Tigers set to roar again
National centre needed to treat injuries
Thangaraj rues Hyderabad’s slide in football
IN THE NEWS
Tigers set to roar again
THE roar of the Patiala Tigers will be heard after decades with polo making a comeback in its traditional bastion. Patiala is hosting the inaugural Patiala Cup Polo Tournament during the Heritage Festival being held from February 14 to 22.
Though the Patiala Tigers may be a shadow of their past with the glory attained by its erstwhile Captain, General Chanda Singh, now confined to history, the city is set to come on the polo map with top players having given their go ahead to the Cup. Polo was revived in Patiala after decades with the sole tournament being played in 1986 when the present scion of the Patiala royal house and the State Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was a minister in the Surjit Singh Barnala Government. While last year exhibition matches were organised in the city, this year will see the unveiling of the Patiala Cup.
No article about polo and Patiala can be complete without a description of the heroic deeds of General Chanda Singh. Though polo made inroads in Patiala during the reign of Maharaja Rajinder Singh, it was during the tenure of Maharaja Bhupinder Singh that it reached its zenith. And the man who took it to its peak was Chanda Singh. A mercurial player who owed his promotions due to his skill in the game, Chanda Singh was instrumental in the victories achieved by the Patiala Tigers in various Cups from 1910 to 1920.
Chanda Singh, who had a handicap of 10, the highest possible, played the key role in the Patiala victory in the Dunlop Smith Cup in 1912 in which Capt Balwant Singh Harike, Thakur Bani Singh, Capt Thakur Singh and Capt Joginder Singh were the other players. Chanda Singh was also invited to join the Spanish team by King Alphonso during this period and he played a major role in the annexation of the European Cup by the Spanish team.
Chanda Singh’s mentor, Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, was also a keen polo player. He captained the Patiala team who won the Calcutta Cup which included Capt Pritam Singh, General Gurdit Singh and Col Hira Singh. It is said that the Patiala team became so strong during this period that a match between Patiala and All the Rest was also held. Patiala lost by a sole goal in the last "chukkar" (round of play). Patiala Additional Deputy Commissioner Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon, an avid polo fan involved in the organisation of the show, said the victory was made possible as teams from Rajputana and Kashmir pooled in their "pony power". Pony power is a term used to rate teams with teams having first grade ponies. This is because ponies have to be changed after every chukkar.
Polo in Patiala was played at the traditional polo ground in the city. This ground is no longer suitable for the game as a gymnasium and other facilities were built in the ground in the eighties. The administration, to ensure the continuance of Polo in the city has come up with a new ground. It is utilising the space along the runway of the Aviation Club on the outskirts of the city. This field has been levelled and grassed.
The Patiala Heritage Society is
bringing a number of polo players to the tournament this year with Col
Bhawani Singh of the Presidents’ Guards coordinating the effort in
Delhi. Shiv Dular disclosed that the effort behind the move was to let
important players get a feel of the polo ground as well as of the place.
"This will ensure that the Patiala Cup becomes a regular feature
after being accommodated in the regular Polo fixture of the country and
the Patiala Tigers can shine again", he added.
ARJUN Atwal and Jyoti Randhawa continue to hog the limelight in international professional golf. On the constant move, Atwal has been named Asian "Golfer of the Year for his majestic exploits in different circuits. He fully deserved the honour.
Randhawa played a round of his life in the Johnnie Walker Classic in Bangkok. Saying with eagles and birdies, he jumped from lowly-placed position to the joint runner-up in the $ 1.8 million prize-money tournament. He earned about Rs 75 lakh.
Randhawa’s 8-under 64 (two eagles and five birdies) in the final round brought him a round of appreciation from even his rivals. Surprised at his own performance and consistency, Randhawa said: "It is a dream come true", adding: "I did not imagine that I could be joint second with Sweden’s European and Australasian, tournament is the richest competition on the Australasian and Asian Tours. It has been won by the likes of Greg Norman, Nick Faldo, Tiger Woods and Ernie Els.
Atwal was as happy as Randhawa. He had reason to feel so. Tiger walked up to him, played a nine-hole round with him and also invited him to lunch. It was a meeting that ‘I will cherish all my life’. Teaming up with Venezuelan Gilberto Morales to hit a few balls at the Isleworth Golf Club, he saw Tiger emerge out of the cart. Ever relaxed and friendly, Tiger said: "Well done for earning the licence to play in the American territory and two settled down for a 25-minute lively discussion. "Why don’t you both join me for a quick bite".
