FIH Chief Narendra Batra Gets First Hand Look At Dutch Club Hockey

FIH President Narendra Batra with KNHB Director Erik Gerritsen
Article and photo courtesy Royal Dutch Hockey Association (KNHB)

arendra Dhruv Batra, president of the FIH, visited the Netherlands at the invitation of the Royal Dutch Hockey Assocation (KNHB). The invitation was extended during the FIH congress that was held in Delhi prior to the 2018 Men's Hockey World Cup in Bhubanesvar.

KNHB director Erik Gerritsen put together a programme that started in the morning at the Athena hockey club in Voorland Sports Park in Amsterdam. Five fields in one complex that were filled with children playing hockey. This may have been new for Batra, but is commonplace in the Netherlands on weekends.

"We could have taken him to hundreds of other clubs in the Netherlands, it would have been the same experience," says Gerritsen. "But we chose Athena as it was practical in this case. Batra attended the meeting of my daughter's club team, took a picture with them, and watched till half-time."

A visit to Kampong was scheduled in the afternoon. Said Gerritsen, "We wanted to show Batra a playoff match. Where can that be better than at the largest club in Europe?"

"I'm here to see how you manage to get the whole family involved in hockey so passionately," says Batra. "When I became president of the Hockey India, I wanted to get a similar system in India too. I have not succeeded to date. We have many hockey players in India, but there is no connection between the players and the families. Someday I want to achieve that. We cannot take your model one-on-one. We have 1.3 billion people in India. Even if I get a big part of them involved, that would be great."

On his first visit to see Dutch club hockey, Batra said, "On Saturdays, the fields are full of youth members, and on Sundays with adult players. Even at the age of eight or nine, you are teaching the young players discipline and respect."

According to Batra, a club model is the best model for the future. "I come from a background where there is no club hockey. You are always dependent on the government to support you. They can provide support for five years, ten years, twenty years, but some day they will stop. And then?'

Batra noted the inclusive nature of the Dutch club system. "We have hockey academies in India. There, everything is arranged for the players from the age of 12 - education, hockey training and other facilities. The best players move on to the state teams, and then the national team. Those who don't make it, stop playing hockey. That is our problem. Here you see boys of seventeen, eighteen, continue to play hockey. In India, we only focus on those who represent our country and forget the others. I want to stop that. I want our system to accommodate players of every skill level."

The playoff duel between Kampong and HGC is about to start. Batra looks around the immense complex of Kampong. "I have never seen a hockey club with nine pitches," confesses Batra. "When I see young and old, men and women playing here, and encouraging their club team in a great atmosphere, I realize this is why I love hockey so much."

Grassroots Hockey Centres In Rayalaseema Districts Of Andhra Pradesh

Photograph of inter-academy hockey courtesy Ananthapuram Sports Academy

he Ananthapuram Sports Academy (ASA), an initiative of Rural Development Trust (RDT), is doing grassroots development work in multiple sports disciplines in the primarily rural areas of Ananathapuram district in the Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh.

ASA runs a hockey programme in 27 centres across the district of Ananthapuram. The total number of regular, weekly participants in hockey is 1,715 (685 girls and 1,030 boys). ASA has three sports initiatives - Grassroot Programs, Regional Development Centres and a Hockey Village in Chigicherla in Ananthapuram district, which supports 30 girls and 30 boys playing at the u-12, u-14 and u-17 age groups.

One of the graduates of RDT's academy is 18-year-old Yarraballi Pravalika (18) of Madanapalle in the neighbouring Chittoor district. Pravalika, daughter of head constable Yerraballi Venkata Ramana, got a toy hockey stick from her father when she was in the 1st standard. Soon she insisted on getting a real hockey stick, and after seven years of regular play, her local hockey coach Guru Bhaskar got her admission at RDT's academy.

Pravalika graduated from playing in district-level and and state-level competitions to playing in the sub-junior, junior and senior national championships. In an interview with The Hindu, Pravalika said, "I received the best training at the RDT academy. I am constantly taking part in ongoing tournaments and selection trials for the national team. In the next three years, I want to become a member of India women's team."

Incidentally, hockey legend Dhyan Chand had a unique bond with Pravalika's native town Madanapalle. While the wizard did all his coaching at NIS in Patiala, the Jina Raja Dasa ground in Madanapalle is the only ground south of the Vindhyas where Dhyan Chand taught hockey skills.

Indian Hockey's Tale Of Woe Against Australia Continues In Series Sweep

India vs. Australia 2-Test Series, photograph courtesy Hockey Australia

2-test hockey series was played between world no. 2 Australia and world no. 5 India at Perth from May 15-17, 2019. Australia played like a world no. 2, and helped by top-quality match practice in the FIH Pro League. India played well below their potential - it did not help that Hockey India opted out of the FIH Pro League and hence the Indian team looked rusty without match practice at the highest level.

