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News 25 April 2014

All the news for Friday 25 April 2014

French test for starters

CHAMPIONS CHALLENGE: Malaysia must be wary after Junior World Cup defeat


A French player (right) and a Japanese player vie for the ball in their warm-up match at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium in Kuantan on Wednesday. France won 4-3.

MALAYSIA’S Junior World Cup nemeses France will bank on 12 players from their silver medal winning side from New Delhi to do the damage in the Champions Challenge I which starts in Kuantan tomorrow.

The French broke Malaysia’s momentum at the semi-final stage in the Junior World Cup, and the hosts will open accounts against them tomorrow.

However, the group stage is a mere warm-up as all eight teams in Kuantan qualify for the quarter-finals. The other teams in Group B are South Korea and Canada.

In Group A are New Zealand, Ireland, Japan and Poland.

The French are looking to finish fifth, while Malaysia have set their sights on becoming champions to qualify for the 2016 Champions Trophy.

“We just finished playing Test matches against Belgium. Although we lost in these matches, it was a good workout coming into the tournament,” said France coach Frederic Soyez after watching his young side beat Japan 4-3 in a warm-up match on Wednesday.

Soyez believes the match against Malaysia will be an exciting affair.

“It is going to be a good game. We have always wanted to play against Asian teams and our match against Malaysia will give us a good indication of our present level.

“The Malaysians are a very experienced side and play fast hockey. They are also preparing for the World Cup and if we can stop them or pull off a point, that would be great.”

France have five experienced players with more than 100 caps — goalkeeper Mathieu Durchon (169), defender Francois Scheefer (127), captain Martin Genestet (113), Valentin Migneau (104) and Lucas Sevestre (103).

MALAYSIA’S 21: S. Kumar (gk), Hafizuddin Othman (gk), Azlan Misron, Kevin Lim, Izad Hakimi, Shukri Mutalib, Ahmad Kazamirul, Faiz Helmi, Azri Hassan, Fitri Shaari, Marhan Jalil, Ramadan Rosli, Nabil Fiqri, Shahrun Nabil, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Faizal Saari, Shahril Saabah, Ismail Abu, Rashid Baharom, Firhan Ashaari, Razie Rahim.

TOMORROW — Group A: New Zealand v Ireland (3pm), Japan v Poland (5pm).

Group B: South Korea v Canada (7pm), Malaysia v France (9pm) — matches at Kuantan Hockey Stadium.

New Straits Times

France aim for fifth place in Champions Challenge I

By S. Ramaguru
KUALA LUMPUR: Champions Challenge I debutants France are hoping to create an upset in their Group B matches when the tournament begins at the Wisma Belia Hockey Stadium in Kuantan on Friday.

France will open their campaign against hosts Malaysia. The other teams in the group are South Korea and Canada.

Group A comprises New Zealand, Japan, Poland and Ireland.

France coach Frederic Soyez said they have included 12 players from their Junior World Cup squad who claimed a silver in New Delhi, India, last December.

He hopes that his charges can finish at least fifth among the eight teams.

“We’ve just finished playing Test matches against Belgium. Although we lost those matches, it gave the players good exposure,” he said.

France arrived late on Tuesday and played a friendly against Japan on Wednesday, winning 4-3.

“We didn’t have a very long time to prepare for the Champions Challenge I after the Junior World Cup but we hope to play well against the very strong teams who have assembled here in Kuantan,” said Soyez.

He expects the match against world No. 13 Malaysia to be an exciting one.

He has also warned his players to be fully committed as he expects the Malaysian team to be buoyed by the vociferous support of the home fans.

“It’s going to be a good game. We’ve always wanted to play against Asian teams ... our match against Malaysia will give us a good indication of our present level,” said Soyez.

“Malaysia are a very experienced side and play a fast game. They are also preparing for the World Cup and, if we can stop them or share points, that would be great.”

France will be counting on their five experienced players, who each has more than 100 international caps.

They are goalkeeper Mathiew Durchon (169 caps), defender Francois Scheefer (127), captain Martin Genestet (113), Valentin Migneau (104) and Lucas Sevestre (103).

Soyez also pointed out that he doesn’t expect his players to be affected by the humidity and sweltering temperatures in Kuantan “as we have adapted to the conditions here and are looking forward to our opening match against Malaysia”.

“The weather is fine with us, the heat too ... Malaysia is a nice place. We are ready for the opening tie,” he said.

The Star of Malaysia

Players to watch at Champions Challenge 1

Three players who will be hoping to propel their team to victory in the newly built National Hockey Stadium

(Photo: Frank Uijlenbroek)

As the countdown to the start of Champions Challenge 1 in Glasgow, we meet three players who are capable of setting the tournament alight with their dazzling hockey skills, technical flair and energised performances.

First of our three to watch is Korea's ace goal-scorer Park Mi Hyun. The most capped player in the current squad with well over 200 senior international appearances, Park Mi Hyun is a livewire striker with an extraordinary ability to create chances out of nothing. The 28-year-old attacker was named on the 10 strong shortlist for the 2013 FIH Player of the Year Award. She has the potential to fire Korea to glory in Glasgow.

South Africa's Marsha Cox (formerly Marescia) has made more senior international appearances than any other player in the tournament, with more than 320 matches under her belt. Marsha Cox is a true icon of South African hockey and one of the most popular players in the game. This 31-year-old midfielder is a triple Olympian, having represented her country at the Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games. 

The final player in our selection is one of the youngest players in the tournament. Berta Bonastre is a young player with a massive future ahead of her. Bonastre was captain of the Spain team that claimed a fifth place finish at last year’s Ergo Junior World Cup. She is the younger sister of Silvia Bonastre, who represented Spain at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games.

About the venue

The newly built Glasgow National Hockey Centre will be the setting for the XX Commonwealth Games later this year, but first the impressive new structure is playing host to Champions Challenge 1 and the Men's Four Nations tournament.

