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News for 20 October 2020

All the news for Tuesday 20 October 2020

Danson demonstrates power of the mind

When Great Britain women take on the Netherlands in the next set of FIH Hockey Pro League matches on 27 and 29 October, one former member of the Great Britain squad will be hooked to the match watching as the action unfolds.

“It is crazy how much I am looking forward to watching live international hockey again,” says Alex Danson, who for more than 18 years was a lynchpin of the England and Great Britain forward line.

Danson’s departure from the international hockey scene is well documented. A fourth head injury, the final one sustained away from the hockey pitch, left her a shell of her former self, physically and mentally. In the first few weeks and months following the injury she was unable to walk from one room to the next. Nearly two years on and she still suffers headaches on a daily basis. A recent slight knock to the head sent her into a spiral of physical and psychological reactions.

A brief attempt, in February, at re-igniting her international career merely served to reinforce what Danson and, perhaps everyone close to her already knew, her international career had come to an end.

But this is not a tale of woe but rather one of hope, positivity and the power of both body and, more importantly mind.

When people meet Danson now, there will often be a sympathetic word. “We are so sorry...” Danson will cut them off, sometimes she admits, “too forcefully”.

What Danson has navigated her way towards is a complete acceptance of the cards she has been dealt. From conversation, you know that she has been supported in this by the bedrock that is her husband – also Alex. But much of this has come from the Olympian’s own resilience.

“In terms of retirement from the game, I had already found peace with that decision if I’m honest. I kind of knew that it wouldn’t be sensible to play again, given this was my fourth head injury. I had gone through a time in the first two or three months where I was so poorly but I was still thinking that I need to get back to training and back to the team. But as my health didn’t improve, so my mindset changed. I was almost saying to myself, ‘I’ll take not playing hockey again, if I can just get well again’. So I went through that process slowly. By the time it came to retirement I had done the tough part – not being part of the group, not having my health, not playing the sport I loved, not being part of the team.

“And I wanted to make sure my retirement was framed in a really positive way because I have had the most amazing career. I had travelled the world, met some amazing people and had more success than I could ever have dreamed of, so my career was amazing. It was unfortunate how it ended, but I knew I could retire peacefully.”

And in a sentence that should be included in every person’s life manual, she adds: “If you don’t end something well, it can eat into the next part of your life for a very long time, so I worked hard at making sure I ended things with my international career well.”

Since the accident, Danson got married and is pregnant with the couple's first child. She has a coaching role at Wimbledon Hockey Club who play in the first tier of the England Hockey League. She says: “I used to live life at a crazy pace and I didn’t stop, and I now choose not to live that life anymore. Health and family time is my priority now.”

There is of course, always a source of perspective and, in Danson’s case, it was her sister Claire.

Claire had been an age group GB triathlete when she suffered a life-changing accident that left her initially hanging onto life by a thread and then paralysed from the waist down.

“The change Clare has suffered over the past year has definitely made me absolutely rethink the way I view life,” says Danson.

For people who are looking at Danson’s story there are lessons to be learnt that everyone can follow.

“If you are facing a problem or a challenge, then break it down into small chunks, don’t try and solve it all in one go,” says Danson. “It is all about celebrating small wins. When I had my head injury I was desperate to get back to hockey. But that was patently not available. At that time I couldn’t even walk to the bathroom.

“It is about really breaking things down and understanding that progress is amazing but it doesn’t need to be enormous. I fought it at first. I was used to the high performance environment and couldn’t see small things that counted as progress. When I started to get better was when I started to take joy in walking to the end of the garden or having a cup of coffee with someone for 15 minutes. The connection between how you think and how you feel is enormous. That was highlighted to me but it is true to life generally.”

And much to her own surprise, Danson says she has turned into a hockey geek. She says: “I really love watching hockey. I am intrigued by what will happen in these matches against the Netherlands. Any time you play Holland, it won’t be an easy game. They have talent in abundance. But what we have is a very unique programme where we develop excellent combinations. In many respects these early FIH Hockey Pro League games will be more open because of the impact of Covid. I am intrigued by these matches.”

As an addendum to Claire Danson’s story, a year on and she is pursuing a career as a para-athlete.

Although the fans will not be allowed into the stadium itself, all four matches will be available to watch via television or digital streaming, as well as on the new Watch.Hockey app in every country where a rights holding broadcaster is not showing the matches live.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on the FIH Hockey Pro League via the Watch.Hockey app, event website and through FIH social media channels - Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


Official FIH Pro League Site

Getting to the root of the hockey problem

Nine players from that squad graduated to the senior team for the 2018 World Cup, held in Bhubaneswar. The home team couldn’t go beyond the second round.

