118 years of trust
Chandigarh, Tuesday, August 11, 1998

IHF follows convention by sacking coach
By Ramu Sharma
THE Indian Hockey Federation has acted predictably by seeking recourse to convention and sacking coach Vasudevan Bhaskaran. His fault?

Ubaid Kamal needs a chance
By Maninder Singh
The forthcoming World Cup is not too far away and the Indian selectors are looking for an all-rounder. In the list of all-rounders who should make it to the Indian side only on the base of sheer performance, the first name which comes to mind is Uttar Pradesh’s 25-year-old all-rounder Ubaid Kamal.


Golf courses to social clubs
By Varun Soni
Teeing off at the golf course is not the only pursuit of the average golfer today as he looks for clubs which provide him not just with the perfect ambience to play the game but also all the facilities of a health and resort club.

Chandigarh to host Special Olympics
By Promila Chandra Mohan
WE of Chandigarh are proud to be given the privilege of hosting the third National Games of Special Olympics in the 10th year of the launch of the movement in India. This mega event will be held in the University Stadium from September 25 to 29.



IHF follows convention by sacking coach
By Ramu Sharma

THE Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) has acted predictably by seeking recourse to convention and sacking coach Vasudevan Bhaskaran. His fault? The Indian team failed to perform in the World Cup at Utrecht (Holland) and he as coach had to take the responsibility. By this one act the IHF has sought to cleanse itself of the dirt thrown at it following the non-performance of the Indian team in the World Cup. And in sacking Bhaskaran the apex body has also shrouded itself with the dubious distinction of changing four coaches in four years.

First to go was Zafar Iqbal, the man who laid the foundation for the creditable performance in the last World Cup in Sydney. He was a hangover from the previous regime and had to be made the sacrificial goat because of the changes at the top. K.P.S. Gill had taken over from Prasad.

After that was the turn of Cedric D’Souza who resigned when the IHF failed to act against erring players following the debacle in Atlanta. The captain at the 1996 Olympics, Pargat Singh, was then propped up by the IHF as the new messiah and his exit was as sudden as his elevation. Now it has been the turn of Bhaskaran.

Bhaskaran should have known that the team’s failure would be blamed on him. That is a tradition in Indian hockey though the manner of his dismissal was rather abrupt, coming as it did a day after the expert’s panel had recommended continuity. There must be thus more to Bhaskaran’s exit than has been released for public consumption.

In sacking Bhaskaran, the IHF has not only ignored the plea of expert panel’s recommendation of the need to ensure continuity in the post of the chief coach, it has also overlooked his services as a coach of the junior team. And it has conveniently disremembered the fact that India finished runners-up in the Junior World Cup in England last winter.

The World Cup in Utrecht is in fact Bhaskaran’s only failure, if it was a failure because of him. But how can he convince the men that rule the IHF, men who seem loath to trust anyone and who appear to have very little faith in themselves or the people they appoint to guide the game in India. This lack of conviction among the men controlling the IHF, now or in the earlier days, is the reason for this constant change in the coaches at the national level after every major international competition and the resultant failure of the Indian team to perform.

The tragedy is that the coaches who take up the assignment are all generally well-known international figures and also are aware of the vulnerability of the post they are vying for. For all that there is no end to the candidates aspiring to coach the Indian team. Either it is sheer ego or it has to entirely with their dedication to ensure that Indian hockey does not slip any further. Whatever it is one must admire these men for their confidence in themselves and in Indian hockey.

K.P.S. Gill, the IHF president, was generous enough to take the blame on himself for the debacle in the World Cup. And he should have set the example by resigning his post. And for that matter so should the Secretary-General, Jothikumaran. These two, however, retain their posts and so do many of the players who failed to perform in the World Cup. Their names figure in the rather unwieldy list of 61 probables called for trials to select a new team, presumably for the Commonwealth Games being held in Kuala Lumpur in the second week of September.

The exit of Bhaskaran has coincided with the recall of goalkeeper A.B. Subbiah. It may be remembered that Subbiah’s omission from the World Cup team sparked off a major controversy. It was a shocking decision made worse by the goalkeeper announcing his retirement in sheer disgust. Clearly the decision was that of Bhaskaran. Goalkeeping was one of India’s weak points at the World Cup. Also included in the probables is Gagan Ajit, a young forward with tremendous potential. Son of former India centre-forward, Ajit Singh, a brother of ex-India captain Harmik, the youngster should have gone with the junior team for the World Cup in England but Bhaskaran as selector, reportedly rule him as “too raw”.

