Legendary Hockey Goalkeeper Shankar Lakshman Passes Away

Shankar Lakshman on the victory podium in the 1966 Bangkok Asian Games
Photograph courtesy Great Indian Olympians by Ezekiel and Arumugam

hankar Lakshman, the legendary Indian hockey goalkeeper of the 1950s and 60s, and arguably India's best ever goalkeeper, passed away in Mhow, Madhya Pradesh, on April 29.

He was 72, and is survived by his wife, son and three daughters.

According to family sources, Shankar complained about pain and uneasiness, and died while being taken to a local hospital. Doctors at the hospital said that though gangrene could be the cause of his death, a minor heart attack while being brought to the hospital could not be ruled out.

In all, Shankar Lakshman played in 3 Olympic finals and  3 Asian Games finals - all against Pakistan. Lakshman won gold in the 1956/64 Olympics and in the 1966 Asiad, and won silver in the 1960 Olympics and in the 1958/62 Asiad.

In four of these six finals, no Pakistani could score a goal against him. In the remaining two finals, Lakshman conceded three goals. Six finals and only three goals must rank as a wonderful record for any goalkeeper.

When Lakshman was selected as captain of the Indian hockey team in the 1966 Asian Games, he was the first goalkeeper to be named the captain of any country's hockey team. Under his leadership, India won its first-ever Asian Games hockey gold medal, beating Pakistan 1-0 in the final.

Shankar Lakshman received the Arjuna Puraskar after the 1964 Tokyo Olympics gold - he was the only player from the victorious team chosen to receive the coveted Arjuna Puraskar that year. In that epic final, Lakshman had managed to keep the dreaded Dar of Pakistan at bay for the entire 70 minutes.

Shankar Lakshman received the Padma Shree after the 1966 Asian Games gold. He is the only hockey goalkeeper to be doubly honoured thus by India.

Known for his daring exploits, Shankar had sharp reflexes and positioning sense that enabled him to be the guardian of the last line of defence for more than a decade. Stocky and stout, he made innumerable saves in his distinguished sports career.

Born in Mhow, the cantonment town of Indore, on July 7, 1933, Shankar Lakshman joined the army after passing his higher secondary from a local school. He rose to become Honorary Captain in the 5th Battalion of the Maratha Light Infantry, from which he retired in 1979. Shankar first played for the Services hockey team in 1955, and continued to represent them for a long time.

Shankar Lakshman was suffering from gangrene in his right leg, for which the doctors advised amputation. However, help came in the form of Lakshman’s family friend, vaid and former Madhya Pradesh Ranji cricketer Ramesh Parmar, who treated the legendary player free of cost by applying naturopathy.

The only help Shankar Lakshman received from the state was a Rs. 25,000 cheque towards his treatment from the Madhya Pradesh Sports Ministry. The Indian Hockey Federation had long forgotten its former captain. "They would not even know that he is still alive or dead," his grandson Vikram remarked.

In one of his last interviews, when asked what was wrong with Indian hockey, Laksham replied: "Everything! From selection to coaching to the players themselves. Our style is of little use on astro turf. Besides, the coaches are changed regularly. K. P. S. Gill himself has to be relieved now."

In an interview, former captain Gurbaksh Singh reminisced about his departed teammate:

The 1964 Olympic final against Pakistan was unforgettable. We were leading and Pakistan did a lot of attacking, but Shankar brought off some miraculous saves and finally we won. He was declared the Man of the Match. After the final, Pakistan's chef-de-mission Major General Musa said, 'Give us Joginder and Shankar Lakshman, we will defeat you'. It was the ultimate tribute to Shankar. At Tokyo, it was said that he could see the tiny hockey ball like a football. It was so true."

For the record, the then IHF chief Ashwini Kumar's rejoinder to Maj. Gen. Musa was: "Then you have to wage another war to get these two players."

Gurbaksh recounted that Shankar used to be the cheerleader in the team bus. "He would be the first to start singing 'Vatan ki raah mein vatan' from Shaheed. He always started with that song, and we all would sing with him. I am deeply touched that Shankar Lakshman is no more with us," he said.

Shankar Lakshman was cremated with full military honours at Mhow Muktidam on April 29. His funeral was attended by hundreds of family members and sports lovers from Mhow and Indore.

Balbir Singh Sr. Voted All-time Best Sikh Hockey Player

Balbir Singh Sr. with 3 Olympic and 1 World Cup gold medals

amous hockey player of yore, Balbir Singh Sr., has been adjudged the best Sikh hockey player of all time. An elite10-member jury, headed by former Chief Justice of India, J. S. Verma, were unanimous in judging Balbir Singh Sr. the best among the 30 nominated names at a function held in Delhi on April 26.

81-year-old Balbir warded off tough competition from Udham Singh to claim the top spot. The jury considered various factors in coming up with the list. Apart from individual brilliance, the panel also considered the player's contribution towards team efforts and as captain of the team, his conduct and use of the resources to enable winning results. The jury also spoke on the player’s contribution to the sport after his retirement.

