Dhyan Chand's Birth Anniversary Observed As National Sports Day

Article by K. Arumugam of Stick2Hockey.com, Graphic courtesy Hockey India

present day star, a former legend and a hockey coach who toils even today for the upliftment of hockey at the grassroots level will be presented national awards by the President of India on August 29th, the birth anniversary of Dhyan Chand, which is being celebrated as National Sports Day in India since the early 1990s.

Chinglensana Singh, till recently vice-captain of Indian men's national team has been recommended for Arjuna Award, Manuel Fredericks, the famous goalkeeper of 1970s, for Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award, and grassroots coach Marzban Patel, popularly known as 'Bawa Saab' for Dronacharya Award for Lifetime Coaching Achievement. These awards carry a statuette, citation, a good purse, and other benefits like lifetime upper-class free railway travel, etc.

Manuel Fredericks: He is the only Olympic medallist from his home state Kerala, whence present goalkeeper P. R. Sreejesh hails from. Born on 20th October, 1947, in Burnassery, a cantonment town in Kannur district, Manuel Fredericks was a part of Indian men's hockey team for seven years. He made his international debut in 1971 and last played in the 1978 Buenos Aires World Cup. He is presently settled in Bengaluru in Karnataka.

Marzban Patel 'Bawa': Bawa is a selfless hockey worker, promoting hockey in the grassroots. He looks for talent among slum dwellers, drops outs from schools, and among kids from poor sections of society, in addition to schools and colleges. He introduces the game to such kids and stands by them throughout till they can make a career out of hockey. Brothers Devinder Valmeeki and Yuvraj Valmeeki are his recent finds who shine in the hockey circuit.

Chinglensana Singh: Hailing from Manipur, this energy pack of Indian team is a star, though out of the national team of late. He has figured in all major, recent Indian victories, and was elevated to deputy captain of the team many times. He is a gold medallist in the Asian Champions Trophy and the Asia Cup, among others.

When Dhyan Chand Dropped In For Tea At This Punekar's Residence

Legends of Indian Hockey - Roop Singh, Balkrishan Singh and the 'Wizard' Dhyan Chand
Article and Photo courtesy retired professor Shrinivas Kelkar, published in Hindustan Times

wonder how often Major Dhyan Chand came to Pune. Perhaps never, since that day in 1966, when he donned the hockey jersey and wielded the stick in public for arguably the last time.

The hockey nationals were being held at the Army School of Physical Training (ASPT) grounds (now called Army Institute of Physical Training) in Hadapsar. Organisers had also invited great ex-Olympians of India. Dhyan Chand came and so did Roop Singh, his equally-illustrious brother. They were joined by stalwarts of hockey such as Kishan Lal, Bandu Patil, R. S. Bhola, Shankar Lakshman, Mohinder Lal, Inam-ur-Rehman, the Tokyo Express Harbinder Singh, and many others.

I would go to the matches every day on my scooter, driving my friend who was covering the event for a local newspaper. Dhyan Chand was on the ground every evening. Some of his ex-colleagues were residents of Khadki then. One time an aged gentleman walked up to him and asked, "Dada, pehchana mujhe?"

Dhyan Chand turned to look and exclaimed "Baboo!" They were in deep embrace the next moment. It was Dhyan Chand's teammate from the 1936 Olympics, Baboo Nimal. So simple were these heroes of yesteryear! They brought glory to India, but never bathed in it.

I told this incident to my father, who said, "If they are so approachable, why don't you ask them over for tea?" I thought it impossible that the 'Wizard' would accept. Reluctantly I said, "Let me try."

Next evening, just before the game, I went to Dhyan Chand and hesitantly asked: "My father is your great admirer. Will it be possible for you to visit our house, if you are free?"

Prompt came the reply, "Haan haan, kyun nahi? Jaroor ayenge. Parso chalega?" And then he called out to his brother Roop Singh who was nearby. "Dekho bhai, parso inke ghar jaanaa hai, chalenge na?" I could not believe my ears. It was that simple. No hassle, no hitches!

Overjoyed, I came home and told my father, who was in the seventh heaven. A welcome party was planned immediately: Rambhau Lele, the well-known hockey coach of New English School, Ramanbagh, and some close friends were included.

My reporter friend and I reached the ASPT guest house in our Ambassador car the evening of the tea. Dhyan Chand and Roop Singh were ready. Just as we stepped out, they spotted Balkishan Singh, the national coach. "Arey bhai, hum inke saath ja rahe hai inke ghar. Aate ho to chalo naa saath mein!" And Balkishan came along too, all three cramped in the back seat! Fortunately, an extra third garland was already there at home.

Over snacks, talks turned, to who Dhyan Chand would put in an all-time great team of India. He listed some 30 names. "Chunanaa mushkil hai," he said. And he did not include himself or his brother in it.

We all went to our terrace to show him a vantage view of Pune. Dhyan Chand asked my mother. "Aap jaati hai khel dekhne? Nahi? Theek hai, lekin kal jaroor aana. Bahut achchha match hoga."

Two matches were scheduled for the next day: The national finals and a friendly match between current and past Olympians in which he was playing. The 'bahut accha' match he was referring to wasn't his match, but the national final.

Next day Dhyan Chand and his team of ex-Olympians came out in clean whites. All the skills that had earned him the sobriquet 'Wizard' were clearly visible. His stickwork, flicks and stopping full-blooded shots from 10 metres, the ball adhering to his stick as if glued. If something was lacking it was speed, due to his age.

At one point he stepped out during the match for an interview. Before going back on, Dhyan Chand, the true sportsman, waited outside the sideline for the umpire's nod to re-enter! And then the game was over. All retired to the pavilion, and soon, would retire forever.

Since that day, my mother did not watch any other hockey match. How could she let the memory of that game fade? Or that of the humble legend who had invited her there.

Indian Men Win Ready Steady Tokyo Olympic Test Event

Ready Steady Tokyo Olympic hockey test event (men's) was held at the newly-built Oi Hockey Stadium in Tokyo from August 17-21, 2019. The participating countries were India (world no. 5), New Zealand (no. 8), Malaysia (no. 12) and hosts Japan (no. 16).

The tournament was preceded by an opening ceremony involving Her Royal Highness Princess Takamado, to officially launch the event and also to inaugurate the new stadium.

Captain Manpreet Singh, vice-captain Surender Kumar and senior players like P. R. Sreejesh, Birendra Lakra, Akashdeep Singh and Ramandeep Singh were rested for the tournament, while experienced striker S. V. Sunil returned to the national team after a gap of nine months.

India won the tournament, and had the following match results:

Stage Date Result Goal Scorers - India
Pool Aug 17 India 6 - Malaysia 0 Gurinder Singh (8 min), PC
Gursahibjeet Singh (18, 56 min)
Mandeep Singh (33, 46 min)
S. V. Sunil (60 min)
  Aug 18 New Zealand 2 - India 1 Harmanpreet Singh (2 min), PC
  Aug 20 India 6 - Japan 3 Neelakantha Sharma (3 min)
Neelam Sanjeep Xess (7 min), PC
Mandeep Singh (9, 29, 30 min)
Gurjant Singh (41 min)
Final Aug 21 India 5 - New Zealand 0 Harmanpreet Singh (7 min), PC
Shamsher Singh (18 min), PC
Neelakantha Sharma (22 min)
Gursahibjeet Singh (26 min)
Mandeep Singh (27 min), PC

The final positions were as follows: 1 - India, 2 - New Zealand, 3 - Japan, 4 - Malaysia.

The Indian team for the men's Olympic test event was as follows:

Goalkeepers: Krishan Bahadur Pathak, Suraj Karkera

Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh (captain), Gurinder Singh, Kothajeet Singh Khadangbam, Varun Kumar, Jarmanpreet Singh, Neelam Sanjeep Xess

Midfielders: Hardeek Singh, Neelakantha Sharma, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Shamsher Singh, Ashish Kumar Topno, Jaskaran Singh

Forwards: Mandeep Singh (vice-captain), Gursahibjeet Singh, S. V. Sunil, Gurjant Singh

Officials: Graham Reid (chief coach) Chris Ciriello (analytical coach)

Indian Women Win Ready Steady Tokyo Olympic Test Event

India draw with world no. 2 Australia in the Olympic Test Event. Photograph courtesy Daily News and Analysis

Ready Steady Tokyo Olympic hockey test event (women's) was held at the newly-built Oi Hockey Stadium in Tokyo from August 17-21, 2019. The participating countries were Australia (world no. 2), India (no. 10), China (no. 11) and hosts Japan (no. 14). One of the objectives of the test event was to have tournament play in similar climatic conditions as during the Olympic Games in about a year's time in Tokyo.

It was ready, steady, go for India, who remained unbeaten in the tournament to finish first. India had the following match results:

Stage Date Result Goal Scorers - India
Pool Aug 17 India 2 - Japan 1 Gurjeet Kaur (9, 35 min), both PCs
  Aug 18 India 2 - Australia 2 Vandana Katariya (36 min)
Gurjeet Kaur (59 min), PC
  Aug 20 India 0 - China 0  
Final Aug 21 India 2 - Japan 1 Navjyot Kaur (11 min)
Lalremsiami (33 min), PC

The final positions were as follows: 1 - India, 2 - Japan, 3 - Australia, 4 - China.

