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News for 25 December 2015

All the news for Friday 25 December 2015

Under 21 hockey teams to play in Africa Championship


Kenya Hockey Union chairman Nashon Randiek. PHOTO | FILE |   NATION MEDIA GROUP

The Kenyan Under 21 hockey teams will take part in next year’s Junior Africa Cup of Nations set for Windhoek, Namibia.

The tournament, set for March 18-28, will also act as the continental qualifiers for next year’s Under 21 Junior World Cup.

The men's Junior World Cup will be held in Delhi, India, from November 1-11, 2016 while the women's Junior World Cup will be held in Santiago, Chile, from November 23 to December 4, 2016.

According to the Africa Hockey federation website, nine men’s and eight women’s teams will grace the quadrennial event to be staged at the Windhoek Hockey Stadium.

Defending champions South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Tanzania, Egypt and Namibia will feature in the men’s competition while only Egypt will not be represented in the women’s competition.

The top two teams in both categories will represent the continent in India and Chile respectively.

Kenya Hockey Union chairman Nashon Randiek Daily Nation Sport on Thursday called on the government to assist them financially to ensure the teams take part in the event.

“This is an important competition and we believe our players should take part in the event,” Randiek said.

“However, we don’t want to commit without getting financial assurances. The government should assist the teams.”

Randiek said the union has already written to the government over the same adding that the coaching committee will meet next month to start preparations for the event.

“The coaching unit will go all over the country to identify the players to represent the country,” he added.

Kenya faltered at the previous edition held in South Africa in 2012 failing to go past the preliminary stages.

The event also saw Kenya’s two teams kicked out of their hotel for lack of money. They were hounded out of Randburg Towers Hotel, Johannesburg even after the then Ministry of Sports Permanent Secretary, James Waweru, cleared the teams’ bill of Sh6.5 million.

South Africa and Egypt represented Africa in the 2013 junior men’s World Cup held in India while Ghana joined South Africa in the women’s competition held in Germany the same year.

South Africa has already named its teams to participate in the event.

Daily Nation

Telkom call shots in Africa

Orange rule Africa as KHU fails men and women national teams

By Elizabeth Mburugu

Ladies Team Orange during a league match organized by Kenya Hockey Union at City Park Stadium on Sunday, Nov 22, 2015. PHOTO: JONAH ONYANGO/STANDARD.

The year 2015 will go down as the most successful in Kenyan women’s hockey, after Africa hockey club champions Telkom Orange conquered the continent to retain their title.

Orange defeated Ghana Police 3-2 in a penalty shoot-out to win their fourth successive title and eighth cup in total last Sunday in Lusaka, Zambia.

Orange put Kenya on top of the continent and maintained its status as a hockey powerhouse, when in comes to women hockey. They had played to a 3-3 draw with Police and beat Lusaka Sharks 2-0 in the preliminaries to make it to the semis.

They trounced arch-rivals Ghana Revenue Authority 2-0 to book a second meeting with Police in the final. The match ended in a one-all draw, but it was Orange, who excelled in the shootout to extend their reign at the helm of Africa hockey.

Locally, the 17-time champions have maintained a good run and are closer to winning an unprecedented 18th national title. Honestly, they have been exceptional and remain unbeaten thus far.

The men’s title hunt has also been competitive, with reigning champions Butali Sugar Warriors and former champions Police battling in a two-horse race for the league title.

However, the inconsistency in the league has given respective club coaches some sleepless nights. And by extension, tacticians, players and fans feel the scenario is not helping much in improving the standards of the sport.

Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) has failed to come up with a consistent league, as some teams have had to wait for more than two months to honour their fixture.

But while Orange were enjoying their prowess on the national and international scenes, there was nothing much to note about men and women’s national teams. It is a year most of the players will want to quickly forget. Despite their passion and commitment, both sides suffered misfortunes in their line of duty.

Women’s national team players were optimistic of achieving every athlete’s dream; playing at the Olympics. They first got the chance to qualify for the quadrennial event through the International Hockey Federation (FIH) world league series. The Kenyan girls did not disappoint as they beat Ghana 1-0 and Tanzania 17-0 in league one and qualified for the next round.

But shocks and disappointment awaited the title-hungry girls. League two was set for February in Montevideo, Uruguay, but KHU delayed preparations as they wanted to play in India instead of the South American nation.

