Sunday, September 27, 2009

Two gold medals, for sure

THE Malaysian boys and women’s hockey teams are poised to win gold medals in the Sea Cup hockey tournament which will start in Bangkok, Thailand tomorrow.
The opposition for both the boys and women’s teams are Singapore, Thailand A and Thailand B, and nothing but gold medals are expected in both the categories.
In fact, the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) and the Malaysian Women’s Hockey Federation (MWHF) will be using the open tournament to expose their youth.
MHF sent their Under-18 outfit, while 70 per cent in the women’s team are Under-21.
“The girls and boys left for Bangkok yesterday and for us, the target is winning gold. We have sent a relatively young side, but are confident of winning gold,” said MWHA sec retary S. Shamala.
Indonesia were also supposed to send a team but pulled out at the eleventh hour, and hosts Thailand then fielded two teams. The tournament is being held to compensate the fact that Sea Games hosts Laos will not be hosting hockey at the end of the year.
The women’s team, ranked 24th in the world, is coached by Yahya Atan, while K. Dharmaraj is the boys coach.
FIXTURES: Tuesday -- Men: Malaysia v Thailand A; Wom en: Thailand A v Thailand B, Singapore v Malaysia.
Wednesday: Men -- Thailand A v Thailand B, Malaysia v Singapore; Women: Singapore v Thailand B, Thailand A v Malaysia.
Friday: Men -- Thailand B v Malaysia, Singapore v Thai land A; Women: Malaysia v Thailand B.
Sunday: Finals.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Maybank banking on budget

THE Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) Premier League might receive another jolt, as Maybank’s participation hangs on the approval of their budget which will be tabled next week.
The Premier League was rocked when last season’s double champions Ernst and Young confirmed that they will not be competing this season, and if Maybank is floored by their budget, it will be a handicapped league.
“We have every intention of playing in the Premier League, but I can’t confirm our participation right now, because our budget has yet to be approved.
“We will know for sure next week, when the management decides,” said Maybank team manager Abdul Rahim Musa.
The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) have slated the Premier League to start on Dec 4 and end in January, with six teams playing in the first round, while Division One cham pions UiTM and runners-up ATM Airod are supposed to join in at the knock-out quarter-finals.
But if Malaysia qualify for the World Cup next year, the Premier League will surely have to be postponed, as clubs will lose their best to national duty.
However, Sapura, another big name in the MHL, has already started light training and will field a team.
“We have started recruitment and some light training and will play in the Premier League, however, I am a little worried about the format, as Ernst and Young’s withdrawal will see only seven teams competing,” said Sapura team manager Abdullah Yunus.
The other teams who have been invited by the MHF to play in the Premier League are Tenaga Nasional and Nur Insafi of Penang.
The MHL was incepted in 1987, and at its heydays stadiums used to be packed with spectators.
But in recent years, not only have the fans disappeared but many teams have also vanished for good, and even though the MHF have tried to re-brand it several times, it is heading towards a slow death.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ernst and Young out, MHL crippled

FLASHBACK: Ernst and Young players chairing their team manager George Koshy after winning the TNB-Malaysia Hockey League title at the TLDM Hockey Stadium in Lumut yesterday. – STARpic by SAIFUL BAHRI

ERNST and Young dropped a crippling bombshell on the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) Premier Division when team manager George Koshy confirmed that they will not be fielding a team this season.
In fact, it looks like last year’s double champions Ernst and Young will now be remembered in the annals of history, as George said “Enough is enough.”
The outfit revolved from Andersen Sports Club in
2003, and has been the playground of national players for many years, but after a string of League titles in 2006, 2007 and 2008, they only nailed the double last year with the help of 12 national players, but that too on penalty strokes.
“I have made it known in the hockey circle that Ernst and Young will not be competing this season, as enough is enough,” said George.
There has been plenty of rumblings among the hockey fraternity that the club, which has a healthy budget, always monopolises national players, but George declined to com ment on that.
And among the problems that might arise is that many national players are in contract with Ernst and Young until the end of the year.
Will they be released to play for other clubs?
“I will not comment much on that issue (contract) other than say that a decision will be made after the World Cup Qualifiers in New Zealand.
“The priority for me now (George is also the national team manager) is to prepare a team for the Qualifier, and re alistically, we have as good a chance as any of the other five hopefuls to win gold.
“And what will happen to the Premier League if Malaysia qualifiers for the New Delhi World Cup? Will it still run from December 4 to the end of February when the World Cup is also in February?,” questioned George.
The Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) had said that they will be inviting six teams, including Ernst and Young, for the Premier League while Division One champions Airod Armed Forces and runners-up UiTM will join the tournament at the quarter-finals stage.
But with the top hockey club in the country pulling out, and the future of their contracted players hanging in the balance, the Premier League looks like it is heading for a disastrous outing months before the first whistle.

Monday, September 21, 2009

India finally grow up...

