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News 10 April 2014

All the news for Thursday 10 April 2014

Black Sticks Women power ahead of Japan

From left: Stacey Michelsen, Krystal Forgesson, Gemma Flynn and Sophie Cocks in tonight’s match at the Unison Hockey Stadium in Hastings. Photo credit: www.photosport.co.nz.

The Black Sticks Women have kept their chances of getting through to the Hawke’s Bay Festival alive thanks to a convincing 6-2 win against Japan.

“It was a solid performance from us today, but it was what was required. It now sets us up for a good challenge against Australia which is a must win game,” said head coach Mark Hager.

“We had some great phases of play in the first half which allowed us to create some great opportunities in the first half, and the finishing touches from Gemma and Sophie were the difference,” said Hager.

“I thought in the second half the Japanese created some good pressure, and the tempo of the game was slower, but we were able to keep our momentum and capitalise which was pleasing.”

The Black Sticks scored in the 4th minute when Stacey Michelsen skilfully dribbled it into the circle passing it to Gemma Flynn who took the quick shot and scored.

Japan’s captain Miyuki Nakagawa equalised 11 minutes later, but New Zealand bagged two more before half time thanks to a cracking penalty corner drag flick from Anita Punt and a field goal from Sophie Cocks one minute before half time.

The Black Sticks continued their dominance in the second half and maintained the majority of possession. The score extended to 4-1 when Flynn passed it to captain Kayla Whitelock who knocked it in from a tight angle. It went the Kiwis way again when Punt scored a penalty stroke before Japan’s Shihori Shibata edged one back.

The high fives continued for the Black Sticks thanks to Gemma Flynn tapping in a Whitelock penalty corner variation to take it to 6-2.

In earlier games, Argentina were kept uncharacteristically scoreless for the first quarter, unable to penetrate a tight Chinese defensive backline.

China looked aggressive at times and got some good forward momentum but struggled to convert their opportunities into points.

Top scorer from the tournament so far, Argentina’s Carla Rebecchi landed a backhanded slice into the net in the 23rd minute and struck again four minutes later to take the score to 2-0.

Neither team managed goals in the second half, leaving FIH second ranked Argentina ahead on points aggregate and match wins for the 6 Nations Tournament.

A frenetic pace was set when the Australians took the field against Korea in the second match of the day.

Australia’s Emily Smith tapped the ball in during the first minute of play following an unimpeded attack that had Korea on the back foot from the opening whistle.

Korea was next to score off a penalty corner deflect from Park Ki Ju.

The pendulum swung back Australia’s way when Jodie Schulz scored. Korea sustained a series of penalty corner assaults from Australia midway through the first half, managing to block a repetitive barrage of big hits at goal.

Points didn’t flow again until midway through the second half when Australia’s Anna Flanagan drove the ball into the top right corner of the goal off a reverse slice, and midfielder Kellie White replicated it minutes later.

Towards the end of the match Australia appeared to lose their intensity, letting Korea in with two late consolation goals to Park Mihyun and Han Hye Leoung. The final score, 5-3.

The Black Sticks are back in action against Australia at 3.30pm this Saturday, with the game streamed live at www.hockeynz.co.nz

RESULT – NZ v Japan
Full time: 6-2 win to New Zealand
Half time: 3-1 lead to New Zealand
New Zealand goal scorers: Gemma Flynn x2, Anita Punt x2, Sophie Cocks, Kayla Whitelock
Japan goal scorers: Miyuki Nakagawa, Shihori Shibata

Hockey New Zealand media release

Ton up for Kenny

Hockeyroos win 5-3 over Korea goal scorers Smith, Kenny, Flanagan, White and Taylor

Not even an unexpected power outage moments before they started could prevent the Hockeyroos from picking up their third consecutive win as they defeated Korea 5-3 at the Hawke’s Bay Festival.

Quick goals from Emily Smith and Jodie Kenny in the early stages of the first half brought the Hockeyroos to a comfortable 2-1 lead over their opponents.

Anna Flanagan and Kellie White were fast to follow the footsteps of their teammates adding to the score board in the second half giving the Hockeyroos a well-earned lead of 4 -1.

Pairing up in the later stages of the match, Emily Smith and Jayde Taylor worked together in order to achieve the team’s fifth goal with Taylor having the last touch bringing the score to 5-1.

Korea rallied late on with two goals in quick succession, however, it was too little, too late as the Hockeyroos ran out 5-3 winners.

The Hockeyroos celebrated another 100th match milestone at the Hawke’s Bay Festival. Hockeyroo Jodie Kenny (nee Schulz) appeared on the pitch for the 100th time, proudly representing the country in the green and gold. It was the second milestone achieved in two days after Hockeyroos goalkeeper and teammate, Rachael Lynch also celebrated her achievement of 100 caps in Tuesday evening’s match.

Speaking about Kenny, Head coach Adam Commens said, “It’s an outstanding achievement by Jodie tonight. She only made her debut a few years ago and has grown into a world class player, especially her ability on penalty corners.”

Speaking after the match Commens added, “It was a good result, however, I was disappointed with the last few minutes of play. We need to be more focused for the full 70 minutes of the match rather than switch off with two or three minutes to go.

“We have another important match on Saturday playing against New Zealand who we also play at the World Cup. Every time we meet them we learn something new and it will be no exception for Saturday. We will try and get a good result in order to face Argentina again on Sunday.”

Emily Smith set the Hockeyroos up with a 1-0 lead in the opening minute of the match, sending the ball soaring into the back of the net.

Jodie Kenny, putting on a show stopping performance, accompanied her 100th match with the second goal for the Hockeyroos after receiving a penalty corner in the 11th minute. Pulling out her bag of tricks, Kenny shot the ball into the net with a powerful drag flick which was unstoppable.

A double in the second half two minutes apart saw Anna Flanagan and Kellie White hit the back of the goals showcasing two powerful shots which brought the Hockeyroos to a comfortable 4-1 lead.

In the 64th minute Emily Smith and Jayde Taylor worked together to add yet another goal to the score board for the Hockeyroos bringing them to 5-1.

Korea, determined to work themselves back into the game, came back in full flight in the 67th and 70th minutes. Korean strikers Han and Park dragged the ball around Australian players to put away another two goals however, it was not enough to satisfy Korea before the siren.

The Hockeyroos will now head into their fifth match against the New Zealand Black Sticks on Saturday, 1.30pm AEST/11.30pm AWST, before determining their place in finals on Sunday.

The match will be available to watch live on the Hockey Australia website at hockey.org.au.

Six Nations Tournament
Hawke's Bay, New Zealand

Hockeyroos: 5 (2)
Emily Smith 1 (FG)
Jodie Schulz 11 (PC)
Anna Flanagan 43 (FG)
Kellie White 44 (FG)
Jayde Taylor 64 (FG)

Korea: 3 (1)
Ju Ki Park 10 (PC)
Mihyun Park 67 (FC)
Lyoung Hye Han 70 (FG)

* Note: Jodie Kenny (recently married) is recorded under her maiden name of Schulz and Kirstin Dwyer under her maiden name of Johnson as FIH regulations for an official Test match state that an athlete must play under the name on their passport.

