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News for 11 December 2019

All the news for Wednesday 11 December 2019

2019 Test matches RSA v IRL
Cape Town

10 Dec 2019     RSA v IRL     4 - 2
10 Dec 2019     RSA v IRL     6 - 2

South Africa win the series 6 - 0

FIH Match Centre

SPAR South Africa to wear Pink in standing against Gender Based Violence

In a combined initiative between SPAR and the South African Women’s Indoor Hockey team, the team will wear pink tonight (10 December 2019) in the final test against Ireland Indoor Hockey at the Bellville Velodrome. The 10 December is the final day of the 16 days of activism for No Violence against Women and Children and it is this same initiative that the team, along with title sponsor SPAR will be supporting.

Graham O’Connor, the CEO of SPAR Group Ltd, shared his thoughts:

“SPAR is very proud of its values of ‘Family, Passion and Entrepreneurship’. We are also very conscious of the need to be courageous in living by our values. To this end, we join the growing voices in our society, who have called on our President and all leaders in our country to take cognisance of and to act on the ever-increasing levels of gender-based violence in our country.

We also acknowledge that the term ‘violence against women and children’ is a passive construction with no active agent in the sentence. This assumes that bad things just ‘happen’ to women and children. We need to recognise that the silent active agent in the sentence is ‘men’. While not all men abuse women and children, we need to acknowledge that the abuse doesn’t just happen, and that it is generally perpetrated by men.

As the CEO of The SPAR Group Ltd, I would like to offer my and my organisation’s sincere support for the victims of gender-based violence and to their respective loved ones who are impacted by this violence, and I commit myself and my organisation to be part of working towards a practical solution.

Together with the SA Women’s indoor Hockey team, we are making our stand to say enough is enough. We encourage all fans of the team to do the same”

South African Hockey CEO, Marissa Langeni, echoed the sentiments of O'Connor above:

"We as the South African Hockey community are saying, enough is enough, we cannot stand by during this national crises and be silent about gender  based violence.  We stand in solidariity with fellow South Africans and pledge our support to stopping this scourge."

SPAR have also pledged that each time the team wears the pink kit in a series they will sponsor an amount of R4000 as well as R100 per goal scored to the charity supported by the SA Women’s Indoor Hockey team.

The match takes place at 19:00 tonight and will be live streamed on Digitv.co.za

SA Hockey Association media release

SEA Games 2019 (Men) - Final
Laguna (PHI)

10 Dec 2019      THA v MAS (Final)     1 - 3 (1 - 2)

FIH Match Centre

SEA Games: Malaysian Men's indoor hockey team wins gold


MANILA: The men’s indoor hockey team have retained the gold they won in 2017 at the Philippines SEA Games.

They beat Thailand 3-1 at the LB Centro Mall and Exhibition Centre on Tuesday (Dec 10).

Shello Silverius scored two goals, while the other goal was scored by Mohd Najmi Farizal Jazlan.

Thailand’s only goal was scored by Thanop Kampanthong.

The men’s team won the 2017 edition gold by beating Indonesia 5-1

The Star of Malaysia

SEA Games 2019 (Women) - Final
Laguna (PHI)

10 Dec 2019 17:30     THA v MAS (Final)     1 - 1 (1 - 0) (0 - 2 SO)

FIH Match Centre

Dharma's girls stage magnificent comeback

The national women’s team win gold after beating Thailand 2-0 in a penalty shootout yesterday.

THE Malaysian teams rose to the ocasion and delivered yesterday — winning two gold in indoor hockey at the Sea Games.

Malaysia’s men’s and women’s teams both triumphed in their respective finals at the LB Centtro Mall and Convention Centre yesterday.

The women’s final saw Malaysia downing Thailand 2-0 in a penalty shootout after both sides were tied 1-1 at the end of regulation time.

National women’s coach K. Dharmaraj admitted that his charges were made to slog for the win.

“Today’s game wasn’t easy, it was a day where almost everything didn’t work out for us,” he said.

“We had many penalty corners but couldn’t score while Thailand, who didn’t get any penalty corner, scored in one attempt.

