All the news for Saturday 10 January 2015
Chad le Clos X-Factor as SA beat Austria
JONATHAN COOK at Queensmead
Outstanding SA captain Jethro Eustice who went to Jeppe and UKZN Pietermaritzburg and plays for Southern Gauteng, powers the ball through the Austrian defence. Photo: HOWARD CLELAND
Perhaps it was the presence of SA swim superstar Chad le Clos that provided the X-Factor or maybe it was the sheer will to win so evident in outstanding captain Jethro Eustice’s South Africa men’s hockey team, but whatever the case it was the men in green and gold who came up trumps in the fourth and final Test against Austria at Queensmead in Durban Friday in a five-goal blockbuster.
SA’s 3-2 victory after leading 2-1 at half-time came via top-class goals from Eastern Province striker Dalan Phillips - a well-taken effort in the 13th minute – a penalty corner cracker by drag flick ace Matt Guise-Brown of Northern Blues in the 15th and a stunning winner by on-song Western Province striker Keenan Horne in the 42nd while Austria scored yet more very good goals through skilful captain Ben Stanzel in the 30th and Pit Rudofsky in the 40th.
As in all four Tests, SA dominated Austria and while they could have again scored more goals due to the number of excellent chances they created, this time they did enough to make certain of victory.
Making the win even more special, SA had to do without their most experienced player in the squad for this series, Jonty Robinson whose sheer presence does so much to boost the teams he plays in.
But it was again a tight affair and an indication of just how close it has been is the fact that after four Test matches and 17 goals, the Europeans scored nine to SA’s eight.
The result means Austria have clinched the series 2-1. The first Test was drawn 1-1 while Austria won the second Test 4-3 and shaded the third Test 2-1.
The three SA goals were superbly crafted, as indeed were Austria’s two successful efforts.
The inexperienced South Africans’ build-up play, calmness under pressure in defence, ingenuity in the midfield and total confidence in this fourth Test was indicative of how a team that had never played together before and fielding more than a dozen uncapped players has grown during the course of this wonderful week of hockey in Durban that has been supported in outstanding fashion by the fans.
And as in the third Test, tempers boiled over in this fourth encounter and umpires Ayden Shrives and Kirk Mendoza did well to bring a measure of calm when matters got especially heated.
Next up, a newly-selected SA side will do battle with Holland and Ireland from January 19 to 28 in Cape Town.
It will be interesting to see what SA men’s selection convenor Allistar Fredericks and his panel come up with.
1st Test: SA 1 Austria 1
2nd Test: SA 3 Austria 4
3rd Test: SA 1 Austria 2
4th and final Test: SA 3 Austria 2
Austria win series 2-1
SA Hockey Association media release
Baljit back in the fold
BALJIT SINGH Charun (pic) was the surprise inclusion when national coach Tai Beng Hai named his 18 for the World League Round Two in Singapore on Jan 17-25.
Baljit was left out in the cold last year, as he was dropped from the World Cup as well as the Asian Games and only played in the Commonwealth Games.
he squad, to be led by penalty corner flicker and defender Razie Rahim, have been tasked to finish top-two in Singapore as there teams will get the chance to play in the World League Semi-finals where tickets to the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympics await.
"We have selected the best and the target is for the team to enter the final as only three teams will play in the next qualifier either in Argentina or Belgium," said Malaysia Hockey Confederation (MHC) vice-president Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad.
Beng Hai again reiterated that the tournament will start at the semi-finals stage for his players.
"We should make the semi-finals, where the actual tournament will start as we need to make it into the final and claim the World League Semi-finals ticket early.
"And as the top-ranked team in the tournament, the target is achievable," said Beng Hai.
Malaysia are in Group A with Oman, Ukraine and Singapore while in Group B are Japan, Poland, Bangladesh and Singapore.
All eight teams qualify for the quarter-finals, and Malaysia must finish as group champions to play against likely opponents Bangladesh of Mexico.
Seasoned goalkeeper S. Kumar, who helped Malaysia qualify for the last World Cup by being a pillar in the penalty shoot-out against Japan in the World League Semi-finals, had a word of caution.
"I am ready to help the country qualify for the next round, but my mates and I know that lower ranked teams are no longer push-overs and we need to subdue them in the first two quarters by scoring as many goals as possible.
"If not, they grow in confidence and will be difficult to handle in the next two quarters," said Kumar.
His caution is timely, as Malaysia did take Trinidad and Tobago lightly in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games and suffered a humiliating 4-2 defeat in the hand of the minnows.
Baljit, after being sidelined by previous coaches, has the full backing of Beng Hai.
"I ready to play for the country again, and give my best to take the team to the next level. I missed the World Cup, so my next dream is to play in the Rio Olympics," said Baljit.
Baljit was an unfortunate casualty last year, as after helping Malaysia finish fifth in the World League Semi-finals and qualifying for the World Cup, he was bundled out of the team unceremonially and missed a lifetime chance to play in The Netherlands.
TEAM: Goalkeepers: S. Kumar, Roslan Jamaluddin; Defenders: Azlan Misron, Baljit Singh Charun, Sukri Mutalib, Izad Hakimi, Razie Rahim; Midfielders: Shahrun Nabil, Faiz Helmi, Meor Azuan, Fitri Saari, Marhan Jalil, Nabil Fiqri; Forwards: Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Faizal Saari, Izwan Firdaus, Firhan Ashaari, Haziq Samsul.
Jugjet's World of Field Hockey
Don’t embarrass yourselves, national hockey team told
By Aftar Singh
National hockey coach Tai Beng Hai giving instructions to his players during training at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Friday. The team will play in the World Hockey League Round Two Olympic qualifying event in Singapore on Jan 17. - MUHD SHAHRIL ROSLI/ The STAR.
KUALA LUMPUR: Remember the Glasgow Commonwealth Games debacle!
That was the message from national hockey team manager Datuk Nur Azmi Ahmad to the 18 players selected to represent the nation in next week’s World Hockey League Round Two tournament in Singapore.
In Glasgow last July, world No. 13 Malaysia were stunned 4-2 by minnows Trinidad and Tobago in a group match.
So, the warning is loud and clear for coach Tai Beng Hai’s men.
“We are the top-ranked team in the tournament and I want the players to play consistently well to reach the final.
“We don’t want them to make a mockery of themselves in the tournament ... like in the Glasgow Commonwealth Games last year,” said Nur Azmi, who is also Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) senior vice-president.
In the Singapore tournament, Malaysia are in Group A with the hosts, Oman and Ukraine. Group B comprises Japan, Poland, Bangladesh and Mexico.
Nur Azmi also voiced his concern about the low fitness level of the national players.
“I’m worried about the players’ fitness level ... this was obvious in the two friendlies matches against Poland.
“The coaches need to raise the players’ fitness level,” said Nur Azmi.
Coach Beng Hai believes that the real test for his players will start at the semi-final stage.
“We want the team to reach the final and book a place in the World League Semi-Finals,” said Beng Hai.
Defender Baljit Singh Charun was the surprise inclusion when the final squad of 18 players for the Singapore tournament was named on Friday.
Baljit was dropped from the World Cup in The Hague last June as well as from the Incheon Asian Games last September. He only played in the Commonwealth Games.
The 28-year-old Baljit is delighted to have been selected and said that he’s ready to give his best in Singapore.
“I missed the chance to play in the World Cup last year. I not only want to help Malaysia qualify for next year’s Olympics but also play in Rio,” said Baljit.
Penalty corner specialist and defender Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim has been named captain of the team.
The top three teams from the Singapore tournament will qualify for the World League Semi-Finals, to be held in Belgium and Argentina in June.
Malaysia’s target in Singapore is to finish in the top two.
The Star of Malaysia
Don’t discount Poland winning Singapore Olympic qualifier
By Aftar Singh
Poland's Krystian Makowski (right) and Malaysia's Muhammad Marhan tussle for the ball during their friendly match at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil last week. - FAIHAN GHANI/ The STAR
KUALA LUMPUR: Watch out for the Poles!
Poland have issued an early warning to their rivals in the World Hockey League Round Two, which begins on Jan 17 at the Sengkang Hockey Stadium in Singapore.
The Poles, through ranked 18th in the world and seeded third behind Malaysia (world No. 13) and Japan (world No. 16) in Singapore, are bent on winning the tournament.
Their confidence has been boosted by their performance against top-seeded Malaysia in two friendlies recently.
Poland, who have been here since Dec 27 to get acclimatised to the humid conditions, drew the first friendly 4-4 last Sunday and won the second 4-3 on Tuesday.
Poland team manager Tomasz Cichy is upbeat about his team’s chances, saying they can get the better of favourites Malaysia to win the tournament.
“We are likely to meet Malaysia in the semi-finals or final ... and we are more than ready for them,” he said.
“My players are in top shape – mentally and physically – and the idea of coming early to train in Malaysia has been worthwhile as we now know the strengths and weaknesses of the Malaysian team.”
Eight teams will feature in the tournament and Malaysia are in Group A with Ukraine, Oman and Singapore. Group B comprises of Poland, Japan, Bangladesh and Mexico.
Cichy expects only Japan to pose a big threat to them in their group matches.
“We are training twice a day and playing as many friendlies as possible with local clubs here to gear up for the tournament,” he said.
“We came to Kuala Lumpur with 20 players and will drop two after a friendly against one of the teams in Singapore next week.”
The Star of Malaysia
Fallen giants BJSS set modest target in junior hockey league
By S. Ramaguru
KUALA LUMPUR: The Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) are, without doubt, the most successful team in the MHC-Milo-NSC Junior Hockey League (MJHL).
