What Will It Take For The Gill/Jyothikumaran Duo To Resign?

n 2004, India played 36 matches against the world's top 5 ranked countries (Australia, Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Pakistan), and won only 4 of those 36 matches. That includes only 2 wins out of 16 matches played against arch-rival Pakistan.

In 2004, India played bilateral hockey series against 5 different countries (Netherlands, Ireland, Pakistan, Spain, France), and won only 1 of those 5 series. In the process, India lost to Ireland (ranked nos. 23 in the world) and lost to France (ranked nos. 18 in the world).

In 2004, India played in 5 non-FIH tournaments (Azlan Shah and four 4-nation tournaments) and came LAST in 3 of those 5 tournaments, and came away without even a single victory in 2 of those 5 tournaments.

In 2004, India played in 3 FIH tournaments - Madrid Olympic Qualifier, Athens Olympics and Lahore Champions Trophy. India won only 1 match in the Champions Trophy, only 2 matches in the Olympics and only 3 matches in the Olympic Qualifier.

India lost more matches than it won in 2004, conceded more goals than it scored in 2004, and failed to win any medal in the 14 events in which it participated in 2004. This has never before happened in India's 76 years of international hockey.

More public money was spent in 2004 than any other year, yet Indian hockey reached its nadir in 2004. Nobody wants to take stock of what went wrong in 2004, nobody wants to be held accountable.

In the Olympic year of 2004, if failure to win resulted in the firing of players and coaches, why can't the failure to win result in the firing of IHF president Gill and IHF secretary Jyothikumaran? If the IHF were a private company, president Gill and secretary Jyothikumaran would have been kicked out long ago for non-performance and incompetence.

We have three specific grounds for dismissal for Gill and Jyothikumaran - lack of transparency in team selection, arbitrary and ad hoc coach selection, and failure to hold the national hockey championship.

Team Selection

Under Gill and Jyothikumaran, India has lost far more matches than they won, mainly because India never sends its strongest team to any tournament.

Take the IHF's strange decision to drop India's four best forwards - Gagan Ajeet Singh, Deepak Thakur, Prabhjyot Singh and Dhanraj Pillai - for the 2004 Champions Trophy. These players were the leading Indian goal scorers in the 2003 Champions Trophy, scoring 13 goals between them. In fact, Gagan is India's leading scorer overall in the Champions Trophy.

Their replacements in the Indian team - Adam Sinclair, Tushar Khandekar, Hari Prasad and Girish Pimpale scored ZERO goals between them. No wonder India played defensive hockey throughout the tournament and won only ONE match in the entire Champions Trophy. India, which scored 19 goals in the 2003 edition of the Champions Trophy, ended up with only 11 goals in the 2004 edition.

Even Sohail Abbas said, "Gagan Ajeet Singh and Deepak Thakur are world-class players. If you compare Gagan to the forwards in the present Indian team, it will be an injustice to Gagan."

Coach Selection

Take another of IHF's strange decisions to appoint Gerhard Rach as the national coach, with less than a month to go for the Olympics. The appointment of Rach was arbitrary, ad hoc and not at all based on merit.

For instance, the IHF ignored Ric Charlesworth, who has expressed interest in coaching the Indian team. Charlesworth coached the Australian women’s hockey team to gold medals in the 1993 Champions Trophy, 1994 World Cup, 1995 Champions Trophy, 1996 Olympics, 1997 Champions Trophy, 1998 World Cup, 1999 Champions Trophy and the 2000 Olympics. In the extremely competitive sporting country of Australia, Charlesworth has won the Coach of the Year award (among all Australian sports) 5 times!

Due to Rach's anathema for star players, the entire Indian forward line at Athens was dropped. This resulted in sub-standard performances and even more losses in the subsequent tournaments. Coach Rach evidently prefers having a team of meek, diffident players, instead of star players who will strike fear in the opposing teams.

National Hockey Championship

One of the main duties of the Indian Hockey Federation is to hold the annual national championship, which have taken place even during the two World Wars. However, in the Gill era, no nationals have been held since 2000. There have been only 3 national championships in the last 11 years.

How will we produce future players without giving the states time to spot and nurture their talents, and showcase them to the national selectors at the Nationals? This should be a normal, regular and continuous process.

Because of the failure to hold the Nationals, talent has completely dried up in North-Eastern India. After all, it was the North-East which gave India players like Thoiba Singh, Tikken Singh, Neel Kamal Singh and Brojen Singh in the 80s and 90s. Similarly, the Lucknow, Meerut and Bhopal channels have also dried up.

