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News for 07 June 2015

All the news for Sunday 7 June 2015

The Netherlands take over the lead in pool A, Samurais celebrate their first win

The Netherlands and New Zealand are the first teams to qualify for the quarter-finals at the Argentina Hockey World League Semi-Final in Buenos Aires. Both are on six points after two matches while Egypt can get a maximum of three points in their remaining pool A match against Korea.

Day 3 saw the Dutchmen taking over the lead in the pool thanks to a convincing 6-2 win against Korea. Japan’s Samurais gained their first points in Buenos Aires following a solid 2-0 over Egypt. On Sunday, Korea play Egypt with New Zealand facing the Netherlands.

Match 9: Korea v Netherlands 2-6 (0-2)

The Netherlands defeated Korea 6-2 in their second pool Amatch to highlight their ambition to win the Argentina Hockey World League Semi-Final in Buenos Aires. Goals from Rogier Hofman, Mink van der Weerden, Jeroen Hertzberger, Billy Bakker, Bob de Voogd and Robbert Kemperman were enough to seal the victory although Korea pulled two penalty corner goals back through Lee Namyong and Nam Hyunwoo in the last quarter.
Korea focused on defence from the beginning. The Dutch were forced to play with patience, but managed to win two penalty corners in the first half which they converted. RogierHofman (15’) tipped the ball into goal after Korea’s goalkeeper Kim Jaehyeon has parried Mink van der Weerden’sdragflick. However, the Dutch star flicker got his name on the score sheet on 22 minutes to double the lead.
The third quarter saw the Netherlands add another goal when Jeroen Hertzberger (31’) stole the ball near to the half way line and started a solo run before laying the ball off for Billy Bakker. Bakker passed it back to Hertzberger who scored.
Bakker (45’) extended the lead to 4-0 before the quarter whistle when deflecting a backhand stroke from Hofman. Like their first match against Japan, Korea played their best hockey in the last quarter with Lee Namyong (50’) and Nam Hyunwoo (50’) converting two penalty corners within the same minute. However, the Olympic Silver medallists struck through last-minute goals from Bob de Voogd (60’) and Robbert Kemperman to make the final result 6-2.

Thoughts on the match

Billy Bakker (NED)
“We are very happy with today’s match. We scored six goals against Korea, four against Egypt, ten goals in two matches are good. We don’t look at the results of single quarters, it is the overall result which matters and this is satisfying.”

Nam Hyunwoo (KOR)
“The Netherlands are a much stronger opponent than Japan. The communication within our defense was not good today, next time we need to be better prepared. Tomorrow we want to win our match against Egypt.”

Match 10: Japan v Egypt 2-0 (0-0)

Genki Mitani and Koji Kayukawa secured Japan a solid 2-0 win over Egypt at the Argentina Hockey World League Semi-Final in Buenos Aires. The Samurais are now in a good position to reach the quarter-finals. Egypt suffered their third defeat and now, they need to win their last pool match against Korea to keep their chances open for a spot in the knockout matches.

Both teams were still waiting for their first points after losing their first two pool matches in this tournament.  Japan and Egypt met in a tough contest knowing that the winners are likely to qualify for the quarter-finals.

Japan were the better side throughout the first half, creating enough chances to be leading at halftime. Despite having more scoring opportunities, the Samurais were not able to capitalize.

Japan, the world’s number 16, fought hard to take the lead and eventually scored thanks to Genki Mitani (6’). Kenta Tanaka ran the ball into the circle pushing it to Mitani who slotted home from close range. The second goal arrived when Koji Kayukawa (47’) scored with a well-worked penalty corner routine.

Thoughts on the match

Kenta Tanaka (JPN)
“We are happy with today’s performance because we knew that we would have to win this match. Today was our best match in this tournament so far but we should have scored more goals. This is something we need to work on.”

FIH site

Argentina’s Leones and Germany to remain unbeaten in pool B

Day 3 of the Argentina Hockey World League Semi-Final saw Germany, Canada and host nation Argentina qualify for Thursday’s quarter-final. Who will grab the fourth and last available spot will be decided between Spain and Austria.

