All the news for Thursday 21 June 2018
Great Britain men draw with Germany on European Tour
Great Britain men celebrate
Luke Taylor netted his second goal in two games to help Great Britain to a 1-1 draw with Germany in Cologne.
Taylor put GB ahead from a penalty corner before Mats Grambusch grabbed an equaliser for Germany after 26 minutes.
With the pitch bathed in sunshine in front of a strong crowd the hosts were quick off the mark. In the opening minutes Harry Gibson was called into action and made a smart save.
The German side continued to put pressure on the Great Britain backline but struggled to make circle penetrations as the visitors defended strongly.
GB improved enjoying more possession and won a penalty corner on 23 minutes which Taylor flicked hard and low past the diving goalkeeper.
However Germany immediately responded to level the scores before half-time. A swift attack down the right saw the ball cut back from the baseline and it was eventually turned home by Grambusch.
The third quarter was closely contested but with neither side creating many clear cut chances. This pattern on play continued into the final fifteen minutes but Germany began to step up the pressure on the GB defence in the closing minutes.
Both sides created chances in the final stages but neither could convert to grab and winner as the full time whistle blew. The sides face again on Friday to bring the tour to a close.
Great Britain (Starting XI): Harry Gibson, David Ames, Alan Forsyth, Michael Hoare, Sam Ward, Phil Roper, Adam Dixon, Barry Middleton, Brendan Creed, Liam Ansell, Dan Kyriakides
Substitutes: George Pinner, Luke Taylor, Henry Weir, Chris Griffiths, David Condon, Jonty Griffiths, Will Calnan
England Hockey Board Media release
Kirandeep excited over dream call-up for World Series
By Aftar Singh
KUALA LUMPUR: Kirandeep Kaur (pic) is all smiles after winning a spot in the national hockey team at a tender age of 15.
Kirandeep is the youngest of the 18 players named by national coach K. Dharmaraj for the World Series in Singapore, which begins on Saturday.
“I’ve never expected to be named for the World Series,” said the Form Three student of SMK Bukit Bandaraya in Bangsar, who will turn 15 on July 22.
“I thank coach Dharmaraj and his assistant Lailin (Abu Hassan) for having faith in me.
“My childhood dream of becoming a national player has come true.
“This is a big break in my hockey career and I’ll make full use of this opportunity to shine in the World Series.
“I am young and inexperienced but I will not be intimidated with the older players in the meet,” added Kirandeep, who thanked her father Gurdip Singh for introducing her to the sport when she was five.
Kirandeep represented Kuala Lumpur in the National Under-14 tournament for four years since 2014 and she also played for Police in the National Women’s League in 2016.
This year, she featured for Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) in the National Women’s League.
The striker was called up for national training just two weeks ago as a replacement for national forward Nurul Nabila Mansor, who is two-month pregnant.
“Usually, a newcomer will take some time to get used to national training but Kirandeep has adapted well,” said Dharmaraj.
“This is a chance for Kirandeep to show her talent in the World Series and become a regular feature in the national team.”
Six teams will compete in the World Series, which is the qualifying tournament for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Malaysia will open their campaign against Indonesia on Saturday.
Malaysia’s other matches are against Hong Kong (June 24), Kazakhstan (June 26), Thailand (June 27) and Singapore (June 29). The final and third placing matches are on July 1.
The Star of Malaysia
Oltmans makes six changes in squad for Champions Trophy
LAHORE: Showing full control over the final selection, Pakistan head coach Roelant Oltmans made six changes in the squad from the Commonwealth Games to announce the 18-member team for the upcoming Champions Trophy Men’s hockey tournament to be held in Breda, Netherlands from June 23 to July 1.
Chief selector Olympian Islah-ud-Din Siddiqi recommended the names of 22 players for the training camp which has been in progress in Netherlands for the last couple of weeks. But Oltmans reduced the list to 18 after watching the performance of the players in the training camp.
Sources said Oltmans was not happy with the 18-member team announced by Islah for the Games held in Gold Coast, Australia in April this year and the Dutchman had already informed the Pakistan Hockey Federation that in future he would pick the 18-member team. Currently, Islah is in the US and therefore, has no link with the ongoing training camp in Breda.
