Pakistan T20 Teams Support the Pakistani Sports Ecosystem

Photograph of Shaheen Afridi courtesy Duniya News

f you are an Indian T20 cricket franchise, where would you invest your money? In foreign cricket leagues, so as to get maximum return on investment.

Case in point - the Mumbai and Kolkata IPL franchises. We have the Knight Riders own Trinbago Knight Riders in the Caribbean Premier League and Abu Dhabi Knight Riders in the UAE International League. Similarly, we have Mumbai Indians own MI Cape Town in South Africa's SA20 and MI Emirates in the UAE International League.

If you are a Pakistani T20 cricket franchise, where would you invest your money? In the domestic sports ecosystem, so as to get the maximum return on national pride.

Case in point - the Lahore and Karchi Pakistan Super League (PSL) cricket franchises, who have created a new Qalandars Hockey League, and have roped in cricket stars Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf to become brand ambassadors of the new league.

First some context - in the last decade, Pakistan failed to qualify for two Olympics (2016, 2021) and two World Cups (2014, 2023). This was sporting humiliation for a country that was 3-time Olympic and 4-time World Cup champions in the sport.

PSL's Qalandars owner Atif Rana said, "Right now hockey is an emotional appeal in Pakistan. We need to make it financially strong as we did in cricket. Hockey doesn't have stars right now. We need to create stars but for that, we have to attract eyeballs."

Atif Rana said that like cricket, he will develop players in hockey as well. "Two teams of Karachi and Lahore will be formed, and 22 hockey players per team will be selected on merit from across the country. All players will be given a one-year scholarship. These teams will also be allowed to tour different countries of the world."

The Qalandars held open hockey trials in Karachi, and the entire Qalandars cricket team came to the stadium to watch the trials. More than 1,000 young players showed up for trials on the first day. Fans took selfies with their favorite cricket heroes.

Said Atif on his next steps. "After Karachi, open trials will also be held in Lahore, Peshawar and Quetta. Like cricket, our mission will be to bring unsung heroes to the fore in hockey."

Speaking on the occasion, Afridi, the current skipper of the Qalandars in the PSL season 8, said: "I will be very happy if the national sport of hockey is restored. Hockey is Pakistan's national sport, and it is important to promote it."

India Men's Hockey - The Fallen Superpower of World Hockey

Excerpted from an article in The Economist

n January 25th Germany beat England in a shootout - but not at a football tournament. This was hockey: the quarter-final of the 2023 Men's World Cup in India.

Hockey has much in common with football: each team has 11 players, the idea is to propel a ball into a goal and the scores are of similar magnitude. Both can fluctuate from the frenetic to the soporific, even in the same match. Both mix teamwork and outrageous individual skill, such as a perfectly weighted pass or a mesmerising dribble.

But in popularity, there is no comparison. Even in Belgium and Germany, not many knew that their national hockey teams met in the World Cup final.

Hockey may be played in 137 countries, but it is a niche affair. North Americans prefer its violent cousin played on ice. In many countries it is an amateur sport.

The International Hockey Federation (FIH), the sport's governing body, estimates 30m people pick up a stick regularly. In contrast, hundreds of millions play football.

The financial gulf is even bigger. The FIH's latest available accounts show it earned $12m from media rights and other sources in 2021. That is a pittance next to the revenues of FIFA, its footballing equivalent, which raked in $766m that year. And that is before the huge sums flooding into football's richest clubs and leagues - to which hockey has no equivalent - are totted up.

If there is a route to more popularity and cash, it probably runs through India, a huge market with hockey pedigree. For years before and after independence, hockey was the country's most popular sport, and India was the game's superpower.

Between 1928 and 1980, the national team won eight Olympic gold medals. (India has won only two other golds in any sport since - in the 10m air rifle in 2008 and javelin in 2021.)

Pakistan was once a titan too, winning three Olympic hockey titles. But the last was in 1984. It did not even qualify for the 2023 World Cup.

India's obsession with cricket now sustains the sport globally. So, like their cricketing confreres, hockey's administrators are also pinning their hopes on the country. Three of the last four Men's Hockey World Cups have taken place in India; ten of the 2023 World Cup's 15 sponsors were Indian.