After all, they’ve won the league title seven times in a row from 2003 and captured the overall title five times – in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Last year, however, they were in unfamiliar territory – featuring in Division Two of the MJHL.
And now that they are back in the top division this year, they have set themselves a modest target – retain their place in Division One and try to qualify for the knockout stage.
Rival sports school Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI)-Thunderbolt have usurped their throne as the new kingpins of the MJHL.
One of the reasons for BJSS’ fall from grace can be attributed to the fact that their senior players are being poached by other clubs.
BJSS coach S. Prakash admitted that they no longer have the 18 year olds and 19 year olds in their team.
“Thus, we have had to make do with an almost new team each year. We are unable to retain the players we groomed,” he explained.
“Still, I think we have done well with the juniors as most of the big clubs have hired our players over the years.”
BJSS have retained 11 players from last year’s squad. They are Mohd Syazly Ibrahim, Mohd Afiq Ishak, Mohd Fakhri Ardillah, Mahathir Rathuwan, Mohd Fakhrul Hafiz, Abdul Syafiq Abdul Razak, Aliff Aiman Kamarulzaman, Mohd Sufri Hakim, Mohd Asyraf Hadi, Ahmad Farhan Daniel and Mohd Norshahrezan.
“In some ways, the squad this year has more experience compared to last year. We’ve been playing a couple of matches against other teams but we haven’t had a long preparation period,” said Prakash, whose team will use the Education Ministry Turf at Jalan Pantai as their home venue.
“We’ve been holding most of our trainings at that pitch and the players are quite used to it. Our aim is to take it one step at a time and be ready to hit the ground running right from the opening match.”
The MJHL will start on Jan 23 and be completed in the first week of March.
There will be nine teams vying for glory in Division One. They are double champions SSTMI-Thunderbolt, Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL), Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ), KLSS-KLHC, Olak-PKT Tigers, BJSS, Politeknik Malaysia, MSS Pahang-Thunderbolt and SSTMI Juniors.
The Star of Malaysia
Kloter and Wullschleger named in Swiss panel
Switzerland have named two players – Yanik Kloter and Fabian Wullschleger – from this year’s Euro Hockey League in their panel for the upcoming Indoor Hockey World Cup in Leipzig.
Kloter signed with Harvestehuer THC last summer and has since been playing in the strongest indoor league in the world in Germany while Wullschleger was part of Irish club Monkstown’s team who played EHL in Barcelona in October.
Wullschleger, along with his brother Dominic, were part of the Swiss side that finished fourth in 2003’s World Cup at the same venue, falling 8-6 to France in the bronze medal match. They provide the experience as the two eldest players in the panel.
The side is managed by German coach Christian Stengler team comes with some Bundesliga players and some experience while Nicolas Steffen (Düsseldorf HC) is another who plies his trade in the German league.
The Swiss meet Russia, Poland, Canada, South Africa and the Netherlands in the group stages of the competition.
Euro Hockey League media release
Low turnout as Kenya prepares for qualifiers
By BRIAN YONGA
From left: National Hockey team players Terry Juma, Audrey Amooh, Pauline Amutebi and Anita Agunda duringa a past match. FILE PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Low turnout marked the third day of the national women’s hockey team training camp at the City Park Stadium in Nairobi on Friday.
Only five players turned up for the first training session on Wednesday, with the number increasing to eight on Thursday as the country prepares for the World League two Series set to for Uruguay from February 14-22. The event will also double up as the second round of the qualifiers of the 2016 Olympic Games.
Kenya Hockey Union had on Monday invited players from across the country for training sessions that will run till tomorrow before the technical bench names a provisional squad. Head coach Jos Openda said he was not worried by the low turnout, saying he expects the number to increase on Saturday and Sunday.
Openda acknowledged that a number of players have job commitments and other engagements that kept them out of training, saying he expects a full house this weekend. Openda will take charge of the team alongside assistant coach William Oketch as they seek a maiden Olympics appearance.
“We are still looking forward to having more players for training. Come Sunday, we should have a full house. I am not worried by the numbers so far because of many factors but we shall continue with the preparations,” Openda said.
The players currently in training include Kenyan international Terry Juma (Telkom Orange), USIU’s Lorraine Nondi, Rahab Nyuthe (Kenyatta University), Sandara Budoti (Vikings) and Maureen Okumu who has joined Telkom Orange from Sinyolo Girls Secondary School.
Kenya will come up against Azerbaijan, Dominican Republic, France, Italy, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago and hosts Uruguay.
Yesterday’s session focused on fitness but Openda is expected to introduce ball work and stick work today.
Juma who had a successful campaign with Orange last season winning the league title and the Club championship said the country has what it takes to qualify for its first Olympic games due to the talented players available. She is relishing a chance to cause a major upset in Uruguay.
“We know nothing about the other teams and they also know nothing about us but we are determined to show our might and not just make up the numbers there,” she said.