The soft-spoken octogenarian received the award from the former member of the International Olympic Committee and former president of the Indian Hockey Federation, Ashvini Kumar.

Speaking on the occasion, in the presence of several hockey stalwarts, Balbir Singh Sr. thanked the jury for the honour and give an acceptance speech that was full of grace and humility and class.

"I am a secular and a nationalist to the core. The Indian team was never selected on the basis of religion. No one thought of how many Sikhs, Christians or Hindus were there in the national team. So I was not convinced about the idea of having a list of players on the basis of religion. But slowly I realised that it would do good to the image of Indian hockey and I agreed. For me, Dhyan Chand was the greatest. There was never another player quite like him. He was my role model," he said and went on to acknowledge the roles Mr. Ashwini Kumar and all the coaches who helped him in honing his skills.

Balbir sounded very excited when he talked about his goals in the Helsinki Olympics, where India won the gold. "Those were one of the best days of my life. It's a great honour to have played for my country, and I am proud to have been chosen for this award from amongst some of the greatest players."

"The first time you hear the National anthem on foreign soil (1948 Olympics), you can never know what that feels like," Balbir said. Indeed, Balbir Singh Sr. is an inspiration to the present generation of Indian sports fans.

The top 10 Sikh hockey players were:

Nos. Player Position Medals
1 Balbir Singh Sr. Centre-forward Olympics - 1948, 52, 56 - GOLD
Asian Games - 1958 - Silver
2 (Late) Udham Singh Forward Olympics - 1952, 56, 64 - GOLD
Olympics - 1960 - Silver
Asian Games - 1958, 62 - Silver
3 Harbinder Singh Centre-forward Olympics - 1964 - GOLD
Olympics - 1968, 72 - Bronze
Asian Games - 1966 - GOLD
Asian Games - 1970 - Silver
4 (Late) Prithipal Singh Full-back Olympics - 1964 - GOLD
Olympics - 1960 - Silver
Olympics - 1968 - Bronze
Asian Games - 1966 - GOLD
Asian Games - 1962 - Silver
5 Ajeet Pal Singh Centre-half Olympics - 1968, 72 - Bronze
World Cup - 1975 - GOLD, Captain
World Cup - 1973 - Silver
World Cup - 1971 - Bronze
6 (Late) Dharam Singh Sr. Full-back Olympics - 1952 - GOLD
Olympics - 1964 - Coach
7 Balbir Singh (Railways) Winger Olympics - 1968 - Bronze
Asian Games - 1966 - GOLD
Asian Games - 1970 - Silver
8 (Late) Surjeet Singh Full-back World Cup - 1975 - GOLD
World Cup - 1973 - Silver
Asian Games - 1974 - Silver
Asian Games - 1978 - Silver
9 Pargat Singh Full-back Asian Games - 1990 - Silver
Asian Games - 1986 - Bronze
Azlan Shah Cup - 1985, 91, 95 - GOLD
10 Balbir Singh (Services) Half-back Olympics - 1968 - Bronze
Asian Games - 1966 - GOLD

4 of the players were honoured posthumously. Mrs. Chanchal Randhawa received the award on behalf of her late husband Surjeet Singh. Lt. Col. G. S. Gill accepted the honour on behalf of his late father Dharam Singh Sr. Col. Balbir Singh's sister Mandish Kaur came forward to receive the honour bestowed on the late Udham Singh. The memento for the late Prithipal Singh was to be handed over to his family.

The idea of honouring 'Sardars of Indian hockey' was conceptualised by Sundeep Misra of Indianhockey.com. He said that a 30-minute documentary on each of the first five players would be made and shown on television in India, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia. And for the entire ten Sikh hockey players, there would be a coffee table book coming out. The 5 documentries and the book would be completed within six months of the event.

Members of the jury were:

  • J. S. Verma (former Chief Justice of India)
  • Leslie Claudius (winner of three Olympic golds and a silver)
  • Raghubeer Singh Bhola (winner of a Olympic gold and a silver)
  • Haripal Kaushik (winner of two Olympic golds and a silver)
  • Ashok Kumar (winner of Olympic bronze and World Cup gold)
  • Inder Mohan Mahajan (former President, Indian Hockey Federation)
  • Jagannadha Rao (former Sports Editor, PTI)
  • S. Thyagarajan (Deputy Sports Editor, The Hindu)
  • Prabhjyot Singh (Chief of Bureau, The Tribune)
  • Dil Bahra (London District Police Chief and UK hockey official)

As a fallout to the function, 10 former hockey Olympians got together at Chandigadh and condemned the honouring of country's best Sikh players, saying that such moves could lead to segregation and discrimination in the sport.

Tarlochan Singh Bava, Dharam Singh, Rajinder Singh Sr., Baljeet Singh Saini, Surinder Singh Sodhi and Harmeek Singh were among the players who criticized the above event. "We are all Indians first, then Punjabis or Sikhs or of any other state or religion," the Olympians said in a joint press conference.

"A player is selected as an Indian, and not as a Sikh, Muslim, Christian or Hindu or as a member of any other caste, religion or community," Bava said. "Why segregate players on caste lines? We collectively condemn the anti-national policy of the individuals who organised the function on sectarian lines," he added.

