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News for 18 July 2016

All the news for Monday 18 July 2016

Mantell magic secures draw with Belgium

Simon Mantell struck twice to salvage a draw with Belgium. Credit Ian MacNicol

Two goals from Simon Mantell rescued a point in dramatic fashion in Great Britain’s match with Belgium at the Ergo Masters Four Nations Invitational. Mantell struck twice in the final ten minutes, including a goal with virtually the last touch of the match to complete a remarkable comeback from 2-0 down for Bobby Crutchley’s side. Strikes from Eliot Van Strydonck and Sebastien Dockier had looked set to condemn Crutchley’s team to a defeat but Mantell’s late intervention turned the tide and secured a point.

Great Britain settled the quicker of the two sides and dictated the early going with some good spells of possession and some early pressure. Ashley Jackson was at the heart of all the good things Great Britain did and was controlling the midfield. Bobby Crutchley’s side won the first penalty corner of the match on six minutes. Jackson took the shot but it flew over the bar. It took Belgium a while to come into the contest but in the 12th minute they forced a penalty corner. Loick Luypaert stepped up but James Bailey got down well to make the save. The Red Lions had another set piece chance almost immediately but Bailey was across well to glove away the shot, again from Luypaert. Thoughts were turning to the first break of the match but Belgium got their noses in front right on the stroke of quarter time. A long pass into the circle found Van Strydonck at the far post and he made no mistake from close range to make it 1-0.  

Belgium came out for the second quarter full of energy after taking the lead. A series of penalty corners threatened Bailey’s goal but the Great Britain goalkeeper made good saves to deny Tom Boon and Tanguy Cosyns whilst Dan Fox charged another effort down near the top of the circle. Great Britain hit back and Jackson brought the best out of Vincent Vanasch in the Red Lions’ goal, forcing a fine stop from the Belgian goalkeeper.
Despite a good spell of pressure from Great Britain, on 22 minutes, the lead was doubled. A pass into the circle fell kindly to Sebastien Dockier and he was able to fire home to give Great Britain a mountain to climb. Crutchley’s team almost pulled one back but Alastair Brogdon’s deflection thudded against the post with the goalkeeper beaten and it remained 2-0 at the interval.

Belgium sat back in the third quarter, seemingly content to protect what they had. The massed ranks of Red Lions’ defenders made it very difficult for Great Britain to break through and chances continued to be scarce. A good run and cross by Brogdon almost set up a sliding Phil Roper but Vanasch snaked out a glove to get a vital touch to steer the ball away from the Wimbledon man to safety. Great Britain trailed by two heading into the final 15 minutes.

Five minutes into the final quarter Great Britain gave themselves a glimmer of hope. Mark Gleghorne found Jackson outside the circle and his immediate pass found Mantell to apply the finish and make it 2-1. Boon broke into the GB circle with three minutes left and looked set to settle the match for Belgium but Henry Weir came from nowhere to pull off a brilliant block to keep Great Britain in the hunt. Crutchley’s side went to a kicking back for the final two minutes in an attempt to rescue the game and with seconds remaining it paid dividends. Jackson once again played the killer pass and Mantell’s touch diverted the ball beyond Vanasch and snatched a point for Great Britain.

The match between Netherlands and Germany is taking place now and will determine where Great Britain finish in the standings.

Head Coach Bobby Crutchley:

“I’m disappointed with how we played because we didn’t execute our plans and that’s a little frustrating. At times we overplayed in an effort to get back into the match and that upset our balance. It’s not quite the display I wanted and we didn’t have the control I was looking for but I’m really happy with the character we showed to get something from the game.”

“When we play the way we’re capable of and we do what we set out to do, we create chances. It’s nice for Simon Mantell to get a couple of goals, too. I’d probably say we’ve produced two and half good performances out here. We played some good hockey at times and we did plenty of good things. The main negative is the injury Chris Grassick suffered.”

“We came here knowing it’s an excellent tournament and it’s against three of the best teams in the world so in that respect it’s been a superb competition for us. We’ve been reminded of what we need to work on and we’re in pretty good shape for the challenges ahead. Rio is a long and very difficult tournament. We need to be in control on and off the pitch and we need to be at our best throughout. This weekend has been a good learning experience for us and we’re confident heading towards the Olympics.”