If Jalandhar is presently the nursery of Indian hockey, it is mainly due to the 5 private sector Academies, as listed below:

Academy Trainees Age Groups
Surjeet Singh Academy 60 u-14, u-17, u-19
Punjab & Sindh Bank Academy 42 u-17, u-19
Punjab Armed Police Centre 22 u-19
Escorts Ramesh Chandra Academy 20 u-17
K. C. Thapar Academy 20 u-17

It is because of these academies that Jalandhar has emerged as the major supply line for our national team. The IHF contribution to this effort is nothing.

How long will the Sports Ministry tolerate mediocrity and a complete lack of accountability in the Indian hockey officials? In venue after venue in Europe, Asia and Australia, Indian hockey is steadily accumulating losses, while the IHF officials play musical chairs with the players and coaches.

IHF president Gill recently said, "Our players don't retire. We have to tell them that we are not selecting you anymore." The same applies to Indian hockey officials - they don't retire, someone has to tell them to leave.

It is time for Sports Minister Sunil Dutt to do the needful. 4 wins in 36 matches is a shameful record, by any standards.

Gagan Ajeet and Jugraj Singh Behave Like Goondas Instead of Cops

frustrated Punjab Police hockey team, after failing to beat arch-rival Punjab & Sindh Bank (PSB) in the final of the 8th All-India Ramesh Chandra Hockey Tournament, resorted to beating the winners black and blue with hockey sticks instead.

The situation could have turned uglier but for the district police officials who intervened in time.

"It was sheer goondagardi by the Punjab Police players. Everyone saw Gagan Ajeet Singh, Kanvalpreet Singh, Kuljeet Singh, Tejveer Singh and Daljeet Singh Dhillon of Punjab Police virtually bash our boys with hockey sticks, but no one tried to stop them. In a highly deplorable act, Jugraj Singh, who was sitting outside on the bench, led a group of people to the ground and attacked our players with hockey sticks," said Rajinder Singh, coach of the bank team.

Rajinder and his boys said that the Punjab Police players had been abusing, sledging, pushing and nudging them throughout the final, but the umpires completely ignored it. "In the past, there have been many instances where Punjab Police players have threatened and abused rival team players. Sadly, no one seems to take notice," alleged Rajinder.

Former Indian hockey captain and Punjab Police manager, Pargat Singh, looked embarrassed and regretted his boys' conduct. "I am certainly not a happy man and my boys could have behaved better. This is not sports and this is not in the interest of hockey," he said.

Punjab Police is indeed the team with the worst behaviour in all of Indian hockey. The fact that the players are actually policemen in real life, makes it shameful. Take the following examples from the past decade:

  • In 1995, the final of the famous Aga Khan hockey tournament in Mumbai had to be abandoned after the rough tackling Jagdev Singh of Punjab Police broke the knee of an Indian Airlines forward. Mumbai's sports loving crowd then spontaneously stormed onto the Bombay Gymkhana field, ready to thrash the Punjab Police players. Jagdev Singh, Pargat Singh and other stars ran for their lives into the dressing room. This incident was seen on television by thousands of fans. The final was abandoned, the sponsors turned away from the tournament and the prestigious Aga Khan tournament was held only one more time over the next decade!

  • In 1999, after Border Security Force beat defending champion Punjab Police 3-1 in the final of the 48th All-India Police Hockey Championship at National Stadium in Delhi, Manpreet Singh of Punjab Police hit out at umpire Avinash Sharma with his stick. This was in retaliation to a penalty stroke that was awarded by the umpire in favour of the BSF. The IHF promptly banned Manpreet Singh from playing in any grade of hockey for three years.

  • In 2000, 20 national grade I umpires took a decision not to officiate in matches featuring Punjab Police in the wake of their continued bad behaviour with umpires.

  • Again in 2000, the organisers of the Guru Teg Bahadur Hockey Tournament in Mumbai did not invite the Punjab Police hockey team for the tournament as "their behaviour on and off the field was not up to the mark.

Punjab Police players should follow the advice given by Hockey Wizard Dhyan Chand in the preface to his autobiography 'Goal':

The sport of hockey demands the best in you, both as a player and as a man. Often situations may arise during a game when you are provoked. But you should exercise tolerance and show sportsmanship by putting restraint on your temper, and then the game will go on serenely as if nothing has happened. However, if you take one false step, the field will become an ugly scene. You will lose your value both as a player and as a man.

Punjab and Sindh Bank Win 8th Ramesh Chandra Hockey Tournament

The victorious Punjab and Sindh Bank team
Photo courtesy Pavan Sharma (The Tribune)

he 8th All-India Ramesh Chandra Hockey Tournament was held at the Olympian Surjeet Hockey Stadium in Jalandhar from December 17 to December 24. The tournament was inaugurated by Punjab Finance Minister Surinder Singla.

