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News for 09 July 2020

All the news for Thursday 9 July 2020

Forsyth & Grassick on the mentality shift that led to European gold

Scotland Win 2017 Euros

Going into the 2017 Men’s EuroHockey Championships II in Glasgow, Scotland had one aim – to win a gold medal in front of their home fans.

They had been trying to earn promotion back to the top tier for a decade, narrowly missing out on three of the five chances they’d had as they finished third (only the top two are promoted).

But, whereas previously they’d only hoped of securing their place back in the ‘A’ division, heading into this competition Scotland’s mentality was completely different, as Alan Forsyth and Chris Grassick explained in the latest episode of Inside The Circle: The Podcast.

“When we went into the 2015 Euros we thought we’d like to win it but we were just focussed on getting promoted. But in 2017 we wanted to go out and win it. Promotion was key but we wanted to win it,” explained Great Britain forward Forsyth.

“Everyone had that mentality and it was a different feeling in that squad. We knew we could win it.”

Grassick, who was Scotland’s captain at the time, added: “The biggest thing about the start of that week was that previously we’d think ‘if we win this game and they lose that game then we might play so-and-so in the semis’.

“But that wasn’t part of the ethos; whoever we’ll play we’ll play, we can beat anyone in that tournament. We just wanted to get on with it.”

That mindset was immediately evident on the pitch as they beat France – ranked higher than them and seen as favourites – in their opening game, Forsyth scoring in a 2-1 victory.

The Surbiton player then scored a hat-trick in a sweeping 6-1 win over Portugal before his late double saw them top their pool and qualify for the semi-finals with a 2-1 win over Ukraine.

Russia were their opponents and, with just 11 minutes remaining, it looked as though they’d finally achieved promotion as they led 4-0.

However the Russians – who themselves were hoping to bounce straight back up to the top tier after being relegated in 2015 – were not done yet as they scored three quickfire goals to set up a grandstand finish.

“We were comfortably ahead, all over them and we don’t really know what happened,” Forsyth recalled.

“We probably thought we’d won it. They had a really good flicker, scored two corners, got it to 4-3 and then it was like ‘wow, this could get pretty interesting.’

“They then got a long corner but didn’t get the ball for five seconds and then the full-time hooter went. If they’d got the ball they could have put it in and anything could have happened.”

Having hung on for victory, it looked as though Scotland’s ultimate aim of securing gold was not to happen as they trailed 1-0 in the final to a Welsh team who had overcome France in a similarly frenetic semi-final.

But Ben Cosgrove drew the hosts level with 11 minutes to play before a fine goal from Forsyth took Scotland to gold, sparking wild celebrations amongst players and fans alike.

“We’ve been trying to do this for 10 years so to do it with everyone there that helped you along the way – coaches, previous coaches, friends and family – I loved it because everyone could enjoy just being there together at the pitch after the game as well which was nice,” explained Forsyth.

Grassick added: “That’s part of the pressure, knowing how much Al’s mum and dad had invested in it, other people’s parents, friends and family.

“They know how important it is to us and that’s probably what makes it that bit harder but sweeter when you get there because they appreciate the hours you’ve put in, what it means to you. Doing that at home makes it ten times better.”

Subscribe to Inside The Circle: The Podcast to hear this episode in full and catch up on any others that you may have missed:

Great Britain Hockey media release

New decision makes it harder for champs Melaka

By Jugjet Singh

Razak Cup Division One champions Melaka welcome the decision to allow national players for this year’s competition. Coach Azrul Effendy Bistamam and his team pulled off a stunning show last season. Powered by youngsters, they won their fourth Razak Cup title after subduing Johor 3-1. - NST file pic

KUALA LUMPUR: Razak Cup Division One champions Melaka welcome the decision to allow national players for this year's competition, even though this will make it harder for them to defend their crown.

Coach Azrul Effendy Bistamam and his team pulled off a stunning show last season. Powered by youngsters, they won their fourth Razak Cup title after subduing Johor 3-1.

"I believe national players representing their states will make the tournament more challenging for every team," said Azrul.

"I welcome the news, and I hope to take my team into the semifinals first before trying to defend our title.

"I will probably change only two or three players from last season. We will have a young team who have the experience of playing in the final," he said.

Melaka won their first Razak Cup title in 2005 and the others were in 2009 and 2015 while last year, they did it with eight youngsters and 10 seniors.