PHF sends another SOS call to PM
ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Hockey Federation (phf) secretary Olympian Rana Mujahid has given an SOS call to Prime Minister and requested him to save the sinking ship of the federation and players.
Rana Mujahid while talking with The Nation on Friday said, they were almost at the brink for the last several months. “We had time and again requested Prime Minister to spare some time and meet with the federation and players and listen to our genuine complaints. But despite several requests there is still no positive outcome. I once again request PM to take some time off from his schedule and meet with federation and players. We want to discuss funds and players jobs issue. I am sure after the meeting took place, PM would issue directives to Finance Ministry to issue Rs 500 million funds, which is not much for the government but it would solve number of issues long pending with the federation. We have to clear dues of the management, award central contracts to players and embark on international tours.”
Rana said The PHF has Chinese invitation for six-match bilateral series against green shirts pending. “They want to host us next month. Then Sultan Azlan Shah would be held in April. We have to establish hockey camp for the mega event at Lahore or Karachi. We have to participate in the Hockey Super series in Perth, Australia involving Malaysia and one more team besides Pakistan and hosts. The series is scheduled to be held in May then we will play a series against South Korea in South Korea same month. Then we are to embark on very important European tour in which we would play matches against Germany, Belgium, Holland and other European powerhouses. Let me clear one thing. These events can play a very significant role in our preparations for the most important of all events the Olympic Qualifiers event. We can't even think about participation in Olympic qualifiers, winning the event would not more than a day dreaming. If we fail to play these must events, we would lose chance to participate in the Olympics. It would not more than a meager amount for the government, but it would mean a lot for the federation in helping us fulfilling our dreams and take Pakistan hockey back to same old glory days.”
Rana said in last few months the federation steps and team results were enough to prove that Pakistan hockey was back on the right track. “We have hired Shahnaz Sheikh and other past greats and they have given tremendous results under such tight financial conditions and results are more than we expected. But to continue that success, we need to fulfill our promises which had made with coaches and players. It is quite embracing for the federation not to pay team and management.”
He said the PHF had written letter to Inter Provincial Coordination secretary to arrange a meeting with PM and he had also met with IPC Minister Maan Riaz Hussain Pirzada in this regard but still nothing had come out and I also met with Director General Pakistan Sports Board Dr Akhtar Nawaz Ganjera and seek their help.
Nation urged to support hockey players
LAHORE – Major General Amer Aslam Khan has said the nation should wholeheartedly support national hockey players who brought laurels for the country and made us proud.
Speaking in a function to honour the national hockey team in the Sialkot Cantonment Friday, Amer said the hockey was a forgotten game but the boys had revived it with their magnificent performance in two back-to-back international events.
“I was a keen viewer of hockey matches on television in my young days but then I lost interest because of my professional engagements. Now, after a lapse of almost 16 years, I watched the whole match between Pakistan and India played in the Champions Trophy which we won.”
Gen Amer presented a cash prize of Rs 200,000 for the national team and also distributed souvenirs among them.
Rutledge to remain with Women’s National Program through 2018
Program Director and National Team coach signs contract extension
After nearly two years as Women’s National Program Director and Head Coach of the Canadian Women’s National team, Ian Rutledge has signed a contract extension that will keep him with Field Hockey Canada and the Women’s Program through August 2018.
“I have loved every minute of the experience so far,” says Rutledge, a former coach of the Australian Men’s and New Zealand Women’s National Teams. “It is an absolute pleasure to work with such a committed and dedicated group of athletes; every day I see them striving to be better and their improvement has been phenomenal.”
Since taking control of the Canadian Women’s National Team in March 2013, Rutledge has guided a group of young women who have improved in physical performance and technical ability, all while playing an increased schedule of international competition, which at the 2013 Pan American Cup, resulted in the Women’s National Team’s first medal (a bronze) in nearly a decade.
Additionally, Rutledge has implemented and overseen a model of high performance that has positioned the program well for the foreseeable future.
“With Ian's tactful guidance and tenacious personality, a proud and united culture within the Women's National Program exists,” says Jeff Sauvé, CEO of Field Hockey Canada. “On every metric, Ian has proven to be every bit the leader we hoped he would be when he was hired."
After its win at World League 1 in September, the Women’s National Team has a busy and potentially historic year ahead as it looks to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“I look at our group and their ability and their growth and I am excited by how good we can become over this period,” Rutledge adds. “We have an excellent core group of players, we have athletes knocking at the door and I am excited by the talent that I saw in our Under-16 group in November.”
“With hard work, purpose and belief, the sky is the limit.”
Later this month, Rutledge and the Women’s National Team are headed to New Zealand for training and test matches against the fourth-ranked Kiwis, before continuing their journey towards Olympic qualification in World League 2 in Dublin, Ireland in March.
Field Hockey Canada media release
Hockey 5s Semi-Finals: LIVE!
