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News for 28 March 2015

All the news for Saturday 28 March 2015

Pitch perfect

With just over 10 weeks to go before the Hockey World League Semi Finals burst into action, Valencia’s new pitch is gaining plaudits from the players.

The Netherlands playing Spain in Valencia, January 2015 (Photo: FIH)

Teams playing in the Hockey World League Semi Final in Valencia in June will be one step further along their preparations for the Olympics in Rio 2016 as the pitch surface at both events will be identical.

The top three placed teams from the HWL Semi Finals will gain an automatic berth to Rio, so the experience of training and competing on the new pitch at the Sports Centre Virgen del Carmen-Betero will prove invaluable for the players and their coaching teams.

A number of top international teams have already tried out the surface with 2014 World Cup Winners, the Netherlands, Germany, India, Ireland, England and Spain among the sides that played test matches earlier in the year.

So what is different about the Valencia facility from any of the other artificial pitches that have been built recently?  The main thing is the yarn the Hockey Turf is made with. With an ever-increasing awareness of the need for reduced water consumption, particularly in places prone to very hot temperatures such as Valencia and Rio, the manufacturer, Polytan STI, has used their Cool Plus technology to develop a Hockey Turf that remains cool even in strong sunlight, meaning it requires less water than older products to produce the required playing qualities.

At a more prosaic playing level, the turf also promises faster, truer and smoother movement of the ball.

This pitch, like the one in London for the 2012 Olympics and Rio in 2016, is blue. This has proven a very successful innovation as it allows better visibility for television coverage as well as helping players and spectators to see the ball more clearly. Valencia has been a world leader in pitch innovation: the pitch that existed before this new one was the first blue-grass pitch in the world.

The president of the Federation of Hockey in Valencia, Jesus Gracia, says: “This gives us the best facilities for hockey in Spain. Teams from around the world will have the same conditions as they will face in Rio 2016.”

Both the pitch and the venue met with approval from players and coaches alike. German midfielder, Hannah Kruger, said: “Playing on the Valencia pitch, by the sea, is my favourite hockey venue. And manager of the England and Great Britain women’s hockey team, Karen Brown, said: “The pitch has settled in really well. There was still a lot of building work going on around it, but everything looked really well organised. Certainly we had no issues with the pitch, the ball travelled well and the pitch looks very striking. We are looking forward to going back to play there in June.”

Tickets are now on sale for the Hockey World League Semi-Final in Valencia and can be purchased here.

FIH site

Canadian men headed to Malaysia for 2015 Azlan Shah Cup

Canada to compete against four of the world's top ten teams

Shaheed Devji

The Canadian Men’s National Field Hockey Team is headed to Ipoh, Malaysia to compete against a handful of the world’s best teams in the storied Sultan Azlan Shah Cup from April 5th-12th, 2015.

Eighteen athletes have been named to the touring roster, which includes fourteen members of the Men’s National Team that recently finished third at World League Round 2 in San Diego, California.

Twenty-three year-old defender Adam Froese (Abbotsford, BC), who is coming off his 100th international match for Canada, will be serving as team captain with Scott Tupper in Belgium on club duty.

In addition to the host Malaysians (ranked 12th in the world), Canada, currently ranked 15th, will face many of the world’s top field hockey nations Australia (world no.1), New Zealand (world no.7), Korea (world no.8), and India (world no.9).

Having recently qualified for the World League Semi-finals, which take place in Argentina in June, and serve as an Olympic qualifier, with the top three teams from that tournament earning an automatic berth in the 2016 Olympic Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the Azlan Shah Cup could not come at a better time for the Canadians.

“It serves a double purpose,” says Canadian head coach Anthony Farry. “It gives us the opportunity to go and play the best teams in the world which is going to prepare for World League 3 (also known as the World League Semi-finals).

“Secondly and maybe more importantly, it gives those guys who were just on the edge of selection for World League 2, the opportunity to push for World League 3.”

Umpire Deric Leung, who also officiated at World League 2 in California, will once again be representing Canada at the tournament.

This year’s tournament will be the twenty-fourth edition of the Azlan Shah Cup. The Canadians finished fifth in 2014. Canada opens the tournament Sunday, April 5th at 1:15am PT/4:15am ET against the world’s first ranked team, Australia.