"We will have only one national player in Firdaus Omar, while teams like Terengganu and Perak will be much stronger this season. But I welcome the challenge," said Azrul.

National coach Roelant Oltmans has released his charges for the Razak Cup, a first since he took over in 2018, as he believes it will be good for them to play in a tournament before the Asian Champions Trophy in Dhaka from Nov 17-27.

In Division Two, the champions were Perlis while Selangor were the women's champions.

The Malaysian Hockey Confederation have planned for the tournament to be held in September, and are still searching for a host. It is learnt that the national juniors, as well as women's juniors and seniors, will also be released to play for their states, making the 58th edition a grand one.

New Straits Times

2020 USA Field Hockey Grow the Game Award Winner: Rebecca Maciejewski

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.- Following the announcement of all winners, USA Field Hockey is individually highlighting each recipient of USA Field Hockey's 2020 Annual Awards, presented by Longstreth. This week, USA Field Hockey is honored to feature the 2020 Grow the Game Award winner Rebecca Maciejewski.

Maciejewski is currently the co-club director of Pursuit Field Hockey and also coaches at Honesdale High School in Honesdale, Pa. She has continued to remain dedicated, creative and motivated to assure that her athletes are able to pursue and achieve their dreams. In a small town where field hockey is not truly prevalent, she has dedicated her knowledge and love of the game to grow a passion for young athletes in the area. Maciejewski continues to grow the game by sharing her dedication with athletes and by providing many opportunities that one would only dream of. In short, she plays a big part in making it possible for anyone to play.

"Field Hockey has given me so many incredible experiences that have shaped who I am today from player to coach," said Maciejewski. "Being able to give back and provide those same opportunities for athletes in our area, is so fulfilling and uplifting. I feel that the most important thing you can offer athletes is a genuine heart and mindset. Those two things grow the game and cultivate successful people beyond field hockey. You should always do what you love and believe in your purpose."

Maciejewski holds an outstanding resume, and combined with her passion and heart for field hockey it has helped her to achieve so much.

In addition to coaching the Lady Hornets for more than 14 years, Maciejewski led the varsity squad to the best record in the school's 32 year history in 2012 and Honesdale's first appearance in the district championship game. To date, she has coached and helped more than 20 athletes from Honesdale move on to play at the Division I, II and III levels. She is also hold a USA Field Hockey Level 2 Coach certification and has been active in Futures.

As an athlete, Maciejewski played for the Lady Hornets and picked up multiple honors, including Best Midfield, Best Offensive, Team MVP, Citizen's Voice First Team All-Star and Wyoming Valley Conference First Team All-Star, in addition to setting several school records. She then moved on to play four years at East Stroudsburg University (ESU) and helped the Warriors to a national championship appearance in 2001 in the program's best season in history. Her collegiate honors include NCAA Scholar Athlete, First Team All-American, First Team Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC), Team MVP and STX National Senior All-Star. In 2012, Maciejewski was inducted into the ESU Hall of Fame.

"Receiving the nomination was humbling," added Maciejewski. "There were happy tears, I was just so honored. That was a career moment in itself. Then, to actually win in a category where I stood next to some elite level, dedicated and intrinsically motivated people from across the U.S., who continue to go the extra mile for growth of our field hockey community, just wow! Words can't describe how full my heart is. To think that the efforts of one regular person from a rural farming community were valued and merited enough to be deserving of this award, I am so grateful and proud. I'm so thankful for my hometown's support, my family's love and belief, all the players I've worked with [you are my constant motivation], my fellow coaches and USA Field Hockey for this award. This proves that if you follow your heart, believe in your purpose and persist, anything is possible."

Congratulations once again to Rebecca Maciejewski for winning the 2020 USA Field Hockey Grow the Game Award.

USFHA media release

Stanford Announces Varsity Athletics Realignment

STANFORD, Calif. - One of Stanford’s great sources of pride is our intercollegiate athletics program. Over the course of our storied history, through innumerable days of challenge, triumph and joy, our student-athletes have set the standard for exceptional achievement in both academics and athletics. Cheering on the Cardinal is an integral part of life at Stanford, and the commitment and dedication of our student-athletes serve as an inspiration for fans and followers well beyond The Farm.