Argentina’s Leones walked away with a narrow 2-1 victory over Canada thanks to a late Gonzalo Peillat penalty corner goal. Earlier, Germany kept a clean sheet with their 5-0 over Austria. On Sunday, the two unbeaten teams from Argentina and Germany will play off with Austria taking on Spain in a key match for the quarter-final qualification.

Match 11: Germany v Austria 5-0 (1-0)

Germany secured their spot in Thursday’s quarter-final thanks to an impressive 5-0 win over Austria. Germany and Canada are both on six points in pool B, while Austria can gain a maximum of three points in their remaining match against Spain. 

Niklas Wellen (11’) opened the scoring in this German-speaking encounter when he converted after good work from Mats Grambusch on the right.

Earlier, Austria had won a penalty corner in the first minute but German goalkeeper Nicolas Jacobi managed to save Michael Körper’s drag-flick. Afterwards Germany took control of the match maintaining possession in the Austrian half. Oscar Deecke (40’) doubled the lead in the third quarter when he capped off a flowing team move with a precise finish.

Christopher Zeller (50’) increased the score to 3-0 when netting from a penalty corner. The Olympic champions added two more goals thanks to the youngsters Christopher Rühr (55’) and Mats Grambusch (59’).

This match was a special one for Germany’s Tobias Hauke and Tobias Walter and the Austrians Körper, Benjamin Stanzl and Xaver Hasun as they all play club hockey for Harvestehuder THC in Hamburg. “Benni and I are in the same team for six years now. All of them are my friends, so I hope that Austria make the quarter-finals,” said Hauke. 

Thoughts on the match

Christopher Rühr (GER)
“We didn’t really use our chances in the first half. We changed our game structure in the second half which allowed us to create more opportunities.”

Michael Körper (AUT)
“We played much better than in our first two matches. We showed more confidence but saved the goal scoring for our match against Spain. Losing 5-0 today was tough but I think we have improved and now we will give everything to qualify for the quarter-final.”

Match 12: Argentina v Canada 2-1 (1-1)

Raising star Gonzalo Peillot struck late to earn Argentina a 2-1 win over Canada in pool B. The Leones, Germany and Canada are all qualified for Thursday’s quarter-final while Spain and Austria fight for the last available spot at the Argentina Hockey World League Semi-Final.

The first quarter was goalless despite a number of chances either side. Argentina were first on the scoreboard in the second quarter with a well-taken penalty stroke from Juan Gilardi. The stroke was awarded after a Facundo Callioni got fouled.

However, Canada managed to level the score to 1-1 before halftime thanks to a great effort by Sukhi Pansar who rounded a defender before slotting the ball home.

The stadium was crowded on Saturday night with the spectators getting excited every time an Argentine player got the ball. Soccer legend Diego Maradona was also watching from the stands.

The game-winning goal arrived in the 45th minute when Peillat’s low flick defeated the outstanding Canadian goalie David Carter. 

Thoughts on the match

David Carter (CAN)
“It was a good game for me, especially after the first saves I felt really comfortable. We did defend as a team which was good. We are happy to be qualified for the quarter-finals. We want to finish in the top three to qualify directly for the Olympics.”

Agustin Mazilli (ARG)
“Today we haven’t played really well. We need to act more as a team. This needs to be better tomorrow when we play Germany.” 

FIH site

100 matches of international senior hockey - Deon Nel receives Golden Whistle

The match between Germany and Austria was a milestone for Deon Nel as he umpired his 100th international senior match. The South African becomes the 35th male umpire and the third South African after Marelise de Klerk*(2004) and John Wright (2006) to receive the Golden Whistle.

The Golden Whistle was presented by Willard P. Harris in his role as FIH Representative at the Argentina Hockey World League Semi-Final in Buenos Aires. On Thursday, Nel officiated along with Kim Hong Lae. The Korean is also member of the Golden Whistle team reaching the status in 2012.

Nel is the 1473rd international outdoor umpire in FIH history. He started his international career on 2 June 2000, reached Grade 1 stage on 14 October 2002 and was promoted to a World Panel Umpire on 1 July 2013. To date, he has umpired 104 international matches (100 Senior & 4 Junior).

The South African participated in three Champions Trophy tournaments so far, Mönchengladbach (GER) 2010, Melbourne (AUS) 2012 and Bhubaneswar (IND) 2014. He was also appointed to the Rabobank Hockey World Cup in The Hague as Video Umpire.

