All the news for Sunday 12 March 2017
Malaysia and China to contest final; Egypt and Oman play for all-important third place
Asia will be well represented at the Hockey World League (HWL) Semi-Finals in June and July of this year as Malaysia and China guaranteed themselves a spot in the next round of the global competition.
Not only does this mean that both teams will have the chance to qualify for the HWL Finals at the end of the year, but it also keeps their chances of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup very much alive.
It was action all the way at the Moulana Bhashani National Hockey Stadium on the penultimate day of the HWL Round Two event in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The semi-finals saw Malaysia and China slam home five goals apiece to ensure they would be in the Finals, taking place on Sunday 11 March. Malaysia were the top-ranked side coming into the competition (World ranking: 13) but even so, the 5-0 demolition of Egypt showed that captain Sukri Mutalib and his men mean business.
Goals were shared among the Malaysian sharp-shooters, with Razie Rahim opening the scoring just prior to the end of the first quarter with a well-taken penalty corner. He was joined on the scoreboard by Fitri Saari, Tengku Ahmad, Shahril Saabah and Aiman Nik Rosemi. All Malaysia’s goalscorers during this encounter feature in the top 12 goalscorers for the tournament, demonstrating the depth of attacking ability in the side.
The second semi-final saw the prolific Du Talake score three goals – one penalty stroke and two penalty corners – taking his tournament tally to nine. China (WR: 18) raced to a 4-0 lead before Oman pulled one goal back in the final 10 minutes of play. Ashram Al Nasseri making the most of a rare defensive error from the Chinese.
The other Chinese goals came from Su Lixing and Guo Jin.
In the earlier matches to decide the lower order finishing places, Sri Lanka (WR:41) suffered a 9-0 thumping at the hands of the host nation. Bangladesh (WR: 32) scored in the opening minute of the match when Mamunur-Rahman Chayan struck from a penalty corner. Chayan scored a second halfway through the second quarter and was joined on the scoresheet by Milon Hossain (3), Mainul Islam Kowshiq, Arshad Hossain (2) and Rashel Mahmud. The result means Bangladesh will face Ghana in the play-off for fifth place.
And that match between Ghana (WR: 38) and Bangladesh has all the makings of a real goal fest as Ghana showed they know where the back of the net is as they demolished Fiji (WR: 44) 11-2. Jonny Botsio showed why he is so feared in front of goal as he struck five times, making himself leading goal scorer with one game to play. The other six goals were shared between Matthew Damalie, Shamrock Baah, Elikem Akaba, Godsway Balagi, Richard Adjei and Salya Nsalbini. Adrian Smith and Leevan Dutta scored for Fiji.
Malaysia and China will join the top two finishers from Belfast (11-19 Mar 2017) and Tacarigua, (25 Mar-2 Apr 2017) in qualifying for the Semi-Finals. They will be joined in the World Cup qualifier phase by the two highest ranked of the third placed finishers from those three events.
You can keep track of the tournament in Dhaka on the official competition pages by clicking here and on FIH’s social media channels using the #HWL2017 hashtag.
Sunday 12 March Match Schedule
09:15 7 / 8: Sri Lanka v Fiji
11:30 5 / 6: Bangladesh v Ghana
13:45 3 / 4: Egypt v Oman
16:05 Final: Malaysia v China
Malaysia beat Egypt 5-0
by Jugjet Singh
MALAYSIA beat Egypt 5-0 to breeze into the final of the World League Round Two in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Saturday.
The win also saw them qualify for the next level -- the World League Semifinals either in London or South Africa which is a qualifier for the 2018 World Cup in India.
Egypt tried to defend and rely on counter-attacks, but the strategy back-fired.
The first quarter saw Egypt defending in numbers, and this made the job of the Malaysian strikers more difficult.
However, Razie Rahim made sure when Malaysia won the first penalty corner in the 15th minute with a low push for the lead.
Egypt never encroached into the Malaysian semi-circle for the remaining quarter as they defended in numbers.
Fitri Shaari increased the lead in the 26th minute off a penalty corner rebound, and a minute before half-time, seasoned player Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin scored a lovely goal to make it 3-0.
The other goals were scored by Shahril Saabah (44th) and Aiman Nik Rosemi (49th).
RESULTS: Semi-finals: Malaysia 5 Egypt 0, China 5 Oman 1.
Fifth-Eighth -- Sri Lanka 0 Bangladesh 9, Ghana 11 Fiji 2.
SUNDAY: Final -- Malaysia v China (6pm); Third-Fourth: Oman v Egypt (3.45pm); Fifth-Sixth: Bangladesh v Ghaha (1.30pm); Seventh-Eighth: Fiji v Sri Lanka (11.15pm).
Note: Malaysian time.
Jugjet's World of Field Hockey
Now for the gold medal
by Jugjet Singh
MALAYSIA qualified for the World League Semifinals, when they beat Egypt 5-0 in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Saturday.
The finalists here will play either in London or South Africa to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in India.
Egypt opted to defend in numbers, and rely on counter-attacks and it back-fired on them.
Malaysia will now play China for the World League Round Two gold medal today. China beat Oman 5-1 in the other semi-finals.
Razie Rahim calmed the Malaysian nerves when he fired a low penalty corner towards goalkeeper Wael Noureldin's left in the 15th minute for the lead.
This was what Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) Technical Director Terry Walsh had recommended a day before as he noticed Wael was weak in that area.
After that the goals came easy off Fitri Shaari (26th), Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin (30th), Shahril Saabah (44th) and Aiman Nik Rosemi (49th).
After accomplishing their first goal, Malaysian players took a portrait shot -- and are looking forward to claiming the gold medal as well.
"One target down, now for the gold medal," said a relieved Malaysian coach Stephen van Huizen.
On paper and going by this tournament's form China are no match for Malaysia.
"Credit to the players as they displayed an all-round polished performance. This was our best match in this tournament so far, and I believe that we can beat China in the final to defend our World League gold medal," said van Huizen.
In the 2015 World League Round Two in Singapore, Malaysia whipped Poland 8-0 in the final.
Looking forward, the coach has many more options for the World League Semifinals as four regulars were left behind due to injuries and family commitments.
"Yes we left four players (S. Kumar, Firhan Ashaari, Baljit Singh, Faizal Shaari) back home and I believe we will have a much stronger team for the World League Semifinals where we hope to qualify for the India World Cup," said van Huizen.
