India Win Bronze In Men's Hockey World League Final

Photograph credit FIH

he Odisha Hockey World League Final was played from December 1-10, 2017 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubanesvar. The 8 participating countries were divided into two pools were as follows:

  • Pool A: Argentina (world no. 1), Belgium (no. 3), Netherlands (no. 4), Spain (no. 9)
  • Pool B: Australia (world no. 2), Germany (no. 5), India (no. 6), England (no. 7)

India had the youngest team in the tournament, with 7 players under the age of 22.

The matches on the opening day were preceded by a dazzling opening ceremony featuring dancers, laser lights and fireworks.

India had only 1 victory in the entire tournament (its last match). India got shut out in two matches (against Germany and Argentina) where it failed to score a single goal. India finished last in its pool after all the preliminary matches were over, scoring the least number of goals and having the lowest penalty corner conversion percentage (1 in 13 attempts) among the eight teams in the competition.

Despite the above, India ended up with the bronze in the 2017 Hockey World League Final, with the following match results:

Stage Date Match Result Goal Scorers - India
Pool Dec 1 India 1 - Australia 1 Mandeep Singh (20 min)
  Dec 2 England 3 - India 2 Akashdeep Singh (47 min), PC
Rupinderpal Singh (50 min), PC
  Dec 4 Germany 2 - India 0  
Quarters Dec 6 India 3 - Belgium 3 (3-2 SO) Gurjant Singh (31 min)
Harmanpreet Singh (35 min), PC
Rupinderpal Singh (46 min), PC
Semis Dec 8 Argentina 1 - India 0  
3rd vs. 4th Dec 10 India 2 - Germany 1 S. V. Sunil (21 min)
Harmanpreet Singh (54 min), PC

The final standings in the 2017 Hockey World League Final were as follows: 1 - Australia, 2 - Argentina, 3 - India, 4 - Germany, 5 - Belgium, 6 - Spain, 7 - Netherlands, 8 - England.

This was the second successive Men's Hockey World League title for Australia. They won the title in 2015 in Raipur, and now in 2017 in Bhubanesvar.

This was the second consecutive medal win for India's new men's coach Sjoerd Marijne - he won the gold in the Asia Cup in his first assignment, and now a bronze in the Hockey World League Final in his second assignment as coach.

The following were the tournament awards:

  • Player of the Tourament (sponsored by Odisha New Opportunities) - Mats Grambusch (GER)
  • Goalkeeper of the Tournament (sponsored by Odisha Tourism) - Juan Vivaldi (ARG)
  • Junior Player of the Tournament (sponsored by ONGC) - Victor Wegnez (BEL)
  • Top Scorer of the Tournament (sponsored by Hero) - Loick Luypaert (BEL), 8 goals

The Indian team that finished with the bronze was as follows:

Goalkeepers: Akash Chitke, Suraj Karkera

Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey, Varun Kumar, Rupinderpal Singh, Birendra Lakra

Midfielders: Manpreet Singh (captain), Chinglensana Singh (vice captain), S. K. Uthappa, Sumit, Kothajeet Singh Khadangbam

Forwards: S. V. Sunil, Akashdeep Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Gurjant Singh

Officials: Chief Coach - Sjoerd Marijne

Bhubanesvar Proving To Be Premier Sports Venue In India

Article by Jitendra Nath Mishra, courtesy FirstPost

he Kalinga Stadium, home ground of the Hockey India League's Kalinga Lancers, provided the Odisha event organisers with international experience, aligned with the FIH's vision of making hockey bold and loud.

When it came to the 2017 Hockey World League Final, the Odisha government saw an opportunity to showcase the state's rich culture - from the Odissi performance and film on Odisha tourism at the opening ceremony, to hip Odia pop songs, to trilingual commentary that was equally at ease in Odia, Hindi and English. NBA or IPL-style cheerleaders filled in the silences during pauses in games. Spectators got involved.

The entire city was filled with hoardings welcoming the Hockey World League event and its players. At the stadium, the crowds swelled and yelled, even when India were not playing. Up to 9,000 people were in attendance, in mostly cool weather.

On 8 December, even in pouring rain, 7,000 spectators turned up. They cheered every team, and embraced the home team as only a child can embrace its mother. The applause for the defeated German team in the bronze medal game against India was noteworthy.

