Posts filed under ‘Hockey’
Following Australia’s opening victory over India 4-3 in the 22nd edition of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh Malaysia, Kookaburras coach Ric Charlesworth asked when was the last time an Australian team gave five players their debuts in the same match. In any sport it would be rare, but that is the great thing about Charlesworth and the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
The competition this year has seen many of the competing nations blood young players for the future, and give some who will be competing at the Junior World Cup in India in December the chance to play in front of a big crowd and boost their experience. This is still an international competition, and each and every nation comes here wanting to compete and be playing off for the cup come the week’s end. However as Chalesworth pointed out it is not one of the key competitions, the Champions Trophy, the Olympic Games or the World Cup. It is a good tournament to judge what possible future internationals can achieve.
Australia’s five debutants in the opening game were Daniel Beale, Craig Boyne, Nick Budgeon, Josh Miller and Daniel Mirecki. Watching them perform you would have thought that all five had been playing at international level all their lives. Sure there were technical issues that the coaching staff will want to work on, but they must have been encouraged.
Charlesworth, however highlighted the fact that although they were new to the Kookaburras team they were not young players in terms of experience. With the exception of Daniel Beale all of the debutants are in their twenties and have a wealth of hockey experience having played in the Australian Hockey League and in some cases overseas. These players have not been pushed too early and the benefits of waiting and allowing them to mature as individuals was clearly apparent in their performances.
What must be even more pleasing is how quickly they have adapted with Budgeon scoring twice in his second game against Pakistan and Mirecki once in the 6-0 thumping of Pakistan in game 2.
Other players with a limited number of caps going into this tournament are Chris Bausor, Tristan White and Aran Zalewski from Margaret River, who had just one cap and one goal. Timothy Bates was another who sadly has succumbed to a possible abdominal tear in the opening game.
As Charlesworth said this may not be one of the World’s major tournaments but is an ideal one to see the emerging talent for years to come and start rebuilding for the next Olympic campaign.
Australia’s next test will be against host nation Malaysia on Tuesday
Congratulations to cyclist Cameron Meyer who last night was awarded the WAIS Athlete of the year. This is the second time Meyer has picked up the award having won it in 2010, and winning it for the second time he joins an elite group of four athletes to have done the double; Hockey’s Rechelle Hawkes, along with Cyclists Darryn Hill and Peter Dawson.
Regrettably Cameron was unable to attend the dinner, as was the case with the WAIS Athlete with a disability of the year award winner, teenage swimmer Katherine Downie.
In fact it was a night of absentees as the Junior Athlete of the year another cyclist Kelsey Robson was also unable to attend, as was Justin Langer who was inducted into the Hall of Champions. Fellow inductee Lorraine Packham from hockey was there and it was great to hear her tales of yesteryear, as well as those of Olympic high jumper Chilla Porter.
It was great to see all of the Olympic and Paralympic athletes who were in town acknowledged at the opening of the evening, and having them all on stage, however next time it may be best not to have the trophies on the stage at the same time, as many of these athletes who were nominated for awards were able to see the names on the trophies prior to them being announced!
Congratulations to all nominees, and thank you to WAIS for finally including athletes with a disability who have WAIS scholarships in the Junior Athlete of the year awards. Now all we have to see is the seniors with a disability included in the Athlete of the Year awards as happens in every other state. This was however a step in the right direction, and we know Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Trying to restore a once proud and successful sporting nation to former glory is an extremely tough task, and it is a brave administrator or coach who takes on such a task.
One such job which would be comparative to being the England football manager, or the Springbok or All Black Rugby coach would have to be taking on a similar role with Indian hockey.
Jose Brasa had a go, so too did Rick Charlesworth – current Kookaburras coach – and now his former roommate Michael Nobbs is in the hot seat. As is always the case when you hold the top job, there are many who have thrown mud at the Australian coach. Yet he appears to be making headway, and India are playing some exhilarating hockey.
They may have disappointed at the London Invitational tournament, and the team’s confidence took a bit of a knock, which was evident in their opening game of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia when New Zealand thrashed them 5-1. However last two nights they showed that they are a spirited side with some true artists in their side. They fought back from 2-0 down against Great Britain and in all truth should have won, if they had been more ruthless in front of goal. Great Britain scrambling to hang onto a 3-2 game to win the game.
