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News for 26 April 2020

All the news for Sunday 26 April 2020

Flynn Ogilvie enjoys mental break during hockey shutdown period

Joshua Bartlett

RESTING UP: Wollongong's Flynn Ogilvie says he has taken a mental break from the sport during the hockey shutdown period. Picture: Hockey Australia

Flynn Ogilvie is taking the chance to enjoy a mini holiday during the hockey shutdown period.

The Kookaburras midfielder is back in Wollongong and admits he has taken a mental break from the sport as hockey remains halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I flew straight back into Wollongong as soon as we found out that the Olympics had been postponed and I've sort of been finding things to do," the 26-year-old said.

"I took a bit of a holiday for the first few weeks. I actually haven't picked up a hockey stick for four weeks now. I knew that we wouldn't have much hockey for the next few months so I've just been doing a lot of running and strength work. But as time progresses, I'll start to pick up the hockey stick and get more into it again."

Ogilvie had been representing the Kookaburras in the FIH Hockey League when Hockey Australia announced it had suspended all international travel in March. Australia was sitting second in the men's standings when play was halted.

"We started off a bit slow. We came up against Belgium first up who are a really good opponent," Ogilvie said.

"It was a tough start and we didn't play our best. But as the comp progressed, we got better and better."

The FIH Pro League was set to finish this June. However, the International Hockey Federation announced on Friday that the season would be extended through to June 2021 due to the pandemic.

The extension works around the Tokyo Olympics being postponed to 2021.

"It was either going to be extended to next year or re-started. To hear that it's extended makes sense," Ogilvie said.

Illawarra Mercury

Erins on the hunt for international competition

Erin Hunter has been captain of the South Africa women’s national team for just over a year and in that time she and her team have experienced a rollercoaster of emotions.

At the FIH Series Finals in Valencia, South Africa needed a top-two finish to ensure a place at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. A great start to the competition saw the South African side take top spot in their pool but a strong performance by the home team, Spain, in the cross-over matches meant the best South Africa could hope for was third place. A dispirited team were then outplayed by Italy and so finished fourth.

The team picked itself up for the African Hockey Road to Tokyo continental qualifier, where they stormed to victory. At this stage, the team still didn’t know if they would be going to Tokyo. To the complete joy of Erin and her team mates, their participation was confirmed after an agonising wait for a decision from the government department responsible for Olympic sport (SASOC).

Erin captains a squad containing a lot of experience. Five players have more than 100 caps and two have more than 240 caps apiece. But, with 59 senior internationals to her name, the 28-year-old defender is a calm, inspirational figure on the pitch and a thoughtful and warm character off it – although her final answer in this interview may suggest otherwise!

The interview focuses on South Africa's participation in the forthcoming Olympic Games. For Erin, who is a teacher when not on international duty, missing a long period of competitive hockey after a serious injury to both quadriceps in 2014 has doubled her desire to compete on the international hockey stage against the best of the best.

Note: the interview with Erin Hunter was carried out before the current lockdown restrictions of Covid-19.

How are preparations going for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020?

Erin Hunter: For us, as a team who don’t often get international competition, it has been really, really, cool to get some teams out to play in South Africa at the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, like the rest of the world, all international competition has stopped for now but we are trying to be as creative we can be to make sure we are preparing as well as we can in our country. So we will be as prepared as we can be for the Olympics.

What does it mean to you and your team to be taking part?

Erin Hunter: For me, as with any athlete who is going to compete at the Olympics for the very first time, it is an ablate dream come true and only Olympic athletes can and will understand. It is an absolute honour and an absolute privilege. For our team, we weren’t sent in 2016 so for all of those who worked for 2016 and are finally getting the chance to go to the Olympics, it is unbelievable and something we hold close to our hearts  and something we will not take for granted.

What are your thoughts about the teams you will face in your pool?

Erin Hunter: Being the South African women’s hockey team we know we are going into the competition as the lowest ranked team there (World Ranking:16), so we know it will be extremely tough, especially as we have the number one in the world (the Netherlands) in our pool. So we are not going to go in there looking to win every single pool game but we are looking to get one or three points from some of the opposition that we have targeted. And we are looking to sneak something in there so we can make it through to the quarters.

What in part of the Olympic experience are you and your team most looking forward to?