This knowledgeable crowd understood hockey's nuances. But people with no knowledge of hockey also attended. The main point was the fun of it all. It was a day's family outing, just the way it is in Europe. There were eateries, Boyanika sari stalls, and other merchandise. This had not been the case at the National Stadium in Delhi, where I have seen many world-level hockey tournaments.

Bhubaneswar has piled the evidence to its claim to being one of India's fast-growing sports hubs. South Korea came with their coach and team for practice games. Malaysian coach Stephen Van Huizen, who also attended, told me: "Bhubanewar has fantastic crowds and atmosphere."

Subbaiah voiced praise: "Odisha has a very sports-conscious chief minister who knows the pulse of the people. The stadium gets upgrades in a timely manner for each tournament. Odisha is at the forefront of hockey. When teams need infrastructure facilities, it is given any time."

The governance too was good: "I was the manager of Kalinga Lancers. We got whatever we asked for. The chairman and managing director of Odisha Tourism Development Corporation helped us. There is less interference in technical matters," said Subbaiah.

Jason McCracken, chief executive officer of the FIH, who measures his language with customised rigour, told me: "India are outstanding hosts. As a referee, I have been here many times. This is the best reception I have seen anywhere in India. The crowd is very knowledgeable. This was the best opening ceremony ever in hockey anywhere. The World Cup promises to be even bigger."

Bhubaneswar will be happy with such ringing endorsements. With a track record of hosting the Asian Athletics Championships 2017 in 90 days, the city deserves the accolades. Hockey India's decision to take the sport to its catchment areas has been spot on.

Jitendra Nath Misra is a former Indian ambassador to Portugal and Laos, and vice president of Jawaharlal Nehru Hockey Tournament Society

Narinder Batra Elected President of the Indian Olympic Association

arinder Batra formally took over as the new president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) for a four-year term 2018-22, after winning elections at the Annual General Meeting in Delhi on December 14. Batra received 143 of the 160 votes polled while his rival Anil Khanna, honorary life president of the All India Tennis Federation, got 13.

Khanna, who had already announced his decision to withdraw from the race but did so after the last date of withdrawal (December 3), thus necessitating elections, was among the first to congratulate Batra, for his victory.

Batra thus has become one of the few sports administrators who heads both an important international federation as well as a National Olympic Committee.

Just after winning the election, Batra said, "Once I settle down, the IOA will take a proposal to the government to host the 2026 Commonweath Games, 2030 Asian Games and the 2032 Olympic Games. Hosting these Games depends on government as they will sanction the funds."

Asked about his priorities as IOA president, Batra said, "I want to improve the country's number of medals in the Olympics and other Games, work on resolving issues faced by the athletes, and bring improvement in the relationship with the government. We want to work with the government in a conducive atmosphere, they should try to know our views and we will also try to know their views so that we can work together."

Asked about sporting relations with Pakistan, Batra said, "As far as multilateral events organised by international federations are concerned, we have to play Pakistan. But I think it is not possible to play Pakistan in bilateral events unless relations between the two countries are improved."

Maoist-hit Jharkhand Village Produces Women Hockey Internationals

Article by Sanjoy Dey, Photograph by Divakar Prasad, courtesy Hindustan Times

he soil in Hesal produces more hockey players than paddy.

That isn't an exaggeration, not in this tiny, poor and Maoist insurgency-hit Jharkhand tribal village. Almost every girl here owns a hockey stick and dreams to don the national jersey - or, on the strength of their game, get a job that means an end to abject poverty and hopelessness.

Located in Khunti district, 50 km south of Ranchi, the village and its adjoining hamlets has produced 55 girls who have been selected for national teams in different age groups since 1990.

The village has also produced five international woman hockey players, including Nikki Pradhan, who became the first female Olympian from Jharkhand when she played for India in the 2016 Rio Olympics. She was also part of the team that beat China in the Asia Cup this November.

Hesal's sights and sounds belie the hockey hub it is: green fields and trees, muddy roads, thatched huts and old people warming themselves in the winter sun. There's nothing to suggest this village of around 60 families is anything but a typical slice of rural India.

That is, till you encounter the girls. More than a dozen teenage girls dash for an uneven playground at the lone government school in the area, 2 km from the village, before the afternoon sun begins to wilt in the horizon. Most of them carry tattered sports kits, and almost all are barefoot.

