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Formula One: Kimi Raikkonen crowned champion in last race of the season

October 21, 2007 Leave a comment

Sunday October 21, 2007
SAO PAULO, Brazil (AFP) – Kimi Raikkonen won the 2007 Formula One drivers world championship here Sunday for Ferrari when he produced a flawless run to victory in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The ‘ice-man’ from Finland drove superbly to grab the 15th win of his careeer and his sixth this year ahead of his Ferrari team-mate and local hero Felipe Massa.

Defending double drivers world champion Fernando Alonso of Spain finished third in his McLaren and ended up sharing second place in the drivers’ title race with his team-mate Lewis Hamilton.

The luckless 22-year-old British rookie, who began the day four points ahead of Alonso and seven in front of Raikkonen, lost ground at the start, falling back from second to fourth on the opening lap and then plummeting to 18th on lap seven when he suffered gearbox problems.

But he stormed back to finish in seventh place and score two points when he needed at least two more to make history by being the first rookie to lift the title.

German-born Nico Rosberg, the son of the original flying Finn Keke Rosberg, came fourth for Williams ahead of Poland’s Robert Kubica and German Nick Heidfelt in the two BMW Saubers.

The drivers title race ended with Raikkonen on 110 points and Alonso and Hamilton both on 109 at the end of the first three-way title battle for 21 years.

There was drama from the start when Brazilian Felipe Massa pulled clear from his ninth pole position into the lead followed by Ferrari team-mate Raikkonen, in the process squeezing Hamilton out of the way.

The move of the two Ferraris meant that Hamilton was held up behind them and this allowed Alonso through to take third place as they battled down through the Senna S bend.

The crowd went wild at seeing Massa lead but it all went sadly wrong for Hamilton as he was forced off the circuit on the opening lap and after running across a green painted run-off area he rejoined down in eighth place.

It looked almost impossible for him to fight back as he ran behind the leading group, but he worked his way back up to seventh before being hit by a gear selection problem.

His car slowed alarmingly for British fans and he slipped down to 18th place and a long way from not only the points, but possibly the world title.

At the front Massa sped clear followed by Raikkonen whilst there was carnage elsewhere with Italian Giancarlo Fisichella in his Renault rejoining from an off track excursion only to he driven into from behind by Sakon Yamamoto of Japan in a spyker.

Hamilton somehow solved his problems and regained his speed as he pushed his way through the field, rising from 18th to 11th with some supreme passing moves and fast driving.

The leaders began to dive into the pits to stop for fresh tyres and fuel after lap 20, Massa leading the way ahead of Raikkonen who led the race for a lap until he also pitted one lap later.

This left the defending champion Alonso out in front for a lap but he also pitted and after the first round of stops the field reassembled with Massa leading Raikkonen and then Alonso at the front.

Hamilton pitted after 22 laps and rejoined in 14th place from where he fought tigerishly to make up places, passing Brazilian Rubens Barrichello with a sweeping and aggressive dive through the Senna S bends on lap 28.

This hoisted Hamilton into 12th place but he was 50 seconds behind the leader Massa who was running two seconds ahead of Raikkonen with Alonso down in third 19 seconds adrift.

On lap 30, there was more drama when Kazuki Nakajima in his BMW came into the pits and crashed into his own team of mechanics, two of whom were sent flying and appeared to be slightly injured.

Hamilton, with great verve and concentration, was up to ninth by lap 33, just one place outside the points positions and chasing hard to haul in time on fellow-Briton David Coulthard who was running in eighth place.

By then, Poland’s Robert Kubica had passed Alonso at the end of the straight and soon after this Hamilton pitted again for hard tyres from ninth after 36 laps.

In 36 degrees heat by lap 40, Hamilton had been lapped by the two leading Ferraris who were in stunning form and more than a minute ahead of Alonso who recovered third after the pit stops.