Erin Hunter: I think for us, we are most looking forward to taking on the best of the best and being able to compete at the highest level we can possibly compete at in hockey. It is just an honour to take to the field to represent our country in the best way we can on the biggest stage there is.

Looking at where you are now and where you hope to be, what are the main areas that you and your squad will be working on between now and the start of the Games?

Erin Hunter: Hockey being a completely unprofessional sport in South Africa, we are just hoping to get in a lot of contact time together as a squad and as a team so we can prepare. That will help us improve our consistency and make sure we are all on the same page. So for us, the biggest thing we need in order to prepare between now and the Games is just [spending] time together and making sure we do everything we can to be the best team we can be.

A fun final question: Are there any crazy team superstitions or pre-match rituals that you can tell us about

Erin Hunter: We do have a couple of fun superstitions and things we do before a game. They are very African and based on where we come from but I can’t share them with you because I would have to kill you!

Profile*: Erin Hunter - South Africa
Nickname: ‘Ez’
Position: Defender
Shirt number: 16
Age: 29
International appearances: 59
Place of birth: Johannesburg, South Africa
Clubs: Steinhoff Maties

Follow Erin on Twitter: @EzzyE_4 Instagram: @erin_hunter16

FIH site

Fitness tests of Pakistan's hockey players completed

LAHORE: National Hockey Team head coach Khawaja Junaid has said that fitness tests of the players have been completed through videos link during the lockdown.

Junaid said that after 3 weeks of fitness training, the fitness of more than 35 players was reviewed through videos link fitness tests taken over two days.

Junaid said that he was happy that the players worked well on their fitness in difficult times and limited conditions. According to initial reports, maintaining the fitness level of the players was of the utmost importance.

The News International

JHA to decide fate of Sultan of Johor Cup

By Jugjet Singh

File Photo: The Johor HA (JHA) will decide next month whether to host or cancel the annual Sultan of Johor Cup (SOJC). - NSTP/ZAIN AHMED

THE Johor HA (JHA) will decide next month whether to host or cancel the annual Sultan of Johor Cup (SOJC).

The tournament, which incepted in 2011, is scheduled on Oct 3-10 in Johor Baru.

However, the hosting of the event will depend on the Covid-19 situation in the country.

JHA acting president Datuk Manjit Majid Abdullah said there are no plans to postpone the SOJC to next year.

"This is because it is an annual tournament, which has been hosted without a break since 2011.

"The SOJC organising committee are looking into the Covid-19 situation closely.

"A decision on the tournament will be made next month," said Manjit.

JHA also had big plans for the Malaysia Games hockey tournament, which was initially scheduled on July 11-19.

However, it has been postponed to March 6-14 next year.

The Taman Daya Stadium, the venue for both the SOJC and the Malaysia Games hockey event, was undergoing a facelift but it was stopped recently due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The association will move the pre-Malaysia Games triangular to test the venue's facilities, including its new playing surface, to next year.

As for the SOJC, India, Australia and Britain have confirmed their participation while Germany and Japan have yet to respond.

"I believe Germany and Japan are waiting for the Covid-19 situation to ease before replying," Manjit

New Straits Times

Sportstar Archives: Dhyan Chand, Hitler and Berlin Olympics - through former coach's eyes

Swami Jagan Nath, manager of the Indian hockey team for 1936 Berlin Olympics, revisits the journey to the gold medal and missing Adolf Hitler at the final.


Swami Jagan Nath, coach and manager of the gold-winning Indian hockey team at the 1936 Berling Olympics. (circa 1984)   -  The Hindu Archives

Starting from Lahore it had been a very long journey. Now, during the last days of my life. I want to live in peace, think of nothing else but God", be says. But 88-year-old Swami Jagan Nath thinks of hockey all right.

"It had been there in my blood for more than 70 years now. But I don't want the limelight. I would like to watch hockey even now. But then it is not always possible. I cannot go to the stadium by bus. Going by auto would mean some expenditure", Swami Jagan Nath says.

The Swami is not any title given by anybody, nor is he a religious leader. He was Jagan Nath Chhabra in school.

"The boys used to say 'Swami Jagan Nath Ki Jai'. They used to respect me for my hockey. The Swami stuck to my name".