Johannesburg will host the World League Semifinals on Jul 9-23, while in London it will be on Jun 15-25.
RESULTS: Semi-finals: Malaysia 5 Egypt 0, China 5 Oman 1.
Fifth-Eighth -- Sri Lanka 0 Bangladesh 9, Ghana 11 Fiji 2.
SUNDAY: Final -- Malaysia v China (6pm); Third-Fourth: Oman v Egypt (3.45pm); Fifth-Sixth: Bangladesh v Ghana (1.30pm); Seventh-Eighth: Fiji v Sri Lanka (11.15am).
Note: Malaysian time.
Jugjet's World of Field Hockey
Malaysia trounce Egypt to set up final date with China
by Aftar Singh
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia turned on the style qualify for the final of the World Hockey League Round Two in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
They trounced Egypt 5-0 in the semi-finals at the Maulana Bhasani National Hockey Stadium yesterday to set up a title showdown against China today.
China, who outplayed Oman 5-1 in the other semi-final, and Malaysia are now through to the World League Semi-Finals, which will be played at two venues – London, England (June 15-25) and Johannesburg, South Africa (July 9-23).
The World League Semi-Finals will also double as the qualifiers for next year’s World Cup in New Delhi.
Muhd Razie Abdul Rahim gave Malaysia the perfect start yesterday when he converted a penalty corner in the 15th minute.
Mohd Fitri Saari made it 2-0 off yet another penalty corner in the 25th minute before Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Abdul Jalil added a third five minutes later.
Malaysia then completed the rout with two more field goals through Muhd Shahril Saabah (44th) and Nik Aiman Nik Rozemi (49th).
National coach Stephen van Huizen was delighted with his players’ performance against Egypt.
“It was the best match my boys have played in this tournament. They rose to the occasion at the right time,” he said.
“I’m happy that we scored two penalty corner goals, having failed to do in the quarter-final win over Sri Lanka Thursday.
“We’ve already achieved our first target ... to qualify for World League Semi-Finals.
“Now, we will go all out to lift the title.
“We want to live up our top seeding.”
Malaysia last played against China in the Asian Champions Trophy in Kuantan last October. Malaysia won 5-1.
The Star of Malaysia
Ireland Storm To World League 2 Opening Win
Ireland cruised to a 9-2 win over Ukraine in their opening Hockey World League Round 2 tie in Stormont with Jonny McKee netting twice while seven other players got on the score sheet.
Jeremy Duncan – one of nine players making their ranking tournament debuts – opened the scoring after a hectic opening, smashing home from top D following Lee Cole’s interception.
Ukraine did reply almost instantly from an Andrii Koshelenko drag-flick from a fortuitous penalty corner. Ireland, though, were quickly back in front as McKee burst forward unchallenged and cracked his shot into the top corner, 2-1 at the quarter time break.
Ben Walker had been called up the day before the tournament as a late replacement for John Jermyn and won Ireland’s first corner which Shane O’Donoghue nailed for the third.
Walker’s touch from a Paul Gleghorne ball then fell invitingly for Lee Cole to thrash in the fourth. McKee closed out the half at 5-1 with another cracking finish, roofing a powerful shot beyond the hapless Egor Samoilenko.
Matthew Nelson was the next on the scoresheet, a back-to-front break-out from a Ukraine corner, David Harte’s save going out to Matthew Bell at right back and on to Eugene Magee. His cross was turned in by the teenager, one of two players from Ireland Under-18 side of last summer on display.
Conor Harte and Matthew Bell fired in two more corners in the fourth quarter before Walker nudged in the ninth goal. Ukraine got another back in the final minute via a Sergii Diachuk penalty stroke.
Speaking afterwards McKee said “It was my first goal for my country so it was very enjoyable; with two coming along at once was even better and looking forward to tomorrow against Austria.
“We have played together a few times on the recent tours and are getting used to each other. We are trying to peak towards the end of the tournament and hopefully it comes together.
“Much like Ukraine, Austria are very good at indoor and have a couple of very good players like [Michael] Korper. It will be a tougher game but that’s what we are here for.”
Craig Fulton: “We’ll take the result. We didn’t play our best but we got enough goals in the first half to get away from them. It wasn’t all plain sailing and we were frustrated we gave away a few unforced errors. It’s young team, first game, still gelling together – maybe that’s ok and to get nine goals, we did something right.
“I am really happy; Jonny [McKee] did really well and the same with Ben Walker who came in last night to the squad and then won four corners and scored a goal. It set the tone. We left a few more goals out there but it bodes well.
“It’s all about building momentum and winning solves a few problems. It was a good game to start with even though I know we can make improvements.”
Ireland play Austria on Sunday at Stormont in their second game in Pool B of Hockey World League Round 2 at 3pm.
Hockey World League Round 2
Ireland 9 (J McKee 2, J Duncan, S O’Donoghue, L Cole, M Nelson, M Bell, B Walker)
Ukraine 2 (A Koshelenko, S Diachuk)
Ireland: D Harte, J Bell, M Bell, R Gormley, C Cargo, M Nelson, E Magee, S O’Donoghue, J McKee, C Harte, N Glassey
Subs: J Carr, B Walker, S Murray, P Gleghorne, L Cole, J Wright, J Duncan
Ukraine: E Samoilenko, O Shvets, M Yasinskyi, S Diachuk, O Diachenko, I Moroz, M Onofriiuk, B Kovalenko, A Popovchenko, A Koshelenko, V Kalinchuk
Subs: V Paziuk, S Vitruk, A Mazurkevych, O Solomianyi, Y Kotiuzhunskyi, I Perepelytsya
An even first quarter was played at a frantic pace with Kiefer and Tom Genestet dictating the French attack through the centre. Viktor Lockwood created the first chance of the game with a driving ball into the circle, a tactic the French employed throughout, but the Scottish defence calmly cleared any danger. Rogeau was next to challenge the Scottish defence as he sprinted into the circle but his pass back to the penalty spot was swept up by the Scottish defence. The play broke up the pitch in the blink of an eye and Greaves found himself in front of Thieffry in the French goal but he fired the ball directly at his pads. A complicated PC routine by France yielded no reward and moments later Scotland had a shot cleared off the line. Thomas Alexander was then forced to make a superb reaction save with his left glove and the French ramped up the pressure. An inevitable goal came in the 26th minute courtesy of Simon Martin Brisac as he calmly flicked the ball over the committed Alexander.
