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News for 21 February 2015

All the news for Saturday 21 February 2015

Azerbaijan continue fine form as final four confirmed

Mexico stun France to join Azerbaijan, Italy and host nation Uruguay in tournament semi-finals

(Photo: Danielo Scalese)

Thursday (19 February) was quarter-final day at the Hockey World League Round 2 tournament in Montevideo, with Azerbaijan, Mexico, Italy and in-form host nation Uruguay recording important wins to keep their respective Olympic qualification dreams very much alive.

Azerbaijan (FIH World Ranking: 19) continued their terrific form by powering to a 5-0 win over Dominican Republic (WR: 52), with team captain Khatira Aliyeva and Lyubov Druzhinina both netting doubles to seal their place in the tournament semis. Their opponents in the final four will be Italy (WR: 17), who were convincing 3-0 winners against Trinidad & Tobago (WR: 29) thanks to goals from Macarena Ronsisvalli (2) and Martina Lecchini.

The meeting between Azerbaijan and Italy, the two highest ranked teams in the tournament, on Saturday (21st February) has the potential to be an absolutely fascinating contest, with the winner not just taking a place in the competition final but also sealing a safe passage through to Hockey World League Semi-Finals (Round 3). Both of the tournament finalists in Montevideo are assured of a place in the next phase of the competition, where coveted berths at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games are up for grabs.

The second semi-final, which also takes place on Saturday, will be contested between Pan-American rivals Uruguay (WR: 31) and Mexico (WR: 28), two sides that have made a huge impression on the event in Montevideo. Home favourites Uruguay thrilled their army of loyal supporters with a 3-0 win over Kenya (WR: 37), with Florencia Norbis bagging a double in the triumph. Mexico needed a shoot-out to edge past France (WR: 24) after normal time finished with the scores locked together at 1-1. Mexican keeper Jesus Castillo was unquestionably the hero of the shoot-out, keeping a clean sheet as her side emerged 2-0 winners against their higher-ranked opponents.

Friday’s action from Montevideo will feature the 5-8 classification matches, with Kenya taking on France at 1730 (local time – UTC / GMT -2) before Trinidad & Tobago play Dominican Republic at 2000. On Saturday, Italy’s semi-final against Azerbaijan gets underway at 1730, immediately followed at 2000 by Uruguay’s mouthwatering Pan-American derby match against Mexico. To see all tournament fixtures and results, please click here.

FIH site

Italians end hockey women Rio Olympic hopes

T&T’s senior women’s hockey team put up a battling display but their quest for a place at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games in Brazil ended yesterday following a 0-3 loss to Italy.

This was in their FIH World Hockey League Round Two qualifiers quarterfinal at The British Schools, Gral Maximo, Tajes, Montevideo, Uruguay.

As in their two previous matches played, T&T, co-captained by Alanna Lewis and Patricia Wright-Alexis was put on the back foot early on and it was no surprise when the 17th ranked Italians went ahead in the ninth minute through Macarena Ronsisvalli from a penalty-corner conversion while Martina Lecchini doubled the lead in the 11th only for Ronsisvalli to add another in the second quarter of the match.

The T&T women then put up a great defensive effort to keep out the Italians for the rest of the match, while offering little on the offensive end.

With the loss, T&T will return to action today from 6.30 pm against Dominican Republic in the second of two fifth to eighth placed semifinals while France was more than likely to face Kenya in the earlier match from 3.30 pm.

The 29th world ranked Anthony Marcano-coached Calypso Stickwomen, minus a number of regular senior players due to other commitments, ended third in Pool B round-robin play on Tuesday following a 0-3 loss to 24th ranked France with three points.

On the other-hand, the Italians, the highest world ranked team entered in the eight-team tournament, were second in Pool A with seven points, one behind Uruguay after the latter won their opening encounter 2-1 on a shoot-out after a 2-2 draw.

In yesterday’s opening quarterfinal match, 19th ranked Azerbaijan, which topped Pool B, trounced Pool a cellar-placed finishers, Dominican Republic 5-0 led by two goals each from Lyubov Druzhinina (21st, 38th) and Khatira Aliyeva (23rd, 30th pen) and one from Farida Mammadova, in the 51st.