Drag-flicker Gurjeet Kaur was the top-scorer of the tournament with three goals.

The Indian team for the women's Olympic test event was as follows:

Goalkeepers: Savita (vice-captain), Rajani Etimarapu

Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka, Reena Khokhar, Gurjeet Kaur, Salima Tete, Nisha

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

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

Officials: Sjoerd Marijne (chief coach)

Indian Oil Win Murugappa Gold Cup Hockey Tournament

Defending champion Indian Oil repeat as Murugappa Gold Cup Winners - Photograph by M. Vedhan of The Hindu

he 93rd Murugappa Gold Cup hockey touarnment was held at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium in Egmore, Chennai, from August 29 - September 8, 2019.

A total of 10 teams participated in the tournament. They were divided into two pools of five teams each.

  • Pool A: Bharatiya Vayu Sena (Air Force), Bharatiya Sthal Sena (Army), Bengaluru, Punjab National Bank, Indian Oil Corporation
  • Pool B: Bharatiya Vayu Sena (Navy), Railways, Tamil Nadu, Kendriya Sachivalaya (Central Secretariat), Punjab & Sindh Bank

Defending champion Indian Oil and Punjab National Bank reached the final of the Murugappa Gold Cup, with the following match results:

Stage Date Indian Oil Date Punjab National Bank
Pool Aug 31 beat Bharatiya Sthal Sena 3-2 Aug 29 lost to Bengaluru 2-4
  Sep 1 beat Bharatiya Vayu Sena 4-3 Aug 31 beat Bharatiya Vayu Sena 2-1
  Sep 4 beat Bengaluru 4-1 Sep 3 beat Bharatiya Sthal Sena 4-1
  Sep 5 drew with Punjab National Bank 3-3 Sep 5 drew with Indian Oil 3-3
Semis Sep 7 beat Kendriya Sachivalaya 6-3 Sep 7 beat Bharatiya Nau Sena 4-2
Final Sep 8 beat Punjab National Bank 3-1

Winner Indian Oil and runner-up Punjab National Bank received ₹6 lakh and ₹3.5 lakh, respectively. M. M. Murugappan, executive chairman, Murugappa Group, gave away the prizes.

In addition, a cash award of ₹10,000, along with a high-end bicycle each, was presented to the following:

  • Forward of the Tournament: Affan Yousuf (Indian Oil)
  • Midfielder of the Tournament: Pardeep Mor (Kendriya Sachivalaya)
  • Defender of the Tournament: T. Satish (Tamil Nadu)
  • Goalkeper of the Tournament: Jasbeer Singh (Punjab National Bank)
  • Most Promising Player of the Tournament: Mandeep Mor (Punjab National Bank)

2019 has been a good year for Indian Oil. They won the Bombay Gold Cup in April, the Bangalore Cup in August, and now the Murugappa Gold Cup in Chennai in September.

In a far-sighted move, the sponsors also launched the inaugural Murugappa city inter-schools hockey tournament in Chennai, which was held from August 22-24.

Photograph of the Month

Marzban Patel receiving the Dronacharya Puraskar from the President of India

he Photograph of the Month for September 2019 is of Mr. Marzban 'Bawa' Patel receiving the Dronacharya Puraskar from the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind. This was on the occasion of National Sports Day, 29th August, 2019, which is observed on the birth anniversary of Major Dhyan Chand every year.

The following was written by Viren Rasquinha. ex-Olympian and presently Director and CEO, Olympic Gold Quest.

Bawa has produced 5 hockey Olympians - Gavin Ferreira (Atlanta 1996), Jude Menezes (Sydney 2000), Viren Rasquinha and Adrian Dsouza (Athens 2004) & Devinder Valmeeki (Rio 2016). Besides, many hockey players, who have represented India and Mumbai, got jobs through hockey and made something of their lives.

Bawa eats, sleeps and breathes hockey. Today is Parsi New Year (17th August, 2019), and he celebrated as usual - by being on the hockey field - when the Dronacharya award was announced.

He has sold off his personal possessions to give young, poor, talented kids the chance to play hockey. Every young kid from Mumbai who has gone on to play for Mumbai or India have passed through Bawa's able hands.

I owe my entire hockey career to Bawa. He recognised a spark in me when I was 13, and gave me a chance to play for the Republicans in my first All-India tournament at 14. He kicked my butt to work really hard, and made me believe in myself. Thank you Bawa. Coaches like you just don't exist anymore. I can't think of anyone more deserving than you.

Money Matters

Article and Photograph credit Sportstar

ockey India donated ₹31 lakh to Odisha Chief Minister's Relief Fund on August 7 to help the state recover from the devastation caused by Cyclone Fani earlier this year.