As you may know, Stanford currently offers more varsity sports than nearly every other Division I university in the nation. Our goal is to provide excellent support and a world-class experience for our student-athletes in the sports that we offer. Over time, however, providing 36 varsity teams with the level of support that they deserve has become a serious and growing financial challenge.

We now face the reality that significant change is needed to create fiscal stability for Stanford Athletics, and to provide the support we believe is essential for our student-athletes to excel.

In that context, we are writing today with some extremely difficult news. In consultation with the Board of Trustees, we have made the decision to reduce the breadth of our athletics programs and staffing. Stanford will discontinue 11 of our varsity sports programs at the conclusion of the 2020-21 academic year: men’s and women’s fencing, field hockey, lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, co-ed and women’s sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men’s volleyball and wrestling. All of these teams will have the opportunity to compete in their upcoming 2020-21 seasons, should the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 allow it, before they are discontinued at the varsity level. Regretfully, 20 of our support staff positions are being eliminated as part of this realignment.

Questions and answers regarding the details of a Stanford Athletics varsity sports reduction.

This is heartbreaking news to share. These 11 programs consist of more than 240 incredible student-athletes and 22 dedicated coaches. They were built by more than 4,000 alumni whose contributions led to 20 national championships, 27 Olympic medals, and an untold number of academic and professional achievements. Each of the individuals associated with these programs will forever have a place in Stanford’s history.

We will do everything we can to support the student-athletes, coaches and support staff members affected by this decision. We will honor all existing athletics scholarship commitments to the student-athletes throughout their undergraduate experiences at Stanford, and we hope they choose to remain on The Farm and earn their Stanford degrees. Should any student choose to continue their collegiate athletics career elsewhere, however, we will support them in every way possible. The contracts of affected coaches will be honored, and any support staff whose employment is ending will be provided with severance pay. All of the affected sports will have the opportunity to transition to club status after they conclude their 2020-21 varsity season.

We understand that the timing of this announcement, in early summer and against a backdrop of uncertainty and change across our country, is certainly far from ideal, as is the method by which we had to deliver the news to our student-athletes and coaches today, via Zoom. However, we felt it was imperative to confront the financial challenge before it worsened, to undertake a deliberate and collaborative decision-making process with our Board of Trustees and campus leadership, and to exhaust all alternatives before making profound changes in our programs, especially during this difficult time. That process has recently come to conclusion, and we wanted to share the news as quickly as possible in order to provide our student-athletes and staff with as much flexibility and choice as possible. Given the timing, we determined that offering these 11 programs the opportunity for one final season of varsity competition in 2020-21 was the right thing to do.

Below, we would like to provide more information about the financial challenge behind this decision, how the 11 sports were chosen and what the future holds for varsity athletics at Stanford.

Financial sustainability & competitive excellence

The decision to discontinue these 11 varsity sports programs comes down primarily to finances and competitive excellence. With so many varsity sports and limited financial resources, we would no longer be able to support a world-class athletics experience for our student-athletes without making these changes.

