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News 29 August 2014

All the news for Friday 29 August 2014

HWL R1 Preview: Close women’s contest predicted in Czech Republic

Road to Rio: Hockey World League R1 - Women - Hradec Králové (CZE)

Czech Republic in action at the Hockey World League Round 2 event in Valencia (ESP), 2013. (Photo: FIH / SH Images)

The Hockey World League, the tournament that makes the dream of reaching the Rio 2016 Olympic Games a possibility for every hockey playing nation, returns to action this September. In the fourth of our Round 1 event previews, we head back to Czech Republic to look at the women’s tournament featuring the host nation (FIH World Ranking: 35), France (WR: 25), Austria (WR: 26) and Turkey (WR: 39) battling it out to claim a coveted place in Round 2.

With just 14 world ranking places between all four competing nations, the women’s competition in Hradec Králové has the potential to be closely contested and also completely unpredictable.

France and Austria are only one place apart in the rankings table and will be considered as the obvious front-runners. However, upsets are commonplace in the Hockey World League, a fact that France in particular know all too well. ‘Les Bleues’ failed to make it past the first round in the inaugural edition in 2012 thanks to a fifth place finish. That event took place in Prague, so they will be hoping for a much happier trip to Czech Republic this time around. 

The first edition of the HWL was a far more enjoyable experience for Austria and Czech Republic, with both nations battling through Round 1 events on home soil before being eliminated in the second phase. Numerous members of the Austrian team play their club hockey in Germany’s fiercely competitive Bundesliga, while Czech Republic will certainly be keen to make home advantage count once again.

Turkey are the lowest ranked of the competing teams but have been training hard for this event and are not turning up just to make up the numbers. They will be determined to show that their star is very much on the rise, and know that the Hockey World League is the perfect place to make their mark.

You can keep track of the results from Hradec Králové on the official tournament microsite, with FIH.CH bringing a full summary of the action upon the completion of the event.

The second edition of the Hockey World League got underway earlier this year, with the women’s teams of Malaysia and Belarus emerging triumphant at respective Round 1 events in Singapore and Lithuania before Russia men stormed to victory in Croatia last month.

The September return will see no fewer than nine different Round 1 tournaments will take place over 13 action-packed days, with Czech Republic, Kenya, Bangladesh, Oman and Mexico playing host to the various men’s and women’s events. The remaining Round 1 competitions will be played in Jamaica (30 September - 5 October 2014) and Fiji (6-13 December 2014), both of which will feature men’s and women’s tournaments.

The winning team at each event is guaranteed a place in Round 2 of the Hockey World League, where they will be joined by a number of the highest-placed finishers from the Round 1 tournaments. Round 2 will also see the introduction of the teams placed from 12 to 19 in the FIH World Rankings with the sides ranked 1 to 11 starting their journey in Round 3, where tickets for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as well as qualification for the Finals tournament are up for grabs. 

FIH site

WP and Gauteng semi-final derbies sure to set Queensmead alight

JONATHAN COOK at Queensmead

Eastern Province's Dalan Phillips (right) and Brad Logan race for the ball during defending champs Tuffy Western Province's 6-1 win in the Greenfields Men's Interprovincial at Queensmead in Durban Thursday. Photo: GAVIN NEL

Thrilling hockey characterised the final round of Pool A and B matches in the elite A Section and the promotion division, or B Section of the Greenfields Men’s Interprovincial at Queensmead and the Three Schools Trust pitch in Durban Thursday.

Pool B winners and last year’s finalists Southern Gauteng will meet Pool A runners-up Northern Blues in the first semi-final of the A Section at 2.30pm Friday while reigning champions and pool A winners Tuffy Western Province will play Pool B runners-up Western Province Peninsula (Pens) in the second semi-final at 4.30pm.

Pens, the brave WP second stringers, struggling with injuries which required a replacement to be flown in from Cape Town, were superb in a 2-2 draw with Southern Gauteng to clinch their first ever place in the semi-finals, ensuring that the host province's fancied KZN Coastal Raiders would not make the last four.

Whatever their results on Friday and Saturday, Pens will finish in the top four at IPT for the first time.

Saturday's gold medal title match where the winners will be crowned the champion men’s hockey province in South Africa is at 4.30pm.

Raiders, who beat KZN Inland 5-0 Friday, will now play Eastern Province in the first round of matches in the playoffs for fifth to eighth positions at 10.30am Friday, while KZN Inland tackle South Gauteng Wits at 12.30pm.