The Ferraris were in a world of their own, running just seven-tenths of a second apart as the mathematics and probabilities occupied all the spectators wondering about the outcome of the world title race.

After 47 laps, Hamitlon was up to eighth but he needed to finish fifth if the positions remained unchanged ahead of him – a massively-demanding target.

When Ferrari pitted again, Massa came in first after 50 laps and Raikkonen stayed out three laps before pitting to push himself into a position where, when he rejoined, he was 1.9 seconds ahead of his team-mate.

This put him in line to win and collect the title unless Alonso, who also pitted, could claw his way into one of the top two positions, which proved beyond the Spaniard.

Raikkonen, with the scent of glory in his nostrils, then pulled clear by three seconds from Massa, the Finn going on to claim a famous victory.

Categories: Other sports

EPL gurus to train Indian football coaches

October 12, 2007 Leave a comment

Four coaches from the English Premier League (EPL) will train 80 young football coaches in India over a period of three years under the Premier Skills project.

The project is being taken up by the English Premier League in partnership with the British Council, Indian Football Association and the Sports Authority of India.

Forty coaches will be trained in Delhi and the remaining in Kolkata.

Premier Skills will provide an opportunity for young coaches to hone their skills through the training provided by world class professionals thereby enabling them to coach better.

The premier skills project was piloted in Egypt earlier this year.

Categories: Other sports

Clash of the Titans

October 5, 2007 1 comment

a_india_football_1015.jpgAs the clouds burst, the crowds gather. It’s an hour before the kick-off of Kolkata’s biggest sporting event and the rain keeps pouring. The pitch at the cavernous Salt Lake Stadium is now little better than a mud pit, pockmarked by spreading pools of brackish water and streaks of brown slush.

Were this a cricket match, officials would have canceled proceedings and sent fans home. But this is football in the most football-crazy city in India: over 100,000 boisterous Calcuttans fill the divided sides of the stadium, one half festooned in the maroon and green of Mohun Bagan, the other in the red and gold of East Bengal. Firecrackers and smoke bombs exploding in the stands drown out the thunder of the monsoon above.

The Kolkata derby, which most recently took place during this mid-August deluge, is an epic contest older than the Spanish civil war waged between Real Madrid and Barcelona and deeper than the glossy rivalries of the money-spinning English Premier League.

India, of course, is not a football power — at home, the sport is dwarfed by cricket, which has captured the country’s popular imagination and advertising revenue. Despite a few recent successes, the Indian national side is still a minnow in the pool of world football.

It’s ranked a woeful 145th overall by FIFA, football’s global governing body, and 24th in Asia — 13 spots below Bahrain, whose population is less than one-thousandth of India’s.

The rankings do not lie. At Kolkata’s packed derby match, the play is hapless. But it is roared on in an atmosphere of intensity and passion unparalleled anywhere else in Asia.

The enmity between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, the teams respectively of the city’s West and East Bengali populations, mirrors the Catholic-Protestant sectarianism of Glasgow’s Celtic versus Rangers. It stretches back before Indian independence and is embedded into the very fabric of Kolkata society.

Prices for prawn and hilsa, the preferred seafood of each community, fluctuate depending on the results of the clubs’ matches. An entire canon of Bengali films, plays and poems surrounds the eight-decade-old rivalry, as if all of Kolkata lives in the shadow of these football-playing Montagues and Capulets.

When FIFA’s president, Sepp Blatter, toured India in April with Mohammad bin Hamman, head of the Asian Football Confederation, he attended the derby fixture and was reportedly impressed by the match’s feverish atmosphere. But that didn’t make up for the shambolic management and crippling lack of infrastructure that dogs the Indian game. Hamman spoke bluntly: “Frankly speaking, they only have the history. I did not see any future.”

For most Calcuttans, the past is good enough. Mohun Bagan Athletic Club, the oldest Asian sporting club in existence, was founded in 1889 by a group of upstanding middle-class Bengalis keen to prove their mettle against the British.