Before this World Cup, a Belgian player grumbled about travelling to India again, but acknowledged that India is the "only country that can fill stadiums with 20,000" regularly.

Efforts are on hand to resuscitate the sport. The eastern state of Odisha is leading the way. Hockey has always been popular there, as it has in the rest of India's poor, tribal belt. (One theory is that wood for makeshift hockey sticks is readily available in nearby forests.)

The Odisha government has splurged 1 billion rupees ($12 million) on sponsoring India's national teams, and 2.6 billion rupees to build the facilities and venues for the 2023 World Cup.

The success of all this may ultimately hinge on the fortunes of the national team. Cricket took off after India won the World Cup in 1983; the IPL came a quarter of a century later.

India's men's hockey team has improved in recent years, securing a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, and is ranked sixth in the world. But at the 2023 World Cup, it lost to New Zealand in a playoff for a place in the quarter-finals.

There's a lot of work to do before the next chance to revive past glories: the Paris Olympics in 2024.

Indian Junior Women's Team's Undefeated Tour Of South Africa

Image of the u-21 South African women's hockey team courtesy South African Hockey Association

ndia's junior women's hockey team toured South Africa to play a series of matches against the South African junior women's hockey team and their 'A' team. The matches between the two junior teams were played at Hartleyvale Hockey Stadium, Cape Town.

The Indian junior women's team was preparing for the Jr. Women's Asia Cup, to be held in Kakamigahara, Japan, from June 2-11. The South African junior women's hockey team was preparing for the Jr. Women's African Cup, to be held in Ismailia, Egypt, from March 12-19.

The top three teams from the Jr. Women's Asia Cup and the top two teams from the Jr. Women's African Cup will qualify for the FIH Jr. Women's World Cup to be held in Santiago, Chile, from December 6-17.

Team Date Result Goal Scorers - India
South Africa u-21 Feb 17 India 8 - South Africa Jr. 1 Deepika Sr. (1, 30 min)
Rujata Dadaso Pisal (18 min)
Hritika Singh (20 min)
Sunelita Toppo (28 min)
Deepika Soreng (36 min)
Annu (44 min)
  Feb 18 India 8 - South Africa Jr. Annu (1, 54 min)
Rujata Dadaso Pisal (9 min)
Jyoti Chhatri (26, 27, 30 min)
Deepika Soreng (29 min)
Deepika Sr. (59 min)
  Feb 20 India 0 - South Africa Jr. (4-3 SO)  
South Africa 'A' Feb 24 India 4 - South Africa 'A' 4 Neelam (7 min)
Deepika Sr. (8 min, 30 min)
Taranpreet Kaur (25 min)
  Feb 25 India 4 - South Africa 'A' 0 Deepika Sr. (13 min), PS
Neelam (15 min), PC
Annu (35 min)
Sunelita Toppo (50 min)

The 20-member Indian team for the tour of South Africa was as follows:

Forwards: Deepika Soreng, Deepika Sr., Sunelita Toppo, Madugula Bhavani, Annu, Taranpreet Kaur

Midfielders: Jyoti Chhatri, Manju Chorsiya, Hina Bano, Nikita Toppo, Hritika Singh, Sakshi Rana, Rutaja Dadaso Pisal (vice-captain)

Defenders: Preeti (captain), Jyoti Singh, Neelam, Mahima Tete, Mamita Oram

Goalkeepers: Kurmapu Ramya, Madhuri Kindo

Coach: Harvinder Singh

Madhya Pradesh Win 13th Hockey India Sr. Women's Nationals

The victorious Madhya Pradesh women's hockey team. Photograph courtesy Hockey India

wenty six teams took part in the 13th Hockey India Sr. Women's National Hockey Championship, held in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, from February 15-26. The teams were divided into 8 pools as shown below, with the winner of each pool advancing to the quarter-finals.

  • Pool A: Odisha, Rajasthan, Kerala
  • Pool B: Karnataka, Chandigadh, Goa
  • Pool C: Jharkhand, Chattisgadh, Uttarakhand
  • Pool D: Hariyana, Assam, Bihar
  • Pool E: Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Bengal
  • Pool F: Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat
  • Pool G: Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Telangana, Manipur
  • Pool H: Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Le Pucucherry, Andama & Nicobar

Madhya Pradesh won the 13th Hockey India Sr. Women's Nationals with the match results as shown below.

