Friday, August 31, 2012

No place for history, past glory..

HISTORY and past glory will be thrown out of the window  as the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) gets underway to day.
    This is because newly appointed national chief coach Paul  Revington and his assistant Arul Selvaraj would be on the  lookout for new blood to play for the country in the Champions Challenge I and Asian Champions Trophy in November  and December respectively.
    There are some experienced hands in the national team  that need to be replaced fast, as they have shown little  motivation or promise in the Dublin Olympic Qualifiers.
   And with plenty of young legs, especially players from the  Project 2013, who have shown more desire and promise,  there could be some surprises in the selection when the MHL  ends on Oct 10.
    In the Premier Division, which will see six quality sides  instead of the nine diluted teams last season, double cham pions KL Hockey Club and Tenaga Nasional start as  favourites while Sapura, Maybank, UniKL and Nur Insafi- MBI have openly declared that their focus is making the semi- finals.
    And there would be seven teams in Division One fighting it  out for their own league and overall titles, as there is no  quarter-finals in the TNB Cup this season.
     Today, fans are in for quality time as defending champions  KL Hockey Club play league runners-up Sapura in the  Charity Shield.
    Sapura have promising youngsters and steady old hands  while KLHC’s line-up comprises the who’s who of Malaysian  hockey.
     Former national coach Stephen van Huizen, who now is a  coaching consultant for Sapura conceded that KLHC will be  the team to beat: “KLHC are the favourites as they are not  only the defending double champions but have the services of  all the key national players as well as ex national players who  have played together for a few years.
   “They have built a good understanding over the years, and  are armed with deadly penalty corner set pieces. Its an  opening match that will severely test my side.”
     KLHC have a sound penalty corner battery in Razie Rahim,  Ahmad Kazairul and Baljit Singh.
    “Besides having good set pieces, in Tengku Ahmad Tajud din, Chua Boon Huat, Azlan Misron and Kelvinder Singh,  KLHC also has strength on the bench,” said Stephen.
    Sapura have former skipper S. Kuhan, the Mohan brothers  Jiwa and Jivan and Megat Azrafiq for experience.
    They also have Korea’s Jason Lee Mung Seon and Pak istan’s Muhammad Imran to boost their challenge.
     KLHC coach K. Dharmaraj said their mission is to win  every match as there are only five opponents.
    “We always play to win, and with home-and-away, we can’t  let the other team grow in confidence by losing points, As this  would make the return leg much more difficult,” said  Dharmaraj.
     TODAY: Premier Division -- Tenaga v Maybank (National  Stadium II, 4pm), UniKL v MBI-Nur Insafi (National Stadium  II, 6pm), KLHC v Sapura (National Stadium II, 8pm).
    Division One: Armed Forces v UniTen (National Stadium I,  5pm), Bukit Jalil Sports School v Thunderbolts (Ministry of  Education, 5pm), Politeknik-KPT v Johor HA (Taman Daya,  5pm).
    Tomorrow: Premier Division -- Tenaga v MBI-Nur Insafi  (National Stadium II, 4pm), Maybank v KLHC (National  Stadium II, 6pm), Sapura v UniKL (National Stadium II,  8pm).
    Division One: UiTM v Armed Forces (Ministry of Education,  5pm), Thunderbolts v UniTen (National Stadium I, 5pm)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Over to Revington, Arul...

PAUL Revington and Arul Selvaraj were officially announced as the seniors coach and assistant coach by the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) yesterday.
  And Paul, who has been in Malaysia for the last two weeks, has heard from hockey lovers as well as sceptics about the state of the game and is determined to change it for the better.
  "I have signed a four-year contract (with a two year conditional extention) and the scenario here is the same with elsewhere. The journey is to take Malaysia into the World Cup and Olympic, and I will work with my assistant towards that goals," said the South African.
  The sceptics have also strengthened his desire with their negative comments: "I have been told by many, who I believe are no longer associated with the game, that the public perception is also not very good on hockey.
  "We will have to wok on that as well, by producing results," said Revington.
  The South African, 39, last coached the Irish during the Dublin Olympic Qualifiers where he took his team to silver.
  Malaysia won bronze in Dublin, and that is when the MHC decided that they need another foreign coach. Revington would be the fourth foreign coach after Germans Paul Lissek, Volker Knapp and Australian Terry Walsh.
  "I will watch the Malaysia Hockey League (starting on Saturday) to select 25 to 30 palayers for a few days of training before releasing the players to their state teams for the Razak Cup.
  "The first international assignment would be the Champions Challenge I in Argentina (Nov 24- December 2) and that's where I would like to change the mindset from thinking that we are ranked 13th in the world to thinking that we can win the tournament and move into the Champions Trophy bracket regardless of the opponent's rankings," said Revington.
  And next is the all-important Asia Cup in Ipoh next year, which is a World Cup Qualifier.
  "That would be the ultimate short-term aim, as every country wants to play at the pinnacle of hockey," said Revington.
  As for Arul, he has completed his circle and returned home to help the nation, as he left for experience after assisting Paul Lissek.
  "I assisted Revington in coaching South Africa and then Ireland and am back to help my country with the experience I gained working overseas," said Arul.
  Arul will assist UniKL while juniors coach K. Dharmaraj will coach KL Hockey Club in the MHL.
  "I wanted them to coach the clubs, as it would be a waste if the local coaches are not allowed to help clubs in tournaments. This would give them a better insight on the players and help the country as well," said Revington.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Schedule for Men’s Champions Trophy