6 teams took part in the tournament - 4 top domestic teams of India (Punjab Police, Punjab and Sindh Bank, Indian Airlines and Seema Suraksha Bal, also known as Border Security Forces) and 2 foreign teams (Malaysian junior national team and the United Brothers Club from Canada).

Punjab and Sindh Bank and Punjab Police reached the final of the tournament, with the following match results:

Date Punjab and Sindh Bank Punjab Police
Dec 17 drew with Punjab Police 2-2 drew with Punjab and Sindh Bank 2-2
Dec 18 beat Seema Suraksha Bal 3-1 beat Malaysia Juniors 2-1
Dec 19 beat United Brothers Club 3-1  
Dec 20   beat Seema Suraksha Bal 6-1
Dec 21 beat Malaysia Juniors 6-0 beat United Brothers Club 7-1
Dec 22 beat Indian Airlines 1-0  
Dec 23   lost to Indian Airlines 2-3

In the final played on December 24, Punjab and Sindh Bank overcame Punjab Police 5-4 to win the 8th All-India Ramesh Chandra Hockey Tournament. The final was played amid high drama, as some of the bank players were beaten up by their Punjab Police counterparts during the fag end of the match.

The winners led 4-1 at half-time. Gagan Ajeet Singh scored 3 goals for the losing team in the final. The bankmen won the tournament for the sixth time in a row.

In the women’s section, Sukhjeet Starch Mills won the final by defeating Shahabad XI 2-1, while Surjeet Hockey Academy lifted the title in the boys (u-14) category. The Player of the Tournament award was given to Tejveer Singh of Punjab Police.

When Does A Hockey Tournament Turn Into A Hockey League?

ome of the common structural characteristics of a sports league are:

  • Teams exist as independent, financial entities within the league
  • Players and coaches are full-time salaried employees of their teams
  • Teams select their own players, not the league
  • Matches are played in multiple venues across multiple months over a season

With the above framework in place, there can be any number of promotional characteristics such as:

  • Team logos, mascots and catchy team names
  • Half-time shows and marching bands
  • Crowd incentives through free give-aways
  • On-field microphones, sideline reporters, miking time-out strategies, etc.

The much-hyped Premier Hockey League (PHL) has none of the structural characteristics of a sports league, but only all of the promotional characteristics.

For instance, look at the following comparison between the Premier Hockey League and the National Basketball Association in USA:

Criteria Premier Hockey League National Basketball Association
Nos. of Teams 5 30
Nos. of Venues 1 30
Nos. of Foreign Players 15 70
Season Duration 1 month 9 months
Player Contracts 1-month contracts Multi-year contracts
Contract Amount Decided by the IHF Negotiated between individual teams and players
Team Composition Decided by the IHF Teams scout and select their own players
Team Coach/Manager Decided by the IHF Decided by each individual team
Nature of the Teams Artificial teams that exists for only 1 month Permanent, year-round financial entities

The PHL is nothing but a glorified, 5-team, 1-venue, invitational tournament, after completion of which the players will disband and go back to their regular jobs with their regular teams.

The PHL rips apart existing teams, has teammates playing against each other, has a player from one city playing for another city (e.g., Bangalore-based Ignace Tirkey playing for Chennai) and creates artificial teams like 'Bangalore Hi Flyers', while ignoring genuine high-fliers like Indian Airlines and Air India.

The PHL bypasses the geographically diverse hockey hotbeds of India (Punjab, Jharkhand, Orissa, Coorg, Manipur) by having all its matches in just one venue in Hyderabad.

The PHL introduces a brand new league into an already packed Indian domestic and international calendar. Remember, one has to fit in the Olympics, World Cup, Champions Trophy, Asian Games, Afro-Asian Games, Commonwealth Games, Asia Cup, National Games, National Championships, 4-nation tournaments and premier domestic tournaments. All these tournaments have their own coaching camps and selection trials.

PHL's model is just not scalable, beyond its present 1-month, 1-venue approach.

It is only fair to call the IHF-ESPN venture PHT (Premier Hockey Tournament). Calling it a league does a disservice to successful and well planned sports leagues worldwide.

Olympian Balkrishan Singh Passes Away In Patiala

A young female fan in Warsaw switches her hat for Balkrishan's turban
Photo courtesy Great Indian Olympians by Ezekiel and Arumugam

alkrishan Singh, a member of India’s 1956 and 1960 Olympic hockey teams, died on Friday, December 31, in Patiala. He was 72.

