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News for 19 March 2015

All the news for Thursday 19 March 2015

GB men share spoils with Germany

With less than four weeks to go until Great Britain men face Olympic Champions Germany on home turf in the Nations Cup, Bobby Crutchley’s side have travelled out to Mannheim to face the world number three side in two unofficial games and one official capped test match.

Earlier tonight a squad of 18 athletes, selected from a 23 man training squad, played out a 2-2 draw against the world number three side. Great Britain Captain Barry Middleton and East Grinstead’s David Condon were both on target either side of half time, but goals from Germany in the first and final quarter left everything even after 60 minutes.

Great Britain started slowly and had to fight back after going a goal behind to Germany in the opening quarter. Tobias Matania netted for the Germans in the 11th minute, but Middleton pulled the scores back level to 1-1 on 21 minutes. Middleton’s Holcombe teammate Iain Lewers broke from defence to find Chris Griffiths who swept the ball across goal for the GB Captain to finish from close range.

Despite losing Middleton to a slight injury just before half time Crutchley’s side dominated play in the third quarter and they were rewarded for their efforts in the 41st minute when David Condon found the target with a reverse stick effort from 10 yards out beating the German keeper at the far post. Great Britain were unlucky not to go further ahead as they sustained the pressure on Germany in the final quarter, but a penalty corner in the 56th minute resulted in a goal for the hosts and gave them a share of the spoils in Mannheim. Crutchley’s men will play one more training match [unofficial] against Germany tomorrow before heading back to the UK.

England Head Coach Bobby Crutchley On the performance: “We were slow to start and were opened up in the first quarter, which is frustrating, but once we got into the game we played well. I was a bit frustrated not to win it given the way we played, but overall I’m pretty pleased with the performance. Once we got the intensity up I thought we had good control for long periods in the final two quarters, controlling possession well and creating chances. This was another good match in our development leading towards the Olympic qualifiers [World League Semi Final] in June.“

The next official match between Great Britain and Germany will be played on home turf on Tuesday 14 April as the Olympic champions return to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for the first time since London 2012. To find out more about the Nations Cup click here.

Tobias Matania 11 (FG)
Pilt Arnold 56 (PC)

Barry Middleton 21 (FG)
David Condon 41 (FG)

Great Britain Hockey media release

Great Britain's hockey men denied by late Germany goal in one-off Test

Late goal by hosts Germany sets up rematch at Olympic Park on April 14

By Rod Gilmour

Captain's knock: Barry Middleton scored but picked up first-half injury Photo: ADY KERRY

Bobby Crutchley, the Great Britain men’s hockey coach, was left “frustrated” as Germany scored a late equaliser in a one-off Test in Mannheim on Wednesday evening.

Great Britain drew 2-2 against the world No 3 side after captain Barry Middleton and East Grinstead’s David Condon scored either side of half-time following Tobias Matania’s 11th minute strike from open play.

Pilt Arnold then levelled with four minutes’ left in the one official capped Test between the two sides, with the two nations also playing two unofficial games ahead of next month’s showdown at the Olympic Park on April 14.

“We were slow to start and were opened up in the first quarter, which is frustrating, but once we got into the game we played well,” said Crutchley.

“I was a bit frustrated not to win it given the way we played, but overall I’m pretty pleased with the performance.

“Once we got the intensity up I thought we had good control for long periods in the final two quarters, controlling possession well and creating chances.”

Middleton had levelled matters when Iain Lewers broke from defence to find Chris Griffiths, who swept the ball across goal for the GB captain to finish from close range.

Middleton picked up an injury before the break, but Great Britain maintained the pressure as Condon scored with a reverse stick strike from 10 yards out. They held the lead for 15 minutes until Germany’s equaliser from a penalty corner.

“This was another good match in our development leading towards the Olympic qualifiers [World League Semi Final] in June,” added Crutchley.