Last night however they were magnificent; magnificent in spite of some very dubious umpiring, which may well have been a result of a vociferous home crowd cheering on Malaysia. At one point India only had nine men on the pitch with two having been issued yellow cards. Malaysia too must be given credit for the part they played in a game that would lift hockey viewing and participation if it could be replicated by other nations. Both teams showed high levels of skill, pace and commitment and entertained all who witnessed the game.
India are not yet back at the top of the tree, but it appears that they are heading in the right direction. Encouraging too is the spirit within this side, no prima-donnas, just a close knit group with no ego issues who are determined to do well. IF they can replicate their Olympic qualifying form in the rest of the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament and make it to the final, they could well be amongst the medals in London, their first since 1980.
On Sunday in Melaka, Malaysia, the host nation will contest the Junior Asia Cup Final for the first time since 1992. Malaysia has not fared too well in hockey in recent years having failed to qualify for the Olympics in their last three attempts, so this is a major achievement and understandably the whole nation is watching their performances with great interest.
Malaysia had failed to get past the last four stage on three occasions, in 1987, 2000 and 2004 and last night they had to overcome the defending champions India to make the final. A 2-0 victory means that they will meet Pakistan who trounced South Korea 6-1 in the other semi final.
The final will be justification in Malaysia for Project 2013, which was a five year plan to bring a group of players together and make them competitive on the World stage. A surprise win in the Sultan of Johor Cup in 2011 meant that going into the Junior Asia Cup many expected them to be a force to be reckoned with. Win or lose the vision has paid dividends so far, but the proof will be in whether the nucleus of this group can help Malaysia qualify for the 2014 Olympics in Rio.
Interestingly Pakistan is also a resurgent nation, when it comes to Hockey and the success of their team in these Championships, where they were slow to get going, as the squad only had five days together before the start of the tournament, has lead to huge interest back home. No doubt scoring 20 goals in their last two games will have helped; they beat Sri Lanka 14-0 before their game against South Korea.
Either way it is positive news for both nations and for the game of Hockey as a whole, and also shows the benefits in investing with a long term plan in your youth. IT may not happen overnight, but the rewards do come eventually.
After upset followed upset in the inaugural World Series Hockey Tournament in India the combatants in tonight final have been decided. It will be Sher E Punjab who will take on Pune Strykers who have defied the odds in their last two games to make it to the final.
After a 6-2 thrashing at home to the Delhi Wizards, Pune defied the odds and beat table toppers Sher e Punjab 3-2 the very next day. That meant that they had to win their last game of the home and away series to make the finals.
This they did away to the Bhopal Badshahs despite conceding twice in the opening ten minutes. They pulled a goal back only to go 3-1 down, and then 4-1 down. The winner was scored with three minutes remaining by Birendra Lakra.
Buoyed by that win they managed to overcome the Chandigargh Comets who were top of the league, in the semi finals. Again they did it the hard way. Again they conceded two goals in the opening 10 minutes, but this time they scored one of their own through Mario Almada.
Again they went 3-1 down and then 4-1 down before goals from Tyron Pereira (46th min) and Bikash Topo in the 59th minute set up a nerve-jangling finish, which saw Simrandeep Randhawa score from a penalty corner in the last minute.
This meant a penalty shoot out. In a penalty shoot-out, the ball is placed on the 23-m line, with an attacker next to it and the goalkeeper on goal on the back line. When the whistle is blown the attacker has 8 seconds in which to try and score a goal.
Chandigargh’s big stars Rehan Butt and Sukhwinder ‘Gabbar’Singh missed their chances as did and Ramandeep Singh, and that meant that Pune had won through to the final 3-2.
Here they will meet Sher E Punjab who overcame Karnataka Lions, who just over a week ago were bottom of the league, 4-1.
All the action from the final is on http://www.youtube/wsh.
For years India was the home of Hockey, but the dawn of artificial pitches and a possibly British influences unwillingness to change their game to suit the new conditions has seen the nation fall well behind the emerging nations. Hockey, just as Rugby Union needs, Wales, New Zealand and South Africa to be strong, need India and Pakistan to get back to the highest level internationally for the game to take the next step.
Those offended by Australia not being mentioned in rugby teams need to understand that with the three countries mentioned, rugby is a more than a game,it is a way of life, and plays a major part in the community. Just as football teams do in England Germany, Holland and South America, and the teams in the AFL do in Australia.
The World Series Hockey Tournament currently underway in India has all of the right intentions. Its aim is to raise the profile of Hockey once again in India and at the halfway stage in the tournament it looks to be succeeding.
Nimbus Sports and Bridgestone are the two companies behind the tournament which is run along the lines of the IPL cricket league. Regrettably launching it now some of the top players in the world are needed in camps to prepare for the Olympics.