Belgium 2 (2)
Eliot Van Strydonck 15 (FG)
Sebastien Dockier 22 (FG)

Great Britain 2 (0)
Simon Mantell 50, 60 (FG, FG)

Great Britain Hockey media release

Late fightback seals draw with Belgium as Great Britain ends ERGO Masters unbeaten

By Mike Haymonds

SIMON MANTELL’S double in the last ten minutes clinched Great Britain’s 2-2 draw against Belgium and ensured they remained unbeaten after their final  game at the four-nation ERGO Masters  In Dusseldorf.

Reading’s Mantell, 32, was only selected as a traveling reserve for the Rio Olympics but made a telling contribution in GB’s last match of their pre-Games preparations.

Belgium were two-up after 22 minutes through field goals from Elliot van Strydonck and Sebastien Dockier but Mantell’s brace gave his side a final second place behind Germany, who beat the Netherlands 3-2.

His first on 50 minutes came after Mark Gleghorne found acting captain Ashley Jackson, whose pass set up Mantell to fire home. GB’s goalkeeper James Bailey  was replaced by an extra outfield player for the last two minutes and the move paid off. The second goal, with virtually the last action,  saw another Jackson pass touched in by Mantell.

GB head coach Bobby Crutchley said: ““I’m disappointed with how we played because we didn’t execute our plans and that’s a little frustrating. At times we overplayed in an effort to get back into the match and that upset our balance. It’s not quite the display I wanted and we didn’t have the control I was looking for but I’m really happy with the character we showed to get something from the game.”

Daily Express

Mantell double rescues draw for Great Britain in Germany

A Simon Mantell double rescued a point for Great Britain's hockey men against Belgium in the Ergo Masters Four Nations Invitational, in Dusseldorf.

Britain came into the game fresh from drawing against Germany and beating The Netherlands 3-0, but were 2-0 down to their Belgian opponents in 22 minutes.

Mantell bagged a brace in the final ten minutes though to leave his side unbeaten in the pre-Olympic warm up.

Elliot Van Strydonck tapped in from close range to give Belgium the lead after 15 minutes and Sebastian Dockier extended their advantage seven minutes later, firing home after the ball fell kindly at his feet.

However, good interplay between Mark Gleghorne and Ashley Jackson in the final quarter allowed Mantell to half the deficit with ten minutes to play.

And the comeback was complete with just seconds to spare as Mantell once again latched onto a Jackson pass to divert it past Vincent Vanasch in the Belgian goal.

Great Britain head coach Bobby Crutchley was left frustrated by his side's performance, but was heartened by the team's fighting spirit.

"I'm disappointed with how we played because we didn't execute our plans and that's a little frustrating," he said.

"At times we overplayed in an effort to get back into the match and that upset our balance.

"It's not quite the display I wanted and we didn't have the control I was looking for but I'm really happy with the character we showed to get something from the game.

"We came here knowing it's an excellent tournament and it's against three of the best teams in the world so in that respect it's been a superb competition for us.

"We've been reminded of what we need to work on and we're in pretty good shape for the challenges ahead.

"Rio is a long and very difficult tournament."

Germany beat the Netherlands 3-2 in the tournament's final fixture to leave Great Britain finishing in second, two points behind the hosts.


England U16 Girls suffer narrow defeat to Belgium

A strong second-half performance was not enough to save England’s under-16 girls from going down to a narrow 3-2 defeat to Belgium in their opening game of the Osaka Six Nations Tournament held in Antwerp on Sunday.

They were two goals down at the break with Rachel Winthagen opening the scoring on 12 minutes before Lyne Van Dieren doubled the lead from a penalty corner in the 21st.

But England soon found some form as the game restarted and eleven minutes into the half, Lorna Mackenzie met a penalty corner with a crisp strike which flew past the Belgian keeper.

Belgium saw their two-goal cushion restored as Winthagen fired home her second of the game on 63 minutes but England quickly recovered and Isabelle Petter struck a classy reverse shot into the top corner to make it 3-2 just a minute later.

Coach, Marc Bourhill, said: “It was a very disappointing first half, we were naïve and we let in an easy goal.

“We were much better in the second half and there were plenty of encouraging signs, we created numerous chances.