A lengthy list: His life sketch is one long list of achievements, beginning from those days at Lahore’s Dayal Singh College in 1913 through the Berlin Olympics and the 1958 Asiad. He never donned the India colours, however. "I was really good, even though I say it myself. But then I never had the chance. Between 1915 and 1925, I was the best centre half in Lahore. We never had an Olympic team. We never played international matches".

In 1936, Swami Jagan Nath went as the manager of the Indian team to the Berlin Olympics, a team captained by none other than the legendary Dhyan Chand. He was the coach of the team that took part in the 1958 Asiad at Tokyo and he was the chief coach at the National Institute of Sports in Patiala when the first batch of hockey coaches passed out.

Incidentally, the present chief coach of the Indian Olympic team, Balkishan Singh, was one among that batch at the NIS. "When I left NIS. I recommended Dhyan Chand. He was a genius all right, but had very limited knowledge about coaching. I had got an offer from Ghana and that's why I left the NIS", Swami Jagan Nath said.

He had been to Egypt earlier, on coaching assignment in 1956. And he had been to Australia and New Zealand also. As the manager-coach of the Manavadar team (a team formed by MP's hockey-loving princes) in 1936.

Role of Anglo-Indians: "The Australians learnt hockey from us only. The Anglo- Indians have done a lot to improve Australian hockey since then. They (the Anglo-Indians) were very good. But they feared me all right, in Lahore."

The story goes that Swami Jagan Nath was considered such a dreaded opponent that an attempt was made to run him over before a particular hockey match at Lahore.

A former Professor of Biology at Forman Christian College, Lahore, and Bhargava Municipal College, Simla, Jagan Nath proudly displays the Buck award presented to him by the YMCA College of Physical Education, Madras on the occasion of its golden jubilee celebrations in 1970. He secured his diploma from the Madras institute in 1929. A rare combination of a hockey player, a lecturer and a physical educationist indeed.

The Sportstar met him at his house in Karol Bagh, New Delhi, where he lives with one of his sons and a daughter.

"They (the Sports Authority of India people) took away a lot of my old files and pictures for their museum. These (some of the photographs still left) they felt were third-rate. To me they are still precious".

Question: Can you recall the Berlin Games?

Answer: To some extent yes. We had a great team then ; Dhyan Chand, Roop Singh, Jaffar, Ahmed Sher Khan and Shahabuddin, I forget names. We had left several weeks earlier and we travelled by sea. When we reached Germany we were all travel weary. We had written to the German association to arrange a few practice matches. The boys were leg-weary, but I told them that we can play the next day. We played a local German team or that is what we thought that team to be at that time. The Germans were very fast. They scored four goals against us and Dhyan Chand, was not in his true element that day. Probably the travel affected his play. Yet, he scored the only goal of our side.

After the match I told the German association president: "If this is an ordinary German side then what would be your national team. It would be better for us to go back".

He had a big laugh. He said "No, no this is the German national team. This team had been in training here for the past three months and we thought why not a practice match against India". My boys were not in good shape that day, as I told you earlier. But we beat the Germans all right in the final: Eight goals to one at that.

Dhyan Chand, the wizard of Indian hockey who led India to the hockey gold at the 1936 Olympics.   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES

Rain to rescue: Hitler was supposed to witness the final. The boys were a bit nervous. The Germans were prepared to die for Hitler. What will happen if the home team lost in front of him was unimaginable. As things turned out rains caused the final to be postponed to the next day and Hitler did not turn up. But he sent Herr Hesse. He was also a very respected and feared man. But in the final we simply outplayed them.

Dara flown-in: On the left wing Jafar was very fast and on the right Shahabuddin was also very crafty.

Dhyan Chand of course was the genius that we know of. No less was Roop Singh. I don't think there was much to choose between the two. Dhyan Chand had this uncanny sense of positioning to receive a pass or to provide a pass himself. So was his brother.

At inside right I felt (Lionel) Emmett was not up to the mark. That's why we called for Dara (later to become the Pakistan Hockey Association President) to be flown in . Dara was played in the semi-final against France and in the final against Germany. He was good.
Why was Dara not selected in the first place?

The tournament which formed the basis of selection was held in Calcutta. And Pankaj Gupta wanted a few players from Bengal to be included in we team. Dara was thus overlooked. I consulted Dhyan Chand and G. S. Sondhi and sent a message to rush Dara. Gupta was unhappy. But Dhyan Chand fully supported my argument. Dara had joined the army just then. The army made arrangements to fly him over to Berlin.