To see a list of all male and female umpires having reached Golden Whistle status, please click here http://www.fih.ch/inside-fih/fih-officials-appointments/golden-whistle/

FIH site

In 2011 Marelise de Klerk became one of only three umpires to have umpired over 200 internationals. The others are Alain Renaud (FRA - 1991) and Santiago Deo (ESP - 1995

Host Argentina outlasts Canada 2-1 at World League Semifinals

With 6 points, Canada tied with Germany and Argentina in Pool B

Shaheed Devji

In a preview of a matchup we’ll see at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto this July, tournament host Argentina was able to outlast their cross-continental rival Canada en route to a 2-1 victory Saturday at the World League Semifinals.

Saturday’s match was not only a good test for both teams ahead of the continental tournament this summer, but it was vital for Pool B positioning at the Semifinals.

With the win, Argentina – ranked 6th in the world – ties Canada (fifteenth) in points but holds a game in hand and now controls its chances of finishing second after at the end of the round robin.

“We’re a little bit disappointed obviously,” says Canadian midfielder Iain Smythe, who played in his 100th match for Canada in Saturday match. “We were in it for a good part of the game. Our corner defense was outstanding. We were blocking a lot of shots but e gave that last one away.”

In front of their home crowd, Argentina began the match on the front foot and earned a penalty corner in the early moments, forcing David Carter to make a diving save.

Canada then was given a green card and with the man advantage, Argentina earned a string of four penalty corners in a row, which were all turned away by Canada, resulting in no score after the first quarter.

Argentina continued to pressure early in the second quarter and in the twentieth minute Facundo Callioni picked up a penalty stroke after a Canadian challenge was ruled illegal. The stroke was taken by Juan Gilardi and he beat Carter to the left side to make it 1-0.

Carter was required to make a sensational stop in the twenty-seventh minute as a hard, high shot from Agustin Mazzilli was heading into the top left corner of the goal, but the outstretched keeper got his stick on it.

The save proved to be important and a boon to Canada’s offensive, as less than two minutes later an individual effort from Sukhi Panesar combined with some sloppy Argentinian ball-handling near the goal resulted in Panesar’s first goal of the tournament in the twenty-ninth minute, tying the game at half time.

Canada was much improved in the second half, playing a strong and quick game off the counter-attack.

The Canadians had a stretch of their own where they were given multiple penalty corner opportunities, but Scott Tupper – who had yet to take a short corner this tournament – wasn’t able to power home his patented drag flick or connect with his teammates to convert on Canada’s three opportunities.

The winning goal was scored in the forty-fifth minute on an Argentinian penalty corner. A low, howling drag flick from Gonzalo Peillat beat both Carter and defender Gordon Johnston on the right side of the goal.

“Always against Canada it’s like this,” says Argentina’s captain Matias Paredes. “It’s something special but finally we won.”

With the victory, Argentina ties Canada and Germany with six points but takes over second place in Pool B based on games played and goal differential.

Canada now sits in third place and has one game remaining in the round robin, Tuesday at 10am PT/ 1pm ET against third ranked Germany.

Field Hockey Canada media release

HI wishes good luck to World League semi-bound teams

India men's national hockey team captain Sardara Singh with team mates at a practice session at Major Dhyan Chand National stadium in New Delhi ahead of the FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Final Round 2015 in Belgium.

The numbers given to players are based on each player representing HI since the national federation’s inception in 2009.

Hockey India has hosted a ‘good luck dinner’ for the Indian men and women teams ahead of their departures for the upcoming FIH World League Semi-Finals to be held in Antwerp, Belgium from June 20 to July 5.

During the occasion held on Saturday, HI also gave presented the players of both teams with caps, which has their own individual unique number inscribed on it that will stay with them for lifelong.

The numbers given to players are based on each player representing HI since the national federation’s inception in 2009.

While Gurbaj was the 13th player to have made it to the Indian men’s team so No. 13 was being given to him. Similarly Sardar Singh and Ritu Rani, being the captains of the present men and women teams, were bestowed with No. 1 as their Unique Cap Number.