Published by: Sudhir Kumar
Published: Sun, 20 Sep 2009 at 16:37 IST
Bhopal: The selection trials for the under-18 Men's Indian Hockey team for the Asia Cup, has re-started at the Regional Centre of the Sports Authority of India (SAI) here.
"The final selection trials re-started yesterday and will continue till this evening," under-18 Men's Indian Hockey team Chief Coach A K Bansal told PTI today.
He said that the selection was being done under the six member committee of Hockey India headed by former Indian Hockey team skipper Ajitpal Singh and includ hockey Olympian Jaffar Iqbal and former Indian Women's Hockey captain Madhu Yadav.
After 30 players - 10 in reserve are chosen, a 50-day camp will be put up for the team before it plays the Asia Cup Hockey Championship in Myanmar from November 14 to November 22, officials said.
In the first week of this month, the selection trial of the under-18 Men's team had got embroiled in a controversy and was deffered after 48 players out of the total of 53 picked up after initial selections trials were found overage in digital bone x-ray tests carried out on them.
Under the trials underway, the players have been asked to bring their digital bone x-ray tests, which are going to be cross-checked, a source close to the selectors said.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Project 2013 impress in Bangalore

THE Project 2013 boys returned from their Bangalore Tour on a winning note, as they not only won seven of their 11 matches, but also beat Bombay Gold Cup champions Army XI twice.
The boys, being groomed for the 2013 Junior World Cup, were only supposed to play six matches, but after they defeated the Army XI of Bangalore 2-1 the day after they arrived, teams in the district started to line up for matches with the Malaysians.
"Considering that the Army XI won the Bombay Gold Cup hockey tournament in April, my boys held on well to beat them twice. After that, many teams requested for matches with my team, and my boys put up a good show against the senior sides," said Project 2013 coach K. Dharmaraj.
Army XI beat Air India 1-0 to retain the 47th Bombay Gold Cup, and the outfit have 13 former national junior players.
Project won the first match 2-1, lost the second 5-2, lost the third 4-2 before winning again 4-2.
"I brought along 22 players for this training Tour, so after we won the first match, I gave all my players a chance to play in the second and third match, as I was not looking at results at this stage, but exposure."
The Project boys then lost to Sports Authority of India 3-1, before winning 5-1 in the return match against the Under-21 side.
In the other matches, the Project team beat Karnataka Army 3-1, Karnataka Police 4-1, Sports Authority of India diploma coaches 4-1 and Karnataka State team 5-1 before losing 3-2 in their final match against Karnataka State.
"I made many changes during the matches as many of my players were fasting. However, they displayed good understanding and stamina and are making good progress," said Dharmaraj.
The Project team are showing promise, as they won silver medal in the Razak Cup before heading for Bangalore, and will play in the South East Asia hockey tournament in Bangkok on Sept 29-Oct 5.
The Under-18 boys will play against senior teams from Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore in the tournament as the Sea Games hosts Laos do not have facilities for hockey.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Razak Cup rebranding begins

THE Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) website has an interesting take on the Razak Cup rebranding, which the second oldest hockey tournament in the country badly needs...

* Need to be re-branded
* Introduction of a New Trophy
* Inter-State based Concept?
* New Introduction:

1st round
5 groups consist of 4 teams for each group
Top 2 teams of each group will go to 2nd round

2nd round
Qualified teams will be divided into 2 brackets Each bracket consists of 5 teams
Top 2 teams of each bracket will go to 3rd round

3rd round
Semi-final - Qualified teams will go crossed match
1 or 2 legs semi-final

4th round
Final - Grand Final in Kuala Lumpur (suggested)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

1Malaysia Buka Puasa

Malaysian hockey players at the Kuala Lumpur Hilton Hotel. Chua Boon Huat, S. Kumar, Kelvinder Singh and Harwinder Singh join their muslim team-mates for buka puasa (breaking of fast, in the month of Ramadhan).

NATIONAL hockey team manager George Koshy on Monday hosted his players and officials to a "buka puasa" at a leading hotel in Kuala Lumpur, true to the 1Malaysia concept.
The players are in training for the New Zealand World Cup Qualifier on Nov 7-15, and George felt that they deserve a reward for putting in long hours even during the fasting month.
"This is just a simple thank you gesture to the players and officials who have been working hard to make an impact on the Qualifier," said George.
The odds are stacked against the national team as only the gold medallists in the six-team Qualifier advances to the New Delhi World Cup.
The others in Malaysia's group are Austria, Wales, Scotland and China.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Serena acts like a Williams

“I swear to God I’m... going to take this... ball and shove it down your... throat, you hear that? I swear to God,” Williams said.

By Steve Ginsburg

NEW YORK, Sept 12: Belgian comeback queen Kim Clijsters knocked out Serena Williams in a wildly controversial finish on Saturday to advance to the final of the U.S. Open and become the poster girl for working mothers.
Just weeks after returning to the tour from a two-year break to start a family, Clijsters beat the defending champion 6-4 7-5 after a day-long rain delay at Flushing Meadows.
At 5-6, 15-30 down in the second set, Williams whacked her second serve but the lineswoman called her on a foot-fault that put her at match point down.
The American’s subsequent expletive-laced tirade directed at the lineswoman resulted in a point penalty — and the end of the match.
“I swear to God I’m... going to take this... ball and shove it down your... throat, you hear that? I swear to God,” Williams said.
After the line-judge reported the second seed to the umpire for verbal abuse, Williams added: “I never said I would kill you, are you serious?"