Hockey India president Mohammad Mushtaque Ahmad and Indian Olympic Association chief Narinder Batra on Wednesday jointly presented the cheque to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in Bhubanesvar.

The money donated was collected from the proceeds of the sale of match tickets of FIH Men's Hockey Series Finals held in Bhubanesvar from June 6 to 15. Odisha was battered by the cyclone just a month before the FIH Series Finals.

Hockey India said in a statement, "Cyclone Fani had caused extensive damage and loss to Odisha earlier this year. However, the FIH Men's Series Finals was successfully conducted in June 2019 in Bhubanesvar with the love and support of the state government and the people of Odisha."

Media Matters

Article by Oshin Grace Daniell, Photograph by Bhanu Prakash Chandra courtesy The Week

he August 2019 edition of Smart Life, a publication of The Week, has India captain Rani Rampal on the cover, with the caption - Queen of Hockey. Excerpts from a Q&A with Rani Rampal are given below.

Who is your role model?

I don't have one. I am my own competition. Every day, I set my own goals and I challenge myself.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

I want to be the best hockey player in the world. I am not looking at being famous, but I want to be an example.

What kind of food do you like?

I love South Indian food. Masala Dosa is my favourite. I also love everything that my mother cooks.

Are you a fitness freak?

Health is money for me and so I put in an effort to stay fit, but I am not a fanatic.

Who is the first person you call when you have a crisis?

My father. I am very attached to him. I also talk to coach Baldev when I need advice on my game.

A country that you want to visit?

I have heard a lot about Switzerland and I hope I get to visit the country soon.

Do you have any regrets?

I have no regrets. Whatever decisions I have made in life have been solid lessons for me.

Who is your favourite celebrity?

I love Akshay Kumar. I find his energy contagious.

What is something that you are proud of?

I am proud of the fact that I represent India wherever I go.

Visitor of the Month

he September 2019 Visitor of the Month is One Thousand Hockey Legs (OTHL) from Delhi. The NGO was founded on 28th December, 2018, and its 10th anniversary brochure is shown above.

  • Run by not-for-profit trust Hockey Citizen Group based in Delhi
  • Objective: Introduce the sport of hockey to at least 500 school kids every year in India
  • Target Group: school kids in the 6 to 18 age group from urban poor and underprivileged sections of society
  • In 2019, 8 OTHL boys got selected for Khelo India hockey tournament, the flagship program for youth sports of the Government of India
  • In 2018, 8 OTHL boys got selected for the Delhi state team in the Hockey India Junior National Championship (A division)
  • In 2016, OTHL was awarded the Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puraskar from the President of India
  • In 2015, OTHL was awarded Hockey India President's Outstanding Award

Donations to the trust are eligible for a 50% tax rebate under Section 80G of the Indian Incomes Tax Act. Donations can be made in the name of Hockey Citizen Group, A/C No. 30755536119, IFS Code SBIN0001493.

Fun With Numbers

Statistics by B. G. Joshi

he September 2019 edition of Fun with Numbers is on hockey in Oceania, in the lead up to the Oceania Cup. Australia and New Zealand are the only participants in the Oceania Cup (men, women), which will be held in Rockhampton, Australia, from September 5-8, 2019.

Australia vs. New Zealand (Men), 1922 - Present

  • New Zealand is the first non-Asian/European team to win the Olympic gold medal in hockey (1976 Montreal). The team they beat in the final was Australia
  • Australia had to wait an additional 28 years before they won their only Olympic gold medal in hockey (2004 Athens)
  • New Zealand has not reached the semi-finals of any elite FIH event either before or after their Miracle at Montreal
  • * IOC/FIH elite tournaments include Olympics, World Cup, Champions Trophy/Hockey World League (both discontinued) and Hockey Pro League
  • ** Includes test series played in 1991 as Olympic Qualifier
Category Played AUS Win NZL Win Draw AUS Goals NZL Goals
IOC/FIH elite tournaments* 17 12 2 3 49 18
Oceania Cup** 28 23 2 3 100 42
Other 104 71 16 17 291 145
TOTAL 149 106 20 23 440 205

Australia vs. New Zealand (Women), 1935 - Present

  • Between 1988-2000, Australia was the top hockey team in the world, winning 3 Olympic golds (1988, 1996, 2000), and 2 World Cups (1994, 1998)
  • New Zealand's lone gold at a major event came at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, where they beat arch-rival Australia 4-1 in the final
Category Played AUS Win NZL Win Draw AUS Goals NZL Goals
IOC/FIH elite tournaments 26 16 6 4 72 29
Oceania Cup 25 16 4 5 57 26
Other 81 55 14 12 216 107
TOTAL 132 87 24 21 345 162