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News for 10 January 2019

All the news for Thursday 10 January 2019

Men’s hockey coach Harendra Singh shunted out from senior team

Hockey India recommends him for the junior side instead

Uthra Ganesan

Harendra Singh. 

Hockey India on Wednesday officially parted ways with Harendra Singh as the men’s chief coach and recommended him for the junior side instead.

“Harendra Singh’s abilities of grooming youngsters has been the key reasons for the think-tank at Hockey India to arrive at this recommendation” was the official communiqué, citing his 2016 Junior World Cup triumph. HI would also be inviting fresh applications for a foreign coach. But the decision has raised more questions with no answers and no one willing to explain.

Multiple sources in Hockey India have confirmed that India’s failure to defend its Asian Games title and thereby qualify for the 2020 Olympics played a big role in the decision. The High Performance & Development Committee that decided this, met here on Monday and also made it the key issue. The next junior World Cup would be played in 2021.

“It was felt Harendra lacked the experience of coaching at the top level and was too emotional to control the boys or the game on the field. India lost to Malaysia, which was beaten by Japan in the final of the Asiad while we beat Japan 8-0. Not acceptable,” a member of the committee revealed to The Hindu.

Harendra’s outburst against poor umpiring at the World Cup was also a reason. The Indian team also has a lean few months ahead — the Azlan Shah Cup is in April and the Hockey Series Finals, an Olympic qualifier event, in June.

But the coach himself is not willing to accept it. “I have neither met HI since the World Cup nor submitted my report. They only spoke to me regarding the rehabilitation of some players recovering from injuries and I advised about the same. It’s surprising that a decision on the coach has been taken without even seeking a review report,” he told The Hindu.

This, however, is just part of the puzzle. While a final decision would be taken only by the Sports Authority of India, it is unlikely to go against the federation’s recommendations. Interestingly, it was SAI’s insistence on not inviting fresh applications that led to Harendra being given charge of the women’s team in 2017 when he was a front-runner for the men’s side instead.

The Indian men’s team meanwhile would regroup for a camp in Bengaluru from February 14 under High Performance Director David John — who is himself under the scanner —- and Chris Ciriello.

Harendra's tenure

December 2016: Won the Junior World Cup.

May 2017: Replaced as junior men’s coach by Jude Felix. Reason: Declared not available.

September 2017: Appointed as national women’s coach, won the Asia Cup and finished fourth at CWG. This followed Sjoerd Marijne’s move from the women’s to men’s team to replace the sacked Roelant Oltmans.

May 2018: Appointed as national men’s coach, second at Champions Trophy, third at Asian Games, joint winner at Asian Champions Trophy, sixth at World Cup. Reason: Marijne moved back to women’s team citing poor performance of the men’s side.

January 2019: Removed as national men’s coach, recommended for junior men’s team. Reason: Failure to defend Asian Games.

The Hindu

Hockey India runs out of patience, sends Harendra Singh back to coach India colts

By Rutvick Mehta

Harendra Singh, AFP

If Hockey India (HI) was to ever think about a New Year's resolution, it would probably want to keep 'don't sack a coach' on the top of the wish list. Even then, though, the odds of the national hockey federation breaking it would be far more than abiding by it.

And so, in another round of HI's favourite musical chairs game, Harendra Singh has been plucked away from being the head coach of the senior men's team and planted into the junior men's team role.

In a statement on Wednesday, HI said that a high performance and development committee — comprising RP Singh, Harbinder Singh, BP Govinda and Syed Ali — has "advised" the 2016 Junior World Cup-winning coach to return as the junior coach. It added that HI will now hunt for a replacement of Harendra, whose contract as the senior team's coach ran till the 2018 FIH World Cup.

And while the sugarcoated statement spoke about "Harendra Singh's abilities of grooming youngsters" and the "the mercurial rise of some of India's top junior hockey players under the tutelage of Harendra Singh" as being the key reasons for the decision, fact remains that the senior team's below-par World Cup quarterfinal exit at home under Harendra was the biggest catalyst for the change.

"The performance wasn't up to the mark, and this was the recommendation made by the committee comprising some Olympians," HI secretary general Rajinder Singh said. "We will invite applications for the post of the senior men's coach and hire someone as soon as possible."

The HI secretary, however, added that the federation hasn't formally asked Harendra about the switch yet. "We will ask him soon," he said.

