Thursday, May 17, 2012

RM12,500 each for Junior champions...

MHC president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah shares a light moment with the players yesterday. Pic by Yazit Razali

THE Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) yesterday feted their juniors to a gala dinner, and rewarded each player and official with RM12,500 cash for becoming champions in the Junior Asia Cup in Malacca.
  Malaysia not only beat Pakistan 2-1 for the gold medal, but also qualified for the Junior World Cup in New Delhi next November.
  "This is the first time such a dinner is held to celebrate everyone's effort to realising this golden dream, and not only the players but also their parents were invited.
  "I would like to say my special thanks to coach K. Dharmaraj and his coaching staff as well as team manager Mirnawan Nawawi and National Sports Council support staff who made this achievement," said MHC president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah.
  But realistically speaking Tengku Abdullah reminded everybody that: "We have 18 months to the World Cup, so we need to prepare from now and realise that our mission is only half-completed.
  "I would like to introduce a report card to make sure that we do well in the World Cup as well. From tomorrow we need to take care of the boys physical fitness, as it was lacking during the India and Pakistan matches.
  "And my advise to the players is also to keep away from anything that will derail their concentration, and keep steady towards achieving a good result in New Delhi," said Tengku Abdullah.
  As for the future of hockey, Tengku Abdullah said ongoing programmes like 1Mas would be intensified.
  "And with help from parents, more effort would be placed on under-12 players and also the national league would also be revamped to make the grassroot stronger," said Tengku Abdullah.

Boy can play in girls team..

In this undated photo provided by Andrew Pilaro, Keeling Pilaro, 13, center right, plays offence as as a member of the East End Field Hockey club in New York. (AP2012)

MITHTOWN, N.Y. –  The biggest goal of Keeling Pilaro's field hockey career happened far from an athletic field on Tuesday.
   An athletics committee determined the 13-year-old boy can keep playing on the girls' varsity team at Southampton High School, at least for one more season. The decision at an appeals hearing Tuesday reverses earlier rulings that claimed Keeling's skills as a field hockey player, which he developed growing up in Dublin, Ireland, had developed to a level superior to those of girls.
   "I was jumping up and down; I was so excited when I heard," the youngster said in a telephone interview about an hour after the decision was announced by an attorney for the athletics committee. "I can play!"    Kevin Seaman, the attorney for the committee that oversees public school athletics in Suffolk County, said panelists determined that Keeling's continued participation on the team ultimately would not have "a significant adverse effect" on girls' opportunity to participate in interschool competition. That was the same criteria used earlier this year when officials for the committee said Keeling's skills had exceeded those of his female teammates and competitors.
    Reporters were not permitted into the closed meeting.
    Seaman said the vote to allow Keeling to play was not unanimous, but he declined to break it down. About two dozen officials deliberated for about 40 minutes after the youngster and his mother and their attorneys presented arguments for allowing him to continue. The boy's high school field hockey coach also attended.
    Officials previously cited the fact that Keeling was named to an all-conference team after scoring 10 goals and eight assists as an eighth-grader playing on the Southampton varsity last season. But the boy's supporters said another girl also made the all-conference team also was an eighth-grader. They noted that Keeling's skills did not earn him the more prestigious all-county honors, and also pointed out that Southampton's squad finished in fourth place in its conference last year.
    In order to play with the girls after moving to New York from Ireland, Keeling had to get permission from Suffolk's mixed-competition committee, which screens players who want to compete on teams of the opposite sex. There have been several occasions where girls have been approved to play football, wrestle or compete in other traditional boys sports, but Keeling is believed to be the first boy to play alongside girls on Long Island.
    An attorney for the Pilaro family said he considered filing a federal civil rights lawsuit had the ruling not gone in his client's favor.
    The United States is one of the rare places in the world where boys do not regularly play field hockey.
    Chris Clements, the national men's coach for USA Field Hockey, said in an interview last week with the AP that he thought the young teenager should be permitted to continue playing.
    "Maybe by the time he gets to be a senior, it could be argued that there is a difference, but I would say right now he fits in just fine," Clements said.
   Fox News

Shakeel and seven feel the heat...