And Mexico, ranked 28th upstaged 24th ranked France 2-0 in the penalty shoot-out with goal from Marlet Correa and Fernanda Oviedo.

This after both teams had battled to a 1-1 draw with Alix Perrocheau putting France ahead in the 15th only for Correa to get Mexico level nine minutes later.

Last night in the final quarterfinal host and world 31st rated Uruguay came up against Kenya in a match the South Americans were expected to win handsomely to set up a main draw semifinal with Mexico tomorrow (Saturday) while Azerbaijan tackles Italy.

The top two teams will advance to the Third World World League qualifiers that would guarantee a place in the semifinal of the competition.

The Trinidad Guardian

Troubled Kenya crash out of Olympics qualifiers


Tracy Karanja trains with the national women’s hockey team at City Park Stadium on February 7, 2015 ahead of the World League Two series in Uruguay. Kenya were on February 20, 2015 eliminated from the World League two series after a 3-0 thrashing by hosts Uruguay in the quarter-finals. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU |   NATION MEDIA GROUP

Kenya were on Friday eliminated from the World League two series after a 3-0 thrashing by hosts Uruguay in the quarter-finals at the British School grounds in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Florencia Norbis struck a brace and Matilde Kliche added the third to bring Kenya’s miserable run at the Olympics qualifiers to a dead end.

Coach Jos Openda made one change to the starting 11 that lost 5-0 to Azerbaijan on Wednesday with Sandra Vodoti making her first start of the tournament in place of Tracy Karanja.

Kenya had the worst possible start going a goal down after just one minute when Norbis beat Cynthia Onyango through a field goal, the fastest in the tournament so far.


The Kenyan girls never recovered from the horrible start and were punished three minutes later when Norbis - who was almost unplayable in the night - won a penalty corner and went on to convert.

The contest was effectively over in the 27 minute when the hosts, cheered on by the home crowd, scored their third through Matilde who converted skipper Sofia Mora’s short corner.

Kenya improved after the break, containing their opponents and also managed to get out of their own half as they sought a way back into the game. They were however unable to find a way past the Uruguayan defence which stood firm keeping a clean sheet in the game.

Kenyan skipper Betsy Omalla said the team had learnt from the tournament after their humiliating losses to the top sides in their pool.

“We controlled the second half and played well creating decent chances, too bad we didn’t start the game like that," she said.

"We gave our best but it was not enough. We will take the positives which is the exposure and experience from playing sides ranked higher than us,” Omalla told FIH.


Kenya - who did not honour their first two matches - will take take on France on Friday at 10.30pm in play-off match set to determine their final position at the tournament. France lost 2-0 to Mexico in penalty shootouts after their last eight match finished 1-1 after regular time.

In other quarter final results, Azerbaijan continued their impressive record at the event after a 5-0 mauling of Dominican Republic while Italy beat Trinidad and Tobago to seal their last four slot.

Italy will play Azerbaijan while hosts Uruguay tackle Mexico in Saturday's semi-finals.

Daily Nation

Canadian Women’s National Team named for World League Round 2

Road to Olympic qualification continues March 14 in Ireland

Shaheed Devji

Field Hockey Canada’s Women’s National Program has selected eighteen athletes to represent the Women’s National Team as they continue the road to Olympic qualification at the upcoming World League Round 2 which takes place in Dublin, Ireland from March 14th-22nd.

World League 2 serves as a step in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games qualification process, as the top teams from this tournament will go on to World League 3 later this year, where several qualification spots are up for grabs.

The Canadian roster compromises mainly of a group of athletes who have been training and competing together for the last two years and who placed first at World League 1 in Mexico in late 2014.

“If you look at the core group that we have, it’s a bunch of twenty-four and twenty-five year old girls now who have been together playing together consistently,” says Canadian Women’s National Team head coach Ian Rutledge. “They’re providing the stability in the team, the leadership, and the performances as well.”

Fourteen of the athletes hail from British Columbia, three from Ontario, and one from Alberta. Among the group of leaders is Thea Culley (Rossland, BC) who is the most capped current Women’s National Team player with 121 international matches under her belt. She is followed closely by team captain Kate Gillis (Kingston, ON) and Abigail Raye (Kelowna, BC) who have both played in 118 international matches.

