Lack of Gender Parity - No Women's Sports League In India

Victorious Blue Warriors women's hockey team, Photograph courtesy The Star of Malaysia

n the occasion of International Women's Day (8 March), it is important to reflect that with the exception of badminton, there is no professional league for any women's sport in India. Beyond getting jobs based on the sports quota, there are no professional avenues for sportswomen in India.

Former Indian women's hockey captain Ritu Rani played hockey for the Blue Warriors team in the 2018 Malaysian Women's League, as there is no competitive hockey league for women in India.

Ritu, who represented India 244 times in the last 11 years, said that the Malaysian Hockey Confederation should be congratulated for introducing the women's league in 2015.

"In India, a lot of money is invested for the Men's Hockey India League (HIL), which is the richest league in the world. Top players from all over the world have played in the HIL. But sadly, no women's league was ever introduced in India, although there are many talented and promising players in the country," said the 26-year-old Haryana woman.

Seven teams played in the Malaysian Women's League this season:

  • Royal Malaysian Police Blue Warriors
  • Terengganu Ladies Hockey Team
  • Kuala Lumpur Wipers
  • PKS Universiti Tenaga Nasional (Uniten)-KPT
  • Penang Juniors
  • MSN Kedah
  • Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM)

Blue Warriors had taken the services of 3 Indian women players - former India captain Ritu Rani, forward Narender Kaur and midfielder Reena Rani. They also had three Malaysian national team players in their team - goalkeeper Farah Ayuni Yahya and strikers, Norbaini Hashim and Nurhaslinda Said.

While UniTen went on to win the 2018 Malaysian Women's League title, the Blue Warriors beat Uniten in a thriller to win the Vivian May Soars Cup. In the final, they came back from 0-2 to tie the game at 2-2, with both their goals being scored in the last 5 minutes of the game, and then went on to win the tie-breaker 3-1.

The Blue Warriors Indian investment did pay off. Ritu Rani scored the first goal for the Blue Warriors in the 56th minute, and later in the shootout, Narinder Kaur and Ritu Rani scored two of the three shootout goals for the winning Blue Warriors team.

Ace Indian Team Striker S. V. Sunil Gets Married In Mangaluru

Image of S. V. Sunil and his wife courtesy Indian team Goalkeeper P. R. Sreejesh

he Indian hockey team's speedy striker Somavarpet Vittalacharya Sunil, better known as S. V. Sunil, got married at the Kudroli Gokarnanathesvara temple in Mangaluru on Sunday, March 4, 2018.

The bride Nisha hails from Derebail Konchady in Mangaluru. Sunil, a resident of Somavarpeta in Kodagu district, got engaged to Nisha a couple of months ago.

Star goalkeeper P. R. Sreejesh posted a photo of the newly married couple, while congratulating them.

The wedding reception was held on March 5, 2018 at Kaveri Hall in Madikeri, the headquarters of Kodagu district. Former and current members of the Indian hockey team attended the reception.

S. V. Sunil was born on May 6, 1989 in Kodagu district of Karnataka. In his growing up years, he used a bamboo stick to play the game as he came from a humble background.

He made his international debut at the Asia Cup in Chennai in 2007, a tournament which India won. Besides winning multiple tournaments at the Asian level, Sunil was part of two triumphs at the world level - a bronze at the 2015 Hockey World League and a silver at the 2016 Champions Trophy.

In 2016, Sunil was named the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) Player of the Year. He was conferred the prestigious Arjuna Puraskar in 2017 by the President of India.

India Finish Second From Last In The 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup

Photograph credit Hockey India

he 27th Sultan Azlan Cup was held in Ipoh, Malaysia, from March 3 - 10, 2018. The following teams took part - world no.1 Australia, no.2 Argentina, no. 6 India, no. 7 England, no. 10 Ireland and no. 12 Malaysia. All six of the competing nations have qualified for the Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup that takes place in Bhubaneswar at the end of this year.

The team that finished first in the 27th Azlan Shah Cup - world no. 1 Australia - won every match it played in the tournament. The team that finished last in the tournament - Ireland - lost every match it played in the tournament except for one match when it beat India. Inconsistent India showed how much of a gap they have with the world's elite - they lost every alternate match in the tournament.