Harendra's stint with the senior men's team was also due to a round of musical chairs. HI swapped Harendra from the senior women's side to the men's team and Sjoerd Marijne from the men to the women after the men's fourth-place finish at the Commonwealth Games under the Dutchman last year.

And while the team under Harendra got off to a promising start with a silver at the Champions Trophy, its failure to defend the Asian Games title in Jakarta combined with the World Cup outing was enough for HI to run out of patience, a term it increasingly seems doesn't exist in its dictionary.

Not in 'control'

However, what has also played a big factor in Harendra's exit is a couple of off-field controversies during the World Cup in Bhubaneswar: Captain Manpreet Singh and some of his teammates entering the restricted VIP Lounge and the coach's outburst against the umpiring after India's loss to the Netherlands in the quarterfinals.

These two instances, HI believes, was a case of a commander not being in "control" of his troops, although the players have openly spoken about being more comfortable under Harendra's coaching as compared to his foreign predecessors over the past few years.

"We all saw what happened in the World Cup, not just with the result but even off the field," a highly-placed HI official told this paper on condition of anonymity.

"How could the players including the captain visit a restricted area in the stadium? It shows that the coach was not in control of his players. "And then the umpiring controversy was needless. You're the coach, you have lost, you must accept it and not speak like that.

"We thought we will promote Harendra looking at his past results with the junior team, but he couldn't even control his men. So, we think it is best to put him back to a job he can handle," the official added.

Junior coach unaware

Another aspect of this switch, however, is what happens to Jude Felix, who is the current coach of the junior men's team.

Till Wednesday night, Felix had not been contacted by anybody in HI, either to intimate him about this decision or discuss the road ahead for him.

Appointed in the role in August 2017, Felix's contract as junior coach runs till May this year, and the present scenario leaves his future in the dark.

Felix's own record over the past 15 months has some noteworthy results: gold in the Youth Olympic qualifiers, silver in the Buenos Aires Youth Olympics (although he didn't travel with the team as coach) as well as Azlan Shah.The HI official said they haven't thought about Felix's future yet. "Once Harendra takes over, we will see whether he wants Felix in his coaching team or not," he said.

HI's revolving door

Since the 2012 Olympics, Hockey India has parted ways with 6 senior men's team coaches over the last 6 years:

    2012: Michael Nobbs
    2014: Terry Walsh
    2015: Paul van Ass
    2017: Roelant Oltmans
    2018: Sjoerd Marijne
    2019: Harendra Singh

Daily News & Analysis

HI does it again, sacks Harendra

Men’s hockey coach axed in less than a year over poor results; told to oversee junior squad

Trouble started for Harendra when India lost to Malaysia in the semis of the Asian Games. It ended India’s title defence and a chance to win a direct qualification for the Tokyo Olympics.

Hockey India (HI) on Wednesday removed Harendra Singh from the post of the men’s team coach, while recommending that he should take over as the coach of the junior men’s team. The decision to relieve Harendra of his responsibilities was taken during a meeting of HI’s high performance and development committee.

“The Committee has recommended to reassign Dronacharya Award winner Harendra Singh as the coach for the Indian junior men’s hockey team commencing from the camp slated to start in March,” HI said in a statement.

The high performance and development committee was of the opinion that Harendra was best suited to take charge of the junior team as during his three-year reign, the team went on to win the 2016 Junior World Cup in Lucknow.

“The mercurial rise of some of India’s top junior hockey players under the tutelage of Harendra Singh between 2013 and 2016 when India won the historic Junior World Cup in Lucknow and Harendra Singh’s ability of grooming youngsters has been the key reasons for the think-tank at Hockey India to arrive at this recommendation,” HI said.

Harendra was not available for comments and it was not clear whether he would take up the offer. HI will invite fresh applications to replace Harendra as the chief coach of the senior team.

“HI will be advertising and will invite applications for the position of the chief coach of the men’s team, which will be returning to training camp in February for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup scheduled to start on March 23. In the interim, the team will be overseen by high performance director David John and current analytical coach Chris Ciriello,” HI said.

