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News 28 August 2014

All the news for Thursday 28 August 2014

Australian men claim Youth Olympic Games gold

Canada take silver, Spain win bronze

Australia take the men's Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games title (Photo: Xinhua/Song Zhenping (ljr))

Under the watchful eyes of the IOC President Thomas Bach, the first Hockey5s Youth Olympic tournament ended today with Australia men claiming the top of the podium in another thrilling final that could only be decided in a shoot-out.

After an early goal from Alec Rasmussen, Australia were a step ahead for most of the match, until Canada’s Amrit Sidhu managed to hit the net twice in the last three minutes of the match, with the equalizer coming only seconds before the final whistle.

In the one-on-one challenges, Australian goalkeeper Max Hughes denied the third Canadian representative, while the Australian strikers were flawless, and the large Australian contingent erupted in cheers as Corey Weyer scored the final goal.

Spain and South Africa had takento the pitch to decide over the bronze medal. The Spanish men stormed ahead early, taking a two-goal lead in the first period, and never looked back from there, never letting their opponents get closer than that two goal advantage.

Prior to the bronze medal match, Pakistan and New Zealand had fought an intense battle for fifth place, with the Greenshirts claiming the win with a lone last period goal.

In the 7th place play-off, Zambia overpowered Mexico.



7/8th place: Zambia – Mexico 7:4 (2:1; 5:2)
5/6th place: Pakistan – New Zealand 4:3 (0:1; 3:3)
3rd/4th place: Spain – South Africa 7:4 (2:0; 5:3)
Final: Canada – Australia 3:3 (0:1; 1:2) – Challenge Shoot-out 2:3

Final Ranking


1. Australia
2. Canada
3. Spain
4. South Africa
5. Pakistan
6. New Zealand
7. Zambia
8. Mexico
9. Germany
10. Bangladesh

FIH site

Australia win gold

Australia crowned gold medallists after winning 3-2 over Canada in a shootout

It has been a remarkable night for the Hockey5s team in Nanjing, beating Canada in a penalty shootout, to win the gold medal at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games.

"The boys gave me a few heart palpitations tonight that is for sure" coach David Guest said.

The Aussies had a positive start scoring the first goal and creating multiple chances throughout the opening period. Alec Rasmussen was first to score, smashing the ball from distance to beat the goalkeepers right foot after three and a half minutes of play.

Goalkeeper Max Hughes proved to be the difference early in the second period, saving a penalty to keep the margin to one goal.

But it wasn’t long, before Canada equalised, scoring off a deflection with six minutes left in the middle period.

Max Hendry put the green and gold crowd on their feet, showing amazing determination to beat both defender and goalkeeper to be in front again, 2-1.

It was Rasmussen once again, fielding a Nathanael Stewart rebound off the upright, the West Australian made it 3-1 with four minutes remaining.

The opposition weren’t done yet, scoring their second goal to leave the Australian’s nervous.

Momentum had continued with the Canadians late in the third period slotting home the equaliser to take the game to penalty a shootout.

To their feet once again the Aussie support rose, cheering their hearts out knowing that it was only minutes away from gold.

Both teams were successful on their first attempt, Matthew Bird pointing to the crowd when he scored.

Rasmussen was next, staying calm to make it 2-1.

Despite Canada winning their last two games over penalties, they couldn’t make their way past Hughes on their second attempt.

"Coming into the penalty shootout I was really nervous, I was in the corner not knowing what to do," Hughes said.

"Guesty said a few things to me before the shootout which made me believe that I could save the goal."

Up stepped the vice-captain Corey Weyer, knowing that if he scored they would win the gold medal.

"I didn't think about it too much," Weyer said. "This is a once in a life time experience. It has been the best two and a half weeks and my expectations have exceeded me in every aspect."

The Queenslander did just that, slotting home the last goal to win the gold medal match for Australia.

Olympian and coach David Guest said at the conclusion of the match - "I am really happy for the boys that they have had this opportunity to win gold under such great circumstances."

Game Seven (Gold medal match)
Australia v Canada
Youth Olympic Games
Nanjing, China

Australia: 3*
Alec Rasmussen 3, 31
Max Hendry 20

Matthew Bird (Shoot-out)
Alec Rasmussen (Shoot-out)
Corey Weyer (Shoot-out)

Canada: 3
Vikram Sandhu 18
Amrit Sidhu 33, 35

Armit Sidhu (Shoot-out)
Balraj Panesar (Shoot-out)

*Australia wins 3-2 on shoot-out. Australia wins Youth Olympics gold medal.

Hockey Australia media release

Canada wins Hockey 5s silver medal at Youth Olympic Games

World No.1 Australia takes gold in shootout

Shaheed Devji   

The Canadian Under-18 men's field hockey team is headed home with a Youth Olympic Games silver medal after dropping a close final match in a shootout to World No.1 Australia in Nanjing, China Wednesday morning.

For the third straight match, Canada had a chance to win the game in a penalty shootout. But unlike their previous two tests (a quarterfinal win over Pakistan, and a semifinal victory over Spain) the Canadians came up one goal short.

The Youth Olympic Games were the first major international competition in which this new adaption of field hockey - Hockey 5s - was played and the Canadians showed as one of the world's best.

The final match, however, started as most in the hockey world may have expected, with extreme pressure from the Australians.

Within the first minute, Canadian goalkeeper Liam Manning was forced to make two big saves to keep the game scoreless.

It wasn't long, though, before the Australians broke through, as in the third minute Alec Rasmussen gave the Aussies the 1-0 lead.

Canada had its own chances in the first period, namely from captain Brandon Pereira who created several chances on his own but was not able to beat the Australian backstop.

In the second period, Canada came out with more purpose. They controlled possession of the ball and it eventually paid of with a goal.

A shot from Vikram Sandhu was deflected in unintentionally by an Australian. The game was tied in the nineteenth minute.

Australia quickly regained the lead in the twenty-first minute when Max Hendry picked up his own rebound and put it by Manning.