Navneet Singh

When India won the 2016 Hockey Junior World Cup in Lucknow’s newly built hockey arena, it was felt the title would finally help past masters of the sport turn the corner.

Nine players from that squad graduated to the senior team for the 2018 World Cup, held in Bhubaneswar. The home team couldn’t go beyond the second round.

At the Jakarta Asian Games in the same year, India failed to defend their title, settling for bronze instead. They did manage to win silver in successive editions of the Champions Trophy in 2016 and 2018 but consistency in top level tournaments was missing.

The reason for that could be the absence of a structured coaching programme at the grassroots, one mirroring the changing demands of international hockey. Putting one in place around 2010 helped Belgium, a country of only 1.15 crore people, become a powerhouse. They won silver in the 2016 Olympics and are the reigning men’s world champions.

Hockey India (HI) planned to put in place a programme and got David John back as High Performance Director in 2016. John, whose one-year stint had ended in 2012, was also given the responsibility of talent identification at the grassroots and bringing domestic coaches up to speed with requirements of modern hockey. But John became more involved with the senior team. Then John’s stint ended abruptly last August due to a health problem.

HI said it is uncertain when John’s replacement will be got. So will it need to rethink the grassroots programme? “The effect has only started to trickle down to grassroots level. Nothing can happen overnight. The implementation can’t be 100 per cent immediately. However things are on track,” said Elena Norman, Chief Executive Officer of HI.

Bridging the gap

Narrowing the gap between the core group of seniors and the development squad (junior team) has been HI’s priority for some years now. It has also chalked out a programme for a uniform coaching system in the country. “Because of diverse background of the players, a systematic coaching programme will help build a strong base. It will be easy to coach the national team as well,” said Jude Felix, the former international and coach.

Coaching, the same way

Around 650 coaches have already attended the HI Coaching Education Pathway started by John in early 2019. The federation believes it is on track to have all coaches under its wing. “We are aiming to bring 2000 coaches under the project within the next two years,” said Norman. “The course has been temporarily stopped and would start soon when the Covid-19 situation improves.”

HI has also identified minimum levels from the coaching pathway that will help put coaches with the right qualifications in the grassroots development programme. “We recommend minimum district teams are trained by a HI Level 1 certified coach while Level 2 certified coaches can train a state team,” said Norman.

The Level 1 and Level 2 coaching courses initiated by HI are of three days each. The fee for the first stage is ₹3,500, for the second level it is ₹6,000. The candidates take theoretical and practical tests.

To strengthen its foundation programme, HI, in coordination with Sports Authority of India (SAI), will set up six or seven hockey training centres once the Covid-19 situation improves, said Norman.

Stressing on the need for proper training in the formative years, Tushar Khandekar, a former assistant-coach of the senior men’s team in the 2016 Rio Olympics, said: “In the sub-junior category, the intensity of training could be less but if the format of play is similar to what top level players follow, we will have more quality players at the top.”

Khandekar said because of the muscle memory developed in the early stages, wrong technique is hard to get rid at 18 or 20. “Fundamentals like trapping, pushing and quick thinking inside the striking circle should be grasped during the development stage of 14 to 16. But it’s not happening.”

Former India skipper Pargat Singh runs an academy with 150 children in the age-group of eight to 17 in Mithapur near Jalandhar. The staff are in touch with the changes in the game, he said. “We also get top players like Mandeep Singh and skipper Manpreet Singh to spend some time with budding players when they aren’t travelling or attending the national camp.”

Singh said unless state units become proactive, “it will be difficult”. Easier said than done as the example of Uttarakhand shows. Uttarakhand has 15 to 20 coaches but none has updated their skills. “Coaches working in local schools and with the state government are paid low salaries, ranging between ₹10,000 to ₹20,000 per month. Some barely manage to make ends meet. Hence no one is interested in attending HI coaching courses,’’ said a coach from the state.

Players too don’t get a chance to polish their game. “There is a hockey turf in Dehradun but the state selection trials are conducted on grass fields. Each district is allowed limited players to participate in the trials. Thus interest is diminishing,’’ said another coach from Uttarakhand.

There are other problems too. MK Kaushik, the former India coach, said he once toured states like Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttarakhand. “I prepared a report and submitted it to the federation,” he said. It is not known what came of that report.