 They named it after one of the many Victorian villas in the densely colonial north of the city where most well-to-do Bengalis lived. From its founding, the club was consciously modern and nationalistic, eager to cast off the much-invoked colonial stereotype of the effeminate Oriental. Drinking and smoking were strictly forbidden, and young athletes, some scouted from remote villages in Bengal and other parts of the country, had their school scores monitored.

The payoff occurred a few decades later. In 1911, the Mohun Bagan football squad won the prestigious Indian Football Association Shield tournament — once the preserve of whites-only clubs — toppling the crack East Yorkshire Regiment, the best British team in India, barefoot in the final.

Boria Majumdar, India’s leading sports historian and author of Goalless, a history of Indian football, describes it as “India’s Lagaan moment” — referring to the 2001 Bollywood blockbuster about a fictional cricket-playing village that beat the ruling British at their own game.

 This was real life, however, and Kolkata erupted in cele-brations, with Hindus and Muslims, poor and rich, all united in anticolonial sentiment. The glory of the moment cemented football’s place in the soul of the city.

But in keeping with the legacy of Indian independence, the aura of nationalism that surrounded Mohun Bagan soon faded with the conflicts of partition. The well-heeled Calcuttans who ran Mohun Bagan often discriminated against athletes from the eastern parts of Bengal, whose accents, culinary tastes and even modes of dress differed.

 A contingent of eastern officials and players broke away from Mohun Bagan and set up the East Bengal club in 1920. The rivalry was ramped up after 1947, when the departing British divided Bengal along religious lines, its east becoming East Pakistan. Millions of Hindu refugees fled west to Kolkata.

With livelihoods and loved ones lost, many had to struggle for their place among the city’s better-established West Bengalis. “East Bengal gave them a banner to fly,” says Majumdar. “It was their ray of hope.”

Matches between Mohun Bagan and East Bengal dominated the Kolkata sports scene for decades thereafter. “It was hardly football; it was religion,” says Kishore Bhimani, a veteran journalist who did football commentary in Kolkata in the 1970s. Though the playing squads were often mixed — eight of Mohun Bagan’s 11 who famously beat the British in 1911 were from East Bengali backgrounds — supporters, for the most part, were fiercely sectarian.

On both sides, they would routinely wait three days in line to collect tickets. The names of game-winning goal scorers and clumsy defenders entered city lore year after year. Violence and riots at matches were commonplace; crowd trouble in 1980 led to the deaths of 16 spectators.

But such civic-wide obsession began to wane as television crept in during the 1980s and Indians were exposed to the wider, far superior world of sports. “The knowledge seeped in that we weren’t very good,” says Bhimani. The militant sense of east-west ethnic pride faded with the partition generation and today support for the two clubs has to do less with regional identity and more with plain club loyalty.

Imported Brazilian and Nigerian players now star for both sides and routinely swap teams. The bulk of the upper and middle classes who once passionately cared about Kolkata football sit at home with Arsenal, Manchester United or Liverpool on their minds and TVs.

Still, the city’s vast working- and lower-middle-class population remains hooked. The average fan attending the match in mid-August would have paid not more than $0.25 for the outing. It ended in a 4-3 Mohun Bagan victory, as mistake followed mistake. When the final whistle blew, a bellow the sound of fighter jets echoed around the stadium.

It may be amateurish and disorganized, but the Kolkata derby still inflames the passions of thousands. Afterward, two men in their early 20s wait to hop onto one of the many trucks that ferry fans back to Kolkata’s impoverished suburbs. Though brothers, their loyalties are divided. “Sure, it was muddy. It was ugly,” says the beaming Mohun Bagan fan as his brother dejectedly looks on. “But to us, it’s beautiful.” tiiQuigoWriteAd(755769, 1290655, 600, 240, -1);

Categories: Other sports

Sikkim Governor’S Gold Cup – 2007

October 4, 2007 17 comments

The tournament is organized by the Sikkim Football Association (SFA)  the apex body of all the football organizations in Sikkim with the support from the state government and some business organizations ,there is no official sponsor as such. All the matches are played at the picturesque Palzor Stadium in Gangtok.  