“They have got a lot of collective experience that we can call upon,” adds Rutledge. “We have had some highs and lows and that shared experience will serve us well during World League 2 for sure.”

Canada’s roster also features Brienne Stairs (Kitchener, ON) who was among the top 10 female goal scorers in the world in 2014, as well as a group athletes who are coming off their first international matches for Canada when the women faced World No. 4 ranked New Zealand in a recent test series in Whagarei.

One Canadian official, umpire Denise Pelletier, will be representing Canada at the tournament.

The women will continue to train in Vancouver before leaving for Ireland early in March. World League 2 kicks off March 14 with Canada facing Turkey. The Canadians will also face Ukraine and host Ireland.

Click here for the full Canadian schedule and results.

Canadian Women’s National Team World League Round 2 Roster 




Abigail Raye


Kelowna, BC

Alex Thicke


Vancouver, BC

Amanda Woodcroft


Waterloo, ON

Beckett Frisch


Calgary, AB

Brienne Stairs


Kitchener, ON

Dani Hennig


Kelowna, BC

Hannah Haughn


North Vancouver, BC

Holly Stewart


North Vancouver, BC

Kaelan Watson


Tsawwassen, BC

Kaitlyn Williams


White Rock, BC

Karli Johansen


North Vancouver, BC

Kate Gillis (Captain)


Kingston, ON

Maddie Secco


Victoria, BC

Natalie Sourisseau


Kelowna, BC

Rosie Beale


Victoria, BC

Sara Mcmanus


Tsawwassen, BC

Steph Norlander


North Vancouver, BC

Thea Culley


Rossland, BC

Canadian Women’s National Team World League Round 2 Staff
Head Coach – Ian Rutledge
Assistant Coach – Stephanie Andrews
Team Manager – Carrie Trumpy
Physiotherapist – Elliott Usher
Video Analyst – Stefanie Sloboda

Canadian Travelling Officials - Women’s World League Round 2
Umpire – Denise Pelletier

Field Hockey Canada media release

Dutch Hockey Club HDM JA 1 Beats Indian Eves 10-2 in Valencia

HDM JA 1 men scored ten goals out of which seven were field goals and the three very well converted penalty corners which benefited the team and gave them a much desired win over Indian eves.

A clinical all-round display helped the men team of Dutch Hockey Club HDM JA 1 winning over Indian eves 10-2 at Valencia, Spain today. As reported by a press release from Hockey India, the matches are in preparation for the FIH World League Round 2, to be held in New Delhi from 07 - 15 March, 2015.

While, the Indian Women Hockey Team looked determined to display their best of the stick works throughout the entire game, the Dutch men were in no mood to give away the scoring to the Indian eves and took away the ball from them reflecting great speed and counter skills. This took them to a much deserved win with 10-2 on the scoreboards.

The game was expected to be played at good pace but the Indian eves could not match to the speed of the brawny men of HDM JA 1. However, it did not deter the Indian eves to get into action and attack and it was Poonam Rani who was successful in the 32nd minute of the game when she penetrated the defence of the Dutch men through a penalty corner deflection and scored for her team. Another fine field goal was scored by Poonam Rani in the 52nd minute of the play by a good exchange of ball between Anupa Barla and Poonam Barla which gave the team a motivation to score further but went in vain.

On the other hand, HDM JA 1 men scored ten goals out of which seven were field goals and the three very well converted penalty corners which benefited the team and gave them a much desired win over Indian eves by 10-2.

The Dutch team also comprised of the U19 National Players who showcased brilliant stick skills and continued to give the much required strength to their side throughout the game.

NDTV Sports

Excitement escalates as HIL hits final lap

By S. Thyagarajan

Dwarfed by the massive coverage of the cricket World Cup, the third edition of the Hockey India League (HIL) has stuttered into the final phase.

The semi finals are to be played tomorrow and summit clash to come on Sunday.

A cursory analysis shows that none of the six teams maintained that measure of consistency. The finalists of last two editions, Delhi Waveriders played much below par.

Barring Akashdeep Singh none of the others performed well. Indian skipper Sardar Singh, penalty corner expert Rupinderpal Singh, schemer Gurbaz Singh and mid fielder Danish Mujtaba were off colour. Yet the squad made it to the last four.