Hockeyroos squad v Korea
Athlete (Hometown, State) Caps/Goals
Madonna Blyth (Brisbane, QLD) 275/65
Edwina Bone (Evatt, ACT) 34/1
Casey Eastham (South Coast, NSW) 197/44
Kirstin Johnson* (now married, Kirstin Dwyer) (Mackay, QLD) 42/2
Rachael Lynch (Warrandyte, VIC) 101/0
Karri McMahon (Berri, SA) 33/4
Georgia Nanscawen (Melbourne, VIC) 118/22
Ashleigh Nelson (Wagin, WA) 142/61
Jodie Schulz* (now married, Jodie Kenny) (Wamuran, QLD) 100/51
Emily Smith (Crookwell, NSW) 80/33
Kellie White (Crookwell, NSW) 70/25

Used Substitute
Mathilda Carmichael (Willoughby, NSW) 13/1
Jane Claxton (Adelaide, SA) 35/3
Anna Flanagan (Canberra, ACT) 118/21
Kate Jenner (Tamowrth, NSW) 89/1
Brooke Peris (Darwin, NT) 27/6
Jayde Taylor (Bunbury, WA) 88/2

Not Used
Ashlee Wells (Morwell, VIC) 29/0

Standings (correct at time of publication)
1. Argentina (12 points, 4 matches)
2. Australia (9 points, 4 matches)
3. China (6 points, 4 matches)
4. Korea (3 points, 4  matches)
5. New Zealand (3 points, 3 matches)
6. Japan (0 points, 3  matches)

Hockeyroos Fixtures, Hawkes Bay Festival
Saturday 12 April - Hockeyroos v New Zealand - 13:30 AEST / 11:30 AWST / 15:30 local time
Sunday 13 April - Hockeyroos v TBC

Hockey Australia media release

Roberts and Pereira lead Canadian men to second straight win

From Carla Johl

Photo by Blair Shier

For the second straight game, Jonathan Roberts (Stony Creek, Ont.) was a central figure in a shutout victory for Canada’s men’s indoor national team as they defeated Guyana (1-0-2) 6-0 Wednesday at the 2014 Indoor Pan American Cup in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Roberts scored his third and fourth goals of the tournament to lead Canada (2-0-0) to the victory, while veteran Ken Pereira (Unionville, Ont.) also scored two goals – his first of the tournament – and factored prominently on several others.

Canadian keeper Pardeep Koonar (Ottawa, Ont.) got his first start of the tournament and earned the clean sheet.

The offense started quickly for Canada as Pereira wasted no time demonstrating his attacking prowess, opening the nights scoring with a backhand shot passed goalkeeper Anthony Cole in the first minute.

“We got off to a good start which eased the tension off the guys," says Pereira. "We knew Guyana were a quick counter-attacking team and they play with a lot of emotion so getting off to a good start put them behind the eight ball.”

Pereira almost set up the second goal of the game as he and Devohn Noronha Teixeira (Mississauga, Ont.) found themselves on a 2-on-0 but Teixeira’s shot went just wide.

Roberts got his first of the game after a beautiful individual effort by Scott Sandison (Mississauga, Ont.), who rushed up the floor, beat a Guyanan defender and then found Roberts waiting at the top of the circle.

Roberts followed that up with a goal on a penalty corner; he was set up by Pereira and his shot beat Cole. The score was 3-0 at the half.

Guyana had a chance to get on the board early in the second, but Koonar made a great toe save and on the counter attack, Teixeira beat Cole to make it 4-0 in the twenty-fifth minute.

Tyler Branco (Toronto, Ont.) and Pereira scored in the thirty-second and thirty-third minutes respectively and Canada earned its second straight win and second straight shutout and remains undefeated at the tournament.

Canada will play the United States on Thursday at 2:15pm PST/5:15pm EST.

“Next game is against the US," says Pereira. "We just finished playing them a month ago in a three game series where we played well but here they are a different team with a few new guys. They are undefeated and have already booked a spot in the finals so it will be a tough game."

"There are no secrets between us because of our big rivalry and we are looking forward to a tough contest.”

Field Hockey Canada media release

Canadian women fall to Uruguay in battle for first spot in round robin

From Carla Johl.

Photos by Blair Shier.

In their first two games at the 2014 Indoor Pan American Cup in Montevideo, Uruguay, the Canadian women’s indoor national team hadn’t let in a goal. But that impressive streak ended Wednesday as Canada (1-1-1) fell 4-2 to host Uruguay (2-0-1) in a heated battle for top spot at in the round robin.

It was a tale of two halves with the host team, who had to work for the full forty minute to secure the victory.

The first half was Uruguay’s game as the home team, egged on by their flamboyant home crowd, put away the first goal. Isabel Olaso scored in the second minute after a wonderful solo dash.

Olaso scored her second of the game in the seventh minute after stealing the ball from a Canadian defender, making a nice move and putting it past keeper Kathryn Williams (Burlington, Ont.).

Canada’s chance to respond came off a penalty corner as Kri Shier took a hard shot but was stopped on by an athletic save from Rossana Decia Paselle.

Uruguay then extended its lead in the seventeenth minute as Carolina Multiva beat Williams.

By the end of the first half, Canada had settled into the game but found themselves trailing 3-0.

Canada showed better in the second half, despite the first chance of the half going to Uruguay on a nifty shot, with Williams being forced to make a good glove save.

And then, after a Canadian defender had the ball go off her foot near the goal line, Uruguay was awarded a penalty shot. Olaso took the shot and beat Williams to make it 4-0 Uruguay.

The game was far from over though and Canada gave a good effort, battling hard. Cards began to fly as the two highly competitive teams battled for the game. The match went down to three-on-three in the later part of the match and to four-on-two after Uruguay suffered two yellow cards.

After mounting the pressure, Alison Lee (Mississauga, Ont.) finally broke Canada’s silence slotting one in the twenty-ninth minute.

With emotions running high and first place on the line, the officials had to calm the teams down, before Canada once again beat Paselle. Co-captain Kaelan Watson (Richmond, B.C.) dribbled straight down the throat of Uruguay's circle and fired one past Paselle scored in the thirty-third minute to bring Canada within two but that’s as close as they’d come.

The final score was 4-2 in favour of Uruguay, who earned first place in the round robin with the win. Canada finishes second.

Canada will play the United States in the second semi-final Thursday at 6:15pm PST/9:15pm EST.

Field Hockey Canada media release

USA Indoor Teams head into final Pan Am Cup pool play with eagerness

The USA Men's and Women's National Indoor Teams presented strong play yesterday in their second match of 2014 Pan American Cup in Uruguay. The squads will continue to keep that tempo heading into their final round of tournament pool play today.

Yesterday, the U.S. Men’s Squad continued their momentum from Monday’s victory over Uruguay by taking on Guyana in another fast-paced match.

“Guyana played a fast tempo, forward moving tactic against Team USA today,” said Head Coach Andrew Thornton.  “Although Guyana was physical and calculated in their attack, we kept composure on the ball and responded well to the faster pace game.”