"The organisers have hurt the sentiments of Olympic medallists and the whole thing smacked of individualism ... it is not in the interest of the game," said Harmeek Singh.

"It was a crude attempt by a handful of players to corner all the glory," said Col. Harcharan Singh.

The Olympians said there had been occasions in the past where hockey players were awarded for their skills, but this particular move of honouring players on the basis of religion betrayed "cheap, popularity tactics".

Mukesh Kumar Ready To Sell Own House To Set Up Sports Academy

Hyderabad's Sporting Trio - Pullela Gopichand, V. V. S. Lakshman, Mukesh Kumar

fter having scored 80 goals in 290 matches over a 16-year career, hockey ace and former India captain Mukesh Kumar says he will now go to any length to set up a coaching academy in Hyderabad—even sell his house.

The 39-year-old right-winger, a manager with Indian Airlines, hopes that his Hyderabad house will fetch him Rs. 18 lakh, and help buy five acres of land from the Andhra Pradesh Government. With the land valued at Rs. 28.5 lakh, he is looking at sponsors for the rest of the money.

"I am committed to the sport. I have the support of my family and I want to give something back to the game however I can", Mukesh told The Indian Express.

The academy will be called The Mukesh Kumar Hockey Academy, and will not be restricted to hockey alone, he said. "It will be a multi-sport academy, with the likes of former India skipper Mohammed Azharuddin, stylish middle order batsman V. V. S. Lakshman and All-England champion Pulella Gopichand on board."

Mukesh says that though he is now just looking for money to buy the land, he may ultimately need Rs. 2 crore for the academy to take final shape.

"I want to share my experience with youngsters. My target is the under-16 category. After sometime, the 16 to 18 age group starts stagnating. I don't want this to happen. A player must be ready to play for India by the time he is 20," said Mukesh, who represented India in three Olympics and three Asian Games .

At a function attended by badminton star Pullela Gopichand and officials of the Sports Authority of India, Mukesh Kumar released a brochure listing the intended activities of the Academy.

Adrian D'Souza Gets A Surprise Call From Sachin Tendulkar

Article courtesy Vinay Nayudu of The Times of India
Photograph courtesy Dharam Divakar of Getty Images

ndian hockey goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza couldn't believe his ears when he received a call from his childhood hero Sachin Tendulkar.

Adrian was keen to seek tips from cricket's Master Blaster on how to survive the highs and lows of being in professional sport. Tendulkar got a wind of this and himself chose to call Adrian on his cellphone.

"Sachin's so humble. He counselled me for a long time, telling me not to bother about other people and spectators. 'Remain positive and focussed and you will achieve your goal', is what Sachin told me," said Adrian.

"It was an elderly advice that reminded me of my father telling me when I was kid that one day he would make me a Tendulkar," the goalkeeper recalled.

22-year-old Adrian, who grabbed headlines following his good show at the 2004 Athens Olympics, hit the rough road when he was dropped from the Indian team in 2006 after a disappointing show in the 2005 Champions Trophy. He couldn't make the 2006 India-Pakistan reciprocal 'test' tours, and since then has been working hard to make a comeback.

"I wanted to know how Sachin could return to perform at the same level after a break of few months. He told me 'Do not worry about the outer scenario. It is you who have to perform under the bar. It doesn't matter to which sport we belong, the pressures and expectations are the same when you play for the country. We go through the same feelings and have our own challenges to face'," revealed Adrian.

Sachin's words have come as a huge motivational boost for Adrian, who is presently playing a tournament for his employers Indian Airlines in Solan, Himachal Pradesh. "I have also realised that I am good at table tennis just like Sachin. I hope to perform like him in hockey too."

Much to his joy, Adrian has been called up for the national camp for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, to be held first in Chennai and later in Bangalore. Adrian is expected to be there by May 10.

Palanganda Family Win 10th Kodava Family Hockey Festival

Logo of the 2006 Kallichanda Cup

he 10th Kodava family hockey festival for the Kallichanda Cup was held from April 16 to May 4. 217 family hockey teams participated in the 2006 edition. The 21-day family hockey festival was conducted at 4 stadia in Ponnampet in south Kodagu.

The Kodava family hockey festival is listed in the Limca Book of Records as being the largest ever hockey event to be organised in any part of the world at one stretch.

The inaugural festivities began with a pooja at Basavesvara temple, followed by a procession taken out on the main street of Ponnampet. Rajya Sabha member and former Mayor of Bangalore, Smt. Ichettira Prema Cariappa, inaugurated the tournament by lighting the traditional lamp. Renowned singer Chekkera Thyagaraj and party rendered the invocation.

Firing of guns, hoisting of flags, acrobatic bike riding by the Central Military Police, shows by paratroopers and fireworks were among the highlights of the inaugural ceremony.

The Kallichanda family made arrangements for the live telecast of the semi-finals and the final of the tournament for the first time.