Australia annihilated India in both the tests, with the results as shown below:

Date Result Goal Scorers - India
May 15 Australia 4 - India 0  
May 17 Australia 5 - India 2 Neelakantha Sharma (12 min)
Rupinderpal Singh (53 min), PC

Indian men's hockey's tale of woe against Australia is shown below:

  • Decade of 1980s: 16% win rate (India won 3 of 19 matches against Australia)
  • Decade of 1990s: 7% win rate (India won 2 of 15 matches against Australia)
  • Decade of 2000s: 12% win rate (India won 3 of 26 matches against Australia)
  • Decade of 2010s: 18% win rate (India won 7 of 39 matches played against Australia)

For perspective, the Australian system is so good that irrespective of who their coach is, or who India's coach is, the Australian team has annihilated India for the past four decades and counting.

The Indian team for the Australia series was as follows:

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

Defenders: Surender Kumar (vice-captain), Rupinder Pal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra, Gurinder Singh, Kothajeet Singh

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

Forwards: Mandeep Singh, Gursahibjeet Singh, Akashdeep Singh, Sumit Kumar Jr., Armaan Qureshi

Officials: Graham Reid (chief coach)

Indian Women's Team Wins 3-Test Hockey Series Against South Korea

Graphic courtesy International Hockey Federation

3-test women's hockey series between world no. 9 India and world no. 11 South Korea was held in Jincheon, South Korea, from May 20-24, 2019 . The test series was in preparation for the FIH Women's Series Finals, scheduled to be held from June 15-23 in Hiroshima.

Indian women won the 3-test series 2-1, with the following results:

Date Result Goal Scorers - India
May 20 India 2 - South Korea 1 Lalremsiami (20 min)
Navneet Kaur (40 min)
May 22 India 2 - South Korea 1 Rani Rampal (37 min)
Navjyot Kaur (50 min)
May 24 South Korea 4 - India 0  

The Indian team for the South Korea series was as follows:

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

Defenders: Salima Tete, Sunita Lakra, Deep Grace Ekka, Karishma Yadav, Gurjeet Kaur, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam

Midfielders: Monika, Navjyot Kaur, Nikki Pradhan, Neha Goyal, Leelima Minz

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

Officials: Sjoerd Marijne (chief coach)

Indian Junior Women Win 4-Nation u-21 Cantor Fitzgerald Tournament In Ireland

Indian team in the Cantor Fitzgerland tournament, photograph by Tristan Seaton-Stedham, courtesy The Hook

he Cantor Fitzgerald u-21 junior women's 4-nation tournament was held at the at Pembroke Wanderers Hockey Club in Dublin, Ireland from May 31 - June 4, 2019. The participating teams were Canada, India, Ireland and Scotland.

India won 4 out of 4 matches to win the tournament. The results were as follows:

Stage Date Result Goal Scorers - India
Round Robin May 31 India 2 - Canada 0 Mumtaz Khan (24, 37 min), both PCs
  Jun 1 India 2 - Ireland 1 Reet (35 min), PC
Sharmila Devi (53 min)
  Jun 3 India 2 - Scotland 1 Mumtaz Khan (36 min)
Gagandeep Kaur (51 min)
Final Jun 4 India 1 - Ireland 0 Gagandeep Kaur (45 min), PC

Canada took the bronze with a 1-0 win over Scotland. Mumtaz Khan finished as the highest goal scorer of the tournament with 3 goals.

Prior to the tournament, the Indian team played against the Irish National team and Canada Junior Women's team on 28 May and 29 May, 2019, respectively

The Indian junior women's team for the 4-nation, u-21 Cantor Fitzgerald tournament was as follows:

Goalkeepers: Bichu Devi Kharibam, Khushboo

Defenders: Ishika Chaudhary, Suman Devi Thoudam (captain), Priyanka, Mahima Choudhary, Simran Singh, Gagandeep Kaur (vice-captain)

Midfielders: Preeti, Mariana Kujur, Chetna, Ajmina Kujur, Baljeet Kaur

Forwards: Mumtaz Khan, Beauty Dungdung, Sharmila Devi, Reet, Lalrindiki

Officials: Baljeet Singh Saini (chief coach), Asunta Lakra (manager)

Photograph of the Month

Rising Star Lalremsiami, Photograph courtesy Hockey India

he Photograph of the Month for June 2019 is of rising star of Indian women's hockey - Lalremsiami - who completed 50 international caps during the 3rd test of the recent India-South Korea hockey series.

Hailing from Kolasib, 85 km and four hours north of Mizoram's capital Aizawl. Lalremsiami has had a stellar hockey record right from her childhood.

At an inter-school sporting event at the age of 10, she was adjudged as the best hockey player of the tournament and was awarded a cash prize of ₹500.

At age 11, Lalremsiami was selected to join the state government-run hockey academy in Thenzawl.

Lalremsiami was invited to join the National Hockey Academy in New Delhi in 2016, got the call for the senior India team in 2017, and from then on, there was no looking back.