Scoring early in last night’s game kept Guyana on their heels for the rest of the first half. In the second minute, Moritz Runzi (Boston, Mass.) finished a penalty corner with a strong flick past a rushing goal keeper. Only seven minutes later, Ajai Dhadwal (Agoura Hills, Calif.) was able to place a quality shot from the top of the circle past a frantic Guyana defense. A back and forth half saw Guyana capitalize on a penalty corner to earn their first goal of the match in the 14th minute. Team USA netted two more goals from Runzi and Rob Schilling (Long Beach, Calif.) to finish the half at 4-1 with USA in the driver’s seat.

Both teams came out strong in the second half. Runzi proved to be too much for the Guyana defense and was able to bury two more skillful field goals with another great finish by Sebastian Scheurer (Greenwich, Conn.) to close out the game 7-4.

“We are back to work in our preparation for tomorrow night’s game,” said Thornton. “Learning from our mistakes and building on our strengths is our main focus going into a pivotal match tomorrow night against a rested Argentine squad.”

The men will take on Argentina tonight at 8:45 p.m. local time (7:45 p.m. EST) in their last match of pool play.

Yesterday the U.S. Women's Squad competed against Canada, which was the seventh meeting for the teams in the past year. The squads competed in two test series, one in August in Feasterville, Pa. and the second in Toronto a few weeks ago. The renewed rivalry added a different flavor to this game. The U.S. Women went into the match knowing they have a 4-1-1 record against Canada for the past year and coming off a last minute 3-2 win over Uruguay. The Canadian women were riding the high of beating Argentina in their first match by a decisive score of 10-0. Confidence on both sides was high and you could see it in the athletes’ faces.

The match was intense from the first whistle. Canada brought high pressure but the U.S. Women were able to break the press and play was even for the first five minutes until Canada earned a penalty corner. The shot went low to the right corner of the cage and Rachael Milne (Hatfield, Pa.) made a stick save at the post nearly identical to the one she had in the Uruguay game the night before. A few minutes later Alex Hoover (Collegeville, Pa.) combined with Maeve Doherty (Millersville, Md.) to earn a few good chances for the U.S. team including a shot that went just wide, an attack corner and a shot neatly saved by the Canadian keeper.  

In the 11th minute, Canada had a strong chance but the shot from the low left corner was saved by goalkeeper Maria Keesling (Downingtown, Pa.) who had another strong performance. Susan Ciufo (Bangor, Pa.) started a counter attack that led to more attacking chances by the U.S., but they were unable to convert. Canada gained an advantage a few minutes later when Milne drew a one minute green card penalty but strong defense from the Team USA produced attack opportunities while they were down numbers. Once even play resumed, both sides continued the high intensity play until the half ended in a scoreless tie.

In the second half the ladies had an up numbers chance of their own in the first few minutes as Canada was penalized with a green card for physical play. Again neither team was able to capitalize on the opportunity.  In the 25th minute of play Milne made a strong tackle and somehow escaped between two Canadian players and found Ciufo up the left board. Ciufo passed across court to Erin Matson (Chadds Ford, Pa.) who dodged the goalkeeper and took a shot but it was deflected into a defender’s foot for a penalty corner. On the penalty corner a quick option shot was turned away by a Canadian defender’s stick to keep the match scoreless. Matson nearly had a goal just a minute later but her shot went just wide of the cage.

The intensity of play increased in the next few minutes and U.S. defender Lauren Hibshman (Allentown, Pa.) escaped the Canadian defense to get in the attacking end to earn another corner. This time Doherty got the call and it looked like the U.S. was going to take the lead, but her shot went just over the crossbar. Canada countered a minute later with another corner of their own but the U.S. goalkeepers continued their strong play as Ashley Dalisera (Millersville, Md.) easily turned the shot away. Just a short time later, Ciufo made a strong reverse interception and countered with Matson but was unable to find her on the cross ball in the attack circle.

The Canada ladies found themselves with another up numbers opportunity in the 34th minute when U.S. co-captain Kim Tunell (Wilmington, Del.) was given a yellow card for a hard tackle. The U.S. defense showed its strength again and the ladies survived the penalty period. Matson showed off her ball handling skills as she spun in the left corner of the court and put a shot on goal, narrowly missing the cage. Both coaches called timeouts in the last five minutes of the match but neither team was able to get on the board and the game ended in a 0-0 tie.

“Last night's match was a battle,” said Tunell after the game. “We played Canada several times during our preparation so we knew we had to be sharp. We came out with much more intensity than our first match, however we were unable to capitalize on our scoring opportunities. Overall we were satisfied with our performance and are looking forward to making the necessary adjustments to finish pool play on a high note.”

The ladies meet Argentina tonight at 7:30 p.m. local time (6:30 p.m. EST) in their last match of pool play.

Cheer on Team USA at the 2014 Indoor Pan Am Cup and watch our athletes in action live!

Men's matches: http://www.panamhockey.org/en/livestreaming

Women's matches: http://www.panamhockey.org/en/livestreaming2

Check out highlights from day two of the 2014 Pan American Cup!

Women’s highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N1MUtqzmUvc&list=UU1ooFJyVO6Osi7WZWuCw2JA
Men’s highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QuVWyGVAq0&list=UU1ooFJyVO6Osi7WZWuCw2JA

USFHA media release

USA Field Hockey celebrates 2014 Hall of Fame Inductees

There are pivotal moments in sport where athletes and teams achieve an accomplishment so renowned that their victories undoubtedly inspire generations and elevate the game to new heights. These champions of sport carve out their presence in field hockey history and blaze the trail for others to create their own path to success. Their accolades derived from hard work and heart live within not the glass of a trophy case but in the youth that strive to emulate such greatness. 

To celebrate these athletes and teams, for the first time since 2004, USA Field Hockey is pleased to announce a new class of members to be inducted to the Hall of Fame this June.  USA Field Hockey received an overwhelming amount of qualified candidates for this year’s class, and we would like to thank everyone who contributed to this process for their enthusiasm and dedication to this event.

After careful consideration, the Hall of Fame Committee has selected seven new members and five Honorary Members to the USA Field Hockey Hall of Fame.  We are excited to announce that for the first time in the history of this event, USA Field Hockey will be honoring a team and a male as members of the Hall of Fame. USA Field Hockey is extremely proud of all inductees for their accomplishments on and off the field.

2014 Hall of Fame Class includes:

    1984 U.S. Women’s Olympic Bronze Medal Team
    Pam Bustin
    Tracey Fuchs
    Jill Reeve
    Katie Kauffman Beach
    Kate “Tiki” Kinnear
    Nigel Traverso

Honorary Members:

    Sharon Taylor
    Linda Kreiser
    Pam Hixon
    Steve Jennings
    Tom Harris.

Congratulations to all of our honorees!  USA Field Hockey is extremely proud to bring back this prestigious event and honor those who have represented USA Field Hockey at many different capacities.

The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place on June 28, 2014 at Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster, Pa. 

USFHA media release

Candidates announced for FIH’s Athletes’ Committee elections

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) is pleased to announce the names of six women and 15 men, who make up the candidate list for the inaugural FIH Athletes’ Committee elections, set to take place during this year’s Rabobank Hockey World Cup, 31 May to 15 June, in The Hague, Netherlands. Whilst the FIH Athletes’ Committee already exists, this will be the first time that four of the eight seats will be elected by athletes. Two women and two men will be elected during the Hockey World Cup, while the remaining four seats will be appointed by the FIH Executive Board in March 2015.

