IHF is the Worst Run Hockey Organisation in the World - Els van Breda

Article courtesy V. Narayanaswamy of The Times of India

n a talk with IHF chief K. P. S. Gill, FIH president Els van Breda Vriesmann pulled no punches when she said that the IHF was the worst run organisation among the top hockey playing countries in the world.

There was purpose and urgency in Vriesmann’s tone as she pointed out to Gill that India deserved a better deal from its stuttering federation. "India is a big market and one of the fastest growing economies in the world. We need a strong India to promote the game of hockey globally. We cannot afford to have the Indian federation running the sport so unprofessionally in the country. It reflects badly on the game."

Citing the example of television rights for the Chennai Champions Trophy, Vriesmann said that the FIH was disappointed with the desperate scramble by the IHF to get Doordarshan to telecast the event on its national network. "They should have had a contract in place a year ago. The IHF let us down very badly. There was no news at all on the television front till only a month before the tournament, when they said they had Chennai Doordarshan in place. Then came the offer from the national network. We were forced to change the schedule. All these things are very disappointing."

Vriesmann said that the FIH invited flak from all the other teams in the tournament by agreeing to change the match schedule at the last minute. She stuck to her decision only because the game stood to gain by Doordarshan National Network's entry. "There are allegations that we did this switch for money, but that is wrong. The terrestrial rights belong to the Indian federation. We don’t get any benefit except a wider reach for the tournament and promotion of the game."

The FIH chief also told Gill that it was his responsibility to rid the game of many other irritants that have undermined India’s status on the international front.

"We want hockey in India to do better. And it is Gill's responsibility to ensure that. It is his duty towards the sport and the players. We all know that players are suffering; they are the worst hit in this country. All due to the inefficient organisation of the IHF. There is apathy and lack of professionalism in every aspect."

When asked whether she offered any suggestions to Gill, Vriesmann said: “I don’t think I have to offer suggestions to him. But I have made my stand known, particularly when it comes to administration. If you take the big countries, they all have a group of professionals running sports organisations. As such, the organisation does not depend on its leadership so much. For example, if the president is not elected, the body still functions efficiently with the staff taking the sport forward. India should opt for this decentralized model."

Can we Cook Up Artificial Rivalries Through 30-second Television Promos?

Article courtesy Avijit Ghosh of The Times of India

ven as the PHL is in its second edition, several nagging questions remain to be answered.

One of them is the way artificial rivalries are being constructed through television promotions. Watching ESPN these days, one comes across the visual of sullen, almost angry, hockey players who seem to be heading for a war. Even communally-specific words such as jhatka and halal are being used in promos to stoke passion for their respective teams.

It's funny. For these teams are not like professional sporting clubs that have their own history, offices, playing grounds and fan base. Rather, these clubs were created one fine day by PHL marketing personnel and the IHF. They are just an assemblage of players who come together for a month and play under a particular banner.

In the remaining period, they turn out either for their respective employers or play in a dollar-friendly foreign league. How does a fan develop a long-term association with a club that hardly exists in the remaining 11 months?

The question also is: Can passionate sporting rivalries be constructed through 30-second prime time promotions? For instance, the Indo-Pakistan hockey rivalry — now also in cricket — is rooted in history. Similarly, football wars between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal owe their origins to the different fan base of the clubs.

Even city-based rivalries as envisaged by PHL doesn't really carry weight because these teams are hardly part of the city they claim to represent. Clubs such as Los Angeles Lakers or FC Barcelona are living physical entities representing the sporting aspirations of their cities and towns. Why would a Delhiite root for the Delhi Dazzlers? Only because it is named so? What stake and opportunity for involvement does the club offer its supporters?

Nonetheless, the PHL has several pluses. It offers good money for the players. With top foreigners playing, they get invaluable exposure. Live hockey telecasts add to the viewers' interest.

But it goes without saying that PHL's construction of teams and its manner of promoting them remains fundamentally problematic.