Ranchi Rhinos was the champion in 2014. In a new avatar this time after the India’s cricketing icon, M.S.Dhoni took over as the owner as Ranchi Rays, this team has performed remarkably thanks to the splendid displays by Mandeep Singh and England’s ace Ashley Jackon.

Jackson scored the winning hat tricks versus Kalinga Lancers and Punjab Warriors. Jackson also came up trumps against the mighty Punjab Warriors scoring two goals from penalty corners in the last minute of the match.

Highest paid player Tom Boon of Belgium and Floris Evers (Captain of Netherlands) failed to live up to their reputation, as their team, Dabang Mumbai, managed only a solitary victory. Newcomer penalty corner expert Harmanpreet Singh and stinker Chinglensana Singh played brilliantly in patches for Mumbai.

Penalty corner expert Gonzallo Piellat and forward Lucas Vila-both from Argentina could not help their team Kalinga Lancers secure semi final berth.

Last season bronze medalist UP Wizards’ player Nikkin Thimmaiah scored winning goal synchronizing with hooter against Mumbai. VR Raghunath, Ramandeep Singh with Lioyd Norris-Jones (South Africa) scored in crucial matches.

A combination of mixed talent, young and seasoned, Punjab Warriors gained a great deal thanks to the good work put in Sandeep Singh, the top scorer of last two seasons with 11 goals each on both occasions.  Five- time FIH player of the year, the gallant Aussie, Jaime Dwyer along with SV Sunil and Affan Yousuf are in splendid shape to write a history for Punjab Warriors.

Team MP W D L GF GA Pts
Punjab Warriors 10 6 1 3 30 19 35
Ranchi Rays 10 6 2 2 22 17 35
UP Wizards 10 5 2 3 24 16 32
Delhi Waveriders 10 3 4 3 19 23 25
Kalinga Lancers 10 3 1 6 17 26 21
Dabang Mumbai 10 1 2 7 16 27 15

Fieldhockey.com Exclusive

Delhi play Punjab, Ranchi take on UP in semis

NEW DELHI: After four weeks of non-stop action, the 3rd Hero Hockey India League will reach its crescendo with debutants Ranchi Rays and UP Wizards locking horns in the first semifinal while defending champions Delhi Waveriders take on Jaypee Punjab Warriors (JPW) in the second match on Saturday.

Punjab Warriors emerged as the team to beat this season, topping the league stages with 35 points from 10 games ahead of Ranchi Rays while Uttar Pradesh Wizards finished third with 32 points ahead of the Waveriders, who have managed to accumulate just 25 points.

The first semifinal of the day at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here will be between Ranchi Rays and the Wizards where the new outfit will start as overwhelming favourites, having defeated the Wizards 2-0 and 1-0 in the two encounters in the league stages.

But, the bruised and battered Wizards will be gunning for glory on Saturday and they know very well that a win will erase all the bad memories of the league stages.

Both the teams have quality national and international players but the key to the contest will be the onfield battles between Ranchi skipper Ashley Jackson and rival Jeroen Hertzberger, striker Mandeep Singh and Ramandeep Singh and custodians Tyler Love and PR Sreejesh.

However, at the end of the day, the team that keeps its cool in crunch situations and execute its plans to perfection will emerge as the winner.

Confident of a good show tomorrow, coach of Uttar Pradesh Wizards said, "It's a big game tomorrow. We need to perform to our highest level that we have ever performed in the tournament. It's a clash for the run to the final. We have to perform in the best possible way so that we have a chance to play the final of Hockey India League, this season."

Ranchi Rays skipper Ashley Jackson hopes to continue their good run in the knockout-out stages of the tournament.

"The team has been in great form in the entire tournament and we have to ensure we continue in same vein in knocked-out stage. Each player will have to deliver to beat the Wizards. Our focus will be to penetrate their 'D' and create penalty corners as much as possible. Personally, I will look at converting penalty corners that the team gets," Jackson said.

Ranchi coach Harendra Singh added: "Faltering here is no option for us. The boys will have to ensure that they attack and do not allow the opposition to put pressure on us. I am confident of a positive result."

Meanwhile, the second semifinal of the day is a re-match of last year's summit clash where the Waveriders somehow managed to eke out a win over Punjab Warriors in the tie-break after both the teams were locked at 3-3 after regulation time.