Wits and Northern Blues were involved in the match of the tournament so far, Blues needing a win to get through to the last four while a draw would have been enough for the Southern Gauteng second stringers to qualify for a seldom-seen berth in the semi-finals.

Blues ran out 5-3 winners but it was much, much closer than that.

The eight-goal thriller was punctuated by a host of stunning goals, Wits chasing the game and gallantly staying in touch with their more fancied opponents who led for 70% of an incredibly competitive game that saw exhilarating skills and much drama in the way of hotly-contested decisions.

The disappointment of their premier side, the Raiders, failing to make the semi-finals aside, there is some consolation for the host province as KZN Coastal Mynahs and KZN Coastal Robins are both through to the B Section, or promotion division, semi-finals.

At Queensmead, Robins meet Free State at 6.30pm in the second of the B Section semi-finals while Mynahs face North West at 11.30 in the only semi-final at the nearby Three Schools Trust pitch.


A Section: Northern Blues 5 South Gauteng Wits 3; Tuffy Western Province 6 Eastern Province 1; Southern Gauteng 2 WP Peninsula 2; KZN Coastal Raiders 5 KZN Inland 0.

B Section: Border 5 EP Settlers 1; Free State 11 Namibia 1; KZN Coastal Robins 3 North West 1; KZN Coastal Mynahs 5 SA Country Districts 4

SA Hockey Association media release

Ford NHL set for action packed opening weekend

Pictured: Canterbury striker Sophie Cocks in action, courtesy www.photosport.co.nz

The 2014 Ford National Hockey League surges into action this weekend with New Zealand’s eight regions battling it out for the men’s and women’s titles.

Last year the Auckland Men won the Challenge Shield for the third time in a row, while the Midlands Women emphatically took out the K Cup.

This weekend Rounds 1 & 2 take place in eight different locations around the country before tournament week at North Harbour Hockey Stadium from 6-14 September.

Whangarei, Stratford, Christchurch, Dunedin, Auckland, Hamilton, Paraparaumu and Timaru all get a taste of the action.

There are plenty of big match-ups that will give teams the chance to build an advantage on their home turfs before going into the centralised tournament week.

We will have coverage throughout the tournament with scores, standings and goal scorers as well as video and audio interviews on the Hockey NZ website and all our social media accounts.

The Men’s and Women’s finals on Sunday 14 September have also been confirmed to be live streamed through the Hockey NZ website.

Hockey New Zealand Media release

Kumar aims to go all out in his last Asian Games

By Aftar Singh

S. Kumar made his debut in the 2002 Busan Asian Games, helping Malaysia to the bronze medal.

KUALA LUMPUR: Next month’s Incheon assignment will be the fourth and last Asia Games for Malaysian hockey goalkeeper S. Kumar.

And the 35-year-old intends to mark his Asiad swansong a memorable one – by helping Malaysia finish as high as possible.

The Tampin-born player made his debut in the 2002 Busan Asian Games, helping Malaysia to the bronze medal. Four years later, they finished fifth in Doha.

At the Guangzhou Asiad in 2010, Malaysia won the silver medal – their best achievement in the Games.

“The time has come for me to retire ... and to allow younger goalkeepers to take over,” said Kumar, who has represented Malaysia since the 1999 SEA Games in Brunei and with 238 international caps to his name.

“I will retire after the World League second round in India next January.

“I have featured in four Asian Games and my best Games was in Guangzhou four years ago, where we won the silver medal for the first ever time.

“It will be my last Asiad and I vow to give my best to help Malaysia finish in the best position,” added Kumar, who left for South Korea on Wednesday with the national team on a five-day playing tour.

Malaysia will play two friendlies against clubs sides Incheon City and National Korean Sports University (NKSU) on Friday and Saturday in Incheon in preparation for the Asiad.

For the Asiad, Malaysia are in Group A with South Korea, Bangladesh and Singapore while Group B comprises defending champions Pakistan, arch rivals India, Oman and Sri Lanka.

Kumar, a Tenaga Nasional employee, expects a tough challenge from South Korea and Japan for a place in the semi-finals.

Malaysia lost to South Korea 3-1 in the Champions Challenge I in Kuantan in April and 1-0 to Japan in the Asian Champions Trophy in Kakamigahara last November.