India ended up second from last in the tournament, with the following match results:

Stage Date Result Goal Scorers - India
Pool Mar 3 Argentina 3 - India 2 Amit Rohidas (26, 31 min), both PCs
  Mar 4 India 1 - England 1 Shilanand Lakra (14 min)
  Mar 6 Australia 4 - India 2 Ramandeep Singh (52, 53 min)
  Mar 7 India 5 - Malaysia 1 Shilanand Lakra (10 min)
Gurjant Singh (42, 57 min), both PCs
Sumit Kumar (48 min)
Ramandeep Singh (51 min)
  Mar 9 Ireland 3 - India 2 Ramandeep Singh (10 min), PC
Amit Rohidas (26 min), PC
5th vs. 6th Mar 10 India 4 - Ireland 1 Varun Kumar (5, 32 min), both PCs
Shilanand Lakra (28 min)
Gurjant Singh (37 min)

The Indian team for the 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup was as follows:

Goalkeepers: Suraj Karkera, Krishan B Pathak

Defenders: Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey, Varun Kumar, Surender Kumar, Neelam Sanjeev Xess, Mandeep Mor

Midfielders: S. K. Uthappa, Sardar Singh (captain), Sumit, Neelakantha Sharma, Simranjeet Singh

Forwards: Gurjant Singh, Ramandeep Singh (vice-captain), Talvinder Singh, Sumit Kumar (Jr.), Shilanand Lakra

Officials: Chief Coach - Sjoerd Marijne, Manager - David John

Indian Women Defeat South Korea 3-1 In 5-Test Hockey Series

Rani Rampal being felicitated at the Indian Embassy in Seoul. Photograph credit Hockey India

he Indian women's hockey team played a 5-test series with the South Korean women's hockey team from March 5-11, 2018, at the Jincheon National Training Center, about 90 minutes drive from Seoul. South Korea is ranked no. 9 in the world, with Indian women one place behind at no. 10. This was part of the Indian women's team's preparation for the upcoming Commonwealth Games hockey competition.

India won the 5-test series 3-1, with the following match results:

Date Result Goal Scorers - India
Mar 5 India 1 - South Korea 0 Lalremsiami (5 min)
Mar 6 India 3 - South Korea 2 Poonam Rani (6 min)
Rani Rampal (27 min)
Gurjeet Kaur (32 min), PC
Mar 8 South Korea 2 - India 1 Lalremsiami (16 min)
Mar 9 India 3 - South Korea 1 Gurjeet Kaur (2 min), PC
Deepika (14 min), PC
Poonam Rani (47 min)
Mar 11 India 1 - South Korea 1 Vandana Katariya (48 min)

Ahead of their final match, the Indian eves attended a dinner party on 10th March, 2018 at the Indian Embassy in Seoul, hosted by the Ambassador of India Shri Vikram Doraiswami.

The victorious Indian women's team was as follows:

Goalkeepers: Rajani Etimarpu, Svati

Defenders: Deepika, Sunita Lakra (vice captain), Deep Grace Ekka, Thoudam Suman Devi, Gurjeet Kaur, Pukhrambam Susheela Chanu

Midfielders: Monika, Namita Toppo, Nikki Pradhan, Neha Goyal, Leelima Minz, Udita

Forwards: Rani Rampal (captain), Vandana Katariya, Lalremsiami, Navjyot Kaur, Navneet Kaur, Poonam Rani

Officials: Chief Coach Harendra Singh

Punjab Win 8th Hockey India Men's National Hockey Championship

Photograph of the winning Punjab team courtesy The Hindu

he 8th Hockey India Men's National Hockey Championship was held in Lucknow from March 15-25, 2018. There were two competition venues in Lucknow - Padma Shri Mohammad Shaheed Hockey Stadium in Vijayant Khand, and Major Dhyan Chand Hockey Stadium in Guru Gobind Singh Sports College.

