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News for 15 May 2019

All the news for Wednesday 15 May 2019

2019 Test matches: AUS v IND (M)

Fixtures (GMT +8)

15 May 2019 17:00     AUS v IND
17 May 2019 18:30     AUS v IND

Live Streamed on Hockey Australia's YouTube channel

FIH Match Centre

Stats Speak: India won once only in 7 test series played so far

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

Indian playing hockey with Australia invariably meant losing to Australia. To date out of 124 matches, India has mustered only 24 wins. In 7 test series India won once only in 2014, when Australia have fielded rookies for exposure. However in last outing in Breda Champions Trophy final (July 2018), India played well as Indian have obtained 10 goal shots compared 6 by Aussies. Ultimately matches ended 1-1 drawn and in shoot out Kookaburras won  by 3-1.  Here are statistical highlights of India- Australia in test series:



























































































 *Drawn series decided by shoot out, in which Australia won 3-2.


Graham Shaw names a familiar looking Black Sticks Women’s side for the USA / Europe Pro League Matches

New Vantage Black Sticks Women’s Head Coach Graham Shaw has named his first Black Sticks squad. The side has a familiar look to it with all players having taken part in matches in the early stages of the FIH Pro League.

The European leg of the Pro League is essential for the women as they look to push their case to qualify for the finals weekend in the Netherlands from the 27thJune. Black Sticks Captain Stacey Michelsen looks set to become the most capped Black Sticks Women’s player of all time on this tour. Michelsen needs 4 caps to overtake Emily Gaddum in what shapes up to be an incredible record.

Graham Shaw commented on selecting his first squad “It is always difficult to select a national squad as every player trains hard on a daily basis and it is more difficult when you are selecting a squad for five away games after a week’s training together.”

Shaw stated on the upcoming tour “The USA and European tour will be very challenging but we are excited to be spending time together as a group. 

The players are really looking forward to going away on tour and facing the demands of International hockey. There are many exciting parts to playing in the FIH Pro League especially playing away in front of big crowds and testing ourselves against the very best in the world.”

The Black Sticks also have an incredibly important focus in the second half of the year as they look to qualify for Tokyo. Shaw said of what is to come “we are looking forward to the second half of the year, where we will be targeting qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.”

Vantage Black Sticks Women USA / European Squad




Sam Charlton



Tarryn Davey



Frances Davies



Steph Dickins



Ella Gunson



Megan Hull



Brooke Neal



Rose Keddell



Olivia Merry



Stacey Michelsen ©



Alia Jaques



Grace O’Hanlon



Kirsten Pearce



Sally Rutherford



Olivia Shannon



Holly Pearson

Striker / Midfielder


Liz Thompson



Amy Robinson



Shiloh Gloyn



Hockey New Zealand Media release

Providing a role model for the next generation

Coen van Bunge began his international umpiring career with a tournament at the Bukit Jalil Stadium in Kuala Lumpur and since then has travelled the world as one of the top umpires in the game.

He is now immersed in FIH Pro League matches and, when FIH caught up with him, he was mid-journey from his homeland of the Netherlands to Buenos Aires. Once there, van Bunge umpired the Argentina v Australia men’s match at the Cenard Stadium and was reserve umpire for the women’s match between the same two nations.

Just days later, van Bunge was named as one of the team of ten umpires (five men and five women) selected to officiate at the FIH Pro League Grand Final at the end of June.

The whole FIH Pro league experience is an experience that the vivacious Dutchman has been relishing: “As an umpire the FIH Pro League has been great. Normally we umpire in a tournament, where there can be games played in front of a small crowd. Now, with the home games, the stands are full and there is a great atmosphere. That is the beauty of a one off game.  To umpire under these conditions and in countries that we don’t get to umpire in normally is a fantastic opportunity for us.”

That is not to say it is all plain sailing. Just as the teams are under pressure to perform well in every FIH Pro League match, so the pressure is on the umpires to always be at the top of their game.