The latest development is yet another example of HI’s bizarre working ways. HI appointed Dutchman Sjoerd Marijine, who was the head coach of the women’s team, as replacement for the sacked Roelant Oltmans in September 2017. Harendra was given charge of the women’s team. The two swapped places in May last year after the men’s team failed to win a medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast. Under Harendra, India won the bronze medal at the 2018 Asian Games, gold medal at the Asian Champions Trophy and finished sixth at the 2018 World Cup.

Trouble started for Harendra when India lost to Malaysia in the semifinals of the Asian Games. It ended India’s title defence and a chance to win a direct qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. What had saved Harendra’s job then was that the World Cup was only a couple of months away. But India’s 2-1 loss to the Netherlands in the quarterfinals of the World Cup was hard for the federation officials to swallow. The last straw for Harendra was the coach’s open criticism of the umpires after the quarterfinal, blaming them for the team’s loss.

With India hosting an Olympics qualifying tournament in June, finding a new coach would be on the top of the priority list for HI.

The Tribune

Harendra Singh removed as Team India coach, offered charge of junior team again

Harendra Singh, File Photo

Indian men's hockey coach Harendra Singh was Wednesday sacked from the position following a disappointing 2018 and offered the task of helming the junior squad by the national federation.

Constant chopping and changing of coaches is a frequent phenomenon in Indian hockey and Harendra, who was appointed in May, is the latest casualty. He has become the sixth coach to be sacked in six years.

"Though the year 2018 was very disappointing for the Indian Men's Hockey Team with results not going as expected, Hockey India (HI) believes investing in the junior program which will reap long-term benefits," HI said in a statement explaining the reasons behind Harendra's axing.

The Junior World Cup-winning coach took charge after India's medal-less showing at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games but was unable to change the team's fortunes.

India were also below-par in the Asian Games in Indonesia, settling for a bronze after going into the tournament as the defending champions. They ended the year with a quarterfinal loss in the World Cup in Bhubaneswar.

"Hockey India will shortly be advertising and will invite applications for the position of the Chief Coach of the Indian Men's Hockey Team which will be returning to training camp in February 2019 for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup scheduled to commence from 23 March 2019.

"In the interim, the team will be overseen by Hockey India High Performance Director, David John and current Analytical Coach, Chris Ciriello," the statement added.

The decision to reassign Harendra was taken by the HI High Performance and Development Committee on Monday with an aim to build a "strong base" ahead of the 2021 Junior World Cup and the 2020 and 2024 Olympics.

The meeting was attended by Committee Chairman R P Singh, members including Olympians Harbinder Singh, B P Govinda and Syed Ali.

"The offer (of junior head coach) has been made to Harendra Singh for taking charge of the Junior Men's team commencing from the camp slated to start in March 2019," HI said.

Harendra took the junior team to the World Cup title in 2016. As women's chief coach, he had swapped places with Dutchman Sjoerd Marijne to join the men's squad ahead of the August-September Asian Games.

India's practice of firing coaches at regular intervals has been criticised by many experts of the game including legendary Australian captain and coach Ric Charlesworth.

Changes in the support staff were expected following India's quarterfinal loss to the Netherlands in the World Cup at home last month. The fifth-ranked Asian team was aiming to win its first World Cup medal since 1975.

"It is completely unprofessional from Hockey India. With less than two years to go for the Olympics, this is the last thing India needed. But seeing the trend (of changing coaches frequently) it is not a surprise anymore. You can't expect the team to win like this," former India captain Zafar Iqbal told PTI.

"Even Germany lost in the semi-finals but that doesn't mean their team was bad. The same is the case with India who did not play poor hockey over the past 12 months" Iqbal added.

Daily News & Analysis

Shazrul out of MHL after injuring Achilles tendon

By Aftar Singh

Going under the knife: UniKL defender Shazrul Imran Nazli injured his left heel and will be out of action for at least six months

KUALA LUMPUR: Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) defender Shazrul Imran Nazli has been ruled out of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) this season following a serious injury to his left heel.

The 26-year-old from Perak has suffered a complete rupture of his left Achilles following a medical examination on Tuesday.

Shazrul suffered the injury during a warm-up session for the Tan Sri P. Alagendra Cup quarter-final clash against TNB-Thunderbolt at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil last week.

UniKL coach A. Arulselvaraj said Shazrul needs to undergo surgery.

“After surgery, Shazrul needs to undergo physiotherapy and rehabilitation to ensure adequate and optimal recovery that is expected between six months to one year,” said Arul.

