Portable-Pitch Big-Stadium Hockey Makes Its Debut In England


Photograph credit The Hockey Paper

he sport of hockey took a big step towards its objective of attracting larger audiences when England Hockey debuted a synthetic turf pitch installed in a larger capacity rugby stadium for an international hockey match. What is unique about the turf pitch is that it is temporary, removable and repeatable.

An FIH Pro League double header was played on 23rd June, 2019 at the 15,000-seater Twickenham Stoop, home of the Harlequins rugby team. This was the largest attendance for a hockey match in the United Kingdom since the 2012 London Olympic Games.

It is not the first time that a non-hockey specific stadium has been used. The 1978 and 1981 Indo-Pak hockey series were held in cricket stadiums in Mumbai and Lahore, and football stadiums in Kolkata and Bengaluru. But those were natural grass grounds. The Netherlands staged both the 1998 and 2014 Hockey World Cup tournaments in existing football stadiums, and though the turf was synthetic, the installations were not portable.

The innovation that has been introduced is that a synthetic hockey turf can be installed, played on and removed, all within a short timeframe. The surface installed at The Stoop was a version of Polytan's Poligras Tokyo GT, the turf system that will be used at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. The reusable surface was constructed from sugarcane, and requires 65 percent less water than the surfaces used at previous Olympics.

Also involved in the laying of the portable pitch were STRI Group for design consultancy, and Polypipe, who developed the Permavoid system to keep the underlying grass alive and growing over the period of use of the synthetic turf. A video of the Permavoid installation at The Stoop can be seen here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k9pQLQXKuYI/.

In theory, we could have a scenario where a stadium hosts a non-hockey match one weekend, followed by a hockey match the following weekend, in an endlessly repeating loop. This could extend a stadium's usage from single-sport to a multiple sports, and allow for year-long hosting of matches. During off-season for football and rugby, for example, turf pitches could literally be dropped onto these stadiums for international hockey matches.

FIH Facilities & Programme Manager Alastair Cox said, "If we can make this work, it suddenly means that hockey can be played in any venue anywhere in the world. If hockey wants to engage with the broader audience, we have to make it as an attractive, appealing and enjoyable experience as possible."

"This will not just be game changing for us, but for hockey around the world," said Sally Munday, chief executive of England Hockey. "From a hockey perspective, what this allows us to do is simply go into an existing purpose-built stadium and drop a pitch. If we can get the technology to work the way we want it to, there will be the opportunity to go to other locations around the country."

Hockey's exponential growth in the United Kingdom has seen youth participation grow by 80% since London 2012. Over 110,000 tickets were sold for the 2018 Women's World Cup. The number of fans who have paid to see the sport of hockey in UK since 2012 has surpassed one million.

This is a phenomenal increase in the profile of hockey in the UK, and portable-pitch, big-stadium hockey will only increase the spectating component of hockey's fan base in the years ahead.

Odisha Has Become The Sports Event Hosting Capital Of India


Photograph of the 2018 Men's Hockey World Cup captains with Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik
By Dr. Jitendra Nath Misra, ex Ambassador of India to Portugal and Laos. Article courtesy Firstpost

here is one area where the Odisha government has got it right - the creation of world-class sporting infrastructure as a springboard for transformation.

The Hockey Series Finals hosted in Bhubanesvar almost became a victim of Cyclone Fani. But that didn't happen. Odisha's Sports Secretary Vishal Dev says, "The Hockey Series Finals was to show the world the resilience of Odisha and its people, and that we honoured our commitment to host the event in a befitting manner."

The accumulated experience of hosting sporting events, too, helped. Dev says the organisation of the 2017 Asian Athletics Championships in 90 days gave invaluable insights into meeting tight deadlines, and a similar drill was repeated for the Hockey Series Finals.

In Bhubanesvar, I see no banners or decorations, just a functional order. There is no celebratory feeling, as we saw at the World Cup in December. Just doing the event in adversity is the statement.

More broadly, Odisha is trying to put in place events, infrastructure, rewards and interventions to realise its sporting aspirations. Bhubanesvar stole a march over rivals by hosting FIH's three elite men's tournaments - 2014 Champions Trophy, 2017 Hockey World League Final and the 2018 Hockey World Cup, apart from the 2019 Hockey Series Finals.