Balkrishan was administered some medicines during the night by his family members, but he complained of uneasiness in the morning before he breathed his last.

Balkrishan is the only Indian to have won the Olympic gold medal both as a player and as a coach. He was a member of the gold medal-winning team in the 1956 Olympics and was chief coach of the team that won the gold in the 1980 Moscow Olympics.

Born in Patiala on March 10, 1933, Balkrishan Singh was the son of Brig. Daleep Singh, who represented India in athletics in the 1924 Paris Olympic Games. A graduate of Punjab University, Balkrishan spent his initial playing days with Indian Railways as a full-back. He would subsequently captain the Indian Railways team.

Before seriously taking to hockey, Balkrishan shone as an athlete, and broke the Punjab University record in hop, step and jump.

Balkrishan represented Punjab University in hockey for four years in a row from 1950-54. His first international cap was at Warsaw in 1954, and since then he was in the national focus. He represented India in the 1956 Melbourne Olympics, 1958 Tokyo Asian Games and the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Balkrishan won two national hockey championships with Railways in 1963 and 1964. After retiring from active hockey, Balkrishan quit Railways and joined the panel of coaches at the National Institute of Sports, Patiala, where Dhyan Chand was the chief coach.

Balkrishan's first major coaching assignment was with the Australian women's hockey team in 1965. Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser went on record praising Balkrishan Singh’s coaching abilities.

Balkrishan returned to India and coached the Indian team in the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, 1973 Amsterdam World Cup and the 1974 Teheran Asian Games. In between, he made the time to coach the Combined Universities hockey team in 1969.

After a break, Balkrishan coached the Indian men's team that won the gold at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, and the Indian women's team that won the gold in the 1982 Delhi Asian Games. Balkrishan subsequently coached the Indian team in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics.

After another break, Balkrishan coached the Indian team in the 1991 Auckland Olympic Qualifier and in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

Balkrishan was the first coach to experiment with the concept of total hockey in India, back in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Total hockey, in his view, was hockey which should be played like basketball — the entire team attacks together and defends together.

Balkrishan is the only person to have coached India in 4 different Olympics - 1968, 1980, 1984 and 1992. Of the 45 matches that Balkrishan coached India in the Olympics, World Cup, Champions Trophy and Asian Games, India had a 29W-7L-9D record. Four of the seven losses came in the Barcelona Olympics alone, that being the only dark patch in an otherwise consistent career.

Balkrishan has the best coaching record in Indo-Pak encounters - with 5 wins and 4 draws in 11 matches. Contrast Balkrishan's 2 losses in 11 matches against Pakistan to the 2004 Indian hockey team's 2 wins in 16 matches against Pakistan, and his contribution as a coach immediately becomes apparent.

Balkrishan retired as the Director of the National Institute of Sports in Patiala in 1992. Despite being India's greatest ever hockey coach, the IHF never nominated Balkrishan for the prestigious Dronacharya Puraskar. This is more a testament to how the IHF operates than any blemish on Balkrishan's coaching record.

In a recent interview to OutlookIndia.com, Balkrishan had said, "We need to play Dhanraj Pillai as the schemer because he has the capacity to make others play. Make him central to all plans on how to feed the ball to Deepak Thakur, Gagan Ajeet Singh and Prabhjyot Singh. I was his coach in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics and I can say one thing — without Dhanraj Pillai, the team is two goals down."

At a meeting in Delhi, rich tributes were paid to Balkrishan by coaches and administrators at National Stadium and Air India Hockey Academy, and by officials of the Indian Hockey Federation and the Indian Women's Hockey Federation. The Director General of the Sports Authority of India, J. P. Singh, also mourned Balkrishan's death.

Balbir Singh Sr., under whose captaincy Balkrishan had played in the 1956 Melbourne Olympic, said the news of Balkrishan's death came as a shock as he was keeping good health and was also a regular golfer. "Balkrishan was a true sportsman who worked dedicatedly without ever bothering for honours and awards. For him sports was not only a commitment but also a way of life," he said.

Balkrishan leaves behind his wife and three daughters, one of whom is settled in New Zealand.

The Spirit Of Dhyan Chand Lives On Through His Granddaughter

By Hemal Ashar of Mid-Day

eha Singh, granddaughter of India’s greatest hockey player, Dhyan Chand, played in the Challenger Sports All-India Women’s Rink Hockey Tournament at the P. J. Club in Bandra, Mumbai, in December.