What followed was nothing but torture for the players. On day one of the event when they were supposed to play France, the Kenyan team was still stranded at City Park Stadium, not sure if they will travel.

And when they finally boarded the flight, they arrived late for their first match against Trinidad and Tobego, who broke no sweat after they awarded a walkover. France also benefited from the free points, before Kenya lost to Azerbaijan 5-0 in their only group match.

In an interview with the Uruguayan press after Kenya lost 3-0 to the home team in the quarter-finals, veteran defender Terry Juma said. “They are way ahead of us. We got here late and the gap between us is very wide. They have played since day one, while we began on day four. It was going to be very difficult for us to catch up with our opponents.”

Kenya lost all their matches and with that, their hopes to play in next year’s Olympics also went up in smoke.

The second opportunity was in the continental qualifiers in Randburg, South Africa. KHU was at it again, with their characteristic poor preparations coupled with unending blame-games.

The Standard Online

Pakistan's 62nd National Hockey Championship rolls into action today

KARACHI: Third umpire video referral system will be introduced in the 62nd National Hockey Championship that pushes off at the Hockey Club of Pakistan Stadium here on Friday (today). "The launch of the system is aimed at minimising the errors, if any, during the matches," technical delegate of the country's premier hockey championship former Olympian Qamar Ibrahim said while unveiling details of the event at the venue on Thursday. He maintained that under the system the two umpires' supervising a match will be video linked with umpires' manager to give fair advantage to the teams. The former Olympian said 20 teams comprising 15 departments, four provinces and Islamabad will vie for honours in the event which concludes on January 10. The teams have been drawn into four pools and after the league matches, top two teams from each pool will advance into the quarter-finals. The knock out matches from quarter-finals onward will be played under floodlights and televised live, he added.

He added that chief selector Abdul Rashid Jr and co-selectors would watch the event to identify talented players. Qamar said a disciplinary committee, which included technical delegate, umpires manager, chief selector and chief coordinator of the event, had been formed. Dilawar Bhatti has been named as umpires' manager. He applauded the whole-hearted support of the Sindh government, particularly of additional chief secretary Ajaz Ali Khan and secretary sports and youth affairs Mohammad Rashid. Qamar said gold, silver and bronze medal winning teams will be handsomely rewarded besides "Best Player of the Championship", "Top Scorer" and "Best Goalkeeper". He said the PHF had invited all former Olympians and internationals to come and give their input for the uplift of game in the country.

The Daily Times

PHF Congress meets tomorrow

KARACHI: The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary former Olympian Shahbaz Ahmed is expected to take the vote of confidence when its Congress meets at a local hotel on Saturday.

After taking the reign of PHF as president retired Brig Khalid Sajjad Khokhar has nominated Shahbaz as secretary.

The PHF Congress is also likely to give its nod to the annual calendar for 2016.

Meanwhile, the newly laid desso turf at the Hockey Club of Pakistan was opened for different teams when they turned up for practice on Thursday to have a feeling before the National Hockey Championship.

Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah will formally inaugurate the event on Friday at 3.30pm.


How India's drag flickers Raghunath and Rupinderpal bond off-field to perform on it

Indian hockey's penalty corner specialists Raghunath and Rupinderpal work in tandem on field and share a great rapport off it. This is what makes them a great pair.

Rutvick Mehta.

VR Raghunath and Rupinder Pal Singh Getty Images

In every team sport, there are smaller units that work together in the larger interest of the entire team. In cricket, two batsmen build partnerships while bowlers hunt in pairs. In field sports like football forwards attack in a pack and defenders thwart challenges in sync. In hockey, there is a third aspect: Dragflickers.

It's here that the Indian hockey team has been strong in the recent past. Players – and coaches, indeed – have come and gone, but VR Raghunath and Rupinderpal Singh have been two constants in the Indian dragflicking unit for more than five years now. Simply put, they comprise the core of the team.

And as the two talk about each other and what clicks for them together on the field, there is palpable sense of deep connection. Raghunath refers to Rupinderpal as 'Bob' – his nickname – while Rupinderpal calls his senior teammate 'Raghu bhai'.

"Rupinderal and I have been playing together for the past six-seven years," Raghunath says. "Working in combination as two dragflickers is all about leaving your ego, attitude aside and depending on each other. There's no ego clash, no attitude, no selfishness between us."