In jolly good mood, Tiger narrated many anecdotes, which saw all bursting into laughter. His jokes were nippier than lockerroom anecdotes. Tiger extended another invitation to Atwal to play but he declined as he was preparing for the US PGA Tour’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am. "It was great fun plying with Tiger", said Atwal, adding: "It is educative to talk to him".
Incidentally, in a short 9-hole competition, Atwal’s team won one up!
The golfing community at the Delhi Golf Club (DGC) was stunned at the sad and untimely demise of Lily Khanna (Bery). An embodiment of etiquette, culture and fair-play, she was the livewire of women’s golf for several years.
When Lily was young, she was a permanent member of the annual fixture between Roshanara ladies team and British High Commission side. The match was played with all seriousness and it was covered extensively as the then editor of Indian Express Prem Bhatia insisted on its being reported.
Lily was a proficient golfer. Her husband Tishi had played an unofficial Test for India as a wicket-keeper. He had also played for Delhi and Bengal in Ranji matches.
Lily had gone to Malaysia for a short visit. On her return, she contracted pneumonia. She died of massive heart attack.
There is a distinct possibility of the
Indian Open being saved and held in late March after a lot of
uncertainty. In a meeting, Indian Golf Union (IGU) and International
Management Group (IMG) prevailed over sponsors Shaw Wallce to stage the
competition in the interest of Indian gold. The IMG is said to have
given reduced financial proposal for the tournament, which had been the
country’s biggest prize money tournament ( $ 300,000).
National centre needed to treat injuries
INJURIES, both on and off the playfield, illness and accidents have been snuffing out many shining careers from the national sports horizon. The last few months have witnessed ecstasy and agony in Indian sports. With cricket taking the front seat, injuries to our star players, including master blaster Sachin Tendulkar and spinner Harbhajan Singh, were in the headlines. Earlier, it was skipper Saurav Ganguly who had to stay out because of a groin injury.
The ecstasy part was not only because of the splendid rubber win against the Aussies in the four-Test series and commendable performances in the ongoing VB one-day triangular series, but also because of the return to the playing arena of our tennis stalwart Leander Paes and excellent performance by our tennis players in the recently concluded Australian open Tennis Tournament.
Also in the news has been our hockey star, Jugraj Singh, who is back home after treatment abroad.The whole country is now looking forward to his return to the Indian team for the important international events, including Athens Olympic Games.
Prior to Jugraj, it was Davis cupper Leander Paes who gave millions of Indians a real shock when they learnt that he was suffering from a parasitic infection in the brain. The illness of Paes and injuries to Jugraj, though off the field, and also to Saurav, Tendulkar, Harbhajan and many others in recent months have brought in to focus the inadequacy of both infrastructure and expertise available in the country to handle such cases. Of course there have been some success stories where some of our stars have recovered from serious injuries and excelled. The latest success story has been of our jumper Anju Bobby George. It was an amazing turnaround for an athlete who seriously thought of hanging up her jumping shoes after an ankle injury ruled her out of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Some of the common sports injuries are preventable and manageable.
Once we accept that that injury control is a public health problem, it becomes the ethical responsibility of our society to arrange for the safety of individuals, more so for our national stars. This, in turn, necessitates need for a scientific policy for injury control and safety promotion.
Then there have been cases of players like Sukhvir Grewal, Jagdeep Gill (low back pain) and the present Indian coach, Rajinder Singh (knee injury) ending their careers prematurely. But we continue to be without a national centre for prevention, control and management of sports injuries. Take the case of Irina Brar, a promising golfer. Low back pain has kept her out of the sport for almost six months now.
Every time we have a problem, we have to send our athletes abroad at huge expense. Though we have some expertise available in sports medicine, dealing mainly with physiology, prevention and management of sports injuries is yet to come in. Introduction of synthetic surfaces has multiplied the risk factor.
Two young hockey players of Border
Security Force have been crippled for life after they slipped while
playing on a worn out synthetic playfield at Chandigarh's sector 42
hockey stadium some years ago. Unfortunately, both had head injuries
which not only cut short their playing careers but also made them
dependent on others.
