Khel Ratna Award for Sardar Singh - Is That A Right Choice?

ormer India captain Sardar Singh followed in the footsteps of legendary Dhanraj Pillai to become only the second hockey player to be awarded the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award.

A selection committee headed by Justice (Retd) C. K. Thakkar selected paralympian Jhajharia and Sardar Singh as the Khel Ratna award winners.

Sardar made his junior debut for India during the Indian junior team's tour to Poland in 2003-04. In 2006, he graduated to the senior side, making his debut against Pakistan.

Within just two years of his international debut, Sardar became the youngest player to captain the Indian team when he led the side at the 2008 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

Sardar represented India in two Olympics (2012 London - last, 2016 Rio - 8th). Sardar was included in the FIH All Star team in 2010 and 2011. He received the Arjuna Puraskar in 2012 and the Padma Shri in 2015.

The nomination of Sardar has once again put the spotlight on Sardar Singh's off-the-field travails.

Early in 2016, an Indian-origin British woman filed an assault case against Sardar Singh with the Ludhiana police. The woman - a former u-19 England hockey player - alleged that she had been in a relationship with the India skipper for some time, and that during the period Sardar had tortured her 'mentally, emotionally and physically', even pushing her to undergo abortion. The woman also alleged that the two got engaged in 2014 after their families consented, but then Sardar refused to marry her.

However, the former India skipper rubbished the charges that they were ever engaged.

"I know I could never do any bad things with anyone. I was literally shocked when I got to know about the charge, but my mind was very clear. I knew that I did nothing wrong. I want to worry only about those things that are under my control, and hockey is one of them," said Sardar.

Even while India were celebrating their massive 7-1 win over Pakistan in the Hockey World League Semi-Final in London in June 2017, Sardar was called for questioning by the UK police in connection with the case.

It is in this backdrop that Sardar's recommendation for the Khel Ratna seems misplaced. Agreed, he has not been found guilty or convicted, but what if at a later date he finds himself in an awkward situation?

Rule No 5.9 of the Khel Ratna nomination states: "The nominating authorities are required to certify in the form itself that the nominees are clear from vigilance/disciplinary angles and are not involved in acts of criminal and moral turpitude in nature."

In case of sportspersons employed with Central Government/ State Governments/PSUs or in private organisations, nominating authorities should obtain a requisite report from the concerned employers certifying that the sportsperson being nominated is clear from vigilance/disciplinary angle.

Rule 5.10, says: "Copies of the nominations received from organisations other than the National Sports Federations (NSFs) will be sent to the concerned NSF for verification of the details and the achievements and for checking if the nominated sportsperson has ever been warned/penalised for any unfair practice like age fraud/sexual harassment, doping etc."

If Sardar Singh does get convicted, Hockey India might not be able to stop the government from taking away the top sporting honour.

But for now, the award of the Khel Ratna has rejuvenated the Sirsa-born player. Said Sardar, "This award has strengthened my resolve to continue fighting for my place in the team and the external forces. My focus is to play the next year's World Cup, Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games."

Roelant Oltmans Sacked As India's Senior Men's Hockey Coach

oelant Oltmans, who first came to India as the High Performance Director and was then made the national coach after Australian Terry Walsh was sacked, has now himself been asked to go by Hockey India.

Though Oltmans was credited with significant tournaments finishes (bronze in the 2015 Hockey World League Final, silver in the 2016 Champions Trophy, gold in the 2016 Asian Champions Trophy), lack of podium finishes in top-tier tournaments, including the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2017 Hockey World League Semi-finals, played a role in his ouster.

Vasudevan Bhaskaran, part of the committee that sat to deliberate on the future of Indian hockey and its coaching staff, said,"Oltmans is a good coach, there is no doubt about that. You cannot take away the fact that he took the Netherlands to the Olympic gold and the World Cup gold. But if you look at his record of late, wins and tournament victories were coming only in Asia. On the world stage, it was getting difficult for India to stamp its mark."

Oltmans' constant refrain was that 'Indian hockey is a work in progress', but it couldn't negate the fact that short-term results are also needed for financial and public support.

Harendra Singh, who took India to the 2016 Junior World Cup gold, besides coaching the Ranchi Rays to the Hockey India League title in 2015, is one of the contenders for the senior coaching job. Harendra has since moved on from junior men's coaching. The new Indian junior men's team coach is Jude Felix Sebastian.

Hockey India had advertised for Oltmans' successor on its website, and set September 15 as the deadline to apply for the post.

2002 Manchester CWG Golden Girls: Where Are They Now?

Article courtesy Arumugam of

he gold medal victory by the Indian women's team in the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games was the first time any Indian hockey team, men or women, won a medal at the Commonwealth Games. This was the first title victory outside Asia for the Indian women's hockey team. This was also the Indian women's first ever victory over England. This remains to date Indian hockey's only gold at the Commonwealth Games.