Bowdon Hightown Hockey 5s Huddle 2015
This weekend, the crème de la crème of domestic women’s teams will make their way to Kettering for the 2015 Hockey 5s semi-finals. Bowdon Hightown, Canterbury, East Grinstead and Slough are all in action.
Having proved themselves to be the best four teams in the top flight during the Hockey 5s season, Bowdon Hightown, Canterbury, Slough and East Grinstead will lock horns on Saturday 10 January 2015 to fight for a place in the finals at the SSE Arena, Wembley.
There are still tickets available for the event, which you can buy if you click here, however if you are unable to make it to Kettering, all the action is right here on England Hockey's website, live and uninterrupted!
Just follow this link and keep and see the best of our domestic game battle it out for a chance at finals day glory.
The schedule is as follows:
Semi-final 1, 6pm: Bowdon Hightown vs. Canterbury
Semi-final 2, 730pm: Slough vs. East Grinstead.
Tune in tomorrow evening and make sure you don't miss a moment of the drama!
You can also keep an eye on our Twitter feed for up-to-the-minute updates. Why not join the discussion by tweeting us using #Hockey5s?
England Hockey Board Media release
English National Indoor Schools Hockey Finals
Repton Girls U16 Indoor winners 2014
The finals of the Natioanl Indoor Schools Hockey Championships start today (Friday) and run over the weekend. The U16 finals run on Friday and Saturday and the U18s Saturday and Sunday. The Boys' event is being played at Whitgift School and the Girls' at Bromsgrove School.
In the Girls’ Under 18 finals Repton are looking for their sixth consecutive title but Sir William Borlase, who they beat in last year’s final, will look to go one better this year. Repton have done the double for two years running and they return to defend that title too along with last season’s runners-up Kent College. The full list of qualifiers is as follows
U16 Pool A
Midlands 1 - Repton
South 2 - William Borlase
East 2 - The Perse
West 2 - Millfield
North 1 - Queen Elizabeth
U16 Pool B
East 1 - Ipswich
West 1 - Kings Bruton
North 2 - Richmond
South 1 - Cranleigh
Midlands 2 - Bromsgrove
U18 Pool C
West 2 - Exeter
Midlands 1 - Repton
East 1 - Ipswich
North 2 - Queen Elizabeth
South 2 - Beaconsfield
U18 Pool D
South 1 - William Borlase
North 1 - Wakefield
East 2 - Kent College
Midlands 2 - Trent
West 1 - Millfield
In the Boys’ Under 18 competition last year’s winner Whitgift are looking for their fourth title in five years. Millfield, who they beat in last season’s final, did not qualify from the West round. However Exeter, who have won back to back titles at Under 16 level will look to make the step up in the U18 event. They did not qualify for the U16s and the field looks open for this competition. The full list of qualifiers is as follows
U16s Pool A
West 1 - Dean Close
South 2 - Whitgift
Midlands 2 - Trent
East 1 - The Perse
North 2 - Egglescliffe
U16s Pool B
Midlands 1 - Repton
East 2 - Ipswich
South 1 - Cranleigh
West 2 - King Edwards, Bath
North 1 - Kings, Chester
U18s Pool C
South 1 - Whitgift
Midlands 2 - Trent
West 2 - Dean Close
East 2 - The Perse
North 1 - Rossall
U18s Pool Pool D
South 2 - Sir William Borlase
West 1 - Exeter
Midlands 1 - Oakham
East 1 - Ipswich
North 2 - Egglescliffe
For further details of all tournaments including schedules and results click on the links below.
Results will also be tweeted, use the hastag #schoolsindoor
England Hockey Board Media release
Flying high in East London
Crowd funding success means FRE Flyers aim for new heights.
The most recently-formed hockey club in the UK has its sights set on league hockey after successfully raising £20,000 through a crowd-funding appeal.
Friendship, Respect and Excellence are the three core values that run through the FRE Flyers Hockey Club, which was formed as part of the 2012 Olympic Legacy and is based at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre, in East London.
The FRE Flyers was formed in 2011, after a brainstorming session on how to create a sporting legacy in the boroughs hosting the 2012 Olympics. Originally a short term project, such was the enthusiasm and success of the movement that it is now a flourishing club in its own right and is on the verge of gaining charitable status. It is well supported by Olympic hockey players past and present, a relationship due in part to the involvement of the then Great Britain men’s coach Jason Lee in the initial brainstorming session.
In the beginning, the FRE Flyers consisted of 30 teenagers from the London Boroughs of Tower Hamlets and Newham. These were young people who were at risk of missing out on any opportunities due to the deprivation of the area. The irony is that hockey is still perceived as a sport that is only open to a narrow group of people and would not have been on the radar of most of the youngsters as a sport they could play. The youngsters were coached by Great Britain hockey players and, as part of the project, were taken on a tour to Holland after just 12 weeks of hockey coaching.