In the semi-finals held on May 3, Machamada upset defending champion Nellamakkada 6-5 via tie-breaker, while in the other semi-final, Palanganda prevailed over Mandepanda 5-2, also via the tie-breaker.

Both teams were entering the final for the first time in the 10-year history of the Kodava Hockey Festival. In the final held on May 4, Palanganda defeated Machamada to win the 10th Kodava Hockey Festival.

The winner of the tournament got a cash award of Rs. 30,000, and a trophy worth Rs. 25,000. The second placed team got Rs. 20,000. The highest goal scorer of the tournament was awarded a TVS Apache Bike, sponsored by the TVS Motor Company. The best goalkeeper, full back, half back and forward of the tournament each received Rs. 5,000.

Those from Kodagu who have captained the Indian team in the past include the legendary B. P. Govinda and M. P. Ganesh, with the last captain from Kodagu being M. M. Sommayya. Arjun Halappa is the present representative from Kodagu in the Indian hockey team.

How Come Coach Deedar Singh Is Unpunished For His Goondagiri?

Article courtesy Hindustan Times

ndiscipline, it seems, is not condemnable in Indian hockey. The Indian Hockey Federation has taken a lenient view on the misbehaviour of players and coaches, with the offenders almost always getting away scot-free or given light punishment.

In this latest example, Namdhari Sports Academy is continuing with Deedar Singh as coach even while informing the Nehru Hockey Tournament Society that they have 'suspended' him. It was this same Deedar Singh (see photograph above of Deedar swinging wildly and without control of his senses) who was accused of instigating his players and team's supporters to attack Indian Oil players after Namdhari's semi-final defeat in the 42nd Javaharlal Nehru Hockey Tournament held in New Delhi on December 30.

In a letter dated March 15, which is in Hindustan Times's possession, Namdhari Sports Academy secretary Rashpal Singh informed the Nehru Hockey Tournament Society that: "Deedar Singh, coach of Namdhari hockey team, has been suspended for not being able to control the players of Namdhari hockey team involved in the incident." Rashpal Singh also informed the Nehru Society that goalkeeper Swinder Singh has been reprimanded, and that he has assured of better behaviour in future.

But, contrary to Rashpal's claim, Deedar continues to function as coach. Since December 2005, when the incident happened, Namdhari XI have participated in three tournaments - an event in Gwalior, the K. D. Singh 'Babu' Memorial Tournament in Lucknow and a tournament in Ludhiana - all with coach Deedar at the helm.

Namdhari Sports Academy's lackadaisical approach to the entire episode became clear when Hindustan Times contacted their secretary Rashpal Singh. He claimed that Deedar Singh has "served out the suspension and only took charge of the Namdhari team a week-to-10 days back". However, Deedar himself confirmed that he was the coach at all three above-mentioned tournaments.

Neither the letter nor Rashpal himself made any mention of when the suspension came into effect.

"There has been no action against either me or my team," said Deedar, and boldly proclaimed his innocence in the entire episode, blaming Indian Oil players for the fracas. Interestingly, Rashpal, when questioned about Deedar's claims, in turn questioned Indian Oil players' role in the episode.

There is no denying that the Namdharis need to put their own house in order and take action on the suspended coach both in letter and spirit. Making a mockery of the 'suspension' won't help improve their image.

Ashok Kumar's Wife Passes Away At Age 50

Article courtesy Arumugam of Stick2Hockey.com

shok Kumar’s wife, Kamal Ashok, died suddenly in the wee hours of Wednesday, April 5, in New Delhi. It is gathered that entry of food particles in the wind pipe caused the sudden demise. Kamal Ashok was 50.

Her body was cremated at Lodhi Road Crematorium the same day evening. Relatives, hockey fraternity and media persons gathered in a large number. Those present included noted hockey players Harbinder Singh, his brother H. J. S. Chimni, M. P. Ganesh, M. K. Kaushik, M. P. Singh, Jagbeer Singh, Arvind Chhabra, Abdul Aziz, Virender Singh and Ajeet Pal Singh. Photographer Ashok Vahie, who shot Ashok and Kamal's marriage photographs, was also present.

Ashok Kumar and Kamal’s love for each other knew no manmade borders as both belong to different faiths (Hinduism and Sikhism). In fact, her body was taken to Gurudvara before being cremated as per Hindu tradition.

Kamal used to be a regular in most hockey gatherings, and endeared herself to everyone with her traditional warmth. She had visited Jhansi, the ancestral town of Ashok Kumar, the week prior to her death, and was making plans for their retired life. However, fate willed differently.

Under New Coach Bhaskaran, India End Up 3rd In 4-Nation Tournament

The Indian team with FIH president Els van Breda Vriesman
Photograph by Vijay Sathya

4-nation tournament was held in Warsteiner hockey stadium in Monchengladbach, Germany, from April 15 to April 17. The participating countries were host Germany, India, Spain and Argentina.

For India, this was their first tournament under new coach Bhaskaran, who took charge of the Indian team just a week prior to the tournament. It also marked the return of a couple of key players to the Indian national team.