The Star of Malaysia

Dharmaraj re-designated as development coach

By S. Ramaguru

K. Dharmaraj is the new hockey development coach.

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Malaysian national hockey coach K. Dharmaraj has been re-designated as a development coach by the National Sports Council (NSC) and will work with the 1MAS programme.

Dharmaraj is expected to leave on Sept 16 for a closer look at the on-going European leagues.

“It is a learning curve for me to improve my coaching skills. I will be attached to various clubs to observe their preparations for their league campaigns,” he said.

“I have said before that we need to look at Europe to improve our players’ skills. I have already contacted six clubs for my attachment.”

He said that two of the clubs are from Germany, four from Holland and one from England.

Since January, Dharmaraj coached the national team for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, Champions Challenge I, World Cup and the Commonwealth Games.

But last month, the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) decided to replace him with A. Arulselvaraj for the Asian Games due to a player-power in the national team and also what was deemed as poor results in the various tournaments.

Dharmaraj said on Thursday that he had recommended several national players to be attached to the clubs in Europe during the three months.

 “I’m not sure if the players still want to take up the offer. I believe that they need to go on such attachments if they want to improve their game. Playing at home is not enough,” he said.

The Star of Malaysia

India, Pakistan proposal not practical, says MHC’s sec-gen

By S. Ramaguru

KUALA LUMPUR: India and Pakistan want to hold practice matches with the Malaysian hockey team in preparation for the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea, from Sept 19-Oct 4.

The only glitch is that they want the matches to be played in their countries.

That, however, is not practical, according to Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) secretary general Datuk Johari Abdul Aziz.

“I don’t think we will be able to go to India or Pakistan. The national team are in Incheon for a week and they will hold their final phase of training here (in KL). It will be taxing for them to go on another tour and then leave for South Korea,” he said.

The 20-man team left for Incheon on Wednesday and will be back on Sept 2.

Johari said that he would propose to Pakistan and India to travel to Malaysia for the friendlies.

“That would be ideal for us. I will leave it to them. Their association officials will be in town over the next few days for the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) Congress here. We will talk to them then,” he said.

As for the Incheon trip, he said: “It is basically to check out the venue and facilities for the Asian Games.

The matches against the club sides will give the team a feel of the venue as well.”

Malaysia, who won the silver medal in the 2010 Games in Guangzhou, are in Group A with South Korea, Japan, Bangladesh and Singapore.

Defending champions Pakistan are pitted with arch-rivals India, Sri Lanka and Oman in Group B.

The Asian Games is also the qualifier for the 2016 Rio Olympics. The winner will gain an automatic berth to the Olympics.

The Star of Malaysia

Surprise names in Dutch 33-man squad

Kampong's Eric Bouwens and Martijn Havenga along with Oranje Zwart's Niek van der Schoot are among the surprise names in the first Dutch squad of 33 players named by Max Caldas earlier today.

Bouwens had previously been part of the Dutch training panel back in 2011 but has since been outside the frame after a discussion with Paul van Ass saw him make a decision to step out to complete his studies.

Speaking to hockey.nl, he admitted he was surprised by the most recent call-up but is looking forward to pushing for a place in the side. He is one of seven players from the Utrecht club to be called in alongside regulars Constantijn Jonker, Robbert Kemperman and Sander de Wijn as well as Havenga, Thierry Brinkman and Dutch U-21 Pepijn Luijkx.

For OZ, there are six representatives with van der Schoot is the fresh face with Sander Baart, Jelle Galema, Robert van der Horst, Bob de Voogd and Mink van der Weerden much more established.

Rounding out the Euro Hockey League representation, Roel Bovendeert, Diede van Puffelen, Glenn Schuurman and Jaap Stockmann are called up.

Euro Hockey League media release

Scotland youths to compete at Sainsbury's School Games

Two strong youth sides will be representing Scotland in front of a sell-out crowd at the Sainsbury’s School Games held in Manchester at the beginning of September.

The multi-sport event consists of 1600 young athletes who will compete in 12 sports in venues across Manchester from 4th-7th September. Hockey will be based at the Armitage Site along with badminton and rugby 7's, hockey has been in high demand and organisers are having to add an extra 200 seats to cater for the demand!

The games include an athlete’s village, anti-doping education, plus opening and closing ceremonies at the Veledrome. All these great opportunities are to give the next generation of sports stars a feel for what it is like to compete in a multi-sport event.

