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Balbir Singh Sr.'s Book Released by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh

Olympian Balbir Singh Sr., PM Dr. Manmohan Singh, Sports Minister M. S. Gill
Photograph and Article by Arumugam, courtesy Stick2Hockey.com

he Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, released the book 'Golden Yardstick: In Quest of Hockey Excellence', written by 84-year old Padma Shree Balbir Singh Sr.

The 45-minute function was held in the evening of June 2nd at the Prime Minister's sprawling residential complex in New Delhi. Those who count in the contemporary sports administration in India, including Sports Minister Manohar Singh Gill, Indian Olympic Association Secretary Randhir Singh, Ad-hoc IHF Selection Committee Chairman Aslam Sher Khan, 1948 and '52 Olympian, Commander (Retd.). Grahanandan Singh, Col. (Retd.) Balbir Singh, besides a few kith and kin of Balbir Singh Sr. were part of the great occasion.

This is the legendary player's second book after 'Golden Hat Trick: My Hockey Days' which he wrote in the late 70s. When that book was brought out, both M. S. Gill and Balbir Singh Sr. were working in the Sports Department of the Government of Punjab.

About the Book

Hardbound, A-4 size, fully colour, glossy art paper, 170 pages, 100 images (vintage and contemporary) and 90 diagrams.

The sport of hockey lacks a yardstick by which to measure the fundamental skills of a player, which this book addresses. This book is an iconic player's treatise on assessment and development of captivating hockey skills, based on his association with the game for over five decades. The tests outlined in the work aim to achieve perfection and excellence at every level. The author uses his vast experience as a successful player, coach, manager and administrator to succinctly show how to educate and train prospective hockey players. Each of the 20 chapters deals with specific skills, their governing rules, easy but effective drills to acquire them, along with numerous diagrams. Besides basic skills, the contours of physical fitness and mental toughness are also adequately outlined.


Jacques Rogge - International Olympic Committee (IOC) President

"As an Olympian, I am particularly pleased to write the preface for this book..….The Olympic Movement is grateful to outstanding athletes around the world, like Balbir Singh, who have made a difference and shaped the history of their sport in the 20th century"

Ashwini Kumar - Former Vice President, IOC and former President, Indian Hockey Federation

"This book authored by Balbir Singh may give hockey the kick-start that the game needs, and enable it to make a new beginning"

About the Author

Born in October 1924, Balbir Singh Sr. rose to fame at the 1948 Olympic Games where he spearheaded India's attack en route to the gold medal. He went on to win gold at the Helsinki (1952) and Melbourne (1956) Olympics as well. Till date Balbir Sr. continues to remain closely associated with the game. He was also former Director of Sports, Punjab

Video Link

IBN Live - http://www.ibnlive.com/videos/66633/hockey-legend-balbir-singhs-quest-for-excellence.html.

Young Indian Team Comes 2nd In Azlan Shah Tournament

he 17th 7-nation Azlan Shah Hockey Tournament was held in Ipoh (Malaysia) from May 8 - May 18. Among the 7 participating countries, 4 are Beijing bound (Pakistan, Belgium, Canada and New Zealand), while 3 will be watching the Games on television (India, Argentina and Malaysia).

India, with a mostly junior side, defeated 3 of the 4 Beijing-bound teams to finish second to Argentina in the tournament. Thus the teams that finished 1-2 in the tournament (India and Argentina) have not qualified for the Beijing Olympics, while the teams that finished 3, 4, 5 and 6 have qualified for the Olympics.

This brings into question the quality of hockey that will be on display in the Beijing Olympics, with two strong teams - Argentina and India - out of the fray. What exactly were the FIH officials smoking, when they came up with their silly qualification criteria?