Bhaskaran, the man who till a few months ago could do nothing wrong, has thus been found guilty and sentenced to oblivion, deprived even of some of the other chore entrusted to his. The man next on the chopping block, primed for the guillotine as it were, is Maharaj Kishen Kaushik, a pleasant personality, who was outside-right in the team which won India’s last gold in an Olympics. This was the Moscow Games of 1980 where Bhaskaran was the captain.

Even his appointment was cloaked in secrecy. According to reports he had not applied for the job. That may or may not be but the fact does remain the same he and Col Balbir Singh were the two names in the hat and Kaushik won. He has had considerable experience in coaching and has even done a stint with the women’s team. And what is more he is, at the moment, assured of a stint till the Olympic Games in the year 2000 at Sydney, that is if India is still playing at that level.

The dismissal of a coach naturally forces reaction from the players, the senior ones in particular. In this case the provocation was provided by Bhaskaran himself though through the agency of the IHF which chose to release his report on the World Cup at the same time it decided to do away with his services as a coach.

Bhaskaran has castigated the team for “lack of fitness, confidence, inadequate grasp of the fundamentals in attack and defence, apart from poor leadership” in a report which is certainly the most damaging one to be submitted to the IHF by any coach. He has singled out the senior players, particularly Dhanraj Pillay, Mukesh and Sabu Varkey for special criticism and says “to continue to play him (Dhanraj) in the team will be disastrous for Indian hockey.”

And perhaps in an effort to save himself, Bhaskaran says: “The same was conveyed by me soon after the Germany series in January to both Mr K.P.S. Gill and Mr K. Jothikumaran”. As if to soften the blow he recommends that “with due respects to Dhanraj Pillay for his contribution to Indian hockey, I regret to submit that the IHF should counsel him for retirement before, in case the IHF decides to drop him.”

The comments about Pillay is not surprising. Questions were raised about his fitness earlier too and even before the final selection of the team for the World Cup. He was chosen perhaps because of his tremendous reputation and with the hope that he would recover in time to spur the Indians to perform better. Obviously he was not at his “fittest” during the World Cup. And Mukesh too, despite his occasional brilliance, is on the wane though he has taken exception to Bhaskaran’s criticism.

Irrespective of reaction to the report from the senior players, the IHF selectors must take cognisance of the assessment by the coach and give the new man, M.K. Kaushik, a big say in the final selection of the team for the Commonwealth Games. The IHF on its part must also ensure that the players are not burdened with thoughts of financial insecurity while playing for the country. It has the money to give the boys a better deal.Top


Ubaid Kamal needs a chance
By Maninder Singh

The forthcoming World Cup is not too far away and the Indian selectors are looking for an all-rounder. After Kapil Dev, no all-rounder has cemented his place regularly in the Indian side. For the past couple of years the Indian selectors have tried out quite a few fast bowlers mainly Doda Ganesh, David Johnson, Abey Kuruvilla, Paras Mhambrey, Salil Ankola and many more. Not only did they not bowl up to the expectations, but their contribution with the bat was also nil. In the list of all-rounders who should make it to the Indian side only on the base of sheer performance, the first name which comes to mind is Uttar Pradesh’s 25-year-old all-rounder Ubaid Kamal.

Mohammad Ubaid Kamal is not a new name on the cricket scenario. He has been in the domestic cricket arena for the last five-six years. Ubaid is basically a simple and fun-loving guy. He is an ardent fan of Richard Hadlee and proudly says that he is his idol. Ubaid’s bowling action, delivery stride resembles both Kapil Dev and Hadlee. Ubaid Kamal has the distinction of playing the Ranji finals for two states Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.

This year in the Ranji Trophy super-league match against Haryana he took five wickets. Ubaid’s wicket-taking ability started from this match and ended only after his team won the championship. Not only this, in the semifinals, he was the main wrecker-in-chief against as strong and star-led team as Mumbai. He took five more important wickets when it really mattered and thus was responsible for bundling out Mumbai for a cheap score in both innings. Even in the finals against Karnataka, Ubaid took four wickets. If seen on the basis of performance than he should have started playing for India at least three-four years back. While representing North Zone in India’s premier championship, “Duleep trophy”, he gained the wickets of Test players like Tendulkar, Kambli, Rahul Dravid and later in the same year, he took the most number of wickets in the limited overs championship Deodhar Trophy. Despite performing well in the zone level (Duleep/Deodhar Trophy & Wills Trophy), which is the door-step leading to the Indian team, his name did not appear in the selector’s list. All his efforts thus were in vain.