Two dedicated synthetic pitches, athlete and official support areas and spectator stands combine to provide a world class facility known as the Scottish National Hockey Centre. The venue is close to the city centre and the iconic River Clyde and is based in the city’s oldest public park, Glasgow Green. Owned by Glasgow City Council, the area is home of the magnificent Victorian People’s Palace Museum and Winter Gardens.

When the drama of the hockey competition is over, the world-class sporting facilities will remain, acting as headquarters for Scottish Hockey and being used by Glasgow schools for training and competition. The hockey venue features two pitches that are Polytan MegaTurf CoolPlus. 

Fast facts

• The common lands of Glasgow Green were gifted to the people of Glasgow by Bishop Turnbull in 1450. The park was originally used for washing linen, grazing animals and drying fishing nets.

• In 1732, a washhouse was built on Glasgow Green by the banks of the Camlachie Burn. It was Glasgow’s first ‘steamie’.

• Glasgow Green hosts major events all year round. These include the World Pipe Band Championships, the Great Scottish Run and the Glasgow Show.

For more information about the Champions Challenge 1 visit our official tournament event sites by clicking here. The event page will bring you all of the news coming from the event including written match reports, action photos, official match documents, goal scoring statistics, match highlights and much more. The site will also publish any late squad changes, with updated rosters being available ahead of the start of competition.

FIH site

Amsterdam H&BC win the EuroHockey Champions Cup for the first time

Amsterdam celebrate. Photo from Ellen Hoog's Public Facebook Page

Last week Reading women were England’s sole European representatives at the EuroHockey Club Champions Cup in Denbosch, the Netherlands. From 18-21 April Reading faced the best of Europe to see who would be crowned women’s European Club Champions.

In their first match they faced Uhlenhorster HC, one of the best teams in Germany. Reading were first off the mark courtesy of a penalty corner from Susie Gilbert after nearly an hour of play, but Uhlenhorster weren’t to be held back. They gained their own penalty corner 12 minutes later, and Vivian Tahal was able to fire it past Reading’s Sarah Ellis to level the scores. Once it went to the extra time shoot-out, while Reading were able to put two of their own shots away, Uhlenhorst had the edge with three, leaving Reading on the lower tier of matches and subsequently playing for fifth place.

Reading’s second match was far more in their favour, as they dominated Atasport from Azerbaijan. With a two goal lead within the first half thanks to field goals from Alex Danson and Wiz Hunt, Reading were able to hold on to a clean sheet going into the break. Though Atasport pulled a goal back in the second half, Reading were able to score one more goal from a Leah Wilkinson penalty corner before the final whistle went, ending the match 3-1 and moving on to their final match the following day against Berliner.

Their last match of the competition proved to be their most decisive, as a 4-0 victory gave Reading a clean fifth place in the tournament. While Berliner were going into the match in the same position as Reading with a win and a loss under their belt, it was Reading who were able to best keep up the pressure with two goals either side of the break. Four different players found the net over the course of the game with Leah Wilkinson scoring her second of the tournament from a penalty stroke in the second half.

While Reading won fifth it was newcomers Amsterdam H&BC who lifted the EuroHockey Club Champions Cup at the end of the tournament. An all Dutch final wasn’t enough to break their concentration as they held their nerve against Championship hosts Hertogenbosch in another game that went to a shoot-out. While they looked evenly matched over the two halves, once it came to the shoot-out Hertogenbosch found themselves completely outclassed as Amsterdam scored three without reply.

England Hockey Board Media release

Men's 4 Nations & Champions Challenge Live Broadcast

Scottish Hockey is delighted to confirm that all matches for the FIH Champions Challenge and Men’s 4 Nations will be broadcast live in partnership with Scotland’s leading production company QuipuTV.

Every minute of both competitions will be broadcast exclusively live via the International Hockey Federation’s YouTube Channel, delivering hockey to a global audience.

Stuart Moffatt, Scottish Hockey Communications Manager, said, “We’re excited to be able to partner with QuipuTV to bring both competitions live to our members and hockey supporters around the world.

"We know that QuipuTV will deliver a high quality service and presentation for all the matches and we’re looking forward to seeing the broadcast go out via the FIH YouTube Channel.”

Jack McGill, QuipuTV Managing Director added, “QuipuTV is delighted to be partnering with Scottish Hockey again to present international hockey exclusively live to a global audience. We’re excited to be working with the International Hockey Federation and Rightster to deliver every minute of the FIH Champions Challenge and Men’s 4 Nations live via their YouTube channel.

“Fans of hockey around the world will have another great opportunity to watch the very best of international hockey online, which can only be positive for the continuing growth and popularity of the sport.”

To watch live broadcast of all Men’s 4 Nations and FIH Champions Challenge matches, please visit the FIH YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/user/fihockey.

Scottish Hockey Union media release

PIA outclass Navy in hockey event

LAHORE: Four more matches were decided in the ninth Nishan-e-Haider Hockey Tournament in Bahawalpur on Wednesday night.

In the first match, PIA crushed Navy 7-1 after taking a 4-1 lead by the half time.

Ahsanulah (22nd, 27th), Yasir Islam (29th), Imran Khan (33rd), Inyatullah (39th), Zubair (65th) and Nohaiz (68th) scored for PIA while Navy’s solitary goal came from Kamran in the fifth minute.

Meanwhile, Police registered a 3-2 triumph against Army Whites. The winners led the first half 1-0.

Sharjeel (47th, 70th) and Adnan Babar (68th) scored for the victors while Army Whites’ consolation goal came from Faraz Dar in the third minute.

In the third match, the National Bank of Pakistan outclassed the Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) 7-2, thanks to Tousiq Arshad who contributed two goals in the second and 26th minutes.

Arsalan Qadir (28th), Sibtain Raza (48th) and 52nd and Mohammad Dilber (59th) found the net for the NBP.

Yasir Anwar and Mohammad Sarfraz scored goals for the PSM in the 11th and 69th minutes.

In the day’s last match, Army Reds recorded a 2-1 win against Port Qasim.

