|SPORTS TRIBUNE||Saturday, October 4, 2003, Chandigarh, India|
Knowledge of rules must for players
UMPIRES officiating in the Gurmit hockey tournament in Chandigarh did a great service to Indian hockey by rightly putting the blame on the players themselves. The umpires, including Shakeel Quereshi, currently the most capped Indian umpire with 72 internationals, and Virender Bahadur among others have told some home truths, one of which is that the players are not fully versed with the rules.
Asia Cup victory will be cherished forever
Hani does Ropar proud
Bahadur aiming at Olympic glory
Knowledge of rules must for players
UMPIRES officiating in the Gurmit hockey tournament in Chandigarh did a great service to Indian hockey by rightly putting the blame on the players themselves.
The umpires, including Shakeel Quereshi, currently the most capped Indian umpire with 72 internationals, and Virender Bahadur among others have told some home truths, one of which is that the players are not fully versed with the rules. This is perhaps the first time in India that such views are being expressed openly. A number of other Indian umpires with international experience have voiced similar concern but no one reportedly has come out openly on this vital issue.
Once this view is accepted then it is easy to understand why Indian players are more at odds with umpires in international outings then those of other teams. It explains why our players are booked, receive warnings and red cards more than players of other participating teams. We have of course chronicled a famous fable of sorts when five players were suspended following an unhappy episode with umpires in the final of the Asia Cup in Dhaka in 1985. That en-mass suspension virtually spelt the ruin of Indian hockey and it dealt the game in India a shock from which it never really recovered.
The shame of the incident lingered and one heard the echo in Perth during the Champions Trophy held in the same year. Seen in a Perth hotel in company of other umpires was one of the Japanese officials who had supervised the Asia Cup final. He was in great form, all arms and legs and gestures and obviously still furious too while demonstrating the behaviour of the Indians in that match. He had perhaps felt the physical wrath of the Indian players more than the others.
The purpose here is not just to dwell on the past but reflect on the happenings in recent days, the Champions Trophy at Amstelveen and in the Asia Cup semifinal against South Korea. Dhanraj Pillay was shown the red card to add to the official warning in the Champions Trophy while Kamalpreet Singh was booked after an argument during the match against Korea in Asia Cup.
Players are but only human and such incidents do take place in the heat of the moment and no amount of counselling will help but steps must be taken to ensure that the players are not making mistakes or misinterpreting an umpires signal because they are ignorant of the rules. That is totally unpardonable.
It is difficult to believe any players entering the field without sufficient knowledge of the rules. He would not be playing if he was ignorant of the basics. But obviously there is some thing wrong somewhere.
Quite often one has noticed Indian players looking askance at umpires when blown for an infringement, the question on his face clearly indicating that he does not understand where he had gone wrong. The umpire is not obliged to tell him with the result that the player and team-mates are left with the impression that the umpire is prejudiced. Once this feeling gains momentum, there is no way anyone can play his normal game.
The foundation of these misunderstandings are laid in major tournaments in India where umpires are quite often flexible and application of rules never uniform. The player thus is dulled into some sort of complacency and allows himself rare freedom. But the situation changes once he is facing umpires in international outings. He just can’t understand the difference in the application of rules. No wonder than he often runs foul of the foreign umpires.
Here one should bear in mind what Shakeel Qureshi reportedly said. "We face little difficulty at international level. The European players keep themselves updating with rule changes. They know where they have gone wrong. As a result they do not question the decision." In other words Indian players do not keep up with the changes in rules and thus do not know where they have wrong. Quite a serious charge?
There is only solution to his. Each player, more especially those wearing the colours of the country, should be tested for his understanding of the rules before taking part in a tournament and that umpires at the domestic level should follow a strict code and achieve some sort of unanimity in the application of rules.
Only then will Indian players stop adopting an attitude of confrontation to umpiring in international matches. Also it is time to stop making umpiring aberrations an excuse for our defeats. That is not going to help our image at all.
Asia Cup victory will be cherished forever
THE Asia Cup hockey triumph has taught the Indian team management many a valuable lesson. The cup win at Kuala Lumpur will be cherished for ever, no doubt, but a bench mark has also been set for enforcing discipline and charting out the future strategy of the team.