There are 12 hockey teams this year - 6 girl’s teams and 6 boy’s teams consisting of Scotland, Wales, Ulster, England White, England Blue and England Red. Each team will have 2 qualifying games followed by games for 5th/6th places, 3rd/4th places and 1st/2nd places.

The girls and boys face both England sides and will be hoping for strong performances throughout the tournament.

This is a fantastic opportunity for our young Scots to experience a multi-sport event, tickets are still available to buy.

Scotland Boys







Western Wildcats

Douglas Academy



Western Wildcats

Bellahousten Academy School of Sport




PSL Team Sport Clydesdale

Bellahouston Academy School of Sport




Robert Gordons College




CALA Edinburgh




Dunfermline Carnegie

St Columbas



PSL Team Sport Clydesdale

Glasgow School of Sport



Dundee Wanderers





Grove Menzieshill

St Leonards



Western Wildcats

Douglas Academy




PSL Team Sport Clydesdale

Hutcheson's Grammar




Telford and Wrekin

Thomas Telford School




Grove Menzieshill

High School of Dundee



Western Wildcats





CALA Edinburgh

George Watsons




Edinburgh Academy

Scotland Girls








St Columbas



Western Wildcats





St Columbas



Milne Craig Clydesdale Western

Hutchesons Grammar School



Grove Menzieshill




CALA Edinburgh




Fjordhus Reivers




CALA Edinburgh

George Heriot’s



CALA Edinburgh

Firhill High

Al Haddad


Western Wildcats

Glasgow Academy



No Club








CALA Edinburgh

Mary Erskines




Balerno High



Dundee Wanderers

St Johns High School




St Columba’s

Scottish Hockey Union media release

SAI shifts women’s camp to Delhi

Indervir Grewal

Chandigarh - A day after the Indian women’s hockey team coach reiterated Hockey India’s (HI) complaints that the turf at NIS, Patiala, was dangerous, the Sports Authority of India today closed the turf for repairs and shifted the national camp to New Delhi.

Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra confirmed that the camp has been shifted to New Delhi. “SAI has given the permission to move the training camp to New Delhi,” Batra told The Tribune.

Mohammad Alam, a hockey coach at NIS, said that experts from Mumbai have been called to repair the turf.

India coach Neil Hawgood and captain Ritu Rani had gone on record saying the turf was worn out and the players could get hurt, days after the HI High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans had written a letter to the sports ministry about the “dangerous” pitch.

SAI DG Jiji Thomson had yesterday called it a ‘minor problem’, adding that the turf would be repaired in a few days. He had offered HI to shift the camp to any of the 12 venues in north India, including the one at Shilaroo in Himachal Pradesh.

But Batra had refused that option, citing medical issues as Shilaroo is a high-altitude centre.

“Shilaroo being a high-altitude centre, at least 10 days are needed for acclimatisation both before and after the training camp. Also in case of a medical emergency, Shimla is the nearest station,” Hawgood had told The Tribune on Wednesday.

However, a source has revealed that HI had been given a short notice to find another venue, being told to shift the training camp on late Wednesday evening. HI had then approached the Punjab Sports Department to allow the team to practise at the International Hockey Stadium in Mohali.

“We preferred Mohali and had suggested it to SAI. But now SAI tells us that camp has been shifted to New Delhi,” Batra said.

The Tribune

History beckons Saket School as it plays its second successive Nehru Dhyan Chand Cup tomorrow

K. Arumugam

One Thousand Hockey Legs’ outfit, Government Boys School, J Block, Saket have entered the final of the second Nehru-Dhyan Chand Sports Day Cup, after defeating fighting another OTHL member school, Govt. Co-Ed Sarvodaya School, Shapurjat 5-1 today at the picturesque Shivaji Stadium.

Saket, runners up last year, will engage professionally trained State Hockey Centre, Ashok Nagar school. Both teams remained undefeated till now.

Saket is one of the three oldest OTHL schools in Delhi – which has now increased to 25 – but haven’t won any major title. Either Begumpur or Anglo-Arabic School happened to be its nemesis, but now having defeated Anglo-Arabic School in the Tuesday’s quarterfinal, and against the background that Begumpur is not in the OTHL School after being taken over by the State, history beckons Saket to win their maiden major title in Delhi.

In the first semifinal, Saket struggled to get its feet firmly on the ground, as the new outfit Shapurjat did now allow them any leeway.

It was actually a reverse from the edge of the circle by entertaining dynamo Vikky Verma (Jr.) stunned the runners up team.