Mohammad Imran scored both the goals for the winners (24th, 31st) while Hanif Shehzad reduced the margin for the losers by scoring in the 38th minute.


PSB recognises Akhtar Rasool’s PHF, releases grants

Mohammad Yaqoob

LAHORE: The Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) has finally recognised the Akhtar Rasool-led Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) as it has released the three quarterly grants to the federation amounting to Rs. 3.5million, sources told Dawn on Thursday.

The Inter-provincial coordination minister Riaz Hussain Pirzada has not been recognising the PHF’s elections, which were held in December last year as result of which Akhtar and Rana Mujahid were elected president and secretary.

A number of eminent Olympians including Shahnaz Sheikh, Islahuddin and Samiullah had not accepted the results of the elections as well and staged a demonstration in front of the Parliament House in Islamabad where the IPC minister had agreed for fresh polls.

However, Shahnaz, Islah, Ayaz Mahmood and Shahbaz senior have now joined hands with the PHF, ignoring their previous demands while Samiullah is still opposing the elections along with other former Olympians.

And now, the PSB — which works under the ministry — has released the grant to the PHF. Furthermore, after getting the grants from the federal government, which has also incorporated the PHF secretary in its finance committee, it is an indication that Akhtar’s body is recognised by the government.

The next challenge for the PHF is to convince the ministry to allow it to send its entry to October’s Asian Games through the Arif Hasan-led Pakistan Olympic Association (POA).

The deadline to send the entries to the Games in South Korea is Sunday.

With the Arif-lted POA holding a meeting on Saturday to finalise the entries for the Games, the PHF has little time with Friday being the final day for the PHF to get permission from the government.

As the ministry doesn’t recognise Arif’s body, it is seemingly reluctant to the PHF to contact it for its entry.

While the Arif-led POA is recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the government-backed parallel body of the POA headed by Akram Sahi has also called a meeting on Saturday to finalise the contingent for the Asian Games.

Both the Olympic bodies have invited the PHF to attend the meeting. The PHF is desperate to participate in the Asian Games where it will defend its title, won in Guangzhou four years ago.


SAI, Rourkela enter semis of All India Hockey tournament

Suhas Nayse

NAGPUR: Sports Authority of India, Sundergarh (Odisha) and Sports Hostel, Pomposh, Rourkela trounced their respective rivals to clinch the last two semifinal berths of the 1st All India VHA-Nagpur Gold Cup Hockey tournament, organized by Vidarbha Hockey Association at its Amravati Road ground. The six-day long tourney is being held under the aegis of Hockey India.

In the third quarterfinal, SAI Sundergarh defeated Chennai XI 5-4 via tie-breaker after both the teams were locked at 3-3 at the end of regulation time.

In the tie-breaker, SAI Sundergarh's Sanjay Xalxo and Antuni Kido scored, while Tikei Kujur, Sushil Ekka and Roshan Lakra failed to convert their penalty strokes.

For Chennai XI, only Shyam found the target. The rest four players missed their shots.

Sports Hostel, Pomposh, Rourkela stunned VHA Senior Division runners-up Dhyanchand Hockey Academy 2-1 in the fourth and last quarters. In the first semifinal to be played on Friday, Maharashtra XI will lock horns with SAI, Sundergarh while VHA Senior Division champions South East Central Railway (SECR) will meet Sports Hostel, Pomposh, Rourkela.

The first semifinal will be played at 2 pm followed by the second semis at 4 pm. The final will be on Saturday.


SAI Sundergarh bt Chennai XI 5-4 via tie-breaker (Full Time 3-3, Half Time 1-2) Final score 5-4; For SAI Sundergarh: 15th and 43rd Roshan Lakra, 50th Suman Beck (PC); For Chennai: 8th Albert, 34th Raja (C), 56th Shyam (PS).

Sports Hostel, Pomposh, Orissa bt Dhyanchand Hockey Academy, Nagpur 2-1 (Half-time 1-0); For Sports Hostel, Pomposh: 7th min Anbin Barla, 63rd Ashish Topno; For Dhyanchand Hockey Academy: 48th Amir Khan.

The Times of India

Can Indian hockey team better its eighth-place finish at the World Cup?

Sabi Hussain

New Delhi - It's just over a month to go before the Indian men's hockey team will head out for the World Cup to be held at The Hague, Netherlands, from May 31 to June 15. The Indian team had finished eighth in the last edition of the quadrennial event and going by its recent run of form, it would be a tall order for the Sardar Singh-led side to better its record and finish somewhere among the top-6 nations. India's head coach Terry Walsh was being quite realistic when he suggested that anything higher than a top-8 finish would be a “big bonus” for Indian hockey.

Every top team goes to the World Cup with the sole aim of lifting the trophy, but that's not the case with the Indian team as the coach is only looking for an improved show from his wards.

Even current and former India players are not giving the team much of a chance at the World Cup after the preparatory tour to Europe ended in disappointment for the 21-member squad.

India defeated Leiden Hockey Club 7-0 and drew 3-3 with HGC Hockey Club before losing 1-2 to Belgium, and 2-4 and 1-2 to The Netherlands in their remaining build-up games.

Nonetheless, India did show a lot of promise in parts, like in the fifth and final build-up game against The Netherlands, which the visitors lost 1-2 after leading the hosts for good 46 minutes. Against Belgium, the Indians were aggressive in the first half but conceded a goal against the run of play. They did equalise in the second half but let Belgium score the winner the very next minute.

It's true that the Indian team is in a rebuilding phase and even Walsh had admitted after taking over the reins that he can't produce overnight results. But how long would the rebuilding process take? This question becomes pertinent given that the World Cup, Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and Champions Trophy are lined up this year.

India have lost seven and drawn two of their 11 matches since Walsh's appointment as head coach. In the World League Final in January this year, India lost 0-2 to England, 1-3 to New Zealand, drew 3-3 with Germany, lost 2-7 to Australia, beat Germany 5-4 and lost to Belgium 1-2. For India and Walsh, anything better than their last edition's finish in the World Cup would truly be a “big bonus”.