France went up another gear as the second half began and saw Tynevez’s deflection fly just wide. Victor Charlet doubled his sides lead with a simple PC drag flick in the 41st minute. Their third goal came just 4 minutes later thanks to a superb run through the centre by Hugo Genestet and Kieffer for a slight touch to help the ball creep under the GK. Scotland got a deserved consolation goal in the 50th minute courtesy of a Forsyth simple PC shot into the corner. The clock wound down with a few more chances for both sides but France ran out deserved winners.
Hockey World League Round 2
France 3 (Martin-Brisac, Charlet, Kieffer)
Scotland 1 (Forsyth)
Wales proved too strong for Poland in their opening Pool B game in Stormont, starting with a 3-1 win. They had much the better of the first half, spurning two big one on one chances before Gareth Fulong nailed a penalty stroke in the 25th minute – it was awarded when Robert Gruszczynsiki was adjudged to have blocked a shot on goal with his body.
Luke Hawker doubled the advantage in the second half following a fast start to the second half and the Welsh were well in control until the closing quarter. There, Poland pressed forward and got one back from Gruszczynsiki’s powerful drag-flick. But Rupert Shipperley instantly replied, finishing off a three-on-one move he was instrumental in creating.
Hockey World League Round 2
Wales 3 (G Furlong, L Hawker, R Shipperley)
Poland 1 (R Gruszczynsiki)
Benjamin Stanzl scored a bonus point shoot-out for Austria to give them two points while Italy took one point after their Pool A encounter ended 1-1.
Both the goals came from corners in quick succession. Thomas Keenan whipped home a drag-flick in the 18th minute to break the deadlock only for Austria’s Michael Korper to equalise four minutes later when his drag made its way into the goal.
From there, the Austrians probably created more of the chances while Italy sat deep with Keenan bossing the defence from sweeper. Two corner chances went a begging for the Austrians in the second half while Italy had one blocked down inside the last two minutes to leave the game level at full-time.
For the World League Round 2, draws go to a shoot-out to decide a bonus point. In this one, Austrian keeper Mateusz Szymczyk saved three times, including the crucial one in the sixth round, allowing Stanzl to spin and score for 4-3 and an extra point that leaves them second overnight ahead of a game with Ireland.
Hockey World League Round 2
Austria 1 (M Korper)
Italy 1 (T Keenan), Austria win bonus point 4-3 in shoot-out
Irish Hockey Association media release
Scotland lose to France in close opening match of World League 2
Scotland men v Slovakia. Photo by Duncan Gray
Scotland lost 3-1 to France in the opening match of men’s World League 2 in Belfast, in a game that was much closer than the score line reflects.
The first circle entry of the match fell to France via Viktor Lockwood but a foul in the circle resulted in a Scots ball. The French created another early chance through Blaise Rogeau, who went charging into circle, but his pass back to the penalty spot was intercepted and cleared by Scotland.
The Scots also created some good chances in the opening quarter, and with a little luck could have taken the lead. Ed Greaves nearly netted but the French keeper produced a great save from point-blank range to keep the Scots at bay.
Ben Cosgrove was next to come close but again the French goalkeeper managed to block and keep the score level.
The first penalty corner of the match was awarded to France but it was defended well by the Scots rear-guard; the French tried to go round the defence to the left but the blue sticks ushered the ball out of play comfortably.
Scotland then had a shot cleared off the line, prompting a French break, but Tommy Alexander made a superb reaction save with his left glove to prevent France taking the lead.
Alan Forsyth came exceptionally close to breaking the deadlock through a penalty corner but the red-hot Scottish striker zipped his effort just wide of the target.
Scotland were then forced to defend a France penalty corner with only three players due to broken line run and a resulting card. The French effort saw the ball loop over the bar. The card however had a part to play as France took full advantage of having an extra man on the pitch. The French opened the scoring when Simon Martin Brisac flicked the ball over the committed Alexander to make it 1-0 on the cusp of half time.
France went on the attack early in the second half; they were kept at bay when Alexander made a solid save with his legs low to his left following an effort from a mis-trapped penalty corner.
A short time later France doubled their advantage. The goal was struck from a penalty corner by Victor Charlet low against the back board to make it 2-0.
France scored a third courtesy of great run through centre by Hugo Genestet, the eventual shot by Jean-Laurent Kieffer crept under Alexander to make it 3-0.
Then came a deserved goal for Scotland early in the fourth quarter to make it 3-1; a penalty corner was smashed low into the net by Alan Forsyth.
Despite a late rally from the Scots France held on to claim victory in the opening match of the tournament.
Scotland men’s Head Coach Derek Forsyth said, “This is a performance we can build on. Its huge not having much time together in the build up to the tournament, but despite that it was a good performance and the game was closer than 3-1 suggests. The main difference was France took their chances, but we had enough chances to at least draw - so there’s certainly lots to build on from this performance”
Scottish Hockey Union media release
‘It’s my job to win India Olympic medals’
‘I used to play hockey or football with 40 other kids in Bandra’s gallis.’ Olympian and former hockey captain Viren Rasquinha. Photo Credit: Prashant Nakwe
The former hockey captain is a happy-go-lucky guy as long as the conversation does not involve Indian sport and its future
It was an unusually warm Sunday afternoon in Mumbai on December 7, 2014. The temperature was in the mid-30s, and in suburban Bandra, the city’s street shopping capital whose quaint heritage villages take Sunday siesta more seriously than the World Bank does GDP data, the roads were relatively empty. The traffic noise was contained to a whirr, and it would be a couple hours before the shopping crowd took over the narrow streets where, one night in September 2002, actor Salman Khan’s car had run over homeless people sleeping on the pavement on Hill Road. Around 650 metres west of that infamous accident spot is Mehboob Studio, founded by Mother India director Mehboob Khan in 1954, and the go-to haunt for such filmmakers as Guru Dutt, Dev Anand, Chetan Anand, and Manmohan Desai.