“We, however, managed to equalise late in the game and in the penalty shootout our goalkeeper saved the first two penalties while we scored our first two to win the match.”

The women’s squad had won bronze at the 2017 Sea Games.

The men had it slightly easier and successfully defended their gold medal by downing Thailand 3-1 in the final.

New Straits Times

Malaysian women's indoor hockey team defeat Thailand for gold


Coach for women's team is K. Dharmaraj (centre) - filepic

MANILA: With the leadership of coach Dharmaraj Abdullah, our women’s indoor hockey team have avenged their 2017 defeat at the hands of Thailand.

The girls led by the coach beat the Thais via a 2-0 penalty shootout after the match's score stayed 1-1 after regulation time.

Malaysia’s goal was scored by Qasidah Najwa Mohd Helmi in the 32nd minute, while Thailand first scored through Tikhamporn Sakhulpithak in the 15th minute.

With this, the Malaysian contingent has now won 53 gold medals in the SEA Games.

The Star of Malaysia

Thais pay the penalty

Quick reflexes: Malaysia goalkeeper Farah Ayuni Yahya saving a shot by Thailand’s Tikhamporn Sakhulpithak during the penalty shootout of the women’s indoor hockey final at the LB Centro Mall and Convention Centre yesterday.

BEFORE the team flew to South Luzon, Malaysia indoor hockey coach K. Dharmaraj put his girls through shootout training, having several penalty drills to make them sharp from the spot.

It paid off when the national team took on Thailand with vengeance on their mind in the final at the LB Centro Mall and Convention Centre.

Farah Ayuni Yahya saved two penalties, and Wan Norfaezah Saiuti and Nuraini Rashid both scored give Malaysia a 2-0 win after a penalty shootout.

In regulation time, Malaysia fought back to hold the Thais 1-1.

Tikhamporn Sakhulpithak drew first blood in the 15th minute, but Malaysia fought back through Qasidah Najwa Mohd Helmi in the 32nd minute.

With the win, our girls have avenged their pain in 2017 when they had to play in the bronze medal playoff against Singapore.

They had been beaten by eventual champions Thailand 0-3 and drew with silver medallists Indonesia 1-1 in the group stages.

Then, the Thais contrived to lose to Indonesia to send Malaysia out of the final.

“I still remember when Thailand and Indonesia played to knock us out in the last match, where the Thais were beaten 0-2 by Indonesia. It was in our heads before the final, and we wanted to exact revenge, “ he said.

“When the game went to a shootout, we were prepared for them. We trained a lot for this moment.

“Farah is excellent when it comes to stopping penalty strokes, and we have players who are quite good at hitting the target. The Thais missed in their first two attempts, and we scored the first two. Gold to Malaysia! It feels good.”

Being the strict tactician, Dharmaraj was not happy with his girl’s penalty corner conversion.

“We played very well but we got five penalty corners and wasted them all.

“But after the Thais scored, we showed great fight and resolve to get an equaliser.

“This is a sweet victory for the team, but they must work on their penalty corner conversion for future tournaments.”

In the first edition of the indoor hockey competition two years ago, Malaysia bagged the bronze by beating Singapore 3-1 while Thailand beat Indonesia 4-1 for the gold.

Meanwhile, there was double joy for Malaysia when the men’s team added the second in the sport by beating Thailand 3-1 at the same venue.

Shello Silverius was the toast of the team as he scored two in the eighth and 11th minutes and Mohd Najmi Farizal Jazlan added the icing on the cake in the 36th minute.

Thailand’s only goal was scored by Thanop Kampanthong in the 13th minute.

The men’s team retained the gold as they had beaten Indonesia 5-1 in the 2017 Kuala Lumpur edition.