Neha, 26, played for North-Eastern Railway, which lost to Western Railway 5-6 in the semi-final. All throughout the game, Neha was aware of a certain presence on the right flank. The winger was being tailed by the shadow of her late, great 'Nanaji'.

It has been like that for most of Neha's hockey playing life. “I feel a tremendous weight of expectation when I play hockey. I keep thinking that if I play badly, what will people say about me? That Dhyan Chand’s granddaughter does not know how to dribble? That she does not know how to shoot, while her grandfather was a magician…” laughs Neha.

Neha's mother Asha Singh, Dhyan Chand’s daughter, did not tell Neha about her father’s wizardry with the hockey stick. That folklore came from Neha's 'Naniji', Asha’s mother.

Says Neha, “I was one year old when my grandfather died. He used to come alive through the stories my grandmother told me about him. Like how he used to practise his dribbling for ten kilometers on a railway track, how he used to practise for hours in the light of a solitary electric bulb, how Adolph Hitler offered him a job in the German army after seeing him play at the Berlin Olympics…”.

Then there are Dhyan Chand’s three Olympic gold medals that catch the sun in their family house in Jhansi. "They are now in a showcase because some of his many medals, and also a golden boot, got stolen when they were lying in the open," says Neha.

The oldest of three children, Neha says, "Every time people see me at matches or on the roads of Jhansi, they remark that I am Dhyan Chand’s granddaughter. Despite all that pressure, I feel so proud to be part of this family. I know I cannot aspire to even a fraction of what my grandfather did, but I have to carry the Dhyan Chand name forward."

Neha, who lists swimming as her other sporting love, is looking to the 2006 Asian Games and Commonwealth Games as her next goals.

Neha's hobby is an unusual one - sleeping. That time of rest must be full of dreams of a man she has only seen in photo albums, and one who inspired residents of Vienna to build a statue of an Indian player with four hands and four hockey sticks, a silent but eloquent testimony to the unparalleled skill of her 'Nanaji'.

I Want To Be Like Grandpa, Say The Wizard's Granddaughter

By V. Anand of The Times of India

eha Singh prefers to remain anonymous. Being the granddaughter of hockey legend Dhyan Chand, whose name is revered in the sport, is not easy. There is always tremendous pressure on the shoulders of the 26-year-old North-Eastern Railway player to live up to the legacy of her grandfather.

Dhyan Chand mesmerised Adolf Hitler so much that he invited the Indian striker to join the German team. This was after he busted Hitler's theory of Aryan supremacy during the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games when India beat Germany 8-1 to clinch the gold. Dhyan Chand is to hockey what Tansen is to Hindustani classical music.

Neha, who was in Mumbai recently to play in an all-India women's rink hockey tournament, is the daughter of Asha, one of Dhyan Chand's four daughters. Of her seven uncles, Ashok Kumar, who won India the 1975 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur, is the most famous.

"I feel the pressure all the time," said Neha, who was just a year old when Dhyan Chand passed away. "It's difficult to live up to a reputation that is so huge, loved and respected. When coaches become aware of my lineage, they are quick with remarks that 'Dhyan Chand was a master dribbler and this girl, his granddaughter, cannot dribble past even one player'."

Neha has only heard stories of the great man — that he dribbled on railway tracks on his way to a distance of 10 kms, and so on and so forth. Her favourite story is that of Dhyan Chand missing the goal by inches, and remarking that the post was not correctly placed. The post was later found to have been moved from its original position.

Despite coming from a famous family, life has not been a bed of roses for Neha. "We were very poor and have lived in a very small house. It's only after we got a petrol pump that our economic condition improved," she said.

While growing up, Neha was continuously fed on a diet of hockey. Naturally she took to a liking to the game. She was selected to play for India too. In 1998, Neha was in the Indian team for the Bangkok Asian Games. Just before the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games she got injured, and has been trying to fight her way back into the national side.

India Come A Disappointing 4th in the 26th Men's Champions Trophy

he 26th Samsung men's Champions Trophy was held in Lahore from December 4 to December 12. India got a backdoor entry into the tournament only because Olympic champions Australia withdrew from the tournament due to security concerns.

India won only 1 match in the entire tournament. India's match results were as follows:

Date Result Goal Scorers - India
Dec 4 Spain 4 - India 0  
Dec 5 Netherlands 5 - India 4 Sandeep Michael (5 m)
V. S. Vinay (20 m)
Arjun Halappa, PS (45 m)
Vikram Pillai, PC (61 m)
Dec 7 India 3 - Germany 1 Sandeep Michael (40 m)
Arjun Halappa (58 m)
Vivek Gupta (67 m)
Dec 8 Pakistan 2 - India 1 Sandeep Singh, PC (57 m)
Dec 10 India 1 - New Zealand 1 Arjun Halappa, PS (62 m)
Dec 12 Pakistan 3 - India 2 Sandeep Singh, PC (2, 65 m)

This was the third successive Champions Trophy (2002, 2003, 2004) where Pakistan beat India to win the bronze.

