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News for 14 April 2015

All the news for Tuesday 14 April 2015

Flynn and Punt both set to celebrate 200th caps

200 up for Gemma Flynn (left) and Anita Punt (right).

The Flynn and Punt household have reason to be extra proud this week with both their daughter’s set to play their 200th international test for the Black Sticks.

Gemma Flynn will play her milestone game this evening with Anita Punt to follow suit on Sunday.

It is somewhat perfect that these two midfielders are playing their big game during the same tournament – since Punt made the team in 2009, they have played every major tournament together and are best mates.

“I’m really looking forward to standing beside Gemma when we line-up for her 200th test. Normally, we are at opposite ends of the line, but Gemma will lead the team out so this time I’ll be right beside her!” said Punt.

Coach Mark Hager will make a presentation to each of them before the match, and Flynn says there is one voice that she is expecting to hear above all others.

“You tend to hear Mama Punt before you see her – she is quite vocal!”

The two midfielders both have hockey-mad parents and two older brothers, and enjoy the ‘girly’ side of things when they aren’t battling it out against the best teams in the world on a hockey turf.

“We do enjoy the less hard-core things outside of hockey – nails, shopping, facials – things like that.”  

But when it comes to training and games, they admit there is a competitiveness between them which has helped them both to improve.

“We are both midfielders – so we challenge each other during training and are constantly competing with each other – but in a good way,” said Flynn.

“I remember when Anita began playing she was this really quiet, shy person – and she has transformed into someone who has a lot of confidence and is now a world-class player.”

When asked to reflect back on the highlights they believe there is unfinished business and say it is the driving force to their hard yards during training and competition.

“There have been highlights – the London Olympics I guess – but each time we haven’t come away with what we wanted,” said Flynn.

“We are here because we want to medal in Rio. That is the reason why both of us are playing – there have been too many times where we have been close, but haven’t quite got there. It’s all about that medal.”

Punt agrees, saying that after 200 test caps, you don’t just want to be participating.

“We want to be going to major tournaments with the realistic aim of winning, that’s why we go.”

In the sport’s history, there are only four other Black Sticks Women who have reached 200 caps during their career -  Kayla Whitelock (229), Emily Naylor (256), Suzie Muirhead (238) and Krystal Forgesson (220).

Hockey New Zealand Media release

Gemma Flynn stars in Black Sticks' win over South Korea in Hastings

Gemma Flynn scored a goal in her 200th international for New Zealand in Hastings. Photosport

A goal from Gemma Flynn in her 200th international test has helped the Black Sticks' women secure a 2-1 win against South Korea at the Hawke's Bay Cup in Hastings on Tuesday night.  

The win means the Kiwis finish top of Pool B and will face either Australia or India in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

Black Sticks coach Mark Hager said although there were still improvements to be made, he could see the progress the team was making.   

"I don't think we are playing at our best yet. I imagine the statistics were probably pretty even for both teams, so I'm just really pleased we hung in there and converted enough chances to get us over the line," Hager said.

"As a team, one of the things we spoke about was having to win these close games, and we have won two in a row now. Both those games have been tight and hard fought, and we have come out on the right side."

In cold conditions, Canterbury's Olivia Merry was the first to score from a penalty corner in the 17th minute with Flynn doubling the lead in the last quarter with a field goal.

Flynn had a number of other opportunities in her milestone game, but couldn't convert.

"Gemma's game was really pleasing, I thought she was unlucky not to get another couple of goals," Hager said. "She is starting to hit some real form again and is giving us some good energy and go-forward up front."

Korea's Eunbi Cheon pulled one back in the 55th minute and the tempo increased as the visitors pushed forward to try and find an equaliser, but New Zealand held on for the win.
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In the earlier games, Argentina won 2-1 against Japan thanks to first half goals from Carla Rebecchi and Florencia Habif. China upset USA with a 2-1 win which gives them top spot in Pool A and a quarterfinal against Japan.