But after having finished second best last year and third in the inaugural edition in 2013, Punjab Warriors will be out to prove a point to their detractors by lifting the title this year and going by their form this season, the Jamie Dwyer-led side will approach the semifinals as one of the favourites.

The Waveriders, on the other hand, will be desperate to hold on to the trophy but it will be easier said than done as in Punjab Warriors they face a tough semifinal opponent.

The Waveriders started the season on a rather sedate note but picked up the momentum and looked a rejuvenated side in the second half of the season. They will enjoy overwhelming crowd support tomorrow but they will have to dish out a herculean effort to get past the in-form Punjab Warriors.

Going by their head-to-head record this year, Punjab will definitely fancy their chances tomorrow. They had defeated Delhi 3-1 and 7-0 in their two meetings this year.

The players to watch out for Warriors are skipper Jamie Dwyer, dragflicker Sandeep Singh and goalkeeper Jaap Stockmann, while the Delhi outfit will be relying heavily on the services of young striker Akashdeep Singh, inspirational captain Sardar Singh, among others.

The Times of India

No place for hatred in sport, says former Pakistan goalkeeper

Harpreet Kaur Lamba

Former Pakistan Goalkeeper, Salman Akbar, commentating at the HHIL

When was the last time that an international sporting team visited Pakistan? It might make for an interesting quiz question, but is the stark reality of a nation that once thrived on its sport.

The land of cricketing greats Imran Khan and Javed Miandad, squash legends Jehangir and Jansher Khan and the invincible hockey squads, the country’s fans are now robbed of seeing their heroes live in action. In fact, there is an entire generation that has not seen Pakistan play on their home turf.

Pakistan have not hosted international cricket since militants attacked the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in March 2009, killing eight people and injuring nine. The annual bilateral hockey series too was halted, with only the occasional club teams travelling to the country.

While Pakistan players did not get permission to play in the ongoing Hockey India League, former goalkeeper Salman Akbar and coach Tahir Zaman have been the face of the country here - both on commentary duties.

Akbar, who played for Pakistan for 14 years and was a member of the 2010 Asian Games gold-medal winning squad, says "it is time to perhaps look at things with a fresh approach".

"It will take a two-way effort," says Akbar, reflecting on the situation.

"There is an entire new generation of Pakistan players who have no experience or idea of what it is to play for the country in front of their fans. Similarly, young Pakistan fans too have only seen their heroes on TV."

Interestingly, the country has witnessed success at international competitions in different sport in the last few years - the cricket team lifted the 2009 world T20 championship, the women’s cricket team won gold at the 2014 Asian Games while the men’s hockey team clinched a silver - but the situation is not very positive at the ground level.

Akbar puts it down to a lack of system in the country.

"The recent incidents have hurt Pakistan as a sporting nation. There have been no international tournaments, teams are not willing to tour the country, and slowly the players too are moving out to play abroad. This is a worrying sign.

"I think we have to be honest about it. The reason behind security concerns is valid, but I would like to say that the situation is not as bad as it seems.

"We are a sport-loving country. People of the country are waiting to see their teams play against the world’s best in the stadiums, and it has hurt us as a sporting nation. I would like to appeal to the powers in Pakistan to look into the situation and see what can be done to ensure that countries find it safe to visit us once again. The public is waiting to see matches at home."

Hockey too has struggled in the wake of recent happenings. Pakistan missed out on the World Cup last year -- a first for the country -- and if that was not enough, lack of funds derailed preparations for the 2014 Asian Games and the Champions Trophy. The team did not even have the finances to travel to India for the Champions Trophy, until a businessman bailed them out.

Akbar said the team’s positive performance in both events where they took a silver each, was an indication that there was a lot of potential and the authorities needed to act quickly to arrest the slide.

"To win medals without proper camps and last minute go-aheads was laudable. It shows the players are talented and need support. We cannot let the sport die in our country. The Pakistan Hockey Federation should learn from India, and see how they provide a professional environment to their players.

"Rather than making excuses, we should look at solutions," he added.
Pakistan though made headlines for the wrong reasons in what was a rare appearance for their players on Indian soil during the Champions Trophy hockey in December, 2014. The players made obscene gestures towards the crowd following their 4-3 semi-final win over India at Bhubaneshwar, leading to suspension to two of their players.