Thangaraj rues Hyderabad’s slide in football
MUCH before the advent of Mr Chandrababu Naidu and emergence of Cyberabad as a favourite destination of information technology experts, the south Indian city of Hyderabad had carved out a niche through its valuable contribution to Indian football. For years the city of pearls and Nizams nourished a strong soccer culture and was known as a nursery of Indian football. The city’s record of 1956 still remains intact when during the Melbourne Olympics, more than half of the Indian team comprised players from Hyderabad. Among them were Mohamed Latif, Mohammed Aziz, Noor Mohammed, Ahmed Hussain, Balaram and Peter Thangaraj. Stars like Mohammed Habib and Mohammed Akbar, who represented India later and also left a lasting impression while playing for clubs like East Bengal and Mohun Bagan, also had their roots in Hyderabad.
However, it is the gradual decline in interest and Hyderabad’s slide from a position of strength that worries stalwarts like Peter Thangaraj. The former Olympian rues the decline in football culture in the city. "Hyderabad today does not even have a local league," said the veteran Olympian while talking to The Tribune at the Lal Bahadur Stadium, the venue of the first Afro-Asian Games in the Andhra Pradesh capital last October.
Incidentally, the Indian team does not have a single player from Hyderabad at present. Even for the pre-World Cup training camp, a majority of the probables are from Kolkata and Goa.
"It is hard work that pays in the long run. During our time, we trained together for months. We communicated freely and developed strong bonding. The team was like a family," said Thangaraj, India’s best-ever goalkeeper who represented the country for 14 years. Even world football’s governing body, FIFA, acknowledged that he ranked fifth in the world amongst goalkeepers.
Standing 6’-3" in his socks, Peter Thangaraj, now aged 65, is indeed a towering personality. For nine years, he played for Services and it was under his captaincy in 1960 that Services won the Santosh Trophy for the first time. At the Calicut nationals, not a single goal was conceded by him leaving star-studded outfits like Bengal frustrated. Incidentally, the Bengal team comprised internationals like Chuni Goswami and Balaram.
"The goalkeeper’s job is perhaps the toughest in football. He not only has to be in peak physical fitness and mentally alert but also a good judge of the opponents’ intentions. He must constantly observe the rival forwardline as he is the last pillar of defence," says Thangaraj who rates Goa’s Brahmanand among some of India’s most promising goalkeepers.
The former Olympian, currently settled in the steel city of Bokaro, was on the technical committee of the Afro-Asian Games. He also lauded the initiative in holding the Games. " The Games will surely inspire the younger generation and perhaps rekindle the waning interest in soccer in Hyderabad," Peter Thangaraj said..
THE sum gain of India’s Asia Cup triumph is not the honour alone, but the discovery of a young dynamo named Jasjeet Kaur. This 16-year-old high school student from Shahabad Markanda in Haryana has earned a permanent place among the patheon of hockey stars with that one stunning goal in the final against the Japan at the National Stadium here on February 8.
The pretty Jasjeet, who exudes a
bewiching innocence, took to hockey at the age of 10, and honed her
skill at the SGMD Girls High School ground near Ambala. She has good
company in Surinder Kaur, Gurpreet Kaur and Suman Bala as they all study
and train together at Shahabad Markanda. She was first inducted into the
national camp at Patiala in 2000 and ever since, this petite lass, the
youngest face of the Indian’s women’s hockey team, has been a
constant ‘regular’. Jasjeet is tall, has strength, speed and skill.
She has come up with timely goals in this championship. She injects that
surprise element to her sallies, which catches the opposition off guard.
She scored the match-winner against Japan showing uncanny speed and
Chandigarh’s budding hockey player Rajpal Singh gave a superb performance in the Azlan Shah Cup Hockey Championship at Kuala Lumpur. He scored a clean goal against arch rivals Pakistan in this championship. This lad also gave an excellent performance in various international championships at the junior level in the past. He should have been picked for the three-Test series against Holland. His omission from the team is shocking.
NARINDER SINGH, Chandigarh
India achieved glory at the Gabba after beating Australia by 19 runs. India compiled a good score of 303 runs thanks-to an unbeaten 103 by Laxman, 86 by Sachin and 74 by Dravid. However, the team looked weak in the absence of Sehwag and Agarkar. India finished the quota of 50 overs piling up 303 runs although the tailenders disappointed.
Prof YL CHOPRA, Bathinda
Kudos to Graeme Smith and Gibbs, openers of South Africa, for creating a world record in their 368-run partnership against Pakistan in Capetown and then compiling 338 against England in Birmingham.
SUBHASH C. TANEJA, Rohtak