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News 23 July 2014

All the news for Wednesday 23 July 2014

U.S. Men Extend Winning Streak to Four against Chile

Dhadwal earns 50th cap with Team USA

Cover photo credit to Andrew Holt

CHULA VISTA, Calif. – In a quick five days, the U.S. Men's National Squad has taken on Chile in four exciting matches. Today marked another good win for Team USA as they outscored Chile 3-1 to elevate the score of the series to 4-0.

In the 24th minute, Ranjot Sangha (Sacramento, Calif.) struck first for Team USA to put the red, white and blue up 1-0. The score would hold through the second half until Manny Martinez (Lakeside, Calif.) found the back of the net in the 56th minute, increasing the U.S. lead to 2-0. At the 63 minute mark, Will Holt (Camarillo, Calif.) added another tally for the U.S. during a penalty corner. Chile answered back five minutes later to get themselves on the scoreboard, but the final score read 3-1 in favor of Team USA.

“Today was a good win, however we need to make sure we continue to grow during the next two games as this series is not over yet,” said Head Coach Chris Clements. “Our goal is to convert more opportunities into goals without losing our defensive organization.”

Defender Ajai Dhadwal (Agoura Hills, Calif.), who has been a member of the U.S. Men's National Team since 2009, also earned his 50th international cap with Team USA in today’s match.

“I am very happy to be part of this team,” said Dhadwal. “We had another solid win today and I am looking forward to the rest of this series and our upcoming summer series.”

The team has a rest day tomorrow and will return to action on Thursday, July 24 at 10:45 a.m. PDT. Follow @USAFieldHockey on Twitter for live match updates and be sure to check out usafieldhockey.com for upcoming #NoOffDays videos and contests!

USFHA media release

Drag-flick specialist Andy Hayward sidelined


HOBBLED: Black Sticks drag-flick specialist Andy Hayward with a moon-boot on his left foot watches the team's practice session. ROBERT KITCHIN/Fairfax NZ

It's a dangerous time being an important member of New Zealand hockey teams.

A day after the women's team had to play a Commonwealth Games warm-up match without influential captain Kayla Whitelock because of a whack to the arm in training, the men's side were without world-class drag-flicker Andy Hayward.

It was initially worrying signs at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre with Hayward, wearing a moon boot, forced to miss this morning's 3-2 win over India, but team management insist the protection was precautionary.

Coach Colin Batch was confident Hayward would not only play in the side's opening game, against Canada on Friday (NZ time), but would also likely take part in training tonight.

"He's over-used a muscle in his shin. It came on pretty quick, but once we get it right we expect he'll have no more trouble."

The injury affects Hayward's leg most during his drag-flick which he used in last month's World Cup to great effect scoring two hat-tricks.

Two slightly odd reasons have been offered for Hayward's issues; the soft Glasgow turf and plenty of walking around the Athletes' Village.

Compared to the hard ground the men's team are used to at their North Harbour base, the Glasgow turf is softer and more spongy, according to the players.

"I know it sounds a bit wishy washy," Batch said. "But we do a lot of walking around the village. It's 500m from where we are to breakfast, and back, then 500m each way for lunch then dinner and it's all on hard ground. That added to it for Andy."

While Batch was sure he'd have his powerful goal scorer back, he said the side had plenty of other penalty corner options too if needed.

New Zealand play Canada in their opener, then Trinidad and Tobago. They are ranked ahead of both sides and should come through with two wins with or without Hayward.

But his venom in front of goal will be needed when they take on their pool's top ranked side England, next Wednesday.

New Zealand and India were level at 1-1 for most of this morning's match before the Black Sticks looked to have pinched a winner with four minutes to go.

India quickly struck back to draw level again before the final flurry was finished with a third goal in three minutes, to New Zealand.

"We were far better than we were the other day against Wales [2-0 win]," Batch said.

"And that's good, we want to be getting better at this stage ahead of the Canada game."


Australia v Malaysia Preview

Australian women prepare to play first match against Malaysia

Ahead of Thursday’s Commonwealth Games curtain-raiser against Malaysia, Australian women’s captain Madonna Blyth says she and her young team can draw inspiration from the feats of the 2000 generation but they’re eager to achieve success on their own terms and in their own style.

The Australian women will meet Malaysia at 9:00am local time on Thursday (6:00pm AEST) in the first of a double header that sees them roll out for game two the following day, against Wales (2:00pm local time / 11:00pm AEST).

The 2014 Commonwealth Games are the fifth to feature hockey and it was that golden generation of the late 90’s and early 00s that kick started Australia’s outstanding run of form, winning three of the four Commonwealth Games gold medals to date.

“The 2000 era Hockeyroos were such a dominant team and you look at them for inspiration,” said Blyth on Tuesday. “We’re very proud of the history that they’ve created for our team and for our sport.

“It is difficult when there’s high expectation; you mention the Australian women’s hockey team around the country and people automatically think gold medals and success. I guess that’s something to be proud of but it is difficult to follow in those shoes.

“But for us, the last few years have been about our team and what we can create together. Obviously we draw inspiration from those girls and what they achieved but for us it’s about playing our own style of game and getting our own success. I think we’re starting to do that now and hopefully we can get back to that level where we we’re looked at as the dominant force in women’s hockey.”

The match is certain to be emotionally-charged following the tragedy of flight MH17 last week in 298 passengers and crew died, including 44 Malaysians and 28 Australians. The Malaysian team arrived in Glasgow on the same flight as the Australian women, landing to the terrible news from Ukraine and on Tuesday it was announced that the Malaysian Commonwealth Games team will march in Wednesday’s opening ceremony wearing black armbands. It is likely that both teams will wear black armbands when they compete on Thursday. 

