Friday, August 13, 2010

A chance to set things right

S. Thyagarajan

Chennai: The mess continues.
The complications have multiplied. There is no light at the end of the tunnel.
This is the poignant picture of hockey administration in the country. Any hopes that the August 5 elections would put a full stop to the enduring non-governance evaporated moments after the results panned out.
Somewhat expectedly, the Sports Ministry pulled the plug of recognition to Hockey India (HI) citing non-compliance of guidelines. That triggered a move of missives to the FIH which responded predictably. The appeal to ignore HI was neatly phrased containing expressions like “very compelling circumstances,” “instantly made NSF,” “no legitimate track record.”
How these facts escaped the Ministry's notice when the HI was formed in 2008 is beyond comprehension. The guiding factor obviously is the judgement upholding the appeal by IHF that its suspension by IOA was against the canons of natural justice.
The exchanges between the Ministry and FIH reflect the dichotomy about HI. The Ministry is clear, that HI, in its present matrix, does not enjoy its approval. It also noted that the IHF headed by K.P.S. Gill has the claim to govern on the strength of a court order, which neither the Ministry nor the IOA has contested. The Ministry has also assured that a unified body would be in place in conformity with the FIH statutes.
In response, the FIH conveyed, rather firmly, its reluctance to deal with any body other than HI.
What baffles everyone is the assertion that the IHF does not exist in its reckoning since 2000 and that the Indian Hockey Confederation failed to meet the requirements of the statutes.
If that is so why did the top brass in FIH maintain contact with the men's and women's units, allow the national teams to take part in premier events like the Olympics in 2004, World Cups in 2002 and 2006, allot men's Champions Trophy to Chennai, and importantly, sign the contract with IHF for the World Cup in India in 2006, to the point of even forming a provisional tournament committee.
The argument that IHF was not a constituent since 2000 sounds hollow. More so is the FIH threat of prohibiting India from the ambit of international competitions. If it were to do so, then FIH should have named the reserve team by now, with less than three weeks to go for the women's World Cup in Rosario (Argentina).
NSF norms
The Ministry's letter makes it clear how impermissible it will be for HI to function within the framework of norms governing NSFs. It is well known that not even a few in the voters' list on August 5 have the clout in their respective States to run competitions, or enjoy the support of the clubs.
The established units that were conducting local leagues and tournaments with the support of State Governments cannot be eliminated just to fulfil an FIH stipulation.
It is nobody's case that these associations, or even the federation, were impeccable in upholding the tenets of democracy and tenure elections. But at least they ensured enough activity across the country. In the circumstances, the meeting scheduled on Thursday involving the IHF and IWHF members assumes significance. This is a splendid window of opportunity.
Backed as they are by a court verdict and support from Sports Ministry, the members should sink all differences to make the meeting meaningful. They must effect a quick merger adhering to the guidelines in letter and spirit.
The conclave should also pitch upon a set of new office-bearers, or at least nominate a provisional group which will eventually take over. The administrative unit should have a fresh team to garner adequate financial and sponsorship support, an administrative apparatus that is proficient and professional and, above all, a programme acceptable to the players.
The FIH is unlikely to relent immediately. It needs to be persuaded to see the reality of the harm it is doing to the sport in the biggest market in the world by remaining inimical to a national government and standing behind a unit, that has declared itself a private entity.

The Hindu

Youth ready to Olympic

Twelve hockey teams from around the world will participate in the first Youth Olympic Games held in Singapore from 14-26 August. Six boy’s and six girl’s teams will play 36 matches in total to find the first two Youth Olympic Champions in Hockey.
To be eligible for the hockey tournament of the YOG 2010, athletes must have been born between 1 January 1993 and 31 December 1994.
The girls will start off on Monday 16 August with the opening match between Netherlands and Ireland. The boys’ tournament begins on Tuesday 17th August, Pakistan and Ghana compete in the first match.
Australia (Oceania), Belgium (Europe), Chile (Pan America), Ghana (Africa), Pakistan (Asia), Singapore (Asia) participate in the boys’ competition while Argentina (Pan America), Ireland (Europe), Korea (Asia), Netherlands (Europe), New Zealand (Oceania) and South Africa (Africa) meet up in the girls’ tournament.
Each of the six teams plays each other once in a round robin format to complete five preliminary round games. The top two teams at the end of the preliminary round matches play off in the Gold Medal Match. The 3rd and 4th placed teams play for the Bronze Medal, while the 5th and 6th placed teams meet in the 5th place playoff. The classification matches are played on Tuesday, 23rd August (girls) and Wednesday, 24th August (boys). The Medal Ceremony takes place at the same day as the matches, starting at 10.30pm.
The two tournaments are held in Seng Kang Hockey Stadium the same place where the Singaporean part of Men’s Junior World Cup took place in 2009.
It’s very hard to name a team as a favourite or a medal candidate because especially in youth tournaments surprises are always likely to happen. The 36 matches will become special ones in any way and it will be interesting to see whether the teams whose adults are top in the world will take the medals or a dark horse will reach the top.
The first Youth Olympic Games will definitely become an unforgettable event and experience for all participants.
The FIH tournament micro site will be bringing you extensive coverage of all the action from the first Youth Olympic Games. The site will provide all official information and news from the tournament, keeping you fully up-to-date with the latest scores and league tables. The site will also include written match previews and reports, action photos, video interviews and much more.


To mix, or take the best to Delhi?

THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) want to send a mixed team to the New Delhi Commonwealth Games, but coach Stephen van Huizen said he is keen to field a full- strength side.
Van Huizen is now in Germany with his players to train and play a few friendlies before they compete in a Five-Nation in France on Aug 24-29.
The other teams in the tournament are France, Poland, Ireland and Scotland.
MHF president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah said: “We will send a mixed team for the Commonwealth Games, because our priority this year is the Asian Games. If we do well in China, we will not have to rely on a qualifier to play in the Olympics.”
However, when contacted in Germany, Van Huizen said: “Obviously, when the president wants to field a mixed side we will follow his instructions.
“But I will also make my recommendations on why we should field a full side, and hopefully, it is taken into account.”
Van Huizen’s argument is that if MHF field a mix of juniors and seniors for the Commonwealth Games on Oct 3-14, there are no practice matches available for the players left back home.
“If the best play in New Delhi, they will get some good practice before the Asian Games in November,” said van Huizen.
The coach had planned for a Four-Nation next month, but it did not work out.
And while the Asian Games gold is a direct ticket to the 2012 London Olympics, the Commonwealth Games offers only sparring partners.
However, going by the Champions Trophy results, gold medallists Australia and silver medallists England are the best bets for honours in New Delhi.
Malaysia, bronze medallist at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, are in Group A with Australia, India, Pakistan and Scotland. Group B is made up of New Zealand, England, Canada. South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago.