When Does A Sport Turn Into A Tamasha Or A Gimmick?

Smaller size hockey field suitable for Hockey5s. Photograph credit JKHockey

ow do you spoil a perfectly good sport? By drastically restructuring the sport, and claiming the new variant is as good as the parent sport. See examples below across multiple sports.

Sport Classical Variant How it Differs from Parent Sport
Cricket Test Cricket 6ixty 5 overs per inning, all out after 6 wickets
    The Hundred 100 balls per inning
    T20 (e.g., IPL) 20 overs per inning
Hockey 11-a-side Outdoor Indoor Hockey 6 players per team, smaller sized field, No Hits, No Ball Out
    Hockey 5s 5 players per team, 10-minute halves, Half-size field, No 'D', No Ball Out, No PCs
Golf 4 rounds, 72 holes, Cut after Day 2 LIV Golf 3 rounds, 54 holes, No Player Cut, Shotgun Starts
Basketball 5-a-side 3x3 3 players per team, Half court, Single Basket
Rugby 15 players per team, 40-minute halves Rugby 7s 7 players per team, 7-minute halves
Chess 40 moves/100 minutes Blitz Chess 3 to 5 minutes per player per game
Football 11-a-side Outdoor Futsal 5 players per team, 20 minute halves

In the invitational Hockey5s tournaments held in Lausanne on June 4-5, 2022, lots of goals were scored but there were few body feints or dribbles, and minimal play build-up. Most of it was the ball being slapped in the direction of the goal from a distance.

Cricket has taken the biggest casualty. The variations are a dime-a-dozen, with 6ixty organised by Cricket West Indies (CWI), The Hundred organised by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB), and T20s organised all over the world. You cannot manufacture excitement by artificially compressing the timelines.

There are certain absurdities that come by shortening the sport. For instance, per a quote on on CricInfo.com: "Sachin Tendulkar and M. S. Dhoni were earning ₹130 crore (about $180,000) for 1 year's worth of cricket per their contract with the BCCI. This was also a fair estimate of the amount they make from a single IPL game."

Hockey 5s is okay as a demonstration sport, suited for say the Youth Olympics. Keep classical hockey where it belongs - in the Olympics, World Cup, Continental Championships and Multi-Sport Games like the Asiad and Commonwealth Games.

India Finish Creditable 3rd In 2021-22 Men's FIH Pro League

Lalit Upadhyay scores against Belgium in the penalty shootout in their June 11 Pro League match, photograph credit FIH

he Indian men's hockey team played FIH Pro League matches against Belgium and Netherlands to complete their league engagements. India's match results in their European tour were as shown below:

Opponent Venue Date Result Goal Scorers - India
Belgium Sportcentrum Wilrijkse Plein
Antwerp (BEL)
June 11 India 3 - Belgium 3 (5-4) Shamsher Singh (18 min)
Harmanpreet Singh (52 min), PS
Jarmanpreet Singh (58 min), PC
    June 12 Belgium 3 - India 2 Abhishek (25 min)
Mandeep Singh (60 min)
Netherlands Hazelaarweg Stadion,
Rotterdam (NED)
June 18 Netherlands 2 - India 2 (4-1 SO) Dilpreet Singh (21 min)
Harmanpreet Singh (60 min), PC
    June 19 Netherlands 2 - India 1 Abhishek (1 min)

The final Men's Pro League standings for the season 2021-22 are given below. Netherlands won the Pro League title with 42 points. India finished third in the 2021-22 FIH Pro League, with 30 points from 16 outings, their best placing in the competition. In the previous edition, the Indian hockey team finished fourth in their debut season.

India scored the maximum goals in the competition (62), while Belgium conceded the least number of golas (25). Harmanpreet Singh emerged as the top scorer of the tournament, with 18 goals.

Rank Country Played Win Loss Draw Goals For Goals Against Points
1 Netherlands 16 12 1 3 61 28 42
2 Belgium 16 10 4 2 52 25 35
3 India 16 8 4 4 62 40 30
4 Germany 16 8 6 2 40 36 28
5 Argentina 16 6 6 4 31 35 25
6 England 16 7 7 2 40 41 24
7 Spain 16 5 8 3 36 43 18
8 France 16 4 11 1 31 46 13
9 South Africa 16 0 15 1 23 82 1

The 20-member Indian men's team for the European leg of the Hockey Pro League was as follows:

Forwards: Gurjant Singh, Mandeep Singh, Shilanand Lakra, Sukhjeet Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay, Abhishek

Midfielders: Manpreet Singh, Hardik Singh, Shamsher Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Akashdeep Singh, Neelakantha Sharma