Speaking on this initiative, HI president Narinder Batra said: “The idea behind this initiative of giving a unique number to each player was done keeping in mind that players across the world are very attached to their jersey numbers. Hence, we thought to give a permanent number to each player and it will stay with them for lifelong.”

Present at the dinner were 25 male and 24 female players, including both the 18-member squads of the men and women teams which will taking part in the World League Semi-finals.

The Hindu

Stats Speak:  Golden Arms of Brothers

By B.G.Joshi

Sehore-Bhopal, India: It is rare instance in Hockey of two siblings getting a chance to represent the country in FIH’s tourneys. My record book has a century instance of brothers playing together in a FIH’s tourneys match. Yuvraj and Devinder Walmiki of India have a chance to achieve this feat in HWL-SF at Antwerp. Till date only 9 pairs of brothers have a distinction of winning Gold medal in IOC/FIH tournaments on 15 occasions. Following are the Golden Siblings in Hockey History (1908-2014):

Country Year Tournaments Family Name Elder Younger
India 1932 Olympics Bais Dhyan chand Roop Singh
  1936 Olympics Bais Dhyan chand Roop Singh
Netherlands 1973 World Cup Spits Nico Frans
New Zealand 1976 Olympics Maister Selwyn Barry
Pakistan 1982 World Cup Khan Samiullah Kalimullah
Germany 1992 Olympics Tewes Stefan Jan Peter
Netherlands 2002 Champions Tr. Derikx Geert Jan Rob
  2003 Champions Tr. Derikx Geert Jan Rob
Spain 2004 Champions Tr. Alegre Ramon David
Germany 2006 World Cup Zeller Phillip Christopher
  2007 Champions Tr. Wess Timo Benjamin
  2008 Olympics Wess Timo Benjamin
  2008 Olympics Zeller Phillip Christopher
  2012 Olympics Wess Timo Benjamin
  2012 Olympics Zeller Phillip Christopher


No surprises from Malaysia’s hockey teams at SEA Games

By Aftar Singh

SINGAPORE: It’s business as usual for the Malaysian men’s and women’s hockey teams at the Sengkang Hockey Stadium.

The Malaysian men’s team, represented by the National Juniors, struggled to beat minnows Thailand 3-0 but the Malaysian women had no problem outplaying hosts Singapore 7-0.

In the men’s competition, coach S. Arulselvaraj boys’ took an early second-minute lead off a penalty corner goal by Aminuddin Mohd Zain.

They blew several good chances before  Najmi Farizal Jazlan doubled the score in the 24th minute.

He then sealed victory with another field goal in the 43rd minute.

Noor Hanis Onn was toast for the women’s team, netting a brace in the 27th and 49th minutes. Siti Rahmah Othman (15th), Rabiatul Adawiyah Mohamed (28th), Fazilla Sylvester Silin (35th), Surizan Awang Noh (45th) and Noor Haslisa Mohd Ali (62nd) added a goal each.

The Star of Malaysia

SEA Games: Shaky starts for Singapore men's and women's hockey teams

By Jeremy Lim

SINGAPORE - The Singapore men's and women's hockey did not enjoy the best of starts at the SEA Games.

The women's team were hammered 7-0 by Malaysia in their opening game while the men were stunned 1-1 by unfancied Myanmar in front of a capacity crowd of 3,200 at Sengkang Hockey Stadium on Saturday evening.

In a stuttering performance, the Malaysians took full advantage of Singapore's jittery defence to power home four goals through Mohamad Juliani, Hanis Nadia Onna, Mohamed Rabiatul and S. Fazilla before half-time.

Hanis, Noh Surizan and Noor H. Ali added three more goals after the break to wrap up the game.

The Straits Times

Ireland 2-4 Belgium (Men)

Ireland played the first of two test series against Belgium at Dragons Hockey Club, the venue for the upcoming World League 3, to be played later this month.  Belgium the World No. 5 team are the top seeds in Ireland’s Pool at WL3.

Belgium got off to a flyer scoring in the 3rd minute with a reverse strike from top scored by Dohmen. They doubled their lead in the 7m from 1st PC of the game when Tom Boon scored with a low drag to Hartes left. Another PC in the 12th minute put Belgium 3 up, the initial shot was stopped by the Irish line stopper but Luypaert was on hand to fire home the rebound and send the hosts in with a comfortable 3-0 lead at end of 1st quarter.