In its road to the Commonwealth gold medal, India's match results were as follows:

Stage Date Result Goal Scorer - India
League July 26 beat Canada 1-0 Suman Bala Saini (44 m)
July 28 lost to New Zealand 1-3 Jyoti Sunita Kullu (16 m)
July 29 drew with England 1-1 Suman Bala Saini (23 m)
Quarters July 31 beat South Africa 4-3 (GG) Pritam Rani Siwach (46 m)
Jyoti Sunita Kullu (62 m, 77 m)
Suman Bala Saini (65 m)
Semis Aug 1 beat New Zealand 2-1 Jyoti Sunita Kullu (34 m)
Mamata Kharab (62 m)
FINAL Aug 3 beat England 3-2 (GG) Mamata Kharab (21 m, 78 m)
Seeta Gusain (30 m)

What India's golden girls are doing now, 15 years after the gold medal triumph, is listed below. 11 of the team members found employment with the Indian Railways.

Tingonleima Chanu: First goalkeeper at Manchester. Works in the Indian Railways in Mumbai, was one of the coaches with the national women's team. She is originally from Manipur.

Helen Mary: Second goalkeeper of the team, went on to play World Cup and the Asian Games, won the Arjuna award, works in Indian Railways in Bengaluru.

Suman Bala: Wonderful defender and penalty corner expert. Hailed from the Shahbad (Hariyana) nursery of coach Baldev Singh, is settled in the United Kingdom.

Kanti Baa: Lean but a great defender. Works in the Indian Railways in Ranchi

Amandeep Kaur: Another defender in the golden team, works in the Indian Railways.

Sumarai Tete: Went on to lead India at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, where India lost the final by the narrowest of margins to the host Australia. Greatest left-half of our times.

Sita Gussain: Permanent centre-half of the national team for 12 years, Works in Indian Railways in Delhi. Arjuna award winner.

Surajlata Devi:: She made her international debut at the age of 13, and went on to play for India for the next decade. She was the proud captain of the gold medal winning team in Manchester. Works in the Indian Railways in Mumbai.

Masira Surin: Another midfielder, smiling assassin, married men's hockey star Ignace Tirkey, is a Padam Shri awardee.

Sanggai Ihembal Chanu: There is nothing like Sanggai on the field, a treat to watch. Works in the Indian Railways.

Manjinder Kaur: The lanky inside-forward was always a match winner, works in the Indian Railways in Jalandhar.

Jyothi Sunita Kullu: The architect of the Manchester gold was a gazelle on the turf, a connoisseur's delight. She was wronged when the umpire blew away her stroke even before it was taken, but she then went on to earn penalty corners later in the same match which turned the tide against South Africa in the quarter-finals. Scored the golden goal which enabled India to reach the semi-finals. Works in the Indian Railways.

Pakpi Devi: She did not play for India after the Manchester 2002 due to medical problems. Works in the Indian Railways.

Saba Anjum: The youngest member of the gold medal winning Indian team, was the only player not to get employment, she got enormous motivation when conferred with the Padma Shree in 2013.

Mamta Kharab: Darling of the masses, walked away with all the fame due to her two game-winning goals in the semi-finals and final. She is Deputy Superintendent of Police with the Hariyana government, and is presently posted in Gurgaon.

Pritam Rani Sivach: The dashing forward got the Arjuna award, and runs a well known girls academy in Sonepat, Hariyana. Works in the Indian Railways. Star of her own right. She was the mother of a child when India won the Commonwealth Games gold.

Role Of Anglo-Indians In The Rise Of Australian Hockey

7 Anglo-Indians in Western Australia's 1958 national championship winning team
Article by Rohit Brijnath, Article and Photograph courtesy The Tribune

hen the Indian hockey team played Australia in the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, there were five Anglo-Indian players on the green. But only one was playing for India - Leslie Claudius. The other four, recent migrants from India, were playing for Australia (Eric Pearce, Gordon Pearce, Melville Pearce and Kevin Carton).

Anglo-Indians were the buffer between the British and the 'natives'. They were the people who turned the wheels of the Raj, manning the Railways, Telegraph, Customs, Army and Police. And they also excelled in sports.

With Independence for India came anxiety for the nation's Anglo-Indian community. It's estimated that a third of them departed during 1947 or soon after. Most went to Great Britain, but a significant number came to Australia. Migrants to Australia contributed vitally in making that country a hockey superpower.

Perth, on the western edge of the country, is the loneliest big city in Australia. "Since Perth is closer to Asia than other major Australian cities, the first port of call for Indians in Australia was Freemantle, near Perth, and a very large number of them settled in Western Australia," says Ric Charlesworth, the great Australian hockey player and coach.

Hockey had been played in Australia before 1947. But it got a huge boost from the Anglo-Indian influx after India's Independence, especially in Western Australia.