Stage Date Madhya Pradesh Date Maharashtra
Pool Feb 16 beat Telangana 36-0 Feb 15 beat Le Puducherry 7-0
Feb 19 beat Manipur 4-1 Feb 18 beat Andaman & Nicobar 42-0
Feb 22 beat Delhi 7-1 Feb 21 beat Tamil Nadu 8-0
Quarters Feb 23 beat Karnataka 6-0 Feb 23 beat Odisha 1-1 (5-4 SO)
Semis Feb 24 beat Jharkhand 2-0 Feb 24 beat Hariyana 1-1 (2-1 SO)
Final Feb 26 beat Maharashtra 5-1

In an earlier match, Jharkhand defeated Hariyana 2-1 to finish 3rd.

The following were the individual awards for the tournament.

  • Goalkeeper of the Tournament: Sonal Minj (Jharkhand)
  • Defender of the Tournament: Pratibha Arya (Madhya Pradesh)
  • Midfielder of the Tournament: Manashri Narendra Shedage (Maharashtra)
  • Forward of the Tournament: Albela Rani Toppo (Jharkhand)

The top scorer of the tournament was Preeti Dubey of Madhya Pradesh, with 18 goals.

Photograph of the Month

Photo of the 1976 Olympic hockey gold medal winning New Zealand team courtesy New Zealand Olympic Committee

he Photograph of the Month for March 2023 is of the victorious 1976 Olympic hockey team of New Zealand.

New Zealand hockey, whether men's or women's, has won only one Olympic medal in history - an Olympic gold medal.

New Zealand's only Olympic medal was won in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, when the men's team, coached by Ross Gillespie, beat Australia 1-0 to win gold. Just the previous year, Australia had defeated New Zealand 5-0 at the 1975 Kuala Lumpur World Cup.

The 1976 New Zealand team members came from diverse walks of life: a boilermaker, a Rhodes Scholar, a water-sider, an architect, an upholsterer, an engineer, a few teachers and some students.

The coach of the gold medal winning team - John Ross Gillespie - passed away recently in Christchurch on 29th January, 2023. Gillespie represented New Zealand at the Olympics twice as a player (1960, 1964) and twice as head coach (1972, 1976).

Following the 1976 Olympic gold, in the 1977 New Year Honours, Gillespie was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) for his services to hockey.

Money Matters

n a blow to South African hockey, the men's team has been withdrawn from the top-flight 2023-24 FIH Pro League. The men's team had qualified for the Pro League by winning the Nations Cup in Potchefstroom last year, but the South African Hockey Federation (SAHA) was unable to provide the necessary financial guarantees to enter the tournament, SAHA acting CEO Shaune Baaitjies said.

A statement released by SAHA sought to explain their decision. It said, "As a National Federation, our annual revenue is less than the amount required to fulfil the minimum financial requirement by the FIH for entry into the Pro League (approximately R10 million)."

The Pro League runs in segments over several months, and is staged in different centres around the world, meaning travel costs are massive for a team of 18, excluding coaching and support staff.

Even the South African Department of Sports, Art and Culture (DSAC) weighed in on SAHA's decision to withdraw the national men's hockey team from the Pro League, saying it was taken aback by the announcement. In a statement DSAC said, "Whilst it is understood that funding towards international competition is always in short supply, we would have preferred to be forewarned about these developments."

What made the situation worse was that SAHA did not consult with the players before taking the decision. The players were expectedly disappointed. The FIH Pro League gave an opportunity for the South African team to play matches against the top 8 teams in the world. Instead, South Africa has no top-quality international matches planned for 2023.

South African hockey player Keenan Horne told the Cape Times, "We are used to having to fight for funding but this time they just didn't give us an opportunity. They ripped the rug right out from underneath our feet. We have seen the statement from the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture. No effort was made to engage with them either. So it just feels like not all the resources were exhausted before the decision was taken. How are we meant to grow the sport if our premier men's team is constantly being held back?"

