India Win One, Lose One In 2022-23 FIH Pro League Opener

Mandeep Singh scored a brace against New Zealand in the FIH Pro League match on 28 October

he inaugural matches of the 2022-23 FIH Men's Pro League were held at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubanesvar from October 28-30. The Pro League will be conducted as a series of mini 3-nation matchups, where a set of 3 teams will gather in one host nation and play their home-and-away matches against each other, setting up 6 games per mini-tournament.

Teams will play a total of 16 matches each during the Pro League season, with each team facing the other 8 teams twice. The team that finishes at the bottom of the Pro League table will get relegated at the end of the season, with the winner of the inaugural FIH Hockey Nations Cup taking their place.

The results of world no. 5 India's matches against no. 8 Spain and no. 9 New Zealand are given below.

Date Result Goal Scorers - India
Oct 28 India 4 - New Zealand 3 Mandeep Mor (14 min)
Harmanpreet Singh (41 min), PS
Mandeep Singh (51, 56 min)
Oct 30 Spain 3 - India 2 Harmanpreet Singh (26 min), PC
Abhishek (54 min)

The first goal of the 2022-23 Pro League season also happended to be Mandeep Mor's maiden international goal for India. In the other match of the mini 3-nation tournament played on 29 October, Spain beat New Zealand 3-2.

India's matches were broadcast on the Star Sports Select 2 and Select 2 HD channels. The next set of matches between these countries will be held at the same venue from November 4-6.

The 22-member Indian men's team for the FIH Pro League matches against New Zealand and Spain was as follows:

Forwards: S. Karthi, Mandeep Singh, Abhishek, Dilpreet Singh, Sukhjeet Singh

Midfielders: Manpreet Singh (vice-captain), Sumit, Hardik Singh, Moirangthem Rabichandra Singh, Shamsher Singh, Neelakantha Sharma, Rajkumar Pal, Mohammad Raheel Mouseen

Defenders: Harmanpreet Singh (captain), Jarmanpreet Singh, Surender Kumar, Amit Rohidas, Jugraj Singh, Mandeep Mor, Neelam Sanjeep Xess

Goalkeepers: Parattu Raveendran Sreejesh, Krishan Bahadur Pathak

India Win The u-21 Sultan Of Johor Cup in Malaysia

Indian team wins the 2022 Sultan of Johor Cup. Photograph credit Hockey India

he 10th Sultan of Johor Cup was held at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, from October 22-29. This is the only invitational junior men's hockey tournament in the world, and was making a return after not being held in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Six countries took part in the tournament - Australia, Great Britain, India, Japan, host Malaysia and South Africa. The participating teams played only their u-20 players, in preparation for next year's Junior World Cup in Bukit Jalil.

India won the Sultan of Johor Cup with match results as shown below:

Stage Date Result Goal Scorers - India
Pool Oct 22 India 5 - Malaysia 2 Amandeep (5 min)
Araijeet Singh Hundal (9 min, PC)
Boby Singh Dhami (19 min)
Sudeep Chirmako (25 min)
Shardanand Tivari (55 min), PC
  Oct 23 South Africa 5 - India 4 Shardanand Tivari (8, 9 min), both PCs
Uttam Singh (16 min)
Sudeep Chirmako (44 min)
  Oct 25 India 5 - Japan 1 Uttam Singh (2 min)
Rohit (11 min), PC
Johnson Purthi (20 min)
Boby Singh Dhami (30 min)
Amandeep Lakra (50 min) PC
  Oct 26 India 5 - Australia 5 Boby Singh Dhami (1 min)
Shardanand Tivari (7, 34 min), both PCs
Araijeet Singh Hundal (17 min)
Amandeep (59 min)
  Oct 28 India 5 - Great Britain 5 Boby Chandura Poovanna (6 min)
Amandeep (49 min)
Araijeet Singh Hundal (52 min)
Shardanand Tivari (55, 57 min), both PCs
Final Oct 29 India 1 - Australia 1 (5-4 SO) Sudeep Chirmako (13 min)

Shardanand Tivari, a product of Sports Authority of India, Lucknow, was the top scorer of the tournament, with 7 goals, all from penalty corners. This was India's third Sultan of Johor Cup title victory, with their two previous triumphs coming in 2013 and 2014.

The Indian team won despite a nagging problem with the limited availability of vegetarian food options. "Many of my players are fully vegetarian, while some are vegetarians on certain days of the week," said Indian coach C. R. Kumar.

Hockey India announced cash awards of ₹2 lakh each for the players of the victorious team and ₹1 lakh to each of the support staff of the team.

The final placings were: 1 - India, 2 - Australia, 3 - Great Britain, 4 - Japan, 5 - South Africa, 6 - Malaysia.