Pakistan HF rocked yet again

On behalf of the former PHF employee, his wife Shafia Imtiaz has sent a letter to the prime minister, saying that her husband was sacked on baseless allegations by the PHF secretary Asif Bajwa on Feb 10, 2009. –Online Photo

KARACHI: Pakistan hockey officials, who proudly claim of bringing huge amount of money into the national federation’s kitty, are liable to pay Rs 174,500 of a sacked employee who has appealed to the prime minister to help him recover the amount.
Imtiaz Baig, a former Karachi-based Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) accountant, has urged the Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to intervene and ask the hockey officials to release the amount which he had been waiting for the last six months.
On behalf of the former PHF employee, his wife Shafia Imtiaz has sent a letter to the prime minister and chairman of National Assembly Standing Committee on Sports, Jamshaid Dasti, on Sept 5, 2009, saying that her husband was sacked after baseless allegations by the PHF secretary Asif Bajwa on Feb 10, 2009.
But before his removal, she said, since PHF Karachi Camp Office at Hockey Club of Pakistan was short of cash, her husband was asked to spend an amount of Rs 94,500 to meet the PHF expenditures.
The amount was for paying gas bill, air tickets, construction of posts for TV cameras, cellphone bills of Asif Bajwa and selector Rana Mujahid, surety bonds of national team players, insurance and catering bills for the officials during series between Pakistan senior and junior teams.
Apart from the said amount which was yet to be paid back, Shafia said, her husband had also provided Rs 80,000 to help PHF meet the expenses during 2006-07, but the federation had not paid back the money, although it had been recorded in the audit book.
She said the amount was spent by her husband on PHF expenditures after the assurance by the Karachi Camp Office that the money would be paid back once the details of the expenses would be received by Lahore-based PHF headquarters.
It has been further alleged in the letter by her that although PHF treasurer Gulfaraz Ahmad Khan had been requested in writing through letters dispatched by courier three times to pay back the amount, he didn’t pay heed despite the lapse of six months.
She said the PHF treasurer was apprised that her husband had been rendered jobless by the PHF secretary and now she needed money for eye surgery of her son, but she never heard from the official.
‘I was told by PHF director administration Karachi Camp Office, Iftikhar Syed, that I will get my money back whenever the cheque is released from Lahore. But I am yet to receive a single penny of that amount,’ Imtiaz told on Saturday.
His wife further wrote to prime minister that since there was no source of income after her husband lost his job, it had become impossible to pay medical bills, school fee and daily expenses, especially because of inflation.
‘Although PHF has spent millions on hockey since the sacking of my husband, our money has not been paid back which proves that it is a vendetta against my husband. I request you to investigate and punish those who are involved in this and save us from begging to meet our expenses,’ she wrote.
Imtiaz had already sued Asif, seeking Rs 34.68million in damages for what he claims was illegal sacking. The case is pending against the PHF official in Sindh High Court.
Ironically, the government is believed to have allocated Rs 120million grant for the PHF recently, while PHF is spending Rs 150,000 on lucky draw in the ongoing Junior Super Hockey League in Karachi in a bid to attract crowds.

Emmaus program celebrates 50 years of success

UNITED STATES: Nothing they do in the Emmaus field hockey program is done halfway. Until now.
The Green Hornets are celebrating their 50th season this year, taking them halfway to 100, or a century. Nothing about that benchmark has been approached halfway.
The booster club has produced a media packet in the school's green and gold with a logo celebrating the accomplishment and five crisp typed pages of notes. On the fence behind the visitors bench hangs a sign commemorating this season.
The program has known only two head coaches: Virginia Huber went 138-28-31 from 1960-75. Sue Butz-Stavin took over from there, going 691-72-33. She should eclipse the 700-win total in the coming weeks.
Butz-Stavin ranks second all-time for wins among high school head coaches. Her 2001 induction into the National Field Hockey Coaches Association hall of fame came as no surprise.
The program's achievements read like a never-ending dynasty: 34 conference titles, 24 District 11 titles, nine state titles, two national titles.
Butz-Stavin regularly sends her seniors to Division I programs with scholarships. The next girl to do so will be the program's 100th. Four current seniors have already made verbal commitments to college programs.
Emmaus alumni often go on to great success in college.
Cindy Werley (twice) and Autumn Welsh won Honda national Best Player of the Year awards. Kristin McCann and Werley made the USA national team. Werley also played on the Olympic team.

Butz-Stavin and her girls annually face a standard so high that any loss seems to blemish the considerable history. That's why the players organize their own summer practices -- six days a week. The recent addition of the artificial turf surface and stadium lights have modernized the program that once played off-campus high up South Mountain in the uneven outfield of a baseball field.
This season the program will play its 1,000th game, the 800th for Butz-Stavin. Half a century of success at Emmaus means something more than just about any other sport at just about any other Lehigh Valley high school.
The expectation this year will not change: league title, district title, state title, national title. While the game has progressed and the world has changed, Emmaus' commitment to success and demands have remained the same in an age when commitment takes on various definitions.
The program will officially celebrate the milestone on Oct. 17 when Emmaus hosts interstate rival Eastern High of New Jersey, currently ranked third in the nation. That 7 p.m. game will follow an alumni reunion at Memorial Field at 5 p.m. Alumni from every class will return to commemorate the occasion.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Young players hound Chua Boon Huat

2002 KL World Cup: MALAYSIAN skipper Mirnawan Nawawi is ecstatic after scoring his team's third goal off Chua Boon Huat's (left) pass against India in the World Cup in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday. Malaysia won 3-2. - Photo: Vino John.