Hindustan Times

Scotland's Kerry-Anne Hastings aiming to keep up family traditions

'Every single time I step back on the pitch I make sure I'm giving my all - not that I didn't in the past but it's more a focus point now'

By Rod Gilmour

Kerry-Anne Hastings is vying for promotion with Durham Credit: DURHAM UNIVERSITY

Scottish international Kerry-Anne Hastings knows how fortunate she is to be playing competitive hockey. "I live with two rugby players who have nothing in the diary," says last year's Durham University captain.

Hastings' own diary was set in stone during lockdown. Scott Hastings, the former Scotland and Lions rugby player, wife Jenny, a former Scottish athlete, and daughter Kerry-Anne lifted spirits on their Edinburgh street by holding outdoor aerobics classes for their mostly elderly neighbours.

The street met for 20 minutes every Monday to Saturday, with afternoon tea on Sundays, for 100 successive days. Indeed, they still meet three times per week. "It's been fantastic and it's now up to 30 minutes, which is a pretty big jump as the oldest person is 87," said Kerry-Anne.

Now back at Durham, where she is currently doing a part-time masters in education, Hastings is part of a university side looking for promotion to the Premier Division for the first time. They started well, topping the table after the opening two games before losing to Bowdon, who lost their top-flight place after 30 straight years last season. On Saturday, they came up against Leicester - denied promotion when the league was halted in March - who came from behind to beat Durham 2-1.

As the season started out, Hastings felt her tackles were a "wee bit shaky" and had lost hand-eye coordination. She said: "It was a shock to the system but every single time I step back on the pitch I make sure I'm giving my all. Not that I didn't in the past but it's more a focus point now.

"I'm conscious of how fortunate I am to play. Personally I felt like I needed that reset, to realise that I do love my sport, everything I do is towards that and to try to be the best version of myself within that sporting aspect."

Hastings also knows that the sport faces barriers in getting more players into grass-roots hockey. She said: "The sport is seen as a privileged one with the equipment you have to get: sticks, shoes, gumshields on top of club fees. I do hope it does become more attainable as I feel privileged for being able to try lots of sports, especially hockey which is one of the more expensive ones."

It is one reason why she has backed grass-roots sports initiative GiveToLocal, which aims to give £10 million to community sport every year. She added: "If we want to build more community hockey we have to open up our own budgets and start giving first, and then in 10 years we can see the outcomes. We are in it for the long game.

"Hockey is not about just being a sportsperson. It's controlling emotions and team spirit. You have a hockey stick in your hand and you never know what a kid can turn around and do. It's all about control."

After hip surgery in 2018, Hastings was handed a first Scottish senior cap last year and is now focused on the national side's return to the EuroHockey Championship next summer - where they are pitted against Holland - and the road to the 2022 Commonwealth Games. She has also seen first hand - mainly via Zoom - how the Scottish squad has been galvanised under Jen Wilson, their South African coach.

"Rather than seeing it as a kick in the teeth, they used lockdown as an opportunity for us to become a fitter, faster, stronger team," added Hastings. "Weirdly, personally, I feel one of the closest I've felt with the team with all the interaction, including a joint call with all the junior and senior squads. You can see how much work they've put in behind the scenes and everyone has come together because of it."

Bandurak makes switch back

A summer exodus saw Premier Division side Holcombe lose 10 squad members and a head coach, but one of those players, Emma Bandurak, is now back in the side. After two opening games for champions Surbition, Bandurak quietly made the swift move back as a registered Holcombe player. "All credit to her," said coach Kevin Johnson, who inherited a decimated squad. "The door was always open and hers is a game I've always respected. I was gutted to see her go but elated to see her come back. It's like she's never been away."

For her returning 'debut', Holcombe saw positives in the "frustrating" last-gasp goal which handed Wimbledon a 2-1 win, during a corner melee where a player got hit in the face and the ball finding the net after a rebound and ricochet. But after a week off last weekend, the Kent side continued their fine form on Saturday at Bristol, beating Clifton Robinsons for the fourth time in five visits courtesy of a 3-2 win.  