LAUSANNE, Switzerland – The FIH announced today the match schedule for the Men’s Hockey Champions Trophy 2012 to be played in Melbourne, Australia from December 1-9.
It will be the 34th edition of the event and one that will see the host nation, Australia, look to defend its 2011 Champions Trophy title. 
    It will also be the first time that the cross-over quarterfinal format is used at a men’s Champions Trophy. The format has been used in previous FIH events, but never at the annual top men’s tournament. This is now the FIH’s preferred Competition Format for all of its global eight-team events.
   The teams have been split into two preliminary round groups of four teams each. Group A will feature Germany, England, New Zealand and India while Group B will include host Australia, the Netherlands Belgium and Pakistan.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sleeping Asia robbed blind..

Bring back Dyanchand’s hockey — by Khaliqur Rahman

Unequal competitiveness promotes unhealthy, unfair and self-defeating ambition to win bronze, silver or gold
    After independence, power gradually gripped the nation, both internationally and intra-nationally. Within India, callousness entered through the back door and slowly gripped power. Outside India, it was cleverness that handled power beautifully to see that India did not rise to its potential at normal speed. Our power holders in India played into their hands. The hockey administration toed the same line.
   Hockey was beautiful in the days of Dyanchand until perhaps the late 1950s. Not because we used to win but because hockey was played with a certain level of craft and skill that was beautiful. The bully at the centre, also at the 25-line, had an element of chance founded on the capability of ball control. The penalty bully did give some chance to the defenders, if they were better at bullies. The dribbles, the dodges, the moves always had a certain charm about them. Asian hockey (Indian and Pakistani) was at the top. The west did not like it. They knew that their superior physical prowess could do nothing against the Asian artistry in dribbling and dodging and mind-boggling moves. They were simply rattled. So what did they do? They decided to change the very fabric of the game. Gradually, they succeeded in changing the playing conditions, rules and regulations and the very nature and spirit of hockey, which the Asians were unquestionably good at. Perhaps, they were unsurpassable.
     The 25-line was moved to the 35-line. The dribbling space thus was reduced. The offside rule now applied at 35. The bully was removed. One more skill was done away with. If that was not enough, they introduced Astroturf. The shape of the blade of the stick was changed. Astroturf required very strong leg and calf muscles, and the smaller blade suited robust hitting rather than skillful dribbling. Changes in the short corner and penalty rules and replacing pushes with strokes encouraged a robust power game and crippled Asian hockey, which found it hard to adapt according to the new demands of the game because of physical disadvantages and various organisational and economic factors.
    Now when India has a wooden spoon and Pakistan 7th position in the Olympiad 2012, it is time we took some strong measures. We should go back to promote our Asian style of hockey. We should play on hard surface or grass, bringing back the aesthetics of the game and stop playing power hockey on artificial surfaces. Dribbling, old-fashioned dodges and moves will automatically fall in place and the game will regain its charm and romance. The size of the blade must be restored to its earlier shape.
   These measures will reduce the expenses considerably on having to provide Astroturf at the grassroots level. This will also take care of the needless and perhaps overambitious efforts to raise the fitness level of our youth to be able to grapple with the brute force and pace of the western teams. This will drastically cut down the expenses on physical training programmes. Physical training should be there only to facilitate acquiring the fitness level suited to our own attainable capabilities. We should play to our strength and not to theirs. We should play Indian hockey just as they play American Football or Australian Rugby. Wimbledon still has grass courts and it has persisted with an indefatigable will to preserve the grace of lawn tennis.
    After all, the purpose of games and sports is to attain physical health through recreation so that balanced human personalities are developed. Competition is acceptable only amongst like contenders. Unequal competitiveness promotes unhealthy, unfair and self-defeating ambition to win bronze, silver or gold. No wonder some sportspersons take banned medicines and fail doping tests.
    It might be argued that we have travelled a considerable distance in developing power hockey and it would be naïve at this stage to even think of giving up the challenge. If discretion is the better part of valour, it is better to give up the false challenge now than to continue to fail for years and years to come. We should look to the generation next, that is, the ten-year-old aspirants. They should be trained to treat and nurse hockey of the old Indian style.
    India has acquired a significant place in the world economy. We are now able to dictate terms. India and Pakistan should organise their own World Cups and Champions Trophies. Let the west come and play on our grounds, in our style and see who wins!
   The aim of sports and games is, I repeat, recreation, not crazy unequal competitiveness. Sports and games must be there to create and recreate and develop a sound body for a healthy mind and a healthy soul to take over and progress towards peace and happiness.

