Sambalpur University Is All-India Inter-University Champion

Photograph courtesy

he month of March in USA is when the national inter-university basketball tournament takes place. The tournament is affectionately called March Madness, every single match is shown live on television, and the value of the television contract between CBS/Turner (telecasting networks) and the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) is worth over 1 Billion dollars a year! The 2017 inter-university basketball championship was played in front of 72,000 fans in a football stadium in Phoenix, Arizona, and 23 million viewers watched the final on television.

The month of March in India is when the Inter-University hockey tournament takes place. Not a single match is shown on television, whether live or recorded. There is no television contract with the AIU (Assocation of Indian Universities). In fact, this tournament is so utterly non-lucrative and low key that the AIU outsourced the hosting of the tournament to the Delhi-based Nehru Hockey Society. If 72,000 fans watched the inter-university basketball final in the US, less than 72 people watched the inter-university hockey final in India.

USA is India times 1000 when it comes to university sports.

The Nehru All-India Inter-University Hockey Tournament was held from March 1 - 10, 2017 at the Shivaji Stadium in Delhi. The following top 16 university teams from the country participated:

  • North Zone: Guru Nanak Dev University (Amritsar), Punjabi University (Patiala), Punjab University (Chandigadh), Punjab Agricultural University (Ludhiana)
  • East Zone: Veer Bahadur Singh Poorvanchal University (Jaunpur), Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth (Varanasi), Sambalpur University (Sambalpur)
  • West Zone: Barkatullah University (Bhopal), Sant Gadge Baba University (Amravati), Savitribai Phule University (Pune), Lakshmibai National University of Physical Education (Gwalior)
  • South Zone: Acharya Nagarjuna University (Guntur), Bangalore University (Bengaluru), University of Madras (Chennai), Sri Ramasvami Memorial University (Chennai)

Sambalpur University and Veer Bahadur Singh Purvanchal Unversity reached the inter-university final, with the following match results:

Stage Date Sambalpur University Date Veer Bahadur Singh Purvanchal
League Mar 4 beat Punjab Agricultural University 5-3 Mar 1 drew with Guru Nanak Dev University 3-3
  Mar 5 beat Savitribai Phule University 9-3 Mar 2 beat Barkhatullah University 3-2
  Mar 6 beat Bangalore University 3-1 Mar 3 beat Acharya Nagarjuna University 10-1
  Mar 7 beat Sri Ramasvami Memorial University 7-3 Mar 8 beat Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth 4-2
Semis Mar 9 beat Guru Nanak Dev University 2-0 Mar 9 beat Bangalore University 6-5
Final Mar 10 beat Veer Bahadur Singh Purvanchal 4-3    

In the final that took place amidst incessant rains, the score was tied 1-1 in regulation time, 3-3 in the first round of penalty shootout, before Sambalpur University posted a sudden death victory to become the All India University Champions

Earlier, Guru Nanak Dev University beat Bangalore University 3-1 to clinch the bronze.

Indian Eves Whitewash Belarus 5-0 In 5-Test Series

India vs. Belarus, Photograph courtesy Press Trust of India

orld no. 12 India outplayed no. 20 Belarus by winning all 5 matches of a 5-test series played at the Bharatiya Khel Praadhikaran (SAI) sports complex in Bhopal. For both the teams, this series was preparation for the upcoming Hockey World League Round 2 tournament in West Vancouver, Canada in April, which serves as the 2018 World Cup qualifier.

The match results of the 5-test India-Belarus series was as follows:

Date Result Goal Scorers - India
Mar 2 India 5 - Belarus 1 Navjyot Kaur (11 min-PC, 15 min)
Poonam Barla (29 min)
Deep Grace Ekka (57 min), PC
Gurjeet Kaur (60 min), PC
Mar 3 India 2 - Belarus 1 Rani Rampal (9 min), PC
Lalremsiami (60 min), PC
Mar 5 India 3 - Belarus 1 Rani Rampal (35, 39 min)
Deepika (42 min)
Mar 6 India 2 - Belarus 1 Renuka Yadav (6 min)
Gurjeet Kaur (12 min), PC
Mar 8 India 3 - Belarus 1 Vandana Katariya (6 min)
Gurjeet Kaur (15 min), PC
Rani Rampal (55 m), PC

The India-Belarus head-to-head record is as follows: Played - 6, Wins by India - 6, Goals for India -20, Goals for Belarus - 6.