The game stood at 2-1 Australia after two periods.

Canada went down to three men after a card in the in third period, and with the advantage Rasmussen picked up his second of the game to make it 3-1 for Australia.

The gold medal seemed to be all but won by the guys from down under.

But as they had shown throughout the tournament, the Canadians proved to be resilient.

Amrit Sidhu scored on a great solo effort with two minutes to go to bring the game to 3-2. And then, with only thirty second to play, Sidhu deflected in a shot from Balraj Panesar to tie the game at three.

Sidhu was Canada's highest scoring player, with nine goals in regulation and four in the shootout during the tournament.

Canada's third playoff match, like their first two, was going to a penalty shootout.

The first four shooters - two from each side - scored, including Sidhu and Panesar for Canada.

The difference came in the third and final round when Canada failed to convert. Australia's Corey Weyer beat Manning on the final shot and the Australians won the gold.

Canada won the silver and earned every ounce.

After two wins and two losses in the pool stage, the Canadians were out to prove their worth in the playoff round.

They did with wins against the high-scoring Pakistan and a rematch victory against the undefeated Spanish, and Canada headed to the final with Australia also looking for redemption after a pool stage loss.

While many may have discounted the Canadians from the beginning, they didn't do so for themselves.

It was a testament to their preparation, skill, and resiliency and the reason they were able to come away with a silver medal at the Youth Olympic Games.

Field Hockey Canada media release

Hockey boys go down fighting

by Mark Etheridge

Nqobile Ntuli © Wessel Oosthuizen

They were unable to secure a second medal for Team South Africa on the final evening of Youth Olympic Games action in Nanjing, China, on Wednesday night but the boys’ hockey side went down with their heads held high.

They played Spain for the bronze medal and lost 7-4 but they left nothing out on the pitch and it was a gutsy display from the green and gold brigade.

Common consensus has it that despite not being in the final, Spain were the best team of the tournament, having never lost in regulation play and only being beaten on ‘penalties’ by eventual silver medallists Canada.

In their final five-a-side game of the tournament, SA were down 2-0 after the first period and then 3-0 early in the second.

But Tevin Kok gave SA hope by pulling one back, only for Spain to then go 5-1 up.

Another goal from Kok made the score 2-5 and then captain Nqobile Ntuli made it 3-5 from a free-hit where he then beat two defenders before smashing home high into the net with a reverse-stick shot.

Going into the third and final 12-minute period Kok was yellow-carded which made SA’s task that much more difficult. It wasn’t long before Spain pretty much wrapped things up by going 6-3 but Jacques Bleekers gave SA another straw to clutch at before another yellow card setback finally sunk SA and they conceded a seventh.

Coach Neville Rothman gave credit to his team: "I’m very proud of these lads. There’s a lot to come from these guys, there’s something special about this squad.

"Tonight we played very well but were a little wasteful in possession and in front of goal but Spain are a clinical quality side.’

Skipper Ntuli echoed his coach’s sentiments. "We lost tonight but that’s playoffs for you. We pitched tonight and stuck to our game plan. There’s no doubting we gave it 100% effort and I’m proud of these guys, this is the best bunch of players I’ve played with.’

And Ntuli also pleaded for continuity. “I am so hoping that South African hockey can try and carry this team forward. They are very dedicated and I think they can really kick on from here."

For now though Ntuli heads back to Kearsney College, KwaZulu-Natal, to prepare for and wrap up Grade 12 examinations.

Over at the Longjiang Gymnasium wrestlers Elbert Steyn and Reynhardt Louw wrapped up their classification matches.

Limpopo’s Steyn ended up fifth by beating Canadian Alexander Moore 4-0 and Louw went down 4-1 to Russia’s Amirkhan Guvazhokov to end sixth.

That ends Team South Africa’s participation in the second Youth Olympic Games.

Track athlete Gezelle Magerman won South Africa’s only medal when she won gold in the 400m hurdles on Monday evening. Already it must be all systems go for Buenos Aires, Argentina four years down the road.


Men’s Hockey5’s finish sixth at Nanjing

The New Zealand Men's Hockey5's have finished in sixth place at the Youth Olympics in Nanjing after being edged 4-3 by Pakistan last night.

In the first third, North Harbour's Robbie Capizzi got the scoring underway and it was the Kiwis good defence early on that kept Pakistan scoreless until the second third when they piled on three goals.

Central’s Mac Wilcox and Canterbury’s Dominic Newman made it 3-3 ahead of the final third, but Pakistan scored in the 26th minute to take the win.

Key player David Brydon who had been struggling with an ankle injury was ruled out during the warm up.

"With a player down it has a big effect when you are playing this format. David has been a stand out throughout the tournament, everyone has had their moments and stepped up at times, but I think David has really been the rock of the team so we really missed him today," said coach Dave Kosoof.

"We didn't fire like we would have liked and Pakistan matched our speed, I think it could have gone either way, one of our players was  sent off with four minutes to go and so we played defensively in the final minutes rather than trying to equalise."

Kosoof believes that the Youth Olympics experience has given the athletes a taste of what an Olympics is like and the inspiration to help them reach their potential.

"It's been really positive and I think we have had a team of top quality players. They will have learnt a lot living the village life, and on the turf the big learning for them is that you can't finish at the top of pool and take it for granted - you need to perform consistently throughout a tournament."

The Men's and Women's team attend the closing ceremony tonight before heading back to New Zealand where a lot of them will be playing in the various upcoming Secondary School Tournaments starting next week.

In the men’s later games, Australia won the gold with Canada taking the silver and Spain leaving with the bronze.

The men’s team is David Brydon, Canterbury (17); Robbie Capizzi, North Harbour (17); Fynn Edwards, (GK) North Harbour (18); Richmond Lum, Auckland (18); Dominic Newman, Canterbury (17); Hayden Phillips, Central (16); Aidan Sarikaya, Midlands (17); Dylan Thomas, Central (18); Mackenzie Wilcox, Central (17). The team is coached by Dave Kosoof.