See Canada's full tournament schedule and get results as they happen here.

Canadian Men’s National Team – 2015 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup





Adam Froese (Captain)



Abbotsford, BC

Antoni Kindler



Vancouver, BC

Ben Martin



Vancouver, BC

Brenden Bissett



New Westminster, BC

David Carter



Vancouver, BC

David Jameson



Vancouver, BC

Devohn Noronha-Teixeira



Mississauga, ON

Gabriel Ho-Garcia



Burnaby, BC

Iain Smythe



Vancouver, BC

Jagdish Gill



Toronto, ON

James Kirkpatrick



Victoria, BC

John Smythe



Vancouver, BC

Matthew Sarmento



Vancouver, BC

Oliver Scholfield



Vancouver, BC

Paul Wharton



Vancouver, BC

Richard Hildreth



Vancouver, BC

Sukhi Panesar



Surrey, BC

Taylor Curran



North Vancouver, BC 

 Canadian Men’s National Team Staff – 2015 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup

Head Coach – Anthony Farry
Assistant Coach – Paul Bundy
Team Manager – Geoff Matthews
Physiotherapist – Joshua Ferguson

Canadian Touring Officials – 2015 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup

Umpire – Deric Leung

Field Hockey Canada media release

Need to work more on patience level of players: Van Ass

NEW DELHI: Insisting that "patience" is key to a side's success at international level, Indian men's hockey team's new chief coach Paul van Ass on Friday said he needs to work on this area to help increase the tolerance level of Sardar Singh and his men.

Van Ass said although the patience level of Indian players has increased significantly, work still needs to raise it further.

"All round fitness of the team is good and the boys are showing excellent dedication, but yes we will definitely be working on specific areas. The key is to have patience during the game as it helps in better control of the ball and the match," the Dutchman said after the team's training session at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here.

"The boys have increased their level of patience, which was evident during the Champions Trophy but I would like to work more on this and help increase the patience level further.

"The Indian team has the tendency to rush for attacks during games but the boys are definitely in better control now. Tactically and technically there is always scope of improving throughout one's career and we are focusing on becoming stronger in all key areas before starting our tour in Malaysia," he added.

Van Ass' first assignment with the Indian team will be the six-nation 24th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup to be held in Ipoh, Malaysia from April 5-12.

Besides India and hosts Malaysia, other participating nations in the tournament are Australia, New Zealand, Korea and Canada.

India will play their first match against Korea on April 5.

The Times of India

New coach unlikely for the women’s team now

Uthra Ganesan

The Indian women’s hockey team is unlikely to get a coach in time for its crucial tour of New Zealand next month. Anthony Mark Thornton, who was selected to replace Neil Hawgood last month, is unavailable even before he could take charge of his new responsibilities.

Thornton, a New Zealand citizen, was supposed to take charge before the women’s Hockey World League Round 2 hosted by India earlier this month but had to delay his arrival due to poor health.

However, he has now been omitted from Hockey India’s scheme of things following his inability to come any time soon. Thornton, who was in charge of the women’s hockey programme at the New South Wales Institute of Sports till 2013, was named the Indian women’s team coach along with Paul van Ass, as the men’s coach on January 30.

“We got a letter from him only a couple of days before, stating he had undergone surgery and had been advised at least six months of rest to recuperate. The team has been without a chief coach since the beginning of the year, but Anthony was hospitalised and could not be reached.

“We cannot wait for six months and have written to SAI for a replacement,” Hockey India president Narinder Batra told The Hindu.

The replacement is likely to be Canada’s Mathias Ahrens. He has been in charge of his country’s junior men’s team, the Durkheimer Hockey Club and the Scottish Institute of Sports.

The third name on the shortlist, South African Fabian Gregory, is also a contender but he already has a contract with its men’s national side till the Rio Olympics and so may not be readily available.

A final decision would be taken only after the approval of the Sports Authority of India. However, with SAI director-general Injeti Srinivas unwell, the decision is likely only next week once he takes charge.

“I am not in office and need to get back, may be by Monday or Tuesday, to start working on pending issues,” Srinivas said.