Back to the Azlan Shah tournament; India's match results were as follows:

Date Result Goal Scorers - India
May 8 New Zealand 4 - India 3 Sandeep Singh (3 goals)
May 9 Argentina 5 - India 1 Sandeep Singh
May 11 India 3 - Canada 1 Divakar Ram (44, 51 m)
Shivendra Singh (53 m)
May 12 India 6 - Belgium 4 Shivendra Singh (9, 67 m)
Divakar Ram (22 m)
Sandeep Singh (29, 34 m)
S. V. Sunil (32 m)
May 15 India 2 - Pakistan 1 Sandeep Singh (6 m)
Divakar Ram (20 m)
May 17 India 2 - Malaysia 1 Shivendra Singh (9 m)
Sandeep Singh (10 m)

In the final played on May 18, Argentina beat India 2-1 to win the 17th Azlan Shah hockey tournament. Drag-flicker Sandeep Singh put India into the lead with a penalty-corner in the 11th minute. But Argentina soon drew level when Almada slammed in a goal in the 14th minute. Almada's golden goal in the third minute of extra-time won the title for Argentina.

The final placings were as follows: 1 - Argentina, 2 - India, 3 - New Zealand, 4 - Pakistan, 5 - Canada, 6 - Belgium, 7 - Malaysia

The following were the player awards:

  • Player of the Tournament: Rehan Butt
  • Top Scorer of the Tournament: Sandeep Singh (9 goals)
  • Fair Play Trophy: Malaysia
  • Player of the Final: Thomas Argento

The Indian team for the 17th Azlan Shah tournament was as follows:

Players: P. R. Sreejesh, Adrian D'Souza, Sandeep Singh, V. Raghunath, Divakar Ram, Innocent Kullu, Sarvanjeet Singh, Ranjeet Singh, Vikram Kanth, Sardara Singh, A. B. Cheeyana, Vivek, S.V. Sunil, Gurvinder Singh, Birendra Lakra, Shivendra Singh, Mandeep Antil and Gurbaj Singh

Officials: A. K. Bansal (Chief Coach), Ric Charlseworth (Adviser), Pargat Singh (Manager)

Kolkata 0 - Sundargarh 3 (Artificial Turf Hockey Fields)

Article by Satish Sharma, courtesy Stick2Hockey.com

he Sundargarh district of Orissa will have the rare distinction of having three synthetic hockey turfs in the country. The district already has two turfs at present, and by the end of June it will have added another one.

The third turf is being laid at the Sports Authority of India (SAI)'s Special Area Games Centre, Sundargarh, the district headquarters. The other two turfs in the district are at the sports hostel, Panposh, and at the Biju Patnaik Hockey stadium, Rourkela.

The Panposh hostel turf belongs to the Orissa state government, the Biju Patanik Stadium turf is the property of Steel Authority of India Limited, while the new turf at Sundargarh belongs to the Sports Authority of India. 3 different turfs, 3 different owners.

Building the turf was a 2-year project. In 2006, the SAI sanctioned Rs. 2 crores to lay a synthetic turf at the Sundargarh centre. In 2007, Lok Nirman Vibhag (Public Works Department), Orissa, started the base work for the turf to be laid. In 2008, the poligrass to be laid at the maidan reached Sundargarh, and will be completed by the third week of June.

The SAG centre in Sundargarh has 28 boys in hockey (men's), 28 girls in hockey (women), besides a few other students in archery and athletics.

The synthetic hockey turf will add competitive edge to the Panposh, Rourkela and Sundargarh hockey trainees, which would augur well for Orissa hockey and the nation's hockey.

We only wish the authorities concerned chalk out a practical plan to effectively utilize the new facility all year round.

K. P. S. Gill Unilaterally Withdraws Indian Team From Tournament

Acting against the interests of India's junior team preparations

national u-21 hockey camp was being held at Sonepat (Haryana) from 26th May to 8th June under coach A. K. Bansal, to prepare the Indian junior team for a 4-nation tournament in Poland from June 11 to 15.

The IHF, which was suspended by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) after an emergency executive meeting in April, wrote a letter on the old IHF President's letterhead, unilaterally and unconditionally withdrawing India from the u-21 tournament.

The organisers do not know the gutter politics of Indian hockey - they promptly scrapped India and invited neighbouring Austria to take part in the competition.

When the IOA ad-hoc committee came to know of this development, they made a plea to change the tournament to a 5-nation tournament and include the Indian team.