Oltmans preferred to call back seniors players to oust a good number of juniors. And among them is half-back Rashid Mahmood, forwards Umar Bhutta and Aijaz Ahmed, midfielder Azfar Yaqoob, defender Aleem Bilal and goalkeeper Amjad Ali. Goalkeeper Mazhar Abbas, Tazeem-ul-Hasan, Mohammad Arshad, Faisal Qadir, Dilber, and Rana Sohail faced the axe.
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Unde Oltmans, the national team showed some improved performances as it remained unbeaten in the Commonwealth Games after playing three drawn matches against Wales (1-1), India (2-2) and England (2-2). The performance gave the head coach a powerful position as far as the selection affairs are concerned.
Pakistan’s performance in Gold Coast was also an improvement to their high-scoring defeats, especially at the hands of India in the previous tournaments.
However, the Champions Trophy, which is the last one in its 40-year-history, will be Oltman’s first test as Pakistan coach and that too in his home country.
Meanwhile, Rizwan Senior has been retained as captain, who is junior to Rashid Mahmood, Irfan Senior and Umar Bhutta.
M.Rizwan Sr (captain), Imran Butt, Amjad Ali, M.Irfan Sr, Mubashir Ali, Aleem Bilal, Ammad Shakeel Butt, Touseeq Arshad, Rashid Mahmood, Tasawar Abbas, Abu Bakar, M.Irfan Jr, Arslan Qadir, Umar Bhutta, Shafqat Rasool, Ali Shan, Azfar Yaqoob, Aijaz Ahmed.
Manager: Hasan Sardar, Head Coach: Roelant Oeltmans, Assistant Coaches: M.Saqlain and Rehan Butt.
Sardar’s presence will give motivation to other players, says Manpreet
A team man to the core, Manpreet Singh has no qualms about losing captaincy and feels returning veteran Sardar Singh’s presence in the middle will act as motivation for other players in the upcoming FIH Champions Trophy in Breda, the Netherlands.
Sardar, considered one of the world’s best midfielders at one point of time, was dropped for the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, where India finished a disappointing fourth under Manpreet’s captaincy.
But the seasoned Sardar did not give up hope and fought his way back into the team for the Champions Trophy after impressing new chief coach Harendra Singh in the national camp.
“Sardar is an immensely experienced midfielder. His presence in the midfield will give a lot of motivation to others. He has the ability to give long, skilful passes,” Manpreet told PTI before leaving for the Champions Trophy.
Sardar has been brought back to bolster the team’s midfield for the tournament, beginning June 23.
Asked about India’s chances in the prestigious event, where they stood second best in the last edition, Manpreet said the team is aiming for a podium finish.
But he knows it is not going to be an easy task, considering the competitiveness of all the 16 participating nations.
Manpreet was the captain of the Indian team in the Gold Coast Games, where things didn’t go according to plans for the erstwhile powerhouse of the game.
“Commonwealth Games was not good for us. We missed far too many goals. Also, we converted far too less penalty corners. We have worked very hard on scoring goals and converting penalty corners during the training sessions here at Sports Authority of India,” he said.
After the CWG failure, Manpreet was replaced by PR Sreejesh as the skipper for the last edition of the Champions Trophy.
But the stylish midfielder doesn’t have any qualms on losing out captaincy, saying he is still learning the tricks of the trade.
“No, I do not have any regrets losing captaincy. When I was a captain I used to stick to the team’s game plan. I will do the same as a player too. Sreejesh was captain earlier and is an experienced player. I have lot to learn from him about captaincy,” he said.
India will take on arch-rivals Pakistan in the opening match of the tournament, but Manpreet said it is just another game for the side.
Breda to host last Champions Trophy
By Shahid Khan
Air Marshal Nur Khan – PHF President
The southern city Dutch city Breda will host the last edition of the Hockey Champions Trophy from 23rd June to 1st July 2018.
The Champions Trophy like the Hockey World Cup was the brain child of Air Marshal Nur Khan, President of Pakistan Hockey Federation at the time when he put the proposal to FIH in 1978 through Col. A.I.S. Dara the Vice President of FIH.