Defenders: Amit Rohidas (captain), Harmanpreet Singh (vice-captain), Surender Kumar, Varun Kumar, Jugraj Singh, Jarmanpreet Singh

Goalkeepers: Suraj Karkera, Parattu Raveendran Sreejesh

Officials: Chief Coach - Graham Reid

India Finish Creditable 3rd In 2021-22 Women's FIH Pro League

Lalremsiami scores against Argentina in the FIH Pro League, photograph courtesy Hockey India

he Indian women's team played Hockey Pro League matches against teams from Europe, North America and South America to finish their league matches. India's match results were as shown below:

Opponent Venue Date Result Goal Scorers - India
Belgium Sportcentrum Wilrijkse Plein
Antwerp (BEL)
June 11 Belgium 2 - India 1 Lalremsiami (48 min)
    June 12 Belgium 5 - India 0  
Argentina Hazelaarweg Stadion,
Rotterdam (NED)
June 18 India 3 - Argentina 3 (2-1 SO) Lalremsiami (4 min)
Gurjeet Kaur (37, 51 min), both PCs
    June 19 Argentina 3 - India 2 Salima Tete (23 min)
Deep Grace Ekka (48 min), PC
USA Hazelaarweg Stadion,
Rotterdam (NED)
June 21 India 4 - USA 2 Deep Grace Ekka (31 min), PC
Navneet Kaur (32 min)
Sonika (40 min)
Vandana Katariya (50 min)
    June 22 India 4 - USA 0 Vandana Katariya (39-PC, 53 min)
Sonika (53 min)
Sangeeta Kumari (56 min)

The final Women's Pro League standings for the season 2021-22 were as follows:

Rank Country Played Win Loss Draw Goals For Goals Against Points
1 Argentina 16 13 0 3 43 18 42
2 Netherlands 16 10 2 4 42 16 38
3 India* 14 6 4 4 33 26 30
4 Belgium 16 9 6 1 35 20 28
5 Spain 16 5 7 4 23 26 21
6 Germany 16 5 8 3 30 27 19
7 England* 14 5 7 2 26 35 18
8 China 16 3 10 3 19 42 15
9 USA 16 1 13 2 13 54 5

*The matches between India and England, scheduled for 2 and 3 April in Bhubanesvar, were cancelled after the English team cound not travel to India due to Covid-19 restrictions. The 6 points available for these 2 matches were awarded to India, in a joint decision between the FIH and the two nations.

India and Spain had qualified for the FIH Hockey Pro League for this season only, in place of New Zealand and Australia who could not participate due to the Covid restictions in place in their countries. They both will lose their place in the next edition of the league.

The 24-member Indian women's team for the European leg of the Hockey Pro League was as follows:

Forwards: Vandana Katariya, Lalremsiami, Navneet Kaur, Sharmila Devi, Sangita Kumari, Deepika, Rani Rampal

Midfielders: Nisha, Sushila Chanu Pukhrambam, Monika, Neha, Jyoti, Navjot Kaur, Sonika, Salima Tete, Baljeet Kaur

Defenders: Deep Grace Ekka (vice-captain), Gurjit Kaur, Nikki Pradhan, Udita, Ishika Chaudhary, Akshata Abaso Dhekale

Goalkeepers: Savita Punia (captain), Bichu Devi Kharibam

Officials: Chief Coach - Janneke Schopman

Indian Juniors Finish Second In Uniphar u-23 5-Nation Tournament

India vs. Ukraine in the Uniphar u-23 5-nation women's hockey tournament. Photograph credit The Front Row Union

he Uniphar u-23 5-nation women's hockey tournament was played at the National Hockey Stadium, University College, Dublin (UCD), from June 19 - 26. The participating nations were host Ireland, India, Netherlands, Ukraine and United States. Netherlands are the reigning Junior Women's World Cup champions.

India finished second in the tournament, with match results as shown below:

Stage Date Result Goal Scorers - India
Round Robin June 19 India 4 - Ireland 1 Annu (12 min)
Deepika Soreng (25 min)
Monika Dipi Toppo (45 min)
Beauty Dungdung (47 min)
  June 20 India 2 - Netherlands 2 Annu (19 min)
Beauty Dungdung (37 min)
  June 22 India 3 - Ukraine 0 Nikita Toppo (33 min)
Manju Chorsiya (44 min)
Beauty Dungdung (55 min)
  June 23 India 4 - USA 1 Nikita Toppo (48 min)
Annu (49, 52 min)
Vaishnavi Phalke (58 min)
1st vs. 2nd June 26 Netherlands 4 - India 1 Beauty Dungdung (29 min)

The final standings were: 1 - Netherlands, 2 - India, 3 - USA, 4 - Ireland, 5 - Ukraine. Beauty Dungdung was named player of the tournament.