KARACHI: Former Pakistan hockey captain Shakeel Abbasi has said that he was disappointed at not being considered to play in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
    Eight senior players, namely, Shakeel Abbasi, Rehan Butt, Zeeshan Ashraf, Waseem Ahmed, Imran Warsi, Tariq Aziz, Adnan Maqsood and Mudassar Ali Khan, have been issued show cause notices by the PHF for taking part in the WHS in India in March/April despite having been warned of dire consequences by the federation earlier.
   “I was hoping that the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Disciplinary Committee would have been through with its inquiry by the time the PHF announced the team and we would be a part of the squad as well but that was not the case,” he said while speaking to Dawn on Monday.
   “We are waiting to be called to play for Pakistan. I don’t know how long we will have to wait before we finally get a chance to do so. We have other offers, too, you know but we prefer to be available to play for our country. It was sad that we weren’t considered for Azlan Shah,” he said.
   “I am quite fit right now but I don’t know for how long I can maintain my fitness while sitting at home. I’ve been going to the gym regularly, but it still isn’t the same thing,” he pointed out.
    Meanwhile, the other former captain Rehan Butt who is also sitting out and hoping for a decision in his favour by the Disciplinary Committee, said that he wasn’t so concerned about not being included in the Azlan Shah squad but it was about time the PHF took a decision on them. “Well, I’ve already featured in 12 Azlan Shah tournaments so far, so not getting included there is not that big a problem for me,” he said.
   “What really is an issue for me is that when Germany, Holland and India can recall their boys who played in the World Hockey Series (WHS) for the sake of fielding a strong team in the Olympics, then why can’t the PHF also do the same thing?”
   The first hearing of the disciplinary committee looking into the matter was held on May 7.

Sohail back as skipper for Ipoh

 Pakistan’s penalty corner specialist Sohail Abbas.

KARACHI: Pakistan’s newly-appointed hockey captain Sohail Abbas believes that the forthcoming Azlan Shah Cup will be a big challenge for his young team ahead of the London Olympics.
   “If the boys play as a unit and remain consistent in the Malaysian event, it can be a big boost for the team before the Olympics,” he said in an interview on Monday.
    Abbas added that in the presence of Argentina, Belgium, India, Korea, New Zealand and host Malaysia, a huge effort is required from the young guns to make their mark in the event.
   “It will also be a new experiment for the players as they will be playing on the blue turf for the first time,” said Sohail, who holds the world record of scoring 338 goals in 367 internationals.
   “Blue turf may pose some problems because none of us have played on it. But as international players we will have to adopt to it quickly before the Olympics,” he pointed out.
   “This is a team game and a collective effort is required for better results. We need a few good wins in Azlan Shah Cup to lift the morale and spirits of the team,” he added.
   “Moreover, as the whole nation is watching you with lot of expectations, you need to play with a great deal of enthusiasm and put up your best show,” he remarked.
   Abbas thanked the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) for reposing confidence in him as captain.
   “It is a great honour for me to lead the team and I want to thank the Almighty for bestowing this honour on me,” said the 35-year-old player who featured in the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympics but missed the Beijing Games.
   Commenting on the outstanding youngsters in the side, he said talented players like vice-captain Waqas Sharif, Haseem Khan, Shabbir Ahmed, Shafqat Rasool, Mohammad Zubair. Mohammad Rizwan and Umar Bhutta could do Pakistan proud with their performance.
   Abbas disclosed that he will be playing both as deep defender and in the mid-field while upcoming penalty-corner strikers Mohammad Tausiq and Mohammad Irfan will support him.
   “Like always, my fitness level is good. I am looking forward to my new role to serve the country to the best of my abilities.”
   Abbas last represented Pakistan in the Champions Trophy held in Auckland in December 2011but went out of action after he broke his jaw in the second match of the event. He also missed the 4-match Test series against China at home.

Black Sticks for Azlan Shah Cup

 KIWI Arun Panchia (right)

THE Black Sticks Men’s team has been announced for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup which will be played in Ipoh, Malaysia from 24 May to 3 June. It is the last tournament the Black Sticks will compete in before the Olympic team is named in mid June.
   Other teams competing are Britain, Pakistan, Korea, Argentina and India as well as host country Malaysia, who are the only team not to have qualified for this year’s Olympics
   “This will be a great quality tournament for us and offers an opportunity to test ourselves against teams we’ll be playing against in London. Korea and India are both in our pool at the Olympics, so we are looking forward to playing them,” says captain Dean Couzins, who will likely reach his 250th test cap during the tournament.
   The tournament will be played on the same blue turf as the one at the Olympics. To ensure the Black Sticks have the best preparation in their build up, both the men’s and women’s teams have been training on the blue turf at Westlake Girls High School. Furthermore, all their upcoming test matches in Australia and Europe will be played on blue turfs also.
    Four notable inclusions in the team, who were not named in the Owen G Glenn Champions Trophy team last year, are Ben Collier (Central), Nick Haig (Canterbury), Arun Panchia (Auckland) and Richard Petherick (Midlands). Blair Hopping (Midlands) was not considered due to the birth of his baby boy recently and Steve Edwards (North Harbour) is recovering from a groin injury.
   The Black Sticks leave for Malaysia next Thursday 17 May, playing practice matches against Great Britain and Malaysia prior to the tournament starting.
    The side then returns to Auckland where the Olympic team will be announced the week commencing 11 June. They then go to Cairns for a three test series against Australia from 17-26 June, before leaving for Europe in the first week of July where they will play against Belgium and Holland.