The idea was to provide frequent opportunities to the top hockey nations to play each other and benefit from each other’s advancement in technique and latest development for making progress in the sport.
Pakistan just as it awarded the inaugural World Cup was awarded to hold the inaugural Champions Trophy and unlike the World Cup were able to host the first tournament in Lahore (1978). The hosts managed to add to the title of World Cup which they had won earlier in the same year as they defeated all their 4 opponents in a round robin format of the competition under the captaincy of Islahuddin Siddiqui.
The founding country hosted the next tournament in Karachi two years later and retained their title – once again winning all their games in the event. Pakistan’s first defeat in the Champions Trophy came in the third edition at the hand of Netherlands.
However Pakistan had to wait another fourteen years for their third and last title in the competition when they registered a victory on their own soil with Shabaz Sr winning a penalty stroke decider against Germany in packed stadium in Lahore.
The founding nation has hosted the most editions for any country with 11, however it is Australia who have won the Trophy a record 14 times with the European hockey giants Germany and Netherlands in list next with 10 and 8 times respectively.
Of the 13 nations which have competed only five have managed to win the title. Pakistan being the only Asian Champion having won all their titles on home soil. In addition to that they have also registered seven silver and bronze medals too.
The other former hockey giants India, after losing to Australia in the last edition (London 2016) when they lost on penalty strokes will be hoping to go one better to improve their record in a completion in which they have recorded only one other medal, bronze.
Incidentally the sub-continental neighbours will be playing the curtain raiser game between themselves on Saturday.
The tournament normally features the top six world ranked teams and Pakistan ranked 13 at present only gained entry by special invitation from the FIH Board.
After the 2018 edition the Hockey Champions Trophy (HPL) will be replaced by the Hockey Pro League (HPL) in 2019.
Teams in Breda: Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Holland, India and Pakistan
Shahid Khan is senior sports freelance journalist and has covered all major hockey tournaments since 1997. During this times he has provided expert analysis for Reuters TV and BBC Radio Asia (Network).
1994 saw Pakistan's Last Champions Trophy Success
By Ijaz Chaudhry
The upcoming 37th edition of the Champions Trophy starting from June 23rd is going to be the last. Let us recall, Pakistan’s last victory in this event.
In 1994, the Champions Trophy returned to its birth place, Lahore.
Pakistan’s hockey fortunes were at a low ebb. They had not won a major title since winning the Olympic gold in 1984. In the case of champions trophy, the drought spanned thirteen editions of the tournament since Pakistan’s last success in 1980.
Then a few months back at the fourth Asia cup in Hiroshima, Pakistan team went through a devastation of proportion of nuclear explosion itself.
Pakistan had won all the three previous editions of Asia Cup without losing a single match. But what to talk of retaining the title, Pakistan perished in the semifinal, losing to South Korea by a whopping margin of 4-0, their worst ever defeat against an Asian country.
To stop the downward slide, P.H.F. led by its president Air Vice Marshal (retd) Farooq Umer started making corrective measures in full earnest.
Farooq Umer had realised that Pakistan hockey needed a modern approach. Despite vehement protests from many quarters, notably the old hockey stalwarts, Farooq Umer had already done the unthinkable i.e. attaching foreign coach with Pakistan team. The fabled Dutch coach, Hans Jorritsma, who had guided Holland to victory in the last World Cup in 1990, had joined the Pakistan team a few months back. A foreign physiotherapist was also hired. Video analysis was employed.
PHF’s endeavours were not restricted to the training
There had been constant complaints from hockey players of "lack of incentive" in financial terms. This time the players were promised a win bonus for every match on three tier system based upon seniority.
PHF’s coffers were already healthy as it had recently signed separate logo deals for senior and junior national teams with two multinational soft drink companies for substantial sums.
The Champions Trophy tournament itself was marketed in a professional manner. The TV rights were sold not only to the PTV but also the international media. The 16th Champions trophy was beamed to about 40 countries.