Beyond hockey, Bhubanesvar's CV for 2018 alone read ITF Tennis Super Cup, Asian Women's u-17 Rugby Championships, National Athletics Championships and an ISL game.

Unless there are facilities to train, sporting events can turn into legacies that fade away. More sustainable is drawing in elite athletes to train. With the involvement of Abhinav Bindra, Pullela Gopichand, Anil Kumble, and Gagan Narang, high-performance centres have been established in Athletics, Swimming, Shooting, Football, Hockey and Badminton.

Odisha has 16 sports hostels with 1,250 athletes, covering 12 disciplines, with focus on football and hockey. The Odisha-SAI Regional Badminton Academy was established in 2017. 17 synthetic hockey pitches will be installed in Sundargarh.

At the inauguration of the High-Performance Centres in February, I heard paeans.

  • "If there was ease of work for any sport in the country, Odisha would be number one," said Gopichand.
  • "All athletes thank you (the chief minister) for making Odisha the number one sporting state in India," went Kumble.
  • Col. H. S. Chauhan, president of the Indian Mountaineering Foundation, said Bhubanesvar had one of the best sports climbing centres in India.

Odisha Mining Corporation has sponsored the Indian men's and women's hockey teams for five years. The state of Odisha was the title sponsor of the 2018 World Cup. Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation and Mahanadi Coalfield sponsored the Hockey India franchise, Kalinga Lancers.

According to official figures, cash awards worth ₹8.83 crores have been disbursed to 1,116 athletes, and equipment worth ₹2.17 crores have been purchased in the last four years. 62 athletes have been appointed to the Odisha Police and state corporations like OHPC and Odisha Mining Corporation.

Creating an international quality sports hub has given Odisha a chance to lead, and a role model for other states in India to emulate.

India Beat South Africa To Win Men's FIH Series Finals In Bhubanesvar


Photograph courtesy Odisha Sports

he Men's FIH Series Finals was played from June 6-15, 2019 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubanesvar. The importance of this event was that the top two teams will secure a place in the final stage of the Olympic Qualifiers, to be held later in the year.

The following teams participated in the tournament:

  • Pool A: India (world no. 5), Poland (no. 21), Russia (no. 22), Uzbekistan (no. 43)
  • Pool B: South Africa (no. 16), Japan (no. 18), United States (no. 25), Mexico (no. 39)

India won all its matches and claimed the title, thereby keeping its Olympic qualification hopes alive. The updated world rankings will be released by the FIH on 8th September, 2019, after which India will know its opponent in the two-match playoff to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

India had the following match results in the Men's FIH Series Finals:

Stage Date Result Goal Scorers - India
Pool Jun 6 India 10 - Russia 0 Neelakantha Sharma (13 min)
Simranjeet Singh (19 min)
Amit Rohidas (20 min), PC
Harmanpreet Singh (32, 48 min), both PCs
Varun Kumar (34 min), PC
Gursahibjeet Singh (37 min)
Akashdeep Singh (42, 56 min)
Vivek Sagar Prasad (45 min)
  Jun 7 India 3 - Poland 1 Manpreet Singh (21 min-PC, 26 min)
Harmanpreet Singh (36 min), PC
  Jun 10 India 10 - Uzbekistan 0 Varun Kumar (4 min-PC, 22 min)
Akashdeep Singh (11 min-PC, 26, 53 min)
Amit Rohidas (15 min), PC
Neelakantha Sharma (27 min), PC
Mandeep Singh (30, 60 min)
Gursahibjeet Singh (45 min)
Semi-final Jun 14 India 7 - Japan 2 Harmanpreet Singh (7 min), PC
Varun Kumar (14 min), PC
Ramandeep Singh (23 min, 37 min-PC)
Hardeek Singh (25 min)
Gursahibjeet Singh (43 min)
Vivek Sagar Prasad (47 min)
Final Jun 15 India 5 - South Africa 1 Varun Kumar (2, 49 min), both PCs
Harmanpreet Singh (11 min-PC, 25 min-PS)
Vivek Sagar Prasad (35 min)

The following were the tournament awards:

  • Player of the Tournament: Manpreet Singh (IND)
  • Junior Player of the Tournament: Vivek Sagar Prasad (IND)
  • Goalkeeper of the Tournament: Jonathan Klages (USA)
  • Top Goal Scorer: Harmanpreet Singh (IND), Varun Kumar (IND), Semen Matkovskiy (RUS), 6 goals each
  • Fairplay Award: India

The final standings were as follows: 1 - India, 2 - South Africa, 3 - Japan, 4 - USA, 5 - Russia, 6 - Poland, 7 - Mexico, 8 - Uzbekistan

Due to severe heat wave conditions in Bhubanesvar, the FIH had to implement its warm weather policy for 7th vs. 8th playoff match (quarter-break is extended to 4 minutes instead of 2, and an additional 1-minute break in the middle of the 3rd and 4th quarters). In the past, the warm weather policy was applied at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio as well.

The Indian team for the Men's FIH Series Finals was as follows:

Goalkeepers: P. R. Sreejesh, Krishan B. Pathak

Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra (vice-captain), Surender Kumar, Varun Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Gurinder Singh

Midfielders: Manpreet Singh (captain), Hardeek Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Sumit, Neelakantha Sharma

Forwards: Mandeep Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Gursahibjeet Singh, Simranjeet Singh

Officials: Graham Reid (chief coach), Chris Ciriello (manager)

India Beat Japan To Win Women's FIH Series Finals In Hiroshima


Photograph courtesy Hockey India

he Women's FIH Series Finals was played from June 15-23, 2019 in Hiroshima. The importance of this event was that the top two teams will secure a place in the final stage of the Olympic Qualifiers, to be held later in the year. The winner of the tournament would also get 500 valuable ranking points.

The following teams participated in the tournament:

  • Pool A: India (world no. 9), Poland (no. 23), Uruguay (no. 24), Fiji (no. 44)
  • Pool B: Japan (no. 14), Chile (no. 16), Russia (no. 25), Mexico (no. 29)

India won all its matches and claimed the title, thereby keeping its Olympic qualification hopes alive.

India went down from world no. 9 to world no. 10 as Belgium, who finished 5th in the Women's Hockey Pro League leapfrogged over India to occupy the no. 9 place. The next world rankings will be released by the FIH on 8th September, 2019, after which India will know its opponent in the two-match playoff to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics

India had the following match results in the Women's FIH Series Finals:

Stage Date Result Goal Scorers - India
Pool June 15 India 4 - Uruguay 1 Rani Rampal (10 min)
Gurjeet Kaur (21 min), PC
Jyoti (40 min)
Lalremsiami (56 min)
  June 16 India 5 - Poland 0 Jyoti (21 min)
Vandana Katariya (26 min), PC
Gurjeet Kaur (28 min-PC, 35 min-PS)
Navneet Kaur (56 min)
  June 18 India 11 - Fiji 0 Lalremsiami (4 min)
Rani Rampal (10 min)
Monika (11 min, 33 min-PC)
Vandana Katariya (12 min)
Gurjeet Kaur (15, 19, 21, 22 min), all PCs
Leelima Minz (51 min)
Navneet Kaur (57 min)
Semi-final June 22 India 4 - Chile 2 Gurjeet Kaur (22, 37 min), both PCs
Navneet Kaur (31 min)
Rani Rampal (57 min)
Final June 23 India 3 - Japan 1 Rani Rampal (3 min), PC
Gurjeet Singh (45, 60 min), both PCs

Rising star Lalremsiami's father passed away the day before the semi-final. She was given the option to return home. She told the coach, "I want to make my father proud. I want to stay, play and make sure India qualifies."

Said coach Marijne after the semi-final victory, "Every player went and hugged Siami after the match. It is not easy to deal with a big loss at such a young age. She gave everything for the team. Indians should be proud of Siami."