“We need to start on the front foot and the girls understand that. There are plenty of positives we can take into our game against Spain tomorrow.”

Belgium U16 Girls 3 (2)
England U16 Girls 2 (0)

England Hockey Board Media release

Belgum loss for battling England Under-16 Boys

A battling display from England Under-16 Boys was not enough to avoid falling to a 3-1 loss to hosts Belgium in the Osaka Six-Nations Tournament on Sunday.

Head Coach Jerome Goudie praised his team’s battling spirit which saw them cause problems for Belgium right until the end of the match.

A goalless first half raised the tension for both sides, and the first goal was always going to prove crucial for tempo. That goal went Belgium’s way with captain nelson Onana Alima scoring in the 55th minute from open play.

England had been attacking, but a mis-trap led to a counter attack down the right hand side by Belgium. The initial shot was saved by Luke Brownlee, but the Belgian skipper scored from the rebound.

Ben Nicholson had the ball in the net for England shortly after from a penalty corner routine, but the second umpire cancelled out the goal because of a foot making contact with the ball, taking the wind out of England’s sails somewhat.

Belgium doubled their lead – again through Onana Alima. A drag flick to the keeper’s right was saved by Brownlee, but Onana Alima, who had been the injector, scored from the rebound.

England’s heads did not go down, and they halved the deficit in the 68th minute through Finley Newton. A good attack down the left hand side by Tom Russell led to the ball being squared, and the cross was deflected home at the back post by Newton.

Pushing for an equaliser, England conceded a late goal from a rag flick at a penalty corner by Jeff de Winter.

“Although disappointed to lose our first game here it was really good to see us battle back and score a goal and keep fighting right to the end,” said Head Coach Jerome Goudie. “We’re looking forward to playing Spain tomorrow and continuing the good work.”

Belgium U16 Boys 3 (0)
England U16 Boys 1 (0)

England Hockey Board Media release

Midlands Men, Auckland Women take U18 titles

Photo: Planet Hockey

The Midlands Men and Auckland Women have taken out this year’s titles at the National Under 18 Tournament in Palmerston North.

The men’s final between Midlands and North Harbour was on a knife edge for the entire game with neither side able to score a winning goal in regulation time, ending with a 0-0 draw.

In the shoot-out, Midlanders Tim Neild, Garrick Du Toit, Zane Anderson, Reuben Andrews and Kalpesh Morar netted while goalkeeper Alexander Hasselman-Black ensured the crucial miss from Harbour.

In the men’s bronze medal match, Auckland defeated Central 3-1 thanks to goals from Jonny Bates, Xavier Guy and Shae Iswar.

Reuben Andrews was named Men’s Most Valuable Player for the tournament, while he also finished joint top goal scorer with four penalty corner conversions.

In the women’s final, Auckland overcame Central with a 3-1 shoot-out victory after the score was deadlocked 3-3 at fulltime.

Ailsa Connelly scored a double for Auckland while Kate Ivory added her side’s third goal, while Central recovered from a two goal deficit to equalise with Megan Phillips, Emma Rainey and Casey Crowley finding the back of the net.

In the shoot-out Auckland goalkeeper Sophie Howard forced three misses from Central to lead her side to the gold medal.

Canterbury secured the bronze medal with a tight 2-1 result over Capital thanks to a double from Emily Wium.

Wium finished top goal scorer at the tournament with nine field goals while Auckland’s Amelia Marlow was named Women’s Most Valuable Player.

Men’s Final Standings

1. Midlands
2. North Harbour
3. Auckland
4. Central
5. Southern
6. Capital
7. Northland
8. Canterbury

Women’s Final Standings

1. Auckland
2. Central
3. Canterbury
4. Capital
5. North Harbour
6. Midlands
7. Northland
8. Southern

CLICK HERE for more on the National Under 18 Tournament

Hockey New Zealand Media release

HPD Andy Smith to step down

Holly MacNeil

Hockey Australia High Performance Director Andy Smith has announced his decision to stand down from the role after 18 months in the role and eight years at Hockey Australia.

Commenting on his decision, Smith said: “After nearly 11 fantastic years in Perth we are now in the position where we have had to consider a move back to England, to be able to be around my father who’s health has been deteriorating over the last 6-12 months, and be closer to my parents and to provide support to and be with family.