“Both teams go full power from the first second of the match,” says van Bunge. “This means we have to be fully focussed as there is no second chance.”

During a ten-day tournament, umpires and athletes have a chance to acclimatise and get used to the time zone they are working in. This is not the case with the Pro League. The umpires will arrive one or two days ahead of the match and then depart almost immediately afterwards. For van Bunge a swift return home is an important factor right now as he became a father in February, but for umpire development, all the FIH Pro league umpires are conscious that they need to discuss umpiring issues and developments.

To ensure that the umpires still receive feedback and maintain the sense of camaraderie that the ‘third team’ is renowned for, the umpires and umpire managers working within the FIH Pro League spend a lot of time studying video clips of matches and engaging in online discussions.  

It is a challenge of which van Bunge is very mindful: “The challenge to have all the umpires from all over the world on the same page and ensuring each game is umpired in a consistent manner can be challenging but we are doing very well. Hopefully we can meet up once or twice a year as a group of umpires to discuss the games with each other in the future.”

The umpire is also aware of the need for continuity in developing top level umpires. Making sure that umpires are in the public eye, via social media, is key to this. “I strongly believe that it is our responsibility, as Pro League umpires, to make sure that in five year’s time the next generation of umpires is ready to umpire these kind of high level games.

“The way to do that is to talk with the young, ambitious umpires and inspire them with our experiences. We must understand that in every stadium maybe five to ten potential umpires are watching us. How cool is it that after the game we can meet up with them or share our story on social media? The game need ambitious umpires.”


Official FIH Pro League Site

Great Britain hockey women set to test Tokyo heat ahead of Olympic defence

By Richard Bright

Head’s up: Great Britain’s Nick Catlin in action at Rio 2016 (World Sport Pics)

Olympians competing in next summer’s Games in Tokyo have been ranked in order of how likely they are to get sunburn.

Researchers calculated the average sun exposure for 144 outdoor competitions set to take place in Japan next year.

Weather concerns have been cited after a record heat wave hit the Japanese capital last summer, with one area near Tokyo recording temperatures of 41.1C.

Of all outdoor sports, hockey, tennis, golf, cycling and volleyball showed significant potential for high sunburn exposure.

With Great Britain women playing fewer events in Asian than the men, the women’s side will travel to Tokyo this summer “to understand better how different athletes respond to the heat and humidity”.

Sam Bradley, EIS Head of Performance Support for GB Hockey, said, “Delivering in the heat and humidity of Tokyo is an opportunity we are really looking forward to, and this has been a key focus for the EIS, BOA and indeed the UK high performance system for some time already.

“An often overlooked component of this is how different athletes respond in the heat.”

The heat study found that whoever is crowned winner of the women’s singles tennis tournament will receive the most rays, followed by the gold medallist for men’s golf, and the winner of the men’s cycling road race.

The study, published in the Taylor & Francis journal Temperature, was undertaken by Dr Nathan Downs at the University of Southern Queensland, Australia.

Higher daytime exposure durations for hockey made the sport a likely event in which high ultraviolet exposure is possible. The study assumed that hockey Olympians will experience elevated exposures compared with similar team sports played over lawn surfaces.

All barring goalkeepers, who will experience a tough time under the helmet.

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The Hockey Paper

South Africa Emerging Indoor Team Named

Kayla de Waal was awarded the emerging player of the Indoor IPT

In a fantastic opportunity to develop the pool of indoor hockey players at an international level, the South African Hockey Association has announced the Emerging South Africa Indoor side that will play exhibition matches against Zimbabwe, Botswana and the SPAR South Africa team at the SPAR Indoor Series in Durban from the 28 May – 1 June.

This is the second time an Emerging South Africa squad has been announced, but it will be the first time an emerging squad will play international opponents. It’s a fantastic opportunity to involve more of the players already in the system with a mix of youthful excellence in a squad that highlights the superb depth South African Women’s Indoor Hockey is currently experiencing in the country.