The Hindu

Hockey camp: Four specialist coaches hired to train players

By Nabil Tahir

KARACHI: The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has appointed four specialist coaches for the ongoing training camp at the Naseer Bunda Hockey Stadium in Islamabad for the preparation of upcoming international assignments.

The team’s international tour includes participating in the World Hockey League, which will also serve as the 2016 Rio Olympics qualifiers.

“We have hired four coaches for all positions at the training camp to concentrate on the weakness of every position and improve their skills,” head coach Shahnaz Sheikh told The Express Tribune.

Olympian Tahir Zaman, who was himself a forward in his playing days, has been appointed as a forwards’ specialist and has been directed to train the team members to play attacking hockey.

“Zaman knows well how to train the players according to the requirements of modern hockey,” said Sheikh.

The other assistants are Olympian Nasir Ali for deep defence, Shafqat Malik for midfielders and Abu Zarr for goalkeepers and video analysis.

The head coach added that the PHF management, along with the coaches and some legends of hockey, has been invited by President Mamnoon Hussain on March 31 for a meeting. “We have already missed the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup due to lack of funds, we don’t want to miss upcoming tours,” he said.

The Express Tribune

Men's Promotion Playoffs this weekend

Gareth Andrew and Nick Catlin celebrate for Holcombe

The first round of games in the NOW: Pensions Men’s Promotion Playoffs are upon us with two matches set to take place this Sunday at Cannock Hockey Club.

The first of the games pits East Conference Champions Holcombe with North Conference Table Toppers Bowdon.

Neither side has tasted defeat this season, Holcombe winning 17 of their 18 games with one draw, whilst Bowdon have won 16 times, drawing twice. Both sides have scored plenty of goals, too. The Kent side broke the 100 barrier on their way to 110 goals for and just 21 against. Bowdon are no slouches either, netting 79 times and conceding just 23 times. It is fair to say that both these sides possess plenty of flair and plenty of firepower. Simon Egerton has been welcomed back with open arms to Bowdon and helped himself to 21 goals whilst Holcombe’s Gareth Andrew has 28 for the East Conference team. Great Britain skipper Barry Middleton has been in imperious form for the Kent outfit, alongside a number of his international teammates. With two great goalkeepers at either end in Rob Turner and George Pinner, there is quality all over the pitch. It has all the makings of a classic.

Canterbury's Kwan Browne weighs up his options against Cannock

Bath Buccaneers, the champions of the West, start their playoff campaign against Premier Division strugglers Canterbury. Bath have played some superb hockey on their way to the title. They wrestled top spot away from Cardiff and Met in dramatic fashion on the final day of the season and will be hoping to make it to the Premier Division after a disappointment in their last visit to the playoffs in 2011-12. Tim Davenport tops the scorers’ charts once again whilst in Liam Sanford they have an extremely talented player who was recently crowned Hockey Writers’ Club Young Player of the Year.

Canterbury endured a nightmare first half of the season but the introduction of some new faces at the Christmas break breathed new life into their season as they won four of their last seven matches to haul themselves off the bottom of the league. Australian Craig Boyne scored ten times in those seven matches, whilst Player-Coach Kwan Browne will show his big-game temperament once more. Canterbury have plenty of experience and will hope to become only the second premier division side, after Brooklands MU in 2009/10 to avoid the drop via the playoffs.

For full details of the schedule of games this weekend, click here.

England Hockey Board Media release

Investec Women's Promotion Playoffs set to begin

Slough's Charly Brydon in action

The first round of matches in the Investec Women’s Promotion Playoffs are set to take place this Sunday at Cannock Hockey Club.

The winners of each of the conferences as well as the 9th place team in the Premier division will battle it out in a mini-league format with the two sides finishing first and second competing in the premier division next season whilst the other two sides will play in the conferences.

In the first of these games, Slough, winners of the West Conference will take on Wakefield, who won the North Conference.

Both sides have had terrific seasons, losing just once apiece in the league and winning their divisions by 11 points (Wakefield) and eight points (Slough.) The North Champions have scored plenty of goals along the way, netting 64 times in 18 games. Great Britain star Sally Walton has bagged 18 of those, ably assisted by Cat Horn, who has ten. Slough have scored fewer goals than their rivals, with 45, but have shared their goals around with top scorer Jess Brooker on eight, closely followed by Amy Sheehan on seven and the in-form Charly Brydon on six. In what should be close-fought battle, Slough will be grateful to call upon the international class of Scotland and Great Britain goalkeeper Amy Gibson as well as England’s Shona McCallin. With Wakefield a free-scoring outfit and Slough conceding just ten goals, the lowest of the playoff contenders, this could prove to be an absorbing battle.