  • The financial model supporting 36 varsity sports is not sustainable. The average Division I athletics program sponsors 18 varsity sports. In fact, only one university at the Division I FBS level sponsored more varsity sports than Stanford prior to this change, and that institution does so with a significantly larger budget. Many of our peers at the Power Five level are supported by budgets that are much larger than ours while operating far fewer sports. Stanford’s more than 850 varsity student-athletes today represent 12% of our undergraduate population, a far higher percentage than exists at nearly all of our peer institutions.
  • Due to the escalating costs of operating such a large athletics department, a structural deficit emerged several years prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. That deficit was projected to exceed $12 million in FY21 and to grow steadily in the years ahead. The COVID-19 pandemic and associated recession have only exacerbated the gap; before these sport reductions, our revised forecasts indicated a best-case scenario of a $25 million deficit in FY21, factoring in the effects of COVID-19, and a cumulative shortfall of nearly $70 million over the next three years. These projected deficits could become much greater if the 2020-21 sports seasons are suspended or altered due to COVID-19.
  • We have investigated a wide variety of alternatives – ticket sales, broadcast revenue, university funding, philanthropic support, operating budget reductions and many others – and found them insufficient to meet the magnitude of the financial challenge before us. While Stanford may be perceived to have limitless resources, the truth is that we do not. In general, Athletics has been a self-sustaining entity on our campus, and we are striving to preserve that model in a time when budgetary support for our academic mission is already under significant stress. Academic and administrative units across the university already have been planning budget cuts of up to 10% in response to the university’s constrained resources as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The vast majority of Stanford’s endowment is directed toward specific long-term uses, including need-based financial aid for students, and is not available to backfill an ongoing structural budget deficit in a specific department. In addition, while Stanford Athletics benefits from a robust community of generous supporters, their philanthropy simply could not cover the escalating costs of ensuring excellence across the board in our 36-sport model.
  • Over the past several months, Stanford Athletics has undertaken significant cost-saving measures. Our entire Athletics executive team and a number of our head coaches, including our head football and basketball coaches, have taken voluntary pay reductions. We are reducing sport and administrative operating budgets to the greatest extent possible, including altering our competition schedules and travel plans for the upcoming academic year. Additionally, the support staff layoffs announced today represent a 10% reduction in our Athletics workforce. Even implementing all of these measures, however, we will need to access our limited reserve funds to bridge us through the current economic downturn and the acute near-term impacts the pandemic will have on our revenue sources.
  • We have calculated that the total incremental funding needed to permanently sustain these 11 sports at a nationally competitive varsity level exceeds $200 million. There are other significant fundraising priorities across the university and within Athletics. In fact, even after recognizing the full expense savings resulting from this decision, closing the remaining Athletics structural deficit and ensuring the continued success of our remaining 25 varsity sports will itself require garnering resources that exceed that amount, and we are fully committed to that endeavor.

The primary alternative to this decision would have been a broad and deep reduction in support for all 36 of our varsity sports, including the elimination of scholarships and the erosion of our efforts to attract and retain the high-caliber coaches and staff needed to provide an unparalleled scholar-athletics experience. After considering the effects of this model, we determined that operating our varsity athletics programs in this manner would be antithetical to Stanford’s values and our determination to be excellent in all that we do.

While painful, the discontinuation of these 11 sports at the varsity level and the associated reductions in our support staff will create a path for Stanford Athletics to return to fiscal stability while maintaining gender equity and competitiveness. It will ultimately enhance the experience of the remaining student-athletes and increase their likelihood of competing for national championships for years to come. We remain steadfastly committed to excellence in varsity athletics and, in fact, Stanford will continue to maintain one of the highest student-athlete to undergraduate student body ratios in the nation, with nearly 9% of the undergraduate student body continuing to participate in varsity athletics beyond the 2020-21 academic year.

Why these 11 sports?

These 11 sports were decided upon after a comprehensive evaluation of all of our sports across a broad set of criteria and considerations, including, but not limited to:

  • Sponsorship of the sport at the NCAA Division I level
  • National youth and postgraduate participation in the sport
  • Local and national fan interest in the sport
  • Potential expense savings from the elimination of the sport
  • Incremental investments required to keep or put the sport in a position to achieve competitive excellence on the national level
  • History of the sport at Stanford
  • Prospects for future success of the sport at Stanford
  • Impact on gender equity and Title IX compliance
  • Impact on the diversity of our student-athlete population
  • Impact on the student-athlete experience across all sports, now and in the future

For example, simply looking at sponsorship of the sports at a national level as one consideration:

  • Of the 11 sports being discontinued, six (lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, co-ed and women’s sailing, squash, synchronized swimming) are not NCAA-sponsored championship sports.
  • All 11 sports being discontinued are sponsored by less than 22% of the more than 350 Division I institutions, and nine (men’s and women’s fencing, lightweight rowing, men’s rowing, co-ed and women’s sailing, squash, synchronized swimming, men’s volleyball) are sponsored by less than 9%.
  • There are only two other Division I field hockey programs on the West Coast, and there are no other fencing, lightweight rowing, sailing, squash or synchronized swimming programs on the West Coast.

Many of these sports currently compete without a full complement of scholarships (e.g. wrestling), coaches and resources. After careful analysis, we concluded there was no realistic path to ensuring that they have all of the resources needed to compete at the highest level without hindering our ability to support our other 25 varsity sports.

All of the impacted sports will have the opportunity to compete at the club level after their upcoming varsity seasons are complete, assuming sufficient student interest, but will need to do so in a financially self-sustaining manner that ensures the safety and well-being of the participants. We will immediately begin working with the student-athletes, parents, alumni and supporters of these sports to work toward providing robust opportunities for participation at the club level.