CHUA Boon Huat, 29, will be heading for Austria on Wednesday to play in their league, but is unsure if he will be selected for the World Cup Qualifiers in New Zealand on Nov 7-15.
Age, according to Chua who was supposed to play in the New Zealand league earlier, does not favour his selection, as younger players are snapping at his heels.
“I will be playing two matches in Austria together with Sallehin Ghani, and we will return in time for the Hari Raya celebrations.
“After that, we will head for Austria again in early October and return by the 12th to rejoin national training.
“However, I am not too sure about securing a place in the NZ Qualifier, as many talented young players are in the training pool now,” said Chua.
Chua was not selected to go on the recent New Zealand and Australia Tours, but his stint in Austria will be a valuable experience irrespective if he is selected for the Qualifier or not.
Malaysia will open accounts against Austria on Nov 7 in the Qualifiers, and not much is known about their playing capabilities.
“There is only one Division in Austria, and so one can expect all the national players to turn out for their clubs and it will give me some information on their playing style, and it will be helpful, provided I am selected for the Qualifier,” said Chua.
Junior World Cup players Faizal Shaari, Hakim Adnan, Khairul Annuar and Marhan Jalil have started to show progress since being included into the senior side, and at least two of them could be selected for the Qualifier.
The entry of players like Faizal and Marhan, could just sideline the experienced Boon Huat who made a name for himself with a sterling display in the 1998 Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games where Malaysia won silver medal.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Room for only one bad hair day...

MALAYSIA will open against Austria in the World Cup Qualifier in Invercargill, New Zealand on Nov 7, and there is room for only one bad day.
Six teams will be involved in the Qualifier for the New Delhi World Cup next year, and the stakes have been set at winners take all.
Malaysia have classified New Zealand and China as their biggest hurdles, and will play the Kiwis midway, while China are the team's final fixture.
"It looks like an encore of the Japan Olympic Qualifier (for the Beijing Olympics), as we only have room for one bad day, while our last match against China might just decide if we play in the final the next day.
"There are plenty of rest days in between for recovery in this tournament, and we are looking at a top-two finishing, which will give us a shot at the gold medal," said team manager George Koshy.
In the Japan Olympic Qualifier, Malaysia needed to win and Japan a draw to play in the final against Germany. After taking a 3-1 lead, Malaysia crumbled and the match ended 3-3.
Germany went on to beat Japan, and then win the Olympic gold.
Meanwhile, South Korea have declined an invitation to play against Malaysia in a Three-Nation, and the plan now is to hold Test matches against Australia.
"I spoke to Australia today (yesterday) and they told me that they can only give an answer in the next few days. It would be good to play Australia in October, as we can learn much from them," said George.
WORLD CUP QUALIFYING FIXTURES -- Nov 7: China v Scotland, New Zealand v Wales, Malaysia v Austria; Nov 8: Scotland v New Zealand, Wales v Malaysia, Austria v China.
Nov 10: Austria v Scotland, Wales v China, New Zealand v Malaysia; Nov 12: Malaysia v Scotland, Austria v Wales, China v New Zealand.
Nov 14: Scotland v Wales, New Zealand v Austria, China v Malaysia; Nov 15: Final.

Seven Indian Tests for Canada

THE INDIAN CONNECTION: Punjabi Sikh field hockey players on the Canadian field hockey team with their pagris (turbans) during the Opening Ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Pictured from left to right: Assistant Coach Nick Sandhu, Bindi Kullar, Sukhwinder Gabbar Singh, Ravi Kahlon, and Ranjeev Deol.

Field Hockey Canada (FHC) announced the hosting of the Seven Test Super Series against the Men’s National Team of India, to be played between 9 and 24 October in Victoria and Surrey, British Columbia.

The Indian team has a special place in the field hockey world, with an unmatched number of Olympic and World Cup medals. Matches involving the Indian team are always eagerly awaited by the fans around the world, and the next Hero Honda FIH World Cup organized in Delhi in March 2010 will be a spectacular competition played in front of large crowds.

Canada are the current Pan American Champions and holder of the Pan American Cup, beating on both occasions their arch-rival Argentina, and are automatically qualified for the Hero Honda FIH World Cup 2010. This series against the prestigious Indian opponent is part of the innovative training approach designed by Canadian coach Alan Brahmst.

“A 7-test series is certainly unique”, says Alan Brahmst, “and it offers us a framework in which to test some innovative approaches to competition. There are many benefits to leverage from such a series. In particular, we feel that we can trial and advance different tactical concepts over such a duration and also focus on shaping our team's mentality. We tested a new, collaborative approach to training in February that paid dividends. As such, we are always looking for methods that allow us to think differently and shift away from the status quo”.

Veteran player Paul Wettlaufer is enthusiastic about the preparation for the Hero Honda FIH World Cup. “In the past, our training was always restricted by limited budgets”, says Wettlaufer. “The current coaching staff has reversed the equation by working hard to secure the necessary funding, in parallel to their coaching duties. I have been on the National Team for 12 years now, and this is probably the most methodical and complete approach to prepare for a major competition”.