The Star of Malaysia

Men's Junior AHF Cup 2019 - Day 6
Muscat (OMA)

10 Dec 2019     THA v CHN (Pool A)     0 - 3
10 Dec 2019     IRI v SRI (Pool A)         3 - 2
10 Dec 2019     OMA v TPE (Pool B)     4 - 1

Pool standings

Rank Team Played Wins Draws Losses Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
1 China 3 3 0 0 11 2 9 9
2 Uzbekistan 3 2 1 0 7 3 4 7
3 Iran 4 1 1 2 5 8 -3 4
4 Sri Lanka 3 0 1 2 5 10 -5 1
5 Thailand 3 0 1 2 2 7 -5 1

FIH Match Centre

Billy Bakker calls on the Netherlands fans to become their‘12th’ player

The FIH Pro League second season gets underway in January 2020 after a hugely successful first edition. We caught up with the coaches and players from the participating teams as they prepare for the new look FIH Pro League season to get underway. In the following interview, Billy Bakker, the Netherlands’ men’s demon penalty corner specialist talks about the forthcoming season and what the FIH Pro League means to him and the team.

Netherlands (FIH World Ranking: 3) finished the 2019 FIH Pro League season in third position. Their 2020 campaign starts with an away fixture against India (WR:5) on 18 January 2020.

What did Netherlands learn from the first season of the FIH Pro League?
Billy Bakker: “We learnt it is a long journey with a big group and sometimes you go for two weeks to Argentina or Australia for one game. That was an experience. Yes, it was a long journey and we needed to prepare for one game, which would be an all-or-nothing game.”

What will the Netherlands’ ambitions be for the next season?
Billy Bakker: “We want to make sure that we play every game better. And become better as a team. At the moment we are number three in the world, and we have to accept that. But we have to attack Belgium and Australia and grow in every game to be ready for the Olympics, of course.”

What difference will the new format of the FIH Pro League make to the team and the way it prepares?
Billy Bakker: “It will make a big difference. We will play less away games so that is to our advantage because, with our home crowds, we have an advantage in my opinion. And also, less travelling. So we will have two matches in India and two matches in Argentina and then we will have had all our away games. [Outside of Europe]. So that is an advantage and I am looking forward to it.

Which fixture are you looking forward to the most?
Billy Bakker: “Everyone wants to play Australia, not just because they are really good but also we don’t get many opportunities to play them. We play a lot of European teams because they are more reachable, so Australia is always a nice game to play. And New Zealand as well. Those are the teams we don’t play every day so we are looking forward to those games.”

What was your #MyProLeagueMoment from the first edition of the FIH Pro League?
Billy Bakker: “The two games we played against Belgium, both home and away, because we needed to make sure we won that to make the play-offs [Grand Finals]. We were in fifth position before those games and Belgium are really tough competitors so that was a really good moment because we played very well. That was the nicest moment of the Pro League.

What message have you got for the fans to get them along to watch the matches in the second season?
Billy Bakker: “A message to everyone in the Netherlands and hopefully some fans around the world: come and support us during those FIH Pro League games and make sure you are the 12th man during the game. We are looking forward to it and we appreciate it if you support us.”


Official FIH Pro League Site

FIH looks to India to break even in 2020 Pro League

Hockey India had pulled out of the 2019 edition but the men’s team would be rejoining in 2020.

Uthra Ganesan

The second edition of FIH Pro League would be kicking off in January and even though doubts remain on its long-term sustainability, the international body is confident.

In an interaction with select Indian media on Tuesday, International Hockey Federation CEO Thierry Weil admitted there had been teething problems but insisted things would only get better going forward with India playing a large part in doing so. Hockey India had pulled out of the 2019 edition but the men’s team would be rejoining in 2020.

“I can say after the first season that it was a success not only measured by FIH but by the players as well. The two main feedback we received was how great it was to play against the best teams in the world at home but also how tiring all that travel had been. We have have now tried to change the schedule for 2020 and cut the travel in half,” Weil explained.

In addition, the FIH has dropped the Grand Finale in 2020. “This is to give teams 6-8 weeks to prepare for the Olympics, which is important. But we have not planned to bring it back in 2021. You need to find a nation to host it and national associations agree it is not realistic to commit not knowing if their team will actually participate in the Pro League,” he added.