“It has been a heart wrenching decision to walk away from an environment that you love, but I feel very proud of my time with Hockey Australia and the wider Australian sporting system. I have been extremely fortunate to be able to work with so many great people and I will leave with great memories and friendships.

“I am excited by the future for the teams and sport in general and the opportunities ahead as we continue to strive for year on year podium success. It goes without saying that I am totally committed to playing my part in supporting our teams to achieve our best performances in Rio.”

Andy has had a tremendous impact on both the Kookaburras and the Hockeyroos during his time as High Performance Director, along with creating a marked impact on the overall operations of Hockey Australia.

Smith joined Hockey Australia in 2009 as the Kookaburras Operations Manager, before moving into the role of High Performance Director at the beginning of 2015.

Hockey Australia Chief Executive Cam Vale said: “Andy has been an outstanding employee of Hockey Australia since 2009, initially as Men’s Operations Manager and of course in the last 18 months as High Performance Director. 

“I can’t praise his work ethic highly enough, his pursuit of excellence in both roles and his delivery of excellence has been above expectations.  He has been a great support to me as CEO not just in the role of HPD but leading all operations in Perth.”

Smith’s decision comes on the back of Hockeyroos Head Coach Adam Commens’ announcement earlier in the year that he would complete his tender with the Hockeyroos post Rio with the intention of returning to Belgium with his family.

Hockeyroos Assistant Coach Jason Duff will take over as interim Head Coach, with Hockeyroos Goalkeeping Coach Mark Hickman stepping into the position of interim Assistant Coach.

Smith will leave his post in September; with the positions of Head Coach and High Performance Director to be recruited for in due course, with announcements on the processes to be confirmed in the next two weeks.

Hockey Australia media release

Stats Speak:  know the teams  in the Rio Olympics (part-1)

By B.G.Joshi (Sehore-Bhopal, India)

Hockey Statistician B.G.Joshi

Renowned hockey statistician B.G.Joshi have compiled stats and records on all the 24 competing teams  in Rio Olympics. Today he is providing stats and records of Netherlands and Argentina- two women teams.

1.0 Netherlands (NED)
Pool: A
World Ranking:01
Title: Olympic Champions(London-2012) and World Cup Champions(Hague-2014)
Coach: Alyson Annan (Australia),Annan won 8 FIH Gold Medals(OG-1996,2000; WC-1994,98;CT-1993,95,97,99)
Captain: Maartje Paumen (won all the FIH tournaments Gold Medals as a captain viz OG-2012,WC-2014,CT-2011,HWL-2014)
How Qualified: 1st  in Antwerp HWL(2015)
Appearances:8,3 Gold(1984,2008,2012), 1 Silver(2004),3 Bronze(1988,1996,2000),once 6th(1992)
Records: P-W-D-L-GF-GA- 51-34-8-9-117-71
Head to head versus pool competitors in Olympics:

Netherlands vs.







New Zealand














South Korea






















Biggest ever win: 6-0 vs. South Africa in 2008
Worst defeat: 0-5 vs. Australia in 2000

2.0 Argentina (ARG)
Pool: B
World Ranking:02
Title: Champions Trophy Champions(London-2016),World League Champions(Rosario-2015) and  Pan Am Cup(Mendoza-2013)
Coach: Gabriel Minadeo
Captain: Carla Rebecchi
How Qualified: Dual qualification of South Korea vacate the slot,Argentina qualify as stood 4th in Valencia HWL(2015)
Appearances: 6, 2 Silver(2000,2012),2 Bronze(2004,2008),twice 7th(1988,1996)
Records: P-W-D-L-GF-GA- 40-21-5-14-78-66
Head to head versus pool competitors in Olympics:

Argentina  vs.





















Great Britain






















Biggest ever win: 7-1 vs. New Zealand in 2008 and 7-1 vs. South Africa in 2012
Worst defeat: 1-7 vs. Australia in 1996


USA women's field hockey believes it has joined the elite

In this July 31, 2012 file photo, members of the United States' women's hockey team cheer the crowd following their 1-0 victory over Argentina in their women's hockey preliminary match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, in London. The United States is a real threat to return to the podium in women’s field hockey. The Americans finished third in Los Angeles in 1984 but haven’t medaled since, despite qualifying for the Games in 2008 and 2012. There are signs that a breakthrough might be near. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File)

The United States is a real threat to return to the podium in women's field hockey.