“Hockey is the National Sport in India, like soccer is in Brazil', says Jose Brasa, Head Coach of the Indian Hockey Team. 'It is amazing the huge quantity of people who follow the Hockey National team. This long series versus Canada, seven matches within three weeks making a simulation of the seven matches to be played in the World Cup, are an important part of our approach to the World Cup. This tour to Canada gives us the opportunity to face one the most promising teams that will be one of our opponents at the World Cup. Canada will be a difficult team to beat. They were the first team getting its qualification to the World Cup and that gave them the possibility to have a longer preparation for the Delhi World Cup.'

Team Canada Captain Ken Pereira is excited by the prospect of playing the Indian team in Vancouver. “A number of the Canadian players have their family roots back in India. We grew up in Canada watching tapes of the Indian games and of some of their top players. It’s very exciting to have a chance to play a series against them at home, in front of our families and friends”.

The games will be played on 9 and 11 October in Victoria and on 14, 16, 18, 21 and 24 October in Surrey. More detail on the location and time will be made available on the Field Hockey Canada website:

After this seven-game series against India, the Canadian Team will continue its preparation for the Hero Honda FIH World Cup 2010 with a four-game test series against the USA (finalists of the recent Pan American Cup) at the end of October in Vancouver, and will wrap-up the year mid-December in Argentina with the Champions Challenge, an elite competition organized by the International Federation for the teams ranked 7 to 14 in the world.

Source: Field Hockey Canada

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Malaysia open against Austria

THE BEST IN ASIA: South Korea won the Asia Cup, for direct entry into the World Cup. Japan, Malaysia, China and Pakistan will be battling for gold in the Qualifiers.

Only the winners of the three FIH Men’s World Cup qualifiers will receive a ticket for the Hero Honda FIH World Cup in New Delhi, India (28 February-13 March 2010).

At this stage the match schedules for the FIH Men’s World Cup Qualifier in Lille, France and the BDO FIH Men’s World Cup Qualifier in Invercargill, New Zealand, Argentina will be released in a few days.

IN NEW ZEAALND -- TEAMS: Austria, China, Malaysia, New Zealand, Scotland, Wales.
FIXTURES: Nov 7 -- China vs Scotland, New Zealand vs Wales, Malaysia vs Austria; Nov 8: Scotland vs New Zealand, Wales vs Malaysia, Austria vs China.
Nov 10: Austria vs Scotland, Wales vs China, New Zealand vs Malaysia; Nov 12: Malaysia vs Scotland, Austria vs Wales, China vs New Zealand.
Nov 14: Scotland vs Wales, New Zealand vs Austria, China vs Malaysia; Nov 15: Final.

IN LILLE, France: Teams: France, Italy, Japan, Pakistan, Poland, Russia.
FIXTURES: Oct 31: Japan v Russia, Pakistan v Italy, France v Poland.
Nov 1: Pakistan v Russia, Japan v Poland, Italy v France.
Nov 2: Rest Day.
Nov 3: Italy v Japan, Poland v Russia, France v Pakistan.
Nov 4: Rest Day
Nov 5: Poland v Italy, Japan v Pakistan, Russia v France.
Nov 6: Rest Day
Nov 7: Pakistan v Poland, Russia v Italy, France v Japan
Nov 8: FINAL.

Beng Hai: Jiwa still an asset

NATIONAL hockey coach Tai Beng Hai feels Jiwa Mohan is still an asset, and would be considered for the World Cup Qualifiers in Ivercargill, New Zealand on Nov 7-15.
Malaysia need to win gold to realised their dream of playing in the New Delhi World Cup next year, but it will be an uphill task considering hosts New Zealand, China, Austria, Scot land and Wales will be the stumbling blocks.
Jiwa Mohan, who retired from national duty last year and is playing in the Australian league now, has said that he will be available if Bang Hai needs him.
“Basically, Jiwa proved that he is still a strong candidate after he helped Malaysia’s campaign in the Asia Cup.
“In Kuantan, his experienced helped steady nerves in the team, and I would like to have him again, provided we can sort out some minor details like leave from his employers,” said Beng Hai.
Jiwa will be called-up to play in the Three-Nation the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) are planning in Oc tober.
“We will first invite him for the Three-Nation (with Aus tralia and South Korea the possible sparring partners) and see how he fares, and then consider him for the Qualifiers.
“Jiwa is still actively involved in hockey, and fitness has never been a problem for him, so if all goes well, we will have him for the Qualifier.”
Malaysia are wary of New Zealand and China, but have not discounted the European teams in their group.
“Scotland, Wales and Austria are not highly ranked teams, but then again, Malaysia always had difficulty when playing against European teams regardless of their ranking.
“It will not be easy to win gold, but I believe my players will give their best,” said Beng Hai.
The nine teams who have already qualified for the World Cup are hosts India, Pan American champions Canada, Asia Cup champions South Korea, Africa Cup champions South Africa, Oceania Cup champions Australia and semi-finalists of the EuroHockey Championship England, Germany, Netherlands and Spain.
Three more slots will be available via the Qualifiers in New Zealand, France and Argentina.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Jiwa ready for national duty again