The following were the tournament awards:

  • Player of the Tournament: Rani Rampal
  • Top Scorer of the Tournament: Gurjeet Kaur (11 goals)

The final standings were: 1 - India, 2 - Japan, 3 - Chile, 4 - Russia, 5 - Poland, 6 - Uruguay, 7 - Mexico, 8 - Fiji

The Indian team for the Women's FIH Series Finals was as follows:

Goalkeepers: Savita Punia (vice-captain), Rajani Etimarpu

Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka, Nisha, Gurjeet Kaur, Salima Tete, Sunita Lakra

Midfielders: Monika, Nikki Pradhan, Leelima Minz, Neha Goyal, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam

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

Officials: Sjoerd Marijne (chief coach), Bharat Kumar Chhetri (manager)

Indian Junior Men Come A Disappointing 6th In 8-Nation u-21 Tournament In Madrid


India men's u-21 team, photograph courtesy Hockey India

n 8-nation, u-21 junior men's hockey tournament was held in Madrid, Spain from June 10-16, 2019. The participating teams were grouped into two pools as follows:

  • Pool A: Austria, Belgium, Germany, Great Britain
  • Pool B: Australia, India, Netherlands, Spain

India had a disappointing tournament, losing 4 of the 5 matches it played to finish 6th. India's match results were as follows:

Stage Date Result Goal Scorers - India
Pool June 10 Australia 4 - India 0  
  June 11 Netherlands 3 - India 2 VIshnukant Singh (23 min)
Sudeep Chirmako (37 min)
  June 13 Spain 3 - India 1 Pratap Lakra (31 min), PC
5th - 8th June 15 India 4 - Austria 2 Sanjay (15, 23 min), both PCs
Rahul Rajbhar (35 min)
Prabhjyot Singh (51 min)
5th - 6th June 16 Great Britain 2 - India 1 Maninder Singh (15 min)

One fallout of India's performance in the tournament was that Jude Felix was sacked as the coach of the junior men's team.

The final standing were as follows: 1 - Germany, 2 - Spain, 3 - Belgium, 4 - Australia, 5 - Great Britain, 6 - India, 7 - Netherlands, 8 - Austria

The Indian team for the 8-nation, u-21 junior men's hockey tournament was as follows:

Goalkeepers: Prashant Kumar Chauhan, Pavan

Defenders: Mandeep Mor (captain), Suman Beck (vice-captain), Pratap Lakra, Sanjay, Akashdeep Singh Jr., Parampreet Singh

Midfielders: Yashdeep Sivach, Rabichandra Singh Moirangthem, Vishnukant Singh, Maninder Singh, Vishal Antil

Forwards: Amandeep Singh, Rahul Kumar Rajbhar, Shivam Anand, Sudeep Chirmako, Prabhjyot Singh

Officials: Jude Felix (chief coach), B. J. Cariappa (manager)

Photograph of the Month


Ramandeep's first goal in the semi-final against Japan, Photograph courtesy The Hindu

he Photograph of the Month for July 2019 is of the comeback kid Ramandeep Singh scoring his first of two goals against Japan in the Men's FIH Series Finals. This is the first goal he scored for India after nearly an year-long layoff following a knee injury during the 2018 Champions Trophy in Breda, Netherlands.

Ramandeep (128 caps, 50 goals) fittingly won the Man of the Match award for the India vs. Japan semi-final, a win that enabled India to make it to the final stage of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Qualifier.

Money Matters


he International Hockey Federation (FIH) put an end to the disciplinary case against the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) that was initiated after Pakistan's withdrawal from the FIH Pro League on 23rd January, 2019, after the competition had started.

As per the settlement agreement, the original fine amount (over 170,000 euros), which was supposed to be paid by 20th June, 2019, was reduced to just 25% of the original amount.

This reduced fine was further divided as follows:

  • 50% of the amount to be invested by PHF in grassroots hockey development over the next two years, under monitoring by the Asian Hockey Federation
  • 50% of the amount to be paid to the FIH in three installments within one year (by July 2020)

The first instalment has to paid by 19th August 2019, for Pakistan to be considred for the final stage of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Qualifier.

Commenting on the agreement, FIH CEO Thierry Weil said: "FIH came to this agreement with the objective of protecting the development of the game in Pakistan, while making it clear that jeopardising one of our events cannot be accepted. Considering the circumstances, we think this is the best possible outcome, and wish that Pakistan hockey will soon flourish again."

The disciplinary proceedings against the PHF are now closed.

Media Matters


Image courtesy The Kapil Sharma Show

ormer India captain and star drag-flicker Sandeep Singh has had a stellar year in the media spotlight. In July of 2018, a biopic based on his life, Soorma, was released in theatres. The film was directed by Shaad Ali, produced by Sony Pictures, Chitrangada Singh and Deepak Singh, and starred Diljeet Singh in the title role.