It is here, on that December afternoon, that Viren Rasquinha sat with former India football captain Bhaichung Bhutia, entertainment industry giant Ronnie Screwvala, and journalists Rajdeep Sardesai and Ayaz Memon, as part of a literature festival to discuss the future of India’s Olympic sports. Rasquinha, former India hockey captain and current chief executive of Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ), a non-profit set up by eight-time world billiards champion Geet Sethi and former badminton World No. 1 and All-England champion Prakash Padukone to develop Indian athletes into Olympic medal winners, spoke with cautious optimism on how he and his team were putting together plans for future sporting glory.
Soon after that session ended, another was to begin. It featured, among other people, advertising professional Suhel Seth, who, as soon as he was ushered onto the stage, said, “I don’t know what that bald guy was doing on a panel on sport. What has he done?”
The bald guy Seth was condescendingly referring to was Rasquinha, an Arjuna Award recipient who has played 180 international matches for India and represented the country at the Athens Olympics in 2004.
This comment, made amongst a group of people that Rasquinha calls a “cosy club”, would have died a natural death, had it not been for social media. As soon as the day’s events ended, Rasquinha took to Twitter and gave it back to Seth. “It’s so disappointing when I am invited... to speak and get dissed on stage by a guy who doesn’t even know who I am... I really do wonder though how Suhel Seth holds forth on everything under the sun and what exactly is his domain expertise.”
At a coffee shop in Bandra, Rasquinha, now 36, recollects how he did not want to be seen as submissive to “well connected people like Suhel”. He says he never gets scared of people like Seth. “I never got affected then, I don’t think about it now,” he says. “Whenever I am in the news, people still tag Suhel on Twitter and thumb their noses at him,” he laughs.
While Seth trolled Rasquinha on stage at the literature festival, thousands of Indians trolled the silver-haired socialite on Twitter, leading to him apologising on the microblogging site. “But he never apologised to me,” Rasquinha says. “I never expected him to. Frankly, it does not matter whether he does or not.”
This anecdote is important to understand what Rasquinha is all about. He is a happy-go-lucky guy as long as the conversation does not involve Indian sport and its future. When conversation veers toward Indian sport, the smile is gone, and he becomes stern, like a school principal dealing with a bunch of unruly kids. “It’s my 24-hour job... to win India Olympic medals.”
Back in Mumbai after formal discussions with the Prime Minister’s Office as part of the elite Olympic Task Force (OTF), Rasquinha, CEO of OGQ from 2009, has his goals set on India winning gold medals at the 2020, 2024, and the 2028 Olympic Games. He has paired with two other Olympians—All-England badminton champion Pulella Gopichand, and India’s first (and only) individual Olympic gold medal winner, shooter Abhinav Bindra, for OTF, a committee that will publish a report on India’s Olympic medals plan in two months.
“It’s been seven months since the Rio Olympics,” Rasquinha says, “and every day is important. We can’t be training for the Olympics six months before the Games. We have to start now.”
There is a reason for Rasquinha’s hunger for Olympic medals: he hasn’t won any. “When I was a kid, I had three dreams. To play hockey for India and captain the team; to represent the country at the Olympics; and third, win an Olympic gold. I achieved the first two, I could never do the third.”
In the past two Olympics (London 2012 and Rio 2016), India won eight individual medals. Five of those were won by athletes supported by OGQ: Gagan Narang and Vijay Kumar (shooting), Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu (badminton), and Mary Kom (boxing). But a gold could not be won (Bindra’s gold was at Beijing 2008). Rasquinha says he wants to change this. Soon.
Therefore, OGQ has adopted 52 young sportspersons (the Foundation supports 93 in all, including seniors), the youngest is eight-year-old Sampriti Pal, a badminton prodigy discovered at the Prakash Padukone Academy. The world’s top-ranked junior badminton player, Lakshya Sen from Almora in Uttarakhand, is also an OGQ product. He is 15, but was discovered at 10. Sen’s elder brother, Chirag, a former World No. 2 in juniors, is part of OGQ’s senior programme, along with Nehwal, Sindhu, and Parupalli Kashyap.
“People, including sports fans, see only the end result,” he says. “They don’t see the journey.” For example, OGQ began supporting Sindhu, who won the badminton singles silver at Rio, at 14. Before that, Gopichand trained her for three years. “When she was 15, we funded her first four international tournaments,” Rasquinha recalls. “She would lose consistently in the first or second rounds, but we, Gopi, her parents, and OGQ, stood by her. Every athlete has to go through this journey. That is how you build mental toughness.”
When I was a kid, I had three dreams. To play hockey for India and captain the team; to represent the country at the Olympics; and third, win an Olympic gold. I achieved the first two, I could never do the third. — Viren Rasquinha
But mental toughness is not tangible; there are no points for remaining calm when the world around you is crumbling. “You cannot define mental toughness. How can you? But if you are able to make the right split-second decision when the world is looking at you and 50,000 fans are screaming in the stadium or you are 19-all in the decisive game, you will appreciate the difference between an ordinary player and a world-class athlete. But for that decision to take place, that one second that will define whether you are destined for sports immortality or forgotten, you need to work for years.”
Thus, the difference between winning and losing medals boils down to what Rasquinha calls “the one percenters”; athletes who do that 1% better than the rest. “Apart from sheer skill, they have better equipment, better physical and mental toughness, better nutrition, better physiotherapists and trainers, better recovery, better coaches, and they are just that 1% smarter than the rest when it comes to taking split-second decisions. I want to create such one percenters.”
To put India on the Olympics map is a challenge many times over. Sports federations in India are mostly managed not by sportsmen or qualified sports administrators, but by politicians who tend to run such institutions as their family business. India’s football federation, for instance, was run by Congress MP and former minister Priyaranjan Dasmunshi for two decades. He continued to be president even after he was hospitalised in 2008 following a massive paralytic stroke that left him with a severe neurological deficit, including losing his ability to speak or recognise anyone. The current Indian football chief is Praful Patel, another politician.
“Our goals (the national sports federations, the Sports Authority of India and non-profits such as OGQ and GoSports Foundation) are the same,” Rasquinha says. “The challenge, really, is to find a feasible way to get all of us together on the same platform without egos clashing. Our singular goal should be to create those one percenters.”
That phrase again—“the one percenters”.
“It is not rocket science,” says Rasquinha. “We need to be disciplined, and we need to be professional in our approach, with commitment to efficiency and strict monitoring of an athlete’s progress. We have had a casual attitude towards our Olympic goals for far too long, and we need to change that today. We also need to bring accountability into the system. At present, there is only buck-passing. For this to change, we need to bring in professionals. Let’s do away with the honorary approach to running sports bodies.”