Before then, Great Britain and Germany will square off in a rematch next month. Germany will return to the scene of their Olympic triumph for the Nations Cup at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The Telegraph

Canada seeing steady improvement ahead of World League 2 quarterfinal

Canadian women face Austria Thursday in Dublin, Ireland

Shaheed Devji

Tournament hockey can be as unpredictable as it gets. With each result influencing the next match and positioning for matches to come, what a team must focus on is the oldest cliché in sports: one game at a time.

The Canadian Women’s National Field Hockey Team has not only been able to do just that so far at Women’s World League Round 2 in Dublin, Ireland, but they have been able to do so while making steady progress in each match.

“I think every game in a tournament mode like this, you want to be making improvements day to day and I think we’re doing that,” says Women’s National Team head coach Ian Rutledge.

The reason the Canadian women have been able to do this, according to Rutledge, is because of a team philosophy adopted when Rutledge took over the reigns about two years ago.

“The big thing for us is that we must play our game and do it our way,” he says. “We want to be opposition aware and Canada focused.”

It’s a mentality the team is buying in to, a reason why they’ve seen early success at World League Round 2, and what they’ll have to stick to if they hope to finish in the top two and move on to the World League Semi-Finals in June.

“As a team we’ve been looking to play an aggressive style,” says forward Hannah Haughn, who is coming off a two-goal performance in Canada’s final pool-stage match, a 3-1 win against Ukraine. “I think our pressing structure and quick free hits, particularly in the first and third games, really made the difference for us.”

In Thursday’s quarterfinal, Canada faces Austria, the third ranked team in Pool B, which won one game and lost two others in the preliminary round. And while the Canadians had hoped to finish in first in Pool A (they finished second to Ireland, after a 2-1 loss to the host nation on Sunday), they take solace in being able to finish pool play strong.

“The loss to Ireland added fuel to our fire for the match (vs. Ukraine),” adds Haughn. “We knew Ukraine were going to come to compete with second place in the pool on the line.”

Having won a game with high stakes and achieved their goal of finishing second after the loss to Ireland, Canada enters the elimination round with confidence.

“We’re playing an attacking brand of hockey that’s generating goals in possession, and aggressive defensive that’s also generating opportunities for us high up on the pitch as well,” Rutledge explains. “I think we’re getting there. We’re getting to the place we need to be at the right time.”

The quarterfinal between Canada and Austria takes place at 3:30am PST/7:30am EST on Thursday.

The top two finishers at World League 2 gain an entry into World League Round 3 in Spain in June, where the top teams will earn a spot at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Field Hockey Canada media release

Key USA vs Ireland Series before Olympic Qualifiers Paves USWNT’s Road to Rio

LANCASTER, Pa. – The next opportunity to be part of the U.S. Women’s National Team’s journey to contend at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games in the U.S. is marked for mid-May at the Home of Hockey’s Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster, Pa. International threat Ireland, with an FIH World Ranking of 14, will meet the red, white and blue for three test matches.  This International Series serves as the final round of preparation matches for the United States before they make their way to Valencia for World League Round 3, the first opportunity for the USWNT to qualify for the Olympic Games.

The last meeting between the two teams came in May 2014, where Team USA beat Ireland 3-1 to win the Champions Challenge title.

“We are very much looking forward to hosting Ireland here in Lancaster for the test series in May,” said U.S. Women’s National Team Head Coach Craig Parnham. “The games will be an important part of our preparations as we build towards the Olympic qualifying tournament in Spain.”

After a successful, action-packed series against Argentina in February, Team USA is ready to challenge another tough competitor.

Tickets for the Ireland series will go on sale Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 12 p.m. EST and are exclusively for sale at www.usafieldhockey.com.

USA vs Ireland series schedule:

Monday, May 18                        USA vs Ireland, 6.30 p.m. EST

Tuesday, May 19                       USA vs Ireland, 6:30 p.m. EST

Thursday, May 21                      USA vs Ireland, 6:30 p.m. EST

The USWNT’s Argentina series sold out seats in record time and demand for tickets is anticipated to be high with match tickets being limited. Games will be played on the outside turf at Spooky Nook Sports. Tickets are $18 for adults and $9 for discounts (under 18, senior citizens and military). There will also be the option to purchase the full series tickets for $48 for adults and $24 for discounts.