The 21 candidates represent all five continents with seven of the 21 being goalkeepers and four current committee members. The most experienced candidate on the list is Pakistan’s Waseem Ahmed, who boasts over 420 caps, while five others have more than 290 caps to their name, showcasing the quality of this year’s candidates. Six of the players on the nomination list are former players, while the remainder are still competing for their country.

Every National Association had the opportunity to nominate a candidate, resulting in this year’s candidate list being an impressive snapshot of hockey’s reach across the globe from USA to Iran.

“I am really honoured and excited to be a part of the first Athletes’ Committee election process,” said Sanaz Heidari, the first-ever female candidate from Iran. “This is a great opportunity to be an ambassador for Iran and help promote the development of hockey, women and sport. I have been an indoor hockey player for 10 years now and have spent the last three with the national team. To have the chance to be a voice and representative for hockey would be a true privilege.”

The new election process is all part of FIH’s drive to better involve athletes in the growth of hockey. In line with FIH’s vision to entertain and inspire a global movement of hockey fans and players, athletes have been encouraged to increase dialogue on FIH’s digital and social media channels as well as star in in impactful video content online and on TV.

The four seats elected at the Hockey World Cup will be announced on the 12 June.

Click here to view the Athletes' Commitee webpage.

Female Candidates

Marsha COX, RSA

Male Candidates

Liam de YOUNG, AUS
Robert van der HORST, NED

About the FIH Athletes’ Committee 

National Associations were given the opportunity to nominate past or present athletes who, if elected, would meet the goals of the committee. The committee is set to represent the views of the athletes within the FIH, protect their interests and uphold their rights and obligations. The group will also serve as a link between the active athletes and the FIH, as well as to help raise awareness and educate athletes on topics of direct concern.

 The members of the Athletes’ Committee will serve as a consultative body and will make recommendations to the FIH Executive Board, FIH Committees, Advisory Panels and other bodies. Their roles will also cover seeking and providing feedback to the FIH on behalf of all athletes, whilst developing and promoting resources and initiatives to athletes such as health and welfare, anti-doping, social media, our need to create stars to attract new fans, career preparation and management. The Committee will also play a central role in liaising with the Athletes’ Commission of the IOC and other sporting organisations to enable the sharing of information and research and ultimately developing the game of hockey.

Current members of the Athletes’ Committee who are also on the recently-announced candidate list include Beth Smith (NZL), Henri Lhomme (FRA), Liam de Young (AUS) and Scott Sandison (CAN).

FIH Media release

De Young stands for election

Kookaburras Liam De Young is shortlisted for FIH Athletes' Committee election

Photo credit: Tim Myer / sportsmediagroup.com.au

Experienced Kookaburras star Liam De Young is one of 21 candidates announced by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) in the candidate list for the inaugural FIH Athletes’ Committee elections, set to take place during this year’s Rabobank Hockey World Cup, 31 May to 15 June, in The Hague, Netherlands.

Whilst the FIH Athletes’ Committee already exists - and De Young is a current member of it - this will be the first time that four of the eight seats will be elected by athletes. Two women and two men will be elected during the Hockey World Cup, while the remaining four seats will be appointed by the FIH Executive Board in March 2015.

The 21 candidates represent all five continents with seven of the 21 being goalkeepers and four current committee members. The most experienced candidate on the list is Pakistan’s Waseem Ahmed, who boasts over 420 caps, while five others have more than 290 caps to their name, showcasing the quality of this year’s candidates. Six of the players on the nomination list are former players, while the remainder are still competing for their country.

Every National Association had the opportunity to nominate a candidate, resulting in this year’s candidate list being an impressive snapshot of hockey’s reach across the globe from USA to Iran.

De Young said, "My considerable experience of international competition and the challenges that we face as athletes stems from more than 300 appearances for Australia, encompassing three Olympics Games, three World Cups and eight Champion Trophy competitions.

"I want to use my experience and knowledge of our incredible sport to improve life for us as athletes."

The candidate list also features Iranian Sanaz Heidari, the first-ever female candidate from Iran. She said, “I am really honoured and excited to be a part of the first Athletes’ Committee election process. This is a great opportunity to be an ambassador for Iran and help promote the development of hockey, women and sport. I have been an indoor hockey player for 10 years now and have spent the last three with the national team. To have the chance to be a voice and representative for hockey would be a true privilege.”

The new election process is all part of FIH’s drive to better involve athletes in the growth of hockey. In line with FIH’s vision to entertain and inspire a global movement of hockey fans and players, athletes have been encouraged to increase dialogue on FIH’s digital and social media channels as well as star in in impactful video content online and on TV.

“With Australian legend Renita Garrard as the chair we started the build-up of this committee in 2007,” said Michael Green, Chair of the Athletes’ Committee.

“I became chair in 2010 and have been fortunate to see a lot of progress. Input from our athletes is critical. They are our most important asset. Several of this year’s candidates are high performance, high profile players and there is a good age representation. When I was representing Germany it was impossible to think about doing this at the same time but this younger generation is playing and want to be a part of change as well.”

The four seats elected at the Hockey World Cup will be announced on the 12 June.

Hockey Australia media release

Sardar to contest FIH Athletes' Committee elections

NEW DELHI: India captain Sardar Singh is among 15 male candidates who will contest the inaugural International Hockey Federation (FIH) Athletes' Committee elections.

The FIH on Wednesday announced the names of six women and 15 men, for its Athletes' Committee elections to take place during the World Cup to be held at The Hague, Netherlands from May 31 to June 15.

While the Athletes' Committee already exists, this will be the first time that four of the eight seats will be elected by athletes. Two women and as many men will be elected during the World Cup, while the remaining four seats will be appointed by the FIH Executive Board in March 2015.

The candidates represent all five continents with seven of the 21 being goalkeepers and four current committee members. The most experienced candidate on the list is Pakistan's Waseem Ahmed, who boasts over 420 caps, while five others have more than 290 caps to their name. Six of the players on the nomination list are former players, while the remainder are still competing for their country.

Every national association had the opportunity to nominate a candidate, resulting in this year's list being an impressive snapshot of hockey's reach across the globe from USA to Iran.

The four seats elected at the World Cup will be announced on June 12.

The candidates list:

Female Candidates: Marsha Cox (RSA), Rachel Dawson (USA), Sanaz Heidari (IRI), Anne Panter (ENG), Beth Smith (NZL), Yimeng Zhang (CHN).

Male Candidates: Waseem Ahmed (PAK), Paolo Cane (ITA), Liam de Young (AUS), Niclas Franzen (SWE), Santi Freixa (ESP), Moritz Furste (GER), David Harte (IRL), David Kettle (WAL), Henri Lhomme (FRA), Jiwa Mohan (MAS), Filip Neusser (CZE), Xavier Reckinger (BEL), Scott Sandison (CAN), Sardar Singh (IND), Robert van der Horst (NED).