    The writer is a retired professor of English and a freelance writer. He can be reached at and his twitter handle is @khaliqurrahman

The Daily Times

Monday, August 20, 2012

Another chimera hunt...


  1. (in Greek mythology) A fire-breathing female monster with a lion's head, a goat's body, and a serpent's tail.
  2. Any mythical animal with parts taken from various animals.
By S. Thyagarajan

Another exercise of chasing a chimera is on. The dismay over the deplorable show by the hockey team in the Olympics is being deflected for the umpteenth time to a committee that is expected to solve the tangle of governance.
    The Indian Olympic Association, which authored this mess in 2008, now comes up with a three-member commission to determine who among the claimants — Hockey India or Indian Hockey Federation — will administer the sport. Painful exercise
   To go back to the genesis of the crisis is a painful exercise. If K.P.S. Gill and his associates were guilty of failure in India not retaining its Olympic spot and deserved to be replaced, the scenario now is no less different.
   The IOA, then under the command of Suresh Kalmadi, invoked the vague clause “disrepute to the game,” and disaffiliated the IHF. It constituted an ad hoc body, and then created Hockey India, fully aware of its legal and constitutional infirmities. The IOA hoped it would brazen it out with the opposition that cried foul of ignoring the canons of democracy. The Delhi High Court ruled against the disaffiliation.
   It is difficult to imagine that the IOA, which has a slew of problems to solve, will disband Hockey India for the inglorious London campaign. Such recourse will receive spontaneous approbation. Hockey India’s record of administration is nothing to speak of with any degree of eloquence.
   Tragically perhaps the International Hockey Federation, misled and misinformed, acted in haste.
   Unable to retract, it ventured into a cover-up mode, raising various issues with the IHF over the failure of the merger from 2000 but continued dealing with the same office-bearers till 2008. How the three-member commission will untangle the imbroglio is a million-dollar question. All previous efforts, including that by the Sports Ministry, met with a dead-end after generating hopes of an accord.
    What probably prompts the FIH to direct the IOA for a final decision could be related to India’s commitment to hosting the World Series League. If the FIH believes that a solution will be on the table on August 31, it is hovering in illusions.
   A quick-fix remedy to a problem that has eaten away the vitals of Indian hockey for four years is unlikely to be found on one day (August 21).
   The three-member commission may have no option but to recommend another ad hoc panel. If pushed to that edge, the IOA-team should keep the officials from both factions out of such a panel. The IOA can even think of forming an advisory committee enlisting members from outside its ambit, inviting senior lawyers and industrialists who share a love for hockey, to end this endemic national malaise. IOA’s urgency underlines a hint of desperation. Is it not time for the factions to realise the damage they have done to the national sport? They will earn the gratitude of all if a formula, embracing the frame-work of democracy, is framed and implemented quickly to extinguish the flames of acrimony, mistrust and egoism.
The Hindu

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Shakeel and Waqas fro Maybank?