The 20-member Indian junior women's team for u-23 Uniphar 5-nation tournament was as follows:

Forwards: Annu, Beauty Dungdung, Mumtaz Khan (vice-captain), Deepika Soreng, Mudugula Bhavani, Monika Dipi Toppo

Midfielders: Vaishnavi Vitthal Phalke (captain), Ashvini Kolekar, Jyoti Chhatri, Manju Chorsiya, Nikita Toppo, Rutuja Dadaso Pisal, Hina Bano

Defenders: Hritika Singh, Mahima Tete, Mamita Oram, Neelam, Preeti

Goalkeepers: Khushboo, Kurmapu Ramya

Officials: Chief Coach - Erik Wonink, Assistant Coaches - Yendala Soundarya, Harvinder Singh, Video Analyst - S. Gayathri

Photograph of the Month

Budding players pay tribute to Olympian Varinder Singh in his native village Dhannovali. Photograph by Malkiat Singh, credit Tribune India

he Photograph of the Month for July 2022 is in memory of two-time Olympian and two-time World Cupper Varinder Singh, who passed away in Jalandhar on 28 June, 2022. The former Indian right-half had a heart ailment and was suffering for the past 10 days. He was 75.

Varinder was born on 16 May, 1947 in Dhannovali village near Jalandhar in Punjab. Varinder started getting noticed playing at the college level, where he represented Lyallpur Khalsa College in Jalandhar. He was recruited by Indian Railways for his hockey skills in the late 1960s.

Playing right-half, Varinder Singh had a six-year international career for India (1972-1978) during which time he won the following medals for India:

  • Olympics - 1972 Munich (bronze), 1976 Montreal
  • World Cup - 1973 Amsterdam (silver), 1975 Kuala Lumpur (gold)
  • Asian Games - 1974 Teheran (silver), 1978 Bangkok (silver)

"This is just so sad, just shocking news. I cannot believe it. I have known Varinder since our school days. We used to play against each other in inter-school tournaments. We both studied at the Lyallpur Khalsa College in Jalandhar," said Ajit Pal Singh, captain of India's 1975 World Cup-winning team. "We used to be roommates, travelled together and knew each other so well," he added.

Ashok Kumar, son of the legendary Dhyan Chand and scorer of the winning goal in the 1975 World Cup final against Pakistan, recalls the versatility of Varinder. "Varinder was soft spoken off the field but smart and very fast on the field. He had a knack of making the right calls and passes at the right time. He was a defender but could easily turn into an attacker when required," he said. He recalled Varinder creating goal scoring opportunities in India's 3-1 victory over Germany in the 1975 World Cup, which helped India top the pool.

Harcharan Singh, who was Varinder's teammate in the 1975 World Cup, said, "I knew him since 1965, when we were starting out in Jalandhar. I was at the Sports College and he was at the Lyallpur Khalsa College. I played as an outside-left forward and he was a right-half, so we faced each other a lot throughout our careers. He was a brilliant player, very versatile. He was great both in defence and attack. He used to be our sixth forward. In fact, he had started out as an inside-right, so he had that attacking instinct."

The 1975 Men's Hockey World Cup title, where India beat Pakistan 2-1 in the final, remains India's only gold medal in the illustrious competition.

After retiring from hockey, Varinder coached Punjab & Sindh Bank hockey team for more than eight years in the 1980s. In 2007, Varinder was conferred with the prestigious Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Award. He shifted his attention to the grassroots and started working with the Punjab Sports Department from 2008. He also coached at his alma mater, Lyallpur Khalsa College in Jalandhar.

In the 2018 Men's World Cup in Bhubanesvar, the 1975 World Cup winning team members, including Varinder Singh, were invited by the organising committee. The gold medal winning team members spent a week together refreshing old memories, staying in the same hotel, having meals together and watching games in the stadium together.

Money Matters

Article by Jonathan Selvaraj. Article and photograph credit Sportstar

he 2023 World Cup Hockey matches will be co-hosted by Rourkela and played at the under-construction Birsa Munda stadium. When completed, the stadium will seat some 20,000 fans - the most in any hockey stadium in India.

The stadium itself is just one part of Rourkela's transformation in preparation for the Hockey World Cup to be held in January 2023. Some ₹130 crore is expected to be spent on the stadium alone - the lion's share of the ₹650 crore that the Odisha Government is spending to get Rourkela in shape for the world event.