Three years on and the club is in its next stage of development – it has just crowd funded more than £20,000 and will be using the money to secure the future of the club by recruiting 25 new youngsters and buying kit and equipment. The money will also go towards a replica tour of Holland, due to take place in June this year.
Currently, the FRE Flyers are training every week, and Andy Halliday, the assistant coach to the men’s Great Britain and England hockey team is director of hockey for the project. Several of the youngsters are dealing with severe disadvantages in their home life and the regularity and discipline of hockey training is providing one stable factor in their lives. The FRE Flyers recently started their own all-ability league, playing on the Olympic Legacy pitches. This league acts as a stepping stone to playing regular league hockey in the future and four of the original FRE Flyers are now level one hockey coaches, with one of their number working full-time at the Olympic Legacy hockey centre.
Founder of FRE Flyers is Chris Grant, and he is still as involved and passionate about the club as ever. He explained what the FRE Flyers means to the young people involved. “A huge amount. The youngsters chose to call their club the FRE Flyers after the Olympic values of Friendship, Respect and Excellence and they did a lot of work with the Olympic players exploring what these values mean in practice. As well as learning to play the sport to a reasonable level astonishingly quickly, the young people have been able to forge positive relationships with high achievers who come from backgrounds very different to their own.
“The group have gained immense confidence and skills through these interactions. Some of them got help with their academic studies from the players. Ultimately, the aims of the FRE Flyers are all about the broader lives of the young people: their education; the jobs that they'll ultimately get; the relationships that they're able to form, and their physical and mental health. All of these are advanced through their involvement.”
And it is not just the FRE Flyers who benefit from the relationship. Chris said that many of the players had enjoyed some unforgettable experiences and formed friendships with the young players that was enduring. “On the original trip to Union Hockey Club in Nijmegen, Holland, the GB squad actually took their own tents and camped out. The relationships which formed between the players and the youngsters had benefits in both directions. After the men suffered a heavy defeat in the semi finals of the 2012 Olympics, their coaches used an email sent by the young FRE Flyers to pick them up for their bronze medal match.”
For the future, Chris says that the forthcoming trip to Holland will be a “profound” experience for many of the youngsters, some of whom have hardly left the neighbourhood, let alone the country. In the longer term, the aim is to become a fully functioning – but fully accessible club, offering opportunities to children of all abilities. “We want the youngsters to be prominently involved in activities relating to the forthcoming tournaments at Lea Valley, including the Euro Hockey 2015 competition in August, says Chris, “And we want East London to become a hockey hotbed, where young people know about hockey, and are able to access it easily.”
One of the players involved in the project from the start is the Great Britain and England goalkeeper George Pinner. He says: “The FRE Flyers is a fantastic project that we have been involved with as a squad since they were founded pre-2012. It's great to have inspired kids to take up hockey who had no interest in the sport and to see how much the club and the kids as individuals have grown since then. It isn't a one way thing though, as we get and learn so much from working with them.”
And hockey director to the FRE Flyers, Andy Halliday, added: “This has been a remarkable journey for this diverse set of young people.”
Adrian happy to return for duty
Hockey goalkeeper Adrian D’Souza says he’s happy switching his role as an analyst in the commentary box in last year’s Hockey Indian League (HIL) for some serious work as Dabang Mumbai’s goalkeeper in the 2015 edition set to start in January in Bhubaneswar.
The 30-year-old former India goalkeeper and Olympian (his last representative match for India was in the 2011 Azlan Shah tournament in Kuala Lumpur) will share duties with Irishman David Harte, bought at $51,000 at the auction.
“It’s a dream for any sportsman to play for his home team, and I am happy to play for Mumbai. We cannot get any worse than the sixth position; we hope to keep ourselves fit and reach the summit,” said D’Souza after Dabang’s first training session here on Friday.
Banned for one year for a dope violation in 2012, D’Souza still hopes to play for India.
“Once I wear the pads, I think of goalkeeping and performing to the best of my ability. Many players have staged comebacks, and HIL is a platform for me to play well. If I can play a big part in good results for my team I will regard it as a big achievement.”
He felt that changes like the match-duration being reduced to 60 minutes and split into four quarters has given importance to fitness levels for each quarter.
He also said that the defensive structure against short corners has changed; with the goalkeeper and defenders being given roles. I think these roles are being fulfilled,” said D’Souza.
From behind the mike, Adrian D’Souza returns under the bar
by Shahid Judge
Adrian D’Souza (goalkeeper) last played for India at the Sultan of Azlan Shah Cup in 2011.
Around this time last year, Adrian D’Souza was preparing his research notes for the second edition of the Hockey India League (HIL). The 30-year-old’s responsibilities then lay within the commentary box. This year though, he will be back doing what he does the best. And so it was that the veteran goalkeeper exhibited a childish fervour during newly-formed Dabang Mumbai’s first practice session at the Mahindra Stadium here on Friday.