Buckingham delight in the playoffs

The other match pits Buckingham, the 9th placed team in the Premier Division, against East Grinstead, winners of the East Conference.

Buckingham have competed well in the Premier Division and will feel hard done by to have found themselves back in the playoffs once again for a sixth year running. Alexandra Naughalty and Jessica Bloom are their top scorers with four each whilst England and Great Britain defender Zoe Shipperley has chipped in with three strikes. Although they have struggled at times this season, they have still mustered three wins in the league, including the prize scalp of Kent side Holcombe. They will be hoping their experience of playing in the Premier Division, plus their playoff experiences of the past will stand them in good stead as they aim to beat the drop.

East Grinstead have been in fine form, going the whole season unbeaten until finally succumbing on the last day of the campaign when the title was assured. They have married a solid defence (only 15 goals conceded) with a potent attack (55 goals scored) and in 15-goal Sophie Bray; they have one of the country’s most exciting talents. With GB goalkeeper Kirsty Mackay keeping things strong at the back, the Sussex side will fancy themselves to join their men’s team in the top flight next season.

For full details of the schedule of games this weekend, click here.

England Hockey Board Media release

Denayer's Dragons ready to breathe fire

“A Dragon without fire is just a bird” - the rallying call from Thys Maartens last year as Dragons went on to win a medal at the Euro Hockey League for the third successive season.

For Felix Denayer, that “fire” comes from his club’s fans, the ever-present D-side who follow the Antwerp club wherever they go, watching them become one of the most decorated sides in the competition’s history.

Speaking about their impact, the classy midfielder says that the support his side receive propels them forward when few others would give them a chance.

“On paper, we have never been the best team or the favourites but we've always been able to achieve the highest possible level at the EHL,” he told the EHL website.

“Something about the atmosphere out there makes us want to push our limits. A real asset is our amazing D-side. They support us to play with fire in the heart and to keep going whatever happens. They deserve a big piece of the success we've had over the last few years.”

They will need some of that fire once again as they have been drawn against reigning champions Harvestehuder THC in the KO16. They do so with a couple of changes to last year’s team that finished third with drag-flick expert Loick Luypaert moving to Kampong while goalkeeper Manu Leroy retired.

It has taken a little time to gel but Dragons are back in the mix for the playoff places in the Belgian league following last weekend’s win over Antwerp, tied on 32 points with Leopold in fourth place.

Irish star Shane O’Donoghue returned to the panel after helping his country win their World League 2 title in Cape Town and Denayer says the team is improving each week.

“So we struggled in the beginning to find a new balance in the team. Now, the feeling is good and we believe in our system and our qualities to fight our way back in the top 4 for the play-offs.

“With four games to go it will be a very exciting end of the regular season. All this is the best preparation to perform well at the EHL.”

And it is on that stage that Denayer loves to perform and is delighted to be back playing on the HC Bloemendaal turf.

“The best memory, so far, is probably the moment just before we left the changing rooms to play the final against Bloemendaal. Every player was really focused and preparing for a big game with music playing in the background.

“We came together for a couple of motivating words; before anyone could say anything we all started "singing" Can’t Hold Us by Macklemore. The chemistry in the team was brilliant, everyone was in the zone and the pressure was gone.

“At the end, we lost the final to a better team ... so we were still disappointed but also proud of our club, team, D-side, and our EHL season.”

As for Harvestehuder, Denayer is aware of the quality they bring but says: “who doesn't like a nice challenge?

“We never know what the EHL can do to us. So hopefully we'll be able to rise above ourselves once again. We'll definitely work very hard and prepare the best way possible to get a shot at victory.”

Euro Hockey League media release

California Cup selects Canadian Chris Wilson as the 2015 Umpires Manager

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. –  Chris Wilson has been involved with field hockey since he was four years old; first playing, than coaching and now umpiring. His parents started the Rebels Sports Club, one of the local Victoria, British Columbia, Canada clubs in 1970 which was located for 12 years in the basement of their childhood home.