Ireland settled in the 2nd quarter and forced their first PC, won by Robson, in the 21m which was converted with an unstoppable drag by Shane O Donoghue. This was the only goal of the quarter so at half time Ireland 1-3 Belgium.

Ireland started the 3rd quarter with a another PC, won by Dowds, and converted by O Donoghue in the 31m to make it 3-2. Irish keeper Harte was called into action saving from PC in 33m and again from a deflection. Ireland were dominating possession but a Belgium break away down the left took a unlucky deflection off an Irish stick to give Belgium a 2 goal lead. Another PC won by Gormley but this time O Donoghues drag hit the crossbar in the 40m.  Belgium forced a corner in 44m but Boon's effort few over the bar to leave the score at the end of 3rd quarter Belgium 4-2 Ireland.

Ireland forced a PC in the 46m but the Belgium keeper saved well.  Two minutes later the goal post saved Ireland as Jackson cleared the danger. Belgium finished the final quarter with another PC but Harte saved well.  Final score Ireland 2-4 Belgium.

The sides meet again in Dragons at 3pm local time tomorrow Sunday June 7th.

BELGIUM 4 (Dohmen, Boon, Luypaert, Dockier)
IRELAND 2 (Shane O Donoghue)

IRELAND: D. Harte (capt) , P, Gleghorne, R. Gormley, C. Harte, J. Jackson, C. Cargo, K. Shimmins, S O Donoghue, M Darling, K. Good, S. Dowds,

Rolling subs: J. Bell, M Watt, M Robson, J. Bruton, D Carlisle, A Sothern

Did not play E Magee, P Caruth, D Fitzgerald.,

Irish Hockey Association media release

Stalemate as Scotland and Wales play out goalless draw

Photo Credit: Duncan Gray

It was a stalemate in the second international match between Scotland Senior Women and Wales at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre today, with both sides unable to break the deadlock in a 0-0 draw.

The Scots were given a golden opportunity to open the scoring in the 11th minute when Louise Campbell was deliberately fouled inside the circle and umpire Sarah Wilson awarding a penalty stroke.

However, the 0-0 scoreline remained in tact as Vikki Bunce pushed her penalty attempt wide of the right hand post.

In the 26th minute, good interplay between Amy Brodie and Nicki Skrastin led to an opportunity for the Clydesdale Western midfielder, but her shot skewed wide of the left hand post.

A further chance fell to Millie Brown shortly before half-time, but Wales' goalkeeper Rose Thomas was on hand to make the stop.

In the 45th minute, Nikki Kidd drove into the circle to cross to Louise Campbell who was in front of goal, however Thomas was off her line to smother any opportunity.

Jen Eadie went close to opening the scoring in the 58th minute, but her penalty corner attempt was at a comfortable height for Thomas to pad the ball to safety.

Wales were afforded a last gasp opportunity to win the match with a penalty corner bang on seventy minutes, but the shot from Jo Westwood was penalised for being a dangerous height and the match was played out with no goals.

Tomorrow Scotland U21 Women will take to the field against Wales at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre. Pushback is 11am.

Scottish Hockey Union media release

USMNT Starts Euro Tour with a Win

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The U.S. Men's National Team started their European Tour with a 1-0 win over Cartouche Hockey Club in The Netherlands.

After a long flight and two practices in The Netherlands, Team USA produced the solid 1-0 win on Saturday afternoon. Striker Will Holt (Camarillo, Calif.) scored the lone goal on a low flick on a penalty corner in the fourth quarter. The USMNT showed very structured play for long periods of time during the game.

“I was pleased by the discipline and structure considering we have not played as a team since Hockey World League 2 in March," said Chris Clements, U.S. Men's National Team Head Coach. "Only two days after traveling for as long as we did, it was not easy to do what we did today."

"I am proud of our guys professionalism at the beginning of this tour and it is great to have our whole group back together," added Clements immediately after the match.

"We opened the tour with a high level of structure and maintained our composure throughout the game," said Michael Barminski (Ventura, Calif.). "This game allowed us to flush out the cobwebs of travel and not playing together for a while. Overall a good start to the tour."