The Indian team for the India-Belarus test series was as follows:

Members (partial list): Rani Rampal (captain), Renuka Yadav, Gurjeet Kaur, Deepika, Navjyot Kaur, Vandana Katariya, Lalremsiami, Poonam Barla, Deep Grace Ekka

Officials: Sjoerd Marijne (chief coach)

Foreign Experts Bringing Professionalism to Indian Hockey

he coaching and administrative personnel of Hockey India comprise many foreign nationals, as can been seen from the table below:

Category Level Post Expert Country
Hockey India   High Performance Director David John Australia
    Chief Executive Officer Elena Norman Australia
Men's Senior Chief Coach Roelant Oltmans Netherlands
    Scientific Adviser Scott Conway Australia
    Analytical Coach Hans Streeder Netherlands
  Junior Scientific Adviser Robin Anthony Webster Arkell South Africa
Women's Senior Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne Netherlands
    Scientific Adviser Wayne Patrick Lombard South Africa
    Analytical Coach Eric Wonink Netherlands
  Junior Scientific Adviser Daniel Barry Australia

These Hockey India positions are staffed from three countries - Australia, Netherlands and South Africa. This international staffing distribution of senior positions in the national federation is unlike that of any other sports body in India.

S. V. Sunil and Harmanpreet Singh Win AHF Player of the Year Awards

Mercurial Forward S. V. Sunil in action against Pakistan

ce forward S. V. Sunil and young dragflicker Harmanpreet Singh have been named as the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) 2016 Player of the Year and 2016 Promising Player of the Year respectively.

The nominations for these awards were made by coaches of the national teams across Asia and the criteria of nomination was based on performances in 2016.

Harmanpreet had a stupendous 2016, winning the gold in the Junior World Cup in Lucknow, silver in the Champions Trophy in London and also part of the senior men's team at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

"I am very excited to receive this award. Awards and recognition are motivations for a young player like me to improve on my skills and come up with memorable performances. I believe 2016 was a great year for Indian hockey and I would like to thank the AHF for honouring me with this prestigious award and Hockey India for their ongoing support," said Harmanpreet.

Sunil, on the other hand, played a vital role in India's historic silver medal in the 2016 Champions Trophy in London, where he led the forwardline. Considered to be one of the fastest men on the pitch in the world, Sunil has also served as the team's vice-captain.

"I believe Indian hockey is growing year by year and we have enjoyed some memorable victories in 2016. This award is an icing on the cake. This award could not have been possible if not for our team work. I would like to thank Hockey India for their efforts, and our coaches and support staff too, who work with us day in and day out as one big family," said Sunil.

In addition to the two players, Hockey India Chief Executive Officer Elena Norman was awarded with the Diploma of Merit, for her contribution as the CEO of Hockey India, which has had an outstanding impact on the development and promotion of Asian hockey within the continent and beyond.

On recieving the prestigious award, Norman said, "I would like to thank the Asian Hockey Federation for recognising the efforts of Hockey India. Over the years, we have strived towards making hockey a popular sport not just in the region but world over, with our events like the Coal India Hockey India League. I would like to thank the entire team at Hockey India, Executive Board and our players for their contribution. This rare distinction will only inspire us to do better work in promoting hockey."

All these awards were announced during the AHF Congress that was held in Muscat. The event was graced by Prince AHF President Prince Abdullah, FIH CEO Jason McCracken, Executive Board Member of AHF Akhtar Rasool and President of UAE Hockey Ismail Ali Al Banna, among other distinguised dignitaries.

Bhubanesvar To Host Two Global FIH Hockey Events

Graphic courtesy FIH

he International Hockey Federation (FIH) and Government of Odisha have officially confirmed that the Men's Hockey World League Final 2017 and Hockey Men's World Cup 2018 will be held in Bhubanesvar, India.

It was also confirmed that the State of Odisha will be Title Sponsor of both events. As a result, the official event titles will be the 'Odisha Men's Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017' and the 'Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018'.

The Odisha Men's Hockey World League Final will be held from 1-10 December, 2017. The Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup will take place in late November/early December in 2018.

The venue is already familiar to hockey fans. Not only did it successfully host the 2014 Men's Hero Hockey Champions Trophy, it is also home to the current champions of the Coal India Hockey India League - the Kalinga Lancers.

The multi-purpose stadium, built in 2010, has facilities for athletics, football, basketball, tennis, table-tennis and swimming, ensuring that it is well equipped to host international sporting events.

Speaking about this announcement, FIH CEO Jason McCracken said: "Each time we return to the country for major events, Hockey India raises the bar, embracing goals outlined in our 10-year Hockey Revolution strategy. We have no doubt that the Odisha Men's Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017 and the Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 will be unforgettable events for everyone involved."

FIH President Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra added: "Bhubaneswar is a city ready to welcome the world. Its passionate sports fans and our experienced hosts will create an incredible environment for our stars to shine during what are the two of the biggest events in our sport. We encourage fans from across the world to come together and share the glory with their teams, and also get to experience first-hand the rich culture and warm hospitality offered in this amazing part of the world."