The Times of India

It will be a tall order for Sandeep to make World Cup cut: Sardar

NEW DELHI: Sardar Singh and Sandeep Singh are best of friends on and off the field but the current India captain sounded realistic as he said that it will be a tall order for the out-of-favour dragflicker to make it to the World Cup-bound squad.

Sardar said it was heartening to witness healthy competition for places in the Indian hockey team at present, which means no player is a sure-shot pick for the World Cup to be held at The Hague, Netherlands from May 31 to June 15.

"It is good to see tough fight for spots in the team. So no player, how experienced he is, can be certain about his place in the team. Even though I am the captain my place too is not guaranteed," Sardar said in an interview before leaving for a preparatory tour to Europe.

"There is immense competition in the team. There are 3-4 players in every position which is healthy for Indian hockey," he said.

"Sandeep is out of the team for quite a while now. But he is a class act and has shown his prowess in the Hockey India League, where he became the top-scorer for the second consecutive time. But frankly speaking, it would be tough for Sandeep (to seal a berth in World Cup team). He needs to put in more hard work and come with performance in the ongoing national camp to be in contention," Sardar observed.

Citing his own example, Sardar said even though he is currently the captain of the side, his place in the squad is not certain.

"Not only Sandeep it will be tough for every player to make it to the team, including me. At the end of the day it will depend on form and fitness," the ace mid-fielder said.

Gearing up to present a strong challenge at the upcoming event, a 21-member Indian team early this morning left for The Hague to play five build-up games -- including two against World Cup hosts The Netherlands and one against Belgium.

During the tour, India will also play two games against Dutch national clubs at the same turf where World Cup matches will be held.

Sardar felt the tour will be a make-or-break for many players, who are hoping to secure berths in the World Cup squad.

"The tour will be a good exposure for us ahead of the World Cup because we will play and train on the same pitch and we are hoping to reap rich dividends out of it. The tour will give us an idea about the climatic conditions and most importantly the pitch," the skipper said.

"It will also provide a golden opportunity to all the 21 players to cement their places in the World Cup squad. It will give us a chance to test our strengths and weaknesses and depending on the performances in the tour, some players may even also lose their places," Sardar said.

In the past Sardar had stressed on the need of a sports psychologist with the team as India has a tendency to succumb under pressure situations.

And he said chief coach Terry Walsh has taken it upon himself to address the area.

"We don't have a psychologist but Walsh is working on that area. He has immense experience on that front. He is frequently conducting one-to-one sessions with the players and emphasizing on the need to be mentally strong," Sardar said.

"We all are having our lunch, dinner and outings together and it has helped in building co-ordination among players which is very important in team game," he signed off.

The Times of India

Neha eager to impress

Ritu Sejwal

NEW DELHI: Neha Goyal shot into limelight three years ago during the Lal Bahadur Shastri tournament. The Sonepat girl, who grew up playing with borrowed hockey sticks and shoes that her coach Pritam Siwach provided at the academy, was then seen as a future India player.

Neha has made the grade and is finally ready to make her India debut in the three-match Test series against Ireland. An 18-member Indian team led by Ritu Rani will play Ireland on April 15, 17 and 18 in Belfast. The series will be a preparatory tournament for the FIH Champions Challenge 1 to be held in Glasgow from April 27.

"It feels good to be in the senior team. I just want to give my best against Ireland. I have got this opportunity and will try to use it to the most," Neha told TOI on the eve of team's departure. The 17-year-old girl comes from a very humble background - her father, a daily wage labourer, earns around Rs 2,000 per month while her mother and two elder sisters do sundry jobs in peoples' homes.

Neha has bounced back after an injury (right leg) forced her to stay out of the game for almost a year. Talking about that difficult period, Neha said: "Ghar par khana khane ka bhi mann nahi karta tha. I would avoid watching locals play hockey as that would make me feel helpless about my injury. But I gave myself complete rest and returned to the camp in November last year." In the Champions Challenge 1, India are placed in Pool A with South Korea, Belgium and hosts Scotland while United States, South Africa, Spain and Ireland are placed in Pool B. India will play South Korea in the opening match on April 27.

Skipper Ritu Rani is confident of a good show. "We have had some good training. The matches against Ireland will be good exposure. We will try to improve upon our defence and penalty corners," she said. "The Champions Challenge will be a good exposure for the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games. All three teams are tough but the Koreans are a speedy and experienced lot," she added.

The Times of India

Calling the shots


Indian hockey had always captured Terry Walsh’s attention and he is concerned at the changes seen of late. Photo: Sushil Kumar Verma   

Former Aussie hockey player Terry Walsh on coaching the Indian team, and how the sport can be taken forward

He was a delight on the hockey field. As an inside-forward, Terry Walsh could make a mockery of the best of defenders, his versatility leaving the opposition in a trance. He was part of the golden era of Australian hockey and was acknowledged as one of the greats of the game for his technical excellence. It is hardly surprising that Walsh is currently ranked among the most sought-after coaches in the world of hockey.

His coaching assignments have taken him to Malaysia, Spain, Australia, The Netherlands, United States of America and now India. “I have done a variety of coaching assignments, some with top teams and some struggling. But I am excited to be with the Indians. The talent here is huge,” Walsh says with conviction as we meet for lunch at The Café, an all-day dining restaurant at Hyatt Regency.

Walsh walks in with the punctuality that marks a successful sportsman’s career. With the great Ric Charlesworth for company, Walsh was a terror on the field, scything his way past defenders with a dazzling mix of finesse and speed. “I was lucky enough to be in a group that brought about a change. We actually brought India down (in 1976). That was the start of our rise,” he remembers.

A gruelling training session has left Walsh exhausted. Food is top priority and he fills his plate with an assortment of salads — bell pepper, green tomato, Greek and squid ring and some bacon. “I must say the potential in India is amazing but the structure and the organisation are quite poor. It needs direction. Not an easy solution. It is all about education process, educating coaches and understanding what the modern game is about and how to retain the flavour of the traditional artistic flair of Indian hockey. I am finding myself teaching your national players the skills that I actually learnt from the Indians,” he says, with the salad disappearing fast.

Hockey was a fascinating spectacle in the ’70s and ’80s before power play took away the artistry. Today, the game is struggling to cope with the rest. Is hockey dying? “It can either grow incredibly or it can gradually die. In the last ten or 15 years it is perpetually dying because it is very difficult to keep up the sport financially. One of the problems with hockey is that the content of the game is not of Indian delight. It is not creative. That is one ingredient of the game I would like to retain. When I started playing the Indian-Pakistani dominance in the sport was at its highest. We always felt that they were almost untouchable from the point of view of their level.”

Downing a glass of watermelon juice, Walsh, who hails from Perth, prepares for the main course. He is impressed with the tandoori delights. Chicken tikka is his pick. Some paneer tikka too. “I love the tandoori stuff,” he mumbles.

Indian hockey had always captured Walsh’s attention and he is concerned at the changes seen of late. “The Indians, historically, were such wristy and creative style of players. They have become, not boring, but become like the game, without the wristy play, without the flair, not good in the areas that don’t suit the Europeans. To beat the Europeans we need to have something they are not used to, the agility of the Indians is the greatest asset they have. We are trying to get them to a fitness level and bring some traditional skills back into the game, look to get results that can take Indian hockey forward. It would be nice to get the Indian dominance back, to get the artistic and skilful play. So that people begin to play the Indian way!”