UniKL have registered 14 local and six foreign players for the league.

Following the injury to Shazrul, the university team are likely to play with a player less in the league.

Shazrul, who has been a key player in UniKL since 2011, was at the stadium watching teammates training for the MHL Charity Shield match against Terengganu tomorrow at the Batu Buruk Hockey Stadium in Kuala Terengganu.

“I’m deeply shattered due to the injury. The doctor has advised surgery and I’ve been told that it will take about six months to a year for full recovery,” said a disappointed Shazrul.

“I was looking forward to the MHL season. I hope my teammates play their best in the league,” he added.

This is the second time in his hockey-playing career that Shazrul suffered a serious injury.

The last time was during a friendly match against South Korea at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil when the ball struck his right knee that resulted in a hairline fracture.

UniKL only had the services of Australian Timothy Deavin for the Tan Sri P. Alagendra Cup and they lost to Tenaga Nasional 3-0 in the semi-finals last week.

Three of the UniKL foreign players will arrive today for the Charity Shield match against Terengganu and they are Ireland captain and goalkeeper David Harte, Kieran Govers of Australia and Holland’s Martijn Havenga.

The remaining two Dutch players Valentin Verga and Robbert Kemperman, who played in the final of the World Cup in Bhubaneswar, India, last month, will only arrive tomorrow and will miss the Charity shield match.

Last year UniKL, powered by six foreigners, won their first TNB Cup (overall cup) last year.

The Star of Malaysia

Dharmaraj: 'It doesn't make sense to release four players

By Naqib Nor Said

KUALA LUMPUR: Four stalwarts of the national women's hockey squad who ply their trade with European clubs will have to forget about returning to finish the league season with their respective clubs after the Malaysia Hockey Confederation (MHC) decided not to release them so that attention and focus can be given towards preparations to face the Hockey Series Final in Dublin, Ireland which takes place in June.

The services of forwards Hanis Nadiah Onn and Wan Norfaiezah Saiuti are still very much needed by their German club Wespen Zehlendorfer, while Nuraini Rashid and Fatin Syafika Mhad Sukri have also been offered contract extensions after performing brilliantly with Italian club Butterfly Roma.

However, national women’s hockey squad coach, K. Dharmaraj said that after more than a month of meticulous planning on charting the path for the Malaysian Tigress, they have a reached a decision together with MHC to decline the offers from the European clubs because of unavoidable circumstances.

"Yes, both Wespen Zehlendorfer and Butterfly Roma have contacted us through our men’s players representative there, Kevin Lim anhd S. Selvaraju.

"However we have had to decline because the Four Nations Invitational Championship earmarked for early April clashed with the second round schedule of both the German and Italian Leagues which begins in March till May.

"It also does not make sense for us not to field our stalwarts for the Four Nations Invitational Championship which will be the final phase of preparations for us before we head to Dublin,” Dharmaraj pointed out.

Apart from the Four Nations Invitational Championship involving countries that are Asian Hockey powerhouses, the national squad, ranked World No 21, also have a warm up in the form of a playing tour of Europe before the competition begins which is also qualifiers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Even though it is still in the final stage of deliberation by the National Sports Council (NSC) in terms of budget approval, it has been rumored that if it does materialise, then the national squad could depart earlier by two weeks for four warm up matches in Italy and two more friendlies against the Scotland national side.

"I am hoping that NSC will approve our request because in terms of budget, we have managed to keep the costing down as both Italy and Scotland have graciously agreed to provide accommodation because they too want to carry out preparations for the Hockey Series Final,” said Dharmaraj.

Now the only lingering concern surrounds the position of Farah Ayuni Yahya, as she is the first-choice goalkeeper for East Grinstead HC in the English Premier League, and if she agrees to return and play in England, then it could jeopardise her chances of playing for the national side in the Four Nations Invitational Championship.

New Straits Times

Fewer players coming through the ranks

By Naqib Nor Said

KUALA LUMPUR: With just two days left before the Premier League begins, question marks have surfaced as to whether the country’s top hockey league campaign is still relevant and remains a platform in unearthing new talent for the Malaysian national squad.

A lot of assumptions have come about as this year’s Malaysia Hockey League campaign has only managed to attract seven teams which therefore limits the opportunities and chances for young and upcoming players to strut their stuff on the playing turf, as Division One has been dropped and will no longer be contested.