Group tickets will also be available for each game, when 10 or more tickets are purchased from a like ticket category for a match a discount will be applied of $3 off per ticket. This is a great option for clubs, middle and high school teams and collegiate programs and any group of friends wanting to experience international field hockey together.

“Following the recent interest in the Argentina series held at the Nook last month, we are excited to be able to offer another opportunity to watch international hockey in Lancaster,” said USA Field Hockey Executive Director, Steve Locke. “It is important for the team to be visible within the community and these home games are a great way for us to share what we do with not only the seasoned supporters but also those new to the game and of course the next generation of hockey stars.”

Keep your eyes locked on usafieldhockey.com for more information regarding the USA vs Ireland series. #UN1TED

USFHA media release

Learn to win from yourself first, says van Ass

Harpreet Kaur Lamba

He has just been three days in the job, and India hockey coach Paul van Ass has identified key roles for his players and himself.

“Learn to win from yourself first,” is van Ass’s profound message to the bunch while the Dutchman has set himself the task of learning about the country’s sociology and history to help "fit" into his role better.

A copy of David Smith’s Hinduism and Modernity was his first pick before boarding a flight to India.The 54-old year is no stranger to hockey at the top level, having guided Holland to a silver each in the 2012 London Olympics and 2014 World Cup. But India, he says, is a "different place".

"By different, I do not mean better or worse, but simply different. When I was 10 years old and started playing hockey, my father said, ‘If you want to be the best, look at what the Indian hockey players do’.

"Indian hockey is very attractive and is watched the world over for its uniqueness. They have taken many steps ahead in the last few years and I am here to add to it," says van Ass.

Retain Indian style of play

Unlike his predecessors who introduced European methods or the Australian style, van Ass is keen to continue the Indian style of play that is based on skill and attack.

"I do not want the players to unlearn anything," he says. "In fact, me and (high performance manager) Roelant Oltmans will only add to those elements and take it ahead. We have to bring in the good aspects of world hockey, but without disturbing their original style."

Realistic targets

India enjoyed moderate success at the international level last year, picking up medals at the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games and van Ass said it was "time to make the chain stronger".

"There has been progress... India have risen not only in results but also in they way they play. And, we have to make that chain stronger. The chain of defence, that of counter control. We can see that the gap (between India and the top teams) is closing. But they can improve, especially when playing under pressure.

"My emphasis will be to challenge the players to the maximum.... I always says, you have to win first from yourself before you can win again. And that is hard, because it is harder to win from yourself," the coach explains.

Communication a key area

One of the key areas that the Dutchman has identified is communication, which he stresses will have to be a two-way process. "By communication, I refer to connect, relate and translating what exactly is being said. It is not about language, as we all speak the language of sport. It will involve a lot of visualisation and communication sessions, where in everyone will need to be clear of their roles and responsibilities."

Medal at 2016 Olympics?

van Ass guided Holland to a medal in each of his nine tournaments between 2010 and 2014, but the Dutchman understands what a medal means to a nation that has a rich history in the Olympics.

"There is a difference between hope and reality. The hope is that India should win a medal in 2016, but the reality is that we are climbing up.
"The reality is that India finished 12th at the last Olympics and from there the step has been taken to reach number nine in the world. For me, it is important to look at the larger picture and that is to progress.

"If you are looking at results, then the World League final round in December 2015 will tell us exactly how much we have progressed and the areas that will need to be worked upon," he said.

The Asian Age

Paul wants to play it India way

Sabi Hussain

New Delhi - It seems that Indian hockey's new foreign coach Paul Van Ass has come prepared. Paul, who coached The Netherlands to an Olympic silver medal at the London Games, knows India has been a tough place to work for foreign coaches because of bureaucratic hurdles. The 54-year-old Dutchman is aware that the biggest challenge is not training the players, but adjusting to the complex sporting system which led to the ouster of his predecessor Walsh.

Excerpts from his first interaction.

What's your first impression of the Indian team?

The players are very skilful. I've always wanted to be India's head coach. When I had started playing hockey at the age of 10, my father told me to follow Indian hockey, 'copy them and you will be good'. I did just that. These players have good technical skills. The Indian team finished 12th at the London Olympics and ninth at the World Cup. This shows that they have made some progress; the chain of development is already there, we just need to make that chain stronger to continue climbing up the ranking ladder.

What are the key areas you would be looking to improve?

Look, the gap between the Indians and the other top-ranking nations is narrowing down. There may be certain things to improve like keeping cool under pressure. This is a part of the process and hopefully we can keep on producing results. I would like to maintain the Indian style of play. I won't try to make them a Dutch team or any other European team. We will definitely bring in the knowledge of that style of hockey, but for me, it's very important that hockey fans can feel that Indian style is there in the play.

India is not an easy place to work. Most of the coaches faced problems, given the bureaucratic hurdles. Are you aware of the pressure that comes with the coaching job?

Things would definitely be different for me here. Coming to India as a foreigner, I have to adjust to the system and understand how things work here. I call this 'sociology. It has all to do about knowing the culture. That's what I am lacking and that's what I want to learn. There may be some issues which can crop up during such a long period. Don't forget that we have to leave our family and country to accept this job. It's a hard job and you add to it the burden of expectation. I see it as a normal fact of life in a high performance sport like hockey.

Your contract is till 2018 World Cup, but realistically, your continuance will depend on India's show at the Rio Games. Are you aware that last five coaches weren't able to complete their tenure?

I am used to pressure situations. There will be moments when you will feel alone and hurt but I am used to it. I really don't care about these things. I am here on a mission to take Indian hockey forward and learn about their culture. I have my priorities clearly defined and if I wasn't allowed to implement what I want to do, then I would say 'better you throw me out'. I hope to add something to the team. I know I have to adjust, but sometimes India have to adjust a little bit.

India have already qualified for the Olympics. What's your realistic target?

Let me divide the Olympics between hope and the reality. Hope is that India will get a medal, but the reality is the Indian team is in the process of climbing up the ladder. In 16 months' time, we are supposed to get a medal at the Rio Games. Well, our efforts would be directed towards it, but for me the real measure moment would be the Hockey World League Final in December which will give me the idea that where we are lacking and do we really have a chance at the Olympics. I don't want to get into the top-4 or top-6 debate.

The Tribune

As a foreigner I’ll have to adjust to system: Van Ass

Indian hockey team coach Paul Van Ass interacts with the team members during a practice session in New Delhi on Wednesday. Photo: S. Subramanium, The Hindu

NEW DELHI: India has always been a difficult place to work for any foreign coach because of its culture and bureaucratic hurdles, but the new chief coach of the men's hockey team Paul van Ass on Wednesday said he has no other option but to adjust to the system.

"It's different (working in India). Different doesn't have to mean it is better or worst, it's simply different. As a foreigner, we have to adjust (in India), we have to adjust to the system," Van Ass told reporters in his first interaction with the media at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium after taking over the reins of the team.

Working in India as a coach and that too in a high-pressure sport like hockey has never been easy for a foreigner. Indian hockey has witnessed the arrival and departure of many foreign coaches over the years as the specialists from abroad have found it difficult to adjust to the Indian system.

Barring high performance director Roelant Oltmans, who has survived the tide for over two years and is still going strong, Indian hockey has witnessed the acrimonious exits of three foreigners -- Spaniard Jose Brasa and Australian duo of Michael Nobbs and his successor Terry Walsh under whom India qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics after winning the Asian Games gold in Incheon after a hiatus of 16 years.

Asked about the problems and pressure which comes along with the India job, the 54-year-old Van Ass said: "Don't forget we have to leave our families, we have very limited opportunities to go home. So, it is hard, it's a hard job.

"It can happen in sport that your cycle suddenly becomes shorter than it was to be. I look at this as a normal fact of life. But I am not thinking about these things at the moment. What will happen will happen."