Photograph of the Month

Photograph courtesy Harper's Bazaar India

he Photograph of the Month for April 2017 is of drag flicker Rupinder Pal Singh, who features in the Harpers Bazaar India - Bride edition.

The photoshoot has a hockey goalpost as the backdrop, and a bride is shown with a hockey stick, with hockey balls and cones lying on the turf.

The handsome, smiling bridegroom in the picture is Rupinder Pal Singh.

Money Matters

Photograph courtesy FIH

he FIH held a workshop at Lausanne, Switzerland, during the weekend of March 3-5, 2017 to help federations complete their formal applications for the forthcoming global Home and Away League, due to begin in 2019.

15 national federations attended 3 full days of workshops in Lausanne, the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee. This was an opportunity for executives from each of the candidate federations understand the expectations of the FIH with regard to this new competition in the international calendar.

FIH CEO Jason McCracken said: "The FIH has an important period ahead in order to plan the logistics and operations of what we are trying to achieve on a global scale. Playing hockey at home, in front of full stadiums, over a five to six month period every year, and significantly increasing our television and digital exposure with sponsors and broadcasters, is very compelling. The global Home and Away League is crucial to growing our game. The federations now have an incredibly important couple of months ahead as they pull together their application documents."

The following national federations have progressed to the candidate stage of the selection process for Global Home and Away League:

No. Men's League Women's League
1 Argentina Argentina
2 Australia Australia
3 Belgium Belgium
4 England China
5 Germany England
6 India Germany
7 Ireland India
8 Japan Ireland
9 Malaysia Italy
10 Netherlands Japan
11 New Zealand Netherlands
12 Pakistan New Zealand
13 South Africa South Africa
14 South Korea South Korea
15 Spain Spain
16   USA

During the candidate application stage, each federation will submit in-depth information about financial sustainability, commercial vision, legal compliance, proposed venues, organisation and personnel, event delivery and presentation, marketing strategies, proposed legacy impact and any added value they can bring to the competition.

The deadline for submitting the next application information is 30, April 2017. The final evaluation process will then take place and the selected countries will be officially announced at a launch event in June 2017.

Media Matters

Graphic courtesy MakeMindASport hashtag on Twitter

he Twitter hashtage #MakeMindaASport is a campaign run by Mindsports Academy, aiming to get games such as Chess, Scrabble and Go, which have participation numbers of more than one billion worldwide, recognised as sports.

28-year-old Sam Quek, who was part of the Great Britain women's hockey team that won a historic gold in the 2016 Rio Olympics, is at the forefront of this campaign.

As Sam said in a recent interview with the Daily Express, "To be able to concentrate for hours and maintain your performance [in mind sports] you have to be very physically fit - when you're playing, your blood pressure goes up, your heart and respiratory rates go up. I like to see the brain as another muscle, which can be trained and which can be improved."

Chess and Bridge are among 26 sports that have applied for inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The chances of either mind sport being admitted into the Olympics is low.

Visitor of the Month

he April 2017 Visitor of the Month is Nikhil Jacob, who is the Class Representative of the Symbiosis School of Sports Sciences, located in Lavale, Pune. Nikhil sent the following email to

My name is Nikhil Jacob. I am pursuing my MBA in Sports Management from Symbiosis School of Sports Sciences. Currently I am doing a case study on India vs. Pakistan hockey statistics. If you do have the available statistics from the last 3 years, kindly share them with me. It would be of great help. Thank you.

Fun With Numbers

Statistics by B. G. Joshi

he April 2017 edition of Fun with Numbers is on the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, the 26th edition of which is being held in Ipoh, Malaysia from April 29 - May 6, 2017.

  • The Sultan Azlan Shah Cup is the longest running international tournament of Asia
  • Host nation Malaysia has never won the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament, in 25 attempts
  • Malaysia reached the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup final 5 times, and lost all 5 finals

The participants of the 2017 Azlan Shah Cup and their tournament records are given below.

Country App MP W L D GF GA Best Finish
Australia 16 95 66 13 16 330 160 9 Gold (1983, 98, 2004, 05, 07, 11, 13, 14, 16)
India 19 114 53 47 14 247 228 5 Gold (1985, 91, 95, 2009, 10)
New Zealand 16 96 35 45 16 200 220 2 Gold (2012, 15)
England/Great Britain 8 45 16 19 10 95 90 1 Gold (1994)
Malaysia 25 143 37 74 32 266 386 5 Silver (1985, 2007, 09, 13, 14)
Japan 2 9 0 9 0 10 27 6th (1987)