India eye revival against Australia in Hawke's Bay Cup

HAWKE'S BAY (New Zealand): Pushed to wall by two consecutive losses, the Indian women's hockey team would seek revival but it would be easier said than done when they take on Australia in the Hawke's Bay Cup on Tuesday.

Having concluded both the previous matches with a loss, the last pool match is a crucial one for the team.

It will be an interesting game to watch as the teams have not clashed recently but Australia's morale would be better given that they have two draws in their kitty.

The Indian women are working on the technicalities of the game and polishing their skills to give a tough competition.

The performances in this tournament will also be indicative of the team's chances in the Women's World League Final.

For India, Anuradha Devi Thokchom, who has scored all the team's goals so far, will be a crucial cog in the wheel for India.

Speaking on the importance of the clash on Tuesday, Indian captain Ritu Rani said, "We are not demoralized with the losses, but are taking it as a lesson to improve and work on our mistakes. We are taking the loss as a chance to know our loopholes and work on them with a long term goal for the Hockey World League Semi Finals.

"Australia is a strong team and we are prepared to give them a tough competition to position ourselves as better in the pool standings."

Talking about the preparation for the next match, Hockey India's Director (High Performance) Roelant Oltmans, said, "We have a strong team with players who are determined to come back tough for tomorrow's game.

"Though we lost the matches against China and USA, the girls are taking it in a positive way and working hard for the battle tomorrow to open the victory account. The opponents too are strong players, but we hope to get the game in our favour."

The Times of India

Stats Speak: India-Australia Women Hockey: Highlights

By B.G.Joshi

Sehore-Bhopal, India - Indian women are playing 90th International tourney in Hastings (New Zealand) at the Hawke’s Bay Cup. They will play against mighty Australian on Tuesday.

The Hockeyroos have the records in their favour: Total -3 3, India wins-4, Australia wins-25, Drawn-4, Goals for India-39 and Goals for Australia-109.

Indian eves participated for the first time in Folkstone tourney in 1953. Since then they have won only 6 tournaments on foreign soils. Notable are the Gold medal in Manchester Commonwealth Games (2002), Champions Challenge-II in Kazan (Tatarstan, Russia) and Kyoto ALHA Cup (1981).


Victorious New Zealand Black Sticks men arrive back in Auckland

Black Sticks men's hockey team arrive back in Auckland after winning the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup against Australia in Malaysia. Photosport

The victorious Black Sticks men have returned home after getting a rare win over world number one Australia, but say their attention now turns to the World League in Argentina, in June.

The team arrived to a smattering of friends and family at Auckland International Airport on Tuesday after their penalty shootout win over Australia to claim the 2015 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia.

They led the final 2-1 with just 29 seconds remaining in ordinary time before concededing an equaliser to the Kookaburras. But New Zealand kept their cool to dominate the shootout.

It was the first time in the tournament's history that the winner had been decided in a shootout, and also the first time the final had been an all-Oceania affair.

Black Sticks captain Simon Child said it was only the second time in the 10 years he had been playing that New Zealand, ranked seventh in the world, had beaten Australia.

"It feels good. Particularly to beat them in a final was a real achievement for us. It doesn't happen very often."

Child said the team had been disappointed to concede a goal in the final seconds of the game after holding out Australia for much of the match.

"We had worked so hard to get ourselves a really good lead with not long to go but they took the goal keeper off and put another field player on so we knew we were going to be under pressure for the last couple of minutes.

"We were pretty resolute for the entire match but unfortunately couldn't keep them out of our circle right at the very end."

Child said the tournament was perfect preparation for the World League tournament.

The tournament, which runs over a two-year period, allows countries automatic qualification for the Olympics.

If New Zealand are successful in Argentina in June they'll make it to the final in India in November, which will be contested by eight countries.

"We have got a pretty exciting group of guys. We are pretty determined to not only build on the success we had in Malaysia but also build through into next year really well. It puts us in really good stead."