‘Gold cup’ for the locals the tournament is like a festival in Sikkim, Gangtok the capital city which hosts the tournament comes alive during the period. Gold Cup becomes the talk of the town. Almost everyone plunges into this carnival even people who are not crazy about the game (although this kind of people are very hard to find in Sikkim).The kind of impact this tournament has in Sikkim can be gauged by the fact that the government employees are allowed to go and watch the matches if they have the tickets and its truncated classes for the schools and colleges for the entire duration of the tournament. Every individual of sikkim soaks in this festive spirit.  

Teams from Kolkata have always performed well in the gold cup with Mohun Bagan winning it record 9 times. East Bengal and Mohammedan Sporting have also made their presence felt with the latter triumphing twice. Red and golds surprisingly don’t have any Gold cup titles to their credit. Outside the three giants many other Kolkata outfits have also participated in the gold cup giving some very good performances.  

The tournament also gives the local a chance to see the best clubs of India in action along with the national teams of Bhutan and Nepal. A club team from Bangladesh is also invited. This is one tournament the people of Sikkim don’t miss for anything. The die-hards wait throughout the year for the gold cup to start  

The local talents gets an opportunity to showcase their skills at the nationals level during this tournament as the domestic league champions and knockout tournament (independence cup) winners get a berth in the gold cup along with a selected Sikkim football association team. last year sikkim sports academy which had got a wild card entry into the tournament performed brilliantly and reached the semi finals which was beyond anyone’s expectations. Two boys from that team namely Sanju Pradhan and Nirmal Chettri have already completed a season with Air India.Bhaichung Bhutia had also impressed during the gold cup from where he was picked up by East Bengal and rest as they say is history. 

This year the Gold cup will start from the 24th of October and the wait has already begun for the football fans of Sikkim. Along with the Durga and Laxmi Puja Gold cup is another festival which is celebrated in Sikkim. 

Categories: Other sports

Indian school ‘KISS’ kisses the maiden Rugby under-14 World Cup

October 4, 2007 Leave a comment

Oct 03: The Bhubaneswar-based boys of the Kalinga School of Social Sciences (KISS) that is popularly known as KISS, gave a good account to themselves by cornering the maiden title glory of the Under–14 rugby World Cup held at the Scottish Rugby club in London last week.

The Jungle Crows, as the KISS rugby team is called, dominated the game right from the word go, as they completely outplayed their opponent’s South Africa 19-5 in the final making it a one sided affair.

The Indian boys were never a favourite at the start and tagged as underdogs in the tournament, as they were playing on foreign turf. But soon the Jungle Crows showed their class and flair, as they topped the group by surprising teams from Zambia, Swaziland, Kenya and Romania and set up a title-clash with the South Africans.

India’s recent triumphs on the world stage aren’t limited to the world of cricket, chess, billiards, hockey and football etc. but they are going beyond that specially in the sports discipline, which many of the countrymen don’t even be aware of.

The month of September has truly been sensational for Indian sports. It all started with the national hockey team winning the Asia Cup early September, then the Twenty20 World Cup, after that Vishwanathan Anand became the King of World Chess and now the Indian flag is skying high in the rugby panorama too.

The strangest element of the triumphant boys, which also pushes them further, is that all the 12 members of the KISS rugby squad are in fact tribals hailing from different backward regions of Orissa.

India has surprised the rugby world too by winning ‘Under-14 World Cup’, an unofficial title for the tournament, which concluded in London on Sunday. The news also brought cheers in Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Orissa.

The Chief Minister of Orissa Naveen Patnaik congratulated the KISS team for their unique achievement and for making the Orissa state known globally and for popularising the game of rugby in their own country as well.