The girls come from poor families, which are dependent on the government's subsidised rice sold at 1 a kg. Their parents, mostly subsistence farmers, cannot provide adequate nutritious food, let alone buy them hockey sticks and shoes.

The girls go through a gruelling schedule from dawn to dusk. After attending school from 7 am to 2 pm, they hit the ground on an empty stomach as there is no provision of a mid-day meal, or free lunch, for students of Class 8 and above.

"We eat rice for breakfast. After school hours, we play hockey for two to three hours because if we go home for food we would miss training," said Rita Kumari, a Class 9 student.

The girls do not complain. They work as farmhands to fund their passion. And their love of the sport and the hope for a better tomorrow keeps them going.

"Mere pitaji kisan hai aur unke paas itne paise nahi hai ki stick kharid sake (my father is a farmer and he cannot afford to buy me a stick)," 13-year-old Mangri Saru says, sweat dripping from her forehead after a workout. "So, I worked in a field and bought a wooden stick at 400."

It was schoolteacher Dasrath Mahto, who, back in 1989, started the hockey craze in the village by coaching a few girls. "When I joined the school, girls playing hockey was not acceptable in the area. I convinced parents and motivated the girls. Now it is in the blood of the people," he says.

Mahto retired in 2016, but after Mahto, the school has yet to get a sports teacher.

Not all is lost though. Jharkhand sports director Ranendra Kumar says, "The Tata Trust is imparting training to budding hockey players of villages. We are planning to set up a day-boarding centre for girls in Murhu block and a separate astroturf ground for girls in Khunti."

In Jharkhand, both boys and girls are fond of the national game. But it's the girls who have shone on the bigger stage.

"We are confident players from Jharkhand will play for India in the next Olympics," state hockey association president Bholanath Singh predicts.

That's what the Hesal girls are working so hard for.

Indian Oil Win 52nd Bombay Gold Cup Hockey Tournament

he 52nd Union Bank of India Bombay Gold Cup Hockey Tournament was held at the Mahindra Stadium in Mumbai from December 11-20, 2017.

The following teams took part in the tournament:

  • Pool A: Dakshin Madhya Railway, ONGC, Mumbai Customs
  • Pool B: Bharat Petroleum, Madhya Railway, Comptroller & Auditor General
  • Pool C: Indian Oil, Paschim Railway, Bharatiya Nau Sena
  • Pool D: Punjab National Bank, Bharatiya Vayu Sena, Union Bank of India

Indian Oil won the 52nd Bombay Gold Cup Hockey Tournament with the following match results:

Stage Date Indian Oil Date Bharat Petroleum
Pool Dec 13 beat Paschim Railway 4-2 Dec 13 drew with Comptroller & Auditor General 1-1
  Dec 15 beat Bharatiya Nau Sena 6-3 Dec 14 beat Madhya Railway 3-1
Quarters Dec 17 beat Union Bank of India 5-1 Dec 16 beat ONGC 5-2
Semis Dec 19 beat Dakshin Madhya Railway 4-3 Dec 19 beat Punjab National Bank 5-2
Final Dec 20 beat Bharat Petroleum 1-1 (5-4 SO)

The following were the individual awards:

  • Sports Journalists Association of Mumbai Player of the Tournament: Hardeek Singh (Bharat Petroleum)
  • Goalkeeper of the Tournament: Krishan Pathak (Indian Oil)
  • Defender of the Tournament: Gurjinder Singh (Indian Oil)
  • Half-back of the Tournament: Harjeet Singh (Bharat Petroleum)
  • Forward of the Tournament: Affan Yousuf (Indian Oil)

Indian Oil was awarded a cash prize of 1.5 lakh for winning the tournament, while Bharat Petroleum won the runners-up cash prize of 1 lakh.

Photograph of the Month

he Photograph of the Month for January 2018 is a poster of a hockey-based film - Khido Khundi - which literally means ball and stick in Punjabi. The film is a blend of fiction and non-fiction revolving around Sansarpur village in the Jalandhar cantonment in Punjab.

The story is about two Punjabi NRI brothers settled in England. They aim to make the game of hockey come alive again. Taking this up as a challenge, they return to their roots in Sansarpur where their father once used to be the caretaker of the hockey field before migrating to England. With the help of the village youth, they form a team and later challenge an English club in a three-match series.