20 teams from all over India took part in the men's nationals, and were divided into four pools as follow:

  • Pool A: Bharatiya Rail, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy, Odisha, Bhopal
  • Pool B: Punjab & Sindh Bank, Air India, Gangpur-Odisha, Hariyana, Jharkhand
  • Pool C: Punjab, Mumbai, Services, Karnataka, Petroleum Sports Control Board
  • Pool D: Chandigadh, Comptroller and Auditor General of India, Bharatiya Vishvavidyalaya Sangh (AIU), Namdhari XI, Kendriya Reserve Police Bal (CRPF)

Hockey Punjab, who previously won the national title back in 2012, won the 8th Hockey India National Hockey Championships with the following match results:

Stage Date Punjab Date Petroleum Sports Promotion Board
Pool Mar 15 beat Karnataka 5-2 Mar 16 beat Karnataka 8-1
  Mar 16 beat Services 3-2 Mar 17 beat Mumbai 7-3
  Mar 18 drew with Mumbai 3-3 Mar 19 beat Services 4-3
  Mar 20 drew with Petroleum Sports Promotion Board 2-2 Mar 20 drew with Punjab 2-2
Quarters Mar 22 beat Comptroller & Auditor General of India 1-1 (5-4 SO) Mar 22 beat Chandigadh 3-0
Semis Mar 24 beat Bharatiya Rail 3-1 Mar 24 beat Air India 3-2
Final Mar 25 beat Petroleum Sports Promotion Board 2-1    

In the bronze medal match, Bharatiya Rail beat Air India 1-1 (5-4 SO).

Photograph of the Month

Graphic courtesy FIH

he Photograph of the Month for April 2018, nay, the Question of the Month in the minds of all non-Australian Commonwealth hockey teams is "What to do about Australia?"

In the 5 Commonwealth Games men's hockey tournaments held so far, Australia has won all 5 gold medals. In the five finals they played, they had 4 shutout victories, scored 24 goals and conceded only two goals as shown below:

  • Australia 4 - Malaysia 0 (Kuala Lumpur, 1998)
  • Australia 5 - New Zealand 2 (Manchester, 2002)
  • Australia 3 - Pakistan 0 (Melbourne, 2006)
  • Australia 8 - India 0 (Delhi, 2010)
  • Australia 4 - India 0 (Glasgow, 2014)

The biggest defeat of India in men's hockey is the 0-8 drubbing at the hands of Australia in the 2010 Commonwealth Games hockey final held in the nation's capital.

The Australian women's hockey team's record is almost as impressive, having won 4 of the 5 Commonwealth Games women's hockey tournaments.

As women's head coach Paul Gaudoin puts it: "How do we explain Australia's Commonwealth Games record? Our opponents all offer different styles of play but the commonality lies with us. Every Australian hockey team, men's or women's, has the desire to be successful at every tournament. There is a culture of hardworking athletes who will always play out the whole match. We never look to draw it, we are an aggressive attacking style of people. We look for a win that we can translate into Olympic and World Cup success."

Money Matters

he International Hockey Federation (FIH) has announced that 37th Champions Trophy Hockey (men) will be held at De Bredase Hockey and Bandy Club in Breda, Netherlands, from 23 June - 1 July, 2018.

The six participating countries are as follows:

  • Netherlands (host)
  • Argentina (2016 Olympic gold medallist)
  • Australia (2014 World Cup, 2016 Champions Trophy, 2017 Hockey World League gold medallist)
  • Belgium (2016 Olympic silver medallist) - invitee of FIH Executive Board
  • India (2014 Asian Games, 2016 Asian Champions Trophy, 2017 Asia Cup gold medallist) - invitee of FIH Executive Board
  • Pakistan (3-time Champions Trophy gold medallist) - invitee of FIH Executive Board

Dutch bank Rabobank has been confirmed as the title sponsor for the event. As a result, the official event name is the "Men's Rabobank Hockey Champions Trophy Breda 2018". Rabobank was also the title sponsor of the 2017 EuroHockey Championship.

The competition in Breda will be the last ever Men's Champions Trophy event to held.

The opening match will feature one of the biggest rivalries in the sport. Pakistan, the country that launched the Hockey Champions Trophy back in 1978, will take on arch-rivals India at 14:00 CEST on Saturday 23 June.