The KISS squad, a sister concern of KIIT University led by Bikas Chandra Murmu, who emerged as a dark horse in the entire tournament played at London.

The rugby fiesta in London saw ten teams, including India’s Jungle Crows, taking part. The other teams in the fray were Kitwe Minors ( Zambia), Ingwe ( Swaziland), Maasai Cheetahs ( Kenya) and RC Ariesul Spartans ( Romania), Kambujabutra ( Cambodia), Langa Lions ( South Africa), Ciorescu School ( Moldova), Mountain Gorillas ( Rwanda) and Snow Leopards ( Kazakhstan).

The winning team comprised of Raj Kishore Murmu (captain), Babula Melaka, Hadidhangada Majhi, Bikash Chandra Murmu, Chhitaranjan Murmu, Niranjan Biswal, Barial Beshra, Bukai Hansdah, Sahadev Majhi, Narsingh Kerai, Ganesh Hembram and Gouranga Jamuda.

Categories: Other sports

Hockey players consider hunger strike over Twenty20 cash

September 27, 2007 Leave a comment

NEW DELHI: India’s field hockey team is so upset at their victory being ignored while the country’s cricketers returned home to a joyous welcome Wednesday that some members will go on a hunger strike, media reports said Wednesday.

Team coach Joaquim Carvalho told reporters that his team was angry at being “treated like orphans” and four players and two team officials would go on a hunger strike to protest, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

Earlier this month the hockey team won the men’s field hockey Asia Cup title by outplaying South Korea 7-2. It was the biggest victory in an Asia Cup final and the Indian team finished with an all-win record in the tournament.

While their win made front page news, it didn’t generate the kind of public adulation and cash awards from the federal and state government’s as the cricket team did for Monday’s win over rival Pakistan in the Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa.

The team will receive cash rewards of nearly $2 million, said Rajiv Shukla, vice president of the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

Various state governments have also announced cash awards for the cricketers. The cricket-mad country has been celebrating the win since Monday, with the skies around the country lit up by fireworks. India last won the 50-over Cricket World Cup in 1983.

“Every sportsperson needs to be recognised,” Carvalho said in the southern city of Chennai, PTI reported. Ramesh Parameswaran, a junior coach of the field hockey, manager RK Shetty and players Vikram Kanth, VR Rahunath, SV Sunil and Ignace Tirkey will go on hunger strike outside the home of the chief minister of the southern Indian state of Karnataka.

 The state has announced an award of 500,000 rupees $12,500 for each local boy and batsman Robin Uthappa. The news report did not say how long the group would strike for.

Sachin to dabble in tennis

September 15, 2007 Leave a comment

Kolkata, Sept. 14 (PTI): Cricket icon Sachin Tendulkar, after having clobbered bowlers all these years with his willow, is now all set to try his hand in tennis alongside the likes of Sania Mirza and Mahesh Bhupathi.

Tendulkar, who would be here next Tuesday to take part in some promotional events of the US$ 175,000 WTA Sunfeast Open, was scheduled to play a mixed doubles match in the evening where the two tennis stars and another celebrity – yet unnamed – were slated to feature.

Before the fun tennis game, Tendulkar would visit the avenue of stars at the nearby millennium park on the bank of the Hoogly in the morning and put his handprint, according to media release issued by tournament sponsors ITC Foods.

Tendulkar is one of the brand ambassadors of Sunfeast, the confectionary brand of ITC Foods.

A source said while the injured Sania’s participation in the tournament was uncertain, she would participate in some of the sideshows including the fun tennis game.

Besides, the organisers have – as in previous years – arranged for a buggy ride with all the players through some select spots of the metropolis on Monday, the opening day of the tournament main draw.

In the evening, the tennis beauties would walk the ramp with popular fashion models.

The tournaments marquee players Daniela Hantuchova and Maria Kirilenko would also visit the avenue of stars on September 19 morning.

Categories: Other sports