The organisers refused the request - after all, why should they change their event from a 4-nation to a 5-nation tournament, with increased matches, days and cost, just to accommodate the the petty, childlike and immature infighting of Indian hockey.

IOA-appointed selection panel chief Aslam Sher Khan said: "After being sacked as the IHF chief, Gill has stooped down to ruining our children's future. After all, it was India's junior team, this tournament had the Government's approval, and we were preparing for next month's Jr. Asia Cup. It just goes to show we (former players) were right in demanding his removal."

When Gill was contacted for his reaction, he said, conveniently, "I have been barred by the court from making any statement on Indian hockey." Is sending a letter on the IHF president's letter head not barred by the court?

When another official of the disbanded IHF was contacted, he said: "We took the decision to pull out of the tournament in Poland because it was not a strong competition."

As a result of such brainless IHF ex-officials, the Indian junior team spent a few extra days in a camp in Sonepat, Haryana, instead of flying to Poland to play in a 4-nation tournament. All this, just one month before the Jr. Asia Cup.

Aslam Sher Khan Unilaterally Lifts Ban on 3 Punjab Players

n cricket's IPL, when Harbhajan Singh slapped a fellow player Sreesanth after a game, the BCCI immediately swung into action and banned Harbhajan for the rest of the IPL.

In hockey's PHL, in the 2007 final between Sher-e-Jalandhar and Orissa Steelers, umpire Satinder Sharma was attacked, abused and manhandled by the Sher-e-Jalandhar players after he allowed a goal in favour of Orissa Steelers.

Play was held up for 25 minutes. Umpire Satinder walked out of the field, and never came back to officiate the final. This incident happened on national television, with thousands of young viewers watching, and gave the impression that hockey is a game played by hooligans.

The PHL organising committee fined Sher-e-Jalandhar 50% of their prize money. The IHF slapped a 3-year ban on all domestic and international tournaments for forward Tejbeer Singh and goalkeepers Kamaldeep Singh and Maninder Singh.

Now comes big mouth Aslam Sher Khan, chairman of the Selection Committee nominated by the IOA. He was visiting Jalandhar and he announced lifting of the ban on the 3 players, with immediate effect.

Olympian Ajeet Pal Singh hit back, questioning the authority of Aslam Sher Khan to take such a decision. "It’s a policy matter, and only the ad hoc committee can take a decision on lifting the ban. I am for the players, but cannot acts of indiscipline by players."

The ban cannot be lifted according to the whims and fancies of one person (Aslam Sher). It will send the wrong message to the umpiring fraternity, and also encourage player indiscipline. If Indian players resort to rough play, question umpires' decisions, and in some cases manhandle umpires when decisions go against them, they should be warned, carded (yellow/green/red) or banned as appropriate. Aslam should not be taking such unilateral actions, where player indiscipline is concerned.

Photograph of the Month

Photograph courtesy Triple Olympic Gold Medallist Balbir Singh Sr.

he Photograph of the Month for June 2008 shows the 1956 Indian Olympic team in the Opening Ceremony at Melbourne. India's flag bearer seen in the photograph, and captain of the 1956 Indian hockey team, is Balbir Singh Sr.

The 1956 Melbourne Olympic hockey final was the first time India and Pakistan ever met in hockey. India emerged triumphant 1-0 to win the gold, with R. S. Gentle scoring the only goal of the match via a short corner. This was the sixth consecutive gold medal for India in Olympic hockey.

Money Matters

Photograph courtesy PTI

unique fund raiser was held in Chandigadh on June 5 to support the staging of the Dharam Singh Memorial Hockey Tournament, being held from June 8-12. Three leading hockey players - Prabhjyot Singh, Rajpal Singh and Deepak Thakur - auctioned the apparel worn by them during major Indian victories in hockey.

Said Rajpal: "No sponsors have come forward for this tournament, which is held each year in the memory of the great hockey player and coach Dharam Singh. As a result, myself and Prabhjyot decided to auction the T-shirts worn by us in the final of the 2007 Asia Cup, when we defeated Korea 7-2. Deepak put on the auction block the T-shirt worn by him when India defeated Pakistan 7-4 in the 2003 Champions Trophy."