Bangalore Lions Win PHL Single Venue, 5-Team Invitational Tournament

he second edition of the Premier Hockey League (PHL) was held at the at the floodlit Sector 42 Hockey Stadium in Chandigadh.

Tier I of the PHL was a 5-week (January 5 - February 1) round robin tournament, with each team playing 8 league matches, and the top two teams playing for the championship in a best-of-three finals.

At the end of the league phase, the following were the team standings:

Team P W L GF GA GD Pts
Chandigadh Dynamos 8 5 3 11 9 2 14
Bangalore Lions 8 3 5 19 18 1 14
Hyderabad Sultans 8 5 3 14 11 3 13
Sher-e-Jalandhar 8 4 4 8 10 -2 12
Maratha Warriors 8 3 5 11 14 -3 8

Note that though Bangalore Lions had 5 losses, the losses came in the tie-breaker phase after the games were tied in regulation. Thus the Lions got 1 point each for 5 drawn games, even though they eventually lost those games.

Chandigadh Dynamos and Bangalore Lions met in the best-of-three finals. Bangalore won the first final 4-2, while Chandigadh won the second 3-2. In the deciding final played on February 1, a brace by Hari Parsad helped Bangalore Lions notch up a convincing 2-1 victory over local favourites Chandigadh Dynamos to win Tier I of the Premier Hockey League.

The high-voltage final was witnessed by over 25,000 spectators, something that even a Ranji Trophy final does not achieve these days.

The Lions became richer by Rs. 30 lakhs, while runner up Dynamos took home Rs. 10 lakhs. Third-placed Hyderabad Sultans bagged Rs. 6.5 lakhs. Sher-e-Jalandhar placed fourth while Maratha Warriors, who finished last, will be relegated to Tier II next year.

The top scorer of Tier I of the PHL was Len Aiyappa, with 8 goals. This was the second successive year that Len won the Top Scorer award, which was worth Rs. 1 lakh. The Lion of the Tournament (for best player) was awarded to Deedar Singh, while the Fair Play trophy and Rs. 1.5 lakhs went to Hyderabad Sultans.

Tier II of the PHL was a 3-week (January 5 - January 22) round robin tournament, with each team playing a total of 8 games and the winner being decided on points at the end of the round robin stage.

Debutants Orissa Steelers, coached by A. K. Bansal, won Tier II of the PHL with 21 points from their 8 matches. They will be promoted to Tier I (Premier Division) for next year's PHL.

The first-placed Orissa Steelers won Rs. 4 lakhs, runner up Chennai Veerans (19 points from 8 matches) received Rs. 2.5 lakhs, while Delhi Dazzlers won Rs. 1 lakh for finishing third.

Orissa skipper Sunil Ekka was adjudged Player of the Tournament for Tier II, and became richer by Rs. 75,000. Bangalore SAI Sports Hostel boy Raghunath scored 10 goals for Chennai Veerans through his dreaded drag-flicks to emerge the top-scorer in Tier II. He became richer by Rs. 50,000.

Controversy Hits the Wedding of Indian Hockey Captain Dileep Tirkey

ndia's unassuming hockey captain, Dileep Tirkey, got married on February 6 in Rourkela. The 29-year-old defender, who has already played in three Olympics, tied the knot with Meera Tirkey, the daughter of a retired central government official at Rourkela.

The wedding was held at a church at Hamirpur in the steel city.

For two weeks preceding his marriage, a simmering controversy brewed in Rourkela. Dileep Tirkey and Meera Tirkey belong to Oram Samaj tribal society, which does not accept any intra-Gotra marriage. And this created all the problems for the would-be husband and wife, with one group of the Oram Samaj filing an objection before the Padha (apex committee) that an intra-Gotra marriage should not be allowed.

