Thursday, January 3, 2013

Wizard Kumar for the Wizards..

MALAYSIAN goalkeeper S. Kumar, a wizard with both feet,  will turn up for Utter Pradesh Wizards in the Hockey India  League starting on Jan 16.
    He will be making history of sorts for he will be the first  goalkeeper from Malaysia to play in a foreign league when he  turns out for a Lucknow-based team which also holds one of  the highest paid marquee players of the tournament, Teun de  Nooijer from Netherlands.
    However, the Malaysian No 1, as well as Asian No 1  goalkeeper ended up playing hockey by chance, not craft.
    For in 1994 when he was studying at the Tunku Besar  Secondary School, he was training with the school football  team when  he was approached by the late V. Sivapatha sundram to give hockey a try, as a goalkeeper, since he could  kick with both feet.
     Kumar was assured by Siva that he only had to be the  reserve keeper for the school team, but little did he know that  his whole life will change after that.
   Not only did he end up as the first choice keeper, but he  went on to represent the national team, making his debut at  the 1999 Sea Games in Brunei.
     He now has 203 caps, played in two World Cup Qualifiers  (2006 China and 2009 Invercargil) besides three Olympi  Qualifiers (2004 Madrid, 2008 Japan and 2012 Dublin) but  never once played in the actual events as Malaysia failed to  qualify.
     UP Wizards will be coached Roelant Oltmans and the  technical director of the team is Dhanraj Pillay, the former  Indian captain who played in the Malaysian Hockey  League.
    The team has two goal keepers from the international  circuit in George Bazeley from Australia, Kumar, and one  from India, Sreenivasa R. Katharu.
     “Never in my wildest dreams did I think of this moment,  that I will be auctioned and be part of the HIL,” said Kumar  whose bid by the Wizards was US15,000.
   Malaysiann striker Faizal Saari was bought by  Mumbai  Magicians for US25,000.
     Hockey India League used a unique system where teams  have to bid during a ‘playe auction’ to rope in the best.
   “It is not only a personal honour but one for the country as  well for I had to compete with well known custodians from all  over the world. And to think that I was picked over some  household names in goalkeeping has further boosted my  confidence.
     “It will be a totally new experience for me as I will be up  against the world’s best players, what more playing in India,  where hockey is amongst the most watched sport after  cricket.
     “This is a chance of a lifetime and I hope to fight for a place  in the starting XI as it will be tough competing against  Bazeley.”
     Kumar owes much of his interest in hockey to his late father  S. Subramaniuam who passed away when Kumar was  representing the nation at the 2010 Commonwealth Games.  And it was with the encouragement of his mother K. Sarasah  that Kumar continued playing the sport.
    Not many are aware the sacrifices that Kumar had to make  as a parent, for he was in China for the 2010 Asian Games  when his first son Varshan was born two years ago. And he  could only spend hours beside his wife L. Parimalah and their  second born Haarshenn before catching the flight to Am sterdam for a goalkeeper coaching stint in November last  year.
     “My family is very understanding and have been sup porting me. This month-long stint requires a lot of sacrifices  and I am indebted to my wife for being able to manage the  kids,” said Kumar who has won several accolades during his  career as the best goalkeeper in many an international  tournament.
    Kumar feels that there is a wide gap between the senior  and junior goalkeepers as both he and Ros;an Jamaluddin  are in their 30's.
    “It all boils down to match exposure. And one will not get  that by sitting on the bench and waiting for their chance.  Thus my advise to the keepers in the junior squad is to look  for teams in the Malaysia Hockey League where they will get  to play instead of warming the bench,” said Kumar.

Hockey India League ko Hero mil gya..

NEW DELHI: The organizers of the Hockey India League (HIL) signed on Tuesday a three-year deal with the Hero MotoCorp which will be the title sponsor of the five-team competition. The deal is believed to be worth crores.
    Though Hockey India declined to reveal the amount, a senior official of the federation said the league will clinch more deals with other co-sponsors in the coming days.
   "We cannot reveal much about the deal with Hero, but we can tell you that we are in talks to bring on board telecom partners, airline partner and other partners in the coming four-five days," HI secretary general Narinder Batra told TOI.
   He also revealed that HIL has so far raised over Rs 100 crore as sponsorship money and franchise fees.
   With this sponsorship, the tournament will be called the Hero Hockey India League. "Hockey holds a special place in our hearts and we are pleased to partner with HIL. I am sure that the initiative taken by Hockey India to start this league will go a long way in developing the game and bring back the glory days," Pawan Munjal, managing director and chief executive officer of Hero MotoCorp Ltd, said in a statement released by HI.
   Hero was the title sponsor of the 2012 Olympics qualifier hockey tournament which was held in Delhi. It was also the title sponsor of the men's hockey World Cup held in New Delhi in 2010.
   The inaugural HIL will be held from January 14 to February 10. Five teams - Delhi Waveriders, Jaypee Punjab Warriors, Uttar Pradesh Wizards, Mumbai Magicians and Ranchi Rhinos will compete in the inaugural season at five venues - Delhi, Jalandhar, Lucknow, Mumbai and Ranchi.

Times of India

Back to work..

After a long break from hockey, I am back to work today....