Having been in Glasgow since Friday, Blyth said Australia are itching to get underway again following their World Cup silver medal success last month.

“The World Cup was a brilliant experience but the minute we finished we changed our attention to the Commonwealth Games. It’s a really important tournament for hockey but [also] for Australians in general. It’s a pretty unique experience so to be selected in a Commonwealth Games team is one of the great things for an Australian athlete.”

Sitting alongside Blyth at the pre-competition press conference, NSW forward Emily Smith – who will turn 22 on Monday – added, “It’s really exciting that we can compete against some of the top teams again and show them that we’ve taken that next step and if they want to keep with us they’ve got to take the next step.”

The Australian women and Malaysia have met on 11 previous occasions with Australia coming out on top each time, including at three Commonwealth Games. Their last meeting, in 2010, saw Australia win 9-0 as Ashleigh Nelson and Madonna Blyth each bagged a hat-trick, with Casey Eastham, Kate Hollywood and Nicole Arrold also finding the net.

Hockey Australia media release

Canadian assistant coach Robin D’Abreo set for fifth Commonwealth Games

Shaheed Devji

If the Canadian National Field Hockey Program is Robin D’Abreo’s second family, then going back to the Commonwealth Games this year in Glasgow is like going back to his second home.

When D’Abreo steps onto the sidelines as assistant coach of the Canadian Women’s National Field Hockey Team, he will be doing so as a part of a Canadian Commonwealth Games Team for the fifth time.

Whether as a player or coach, D’Abreo has been a part of every Commonwealth Games since the sport of field hockey was introduced at the 1998 Games in Malaysia.

“It was an experience that really built my confidence as a player because it represented playing hockey at the world stage,” he says of his first time representing Canada at a Commonwealth Games. “You clearly get a sense that you’re competing at a different level when you’re at a multisport Games.”

“This was an event unlike any I had experienced up until that point.”

Little did he know he would be experiencing it – something that many athletes dream of doing only once – at least four more times in his career.

“It does fill me with a great sense of pride and a great sense of accomplishment,” he says upon reflecting back, admittedly for the first time.

D’Abreo says that with each time he went to the games – 1998 in Kuala Lampur; 2002 in Manchester, England; and 2006 in Melbourne, Australia as a player; and 2010 in Delhi, India as coach of the Canadian Men’s National Team – his perspective changed, but the impact of representing Canada did not.

“It shifted away from the experience and more to the performance,” he says. “I was probably more polished and more mature with every subsequent Games.”

And while he knows performance is important, and is a lot of what he focuses on as a coach, it is also the idea of taking in the entire experience and feeding off it that he hopes to impart on his players.

“I think it needs to be a healthy balance about the performance and the experience,” he says. “Often the emphasis can shift away from the experience and too far into the performance.”

Having been on either side of that ledger, he hopes to encourage his athletes not to let that happen this year in Glasgow, because the experience never gets old.

“It is an unbelievable powerful experience. So I’m conscious of keeping that excitement, and keeping that sense of celebration with my athletes, especially the ones experiencing it for the first time.”

“I don’t want it to ever come across as something routine, something that is to be taken for granted, something that is to be taken with a sense of complacency.”

And it is likely that mentality that has made him one of the most experienced Commonwealth Games field hockey players Canada has ever had.

Field Hockey Canada media release

Experience a key factor for both Canadian teams at Commonwealth Games

Shaheed Devji

It’s a buzzword before any major competition. Typically, it’s something that, if you don’t have, you’re considered an underdog, and if you do have, a favourite.

For both the Canadian men’s and women’s national field hockey teams, though, experience is something they believe is on their side; even if it’s in different ways.

Heading into the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, the men and women are playing the roles of older brother and younger sister.

The men’s roster in Glasgow boasts a vast number of athletes who are competing in their second Commonwealth Games and even more who have been to three of four major games.

In addition to representing Canada at the last Commonwealth Games, captain Scott Tupper (Vancouver, B.C.) and midfielder Mark Pearson (Tsawwassen, B.C.) have both competed at an Olympic Games (2008 in Beijing). And they, along with some of their Commonwealth compadres, also competed at the 2010 World Cup in India.

“I’m just going to take it all in,” says David Carter (Vancouver, B.C.), who, in Glasgow, will once again be playing keeper for Canada at a Commonwealth Games. “I’ve got a couple years left on this career of mine. I just love going on tours and I just want to go to Glasgow for the first time and experience everything it has to offer.”

Cagey veteran David Jameson (Vancouver, B.C.) has experience of all sorts, having played at the Commonwealth Games in 2006 and 2010, and his third Games will have added significance, as he gets ready to play in his 200th match for Canada.

“It’s always been a great tournament,” says Jameson, who is currently the most capped active player for Canada. “The teams that are in the Commonwealth are all great. Just any multisport games you go to are great because the atmosphere is great and you’re around all sorts of different athletes from many different sports.”

There’s no doubt on such a large stage, that wealth of experience will come in handy when the pressure mounts.

The women, on the other hand, are drawing on their lack of major games experience as a positive.

While the Women’s National Team is returning four players from the 2010 Commonwealth Games – captain Kate Gillis (Kingston, ON), Thea Culley (Rossland, B.C.), Abigail Raye (Kelowna, B.C.), and Kristine Wishart (Hamilton, ON) – the majority of the roster is experiencing the Commonwealth Games for the first time.

But it’s the excitement of a new experience and the anticipation of playing on an international stage, with the world’s eyes on you, which has them geared up in Glasgow.

“At this point I am more excited than nervous but I know as the days count down that might change,” says Karli Johansen (North Vancouver, BC), who has only played sixteen matches for Canada.

“I know there will be a lot of distractions at a multi-sport games, so I just have to stay focused on myself and the team and what we are there to accomplish.”