Jugraj, returning to the team after a car crash that rendered him indisposed for more than 2 years, looked very much in the groove, albeit a trifle slower than what he was way back in 2003.

Gagan Ajeet Singh also returned to the Indian team with this tournament. Gagan Ajeet, who was then playing in the Dutch league, directly joined the Indian team in Germany.

Dileep Tirkey had to be recalled to the Indian team as three other defenders - William Xalco, Kanvalpreet Singh and Harpal Singh were nursing injuries. Army man Sunil Ekka was inducted as a replacement for William Xalco.

India finished 3rd in the 4-nation tournament, with the following match results:

Date Result Goal Scorers - India
Apr 15 Germany 4 - India 1 Tushar Khandekar (29 m)
Apr 16 Spain 5 - India 3 Tushar Khandekar (45 m)
Gagan Ajeet Singh (55 m)
Sandeep Singh (57 m), PC
Apr 17 India 3 - Argentina 2 Sandeep Singh (10 m), PC
Rajpal Singh (19, 26 m)

The Indian team for the 4-nation tournament was as follows:

Goalkeeper: Bharath Kumar Chetri, Baljeet Singh

Full-backs: Dileep Tirkey, Sandeep Singh, Sunil Ekka, Jugraj Singh

Midfielders: Arjun Halappa, Ajmer Singh, Prabodh Tirkey, Vikram Vishnu Pillai, Sardara Singh

Forwards: Rajpal Singh, Tushar Khandekar, Tejbeer Singh, Gagan Ajeet Singh, Hari Prasad, Adam Sinclair, Shivendra Singh

Officials: Coach - V. Bhaskaran; Assistant Coach - Harendra Singh, Manager - G. M. Srivaastavaa, Goalkeeping Coach - M. R. Negi, Physiotherapist - Ravi Kanakamedala

Punjab & Sindh Bank Win 111th Indian Oil Servo Beighton Cup

he 111th Indian Oil Servo Beighton Cup hockey tournament was held in Kolkata from March 28 to April 10. The oldest hockey tournament in India, possibly in the world, is still being played on natural grass.

Among the top teams, former champion Indian Airlines returned to the tournament after a gap of few years. Other teams participating in the tourament were Punjab and Sindh Bank (PSB), defending champion Seema Suraksha Bal (BSF), Jalandhar, runner-up Army XI, Punjab Police, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, ONGC, Canara Bank (Bangalore), Special Area Games (Ranchi) and City Club (Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh).

14 local clubs, along with a clutch of outstation outfits, were in contention for the four quarter-final berths. The four teams that qualified for the quarter-finals were Karnataka, Punjab Police, Calcutta Cricket & Football Club and Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation (CESC).

These teams joined Seema Suraksha Bal or BSF (Jalandhar), Indian Airlines (Delhi), Army XI (Delhi) and Punjab & Sindh Bank (Jalandhar), who were seeded directly into the quarterfinals.

At the end of the round robin quarter-final matches, the following 4 teams reached the semi-final stage - Army XI, PSB, BSF and Indian Airlines. PSB and BSF went on to reach the tournament final, with the following match results:

League Date Punjab & Sindh Bank Seema Suraksha Bal (BSF)
Quarters Apr 4 beat Punjab Police 3-0 beat CESC 2-0
  Apr 5 beat CESC 2-1  
  Apr 6 lost to BSF 1-4 beat Punjab & Sindh Bank 4-1
  Apr 7   drew with Punjab Police 2-2
Semis Apr 9 beat Army 2-1 beat Indian Airlines 7-6 (TB)

In the final held on April 10, PSB scraped past defending champion BSF 1-0 to win the 111th Beighton Cup. Mandeep Singh scored the all important goal for PSB in the 32nd minute of the game, ensuring sweet revenge for his team's loss to the BSF outfit in their quarter-final league match.

Gurvinder Singh Chandi of PSB won the award for Player of the Final. PSB have won the prestigious hockey tournament 4 times now.

Champion PSB got a cash award of Rs. 1.25 lakhs, runner-up BSF became richer by Rs. 50,000, and Indian Airlines won the Fairplay Trophy. The awards were given away by Kolkata's mayor, Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya.

Army XI Of Bangalore Win 44th Bombay Gold Cup Hockey Tournament

he 44th Bombay Gold Cup hockey tournament was held at the Mahindra Stadium in Mumbai from April 16 through April 29.

This year's tournament lost much of its national scope as glamour outfits Indian Airlines and Indian Oil were not invited. This, coupled with the absence of Punjab and Sindh Bank team due to injuries to its key players, meant that many of the country’s top players were not be on show at the Mahindra Stadium.

"Indian Airlines pulled out last year after the draw and it was known to the media a day before we got an official intimation, and we decided not to invite them this year," Kehar Singh, the secretary of the Bombay Hockey Association, the organisers of the tournament, said.

Kehar also expressed displeasure over Indian Oil leaving the BHA fold and playing in the Bangalore league which, he cited, was the reason for not extending an invitation to this team.