Was there a separate coach to the team?

No. Why should there be a coach? I think the manager should be given a free hand in everything. That's of course when he himself is a coach or a former player. Otherise let the manager select his coaches. There is no need to have a separate coach and a manager. A manager can have under him a few assistant coaches. But he should be the overall in charge.

Did you have a coaching camp before leaving for Berlin?

Well, there was no time for coaching camps. In fact when we assembled in Delhi before departure to play a friendly match we had just ten people. We lost to Delhi in that match. We played in different centres before leaving the country.

Do you remember anything else about that trip?

I took the boys to Paris before the Games and there once I was surrounded by a lot of people for autographs. Not because of my being a hockey coach. They saw my headgear and thought that I was an Indian prince. In Paris I allowed the boys to enjoy themselves. It would be foolish of a manager to place curbs on the private life of a player.

Jagan Nath was highly critical of the Indian style of play at the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi. (In the Picture: India's Jagdeep Singh (#9) scores one of India's goals over Oman at the Asiad.)   -  PTI
How could the players combine so well without playing together for long?

They were all very good players. They could fit in easily in any team. You needed just a couple of matches to get the rhythm going.

Do you think the present Indian side could have beaten the Berlin team?

I doubt very much. That was a very great team. I saw the Asiad. It was rotten hockey. People don't use different methods for penalty-corner conversions nowadays. We have to do better from the right and left. There are five or six ways of getting a goal during penalty corners. Instead you see the same stereotyped method in every match. The goalkeepers are not afraid nowadays. Earlier we didn't have the protective gear. Now the goalkeepers take the hits everywhere. Why should there be a direct hit always in penalty corners? Some space is always there. Let those five men rush out, but you can find some space somewhere. Dhyan Chand always knew where to pass, where to place. It is not necessary to take a hard hit even during penalty corners.

Did you lay stress on physical fitness those days?

Not much. Physical fitness was only part of the criteria. Skill, technique and tactics were the dominant factors.

What do you think about the new format of 4-2-3-1?

What's in a pattern? It all depends on the opponents. The format should change according to the strategy adopted against a particular opponent. The old system was not bad, wasn’t it? What. was wrong in the 5-3-2 system? The inners used to come back and join the full backs to check the inners of the rival team. We had solidity in defence as well as extra men in attack. I am not criticising the new format. All I want to say is that there was nothing wrong with the old pattern.

Do you think the changes in rules have benefited the game?

The old 'sticks' rule was the best. They changed it. For what? This new rule has become unnecessarily troublesome. The Europeans couldn't control the stick. They needed to take a big swing to have a hard crack. Our players used the wrists more to generate power. The 'sticks' rule has been changed to the advantage of the Europeans. What is the use of a corner now? Can there be a goal at all from a corner now? It is like any other free hit.

Your views on the change from natural turf to synthetic surface?

The game has become faster now. That does not mean that the teams of the past were not capable of being as fast as the present set. Even on muddy, stony grounds players of the past were very fast. There is some physical strain on playing on astro-turf. But then there is hardly any question of missing now, because the turf is so uniform. Running is much better on a harder ground.
Has the game itself changed much? How would you compare today's players with those of your times?

The game is the same, except for these rule changes and the introduction of synthetic turf. But what I can't understand is that why we are not having brainy players? I have always said one thing: Indians should play brainy hockey. The players should pass an intelligence test, the coaches should also be asked to take this test. We and Pakistanis have the best of skills among all nations.

Nowadays I watch youngsters keeping the ball on the sides and dribbling. They are not playing with the ball in front. If you keep the ball in front you have 180 degrees to send a pass. I find young players coming from behind taking free hits always directed towards the right. Can't the opponents know what you are doing? You should not allow the opponents know what you are doing. It would be up to my team-mate to reach the ball if I pass it intelligently. India can do a great deal if people are intelligent. We are the masters in technique. Then why can't we make use of it? I haven't touched a hockey stick for years now. But let someone come in front of me, I will show how to beat him. Here Belgium keeper stopping India's goal-scoring bid following a corner.

(This interview was first published in The Sportstar magazine dated 14 July, 1984)


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