The Americans finished third in Los Angeles in 1984 but haven't medaled since, despite qualifying for the Games in 2008 and 2012.

There are signs that a breakthrough might be near. The U.S. won the Pan-Am Games in 2015, beating perennial power Argentina in the final. In the Champions Tournament in June, the United States finished third, despite being the lowest-ranked of the six entrants. Included were draws against No. 3 Australia and No. 4 New Zealand in pool play and a win over Australia in the third-place match.

The U.S. is No. 5 in the latest FIH world rankings, its highest slot ever. The squad plans to challenge Australia and New Zealand, as well as No. 1 Netherlands and No. 2 Argentina, next month.

"Last month, we were able to show the world that we are at a point where we're reaching our goals," forward Katie Bam said. "We're stepping up and we're taking it to teams that are ranked higher than us, and we are playing without fear, and we are winning those games."

A critical part of coach Craig Parnham's plan when he took over in 2013 was to make sure the players clearly defined what they wanted to accomplish. They met for 2 ½ hours and agreed that the word united needed to be more than just a part of their country's name.

"We want this program to be number one in the world," midfielder Rachel Dawson said. "We understand that the only way that we're going to do that is by doing it together, by each of us bringing our individual strengths and making something that's bigger than any of us individually."

Dawson has the most caps, with 289. She played on both the 2008 and 2012 Olympic teams.

Lauren Crandall is second on the team with 273 caps, and she also heads into her third Olympics. She was fifth in the International Hockey Federation Player of the Year balloting in 2015.

"She's hugely experienced and has been through many cycles with the USA," Parnham said. "She is a great leader for the team. Not only does she speak well, but more importantly for us, she defines her ability on actions and behaviors. She leads by example and is a real role model for the younger players."

Kaitelyn Falgowski, a midfielder who also will play in her third Olympics, has 225 caps.

The Americans plan to improve on their 12th-place finish in London in 2012.

"I think a lot can happen in four years," Falgowski said. "That's one of the biggest things going forward, is this is a new team. The lessons we've learned over the past four years have really prepared us going into Rio for any mindset. We're still writing our own script, and in London, we may have finished 12th, but we're going in with a fresh start in Rio, and I think that's something that we're all prepared for and excited to be able to do."

The Bristol Herald Courier

Oh India, always there but never were

K. Arumugam

“Oh India”, after a long pause, he continued: “Always there but never were”

These were the words of Roelant Oltmans uttered 14 summers ago.

It was a chance air encounter that I met India’s present coach in 2002. After changing flight at KLIA, I found Roelant Oltmans in the Cathy Pacific flight going to Perth, where Women’s World Cup was staged.

He was with his radio-jockey friend. We three discussed a lot on hockey, when it meandered to Indian men’s Olympics and on how India narrowly missed the semis at Sydney, he said those words.

How true.

India may not have won any medal at Olympics after 1972, but, barring 1992 and 2012, it was almost there for the semis till the last pool match of every Olympics. India played all but Beijing Olympic number.

1976: India and Australia had same points after they finished their pool matches. The same Indians who lost to the Oceania giant 1-6 in the pool, were a transformed side. The match ended in a draw. India lost the tie-break with Ajit Singh, father of Gagan Ajit, missing out while the last chance of Australia was lapped by Ric Charlesworth. Tie-break result can go either way, it’s a spin of coin kind. Its an unlucky exit for Indians at Los Angles, but the world blamed for the just introduced Synthetic turf for all Indian woes.

1980: India won the gold against Spain in the final score 4-3.

1984: Germany qualified from Indian pool on goal difference. India defeated Malaysia 3-0 while Germany playing after India thrashed them for 5-0. Coach Balkrishan Singh said many times it was not a normal match but ‘fixed’ one. With this background, Germany and India played their match, that is between them which ended 0-0 draw. Both teams had three wins and a draw, but Germany made it on better goal aggregate than India. Whatever, India was not there in the semis because of lesser goal aggregate.