“The preparatory tour was good as it was important to get acclimatised to the conditions there. We worked on our forward line and defence positioning,” midfielder Gurbaj Singh told The Tribune. “We also tried to improve on our defence, which has been a problem for us, and how to convert short corner passes into goals. Another area we need to work on is our fitness level. These are some flaws which we need to iron out before the World Cup.”

“We have to give our best shot in the World Cup so as to take that confidence forward going into the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. We are looking at a top-6 finish at the World Cup,” added Gurbaj.

Dhanraj Pillay, former captain of the Indian team, did not sound too optimistic about India's chances at the World Cup and said the visitors should look to finish as high as possible.

“Indians should play competitive hockey and try to finish in the top-6. If they can't achieve that result, then I must say Indian hockey is at the mercy of god,” Dhanraj said. “Indian hockey players are playing laptop hockey these days because a foreign coach makes them sit in a hall and shows them the videos. It's better to make them learn those playing techniques in the ground and improve their fitness level,” he added.

The Tribune

‘India is not there yet’

By K. Keerthivasan.

Photo: M. VEDHAN

“Of all the countries, India has the most potential, not only talent-wise but also from the commercial and spectators angle. It is very important to bring Indian hockey back to where it belongs,” says the High Performance Director of Indian hockey.

Roelant Oltmans, one of the most successful hockey coaches in the world, says that being the High Performance Director of India is one of the “most challenging assignments in international hockey”. In an extensive interview to Sportstar, the 59-year-old Dutchman speaks about the Indian coaches, their capabilities, the talent pool available in India and his vision for Indian hockey.


Question: It’s more than a year since you became the High Performance Director of Indian hockey. Having watched the Indian teams during the period, do you think they are on the right track?

Answer: We are not there yet. Before you start changing a process, you have to realise the issues that you need to change. That could be, for instance, the talent development programme; we also need to focus on coaches’ development; we need to look at infrastructure. The objective is to get these processes in place first and then spread it all over the country.

What are the core issues that need to be addressed?

We have already addressed a lot of technical and tactical issues, which are absolutely necessary for the improvement of Indian hockey. It is also about coaches, about the (need for) best talent to get the best of opportunities and develop in the right way. India still play the 5-3-2 or the 4-4-2. Nowhere in the world does a team play with systems like that.

Are they outdated?

Yes. We have to change that. We have to make it clear to all the coaches that we need to be consistent. We are looking more or less at a 4-3-3 system. We need to play attacking hockey. At the same time, we have to play organised hockey.

What about defence?

Defence is important. More than that, we need to focus on the structure. The most important thing is we need to bring in all the modern skills. Each player should understand his role in the team, his individual role…

You coached successful Dutch teams (men and women); you also trained the Pakistan men’s team for the 2004 Athens Olympics. And now the Indian team. Is this the most difficult job?

Don’t forget, I am not the coach at the moment. The behind the scenes work is difficult. We have the requirements of the administration, the requirements of the coaches you are working with... Sometimes, they are different. Nevertheless, you have to work as one to achieve success. It (the job) is the most challenging.

Many major events are lined up this year — the Commonwealth Games, the Asian Games and the men’s World Cup. How has the preparation of the team been so far?

The men’s team’s preparations for the World Cup are going on well. One of the problems is that we have not been playing enough matches against the best teams in the world through the year. India is going to Europe to play a number of matches. That is where we can see whether the work we have put in (during training) is translated on the field. It’s not about training; it’s about the real games.

In the men’s World Cup (May 31-June 15 this year), India is in a tough pool along with Australia, Belgium, England, Spain and Malaysia. If we do well, we can finish in the top three (in the group) and that is the objective.

A NEW DIRECTION. Roelant Oltmans with the Indian team during a training camp at the SAI South Centre in Kengeri, Bangalore. Photo: K. MURALIKUMAR

What are the positives you have seen in the Indian team so far?

The positive aspect (of the Indian team) is that we have many talented players. Of the 33 players in the Indian camp, 16 are under 21. This shows that there is a lot of young talent. No other team has such a group of young players. The future is good as there is enough quantity and quality.

You have seen players at the junior Nationals in Chennai recently. Do you think they have the talent to be in the Indian camp straightaway?

The lack of talent is normally due to the lack of coaches and improper use of the talent development programme. I have seen some real good players. Without taking names, I have seen some very good players in Odisha, Punjab and Haryana. I am not afraid of the potential of the boys.

You are not happy with the Junior Development Programme. Could you explain why?

What is important is the Youth Development Programme. So, that means, by the time the boys come into our programme, they need to be at a certain level. That has to do with vision, fitness, tactical awareness, skill execution. In all these areas, we are not there. At the same time, we see in particular that the signs are getting better. The junior boys who played in the Hockey India League are good. You can see what huge development their game has seen. You can see these boys were the most consistent in the Junior Nationals (in Chennai). That is what we need. If we put the boys in the right programme, give them the opportunity to grow, they will get better. But we need to start at a young age. If you look now, the boys coming into our junior programme would be 17-18 years old. You look in Europe, they enter when they are 12 or 13 years old. So, we are missing six-odd years. In Europe, they have National u-16, u-18 teams but the players have played international tournaments already. It is important to set up an academy in more or less every state for youngsters. The best of youngsters can meet a couple of times a year for an elite group and play international matches. (These ideas) are not only in my mind; they are on paper as well.

Which has been the most difficult — coaching Pakistan or India?

Both are difficult in their own ways. In Pakistan, my job was to coach the senior men’s team. My focus was only on a group of 25 players. Here, my focus is on the whole country. It is a completely different area. Both the countries have equally talented players. With Pakistan, every time they had a foreign coach their performance went up, up, up. Without a foreign coach, they went down, down, down. That is exactly what we don’t want in India. We want a certain consistency. I also want the Indian coaches to be fully involved so that the moment we leave, the Indian coaches can take over the job.

Do you think the concept of ‘A’ and ‘B’ divisions in the senior and junior Nationals works?