According to former national defender, S. Kuhan, even though it might be too late for this season, he is of the opinion that it is better for the Malaysia Hockey Confederation (MHC) to ensure that 10 – 15 participate in the future to ensure that the objective in organising the Malaysia Hockey League is achieved.

"Now there are only seven teams taking part, so I feel that there needs to be at least 10 – 15 team participating, as only then will it be more interesting and appealing as well.

"MHC also needs to find ways to attract more teams from outside the Klang Valley, because for the coming new season its only the Terengganu Hockey Team (THT) who are not from the Klang Valley.

"In fact statistics show that there are only 140 players this time round from the seven participating teams, try to imagine if there were about 15 teams taking part in the league? Then there would be 300 players looking to get in on the action.

"So, actually we should really extend the league and attract more teams to be part of the league so as to provide a platform for young-and-upcoming players to showcase and develop their talents apart from reducing the gap between local players and internationals,” he said.

Based on the action during the Tan Sri P. Alagendra Cup, the one positive is the difference in quality between the big teams and smaller teams has shrunk.

However, in terms of exposure for young-and-upcoming players, something needs to be done by MHC so that such a scenario of a lack of participation does not repeat itself, such as what is happening this year where there are only 32 players under the age of 21 who have been registered by the seven participating teams.

This differs from last year’s (2018) edition when overall there were 136 players under the age of 21 who were registered, with 20 players from six Premier League teams, while the remaining 116 players featured for 13 different teams in Division 1.

Kuhan, 43, explained that with a larger pool of players, it will indirectly make things easier for national coach Roelant Oltmans to select and rotate players for the national squad, especially when having to face a tight calendar of tournaments such as what happened last year.

"For players between the ages of 28 – 33, it will be difficult for them to consistently maintain good performances when having to play in three consecutive, main championship’s. In fact hockey powerhouse Australia themselves practice rotation of players,” he added.

New Straits Times

Saba Restaurants and Saba To Go announced as Official Partner

Award winning Saba Restaurants and Saba To Go have been announced as Official Partner to Hockey Ireland. With over 13 years of success in the restaurant industry, Saba are delighted to support Hockey Ireland as an Official Partner.

The Saba team are working with Hockey Ireland to provide the perfect meals and nutrition for the players on the national women’s team. Saba will be fuelling the Ireland’s women’s team at their training sessions and games in Ireland as they prepare for upcoming competitions and qualifications for the Olympics in Tokyo 2020.

Saba are currently celebrating their annual ‘Caveman Month’. During January, Saba offers a healthy and nutritious paleo inspired menu available in both Saba restaurants and our three Saba To Go takeaways. With health and fitness at the top of our customers minds at the start of the New Year, Saba are delighted to announce this partnership with Hockey Ireland, so they too can enjoy Saba’s healthy and nutritious authentic Thai and Vietnamese food.

Saba’s Owner Paul Cadden has said: “We are very proud to partner Hockey Ireland for the upcoming years and support this inspiring group of players. They have had an amazing year reaching the World Cup Finals, a first for any Irish team and also winning RTE Sports Team of the Year and Graham Shaw winning Manager of the Year. This team are very ambitious, and we are delighted to play our part to help them achieve their goals and inspire the next generation of players. In a game where small margins can improve performance, we hope Saba’s food gives them that extra 1%, fuelling the Green Army towards the Olympics in Tokyo 2020.”

Hockey Ireland’s CEO Jerome Pels has said: “We are delighted to have Saba Restaurants and Saba To Go come on board as an Official Partner. Saba offers high quality, nutritious meals that are ideal for our senior women’s team while they prepare to compete on the world stage. Saba chefs have been working closely with our management and nutritional staff to ensure the Green Army will be fuelled to the highest standard. We very much look forward to working together over the coming years”.

Irish Hockey Association media release

Coaching E-Newsletter #8   DEVELOPING Coaches and Players

Purpose: Bridge the gap between Soft Skills and Hard Skills

By Shiv Jagday

Core Themes covered in this issue

Tactical: How to operate effectively and efficiently in the Right Offensive Quadrant Corner (ROQC) adjacent to the Primary Play Making Space (PPMS) and Secondary Play Making Space (SPMS), as a Right Winger.

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