A new look Pakistan side was announced. As many as seven players were making their debut in the then annual event of Champions trophy. Preceded by a lot of publicity, the tournament took off with much fan-fare.
PHFs efforts on all the fronts bore fruit: Pakistan began a winning spree and crowds filled the National Hockey Stadium, world’s biggest.
In their opening match Pakistan trounced the formidable Great Britain, 4-1. The hosts looked a well-knit outfit and displayed a swift passing game at high pace.
Spain were the next victim, Pakistan prevailing 3-1. The new character of the team was evident from one incident. Mid-way through the second half, with the score line 1-1, right in Tahir Zaman squandered a penalty stroke. Tahir immediately bounced back from the setback. Within a few minutes, he dribbled past the Spanish defence including the goalie to score one of the most memorable goals of the entire tournament.
Then Pakistan edged past the reigning world champions, Holland 2-1; the score line did not fullyreflect the hosts superiority.
The green shirts were also the superior side against Australia, winning by two goals to nil
The final league game against Germany was a sort of a friendly international as both the sides had already qualified for the final. Yet, more than 50,000 people thronged the stadium. The Germans dominated the first half and led by a goal at the first hooter. Second half was more evenly contested and Pakistan equalised through a penalty stroke.
Pakistan had the psychological advantage before the final, having finishing ahead of Germans by one point in the round robin.
As anticipated, a crowd of about 70,000, including the country’s President, filled the stadium for the final.
The Germans had more of the early exchanges. The crowd was stunned when Tewes scored off a penalty corner with the ball going into the net after a deflection from the stick of an on-rushing Pakistani player.
A titanic mid-field battle ensued. The crowd became fully alive with hooters and fire-crackers when just two minutes before the interval, a long corner taken by Shahbaz found the lanky centre-half Shafqat, unmarked at the top of the circle, who scored with a hit finding the corner of the tin.
Within four minutes of the restart, Pakistan went ahead through skipper Shahbaz . The goal was the result of an excellent one touch move involving four players.
Pakistan seemed to be in sight of lifting the magnificent trophy donated by Pakistan itself. But with just 10 minutes to go, Kun equalised from a penalty corner with a fierce reverse stick shot. It was a very creditable effort since Germans were playing with 10 men at that moment.
There was no extra time and the match entered the drama of penalty strokes. M.Shabaz Jr. and Blunk flunked in the first series of penalty strokes but the other four from either side made no mistake. Consequently the final match went to the dreaded sudden death penalty- strokes session.
The cliff hanger finally ended with Mayerhofer putting his shot over the top to leave the Pakistan team and the jam packed stadium in ecstasy.
Another gift for the Lahore crowd was the naming of local hero, the great left-half Khawaja Junaid as the "Player of the Tournament".
The team had a sitting with the Prime Minister, who announced a prize of 0.1 million rupees each for their grand success.
The success both on and off the pitch epitomises what scientific training and professional marketing and publicity can do. Much of the credit goes to the PHF President AVM Farooq Umer.
Pakistan’s success story did not end here. Later, the same year, Pakistan went on to win the biggest prize, the World Cup.
Presently, Pakistan are ranked 13th in the world. In the coming Champions Trophy, the other five teams are placed between 1st and 6th in the rankings. The FIH has invited Pakistan for this last edition in recognition of their contribution: they gave the idea of the Champions Trophy, donated the trophy and also hosted the first three editions.
Pakistan should realistically hope for some respectable performance only.
Ijaz Chaudhry writes on hockey & other sports. For more about him and his work, visit: www.sportscorrespondent.info
Lovell The Hero At 2016 Champions Trophy
Kookaburras goalkeeper Tyler Lovell was the hero two years ago when Australia won a dramatic Champions Trophy decider in a shootout against India in London.
Lovell, who is part of Australia’s 2018 team, only conceded once from four attempts as the Kookaburras triumphed 3-1 after a goalless draw.
Aran Zalewski, Daniel Beale and Simon Orchard all converted their penalties, after Blake Govers had missed a penalty stroke during regulation time.
Lovell, though, was the hero, when he forced Surender Kumar wide for the decisive intervention.