The U.S. Men's National Team will be back at training tomorrow before taking on Den Bosch and Tilburg. Click here to check out the event page for a complete schedule of the European Tour.

USFHA media release

Adjusted Tour Schedule for U.S. Men’s National Team

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The U.S. Men’s National Team touched down in Amsterdam for their 16-day competition tour in The Netherlands and Belgium. The matches against Cartouche, Pakistan, India and China were planned in detail ensuring proper preparation for Team USA before their upcoming Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada in early July.

Upon arrival to The Netherlands, National Team Head Coach Chris Clements was informed of Pakistan’s cancellation of their prearranged three game test series. Due to issues with team Visas, Pakistan was forced to prematurely terminate their participation in Team USA’s tour schedule.

“Our opportunities and resources are limited due to ranking and this is a significant blow to our program,” said Clements. “USA Field Hockey, The United States Olympic Committee, The USA Field Hockey Men’s Foundation, The MNT Booster Club, and the players themselves have invested a great deal of money and resources to make this trip possible and are left with half of the matches off the table.”

Although presented with a difficult situation, Clements is working together with the Dutch Hockey Association (KNHB) and are avidly working to secure new opponents to replace these games. This tour further confirms Team USA’s commitment to the program by working to compete at the highest level.

“Our players and staff are taking this in stride and within 24 hours were able to secure an appropriate solution," said Clements. "The two opponents played in the Dutch Hoofdklasse this year. Den Bosch will be played on the 10th and Tilburg on the 11th."

Click here for an updated U.S. Men's National Team European Tour Schedule.

USFHA media release

Dhyanchand Academy upset SEC Railway to enter VHA final

Suhas Nayse

NAGPUR: Dhyanchand Academy stormed into the final of the Baidyanath Senior Division Hockey League at the Vidarbha Hockey Association ground here on Saturday.

In the first semifinal, Dhyanchand Academy shocked defending champions South East Central Railway 3-0 with a brilliant all-round performance. With this win, Dhyanchand Academy took a sweet revenge as they had lost to the railmen in the last year's final.

Rahul Kalakoti emerged as the hero for the winners with a superb brace. The hard-working forward found the target in the 18th minute and 23rd minute.

In the second session, Dhyanchand increased the lead when Saquib Rahim converted the penalty corner in the 44th minute.

On Sunday, the second semifinal will be played between City Police and Eagle Sporting Club at 4.30 pm.

The Times of India

At 91, he still breathes hockey

Sidharth Banerjee

When Principal Sarwan Singh met hockey legend Balbir Singh Sr in 1962, he had a passing thought of writing a book on the three-time Olympics gold medal winner. That thought — more than half a century and a 1977 autobiography later — has finally taken shape.

In his book 'The Golden Goal', to be tentatively released this month, the Toronto-based writer gives an interesting view to Balbir Singh's life.

One of the chapters talks of how failing in intermediate college (today's Class XII) turned out to be a "blessing in disguise" for the hockey legend, as he puts it himself.

In 1941, after the failure, 18-year-old Balbir moved from DM Intermediate College, Moga, to Sikh National College, Lahore, on the insistence of a professor, late Rattan Singh Gill. Gill had spotted Balbir at a local Basant hockey tournament in Moga. And on learning about his failure, he gave the hockey player a chance. "It was a coincidence," says Balbir in a meeting with The Times of India, at the Chandigarh home of his daughter, Sushbir Bohmia. "I even got free boarding, education, and food."

It was during his time at Lahore that Balbir was groomed into a varsity-level player.

However, this incidental centre forward's journey (there's a story behind how he became a forward too) has more twists than one would imagine, and the book tries to cover all of them.

Balbir's all-important and life-defining shift to Khalsa College, Amritsar, in 1941 too had its own share of twists. The hockey legend's future India coach and mentor Harbail Singh had to coax Balbir's father, Dalip Singh, to send him to the Amritsar college. "My father felt I would do better in Lahore. But Harbail Singh would have nothing of it," says Balbir. "He sent players from the Armitsar college to Lahore to get me. They literally kidnapped me. But, eventually, it all worked out well."