It is a fixture that is sure to draw thousands of spectators to the venue as well as millions of fans tuning in from across the world, eagerly anticipating the latest episode of this long-running battle between two of the sport's most successful nations.

Media Matters

he Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games will be the largest sporting event of Australia for this decade. Over 6,600 athletes and officials from 71 nations and territories will converge on the Gold Coast for the 11-day mega sporting event being held from April 4-15, 2018.

The host broadcaster of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games is NEP Australia. NEP will provide high definition television coverage from 18 competition venues. 325 cameras deployed across these venues will generate more than 1,100 hours of live television to a cumulative television audience of 1.5 billion people.

The rights holders to the telecasts include:

  • Australia: Seven Network
  • United Kingdom: British Broadcasting Service
  • New Zealand: Television New Zealand
  • India: Sony Pictures Networks
  • Asia: Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union

NEP will also produce two daily highlights feeds of 52 minutes duration each, for distribution to the broadcast rights holders' home countries.

Visitor of the Month

The Golden Hat Trick

he April 2018 Visitor of the Month is Karanvir Singh Kalsi from London, who sent the following email to

I am interested in getting the books that you have displayed in the Indian Hockey Library section of your website - especially Goal! by Dhyan Chand and World Hockey Champions by M. N. Masood, both pertaining to the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

Can you help me purchase them? I am based in London, UK, so please take that into consideration in terms of delivery cost.

Fun With Numbers

Statistics by B. G. Joshi

he April 2018 edition of Fun with Numbers is on the Commonwealth Games hockey competition (men, women), which will be held in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, from April 5-14, 2018.

Commonwealth Games Men's Hockey

The pools for the Commonwealth Games men's hockey competition are as follows:

  • Pool A: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, Scotland
  • Pool B: India, England, Malaysia, Pakistan, Wales

The list of medal winners in the 5 Commonwealth Games men's hockey competitions held so far is given below.

  • Australia has won 5 of 5 Commonwealth Games men's hockey gold medals
  • Along the way, Australia defeated 4 different countries in the gold medal games - Malaysia (1998), New Zealand (2002), Pakistan (2006) and India (2010, 2014)
  • Australia has won 29 of 30 games in Commonwealth Games men's hockey (an astounding 97% victory margin)
  • The only country to have defeated Australia in the Commonwealth Games men's hockey is South Africa (3-2 win in 1998). South Africa has never won any medal in Commonwealth Games hockey
World Rank Country App MP Wins Losses Draws GF GA Best Finish
1 Australia 5 30 29 1 0 160 26 5 Gold (1998, 2002, 06, 10, 14)
6 India 4 24 13 8 3 75 57 2 Silver (2010, 14)
7 England 5 29 14 8 7 79 55 2 Bronze (1998, 2014)
9 New Zealand 5 28 15 9 4 102 62 1 Silver (2002)
12 Malaysia 4 22 9 10 3 43 58 1 Silver (1998)
13 Pakistan 4 20 11 6 3 63 44 1 Silver (2006)

Commonwealth Games Women's Hockey

The pools for the Commonwealth Games women's hockey competition are as follows:

  • Pool A: England, India, South Africa, Malaysia, Wales
  • Pool B: New Zealand, Australia, Scotland, Canada, Ghana

The list of medal winners in the 5 Commonwealth Games women's hockey competitions held so far is given below.

  • Australia has won 4 of 5 Commonwealth Games women's hockey gold medals
  • Australia has won 26 of 30 games in Commonwealth Games women's hockey (87% victory margin)
  • The only country to have defeated Australia in the Commonwealth Games women's hockey is England (2-1 win in 2002)
  • The only country other than Australia to win the Commonwealth Games women's hockey gold medal is India in 2002. This event reportedly inspired the making of the movie Chak de India!
World Rank Country App MP Wins Losses Draws GF GA Best Finish
2 England 5 31 18 7 6 84 39 3 Silver (1998, 2002, 14)
4 New Zealand 5 30 21 5 4 117 33 1 Silver (2010)
5 Australia 5 30 26 1 3 171 20 4 Gold (1998, 2006, 10, 14)
10 India 5 29 16 9 4 87 44 1 Gold (2002)