Wilson’s first experience with the California Cup tournament was when he participated at the age of 13 as a player on a team his dad coached and lead to victory in the U-16 division. As years went by he has played and umpired in more competitive divisions.

This year, California Cup is excited to announce his selection to officiate as the Umpire Manager of the Super Division at the 2015 Cal Cup. Wilson will also act as an Umpire Manager for the Pan American Games later this year in Toronto.

Cal Cup is a United States elite field hockey tournament featuring the highest level of competition for national and international clubs and teams held annually over the Memorial Day weekend. Competitors include teams, players and umpires from Argentina, Australia, Canada, England, Germany, Holland, India, Ireland, Mexico, Spain, Trinidad Tobago, USA and Taiwan amongst others.

Team registration is still open. The 2015, 44th edition is programmed for participation of more than 150 teams, with awards medals and trophies for all men, women and children divisions.  Registered teams will also have the opportunity to register for the one day hockey clinic offered by top ranked Australian players. The selected venues of Moorpark College, Arroyo Vista Park and Moorpark High School will stage 15 fields to play concurrent games during the four day tournament.

For more information on the 2015 California Cup tournament, please visit www.calcup.com.

USFHA media release

Dharmaraj: More average than exceptional in Boys U16

By Jugjet Singh

THERE are many average, but only a few exceptional players in the ongoing National Under-16 hockey tournament at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

And goalkeepers are well below par in all the 13 states competing in the boys section.

This observation was made by National Sports Council (NSC) development coach K. Dharmaraj who is tasked with selecting at least 40 boys from this tournament for the 2020 Junior World Cup.

Commenting on the boys event Dharmaraj said: "Compared to the last edition, which had many exceptional players, this year there are more average players in every state while the goalkeeping department needs more attention.

"I am supposed to select 40 players, of which four would be goalkeepers, but since the standard of goalkeeping is very poor, I might make a suggestion to have separate training for them by selecting 10 as this department is quite weak in the national under-16," said Dharmaraj who coached Malaysia to win their first Junior Asia Cup gold medal and then took the team to finish fourth in the New Delhi World Cup.

Meanwhile, in the Girls' Group B, Kuala Lumpur moved into the semi-finals when they edged Negri Sembilan 1-0 with the winner coming from Nurul Syahirah in the 30th minute. The slim wins saw them finish second in the group.

KL will play Group A champions Penang in the semis today.

In the Girls Group B, Selangor emerged champions without dropping a point when they beat Pahang 6-0 yesterday.

RESULTS Boys' Group B: Kelantan 1 Sabah 6, Perak 3 Kedah 0, Negri Sembilan 2 Kuala Lumpur 3.

Girls' Group B: Negri Sembilan 0 Kuala Lumpur 1, Terengganu 4 Sabah 4, Selangor 6 Pahang 0.

TODAY: Boys' Semi-finals: Malacca v Perak (6pm, Pitch I), Johor v Pahang (6pm, Pitch II).

Girls' semi-finals: Selangor v Kedah (4pm, Pitch II), Penang v Kuala Lumpur (4pm, Pitch I).

(All matches at National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil)

Jugjet's World of Field Hockey

Have whistle, will travel

Very few players attain international status as a player and an umpire, but Epeli Tukuca has done just that

(Photo: The Fiji Times)

A former Fiji international has swapped his stick for a whistle to become the first international hockey umpire from the South Pacific Island.

Epeli Tukuca, who played for the national team for a number of years, says that as younger players came into the side, he realised that his days of playing at the top level were numbered and so he sought a new challenge. It took the 36-year-old from Lautoka just four years to reach the high standard of umpiring required by the International Hockey Federation and Epeli is now graded as an FIH international umpire.

Explaining why he decided to move into umpiring, Epeli said: “I’ve been associated with hockey for 20 years since my high school days in Tilak, and it was my enjoyment of competition in the national team that convinced me to try out this new adventure.

"As I'm getting older and the younger players coming into the scene it was getting harder and harder to get into Fiji hockey so I asked myself how else can I contribute to Fiji hockey and I thought why not take up umpiring."