Charlesworth rattles off the names "the Pearce brothers, Fred Browne, Merv Adams, Don Smart, Terry Walsh, Paul Gaudoin". These are some of the prominent Anglo-Indians Charlesworth associated with as a player or coach.

Charlesworth says that the Australian style of hockey, before it was influenced by the Anglo-Indians, was 'pretty European'. "The Anglo-Indians brought in more finesse, different skills," he says. "So Australia's game is hybrid, more robust, but also gives emphasis to skills, what we associated with Indian hockey."

Among the Anglo-Indians were coaches like Fred Browne and Merv Adams, whose mentorship resulted in Western Australia becoming a hockey powerhouse. When the Anglo-Indian influence was at its peak, with the Pearce brothers in action, the state won the country's top championship eight times in nine years, from 1962 to 1970.

Many Australians started playing hockey after being inspired by migrant coaches. Michael Nobbs, the former Australian player who coached India, was one of them. "I still remember the day I fell in love with hockey, when as a boy I watched an Indian coach dribble the ball so fast that I could barely see the ball!" says Nobbs.

Charles Gaudoin landed in Perth in 1970. "When we arrived, we had only $7, which was what the Indian government allowed migrants to leave with," says Gaudoin. In India, his father had worked with the Central Excise and Customs department. "He was an excellent sportsman, he had played with top players like Leslie Claudius," says Gaudoin, who was the key man behind the formation of the Anglo-Indian hockey club Harlequins in Perth.

Over the years, tens of Anglo-Indians have played hockey for Australia. The most remarkable were the five Pearce brothers - Cec, Eric, Julian, Mel and Gordon. There have been many others, like Dick Carr, Don Smart, Kevin Carton, Ray Whiteside, Godfrey Phillips, Paul Gaudoin (son of Charles Gaudoin) and Chris Ciriello.

Ciriello, whose mother was born in Kolkata, scored a hat-trick when Australia beat the Netherlands in the World Cup, and also when Australia beat India in the final of the Commonwealth Games, both in 2016. "One of my first coaches was my grandfather," says Ciriello. "My basic skills are very good, and that's because of him."

Ciriello's grandfather is Rudolph Pacheco, who played hockey in India before migrating to Australia. "He was quite high up in the Customs, and always talked about how great it was to play hockey for a job in India in those days!"

Charles Gaudoin, a long-time coach who's coached in India as well, says that the Anglo-Indians, with skills, also brought in an element of mental toughness, without which migrants can't flourish. "There were times we had lots of regrets about leaving India," he says. "My mother missed India enormously, due to the lifestyle we had there."

There were racial tensions in Australia as well. In India, while the Anglo-Indians were seen as close to the white British rulers, Gaudoin didn't feel that there was resentment towards them after Independence. "In fact, it was far greater here in Australia!" he says.

There was racist name-calling, he recalls, and it sometimes happened on the field of play as well.

The Anglo-Indians were able to integrate quite well, better than other Indians or Europeans. There were key reasons for that, including the proximity of language, culture, religion, for Anglo-Indians are mostly Catholic or Anglican Christians. Plus, they were excellent in sports, and sports wins friends everywhere.

Indian Men's Team Results In 3-Country European Test Matches

he Indian men's team won 3 matches and lost 2 matches in their 5-match, 3-country European test matches. India had the following match results:

Venue Date Result Goal Scorers - India
Boom (BEL) Aug 9 Belgium 1 - India 0  
  Aug 10 Belgium 3 - India 1 Armaan Quereshi (4 min)
Waalwijk (NED) Aug 13 India 4 - Netherlands 3 Varun Kumar (17 min), PC
Manpreet Singh (30, 44 min)
Harjeet Singh (49 min)
  Aug 14 India 2 - Netherlands 1 Gurjant Singh (4 min), PC
Mandeep Singh (51 min), PC
Amstelveen (NED) Aug 16 India 4 - Austria 3 Ramandeep Singh (25 min-PC, 32 min)
Kanjugam Chinglensana Singh (37 min-PC, 60 min)

The Indian team for the European tour was as follows:

Goalkeepers: Akash Anil Chikte, Suraj Karkera

Defenders: Dipsan Tirkey, Kothajeet Singh, Gurinder Singh, Amit Rohidas, Varun Kumar

Midfielders: S. K. Uthappa, Harjeet Singh, Manpreet Singh (captain), Chinglensana Singh (vice captain), Sumit, Neelakantha Sharma

Forwards: Mandeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Gurjant Singh, Armaan Qureshi

Officials: Chief Coach - Roelant Oltmans, Coach - Arjun Halappa, Analytical Coach - Leendert Streeder, Director High Performance - David John

Photograph of the Month

Text and Graphic courtesy The Tribune

he Photograph of the Month for September 2017 is of the newspaper headline from The Tribune, Chandigadh, following independent India's first Olympic gold medal.