The women’s team is Isla Bint, Auckland (16); Frances Davies, Midlands (17); Su Arn Kwek, Auckland (18); Bridget Kiddle, Capital (17); Tayla White, Auckland (17); Ella Hyatt-Brown, North Harbour (16); Catherine Tinning, Canterbury (18); Casey-Mae Waddell, Central (17); Amy Robinson, Midlands (18). The team is coached by Caryn Paewai.

Hockey New Zealand Media release

SA Hockey bid farewell to national women’s team head coach

Outgoing Investec South Africa women's hockey team head coach Giles Bonnet. Photo: MARIE-LOUISE VAN DER SANDT

The Investec South Africa women’s hockey team head coach Giles Bonnet has completed his four-year term with the national women’s team. The former SA men’s captain and head coach is a firm believer in the four-year cycle and as such is not available for another term with ‎the team.

“The contribution made by Giles to the Investec SA team and SA Hockey at large, since his appointment as head coach in 2010 has been of the highest standard and dedication to the game of hockey in South Africa,” SA Hockey Association (SAHA) CEO Marissa Langeni said Wednesday.

“The Executive Board of SA Hockey would like to take this opportunity to thank Giles for his service to Women’s Hockey in our country and wish him all the best for the future.”

Bonnet said he leaves the position satisfied that the progression of the team has grown in leaps and bounds.

“As a coach I have been very impressed with the phenomenal progress that the players have made through their hard work and incredible sacrifices in the last four years," said Bonnet.

"This culture change was due to the environment provided by SA Hockey and team sponsors Investec, the capacity of the staff and consultants that I was able to work with and the willingness of the players to push themselves to approach everything with a professionalism which belied their amateur status

"I wish the team , staff and SA Hockey every success in the challenging new period ahead.”

SA Hockey CEO Marissa Langeni said that Bonnet would always have a vested interest in South African Hockey.

‘We look forward to working closely with Giles in the near future on other projects as and when the opportunity arises,” said Langeni.

“On a personal note as the CEO of South African Hockey, I would like to thank Giles for his hard work with the Investec SA women’s team and for the many hours spent behind the scenes building a high-performance framework, engaging with stakeholders and sponsors and building valuable relationships within World Hockey.”

SAHA will be advertising the national women’s team head coach position in due course.

SA Hockey Association media release

Women’s hockey loses national coach

Wesley Botton

Hockey women, Marsha Cox, Nicolene Terreblanche, Lisa Deetlefs and Lenise Marais. Copyright picture by WESSEL OOSTHUIZEN / SASPA/SASCOC

The SA women’s hockey team will have a new head coach before the end of the year, the national federation confirmed on Wednesday.

Giles Bonnet, who was appointed in May 10, has made himself unavailable for another term after the completion of his four-year contract, the SA Hockey Association (SAHA) said in a statement.

“The contribution made by Giles to the Investec SA team and SA hockey at large… has been of the highest standard and dedication to the game of hockey in South Africa,” said SAHA chief executive Marissa Langeni.

“The executive board of SAHA would like to take this opportunity to thank Giles for his service to women’s hockey in our country and wish him all the best for the future.”

Bonnet, a former national team captain, was also previously the coach of the SA men’s side.

SAHA said the vacant position for a new women’s coach would be advertised “in due course”.

The Citizen

U.S. Men's National Team displays growth and remains confident in the process

CHULA VISTA, Calif. - Another opportunity to gain experience and perform was available to the U.S. Men's National Team today during the squad's fourth match of a the summer series against Argentina. Although a close score in the first half, Argentina continued to further the gap until a final score of USA 2, Argentina 7 was recorded.

Team USA started very well with Michael Barminski (Ventura, Calif.) blasting a shot off the bottom of the crossbar and into the goal to take the lead in the opening minute. This was a great start to a great half where Argentina matched the field goal and took a chance on a penalty corner to take the lead at half time USA 1, Argentina 2. USA had a couple of critical moments of their own but were not able to capitalize on these in the first half.

In the second half the momentum swung in Argentina's favor with four goals in 15 minutes putting the game out of reach. During this period Argentina showed their attacking prowess which the USA had stifled for the majority of the series to date. USA regained their composure to score in the 61st minute through a field goal by Tyler Sundeen (Simi Valley, Calif.). Argentina connected to the backboard again in the 68th minute their 4th corner of the game to close match out USA 2, Argentina 7.

Spencer Reed (Ventura, Cali.) and Andy Zayac (Hayward, Calif.) split time in the goal today

"The way this series has been played by our team has been very encouraging," said Head Coach Chris Clements. "We made some uncharacteristic errors for 15 minutes today and Argentina showed their experience during this period of play which showed on the scoreboard. We are confident in the process we have in place and our team sees the big picture with where we are at."

Team USA will face Argentina again on Friday, August 29 at 10:45 a.m. PST for their last match of the summer series. In their first game against Argentina, the U.S. gave a strong performance, but was unable to totally shut down the Argentina offense and walked away with a 1-4 loss. The second match proved to be another epic battle but resulted in a second victory for Argentina with a score of 1-4. Yesterday, the U.S. Men's National Team hammered hard to cage, closing the goal deficit from matches prior, but were edged out by Argentina with a final score of 3-5. 

For more information and live match updates, stay tuned to usafiedhockey.com and follow @USAFieldHockey on Twitter.

USFHA media release

SA hockey heavyweights through to Greenfields Men’s IPT semi-finals

JONATHAN COOK at Queensmead

Defending champions Tuffy Western Province and last year’s finalists Southerns Gauteng went through to the semi-finals of the elite A Section after victories on day two of the Greenfields Men’s Interprovincial at Queensmead in Durban Wednesday.