After the bronze medal game, Pakistan's penalty corner expert Sohail Abbas and Pakistan skipper Waseem Ahmed announced their retirement from the game.

Waseem said that he had not informed the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) about his decision, stating: "I believe a player does not have to take permission from the PHF before announcing his retirement, as it is his personal matter."

The nature of hockey as a team sport can be seen by the fact that though Sohail Abbas is the leading goal-scorer in the world, Pakistan has not won any major tournament with Sohail Abbas in the team. Sohail played for Pakistan in 15 major tournaments - 2 Olympic Games (2000, 2004), 2 World Cups (1998, 2002), 6 Champions Trophy tournaments (1998-1999, 2001-2004), 2 Asian Games (1998, 2002), 2 Asia Cups (1999, 2003) and 1 Commonwealth Games (2002) - without Pakistan winning the gold medal in any of these 15 tournaments.

Spain, making their first-ever appearance in the Champions Trophy final, prevented a hat-trick of victories for Netherlands, who had won the Champions Trophy editions in 2002 (Cologne) and 2003 (Amstelveen). Spain become fifth nation to win the Champions Trophy gold, after Germany (8 golds), Australia and Netherlands (7 golds each) and Pakistan (3 golds).

The final results were as follows: Spain - 1, Netherlands - 2, Pakistan - 3, India - 4, Germany - 5, New Zealand - 6.

The following were the player awards: Top Scorer - Karel Klaver (NED) with 7 goals (including the only hat-trick of the event), Player of the Tournament - Karel Klaver (NED), Best Goalkeeper - Guus Vogels (NED) and Most Promising Player - Shakeel Abbasi (PAK).

The Indian team was as follows:

Goalkeepers: Adrian D'Souza, Devesh Chauhan

Full-backs: Dileep Tirkey (captain), Sandeep Singh, Harpal Singh, William Xalco

Midfielders: Viren Rasquinha, Vikram Pillai, Ignace Tirkey, V. S. Vinay, Prabodh Tirkey, Vivek Gupta

Forwards: Adam Sinclair, Arjun Halappa, Sandeep Michael, Tushar Khandekar, Hari Prasad, Girish Pimpale

Officials: Chief Coach - Gerhard Rach; Assistant Coach - Jagbeer Singh; Manager - Balraj Aher

Fans Shout Slogans Against Gill As India Lose Series To France

The crowd at the India-France hockey test match at Shivaji Stadium in Delhi
Photograph courtesy Jean DANET

ow low can Indian hockey get? When will India stop accumulating losses under the Gill-Jyothikumaran regime?

India lost a 2-test series at home to France, a country that did not qualify for the Olympics, World Cup or the Champions Trophy. India is ranked 5th in the world, while France is ranked 18th in the world. The Indian team for the series included 12 players who played in the recent Champions Trophy.

After India lost to France 1-3 in the first test in front of a couple of thousand fans, a vocal section of the fans were on their feet, shouting slogans against IHF president K. P. S. Gill and the Indian players. Among the slogans were calls for the second Test to be cancelled to avoid further humiliation, even as a visibly embarrassed IHF secretary, K. Jyothikumaran, watched from the stands.

In the second test also, after India conceded 3 goals in a row to end up with a 3-3 draw, the fans became restless again. The officials did not dare enter the field after the match, and gave away the trophies in the VIP enclosure.

The fact that forward Deepak Thakur and midfielder Vimal Lakra have returned to the team failed to have any impact. And poor Devesh Chauhan, playing his first match after his marriage, and with his wife watching keenly from the stands, suffered the humiliation of letting in three goals within the first 21 minutes of the first test.

France's coach, R. Bertrand, could not hide his joy at his team's achievement. "We are now ready to challenge the other top 10 teams in the world. This win will give hockey a major boost in our country. We have 10 astro-turf grounds in Paris alone, and a total of 8,000 registered players in France. We have a highly competitive league too. It will get even bigger now."

The match results of the 2-test India-France series, which was held at Shivaji Stadium in Delhi, were as follows:

Date Result Goal Scorers - India
Dec 27 France 3 - India 1 Sandeep Singh, PC (35 m)
Dec 28 India 3 - France 3 Arjun Halappa (11, 26 m)
Tushar Khandekar (38 m)

The French hockey team, ranked 5th in Europe, came to India to gain exposure. They certainly achieved that, by exposing the Indian hockey team and going back home with the winner's trophy.

