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News for 23 December 2014

All the news for Tuesday 23 December 2014

Hockey moves indoors

As the outdoor international season takes a break, all eyes will be on Leipzig, where the best of the best do battle on the boards.

Reigning champions Germany celebrate success (Photo: FIH)

Attention now turns from blue and green outdoor pitches to the shiny boards of the indoor game. The 2015 men's and women's World Cups are little under six weeks away and the teams are getting ready for another intensive week of hockey competition.

Both the men's and women's event will take place in Leipzig, Germany, scene of the first Indoor World Cup in 2003. The competitions will run simultaneously, hosted in two competition halls, side by side.The prospect of 24 teams battling for the honours in such close proximity will make for a tremendously exciting atmosphere.

While the usual suspects will be there in force, one or two names will be unknown qualities to the indoor hockey fans, which should provide additional excitement to the competition.

The 12 teams contesting the men's event are: Germany, Poland, Austria, Russia, Netherlands, Australia, Czech Republic, Iran, Canada, Switzerland, Sweden and South Africa. Of these, Germany will be the out and out favourites, they are ranked number one in the world indoor hockey rankings and they are unbeaten at this event, having won the previous three editions. Runners-up on each of those occasions were Poland, and the eastern European team will be hoping they can finally knock the Germans off the top spot.

Sweden are the unknown quantity as they have never appeared at the Indoor World Cup before. But the Swedish national team has been on an exciting journey through the tiers of competition and has now earned the right to contest the biggest prize of all. Goalkeeper Niclas Franzen says: "We will be playing against people who, in many cases, live on the hockey field. In Europe we have played against countries that have a thousand time more players than us, but we can match them. For the World Cup I hope we reach the quarter finals and then blaze into the semi-finals." 

Iran come into the competition after winning the Asian Men's Indoor title in some style. They beat Malaysia in the final, after racking up victories in the pool matches of 15-1, 16-0 and 12-0 over Indonesia, Kazakhstan and Malaysia respectively. Top goal scorer at that event, Norouzaddeh Reza, will be a player to watch.

With the Hockey World Cup for the outdoor game under their collective belts, the Australian team will be hoping to make an impact in a version of the sport in which they have never enjoyed any medal-winning success. Anthony Potter, head coach of the Australian men's squad, says: "I'm confident this group of players will make an impact at the World Cup. A top six finish is our focus." One familiar surname on the team list will be Ogilvie. Kookaburra debutant Flynn Ogilvie will play for the first time, joining his brothers, Kurt and Heath in the squad – Heath Ogilvie will be playing in his third world cup.

The women's competition has also been dominated by Germany, who have won two of the previous three editions. The Netherlands won the event in 2007, when Germany had to settle for bronze. Competing against these two giants of the game will be Austria, Belarus, Czech Republic, Ukraine, Australia, Poland, Canada, Kazakhstan, Belgium and South Africa.

Ukraine will be a team hoping to continue their pattern of improvement. They finished in bronze medal position in the 2011 World Cup, after defeating Belarus. And in the Indoor Nations Championship II in January 2014, they won the second tier event. This secured their place at the World Cup and meant they are now promoted to the Championship – the top tier of indoor competition in Europe – for the 2016 season.

Also promoted into the Championship along with Ukraine, was Belgium, a team that has been making giant strides forwards in both the outdoor and indoor versions of the game. Belgium's second place finish in the Indoor Nations Championship II means they will now be making their Indoor World Cup debut in Germany.

South Africa's women's team have been on their travels in preparation for the event. Head coach Lennie Botha was delighted that his players were able to participate in a top level event prior to the World Cup. A four-nations event in Toronto, Canada, at the start of December, meant South Africa were able to pitt themselves against Argentina and the USA as well as fellow World Cup participants, Canada. "This was an exciting opportunity for us as no South African women's national team has had the opportunity to play in an overseas series in preparation for a World Cup."

The Hockey Indoor World Cup takes place from 4-8 February 2015. All teams will play twice on the first two days of competition, and the final day will conclude with the playoffs and finals.


FIH site

Bobby Crutchley: looking ahead to 2015

Barry Middleton and Bobby Crutchley celebrate

As 2014 draws to a close we caught up with Great Britain and England Head Coach Bobby Crutchley as he looks back on a successful year and gives us his thoughts on what's to come in 2015.

Looking back at 2014
“2014 has been a big improvement from the previous year. I feel that the whole group have made significant strides and if you take into account the fourth place finish at the World Cup and a bronze at the Commonwealth Games I think we are slightly ahead of the curve of success we have been working towards as we continue to build up to the Olympic Qualifiers next year and Rio in 2016.”

On the Champions Trophy and England performances in India
“Finishing seventh at the Champions Trophy was obviously disappointing, but as a coach I am looking at the quality of play and I’ve been really encouraged by some of the hockey we produced during the tournament."