1988: India needed a draw in the last pool match to enter the semis as the second placed team in its pool. It was against previous edition bronze medallists Great Britain. Halftime score was 0-0. India, despite playing Mohd. Sahid in this half, failed to strike. But Sean Kerly came up with trump, and saw India punctured thrice. However, India lost its cause in the first match itself when it went down 0-1 to novice Russia. This goal was as a result of age-old indiscipline from Indian side. The Indians were demanding a foul from umpire surrounding him, but the Russian forward made his move and struck! Even a draw in the first match would have seen India in the semis. So near but so far.

1992: Worst ever Indian Olympic performance ever.

1996: The Atlanta Olympics is almost rerun of Los Angeles’. A bad start undid all good subsequent performance. A chance goal by Jorgi Lombi went unanswered till the full time in the opener. India thereafter drew Germany 1-1, which was a great result. Remember Stephen Saliger equalized India just four minutes before the hooter. India then beat USA, drew Pakistan 0-0 despite dominating, and then hammered ultimate silver medallist Spain3-1. Less of a point, missed the semis.

2000: India put up by far the best Olympic performance after 1972. India needed a win in its last pool match over lowly rated Poland to lock horns against Pakistan in the semis, and push out Korea from second position in its own pool. There was two-day rest. On the crucial day, there were heavy rains. India was leading by a goal, but a lapse from captain Ramandeep Singh saw the sluggish Polish levelling. After that in the remaining six, seven minutes Mukesh Kumar had two clear chances to strike and settle the issue, but mis-fired. Match ended 1-1 draw. Had it been 2-2 draw India would have still made it. Korea took India’s place on the count of winning India in the league. Otherwise, both teams had same points, Goal aggregate, Goal difference etc.

2004: Statistically India got just four points after five matches, but the encounters were close. Losing to New Zealand and then drawing Argentina put paid to Indian challenge. Even in losing to the Dutch in the opener (1-3), the Indians turned out to be good fighters.

So, the story of oh you are always there but not is a true history of second part of Indian Olympic story.


After long struggles, hockey ace Rani Rampal’s dream is close to completion

Vinayak Padmadeo

Rani Rampal’s father was a cart puller and could hardly support his daughter’s passion for the game. So much so, providing her a pouch of milk daily was to be a big problem. (Ravi Choudhary/Hindustan Times)

Money is still a topic that is hardly broached in the Rampal household in Shahbad Markanda, the nursery of Indian hockey. And it is understood why.

Rampal, father of India’s biggest name in Indian women’s hockey Rani was a cart puller and could hardly support his daughter’s passion for the game. So much so, providing her a pouch of milk daily was to be a big problem.

Those struggling years, while she was taking baby steps at the Shahbad Hockey Academy under coach Baldev Singh, has left a mark on Rani.

“We were very poor, so the only thing on my mind was how not to spent on anything and just to save. I saved whatever prize money or cash prizes I used to get. The one and only dream that I had was to construct a house for my family,” Rani recalls.

That dream is about to be fulfilled. Her home is under construction in Shahbad. “Highway ke pas ban raha hai humara ghar (our house is being built near the highway),” she says. The house will be done by this year end.

Rani, who made her debut as a 14-year-old, and had been a senior international for over seven years now, started to spent money on things other than necessities only from two-three years now.

“Everybody in the family knew how I liked to own a gold chain. But because we had no money and my R12000 job in Railways did not allow me to spent on anything so I had to keep my wishes in check,” she says.

Good times

But things changed after 2013. Indian team won the bronze medal in the Junior World Cup and as well finished third place in Asia Cup that was held in Kuala Lumpur.

“We got rewarded for those results. And I am thankful of the Haryana Government if not for them, my dream wouldn’t have come anywhere close of getting realised,” she says.

And her love of gold chain too. “I told my mother, I can’t wait any longer and I bought a gold chain for myself and a pair of gold earrings for my mother,” she says.

This was the first time ever that the star had spent this large amount of money in one single go.

“We are doing alright now. I have been employed as a coach with SAI and my salary is alright now. But this doesn’t mean I’ll become reckless. I’ll keep on saving for my later years when I stop playing.”