Jess Lardant and Andrea Leader all made international debuts for South Africa over the past month and are included adding superb experience to the Emerging squad. Cloe de Sousa earns her call up on the back of a top goalscoring performance for Southern Gauteng at the IPT, while Nompilo Thenjwayo is also called up after a highly impressive showing for Southern Gauteng Wits at the tournament. 

The other players selected for the Emerging South Africa squad all impressed at the Indoor IPT in Pietermaritzburg in February and all of them are 19 years of age or younger, with the impressive Yasmin de Meyer the youngest at a remarkable 15 years of age. Kayla de Waal was awarded the emerging player of the Indoor IPT and her continued development will be exciting to see.

The team will be led by assistant coach for SPAR South Africa in AJ Spieringshoek, who himself will be supported by Brighty Mashaba and Bridget Kee. The team manager will be Nolwazi Nkabinde, who has done a superb job in KZN Hockey.

Convenor of selectors Greg White was impressed by the depth of talent in the upcoming ranks.

“The series offered us a fantastic opportunity to rotate in terms of the greater squad for SPAR South Africa and to test new combinations. Selecting an Emerging squad, who will play International opposition for the first time, gives us the opportunity to also play some new exciting players in a challenging environment. We have put together a team of players in the national pool as well as players who impressed fantastically at the Indoor Hockey IPT. We believe that an opportunity like this will go a long way in developing the depth of indoor hockey in our country. The talent is immense, and I am excited to see the next phase of their progress in Durban!”

The Emerging South Africa squad will play three games against Botswana, two games against Zimbabwe and of course one against SPAR South Africa, in what promises to be an exiting series for fans. All their games will take place at Danville Girls High School in Durban North.

Emerging South Africa Indoor Squad
No, Name, Province

1 Kaylim Bowers, SG Witsies
2 Yasmin de Meyer, KZN Inlands
3 Kayla de Waal, Western Province
4 Cloe de Sousa, Southern Gauteng
5 Cailynn den Bakker, SPAR KZN Raiders
6 Amaarah Hendricks, Western Province
7 Jessica Lardant, SPAR KZN Raiders
8 Andrea Leader, Western Province
9 Nepo Serage (GK), WP Peninsula
10 Charlise Swanepoel (GK), Mpumalanga
11 Kelsey Swanepoel, SPAR KZN Mynahs
12 Nompili Thenjwayo, SG Witsies

Team Staff

AJ Spieringshoek (Head Coach)
Brighty Mashaba (Assistant Coach / Video Analyst)
Bridget Kee (Video Analyst)
Nolwazi Nkabinde (Team Manager)

SA Hockey Association media release

Bloemendaal take EHL Men spot as Amsterdam join playoff party

©: Koen Suyk / World Sport Pics

HC Bloemendaal won the Dutch men’s regular season title and a place in EHL Men next season on goal difference ahead of SV Kampong last Sunday.

AH&BC Amsterdam and HGC, meanwhile, claimed the final playoff places available which get underway on Wednesday in their best of three semi-finals.

For Bloemendaal, they beat HGC 4-1 to secure the crown as they got off to a brilliant start thanks to goals from Tim Swaen and Thierry Brinkman in the first 16 minutes.

And they were 4-0 up by half-time with goals from Jasper Brinkman and Floris Wortelboer, meaning they were well clear of Kampong.

The Utrecht side had a strange game at Klein Zwitserland where they built a 5-1 lead by the 42nd minute with Jip Janssen scoring two penalty corners with further goals from Bjorn Kellerman, Philip Meulenbroek and Martijn Havenga.

But KZ got three goals back in the last 16 minutes to give them something of a fight with Kampong holding on 5-4. It left them level on points with Bloemendaal but behind on goal difference.

Amsterdam recorded their sixth win in their last eight fixtures on Sunday with a 3-2 success against Pinoke. Two goals from Mirco Pruijser and one from Billy Bakker did the damage as they built a 3-0 lead and were out of reach despite two late goals.