And what they’re there to do is play hockey.

For first-time Commonwealth Games participant, Maddie Secco (Victoria, B.C.), striking a balance between enjoying the experience and staying focused on the task at-hand is what will make for a memorable experience.

“First and foremost we are going there to represent Canada (on the field),” says Secco. “But I think along with that it’s very cool to have that experience off-field. I’m definitely going to try and take everything in. Going to my first opening ceremonies and walking into that stadium.”

“But the hockey comes first and foremost.”

And while the on-field competition is always the main focus at these types of tournaments, the experience is just as valuable for both the women and men. Whether it’s for the first time, or whether it’s old hat.

Field Hockey Canada media release

Indian women hockey team consistently outperforming their male counterparts

V Krishnaswamy
Though not much talked about, Indian eves have better record in hockey with three medals out of four appearances

Though it is the women's hockey team that has a better record with three medals in four appearances while the men have just one in three, the focus in hockey has been on the men's team.

So, it is understandable that there is a cautious streak in Terry Walsh, more pronounced than ever, especially after the World Cup, where the Indian was certainly worth more than the ninth place it came back with. Despite knowing that and acknowledging it with a few nods but no words, the former Australia international, is hopefully also learning the ways and means of the Indian sports officialdom.

The Indian hockey team also plays the Asian Games, from where the winner will earn a berth to Rio Olympics, and the Champions Trophy that will be held in Bhubaneswar in India.

Walsh 'guardedly' said that the first target is a semi-final berth. Wise, indeed, for he knows that India failed to make the semifinals in 2006 at Melbourne and did not even qualify for the 2002 edition. Going back further, India made the semis and then lost the bronze medal match to hosts Malaysia in 1998.

Four years ago, when India hosted the Games, they made the finals, but were whipped 8-0 by the Australians, who have won the gold on each of the four occasions hockey has figured on the programme.

The Australians on the strength of their 7-1 trouncing of the Dutch at the World Cup this year, would have been overwhelming favourites, but with seven-time World player of the year, Jamie Dwyer having been dropped, and the coach, Ric Charlesworth calling it a day, there may be a slight crack in the door that teams like England, India and even New Zealand may want to exploit.

Recently, Dwyer said he was keen to see an Australia-India final. Dwyer was surely being very generous considering the presence of England (World No. 5) and New Zealand (No. 6). India are No. 9 and not too far behind are South Africa at No. 12 and Malaysia at No. 13.

Walsh repeated what he has been saying, "The first target is to ensure enough points and make the semi-finals and then we take it from there. Our rhythm and skill has been good but penalty corner conversion will be the key component."

Rupinder Pal is recovering from a minimal adductor problem but VS Raghunath, he said has been doing well in training sessions.

Indian captain Sardar Singh said, "We too would like to see Australia in the finals with us. While we had lost the match against Australia in the World Cup, the second half of the game cannot be overlooked, as our defence made a significant comeback in restricting Australia's goal scoring spree. Our defence line-up is in place and now it is time for the forwards to delivertheir best."

He added, "The team is showing major signs of improvement and the players' is morale is on a high as we took on England in the recent practice match and won by 3-2."

The women have a better record than men at the Commonwealth Games including the gold in 2002 at Manchester. The women also won a bronze in 1998 and a silver in 2006, but at home in 2010, they ended fifth after losing out on the semi-final berth to South Africa on goal difference.

The women's team's chief coach Neil Hawgood, said, "While the team is young but the kind of play that they showed in the recent Malaysian Tour gives me reason to be proud of them and confidence that we will deliver our best performance here."

He added, "The team is feeling quite confident. We are now narrowing our focus to the finer points that will prove to be crucial. Our Penalty Corner work is progressing, with some good results in Malaysia." Hawgood added, "

Captain Ritu Rani added, "Chief Coach Neil Hawgood has designed various strategies for the team and we are polishing them during our training sessions. The recent success on the Malaysian Tour has helped in boosting up the confidence."

The women's team is ranked No. 13 in the world and in this field, Australia (No. 2), New Zealand (No. 4), England (No. 6) and South Africa (No. 11) are ranked higher than India.

The women are clubbed in Group A with New Zealand, South Africa, Canada and Trinidad & Tobago.

The men's team is grouped with Australia, South Africa, Scotland and Wales. The first men's match is against Wales on Friday, while the women play Canada on Thursday.


Marriage ends hockey dreams of veteran women players from Jharkhand

Prabhash C Jha/Anbwesh Roy Choudhury

When Bollywood gave the world a heart-warming story on women's hockey in 'Chak de India', it was just holding up a mirror to nature.

For, no Indian team to an international tournament could be complete without a player from Jharkhand.

But in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, starting from July 23, the unbelievable has come true -- for the first time since 1983, no women player from Jharkhand is part of the national squad.

Even the Shah Rukh Khan-starrer, based on the team's performance in the 2002 CWG, had two Jharkhand players: Rani Kispotta and Soimoi Kerketta.

The reason: most senior players, with an international history, have "lost fitness" after marriage and were not selected for the national CWG team.

Mid-field player, Kanti Ba, 29 -- a part of the 2006 CWG, Melbourne and 2010 Asian Games in China – blamed her marriage in 2012 for her lack of fitness.

"My physical fitness and my career have all but ended after marriage," said Kanti, a mother of one, who failed to qualify for the Glasgow squad.

Out of the 15-member senior women hockey team, 10 have tied the nuptial knot. The only spinster Asunta Lakra, who was part of Olympic 2012, CWG 2006 and 2010 squads, is riddled with injuries.

30-year-old Masira Surin, a mid-fielder in the 2006 CWG, admitted that "balancing the household and career is not easy".