Then, there is fear. Indian athletes, scared of being left out, do not communicate well with either coaches or federations. “It is an environment of mediocrity,” says Rasquinha, pulling no punches. “Players should be able to speak without fear. We have to respect that once athletes reach the national or international level, they are responsible, mature, and skilled enough to be given freedom. They wouldn’t have got there had they not been disciplined.”
It is the small things that need to be done well, he says. “Ticket bookings, visas, disbursing money, or even the physiotherapist being there for the athlete every single session.”
Why? Because the difference should not be what gymnast Dipa Karmakar faced in Rio—a heartbreaking loss in the Vault final, an event an entire nation was hoping she would win a medal in, Simone Biles notwithstanding.
Culture of winning
What Rasquinha is really looking for is a change in culture. He admits that the tide is changing in Indian sport, but it needs consistent monitoring at both the highest and grassroots levels. “There is no culture of college sports in India, like there is in the U.S. where several world-class athletes are developed in schools and universities. In India, we have none. Besides, in school and college, we lay greater emphasis on academics, not sport (even though this was never a problem for Rasquinha; he was one of the city’s toppers in the Class X State Board exams as well as a school hockey champion). This is one reason OGQ and GoSports Foundation (founded by Bindra, Gopichand, and cricketer Rahul Dravid) are important to Indian sport.”
In one of the many narrow lanes of Bandra, where Rasquinha grew up in the ’80s and still lives with his journalist wife and infant child, school and college students used to play either hockey or football. “We were never into cricket. Bandra isn’t. I used to play with 40 other kids in those gallis. Now, the same gallis have 40 parked cars. Where will any kid play?”
With those five words, the Olympic talent scout extraordinaire has perhaps encapsulated what is really wrong with Indian sport. If he manages to change that, the country will owe him a bit. He will be, like the athletes he grooms for Olympic golds, a one percenter.
Donohoe returns to Women's National Program with renewed outlook and purpose
In three weeks, when Canada’s women’s field hockey team will take to the pitch at Rutledge Field in West Vancouver, British Columbia, Rachel Donohoe hopes to be there.
It would be a special opportunity for her, being from the area.
“The possibility of playing in my backyard is completely surreal because girls don’t get this opportunity often,” explains the native North Vancouver, BC. “Especially playing on a field that I grew up playing on when I was younger.”
But as recently as last year, that possibility did not look like it would be in the cards for Donohoe, who was not a part of the Women’s National Program.
After winning a silver medal at the Junior Pan American Games, and then making the jump to the Senior Team in 2012, Donohoe found herself on the outside looking in at the end of 2014.
That’s when she decided to go to Germany to play club hockey with Alster.
“The plan at the beginning was very unknown,” she explains. “I didn’t know if I was going to last until December or if I was going to last longer than that.”
She lasted a full season, from August 2015 to July 2016, and came back extremely fulfilled.
“I thought Germany was going to be my final big hurrah with competitive field hockey, and school was going to be my focus.”
And if it wasn’t Germany, the 2016 season with the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds would have been the perfect swan song for Donohoe, who had planned to pursue nursing after her last year at UBC.
Women’s National Program members Steph Norlander, Rachel Donohoe, and Hannah Haughn at the 2016 USports Awards (By Len Catling, UBC Senior Manager, Communications and Media Relations)
Donohoe was a part of the Thunderbirds team that won a sixth straight National Championship, and was named the Canada West Most Valuable Player in the process.
If moving on from field hockey was the intent, a wildly successful final season with UBC could have been all Donohoe needed to walk away from the competitive side of the game.
But instead, her plans changed.
“As time passed, I realized that I would regret not trying one more time with the National Team,” she explains. “And I was lucky enough to get the opportunity from Ian (Rutledge, Women’s National Team Head Coach) and Steph (Andrew, Assistant Coach) to trial for the National Team.”
And it was a successful one.
Donohoe was named to the 2015-2016 Women’s Senior Development Squad, and with World League Round 2 in West Vancouver right around the corner in April and with it the possibility of playing here at home, her field hockey career has been given a second wind.
And while her inclusion on the team that will compete in West Vancouver from April 1-9 is not guaranteed, it is her approach that cements in her mind that she is ready to continue on her journey as an international field hockey player.
“Based on the experience I’ve gone through, I’ve developed a more positive outlook,” she explains. “If I don’t get the opportunity, it’s unfortunate, but I’ll look forward towards the next selection.”
Canada opens World League Round 2 at home against Mexico on April 1 at 4:30pm local time.
Field Hockey Canada media release
Comeback win boosts University of Birmingham play-off hopes
University of Birmingham celebrating Jo Turnbull’s equaliser against Clifton. Credit: Andy Smith.
The University of Birmingham gave their hopes of qualifying for Finals Weekend a huge boost after securing a 2-1 comeback win over rivals Clifton Robinsons in the Investec Premier Division on Saturday.
The visitors opened the scoring through Hannah Coulson in the 30th minute, but the University of Birmingham hit back through Jo Turnbull (pictured), with 13 minutes to go, before Lydia Macdonell scored her first of the season to secure all three points.
The University of Birmingham are now fourth with a four-point gap over Clifton and Leicester.
East Grinstead are third, also four points clear of the chasing sides, after a 2-2 home draw against Leicester.
The hosts led twice through Lucy Bairner and Josephine Blunt but goals from Maddie Newlyn, her sixth of the season, and Liz George saw the points shared.
Holcombe became the second team to secure their place at Finals Weekend, despite being held to a 2-2 draw at Slough.
Hannah Bowe put the hosts ahead before goals either side of the break from Sarah Jones and Steph Elliott put Holcombe ahead.
Louise Bevan scored the equaliser midway through the second half to earn Slough a vital point in their battle to avoid the relegation play-offs.
Surbiton - who secured their place at Finals Weekend last Saturday - laid down a marker with a comfortable 6-0 home win over Bowdon Hightown.
Giselle Ansley became joint top scorer in the league on 13 goals with a brace against Slough – while Naomi Evans, Georgina Twigg, Hannah Martin and Jo Hunter were also on target.
Canterbury made it two wins in a row after a 2-1 home victory over bottom side Reading.