It is much better than before. (This time) we had better games. In the Holland National Championship, it was a tough fight in the knockout matches. In the end, you want the players to fight. Down 2-1 or 5-0, they have to think how to fight. If you see the Haryana team for instance, when they were playing a stronger team, they didn’t perform to their level. It is a challenge for all other teams who have not done well to improve their level. Punjab and Odisha have set the mark. We have to create situations at the junior level to have more tournaments throughout the year in India.

How do you react to being called the ‘de facto Indian coach’? You are the power centre in Indian hockey…

It is the biggest challenge in international hockey. Of all the countries, India has the most potential, not only talent-wise but also from the commercial and spectators angle. It is very important to bring Indian hockey back to where it belongs.

The media have talked about your conflict of interest — as the coach of Uttar Pradesh Wizards in the Hockey India League and the High Performance Director of Indian hockey, and that you pick your favourites from UP Wizards for the Indian team…

I don’t see that as a conflict of interest. One of the important things we have is to look at the development of individual players. In a matter of weeks (during the Hockey India League), I had the opportunity to work with a lot of talented Indian players and explain to them how they can work in the best possible way and learn from their fellow international players. I could see a lot of improvement in the UP Wizards players in the last one year. Therefore, my presence as coach in one of the teams has helped.

If you say I pick my favourites from UP Wizards (for the Indian team), then you are talking about my integrity. If you talk about my integrity, I’ll say, I never ever take some player who I don’t believe in. I am only looking at performances.

We have had 10 coaches in eight years. The previous India coach Michael Nobbs was shown the door. Do you feel the frequent shuffling of coaches has affected the Indian team badly?

It is interesting to look at why the coaches were there or not there for a long time. Did we follow the right recruitment process, is the question. I don’t say yes or no. Did we give them the support they needed? I don’t say yes or no. These questions should be answered if you want the best for Indian hockey. If you get the right candidates, you have to give them support. Then it might work. Did you do that in the past? I don’t know. I can’t answer because I was not there. Coach Nobbs wanted to resign because of medical reason, and we respected that. Most of the time, we are looking at coaches who can stay for a period.

In my country, we look for a cycle. In 2006, we had a difficult men’s World Cup, but one year later, we became the European Champions. Firing is needed only if the coach has done something really wrong, or the communication between the coach and the players is breaking down. Then you have to admit that you have made a wrong decision upfront.

The debate over foreign versus Indian coaches continues. What is your take on it? Where do Indian coaches stand in contemporary hockey?

Of course, there are some good coaches here. But let me give you one example. I have been watching the senior and junior Nationals (in Lucknow and Chennai respectively). How many video cameras you saw? Nothing! If you talk about development of Indian hockey, you should talk about match analysis. You can’t work without technology. In Holland, where I have been working since 1986, at the National and the club level, technology is used. You have to develop these players. So, if we are not ready as coaches, I have my doubts. The Indian coaches are not up to date with technology. Of course, there are exceptions. What do they know about exercise physiology? What do they know about modern tactics? Once again, these teams (state teams at the Nationals) are playing 5-3-2 or 4-4-2. We have to involve the coaches in Hockey India League. Try to bring coach development in the country. It will help. Potentially, we have some good coaches. You have to invest in yourself to become a good coach. I did many courses. It should come from your heart; it should be your passion.

The focus has always been more on men than women. What is happening on the women’s front?

It is not correct to think that way. Australia’s Neil Hawgood, the women’s coach, is doing a good job. The women did a very good job in the Asian Games and in the Asia Cup last year. The junior women finished third in the World Cup. It shows that the women’s team is improving as well. Neil and Matthew Tredrea, the scientific advisor of the team, are doing a very good job; they are going to take part in the Champions Challenge in Scotland (April 27). The women’s team has the potential to be one of the best in Asia. With Korea, Japan and China, it’s not easy. There is no Hockey India League for women. There is room for improvement there.

As the High Performance Director, what has given you the most satisfaction?

In the end, the satisfaction is not there, of course. There is no doubt about that, because we are in Step 1 (out of Step 5 or 6). For me, it is not only about the results but also about the process. That should make the difference in the long term. And in that process, I don’t think we are there. We need to work harder.

So you think you are on course for a long term?

I have always said that we can win medals at the 2018 men’s World Cup in India. If we try to do that earlier, well and good. With the talent we have, a good coaching staff for the senior men and senior women’s team, the future looks bright.


Miles ahead of the rest

By K. Keerthivasan

The triumphant Punjab side. M. VEDHAN

Punjab lived up to the favourite billing and scored 31 goals, conceding just five, on its way to a hat-trick of titles. Punjab had all the ingredients for success; a robust forward-line, strong defence and an imaginative midfield.

Halfway into the Hockey India-conducted Junior National Men’s Championship, which concluded in Chennai recently, Punjab emerged as the undisputed favourite.

The team, on its part, lived up to that billing and scored 31 goals, conceding just five, on its way to a hat-trick of titles. Punjab had all the ingredients for success; a robust forward-line, strong defence and an imaginative midfield. Moreover, the experience of four players — Harjeet Singh, Jarmanpreet Singh, Parvinder Singh and Varun Kumar — came in handy. The four had earlier played in the Hockey India League and the experience clearly helped them to control proceedings for the state side here.

Avtar Singh, Punjab’s coach, was quick to point out that most players were trainees at the Surjit Hockey Academy (Jalandhar), where he is one of the coaches. “I know all the guys, their strengths and weakness. So, it was easy for us,” he said.

In the final, Punjab thrashed Odisha 6-2, despite some anxious moments early in the second half. “We knew, they had a good midfield and forward-line. But once we stopped their supply line, they panicked,” Avtar said about the final. Punjab and Odisha had met in the last two Junior National finals, the results being similar.

“We were outplayed,” said Pradeep Kumar, the Odisha coach. He lamented the lack of bench strength and said it was a prerequisite to take on powerful teams like Punjab.