Such has been the dominance of the team that in several international matches, as many as seven Jharkhand players made up the Indian team.

For officials here the setback has come as shock.

National selector and secretary of Hockey Jharkhand, Savitri Purty had little words to describe the sport's low in Jharkhand.

"After marriage a women's body does change. To get back the physical fitness is difficult," said Purty, the first women hockey player in the Indian team, who played from 1983-1990.

For the former Olympian and coach Sylvanus Dungdung, not having a player in the CWG squad was the most depressing moment in his career.

"This is unexpected. We have never missed a single international event. But I still believe we can pull up our socks," said Dungdung.

Jharkhand's association with hockey goes back to the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam when the first Indian men's team won the gold medal under the captaincy of Jaipal Singh Munda.

The tribal population of central India found a role-model in Munda who went on to actively promote the sport among his brethren.

Athletically-built with full of stamina, the tribals took to the game with great enthusiasm, honing their skills with hockey sticks made of bamboo.

After Munda, the male hockey player who shot to fame was Dung Dung. Among the younger generation junior Indian hockey goalkeeper Bigan Soy shot to fame with a brilliant save in the 2013 Junior World Cup in Germany. India won bronze.

For the tribals of the state, hockey also offered a passage out of poverty for the boys and an escape from their daily drudgery to the girls.

"Tribal women have athletic body structures due to long kilometres of walking for their daily needs. The game also proved an escape for us from our hardship. I started playing with a bamboo hockey stick and slippers," Purty added.

Hindustan Times

India hockey skipper Sardar now runs the show

By Aftar Singh

India hockey team skipper Sardar Singh (left) hopes to steer them to the final of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. - EPA

GLASGOW: India skipper Sardar Singh twice ran away from a hockey academy during his younger days.

The Haryana-born player hated waking up early at 4am to train when he joined the Namdhari Hockey Academy in 2002.

Fortunately for India, each time has coaxed by his parents to return to the training academy.

Now, he has blossomed into one of the top midfielders in the world

And Sardar, who went on to make his international debut in 2006, is glad that he listened to his parents’ advice.

“Since making my debut, my life has changed for the better. I was the youngest player to captain the Indian national team when I was given the honour of leading the team for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup (in Ipoh) at the age of 22 in 2008,” said Sardar, who works as a deputy superintendent with the Haryana Police.

In 2010, he was included in the 18-man FIH All-Star team. That same year, he was signed up by KHC Leuven to feature in the Belgium Hockey League.

It was also in that year that he helped India win the silver medal in the New Delhi Commonwealth Games.

Now, all Sardar wants is to help India reach the final again.

The competition begins tomorrow at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre.

“We have retained most of the players who featured in the World Cup (in The Hague, Holland, last month where India finished eighth).

“With the guidance of coach Terry Walsh, we are confident we can make the final,” said Sardar.

Eight-time Olympic champions India will open their Group A campaign against Wales on Friday. Their other matches are against Scotland (July 26), Australia (July 29) and South Africa (July 31).

Group B comprises England, New Zealand, Malaysia, Canada and Trinidad and Tobago.

Sardar expects a strong challenge from world champions Australia and South Africa.

But one thing is for sure – he’s not about to run away from his duty this time!

The Star of Malaysia

Adversity brings out the best in Sreejesh

Prasanth Menon

KOCHI: One thing common about Indian goalkeepers in the last decade and a half is that they have always been in the line of fire. A weak defence has ensured that the Indian citadel is always under siege and the goalkeepers have to face a barrage of attacks.

Some Indian custodians have failed to cope with this constant pressure and have fallen by the wayside while some others have been brave enough to bite the bullet. One who has risen through the ranks is PR Sreejesh.

Criticized for his erratic ways and indecision during early days of his career, Sreejesh has now gone on to become one of the most admired custodians in world hockey today.

If there was a silver lining in India's performance in the recently concluded World Cup it was the performance of Sreejesh in goal. He made brilliant saves and timely interventions.

He played a key role in India finishing ninth. But the goalkeeper, who hails from Kizhakkambalam in Kochi, is not entirely happy.

"It's not a nice feeling when people shower praises on you and the team loses. My role in the team is such that I can only stand and helplessly watch my team-mates. I do try and block as much as I can. I want my good performances to be part of winning causes. It's time to end our title drought. The CWG here in Glasgow and the Asian Games in Incheon in September gives us two opportunities to lay our hands on something big," Sreejesh told TOI from Glasgow.

The 26-year-old however admits that the constant attack on Indian goal has made him a better keeper.

"When the opponents are at your goal all the time, you have no way out. You can either get better or give up. I am not someone who gives up easily and that attitude has helped me improve as a goalkeeper," added Sreejesh.

The Indian vice-captain, who completed 100 international caps for the country during the World Cup last month, gives credit for his recent improvement to goalkeeping coach Martin Drijver. "I learnt a lot from South African Dave Staniforth before Asia Cup last year. This year before the World Cup we had a short stint with Dutchman Drijver. He worked on my basics. His motto was simple: 'stop the stoppable and forget about the rest'.

He simplified goalkeeping for me and it showed in my performance in the World Cup. Unfortunately, he is not here with us in Glasgow. Wish we had a permanent goalkeeping coach," he sighed.

Sreejesh's stellar performance has seen skipper Sardar Singh asking his teammates to rally around the Indian keeper in Glasgow. The Indian custodian is humbled by the skipper's words of praise for him.

"It's great to know that the captain has so much faith in me. But my responsibility only increases. We have come here early enough and have got acclimatised to the conditions," he said.

The Times of India

Planning to call it quits within next two months: Dwyer

NEW DELHI: Legendary Australian hockey player Jamie Dwyer is all set to call time on his illustrious career within next two months, ruling out any possibility of representing the 'Kookaburras' in their Champions Trophy defence in India later this year.