All the other top teams of the country took part, including 6 Railways teams - Western Railway (Mumbai), Central Railway (Mumbai), Southern Railway (Chennai), Northern Railway (Delhi), North-Eastern Railway (Gorakhpur) and South-Central Railway (Secunderabad) - and 5 Services teams - Army XI (Bangalore), Indian Navy (Mumbai), Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (Jalandhar), Sikh Regimental Centre (Rampur) and Corps of Signals (Jalandhar).

One local and three outstation teams qualified for the round robin semi-final stage, which was held from April 24 to April 28 - Western Railway (Mumbai), Bharat Petroleum Corporation (Bangalore), Namdhari XI (Ludhiana) and Army XI (Bangalore).

The two Bangalore teams - Army XI and Bharat Petroleum - advanced to the final of the tournament, with the following match results:

League Date Army Bharat Petroleum
League Apr 18 beat Northern Railway 2-0  
Pre-Quarters Apr 20   beat Hockey Bandra 3-1
  Apr 21 beat Air India 3-1  
Quarters Apr 22   beat South-Central Railway 7-6 (TB)
  Apr 23 beat Bombay Customs 5-1  
Semis Apr 24   beat Namdhari 2-1
  Apr 25 beat Namdhari 4-0 beat Western Railway 2-1
  Apr 26 beat Western Railway 2-1  

In the final held on April 29, a fit and fast Army XI come from behind twice and pipped Bharat Petroleum 3-2 to win the 44th Bombay Gold Cup.

Down 1-2 with only 13 minutes left in the match, the armymen counter attacked from the right before the ball was passed to Suresh Kumar who found the target to help the winners draw level.

Later captain Cyprian Aind, who got the first equaliser for the army team in the 14th minute of the match after BPCL had taken a fifth minute lead through Tushar Khandekar, scored the all-important match-deciding goal three minutes from end through a melee of sticks.

Uttar Pradesh Win 12th Sub-junior National Hockey Championship

he DNR 12th Sub-junior National Hockey Championship was held in Bheemavaram, Andhra Pradesh, from April 20 to April 25.

The tournament, which was co-sponsored by DNR College and Sports Authority of Andhra Pradesh (SAAP), was inaugurated amidst a colourful march past and traditional dance ballets at the DNR College grounds at Bheemavaram.

Andhra Pradesh Olympic Association president and MP, Lagadpati Rajagopal, declared the championship open, while SAAP chairman Raj Thakur was the guest of honour.

During the championship, a selection committee comprising Olympians Michael Kindo, Mukesh Kumar and Balvinder Singh selected probables for the Indian sub-junior team.

As many as 33 teams took part in the tournament, which was played on a league-cum-knockout basis. 3 grounds were utilised for the championship - the two grounds in DNR College, and in addition, the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan ground.

Overage problems haunted the championship, as players from almost all the teams were found older than the age limit. The Indian Hockey Federation had changed the age limit for sub-junior players, with only those players born on or after January 1, 1990 eligible to take part in the tournament.

It was shameful to note that barring Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, all the teams had overaged players. It is no wonder that foreign teams accuse the Indian national junior and sub-junior teams of lying and cheating on their ages.

The teams were divided into the following eight pools:

Group A: Manipur, Mumbai, Madhya Pradesh
Group B: Namdhari, Karnataka, Chandigadh, Delhi
Group C: Orissa, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Gujarat
Group D: Haryana, Bengal, Patiala, Chattisgadh
Group E: Andhra Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Vidharbha
Group F: Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Pondicherry
Group G: Himachal Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Tripura
Group H: Punjab, Hyderabad, Bihar

Uttar Pradesh and Haryana reached the final of the championship, with the following match results:

League Date Uttar Pradesh Haryana
League Apr 20 drew with Jharkhand 1-1 beat Chattisgadh 2-0
  Apr 21 beat Maharashtra 13-0 beat Bengal 4-1
  Apr 22 beat Pondicherry 21-0 beat Patiala 1-0
Quarters Apr 23 beat Bihar 3-2 beat Namdhari 1-0
Semis Apr 24 beat Andhra Pradesh 2-0 beat Orissa 2-0

In the semi-finals, stringent testing by the IHF resulted in Orissa playing with only 9 players against Haryana.

In the final played on April 25, Uttar Pradesh emerged as the 12th DNR Sub-junior National Hockey Champion, defeating Haryana 2-0.

At half-time, Uttar Pradesh led 1-0, courtesy a 32nd minute goal by centre-forward Deepak Yadav. Uttar Pradesh then added to the tally with a 62nd minute penalty corner conversion by left-out Abhinav Walter.

The winning team was coached by Subodh Khandekar. The losing team Haryana was making its first appearance in the sub-junior National final.

In the third place play-off match, Orissa defeated Andhra Pradesh 5-2. Andhra Pradesh dominated the first-half by scoring two unanswered goals. However, the second-half saw a resurgent Orissa score 5 goals in a 15-minute span to win the playoff.

Photograph of the Month

1966 Indian Asiad hockey team, Photograph courtesy Dil Bahra

he Photograph of the Month for May 2006 features the Indian hockey team playing Japan in the 1966 Asian Games hockey semi-finals in Bangkok.