Of all the teams in the ‘A’ division — apart from Punjab — only Odisha and Haryana looked solid and performed at a high level.

Dutchman Roelant Otlamans, High Performance Director of Indian hockey, was impressed with Haryana’s game.

The rest looked pedestrian. The boys’ ball-trapping skill, speed and composure in front of the goal left a lot to be desired. So, those who failed to make it to the knockout have a lot of homework to do.

As is the case with most age-group tournaments in India, there were also whispers about over-age players. “Some boys in Haryana looked older,” former hockey great, Ashok Kumar said. There were doubts about a few of the Punjab players too.

However, Renuka Lakshmi, Secretary, Hockey India unit of Tamil Nadu, feigned helplessness, and said the association could act only if there was a specific complaint. SAI coach, Y. S. Chauhan, went a step further and gave HI a clean chit, and said the association has a process whereby detailed age-records of players are kept over all age-group tournaments.

The pitch at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium, the venue of the Nationals, too, came under scrutiny. The turf, which was re-laid in 2005, is well past its lifespan. Former players and officials from outside Tamil Nadu criticised the host for conducting a major event on a sub-standard field. It is learnt that the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu has invited tenders and the turf will be re-laid again, soon.

Punjab (Pool ‘A’) started its campaign with a 10-0 win over Delhi, and then thrashed Tamil Nadu 9-1 to top the group. In the semi-finals, it defeated Haryana 6-2. “It feels good to win three titles on the trot. All credit to our boys, who stuck to a plan,” Avtar said. Accrediting Punjab’s continued success to the presence of decent infrastructure in the state, Avtar said: “We have eight turfs in Punjab; two in Jalandhar, one each in Ludhiana, Amristar, Chandigarh, Mohali and two in SAI (Patiala) and that helps.”

Clearly, the rest in the country have a lot of catching up to do.


Women’s Outdoor Squads Named for 2014-2015

Vancouver, BC - Field Hockey Canada’s women’s national program has named sixteen players to its Women’s National Team for competition in 2014 and into 2015.

This group of athletes is considered ready for international competition and will be looked to to help Canada succeed at major tournaments this year.

“The National Team has been refined and refocused ahead of our preparation for two key benchmark events in 2014: the Commonwealth Games in July and the World League series in September,” says Canadian Women’s National Team head coach Ian Rutledge.

“The squad is large enough to continue to build depth and maintain healthy competition for positions, while at the same time allowing us the much needed time to drill down into our team and individual performances.”

The women's national program consists of three mains squads: the National Team, the Senior Development Squad (SDS) and the Junior Development Squad (JDS).

While players on the National Team squad will make up the majority of rosters for future competition, members of the Senior and Junior Development squads also will be considered based on their progress in training and competition, and for development opportunities.

SDS players are considered close to ready for the National Team and are making progress towards becoming ready for senior level international competition. Nine players have been named to this squad.

The JDS will be finalized following the 2014 U16 and U18 National Championships and development camp in August.

A refined roster has also been named for a series of test matches to be played in the United Kingdom versus the England and Wales National Teams from April 27 to May 7.

The roster for the team to compete at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland in July will be named in June.

2014-2015 Women’s National Team Roster




Jessica Barnett


North Vancouver, BC

Thea Culley


Rossland, BC

Kate Gillis


Kingston, ON

Hannah Haughn


North Vancouver, BC

Danielle Hennig


Kelowna, BC

Karli Johansen


North Vancouver, BC

Lauren Logush


Richmond Hill, ON

Sara McManus


Tsawwassen, BC

Abigail Raye


Kelowna, BC

Poonam Sandhu


Vancouver, BC

Maddie Secco


Victoria, BC

Natalie Sourisseau


Kelowna, BC

Brienne Stairs


Kitchener, ON

Kristine Wishart


Hamilton, ON

Kaelan Watson


Richmond, BC

Kaitlyn Williams


White Rock, BC 

2014-2015 Senior Development Squad




Rachel Donohoe


North Vancouver, BC

Ashley Kristen


North Vancouver, BC

Kathleen Leahy


Victoria, BC

Alison Lee


Mississauga, ON

Stephanie Norlander


North Vancouver, BC

Priya Randhawa


Surrey, BC

Tegan Stairs


Kitchener, ON

Holly Stewart


North Vancouver, BC

Amanda Woodcroft


Waterloo, ON

2014 Schedule of Competition





Test Series vs. England and Wales

United Kingdom


Irish Four Nations

Belfast, Ireland


Commonwealth Games

Glasgow, Scotland


World League 1


About Field Hockey Canada Women’s National Program

From grass roots to high performance, Field Hockey Canada is working to develop and strengthen field hockey across the country, and to position our National Teams for podium contention in 2016 and beyond.

With the goal of success at the international level, the Women’s National Program is a centralized program running a daily training environment (DTE). The team trains on field at the University of British Columbia and at the Richmond Olympic Oval for high performance strength and conditioning.

Field Hockey Canada media release

300 and counting... Black Sticks players rack up the cap count

The long-serving players who are aiming to add a World Cup medal to their curriculum vitae

Sarah Juggins

A number of players competing in the Rabobank Hockey World Cup will be reaching phenomenal career milestones. Whether it is 50 caps, 100 caps, or in the case of several players, the figure runs into the many hundreds.

Four members of the New Zealand men's team who have enjoyed a long and distinguished career with the Black Sticks are Phil Burrows (312 caps) captain Dean Couzins, who recently celebrated reaching the 300 mark in a test match against Australia, Simon Child who is currently on 192 and Shea McAleese (190). Both Simon and Shea are likely to celebrate their 200th cap during the tournament at The Hague.

Dean and Phil are the only players in Black Sticks history to reach the landmark figure and on receiving his cap, in a test match against Australia, Dean said: "It is a huge honour to make it to 300 tests for New Zealand, and the achievement will be extra special against old rivals Australia. It’s a real honour to join Phil on 300, and pretty appropriate that it will come against Australia. They’re a tough opponent but always play in the right spirit.”