Saket pressed hard and earned a flurry of penalty corners, but the Vikky Sr, at the defence proved too much for the Sushil Chauhan, Sunil, Anil Paswan combination of attack.

However, Saket got a reprieve when Sushil Chauhan, the captain, unleashed a shot to equalize off the fifth penalty corner to draw the score 1-1 right at half time.

In the second half, hardworking Sunil, who had already figured in the Vadodara Sub-Junior Nationals, struck a brace to take the match away from the fighting, but fading on legs, Shahpur Jat.

OTHL introduced hockey at Saket three years ago, while it was last year for today’s losing team.

On the other semifinal, State Hockey Centre team, Ashok Vihar, defeated disgraced – because of over age students – SS Khalsa School 5-0, after taking a commendable 3-0 lead at half time.

Mukul Sharma, former OTHL livewire forward, posted two goals in the Ashok Nagar’s fluent victory.

This year edition of the Cup had 24 teams in the boys section, with 21 teams coming from OTHL.

The mega school event is jointly organized by Delhi based organizations, Jawaharlal Nehru Hockey Tournament Society and Hockey Citizen Group, which runs its flagship project One Thousand Hockey legs.


Where are they now? Pt. 3

We look at the coaching staff that masterminded the 2004 Olympic gold medal

Ten years ago this week the Australian men’s hockey team made Aussie sporting history in Athens, Hockey Australia takes a look at those who helped mastermind the country’s first men's Olympic gold medal and asks “where are they now?”.

On six previous occasions the Australian men had returned from the sport’s biggest stage with a medal, but they had never stood of the top step of the rostrum. After a bronze medal on home turf four years earlier Australia arrived in Athens with one aim: gold. As many of the athletes and staff will allude to over the coming three-part series, their preparation was key to earning them the sport’s ultimate prize.

In Athens, the men in green and gold progressed to the semi-finals from second place in Pool B, a point ahead of New Zealand and five behind future-finalists, the Netherlands. Wins over New Zealand, India and South Africa, a draw against Argentina and defeat to the Netherlands saw Australia finish with ten points before a crushing 6-3 semi-final win over Spain set up a re-match with the Dutch, who narrowly beat then-World Champions Germany in the other semi-final.

After going behind to Ronald Brouwer’s goal shortly before half time in the final, Australia came out of the blocks with gusto in the second half as Travis Brooks fired them level within two minutes of the re-start. Locked at 1-1 at full time but with Australia in the ascendancy, the match went to golden goal extra time. Just eight minutes into the extra period Jamie Dwyer announced himself to the world with the golden goal winner that would finally see the Australian men join their female counterparts as an Olympic gold medal winning team and earn their place in Australian sporting history.

This is the third of a three part series. Today, we look at the coaching staff involved in masterminding that magnificant night in Athens, the culmination of four years' hard work.

Barry Dancer, National Coach, 2001-2008
236 matches as coach
Having taken over as Australian men’s coach following the Sydney Olympics, Barry Dancer built up the team that excelled in Athens. A former Kookaburra and Olympic silver medallist himself, Dancer led Australia to the gold medal in 2004 and to bronze in Beijing four years later before returning home to Queensland to become High Performance Director at the Queensland Academy of Sport. He retired in 2012 but is still involved with what he calls a hockey ‘project’ as coach of the Jaypee Punjab Warriors in the Hero Hockey India League. He lives in Moffat Beach on the Sunshine Coach.

Speaking about the Athens final, he says, “The performance of the team in the final was dominant and founded on a strong self-belief developed over the campaign. It was very satisfying to see the team play so strongly under the greatest pressure.”

Colin Batch, Assistant Coach, 2001-2008
In 2001, just over a decade after his 12-year Kookaburras playing career came to an end, Victorian Colin Batch joined Barry Dancer’s backroom staff, working as Assistant Coach for both the Athens and Beijing Olympic cycles. Now based in Auckland as the Head Coach of the Kookaburras’ trans-Tasman rivals, the New Zealand Black Sticks, Batch spent four years in Belgium from 2008. In 2010, he took up the reigns as Belgian men’s national coach from fellow Aussie Adam Commens, leading them to fifth place at the London Olympic Games.

Of the Athens gold medal, Batch says, "It was a great achievement and remains the most significant result in Australian men’s hockey to date. There was enormous relief when we won after many failed campaigns. Full credit to Barry Dancer for his management of the campaign and his detailed planning but what is underestimated is the legacy he left when he retired in 2008. He also led the national U21 team to Australia’s only gold medal at the Junior World Cup in 1997.”