However despite those players not being present as the tournament progresses more television networks globally have signed up to air the tournament. Also essentially more sponsors have signed up to be a part of a competition that has captured the imagination of the Indian people.
The World Series Hockey Tournament is now the second highest ranking show on Indian Television after the cricket. It is pulling in more viewers than the English Premier League or the European Champions League, and by a fair margin.
The competition is not perfect, a lot of travel in very short periods of time and teams having to play two games in 24 hours, but it is proving to be a huge success. If ultimately it sees Indian Hockey back at the top of the World or even challenging for such a position it will have been worth it, and let us hope that the powers that be remember the visionaries who came up with the concept.
Most sports fans are traditionalists, they do not like to see their game tampered with too much. Innovation is all very well as long as it is promoted as bringing new audiences to the game.
T20 Cricket slipped past the traditionalists because it brought the game much needed cash, although there are many who say it simply appeals to the fast food takeaway sports fan.
The Lanco Super 9’s Hockey Series in Perth was another innovation, that one would have to say was a success as a one off – which may well be repeated – alternative to the regular game. It was not vital to win, although all teams had that goal, and players could have a bit of fun, and more freedom than they would regularly have.
However how do Hockey Fans feel about the new pitch for the Olympic Games in London next year?
The Great Britain Players have no problem with the bright blue pitch with pink surround, or the fact that they will be playing with a bright yellow ball.
Richard Alexander is quoted as saying “I think the colours reflect that the sport has been revolutionized. The pitch makes it special. There will be a ‘wow’ factor when the crowds turn up.”
Let’s hope that it has the desired effect and the hockey is ultimately what wows the public.
We know that some coaches really care about their players’ welfare, but we heard at the weekend of one coach really taking that to another level.
Dr Rick Charlesworth is the current coach of the Kookaburras, Australia’s Commonwealth Gold medal winners, World Champions and Champions Trophy winning hockey side.
Jamie Dwyer is a four time World Hockey Player of the year, having won this accolade in 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2010. He also won Young Player of the year in 2002. He is a key component to the Kookaburras success.
In April this year it was decided that Dwyer would undergo surgery on a tear in his cartilage in the hope that he can make a full recovery in time for next year’s London Olympics. This was not an easy decision as Dwyer is a professional hockey player in the Netherlands, and although professional hockey players do not earn massive amounts, he has sacrificed that income to try and ensure that he is fully fit for the Olympics.
What may have surprised him was the extent that his coach went to, to ensure that all went well in the operating theatre. Rick Charlesworth is a qualified doctor, and requested that he be present during the operation to make sure that everything went according to plan. The surgeon granted him his request.
So with Dwyer under anesthetic on the operating table, his coach was bedside, scrubbed up and in his ‘greens’ to ensure that his star player received the best treatment.
That has to be a coach really taking his job seriously.
What is it about Ric Charlesworth that ensures that his teams end up successful? It is unfair to say he has a Midas touch, as no one gets the success he does by simply going through the motions as a coach. He must instil a belief in his players that other coaches somehow fail to with every squad member.
The Kookaburras World Cup victory over Germany in India at the weekend was Charlesworth’s third World Cup success having won with the female Hockeyroos in 1994 and 1998.
Even though the Australians overcame the Germans who had defeated them in two of the last three World Cup finals, thanks to goals from Eddie Ockenden and Luke Doerner, Charlesworth put the win immediately into perspective by stating that the team was only just beginning to find its feet.
Maybe this is why he is so successful, with that comment he has said that his own team can do better, so that they do not rest on their laurels, yet he has also dealt a blow to the teams they have defeated telling them, that this team has not even got close to reaching its potential.
Either way it is a remarkable achievement by the man who is only the second player to win the World Cup and then coach a winning team (Hans Jorritsma being the first). It was also a superb performance by the players to overcome the favoured Germans to win thier first World Cup since 1986, when Charlesworth was a player.
Hockey as most people who follow sport will know is big in Malaysia. It is therefore even more surprising then to hear that a team of schoolboys from Bukit Jalil are holding their own in a man’s world by topping the table after the first weekend of the Malaysia Hockey League’s Division One.
The fact that that 13 players from BJSS are Under-16, makes it even more special. However Malaysian authorities are trying to take the glass is half empty approach by saying it shows how poor the standard of the league has become. All credit to the boys they were apparently 3-0 down in one game and came back to draw 3-3, so they must have spirit as well.