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News for 12 August 2019

All the news for Monday 12 August 2019

African Hockey Road to Tokyo 2020 (Men) - Day 1
Stellenbosch (RSA)

Fixtures (GMT +2)

12 Aug 2019 13:00     EGY v ZIM (RR)
12 Aug 2019 15:00     GHA v KEN (RR)
12 Aug 2019 17:00     RSA v NAM (RR)

Live streaming via https://www.facebook.com/ShoOTTSA/ (No commentary)

FIH Match Centre

African Hockey Road to Tokyo 2020 (Women) - Day 1
Stellenbosch (RSA)

12 Aug 2019 09:00     GHA v ZIM (RR)
12 Aug 2019 11:00     NAM v KEN (RR)

Live streaming via https://www.facebook.com/ShoOTTSA/ (No commentary)

FIH Match Centre

EuroHockey Championship IV (Men) 2019 - Finals
Helsinki, Finland


11 Aug 2019     CYP v SLO (Pool A)     0 - 0
11 Aug 2019     FIN v HUN (Pool A)         0 - 3

Final standings

1. Hungary
2. Finland
3. Norway
4. Cyprus
5. Slovenia

FIH Match Centre

Grand double for Argentina in PanAm Games

s2h Team

Argentina regained the Pan American Games men' and women’s hockey gold medal after beating Canada in the Pn American Games in Lima. On Saturday, Argentinean men overcame tough looking Canada 5-2, after their women overcame the same rival 5-1 a day earlier. Both men's and women's hockey team thus made themselves proud travellers to Tokyo 2020.

More importantly, the Argentineans booked tickets to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and become the second nation to seal a berth at the Games after Japan who 'double' qualified as hosts and Asian Champions.

Argentina lost to USA in the final of the last two editions. The Americans finished third with victory over Chile, also by 5-1.

Piti d’Elia, 240-match veteran, scored two goals and provided an assist to spell victory for Leonas who made their ninth successive appearance in the gold-medal match while winning their seventh title. Julieta Jankunas smashed a back-hander home for the first goal in the ninth minute after Agustina Alonso’s was denied by Canadian goalkeeper Kaitlyn Williams.

D’Elia blasted home a second goal from a clever corner variation to send the Argentinean- dominated crowd into raptures.

Canada reduced the margin Kate Wright who scored following a penalty corner at the start of the second half. Penalty corners in the 37th and 45th minutes put Argentina 4-1 up. Rebecchi with a deflection and d’Elia with a direct shot to give Leonas a commanding lead.

Top scorer Jankunas scored her 11th goal of the tournament to make it 5-1.

The winners European, African and Oceania championships will also qualify directly for the Olympics.

Japan won the Asian Games gold medal in Jakarta last year to free up a spot which means there would be seven qualifying playoffs in October-November that will determine the remainder of the field of the 12-nation Olympic tournament in August next year.

The qualifying playoffs comprise nations coming through via the FIH Pro League, FIH Series Finals and world rankings apart from continental champions.


Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams leave for Olympic Test event

The men's team takes on Malaysia while the women's team takes on host Japan in the opening match of the hockey Olympic test event on August 17.

Harmanpreet Singh will lead the men's team for the first time in the Olympic test event in Tokyo beginning on August 17.  Biswaranjan Rout

With an eye on the Olympic Qualifiers later this year, the Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams on Sunday left for Tokyo to take part in the Test events, starting on August 17.

The Olympic Test events are expected to provide good exposure to both the teams ahead of the Qualifiers in November.

The Indian men’s team will play against hosts Japan, New Zealand and Malaysia, while the women will be up against Australia, China and Japan.

“I believe this tournament is a good opportunity for youngsters to shine as we will all be watched closely ahead of the team selection for the Olympic Qualifiers,” said men’s team skipper Harmanpreet Singh.

He also said that the Test event will help the team understand the playing conditions in Tokyo, the venue of next year’s Olympics.

“We are positively working towards making the Olympic Qualification. Playing at this venue will help us understand the playing conditions there and we are looking forward to a good tournament,” said the defender dragflicker.

The women’s team captain Rani said her team’s aim in the upcoming tournament is to register an upset win over higher ranked Australia.

“We have done well against Japan and China in the past one year but the one team we are looking forward to do well against is Australia. A win against them will make a big impact for our team’s preparations for the Olympic Qualifier,” Rani said ahead of the team’s departure here.