Earlier, the French team played two tests against the Indian junior team in Hyderabad on December 21 and December 23. The French national team had last visited Hyderabad more than 3 decades ago.

France won the first match against the Juniors 5-0 and the second match 2-1. While in Hyderabad, the French hockey team took a day off for shopping, and also visited the historic Charminar.

France lost only one match in their entire tour - a 1-2 loss to Indian Airlines in a match played on December 26, where Dhanraj Pillai scored the winning goal.

French captain Antoine Moreau remarked, "We faced stiffer resistance when we played Indian Airlines than when we played the Indian team. I'm surprised why Dhanraj Pillai is not in the national team. But then, that is your problem."

The Indian team for the 2-test India-France hockey series was as follows:

Goalkeepers: Devesh Chauhan, G. Kuttappa, Srijesh

Full-backs: Sandeep Singh, William Xalco, Dileep Tirkey (captain)

Midfielders: Vivek Gupta, V. S. Vinay, Girish Pimpale, Prabodh Tirkey, Vimal Lakra, Virendra Lakra, Nitin Kumar

Forwards: Adam Sinclair, Arjun Halappa, Deepak Thakur, Tushar Khandekar, Hari Prasad, Sosan Topno, Gopinath

Coaches: Jagbeer Singh and A. B. Subbaiah

Photograph of the Month

1948 Indian Olympic Team - Photograph courtesy the late Pat Jansen

he Photograph of the Month for January 2005 is of the 1948 gold medal winning Indian Olympic hockey team. India's record in the 1948 Olympics was: Played - 5, Won - 5, Goals For - 25, Goals Against - 2. This was independent India's first sporting achievement on the world stage.

After the final, V. K. Krishna Menon, India's first High Commissioner to England, gave an official reception at India House. The Indian team then went on a goodwill tour of the European mainland - visiting France, Czechoslavakia and Switzerland.

This is a group photograph of the Indian team prior to their match against Switzerland in Geneva.

Money Matters

By Mufeed Mahdi Rizvi of Mid-Day

n the 26th Champions Trophy held in Lahore, 3 Indian companies - Avon Cycles, Idea (Mobile) and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation - prominently displayed their hoardings in Lahore's National Hockey Stadium.

PHF’s director of marketing, Sardar Naveed Haidar Khan, explained their presence in the stadium. "Selvel, an Indian advertising company, represented the PHF in selling in-stadia signage, and it is Selvel who got them here," said Naveed.

Huge hoardings of Pakistan hockey stars Sohail Abbas and Rehan Butt endorsing various products, can be seen all over the city. It was not so five years ago, and is a sign that hockey is being marketed aggressively in Pakistan, and that some players are making good money.

The National Bank of Pakistan is the main sponsor of the Pakistan hockey team, while 7-Up displays its logos for the shirt sleeves. Sohail Abbas has already signed with 7-Up, while Rehan Butt is next in line.

Haider Khan says that the game needs stars to survive and grow. "We in the PHF realise that only after the public recognises the players will they come to watch hockey. We help the players bag sponsorship deals, and the players get to keep the money," said Haider.

"People need faces to relate to the sport. If you don’t have stars, what will you show - just sticks? The marketing strategy of the PHF is for every child to recognise Pakistan’s hockey stars. The bigger a player gets, the faster the game will grow."

This attitude is in stark contrast with the Indian Hockey Federation, which feels that the Indian team needs only players not stars.

Media Matters

Cameraman Michael Deegan covering the Indo-Pak match
Photo and text courtesy International Hockey Federation

akistan Television (PTV) provided 6-camera, live coverage of all 18 matches of the 2004 Samsung Men's Champions Trophy tournament in Lahore.

PTV worked with the WorldHockey's Flying Squad to produce a broadcast for telecasters in Pakistan, India, Europe and New Zealand. The Flying Squad comprises a producer, director, graphics operator, two camera operators and a team of international commentators.

WorldHockey media officer David Christison said that the matches were shown in Pakistan on PTV’s terrestrial channel, across the Indian subcontinent on Ten Sports, in Netherlands on NOS, across Europe on Eurosport, and on SKY TV in New Zealand. In addition, daily highlights of all matches were distributed by satellite to broadcasters worldwide through the Reuters and SNTV news agencies.

"PTV had more than 30 crew at the event every day, and their output has been excellent," he said. "We are indebted to and grateful for the efforts of PTV director Mansha Natt and his team in Lahore."

