October 2001 Bulletin

Sportstar Yet Again Blows Trumpet for Cricket

The Indian 'sports' magazine Sportstar has done it for the second month in a row. Four of five magazine covers (80%) in September were devoted yet again to cricket. And oh yes, Sportstar has gone global, with seven of eight September sportsmen featured on the covers (88%) being non-Indian.

September 1 September 8 September 15 September 22 September 29
Sport - Cricket
Shane Waugh
Sport - Cricket
M. Muralidharan
Sport - Cricket
Lleyton Hewitt
Sport - Tennis
Sachin Tendulkar
Sport - Cricket

What a pity that no Indian sportsman could earn Sportstar's sobriquets like 'The Terminator', 'The Wizard', 'The Genius' or 'Young Guns', reserved only for cricketers.

When was the last time an Indian sportswoman was featured on the cover? How about an Indian junior sports prospect? Are there any non-cricketing role models that India's sportspersons can identify with?

Will Sportstar ever feature on its cover badminton star Khel Ratna Pullela Gopichand, or Arjuna Puraskar winner and hockey captain Tingonleima Chanu.

The Junior World Cup in hockey will be held in Australia from October 9 - October 21. Can we expect India's own 'Young Guns', presently world #2, to make the Sportstar cover in October.

The pity with Indian sports coverage is that we have a magazine like Sportstar which is essentially a cricket weekly that masquerades as a sports magazine.

In its desire to be more loyal than the queen, Sportstar has forgotten its broader Indian sporting roots.

Hockey in the Jalandhar Army Cantonnment

Jalandhar Cantonnment Players, Photo Courtesy Prithipal Singh

Hockey in India was first introduced in the British Army cantonnments in various parts of the country. The supple Indians showed a natural flair to the game, which soon spread to Calcutta, Mumbai, Punjab, Bhopal and other parts of the country.

Triple Olympic gold medallist Balbir Singh Sr. walks down memory lane after seeing a photograph of Jalandhar Cantonnment hockey players, which was provided courtesy Prithipal Singh. This team was known as Union Club, and played at the Goal Ground in Jalandhar Cantonnment.

"The photograph in question was taken nearly half a century ago, perhaps when I was leaving Jalandhar Cantonnment, where I had been posted as inspector-in-charge. I recollect all the faces in the photograph. The names I remember are:

Back row, 2nd from left - Das Masih : He played for Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in the Jalandhar Cantonnment.

Back row, 3rd from left - Dadoo Masih : Played as left-half with me in Punjab Police and Punjab state teams. His performance used to be excellent and he always proved an asset to our team. He eventually retired as Deputy Superintendent of Punjab Armed Police. As Dadoo's father was not alive, I officiated as such in a Jalandhar Cantonnment church when he married Kamini.

Back row, 5th from left - Satpal : He was my captain at Sikh National College (Lahore) in 1941 when for the first time the college got promoted to the Punjab University A League. He later migrated to the UK, and met me at World Cup in London in 1986.

Front row, fourth from left - Prithipal : He played for Lyallpur Khalsa College and DAV College, Jalandhar. I remember him as a talented defender.

Front row, extreme right - Sarya Singh : He belonged to Sansarpur and used to go to Calcutta every year to participate in their local league."

The author of this article, Balbir Singh Sr., is in the front row, sixth from left. He is best known for winning a golden hat-trick of Olympic titles as part of the victorious Indian hockey team in the 1948, 1952 and the 1956 Olympics. 

Champions Trophy Venue Shifted From Pakistan

Due to the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York, Washington DC and Pennsylvania, the FIH has decided that the Champions Trophy will not be held in Pakistan due to the uncertain situation in that country. The 23rd edition of the Champions trophy, which was scheduled to be held in Lahore from November 3 to 11, will now be held in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on those same dates.

Sydney was another strong contender to host the Champions Trophy at the State Hockey Centre, venue of the Sydney Olympics hockey competition. What swung the decision in Rotterdam's favour was strong sponsorship backing (Rabobank) and the brand new 8000-seat, 24 million guilder stadium at HC Rotterdam. Sydney had requested waiver of the $100,000 hosting fee.

It is to the credit of Netherlands that it is the country with the strongest sponsor support, best hockey facilities, and the deepest hockey talent in the world. No other country would have been able to organize the FIH's premier tournament with barely a month's notice. 

Incidentally, other international sporting events in Pakistan have also been affected. The New Zealand cricket team cancelled its tour of Pakistan, while the South Asian Federation Games, scheduled to be held in Islamabad from October 6 to 15, have been postponed indefinitely.

It is interesting to note that when Mumbai police issued an advisory on the threat to Khel Ratna Dhanraj Pillai's life from Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, the IHF officials and the hockey media simply ignored that danger and harped on the fact that Dhanraj had to attend the camp in Jammu.