The Dutchman, under whose guidance the Netherlands won silver medals at the 2012 London Olympics and last year's World Cup, said he is ready to accept the country's culture for the love of Indian style of hockey.

"For me the biggest challenge is not training the players. For me the reason to leave my family is to know and feel how things are working over here, I call it sociology. It has all to do about knowing the culture. That's what I am lacking and that's what I want to learn. How the culture works here.

"I know here expectations are high. In India the expectation now is to move up. There will be moments when you will feel alone and hurt but I am used to it. I don't see it as a problem," he said.

Interestingly, Van Ass has brought along with him a book titled "Hinduism In Modern Times" which presently he is studying to know the Indian culture.

Talking about his goal, Van Ass made it clear that even though he hopes to guide India to a podium finish in next year's Rio Olympics, he can't shy away from reality.

"There is always something between hope and reality. The hope is India will get a medal in the Olympics but we also have to be realistic. The Indian team is climbing up but let's be realistic. From 12 in the Olympics and 9th in the World Cup, now we are supposed to get a medal in the Rio Olympics in 16 months time. We hope to get a medal and all our efforts will be to maximize our chance of getting a medal," he said.

"For me the real target is the Hockey World League Final in December. It will give us a chance to measure our progress because by then we will have enough time to get adjusted to each other. It will be an interesting tournament for us because there we can assess whether we are lacking in some areas or do we really have a chance," he explained.

"The development of the game is already there and I hope to pick it up from there. I want to continue this climb up the ladder. That is the main target."

Van Ass knows the challenge that comes with the India job, but he said he can't afford to reject the opportunity because of his love for Indian style of hockey.

"They (Indian players) are very skillful. That's one of the reasons I always said besides Holland there is one country which I want to coach if I get an opportunity is India. When I started playing hockey at the age of 10, my father always used to tell me 'look at the Indians and you try to copy them, then only you will be a good player'," he said.

"You can see that skill on the pitch and that's the reason why I decided to come over.

"India is playing with heart and technical skills. Every coach can make the chain a little bit stronger and hopefully we can continue to climb on the world rankings ladder. The Asian Games gold proves that India has risen."

The new chief coach said although there are areas to work upon, he is no mood to change their style of game.

"The gap is closing. They can improve in a lot of ways. The good positive point is the technical skill but they need to be more cooler when put under pressure because that's when they do things in haste. That's a process and I hope we can address it.

"But what I really liked is that they have kept the Indian style of play. We will not try to make it a Dutch team or another European team but yes we will try to bring in our knowledge. But for me what is important is the Indian way of hockey because that's what attract us," Van Ass said.

"I don't want them to unlearn things because that would go against the nature. But we will try to make the chain stronger -- the chain of defence, the chain of control, counter control. But Asian hockey is known for it's skill, creativity and that's the fantastic part. I hope I can leave that part with the players," he added.

Admitting that communication will act as a hindrance in discharging his duties as majority of the Indian players are not well versed in English language, Van Ass vowed to find out solutions to the problem.

"I don't speak Hindi but we speak the language of sport together. Communication is the biggest problem to tackle. That worries me. What is important for me is to connect and relate with the players.

"I will have to do visualizing a lot, make lot of repetitions. Every other day have communication sessions together," he said.

The Times of India

A New Beginning Awaits Indian hockey

The last year was an eventful one, as far as India hockey is concerned. The pressure was right from the beginning as the players shuffled between countries to play the World Cup, the Commonwealth Games, the Asian Games and the Champions Trophy.

The Sardar Singh-led team garnered praise at every tournament and the world saw a considerably better India team.

However, today is a different phase and as the Indian team are readying themselves to play the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia from April 5, their first national duty this year, it is the beginning of a new chapter in Indian hockey as another foreign coach enters the arena.

Indian hockey’s on and off tryst with foreign coaches isn’t a new one. The Terry Walsh saga last year, captured attention of all the hockey fans. Now, with the coming of the Dutch Paul van Ass, all eyes will be on him as he takes over a team which has raised the bar of expectations after a good run last year.