The men’s team will play its first match against nemesis Malaysia and the women will take on hosts Japan on August 17.

Warm up for Olympic Qualifiers

India missed out on a direct qualification spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after they failed to win the gold medal at the Asian Games 2018. Japan, already guaranteed a place as the host nation, won both the men's and women's Asian Games gold medals to qualify on merit.

As a result, India had to take the longer road by first playing FIH Series Finals in Bhubaneswar (Men's) and Hiroshoma (Women's) which it won to qualify for the Olympic Qualifiers to be held either in November or December. The FIH rankings at the end of September will decide the hosts of the Olympic Qualifiers. Currently, the men's team is ranked fifth while the women's team is ranked tenth in the world.

Tokyo Olympic test event schedule

Saturday, Aug 17

India Women vs Japan Women - 8.15 am
India Men vs Malaysia Men - 3.00 pm

Sunday, Aug 18

India Women vs Australia Women - 6 am
India Men vs New Zealand Men - 3.30 pm

Tuesday, Aug 20

India Men vs Japan Men - 8.15 am
India Women vs China Women - 4.15 pm

Wednesday, Aug 21

Men's - 3rd in Pool v 4th in Pool - 6 am
Men's 1st in Pool v 2nd in Pool - 8.30 am

Women's - 3rd in Pool v 4th in Pool - 2 pm
Women's - 1st in Pool v 2nd in Pool - 4.15 pm


Feels like I’m back from exile: Akash Chikte

After a 13-month doping ban for an unintentional offence, goalkeeper returns to action

Shreedutta Chidananda

Akash Chikte. 

Akash Chikte describes his time away from hockey as ‘vanvaas’. He has, after all, spent the last year and a half in exile, out in the professional wilderness. Early in 2018, the goalkeeper from Yavatmal, Maharashtra was establishing himself as a reliable deputy to P.R. Sreejesh in the Indian men’s team. And then his world fell apart.

In March that year, Chikte was suspended by the National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA) after testing positive for an anabolic steroid. He was first banned for two years, a punishment later reduced to 13 months because the offence was found to be unintentional.

On Sunday, Chikte played his first competitive game since the HWL Final in Bhubaneswar (December 2017), turning out for Army XI against the Indian Air Force team in the Dolo-650 Bangalore Cup here.

“It feels like my ‘vanvaas’ has ended,” he says. “Nobody supported me all these months. No one called me. It was as if everyone forgot me suddenly. I was hurt. One day I was playing for India. The next day, it was all over. It felt like a dream. Everyone was saying I had doped, people were saying that I did drugs. I was shocked; I was someone who didn’t even take protein supplements. I couldn’t sleep.”


Chikte recalls what happened in vivid detail. In February last year, he was struck on his left foot by a ball, causing his little toe to swell up. Meanwhile, back home in Yavatmal, his father had fallen seriously ill and had to be operated on for a clot in the brain. Chikte rushed home. At a local hospital, he consulted a doctor for his toe injury and was given an injection. Chikte had no idea what was in it.

“I told him I was a professional sportsperson. He clicked a photo with me, even put it on Facebook. He was MBBS, so I thought he’d know what to give me and what not to. Amid the stress of the hospital visits, I forgot to mention the injection in the doping control form. The fault is mine,” he sighs.

Tough days

The days that followed the positive test were tough. “People would tell my parents, ‘Your boy takes drugs.’ They were crying. They thought I had done something wrong and got caught. They weren’t looking me in the eye. Then, I explained everything to them.”

At first, Chikte trained on his own, at the Balewadi stadium in Pune. He practised after midnight, asking boys from the local academy to fire shots at him. “I couldn’t sleep. I used to cry. So I thought it was better to train,” he says.

For Chikte, the Bangalore Cup is the first step on his journey back to national reckoning. “My first goal was to clear the stain that was on me; and I have done that,” he says.

“Now my goal is to play domestic tournaments and the Nationals, and hopefully get back to the Indian team. At 27, a goalkeeper is still young.”

The Hindu

A success story!

Ijaz Chaudhry

Next week, Dar Hockey Academy will embark on a tour of Europe during which it will face many a top club team

The recently held 65th national hockey championships at Karachi had a huge presence of Pakistan’s biggest hockey nursery. No less than 34 players of Dar Hockey Academy appeared for 10 teams, including all the four semi-finalists.