But Ubaid Kamal did not loose heart as he is a tough man. He shifted his cricket to the North Zone. The very next year he helped the Punjab team to reach the Ranji Trophy finals and his contribution was fair enough. In the quarterfinals against Madhya Pradesh at Mohali his bowling figures were 23-9-39-5 and he displayed the art of good fast bowling. After the match Punjab team’s captain Navjot Singh Sidhu appreciated Ubaid’s efforts and said that his 10-12 overs bowling spell would have destroyed any kind of batting line up in India. For some strange reason, Ubaid’s cricket again shifted back to his native state Uttar Pradesh. He says he doesn’t mind playing for Punjab or Uttar Pradesh; his ambition is to play for India. Representing Central Zone in the Duleep Trophy he took 14 wickets in two matches and after a gap of 25 years his team Central Zone won the Duleep Trophy. Ubaid celebrated his team’s victory in a great manner as he was the destroyer in the semifinals against West Zone and the venue was Delhi’s Kotla’s easy wicket, where Test players like Salil Ankola, Abey Kuruvilla were struggling. Ubaid took seven wickets one after the other. In the finals he took seven wickets and his team lifted the Duleep Trophy.

Against international teams like England ‘A’ and Lancashire representing India ‘A’ Ubaid Kamal took three and four wickets, respectively of top players. From this one can conclude that he has the ability to show his potential in international cricket. The only thing he needs is the coveted “one chance”.

Ubaid Kamal is mainly a swing bowler. He has the ability to control his direction of delivery. His most striking feature is that he adjusts himself according to the weather and wicket, examines the batsman, and then displays the weakness of the batsman by his deadly cutters and outswingers. He does not lack stamina as seen in the Ranji final match where he bowled a marathon spell of 45.3 overs, gave only 99 runs and took four important wickets.

After this match “Little Master” Sunil Gavaskar was very impressed by Ubaid Kamal’s performance. Praising the stamina and his ability to swing the ball, he later told Ubaid Kamal he had the stamina of a horse and heart of a lion.

Ubaid Kamal also bats very well. In India’s domestic cricket championship like Duleep, Deodhar, Ranji, Irani trophy he has half centuries to his credit. He can contribute a quick-fire 25-30 runs at number eight, a slot which India desperately needs to fill up. Ubaid’s main feature is that he performs as the situation demands, may it be with the bat or ball.

Ubaid’s eye is on the forthcoming World Cup. For achieving this target he is training with great dedication and determination. For sometime now, there has been some increase in his speed and one can see maturity in his bowling. Seeing the climatic conditions in England. Ubaid should be able to perform well, that is if selected.

Now, it is up to the Indian selectors to keep an eye on Ubaid Kamal’s performance and gauge his success in the domestic arena. Let’s wait and see what the forthcoming year/World Cup has to say.Top


Golf courses to social clubs
By Varun Soni

Teeing off at the golf course is not the only pursuit of the average golfer today as he looks for clubs which provide him not just with the perfect ambience to play the game but also all the facilities of a health and resort club.

As golf courses acquire the character of a social club, members demand not only a good course but also things like a swimming pool, a multi-couisine restaurant and sauna and Jacuzzi facilities to satisfy everyone in the family.

And though it is debatable whether it is the sheer love of the game or a mere stop on the social circuit — people are increasingly seeking memberships of golf courses, skyrocketing entry fees notwithstanding.

And to cater to the needs of the elite, golf courses have suddenly sprung up all over the country with even small country clubs entering the arena.

“I do not mind dishing out a few thousand rupees for annual membership at the nearby golf club,” says Vijay Khokha, a member of the Noida Golf Club, which has a swimming pool and an oriental restaurant too.

However, golf course managers say the facilities offered are worth the money charged.

“If we charge Rs 4 lakh to Rs 5 lakh as lifetime membership we offer facilities like a croquet court, squash court, health club, lane bowling, tennis, sauna and a multi-couisine restaurant,” says Pradeep Jain, Managing Director, Landbase India, which manages the Classic Golf Resort.

“Our golf resort is a weekend proposition where people can spend their time in a more relaxed way at the foothills of the Aravallis,” he says. It also offers the facility of staying in 150 golf villas situated at the periphery of the course.

But expensive membership fees have dampened the spirit of genuine golf lovers, say a section of golfers.

‘The exorbitant rates of the golf clubs coupled with the fact that entry itself is restricted in many of them is a major deterrent for those really interested in learning and playing the game,” says avid golfer Pardeep Mathur.

But Harji Malik, a sports journalist and a member of the Delhi Golf Club, disagrees, saying that as the game is open to caddies. “It cannot be termed as restricted”.

“I agree that because of the expensive equipment and high fees of the clubs entry might be difficult but compared to tennis, where even the ballboys are not allowed to play the game, golf is not all that restricted,” she says.

Golf gained immediate acceptance and popularity among army men when it was first introduced in the country, says Major-General Mehta since the services offered playing facilities at a cheaper rate.