Paul van Ass knows the huge responsibility he has been bestowed with, especially to deliver in a country which believes in instant results. No wonder, even before he formally joined the team for practice on March 15, he had already done part of the homework, as he mentioned in one of the interviews.

An advantage for Paul, a former coach of the Netherlands team would be to work with his fellow countryman Roelant Oltmans -- Indian team's High Performance Director -- who had been sweating hard with Terry Walsh to build up a ‘process’, as duo said, for the future of Indian hockey.

Paul van Ass is known for taking strict decisions; his call not to include the Taeke Takema and Teun Noojier, the T&T of the Dutch hockey in their national camp had raised many eyebrows. But this time, with around 15 days to go for the Malaysian outing, the pressure will be more on the new coach than the team.


Public Sector hockey semifinals on Friday

s2h Team

Air India will take on Oil and Natural Gas Commission in the semifinal while Food Corporation of India will fight it out against spirited Steel Authority of India in the other in the ongoing Public Sector hockey tournament in New Delhi

The semifinals are slated for Friday.

Air India Sports Promotion Board, New Delhi, is hosting the event at the Shivaji Stadium. Expectedly, the strong outfits Air India, SAIL, ONGC dominated the matches held so far.

Results of the match held on 18th March 2015 11.00 am: ONGC defeat SAIL 5 – 4
Goal Scorers
Simranjeet Singh (20) 40" (FG)
Gurjant Singh (19) 43" (FG)
Harsahib Singh (8) 54" (FG), 67" (FG)
Mandeep Antil (23) 56" (FG)

Kuldeep Kerketta (2) 35" (PC)
Janma Majhi (14) 50"(FG), 61"(PC), 67"(PC)
Player of the match – Jamna Majhi of SAIL

13.00 pm: BSNL defeat BHEL 7 – 2
Premjit Kujur (8) 7"(FG)
S. George Domnick (11) 16"(FG), 41"(FG), 68"(FG)
X. Felix Alwin (16) 19"(FG)
P. S. Bisht (14) 44"(FG)
Vinod Chengappama (12) 54"(PC)
Satish Kumar (8) 38"(FG), 51"(PS)
Player of the match – S. George Domnick

03.00 pm: AIR INDIA defeat NLC 5 – 0
Joga Singh (11) 14"(FG), 31"(FG)
Aiyappab K. (8) 18"(FG), 44"(FG)
Mohan Muthanna (24) 23"(FG)

Matches scheduled on 20th March 2015
12:30 PM: FCI Vs SAIL
03:00 pm: ONGC Vs AIR INDIA


MHL champs Terengganu on the hunt for foreign players

By Aftar Singh

Malaysian Hockey League double champions Terengganu will no longer have the services of their Korean players (in yellow) when the new season starts in July.

KUALA LUMPUR: Terengganu are hunting for foreign players in an effort to do another double in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).

Last season, Terengganu won both the MHL league and overall titles for the first time – thus becoming the first team from the east coast to do so.

This year’s MHL will begin in July, after the Hari Raya celebrations. But Terengganu are starting early because they know they won’t have the five South Koreans who helped them achieve the double.

The five were penalty corner specialist Jang Jong-hyun, Kang Moon-kyu, Kang Moon-kweon, Bae Jeong-seok and Seo Jong-ho.

“The Koreans will not be available because of national duty ... in preparation the World League Semi-finals (in Belgium from June 20 to July 5),” said Terengganu Hockey Association secretary Marzilaini Mohamed.

“After the World League Semi-Finals, the Koreans will feature in their domestic competitions. We can cope without them.

“Our Mentri Besar (Datuk Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman) has given us his full support ... he wants us to go all out to retain both the league and overall titles.

“We have retained 10 players from last year’s squad and we’ll also hold a three-day trial to scout for local players.

“Those interested can attend the trials at the Kuala Terengganu Municipal Council Stadium in Batu Buruk from tomorrow (today),” said Marzilaini.

The trials will be held twice a day, from 8am-10.30am and 4.30pm-6.30pm.