It wasn’t that he hadn’t been playing the game. D’Souza has been crucial in Air India’s dominance in the domestic circle these past few years. In the process, he has won the best goalkeeper award at the national championships for the last two years. Yet, the excitement on display came in the form of a hope he holds of getting back into the national team.
“There have been so many players who were off and then got back on the team. HIL was a platform for them so maybe it can be for me too,” he said.
The last time the Mumbai-lad played in India colours was at the Sultan of Azlan Shah Cup in 2011. Post that, his involvement in World Series Hockey (WSH) didn’t go well with the Hockey India higher-ups. His failing a dope test in 2012 didn’t do much to help his case either. A consequent one-year ban was imposed on him. Following that, he starred at the nationals in Pune two years ago, and then in Lucknow in 2014.
At a time when India’s goalkeeping cupboard is all but empty, a few feel D’Souza’s experience and quality will come in handy. At present, the gap between India’s No.1 custodian PR Sreejesh and the rest is huge. The 30-year-old is seen as the one who can bridge it. As a result, the selectors have tried bringing him back into the national team fold but Hockey India continues to block his return.
But Dabang Mumbai did not think twice before bringing him on board for the third season of the HIL, that kicks off on January 22.
Despite being ignored for the last few years, D’Souza hasn’t given up the hopes of playing for the national team. “Every time I wear the pads, I hope to do well and return to the national team. That’s my ultimate goal,” he said.
For D’Souza, the chance to play the HIL for his home city has also been a pleasant honour. Yet at the same time, he is well versed with the previous team’s weak showings at the tournament – his work as commentator giving him a chance to analyse the past squad.
“The team would often lose out in the second half. We’d lead by half time in most of those games, and then lose out in the last few minutes. There was no consistency and that’s something we’ve got to address this year,” he asserted.
The veteran of over 200 national caps is looking to guide his team to a better season this time around. “If I can help in changing results for my team, that’ll be the best thing I can hope for this HIL,” he says.
On the day of the squad’s first practice session, his excitement was evident. He stood in front of the goal, constantly in discussion with goalkeeping coach Edgar Mascarenhas Junior. Nonetheless, D’Souza maintains that he doesn’t want to pressurise himself with his hopes. “I want to do well, so I need to make sure I’m focused on the right things. I can’t get ahead of myself,” he added.
Goalkeeper Adrian hopes to make India comeback through HIL
MUMBAI: Seasoned but sidelined goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza has targeted the upcoming Hockey India League (HIL) to make a big impression and storm his way back into the national team after three years.
"You have seen quite a few players making a comeback through the Hockey India League which is a good platform. I am keen to use it (to make my comeback)," said D'Souza after the first training session of new team Dabang Mumbai on Friday.
Dabang Mumbai, owned by Doit Sports Management, will be making its debut in the six-team tournament, that runs from January 22 to February 22, at the Mahindra Stadium against Jaypee Punjab Warriors on January 23.
D'Souza, who has appeared for India in several major events, including the Olympic Games and World Cups, last donned the national colours at the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament in Ipoh, Malaysia in 2011.
The 30-year-old custodian, with over 100 India caps to his credit, was ignored by the HI after he played in the defunct World Series Hockey promoted by HI's rival Indian Hockey Federation.
"It definitely feels good to be playing in HIL after being part of the television commentary team last year. I am also happy to be playing for my home city team. Barring a few players we have a totally new team. My personal aim is to do as well as I can and help my team," said D'Souza.
D'Souza, who had served a one-year ban for violating an anti-doping rule in June 2012, felt that most teams have improved their defence against penalty corners which in turn has helped in cutting down goals through these set-pieces.
"Most teams depend on one drag-flicker. Video analysis of the way they take the penalty corners and improved defence against penalty corners has helped," said D'Souza about the decreasing number of penalty corner goals.
He would be competing with Ireland's David Harte for donning the goalie's role for Dabang Mumbai which is to be coached by Germany's junior national in-charge, Valentin Altenburg.
The Times of India
Will play an attacking game for Delhi Waveriders: Gurwinder Singh Chandi
NEW DELHI: Strengthening the forward line for Delhi Waveriders in the Hockey India League, seasoned striker Gurwinder Singh Chandi is all set to add dynamism and vigour to the team in the impending League that starts from 22 January 2015 at Bhubaneswar.
The 25-year-old Indian forward has played a key role in the remarkable performance of the Delhi Waveriders in the past and is ready to further shore up the side's attack in the upcoming tournament and live the defending champion's dream of retaining the title.
He was one of the scoring leaders in the inaugural League, scoring a total of 5 field goals for Delhi Waveriders, helping his side to earn a respectable second place in the League.