In a conversation over the phone from Toronto, Principal Sarwan Singh says he was able to trace the lineage of Balbir Singh Sr to Sikh warrior Baba Bidhi Chand with the help of research done by late Jagjit Singh Dosanjh, a PhD scholar who was settled in the UK and compiled the study 'The Societal History of Dosanjh Kalan'. "In my book, I have compared Baba Bidhi Chand's horse-riding skills with Balbir's exploits on the hockey field," he says.

For the soon-to-be-released book, Principal Sarwan Singh acknowledges, he picked up facts from the 1977 book, The Golden Hat-trick, as it was narrated to late sports journalist Samuel Banerjee.

In Chandigarh, meanwhile, the 92-year-old Balbir Singh says he is not yet done with hockey. "I still want to see India winning a medal," he says. "We are planning to start a foundation on grandpa's name, and it would be for grooming hockey at the grass-roots level," pitches in Kabir, Balbir's grandson. To give a picture of their intention, he says, "We'll be at a hockey nursery in Fatehgarh Sahib when this story goes to print."

The humble iconic sportsperson, who first held a hockey stick at the age of 5 and is still as comfortable with one, paints a slightly confounding picture when asked about the title 'Golden Goal'. "At present, I am in the important Golden Goal period of my life. My match, this time, is against The Almighty (God). When he scores the Golden Goal, the story will be over."

The Times of India

Women's Sport Week: The Rising Star

Lily Owsley in action at LVHTC

With Women's Sport Week entering the home straight, we talk to one of the youngest members of the Great Britain squad, Lily Owsley about her role models and her rise to international hockey.

Lily Owsley’s rise to the top of the hockey world has been a meteoric one. A promising 800m runner in her youth, the athletic forward focused her energies on hockey and was fast tracked through the ranks of the junior international sides to the senior squad where she made her debut aged just 19. Now almost two years on, the University of Birmingham star looks back on her journey with a real excitement:

“It was quite a shock to the system going from watching these players at the Olympics, and thinking it was an ambition I’d love to realise some time in the distant future to coming to play in the group was incredible. It doesn’t take long to realise they are normal people but that they are also the most driven, determined and talented players.” she adds “It was a bit scary at first. I got fast-tracked to the U21s which was incredible and then I got moved to the seniors in a relatively short space of time. I was way off the standard of the group when I came in. I was a young, skinny but quick player but I got muscled off the ball and made some mistakes but I love it now and I’m so glad I got the chance.”

For one so young, the transition from schoolgirl to international hockey player seems a daunting one, but Owsley, now a student at the University of Birmingham seems at ease with the change:

“The biggest difference is hockey becomes your life and lifestyle. From playing as a hobby to being a professional, thinking “this is my job now”, it’s such a massive difference. I’d say in the two years I’ve been in the group I’ve changed so much as a person and as a player. I’ve grown to love the programme, the training and of course the rest of the squad. It’s such a great thing to part of. I’ve got bigger, too but most of all I’d like to think I’ve grown as a player.”

For one who has made a rapid transition from watching her role models to playing in the same team as them, Owsley seems to have taken it all in her stride. However, she still has a keen sense of the positive impact some of her idols had on her, and the opportunity to follow suit is certainly not lost on the 20-year-old.

“It’s an amazing feeling knowing you can have a positive effect on someone’s life. I remember looking up to someone like Kelly Holmes. I was an athlete as well as a hockey player and I got to meet her a few times and everything she said is etched in my mind. Even though to her it is probably second nature, it had such an impact on me and it’s stuck with me since. Hopefully I can have a positive impact on someone’s life in or out of sport as I know she did on me.”

With that in mind, the No26 seems well placed to advise the next generation of aspiring stars the route they should take. Her advice is not dissimilar to that of some of her teammates:

“I’d advise young people to try every sport they can. I played anything and everything when I was younger and although some weren’t for me, (such as swimming!) I benefited from giving everything a go. You never know what you’re going be good at until you give it a try. Obviously I’m biased towards hockey because it’s already given me a lot and it’s a sport I love but I’d say to try anything. The skills you’ll gain are so important and more transferable than you realise. Do as many sports as you can for as long as you can and just enjoy yourself.”

England Hockey Board Media release

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