The 10 players retained are Azlan Misron, Mohd Shahrun Nabil, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, Mohd Hafizuddin Othman, Mohd Hazrul Faiz Ahmad Sobri, Ismail Abu, Engku Andul Malik, Mohd Firhan Ashaari and Saari brothers Faizal and Fitri.

Former national player Sarjit Singh, who guided Terengganu to the double, will be in charge of the team again this season.

Each team can register 20 players for the MHL.

Last season, only six teams took part in the MHL. The other teams in the fray were KL Hockey Club (KLHC), Tenaga Nasional, Maybank, Sapura and Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL).

The Star of Malaysia

Namibia – a small nation with giant ambitions

As hockey continues to grow across the world, we visit one country that is determined to rise in the rankings

(Photo: FIH)

With a population of just 2.1 million people, Namibia is one of the least densely-populated countries in the world, and has an economy based around mining, agriculture and herding. But this small country, which was governed by South Africa until 1990, has aspirations to join the top tiers of international hockey.

Hockey in Namibia is a sport growing in popularity, it is ranked as one of the top five sports for participants in the country, along with cricket, rugby, football and cycling.

While the outdoor game is played by more than 4,000 people, with temperatures in the country sometimes in the mid 40s, the indoor version of hockey is also growing at speed, with several clubs playing league hockey and the women’s national team representing Africa at the 2011 Indoor World Cup in Poland. In 2014, the African Indoor Championships were held in the capital city Windhoek, where both the men’s and women’s teams came second behind South Africa. This was the qualifying event for the FIH Indoor World Cup.

Marc Nel was a former head coach of one of the Namibian hockey teams and he has just been elected as President of the Namibian Hockey Union, with an executive board of nine people. This is the body that will be driving hockey in the south-west African country forward, by championing schemes to increase participation as well as working to secure funding for new facilities. There has already been a significant step forward in this quest with a new hockey turf expected to be completed at the end of the year.

A national programme of excellence is only possible with a wide grass-roots pool to draw talent from, so Nel was pleased to announce during a recent visit by FIH representatives to Namibia that the youth programme is paying off with a lot of inter school competitions and many young players already feeding into the major league sides.

While a lack of water in the country – less than 350mm average rainfall – and a semi-arid climate, which includes the Namib Desert, the proposed hockey turf will not be water-based, but the NHU is working with the pitch provider, to work on a viable alternative, using little water but still providing a high standard surface.

As part of the development programme, European national teams will be invited to use the new pitch and facilities for warm weather training and with Namibia’s long association with Germany, the NHU are hoping that the European giants might be the first visitors to the new pitch and facilities.

FIH site

Pupil killed by lightning during hockey match

Johannesburg - A 17-year-old school pupil has died after being struck by lightning while running for cover during a thunderstorm in Mpumalanga.

Grade 11 pupil Francois Clarence, who was a first team hockey player at Hor Tegniese Skool (HTS) Witbank, was reportedly playing against a team from Potchefstroom when the storm struck without warning on Tuesday afternoon, a Sapa correspondent reported.

"The teachers told the players to run to the school cafeteria, which was 200m away. While he was running across the rugby field, Francois was struck by lightning," said Emalahleni police spokesperson Eddie Hall.

"From the reports it looks like he was hit directly by the lightning, as his clothes were burnt. The lightning didn't strike the ground first."

He said paramedics were immediately called to the scene and tried to resuscitate Clarence, whose heart had stopped beating.

They got a faint pulse and he was rushed to intensive care at Life Cosmos Hospital.

Family, fellow pupils, and community members held a prayer session at the hospital but he died late on Tuesday night.

An inquest docket had been opened into his death, which Hall described as a "tragic accident".

"From what we have heard it sounds like the teachers acted responsibly, this was just a tragic accident," he explained.

A post-mortem was expected to take place on Friday.

The Clarence family were too distraught to comment, while the school could not be reached on Wednesday.

But friends of Clarence used the school's Facebook page to share their grief.

"It's surely the most painful thing in the whole world. My heart goes out to the parents, family and friends. Only prayers can help with the comfort, may God send his angels to hold you close in this time," one user commented.


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