Asked if the Indian hockey lovers would see him in action in December, Dwyer said from Perth, "No I don't think I am going to play in the Champions Trophy (in December this year). There are very mild chances of that. I am undecided at the moment (whether to retire from international hockey). I will make a decision in the next two months."

The 35th edition of prestigious FIH Men's Hockey Champions Trophy will be held in Bhubaneswar, India from December 13 to 21 this year.

Dwyer said that he would be present during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro albeit in a different avatar.

"You will see me there (in Rio Olympics) but I guess not as a player. I am going to play the rest of the year with my club in the Australian Hockey League and then the Hockey India League early next year and then see what happens," he said.

Three-time Olympian Dwyer has been an integral part of Australian hockey team since making his debut in 2001. In his 13-year-old illustrious career, Dwyer has achieved every possible recognition and medals, which includes two world titles, an Olympic gold, three Commonwealth Games gold and six consecutive Champions Trophy titles.

Dwyer still has hunger for the game, but with age catching up he doesn't believe he will be able to sustain the rigours of international hockey for long.

The 35-year-old five-time world hockey player of the year winner said he is contended with the way his career has spanned so far.

"I feel I don't have anything more to achieve in hockey. But it would have been nice to win a couple more gold medals at the Olympics. I have been in three Olympics and got a medal from each one is really a good achievement," Dwyer said.

"I am very happy with my career. If I do retire I will be very satisfied that's for sure."

Despite ageing, Dwyer is still going strong in the hockey turf, a proof of which was visible in this year's World Cup at The Hague where he scored a goal in Australia's 6-1 win over Netherlands in the final.

Asked about the mantra behind his longevity, the former Australia captain said:"I think it's just really hard work. I have always been talented on the ball but I had to work hard to keep myself fit. Exercising, healthy eating and disciplined life."

Dwyer said post retirement he wants to get involved into coaching. He aready has some coaching experience with junior boys team at the YMCC Coastal City Hockey Club and Joondalup Lakers Hockey Club.

"Definitely, I have plans to come into coaching. I love hockey so I want to remain involved. So coaching is something I am looking forward to after my career," he signed off.

The Times of India

Glasgow 2014 Head-to-Heads - England Men

Iain Lewers in action for England against New Zealand at the Hero Hockey World League Finals 2013 - photo by Frank Uijlenbroek

This Wednesday sees the start of the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, with both our hockey teams’ campaigns starting on Thursday. Here we’ve gone through these teams’ histories to see how they might match up against England’s Men in their first four games in the pool stage.

England Men are in Pool A alongside Trinidad and Tobago, Malaysia, New Zealand and Canada, while Pool B features India, Wales, Scotland, Australia and South Africa.

England’s first game in Glasgow is against Trinidad and Tobago, starting at 19:00 on Thursday 24 July. Not only have these teams only faced each other once, but that was also four years ago at the last Commonwealth Games in Delhi. England may have won back then, with goals coming from Simon Mantell, Ashley Jackson and Alistair Brogdon, but four years is plenty of time for Trinidad and Tobago to come back stronger than before.

The men’s next game, on Sunday 27 July, sees them face Malaysia at 21:00. Most recently faced at the Rabobank Hockey World Cup, England scored two to take the win with goals coming from Mark Gleghorne and Jackson – of nearly 30 games played England have won half of them, so England ought to do well. Some of the team might remember when Malaysia stopped them from taking bronze at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, and those that do will be determined to see that it doesn’t happen again.

On Tuesday 29 July, England go up against New Zealand at 09:00. These teams played each other twice at the Hero Hockey World League Finals in Delhi earlier this year, with a decisive 5-1 victory followed by an agonizing shoot-out defeat in the semi-finals. Again, Jackson and Gleghorne were on target in both games, while team captain Barry Middleton and Harry Martin each scored in one of the games. That semi-final defeat will still be on the minds of the players, so expect them to come out fighting.

A week after their first game of the pool stages England will play their last, facing Canada at 09:00 on Thursday 31 July. These two teams haven’t played each other since the last Commonwealth Games, where Simon Mantell was able to keep some points for England as the game ended in a 1-1 draw. Before that, England have won an impressive 13 out of 18 games without a single loss, so expect England to do well this time in Glasgow.

After the last pool game the teams enter the classification matches, and hopefully both England teams will be entered into the semi-finals to fight for the top spots.

England Hockey Board Media release

Glasgow 2014 Head-to-Heads - England Women

England play Scotland at the Investec London Cup

This Wednesday sees the start of the XX Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, with both our hockey teams’ campaigns starting on Thursday. Here we’ve gone through these teams’ histories to see how they might match up against England’s Women in their first four games in the pool stage.

England Women are in Pool B with Wales, Malysia, Australia and Scotland, while the women's Pool A is made of South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, India and Canada.

England’s first game of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games is against Wales at 11:00 on Thursday 24 July. At the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre earlier this month England scored eight goals with no reply from Wales, so while England will be looking for a repeat performance Wales will be fighting hard to try and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Three days later on Sunday 27 July England face Malaysia at 11:00, ten hours before the men do the same. England last played Malaysia at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi four years ago, and prior to that we’ve only played them twice before. It was a 3-0 victory last time thanks to Nicola White, Alex Danson and Georgie Twigg so England will be expected to do well, but as Malaysia will have improved in the last four years it might not be as easy as it’s been in the past.

On Monday 28 July England will have one of their toughest matches of the pool against Australia at 14:00. Ranked second in the world, recently winning silver at the Hockey World Cup, Australia are a force to be reckoned with, and with four wins out of six in the past 18 months England will have their work cut out for them if they want to take all the points. However, there’s only two goals between them and a similar number of wins under each teams’ belt – statistically, the two are quite even against each other.