He said: “I didn’t feel the pressure was on me as much as the strikers to score. I had good form in one-on-ones so I was confident leading into the game.
“They shot wide on a lot of them. I manipulated them to be where I wanted them to be and stayed in the contest.
“It worked that way for Kumar’s penalty and immediately I turned to the boys and they came running over. We got in a big group and celebrated.”
The Kookaburras were made to wait to receive the Champions Trophy post-game following an India protest for Beale’s penalty which had been re-taken, but eventually the side received the silverware in the changerooms amid the celebrations.
Australia had finished top of the standings after the round robin phase, having won four of their five games.
The Kookaburras’ only blemish was a first-up 0-0 draw with Great Britain, while they signalled their intent ahead of the gold medal match by crushing India 4-2.
Lovell added: “We played well throughout. We had a few injuries, which was tough but overall we performed smoothly.
“Tristan White played really well for us through the midfield and guys stepped up throughout.”
The triumph secured Australia their record 14th Champions Trophy title and they’ll be aiming for another in the final edition of the tournament in Breda from 23 June to 1 July.
Watch all the matches live on Fox Sports!
Hockey Australia media release
England star aiming to make World Cup most sustainable ever
England athlete Joie Leigh has taken on the voluntary role as Sustainability Manager for the upcoming World Cup Photo: FIH/WSP
We all know that green is a cool colour. It is the colour of nature, growth and harmony. It's also the colour of money. So for the Sustainability Manager at the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018 to be talking about the social, environmental and economic impact of a strong and embedded green policy makes huge sense.
The Sustainability Manager will be a familiar face to hockey fans in England and beyond. Joie Leigh was one of three reserve players for the Great Britain squad that won gold at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. She racked up more than 50 caps for England and Great Britain before deciding to take a break from the international scene and concentrate on club hockey in the Dutch Hoofdklasse.
Before she heads to the Netherlands however, the midfielder has an important role to play at the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup and, if things go to plan, she will have been instrumental in setting up a sustainability policy that can be utilised at all international hockey events in the future.
A conversation with someone who was involved in the delivery of the event prompted Leigh to volunteer her services. She was soon installed as the Sustainability Manager, with a specific brief to minimise the use of single-use plastic on site – for players and spectators alike – as well as limiting, if not eliminating, the use of non-degradable bags by retailers and reducing food wastage and the use of non-biodegradable cutlery in the food village.
The specific brief was to align to and set the foundations in place for achieving ISO20121 accreditation, of which the above objectives are all part of. The beauty of Leigh’s involvement as Sustainability Manager is that her approach is down to earth and practical – under her guidance, the policy becomes something people can recognise and believe in.
“I wanted to integrate sustainability into the whole delivery of the World Cup. I didn’t want it to be an add-on but rather something that was integrated into all the various processes that go into delivering an event.”
Joie Leigh, Sustainability Manager, Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup London 2018
Environmental issues have always been close to Leigh’s heart. “My degree was in geography, so there is a natural synergy between geography and my interest in how the natural world and the human world interact,” she says.
“And I currently work as an intern at London and Partners which provide promotional support for the London Mayor’s Office. As the Mayor of London is a partner in the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup, that has made coordinating all the various stakeholders a lot easier.
“It was a bigger job than I initially thought it would be. I spend probably the equivalent of a day a week on this role but I have to work it around my own work and training. I certainly have dedicated a fair amount of time to it.”
Having accepted the role in September 2017, Leigh’s immediate task was to write a sustainability policy.
"I wanted to integrate sustainability into the whole delivery of the World Cup. I didn't want it to be an add-on but rather something that was integrated into all the various processes that go into delivering an event."
Besides the practical examples which everyone can buy into, such as re-filling water bottles and not using plastic bags, the concept of hosting a sustainable event has been supported by the sport’s international governing body.
Under the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) Quality Programme for Hockey Turf, the pitches at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, provided by FIH Official Global Supplier Polytan, are designed to use 40% less water in the watering cycle. A forward move that meets the Sustainability Manager’s approval.