Goals from Grace Balsdon and Sarah Kerly gave the hosts the points, despite Emma Thomas levelling the scores with nine minutes to go.
Investec Women’s Conference East
Wimbledon and Sevenoaks remain separated by just three points going into the final two league games after both sides recorded 3-1 away wins in the Investec Women’s Conference East.
Nicola Lloyd, Libby Sherriff and Laura Bevan were on target as leaders Wimbledon won at Harleston Magpies.
Sevenoaks won by the same margin at Southgate with Samantha Danckert, Kate Reynolds and Maddie Thompson on the scoresheet.
West Herts picked up a crucial three points in a 4-1 win at Northampton Saints, pulling six points clear of their opponents at the foot of the table.
Two goals in the final three minutes saw Hampstead and Westminster come from behind for a 3-2 victory at Cambridge City, Jessica Orrett scoring the winner.
Elsewhere, Chelmsford and St Albans finished all square.
Investec Women’s Conference North
Brooklands Poynton kept another clean sheet in the Investec Women’s Conference North, running out 2-0 winners at home to Ben Rhydding.
The Manchester side have only conceded six league goals all season, as second half goals from Till Dyos-Szolkowska and Ellen Lockhart ensured they remain four points clear at the top of the table.
Beeston stay second after a 4-2 win at Liverpool Sefton, 16-year-old Nina Apoola scoring her first league goal for the visitors.
Lorna Jane Cruickshank scored the only goal of the game as the University of Durham won 1-0 at Sutton Coldfield.
Three goals in six minutes saw Loughborough Students to a 3-0 win against bottom side Belper, whilst Wakefield beat Timperley 4-0.
Investec Women’s Conference West
Buckingham maintained their three-point lead at the top of the Investec Women’s Conference West after a 2-1 home win over Gloucester City.
Emma Done put the visitors ahead after ten minutes, but Zoe Shipperley converted a penalty corner in each half to give Buckingham the points.
Stourport kept up the chase after a 5-0 win at Isca, Lora Symonds scoring a hat trick to take her tally for the season to an impressive 20 goals.
Exe leapfrogged Bristol Firebrands after winning 1-0 in the battle of the bottom two, Kate Hutchings scoring the only goal eight minutes from time.
Elsewhere, Sophie Clayton scored twice as Swansea City won 3-2 at Oxford Hawks and Kathryn Petch scored a brace as Trojans won 4-2 against Olton and West Warwicks.
Investec Women’s Hockey League (Saturday, March 11, 2017):
Investec Women's Premier Division: Canterbury 2, Reading 1; East Grinstead 2, Leicester 2; Slough 2, Holcombe 2; Surbiton 6, Bowdon 0; University of Birmingham 2, Clifton Robinsons 1.
Investec Women's Conference East: Cambridge City 2, Hampstead and Westminster 3; Chelmsford 1, St. Albans 1; Harleston Magpies 1, Wimbledon 3; Northampton Saints 1, West Herts 4; Southgate 1, Sevenoaks 3.
Investec Women's Conference North: Brooklands Poynton 2, Ben Rhydding 0; Liverpool Sefton 2, Beeston 4; Loughborough Students 3, Belper 0; Sutton Coldfield 0, University of Durham 1; Wakefield 4, Timperley 0.
Investec Women's Conference West: Bristol Firebrands 0, Exe 1; Buckingham 2, Gloucester City 1; Isca 0, Stourport 5; Oxford Hawks 2, Swansea City 3; Trojans 4, Olton & West Warwicks 2.
England Hockey Board Media release
Penalty corner specialists hold the key to victory
KUALA LUMPUR: Today’s President’s Cup final – between debutants Police and Division One champions Nur Insafi – could very well be decided on who get their penalty corner set pieces right.
While Police will bank on skipper and defender Baljit Singh Sarjab, Nur Insafi will rely on Muhammad Ateeq of Pakistan. Both are penalty corner drag flickers.
Former international Baljit has been in sensational form, having netted a total of 21 in 11 matches – 19 penalty corners, one penalty stroke and one field goal.
Muhammad has been quite prolific from penalty corners as well, having converted 15 goals thus far.
No wonder Nur Insafi coach S. Thaitchana Muruthi believes that “penalty corners will decide the outcome in the final”.
“Although we beat them 5-2 in the league match, the final will be a different ball game.
“We have a 50-50 chance ... it will all depend on our penalty corner conversions.
“We did well to win the Division One league title by winning all seven league matches, so it would be great to bag the double,” said Thaitchana.
The 31-year-old Baljit admitted that Police would start as underdogs in the final.
“Nur Insafi are far too strong in every department. They have players who can score from open play and from penalty corners.
“Reaching the final is already an achievement for us. To win it will be really tough.
“I will have to shoulder a heavy responsibility ... marshalling the defence and scoring from penalty corners,” said Baljit.
The Star of Malaysia
Dominant Telkom Orange hammer Chase Amira in league opener
By BRIAN YONGA
Telkom Orange's Audrey Omaido dribbles the ball during their Kenya Hockey Union Women Premier League match against Chase Amira at City Park Stadium on March 11, 2017. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Women's Premier League champions Telkom Orange got their title defence underway with a 3-0 win over Chase Amira on Saturday as the 2017 Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) season started at the City Park Stadium.
Two goals from Kenya international Audrey Omaido and another strike from last season's top scorer Jackline Mwangi got the champions off to a flyer in a game they dominated from the first whistle.
Amira playing in their second season in the women's league were undone by poor defensive displays and should have conceeded more goals were it not for the heroics of keeper Rachel Kerubo.
Amira coach Linet Onyango handed a start to footballer-cum- hockey player Pauline Naise, who was making her return to the sport after a two year absence.
Despite the result, Orange assistant coach Josephine Ataro said his charges have yet to hit top gear as they eye another successful season.
"We didn't play to the best of our abilites but still got the goals and importantly the three points. It will be a tough season but we are optimistic about retaining the title," the tactician told Sunday Nation Sport.
Orange won this fixture 4-0 last season to clinch their 19th title and the champions attacked the Chase Bank-sponsored side from the onset.
Midfielder Caroline Guchu released Maureen Okumu down the right and the pacy forward left the Amira defence for dead but was unable to square the ball to Mwangi as Kerubo parried the ball away.