The ambience at The Café is warm and contemporary and the food is authentic. Walsh obviously enjoys the afternoon. Some more watermelon juice is ordered. On the team he is handling, the affable Aussie notes, “The boys are very receptive and disciplined. What they lack is trust in the people who are in authority. These guys are fantastic, incredibly good. I encourage them to ask questions and not indulge in hierarchical structure that does not allow them to question. In the end someone has to make a call. It can be a player, it can be a coach. Everyone is equal. Simple!”

Any suggestions to help hockey regain its status in India? “You have to find a way to get the public to the venue, allow the financial flows, and make the players household names. Unless you are going to do that it doesn’t matter what rules and what concept you introduce. Look at football. People know who the top football players are in the world. But not in hockey! If you talk about Sardar (Singh) in England, only those intimately involved in the game would know him. In India, a lot of people know Sardar but not everyone. No comparison with cricketers. Look at Yuvraj. The Yuvraj in cricket and the Yuvraj in hockey.”

The plates have been cleared and we wait for coffee. Walsh makes a parting observation, “India is hugely important to world hockey. The potential for India in hockey is understood by FIH (the world body). It puts India in the top nations in hockey. I would like to see skills more than power and that is where India can contribute.” Hockey fans in India hope the Australian master will bring about the change.

The Hindu

Hockey, then and now


DOWN MEMORY LANE Ashok Kumar Photo: R. Ragu

Catching up with friends and former players during the recent junior men’s Nationals, Ashok Kumar, son of the legendary Dhyan Chand, had happy memories of the city but expressed concern about the future of the game in the country

For a photo-op, Ashok Kumar, fourth son of iconic hockey player Dhyan Chand, and a member of the Indian World Cup team that won the gold medal in 1975, borrows a hockey stick and dribbles. So quick and assured is his stick work that you wonder how it would have been during his heyday on the field.

Renewing ties

Meeting up with his old friends on the sidelines of the Hockey India-junior men’s National championship, Ashok relives those old days competing in Madras.

“The MCC, Chepauk and Egmore grounds,” Ashok lists the venues where he has played hockey. “Oh! Those were the days! The MCC tournament was fantastic; it was played on gravel. What hockey we used to play!”

The 63-year-old remembers the 1973 Test match against France (and then Poland) in Chennai. “I injured my face before the match against France. I played the tournament with a swollen face,” he recounts.

Enthusiastic crowd

Madras, according to Ashok, loved hockey and people came in droves to watch the sport. “Lots of memories, girls and boys used to come to watch us. It was fantastic,” he recalls.

Ashok fondly remembers Dhaya Kishan, then Secretary of the Indian Hockey Federation. “There would be paper strewn about his compact one-room office, and he had a parrot too. He served Indian hockey well, says Ashok. He also had a good word for S.M. Sait, then vice-president, IHF. “The game has been followed well here, since my father’s days,” he says.

Dhyan Chand, who was part of the Indian team that bagged three gold medals in three Olympics (1928, ’32 & ’36), was a private person, according to Ashok. “He was reserved. Being in the Army, he was not demonstrative of his affection to his seven sons. He worked hard throughout his life and was posted to Jhansi, Patiala, Delhi and Orissa. For most part of his life, he lived away from his family. He spent only the last years of his (2-3 years) life in Jhansi,” says Ashok.

Hockey has become commercialised and the players’ attitude to the game has changed, feels Ashok who is, at present, based in Bhopal as Technical Director of the Madhya Pradesh State Hockey Academy. “I am watching the boys. When they play the Hockey India league, they are spirited, putting their heart into the game. Why do they not show the same spirit when they play for the country? Earning money is all right. But it should not make the players lose sight of their main aim, which is to play for the country,” he says.

On foreign coaches

Ashok says foreign coaches have been with the Indian team for a long time, but are yet to achieve results that are significant. “Our coaches are not in any way inferior. They have wide knowledge. Earlier foreign coaches were called for their expertise. Now it is not so. They can be called for short periods of, say, three months or so. What is the use of the Dronacharya Award? Stop it. Give to the foreigners,” he says.

Does he like to coach the senior Indian team? “No”, he says. “It’s too late in my life to take on such a responsibility. It is not tiring because even now I work 7-8 hours a day on the ground. What we need is a sensible coach who has ideas to groom the players,” he says.

If Indian hockey wants to remain in the minds of its citizens, Ashok says it should get a medal of any hue either in the Commonwealth Games (Glasgow in July this year), or the Asian Games (Incheon, South Korea in September-October) or the men's World Cup (The Hague, The Netherlands in May-June).

The Hindu

Two Pakistan outfits to play in FIH Masters World Cup

LAHORE: While the Pakistan national team could not qualify for the 2014 World Cup due to poor show in qualifiers, two outfits of the country’s veterans are going to take part in the second FIH Masters World Cup to be held in Rotterdam, Netherlands from June 5 to 13.

According to a PHF press release, Pakistan Veterans team and Pakistan Veterans Hockey Club side will feature in the aforementioned event.

It is interesting to note that Akhtar Rasool, Qasim Zia, Asif Bajwa and Tahir Zaman are prominent Olympians, who were responsible for the national team’s bad performance as they held different major posts at the time when Pakistan for the first time in their history failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. The mega event is also being held in Hague, Holland from May 31 to June 15.

While Akhtar was the head coach, Tahir was his deputy at that time; Qasim and Bajwa were president and secretary respectively.

Though Qasim and Bajwa quit their post as they did not take part in the PHF elections held in December, Akhtar contested the election and became PHF president while Rana Mujahid was elected as secretary.

Meanwhile, the PHF said a training camp of Pakistan Veterans was in progress at the Hockey Club of Pakistan, Karachi. Another camp in this connection starts at the National Hockey Stadium here on Friday.

Those Olympians and internationals, who will be part of the two teams include:

Akhtar Rasool, Qasim Zia, Ishtiaq Ahmed, Tauqeer Ahmed Dar, Rana Mujahid, Mohammad Asif Bajwa, Shahid Ali Khan, Saleem Sherwani, Shahbaz Ahmed Senior, Anjum Saeed, Khalid Bashir, Tahir Zaman, Danish Kaleem, Shafqat Malik, Khawaja Mohammad Junaid, Mohammad Khalid, Rahim Khan, Mohammad Irfan Junior, Mohammad Shahbaz Junior, Mohammad Nadeem (ND), Ahmed Alam, Mohammad Akhlaq, Tariq Sheikh, Asif Ahmed Khan, Mohammad Irfan Senior, Syed Abuzar Umrao, Muhammad Ali, Jan Mohammad, Mohammad Naeem, Ajmal Khan Lodhi, Khawar Javed, Rana Atif, Mirza Waheed Baig, Mujahid Afzal, Sohail Ashraf.

Officials:Mohammad Wasay Jalil, Saghir Ahmed, Arshad Ali Chaudhry, Rana Mohammad Mazhar, Dr Asad Abbas Shah (doctor).