Akbar condemned the act, saying it "embarrassed him".

"The scoreboard was doing the talking, so where was the need to do anything else? Pakistan players’ gestures embarrassed me.

"To me, Pakistan beating Holland in the quarter-finals was a bigger win than this, and it shows that we still have the same mentality of being happy only after beating India. I think the players missed the larger picture and it is best for nations to rise above this.

"During my career, I played in India many times and the crowd would gather behind the goal post and hurl abuses. It is not their fault as they want their country to win. We, as ambassadors of the sport, have to maintain our sanctity and ensure that we give our best. There is no place for hatred in sport," Akbar said.

The Asian Age

Bunce five-star show has Wanderers in good shape

Five star performance from Vikki Bunce in Vienna today. Photo Credit: Duncan Gray

Dundee Wanderers’ start to their indoor European promotion charge got off to a perfect start with wins against HAHK Mladost and Rottweiss Wettingen in Vienna today.

Vikki Bunce was the star performer in the second match of the day, scoring five goals in the second match against Rotweiss Wettingen, including completing a hat-trick containing two field goals and a penalty corner within the first five minutes of the match.

Her fourth goal came on the stroke of half-time, sliding the ball into the net from a wide position, while her fifth goal in the last two minutes of the match was the vital winning goal, rounding the ‘keeper and keeping her composure to fire past the defenders on the goal-line.

Heather Elder opening the scoring in Wanderers’ opening match against HAHK Mladost in the second minute, collecting the ball on the left of the court and driving into the circle to slot the ball home, before Becky Ward doubled the lead for the Dundonians four minute later, rocketing the ball into the left hand top corner to make it 2-0.

Wanderers looked to be cruising to a comfortable win when Charlotte Watson tapped home from close range shortly before half-time, only for Sasa Omic to pull a goal back a minute before the interval.

Sanja Omic then narrowed the deficit further to 3-2 in the 27th minute, beating the out-stretching Carmin Dow with a shot from the right of the circle.

Nevertheless, when Ward found Jennifer Smith in space on the right of the court in the 31st minute, her accurately dispatched shot found the corner of the net to increase Wanderers’ advantage at 4-2.

Ward was the creator once again in the 36th minute, finding Bunce in acres of space to lift the ball high into the net.

Viktoria Somin scored HAHK Mladost’s third with three minutes remaining but proved too little, too late for a comeback.

Wanderers’ sit in joint first place with SV Ariminen and HC Ritm Azot Grodno with a 100% record.

Scottish Hockey Union media release

The Road to Lee Valley continues this weekend

Henley, Investec Trophy 2013

This weekend the next rounds of the Investec Women’s Trophy and the NOW: Pensions Men’s Over 50s Competitions take place with the Women’s Trophy at quarter final stage on the Road to Lee Valley.

Henley, who have won the competition the last two years running face a home quarter final clash with North Notts whilst Didsbury Greys, the side Henley edged out in last year’s finale face the long drive to Sussex outfit Lewes. Lincoln Ladies, who went through the emotional roller coaster of a penalty shootout to overcome Stevenage in the last round were rewarded with a home tie against Newent. Another side who went through a penalty shootout, Newcastle will play host to Wisbech town. With just two games standing between these teams and a place at Lee Valley, the pressure is really mounting.

The draw for the semi-finals of the Investec Women’s Trophy will take place live on Twitter at 7pm on Sunday evening. Make sure you follow @EnglandHockey and use the Hashtag #RoadtoLeeValley

As well as the Investec Women’s Trophy the NOW: Pensions Men’s Over 50s competitions will be in action this coming weekend.

In the O50s cup, holders Ben Rhydding are still in contention and face an away trip to Chester whilst in the trophy; Eastcote will hope to take the scalp of reigning champions Tunbridge Wells. The O50s Shield also takes place for the first year, with eight teams remaining. Bournemouth, Spencer, Charnwood Mountsorrel, Tring, Keswick Whitehaven, Chesterfield, Phoenix (Essex), and Southampton all dreaming of a Lee Valley Final. They will get their chance to take a step closer this weekend.