Pakistan is a prime example with the team committing to the inaugural edition only to pull out citing financial issues. And although Weil insisted “all participating nations have declared to continuing” in the Pro League beyond 2020, the actual scenario would be known only later. Weil, nevertheless, sounded confident. “What we need to do now is to build a regular format instead of changing it every year. If people understand what is on stake, it will work in favour of continuity,” he hoped.

Travel expenses have been talked about but there has been opposition from European clubs also. “We have done changes to accommodate European clubs. There is an empty month in April mainly to respect the clubs. The biggest goal is to have an international calendar for the next 6-8 years. It is achievable but everyone has to give in a bit,” he admitted.

Asked if the Pro League, where the top nine teams play each other twice a year between January to June, would be able to draw in crowds for what would largely be two-leg bilateral games, Weil said, “For me, the Pro League is like a quarterfinal or semifinal of a major event like World Cup every weekend. It’s now our responsibility to make people understand that these are not just friendly games,” he said.


We can sell hockey better now: FIH chief

Sidney Kiran

Thierry Weil

No sport can be commercially successful if the supply is short. Hockey is an example of that. While it does have the World Cups, the Champions Trophy and appearances at Olympics, fans don’t get a regular dose of it to satiate their appetite. Disciplines like cricket, football, tennis and golf — to name a few — have action happening right throughout the year. But in hockey it's quite limited.

In a bid to address that, among other things, world body FIH in 2019 started its ambitious Pro League, a tournament featuring the top nine nations who played each other on a home-and-away basis. Fans were treated with some top quality hockey consistently and although they received it quite well without India, the cash cows, FIH found it hard to market the league. In April, they got a shot in the arm when India agreed to take up the spot left vacant by Pakistan.

FIH CEO Thierry Weil, in a conference with select journalists on Tuesday, welcomed India’s participation and hoped the Pro League builds on its positive start.

“One of the problems hockey faced when we went to a broadcaster was supply. They felt barring the World Cup and Champions Trophy, they had nothing else to show. They wanted something happening regularly and that’s why we devised the Pro League. The top nine nations of the world competing against each other, fans are ensured there’s action all year. Then you have the World Cups and the Olympics. Now we can better sell the product. I believe nothing in life is easy and this is a start we’ve made are quite confident about it.

“For the countries involved also it’s great. They get to play against solid opposition on a regular basis. In the Pro League there are no easy games. Every game is very important. It’s not a friendly like how it used to be earlier.”

Two constraints FIH faced in the inaugural edition was nations complaining about the financial burden owing to the constant travel and European clubs unhappy with the schedule that caused havoc within their leagues. Weil said that has been addressed this year.

“We understand some countries found it hard. So we cut the travel into half this time around. There’s a lot more balance this time. Secondly, we understood the concerns from the European clubs. So there’s not much happening in April when league action is the busiest in Europe. The perspective is to have a clear schedule.”

Weil defends WC decision

While Indians rejoiced in FIH granting a second successive World Cup to Bhubaneswar (2023), many felt the sub-continent was getting all major events with others being ignored. Weil defended the decision to have a third World Cup in four editions in India.

“Bhubaneswar hosted a great World Cup last time and the facilities were world-class. If you look at football World Cups, it’s been taken to new markets but the stadiums have been reduced to white elephants. We didn’t want that scenario. Some of the bidders didn’t have World Cup venue and things had to be built from the scratch. Bhubaneswar has everything in place and that was the reason behind us choosing it.”

Deccan Herald

FIH CEO Thierry Weil feels awarding consecutive Hockey World Cup hosting rights to India based purely on merit

New Delhi: The decision to award hosting rights of the men's hockey World Cup to India for the second consecutive time in 2023 was purely based on merit, world body (FIH) CEO Thierry Weil said on Tuesday.

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) CEO Thiery Weil said that the decision of giving it to India instead of Malaysia, completely makes sense, considering the financial viability of the sport in a country like India.

"I am coming from another sport which is football, where whenever we orgainsed an World Cup, we have been extremely criticised to have created white elephants,' Weil said in a tele-conference with Indian journalists from Lausanne.

"So, in that sense I am extremely happy that we as a sport have decided to re-use venue like Bhubaneswar for the second time because there was a lot of effort and investment went in to build this venue, which currently to my knowledge is the best venue we have," he said.