Hindustan Times

Olympian neglect for capital cradle of hockey icons

Bariatu centre girls play on as sports bosses ignore infrastructure gaps

A.S.R.P. Mukesh

Serina (left), Nikki Pradhan's younger sister, practises dribbling with Rema at Bariatu Girls' Hockey Centre in Ranchi last week. Picture by Prashant Mitra

Ranchi: They practise three hours every morning almost on an empty stomach because the state seems to have no money for their nutritious breakfast; they play in ankle-deep muck because successive governments have never bothered to sanction a special turf for them; and they return to dry taps at their hostel after sweating it out in heat and humidity. All for the love of hockey.

Bariatu Girls' Hockey Centre, Ranchi - which has spawned top-notch national and international players like Savitri Purty, Sumrai Tete, Asunta Lakra, Bigan Soy in two decades of its existence and most recently Rio-bound Nikki Pradhan - is a sad excuse for a residential sports cradle with poor diet, no gear, a trickle of water supply and a soggy monsoon playground for its 25 cadets.

Officials say numerous proposals were sent to governments, from the one under Babulal Marandi to that of incumbent Raghubar Das, but these were never acted upon. Result: the girls play on amid glaring infrastructure gaps, including lack of kits and inadequate meals.

Nikki (23), the first Jharkhand girl to find a berth in the Indian hockey team for the Olympics, was a trainee at the Bariatu cradle between 2005 and 2013. Now, her younger sister Serina is honing her skills. Undeterred.

"Problems toh bahut hai, par humein sirf khelna hai. India team mein jana hai (There are many problems here, but we only want to play. We too want to make it to the Indian team)," 15-year-old Serina said.

Rema Bakhla, also 15, a player from Hulhundu in Ranchi district, said she was unable to sleep if she missed practice even for a day. "Our ground gets mucky and slippery in the rain. We need an Astroturf like Simdega got last year. We keep scouting for alternative venues and go to Morabadi (1.5km away) to play in peak monsoon," Rema said.

But, the Astroturf Hockey Stadium in Morabadi is often preoccupied with practice matches of Sports Authority of India (SAI) cadets. "Well then, we just somehow manage to play on our own grounds," added Serina.

Another player, not willing to be named, said taps went dry by 9am when they returned from practice, which started around 5.30am. "Bathing is a daily challenge. We often beg and borrow water from nearby homes," she said.

Officials at the cradle underscored that only players and coaches should be given credit for national and international wins when the government was indifferent to such glaring issues.

"The menu for breakfast says bread, milk, eggs, dalia and fruits. But, all that the girls get is chhena and one-third of the milk that they need," rued a kitchen staff.

Similarly, for lunch, players are supposed to get rice, dal, chicken, vegetables and salad. Chicken and salad on the plate are luxury once in a blue moon. The dinner menu of roti, dal and vegetables is abridged to rice and curry, usually leftovers from lunch.

"Nobody in the sports department is interested to provide state players their necessary diet," the staff added.

Coach Karuna Purty, who joined the cradle in March, is yet to receive even a month's salary of Rs 15,600. The government also owes her dues between 2011 and 2015, when she worked at a day boarding centre in Khunti.

"Forget my salary, the sports department hasn't provided these girls kits for two years. They have purchased shoes and hockey sticks on their own," the coach didn't hide her disgust.

Jharkhand has four state-run hockey cradles each for boys and girls. Besides the Bariatu centre for girls, the others are in Gumla (one) and Simdega (two). Hockey hubs for boys are in Khunti, Simdega, Bundu and Latehar.

A source in Simdega said the Lachragarh centre for girls had virtually ceased to function a year ago owing to funds crunch. "Its closure is not on paper though," he added.

Manoj Konbegi, general secretary of Simdega's district hockey association, said the other cradle in the town was gifted an Astroturf last year. "The Bariatu centre deserves one too. Out of 10, nine players make it to national and international teams from that centre. Its revival will be a fitting salute to all the great women hockey players of the state," Konbegi said.

State sports director Ranendra Kumar admitted that distribution of hockey kits in Bariatu was pending. "The government will soon distribute them as the tendering process is in its final stage."

On water supply and kitchen concerns, Kumar said he would write to the school education department since the hockey cradle was part of a middle school. "Water and food issues will also be sorted out soon, but laying an Astroturf will take time," he added.