It has been a fine turnaround for Amsterdam since they lost 8-2 to HGC and meant they stayed clear of Den Bosch and HC Oranje-Rood who drew 2-2 on the final day of the league, missing out on the final four.

Euro Hockey League media release

Three Rock pay emotional tribute to departing heroes after Irish Senior Cup win

©: Adrian Boehm

Three Rock Rovers won yet another trophy as they beat Lisnagarvey in a national final for the second time in six days as Jody Hosking’s 20th minute goal proved the sole divider in the Irish Senior Cup final.

A week before, they won the EY Champions Trophy 2-0 and this decider at Grange Road was another arm-wrestle with precious little between the sides.

Rovers took the lead when Luke Madeley’s low drag gott a slight touch from Hosking to lift it up into the net and they stayed defensively strong to see out the victory.

It meant Three Rock retained the Irish Senior Cup, adding to their victory in the EY Champions Trophy as well as the National Indoor Trophy along with three regional and indoor and outdoor titles.

It was an emotional day for the club with Madeley, Daragh Walsh and Jamie Carr playing their last games for the club before moving to KHC Leuven in Belgium

Coach Niall Denham is also stepping down following a four-year spell in which his teams won three EY Champions Trophy titles, two Irish Senior Cups, two Neville Cups and two Mills Cups while the club also won three national indoor titles and back-to-back European promotions.

The club paid tribute to the coach - who is a long-time youth coach with Three Rock - on Instagram, saying: “At times like this, it is easy to sit back and revel in the glory. But success never comes easily. This squad is the product of all before it; all the junior and senior coaches of the last 20 years; development committees; and the countless hours and euros that have been spent by friends, families, local companies and more.

“But most importantly it is a product of their own hard work and dedication since joining the club at underage level. Many of this squad have been together since Under-8s.

“They’ve played with each other on every squad from club to regional to international. If they’ve not played together they’ve been coached by each other. But, most notably, they’ve been coached by Niall Denham.

“Niall has been at the forefront of this group’s development since he started his coaching journey at colts level. It is only fitting that he has been at the helm of their greatest successes, helping them come full circle and signing off on the greatest period of success the club has seen, for which he has been building for nearly 20 years.

“Next year, Niall leaves us for new ventures. Along with him, we say goodbye to some of our most exciting young players, Daragh, Jamie and Luke, who we know will bring the same success to their new club Leuven as they have helped to bring to Rovers.

“To the guys, we say good luck and thank you for all that you have done not just this year but every year that you have been involved in Rovers."

Euro Hockey League media release

WKS Grunwald drop rare points in Poland but still secure regular season title

WKS Grunwald Poznan succumbed to an amazing comeback from KS Pomorzanin Torun but still ended the week as the Polish regular season champions yet again.

They beat MKS Sroda Wielkopolska on Saturday 7-2 to assure they top the table with Matuesz Hulboj scoring five times in the tie with Dominik Kotulski and Mikołaj Głowacki also on the mark.

It rendered Sunday’s tie against Torun as academic and it proved to be a crazy game. Hulboj scored three times in the first half while Pawel Bratkowski got another as Grunwald built a 4-0 half-time lead.

But Torun produced an amazing comeback to draw the game 4-4 in normal time and then won a bonus poiint from a shoot-out win.

There is one round to go in the regular season for most of the teams but both sides will advance to the final four. Grunwald will meet LKS Rogowo in the semi-final while Torun come up against KS Warta Poznan.

Bratkowski was injured in Sunday's injury meeting which will exclude the captain from next week’s match while Karol Majchrzak also has a muscle strain which puts him in a race against time for the playoffs in two weeks time.

Euro Hockey League media release

Matla inspired Den Bosch to crucial final win and EHL Women spot

©: World Sport Pics

A Frederique Matla-inspired Den Bosch stormed to the Dutch title, earning their place at next Easter’s EHL Women with a 4-1 win over SCHC.

The result sets up a rematch between the clubs in the playoffs which get under way on Thursday while HC Oranje-Rood and AH&BC Amsterdam meet in the other playoff ties.