JIWA Mohan, 28, is ready to represent Malaysia in the World Cup Qualifiers in New Zealand, provided his services are required by coach Tai Beng Hai.
Jiwa currently plays in Perth with the Northern Territory Stingers, and his vast experience will be a valuable asset especially in midfield.
In an e-mail interview Jiwa said: “It will be an honour to serve the country if requested to do so. I will be able to serve again, with proper understanding and agreement.”
The Penang-born player went into retirement at the end of 2008, but played active hockey with his Australian Club. He returned to the national side for the Asia Cup in Kuantan, where Malaysia finished fourth, and is now back in Aus tralia.
In the Qualifier, Malaysia will be up against New Zealand, China, Scotland, Wales and Austria. Only the gold medallist will advance to the New Delhi World Cup next year.
And Jiwa, with more than 250 caps to his name, picks New Zealand as the early favourites, but does not write off Malaysia.
“NZ are the favourites based on their world ranking (eighth) and home ground advantage. And the dark horse in our group will be China (ranked 13th).
“As for Malaysia (ranked 16th), realistically, we stand a a very good chance to make it provided strategies and morale of the players are good,” said Jiwa.
On another note, Jiwa feels his stint in Australia has “definitely helped me to be a different player” and he recommends it any Malaysian player who wants to enhance his hockey career.
And his overseas experience has taught him that year- round camp is not a good idea.
“I have been in both centralised and noe de-centralised training and now I know that year-round camp is not good for the (development of) players. It has displayed more negatives than positive effects. Players should develop both ways, in their career as well as sporting life.”
“And the local league also needs a re-think, as in Australia, one plays more than he trains. Here, I play 22 matches in the league, not including semis and final.
“Competition is better than training. And the most im portant thing that has made me better is exposure to new knowledge, different culture (playing culture) and ways of training.
“I recommend that more Malaysians should play in foreign leagues,” said Jiwa.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Eustace players not just good, but also smart

Midfielder Heather Hotz recalls the end of Bishop Eustace's 2008 field hockey season with mixed emotions.

The Crusaders lost to West Essex, 3-0, in the Group 2 state final, but won the school's Team GPA award for having the best grade-point average of 16 fall sports teams, including boys and girls.

Now a senior captain with Elise DiDonato and Rachel Duffy, Hotz and company shared the spotlight last season at an assembly in the school's gym with the rest of their teammates, who recorded a combined GPA of 3.49.

"Because of the school we go to, the academic award was more important," Hotz said. "But as an athlete, winning states is definitely it."

Duffy, a defender, said that as a student athlete at Eustace she wants both awards. And the Crusaders appear to be capable of collecting twin trophies this season.

Coach Krissy Holach said academics come first at the college preparatory school, where the award is presented at the end of each season. In fact, athletes can arrive late for practice if their tardiness is related to schoolwork.

"I have stayed after school for help," DiDonato said. "If you need to make up a test or need help, you can stay behind with a teacher."

Athletic director Tori Wishnick liked the idea of a team GPA award the instant she heard about it at a Sportsmanship Summit sponsored by the NJSIAA in Edison a few years ago.

"The [GPA] award could help to pull a team together if someone is struggling academically," said Wishnick, citing the competitive nature of athletes.

Another reason she liked the idea was that it meshed with Eustace's academic standards, which are higher than those mandated by the state for student-athletes.

The athletic director projects that 99.5 percent of the Class of 2009 will advance to higher education. Graduates from last year's field hockey team have gone on to Boston College, Fairleigh Dickinson, Haverford College, New York University, Rutgers, St. Joseph's University, and Villanova.

The first Team GPA award went to the boys' cross-country team in 2007. The field hockey team hopes to be the first to repeat.

Friday, September 4, 2009

China trip shaky

THE trip to China is on the verge of being shelved, as the Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) plans for a Three-Nation in October instead, to prepare for the World Cup Qualifier.
Malaysia will play in New Zealand, and with China also in the same group, the MHF felt it would be foolish to spar with them.
“The joint management meeting with National Sports Council (which was held on Thursday) decided that the team should play at home and we have chosen Australia and South Korea as possible sparring partners.
“The trip to China was decided before we knew the Qualifier grouping, but now, it would be too risky to play with a team who are also in the same group,” said team manager George Koshy.
However, the final decision will be made by MHF president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.
“A report will be sent to Tengku Abdullah, and he will have the final say on weather we travel to China, or play other teams in Malaysia,” said George.
China held Malaysia to a 3-3 draw, before winning on penalty strokes in the Asia Cup in Kuantan, and will be among the challengers in New Zealand.
Then, there is a precedent for Malaysia to be wary of, as just before the World Cup Qualifier in Changzhou, China in 2006, MHF hosted France to a series of friendlies at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil, and it turned out to be a bad idea.
In the friendlies, Malaysia hammered France, but in the Qualifier, France beat Malaysia 4-1 — even though Malaysia were 13th in the world and the French 18th.
The others in Malaysia’s World Cup Qualifier group are Scotland, Wales and Austria.
“We have also been travelling extensively in our preparations and it was felt that playing at home will be much better.”
Malaysia have a slim chance of winning the round-robin format, as their record against European teams — even those ranked much lower — is worrying.
The 4-4 draw with Italy in the Olympic Qualifier in Japan last year, and then the poor form in the Champions Challenge II against Ireland, are classic examples.