“The fees too are not very exorbitant, something which adds to the popularity of the game among ex-servicemen,” he says.

However, it is the changing character of the game from a sports activity to a leisure activity which has come to the forefront in recent years.

Jain agrees that a section of their members do come to the course to develop contacts and maintain their social standing.

“Being a leisure game, there tends to be lots of members who just come to the resort to spend their weekend,” and as the game takes four to five hours to play “a sense of camaraderie develops among players,” he says.

“People understand each others’ body language, habits and are able to communicate at length. This friendship can easily transform into business partnership and alliances,” says Jain.

“But there are people who take membership basically to entertain family and friends apart from adding yet another feather to their status tag,” says Mathur.

“The nouveau riche look upon these clubs to stake entry into the elite circles of society,” says Malik.

Mehta also says that you can see the hoi polloi of the society at these clubs, “content with just being seen there”.

But this is not saying that the majority who frequent golf clubs are not lovers of the game.

“Love for the game automatically develops once one starts playing it. In our golf academy we not only train budding golfers but also provide opportunities to professionals to correct their game by observing themselves on screen,” says Jain.

“Having been a sportsman throughout my life,” says Mathur, “I, however, find it difficult to play games other than golf as it requires less of physical and mental strain”.

“Not only is movement free while playing golf but also one does not have to exert oneself too much,” he says.

But golf lovers are open to the perception that in order to gain acceptability for the game and reach among all classes, more golf courses need to be opened and with a lower price tag.

The only way in which golf can transcend from being a sport of the classes to a game of the masses is by opening of public golf courses, says Jain. “If the government gives wastelands in and around cities for conversion into golf courses, only then can the reach of the game be increased,” he says. — PTITop


Chandigarh to host Special Olympics
By Promila Chandra Mohan

WE of Chandigarh are proud to be given the privilege of hosting the third National Games of Special Olympics in the 10th year of the launch of the movement in India. This mega event will be held in the University Stadium from September 25 to 29.

What is special about these Olympics? The sports and the events are all specially designed for the mentally disabled, who form a substantial segment of our society. Even judgement standards are unconventional. Every child has a chance to be a winner. Every participant gets a prize. There is sheer joy of participating and a chance to brag later to family friends: “Look I have got a ribbon”.

This voluntary global movement started 35 years ago with a handful of mentally disabled children in the backyard of the home of Eunice Kennedy Shriver (sister of President Kennedy) in the USA. Generous support by the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Foundation launched it to become a world-wide-movement with 40 million participants in 145 countries today. Following Olympic tradition, summer and winter world games are held every four years. The last summer games were held in New Haven, USA, in 1995. Toronto in Canada hosted the 1997 winter games.

Special Olympics, besides providing special children an opportunity of developing physical fitness and motor-coordination, makes them experience the joy and thrill of achievement in healthy competition among peers. The pride which follows acts as a major spur to their process of rehabilitation and integration into mainstream society.

Joining this noble voluntary movement in 1988, India is today its third largest member. The first national games were held in Madras (now Chennai) in 1990 and the second in 1994 at Hyderabad. Indian contingents have been regular participants in world games. Our contingent of 54 for the 1995 summer games won 58 medals and of 22 for the Asia-Pacific Meet in Shanghai in 1996 won 26. Training camps for teachers, coaches and volunteers are organised systematically and regional games held annually.

The North-West Zone Special Olympics Society (Regd), a Chandigarh based NGO with participation of Government of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh introduced the movement to our region in 1990. Twentysix institutions with special children are active members today. Regional games with great fanfare have been an annual feature for the last five years and participation in the last games had risen to 500.

The third National Games will have 4000 participants from 20 states. Invitation has also been extended to 10 countries in South-East Asia and 100 foreign participants are expected. The Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, National Institute of Mental Health (Hyderabad), the UT, Administration, Panjab University and the Municipal Corporation of Chandigarh are fully backing the games. The Governments of Punjab and Haryana have also helped.

Besides 36 athletics, 22 swimming and five cycling events for individuals, there will be the entire gamut of team events such as basketball, cricket, football, handball, volleyball, table tennis and badminton. Only the rules are different from what we know. In some cases, the games are also differently designed.

These games will also introduce for the first time the new concept of unified sports. Wherein teams comprising of equal members of special and normal children, of similar ability, compete against each other. Research has proved that even a few hours of such games together develops new skills, builds new relationships and creates faster social awakening. Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal have taken the initiative by fielding teams of 20 to 28 in football and basketball.

The games lasting0 five days, are only a month and a half away. Eye-catching reminders at all prominent sports in Chandigarh will start appearing from the latter half of August. Everybody must witness the special children’s courage and skill and share their joy at achievement.Top

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