Larry McIntosh, Assistant Coach
The Head Coach for hockey at the New South Wales Institute of Sport from 1997 until 2013, Larry McIntosh was one of Barry Dancer’s trusted lieutenants during the Athens Olympic campaign. His extensive international coaching career has seen him involved in two Olympic campaigns, two World Cups, four Champions Trophy tournaments and two Junior World Cups, as well as seven domestic seasons as coach of the NSW men. Earlier this year, Sydney-based McIntosh set up his own consultancy business, MC Hockey Skill Set. He remains a coaching consultant to Hockey Australia amongst others.

“I have never forgotten the words spoken by Barry Dancer after losing to Germany in the 2002 World Cup,” says McIntosh. “Barry said, ‘I will guarantee you all that we will be better prepared in 2004.’ This was an amazing journey surrounded by phenomenal people contributing in the making of hockey history by winning Olympic gold.”

Jeremy Davy, Performance Analyst
Now the Head Coach for the women’s hockey program at the Western Australia Institute of Sport, Jeremy Davy was the team’s performance analyst in Athens. In all, he was with Barry Dancer and the Kookaburras’ coaching team from 2001 until 2007. After leaving the national program he joined the Fremantle Football Club for two years as Technology Manager before returning to the Australian hockey set-up as an assistant coach with the women’s program, working specifically with the U21 and Futures groups.

Ray Dorsett, Manager
Team manager Ray Dorsett was a key member of coach Barry Dancer’s back room team through the period. A High Performance Advisor with the Australian Institute of Sport, he now lives in Jerrabomberra, NSW. A keen golfer with a single figure handicap, he has remained in touch with high performance hockey and was coach of the Canberra Strikers, the ACT women’s team, in the 2013 Australian Hockey League.

Remembering the celebrations after Australia’s first ever men’s Olympic hockey gold medal was won, Dorsett says, “I remember the elation and emotion of the post-game celebrations in the change rooms with Barry and John Eales leading the “Under the Southern Cross” chant and a number of past and present Olympic champions joining us. I am positive somebody laced my drinks at the after party back at the village.”

Dr Peter Baquie, Doctor
Athens was Dr Peter Baquie’s last formal involvement with the Kookaburras after seven years working with the team. Now based in South Melbourne, Baquie is a sports physician at the Olympic Park Sports Medicine Centre in Melbourne. Following the Athens Olympics he went on to work with Melbourne Storm (rugby league) in 2004 and Hawthorn Football Club from 2005-2012 before his current involvement with Collingwood Football Club. He held medical administration roles at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games.

For the doc, three words sum up the feelings that night in Athens: “joy, relief and pride”.

Neil McLean, psychologist
Team psychologist Neil McLean joined Barry Dancer’s staff team in 2004 and continued to work with the Kookaburras through the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic cycles. A clinical psychologist and lecturer in psychology at the University of Western Australia, Cottesloe-based McLean couples his university work with consultancy to a number of clubs and sporting organisations, such as the WA Jockeys Association. Until 2008 he also worked with the Fremantle Dockers Football Club.

Another of those to pay tribute to the work of Barry Dancer, McLean says, “This was a win engineered by a coach who has received way less credit than he deserves. Barry set the tone and assisted the group to manage the pressure of the Olympic occasion and he was ably assisted by a tight-knit off-field group. The players were magnificent and managed pressure moments throughout the tournament. The team had a great mix of experience and youth; grit and flair. The players took responsibility for team performance and brought an impressive work ethic and attention to detail to their preparation. I have worked with elite teams and athletes for nearly 30 years and the Athens win remains my most memorable moment. In fact, I suspect that night in Athens will remain a memorable Olympic moment for the thousands of Australians who managed to get into the stadium.” 

Hockey Australia media release

HI wishes Dhyan Chand on his 109th birth anniversary

NEW DELHI: On the eve of the 109th birthday anniversary of Major Dhyan Chand, Hockey India on Thursday wishes him and his family and thanks legendary player for his contribution to the sport.

Dhyan Chand's birthday also marks as the National Sports Day of India and is celebrated throughout the country.

Speaking on the occasion Mariamma Koshy, president of Hockey India said: "The late Major Dhyan Chand was a player who makes us proud for his play and the way he tackled the opponents on the field. It is once in a lifetime that you see a legend like him born, and Hockey India takes pride that this legend belonged to the game of hockey."