The 18-member Indian men's team for the 2022 Sultan of Johor Cup was as follows:

Forwards: Uttam Singh (captain), Boby Singh Dhami (vice-captain), Angad Bir Singh, Araijeet Singh Hundal, Sudeep Chirmako

Midfielders: Vishnukant Singh, Rajinder Singh, Ankit Pal, Poovanna C. B., Amandeep, Johnson Purthy

Defenders: Amir Ali, Shardanand Tivari, Rohit, Amandeep Lakra, Cyril Lugun

Goalkeepers: Mohith Shashikumar, Ankit Malik

Coach: C. R. Kumar

Karnataka and Hariyana Triumph In National Games Hockey

The victorious Hariyana women's hockey team at the National Games in Rajkot. Photograph credit The Hindu

he 36 National Games hockey competition was played at the Dhyan Chand Hockey Stadium in Rajkot from October 2 - 11. Per a Sports Authority of India directive, all national campers joined their respective men's and women's hockey teams for the National Games

8 teams took part in the men's tournament, and were grouped in two pools as follows:

  • Pool A: Hariyana, Maharashtra, Paschim Bengal, Gujarat
  • Pool B: Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh

Karnataka won the National Games men's hockey tournament with match results as shown below:

Stage Date Karnataka Date Uttar Pradesh
Pool Oct 2 beat Uttar Pradesh 4-2 Oct 2 lost to Karnataka 2-4
  Oct 4 beat Tamil Nadu 5-1 Oct 4 beat Jharkhand 4-1
  Oct 5 beat Jharkhand 3-2 Oct 5 beat Tamil Nadu 3-1
Quarters Oct 8 beat Gujarat 11-2 Oct 8 beat Paschim Bengal 1-1 (4-3 SO)
Semis Oct 10 beat Hariyana 3-1 Oct 10 beat Maharashtra 3-3 (3-2 SO)
Final Oct 11 beat Uttar Pradesh 2-2 (5-4 SO)

Maharashtra defeated Haryana 2-2 (3-1 SO) in the bronze medal match. Yuvraj Valmeeki of Maharashtra was the top scorer of the tournament, with 8 goals.

The final placings were: 1 - Karnataka, 2 - Uttar Pradesh, 3 - Maharashtra, 4 - Hariyana, 5 - Paschim Bengal, 6 - Tamil Nadu, 7 - Jharkhand, 8 - Gujarat

The victorious Karantaka team was coached by V. S. Vinaya, and had Olympians S. V. Sunil and Nikkin Thimmaiah in the team, along with international Mohammed Raheel Moussen. India's national men's hockey coach Graham Reid was in Rajkot to witness the men's hockey final.
8 teams took part in the women's tournament, and were grouped in two pools as follows:

  • Pool A: Odisha, Hariyana, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat
  • Pool B: Karnataka, Jharkhand, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh

Hariyana won the National Games women's hockey tournament with match results as shown below:

Stage Date Hariyana Date Punjab
Pool Oct 2 beat Gujarat 30-1 Oct 2 beat Karnataka 6-1
  Oct 3 beat Odisha 4-0 Oct 3 beat Madhya Pradesh 2-1
  Oct 5 beat Uttar Pradesh 5-1 Oct 5 beat Jharkhand 3-2
Quarters Oct 7 beat Karnataka 6-0 Oct 7 beat Gujarat 24-0
Semis Oct 9 beat Jharkhand 5-2 Oct 9 beat Madhya Pradesh
Final Oct 11 beat Punjab 1-0

Madhya Pradesh beat Jharkhand 5-2 in the bronze medal match.

The final placings were: 1 - Hariyana, 2 - Punjab, 3 - Madhya Pradesh, 4 - Jharkhand, 5 - Odisha, 6 - Uttar Pradesh, 7 - Karnataka, 8 - Gujarat

The women's final was a veritable who's who of Indian women's hockey. Hariyana had internationals such as Savita, Rani Rampal, Jyothi, Monika Malik, Navneet Kaur, Neha Goyal, Sharmila Devi, Sonika and Udita. Punjab featured internationals such as Gurjeet Kaur, Lalremsiami, Navjot Kaur, Baljeet Kaur, Reena Khokkar and former India goalkeeper Yogita Bali.

Captain Rani Rampal of Hariyana was the top scorer of the tournament, with 18 goals. This included two hat-tricks, all 5 Hariyana goals in the semifinals, and the gold-medal winning goal in the final.

India's national women's hockey coach Jenneke Schopman was in Rajkot to witness the women's hockey final. If this tournament doesn't convince coach Schopman to take back Rani Rampal in the Indian team for the upcoming Nations Cup, then nothing will.