WP maintained their 100% record in Pool A of the elite A Section with a hard-fought 3-1 win over Northern Blues, the goals coming from Grant Robertson and a brace by Pierre de Voux while a trademark Matt Guise-Brown penalty corner drag-flick pulled one back for the Pretoria-based lads five minutes from the end.

WP are assured of finishing first in Pool A and have a 4.30pm semi-final date Friday with whoever ends second in Pool B.

The pressure is off WP Thursday and their final match in the Pool stages against Eastern Province can be utilised any which way they want, be it to try things ahead of their semi-final or to give certain players confidence-boosting game time.

WP will also look to maintain their winning momentum, while a fired-up EP know that a massive upset win over WP could just be enough to make the last four for the first time in many years.

The more likely second berth in the A Section semi-finals from Pool A sees the 10.30am clash between South Gauteng Wits and Northern Blues being effectively a quarter-final, and that one could go either way.

In Pool B Southern Gauteng are into the semi-finals after being fortunate to beat KZN Coastal Raiders 1-0 thanks to a 56th minute penalty corner by Gareth Heyns.

Raiders had plenty of opportunities, especially from penalty corners. However, Southerns’ national number one keeper Rassie Pieterse was in brilliant form, making double and even triple saves on occasion, Raiders’ lack of options at PCs playing into his hands.

The result leaves Raiders with the task of netting a hatful of goals against KZN Inland in Thursday’s final Pool match in the A Section. Southerns play WP Peninsula in the game prior to the Raiders/Inland clash, and the Durban-based side will be hoping against hope that Pens don’t take a point off last year’s finalists.

A solid Southerns win again Pens will open the door for Raiders to sneak into the semi-finals.

In the B Section, or promotion division, North West are already through in Pool A while KZN Coastal Robins are in with a good chance of a semi-final placing, while Border still have an outside chance. Robins will know what is required, as Border play before them Thursday.

In the B Section’s Pool B, KZN Mynahs and Free State will finish first and second. At the time of going to Press, Mynahs were 5-2 up against Free State with 12 minutes left.

A Section: South Gauteng Wits 1 Eastern Province 0; WP Peninsula 4 KZN Inland 0; Tuffy Western Province 3 Northern Blues 1; Southern Gauteng 1 KZN Coastal Raiders 0.
B Section: KZN Coastal Robins 4 EP Settlers 0; North West 2 Border 1; SA Country Districts 7 Namibia 0; KZN Mynahs 5 Free State 2.
A Section (at Queensmead): Northern Blues vs SG Wits (10.30am); WP vs EP (12.30pm); Southern Gauteng vs WP Pens (2.30pm); KZN Raiders vs KZN Inland (4.30pm).
B Section (at Queensmead): Border vs EP Settlers (8am); KZN Coastal Mynahs vs SA Country Districts (6.30pm).
B Section (at Three Schools Trust): Free State vs Namibia (9.45am); North West vs KZN Coastal Robins (11.30am).

SA Hockey Association media release

Bangladesh expected to dazzle in Dhaka

Road to Rio: Hockey World League R1 - Men - Dhaka (BAN)

Bangladesh celebrate a goal during their Hockey World League Round 2 victory over Oman in New Delhi, February 2013. (Photo: Cameraworx)

The Hockey World League, the tournament that makes the dream of reaching the Rio 2016 Olympic Games a possibility for every hockey playing nation, returns to action this September. In the third of our Round 1 event previews, we take focus our gaze on the men’s competition that takes place in Dhaka where Sri Lanka (FIH World Ranking: 40), Hong Kong (WR: 46) and host nation Bangladesh (WR: 32) will go head-to-head with the aim of claiming a place info Round 2.

Home favourites Bangladesh, the event’s top-ranked team, were hugely impressive during the first edition of the Hockey World League, seeing off challenges from Hong Kong, Thailand and Singapore to win their Round 1 event and were subsequently rewarded with a place in the fiercely competitive Round 2 tournament in New Delhi. At 40th in the world, Bangladesh went into that event as the second lowest ranked of the six competing teams but produced some dazzling displays to claim a remarkable third place finish behind India and Ireland, recording victories over two higher-ranked opponents - China (18) and Oman (36). The results proved that they are very much a team on the rise, and will be expected to be equally as strong in the 2014-15 Hockey World League season.

Like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka have also made it perfectly clear in recent years that they are very much a growing force. Last September they became the inaugural winners of the 1st Asian Challenge when they defeated Myanmar in the tournament final in Bangkok. The tournament was created by the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) to give the second tier countries in Asia greater opportunity to participate in international competition against opponents of a relative standard, experience which could prove to be extremely valuable coming into this HWL Round 1 event.

Hong Kong are the lowest ranked team in the competition, but with only 14 world ranking places between the top and bottom ranked sides it is clear that they shouldn’t be under-estimated. Both Sri Lanka and Hong Kong featured in the inaugural season of the HWL but failed to make it past the first phase, something that they will be keen to change this time around. 

You can keep track of the results from Dhaka on the official tournament microsite, with FIH.CH bringing a full summary of the action upon the completion of the event.

The second edition of the Hockey World League got underway earlier this year, with the women’s teams of Malaysia and Belarus emerging triumphant at respective Round 1 events in Singapore and Lithuania before Russia men stormed to victory in Croatia last month.

The September return will see no fewer than nine different Round 1 tournaments will take place over 13 action-packed days, with Czech Republic, Kenya, Bangladesh, Oman and Mexico playing host to the various men’s and women’s events. The remaining Round 1 competitions will be played in Jamaica (30 September - 5 October 2014) and Fiji (6-13 December 2014), both of which will feature men’s and women’s tournaments.

The winning team at each event is guaranteed a place in Round 2 of the Hockey World League, where they will be joined by a number of the highest-placed finishers from the Round 1 tournaments. Round 2 will also see the introduction of the teams placed from 12 to 19 in the FIH World Rankings with the sides ranked 1 to 11 starting their journey in Round 3, where tickets for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as well as qualification for the Finals tournament are up for grabs. 