"Obviously we want to win tournaments and be in the medal matches on a regular basis and working with this squad I believe that’s not too far away, but we need to win the key battles when tournaments reach the knock-out phase and we didn’t manage to do that this time around.”

So what areas will you be focusing on to make those key matches?
“Ultimately we have to convert our performances into better results and medals, but I know there’s no straightforward answer to that. There’s definitely been improvements in our attacking play and I think we showed that out in India, but there is still work to do to improve the consistency of scoring from open play. That’s quite a specific area though and as a team we put a high level of importance in our training to progress every area of our game. One of my main aims is to ensure that the training environment continues to get better, which in turn will help our international performances.”

Switching to Great Britain and looking ahead to 2015
“We have more flexibility with switching to Great Britain and it will be good to have players like Chris Grassick available. The Champions Trophy provided a great platform for newcomers Chris Griffiths and Sam Ward to make the step up to senior international hockey and I was really pleased with their performances. I think it’s clear to see the extra strength in depth we are beginning to build up in the squad and this is such a vital area for us if we are to consistently compete with the top nations."

What the year looks like:
"2015 will be a busy year with the Olympic Qualifiers and the European Championships in London in August. Looking ahead to the Olympic Qualifiers in June, how we prepare for that tournament in the first half of the year will be key. It comes back to how important the training environment is for us and then we’ll use test matches against Belgium, a ticketed game against Germany in London and the Hamburg Masters to provide us with a good benchmark for where we stand heading into the summer."

England Hockey Board Media release

USMNT Steven Mann announces retirement from program

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. –  USA Field Hockey honors the career of U.S. Men’s National Team athlete Steven Mann (Hollidaysburg, Pa.) as he announces his decision to retire from the program. With an extensive list of national team accolades, Mann first caught his vigor for field hockey when his parents signed him up for the sport in his adolescence. It was an instant love that strengthened over time leading him and Team USA to the upcoming World League Round 2, Pan American Games and numerous U.S. National Indoor Team triumphs.

Mann’s final tournament included a successful summer series against Argentina, Chile and Mexico in Chula Vista, Calif. The midfielder and defender began sporting a red, white and blue jersey in 2008. He recommends to anyone chasing the same dream he worked to achieve to be persistent. “Few good things in life will come without hard work and dedication applied over time,” he commented.

There are many standout memories for Mann while representing the USA but the 2011 Pan American Games tops them all. Marching into the stadium during the opening ceremony with all the United States athletes is noted as a truly breathtaking experience in Mann’s career.

"Steve provided great consistency with his preparation, performance and attitude," said Men's Head Coach Chris Clements. "This was something the staff and team could rely upon, and enabled Steve to have a successful career over many years with the national team. He was an integral part of the team and provided a great example for our younger squad members to follow. I am sure that Steve's professional career that he has been combining while playing will only continue to flourish and wish him all the best with his future endeavors."

Mann acknowledges that he didn’t get to such an elite level by himself stating he’d  like to thank Clements for his work and his support. Mann continued on to say Clements is a fantastic coach that had has made the team better and himself as a better hockey player.

“To my teammates the most important thing is to keep working diligently and don’t get frustrated by setbacks,” said Mann. “The team has taken a great step forward in the last two years in my opinion and I would love to see this positive trend continue as a supporter in the future.”

Mann would like to thank everyone in the field hockey community who has supported the men’s team and himself personally. “I would like to especially thank Mr. Joe Ginolfi, who was kind enough to open his house to me and providing a family away from home,” said Mann. “Also, many thanks to the entire staff at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, which has made every effort to support the men’s national team’s success during my career.”

Mann recently completed his law degree in Germany and is currently waiting to get into a two year program necessary to become a qualified attorney in Germany. After this he may also attempt to pass the bar examination in the United States.

USA Field Hockey would like to wish Mann the very best going forward and thank him for his service to the team.

USFHA media release

Have the self-belief to beat top sides: Dharamvir Singh

Suhrid Barua

The Indian men’s hockey team’s eye-catching performance at the 2014 FIH Champions Trophy has triggered a great deal of hope that the country is steadily taking the ‘significant strides’ towards reaching the pinnacle of world hockey. A second consecutive fourth-place finish in the premier Champions Trophy (they had finished fourth in the 2012 edition in Melbourne) has enhanced the expectations of the hockey fans with the 2016 Rio Olympics not far away (less than two years to go for the marquee event).

The way the Sardar Singh-led side rose to the occasion against higher ranked sides like Netherlands, Belgium, Australia and Germany in front of their home fans should surely give hockey the desired leg-up in the country. Indian forward Dharamvir Singh has no doubts that hockey is indeed heading in the right direction. “There is little doubt that this team is capable of bigger things. We showed in the Champions Trophy that we can upset the applecart of the best in the business. We now have the self-belief to beat the world’s top sides we defeated the Netherlands after 28 years and even beat world number four Belgium. Remember, we had defeated world champions Australia in a four Test series in Australia. All these results can’t be a flash in the pan – I believe if this same bunch of players remain together we are capable of winning a medal in the 2016 Rio Olympics,” he says in an exclusive interview.