Defending Champion Railways Win 39th Surjit Hockey Tournament

Dancers present giddha at the inauguration of the 39th Surjit Hockey Tournament. Photo courtesy The Tribune

he 39th Indian Oil Servo Surjit Hockey Tournament was held at the Surjit Hockey Stadium in Burlton Park, Jalandhar, from October 27 - November 4. The tournament was inaugurated by Punjab Local Bodies Minister Inderbir Singh Nijjar.

Six teams were directly into quarter-finals league stage, with two teams joining them through the qualifiers. The 8 teams in the quarter-final league stage were:

  • Pool A: Bharatiya Rail (Railways), Punjab Police, Indian Oil, Bharatiya Vayu Sena (IAF) - qualifier
  • Pool B: Sthal Sena (Army), Punjab & Sindh Bank, Punjab National Bank, Sena Seva Corps (Army Service Corps) - qualifier

Defending champion Bharatiya Rail won the 39th Surjit Hockey Tournament with match results as shown below:

Stage Date Bharatiya Rail Date Indian Oil
League Oct 28 lost to Bharatiya Vayu Sena 1-3 Oct 29 beat Bharatiya Vayu Sena 7-0
  Oct 30 beat Punjab Police 3-2 Oct 31 beat Punjab Police 2-1
  Nov 1 beat Indian Oil 2-1 Nov 1 lost to Indian Oil 1-2
Semis Nov 3 beat Punjab & Sindh Bank 2-1 Nov 3 beat Punjab National Bank 5-0
Final Nov 4 beat Indian Oil 3-1

The winning team won a cash prize of ₹5 lakh and the runner-up team ₹2.51 lakh. Gursahib Singh was declared  Player of the Tournament and won a cash prize of ₹51,000.

Photograph of the Month

Article by Roy Tomizawa, Article and Photograph from the book "Tokyo Olympics Special Issue_Kokusai Johosha 1"

he Photograph of the Month for November 2022 is a snapshot of the celebrations following India regaining the Olympic hockey gold at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, beating arch-rival Pakistan 1-0. The article below is by Roy Tomizawa, titled "After Partition, the Sporting Equivalent of War".

The British influence on India has not been insignificant. From the mid-19th to mid-20th century, the British introduced the railway system, the legal system, the English language, and sports like cricket and hockey to India.

While India was under British rule, India was the dominant force in field hockey, winning gold at the 1928, 1932 and 1936 Olympics.

In 1947, India gained independence, although parts of the country were parsed off to create the dominion of Pakistan. Partition resulted in mass migrations of Muslims into Pakistan as well as Hindis and Sikhs into India. These migrations were traumatic for the tens of millions of people who were uprooted.

After the partition, India continued to dominate, winning gold in 1948, 1952 and 1956. But Pakistan was getting closer, losing 1-0 to India in the finals in the 1956 Melbourne Games. In Rome, Pakistan did what Indians feared, finally winning gold in Rome.

So the stage was set in Tokyo for a re-match of the two field hockey powers. Gurbux Singh, a full-back on the 1964 India team told me, "We lost for the first time in the 1960 Olympic final, and we lost to Pakistan again in the 1962 Asian Games final. It was so emotional as the whole country wanted us to win."

And win they did, beating Pakistan 1-0.

Many of the 2,000 attendees of the finals match at Komazawa Hockey Stadium poured onto the pitch, embracing the players from India, and breaking into spontaneous dance. The weight of an entire nation off their shoulders, the team stood proud listening to their nation's anthem at the medal ceremony. "Tears came to my eyes when the Indian flag rose," Gurbux said.

Centre-forward Harbinder Singh, another member of that gold-medal winning team, said, "When our airplane arrived in India, people came on the runway. They were beating drums. A lot of people entered the plane and lifted us on their shoulders. And then there were big crowds and processions, people throwing garlands and flowers, dancing in front of our cars."

"I really felt we did something for our country and ourselves," reflected Gurbux Singh. "This is the greatest thing an athlete can do."

Money Matters

SAIL and AAI sign MOU for commercial operation of Rourkela airport. Photo credit News Riveting

ourkela Steel Plant (RSP) of SAIL and Airports Authority of India (AAI) are planning to start operation of commercial flights from Rourkela airport from December 5. Flight operation to and from Rourkela is important as the Steel City is all set to co-host the Men's Hockey World Cup from January 13-29, 2023.

The MoU for operation and management of Rourkela airport under the RCS-UDAN scheme was signed between RSP and AAI in Delhi on October 27. P. K. Satapathy, ED (P&A), RSP signed the agreement on behalf of SAIL, and N. V. Subbarayudu, ED-II, JVC/PPP signed it for AAI. The airport will be operated and managed by AAI on behalf of RSP.