As with the Women’s Trophy, the O50s draws will take place live on Twitter. Tune in on Monday at 1pm for that one.

England Hockey Board Media release

National Indoor Tournament Season Begins with U16 Division

The floor tiles are laid, the sideboards are down and the excitement of the 2015 National Indoor Tournament (NIT) presented by YOLO Sportswear is abound at the Spooky Nook Sports complex in Lancaster, Pa. USA Field Hockey welcomes the U-16 Division to kick off the first weekend of indoor play Friday, February 20 to Sunday, February 22. The astounding 700,000 square feet venue welcomes top-tier talent from across the nation, marking it as the second year the event is hosted in Lancaster.

“You shared and we listened,” said Karen Collins, USA Field Hockey’s Director of Events. “We’re combining the cherished tradition of our indoor event and implementing positive tweaks to make everyone’s overall experience even better in 2015. We’re thrilled to be back at Spooky Nook Sports and are geared up for great hockey. ”

** Tournament rosters, results and event schedule can be found online in your free digital program located here.***

NIT attendees are encouraged to post tournament pictures on their social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for a chance to be featured on USA Field Hockey’s Facebook! Be sure to include #NIT2015 and @USAFieldHockey.

A parking fee of $5 per vehicle at Spooky Nook Sports will be charged daily, per vehicle for all parking at Spooky Nook Sports. This includes a shuttle ride from the South lot. Parking in the Spooky Nook lot will be on a first-come, first-serve basis. All payment for parking will be processed at the Guest Services Oval, which is located just inside the entrance to the Spooky Nook Sports facility. Satellite parking will also be available in lots located a few miles from the facility. Shuttles will run throughout the day and will be available to return participants to the satellite lot.

USFHA media release

Family can wait for hockey forward Tengku Ahmad

By Aftar Singh

Tengku Ahmad Tajudin (front) is expecting his first child in April, but he is bent on featuring in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh from April 5-12.

KUALA LUMPUR: For many, family comes first.

But not for hockey forward Tengku Ahmad Tajudin Tengku Jalil.

The Kangar-born player is bent on featuring in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh from April 5-12 although his wife Siti Raifana is due to give birth to their first baby in early April.

“I love to play for the country ... but I’ll leave it to my wife to decide on the matter. If she wants me to be with her for the arrival of our first baby, then I’ll skip the tournament. It all depends on my wife,” said Tengku Ahmad, who got hitched last June.

His wife is currently pursuing her Masters degree in sports science at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in Penang.

Tengku Ahmad, who has represented Malaysia since the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, said that it’s not important whether he features in the Ipoh tournament or not.

“What’s more important this year is the World League Semi-Finals in Belgium (from June 20 - July 20). We need to do well in Belgium to qualify for next year’s Olympics (in Rio de Janeiro).

“I have featured in the World Cup (in The Hague, Holland) last year and I want to play in the Olympics before I retire,” said Tengku Ahmad, who has played for Malaysia 254 times.

Malaysia qualified for the World League Semi-Finals in Belgium after winning the World League Second Round in Singapore last month.

Malaysia have not qualified for the Olympics since the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

Tengku Ahmad believes that they stand a “fighting chance” of qualifying for the Olympics after 16 long years under the guidance of Australian consultant Neil Hawgood and coach Tai Beng Hai.

There are 35 players in the training squad. It will be trimmed to 20 next week and Tengku Ahmad hopes to be among them.

The 20-man squad will head for Perth next month to play five friendlies with the Australian team in preparation for the six-nation Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

The other five teams are defending champions Australia, New Zealand, India, South Korea and Canada.

The Star of Malaysia

Walking the walk

Two Hockeyroos tell how they went the extra (96) miles to show their support for one charity

(Photo: FIH)

A 96-kilometre trek up steep and slippery slopes in Papua New Guinea is perhaps not the way many athletes would choose to relax after a busy summer. But Ashleigh Nelson and Rachael Lynch, two of the Commonwealth Games gold-medal-winning squad, had their hearts set on supporting a charity that is leading the way when it comes to recognising mental health problems.

Ashleigh explains what the movement is all about: “RU Ok? is a charity group started up by an Australian son, after he lost his father to suicide. It aims to spread the simple statement of asking the question RU Ok? to increase people’s awareness of how those they come in contact with every day are feeling. It is a great initiative that is creating an environment where admitting to depression or other mental illness is no longer taboo and therefore encourages people to receive the treatment they require.”