The push for a sustainable legacy from this World Cup has also seen other communities benefit. The Gift of Hockey campaign is a project that is an extension of the FIH, England Hockey, African Hockey Federation and UK Sport's hockey development project - the Targeted Assistance Programme (TAP), West Africa. Under Leigh’s drive for sustainability, two UK-wide tours have taken place.
The tours have visited more than 20 hockey clubs to collect unwanted sticks, uniforms and other equipment. So far the collection has filled two transit vans to the brim. The equipment will be redistributed to hockey clubs in Africa and parts of the UK.
Additionally, during the Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup, spectators are being encouraged to bring their unwanted hockey kit to Fan central – the spectator area at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.
The TAP project is coming to an end but Leigh hopes the provision of hockey equipment to the African and UK communities will help the next generation to find their way into hockey.
“So far the reaction to the campaign to raise awareness about sustainability issues has really been positive from everyone involved but it will be interesting to see how that translates when the World Cup is underway. So far, it has been about the background work. But I think a lot of people do value it. As a movement, the idea of our responsibility towards safeguarding the environment is reaching far more people now.”
For the World Cup itself, Leigh has been working hard to make sure her policies are embedded into every area of operation, from the media area to Fan Central.
“We are going to work hard to make sure the messaging is clear all over the venue. There will be messages on bins, the water fountains will be well signposted. We also have a page in the programme dedicated to sustainability and I am aspiring to get all the partners and stakeholders to give a set of key quotes that shows we are taking a united front towards sustainability.”
To ensure that everyone is on board, sustainability issues also get a regular update in the Hockey Maker’s meetings, among stakeholders and in any publicity related to the event. Leigh’s aim from the start has been to get everyone on board and to make sustainability a choice, not a chore.
“I really want people to see the potential of making events sustainable. It is not just about putting your cup in the right recycling bin, it is far more creative and exciting than that. There is real dynamic and creative thinking going into ways we can live more sustainably.
“I hope that all the planning and documentation that I have done can be passed onto the Hockey Pro League and the Hockey Series or other sporting events. The foundations and the principles are there. It is just one example demonstrating how events can be done with sustainability embedded throughout. It just makes social, environmental and economic sense.”
The work of Joie Leigh in her role as Sustainability Manager at the Vitality Hockey Women's World Cup is a great example of how innovation and new thinking can drive up the levels of professionalism within our sport, something at the heart of the FIH's Hockey Revolution strategy and in line with the International Olympic Committee's Agenda 2020 Recommendations.
Over 400 English hockey clubs are a part of Your World Cup
Alex Danson, England
England Hockey is delighted to announce we have over half hockey clubs who are part of the ‘Your World Cup’ campaign. The aim of the campaign is to inspire clubs to utilise the increased visibility of hosting a home World Cup to inspire their communities to get involved with hockey.
Over half of the 800 hockey clubs in England have signed up to be a part of our mass participation campaign as we look to host the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup in London this summer. There are currently over 1000 opportunities for people to get active with hockey live on the event map – many with a world cup twist!
England captain Alex Danson is over the moon how the hockey family have come together ahead of the World Cup; ‘It is simply amazing to know over 400 clubs are a part of the Your World Cup campaign; our clubs are already doing incredible work in their local areas, giving lots of opportunities to young and old to get involved in hockey!
England Hockey launched this campaign in November 2017 with six of the England squad members sharing their club stories and the importance of the club world helping them get to where they are today.
Inspiring a generation, supporting schools, offering a range of ways to play, celebrating and supporting people, during the event and post event legacy are the six areas the campaign focuses on by providing support, tools and resources to help clubs develop in whichever way they choose.
At the start of 2018 we hosted over 50 regional forums where we invited clubs to learn more about the campaign and how it can benefit them. We developed a brand new club resource portal filled with useful tools and support materials that clubs can use to aid their club development as they see fit.
A key element of the club portal is the marketing site where clubs can download and amend their own digital or hard copy marketing templates to advertise their sessions. We also ran a series of competitions where clubs that have signed up the campaign have won 60 Quicksticks packs, perfect for aiding junior sessions at school and in clubs. We gave out 30 World Cup party packs to decorate their social activities and world cup viewing party’s.