"The stadium will be the hub of activity during the World Cup, but other parts of the city will benefit from it as well," says district collector Nikhil Pavan Kalyan. "We are building for the World Cup, but we are also looking beyond it. There's work happening in every corner of the town."

An airport is being built to handle commercial flights, roads are being widened, sports and recreation centres are being developed, the city's drainage system is being fixed and a bridge is being constructed over the Brahmani river.

While Rourkela Stadium is expected to be a showpiece structure of the 2023 World Cup, the state government has been also working to provide smaller, multipurpose venues throughout the state. In Sundargarh district alone, 16 artificial hockey turfs are coming up. All this is part of the "Sports for Youth, Youth for Future" thrust that is making Odisha an ideal environment for sports culture, says R Vineel Krishna who is Odisha's sports secretary.

The state has a long association with hockey in India, contributing both in terms of players, financial and logistical support. Sundargarh district alone has produced over 85 internationals. In terms of financial support, the state has been the principal sponsor of the Indian men and women's hockey teams for the past five years. Since 2018, the Kalinga Stadium has become the permanent training base for both the Indian men's and women's hockey teams.

While Bhubaneswar was originally meant to be the sole venue of the World Cup, it is learned that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik made the decision just under a couple of years ago to bring in Rourkela as a co-host of the World Cup. It's objectively a right call - Rourkela is after all right in the middle of the tribal belt that has served as a reservoir of talent Indian hockey draws from.

"This will be huge for tribal kids," says Dilip Tirkey, former captain of the Indian hockey team, who himself hails from the region. "Until now, Rourkela did not even host an international match. Now, a World Cup will take place there. Just imagine the possibilities," he says.

"The real benefits from Birsa Munda stadium will come in a few years' time," says Vijay Kumar Lakra, who coaches at Rourkela Sports Hostel . "Once the World Cup ends, I have been told players from the hockey academies of Rourkela and Sundargarh will be allowed to practise at the stadium. Imagine the amount of confidence a young player from a village will get when he realises he is playing on the same turf that a World Cup player has played. Won't that give him the self-belief to think he can play there as well?"

Media Matters

n Odia documentary film, "The Mountain Hockey" became the first ever documentary in the Odia language to release on the Over-the-Top (OTT) platform, when it started streaming on Disney+ Hotstar on June 4, 2021.

The twenty-nine minute film narrates the story of a teacher, hockey coach and sports activist Rajendra Kumar Kujur who goes through a lot of struggle and hardship to teach hockey to several tribal girls in Amlikhaman village near the Sambalpur-Sundargarh border in Odisha.

Apart from being the headmaster of the local Government girls high school, Rajendra is also a father at Amlikhaman Church.

The film is directed by Debashis Mohapatra and Abinash Pradhan, and produced by Raj Kishore Hota of Cinespinner Productions and ULB Films.

Debasis said, "It took us almost one month to research about the film's settings, and then we approached Father Rajendra for the film. Since there are no hotels or restaurants in the village, we lived with Father Rajendra's family and shared food with them."

The filmmakers got permission to use 30-40 players for the shoot. Father Rajendra insisted that the girls' studies should not be hampered. So the shoot used to start from early morning and would end at 9 am.

Debasis said, "It took us almost 3 years to ready the film. We approached several regional and national OTT platforms. After putting in a lot of efforts, we got the opportunity to release it on Disney+ Hotstar."

The film's anthem song, Genda Khelo, can be seen at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmC48RudxzE.

Records and Statistics

he July edition of records and statistics is on India's record in the Women's Hockey World Cup Hockey. Including this year, 15 editions of the tournament have taken place, of which India has qualified in 8.

  • Going into the 2022 tournament (July 1-17), India has never won a medal in the Women's World Cup
  • India played USA in a 3-match playoff for the final spot in the 2002 Women's World Cup. The first two matches were drawn, while USA won the third to qualify for the World Cup
Year Venue Gold Silver Bronze India India Captain
1974 Mandelieu (FRA) Netherlands Argentina West Germany 4th Ajinder Kaur
1978 Madrid (ESP) Netherlands West Germany Belgium 7th Rupa Saini
1983 Kuala Lumpur (MAS) Netherlands Canada Australia 11th Selma D'Silva
1998 Utrecht (NED) Australia Netherlands Germany 12th (Last) Sandeep Kaur
2006 Madrid (ESP) Netherlands Australia Argentina 11th Jyoti Sunita Kullu
2010 Rosario (ARG) Argentina Netherlands England 9th Surinder Kaur
2018 London (ENG) Netherlands Ireland Spain 8th Rani Rampal
2022 Terrassa (ESP), Amstelveen (NED)         Savita Punia