Over the four years that Epeli has been working towards the qualification, he has attended umpiring clinics in Australia and New Zealand. He was helped with travel and expenses by the Oceania Hockey Federation, the Australian Masters Hockey Association and New Zealand Hockey.

While hockey is a growing sport in Fiji, the competition on the island is still not at the level that Epeli needed in order to attain his international umpiring status. For this he needed exposure to elite competition, so his love of travel was combined with officiating all over the Southern Hemisphere. Over the past four years he has umpired at the 2012 FIH World League/Oceania Pacific Cup in Suva, 2013 Oceania U21 Hockey World Qualifiers Tournament (Gold Coast), the 2013 Australian Masters National Championships in Sydney, 2013 Oceania Cup (Men) that was held at Straford in New Zealand, the 2014 Oceania Qualifying Tournament for Nanjing Youth Olympic Games at Port Vila in Vanuatu.

He also umpired at the Nanjing Youth Olympic Games, China and the FIH World League/Oceania Pacific Cup in Suva last December.

 Fiji Hockey President Doctor Robin Mitchell congratulated Epeli on his achievement.

 Epeli said the achievement was a milestone not only for him but Fiji Hockey Association as well and he hoped that the level of umpiring in Fiji would upgrade as a result of his progress.

"People have seen that I have travelled to other parts of the world and they're interested in it now, so I am planning on running umpire courses around the country."

FIH site

A sporting chance of success

An initiative in Nairobi is giving youngsters an opportunity to shine

(Photo: FIH)

Kenya’s international hockey aspirations are moving to the next level. With the men ranked 39th in the world and the women two places higher at 37, the African nation is a prime example of a country that will benefit from the opportunities offered by the Hockey World League.

With Kenya playing host to one of the Hockey World League Round One events, both young players and their parents have been able to see first-hand how hockey could offer a chance for talented young players to both pursue a sport to the highest level.

A man who is giving youngsters this opportunity, is Dutchman Erik van der Dussen, who has been working hard with local clubs and schools in the capital city Nairobi to ensure young people have access to top quality coaching.

Erik explains why he became involved in the project. “I got into the programme in January 2014 after meeting Tom Olal during a visit to the only artificial pitch in Kenya. Tom had started the initiative and he asked me to get involved. I had no hesitation, I love the sport and have played hockey since I was 10 years old.”

Erik had moved to Kenya through his work with Deloitte East Africa – one of the largest professional services firms in the world – and he says the company have been nothing but supportive of his work with the young hockey players.

At first the youngsters played with no socks, shoes or shin pads, but Erik was able to get equipment and sticks sent to Kenya from his club back in the Netherlands, Breda. In a swift response to his plea, friends from the club gathered more than 60 sticks, lots of balls and one man sent 30 pairs of shoes, shin pads and socks. Now, more than 30 young boys and girls turn up every Saturday from 8am until 11am for hockey coaching at the city park stadium, a time slot provided free of charge by the Kenyan Hockey Union.

The sessions consist of fitness, tactics, team-building and technique. Currently three coaches and an assistant work with the group. However, Erik and Tom discovered another, fundamental way they could help the young players. “We found out that a lot of young players were arriving hungry and were leaving 'starving'. So we arranged for fruit and water to be provided at the start of the training and we serve warm meals afterwards.”

Erik explained the ambitions that drive the project forwards. “We have several levels of ambition.

Firstly, it is about taking children out of their disadvantaged living circumstances and giving them a regular unworried experience. I believe that if you create a weekly fun morning and stimulate the children to make progress in sport, they have a reference that can help them stay motivated to go further.”

With the programme running for 16 months, Tom and Erik are seeing the results. Three girls have already made it onto the national under 16 development team, and all the children are making progress. The final goal is to deliver national team players and have a programme which combines sport and a quality education.

The programme is funded by three Dutch sponsors and Erik also pays tribute to the work and support of the Kenyan Hockey Union. He explains how one piece of sponsorship came about: “At a certain point I received second hand team shirts for my boys from Hockey Club Breda. They had the sponsor’s names on it, so I sent the 'sponsors' a picture. They were not aware that the shirts had been recycled and they liked it so much that they became sponsor on the rebound.”

FIH site

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