Finally, we are providing a number of opportunities for people development by hosting an array of conferences during the World Cup from young leaders to coaches to help clubs develop their workforce.
There is still time for your club to get involved and get access to these useful resources – plus if you register your HockeyFest event by 2nd July you will be in with a chance of winning one of ten party packs worth over £600!
England Hockey Board Media release
Notify hockey as national game: Naveen Patnaik
Patnaik’s request to PM Modi
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik speaks to the media after inspecting progress of the Kalinga Hockey Stadium’s renovation work in Bhubaneswar on June 17, 2018. Photo Credit: Biswaranjan Rout
As Odisha prepares to host the men’s hockey World Cup 2018 here in November, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to notify hockey as the national game of India.
Patnaik, while reviewing the preparations, said he “was surprised and shocked to know that what is popularly known as the national game — hockey, has in fact never been notified as our national game”.
Fans deserve it
“Hence I am sure you will agree with the fans that hockey truly deserves to be notified as our national game.
“This will be a fitting tribute to the great hockey players who have made our country proud.
“It will also inspire our future generations,” said Patnaik in his letter to Modi.
“Cutting across different strata of society and regions, cutting across the rural-urban divide, hockey is hugely popular. In the tribal areas of Odisha, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, hockey is a way of life,” he added.
In fact, in a first of its kind, Odisha is sponsoring the national hockey teams for the next five years, he added.
National Game: Should it be hockey, kabaddi or wrestling?
Odisha CM requests PM to notify hockey as National Game
In hockey, India have won eight gold medals at the Olympics.
Hockey started bringing India sporting glory when the country was still not independent. In sentiment at least, hockey became India’s national sport. Now Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to officially name hockey the National Game. Orissa will host this year’s hockey World Cup and in a first such deal, the state will also sponsor the national teams. In his letter to the PM, Patnaik wrote: “…while reviewing the preparations, I was surprised and shocked to know that what is popularly known as the National Game, hockey, has in fact never been notified as our National Game.”
“Hence I am sure you will agree with the crores of hockey loving fans of our country — that hockey truly deserves to be notified as our National Game. This will be a fitting tribute to the great hockey players who have made our country proud. It will also inspire our future generations,” he added.
What about indigenous sports?
Hockey, like many other sports, was introduced to India by the British colonialists. Patnaik’s letter has opened a debate over whether hockey should be notified as the National Game, or whether this honour should go to an indigenous Indian sport such as kabaddi or kho-kho.
The Indian hockey team has won eight gold medals — the last of which was at the 1980 Moscow Games — and one silver and two bronze medals at the Olympics. But results in the recent past, including at the Olympics and World Championships, have been below-par.
Past greats like former hockey captain Dhanraj Pillay and Ashok Kumar, son of hockey legend Dhyan Chand and member of the 1975 World Cup winning team, welcomed Patnaik’s pitch.
“As far as I know hockey is and has been our National Game because of the number of Olympic medals we have won. But if Odisha CM has written the letter then it must be true that it hasn’t been notified so I welcome this move,” he said.
Kumar, who scored the winning goal in the 1975 World Cup final, said it was better late than never. “Growing up, hockey was the game for the masses. Hockey was the only positive for our young country after Independence and thereafter. Birth anniversary the of late Dhyan Chand is celebrated as our National Sports Day so hockey has to be our National Game,” he added.
What about Kabaddi?
However, wrestling and kabaddi players countered Patnaik’s suggestion, saying that only s sport native to India should be notified as India’s National Game.
“Hockey may have won so many medals, but are they winning these days? I tell you this, we have been winning the Asian Games gold medal since 1990, that is nine gold medals in a row,” Randhir Singh, Arjuna Award-winner and countless national title winner as both player and coach in kabbadi, said.
“Kabaddi should be announced as the National Game as this has been played since the old days,” he added.
Wrestler Yogeshwar Dutt, winner of a bronze medal at the London Olympics, pitched for his own sport to be made the National Game.
“Wrestling bouts had been organised since the time of Mahabharata. Nothing precedes our game. It is our tradition. We have won Olympic medals also. If any sport deserves that tag, it is wrestling,” Dutt said.