"What great honour can a sports icon get, when you see that the National Sports Day being celebrated in his name and on this day India witness's sportspersons getting bestowed with the Dhyan Chand Life Time Achievement Award, Arjuna Award and Dronacharya Award. Hockey India and everyone associated with the game of hockey would like to congratulate all sportspersons who have won the prestigious awards this year," she added.

Born on August 29, 1905, Major Dhyan Chand is regarded as the greatest player of hockey the world has seen till date. Remembered for his amazing goal scoring feats, he is known as 'The Wizard' because of the way he controlled the ball leaving the opponents amazed and confused.

Major Dhyan Chand earned three Olympic Gold medals in 1928, 1932 and 1936 and because of him India ruled the game of hockey during that period.

The Times of India

Real tribute to Dadda is to ignite passion for hockey

On the 109th birth anniversary of hockey wizard Dhyan Chand, who is lovingly remembered as 'Dadda', a new spark of hope ignites for hockey. Born on August 29, 1905, he had given hockey a totally different colour with his splendid game.

His mesmerising game compelled opponents to doubt that Dhyan Chand used glues on his stick. Even Hitler invited him to stay back during Berlin Olympics in 1936. He led the team that won gold in hockey successively three times in year 1928, 32 and 36 in Amsterdam, Los Angeles and Berlin Olympics. Following his father's legacy, he also joined Indian Army as a NCO but later on he was conferred with the rank of Major.

He had set up Heros Club in 1922 in the city, which had produced many national and international players. His team used to practice daily in the Heros Ground adjacent to his house. The wizard also lies buried there. Winner of innumerable awards like Padma Bhushan, he scored 400 goals in his career.

Recently, Indian team bagged second position in the Commonwealth Games, which was small yet soothing news after a long gap. His son Ashok Dhyan Chand, also an Olympian feels that country should not lose hope for the future of its national game. "We have been doing quite well and the only things we require is to strike a big victory which will again boost our morale. Hockey is our national game and it is our duty to preserve it and keep the legacies of 'Dadda' prevailing," he added.

Dhyan Chand's fans still love him and feel that the greatest tribute to him will be to bring back the lost glory. "Each year on his birthday, we remember him with lots of programmes but rest of the year no one talks of him. Our real tribute to him will be to bring back the glorious legacy of the game," says Abdul Aziz, former Indian Hockey player who had played in Seoul Asiad in 1986 in which India had won bronze.

There has been drastic change in the rules favouring Europeans so that they may have complete hold on the game. "Earlier it was a game of ball and stick but with numerous changes since 2002, the game has lost its original shine and traditional hold of Asian countries. If you see football, there has been no change in the rules since ages just because they (Europeans) had a hold on this game. This needs to be opposed to bring back the real hockey," he said.

Already Bharat Ratan for crores of Indians: Ashok Kumar

Dhyan Chand's daughter-in-law Meena Dhyanchand, who has also written a book on him in 2008, said: "He played only for his county's pride and never ran after money and lead a very simple and ordinary life. All his sons followed their father's footsteps. Babuji shunned all lucrative offers that he used to get from other countries. We should recognise his contribution and give him what he deserves." She was hinting on confirmation of Bharat Ratan. His son Ashok Kumar says that he is already a Bharat Ratan in the eyes of crores of Indians. Now, it is for the government to decide on it.

The Times of India

When hockey wizard’s son brought glory

Kanpur: It was 1975. India was playing against Pakistan in the third edition of Hockey World Cup at Kuala Lampur, Malaysia. The Merdeka Stadium was packed with hardly any voice of support for India but this did not deter the team. The Indian team was full of 'josh' and 'jazba' to win the game. The Pakistani team too eyed the ball. Zahid Sheikh gave Pakistan a 1-0 lead. Surjit Singh equalized through a penalty corner. In the pulsating situation, both teams went all out to bang the winning goal for the title. It could have been Pakistan's second World Cup but Ashok Kumar did not let it happen and scored the all-important winning goal to achieve India's lone triumph in World Cup.

Ashok Kumar is the son of hockey legend Dhyan Chand. Like his father, he also proved himself on the field. His father, who is widely considered as the greatest hockey player of all times, is most remembered for his extraordinary goal-scoring feats. To honour the legendary hockey player, Dhyan Chand, India celebrates its National Sports Day every year on his birthday which falls on August 29.