The Telegraph, India

Tenaga to hire foreign players to bolster league challenge

by S. Ramaguru

KUALA LUMPUR: Tired of being also-rans, Tenaga Nasional will hire foreign players in their bid for glory at next month’s Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).

The former champions were against the hiring of foreigners since the MHL’s inception in 1987, preferring to use local players in their bid to develop talent for the nation.

Initially, they were successful when the league was only confined to local players. They were one of the most successful teams, winning 12 titles. They won the league in 1990, 1992, 2001, 2002 and 2003 and overall crown in 1987, 1989, 1992, 2003, 2004, 2007 and 2010.

After that, Tenaga found success hard to come by as the other teams started recruiting foreigners and became successful.

Now, Tenaga’s head of sports Nor Saiful Zaini believes it’s time to hire foreign hands.

“We have spent years on developing players and having several junior programmes in place. We need to start thinking of winning titles again. We want to be competitive and make it to the top two positions this season,” said Nor Saiful.

“Right now, we are looking at players from Australia, New Zealand, India and Japan.

“We should be able to finalise the players in the next few days. We also have six players from the national squad. So, I believe we’ve a reasonably strong squad to challenge for honours,” he added.

For the new season, Tenaga’s Premier Division side will be helmed by former international fullback Mohamed Amin Rahim, an assistant coach with the national development team. He will be assisted by former players M. Kalisweran and Nor Azlan Bakar.

Nor Saiful, on the other hand, will take charge of the TNB-Thunderbolt team, who will play in Division One.

“This Thunderbolt team is our development side, acting as a feeder to the main Tenaga side,” said Nor Saiful.

The MHL will kick off on Aug 5 with the start of Division One. The Premier Division is slated to start on Aug 18.

The Star of Malaysia

St Thomas sets West hockey trend

Kalesi Mele

Josivini Wati, right, of Nadi Sangam School under-16 tries to control the ball against her Saint Thomas School opponent at Nadovu Park in Lautoka. Picture: JAI PRASAD

ST THOMAS High School have been consistent in their performances in all grades of the Lautoka Secondary School Hockey competition in Fiji.

They could be the top bets to be one of the representatives from the West in the nationals next month.

The school won their matches in the under-16 and U19 in both the girls and boys divisions.

Ratu Navula College of Nadi is the new team in the competition.

Results: U19 Boys: St. Thomas 3-0 Natabua High School, Ba Provincial Freebird Institute 0-0 Tilak High School, NHS 3-1Ba Provincial Freebird Institute, St. Thomas 1-0 Xavier College, Tilak High School 2-0 Xavier College. U19 Girls: SSKMC 3-0 NHS, Ratu Navula 0-0 St.Thomas, St.Thomas 1-0 SSKMC, Xavier College 1-0 NHS. U16 Boys: Tilak High Schoo 5-0 SVC, St. Thomas 2-1 Xavier College, St.Thomas 5-0 SVC. U16 Girls: St.Thomas 2-0 SSKMC, Xavier College 4-1 SVC, St. Thomas (WBD) - Jasper

Xavier College 2-0 SSKMC, SVC (WBD) - Jasper.

The Fiji Times

PHF to lay 100 synthetic turfs in schools across the country

ISLAMABAD: With an aim to improving the national game at grassroots level, the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has announced that they plan to lay approximately 100 mini synthetic turfs at schools all across the country. Former Olympian and current PHF Director Development and Domestic, Naveed Alam, said Sunday that they would be setting up as many as 100 mini-synthetic turfs in the first phase at school, college and districts level to strengthen the national game from the ground up. “We are collecting data from schools, and expect completion in the last week of July. The first phase of the project is in its final stage. With regards to this, the PHF has asked the provincial associations to inform all schools in question about this project,” he said.

Naveed further added that the whole project would include 500 schools and is expected to be completed in around four years. “We will be taking recommendations from provincial, district associations regarding this plan and then the schools which take a keen interest in this project will be taken on priority,” he said.

The task of the selection of schools would be undertaken with the cooperation of provincial and district bodies. Responding to a question, he also said that the PHF would prefer government-run schools as they have space (grounds) available in their schools for the purpose of laying a mini turf. “Private schools will also be facilitated depends on the space they have available,” he added.

The Daily Times

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