The problem got aggravated when Dileep’s mother, Resina Tirkey, who was staying with him at Bhubaneswar, surfaced at Rourkela and objected to the marriage. Finally, despite Dileep’s mother’s objection, the Padha agreed and cleared the marriage proposal of the celebrity duo. Only after that could invitation cards be distributed among friends and relatives. Dileep’s mother then agreed to be present at the marriage.

Father Laurentus Lakra, the parish priest of Hamirpur Church told a newsaper: "The Roman Catholic Church does not believe in things like Gotra."

However, the above statement does not address the fact that sometimes even the Roman Catholic religion may have to adapt to the customs and traditions of tribes like the indigenous Oraon of Chota Nagpur, a tribe that possibly predates Christianity itself.

At a hurriedly called press conference before the marriage, a visibly shaken Dileep said: "The police has taken an understanding from the opposing party that they will not create any problem during the marriage."

The marriage ceremony went off smoothly. Tirkey, clad in a smart suit, came to the church in a procession, accompanied by tribal drummers and young dancers.

Bishop Alphonse Bilung solemnized the marriage as the ace defender and his fiancée exchanged vows. The wedding mass lasted about two hours.

The newly-married couple then went to the bride's residence in the Jagada area of Rourkela, where her father Ishodore Tirkey, himself a hockey player, hosted a reception for around 5000 guests.

Orissa's Minister of State for Sport and Youth Affairs Debasis Nayak and Indian hockey stars Lazarus Barla, Prabodh Tirkey, William Xalco and Bimal Lakra were present at the wedding.

One of the biggest sporting heroes from Orissa, Tirkey said he might have to return to the turf soon after the marriage as the Indo-Pak test series is round the corner.

Adidas Launches Artificial Turf-specific Hockey Shoes in India

didas India has announced the launch of ‘Turf Pro’- India’s first shoe specifically designed for playing on artificial turf surfaces. This innovative shoe has a turf-specific outsole, which improves linear and lateral grip of the players. The shoe also features a dual layered EVA midsole for optimized comfort and cushioning.

The ‘Turf Pro’ is priced at Rs. 1999, and is available in sizes ranging from 4 to 12. This shoe will be offered in select retail stores across India.

Andreas Gellner, Managing Director, Adidas India Pvt. Ltd. said, "Turf Pro is Adidas' response to a void in the hockey footwear segment. This shoe has been specifically designed to provide optimal performance for all hockey players and enthusiasts. The launch of Turf Pro further reinforces our commitment to constant technological innovation and drive for excellence as India’s most comprehensive sports brand."

Indian Airlines Win 22nd Indian Oil Surjeet Hockey Tournament

he 22nd Indian Oil Surjeet hockey tournament was held at the Surjeet Hockey Stadium in Jalandhar, from December 29, 2005 to January 5, 2006.

Two teams from Pakistan were among the participants - Shadman Hockey Club of Rawalpindi and Nobel Hockey Club of Lahore.

The matches were played on a knockout basis, with four teams - defending champion Punjab and Sindh Bank (Delhi), Punjab Police (Jalandhar), Indian Oil (Delhi) and Indian Airlines (Delhi), seeded directly into the quarter final rounds. Namdhari XI, whose coach bit Olympian Deepak Thakur on the shoulder and whose players assaulted Indian Oil players in the Jawaharlal Tournament in Delhi, was debarred from playing in the the tournament.

Indian Airlines and Indian Oil reached the final of the tournament, with the following match results:

Date Indian Airlines Indian Oil
Jan 2 (quarters) beat Seema Suraksha Bal (BSF) 2-0 beat CRPF 6-0
Jan 4 (semis) beat Bharat Petroleum 7-6 (sudden death) beat Punjab Police 3-2

In the tournament final held on January 5, Indian Airlines defeated Indian Oil 5-4 via the tie-breaker to win the 22nd Surjeet hockey tournament. The teams were locked 1-1 at full-time.

In the 24th minute, Airlines got their goal through a penalty stroke converted by Arjun Hallappa. Indian Oil restored parity in the 54th minute, when Olympian Deepak Thakur scored with a neat reverse flick. Regulation time ended with the teams tied at 1-1.