In the auction, the reserve price was set at Rs. 25,000. The hall where the event was held was full to the brim. The bidders came from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and even Australia.

Jersey number 15 worn by Prabhjyot Singh in the Asia Cup final against South Korea went for Rs. 95,000. Prabhjot had fired 15 goals for India in the tournament - returning as the highest goal scorer in the meet. Jalandhar-based manufacturer of hockey sticks, Sandeep Agarval, was the proud winner of the bid.

The jersey of ace forward and teammate Rajpal Singh fetched Rs. 75,000. He had worn it in the Asia cup final, scoring two goals in the game. Rajpal's jersey was bought by Australia-based Rajpal Sandhu.

Olympian Deepak Thakur, who was not present at the auction, had his jersey auctioned for Rs.60,000. He wore it for a Champions Trophy 2003 match against Pakistan, a memorable game that India won 7-4. It was bought by Bhupinder Singh of Allahabad.

"We always knew that the common man is with us, and a huge turnout of people for today's auction is a testimony to it," asserted Rajpal Singh.

Auction and tournament organiser, Olympian Sukhbir Singh Gill, said: "I am happy with the auction. Money that we have collected today will go entirely for the tournament. There is still a long way to go. We get very little help from the government. If we go to sponsors, they ask infinite questions and their demands are too many. After days of negotiations what we get is just Rs. 5,000 - Rs. 7,000, which is a pittance."

A young girl who said she could not afford the high reserve price of the jerseys was assured by players Prabhjot and Rajpal that they would give her one of their jerseys, since she had shown such interest in the sport.

Media Matters

television interview of K. P. S. Gill was conducted by The Indian Express Editor-in-Chief Shekhar Gupta on NDTV 24x7's 'Walk the Talk' programme.

The entire transcript of the interview is available on Stick2Hockey.com's website at this link. Some interview excerpts from Gill are given below:

  • Jyothikumaran was extremely greedy and extremely stupid
  • India's original coach for the 2004 Athens Olympics was found drunk and inebriated 10 days before the Olympics. Hence he was removed.
  • The Indian hockey team selectors are M. P. Ganesh and ... we have ... I can’t name them off-hand
  • I tried to meet Sports Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar on a number of occasions. He was never available
  • The Government should declare Chandigadh as a hockey city, because youngsters in Chandigadh are better fed than any other city in India

Visitor of the Month

Pramod Batlaw from the organisation Hockey Improvement Trust, is this edition's Visitor of the Month. Pramod wrote the following to BharatiyaHockey.org:

I represented India in the 1978 Bangkok Asian Games. My appeal to everyone is to work together and contribute our time, knowledge, energy and money for improving the standard of hockey in our country. Let's get back to our glory days.

Fun With Numbers

Statistics by B. G. Joshi

he 30th Men's Champions Trophy will be held in Rotterdam, Netherlands, from June 21-29. The 6 participating countries are:

  • Europe (3) - Netherlands, Germany, Spain
  • Asia (1) - South Korea
  • Oceania (1) - Australia
  • America (1) - Argentina

The country records in the Men's Champions Trophy of the above 6 participants are:

Country Played Matches W L D GF GA Best Finish
Argentina 3 19 5 11 3 32 58 5th (1987, 2003)
Australia 28 159 83 41 35 410 295 8 Golds (1983-85, 89, 90, 93, 99, 2005)
Spain 17 100 31 49 20 201 241 1 Gold (2004)
Germany 26 150 78 39 33 349 293 9 Golds (1986-88, 91, 92, 95, 97, 2001, 07)
South Korea 7 44 13 22 9 88 115 1 Silver (1999)
Netherlands 27 156 88 42 26 428 298 8 Golds (1981, 82, 96, 98, 2000, 02, 03, 06)

4 of the above 6 countries - Netherlands, Germany, Australia and Argentina - have also qualified for this year's Women's Champions Trophy, showing the gender equality in these four countries in the sport of hockey.