India will, thus, become the first country to stage four men's Hockey World Cups after having hosted the showpiece in 1982 (Mumbai), 2010 (New Delhi) and 2018 (Bhubaneswar). The Netherlands' had hosted three men's tournaments.

"The bid was an open one. There were quite a lot of good bidders, including Malaysia. Actually it was decided taking into factor India's commercial relevance and high financial contribution. FIH needs financial revenues. India did an extremely good job of putting everything on table," Weil said.

"Some of the countries that bid didn't have infrastructure and needed huge investments. We made the decisions which make complete sense and completely viable for our sport."

Weil said FIH needs revenue to keep its flagship event, the Pro League lasting for a long time and India's introduction in the second edition of the league will be big plus for the sport.

"Having a country like India in the sport makes a huge difference to be honest because with the size and population of the country and with the hockey lovers in India, it's definitely a big plus.

"But we know we have to increase hockey around the world, we need to do more development and more development you need more revenue and the way to generate revenue is to have a country like India a part of the sport," he said.

FIH CEO believes that Pro-League will help them sell the product showcasing best of hockey from top teams.

"I am convinced that the major purpose of the Pro League is to have more home games and showcasing the best of hockey against two top teams.

"I totally believe and it is the mission of the FIH along with participating nations is to sell this product and make people understand it's not just another friendly game but the result of this game can lead a team to be the best team in a year, next to Olympics."

India will make its debut in the Pro League against the Netherlands at Bhubaneswar in January next year.

The FIH CEO also informed their plans of introducing quite a few changes from the second edition of the Pro League, including abolishing the year-end grand finale and also introducing relegation system in future.

"We have done two things. First of all not just because of the Olympics we changed the number of travels but also for the welfare of the players. We have also decided to not have a grand finale at the end of the season and shorten the league.

"This has been done for two reasons one is to give the national teams 6 to 8 weeks to prepare for the Olympics. But I myself feel there is no better way to prepare than play at the Pro League 6 months ahead of the Olympics," Weil said.

"We should stick to the league system where at the end of the season the team which has collected most points will win the league," Weil said.

He also informed that FIH also plans to introduce relegation system to make the league more exciting.

"We have plans to introduce relegation system after 4 years to make the bottom of the league more interesting. And as you know we have now introduced the Intercontinental Cup where the next best 8 teams will play and the winner of that will be promoted to the Pro League," he added.


Hockeyroo Amy Lawton named Emerging Athlete of the Year

Credit: Terry February Photography

Young hockey prodigy Amy Lawton has capped off a remarkable 12 months after winning the Emerging Athlete of the Year Award at the AIS Sport Performance Awards (#ASPAs) in Sydney tonight.

The 17-year-old high school student and Victorian Institute of Sport scholarship holder has enjoyed a stellar year as part of Hockey Australia’s Women’s National Development Squad.

Since making her Hockeyroos debut in a FIH Pro League match against New Zealand on Anzac Day in Auckland, Lawton has not looked back.

She went on to represent the Hockeyroos at the Tokyo Test Event followed by selection for the Oceania Cup and the ensuing Olympic Qualifying Series against Russia.

The Emerging Athlete of the Year Award is for an outstanding sporting achievement by an emerging athlete, or in special circumstances as part of a team.

“From the time Amy came into the women’s high performance program she has made a fantastic contribution to the Hockeyroos group,” said Hockey Australia High Performance Director, Toni Cumpston.

“While ultimately hockey is about team success, we are really excited for her on winning this accolade and getting this recognition.

“She is a great talent, works really hard at training and shows a maturity on the field beyond her years.

“Coupled with this potential and natural talent, she has an extremely promising future ahead of her.”

In addition to Lawton’s award, the Hockeyroos also won a gong by taking out the Sport Australia Award.

Hockeyroo Emily Chalker accepted the award for displaying the true spirit of sport in a moment during a Pro League match against Belgium.

