Sunday, June 20, 2010

Domestic Indian Hockey: CM Cup in Bangalore - Semi Finals

Disclaimer: Last match, that I watched in the stadium was in World Cup 2010, New Delhi. That day, of the 3 matches that I watched, one was Spain v Australia. This match made me realize, where World Hockey has reached (and where Indian Hockey is). If I tend to compare (and over compare) a domestic tournament with World Hockey matches, I request the readers to pardon me.

Initially, not very keen but I finally did decide to watch the Chief Minister’s Cup at the KSHA Stadium, Bangalore. It was a day when 2 Semi Finals were supposed to be played.

As I landed up there, I could see the difference in the stadium. It was all beautifully decorated. Huge hoardings, giant screens, many banners, litter free stadium, new looking goalposts and nets, neat score board, new substitution number boards. The newly laid turf made the stadium look admirable.

Behind one goal, there was a huge stage set up, with orchestra instruments, for live performances. Each side of the turf, there was a giant screen placed for the viewers to watch the LIVE proceedings. As I walked around, I kept clicking pictures. As I came around the South end goalpost, I was held back by something interesting – a microphone, strategically placed next to the goalpost, possibly to track the board bangs or to hear what the players talk during the play. I took all my time to take the pic of the microphone.

Massive speakers were put around the stadium. It played peppy numbers, at times from Bollywood, other times from Sandalwood. There were moments when it was difficult to hear anything else but the music.

Doordarshan, which is covering the event LIVE, had cameras put up all around the stadium. Near the entrance itself, there was a camera, on a very long arm, which hovered and reached out to cover all the area.

One wonders so many efforts were put in to lay out a beautiful stadium but nothing at all was done outside the stadium, in the city. The media coverage has also been poor, to say the least. Apart from photographers by organizers, I was the only one who was clicking pictures.

As the players started coming in to the stadium, the excitement started building. The first game was between IOCL v BPCL. The IOCL players have it in their gait that they are champions. They warmed up for good 15m and did all drills. Prabhjot Singh, Jaswinder, Sardara Singh- he didn’t play though, Devesh Chauhan, Vikram Kanth, Inderjeet Chaddha, were the ones whom I could recognize. BPCL on the other hand, leave aside a few, didn’t bother much about warm ups. This sight, in itself, told a lot about what’s gonna happen in the game.

The crowd increased by the minute and as the match went under way just before 1800 hrs; the West side of the stadium – the roofed stand – was filling up briskly. Goals galore, minutes into the game and in the first half, it was a treat to watch the match. A score of 3-2 with IOCL leading promised an exciting 2nd half. However, unfortunately, 2nd half presented a lackluster and a disappointing show. BPCL players looked tired and were walking on the turf often. They could defend well and didn’t bother the score keepers at all. It was quite an ordinary show. The match ended 3-2.

One sad thing is that no one pays attention on certain basic etiquettes at the domestic levels. Any decision you don’t like, you surround the umpire and jeopardize the game for a few minutes – that is in our reflexes now. Another interesting event was when a contemporary national team player was shown the Green Card. He possibly forgot that he has to walk out at this stage. The umpire has to tell him what a Green Card means and show him where the benches were.

As the match got over, Air India team was stretching on the side fence to play their game against Army Red. Air India, usually, a star studded team lacked the star players today – possibly because many players would have been in the National Camp. But Dhanray Pillay, Sameer Dad, Vikram Pillay, Sandeep Micheal, Adrian D’Souza were the ones I thought would be worth watching.

Army Red, a local team who got its own turf recently, has always been a promising team on the domestic circuit. Although, it’s not star packed as IOCL or Air India, but they are a power to reckon with.

To make the stadium look lively in this break, numerous fire crackers were burst all this while that made the sky look beautiful. Few visitors watching the proceedings, from outside the stadium at the boundary wall, were a heartening sight.

As the teams were introduced to the Karnataka Sports Minister, Goolihatti Shekhar, the public announcers talked about the teams. When they took pride in telling the audience that Army Red is a local team and Ignace Tirkey makes the city proud, the humbled smile of Tirkey’s face was one to watch out for.

The match went underway and was a thorough downer. Players from both sides lacked fitness and didn’t bother to cover the turf, many a times. Although goals were scored but there wasn’t much class in the match. I was supposed to leave at the half time. But, I was told that 2nd half was a thriller in which Army Red took the match into the Tie Breaker and then beat Air India.

As I walked off, the West stand was nearly 90% full and the Eastern stands were occupied by the Army men in their dresses. I wondered if a tournament at the time when FIFA Football is on, will attract any people to the stadium – I was proved wrong at least on this day, the only day I went to the tournament. Although this was a satisfying sight, I walked off from the stadium disappointed because I felt domestic Hockey in India lacks quality. One whack into the goal post followed by a deflection is still the most preferred way to score - You don’t see that in international Hockey, high quality matches, anymore. Man to man marking, fitness, full usage of the pitch, non-solo approach are the premises we still don't believe in.

The variation of 3 attackers versus 3 (2+goalkeeper) defenders – the idea developed by Ric Charlesworth for short corners – relaxed my mind a bit that we have, indeed, adapted something from International Hockey arena.

It was also lovely to see a lot of people related to Karnataka Hockey come together on the same platform. Those I could recognize were AB Subbaiah, Ashish Ballal, MP Ganesh, RK Shetty, Charles C, BP Govinda,Jagbir Singh.

Last but not the least, it was a sheer pleasure watching a match with Jude Felix Hockey Academy members and got to meet Manoj Mahala, a Hockey buff, whom I got to know through facebook.

Here is the link to the photographs, I clicked:

1 comment:

Skat Dexter said...

I saw your clicks in picasa .. Any fan of hockey of our mind set will easily accept your words.. But the craze that the crowd shows up has a promising note in it to get the hockey in India back to its contemporary international standards..