Orange continued to press with the forward trio of Okumu, Mwangi and Omaido causing problems for Amira. International Lillian Aura should have sounded the board at the quarter mark but her shot sailed over the bar.
Two minutes later, Orange took the lead through Omaido, who beat Kerubo at her near post. The goal spurred Amira and they should have levelled three minutes later after Naise fed striker Leah Omwandho with a delicious through pass but the latter was unable to beat Orange keeper Ruth Njoki.
Okumu should have doubled Orange's lead but was twice denied by the impressive Kerubo. The international goalkeeper once again denied Mwangi just before the halftime whistle.
Orange pressed for more goals after the break and were dully rewarded in the 41st minute when Omaido finished off a penalty corner.
Naise was the only bright spot in an otherwise poor Amira performance and the attacker impressed with her slick skills and link-up play.
Mwangi ensured her name would be on the scoresheet as Amira were caught on the break and the evergreen striker had all the time to round off Kerubo before firing into an empty goal.
"We have got to work on our defence if we are going to challenge for the title. We still have a lot of games to play this season," Onyango said.
Earlier, debutantes Gorilla held Daystar University to a 1-1 draw in the men' s National league.
Orange thump Amira
Champions off to flying start in league encounter
By Elizabeth Mburugu
Orange Telkom Audrey Omaido(l) with the ball as Nigeria Kada Queens Edna Ememeruria blocks when they played Africa Cup Championship at City Park yesterda, on 07/01/2017 PHOTO: JENIPHER WACHIE
Champions Telkom Orange launched their Kenya Hockey Union women’s league title defence on a high with a 3-0 victory over Amira Sailors in a match played yesterday at City Park.
International Audrey Omaido bagged a brace while veteran Jackline Mwangi scored one goal for the African champions.
Orange assistant coach Josephine Ataro said that her charges were not at their best.
“They did not play their best game but I’m satisfied with the three points. The season is just beginning and there is still room for improvement,” Ataro said.
Orange had the first chance when speedy attacker Maureen Okumu used her pace to drive to the right wing, beat several defenders and was poised to shoot but saw the ball booted to safety by an alert Rachael Kerubo in goal.
The 19-time national champions were struggling to find their rhythm in the absence of long serving coach Jos Openda on the touchline. Omaido found space in the 10th minute, but her tame shot was blocked by Kerubo.
Amira who finished third last season and are in their second season in the top flight had their first chance three minutes later when new signing Pauline Naise delivered a through ball to Susan Oketch who was unmarked. The usually lethal Oketch still had some jitters as she failed to control the ball with the goal at her mercy.
Orange failed to convert two penalty corners in succession, but finally broke Amira's resistance in the 17th minute when Lilian Aura recovered possession from a loose ball and fed Omaido who showed great composure to slot home from close range.
Amira wasted another chance two minutes later when Pauline Ochieng set up Oketch with a teasing through pass but Ruth Njoki was not shaken as she cleared the ball saving her side from conceding on the first day of the league.
In the men’s Premier League Chase Sailors handed newly promoted Technical University of Kenya a rude welcome to top flight hockey with a 2-0 beating.
The Standard Online
Kenya hockey legend ‘Alu’ was world’s greatest left winger
By NORMAN DA COSTA
Alu Mendoca scores against Pakistan in 1960 with an unstoppable shot in Kenya's 3-1 win in Nairobi. PHOTO | CYPRIAN FERNANDES
There isn’t a greater sight in field hockey than seeing a player thunder down at full speed and cannon the ball to the back of the net with awesome power.
With the constant roar of the crowd chanting “Alu, Alu, Alu” the great Alexinho Mendonca would ignite City Park Stadium with his exhilarating pace on the left wing.
The exclamation point was the ball finding the top of the net past bewildered goalkeepers.
Just ask the best goalkeepers at the time — India’s Deshmathu and Abdul Rashid of Pakistan — and the others who faced him when he played for the Railway Goan Institute and in Kenya’s colours.
This star, who was known to the fans only by his first name — just like those Brazilian soccer maestros Pele, Tostao, Rivelino, Ronaldo and Neymar — passed away peacefully at the Nairobi Hospital on Friday, March 10, 2017, at the age of 85.
Alu’s death comes three years after the dashing centre forward and his international team-mate Egbert Fernandes died in Canberra in November, 2014.
Alu was one of a kind. I was fortunate enough to line up with this multi-talented star for the Railway Goan Institute for several years and many a time stood still in awe watching this phenomenon perform his magic on a star-studded team that included Silu Fernandes, Hilary Fernandes, Leo Fernandes and Reynolds de Souza.
In 1976, Alu and I were together again when I managed the Kenya national team for the Rene Frank International tournament in Madras.
Mendoca bullying off with a young fan before flying off with Kenya's national hockey team to the Rome Olympic Games in 1960. PHOTO | CYPRIAN FERNANDES
I got an insight of his coaching methods as he was the national coach and was ably assisted by the late Hardev Singh Kular.
Under Alu’s guidance, the young team posted a creditable fifth-place finish. Apart from his national duties Alu also enjoyed success coaching the RGI women, one of Nairobi’s top women’s teams.
Mendonca was born in Anjuna, Goa, in January, 1933, and on arriving in Kenya with his family he joined Dr Ribeiro’s Goan School, the famed school in Nairobi that was a conveyer belt for producing world-class hockey players under the tutorship of coach-extraordinaire Anthony de Souza.
It was here that the talent of this exceptional athlete was recognized and he was picked to represent the Schools Combined XI against touring All India in 1948-1949. This was the match that launched the illustrious career of the greatest left winger of his era as he went on to represent his country at four Olympic Games.
His first appearance came in 1956 when the country made its Olympics debut in Melbourne and it was a proud moment for all Goans as Mendonca’s team-mate, the late Anthony Vaz, was given the unique honour of being the flag bearer.
Four years later in 1960, Mendonca captained his country in Rome and he ended his career following the Olympics in Tokyo in 1964 where the squad posted its best-ever showing and earned an Olympic certificate.
Mendonca was later appointed national coach and that meant two more Olympic visits to Munich in 1972 and Montreal four years later.
His six Olympic appearances were a rare feat matched only by his close friend and international team-mate left back Avtar Singh Sohal. Avtar, like Mendonca, was also only the second Kenyan to be named the best player at their respective position by their peers and the world media.
