'Dada' well; I had met him at the National Institute of Sport (NIS) in Patiala. He was known world over but he never showed that," said the 69-year-old player who was also part of the Indian team that finished runners-up in the 1973 tournament and clinched bronze at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

After he stopped playing, the legendary Dhyan Chand also spent several years as chief hockey coach at the NIS, where Govinda met him. Govinda was part of a generation of young players who were lucky enough to pick Dhyan Chand's brain at the NIS.

Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar is the only sportsperson to have been conferred with the Bharat Ratna thus far.

There has been a steady demand for Dhyan Chand to be bestowed the honour. Born on August 29, 1905, Dhyan Chand was arguably the face of sports in pre-independent India and for many years after 1947 as well. He led the Indian team to back-to-back gold medals at the 1928, 1932, and 1936 Olympics.

Govinda formed a deadly alliance in the Indian team up front with Dhyan Chand's son Ashok Kumar, who was the star of India's World Cup triumph in 1975. But for him, his brief interactions with Dhyan Chand were special, despite a slight language barrier.

"I was very young, I met him during my first or second camp, and back then he was the coach in Patiala. I was just a kid back then. I met his son Ashok in the late 1960s and by 1971 we were playing together," he said.

"Back then I did not even know Hindi that much. I still listened to him and tried to understand whatever I could when he talked. Each time I would ask those who knew Hindi, 'what did he say, what did he say', like that," laughed Govinda.

"A very simple man, a thorough gentleman," was how the former national selector described Dhyan Chand.

Dhyan Chand, a centre-forward, was a selfless person and player. On the field, if he saw another player was in a better position to score a goal, he would pass the ball on to him rather than keep it to himself.

Legend has it that after watching Dhyan Chand, a major in the British Indian army at the time, in action at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Adolf Hitler offered him German citizenship and a higher army post. The prolific striker, however, politely turned it down.

Born in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh, on August 29, 1905, Dhyan Chand was actually named Dhyan Singh. As Dhyan Singh displayed his rich hockey skill, Pankaj Gupta, his first coach, predicted he would one day shine like a 'chand' (moon). That is how he got the name 'Chand' - Dhyan Chand.

In 1956, the Indian government conferred on him the Padma Bhushan -- he was never presented the Arjuna award though -- and released a postage stamp in his memory on December 3, 1980, exactly a year after he died at the All India Medical Sciences in New Delhi.

Now, the Bharat Ratna honour awaits him.


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