Born in Allahabad, Dhyan Chand is known as hockey's magician. He was so charismatic on the field that everyone around the world doubted that his stick was made of something other than wood. It is worth mentioning that in Holland, his stick was broke open to see if there was a magnet inside. In Japan, they thought that it was glue and Adolf Hitler even offered to buy it. The legendry player helped India in winning gold medals in three successive Olympics Games at Amsterdam (1928), Los Angeles (1932) and Berlin (1936).

As time passed by, hockey which was at its peak in the 1970s, started losing charm. The national game lost out to better-administered disciplines like tennis, cricket, badminton and golf as also to other sports that hog airtime across channels. But as they say 'everyone's time comes', Cricket took India to a new level of pride. India won its first Cricket World Cup in 1983 under the captaincy of Kapil Dev. The triumph was followed by another in 2011 World Cup.

The country proved itself at almost all major sport platforms, be it Asian games, Commonwealth games or Olympics. India hosted Commonwealth Games in 2010, at Delhi which was her most successful games to date with Indian athletes winning 38 gold, 27 silver and 36 bronze medal.

Sports provides a unique opportunity to young people from all over the country to come together, live in the same environment, share the same food and at the same time compete with each other to attain higher and higher levels of sporting excellence. India celebrates National Sports Day to incorporate this feeling in its citizens.

"There is no doubt that India is doing well in many fields and is gaining recognition for it across the world. However, more work is needed in this area. Huge talent lies in India, the challenge lies in harnessing this talent, nurturing it, providing the best facilities, training and exposure. For this, an all round effort has to be made. Schools and colleges should be well equipped so that they can provide students with better sports facilities right from the beginning," Seema Singh, a city-based school teacher said.

Ditto was the case with another games teacher who says that the city has a lot of untapped potential and the administration to take steps to regularly conduct sports activities in order to promote sports.

Meanwhile, to pay respect to the legend, Green Park Kanpur has planned an under-14 hockey tournament. "We have organised the match to honour Major Dhyan Chand on his birthday. We will also honour one veteran coach of hockey from the city," RSO Usha Nag said.

She further added that in order to promote sports in the city and the district they regularly organise inter-school tournaments in multi-purpose Green Park Stadium, which is the only international cricket stadium in Uttar Pradesh that has hosted international cricket matches.

The Times of India

Hockey scene in India better than Pakistan: PHF secretary

Pakistan Hockey Federation secretary Rana Mujahid is "frustrated" that the national sport is struggling to lure sponsors due to lack of international success in recent years and felt the scene was much better in India.

"We feel frustrated ourselves as sponsors are reluctant to invest in a sport which has not done well internationally in recent times and in contrast we see hockey progressing significantly and getting sponsorship in neighbouring countries like India," he said.

Mujahid has warned the government that if it does not provide PHF with much-needed funds than it would be impossible for the national team to participate in coming international events.

"We have asked for a grant of 500 million rupees from the Pakistan Sports Board and the ministry of sports but so far we have got no response," Mujahid said. "We are now in a situation if we don't get these funds soon it will not be possible to send our teams to the Asian Games or the Champions Trophy this year," the former Olympian said.

The national sport has slipped down to its lowest ebb in recent years. This year Pakistan, for the first time in the World Cup history, didn't feature in the mega event as it couldn't qualify. To make matters worse, due to internal politicking and intrigues due to the existence of two parallel national Olympic bodies, Pakistan couldn't send its hockey team to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

"For a sport which was the pride of every Pakistani and in which we have won every major title including the Olympics gold not once but several times the current situation is alarming," said former captain Samiullah.

He claimed that poor governance and wastage of funds by the PHF management in recent years had reduced the credibility of the federation in the eyes of sponsors and the government who were reluctant to release funds now.

"Even now all the former Olympians and players love this game and we are willing to even sponsor one to two players individually to ensure our team goes to international events," Samiullah said.

Mujahid had no explanation as to why the government was not releasing the requested funds despite several reminders and meetings.

"Perhaps because of the fact that the government is presently caught up in the ongoing political issues. But time is running out for us and we want to send our team to these events as the Asian Games is also a qualification for the Olympics," he said.

Mujahid said that due to paucity of funds, the PHF was finding it difficult to even pay its employees and the contracted players.

"Just holding a national training camp is a very expensive proposition so unless we don't get the funds quickly the Pakistan hockey team might not be seen on the international front anymore this year," he added.


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