Saturday, October 2, 2010

Commonwealth or War Games?

A HAPPY BUNCH: Some of the Indian team members pose with ‘Shera’ during the flag hosting ceremony at the Games Village on Friday. — PHOTO: K MURALI KUMAR

By S. Thyagarajan

NEW DELHI: Does sport continue to be an instrument of peace and harmony? If visionaries like Baron Pierre Coubertin, the author of the Modern Olympic Games, and Rev. Ashley Cooper, who sowed the seeds for a sports festival for the English speaking people, which we call the Commonwealth Games, were to witness what has corrupted their concept, their anguish would be immeasurable.
A siege!

Enveloped by a security blanket, the national Capital mirrors the elements of a siege. A visitor entering this metropolis will be startled by the indifference and apathy, a total lack of gaiety even with only two days remaining for the Opening Ceremony.
Flags, banners and pennants that actually accentuate the people’s involvement in a sporting extravaganza are conspicuous by their absence. Even the few are confined to a few areas.
The myriad loose ends are appalling in every segment of the run-up to the Games. And they continue to be so, with more and more glitches surfacing by the hour.
Sport is perceived as a vehicle of pleasure towards conquering new frontiers of excellence, but today its predominating sentiment is fear, compounded by the lack of compunction in giving in to the temptations of wealth and dope.
It is the fear complex that has forced quite a few stars to skip the Games, notwithstanding the reiterations by the powers-that-be that every inch of the city is under surveillance.
Added to this is the lack of a financial benefit, apart from the joy of climbing the podium. The threat to modern mega sporting events collapsing in a financial mess stems from the growing gigantism, which Coubertin and Cooper wanted the host to avoid.


But commercialisation of sport has contributed enormously to this line of thinking. With 17 disciplines, CWG-2010, the 19th edition, becomes the costliest in the annals of the Commonwealth Games.
Probably, no other sporting event, including the Olympics, was disgraced by polemics as this venture is. Nothing seems to have moved in the right direction, but by the time the disintegration began to hit the face, efforts were redoubled involving multiple agencies, which proved to be insufficient to eradicate all the perversities that had manifested themselves thanks to the relentless focus by the media.
The mood here now seems to be one of despair, to run the event somehow, regardless of the criticisms and controversies waiting to erupt both at home and abroad. The image anyway has been tarnished, and the cosmetics applied in the eleventh hour are unlikely to obliterate the odium associated with Commonwealth Games 2010.

The Hindu

UniKL hire Kiwi coach Darren Smith

UNIKL aim to make an instant impact in their second Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) season as they have hired a New Zealand coach, two Kiwi players and a German to beef up their squad.
New Zealand assistant coach Darren Smith will join UniKL after the New Delhi Commonwealth Games and he is ex pected to bring along a goalkeeper and midfielder. Another midfielder from Germany, with Malaysian roots, is also being courted by the University side.
Two established Malaysian players, S. Selvaraju and Baljit Singh Charun, have also ditched Tenaga Nasional and signed up with UniKL.
“We held a postmortem after our first season and found out the progress made by junior players in the squad has not met the desired level especially in the Junior League provided the opportunity and exposure given to them
“None of the Project 2013 players in the squad received a call up to train with the national team and only a few of the non-Project 2013 players were selected to train with the Project 2013 squad,” said UniKL team manager Amir Azhar Ibrahim.
And that is why the UniKL management embarked into some drastic approaches which include increasing com petition in training, changing the coaching approach, use of latest technology, youth development program (age-group) and establishment of the “Sport Excellence Centre”.
A five-year blueprint has been developed in June and received the endorsement from top management.
“Former UniKL coach I. Vikneswaran was part of the team that developed the five-year blueprint. But after Vick neswaran left the team to explore other opportunities (he signed up with Sapura), the management has hired Darren Smith, the current New Zealand national assistant coach. He will be assisted by the current assistant coach, K. Enbaraj.”
UniKL registered six junior players for the previous MHL season, and this year a record 14 Under-19 junior players will be registered with eight being promoted from the Junior League’s Overall champions team.
“Of the 14 junior players, nine are Under-18 players who will form the spine of next year’s Junior League team. The exposure and experience they will gain from training and playing in this year’s Premier League will increase the quality of the junior player pool developed by UniKL.”
The Premier Division will start on Dec 17, while Division One on Dec 3.