‘Pak-India hockey series unlikely this year’

ISLAMABAD: The chances of a Pakistan-India hockey series in near future vanished here on Wednesday after Hockey India (HI) said it is not too optimistic about a 2014 date for the series and will rather schedule it for 2015 which would be ideal to renew the contest between the two nations, leading Indian newspaper The Hindu reported on Wednesday.

Top officials of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) had recently announced separate schedules for hosting the bilateral series in June-July, but a Hockey India (HI) source said they were yet to approach the government for clearance.The source said HI will seek clearance for the tour only after a new governmentis in place in India.

“We are committed to the tour but we haven’t sought permission for it yet. There is no point in putting the request now as a new government will be in place soon,” a top HI source said according to a report filed by The Hindu.

“We will try our best to organise the series this year but it is highly unlikely. I feel that it will happen next year as the new government will need time to settle down before taking such important decisions,” he said.

Both the PHF and HI had earlier agreed to hold the series in March-April, but the event got postponed due to the delays in getting permission from both sides, the newspaper said.

It must be mentioned that even PHF president Akhtar Rasool and secretary Rana Mujahid had announced the expected dates for holding the bilateral series.

Media reports had quoted Akhtar as saying that the Indian team would arrive in Lahore on June 19, just after the World Cup at The Hague, Netherlands, for the three-match series.

As per the schedule announced by Akhtar, the first match of the high-profile series was to be played in Karachi on June 20, followed by games in Faisalabad and Lahore on June 23 and 25 respectively.

The HI source, however, refused to confirm the dates. “Nothing has been finalised as yet. So there is no question of announcing the dates,” he said.

The traditional rivals last played a bilateral hockey series in 2006 with three matches held in each country. Pakistan won three and lost one while the remaining two were drawn.

A home-and-away series between the two countries was called off last year after the Indian government refused permission for the rubber on security grounds.


Flying high in the face of adversity

Despite a troubled recent history, a lack of funds and limited international competition from its neighbours, South Africa always makes the world top 12

With both the men's and women's teams in the FIH top 12, and with role models such as the women's captain Marsha Marescia and chief executive officer of SA hockey Marissa Langeni, there is a sense that South African hockey has completely thrown off the impact of decades of apartheid, gender inequities and the international sporting boycott of the 1980s.

With an annual increase in players being introduced to the sport at school level, and the far reach this is having in communities that previously would never have embraced the sport, it is evident why hockey is considered by the national government as one of the 16 priority codes in South Africa. The sport, however, still has some shackles to dismantle in order to ensure that hockey in the country is indeed a ‘sport for all’. SA Hockey is working to engage with other bodies and local authorities to ensure that much needed resources and facilities are made available to disadvantaged communities. The vast land spread in the country proves to be a hinderance in ensuring access to top level artificial surfaces and so hockey on grass is still very prominent. This is the case for most African countries.

Certainly hockey has had a turbulent past in South Africa. The sport is linked to the country's colonial past, as it was introduced in the late 19th century by settlers from Great Britain, but it quickly became a favourite sport among both black and white communities.

The formation of the South African Men’s Hockey Association (SAMHA) in 1924 was followed two years later by the South African Women’s Hockey Association (SAWHA). These two bodies operated under the banner of the South African Hockey Union (SAHU) and were very much dominated by white players.

"Coloured” women’s hockey started in 1933 from St Peter’s Church, and in fact, most of those early black players' clubs grew out of churches. The first South African Women’s Hockey Board was established in 1948, with Grace Fredericks as the first national secretary. The Coloured Men’s Hockey Union was formed two years later.

The political turmoil of the 1980s and 1990s had a big influence on sport in South Africa. Without the lure of international competition – South Africa was banned from participating in international sports events – many hockey clubs simply ceased to be.

Following the end of apartheid, the many bodies involved in running hockey in South Africa came together to try to find a way to get hockey up and running again. Discussions between SAMHA, SAWHA, SAHB, SAWHB, and newly formed SA Hockey Congress got under way and in 1991 the SA Hockey Association was formed, with Steve Jaspan as its first president.

Following unification, three astroturf pitches were built, one for Central Club in Cape Town and two of them in disadvantaged areas: Gelvandale Hockey Astroturf in Port Elizabeth and Buffalo Flats in East London. Apart from these developments, little was done at the end of the 20th century to help the disadvantaged areas promote hockey in schools or clubs.

Nearly 15 years later and there are signs that hockey in South Africa is an activity for all groups. The governing body, South African Hockey, has three full-time staff and thousands of volunteers. The organisation is working hard to achieve an integrated hockey system, with a focus on coaching and competition in the school sport system and disadvantaged areas. Funding from the National Lotteries Board as well as the National Department of Sport is being invested to support this movement. SA Hockey has through a bi-lateral agreement with Netherlands Hockey established a Coaching Accreditation Framework which has now formed the basis of all coach education programmes in South Africa and is shared with other member nations of the International Hockey Federation.

Despite the challenges it faces through a lack of funds, poor television exposure and limited facilities, South Africa Hockey remains a continental and an international force to be reckoned with. Its men’s and women’s hockey team are both ranked number 1 in Africa, and respectively number 12 and 11 in the world. As they have demonstrated time and again throughout their history, the South African peoples' passion for sport will help them overcome the odds, no matter how highly they are stacked against them.

FIH site

Out with the old, in with the new?

By Aftar Singh

Most of the youngsters in the national hockey team at the recent Sultan Azlan Shah Cup have done well and they are challenging the seniors for places in the up-coming tournaments. - Filepic

KUALA LUMPUR: The old guards’ places in the Malaysian hockey team are under threat.

National chief coach K. Dharmaraj said some senior players may be axed for the Champions Challenge 1 tournament in Kuantan which begins on April 26.

“The rookies have shown improvements during the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh last month and they are now in the running to replace the seniors,” said Dharmaraj.

“We are in the process of building a strong team that can play much better in tournaments. And I want soldiers who can fight in a war,” said Dharmaraj.

“The team will be named based on current form and not on past glory,” said Dharmaraj.

Seven players made their debut in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. They are goalkeepers Mohd Hafizuddin Othman and Mohd Hazrul Faiz Ahmad Sobri, defender Shazril Irwan Nazli, midfielders Meor Mohamed Azuan Hasan, Mohd Azri Hassan and forwards Mohd Shahril Saabah and Mohd Rashid Baharom.

A German-born Malaysian, Kevin Lim, will also join the team in training on Thursday.

The 27-year-old defender got the clearance from the International Hockey Federation (FIH) to feature for Malaysia recently.

There are 29 players in the training squad and nine will be dropped after six friendlies against China, which will be held from April 13-20 in Bukit Jalil.

And the final squad of 18 players will be named for Champions Challenge 1 after a friendly against Poland on April 24.

Dharmaraj, who guided Malaysia to fourth place in the Junior World Cup in New Delhi last December, said there is more pressure in handling the senior team.

“But I will continue to work hard to further improve the standard of the national team. I want to take them to a higher level.

“I also hope the media will not publish any negative articles that can jeopardise the team’s morale before a tournament.