But when the Dutch, British, Australian and European Union Foreign Affairs departments issued advisories to their citizens against travelling to Pakistan, the same hockey media exhibited 'understanding' of the perceived security threat to the players.

Terrorism does not differentiate between countries, and it is important that the hockey media does not either.

Sialkot Hockey Stick Capital of the World

Mover over Jalandhar. Sialkot has taken over as the hockey stick capital of the world. Proof of this was amply evident during the Sydney Olympics when the Indian hockey team used the one-piece graphite sticks made in the northern Pakistani town of Sialkot.

At that time, a "B-grade" stick costs around Rs. 6,500 while the price of an "A-grade" stick was around Rs. 8,000. Due to tight finances, the Indians players used the "B-grade" graphite stick, the inferior of the two brands, for the Sydney Olympics.

The advantage of the graphite stick is that it lasts much longer than the wooden one. "If used properly, it can last up to five years," said Mukesh Kumar.

While Jalandhar stick manufacturers primarily focus on wood as their raw material, Sialkot manufacturers experiment with various composites of carbon, KevlarŪ and fiberglass. As a result, the composite sticks are about 20% stiffer than wood, allowing for good hits and good shock absorption properties.

As a result, the lucrative US market is dominated by the Pakistan stick manufacturers. Go to any Sports Authority chain stores in the US - all sticks have the 'Made in Pakistan' label with prices ranging from $25 all the way to $100.

India Finish 7th in Women's World Cup Qualifier

Centre-forward Sanggai Ibemahal Chanu
Photograph Courtesy : Ady Kerry and FIH

The Women's World Cup Qualifier was held in Amiens and Abbeville (France), from September 17 to 30.

Two teams could not take part in the tournament - Kenya due to financial difficulties, and USA due to the closing of airports and cancellation of flights after the September 11 terrorist attacks in USA. Another team, Zimbabwe, had dropped out earlier with sufficient notice, due to which the first reserve country Malaysia participated in its place.

The 15th-ranked Indian team included 6 juniors. India's match results were as follows:

Stage Date Result
Round Robin Sep 17 India 2 - Uruguay 0
   Sep 19 Ireland 1 - India 0
   Sep 22 India 2 - Ukraine 2
   Sep 23 England 2 - India 1
   Sep 25 India 5 - France 0
   Sep 26 India 4 - Kazakasthan 0
Classification Sep 29 Scotland 2 - India 1
   Sep 30 India 3 - Lithuania 0 (w/o)

England won the Qualifier when they beat Russia 4-0 in the final, thus finishing with 8 victories in their 8 matches. It was the first time they have ever won every match at a major tournament..

India finished 7th in the tournament, courtesy a walkover in their final match vs. Lithuania. The US team will play India in a best-of-three match series to decide the final team for the Women's World Cup. India can propose the location of the series, with the approval of the FIH. The series will be played in early 2002.

As a result, India still does not know if it will participate in the Women's World Cup to be held in Perth from November 26 - December 8, 2002. India came out of the tournament with the coaches and media voting Sanggai Chanu as the Young Player of the Tournament.

The Indian team members were as follows:

The team: Tingoleima Chanu (captain), Helen Mary, Amandeep Kaur, Suman Bala, Kanti Bala, Sita Gossain, Sumari Tete, Agnecia Lugun, Masira Surin, Neha Singh, Manjinder Kaur, Jyoti Sunita Kullu, Saggai Ibemal Chanu, Suraj Lata Devi, Pakpi Devi, Adline Kerketta, Mamta Kharab and Surinder Kaur.

Officials: Roopa Saini (manager), Ajay Kumar Bansal (chief coach), N. S. Saini (assistant coach), Dr. Ashok Ahuja (doctor)

India 3rd in 5-Nation Junior Tournament

A5-Nation u-21 hockey tournament was held in Kuala Lumpur from August 26 - September 2. India finished a disappointing 3rd in the tournament. India's match results were as follows:

Stage Date Result
Round Robin Aug 26 India 1 - Australia 1
   Aug 28 India 5 - England 2
   Aug 30 India 4 South Korea 3
   Aug 31 Malaysia 2 - India 1
Classification Sep 2 India 3 - South Korea 2

Australia won the tournament when they beat hosts Malaysia 2-1 in the final.

Though it was an u-21 tournament, the Indian team included a few u-18 players, as India is still experimenting with different combinations for this month's Junior World Cup.

In the run-up to this month's Junior World Cup, India's juniors have thus finished 2nd in the 6-nation tournament in Poznan in August, and now 3rd in the 5-nation tournament in Kuala Lumpur in September.