MAYBANK look set to part with tradition, and hire foreign  players for the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) challenge  starting on Sept 1.
   The Tigers, among the pioneers of the MHL which made its  debut on 1987, has only hired Singaporean Mohamed Ali in  2005 before this as they kept a local line-up.
     And they were former greats who won the Overall titles in  1988, 1990 and 1994 and League titles in 1994 and 1995.
    However, the bankers have been struggling to find a  footing for the last 10 years.
     Although there were no conformation from Maybank  officials on their quest to hire foreign guns, it is believed  Pakistan players Shakeel Abasi and Muhammad Waqas as  well as a New Zealand player will don their colours this  season.
    Shakeel and Waqas played for Yayasan Negri Sembilan two  years ago, and recently helped Pakistan finish seventh in the  London Olympics.
     Maybank coach Wallace Tan refused to be drawn into  confirming or denying the foreign inclusion move: “At pre sent there is nothing I can say except that I have been training  the team over the past month.
   “It will be a tough league given that only four teams will  make the semis, instead of having a quarter-final stage.”
     Wallace said he will leave it to the management to make an  announcement, if Maybank were to hire foreign players.
     “The usual suspects , KL Hockey Club, Tenaga Nasional  and Sapura are the teams to beat so, really, the rest of us  (Maybank, Nur Insafi-MBI and UniKL) will be fighting for the  single semis berth.
    “Although the league is short, only five weeks, we un derstand the plight of MHC (Malaysian Hockey Confed eration) and it is important that the players have a high level  of fitness and play consistently.”
      Maybank are relatively an unchanged side made up of  former players, and will only have one current international  in Hafifihafiz Hanafi.
    That is why they need foreign inclusion in attack, if they  want to snatch a semis ticket.
     Last season, Maybank were fourth in the League, and lost  3-0 to Sapura in the Overall bronze battle.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Baljit moves to UniKL

ONE of the best defenders in the world, Baljit Singh, will  leave Tenaga Nasional and join UniKL for the Malaysia  Hockey League starting on Sept 1.
    Baljit made his senior international debut for Malaysia in  the 2007 Azlan Shah Cup, and has 134 caps to his name to  date.
     “There is a feeling of sadness leaving Tenaga but I needed  a change in my career and that’s why I decided to join UniKL  this season.
    “I thank Tenaga for giving me a chance to represent and  also work for them but there comes a time when tough  decisions need to be made and I felt the timing is important  both in terms of career my game,” said Baljit.
    An Andersonian, he represented the Ipoh school in the  2002/2003 Junior Hockey League and then joined Tenaga in  2004 and helped them to three overall titles in the MHL, in  2004, 2007 and 2009.
   And it was the 2009 MHL that Baljit fondly remembers: “It  was then that we won the overall title and I was named as the  best player of the tournament.”
   Baljit had wanted to move to UniKL last season, but a  counter offer by his employers Tenaga Nasional Berhad  stopped the move.
    “Playing for UniKL offers me a new challenge as they are a  young team and I will have to guide youngsters in defence.  But I take it as a challenge.”
    He will play the role of sweeper for UniKL in the coming  MHL, something that this lanky defender is accustomed to as  he has often been called upon to double up in that role in the  national team.
      "I look forward to a good outing and though it is a short  league, there will be quality matches each week. I aim to do  my part to help UniKL make the semis and take it from there,"  said Baljit.
     When asked about his feeling about playing his former club  Tenaga: “I now don UniKL colours and will give my all to  ensure they win matches, be it against Tenaga or any other  opponent in the MHL.”

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Captain Bharat (India).. we were sleeping on the job..

NEW DELHI: India captain Bharat Chetri doesn't want to point fingers at any individual for the hockey team's disastrous outing at the Olympic Games, instead he is forthcoming in accepting the blame and said the former champions could only play up to "30-35 per cent" of their potential in London.
     Eight-time gold medallist India touched a new low by finishing last in the 12-team men's hockey competition in the just-concluded London Olympics, prompting the Indian skipper to apologies to the countrymen.
    "Hockey is a team game. So, we can't blame any individual. We failed as a team. On behalf of the team, I would like to say sorry to all hockey lovers of the country for disappointing them," said Chetri.
    "The team had potential but we failed to give our best when it mattered. It is every athletes dream to play in the Olympics but all our efforts got wasted. We played just 30-35 per cent of our potential," he insisted.
    Barring the tournament opener against The Netherlands -- the eventual silver medallist -- which they lost 2-3, the Indians cut a sorry figure in the remainder of the event ending their campaign with an all-loss record.
    Asked what went wrong with his team's performance, Chetri said they failed to click as a unit in London.
   "We didn't click as a team. We committed the same mistakes match after match. We failed to score goals inspite of playing attacking hockey," the custodian from Bangalore said.
   "We were confident of a good performance in the Olympics. There was belief among the boys. We played well against The Netherlands but after that match, our game just fell apart.
    "We played a lot together. We played really well in the Olympic qualifiers. The results could have been different had we played the same hockey which we played in the qualifiers," he said.
    "But we now have to deal with the criticism. There are always ups and downs in sport and we have to live with it," Chetri added.