Visitor of the Month

Goldfinz is this edition's Visitor of the Month. Goldfinz wrote the following to BharatiyaHockey.org:

The frenzy for hockey that was created in the media and public since India’s heroic 7-4 victory over Pakistan in 2003 has dissipated. My mantra to take Indian hockey ahead is

  • Discipline
  • Athleticism
  • Foreign Coach
  • Confidence
  • Game Analyst
  • Target Holland NOT Pakistan


Unfortunately, we Indians have never understood the importance of discipline in sports (both on and off the pitch). Gill may be the worst administrator on earth, but players should maintain discipline. That means, if Dhanraj has been asked not to speak to the media, he must stay quiet.

When our players are given an opportunity to speak, they talk too much. Case in point is Deepak Thakur (2003) and Pargat Singh (1992). Both claimed India will win at least a bronze in the Olympics. Do Dutch or German players ever make such statements? They don’t talk, they ACT! The message ought to be clear - show results against the European teams, and then blow your trumpets.

I don't want to think of better administration in hockey. That's just not possible in India. Tomorrow, this Gill will go and another Gill will come. But poor administration should not be counted as an alibi for defeat. If that was the case, how come Pakistan reached the 1990 World Cup final or won the 1994 World Cup? Pakistan has consistently been in the top 4 of major competitions. Is their framework better than India's?


We ought to learn from Netherlands and Germany, who are one-touch teams. They move the ball around so fast, it’s a challenge even to the eyes. Off-the-ball running is something our boys never do. Consequently, the opposition can then not only control the pace of the game, but also focus on just a limited number of gaps they need to plug.

Be it cricket or hockey, one reason why India never delivers consistently is very few of its players can do justice to the word “Athlete”. Few players are good at few things, no one is an all-rounder. Today's players need to be robust and agile. Only then does one-touch play and off-the-ball running come into play.

Foreign Coach

Whatever one might say, I feel Rach has done a splendid job for India considering all the constraints he had. The defence has sharpened immensely. We need a non-Asian coach, someone who can give the boys a good caning on their backside if they don’t perform well.

Indian coaches can never command the desired respect from players, and neither can they enforce discipline they way a foreigner does.


The coach must encourage players to do hard work, instead of finding an easy way out. Rach has put in efforts here. Players should believe they are as good as the opposition.

Each time the ball comes into our D-area, our defenders till now were merely scooping the ball into the opposition area. For all the stickwork that we feel India has, India's defence/midfield is scared to take opposing forwards/halfline head-on.

Prabodh Tirkey has played fantastically in this Champions trophy. We need cool, collected players like him who can play the ball out of the defence, instead of gifting it to the opposition.

Game Analyst

Players need to know their development areas, so that they can work on their weaknesses when their careers are in their infancy.

Target Holland NOT Pakistan

Need I say more?

Fun With Numbers

Statistics by B. G. Joshi

ndia's overall match record against France is as follows:

Category Statistic
Matches Played 31
Wins 22
Losses 3
Draws 6
Goals For 95
Goals Against 39

India's 3 losses to France are as follows:

Date Venue Result Competition
January 10, 1965 Nagpur France 1 - India 0 1st India-France Hockey Series
February 15, 1990 Lahore France 2 - India 1 1990 World Cup
December 27, 2004 Delhi France 3 - India 1 3rd India-France Hockey Series

The match results of the 3 India-France hockey series, all held in India, are as follows:

Series Nos. of Tests Series Result Date Venue Match Result
I 5 India won 4-1 Dec 19, 1964 Mumbai IND 5 - FRA 1
      Dec 26, 1964 Jalandhar IND 4 - FRA 2
      Dec 30, 1964 Delhi IND 2 - FRA 1
      Jan 10, 1965 Nagpur FRA 1 - IND 0
      Jan 21, 1965 Khandva IND 3 - FRA 0
II 4 India won 3-0 Dec 1, 1973 Mumbai IND 7 - FRA 2
      Dec 4, 1973 Hyderabad IND 4 - FRA 2
      Dec 8, 1973 Nagpur IND 2 - FRA 2
      Dec 19, 1973 Delhi IND 2 - FRA 0
III 2 France won 1-0 Dec 27, 2004 Delhi FRA 3 - IND 1
      Dec 28, 2004 Delhi IND 3 - FRA 3

India's biggest win against France is 10-0, in the semi-finals of the Berlin Olympics, held on August 12, 1936.

India's biggest loss to France 1-3, in the 1st Test of 3rd India-France series, held at Delhi on December 27, 2004.