Project boyz for Sea Cup

THE Project 2013 squad will represent Malaysia in the South East Asia hockey tournament in Bangkok, Thailand, on Sept 29-Oct 5.
The Under-18 boys will play against senior teams from Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore in the tournament as the Sea Games hosts Laos do not have facilities for hockey.
“We decided to sent the Project squad instead of the senior side because it will effect their preparations for the World Cup Qualifiers in New Zealand,” said Malaysian Hockey Federation (MHF) secretary Hashim Yusoff.
And Project 2013 coach K. Dharmaraj feels his charges should not have any problems playing against South East Asian teams.
“The team showed maturity when they played in the Razak Cup and I believe playing against Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore will be good for them,” said Dharmaraj.
The Project boys will travel to Banglore, India on Sunday to play six friendlies as a warm-up for the Junior Asia Cup in November.
Meanwhile, The senior team will be heading for China at the end of September to play a few friendlies against Australia A and the hosts to prepare for the World Cup Qualifier.
In the Qualifier, Malaysia, Scotland, China, Austria, New Zealand and Wales will play in a Round-Robbin tournament where the winner qualifiers for the World Cup in New Delhi.

Hockey or soccer?

Merion Mercy's Carly Keating has the ball as she moves upfield in a scrimmage against Episcopal Academy. ED HILLE / Staff Photographer.

By Don Beideman

Inquirer Staff Writer
It won't take effect until next year, but field hockey coaches in Bucks and Montgomery Counties, where girls' soccer has traditionally been played in the spring, are wondering what impact the PIAA's decision to hold only a fall state soccer championship will have on their sport.
For several years, the PIAA has conducted both spring and fall state playoffs, allowing girls at those schools at which soccer is played in the spring to play both sports. Now, those girls playing both sports will have to make a choice.
Schools in Chester and Delaware Counties have traditionally played girls' soccer in the fall.
"We knew this was coming, but it was not always a reality. Now it is," said Lisa Pennington, who was forced to step down this season as coach of Neshaminy's highly successful field hockey program because of a promotion she received in the school district.
"We have a solid program here, so we're hoping it won't effect us that much," she said. "The kids are going to have to make a choice. We're hoping those involved in field hockey will continue to stay with it."
Pennington said that Chelsea Rota, one of her top players last season when the Redskins won the District 1 Class AAA title, was also an outstanding soccer player.
"She would have had to make a choice next year," Pennington said.
Neshaminy is one of the larger schools in the Suburban One League, so it doesn't figure to be impacted as much as some of the smaller schools.
"We have several soccer players, and I'm hoping they'll stick with field hockey," said coach Lucy Gil of Wissahickon, a member of the Suburban One League's American Conference, for the smallest schools.
Gil said that since many girls have been playing soccer longer than field hockey, she thinks they will choose soccer.
"We've talked about the PIAA decision. I'm sad that it's happening," Gill said. "Personally, I think field hockey will suffer because it's a more difficult sport to pick up."
One of Gil's top players, sophomore Lauren Becker, is also a top-notch soccer player, so she will be among those making a decision.
"I've been thinking a lot about it because I like playing both sports," said Becker, who plays for prominent club teams in each sport as well as for her high school teams.
No matter what sport she plays, she's hoping to play at the Division I level in college.
"She's been very lucky because her club team coaches, Jeff Harding in field hockey and Dave Jones in soccer, have been very understanding," said Becker's mother, Lisa, a principal at Pennsbury and former field hockey coach. "The demands are heavy. It's her decision. We haven't tried to influence her one way or the other."
Hatboro-Horsham field hockey coach Marie Schmucker, who is returning this year after taking time off for cancer treatments, doesn't see a big effect on her team. The Hatters are members of the Suburban One League's Continental Conference, for midsized schools.
"It was just a matter of time before they switched to one [soccer] championship. I see more and more field hockey players doing lacrosse in the spring," Schmucker said. "We'll have to wait and see what happens. It is what it is. I've learned not to sweat the small stuff."

Dutch women, German men the best

TOP OF THE WORLD: Dutch Ladies Have Every Reason to Smile.

With the conclusion of the EuroHockey Nations Championships and the Oceania Cup, the Intrernational Hockey Federation (FIH) published the new ABN AMRO World Rankings. The men’s team of Germany and the women’s team of Netherlands are still the leaders.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Pakistan can't afford to lose...

Born in Faisalabad, Pakistani hockey player Shahbaz Ahmed is one of the best forwards ever. He led his national team to the World Cup in 1994.