FIH site

Ahead of Asiad, hockey eves suffer due to damaged turf in Patiala

Patiala - Complaining when you aren’t producing great results could be counter productive. The rant could easily be mistaken for an excuse, a case of a bad workman quarreling with his tools.

Neil Hagwood, the Indian women’s hockey coach, is mature enough to know the risk. Nevertheless, he makes his displeasure clear with the quality of the turf on which the team is preparing for the Asian Games.

“The turf is suffering from old age, it’s worn out and has holes on one side of it. It’s dangerous, for the players could twist their ankles and could be out of action,” said Hagwood. Lest omeone should think he's trying to slip in an excuse for the not-so-great performances by by the women's team in recent times, the Australian says it’s a minor irritant in the larger scheme of things.

Maybe he’s right, or maybe he’s trying to sugarcoat his observations in an effort to not offend the authorities. Anyway, his complaint sounds justified as skipper Ritu Rani too seconds it. “It’s of course a little difficult to train on the worn out turf. It not only affects our training but also makes it tough for us to adjust to the turfs at the major games. The reason being, the ball on this turf travels at a different speed than the turfs at big sporting events,” said Ritu Rani.

The other problem, the coach says, is the limited number of international matches the Indian team gets while heading into a major tournament. “Our team had just a few international games under their belt ahead of the Commonwealth Games; our opponents, on the other hand, play far greater number of international matches. It makes a huge difference,” said Hagwood.

As for their chances in the upcoming Asian Games, the India skipper sounded pretty positive. “I believe we have a better chance in the Asian Games than we had in the Commonwealth Games. All of us play the same brand of hockey, and hopefully we will put up a good show.

“The winner of the Asian Games will get a direct entry into the Olympics, and that’s a huge incentive. So we’ll give our best in South Korea,” she said.

The Tribune

Hockey India Secretary General hits back at SAI Director General

New Delhi: Hockey India Secretary General Narinder Batra hit back at Sports Authority of India's Director General Jiji Thomson, accusing the top SAI official of "telling lies" and misguiding the media as far as conducting camps were concerned.

HI High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans had recently written a letter to Sports Ministry, highlighting the women team coach's complaint about the "dangerous" pitch at NIS Patiala. And Thomson told a press conference here that HI can shift the women's national camp at any of the 12 venues in north India which has artificial turfs, including the one at Shilaroo in Himachal Pradesh. Batra said, "HI had raised the attached medical issues for Shilaroo being a high-attitude centre, the letter was sent to SAI on 18 October, 2013, i.e almost 10 months back, and SAI is yet to respond."

"Please get your own house in order before you start misinforming the press about Hockey India," Batra added.

Taking a dig at Batra with whom he has been having a war of words, Thomson had earlier in the day said the country has 103 artificial turfs at various centres and SAI had never insisted on conducting national camps in New Delhi only.

And Batra said: "Further you have said that HI wants camps in Delhi for reasons known to all of you. Why are you telling lies, is it the work culture of Union Sports Ministry - first Secretary Sports and now you.

"Facts is we hate to have camps in Delhi, do not tell lies, do you have any other centre in India where we can go and have our camp today, the answer is no."


USA Field Hockey Announces 2015 National Indoor Tournament

The 2015 edition of the National Indoor Tournament will feature a number of changes including final matches moving to two 20 minute halves, tournaments featuring five age groups for girls with the addition of an Under-10 co-ed division and three venues at Spooky Nook Sports and one in Richmond. There will also be the continued opportunity for Under-15 boys and adult Men’s and Women’s play.

The first weekend of the National Indoor Tournament will feature the Under-16 Girls Division from February 20-22 at Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster, Pa. The middle weekend of February 27 – March 1 will see the Under-19 Division competing at the Richmond Convention Center, Richmond, Va. Running concurrently at Spooky Nook Sports will be the Under-10 and Under-12 co-ed divisions, as well as the Under-15 boys and adult divisions. The concluding and third weekend of March 6-8 will see action at Spooky Nook Sports with the Under-14 Girls division.

Traffic flow inside the venue will be improved with the reduction in number of courts from ten to eight. Furthermore, for the Under-16 and Under-14 weekends, teams will be split into two distinct early/late waves. Teams will be placed into pools of six and will play five matches of 20 minute halves with one minute halftimes. This brings the NITs to be consistent with FIH international standards (matches played at National Indoor Tournament Qualifiers will remain as two 12 min halves for 2015). Total cumulative game time per team will increase by 14 percent from 2014 (five games of 40 minutes verses seven games of 25 minutes). The combination of reduced number of games per team and operating the tournament in two waves will significantly alleviate congestion near the courts for athletes, umpires, recruiting coaches and spectators as well as in the venue itself.

Participants travelling to the Spooky Nook Sports will see a number of modifications as development at the largest indoor sports facility in the U.S. continues to progress. An additional parking lot alongside the Dome with 750 additional spaces brings total parking at the venue up to 2,000. Traffic flow improvements include one way flow into the venue from Champ Boulevard and exiting the venue from Spooky Nook Road. Inside, a third food outlet in the indoor field hockey area, the field house, be open to serve the field hockey participants. Additional remote food and drink vending stations as well as water refill stations will also be available.

Qualifiers for the 2015 National Indoor Tournament will be announced in October 2014 and played in December 2014 and January 2015.

USFHA media release

Remembering Dad

Hockey—Mitha Singh Memorial Cup

By Eddie So

Nav Bharat striker Taman Singh Gill rounds the Hong Kong Football Club-A keeper Vincent Cheung before scoring with a reverse stick shot. Khalsa Naujawan Sabha (KNS) collects their first trophy of the season in the 9-aside one-day tournament at King’s Park last Sunday Aug 24, 2014. (Eddie So)

Organisers of the inaugural Mitha Singh Gill 9-aside memorial hockey tournament held at King’s Park on Sunday Aug 24, 2014 are looking to expanding future events.