Longevity is the not the preserve of the New Zealand men, the women tend to stick around too. At the recent Hawkes Bay tournament, Emily Naylor became the Black Sticks most capped female player on 239 caps and Krystal Forgesson won her 200th cap in a match against China. Speaking after she received her record-breaking cap, Emily said: 'My first cap was a highlight, even though I don't remember it very well. It's still special hearing that anthem for the first time. There's still no gold medals at a major tournament. I haven't got that gold, so that's something I'd love to get. Hopefully, this year."

FIH site

Lahore at last

by Dil Bahra

Lahore World Cup - 1971  which never happened but 1990 did go ahead
In our series of the impact Sikhs have had at men’s hockey World Cups, we look at the seventh World Cup held in Lahore, Pakistan in 1990.

The seventh Men’s Hockey World Cup was held at the National Hockey Stadium, Lahore, Pakistan from 12 – 23 February 1990.

The first World Cup should have been originally played in Lahore, Pakistan with the opening ceremony on the same date, nineteen years ago (12 - 21 February 1971), but had to be postponed because of threatened political interference and moved to Barcelona. The World Cup trophy was also donated by Pakistan.

Twelve nations competed and were divided into two pools of six as follows:

Pool A: Australia, Netherlands, India, USSR, Argentina, France.

Pool B: West Germany, England, Pakistan, Spain, Canada, Ireland.

Four Sikh Officials were appointed for the Lahore World Cup.

Hardial Singh Kular of Kenya was appointed Assistant Technical Delegate for the Lahore 1990 World Cup. He was also an Assistant Technical Delegate at London 1986 World Cup, Bombay 1982 World Cup and a Judge at the Buenos Aires 1978 World Cup. Hardial was on the FIH Council since 1966 and a member of Hockey Rules Board since 1972. He was Kenya’s Coach at the Tokyo 1964 and Mexico 1968 Olympic Games.

Surjit Singh Bhullar of India who was a Judge at the London 1986 World Cup was again a Judge at Lahore 1990 World Cup.

Amarjeet Singh Dhak, of Kenya, born in Nairobi, Kenya, studied at Duke of Gloucester School, Nairobi, was on the Umpires panel. He was a former right winger for Khalsa Hockey Club, Nairobi before turning to umpiring. He was awarded his International badge in October 1984, his Grade 1 badge in April 1986 and his World Panel badge in October 1987. He umpired at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games.

Amarjit Singh Bawa of India was also on the Umpires panel. He was awarded his International badge in September 1981, his Grade 1 badge in February 1985 and his World Panel badge in April 1987. He had umpired at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games.

Two Sikh brothers were playing in the same team for the third time in the World Cup history. Hargurnek and Hargurpreet Sandhu of Canada were following brothers Harvinder and Amarjeet Marwa of Kenya who played in the 1st World Cup in Barcelona in 1971 and Harmik and Ajit Singh of India who played at the 2nd World Cup in Amstelveen in 1973.

India, who finished sixth at the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988, included four Sikhs in their team which was also captained by a Sikh – Pargat Singh Powar.

Pargat Singh Powar, a full back from Punjab was making his second appearance at a World Cup, this time as a captain. Born in Mithapur, Punjab, Pargat studied and played for Lyallpur Khalsa College in Jalandhar. He earned his first senior international cap, before his Junior cap, when he was selected to play at the 10 Nations Golden Jubilee Tournament in Hong Kong in 1983. He played at the Vancouver 1985 Junior World Cup and in the Champions Trophy in Perth, Australia in 1985. He played at the London 1986 World Cup and also at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games.

Hardeep Singh from Ludhiana, Punjab played for Indian Airlines. He played at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games and the London 1986 World Cup.

Jagbir Singh, a centre forward for Indian Airlines, was making his first appearance at a World Cup. He played at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games.

Balwinder Singh Shammi, a forward from Amritsar, Punjab earned his first international cap in December 1983. A student at Khalsa Senior Secondary School in Amritsar, he played for Railways. He played at the London 1986 World Cup and Seoul 1988 Olympic Games.

At the Lahore World Cup, Jagbir Singh scored a field goal against USSR in their 1 – 1 draw in the pool match, a field goal against Argentina in their 3 – 5 loss and a field goal in their 3 – 5 loss to the Netherlands in their pool match.

Balwinder Singh Shammi scored a field goal in their 3 – 5 loss to the Netherlands in their pool match.

Pargat Singh Powar scored a field goal in their 2 – 1 win over Canada in the 9 – 12 classification match.

India Team: 1. Ashish Ballal (G/K); 2. Pargat Singh Powar (Capt); 3. Ashok Kumar; 4. B K Subramani; 5. Vivek Singh; 6. Sujit Kumar; 7. Ram Prakash Singh; 8. Jude Felix; 9. Jagbir Singh; 10. Balwinder Singh; 11. Thoiba Singh; 12. Ajit Lakra; 13. Hardeep Singh; 14. Edgar Mascarenhas; 15. Dhanraj Pillay; 16. Mark Patterson

Manager: Kumaresh Sen, Coach: M P Ganesh

England had one Sikh in their team – Soma Singh.

Soma Singh, born in Sangathpur, Punjab, India, emigrated to the UK in 1966 aged one. He studied at Loxdale School, Bilston in Wolverhampton and Wolverhampton Polytechnic in England.  He started playing hockey at an early age and by the time he was 13, he was selected for England U16 squad. Three years later he was in the England U18 & U19 squads. He earned his U21 cap when he was selected to play against Ireland at Aberystwyth, Wales in 1983 and played at the Vancouver 1985 Junior World Cup.

A centre half/sweeper, he played for Khalsa Hockey Club and Southgate Hockey Club in London. He earned his first England senior cap in 1985 when he was selected to play against Pakistan in Ipoh, Malaysia. 

Soma Singh scored a field goal against Germany in their 1 – 2 loss in the pool match at the Lahore World Cup.