By Imran Ali Teepu

ISLAMABAD: Disqualification in the upcoming hockey World Cup 2010 qualifying round has the potential to ‘jeopardise’ hockey as a sport in Pakistan for years to come, said Shahbaz Ahmed Senior.
Speaking to Dawn on Wednesday, Pakistan’s hockey great said: ‘It all depends on the seriousness of the hockey players therefore they should play as if they are playing the World Cup and must clear the qualifying round.’
Pakistan will feature in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers in Lille, France, from Oct 31 to Nov 8.
The green shirts will test their mettle against 14th ranked Japan, 17th France, 22nd Poland, 23rd Russia and 26th Italy, thus having mere chances to confirm a berth for the prestigious event slated to be held in India.
‘Pakistan should not take it easy as it looks right now because the fitness of the national players is not so good and clearing the qualifying round will largely depend on the commitment, discipline and physical fitness of the players,’ said Shahbaz, who was among the most-capped Pakistanis with 304 caps in international field hockey.
‘Failing to clear the qualifying round will endanger the future of hockey in Pakistan,’ said the former captain.
While answering a question, Shahbaz pointed out: ‘It is not the responsibility of the Pakistan Hockey Federation to build up the motion for the qualifiers instead it depends more on the senior players.’
Shahbaz asserted: ‘It’s the job of the captain to lead the team right from the first whistle of the game and encourage the senior players to play like a team with a unity factor in mind while the seniors should assist the junior players.’
‘As a former captain I had played my role in the past stressing on the need of team effort and worked out a strategy to win crucial fixtures at several international tournaments,’ he said.
The former forward was of the view that the national team during its upcoming important assignment should play with added spirit, unity and discipline while the seniors must buck-up the juniors as this would be a key factor for winning.


Malaysia desperate to qualify

By Ajitpal Singh

MALAYSIA face a desperate last chance to reach the World Cup in New Delhi in a winner-takes-all qualifying tournament in Ivercargill, New Zealand) on Nov 7-15.

Malaysia, ranked third in the qualifying tournament, have been drawn with favourites New Zealand, China, Austria, Scotland and Wales.
Based on hockey tradition and recent results, the Kiwis, ranked eighth in the world to Malaysia's 16th, are favourite to win the single World Cup spot.
For the record, Malaysia last played in the World Cup when it was held in Kuala Lumpur in 2002 and on merit, have only made it to the World Cup twice since 1980 -- in 1982 in Bombay and 1998 in Utrecht.

National coach Tai Beng Hai picked New Zealand and China as Malaysia's main rivals in the qualifying tournament.
"However, we cannot take other teams lightly as I believe Scotland, Wales and Austria are also good teams," said Beng Hai yesterday.
"European teams are fast improving and their basic hockey is extremely good. We defeated Austria (3-2) in the Champions Challenge II (July) and have not faced Scotland and Wales for a long time."
As for China, Beng Hai said they have been making steady progress of late.
The last time both teams met, China, the World No 13, beat Malaysia on penalty strokes to finish third in the Asia Cup in May.
"China are fast progressing as a hockey power. They play the speed-and-power game and it has worked for them," Beng Hai said.
With regards to the Kiwis, Beng Hai said home advantage will boost their confidence. Malaysia have only won once against the Kiwis in six encounters this year.
The national team beat them 2-0 in a friendly early this year, and drew 1-1 in the Azlan Shah Cup in April.
Last month, Malaysia lost three times and drew twice in a five-test series in New Zealand. However, the national team were without several regulars including Chua Boon Huat, Kelvinder Singh and Azlan Misron.

On the national team's preparations ahead of the Qualifiers, Beng Hai said the team will likely go on a six-match tour to China on Sept 28 on the invitation of the China Hockey Association

"There are several plans in the pipeline and they will be revealed after it's finalised," added Beng Hai.
There are 30 trainees in the national squad.
QUALIFYING Groups -- Lille (France): France, Pakistan, Japan, Poland, Russia, Italy (Oct 31-Nov 8).
Ivercargill (New Zealand): New Zealand, China, Malaysia, Austria, Scotland, Wales (Nov 7-15).
Quilmes (Argentina): Argentina, Belgium, Ireland, US, Czech Republic, Chile (Nov 14-22).
Countries already qualified for the 2010 New Delhi World Cup (Feb 28-March 13): Canada (Pan American Cup); South Korea (Asia Cup); South Africa (Africa Cup of Nations); Australia (Oceania Cup); England (Winners -- EuroNations); Germany (second -- EuroNations); Netherlands (third -- EuroNations); Spain (fourth -- EuroNations).

Scotts in our group

Scotland’s senior men face a World Cup qualifier in Invercargill, New Zealand this Autumn, with a place at the FIH World Cup in New Delhi, India in 2010 up for grabs.
The team will be coached in New Zealand by junior men’s coach Russell Garcia, whose assistant coach Derek Forsyth also steps up from his role with the junior men for the qualifiers, which take place 7-15th November.
The Scots’ fifth place finish at the EuroHockey Nations Trophy in Wrexham last month secured their spot in a qualifier. The qualifier will take place in Invercargill New Zealand this Autumn, with Scotland playing in a round-robin tournament along with China, Malaysia, Austria, New Zealand and Wales. The winners will take their place at the FIH World Cup in New Delhi in February 2010.
Coach Russell Garcia said: “I’m happy to be taking on this role, and we’re taking a long term view on it in terms of giving younger players the chance. We’ll be using these qualifiers as an opportunity to get to the World Cup, but also as a stepping stone for the European Trophy squad for 2011 as well as the Commonwealth Games in 2014.”
Scottish Hockey’s Performance Manager Callum McLeod said: “I'm delighted that both Russell and Derek have agreed to lead the programme as they bring a huge amount of experience with them. Both are fully committed and highly motivated to deliver the best possible programme in the short space of time.”

Scottish Hockey Union media release