Gurmeet Singh, son of Mitha said they were looking at growing the tournament after the Khalsa Naujawan Sabha (KNS) and Hong Kong Sikh Temple organised tournament proved to be a roaring success.

“We are highly pleased with the turnout and now have something to look forward in the future,” he said.

“Finally, rest in peace dad,” said Singh, who was pleased with the numbers at the near capacity crowd at the King’s Park stadium, adding: “this turnout shows the respect given to my dad (who passed away peacefully last year).”

Singh said he would be speaking to the Hong Kong Hockey Association to try to expand the current 12 invitational sides to 16 teams while keeping to the same format of two pools to decide the finalists.

KNS lifted the trophy when they edged out Kowloon Cricket Club (KCC) 1-0 through a Jiwa Mohan winner midway through the second half when the former Malaysian captain made sure he was on target despite the blocking efforts of the KCC keeper Kelson Wong, in halting the initial shot.

“I cannot believe his shot got past me,” said Wong, who had an outstanding day between the posts including stopping a penalty stroke in the final.

Wong, whose father, Michael, also a goalkeeper for both Hong Kong and seven-time 1st Division champions Nav. Bharat Club, proved more than capable of donning his father’s shoes. The younger Wong was inspirational in taking KCC to the final as he held his own in two earlier preliminary round penalty-shootouts.

“I guessed the right way and used my helmet to block Mohan’s shot, but the moment it hit my helmet I instantly had a headache,” said Wong commenting on the power of the impact.

Eddie So is a freelance photographer and reporter with more than 25 years of journalism experience in Hong Kong.

The Epoch Times

Where are they now? Pt. 2

The remaining eight members of the Athens 2004 Olympic gold winning team

Ten years ago this week the Australian men’s hockey team made Aussie sporting history in Athens, Hockey Australia takes a look at those who helped win the country’s first Olympic gold medal and asks “where are they now?”.

On six previous occasions the Australian men had returned from the sport’s biggest stage with a medal, but they had never stood of the top step of the rostrum. After a bronze medal on home turf four years earlier Australia arrived in Athens with one aim: gold. As many of the athletes and staff will allude to over the coming three-part series, their preparation was key to earning them the sport’s ultimate prize.

In Athens, the men in green and gold progressed to the semi-finals from second place in Pool B, a point ahead of New Zealand and five behind future-finalists, the Netherlands. Wins over New Zealand, India and South Africa, a draw against Argentina and defeat to the Netherlands saw Australia finish with ten points before a crushing 6-3 semi-final win over Spain set up a re-match with the Dutch, who narrowly beat then-World Champions Germany in the other semi-final.

After going behind to Ronald Brouwer’s goal shortly before half time in the final, Australia came out of the blocks with gusto in the second half as Travis Brooks fired them level within two minutes of the re-start. Locked at 1-1 at full time but with Australia in the ascendancy, the match went to golden goal extra time. Just eight minutes into the extra period Jamie Dwyer announced himself to the world with the golden goal winner that would finally see the Australian men join their female counterparts as an Olympic gold medal winning team and earn their place in Australian sporting history.

This is the second of a three part series. Today, we look at the rest of the playing group, Rob Hammond through to Matthew Wells. Tomorrow, the coaching staff.

Rob Hammond, 2001-2014
256 appearances, 28 goals
One of only seven men to have played 250 times for Australia, Rob Hammond was just 23 when he won Olympic gold with Australia in Athens. He went on to enjoy a 256 game international career spanning 13 years before retiring from the Kookaburras following the team’s 2014 World Cup triumph. An electrician by trade, Hammond continues to play club hockey in Perth and will feature in the third edition of the Hockey India League in January and February 2015.

Reflecting on a golden generation, Hammond says, “The '04 win is one of my favourite experiences with the Kookaburras. It was a team made up of world class players and to knock down the door with our breakthrough Olympic gold was a special moment. It set the stage for what the teams achieved in the ten years since.”

Mark Hickman, 1995-2004
85 appearances
Goalkeeper Mark Hickman - understudy to Stephen Mowlam in Athens - is now an assistant coach with the Australian women’s team, the Hockeyroos, providing specialist goalkeeper training at their base in Perth. Three weeks after winning Olympic gold, Hickman headed to Spain to complete his MBA degree. Planning to stay for three months he stayed in Madrid for nearly eight years before returning to Australia to take up the role with the Hockeyroos.

Of the Athens campaign, he says, “[Assistant Coach] Colin Batch wrote on the whiteboard at half time in the final with the team down 0-1, ‘trust your preparation’. It summed up for me the success in Athens. It was not just two weeks in Greece that did it for the team but years of preparation by a large group that was prepared to change and take on a challenge to win at an Olympics for the first time.”

Mark Knowles, 2004-present
245 appearances, 20 goals
Now captain of the Kookaburras, Mark Knowles was just 20 years-old and eight months into his senior international career when he stood on the top step in Athens. Living in Perth with his wife Kelly, whom he married in 2010, their young son Flynn and a second baby due in November, Knowles balances his playing career with a coaching business – 1&9 coaching – which he runs with Jamie Dwyer. Since Athens, Knowles has spent five seasons in the Netherlands playing for Rotterdam and has enjoyed repeated success with the Kookaburras.

Now a three-time Olympian, Knowles says of his first experience, “I remember the feeling of going into the Olympic village. It was an absolute dream come true and an amazing feeling. I was 20 years-old, so very raw and just so excited. I loved the vibe of the Olympics and just took it all in as a young guy. The feeling we had amongst the group was so strong and united. That’s a great feeling as a young athlete, to be surrounded by the many calm figures we had in our playing and coaching team.”

Brent Livermore, 1997-2009
317 appearances, 29 goals
Brent Livermore (above) captained Australia on that memorable night in Athens, four years after he had stood on the third step in Sydney. The tournament fell just over halfway through Livermore’s 13-year Kookaburras career and the New South Welshman would go on to become only the second man to reach 300 appearances for Australia. Now a high-performance hockey coach, CEO of Brent Livermore and Associates, and Executive Consultant in wholesale property, he most recently provided expert commentary for Ten’s coverage of the Commonwealth Games.