Holcombe's Agueda Moroni gets her shot away against Clifton Credit: PETER SMITH

Holland grounds world's best league

Ellie Rayer set table toppers East Grinstead on their way to 20 games unbeaten and 10 on the road following a 2-1 victory at Hampstead & Westminster. Rayer was at the back post to net Grinstead's fourth-minute opener after an authoritative break down the right, before Sophie Bray doubled the lead. Lauren Turner's 63rd-minute strike was too little too late for the Londoners. Rayer returned after a niggling ankle injury and is now in line for GB women's selection ahead of FIH Pro League matches against Holland next week. The double encounters in Amsterdam are currently still on, despite the Dutch government last week halting the Hoofdklasse, regarded as the world's best league. Rayer said that "these are the moments you play for", with GB women set to play their first matches since February behind closed doors and against Belgium a few days later.

Last week, the Dutch league suspension saw an outpouring of support for Lidewij Welten, the two-time world player of the year, who became the highest profile player to passionately speak out after hockey was deemed an amateur sport. "I am involved in hockey 24-7, I live it and I live for it and in my eyes you are a professional," she said.

Students aim to protect players

Loughborough Students remain unbeaten, although their match against Beeston was called off with the latter postponing the clash. Brett Holland's side now have no hockey for two weeks, with this Saturday designated as their bye weekend. Holland said: "We’ve just moved our training to smaller groups, and where possible a bubble of six within training to minimise and mitigate any transmission to protect the players. We hope it will keep everyone playing."

Meanwhile, Swansea University, scored the first ever goal by a Welsh side in the women's English top flight. After four games without scoring, Swansea finally netted through Jess Roe in their 3-1 defeat to Buckingham. Elsewhere, Wimbledon's good form continued, with GB international Anna Toman and Lucy Holder scoring in a 2-0 victory over University of Birmingham.

Women's Premier Division - results and fixtures

Results: Buckingham 3 Swansea 1, Clifton Robinsons 2 Holcombe 3, Loughborough Students v Beeston (match postponed), Wimbledon 2 Uni of Birmingham 0, Hampstead & Westminster 1 East Grinstead 2

What's on this weekend:  

Saturday: Buckingham v Clifton Robinsons, 12pm; Surbiton v Swansea, 1:30pm; Beeston v Wimbledon, 2pm; East Grinstead v Uni of Birmingham, 3pm; Holcombe v Hampstead & Westminster, 4pm
*All times as published by England Hockey

The Telegraph

Sweet 16 goals in Old Georgians’ bizarre victory over Oxted

Old Georgians came out on top in a spectacular 16-goal thriller in England’s Men’s Hockey League Premier Division on Sunday, coming from behind to win a pulsating clash against Oxted by a scoreline of 10-6.

After Elliott Messem and Tom Carson had put Old Georgians 2-0 up inside eight minutes, the floodgates opened as both sides traded goals.

It was Oxted who held a 5-4 lead at the break with Tim Guise-Brown’s hat-trick putting them in the driving seat. Mark Galloway and Sam Driver scored the other two for Oxted with Tom Carson and Ashley Jackson keeping Old Georgians in contention.

The game seemed to settle after the restart but it exploded into life again with Edward Carson finding the goal for Old Georgians and Sam Driver scoring for Oxted, both in the 44th minute.

At this point the goals finally dried up for Oxted, but Old Georgians weren’t finished yet as strikes from Messem, Jackson, Dan Shingles and a brace from James Tindall saw them clinch an exhilarating contest and stay second in the table.

Surbiton were not in action but remain top by two points over Old Georgians alongside Hampstead & Westminster who came from a goal down to beat East Grinstead 5-1.

In the women’s competition, goals from Ellie Rayer and Sophie Bray saw East Grinstead continue their excellent start to the season, beating Hampstead & Westminster 2-1 to lead the league by three points.

Second placed Loughborough v Beeston match was postponed due to a large number of players being unavailable from the Beeston squad while Surbiton were also not in action this weekend.

Euro Hockey League media release

Record-breaking hockey match

View the Highlights

Old Georgians live-streamed our game on Sundayday in the English Premier League, Old Georgians vs Oxted.

Many nationalities represented including GB, South Africa, and Canada.

Old Georgians won the game 10-6! First time a side has scored 6 and lost since 2012.

We are posting match highlights on our socials but you can also find them here:

Short highlights:


Full highlights:


Old Georgians HC media release

key in Wales to be suspended

Following today’s announcement by the Welsh Government, we can confirm that all hockey activity in Wales will be suspended during the 17 day ‘firebreak’ period.

This lockdown will begin at 18:00 on Friday 23rd October until Monday 9th November.

For clarity, this will encompass all hockey in Wales including, Senior International activity, elite status clubs and players who live in Wales, but play for clubs in the English National Leagues under elite status.