Following a letter from Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia, Rourkela airport's licence has been upgraded from ARC 2B to ARC 2C, to allow operation of ATR-72/Q-400 type aircraft.

To ensure operation of 72-seater planes, an airport upgradation project consisting of runway expansion, construction of ATC tower, provision of taxiway, and construction of terminal building and perimeter wall was taken up by the AAI at a cost of ₹64.24 crore. With the upgradation, the area of Rourkela airport will increase from 102 acres to 250 acres.

In addition, the government of Odisha will provide security, fire and ambulance services, besides helping with other local clearances. Notably, environment clearance was granted by the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, Odisha.

It is learnt that the Alliance Air has emerged as the selected airline operator for Rourkela-Bhubanesvar route. Sources said talks are underway with other operators for the Rourkela-Kolkata route.

FIH chief executive officer Thierry Weil said in September that teams competing in the Hockey World Cup will be provided chartered flights by Hockey India and Odisha government to travel between Bhubanesvar and Rourkela. While India play their opening two matches in Rourkela before moving to Bhubanesvar for the rest of their matches, a lot of teams, including defending champions Belgium, will be shuttling between the two cities more frequently.

Additionally, the Veer Surendra Sai (VSS) Airport in Jharsuguda could be used as a travel hub for fans. Jharsuguda is an 80-minute train journey or 90-minute road journey from Rourkela, and there are daily flights from Jharsuguda to Bhubanesvar. The state government will organise shuttle services to bring fans from Jharsuguda to Rourkela.

Media Matters

Article by Taylor Lyons courtesy Diambondback News. Image courtesy Catapult Sports

niversity of Maryland field hockey coach Missy Meharg's decision-making process used to be solely informed by intuition. Now, a device the size and shape of a computer mouse helps the coach with in-game strategy, practice schedules and training regimens.

The university field hockey team utilizes Catapult Vector GPS tracking devices on all of its players. The devices fit inside a small pocket on the back of players' uniforms and keep tabs on their sprint speed, distance traveled, heart rate, calories burned and more.

The devices relay those data points to Meharg and her training staff in real time. The data is used to make substitutions during play, and are examined throughout the week to keep players in ideal condition.

Among the main data the devices track are sprint speed and distance traveled on the field. They are the key variables that aid substitution decisions and determine practice intensity. With games typically on Fridays and Sundays, the team's goal is to slowly ramp up to game speed in time for the weekend. Two days before a game is when the most intense practices take place.

The coach often looks at heart rate to examine players' anxiety on the field. When it rises but other data points don't align, Meharg knows they need to rest and reset. "We can tell if they're really anxious," Meharg said. "The heart rate goes up and they're not really moving - then you can tell we've got an anxiety issue going on."

Rest has different meanings for each position. Meharg tries to get midfielders, who are typically more active than forwards and defenders, in and out of games on two-minute cycles, while forwards are changed every five to six minutes.

The device also helps University of Maryland integrate players back to game speed as they work their way back from injury.

GPS trackers are common across college and international field hockey. "It's used all over the world at the highest level," Meharg said. "In this game, you've got to run the entire time, and you need to give your players the right breaks."

Meharg recognises the health advantages the new strategy provides, and how it outweighs any of her gripes.

"That's why these players can play for 13 weeks and up to 25 matches," Meharg said. "It's these numbers."

Records and Statistics

Photograph credit R. Karthik

he November edition of records and statistics lists Indian men's hockey players from Mumbai who played in multiple Olympics or in multiple World Cups.

  • Dhanraj Pillai is the only Indian hockey player to have played in 4 Olympics and 4 World Cups
  • Mumbaikars Mervyn Fernandes and M. M. Sommayya have played in a hat-trick of Olympics (1980, 1984, 1988)
  • Devindar Valmeeki is the last Mumbai hockey player to represent India in the Olympics (2016)
  • Devindar's brother, Yuvraj Valmeeki, is the last Mumbai hockey player to represent India in the World Cup (2014)
  • There was zero representation from Mumbai in the most recent Olympics (2021) and the most recent World Cup (2018)
Multi-Olympic and Multi-World Cup Mumbai Players
Dhanraj Pillay (1992, 1996, 2000, 2004 Olympics)
Mervyn Fernandes (1980, 1984, 1988 Olympics)
M. M. Somaya (1980, 1984, 1988 Olympics)
Balbir Singh Greval (1968, 1972 Olympics)
Dhanraj Pillay (1990, 1994, 1998, 2002 World Cup)
Cedric Pereira (1971, 1973 World Cup)
Mervyn Fernandes (1982, 1986 World Cup)
M. M. Sommayya (1982, 1986 World Cup)
Jude Menezes (1998, 2002 World Cup)
Adrian D'Souza (2006, 2010 World Cup)