Later in the year, Nahargarh fort's Jaipur Wax Museum added the wax statue of Sandeep Singh to its collection. The unveiling of the statue was done by Sandeep Singh himself, with his entire family gracing the occasion.

Sandeep Singh made his small screen debut with MTV Roadies reality show in February 2019, where he plays one of the team leaders, along with the likes of actress Neha Dhupia, Prince Narula and others.

Sandeep also featured on The Kapil Sharma Show on Sony Entertainment Television in June 2019, along with sportspersons Bhaichung Bhutia and Duttee Chand. On the show, Sandeep Singh talked about the unfortunate incident when he was accidentally shot, that forced him to be bedridden for two years, before he made a comeback to the game and even captained India.

Good for Sandeep and good for the sport, that hockey keeps showing up in the public consciousness, be it in the form of a movie, or an episode on television, or as an inspiring statue in a wax museum.

As Anoop Srivastava, Founder Director, Jaipur Wax Museum said, "The museum's motto is to entertain the visitors and at the same time inspire them. We don't follow glamour alone while deciding the celebrity statue. Sandeep Singh's life changed completely when he was accidentally hit by a bullet. Doctors and society gave up on him, and it was an end to his hockey career. But he gathered himself with his willpower and made a comeback to the sport which he loved passionately, and took Indian hockey to greater heights. At the Museum, we want the next generation to be inspired with such stories."

Visitor of the Month


he July 2019 Visitor of the Month is Barinder Singh (Banti) from the Cdr. Nandy Singh Academy in Kolkata. Barinder send the following email to BharatiyaHockey.org:

To celebrate Olympic Day on 23rd June, 2019, on behalf of Commander Nandy Singh Academy, Kolkata, I would like to request you to kindly mail Indian Olympic Team group pictures of the Olympic Years 1956 up to 2016.

Fun With Numbers


Statistics by B. G. Joshi

he July 2019 edition of Fun with Numbers is on the Pan Am Games hockey competition, the 14th edition of which will be held in Lima, Peru, from July 29 - August 10, 2019.

MEN'S PAN AM GAMES HOCKEY

  • Argentina, Canada and USA are the only countries to have participated in all 13 editions of the Men's Pan Am Games hockey tournament
  • Argentina is the only country to have won a medal in every edition of the tournament (9 gold and 4 silver)
  • Argentina and Canada, from diametrically opposite ends of the Pan American region, are the only countries have won the Men's Pan Am Games hockey gold
  • Till date 18 countries have participated in Men's Pan Am Games hockey tournament, with only 7 countries have won medals
  • The person with the most Pan Am Games hockey tournament appearances is Satinder Paul 'Bubli' Chohan with 6 appearances (1975, 79, 83, 87, 91, 95)
  • Only one country from the Pan American region has won the Olympic gold in men's hockey - Argentina in the 2016 Rio Olympics
  • Cesar Raguso of Argentina (born 20th June, 1960) is the all-time youngest Olympic hockey player (men/women) when he played in the 1976 Montreal Olympics at age 16
Country World Rank Appearances Gold Silver Bronze
Argentina 4 13 9 4  
Canada 10 13 4 7 1
Mexico 32 9   1 2
Trinidad & Tobago 37 12 1
USA 24 13     4
Chile 28 12     4
Cuba  69 9     2

WOMEN'S PAN AM GAMES HOCKEY

  • Argentina, Canada and USA are the only countries to have participated in all 8 editions of the Women's Pan Am Games hockey tournament
  • Argentina and USA are the only countries have won the Women's Pan Am Cup hockey gold
  • Argentina and USA are the only countries to have won a medal in every edition of the tournament
  • Till date 16 countries have participated in Women's Pan Am Games hockey tournament, with only 6 countries having won medals
  • No country from the Pan American region has won the Olympic gold in women's hockey - Argentina reached the Olympic final twice, but won silver both times
  • The most decorated player from the Pan American region is Luciana Aymar, who won 2 World Cups, 6 Champion Trophy golds and was 8-time FIH Player of the Year
Country World Rank Appearances Gold Silver Bronze
Argentina 3 8 6 2  
USA 13 8 2 5 1
Canada 18 8   1 4
Chile 15 5     1
Uruguay 25 3     1
Netherlands Antilles (now defunct)       1