“To this day, Athens 2004 is the greatest sporting moment of my life,” says Livermore. “Defeating the Netherlands in the gold medal game in front of thousands of parochial Australian fans was amazing.  Achieving this at the birthplace of the games and having my family, including my young daughter Kyra on the sideline, will be a memory that stays with me forever. In the Athens heat we were able to rise to the top and shake the monkey off our backs, one that has haunted the Kookaburras for many years.  With Olympic gold hanging around my neck, any disappointments from Sydney 2000 have been washed away.”

Michael McCann, 2001-2007
165 appearances, 72 goals
A forward from New South Wales, Michael McCann scored four goals in Athens, including two in Australia’s 6-3 semi-final defeat of Spain on his 100th appearance for his country. Now an assistant coach with the German men’s national team and Head Coach at German Bundesliga club Mannheimer, McCann left Australia for Europe in September 2006. Short spells with Barcelona in Spain and Der Club an der Alster in Germany were followed by a five month coaching stint  at Club de Campo de Madrid before he joined Mannheimmer. McCann was Assistant Coach to the German U21 side that won the Junior World Cup in 2013 and has been part of the senior German coaching team since 2012.

To commemorate the class of 04’s success in Athens, McCann will return to the Greek capital this week on a four-day trip down memory lane.

Stephen Mowlam, 2004-2008
68 appearances
Goalkeeper Stephen Mowlam (above) hadn’t played a senior international match for the Kookaburras prior to 2004 but after making his debut at the Azlan Shah Cup in January of that year he went on to cement a spot as Australia’s number one in Athens. He went on to win World Cup silver and Commonwealth Games gold in 2006. In the decade since Athens, Mowlam married and has a daughter. A keen surfer, he now lives in San Remo, VIC, and runs his own structural engineering firm.

Speaking of that memorable night in Athens ten years ago, Mowlam says, “In some ways it feels like a lifetime ago and in other ways it seems like yesterday.” One phrase, he says, stands out more than anything else: “Trust your preparation.”

Grant Schubert, 2003-2010
180 appearances, 98 goals
The scorer of Australia’s fifth and sixth goals in the 6-3 semi-final win over Spain in Athens, Grant Schubert (above) was one of the least experienced members of the team having debuted in 2003. After retiring from international hockey six years after winning Olympic gold, he married wife Julie and now has two young children, Zoe and Jai. A real estate agent for Bellcourt Property Group in Perth, WA, Schubert still turns out for University of WA hockey club and provided expert studio analysis for the ABC’s coverage of the 2014 World Cup.

Of winning Olympic gold, he said, “To live your dream and win Olympic gold is a feeling that is hard to describe. I will cherish the moment for the rest of my life and will share a special bond with 15 other mates whom I was lucky enough to experience it with. I am truly thankful I had the opportunity to be a part Australian hockey history.”

Matthew Wells, 1998-2008
242 appearances, 22 goals
Defender Matthew Wells celebrated his 150th appearance with a goal in Australia’s 6-3 semi-final win over Spain in Athens. The 2004 tournament was Wells’ second Olympic Games having won bronze in Sydney and the Tasmanian picked up a third Olympic medal – bronze – in Beijing four years later before hanging up his stick. Having moved to Brisbane following the Athens campaign, Wells still lives in Queensland and is now men’s Head Coach at the Queensland Academy of Sport. A full-time coach, he hasn’t played a single minute of hockey since the Australian Hockey League in 2009.

Describing the magic that powered the ’04 squad, Wells says, “It was all about "mateship" in the build-up and throughout - a special bond for such a small period of your life with memories that last forever. I would love to go and play that final five minutes of the game again and share that initial emotion of winning. It’s indescribable how good it felt and knowing how much it also meant to so many guys that had been there and tried previously but hadn't quite been able to win it.”

Come back tomorrow to read part three showcasing the Athens 2004 coaching staff.

Hockey Australia media release

Thinking outside the square – Charlesworth's unique approach

“A leader in the hockey world” says FIH President

(Photo: Treebyimages)

As a player Ric Charlesworth was recognised as one of the best in the world: as a coach he took both the Australian women’s and men’s teams to Olympic, World Cup and Champions Trophy glory, as well as countless other competitive wins during a coaching career that spanned 21 years.

Speaking recently to Tim Myers of Sports Media Group, Leandro Negre said that in time the FIH would be recognising the tremendous contribution that Charlesworth has made to the game, but for now the International Hockey Federation President just paid a verbal tribute to the Australian. “I think that there has been no-one better than Ric. Although he could be controversial, a better coach does not exist. There are many, many coaches who watched to see what Ric did next, he was a real leader for the rest of the hockey world.”

Ric Charlesworth himself spoke about the importance of a coach when it came to creating the environment in which players learnt and developed. “The coach sets the standards and leads by example. Players and the coach should be constantly looking to improve and develop their game. You have to have an intensity as both a player and a coach. If you are bland and passive, then the game just happens. You want to try to make a difference.”

Graham Reid, Kookaburra’s assistant coach, added that Charlesworth as a player had been a one-off, with skills that other players didn’t have the temerity to attempt. This was the attitude that he took into his coaching: “He will always think outside the square and he keeps his approach contemporary by constantly looking for new ways to approach the game. If I talked about structure and width, he would almost tear up the rule book and say we didn’t need width for width’s sake.”

One of FIH’s top umpires, John Wright, added that Charlesworth has “had a tremendous impact on the game. He would question our decisions, and sometimes he was right and sometimes we were right, but that approach keeps the game moving forward.”

FIH site

Giving hockey some stick

Technology is having an impact on all areas of hockey, not least the implement that makes it all happen.

