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World Hockey Cup: Australia beats France

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BHUBANESWAR: France’s World Cup dreams in field hockey ended today as they lost to defending champions Australia 3-0 in the quarter-finals here.

The Frenchmen, who came into the 16-team tournament ranked 20th in the world, won hearts after stunning Olympic champions Argentina 5-3 in the group stage. But top-ranked Australia, who made their 12th consecutive semi-final entry in a World Cup, proved too good for the emerging French team who were undone by the speed and accuracy of the Kookaburras.

Australia skipper Aran Zalewski though heaped rich praise on his opponents for giving them a hard time at the Kalinga Stadium in the East Indian state of Odisha.”It was a really tough match. Obviously, France can be really proud of their efforts, I think they really played well and put up a great fight. “They have really come strongly in the last couple of years,” Zalewski said after the win.

“Lucky we won only on penalty corners. Really clinical in that area,” said Zalewski, whose side is eyeing a third straight World Cup title after winning the trophy in 2010 and 2014. Jeremy Hayward struck early with a perfectly executed penalty corner in just the fourth minute of the match and the Kookaburras maintained the 1-0 lead into the second quarter. The Aussie lead was doubled in the 19th minute with Blake Govers converting another penalty corner to take his tournament goals to six. Zalewski sealed his side’s victory with a third penalty corner conversion in the 37th minute.

 France, who were making their first World Cup appearance in 28 years, put on a gritty show in their pool to make it to the knockout round where they beat 17th-ranked China 1-0. “They have improved tremendously. I think they are ranked 20th in the world but I can honestly say that they have performed much higher than their rank,” said Zalewski. “They put up a good show in this tournament, making it to the quarters and put up a competitive fight tonight,” he added. Australia will now take on the winner of the quarter-final match between hosts India and the Netherlands slated for Thursday. Germany will meet Belgium in another last-eight clash. Earlier on Wednesday England edged out Argentina 3-2 to book a place in the semi-finals to be played this weekend.

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Pak. hockey team suspended from 2019 FIH Pro League

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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan hockey team will not be able to play in the 2019 FIH Pro League as the International Hockey Federation (FIH) today said it had taken the decision to suspend it from the event.
“Pakistan will not take part in the 2019 FIH Pro League. The Pakistan Hockey Association (Federation) informed FIH today that they were no longer able to play their first three games planned against Argentina, Australia and New Zealand, citing “inevitable circumstances”.
“Therefore, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) has taken the decision to suspend the Asian team from the 2019 FIH Pro League in order not to jeopardize the regularity and the smooth delivery of the event, which kicked-off successfully last Saturday in Valencia,” the world game’s governing body said on his official website.
“It is regretful that Pakistan has decided only now to withdraw from the first games of the FIH Pro League. Consequently, FIH were left with no other option than suspending Pakistan from the rest of the competition’s season. At this stage, I would like to thank all participating National Associations who
had adapted their schedules to support a solution for Pakistan to join the competition this year,” the website quoted FIH Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Thierry Weil as saying.
The FIH Pro League is a brand-new competition and part of FIH’s new event portfolio. It is a global home and away league involving many of the world’s leading hockey nations, men and women, for a six-month period. The non-participation of Pakistan has no impact on the competition format. The eight men teams of the FIH Pro League will play each other on a home and away basis from January to June, the FIH added.

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Hockey: Shahnaz wants PHF body dissolved

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ISLAMABAD: Former coach Olympian Shahnaz Sheikh has asked the government to provide necessary funds to Pakistan team for participation in the inaugural 2019 Hockey Pro League but before doing that dissolve the current Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) body.
“This federation did not ask the government when it decided to send the national team for the  League. Now, I’ll request the government to appoint new management, which should honor the commitment for participation in the event as it is a matter of respect of the country,” he told the Media. Nine teams will vie in the League, a qualifying event for the 2020 Olympics. The six-month tournament to be played on a round-robin format with home and away games will begin later this month and end in June with the top four sides making to the final at the Wagener Stadium in Amstelveen, the Netherlands. World number 12 Pakistan are scheduled to play their first phase matches of the League early next month, starting with the fixture against world number four Argentina in Buenos Aires on 2nd February. Although the PHF on Saturday initially shortlisted 38 players for participation in the FIH Pro League, some recent media reports said the federation was mulling to withdraw from the event because of the fund crunch.
Shahnaz said the decision to take part in the League was taken in haste and the federation did not bother to hold deliberations to gauge its pros and cons. “At least Rs. 300 million are needed to feature in the event as its every match will cost around Rs 30 million.” He said it appeared that the cash-strapped federation did not think before conveying its consent to the FIH to send the national team for the League. “The issue should have been deliberated upon in the PHF executive board before announcing to participate in the event. “Now our team should go for the event as its schedule and venues have been announced. If Pakistan withdraws at this stage, then the formation of the entire tournament would be disturbed and this would convey a very wrong message to the world,” he added. Shahnaz said he was unable to understand on what basis the decision was taken to participate in the League. “Firstly, you don’t have the money for participation in the event. Secondly, you are preparing a new outfit and you believe it is going to beat the world’s top teams to qualify for the Olympics.”
He said India decided not to take part in the competition despite the fact that their federation had sufficient funds as well as a better side. “They (India) chose to stay away from the event as they estimated the chances of qualifying for the Olympics to be higher when participating in the Hockey Series where they will play lower-ranked teams”, he said. More than 20 venues in 11 countries have been selected across the world in a bid to ensure that fans everywhere can experience world-class hockey. The teams scheduled to take part in the event include Pakistan, Australia, Argentina, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, England, Spain and New Zealand.

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Hockey: Govt provides over Rs425m  to PHF 

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ISLAMABAD: The government has provided a sum of over Rs425 million to Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) during the last five years for promotion of hockey as the national game of the country.
“PHF is the premier entity for selection, training, and coaching of hockey players and as well as to represent Pakistan internationally,” an official in the Ministry Inter Provincial Coordination told the Media.
He said the federal government was committed to promoting the national game and providing annual as well as special grants in financial allocations as per budgetary resources.
The official said that additionally, PHF generates its own funds from sponsorship and grants in aid from other sources as well.
To a question, he said the government provides regular annual grants, special and supplementary financial grants to the National Sports Federations to promote football in the country at the grassroots level, which takes care of promotion and development of the games.
He said the government was also committed to the well-being of the national sports heroes as they are pride for the county.
To cater for welfare and well-being of sportspersons, he said a scheme titled “Pakistan Culture, Arts and Sports Foundation” was launched in 1991 under the provisions of Charitable Endowment Act, 1890, to provide financial assistance to artists, artisans and sportspersons and their dependents in case of death, permanent disability, serious illness as well as scholarships for educational purposes.
The scheme was established with an endowment fund of Rs30,000 million provided by the federal government. Likewise, the government initiated the Pakistan Sports Foundation Relief Fund in August 2007, with a view to providing financial assistance to sportspersons, exclusively, he said.
About the criteria and eligibility, the official said it is mentioned in rule 2 (b) of Pakistan Sports Foundation Relief Fund (PSFRF) Rules 2007.
The official said as a welfare step of former sports veterans, Pakistan Sports Board has been paying the stipend to the sportspersons and beneficiaries regularly Rs 5,000 per month.
Additionally, he said the sports heroes are also bestowed with President’s Pride of Performance Award with handsome cash award every year that can also be reckoned as a well-being oriented step.

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