The academy’s journey which started in 2006 is a fascinating read. It was founded in Lahore by 1984 Olympic gold medallist Tauqeer Dar as suggested by his father late Munir Dar, a 1960 Olympic gold medallist. The purpose was to stem the decline of Pakistan hockey by nurturing the young talent on modern lines.

The academy started with just seven players. It began recruiting talented boys from outside Lahore as well. It provides board and lodging as well as education to the outstation boys through its own resources.

Training is done on the synthetic turf of the National Hockey Stadium by a team always led by some distinguished coach. Decorated Olympian late Mohammad Akhlaq was the first head coach. Currently, World Cup winner Danish Kaleem supervises the training.

Competition is a vital part of training.  The Dar Academy boys, especially those residing in the academy hostel, are enrolled in the same school.

They play for their school teams in inter-school tournaments and have won the Jaffer memorial tournament, the oldest and most prestigious school event of Punjab, a number of times.

Nobel Hockey Club Lahore, consisting entirely of academy boys, figures in the local and outstation club tournaments and has won a number of laurels.

The club is the reigning champion of Lahore district club championships.

Soon, the academy’s boys were being selected for departmental, city and provincial sides for national senior and age-group championships.

All the four semi-finalists in the last four national senior and the last five national junior championships had boys from the Dar HA.

Quality international exposure has its own importance. In 2008, Dar HA made its maiden foreign tour. The academy’s under-15 side participated in the All India Maharaja Ranjit Singh under 15 tournament in Amritsar and returned victorious.

It didn’t take long winning national selection: Pakistan’s victorious team at the under-18 Asia Cup in 2009 included four Dar HA lads.

There was no looking back; Pakistan’s every age-group side has had academy lads since then.

The first tour of Europe was arranged in 2010. Dar HA played matches in Holland, Belgium and Germany. It was just the beginning. Since 2010, the academy has toured Europe five times. During the first two visits, they mostly played against age-group sides. But from the third tour onwards, most of the matches have been arranged against the senior men’s sides of the national leagues, mostly the top tier. In 2012, Khalid Bhatti became the first pure product of the academy to play for the national senior side of Pakistan. Since then, Dar HA boys have figured in almost all the national teams of Pakistan. In the last international outing, the 2018 World Cup, four players were part of the squad. In 2016, the academy toured Malaysia, the country which has been hosting more international events than any other country for quite some time.

Dar HA were the winners of the high-profile Asian Hockey Federation Inter-Academy Tournament at the famous Azlan Shah Stadium in Ipoh.

Dar HA is all set for their sixth tour of Europe, beginning from August 13. How has all this been possible? For last many years, we have been hearing about the financial woes of Pakistan Hockey Federation. The PHF has repeatedly complained about its empty coffers. Even Pakistan’s participation in the 2018 World Cup was uncertain for the same reason. Then Pakistan pulled out of the FIH Pro League for lack of funds.

On the other hand, this private academy is being run without any help from the government and has been making regular tours of Europe.

Taqueer Dar, the academy’s founding president, says: “Pakistan is among the world’s top countries as regards philanthropy. Pakistanis would donate generously for a just cause. Edhi foundation and the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital are prime examples.

“Realising the sincerity as well as success of our efforts, the sponsors have come in good numbers and are increasing all the time. We have merit as the sole criterion. In the team selected for the forthcoming European tour, almost all the boys belong to the lowest social income group. We currently have more than 15 major sponsors, including big business houses such as the Servis Industries, Shezan International, Diamond Paints and Guard Group of Industries.

“On the European tours, the hosts take care of our board and lodging. A few years back, the Dutch even sent around 1,200 hockey shoes, 600 high quality sticks and 24 goalkeeper kits. The Dar HA distributed the equipment not only among its own colts but also among other academies and clubs throughout the country, including Larkana.”

On the forthcoming tour, Dar HA will come across a number of strong sides. Three of them, HGC, Den Bosch and Tilburg, are in the Hoofdklasse, the top tier of the Dutch league — universally acknowledged as the most competitive domestic hockey competition.These sides have international stars in their ranks, not only Dutch but from other countries as well.

In Belgium, the academy will be playing KHC Dragons, the current national champions of the country. Belgium are the World Champions and Holland the European Champions.

Pakistan’s premier hockey academy could not have asked for a better competition on the training tour.

The News

Ijaz Chaudhry writes on hockey & other sports. For more about him and his work, visit: www.sportscorrespondent.info  

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