The lessons learnt from the Asia Cup should be put to good use by the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) to help hockey stage a resurgence in the country. India pipped Pakistan with a mesmerising display of attacking hockey to lift the Asia Cup for the first time. Both the teams put their best foot forward in the title clash, but what titled the scales in India’s favour was their conscious bid to enforce discipline in the team. Every player cast away the star tag, and it was team effort at its best.
The team management had adopted a strict approach, and the players did not take long to understand that a free inter-play with the media was a ‘no-no’. The players were told to focus on their game and do nothing to distract their attention.
Chief coach Rajinder Singh cracked the whip as never before and every player fell in line, seniority notwithstanding.
Rajinder Singh had lamented in an exclusive chat with this correspondent at the Shivaji Stadium on the eve of the team’s departure for Kuala Lumpur that lack of discipline among the ‘star’ players had created a wedge in the team, resulting in India’s disjointed display in the Champions Trophy at Amsterdam.
He said some of the senior players got so carried away by the media exposure that they developed a bloated ago, which ignited sparks of dissension in the team, affecting team displine and morale, and even the performance of the key players. He said the media was given a free run both at Lucknow, where the national team had undergone a coaching camp prior to the Champions Trophy, and at Amsterdam. The skipper was also writing a media column.
So the media people were all over, at the ground, at the hotel lobby, in the hotel rooms, dining hall...to disturb the focus and attention of the players. What annoyed Rajinder Singh most was some of the green horns in the media assuming the role of ‘mentor and guide’ to the players.
Mercifully, the IHF listened to the counsel of the coach, and kept the media at bay when the boys trained at the National Stadium and Shivaji Stadium in Delhi prior to the Asia Cup.
Players were barred from speaking to the media, and even the coach spoke to the journalists only at designated hours. Rajinder felt that he was partly to blame for the mess in the team as his liberal attitude was taken advantage of by some senior players, who talked and behaved as if they were a ‘class apart’.
But the discipline enforced at the Asia Cup camp in Delhi had a calming effect on the players, the stars in particular, and Rajinder proved in unmistakable terms that who called the shots.
There were murmers of protests, but the coach stood his ground, and told every player worth his hockey stick to keep off the media, and focus on his game. Rajinder put the players through a hard grind, and displine was enforced without fear or favour.
Rajinder’s worries had mounted after penalty corner specialist Jugraj Sigh was rendered hors de combat following a car crash. Rajinder was not the first coach to battle with player-indispline. The IHF had, in the past, kept out senior players from the national squad on disciplinary grounds. Even Dhanraj Pillay was banished from the team for a while.
But the stars would return to their old ways once the team taste some succes, and the media chase them for their ‘reaction’, which then creates a cascading effect on team displine.
The attitude of some of the senior players was becoming bothersome for the coach, and he thought it fit to act tough, before the situation went out of his control.
The IHF should back the coach to the hilt when he adopts stern measures for the overall interest of the team, as India’s ultimate goal is to regain Olympic glory and the World Cup. India have not yet qualified for the Olympic Games at Athens, and Rajinder had cautioned the players that the Asia Cup was just a ‘prelude’ to the World Cup qualifiers to be staged in Madrid early next year.
There are always people to back a winning horse, and the IHF should cash in on this opportunity to put the team on the road to resurgence, without sacrificing player-discipline. The stars should be stripped of their stripes to make them behave, and force them play the kind of game they are capable of, instead of taking a proactive stance, which would do no good to the cause of Indian hockey.
THE Indian professionals have started asserting themselves in renowned international golf circuits. How has this sudden change come about? It is not because of improved technique and skill but because the players have begun to believe in themselves. Self-belief is recognised as key to success. As players have shown enhanced faith in their abilities and capabilities, they should soon be on a higher planet of the international golf in the next 3-4 years.
Jyoti Randhawa’s recent victory in the Suntory Open on the Japanese Tour has not only improved his rating but brought laurels to the country which was, until recently, considered a nation of snake charmers. He withstood several unseeming hazards manfully and stole a deserving march over many established stars from Japan and the USA. Some renowned stars of proven skill were candid to say that here was a champion Indian material.