Lalremsiami has won the following medals for India

  • 2017 Asia Cup in Kakamigahara, Japan - Gold
  • 2018 Asian Champions Trophy in Donghae City, South Korea - Silver, u-21 Rising Star award
  • 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta - Silver
  • 2018 Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires - Silver, vice-captain of team

She was the youngest player at just 18 in India's team for the 2018 World Cup in London.

The Asian Hockey Federation selected Lalremsiami as the Rising Player of the Year for Asia in 2018.

Money Matters

Father-Son Duo of Tony Fernandes/Ashley Fernandes
Article and Photograph courtesy

he Indo-French duo of Tony Fernandes and his son Ashley Fernandes won many Indian hearts with a grand gesture towards mitigating misery of cyclone 'Fani' that devastated lives of millions in Odisha. They donated ₹200,000 towards the Chief Minister's relief fund to help rehabilitate those affected by the cyclone.

Tony Fernandes is of Goan ancestry, and grew up in the Bandra suburb of Mumbai. More than 50 years ago, Tony set out for France at the behest of its hockey federation to boost their country's fortunes at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. Tony, 82, later coached FC Lyon, and contracted many overseas stars to play for the club, including Dhanraj Pillai, Jude Felix, Shakeel Ahmed Khan, Gavin Fereira and Harendra Singh.

Tony's visionary efforts eventually opened up vistas for Indian players to ply their trade all over Europe - notably in Germany, England and the Netherlands.

His son Ashley, 51, captained Racing Club de France to three French league titles, played for France and then served as joint-secretary for the French hockey federation.

Ashley was travelling from India back to France when the disaster gripped the state. He consulted with his father on an attempt to do his bit for the cause.

Tony, who witnessed the World Cup at the Kalinga stadium in Bhubaneswar last December, responded with an instant affirmative, stemming from emotions related to Indian hockey in general and Odisha in particular. The fact that it was Ashley's birthday, May 6, made the gesture auspicious.

On coming to know his mentors Tony-Ashley's gesture, former India coach Harendra Singh said: "Tony uncle once again has shown that sports makes us better if we stay true to its spirit. They prove that life is not about wealth accumulation, but about contribution. I salute these great souls."

Media Matters

Image courtesy Hockey Australia

he two-match Test series in Perth between the Australian and Indian men's hockey teams was live-streamed on Hockey Australia's YouTube page -

We are halfway into the 2019 calendar year, and not a single match of the Indian men's hockey team has been shown live on television. When the FIH Series Final roll along in June, how can we expect sports fans to watch the Indian hockey team?

Fed on a heavy diet of IPL followed by ongoing World Cup Cricket live broadcasts, Indian sports fans will have no appetite for a sport like hockey which suddenly comes to life on television in June.

Visitor of the Month

he June 2019 Visitor of the Month is Shiv Jadgay, who runs Shiv's Coaching Academy, Shiv provided an analysis of India's performance in the 2018 Men's Hockey World Cup in Bhubanesvar, where India lost to Netherlands in the quarter-final stage.

Shiv took multiple screen grabs from India's quarter-final loss to Netherlands and evaluated the performances of the players. A sample is given below:

Indian forwards do not have the skills to receive and control the ball under pressure, in a confined space, against top players. Also, India does not have midfielders who can consistently make quality passes, with pinpoint accuracy, pace and timing, under pressure.

In the sequences of images above, midfielder Manpreet Singh should have made a first time pass to forward Lalit Upadhyay. Instead, by taking extra steps, Manpreet narrowed the angle of pass to Lalit, and also, gave time for the Netherlands defenders to regroup.

Fun With Numbers

Statistics by B. G. Joshi

he June 2019 edition of Fun with Numbers is on the men's and women's FIH Series Finals, which are the pre-Qualifiers for the Qualifiers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The Indian men (world no. 5) will compete in the 8-nation FIH Series Final in Bhubanesvar, from June 6-16, 2019. The Indian women (world no. 9) will compete in the 8-nation FIH Series Final in Hiroshima, from June 15-23, 2019.

The Indian men's and women's teams' match records against their pool competitors in the FIH Series Finals are given below

Team Country MP W L D GF GA Last Match
Indian Men Poland (no. 21) 43 29 6 8 126 44 India 10 - Poland 0 (2019 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup)
  Russia/USSR (no. 22) 26 12 8 6 63 41 India 8 - Russia 0 (2008 Santiago Olympic Qualifier)
  Uzbekistan (no. 43) 1 1 0 0 8 0 India 8 - Uzbekistan 0 (1998 Bangkok Pre-Asian Games Tournament)
Indian Women Poland (no. 23) 5 5 0 0 15 2 India 3 - Poland 1 (2015 Antwerp Hockey World League)
  Uruguay (no. 24) 2 1 0 1 4 2 India 2 - Uruguay 2 (2017 Vancouver Hockey World League)
  Fiji (no. 44) 3 2 0 1 17 4 India 10 - Fiji 0 (2013 Delhi Hockey World League)