"We will showcase the glorious past of Sansarpur hockey by using old Olympic clips. Also, we will show the photographs of the 14 hockey Olympians who hail from the village, including four who represented Kenya. We did a lot of research and took the help of the Olympians from Sansarpur," director Rohit Jugraj told Hindustan Times.

Money Matters

he Odisha government announced 10 lakh cash prize for each Indian hockey player who was part of the team that won the bronze medal by beating Germany in the Hockey World League Final at Kalinga Stadium.

A 10 lakh cash prize has been announced for the coach also, while supporting staff of Hockey India would get 5 lakh each.

"Well played, #India, bronze winners of #HWL2017. The young team showed brilliance & tremendous grit to achieve podium finish. Happy to announce 10 lakh cash prize to each player & coach & 5 lakh each for support staff of @TheHockeyIndia. They have made us proud. #INDvGER," tweeted Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

He distributed the bronze medals to the Indian Hockey players at the Kalinga Stadium in the presence of Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

Media Matters

Article and Photgraph courtesy England Hockey Board

ngland and Great Britain hockey players took the limelight at the annual Sports Journalists Association (SJA) British Sports Awards held at the Tower of London on 6th December, 2017.

Just one year ago, the British women's hockey team collected the SJA Team of the Year Award. This year, Helen and Kate Richardson-Walsh received the National Lottery Spirit of Sport Award.

And it was clear from the attention the players received that next year's Vitality Hockey Women's Hockey World Cup is already creating a buzz among the British sports media.

"Candid, brave, bold and proud," was how Jan Paterson, chief executive of the British Olympic Foundation, eulogised the Olympic gold medalists as they picked up their prize.

Collecting the award, Helen highlighted the impact and importance of funding, saying: "If it wasn't for the National Lottery, we would not be stood here today as Olympic gold medallists. We are true National Lottery babies, we got into the squad in 1999 and we benefited from that for the 17 years that we were elite hockey players."

Kate added that the reception the entire gold-medal winning team has received since they returned to the UK from Rio has been incredible. "We did it as a team and I think that is what everyone picked up on - that squad of 31 women and the incredible staff. We all take the job of being role models very seriously and I know that the team going forward is doing exactly that," she said.

Visitor of the Month

he January 2018 Visitor of the Month is Aditya Phatak from Pune. Aditya sent the following email to

My name is Aditya Phatak. I have done civil engineering from Pune University. Being an sports enthusiast I always wanted to do something about poor condition of Indian sports. For the last 6 months I am trying to develop an integrated, dynamic sports website dedicated to Indian sports. It will be ready to launch in January 2018.

Right now I am trying to develop a team for the same. I am looking forward to connect with you to obtain data on Indian Hockey and player profiles. Can we develop a network which will write about Indian hockey?

Fun With Numbers

Statistics by B. G. Joshi

he January 2018 edition of Fun with Numbers is on India's record against the top 10 ranked countries in 2017 in both men's and women's hockey.


  • India played 7 countries ranked in the top 10 in 2017, and had a winning record against only 2 of them (Netherlands, New Zealand)
  • The top 5 goal scorers for India in 2017 are Harmanpreet Singh (21), Ramandeep Singh (13), Mandeep Singh (10), Akashdeep Singh (9), Gurjant Singh (6)
World Rank Country MP Wins Losses Draws Goals For Goals Against
1 Australia 2 0 1 1 2 4
2 Argentina 1 0 1 0 0 1
3 Belgium 5 1 3 1 8 11
4 Netherlands 3 2 1 0 7 7
5 Germany 4 1 2 1 4 7
7 England/Great Britain 2 0 1 1 4 5
9 New Zealand 2 2 0 0 7 0


  • India played 5 countries ranked in the top 10 in 2017, and had a winning record against only 1 of them (China)
  • The top 5 goal scorers for India in 2017 are Gurjeet Kaur (17), Rani Rampal (11), Navjyot Kaur (7), Deep Grace Ekka (6) and Vandana Katariya/Anoopa Barla/Lalremsiami (4)
World Rank Country MP Wins Losses Draws Goals For Goals Against
2 England 1 0 1 0 1 4
3 Argentina 1 0 1 0 0 3
4 New Zealand 5 0 5 0 7 24
7 USA 1 0 1 0 1 4
8 China 2 1 0 1 5 2