Needing a win to stay ahead of Amsterdam, Matla scored in the very first minute but SCHC responded quickly with Caia van Maasakker equalising from a penalty corner, making it 1-1 at half-time.

But Matla went goal crazy in the second half with efforts in the 39th, 55th and 64th minute for a personal tally of four goals and earn her side the league crown.

AH&BC Amsterdam kept the Den Bosch honest by running up a healthy 9-0 win over Groningen with Charlotte Vega scoring a hat trick with Kelly Jonker and Maria Verschoor also netting two each.

Oranje-Rood moved above SCHC into third place thanks to a 2-1 win over Laren courtesy of Donja Zwinkels and Laura Nunnink scoring the goals.

The first leg of the semi-finals take place at 8.30pm (CET) on Thursday with the next leg on Saturday and a final one on Sunday where required.

Euro Hockey League media release

UHC Hamburg win German league and a place in EHL Women 2020

©: Koen Suyk / World Sport Pics

UHC Hamburg got the result they needed with something to spare to win the German regular season title, bringing with a place at EHL Women next Easter.

Thet needed just a point to assure their success from their trip to Berliner HC but they took all three as Marie Mavers opened the scoring in the 15th minute.

Jana Teschke got the next from a penalty stroke in the 25th minute before Charlotte Stapenhorst completed the 3-0 win in the 42nd minute.

UHC coach Claas Henkel enjoyed the performance from his side in a well-contested battle: "That was a very nice game in places. BHC defended well and from the beginning, were dangerous.

“We played very diligently from the beginning and got more structured over the course of the game. Overall, a great conclusion."

The Hamburg club will face Club an der Alster in the semi-finals at 11am (CET) while Mannheimer HC take on Dusseldorfer HC in the second meeting at 1pm (CET) on Saturday in Krefeld.

Euro Hockey League media release

From hockey ‘WAG’ to captain thanks to Back To Hockey.

Sophie Tamlin from Basingstoke Hockey Club went from hockey ‘WAG’ to captain thanks to Back To Hockey.
Sophie had always been a sporty teen growing up, she was a competitive swimmer who reached the  national championships and swam competitively throughout university. But hockey wasn’t her sport even though, Sam, her partner, who she moved 100 miles away from home to Baskingstoke to be with was. Having never played hockey at school and having little interest in the sport, no amount of encouragement could persuade Sophie to have a go. "I just thought team sports weren't for me! I had always loved sport and challenging myself, but hockey had never interested me. In 5 years of living in Basingstoke, I had only watched Sam play hockey twice!"

 Getting bored of becoming 'widowed' by hockey every Saturday, Sophie began to become more socially active in the club and started to spend more time at the clubhouse. "The people at Basingstoke HC are a really welcoming and sociable group. I started to be encouraged more and more to have a go and was finally persuaded to go to the club's Back To Hockey scheme.”

Basingstoke HC run ‘Back To Hockey’ each year, a programme designed for everyone (regardless of ability) to get into, or back into hockey. The sessions have coaches who support players who are returning to the sport and total beginners alike.

 “I remember being really nervous - the scheme was called ‘Back To Hockey’ but I had never played hockey and didn't even know how to hold a stick!"
"I needn't have been nervous! The coaches were so supportive and the whole group were lovely. As the weeks went by, I grew in confidence (and skill!) and there was no doubt that at the end of the scheme that I would be joining the club."

Joining Basingstoke HC in the development team (Ladies 6s), Sophie was able to continue to improve her skills with coaching and experience her first taste of a competitive match. "I really love the camaraderie of meeting up every Saturday and playing games. Through the back to hockey scheme I made lots of close friends who are also in my team and it's great to play matches with them every Saturday!"

Sophie Tamlin

A month into Sophie's first season, an opportunity came up to become captain of the ladies 6s, Sophie jumped at the chance."I loved it so much I wanted to get as involved as I could. The coaches and other players around the club are fantastic, so I knew if I needed support I wouldn't be on my own." 