“They have every right to criticise the team if the players don’t perform,” said Dharmaraj.

The Star of Malaysia

Ex-skipper Mohd Shahrun’s fighting for his spot

By Aftar Singh

Former skipper Mohd Shahrun Nabil seen here in a Test match against Ireland last year, is fighting for a spot in the national hockey team for the Champions Challenge 1 tournament to be held in Kuantan from April 26 to May 4. - Filepic

KUALA LUMPUR: Season campaigner Mohd Shahrun Nabil has a big fight on his hands to earn a place in the national hockey team for the Champions Challenge 1 hockey tournament in Kuantan from April 26 to May 4.

Last month, the 29-year-old midfielder from Kuala Terengganu, lost the skipper’s armband when he was not named for last month’s the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup where Malaysia finished runners-up to Australia.

Former national chief coach Paul Revington made Shahrun captain for the last Champions Challenge 1 tournament in Argentina in November 2012. He was also the skipper when Malaysia won the gold medal at last December’s Myanmar SEA Games.

In his absence from the national team last month, rookies Mohd Azri Hassan, Mohd Ramadan Rosli and Meor Azuan Mohamed Hasan impressed national chief coach K. Dharmaraj.

Aside from the trio, Shahrun will have to vie for his place against the other midfielders – Mohd Marhan Mohd Jalil, Mohd Fitri Saari, Nabil Fiqri Mohd Noor and Mohd Sukri Abdul Mutalib.

Shahrun, who played 264 times for the country, admitted that his place in the Champions Challenge 1 is at stake.

“The rookies have proven in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup that they are capable of playing well at senior level.

“Although I am an experienced player, coach K. Dharmaraj says that he will name the team for the Champions Challenge 1 based on current form and not on experience,” said Shahrun.

To make the cut, Shahrun will have to impress coach Dharmaraj in the six friendly matches between Malaysia and China which will be played at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil from April 13-20.

Shahrun said that he is not too concerned about losing the captain’s armband to defender Azlan Misron, who was the skipper during the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

“What is important is to win a place in the Champions Challenge 1 team as the players named for the tournament will most likely be picked for the World Cup (in The Hague from May 31 to June 15),” said Shahrun.

For the Champions Challenge 1, Malaysia are drawn in Group B with France, South Korea and Canada while Group A comprises New Zealand, Ireland, Japan and Poland.

The winners of tournament will gain an automatic berth for next year’s Champions Trophy.

The Star of Malaysia

Let’s do it

Selangor willing to work with Sports Ministry to repair hockey stadiums

The deplorable state of the Pandamaran Stadium

PETALING JAYA — Selangor sports executive councillor Ahmad Yunus Hairi is willing to put aside political differences and meet Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to discuss how best they can help the Selangor HA refurbish the PJ and Pandaraman hockey stadiums.

Yunus, was responding to comments by Khairy, who told Mailsport last week the ministry was ready to provide assistance for refurbishment work at the two stadiums, even though they are in opposition-led states.

“The working paper would likely be tabled in the next exco meeting. I am not able to fast track this paper,” said Yunus.

“A decision was reached last year where the respective councils were asked to repair the stadiums. If they lacked funds, they could borrow from the state government.

“The federal and state government must stick together for the development of sports. That’s the only way forward,” he added.

Selangor HA (SHA) has been struggling without pitch for the past decade. Despite the difficulties faced in having to train in KL, the state has won numerous titles over the past decade.

SHA declared the Pandamaran Stadium unsafe in 2010, while the PJ Stadium has been in dire need of repairs for the past 11 years.

Malay Mail

Hockey star, Sarah Greene announced as Sportswoman of the Month

Dublin - Sarah Greene, captain of UCD’s Hockey team, has been named The Irish Times / Irish Sports Council ‘Sportswoman of the Month’ for March. This is a result of UCD’s Hockey team recent success in winning their third successive Leinster division one title, their second Irish Senior Cup in three years, and, last weekend, their first ever Irish Hockey League (IHL) where Sarah’s determination as a midfielder paid off.

Sarah and her team completed Irish hockey’s treble in dramatic fashion at Havelock Park, prevailing against reigning champions Railway Union on penalties. They missed the first two penalty shoot outs but some great saves from UCD kept Sarah’s side in the game and the college students held their nerves to win 2-1 in the penalty shootout. Sarah Greene, then, raised the treasured trophy for her team, and as captain of this hugely gifted and successful young side, she is our sportswoman of the month.

 Established in 2004, the Sportswoman of the Year Awards recognise the abilities and achievements of women in Irish sports. The awards run over a 12-month period, with the judges selecting a winner each month for her ability to excel at sport. The overall Sportswoman of the Year is selected from the monthly winners, and announced in December.

The accolade of winning The Irish Times/Irish Sports Council ‘Sportswoman of the Month’ means Sarah will be the fourth of 12 sportswomen to be in the running for the prestigious title of ‘Sportswoman of the Year’ at an awards ceremony in December 2014.

For further details on the Sportswoman of the Year Awards visit www.irishtimes.com/sport/sportswoman-of-the-year

Irish Hockey Association media release

NOW: Pensions enters second year of sponsorship of men’s hockey

George Pinner and Jonty Clarke at the NOW: Pensions Men's Hockey League Finals Weekend

Today marks the 1st anniversary of NOW: Pensions’ sponsorship of England Hockey’s men’s international team and the Men’s Hockey League.

The positive effect that the NOW: Pensions sponsorship has had on our men’s game has been felt in numerous ways both at international and club level. As such, and on the back of the League Finals Weekend just gone, we wanted to share with you a note from Morten Nilsson, Chief Executive of NOW: Pensions, which we thought nicely summarises their fantastic contribution to club and grass roots hockey to date:

We were delighted to be back at Reading for the NOW: Pensions Men’s Hockey League Finals last weekend, and offer our congratulations to Beeston after their victory, as well as Southgate and Brooklands MU on their promotion. We have a come a long way since last year, introducing several new initiatives to benefit the domestic league along the way.

Following a successful season launch back in September, we introduced the NOW: Hockey Challenge, which seeks to develop the sport through the NOW: Pensions principles of Smarter, Simpler, Better. NOW: Pensions has helped develop tools for hockey clubs to make their hockey life easier, both on and off the pitch. This included a toolkit for clubs such as pitchside banners and marketing materials to help clubs both look ‘smart’ and promote the game in local communities.

NOW: Pensions also offered invaluable training materials from the England coaching staff, including coaching tips and strength and conditioning exercises, to help provide ‘simple’ tools for hockey clubs around the country.

Finally, to help provide inspiration to become ‘better’, local clubs were given the opportunity to train with the England team via a social media competition whereby teams were invited to share their most inventive penalty corners.

We hope that our support, not only to the domestic league, but also the England squad and grassroots initiative, Rush Hockey, will help create a sustainable legacy for hockey. We are working hand in hand with England Hockey to help grow the sport. Meanwhile our company is growing too as the auto enrolment market develops. NOW: Pensions is a company which aims to challenge the status quo, and we believe everyone deserves access to a better pension in order to secure the retirement they deserve.

England Hockey Board Media release

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