The future of Stanford Athletics

Today’s announcement brings the three of us great sadness, though we realize ours is nowhere near the level of pain and disappointment that our student-athletes, parents, alumni and supporters of the impacted sports are experiencing.

We remain committed to a strong and vibrant varsity athletics program at Stanford, and we are confident that these changes will position Stanford Athletics, and our remaining 25 varsity programs, for sustained excellence and leadership in athletics, academics and education through sport. Our commitment to diversity and gender equity in athletics also remains firmly in place and is supported by this decision.

More information about the issues we have discussed here is available at https://news.stanford.edu/2020/07/08/athletics-faq/. Thank you for reading, and for those of you who are part of the Stanford Athletics family, thank you for your steadfast dedication to the success and well-being of our student-athletes.

Content Courtesy of Stanford

USFHA media release

USA Field Hockey Statement on Stanford University Dropping Program at Conclusion of 2020-21

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - USA Field Hockey is disappointed and by the recent news that Stanford University has made the decision to reduce the breadth of their athletics programs and staff, including discontinuing the field hockey program at the conclusion of the 2020-21 academic year.

Stanford student-athletes and coaches were informed of this decision today through a Zoom call, during which they were informed that field hockey and another 10 programs would be discontinued because of a serious and growing financial challenge to support varsity sports. The Stanford Athletic Department and Board of Trustees’ decided on these sports after a comprehensive evaluation across a broad set of criteria and considerations.

USA Field Hockey sends its deepest sympathy to current and former Stanford Field Hockey teams, coaching staff of Tara Danielson, Patrick Cota and Steve Danielson, major stakeholders and supporters, and the California field hockey community. All three are former members of Team USA and have almost 200 international caps among them.

Field hockey has been a part of the Stanford undergraduate experience since 1903, with Stanford playing games against other colleges since the early part of the 20th century. Stanford is a Division I program with a rich West Coast history having won 19 Conference Championships and made 17 NCAA Tournament appearances. Under the helm of Tara Danielson, the team consistently elevated the program’s national standing in the form of both team and individual success and has remained a fixture in the national rankings since November 2010. In 2019, Stanford defeated five top-25 teams, finished 16-7 overall and 5-1 in the America East Conference. In addition to capturing the program’s third America East crown in four seasons, the Cardinal also notched an NCAA Tournament victory in the opening round.

The quality and continued success of the program merely highlights the achievements of all student-athletes and coaches and their dedication to the sport and university. Stanford has produced two U.S. Olympians in Sheryl Johnson (Moscow 1980, Los Angeles 1984, Seoul 1988 and Nancy White (Moscow 1980), six U.S. Women’s National Team athletes, including currently rostered goalkeeper Kelsey Bing (Houston, Texas) and striker Corinne Zanolli (Newtown Square, Pa.), as well as a handful of Junior U.S. Women’s National Team athletes throughout the years.

The discontinuation of an NCAA Division I program in California is disappointing for the sport in the state, especially eight years away from the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games. In January 2018, the U.S. Women’s National Team hosted The Netherlands in the first-ever ticketed series at Stanford. Last December, USA Field Hockey held the first California Field Hockey Symposium to unite and empower community sports leaders and field hockey stakeholders in the Golden State to exponentially grow interest and participation in the sport. California has a rich tradition of field hockey, as well as an active base of youth, school, club and adult play, and now the dropping of the Stanford program is a step back in the efforts to grow the game, at all levels.

At the beginning of the year, USA Field Hockey announced an initiative to help sustain and grow the sport regionally by working with leaders in select states in the form of State Chapters. Three states were identified to help pilot this program, and California was one of them. With its vast geography and moderate climate, as well as its diverse population and large economy, California provides USA Field Hockey an exciting opportunity. The state already has a solid field hockey base with more than 30 clubs for boys, girls and adults, over 100 high school programs, three NCAA Division I collegiate programs and eight collegiate club programs. California is also home to the California Cup, one of the largest and longest running international tournaments. Hosted annually at Moorpark College in Moorpark, Calif. Despite this strong foundation, none of the bordering states offers high school or collegiate field hockey programs, making travel for competition burdensome. As such, establishing a California State Chapter will help improve communication and increase support from USA Field Hockey for local competition.

“USA Field Hockey wants to honor those that have played at Stanford by sharing our compassion with them through this difficult time,” said Simon Hoskins, USA Field Hockey’s Executive Director. “We remain committed to the development of the sport in California, as we build toward the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games.”