First introduced in 2018, the Sport Australia Award acknowledges athletes, coaches, support staff or industry figures who have demonstrated the spirit of sport during the previous 12 months, and highlights the inspiring impact sporting role models can have on all Australians.

Hockey Australia had finalists in four other awards including the Kookaburras (Team of the Year), Kookaburras co-captain Aran Zalewski (Male Athlete of the Year), Kookaburras Head Coach Colin Batch (Coach of the Year), and Hockey Australia (High Performance Program of the Year).

For all of all the award winners visit https://www.sportaus.gov.au/home

Hockey Australia media release

Punjab Police and PNB players suspended

s2h team

New Delhi: The Hockey India Disciplinary Committee Meeting chaired by Bhola Nath Singh, who is also the Vice President of Hockey India, on Tuesday unanimously decided to suspend players from Punjab Armed Police for a period of 12-18 months while players from Punjab National Bank have been suspended for 6-12 months respectively following the recent violence that broke out during the Final of 56th Nehru Senior Hockey Tournament (Men) between Punjab Armed Police and Punjab National Bank, clearly violating the Hockey India/ Hockey India League Code of Conduct.

The two-day Hockey India Disciplinary Committee Meeting was chaired by Bhola Nath Singh and attended by Members of the Committee Harbinder Singh and Elena Norman, who is also the CEO of Hockey India, included invitees Mohd Mushtaque Ahmad, President Hockey India, and Rajinder Singh, Secretary General Hockey India.

The Committee placed Punjab Armed Police players Hardeep Singh and Jaskaran Singh under an 18 months suspension while Dupinderdeep Singh, Jagmeet Singh, Sukhpreet Singh, Sarvanjit Singh and Balwinder Singh have been suspended for 12 months with effect from 11 December 2019 for their involvement in the Level 3 offence under Hockey India/ Hockey India League Code of Conduct. Punjab Armed Police Team Manager Amit Sandhu was suspended for 18 months for a Level 3 offence and it was also recommended that the Punjab Police Team be placed under three months suspension and not be eligible to play in any of the All India Tournaments with effect from 10 March 2020 to 9 June 2020 (following the expiry of their suspension due to participation in an unsanctioned tournament).

Players from Punjab National Bank Sukhjeet Singh, Gursimran Singh and Sumit Toppo have been suspended for 12 months while the team skipper Jasbir Singh has been suspended for six months as the Captain is also responsible for the team's conduct while the Punjab National Bank Team Manager Sushil Kumar Dubey too has been suspended for six months due to his team's inability to follow the Hockey India/ Hockey India League Code of Conduct and sanctions. It was also recommended that the Punjab National Bank Team be placed under three months suspension and not be eligible to play in any of the All India Tournaments with effect from 11 December 2020 to 10 March 2020.

After reviewing the report submitted by the Tournament Director and also having viewed the video evidence in the presence of players involved in the offence, Chairman of the Hockey India Disciplinary Committee Bhola Nath Singh expressed great disappointment over such an incident that reflects poorly on Indian hockey.

Further it was unanimously agreed by the Committee that all the above players would be on further probation for a period of 24 months after the expiry of their sanctions and any breaches of Hockey India / Hockey India League Code of Conduct during this probation period would constitute an immediate Level 3 offence and the individual will automatically be suspended for a period of 24 months.

Players from Hockey Rajnandgaon and Hockey Bilaspur too suspended

On Monday, the Hockey India Disciplinary Committee unanimously decided to suspend players from Hockey Rajnandgaon and Hockey Bilaspur following the on-ground violence that resulted in breach of Hockey India/ Hockey India League Code of Conduct during the recently held 4th Chhattisgarh Senior Men State Championship 2019-2020.

The first day of the meeting on 9 December 2019 attended by Hockey India Disciplinary Committee Chairman Bhola Nath Singh and Members Elena Norman, Harbinder Singh and included invitee Mohd Mushtaque Ahmad, President Hockey India.