The 1966 Bangkok Games resulted in the first ever Asiad gold for India, who did not concede a single goal in the entire tournament. India's match results were:

  • beat Malaysia 1-0
  • beat Sri Lanka 3-0
  • beat South Korea 5-0
  • beat Japan 3-0 (semi-finals)
  • beat Pakistan 1-0 (final)

The 1966 Indian Asiad hockey team had 3 Balbir Singh's - Balbir Singh (Punjab), Balbir Singh (Railways) and Col. Balbir Singh (Services). The player kneeling on the ground in the photograph is Col. Balbir Singh (Services).

Balbir Singh (Services) joined the Army in 1965, and represented Services in the National Hockey Championship from 1965 to 1974. He captained the Services team that won the Bombay Gold Cup in 1971.

Balbir rose to the rank of Colonel in the Indian Army. He was the third hockey player from Sansarpur, the nursery of Indian Hockey, to receive the Arjuna Puraskar, after Udham Singh and Jagjeet Singh.

Money Matters

lobal sports goods giant Nike has signed a 7-year deal as official kit sponsor with the All India Football Federation.

As per the contract, Nike will supply apparel, footwear and equipment to various national football teams - senior men, senior women, u-16 and u-20 teams.

As part of the deal, the multinational will also undertake marketing and promotional activities at the grassroot level, and merchandise replicas of the Indian team jerseys.

AIFF president Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi said, "The new partnership with Nike will bring in cutting edge innovation in apparel and footwear to our players, which we believe will enhance their on-field performance."

However, the deal amount was not disclosed, with both parties stating that "details are still being worked out".

Nike is the official kit sponsor of some of the best football teams in the world, like Brazil, Netherlands, Portugal, United States and South Korea. Nike is also the kit sponsor of individual European clubs like Manchester United, Arsenal, Barcelona, Juventus and Inter Milan, but the company has no such plans in India as of now.

"We have just started our association with the AIFF, and have not thought about deals with individual Indian clubs," Sanjay Mehra, general manager of Nike India, said.

The American company has signed a similar official kit sponsorship contract with the BCCI recently.

Media Matters

his month's edition of Media Matters is on the sports holdings of the Zee Sports television channel.

Zee Sports won BCCI's global media rights for non-ICC countries, for a whopping $219 million. These rights are for 25 one-day internationals that India will play against Pakistan, Australia, England and West Indies between April 1, 2006 and March 31, 2011, in neutral venues like Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Holland, US, UK, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. These global rights include not only television rights, but also that for broadband and radio.

The other bidders in the fray were Nimbus and Sahara. ESPN-Star was disqualified since its bid was below the minimum stipulated. Zee emerged as the winner by bidding $8.77 million per one day match.

In a move that will make the Zee Sports channel appear more like the Zee Cricket channel, Zee is now going to bid for the telecast rights of ICC (which includes World Cups) and for the telecast rights of the Australian, South African, New Zealand and England cricket boards, when they come up for renewal in 2007.

Zee Sports also hold the telecast rights of the All-India Football Federation (AIFF) tournaments, having signed a 10-year deal worth Rs. 273 crores in 2005. Zee Sports provides live coverage of the National Football League matches.

In tennis, Zee Sports holds the rights for Davis Cup, Federation Cup and WTA events for India.

Zee Sports Vice-President Gaurav Seth said that the efforts of Zee would be to develop other sports to the level of cricket. "We feel that there is a lot of potential in other sporting events, like football. They just need to be tapped and marketed properly."

Zee Sports, who need to earn at least $8.77 million per one day cricket match, hope to break-even in the next 18 months.

Visitor of the Month

Dil Bahra is this edition's Visitor of the Month. Dil Bahra supplied this edition's Photograph of the Month. The following profile of Dil Bahra is excerpted from an article by Akash Ghai for Chandigadh-based Tribune newspaper.

He is a policeman, hockey lover and writer rolled into one. An Inspector with the Metropolitan Police in London, Diljit Bahra, fondly known as Dil, is working on a book, “Sikh Hockey Olympians - 1928 to 2004”. For this purpose, he has been globetrotting to meet former and current players.

“As many as 127 Olympians will find a place in the book. Almost 80 per cent work has been done. The remaining groundwork is likely to be over shortly”, said Dil, who was in Chandigadh for the first two matches of the 2006 India-Pakistan hockey series. During his visit to the City Beautiful, Diljit got a chance to meet veteran Olympians Balbir Singh Sr. and Tarlochan Singh Bava.

Diljit was born in Kenya and migrated to England at the age of seven. Diljit has been the Technical Officer of the England hockey team for 15 years, and also served as the Media Officer of the 2002 Champions Trophy in Germany.

Diljit recommends a four-year term for the Indian coach, with clearly defined goals. “When the coach is given set targets with sufficient time to achieve them, positive results will come”.

He also stresses on the responsibility of the team manager. “He should be techno-savvy as it is the need of the hour to improve the standard of the game. He should be made accountable to provide all necessary paraphernalia to the coach,” he opines.