USFHA media release

How a sense of team can transcend the sport

“There I was, a fit 24-year-old enjoying life as a hockey player in Australia and 13 days later my leg was amputated just below the knee.”

This monumentally life-changing event took place eight years ago, but Chris Pelow has done nothing but take an upbeat attitude towards the hand that life has dealt him ever since.

As a youngster in Ireland, Chris was a up and coming star of the game. He hailed from a hockey-mad family and says he was carrying a hockey stick from the moment he could walk. While at school he and his team-mates won just about every trophy available for school-level hockey and he was part of the provincial and junior Ireland national team set-up.

Chris played his club hockey at Dublin-based Corinthians but decided, when he had finished his studying, that a few seasons playing hockey in the robust and highly competitive Australian league would be good for his game and a great challenge for him generally.

Outgoing and likeable, Chris was quickly accepted into the Sydney University hockey team and he had a great first season playing in the top Australian hockey league. Training often involved an early morning run along beautiful Bondi beach. He also got a full-time job with an IT recruitment company. Life couldn’t really get much better.

Then, when doing some pre-season training ahead of his second year in Australia, Chris noticed a discomfort in his left foot. It wasn’t too painful and, he says, had he not been training for hockey, he probably would have dismissed it as an irritation.

“Luckily, my team mates referred me to fellow SUHC member, Damien Cunningham, a podiatrist, so I made an appointment to go and see him,” Chris recalls. “He took a look and said, ‘I don’t want to worry you but I think you need an MRI scan.”

The scan results revealed a lump in the foot and Damien was insistent that Chris had the lump investigated.

As luck would have it, another of the Sydney University membership, Sanjeev Gupta, was an orthopaedic surgeon so an appointment was made the very next day. In an unbelievably quick turn around, the fit, healthy and active hockey player was diagnosed with a very rare cancer known as synovial sarcoma.

“All I wanted to be fit and ready for the season,” says Chris, “but Gupta took a look at the scan and said, ‘look, it could be a build up of anything in your body or it could be cancer.”

That conversation took place on a Friday. On Monday Chris was called in for a biopsy and then faced an anxious wait for the results. By the following Monday, he was in hospital undergoing a below-the-knee amputation, necessary to stop the cancer spreading.

“I owe so much to my club mates. If Damien Cunningham  hadn’t acted so quickly then the cancer could have spread. But I also owe a lot to hockey generally, because if I hadn’t been playing sport, I would probably have shrugged it off as a bit of pain in my foot. It wasn’t excruciating or anything, it just felt like I had pulled something.”

The impact of the hockey community on Chris’s life continued post-operation. His parents flew out to be with him and one of his team mates gave his house over to them for the duration of their stay. The team coach Chris Moylan from SUHC took two weeks off work to help him through his rehabilitation. Once Chris was able to move, he was given a position as assistant coach to the Sydney University team.

Once he could, Chris returned home to Ireland for a while. He says the support he received from the hockey community there was also immense. Between them, Sydney University HC, and Corinthians they raised thousands of euro’s to help Chris buy prosthetics that would enable him to live an active life.

Talking to Chris, listeners cannot fail to be astonished at his positivity. But, as he says, “The cancer was caught early and was only in my foot. I didn’t need chemotherapy. And the amputation was below my left knee, which meant I could still walk and run round. It was the end of my international aspirations but on the whole it could have been so much worse.”

Chris returned from Australia three years ago and was able to play hockey for the lower league sides at Corinthians. The only thing that was hard, he says, was watching his younger brother in the Corinthians first team as he would have liked to play alongside him.

Now, eight years on from that fateful forthright and Chris is heading up an Irish branch of The Recruitment Company, the specialist IT agency he worked for while in Sydney. He gives talks to cancer groups about his own story and throughout it all, he never forgets the way the hockey community both in Ireland and Australia stepped up and supported him through the trauma. 

FIH site

Hockey India told to hold fresh elections for the post of president

Sports Ministry deems current HI chief M Mustaque Ahmed’s election for a third term a violation of the Sports Code.

Vinayak Padmadeo

It seems the Sports Ministry has finally decided to act tough against those National Sports Federations who have been flouting the National Sports Development Code - 2011.