England’s last game is against Scotland on Wednesday 30 July at 09:00. England have on average scored roughly four goals for every one for Scotland, though their past two results in the last year have been two 2-1 victories for England so it will probably be another close game rather than the 5-0 win eight years ago at the last Commonwealth Games. However, with goalscorers Sam Quek, Alex Danson and Ellie Watton on the side there’s a good chance that England will edge the win, though Scotland may well be spurred on by their home crowd!

After the last pool game the teams enter the classification matches, and hopefully both England teams will be entered into the semi-finals to fight for the top spots.

England Hockey Board Media release

Glasgow 2014 - Life behind the scenes

Susie Gilbert and Laura Unsworth behind the scenes at Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games

After four days in the Commonwealth Games village we caught up with England’s Laura Unsworth and Susie Gilbert about day-to-day life in the Team England camp, rooming together and how to cope with down time at a multi-sports event.

Panorama of the athletes' village at Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games

How is life in the Team England village?

LU: As a team we’ve all moved in to one big house with the men’s team in the house next door, it’s a fantastic set-up. When we arrived John [Hurst], our team manager, had put our photos on our doors so we could easily find our rooms. Susie and I got very excited because we somehow managed to get the only en-suite room.

However, we have discovered that the walls are quite thin so I’ve been trying to control the tone and loudness of my voice [Susie nods in agreement!].

SG: Our next door neighbours, Kate [Richardson-Walsh] and Alex [Danson], can hear everything we say when we are in the bathroom and if Laura and I are gossiping when we are putting our make-up on they can pretty much have a conversation with us!

Susie Gilbert and Laura Unsworth in their room at Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games

The two of you have roomed together at quite a few tournaments now and have known each other for years [in fact they were born in the same hospital]. So we want to know what you think of each other as roomies?

LU: During tournament time we do have a lot of down time to ensure our bodies recover fully in between training sessions and matches and some of us like to do a bit of online shopping. Susie is such a bad influence on me, she’s a shopaholic and I end up spending more money here than I do at home! At the moment she is trying to persuade me to book a holiday after the Commonwealth Games when we get a three week break away from centralised training, so she could end up being a very expensive roomie! But we get on brilliantly and know exactly when each other might need some quiet time – Susie loves to nap, so I try really hard to be quiet for her.

SG: Laura’s a very good roommate and like she says we’ve known each other for a long time now and roomed together at a lot of tournaments. She is the Daily Mail queen and if anything is happening in the world of celeb gossip we all know about it straight away. We also enjoy a good drama series and are currently working our way through Series 3 of Scandal which is a good distraction for us both.

Behind the scenes at Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games

You went down to the Commonwealth Games hockey venue yesterday for the first time to play a training match against South Africa. What did you think of the Glasgow National Hockey Centre?

SG: It was brilliant to see it for the first time and it looks fantastic. The pitch played well and it will be a brilliant atmosphere I’m sure once the tournament gets underway.

LU: The training game against South Africa went well and it was good to try out a few new tactical things we’ve been working on back at Bisham [Abbey National Sports Centre]. We also got to wear our new kit from Kukri which we really like. We’re playing in a new colour for us, charcoal grey; Susie and I think it looks very smart.

So what else have you been getting up to around the village, what entertainment is on offer?

SG: Well, there’s The Salon where you can go and get your hair and nails done, however apparently there’s a waiting list so we need to go and book in. I have a bad habit of biting my nails when I get nervous, so if I get them painted it’s quite a good way of making sure they stay intact throughout a tournament!

LU: There’s also Recreation Centres across the village which have games like Table Football, Wii’s and computer games and we can get drinks, snacks and food there all day too. I think the best part though is the laundry service; you drop your washing in at the start of the day and then just go and collect it in the evening, it’s brilliant. As my mum my might say, it’s a bit like being at home!

Athletes' eating arrangements behind the scenes at Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games

You just mentioned it briefly, but what about eating in the village, what are your options?

SG: So we have two types of dining in the village, one is main dining and one is casual dining. There is one very large ‘main dining’ hall [pictured above] which has a capacity for about 2,000 athletes, it’s huge. There are lots of different stations offering a variety of food options from pastas and pizzas, the Grill, the Delhi, the Spice Kitchen, Salad Bar, Toasting Station and the list goes on. There are also a few treats like muffins and cookies, but we try very hard to stay away from them [said in unison with Laura].

Highland Smoothies at Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games

LU: Then there is also ‘casual dining’ which is basically a BBQ type set up with lots of salads and buffet options and it also has a Smoothie bar where you can go and make your own Smoothie with frozen fruit, yoghurt and fruit juices. It’s a really good set-up that basically has everything we need to ensure we’re set and ready for tournament time.

England Hockey Board Media release

Big win for England Under 21 Men

England U21 Men v Poland, Sam French, July 22 2014 - credit Frank Uijlenbroek

England Under-21 Men beat Poland 6-2 as they turned on the style in the EuroHockey Junior Nations Championships in Belgium on Tuesday evening.

A hat-trick from East Grinstead’s Luke Taylor underpinned their victory, while others came from Arjan Drayton Chana, Sam French and David Goodfield.

Head Coach Jon Bleby said: “I’m pleased with the win again, although there are still some things that we need to improve on. With the way results have gone today we still have to win tomorrow to be sure of progressing.”

Cannock ace Drayton Chana opened the scoring from open play after 19 minutes following good work by Rob Farrington, before Taylor bagged his first from the penalty spot following a foul on Jonty Griffiths on 21 minutes.

That score held until the second half, but just two minutes in Birmingham University player Sam French scored from England’s third penalty corner in a row, dragging high into the net.