Alu’s flair wasn’t only confined to hockey. He also happened to be a first-class sprinter and opened the bowling for the Railway Goan Institute cricket team.
He will be remembered for giving the great Kenyan sprinter Seraphino Antao a scare after he had just returned from Perth with his two sprinting gold medals in 1962. Seraphino pipped the hard-charging Alu at the tape.
Alu’ Mendonca (seated, centre, behind Gold Cup trophy) with the Railway Goan Institute team which was later politically corrected to Railway Institute. The institute, then near Pangani, just up the road from the Goan Institute, became extinct after the Asian exodus between 1968 and 1974. PHOTO | CYPRIAN FERNANDES
One of the many tributes that poured in after Alu’s death came from Avtar Singh who echoed the thoughts of every player associated with Alu.
“Alu was my colleague, my captain, my coach and my great friend,’’ said Avtar. “He was humble, down to earth and always smiling. You rarely get a personality like Alu in your life time.”
At the club level Alu played for the Railway Goan Institute, one of East Africa’s premiere clubs, and captained the team to the club’s first of three M.R. de Souza Gold Cup victories in 1958. He was an integral member of the team in the other two victories in 1967 and in 1969. So what made Alu the greatest left winger of his time?
It was his pace, power and incredible technique to score goals on the turn.
“He was the greatest left winger ever, period!,’’ said Silu Fernandes, that uncompromising left back, who played in three Olympics and a RGI team-mate.
“I played internationally so many times and never saw one winger as good as Alu. It was that ability to turn and hit on the run at full speed.
“We shared a room on every one of our numerous tours and he was one of the finest roommates you could have. My greatest memory of Alu was him depositing the ball past India’s Deshmathu in a Test match in Nairobi. He never saw the ball.”
Kenya’s wizard of dribble Hilary Fernandes, another three-time Olympian, was also Alu’s team-mate at school and on the three RGI-winning teams.
Alu was a gifted athlete and his ability to hit the ball at speed separated him from all of the other wingers. “My most enduring moment was setting up a pass for him after beating two defenders against Pakistan in 1960 and he found the net with an unstoppable shot in our 3-1 win.’’ This was Pakistan’s heaviest defeat and Kenya’s greatest win against the world power.
The goals came from Alu, Avtar Singh and centre-half Surjeet Jnr. The forward line consisting of Gurcharan Singh, Hilary Fernandes, Egbert Fernandes, Hardev Singh and Alu was generally considered by far the most potent line-up the country fielded.
ONE OF A KIND
Amar Singh, another Sikh Union ace and Olympic team-mate, also had fond memories of Alu.
“Alu was a natural left winger and I never saw any player dart down the wing at such speed and let go such a hard shot,’’ said Amar who played on the right wing.
“He was always smiling and the beauty of our Kenya team was that we were all so fit and very, very close despite playing on different teams at the club level. Alu was one of a kind.’’
Between 1950 and 1970, two communities dominated hockey in Kenya: The mighty Sikhs and their arch-rivals, the Goans.
This was a rivalry that has, perhaps, never been duplicated in any other country where two communities have warred for national, Olympic and club hockey domination.
For most of that period each of the factions were led by two fierce warriors: Avtar Singh Sohal, “Tari” to every one, who went on to become one of the most decorated hockey players in Kenya, and “Alu Mendonca”, hailed as the greatest Goan player in Africa.
The rivalry was akin to Gor Mahia playing Maragoli (in its heyday) or Abaluhya when they were at their best. Days when Joe Kadenge was king.
Like the Goans and he Sikhs, their supporters were passionate and dedicated.
While at club level, the brilliant Sikh Union dominated the decade with some of the toughest, defensive hockey ever seen in club hockey, their motto must have been “none shall pass” with Avtar Singh Sohal at the centre of it.
Legendary sprinter Seraphino Antao (second, right) outsprints ‘Alu’ Mendonca (left) at the tape in 1962. Antao had just returned from Perth with two British Empire and Commonwealth Games gold medals. PHOTO | CYPRIAN FERNANDES
There was brilliance up front too with the like of Surjeet Singh Panesar, for me one of the greatest centre-halves ever. The Railway Goan Institute led by Alu Mendonca and the Goan Institute spearheaded by the late sterling centre forward Egbert Fernandes were no slouches either, especially in the MR De Souza Gold Cup tournament.
Ironically, most of the Sikh and Goan Olympians were best of buddies on the national team and away from their respective clubs socialised as much as occasion would allow.
However, the friendship between the two Trojans, Alu and Tari was special.
Make no mistake, they played hard against each, never gave an inch or took it a little easy on each other. However, once the game was over, they were back to being old mates.
This was true of most hockey players. They left their difference on the rich murram of City Park or any of the other club grounds. There was always an after-the-match soft drink at the Goan Institute, the Railway Goan Institute, or the Goan Institute (the Singh’s bar across the road from the GI where Egbert often hosted visiting before and after international matches).
Virtually every one of the Goans admired “Tari” and players like “Alu”, Hilary Fernandes (who played for the Sikh Union for a while) Silu Fernandes, Egbert Fernandes were also considered Tari’s pals.
Surjeet Singh Panesar and mothers enjoyed similar relations. With Alu’s passing, memories of the great rivalries also begin to fade with only Tari, Surjeet Panesar, Hilary, Silu, Edgar, Raphael, Edgar, Leo, Reynold D’Souza, and a few others left to carry the torch of days that used to be.
Here is a touching farewell from Tari to Alu:
“It is sad news. We lost a great man and great personality. I had the honour to play three Olympic Games 1960, 1964 and 1968 with him. He was my assistant coach in 1971 hockey World Cup where Kenya finished fourth in the world. He had great speedy and control on the ball and scored some fantastic goals in his career.
He was the greatest left wing Kenya ever produced. He was humble and down to earth. I had great memories with him and my other friend Egbert Fernandes.
Very hard to get these type personalities in your life and it was honour to be their friend. “Alu” will be remembered for his great work in hockey. Our heartfelt condolences to his children Derek, Erika and Cora-Lisa and their families.
May God rest his soul in eternal peace. God Bless. We all will miss you.”
By the time 1970 arrived, most of the Goan and Sikh players had already migrated to other shores but “Alu” and “Tari” preferred to remain dedicated and loyal to Kenya and the game that had given the fame and pleasure.