What was cause for immense satisfaction was that Jyoti, in this hour of triumph, did spread ‘jyot’ all around him and showed his maturity and moderation. Not once did he give any hint of arrogance or conceit. Apart from huge cash that he earned for his superlative performance, he also received 1000 cans of Suntory beer. A teetotaller, his caddie-cousin Bunty gleefully consumed some while other cans were presented to the Indian restaurant. It was indeed a great gesture.
Had Jyoti won these beer cans in this country, they would have been emptied in no time on the lawns of the club. If golf is on the take-off, so is beer-gulping trend!
Jyoti’s marked improved display on Japan circuit is bound to bring about a kind of hidden pressure on a senior pro, Jeev. Both Jeev and Jyoti are good friends but Jeev will naturally be extra keen to make his presence felt on the prestigious Japan Tour. Jeev has in him to reach dizzy heights. But in achieving this he has got to steal a leaf out of Milkha’s resolute book. In Jeev going beyond the horizon of his father is the genuine wish of all those who know the family well enough.
Digvijay Singh and Gaurav Ghei are two other pros who have done India proud recently. They played superbly finishing second at the Nations Cup at the Laguna National Golf Course in Singapore. Their display saw them qualify for the World Golf Championship at Kiawah Island, the USA.
Digvijay and Gaurav are two contrasting personalities. A carefree youngman, Digvijay plays in the spirit of ‘devil-may-care attitude’. This often brings him rewarding results. He is a player who, as he gains in experience, has potential to achieve more than many more established players have.
Gaurav is a player, who is up in clouds one moment and down in the dumps the next day. He takes the game too seriously. He brings needless pressure upon himself. This leads him to waver at crucial moments. To plan one’s game is one thing but to worry about it is quite another. He should draw a leaf out of his young partner’s attitude and play his natural game. If he does it, he will play to his potential.
Digvijay and Gaurav have in them to win more laurels in the United States in November. May be, the 2003 year will firmly plant, India on the international map of pro golf. Judging from progress of Indian pros, one is inclined to say that India will be more known for golf and golfers than for cricket players. Golf ’s progress has been simply fantastic.
The Indian golf circuit
will come to Delhi next month as series of tournaments in southern part
of the country has ended. About half-a-dozen more renowned pros will be
busy displaying their potential abroad, but other 100 odd pros will be
seen in action here. Golf season is now in full bloom and some new faces
are bound to surface.
Hani does Ropar proud
HANI Saini, a 15-year-old mentally challenged girl had done Ropar proud by winning a gold and in badminton in the Special Olympics for the mentally challenged held in Dublin, Ireland.
Players from 166 countries took part in the championship held from June 20 to 29. Hani Saini was a part of the 83-member Indian contingent that took part in the meet.
Hani is a student of Manav Vikas Kendra, a school being run for the mentally challenged children by Gujrat Ambjua Cements Ltd. She was admitted to the school in January 2000.
She participated in the National Games for the mentally challenged at Chandigarh in October 2000 and won a gold and a silver medal.
On the basis of her performance in the National Games she was selected to represent India in the Special Olympic. Before going to Ireland, she was imparted special training at a camp organised from May 5 to 27 at Chennai.
The success of Hani has motivated other students of the school. Mr Suresh Thakur, Principal of the Manav Vikas Kendra at Ropar, said Hani had become a role model for the other students.
Bahadur aiming at Olympic glory
WINNER of the gold medal in shot put at the Busan Asian Games, Bahadur Singh, has lived up to his name ‘Bahadur’, meaning brave.
A sturdy officer of Punjab Police, he has done the country proud several times at international sports arenas. He is now looking forward to clinching a medal in the Olympics. "No doubt it is an uphil task, hence I want to walk towards the goal judiciously", says Bahadur Singh Saggu. He feels that it would be very encouraging to finish among the top eight players in the next Olympics at Athens.
He said for this purpose, he was doing allround efforts to increase his power by doing weight training. He said it would help in increasing the distance of his throw, which at present is a little over 20 metres.
In the last Olympics held at Sydney in the year 2000, he could not qualify for the main round. Because of lack of exposure. "In the Olympics we have to compete with the best players of the world mainly coming from European and American nations.
They are well trained on scientific lines. Moreover, they have enough exposure", he says. "Though we have learnt techniques through good coaching, it is exposure that makes a differance. It helps in breaking mental barrier".