Hockey Rajnandgaon Captain Mithlesh Pandiya is placed under three months suspension while Sandeep Yadav, Taufik Ahmad, Sukhdev Niramalkar have been suspended for nine months. Rajesh Nirmalkar (who also officiated as umpire) was let-off with a warning for playing and officiating in the same tournament while Sabbir Solanki, Team Manager of Hockey Rajnandgaon was placed under 3 months suspension for a Level 2 offence with effect from 10 December 2019.

Bilaspur Hockey Captain Omkar Yadav and Team Manager Ikhlak Ali have been suspended for three months for committing Level 2 offence while Louis Tirkey has been suspended for six months as he committed a Level 3 offence under the Hockey India/ Hockey India League Code of Conduct.

The Tournament Director Kishore Dihwar too was punished with a three months suspension for failing to perform his duties, Umpire Shakeel Ahmad was awarded 12 months suspension.

Further it was unanimously agreed that all the above involved players, officials and state member unit would be on probation for a period of 12 months after the expiry of their sanctions and any breaches of the Hockey India / Hockey India League Code of Conduct during this probation period would constitute an immediate Level 3 offence and the individual will automatically be suspended for a period of 12 months.


Hockey India suspends Punjab Police, PNB for on-field brawl

Indervir Grewal

Hockey India’s disciplinary committee today imposed three-month suspensions on Punjab Police and Punjab National Bank for last month’s on-field brawl during the final of the Nehru Hockey Tournament in New Delhi.

The committee also suspended 11 players and two team officials for their roles in the incident. While Punjab Police players Hardeep Singh and Jaskaran Singh have been suspended for 18 months, Dupinderdeep Singh, Jagmeet Singh, Sukhpreet Singh, Sarvanjit Singh and Balwinder Singh have been suspended for 12 months. Team manager Amit Sandhu has been suspended for 18 months. PNB’s Sukhjeet Singh, Gursimran Singh and Sumit Toppo have been suspended for 12 months, while captain Jasbir Singh has been suspended for six months. Team manager Sushil Kumar Dubey also got a six-month suspension.

Double ban

The suspensions come into effect from Wednesday (December 11), which means Punjab Police will miss the 68th All India Police Hockey Championship, which starts on December 16 in Bhubaneswar. Punjab Police had finished third in last year’s edition in Jalandhar.
In fact, Punjab Police will be out of action for six months, till June 9, due to a separate three-month suspension for playing in an “unsanctioned tournament” in October. Apart from Punjab Police, who won the tournament, the 14 other teams that participated in the ‘Sarbat Da Bhalaa’ Hockey Tournament in Jammu have also been suspended for three months. The tournament carried a cash prize of Rs 51,000 for the winning team.

‘Harsh’ decision

While Punjab Police coach Balwant Singh refused to comment on the issue, senior player Gurbaj Singh said that a meeting was scheduled tomorrow with senior Punjab Police officials to decide on the future course of action. “We have to wait till tomorrow to see if we decide to contest the suspension,” said former India mid-fielder Gurbaj.

Though Gurbaj did not talk about the suspension due to the on-field incident with PNB, he said the decision to suspend 15 teams for trying to “promote” hockey was a “harsh” one.

“This is the tournament season and we get many invitations,” said Gurbaj. “The tournament was organised to commemorate the 550th birth anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji, so we accepted the invitation,” he added.

Asked whether Punjab Police got any circular from Hockey India about which tournaments are sanctioned or unsanctioned, Gurbaj said, “No, there is no such thing.”

“This is the tournament season and by banning so many teams what is Hockey India trying to achieve? Is this how the federation wants to spread hockey? We were only trying to promote hockey. It is a harsh step. With so many teams suspended, tournaments will be affected. Players will suffer, without any fault of theirs,” Gurbaj said.

‘Why ban academy?’

Among the teams suspended is Punjab’s famous Surjit Academy. “We told Hockey India that we weren’t aware that the tournament was unsanctioned,” said academy’s coach Avtar Singh. “We rarely participate in all-India tournaments; we usually enter our team in the junior tournaments,” he added.

Gurbaj said that by banning academies, Hockey India was unfairly punishing budding players. “It is not the players’ fault; a youngster only wants to play. Why ban an academy?” Gurbaj said.

The Tribune

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