Ireland, runners-up at the Nations Cup, will take South Africa's spot in the nine-team Pro League.

Media Matters

ockey India has taken several initiatives in a bid to provide participating teams at the annual national championships an atmosphere akin to international matches.

As a first step, Hockey India has signed a multi-year rights deal with interactive live streaming platform FanCode to show all matches of the national championships conducted by Hockey India.

Starting with the 13th Hockey India Sr. Women's Nationals, which were held in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, from February 15-26, each tournament venue will have a three-camera setup to capture and relay the action live. To provide a consistent viewer experience, each venue will have specific look-and-feel design and branding elements.

In a first, the umpires officiating at the national championships will be provided radios for on-field communication. Hockey India is also working on introducing video referral in the national championships.

Talking about these key initiatives, Hockey India President Dileep Tirkey said, "We have taken a major step by signing a-multiyear contract with FanCode, who have over 50 million users, to show all the National Hockey Championship matches live in India. We also want to introduce video referral at the domestic level so that players understand the process early in their careers. Our aim is to provide these budding stars the same feel of playing an international match in India."

Prasana Krishnan, co-founder of FanCode, said, "We are delighted to be partnering with Hockey India for this historic milestone of live streaming the Senior Women's Championship, and providing a platform for India's top women hockey players. This is part of FanCode's aim of making hockey more accessible for sports fans in the country."

The platform had earlier live-streamed the 2023 Odisha Men's Hockey World Cup from Bhubanesvar-Rourkela, and also the Hockey Nations Cup (men's and women's), which were held in South Africa and Spain, respectively, in November-December 2022. The Indian women's hockey team won the Nations Cup, thus qualifying for the 2023-24 FIH Women's Pro League.

The FanCode app is available on the Android and iOS platforms. The FanCode TV app is available on Android TV, Amazon Fire Stick, Jio STB, Samsung TV, and on website.

FanCode has so far amassed over 1.5 crore+ app installs and won the "Best Sports Startup" award at the 2019 FICCI India Sports Awards.

Records and Statistics

Indian men's hockey head coach Graham Reid resigned after the 2023 Odisha World Cup

his month's edition of records and statistics is on the win-loss record of the foreign coaches (full-time or interim) of the Indian men's hockey team, current as of 1 February, 2023.

  • Indian men's hockey has had 11 foreign coaches in the past 20 years (2004-23)
  • The countries who contributed the maximum number of head coaches for the Indian men's team are Australia and Netherlands (4 each)
  • Every Indian Olympic men's hockey coach since the 2004 Olympics has been a foreign national. The best result is an Olympic bronze (Tokyo 2021)
  • No foreign coach has completed his term - they either resigned or were fired
  • The coach who won India the 2014 Asian Games hockey gold -Terry Walsh - was fired from the very next tournament by Hockey India president Narendra Batra

Back when Terry Walsh was fired, veteran sports writer S. Thyagarajan had written on, "Terry Walsh provided everything positive and brought India back to the top of the podium at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon and the silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Scotland. No foreign coach so far has achieved as much as Terry. Yet he was compelled to slip out of memory. One may wonder whether these foreign coaches are ever ready with a resignation letter and a return air-ticket every day when they enter the field."

Coach Country Years Matches Win Loss Draw Win % Gold Medals
Gerhard Rach Germany 2004 13 2 8 2 15%  
Jose Brasa Spain 2009 - 2010 62 34 19 9 55% 2010 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup (joint winners)
Michael Nobbs Australia 2011 - 2013 81 38 32 11 47% 2011 Asian Champions Trophy
Gregg Clark South Africa 2013 6 3 3 - 50%  
Roelant Oltmans Netherlands 2013 - 2017 46 24 17 5 52% 2016 Asian Champions Trophy
Terry Walsh Australia 2014 22 10 10 2 45% 2014 Asian Games
Paul van Ass Netherlands 2015 17 8 5 4 47%  
Roger van Gent Netherlands 2016 6 3 3 - 50%  
Sjoerd Marijne Netherlands 2017 - 2018 32 14 12 6 44% 2017 Asia Cup
David John Australia 2019 6 4 - 2 67%  
Graham Reid Australia 2019 - 2023 85 51 21 13 60%