England Team: 1. Steve Taylor (G/K); 2. Sean Rowlands (G/K); 3. Paul Bolland; 4. David Faulkner; 5. Julian Halls; 6. Jon Potter; 7. Rob Hill; 8. Martin Grimley; 9. Stephen Batchelor; 10. Richard Leman; 11. Christopher Mayer; 12. Russell Garcia; 13. Sean Kerly; 14. Robert Clift; 15. Nick Thompson; 16. Soma Singh

Manager: Bernard Cotton; Coach: Norman Hughes.

The Canadian team, which finished 11th at the Seoul Olympics in 1988,  had three Sikhs in their side - Satinder  Singh Chohan and brothers Hargurnek Singh Sandhu and Hargurpreet Singh Sandhu. 

Satinder (Bubli) Singh Chohan was born in Ludhiana and moved with his family to Canada in 1962 at the age of five. Bubli earned his first international cap when he represented Canada against Pakistan in New Zealand in 1974. He played at the Montreal 1976, Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988 Olympic Games. This was his third World Cup appearance, having played at the Buenos Aires 1978 and London 1986 World Cups.

Hargurnek (Nick) Singh Sandhu, who was born in Jamsher Khas, in Punjab, India, was making his second appearance at a World Cup, having played at the London 1986 World Cup. He studied at Cantonment Board Higher Secondary School, Jalandhar in Punjab and emigrated to Canada in 1977 at the age of fifteen. He graduated at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver in 1988 and played for India Field Hockey Club. He earned his first senior international cap when he represented Canada against Scotland in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1980 whilst still in the Junior squad. He was Canada's Captain at the Kuala Lumpur 1982 and played at the Vancouver 1985 Junior World Cups. He played at the Los Angeles 1984 and Seoul 1988 Olympic Games.

Hargurpreet (Bill) Singh Sandhu was born in village Bal, Gurdaspur, Punjab, India. He studied at Cantonment Board Higher Secondary school in Jalandar Punjab and emigrated to Canada in 1977 at the age of twelve. He studied at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver and played hockey for India Field Hockey Club of Vancouver. He played at the 1982 Junior World Cup in Kuala Lumpur where he was one of the youngest players at the tournament and was the captain at the 1985 Junior World cup in Vancouver.  This was quite unique as his brother Hargurnek Singh Sandhu captained the 1982 junior world cup team in Kuala Lumpur. He won his first senior international cap in a test series against USA in 1985 at Colorado Springs, scoring a penalty stroke goal on his debut.

Satinder Singh Chohan scored a field goal against Ireland in their 3 – 0 win for the 11 – 12th place match at the Lahore World Cup.

Canada Team: 1. David Ancrum; 2. Cedric Vaz; 3. Hargurnek Singh Sandhu; 4. Pat Burrows; 5. Hargurpreet Singh Sandhu; 6. Chris Gifford; 7. Douglas Knapp; 8. A Griffiths; 9. Mike Muller; 10. Satinder Singh Chohan; 11. Ross Rutledge; 12. Guy Manwaring; 13. Pat Caruso; 14. Peter Milkovich; 15. Lee Tamkee; 16. Ken Goodwin

Manager: Don Bird; Coach: John Sacre

Final Classification: 1. Netherlands; 2. Pakistan; 3. Australia; 4. Germany; 5. England; 6. USSR; 7. France; 8. Spain; 9. Argentina; 10. India; 11. Canada; 12. Ireland.

Next week: 8th World Cup – Sydney, Australia 1994.

Sikhs in Hockey

Bechmann hails "wonderful experience" for Harvestehuder

Hamburg: Christoph Bechmann described Harvestehuder’s victory in the Euro Hockey League as an “unbelievable” moment, coming at the end of a week packed with ups and downs.

The coach had been his side start the KO16 week with an 8-2 defeat to lowly Nurnberger in the German league only to win the world’s premier club competition eight days later in Enidhoven, seeing off home favourites Oranje Zwart on penalties.

Far from being concerned by that heavy loss, Bechmann said it gave his side the perfect focus to break through to their first EHL victory at the first attempt.

“It was an unbelievable game,” he told the EHL website. “We went to Nurnburg and wanted to win of course but we played so arrogantly. But I think, because it came three days before the EHL game against Mulheim, I think it was good for our team and gave us a wake-up call.”

From there, they edged past their German rivals 1-0 before running up a 4-1 win over Club de Campo. The semi-final, though, saw them on the brink of elimination as they trailed Racing club de Bruxelles 2-0 deep into the third quarter before summoning an amazing comeback to win 3-2.

It produced one of the iconic “Sounds of the EHL”, a speech reminiscent of Al Pacino’s “inches” pep-talk in Any Given Sunday, rising in tone to motivate his side to fight-back. In truth, though, Bechmann – a highly decorated player with Germany – felt that his side would always win.

“We played a really good first half but the only problem was we didn’t score. At half-time, I was satisfied with my players. For me, it was certain that we would win the game. I thought we had good chances; ok it was 2-0 and this made it hard to get the result but all the time, I believed we would win.”

It meant his side exceeded his initial expectations: “We thought we had a chance of getting to the semi-final which was our aim. Against Brussels, it was a really close game and we won. If you get to the final, you can always win.

As for the final, he said that his side were well prepared for the eventuality of penalties as Harvestehuder ran up a 3-1 success to burst OZ’s dream of a first title.

“A week before the EHL, we trained penalties. I got a group of seven players and, from this, we could select five players. We watched the quarter-final between Oranje Zwart and Polo so we saw how to shoot at them; we had a plan and you can see that we were well set for the shoot-out.”

His side has little time to rest on their laurels, though, needing a point against rivals Mannheimer to secure a top four finish in the German league and cap what has been an amazing time for the club.

“It is really hard for us. We had a big EHL celebration until Wednesday but now we have to prepare quickly for this game because we want to take at least a point to take to Hamburg. I hope my players understand how important it is.

“The last week was fantastic for us. For my young team, it was a wonderful experience and that we won the title was unbelievable.”

Euro Hockey League media release

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