Exactly one year after Independence, India scored a historic victory over Great Britain in the first ever meeting between the two countries.

The final was played in a charged atmosphere, for the match had acquired greater significance than just a hockey game. Balbir Singh Sr. scored twice in the first half, Pat Jansen and Trilochan Singh added two in the second, as India won 4-0 to earn free India's first sporting success.

Money Matters

Photograph courtesy FIH

he Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) announced that Hero MotoCorp Ltd, the world's largest two-wheeler manufacturer, will be the title sponsor of the 10th Men's Asia Cup 2017. The Hero Asia Cup will be held at the Maulana Bhashani National Hockey Stadium in Dhaka, from October 11 - 22, 2017.

The Delhi-headquartered Hero MotoCorp is one of the biggest global supporters of hockey through its long-term association with the International Hockey Federation (FIH).

Speaking of this partnership, Mr. Pavan Munjal, Chairman, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Hero MotoCorp, said: "We have a successful ongoing association with the FIH, and we are now glad to associate with the Asian Hockey Federation. I am sure our Title Sponsorship of the 10th Men's Hockey Asia Cup will play the role of an enabler in taking the sport to new audiences."

Introduced in 1982, the first three editions of the tournament were won by Pakistan. Since then, India (2003, 2007) and South Korea (1993, 1999, 2009, 2013) have been the Asia Cup champions.

The winnner of the Men's Asia Cup will directly qualify for the Odisha Men's Hockey World Cup, scheduled to take place in Bhubaneswar from 28 November to 16 December, 2018.

This year, the premier continental tournament will feature host nation Bangladesh along with China, India, Japan, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan and South Korea. The teams have been grouped into two pools as follows:

  • Pool A: Bangladesh, India, Japan, Pakistan
  • Pool B: China, Malaysia, Oman, South Korea

India, at world ranked no. 6, is the top ranked team in the tournament. The marquee match of the tournament, between arch rivals India and Pakistan, will be played on October 15.

Media Matters

n the occasion of National Sports Day, observed on the birth anniversary of Major Dhyan Chand on August 29, Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tributes to legendary hockey player. Prime Minister Modi tweeted the following:

"On #NationalSportsDay, I congratulate all sportspersons and sports enthusiasts who pursue sports with great vigour and passion. I pay tributes to the exemplary Major Dhyan Chand, whose legendary sporting skills did wonders for Indian hockey."

In another tweet, the Prime Minister announced the launch of a web portal by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. "The #NationalSportsTalentSearchPortal gives essential direction and support to youngsters to pursue their sporting aspirations and shine."

The website of the National Sports Talent Portal is: On this portal, aspiring sportsmen and sportswomen can create their profiles and apply for various Sports Authority of India schemes.

Visitor of the Month

he September 2017 Visitor of the Month is Jaydeep Mukherjee of Piyaly Productions, Kolkata, who sent the following email to

We have completed the filming of a 52-minute documentary commissioned by Films Division titled 'These Villages Breathe Hockey'. We have filmed in Kodagu (Karnataka), Rourkela (Odisha) and Simdega (Jharkhand).

The strength of this documentary is that it presents the sport in a social context - how tribal players overcome great hardship to play the sport, the lure of sport-based jobs with Railways or the Army for people from the lower socio-economic strata, tribal dances/songs/customs, the importance of Kaveri in the Kodagu community, etc.

The documentary features interviews with Michael Kindo, Asunta Lakra, Poonacha, Baljeet Singh Saini and Peter Tirkey.

This is a documentary on hockey, but with a social conscience.

Fun With Numbers

Statistics by B. G. Joshi

he September 2017 edition of Fun with Numbers is on the Men's Asia Cup Hockey, the 10th edition of which will be held in Dhaka from October 11 - 22, 2017. The list of all Men's Asia Cup medal winners is shown in the table below.

  • Only 3 countries have won the Men's Asia Cup gold - South Korea, Pakistan and India
  • Pakistan won a hat trick of the first 3 Men's Asia Cup tournaments - 1982, 1985 and 1989 - after which they won no other title
  • Since 1989, the last 6 Asia Cup tournaments have been won by either South Korea or India
  • Host Bangladesh has never won any medal in the Men's Asia Cup
WR Country Appearances P W L D GF GA Best Finish
13 South Korea 8 45 30 8 7 185 74 4 Gold (1993, 99, 2009, 13)
14 Pakistan 9 47 37 7 3 260 51 3 Gold (1982, 85, 89)
6 India 9 49 37 8 4 246 53 2 Gold (2003, 07)
18 China 8 42 19 17 6 116 99 2 Bronze (1982, 2009)
12 Malaysia 9 46 21 18 7 161 91 1 Bronze (2007)