Two seasons down and Sophie has continued to improve, leading the Ladies 6s to achieving 2nd place in their division, being voted ‘Most Improved Player’ for the ladies section and ‘Ladies 6s Player of the Season’ at this seasons Basingstoke HC annual awards ceremony. When asked her favourite part of back to hockey, Sophie replied "I really found a love of hockey which I never thought I would. The hockey family is truly amazing. The support from the club, coaches and other players is brilliant."

Sophie Tamlin
Sophie's advice to anyone thinking about having a go - "don't knock it until you try it!"

England Hockey Board Media release

Kingsridge geared up for tough hockey challenge

Kingsridge will be aiming for their fourth straight title in the East London Inland leg of the SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge in Kingwilliamstown on Sunday. Last year’s winning team was (back, from left) Robin September, Jordan Herbst, Charmone’ Theron (vice-captain), Sambesiwe Tyali, Kirsty Elders, Taigan Hall, Margaret Ann Otto, Mbsakazi Fassi; (front, from left) Taylor Christian, Nela Mbedu (captain), Bridget Gratz, Linawo Matota, Jordan Galli and Anda Matomela. Photo: Megan Gratz

Kingsridge coach Mark Taljaard is expecting fierce opposition when his team chase their fourth straight title in the East London Inland leg of the SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge on Sunday.

The tournament will take place at Kingsridge in Kingwilliamstown, with the winners qualifying for the provincial finals on July 27 and 28.

It will be a busy weekend for the competition as the Port Elizabeth Central edition will also be held on Sunday, at Alexander Road in PE.

After their run of success, Taljaard knows they will be a marked side.

“It is going to be tough because someone else wants to win it now and we will have a target on our backs,” he said.

“It’s not the best position to be in. We will obviously be aiming to win again, but we know it won’t be easy and we can’t take anything for granted.”

He added that teams such as Queenstown Girls’ High and Aliwal North would be serious contenders.

“But in this format any of the teams have a chance and it means you have to play with care in the pool games.

“We do try to put the pressure on from the start because an early goal puts you on the front foot, but you also have to take into account the strengths and weaknesses of your opposition.”

Taljaard said the girls enjoyed the SPAR tournament, which gave them a chance to face schools they might not normally play.

“It’s great exposure for all the girls, with good competition but all played in the right spirit.”

Alexander Road will be hoping to take their momentum from recent schools matches into the PE Central leg.

Coach Kyle Schimper said their team had changed from the side which won the title last year, but they had settled down well.

“Scoring six unanswered goals against Victoria Park this past weekend has definitely assisted our confidence in the goal-scoring department, which is crucial in the shortened version of the game,” he said, referring to the format of 20-minute matches.

“The big tactical challenge is finding the balance between attack and defence.

“Most teams tend to want to go on all-out attack but this can sometimes have a negative effect as an unexpected breakaway or counter-attack can lead to a goal against you.”

Schimper felt they would come up against some strong challengers on Sunday.

“Collegiate will be the big test in our pool and teams like Pearson and Woodridge always have strong hockey teams.

“Framesby is another team you cannot underestimate with their impressive improvement over the last few years.”

Fullstop Communications media release for SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge

India vs Pakistan and the off-field hockey stick battle

By M. Shahbaz

For more than a decade, India and Pakistan have cut off their bilateral hockey relations. The reasons are varying – from the obvious political tensions to egoistic officials who govern the sport. Yet, rather inadvertently, Pakistan has played an important role in Indian hockey’s revival during this period.

Almost 90 percent of the hockey sticks used in India are imported from their neighbours; so much so that more than half of the national team uses them. Their reliance on Pakistani sticks can be gauged from the fact that, according to Indian government’s Department of Commerce, the imports have grown eight-fold in the last four years.