The man of the moment was goalkeeper Devon Manchester who kept out three Australians in the shootout for New Zealand to win 3-1.

Manchester has only recently returned to playing after taking time out to rehabilitate from shoulder surgery six months ago.

He said it was an overwhelmingly good feeling to beat Australia.

"It's not a team that we beat very often and not many teams around the world beat them very often. It's good to see them on the other side for once, picking up the silver while we pick up the gold.

"We are very, very, very stoked. It is the first time I have beaten Australia, definitely even some of the older boys in the team who have played a few more games than I have and haven't beaten them and to do it in the final is even better.

"It's a good stepping stone for June, but we still have to go and we still have to qualify, but it gives us some good confidence. Australia are the best side in the world and we have shown that we can beat them."

The Black Sticks have the rest of the week off before regrouping on Monday.


Azlan Shah Hockey 2015 Bronze brings some cheer


The podium finish that fetched India a bronze medal was no small consolation. Yet, it is significant in the context of a situation when there were misgivings over the team to becoming part of the medal bracket reckoning in the Azlan Shah hockey tournament at Ipoh from April 5-12. 

Disappointing, depressing and despair-all these expressions could well have aptly portrayed the status of the full-fledged national team at the first international event in preparation for the Olympics’16 until the tide changed against Australia.

The sequencing of matches and the goals conceded clearly indicated that the combination swung from one end to the other. It also strengthened the impression that the backline was repeatedly broken and beaten in the final quarter/minutes.

A 2-2 draw against Korea in the opener and the defeat inflicted by the Kiwis almost followed an identical script as did the reverse imposed by from the host team, Malaysia.

Even the 5-3 victory against the weakest of the six exemplified enormous amount of strain. With two defeats, one draw and one win at that point with the Aussies waiting in the wings for another kill after swamping the opposition with enviable authority.

This was the turning point not only for India but also to the tournament itself. Touching their best and playing true their potential the World Champion, was conquered thanks to the memorable hattrick by Nikkhin Thimmiah and the opener by penalty corner striker,  V. Raghunath.

The outcome completely altered the table with India moving up to the fourth and Malaysia remaining at five among the six. Unfortunately, the home team could not even take the fifth spot, losing to Canada in the shoot out.

The Aussies could hardly recover from the rare defeat against India and conceded the cup back to the pugnacious Kiwis in the final.

From India’s standpoint, the tournament underlined the problem areas. It did however bring about the scoring potential of Thimmiah, who began the tournament with a 10th minute against the Koreans.

Akashdeep in the frontline and penalty corner strikers Rupinder and Jagannath rose to the occasion when needed as did Sreejesh in the shootout against Korea in the medal match.

More than anything else, the bronze medal somewhat established the credibility of the new coach Paul van Ass, on his first assignment with the national team. He can look back on the win against the Aussies as a major achievement in his starting campaign.

Quite understandably, it was a comfortable start for the Dutch coach, van Ass who admitted how much he has learnt from the performances of each player in the team.

It is undeniable that this combination constitutes as the nucleus for all the forthcoming competitions including the World Hockey League semi-finals at Antwerp in June-July.

While discussion the debut of coaches, the start of another Aussie, Michael Nobbs, comes to the mind. He piloted India to the first Asian Champions Trophy at Ordos (Mongolia) immediately after he took charge but after that flopped everywhere, finishing last in the Olympics in London 2012.

Admittedly, there was something to cheer. It was more in beating Australia than cornering the bronze. That a lot of fine-tuning is mandatory cannot be dismissed in the contrived mood of euphoria over a bronze.


League Matches: Australia beat New Zealand 3-1; beat South Korea 5-2; lost to India 2-4; beat Malaysia 3-2; beat Canada 7-0, New Zealand drew with Korea 3-3; beat India 2-1; beat Malaysia 4-2; beat Canada 5-0, South Korea drew with India 2-2; beat Malaysia 3-2; beat Canada 3-1, India lost to Malaysia 2-3; beat Canada 5-3, Malaysia beat Canada 4-1.