The Ministry, through its under-secretary Raju Bagga, has asked Hockey India to hold fresh elections as it deems M Mustaque Ahmed’s election for a third term a violation of the Sports Code.

Prior to taking over as HI president, as per records, Ahmed served two terms at Hockey India — as treasurer in 2010-2014 and secretary general in 2014-2018. Hockey India have also been told that the new president’s term will end on September 30, 2020.

“... it has been observed that Md Mustaque Ahmed had earlier served as Treasurer in Hockey India (HI) from 2010-2014 and Secretary General from 2014-18. The instant term 2018-22 of Md Mustaque Ahmed as President of HI, is his third consecutive term as an office bearer in HI. Thus his election as President of HI is not in consonance with the Government guidelines limiting the age & tenure of office bearers of National Sports Federations,” Bagga said in his letter dated July 6.

“Accordingly, HI is directed to advice Md Mustaque Ahmed to demit the post of President and to conduct fresh election for the post of President by 30.09.2020 for the remaining term i.e. up to 30.09.2022 and inform the same to the Department,” he added.

Interestingly, this is the second time Mustaque’s election has been questioned since he took over. In February last year, a similar letter had been written to Hockey India by the Sports Ministry. In its reply, HI secretary general Rajinder Singh had said that since Hockey India was not recognised in 2010, the Ministry shouldn’t consider Mustaque’s tenure as treasurer as his first term.

The Tribune

Sports Ministry asks Hockey India chief Mushtaque Ahmad to step down citing rules violation of sports code

The ministry said Mushtaque Ahmad's 2018 appointment as Hockey India president was his third consecutive term as an office-bearer in the organisation as compared to the limit of two that's currently allowed for NSFs.

New Delhi: The Sports Ministry has asked Hockey India President Mushtaque Ahmad to step down, declaring that his 2018 election was violative of the national sports code's tenure guidelines.

In a 6 July letter addressed to HI Secretary General Rajinder Singh, the Ministry asked the federation "to conduct fresh election for the post of president" by 30 September for the remaining term, that is, "upto 30.09.2022...".

"...the matter has been examined...and it has been observed that Mushtaque Ahmed had earlier served as Treasurer in Hockey India from 2010-2014 and secretary general from 2014-2018. The instant term 2018-2022 of Mushtaque as president is his third consecutive term as office-bearer in HI," the letter said.

"Thus his election as president of HI is not in consonance with the government guidelines limiting age and tenure of office-bearers of National Sports Federations," it added.

Under the Sports Code (of 2011), office-bearers of an NSF can have only two consecutive terms of four years each. But after later amendments, a president can hold office for three terms.

The election of Ahmad as HI president in 2018 has been a matter of controversy between the NSF and the ministry.

In an RTI reply, it was revealed that the sports ministry in 2019 had held Ahmad's election as HI president on 1 October, 2018 violative of the Sports Code as he had earlier served as an office-bearer for two terms.

In a letter dated 13 February, 2019, the ministry had asked Ahmad to demit office immediately and told the HI to hold election for president's post.

"... the tenure of Md. Mushtaque Ahmad during 2018-2022 would be his third and hence his election as president cannot be accepted," the RTI reply, which is in possession of PTI, said.

In response to this (on 23 February, 2019), HI contended that the revised age and tenure guidelines were issued on 1 May, 2010 and cannot be applied retrospectively.

HI was not a recognised federation in 2010. It got recognition on 28 February, 2014 and at that point in time, Ahmad was serving as a treasurer, having been elected to the post in elections held on August 5, 2010.

He was elected as Secretary General on 13 October, 2014 before becoming president in 2018.

HI said the 2018 elections were its second after recognition and Ahmad is currently serving his second term as an office-bearer.

The ministry, however, ruled that the guidelines "are applied at the time of granting recognition (in February 2014) and accordingly the tenure of office-bearer at the time of recognition is considered while examining the eligibility".

The ministry said, in the RTI reply, at the time of accepting HI's elections in 2014 (when Ahmad was elected as Secretary General), his tenure was considered as his second and this was intimated to Hockey India with approval of sports minister.

"When HI accepted that decision of the government regarding age and tenure restrictions at the time of its initial recognition and abided by government guidelines, the contention that these guidelines apply only prospectively and to only recognised NSFs is not tenable," the ministry had said in the letter of 13 February, 2019, according to the RTI reply.


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