Poland pulled one back on 45 minutes with a deflection from a free hit on 45 minutes, but Sheffield Hallam’s David Goodfield ensured England maintained the upper hand with a 55th minute strike, again after good work by Farrington.

Two yellow cards cost Poland dear as, while they were short-handed, Taylor scored his second from a penalty corner on the hour mark, and then completed his hat-trick on 64 minutes from another penalty.

Poland pulled a second goal back in the final minute through Chwalisz, but it wasn’t enough to challenge England’s supremacy.

England Hockey Board Media release

Pakistan senior versus junior series expected: Sheikh

By Nabil Tahir

KARACHI: The senior and junior national teams of Pakistan hockey are expected take on each other in four- to six-match series during the first week of September.

Senior team’s head coach Shahnaz Sheikh told The Express Tribune that he has submitted a proposal to Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Secretary Rana Mujahid for the series.

He said that he has suggested four- to six-match series between the two teams.

“I have submitted the proposal for the series and I am quite hopeful of getting approval,” said Sheikh.

Sheikh said that the series between the two teams will be good for Pakistan senior’s team in the Asian Games, where they will be defending their crown.

“The series will also enable the junior team to raise its game,” said Sheikh, who has represented Pakistan in the 1971, 1975 and 1978 World Cups.

It was Pakistan junior team coach Manzoorul Hasan who originally suggested the series between the two sides during the junior training camp last month.

On the other hand, when Mujahid was asked about the series, he said that the PHF will be able to announce the official date as soon as they receive the grant.

“Inter-Provincial Coordination Minister Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada has informed that the Prime Minister has approved the amount that will be handed over to the very soon.”

The Express Tribune

Kenya to host FIH World Hockey League in September

By Elizabeth Mburugu

Telkom Orange's Sharon Odinga (left) and Vikings' Charity Miller fight for ball in Vaiskhi 2013 Cup tournament finals at City Park Stadium. [PHOTO:FILE]

The Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) will host the first round of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) World Hockey League between September 2 and 7 at the City Park Stadium.

The event, which was initially to be hosted by Zimbabwe was switched to Kenya as Harare does not have facilities to host an even of such  a magnitude.

The event will see five men and four women’s teams battle it out for a spot in the round two to be held in Uruguay in July 2015. Five nations will take part in the event with the finalists of the world league series earning an automatic entry to the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Hosts Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, and Tanzania will field both men and women’s teams while Egypt will have a men’s team. KHU chairman Nashon Randiek said preparations for the tournament are ongoing and the union is working hard to ensure the national team qualifies for the second round.

“We are preparing well for the event as it is a great honour to be the hosts. We want to ensure our team qualifies at home for the second round,” Randiek said. In regard to the national team’s  poor performance in last year’s Africa Cup of Nations, Randiek said they have since rectified their mistakes.

“We have worked on our weaknesses after doing an evaluation on the team’s performance after the tournament,” he added.

The world league round one is open to all nations. Winners from all regions proceed to league two where they join nations ranked from 12-19 on the FIH world ranking. The winners of round two advance to the semi-finals where they will meet the world’s best in hockey who are ranked 1-11.

Meanwhile, the national men and women’s hockey teams, which have been training at City Park, are looking forward to earning the sole ticket to South America. Men’s national team manager Godfrey

Bila told FeverPitch:  “All players are in high spirits and gearing up for the big task ahead. We look forward to registering good results as we learnt from our mistakes at the Africa Cup of Nations.”

He said with the absence of the continent’s number one South Africa, Kenya has a better chance of winning at home. “South Africa have been a force to reckon wit but with them out of the way, we don’t have a reason not to win at home.”

South Africa men, ranked 12, will play in round two, while their women, who are seeded 11, will play in the semi-finals.

The Standard Online

Six African teams for Nairobi World Hockey League

Nairobi: Six teams have confirmed participation in the International Hockey Federation (FIH) World Hockey League Series in Nairobi from Sep 2-7.

The competition will serve as a qualifier for the 2015 World League Championships.

African Hockey Federation (AFHF) had initially granted the hosting rights to Zimbabwe, but the southern Africa state declined, citing lack of a certified international playing pitch.

"It is an honour for AFHF to give us the chance to host the tournament, just months after hosting another successful continental championship in Nairobi," Nahashon Randiek, the Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) Chairman, said on Tuesday in Nairobi.

"The preparations are going on well. I believe Kenya has a great chance of qualifying to the global tourney on home soil. We failed to South Africa for the World Cup in Netherlands earlier this year and hopefully, this time round, we will get it right."

Randiak said Kenya was given the rights to host the event by virtue of having successfully hosted major tournaments in the recent past, including Africa Cup of Nation last year.

At the end of World League Series one, top teams (both men and women) will qualify for the second round, where they both face South Africa, who were given a bye after winning the Africa Cup of Nations last year.

The event has attracted Ghana, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Egypt, Nigeria and Tanzania, and will see five men`s and four women`s teams battle it out for a spot in the round two.

It is important for Kenya to win because all the finalists at the World League Series, which will be played in Uruguay in July 2015, will earn an automatic entry to the Rio 2016 Olympics Games.

Hosts Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, and Tanzania will field both men and women`s teams while Egypt will send only the men`s team.

The world league round one is open to all teams where the winners from all regions proceed to league two where they join teams ranked from 12-19 on the FIH world ranking.

The winners of round two advance to the semi-finals where they lock horns with the world`s best in hockey ranked 1-11 in the world.

Zee news

Proud to play hockey: London gay tournament attracts record numbers

by Tom Cooper

International hockey comes to South London this week, as more than 200 hockey players from around the world take part in the annual PinkHockey tournament.

Fourteen LGBT teams will be clashing sticks in the friendly(ish) competition in Honor Oak Park starting on Thursday.