When a team has two dragflickers, there is bound to be an element of selfishness. After all, who wouldn't like to take a penalty corner (PC) to add to his goals tally and be a hero? "Whoever gets the chance, the other has to let him score in the best interest of the team," Raghunath says. "At the end of the day, we just want the ball to go inside the net. Who scores doesn't matter to us. That's the attitude we maintain."

Selflessness seems to be the key word for this dragflicking pair. "If we're selfish in terms of taking penalty corners, then it lets the team down, and it lets us down," Rupinderpal says.

Complementing each other

Raghunath, the 27-year-old from Kodagu, made his international debut in 2005, while 25-year-old Rupinderpal broke into the Indian team in 2010. Both are defenders besides being dragflickers. They know each other's game inside out, understand each other's strengths and weaknesses as individual players. That, according to both, is as important as respecting each other.

"We are lucky enough that we play in the same position, next to each other," Raghunath says. "We both defend. We are always next to each other on a hockey field, and that helps in better communication. We try to cover our mistakes in defence. When I miss a tackle, he tackles or when he misses a tackle, I tackle. Even when we defend a PC, we defend together. So in every aspect as defenders, we're together. That's where the bonding on the field comes from."

Rupinderpal believes it's all about complementing each other on the field. "One guy can have an off day, but the other just can't," he says. "If he has an off day, I can't and vice-versa. So one of us always has to be on the top of our game."

And assuming both of them are at the top of their game on a given day, do they decide among themselves who will take the PC? Raghunath says, "Basically, it's the decision of the coach and how he looks at our form. But if we both are at the same level, then in that 20-30 seconds (before the PC), we ask each other who feels more confident. If things favour me: like seeing the goalkeeper, the first runner, then I take the shot. If they favour him, then he takes it.

"We both have different styles of taking the shot. We know the opponent. We know the situation. We discuss and plan accordingly,".

"Absolutely," Rupinderpal concurs. "We both know who is more confident at any given situation. So we both talk about it, and if he feels more confident, I tell him to take it."

The duo also discuss among themselves if they see something wrong in the other's game. And that is besides the regular team talks. "If something is needed to be rectified really quick during the game, we try to talk in that few minutes between quarters. I'll tell him what I expect from him in the next quarter or vice-versa. It's just small words spoken really fast," Raghunath says.

Chemistry off the field

Their teamwork has been built on strong bricks of trust, and that comes from their chemistry off the field. The two make it a point to spend as much time as possible with each other off the field as well. They analyse mistakes together, eat together, and even party together.

"We are like brothers," Raghunath says. "We spend time going out: like to parties and movies. We even go for long drives. We always try to do things together, and that helps us gel better.

"The off-field friendship has really helped us perform that much better on the field. I know his intentions very well. And when both of us are on the same wavelength, it really works."

There's a notion that players need not be good friends off the field to perform well together on it. Rupinderpal differs. "I feel that if we are good friends off the field, only then can we convert that chemistry on the field. If outside the field, we pull each other's leg or try to run each other down, it will only show in our play," he says.

Always there for each other

An example of their friendship came earlier this year. In May, the then chief coach Paul Van Ass had omitted Rupinderpal from the squad for the Hockey World League (HWL) semifinals in Antwerp. Raghunath was picked as the lone PC specialist, but he got injured just two days before the team left for the event. Rupinderpal was then added to the team, and played from the third game after he, too, suffered an injury during a practice match.

All throughout this game of musical chairs, the two kept in touch with each other. "When I got injured just two days before the team left for Antwerp, I told Rupinder, 'you now have a big responsibility. You should take care of this tour'," Raghunath says.

"We always make it a point to be in touch over phone even if we're not together," Rupinderpal says. "He helps me a lot in terms of my mindset. He cares a lot about me, and we both motivate each other."
Raghunath sums up their relationship.

"When I get injured," he says, "I personally feel that I put too much burden on him, because I should be sharing it."


We spend time going out: like to parties and movies. We even go for long drives. We always try to do things together, and that helps us gel better
--VR Raghunath

We both know who is more confident at any given situation. So we both talk about it, and if he feels more confident, I tell him to take the penalty corner
--Rupinderpal Singh


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