After the penalty shoot-out, both teams were level 3-3, forcing the implementation of sudden-death. Indian Oil's Deedar Singh failed with his stroke while Vikram Pillai made no mistake to give Airlines a 5-4 verdict and the title.

The winners bagged a cash award of Rs. 1 lakh while Indian Oil took home Rs. 60,000.

Deepak Thakur was declared the Player of the Tournament and was awarded Rs. 11,000. Indian Airlines players won 3 awards - Adrian D'Souza was adjudged Goalkeeper of the Tournament, Dileep Tirkey the Full-back of the Tournament and Prabodh Tirkey the Half-back of the Tournament. Swaranjeet Singh of the Surjeet Hockey Academy won the award for the Forward of the Tournament. All the awardees got Rs. 5,100 each.

After playing in the energy-sapping Surjeet hockey final in the afternoon in Jalandhar, star forward Dhanraj Pillai travelled three hours by road to reach Chandigadh for the season opening PHL game. Dhanraj played a great game almost all of 70 minutes to help his team win its inaugural PHL match. Dhanraj played the role of a playmaker to perfection, and even had a hand in a goal. Hats off to Dhanraj for his committment to the game!

The women's section of the tournament was held in parallel. Western Railway (Mumbai), Central Railway (Mumbai), PEPSU and Haryana participated in the women's tournament, which was held on a round robin basis.

Haryana won the women's title, beating PEPSU by a solitary goal in the final. The winners got richer by Rs. 31,000, while the runner up got Rs. 21,000.

Haryana lifted the Surjeet trophy for the third time. Ritu Rani of Haryana was declared the Player of the Tournament.

Photograph of the Month

1948 Olympics Goalkeeper Leo Pinto

he Photograph of the Month for February 2006 features the goalkeeper of the 1948 Indian Olympic hockey team - Leo Pinto. The photograph, taken sometime in 1927, was provided by Carmo D'Cruz.

Born on April 11,1914, Leo Pinto started his hockey career in Mumbai at the young age of 13, when he played for the Byculla Rovers in the 1927 Aga Khan Hockey Tournament. He went on to participate in 27 Aga Khan tournaments in a row.

In his stellar career, Leo Pinto's various teams were champions in the following:

  • 1948 Olympic hockey tournament
  • 1 National Hockey Championship
  • 4 Aga Khan hockey tournaments (three of them with Tata Sports Club)
  • 4 Beighton Cup hockey tournaments (all with Tata Sports Club)

Leo was made manager of the Tata Sports Club hockey team even while he was a player. He was one of the coaches of the 1972 Indian Olympic hockey team, which ended up with the bronze.

Leo's work in the goal against Holland in the 1948 Olympic hockey semi-finals was talked about highly. Of Leo's 1948 Olympic hockey teammates, Balbir Singh Sr., Leslie Claudius and Grahanandan Singh are still living.

Of the Wizard, Leo says, Dhyan wanted the ball to be brought to him. After that, it was sheer magic." For K. D. Singh 'Babu', Leo had the highest regard, "Babu would split open the defence and then pass to outside right Kishan Lal."

Leo is a Goan from Mapusa, while his late wife Janet Pinto was an East Indian. Leo lives in the Bandra suburb of Mumbai, near the well known Mount Mary Church.

Money Matters

angalore-based ING Vysya Life, one of India’s leading private life insurance companies, sponsored the victorious Bangalore team in the Premier Hockey League (PHL II). The team's name was changed from Bangalore Hi-fliers to Bangalore Lions, after the logo of ING bank.

In addition, ING Vysya Life signed on as the official insurer of the PHL, providing life insurance cover of Rs. 5 lakhs to each Indian player in the PHL (both Tier I and II).

ING Vysya Life also sponsored the "Lion of the Day" award for each Player-of-the-match for Tier-I and Tier-II games.