The tournament is organised by the London Royals Hockey Club on behalf of the International Gay and Lesbian Field Hockey Federation (IGLFHF), with six British teams hoping to reclaim gold from last year’s champions Australia and Belgium.

Chair of the London Royals, Matt Hill, said: “We’re proud to be hosting this year’s PinkHockey international tournament in London – the largest in the 12 year history of the competition.

"It’s a fantastic opportunity to show people that hockey is a welcoming sport for everyone, and I hope it encourages people to pick up a stick and give hockey a try at one of the many clubs across London. Above all, it's going to be great fun and a celebration of the diversity and success of UK hockey.”

Richard Chere is the Chair of the IGLFHF and explained the continued importance of holding an LGBT tournament: “Hockey in the UK is a fun, accessible and inclusive sport for all. Unfortunately not every country can say the same and, in many, being openly gay or lesbian to your sports team can have serious consequences.

"The PinkHockey tournament is therefore an opportunity to stand up against discrimination and for London to send a positive message to LGBT sportspeople around the world.”

Push Hockey

Schools’ hockey bonanza hits Cape Town

JONATHAN COOK at Hartleyvale

The 12th annual Cape Town Under-18 International Schools and Clubs Hockey Festival has long been a fixture on the South African hockey calendar and this year the event promises to be bigger and better than ever.

This TEAM Sports Travel festival will hold its opening ceremony  on Tuesday, 22nd July at 4pm. The opening fixtures kick off at 9am on Wednesday; the week’s matches are played at a remarkable eight venues in Cape Town – the tournament headquarters at Hartleyvale Hockey Stadium, University of Cape Town (UCT), SACS (SA College School), Western Province Cricket Club (WPCC), the DF Malan, Stellenberg and Wynberg schools, as well as at Old Mutual - and the culmination of a mammoth 142 matches is highlighted on Finals Day, which is played primarily at Hartleyvale on Sunday, 27 July.

“There are 44 teams taking part, made up of 22 boys’ teams and 22 girls’ teams, and they represent five nations; England, Holland, Namibia, Zimbabwe and, of course, South Africa,” says festival director Chris Brothers, the inspiration behind this memorable event.

The United Kingdom is represented by Merchant Taylors Northwood (2 teams) Kingston Grammar School (2 teams), Millfield School (2 teams) Felsted School, King Edward School Birmingham and Wakefield Girls High School. Holland is represented by Kennemer Lyceum. Namibia is represented by Windhoek Gim (2 teams), and Zimbabwe is represented by Chisipite School.

Of the South African teams, the visiting schools are Outeniqua (2 teams), Uplands College, Potchefstroom Gim, and Pearson (Eastern Province). The top Cape Town boys’ schools include Wynberg, Rondebosch, Paul Roos and SACS. Top Cape Town girls’ schools include Somerset College, Stellenberg, Bloemhof and Paarl Gim.

In the Boys’ Group A the top seeds are Wynberg followed by Parel Vallei, Paarl Gim, Felsted (UK), Pearson and Outeniqua. In Group B the top seeds are SACS followed by Somerset, Hugenot, Merchant Taylors (UK) and Paul Roos B. Group C has the favoured team in Paul Roos, followed by DF Malan, Pinelands and Kingston Grammar (UK). Pool D is headed by defending champions Rondebosch with Paarl, Stellenberg, Merchant Taylors (B) and King Edward Birmingham (UK).

In the Girls’ Group A the top seeds are Bloemhof followed by Paarl, Pinelands, Millfield B (UK), Pearson and Kennemer Lyceum. Group B is headed by defending champs Somerset College, followed by Rhenish, Bellville, Millfield (UK), Potchefstroom Gim and Windhoek Gim. The top-ranked side in Group C are Stellenberg with Parel Vallei, Kingston Grammar (UK), Table View and Outeniqua the rest. Group D is represented by favourites Paarl Gim, Springfield Convent, Stellenberg B, Wakefield (UK) and Chisipite (Zimbabwe).

You can follow the action at #CTIHF2014 as well as the www.teamsports.co.za website, and their facebook page and at TEAM_Sports_TDM which is the sports travel company’s twitter handle.

This year, each day, the results and logs shall be posted at 1pm and 6pm on the website, facebook page and twitter handle, as well as the day’s video highlights, photos, reports and press releases.

If you would like any other information or if you cannot find results/fixtures or just about anything else, TEAM Sports Travel marketing co-ordinator Kelly Lyttle (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) is happy to assist.

Cape Town U18 International Schools/Clubs Hockey Festival media release

SA U18 boys head coach endorses International hockey festival

JONATHAN COOK at Hartleyvale

The highly regarded Paul Roos Gim boys' first team coach Neville Rothman gave high praise to the Cape Town U18 International Schools/Clubs Hockey Festival in a telephonic interview Tuesday, just a few hours before the annual event's 4pm opening ceremony at Hartleyvale Hockey Stadium.

Rothman is also the head coach of the SA U18 team, who were recently edged 2-1 in a three-Test series against Australia U18 in KZN as well as being integrally involved in the sport at that great hockey institution, the University of Stellenbosch.

"The organisation of this festival is world-class," said Rothman, a man hugely experienced in the game. "It is well-communicated, well-managed and an absolute pleasure to play in."

Rotham added another interesting point or two.

"The international schools festival also offers our boys the opportunity to experience different styles of hockey; the festival is a great refresher after the July holidays and something we always look forward to.

Paul Roos lost an exciting final 2-1 to reigning champs Rondebosch Boys' High in 2013 and there is no doubt that they would like to go one better this time round, come Finals Day on Sunday.

Cape Town U18 International Schools/Clubs Hockey Festival media release

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