We will endeavour to keep you updated on all information as we receive it. In the meantime, please stay safe and we look forward to being back on the pitch soon.

For more info please visit: https://gov.wales/coronavirus-circuit-break-frequently-asked-questions

Hockey Wales media release

One youngster’s amazing spirit sees her nominated for prestigious women’s sporting award

Lilly Holmes

For many, the last few months have been hugely frustrating as the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic sees our daily lives restricted and, for a period of time, all of us unable to play hockey.

But for Lilly Holmes, it was also a chance to work on her skills and try something new and creative to put a smile on the faces of her and others.

And now she’s been rewarded for her fantastic endeavour by being nominated for the Young Inspiration Award at the Sunday Times Sportswomen Of The Year Awards 2020.

Determined to make the most of lockdown, Lilly started filming herself finding different ways of keeping her hockey skills sharp and uploaded them to social media to inspire other youngsters to keep picking up a stick. Before long, she’d set herself the challenge of uploading clips on 100 consecutive days.

As the weeks went on, the videos became increasingly more complex. There were obstacle courses, attempts at skills she’d learned by watching on YouTube and even her first ventures back onto a hockey pitch when the restrictions started to ease.

In total she uploaded more than 120 videos, with a compilation released by England Hockey being watched more than 22,000 times.

Lilly’s incredible spirit has now seen her nominated alongside three other youngsters for the prestigious award due to be announced on 25 November.

Voting is now open so what are you waiting for? Click here and help Lilly achieve the recognition she truly deserves.

England Hockey Board Media release

Baldev Singh Kalsi, the ultimate hockey fan, rest in peace

By K. Arumugam

I knew Mr Baldev Singh Kalsi for more than two decades and I haven’t come across such a great fan of hockey in my long tenure in journalism. Baldev Singh Kalsi expired a fortnight ago at his home in London and his cremation is scheduled for today.

In Hindu mythology, Hanuman, the human-monkey deity had his God Ram and Sita in his heart. For, Baldev Singh Kalsi, it was Indian hockey right in his heart. Something he was deeply devoted to.

Late Baldev Singh Kalsi in Rio

Baldev Singh Kalsi’s love for hockey is unique. It was polite. His love for the game flowed deep and came straight from the heart, silently and meaningfully. He sat quietly in the stands, watched the action on the pitch and enjoyed sharing his thoughts about the match with friends. Nothing beyond that.

He usually didn’t make a noise, nor chased players for coaching using the advantage of the ‘foreigner’ tag. Hardly did he advertise his hockey trips too, not even in social media. He was a pure and simple hockey fan, a true lover of the sport. As a true connoisseur he was happy if India won and celebrated with hand claps that accompanied the twinkle in his eyes.

Baldev Kalsi flanked on left by Bhupinder Plaha and Jarry (r)

He repeatedly recounted good moves, goals and saves with his friends, measured in his words, measured in his emotions. If India didn’t win, never did he spit venom or pour scorn on the team. His heart felt the pinch and he sat alone, taking his time to overcome grief.

Never did he admonish a single player, coach or even administrators for failures. All he would often say was “the team should improve, they are missing chances, they should learn to win.” That was all. The manner in which he spoke and conveyed his thoughts behind those simple statements only suggested how much he felt deep within and that the words emanated from the bottom of his heart.

Always felt honoured to wear the Indian jersey

It’s very difficult to be an Indian hockey fan without rancour or rant. Baldev Singh Kalsi was an exception.

But it doesn’t mean he was a quintessential loner. As I was enlightened later, he was an out-and-out team man. He enjoyed his evening drink, liked the company of friends who traveled together for most tournaments.

Baldev Singh Kalsi was a good listener. He let others do the talking, concurring with their views and hardly intervening in the discussion. He always wore a smile and consented even to contrasting views. Sometimes one might have even wondered whether Baldev Singh Kalsi was around. After all, quietness and calmness were his congenital characters.

Baldev Singh Kalsi, my companion across continents, from Madras (Chennai)  to Malacca and elsewhere is a unique hockey fan, the veritable one; even the ultimate one.

I don’t think anybody in the contemporary world has seen as many Olympics and World Cups as he had. It costs money, it costs time, it costs leave from service. He bore it all for the love of the game.

The only occasion I saw him a trifle irritated was when he learned of someone claiming having watched this and that World Cups and Olympics which they did not. No one dare take that mantle from him!