Bahadur was in the limelight in October last year, when he hit the headlines for winning the gold in the Busan Asian Games in shot put for the first time since 1982. It was a proud moment for him and his family, who supported him all along to achieve success.
Recalling how he turned towards the game and how it shaped his destiny, Bahadur said as a child he was physically stronger than other boys of his age and caught the attention of his elder brother Sukhbir Singh, a junior national champion in long jump.
Sukhbir being an athlete himself thought of the importance of enrolling Bahadur in a game where his good physique would be an advantage. Hence Sukhbir introduced him to discus throw.
After toiling hard for a few years, the first major achievement of his career came in 1992, when he clinched the gold in the Junior Asian championship.
However, he said, "I was not getting satisfactory results in comparison to the efforts I was making", he quipped. So his coach, Rattan Chand, for whom he has great respect, advised him to switch over to shot put.
The advice proved prophetic. Within one year he created a new record in the South Asian Federation (SAF) Games in 1995 by throwing the iron ball to 18.79 metres.
At present, Bahadur Singh along with Shakti Singh have the distinction of holding the national record of throwing the ball to a little over 20 metres.
However, his career received a jolt due to a slipped disc in 1996. It took him around seven months to recover.
But after a month his left arm muscle was injured. It was only in 1998 that he could return to the game. "Those two years put brakes on my career", he added.
He came back with flying colours. In the 1999 SAF Games at Kathmandu, he broke his own record by throwing the metal ball to a distance of 19.15 metres.
About the present scenario, he says a number of promising youngsters have appeared on the scene.
A decade ago it was rare to see a shot putter crossing 18 metres but now a number of youngsters have achieved this mark. He said the mental barrier of 20 metres had already been broken.
Athletics officials owe an explanation
AT the recently concluded 15th Asian Athletics Championships in Manila not a single Indian athlete could win a gold and the large contingent of athletes along with large number of officials put up a poor show. Small countries like Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Kyrgystan, Myanmar and Vietnam, did better.
The president of the Indian athletics federation, Mr Suresh Kalmadi, and secretary-general Lalit Bhanot, owe an explanation to the country for this poor show. A lot of public money has been spent on officials and athletes. Most of the star athletes of the country like Anju Bobby George are also responsible for this poor show. Anju Bobby George, after getting huge monetary awards running into lakhs of rupees, ran away from 15th Asian Athletics Championships. The argument given by her that she was feeling exhausted is very vague. She only competed in two major events, World Athletics Championship in Paris and the world athletic meet in Monoco. In both these competitions, she could not achieve the distance recorded on home soil where she covered 6.74 metres in long jump. In Paris she jumped 6.60 metres and at Monoco, it was even less at 6.50 metres.
"Flying Sikh" Milkha Singh participated in 80 international races in 400 metres and never felt exhaused.
Narinder Singh, Chandigarh
Davis Cup defeat
India put up a pathetic performance in the Davis Cup world group match against the Netherlands. Due to their sterling performance, the Dutch remained in the elite 16-strong world group while the Indians had to be content with a place in the Asia/Oceania zone group-I, a humiliating proposition indeed. The Dutch asserted their supremacy by winning the opening day singles as well as the doubles and thus cut the Indians down to size. Bopanna gave a good account of himself as he waged a titanic battle in the first singles but Prakash Amritraj, the rising star of Indian tennis, was simply swept off his feet by the veteran Dutchman Sjeng Schalken in the second singles. Bhupathi could not find his moorings in the doubles without the company of Leander Paes whose replacement, Bopanna, was found wanting in all departments of the game. Actually at present it is difficult to visualise Indian tennis without the indomitable duo of Leander and Bhupathi. It will take some time before the promising youngsters upstage their experienced and famed seniors.
Tarsem S. Bumrah, Batala
Rahul Dravid and V.V.S. Laxman of Rest of India deserve heartiest congratulations for their 168-run stand for the fourth wicket against Bombay in the Irani Trophy match. They were required to make 340 runs for victory. After getting a 95-run lead Bombay were thinking of winning the trophy but Dravid and Laxman turned the tide in their favour.
Subhash C. Taneja, Rohtak