The 24-year-old striker dwells on the Rio Olympics, seeming carried away by the talk about the big-ticket event. “We have beaten all top sides this year and best teams are watching us closely. If we can reach the semifinals of the Rio Olympics, it will be a big thing for Indian hockey,” he gushes.

The tall, strapping forward cherishes the match against Belgium, where he scored the fourth goal and bagged the Man of the Match award. “The Belgium game was good for me as I scored our fourth goal in the 49th minute. Overall I was really chuffed with my performance in that game as I won the Man of the Match award as well. I started off in the first game against Germany on a sedate note, but gradually my intensity went up and was pleased to have contributed towards the team’s success.” The Ropar-born youngster, who has played 96 internationals so far, attributes India’s superb run in 2014 to Terry Walsh. “He is a fantastic coach. His efforts really helped the team to become a strong force. The team really shaped up well under him, which was carried on by Roelant Oltmans in the Champions Trophy in admirable fashion,” he observes.

A product of the Chandigarh Hockey Academy, Dharamvir, who made his senior international debut during the seven-match Test series against Canada in 2009, is considered one of the top of injectors of penalty corners. So what’s his take on that? “It feels good if people say I’m good at penalty corner injection. It needs focused skills as speed and accuracy are crucial as drag-flicker needs to find the right rhythm to unleash.”

Injuries have ensured Dharmavir hasn’t quite been able to cement his spot – a knee injury put him out of competitive action for more a long period – his comeback at the 2012 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament was his first tournament after the 2010 Asiad.

The Jaypee Punjab Warriors player feels that hockey has plenty of incentive for youngsters in the country. “There was a time when people used to say that hockey featured players belonging to poor families, but not anymore. Youngsters know there is money in hockey and are looking to make a career out of it which is good for Indian hockey,” he fires a parting shot.


MHC ready for war

By Jugjet Singh

THE International Hockey Confederation (FIH) and the Sports Commissioner’s Office have offered sound advice, but the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) is ready for war.

FIH, in rejecting the amendments made to the MHC constitution during its EOGM in Johor Baru in October, has opened a can of worms.

An FIH letter, dated Nov 17 and signed by CEO Kelly Fairweather, stated clearly that they did not agree to eight issues in the draft submitted by the MHC.

However, MHC senior vice-president Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad is adamant that no changes are needed to please the FIH, as it is an internal matter.

“What I don’t understand is why the FIH wants to meddle with internal matters in MHC, when all the amendments were approved at the EOGM by our members.

“We only need an endorsement from the Sports Commissioner's office as this is a local issue, and the FIH should not interfere in matters arising in our MHC household,” said Nur Azmi.

He was also not worried about the problems that might arise if they do not get the approval of the FIH on their amendments.

“What can they do? Don't award us tournaments? Don't sanction our team for tournaments?

“Let them do what they wish, as the decisions were made in a democratic manner in an EOGM and they must accept our local wishes,” said Nur Azmi.

However, when the sports commissioner's office was contacted, they were shocked with the matter, as they were not informed about the FIH letter when meeting MHC officials to discuss the constitutional amendments.

A statement from the sports commissioner's office read: “When we met the MHC representatives (after the Nov 17 date on the FIH letter), we were not informed about the FIH advice on the amended constitution.

“However, during the discussion, we did advise MHC to have a look at some of the issues, primarily on the issue of women's role in the MHC.

“The decision on women's role in MHC was not properly done during the EOGM, and since an advice from the FIH has suddenly surfaced now, our suggestion is for the MHC to reconsider or review their earlier decisions to avoid any conflict with the FIH.

“MHC can do it by holding an EGM, and only after that will the Sports Commissioner's office endorse changes made to their constitution which are not in conflict with the FIH.”

The major problem was when MHC removed the need for a woman deputy president during its EOGM, as well as set three terms for office bearers while those above 70 can no longer stand for elections.

Fairweather wrote: “In particular I have to point out that the new proposed amended statues do not:

1) Have provisions for the suspension of members.

2) Have provisions for indemnity of officials.

3) Have the age limit for elections.

4) Have a limit on the number of times a person may be elected to a particular office.

5) Have provisions for gender equality (not equality but at least equity).

6) Have the new standard FIH anti-doping clause.

“Furthermore I note that the governing Executive Board is not elected democratically but is appointed by the president, which is not in line with FIH governance principles.

“The MHC elections, supposed to be held by November, has been deferred to January but if MHC goes to war with FIH, the elections will have to be postponed until the constitution is cleaned up.”

New Straits Times

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