I hardly interview roommates, but had to when we stayed together in Chennai during the 2007 Asia Cup. He hardly opens up, but on that day he did.

Baldev (r) and some of his constant friends with the Indian captain Dipsan Tirkey at Lileshal (England), 2016

He told his personal story, the journey that started in the early 80s and continued till the other day when God called him to heaven two Friday ago. He was brimming with joy on the day on which India beat South Korea 3-2 in their third pool match. He asked me to take him to a best hotel in the city. “I want to throw the best party,” he declared. All because India had beaten South Korea, even though there was still a long way to go in the tournament.

When India ultimately won the Cup beating South Korea, with a far more comprehensive score of 7-2, you can imagine how happy he would have been. Baldev Singh Kalsi had flown from London alone. The expenditure and toil were now well worth it for Indian hockey’s champion fan. And did he savour the moment!

Baldev Kalsi in black jersey in discussion with coach Harendra Singh

That day, in a rare moment, he spoke about his early career, how his school had a great hockey team, how he chose to be a goalkeeper and so on. From Uganda where he was born to London, ultimately where he settled, he carried his passion with him.

A decade later, we were roommates again, this time in distant Malacca, Malaysia. That Asia Cup did not bring cheer. India finished fifth. It compounded his sorrow after the Asian Hockey Federation moved the venue to Malaysia from Dubai all of a sudden. It hampered planning of the trip and most of his friends missed out. Baldev Singh Kalsi, though, made sure he was there!

Like most of his friends, he would always don the India jersey in the stands. This avowed India fan, born in Uganda and living in London!

All along, he would enquire about new books on hockey. In fact, Baldev Singh Kalsi was one man who still remembered I write books and relished the task. “Any new books, Aru?” he would ask whenever we met. I don’t think he was fond of books, but his inquiry was more by way of encouragement, I often thought.

Baldev Singh Kalsi was actually my unofficial brand ambassador for the books I wrote. He would canvas for my books to his friends and encouraged them to purchase a copy!  It was mere affection for me as he always expressed sympathy for my running a website and publishing books “all alone”. “Har kaam akhela karta hai,” was his catchphrase.

During the 2014 World Cup in The Hague, I posted a photo of him and London friends in my social media and mentioned Hockey India should help these fans when the Champions Trophy comes home that year end. Dr Narendra Batra, then was Hockey India Secretary General, requested me to have them contact him on his personal email id which he had shared with me.

Thereafter, the entire London group of fans came into direct contact with Dr. Batra who obviously helped them in any way he could. Their Indian contacts too increased, thanks to social media and common interest. Since then my direct contact with Baldev Singh Kalsi has somewhat reduced unlike previous two decades where I would know every minute details of his and his fan group’s program.

When I visited London to cover the junior program in 2016, Baldev Singh Kalsi and his friends Pinder, Bhupinder et al came to Lileshal and then to Bisham Abbey. On the last day, we all had dinner together with ever the entertainer, chief coach Harendra Singh. It was fun all the way. Present on the occasion was also the Uganda Olympian of yesteryear Avtar Singh.

For long, as I stroll along the sidelines of the turf with a camera in hand, I used to hear a voice saying ‘Aru’ from the stands. Baldev Singh Kalsi would wave and exchange greetings. It happened in The Hague, Bukit Jalil,  Seon Kong, MDCNS (Delhi), Kalinga….so much so that whenever I tread the area by the sidelines my eyes automatically search for him, ears wait for a gentle voice calling out ‘Aru’.

This is what I am going to miss for the rest of my life.

Dear friend Baldev Singh Kalsi, I will carry your memories for as long as I live.

May your soul rest in peace.

Kalsi (c) with Pinder (l) and the author

ABOUT BALDEV SINGH KALSI: He was born in Uganda where his grandparents had migrated to from Hoshiarpur in Punjab. As hockey had a great following in East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda) in the 60s and 70s, he too was captured by its spell. In his school in particular hockey was a rage. Further, as youngster when he was in Uganda he had seen India and Pakistan play many matches in East Africa. One highlight he often remembered was the autograph he took from the entire Tokyo bound Indian team (1964) that played a few matches in Uganda. After moving to England to pursue higher education, Baldev Singh Kalsi’s passion for hockey rose a few more notches. He played as a defender as well as a goalkeeper for Middlesex in the second division league. Later, when joined Ford he founded the company’s hockey club. He  also played for British Airways for a couple of seasons. He saved money, conserved his privileges in British Airways, all to watch hockey, to be part of hockey.   


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