In the weeks following the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games, Ashleigh and Rachael decided to join a fundraising walk along the Kokoda Trail. Ashleigh says: “We would walk for 6-10 hours per day with some stops along the way. We could have done the trail quicker, however that would have meant less time meeting the locals and spending time in the villages, which was all part of the experience.

“We were actually quite underprepared in terms of hiking training as we went straight after the World Cup and Commonwealth Games,” laughs Ashleigh. “But fortunately we came out the other side relatively unscathed.”

The two players are ambassadors for the charity, giving talks and getting involved in other events. But the important thing, as both Rachael and Ashley stress, is taking the time to ask someone if everything is alright. Ashleigh says: “Most importantly, we ensure we embody the RU Ok? message and encourage others to ask the question ‘RU Ok?’ on a daily basis, face-to-face or through social media.”

And if the two players ever felt that the trek was getting too much, one person who had already done the trail provided all the inspiration they needed to keep going. Racheal says: “Kurt Fearnley is an Australian Paralympian who we met at the Commonwealth Games. In 2009, Kurt decided to crawl the Kokoda trail to raise funds and awareness for Movember and Beyond Blue. Ash and I spoke of Kurt a lot while walking as his perseverance and pure grit was something we both admired and kept in the back of our minds when things got tough.”

One of the messages from RU Ok? is that depression and mental illness can happen to anyone, at any time. Rachael explained how the idea of just taking a few moments to check someone is feeling okay is relevant within the sporting environment. “There have been plenty of instances where I've seen the RUOk? message shine through. Certainly in our Hockeyroos team you often see the girls reaching out and giving support to each other. We operate in a very intense, high pressure environment so it is easy to become overwhelmed and stressed. A simple message after training to make sure someone is ok can really make a difference.”

FIH site

FIH appoint Alastair Cox as Facilities Manager

FIH is pleased to announce the appointment of Alastair Cox as Facilities Manager.  Industry big hitter Alastair has 36 years’ experience of the testing and setting of standards for the performance and durability of synthetic sports surfaces.  He joins the FIH in a newly created role which will play an important part in adding to the existing services and support provided to the FIH Continental Federations (CF’s) and National Associations (NA’s) as part of the FIH’s ‘Engage and Empower Programme’.

While new to the role, Alastair has worked alongside the FIH for a number of years and is the author of the FIH Pitch Handbook.

FIH launched their new strategy in November last year designed to unite the hockey community.  FIH’s ambition is ‘a global game that inspires the next generation’ with its purpose ‘to raise the global status and popularity of hockey’.  To achieve this ambition, FIH have set themselves four goals and subsequent initiatives have been defined to achieve these goals.    Alastair’s appointment will contribute directly to the new strategy.  His focus will be on creating and providing guidelines for facility development, offering advice to those looking to build new facilities, overseeing the pitch licensing scheme, reviewing the accreditation process for laboratories and looking at development opportunities across all areas of hockey equipment.

Alastair knows that good facilities (in particular pitches) recruit and retain players and fans.  Through advising those looking to build new facilities, Alastair will provide added value to the FIH CF’s and NA’s by enabling them to maximise their investments.  For example, there are four categories of pitch available on the market and Alastair will advise on the best pitch to suit specific needs and weather conditions.  He will assist in planning for maintenance of the pitch and how this and the associated training costs need to be budgeted for, alongside lighting requirements for the pitch.  Alastair will work closely with FIH partners Polytan STI and Musco lighting in these areas.

Another part of Alastair’s remit is working with the FIH events team to create higher standards and expectations with regard to pitches and facilities at FIH events.  This will contribute towards athlete welfare, spectator experience and online viewing thereby continuing to build a recognised, powerful image for hockey.

Alastair joins from Labosport International where he was Deputy CEO and prior to this he was Managing Director of Labosport UK, as well as advising a number of International Federations on synthetic turf issues.

In 2011, he was awarded the inaugural lifetime achievement award by the European Synthetic Turf Organisation, and sits as a member of a number of global committees looking at sport surfaces and facilities.

FIH site

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