The Tier-I "Lion of the Day" was awarded Rs. 10,000, while the Tier-II "Lion of the Day" was awarded Rs. 5,000. The award during the best-of-three finals was worth Rs. 15,000 each. ING Vysya also sponsored the Lion of the Tournament, an award that was won by Deedar Singh.

Mr. Frank Koster, MD and CEO, ING Vysya Life, said, "The objective of this association is to develop and promote hockey in India. Hockey is a very popular sport in the Netherlands, ING’s home market, and Dutch hockey has strong connections with Indian hockey. In fact, two Indian players have participated in the Dutch hockey league for the first time earlier this year. They played for a team - Klein Zuitserland - that is also sponsored by the ING Group”.

Media Matters

n a feast for Indian hockey fans, ESPN telecast 20 matches live of Tier I of the Premier Hockey League (PHL), including the best-of-3 finals. ESPN went a step further by telecasting live 10 matches from Tier II of the PHL, giving fans a sneak peek at the developing talent in Indian hockey.

Not to be outdone, Doordarshan Sports telecast live the men's semi-finals and final of the 22nd Indian Oil Surjeet Hockey Tournament, played at the Surjeet Hockey Stadium in Jalandhar. In addition, the women's final, played between Haryana XI and PEPSU XI was also telecast live.

Akashvani (All India Radio) relayed running commentary of the above matches of the Surjeet Hockey Tournament.

Visitor of the Month

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

I come from Malta, a very small country in the Mediterranean Sea just to the south of Italy. I am sending you this e-mail to inform you about a new hockey website called HockeyStar which I created for my school diploma.

My studies required me to build a decent sports website, and apart from that, I also need a good number of visitors coming in regularly for the next 6 months. I decided to build my website like planetfieldhockey.com, but I wanted it to make it more interesting with pictures and cool interviews.

Anyway, now it is up to you to check the site, and if you are pleased at what you find, you can register on the site. I hope that you find www.hockeystar.org interesting. Regards, Steven Cachia

P.S. I think you have one of the best sites of field hockey. Though it's only on Indian hockey, I still enjoy reading your features and articles!

Fun With Numbers

Statistics by B. G. Joshi

his month's edition of Fun With Numbers deals with the 3 top rated FIH tournaments - Olympics, World Cup and Champions Trophy. Till date, 20 Olympic, 10 World Cup and 27 Champions Trophy men's hockey tournaments have been held.

Australia has the most final appearances - with 23. Netherlands has the most gold medals - with 12. Pakistan has almost double the final appearances of India, which has not been in an Olympic, World Cup or Champions Trophy final for the last 26 YEARS.

New Zealand is the only country with a 100% finals record. It made it to a final only once - in the 1976 Montreal Olympics - in which it upset Australia to win the gold. Either before or after that Montreal Miracle, New Zealand has never reached even the semi-final of any world-level tournament.

The top 5 countries with the maximum final appearances in the Olympics, World Cup and Champions Trophy men's hockey tournaments are:

Country Final Appearances Gold Silver
Australia 23 10 13
Netherlands 22 12 10
Pakistan 21 10 11
Germany 20 11 9
India 11 9 2

In women's hockey, Netherlands has the most final appearances - with 17. Australia has the most gold medals - with 11. India has never made it to the final of any women's FIH world level hockey tournament.

The top 5 countries with the maximum final appearances in the Olympics, World Cup and Champions Trophy women's hockey tournaments are:

Country Final Appearances Gold Silver
Netherlands 17 10 7
Australia 15 11 4
Germany 11 3 8
Argentina 7 2 5
South Korea 4 1 3

In women's hockey, there are two countries with a 100% finals record. In 1980, Zimbabwe made it to the Moscow Olympics hockey final and won the gold. Twelve years later, host country Spain made it to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics hockey final and won the gold. Both Zimbabwe and Spain have never made it to the final of any other FIH world-level hockey tournament.