The Indian team members were as follows:

Goalkeepers : Suraj Kanta, Shanmuga Sundaram

Backs : K. P. Roy, Jugraj Singh, Kanwalpreet Singh, Vikramjeet Singh

Midfielders : Vikram Pillai, Virendra Rasquinha, Sandeep Kumar, Rajnikant, Prabhodh Tirkey, Prabhdeep Singh, Rajpal Singh, R. Raju

Forwards : Lakhwinder Singh, Inderjeet Singh, Tejbeer Singh, Amarjeet Singh

Officials : Coach - Rajender Singh

Indian Juniors Win Videocon Cup Against Malaysia

A4-test series for the Videocon Cup was played between the junior teams of India and Malaysia at the Begumpet Astroturf Stadium in Hyderabad. India's match results were as follows:

Date Result
Sep 10 India 3 - Malaysia 1
Sep 11 India 2 - Malaysia 2
Sep 13 Malaysia 2 - India 1
Sep 14 India 1 - Malaysia 1

Though the series was drawn 1-1, India won the Videocon Cup on the basis of better goal average.

Aniruddh Dhoot, Director, Videocon, presented the runners-up trophy to Malaysia. A local minister gave the Videocon Cup to the Indian team.

The following players comprised the Indian team : Millan Gowda, Amarjeet Singh, Thomba Singh, Shamshuz Zoha, Vivek Gupta, Bipin Thimmaiah, Jagdish Singh, Arjun Hallappa, Deepak Thakur, Bipin Fernandez, Sumesh Kantha, Bfokrolo, Muthu Selvan, Rajashekar, Sonu, Dung Dung, Sarat Babu, M. Sekhar Babu

Officials : Charles Cornelius (coach), Syed Mustafa (assistant coach), Narender Pal Singh (trainer), K. Arjun (manager).

Visitor of the Month

Turab Hussain is this edition's Visitor of the Month. Turab, who is a nephew of Syed Mohammed Jafar, member of the Indian hockey team in the 1932 and 1936 Olympics, wrote the following to BharatiyaHockey.org:

Jafar Shah (as he was commonly known) was from the village of Shergarh in Montgomery district in West Punjab. He was educated in Aitchison College in Lahore (then known as Chief's College), and later at Government College in Lahore.

Jafar played outside-left for the Indian team, and was known for his speed and tremendous ball control. Apparently he used to flick the ball with incredible force instead of turning around for a corner cross as is normally done from that position.

I recall seeing a photograph in which the 1936 Indian Olympic team is entering the Berlin Olympic Stadium to play the final against Germany. The team is flanked on both sides by Nazi youth saluting their Fuehrer who is seated in the central stands of the stadium.

Jafar died tragically in a shooting accident on the banks of river Ravi near Lahore in 1937, soon after the 1936 Olympics, and long before I was born.

Fun With Numbers

Out of 9 Women's World Cup tournaments held so far, India qualified for only 4 of them. The table below gives the final rank for India in the Women's World Cup.

Year Country City Winner Runners Up India
1974 France Mandelieu Holland Argentina 4th
1976 Germany Berlin Germany Argentina Did not qualify
1978 Spain Madrid Holland Germany 7th
1981 Argentina Buenos Aires Germany Holland Did not qualify
1983 Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Holland Canada 11th
1986 Holland Amsterdam Holland Germany Did not qualify
1990 Australia Sydney Holland Australia Did not qualify
1994 Ireland Dublin Australia Argentina Did not qualify
1998 Holland Utrecht Australia Holland 12th

Each time India has finished lower than its earlier ranking, coming 4th, 7th, 11th and 12th in its 4 appearances.

Money Matters

Pakistan has demanded compensation from the International Hockey Federation for the rescheduling/cancellation of the 2001 Champions Trophy due to security fears following the September 11 terrorist attacks in USA.

The crisis-ridden and the cash-strapped Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) was expecting a projected income of Rs. 30 to Rs. 35 million from the Champions Trophy, with most of the revenue coming from sponsorship and television rights. The PHF had entered into sponsorship agreements worth millions of rupees, and had already spent a sizeable amount in preparation for the tournament.

Pakistan requested that compensation be given in cash, or by being given the hosting rights to the 2002 Champions Trophy. Germany currently has the hosting rights to next year's Champions Trophy.

Media Matters

While the Indian Hockey Federation is yet to have its own website, the English Hockey's Hockey Online website is going from strength to strength.

Launched in July 1999, the website has been revamped with a view to boost monthly visitor numbers from the present 48,000 to 100,000 within a year. The upgrade was done in collaboration with English Hockey's Internet partner MBD.

Ian Thomas, marketing director of English Hockey said the aim of the site redesign was to provide:

  • Easy dissemination of news, fixtures and results of English hockey
  • Umpiring and coaching courses, tools and qualification summaries
  • Profiles of all players in all divisions of the National Hockey League
  • Online ticketing for the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games
  • Royalty-free picture library

None of the above kinds of information, in any shape or form, is made available by the Indian Hockey Federation to the fans, players, supporters and sponsors of Indian hockey.