In the same season, Chandi was named the 'Man of the Match' in the game where Delhi Waveriders defeated the Mumbai Magicians 6-4. His name also featured thrice in 'Hero Goal of the Match' in HIL 2013. With a great amount of talent and experience, he surely is one of the players to look out for.
Speaking on the forthcoming League, Gurwinder Singh Chandi said, "I have been working on my game for long and hard and will be using it to my team's benefit in the approaching League. Under the captaincy of Sardar Singh - I, along with Akashdeep, Danish Mujtaba and Yuvraj Walmiki, will be looking forward to playing an attacking game and create maximum scoring opportunities for our side. I have picked up many tips from both Simon and Jason and am waiting to play again alongside them this season. The main motive is nonetheless to play the best and retain our title."
The third edition of the Hockey India League will start from 22 January 2015. The opening day of the League will witness Kalinga Lancers taking on Ranchi Rays in Bhubaneswar.
Hockey India League will be telecasted LIVE on Star Sports.
The Times of India
Strong defence line is key to our success: Lakra
NEW DELHI: Ranchi Rays defender Birendra Lakra says having a strong defence will hold the key to the team's fortunes in the upcoming Hero Hockey India League (HIL).
The 24-year-old Jharkhand fullback, who received a few Man-of-the-Match awards last season, will be playing his third HIL.
This year, Lakra will be supported by Amit Rohidas, Justin Reid-Ross of South Africa, Fergus Kavanagh of Australia along with new recruit Anand Lakra in the defence line.
Lakra said: "This year we are very much motivated as the whole squad will be playing for the third season together. We all are practicing hard and maintaining our focus on the preparation. This year I wish to play a bigger role for my team and I am working on other areas like midfield and penalty corner.
"I need to overcome my weaknesses in these areas and my added skills will surely help my team. It will be very tough as the best players will contest. My objective will be to restrict the opponent's goal scoring chances and I believe that a strong defence is the base of a successful team. If Amit Rohidas, Justin Reid-Ross, Fergus Kavanagh and I manage clean sheets in our home matches, then our chances for the finals become stronger."
Ranchi Rays is also likely to benefit wityh the presence of their established players such as Ashley Jackson and Barry Middleton (both from England), Nicolas Wilson of New Zealand along with new players Trent Mitton and Daniel Beale of Australia.
Speaking about his team, Lakra said, "This season again I feel, Ranchi Rays is one of the title contenders keeping in mind the team line-up we have in place. With the top class players like Ashley Jackson, Barry Middleton and Nicolas Wilson, we can maintain a winning momentum in the League."
The opening day will see Ranchi Rays taking on Kalinga Lancers on January 22 in Bhubaneswar.
The Times of India
SAI says no to hockey, athletics in D’shala
Investment worth Rs 10 crores in synthetic track likely to be wasted in the hill town
There's not much support for players in Himachal in any case. The SAI decision will make it even tougher for them. TRIBUNE PHOTO: KAMALJEET
Dharamsala - IIn major setback for the state’s youth aspiring to take up athletics and hockey, the Sports Authority of India (SAI) has decided to close down training facilities for both the sports at its centre here.
The training facility for athletics is being closed down despite the fact that SAI and Himachal government had invested around Rs 10 crores on a synthetic track here.
The synthetic track was laid down during the stint of the previous BJP government in the state, with financial support from the ACC and Ambuja Cement companies. The construction work around the stadium is still on. This track was considered ideal for high-altitude training for athletes, and many athletes are using the facility for training. Walkers who represented India in the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games trained here. The Indian Army athletes are currently training here.
Since the SAI is closing down the training centre for athletics, sources here say that the maintenance of the expensive synthetic track would suffer. The track requires washing every fortnight, else it gets damaged. Presently the track is being maintained by the 20 girls getting training under the SAI here.
At present, 20 youth from Himachal are training for athletics and 13 for hockey at this facility. These youth are getting daily diet worth Rs 200, medical expenditure, insurance cover and free education in the local college and schools under grants being provided by the SAI. They are also given an allowance of Rs 3000 as fare to participate in national events across the country. As per the orders received by the SAI centre here, all these facilities would be withdrawn after April this year. There are two coaches, for athletics and hockey, here, and they are likely to be transferred out after April.
The withdrawal of athletes and hockey would leave only kabaddi and volleyball as the sports here. Presently the centre has no coach for volleyball and just one coach for kabaddi.
Himachal Pradesh has two SAI training facilities, the other being in Bilaspur. The training for boys in athletics was provided in Bilaspur while for the girls it was provided in Dharamsala. The athletics training at Bilaspur was ended a few years ago by the SAI. This means that there would be no facility for the youth of Himachal to train for athletics in the state.
When contacted, the authorities at the SAI centre here refused to comment on the matter.
However, sources here said that the girls who were getting training in athletics and hockey here have met Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, former CM Prem Kumar Dhumal, and Anurag Thakur, the BJP MP from Hamirpur, and requested them to take up the case with the Union Sports Ministry.