However, the fallout of the recent escalations between the two countries is seen on an unlikely, and largely unforeseen, front: the hockey fields. In February, a terrorist strike in Pulwama, Kashmir, killed 40 Indian paramilitary police. The attack was claimed by Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad and in the aftermath, the Indian government lifted the Most Favoured Nation status given to Pakistan, opening the way for a surge in customs duty up to 200 per cent on goods from across the border.

That has had a direct impact on the hockey trade. Indian players and retailers, who prefer Pakistani sticks because they are cheaper compared to the ones in India or elsewhere, now have to pay twice the amount for the same product. Moreover, the prevailing sentiment and the wave of nationalism that has swept India post Pulwama has forced many to chuck Pakistani products.

So most retailers have either cancelled, or put on hold, the orders placed with their partners across the border. Gradually, as the supply chokes, the industry is starting to feel the pinch. The situation isn’t dire yet, but retailers fear it may worsen if things do not change in a couple of months.

It’s a unique scenario because India did not always have to look outside for hockey sticks.

Just before the Commonwealth Games last year, I spoke to Ramesh Kohli, the founder of Beat All Sports, whose Vampire brand is among the most sought-after in India. At the 1975 World Cup, the triumphant Indian team used sticks he manufactured – the Vampire brand, which is made in Jalandhar, the country’s sports goods manufacturing hub located in Punjab.

That trend continued till the turn of the century before the numbers took a nosedive. Till a decade ago, Kohli said his unit produced roughly 200 hockey sticks per day. Today, that number has dropped to less than 100. Kohli’s son Sanjay, who too is in the same business, cites the lack of availability of raw materials to manufacture composite sticks and declining public interest in hockey as reasons for the dwindling numbers.

As more and more schools began to focus on cricket, hockey started to fall off their priority list. Sensing higher profit margins, some of the biggest manufacturers drifted towards cricket equipment, which directly impacted the production of hockey sticks. Few hockey players are now supported by BAS, who instead sponsor some of the world’s top cricketers, including India captain Virat Kohli, South Africa’s Hashim Amla and West Indies’s Darren Sammy, among others.

Consequently, the Indians players have been forced to look outside the country for help, and Pakistan has turned out to be a preferred destination. The sticks made in Pakistan are considered to be technologically superior and cheaper compared to those available in India. A national team player told me that a ball hit with the best-available Indian stick travels at a speed of 80-90kmph whereas even the second-best Pakistani stick will send the ball flying at approximately 140kmph.

But it isn’t so straightforward. Due to the fickle public sentiment towards Pakistani products, Indian players and retailers want to avoid being seen using sticks from across the border. So they import ‘raw sticks’ and plaster labels of their own brands before putting them on sale in the domestic market. It’s a reason why Pakistani products like Malik and Ehsaan aren’t visible at all in India.

One brand that did not face such problems is Sachin Hockey. A Hindu name that is common across India, Sachin blended seamlessly with other local products, thus making it the most popular Pakistani label in the country.

The owner of Sachin is a 48-year-old Pakistani-Hindu, Ratan Lal. In 1947, amidst the mass-migration of people on both sides of the border during the partition of British India, Lal’s family had the option of moving to Delhi or Punjab, where most of his family lived. Instead, they chose to stay back in Sialkot.

His grandfather, Budamal, owned a fair-price shop and the business blossomed under his father. Lal was expected to take over the family business but he decided to step away from it in the late 1990s. Lal decided to become a part of Sialkot’s booming sports business and set-up a hockey stick manufacturing unit.

His rise coincided with the decline of the Indian industry in the mid-2000s. Today, Lal manufactures close to 9,000 hockey sticks every month in Sialkot out of which 1,500 are exported to India, with most of his clientele based in Jalandhar.

In February and March, though, that number has come down to zero because of the Indian government’s revision of trade policies. Indian makers, sensing an opportunity to reduce Pakistan’s stranglehold are upping their production to match the demand. Whether they can manufacture sticks of the same quality remains to be seen.

India and Pakistan may not have been playing against each other. But the tussle between the two nation’s sports goods manufacturing hubs, Jalandhar and Sialkot, is just as intriguing.

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