(Photo: Frank Uijlenbroek)

When you buy a new hockey stick, what is the standout feature that makes you choose one brand over another? Is it colour? Weight? Feel? The fact that your favourite player uses that brand and you know you will also be able to tomahawk the ball into the top corner of the goal if you have that particular stick?

Well, the science behind hockey sticks is as detailed and involved as any other piece of sports equipment. Just as the Sky cycling team spend hours and hours, and thousands of pounds on researching the best tyres or seats for their bikes, so too, hockey stick manufacturers pour resources into stick development.

Hockey sticks have evolved dramatically in the past 15 years, in terms of both shape and composition. The major change – from wood to composite – took place at the beginning of the 21st century. As managing director of Mercian Sports and former England goalkeeper, Simon Mason, says: “It was the greatest equipment evolution since goalkeeping materials went from leather to foam”

Following this major change, the focus has been on the quality of the sticks, their consistency, durability and power. The major brands are now using the same high level materials that are used in aeronautics and ballistics. Mason says: “The highest quality raw materials such as Carbon, Kevlar and Glassfibre are now imported from countries such as Japan, Taiwan, Germany and even Scotland. It has been researched, refined and developed over a long period of time. This means that the pure quality of the established brands sticks grows every year and the consumer benefits massively.”

A major driver in stick design is the desire for more power. However, Mason says that the belief that the best sticks are 100 per cent carbon is a fallacy, and a combination of advanced materials, such as graphite, kevlar, basalt, silicon and graphene will deliver the technical results suited to an individual’s needs. 

Like all other sports equipment, hockey sticks do not develop through luck: the advances in stick technology are driven by manufacturers, who liaise with the factories in deciding which materials might be used to give one type of stick the edge. A lighter, yet stronger material; a product that allows greater control; a more comfortable hand-grip, there is a relentless drive for perfection. Hockey stick manufacturers will also look to other sports. For example, basalt is currently being used in both hockey sticks and tennis rackets and a number of sports are contemplating the use of graphene.

The players themselves will also have a say in how sticks develop and this can vary between playing cohorts. Mason explains: “The brands are trying to produce lighter sticks for the club players, but international players are moving to longer and heavier sticks for increased hitting power, but they are incredibly strong athletes who can cope with that.”

Weight reduction, created by the use of better quality raw materials and more consistent inner chambers, is one current trend: custom-made resins (the glue used to hold the composite materials together) is another. Here both carbon and rubber nano particles are being used to increase strength and add some shock absorption qualities. Stick handles are made using internal and external silicon and rubber coatings in order to decrease vibrations caused by incredibly stiff sticks.

Any new stick has to go through three tests before it becomes a recognised ‘weapon of choice’ on the pitch. Firstly, the manufacturers will carry out tests over a 12-month period, including breaking strain and stiffness tests as well as some of their sponsored players putting the stick through its paces. Then the stick has to conform to FIH regulations – without the international federation’s backing no brand of hockey stick can be used at top level events; and finally, the acid test itself – do the players like it? In this fiercely competitive world, that is the factor that will make or break the stick. 

FIH site

Achieving a perfect pitch

Hockey pitches are springing up all over the world, but each installation provides its own unique challenges, says the general manager of one manufacturer.

(Photo: Frank Uijlenbroek)

What you require of a hockey pitch depends upon your viewpoint: as a player you will want a pitch that runs fast and true, allowing you to play the best hockey you possibly can. A club administrator will want those qualities, but at a reasonable price and with a long life-span; the groundsman will want an easy maintenance pitch with low irrigation requirements. An additional requirement by players is a forgiving surface to minimise injuries and reduce post-match recovery time.

Paul Kamphuis is general manager of Polytan STI, an Australian-based company that supplies artificial sports pitches across the globe, including the pink and blue pitch at the London Olympics 2012 and the turf at the Kyocera Stadium for the 2014 Hockey World Cup. He says the most significant development in pitch development has been the introduction of texturised monofilament polyethylene yarn. "It ticks all the boxes," he says. "High performance, non-directional play characteristics for fast-paced hockey but with low irrigation requirements, enhanced UV stability and excellent durability."

Developments in artificial pitches has made them more accessible to players everywhere, a fact highlighted by recent pitch openings in Costa Rica and Cuba. But even though the cost of installing a new pitch has dropped in relative terms, enabling more installations to take place, each new pitch will throw up its unique challenges. Paul says: "From drought in Australia to dust storms in Beijing, monsoons in India and snow in the UK, we have installed hockey pitches in all sorts of climates and tough conditions. We have a resourceful and experienced team who aren’t scared to think outside the box to overcome obstacles. We have used tents to cover the pitch surface to keep out the rain, helicopters to reduce frost and worked at night to avoid working in excessive heat.

"Another common problem when working in some locations is the local capability to provide civil construction of the pitch infrastructure to the precise tolerances and standards required. To overcome this, we always try to work closely with the local contractors during the construction phase to develop the skills necessary to meet the construction standards required."

Despite these problems, the installation of a pitch can be remarkably swift. The record time for a Polytan STI resurfacing project was four to five weeks, although a more usual resurface project would normally take eight to ten weeks from date of order to complete installation. A new construction would take about five to six months, including design, construction and final installation.

Talking about recent projects, Paul says that the 'Smurf Turf', as the London Olympic pitch was christened, remains one of his favourite projects, not least for the controversy it caused. "The Smurf Turf polarised opinion. There were those who loved the colours and those who didn’t, but either way it made hockey one of the most talked about and broadcast sports of the Olympic Games. Being prepared to take this risk and then see how much additional exposure and promotion this generated for hockey on a global platform was extremely satisfying."

For the future, Paul says that climate change is likely to provide the biggest challenge, although sustainability is also a big focus for STI. "We recognise that watering plastic grass can sometimes seem irrational and a waste of water," he says. "For this reason, we are continuously striving to reduce the irrigation needs of elite level hockey surfaces."

FIH site

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