    The Times of India

I thought I knew India.. Michael Nobbs

By Siddharth Saxena & Ritu Sejwal

BLOG EDITOR’S NOTE: Nobody, not even the Indians, understand themselves. That is why it is such an interesting country...

NEW DELHI: A terribly jet-lagged Michael Nobbs agreed to take time out and speak to TOI on India's hockey debacle at the London Olympics. The Indian coach spoke on India's 12th-place finish and more. Excerpts from an exclusive interview:

This is India's worst-ever show at the Olympics...

Really? I think not being at the Olympics at all was worse.

Realistically, where did you think you would have finished?

I hoped we could have liked us to win at least a couple of games. We had the pool of death. It was the pool of death by a mile. Every team in pool was above India in the rankings. We were only better than Belgium who is fast improving in the last six years. And, Holland walloped Britain 9-2.

But that again is no excuse for the showing...

No, it's no excuse. That's the reason. We've only had our team together for 12 months now. It was unrealistic to think that India would finish in the middle of the pack. We had the youngest and most inexperienced team at the Olympics.

So, how would you define India's failure in London?

It was extremely disappointing, it's embarrassing. After we had made some really good strides in the past year, we had had some really good results and to finish like that is really disappointing.

As an Australian who once said that he was more Indian than most Indians, can you comprehend such a debacle?

People's expectations of hockey are way beyond the actual picture. The programme in place in countries like Germany, Holland, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand and Korea have been in place for many, many years and very well-structured and the results are as they are showing.

Germany, Holland and Australia haven't gone off the top four for 30 years now. So their programme and structures work. If you don't have those programmes and processes in place, you'll never get there. These are the things required in Indian hockey, which haven't been there. If they had, we'd be up there. You can't take a Band Aid approach. That's why it's important to have a five-yearly programme. And I had said to everybody, 'Be prepared for some pain'. You can keep applying Band Aid, but when the person's hemorrhaging, it doesn't work.

In London, you clearly began cutting a lonely figure as things worsened...

Yes, my toe still hurts badly (laughs). But, I owe a debt to India. I realised it's a ridiculously difficult job, much more than I imagined when I first arrived here. Yes, you could say I was naive in understanding I had all areas covered. Obviously, there is an Indian way of working and I need to get around that and different areas of the hockey system.

There's this perception that had the WSH gotten off, the players would be more involved because there would be more money coming in and players would have been more willing to perform?

I don't know. Hockey India's own league is coming up. There's going to be some top European players coming here and that's going to be really beneficial because you're also going to get top European coaches. We have to play our Indian players with the European players and I think that should help greatly.

Getting to the Olympics after eight years, do you think that the Indian mentality is that one is satisfied with just competing in the Olympics?

If you see Australia, they've competed in 30 Olympics, attained 360 medals with a population of 26 million, while India's competed in 22 Olympics, attained 24 medals. China achieved over 500 medals since 1992, so the disparity between the expectations of the public and the reality is great.

Do you think that when we beat France in Delhi last year there was an overriding sense of relief which overshadowed the pragmatism that should have been in place?

As I said earlier, we would qualify, and if we got anywhere at the Olympics, that would be a bonus. We were good enough to beat teams in qualifiers, the fitness was good enough and we deserved to be at Olympics competing against very experienced and talented teams. It was a tough challenge.

What level of pride did you notice with the Indian team?
Sardar wants to play hockey and be the best that he can be. When he loses a match, he cries, he actually cries. That is the embodiment of an Olympian. It hurts me unbelievably because it hurts the Indian public. I tell you, I shed a tear, because it's not acceptable. Once we analyse we can discover the causes and make sure it doesn't happen again. We shouldn't make mistakes a second time.

You claimed that the team's performance had been improving steadily, and then it dipped alarmingly in London. What went wrong?

It intrigues me. Maybe it was the pressure of playing in the Olympics? That's something that needs to be analyzed. I'm meeting with sports psychologists to discuss that, but walking out on an Olympic field can be a daunting prospect with all the global viewing and intimidating environment. It's different from an ordinary international match.

Personally, what did you learn from this experience?

When you're the coach, the buck stops with you.

Nobbs' Revival Recipe:

FIH coaching programme

Needs to be implemented to provide good footing for Indian coaches.

Education for youngsters

Health and safety, psychology, fitness among others.

Protect Experience.

And encourage contribution from former players.


Trapping needs immediate attention ability to convert penalty corners need for aggression/ physicality like big hockey nations.

The Times of India

Sunday, August 12, 2012

...and 10 reasons why INDIA were such losers in FIH Pictures



How Australia won BRONZE in FIH pictures...

How Germany won GOLD in FIH pictures...