According to him, frequent chopping and changing in the Indian team should be avoided to achieve consistency. “Indian hockey has the ability to bring back its lost glory, but the need is to take right steps in the right direction,” concludes Diljit.

Fun With Numbers

Statistics by B. G. Joshi

his month's edition of Fun With Numbers lists the hockey players who went on to have political careers for their respective countries. The players are:

Post Country Player
Royalty Japan Takamado-No-Miya
  Malaysia Sultan Azlan Shah
Prime Ministers New Zealand Sir Sidney Holland
  Netherlands Rud Lubbers
  Pakistan Zafarullah Khan Jamali
Ministers England Peter Brooke
  India Aslam Sher Khan
  Pakistan Akhtar Rasool
Ambassador Pakistan Lal Shah Bokhari
Members of Parliament Australia Richard Ian Charlesworth
  India Jaipal Singh

Royalty (2)

Prince Takamado-No-Miya, a cousin of the Emperor of Japan, was a big supporter of hockey, and chairman of the Japan Hockey Federation. The prince passed away in 2003. A 4-nation Prince Takamadonomiya men's hockey tournament, as well as a 4-nation Takamadonomiya women's hockey tournament was held in Gifu, Japan, in May 2004. India participated in both the tournaments, with the men finishing 2nd and the women 4th and last.

Azlan Shah was the king of Malaysia for 5 years (1989-94). Sultan Azlan Shah’s enthusiasm for hockey began during his school days. He would go on to be the president of the Malaysian Hockey Federation, president of the Asian Hockey Federation and vice-president of the International Hockey Federation.The Sultan Azlan Shah Cup was instituted by him in 1983, when he became Sultan of Perak State and Deputy King of Malaysia.

Prime Ministers (3)

Sir Sidney Holland was prime minister of New Zealand from 1949-57. Sidney played hockey both for Canterbury and South Island, later became a test match referee, and managed the New Zealand representative hockey team which toured Australia in 1932.

Ruud Lubbers was prime minister of Netherlands from 1982-94. Ruud played a few international tests on home soil. Ruud also was the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 2001-05, before being forced to resign on a sexual harassment complaint.

Zafarullah Khan Jamali was prime minister of Pakistan from 2002-04. He was a Punjab University 'blue' in hockey from 1961-65, and also captained its team. He represented Pakistan as a hockey player at international level. He was chef-de-mission of the Pakistan Olympic contingent to the Los Angeles Games in 1984, where the Pakistan hockey team won its last gold medal in hockey. For almost two decades, he was the Chief Selector of the Pakistan hockey team.

Ministers (3)

Aslam Sher Khan of India scored the critical goal vs. Malaysia in the 1975 World Cup semi-final at Kuala Lumpur, where India ultimately won its sole World Cup title. Bhopal’s Aslam became Member of Parliament twice from Betul, Madhya Pradesh, and later served as Minister for Minority Welfare under Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao.

Akhtar Rasool (caps146, goals 22) was the captain of the World Cup winning Pakistani team at Mumbai (1982). He was elected Member of the (West) Punjab legislature for 5 consecutive terms (1985, 88, 90, 93, 97). Akhtar Rasool was Minister for Excise and Taxation from 1986-87, and Advisor to the Chief Minister of Punjab from 1988-90.

Peter Brooke, who was a British Minister in Margaret Thatcher's first administration in 1979, played international hockey for 10 years.

Ambassador (1)

Lal Shah Bokhari was the captain of the Indian Olympic hockey team in the 1932 Los Angeles Games. At the time of partition, he was the president of the Delhi Hockey Association, and also held a post in the Haj Pilgrims department in Delhi. After partition, he opted for Pakistan, and was his country's High Commissioner to Sri Lanka (then Ceylon). Lal Shah Bokhari died in Sri Lanka in 1958.

Members of Parliament (2)

Jaipal Singh (born January 3,1903; died March 20,1970) was the first tribal (Adivasi) to represent the country, in the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics. He was also the Indian team captain for the first 3 Olympic matches, where India had the following results - beat Austria 6-0, beat Belgium 9-0 and beat Denmark 5-0.

Due to an unknown reason, Jaipal Singh then went back to London and vice captain Eric Penniger performed the duty of captain in India's last pool match (beat Switzerland 6-0) and in the final of the Amsterdam Olympics (beat Holland 3-0). Jaipal Singh was elected Member of Parliament from Ranchi (now capital of Jharkhand) for four consecutive terms (1952, 57, 62, 67).

Richard Ian Charlesworth (born December 6, 1952) played international hockey for 17 years (caps 227, goals 90), won the World Cup once (1986) and the Champions Trophy thrice in succession (1983, 84, 85). Of his 227 caps, Charlesworth played 132 matches as the Australian hockey captain. After retiring as a player, Charlesworth had a phenomenal coaching record with the Australian women's hockey team (MP-213,W-168,D-21,L-24). Under his coaching, the Australian women won the Grand Slam twice (simultaneous holders of the Olympic, World Cup and Champions Trophy titles). Ric Charlesworth was elected Member of Parliament twice from Perth.