5th place: Canada beat Malaysia 4-4 (Shoot Out 3-1), Bronze Medal: India beat South Korea 2-2 (Shoot Out 4-1), Gold Medal:  New Zealand beat Australia 2-2 (Shoot Out 3-1).

Top Scorer: Jaime Dwyer (Australia)-7 goals.

Final Standings

Rank eam MP W D L GF GA
1 New Zealand 6 3 2 1 17 11
2 Australia 6 4 1 1 22 11
3 India 6 2 2 2 16 14
4 South Korea 6 2 3 1 15 15
5 Canada 6 0 1* 5 9 28
6 Malaysia 6 2 1 3 17 17

*Canada won in shoot out


President Pranab Mukherjee congratulates hockey team

NEW DELHI: President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday congratulated the Indian hockey team for winning a bronze in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup at Ipoh in Malaysia.

"Congrats Indian Team on winning bronze in Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Hockey Tournament," President Mukherjee said in his official twitter handle.

India beat Korea 4-1 in the penalty shoot-out after both the teams were locked 2-2 at regulation time to finish a creditable third in the 24th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament.

Prime Minister congratulates hockey team for winning bronze

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday congratulated the Indian hockey team for winning a bronze in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup at Ipoh in Malaysia.

The Times of India

Bronze Medalist Indian Men's Hockey Team returns home

New Delhi: Post their Bronze Medal win at the 24th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, the Indian Men Hockey team arrived at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in the midst of a rousing reception. The team post their back to back wins in the final three matches, bagged the Bronze medal in the all important tourney. Captained by Sardar Singh the team had a slow start to the tournament, but bounced back on time to clinch the 3rd position.

The Bronze is yet another achievement for the team post their Gold medal win in 17th Asian Games, Silver in the XX Commonwealth Games and a series win against the Kookaburra’s in Australia last November.

Congratulating the team Dr. Narinder Dhruv Batra, President, Hockey India said, “I am proud of this team. The way they played and bounced back into the tournament to clinch the Bronze is amazing. The highlight was the win against Australia and this I think motivated them for the match against Korea. I congratulate the entire team for the Bronze.”

Speaking on the tournament, Chief Coach Paul van Ass said, “We started with not so good results but our boys recovered in a very well manner. Beating host team Malaysia boosted confidence of our boys and we got positive results from our new strategies and team combinations. As I was coaching Indian team first time in a tournament, they have surprised me with their high-level performance against Australia. It is good to see Team India in the Semi-Final of the tournament and I expect better performance in upcoming competitions.”

Speaking on the performance during the tournament, Captain Sardar Singh said, “Our team started slow in the tournament as we have given opportunities to some young players. But the best part is that these young boys recovered quickly from the early jolts. Though we came under pressure after disappointing results in the first few matches, but maintained same target to give the best in every match and our boys did the same. PR Sreejesh and Nikkin played brilliantly and they have raised their levels in the tournament. This is also our first tournament under Coach Paul van Ass and it was a good experience with him. We tried some new strategies and team combinations, which worked positively. The experience in the tournament will surely help us for our upcoming FIH Hockey World League.”


Indian hockey team surprised me: Paul van Ass

NEW DELHI: Chief coach Paul van Ass said that he was surprised with the way the Indian hockey team came back to win the bronze medal at the recently concluded 24th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

India did not start well at the invitation tournament in Ipoh, Malaysia, following their 2-2 draw against South Korea and two consecutive losses to New Zealand (1-2) and hosts Malaysia (2-3).

However, they made an incredible turnaround to beat Canada (5-3) and reigning World Champions Australia 4-2 to qualify for the bronze medal match where they beat South Korea in the penalty shootout on Sunday to grab the metal.

"We started with not so good results but our boys recovered in a very well manner. Beating World No.1 Australia boosted the confidence of our boys and we got positive results from our new strategies and team combinations," said van Ass.

"As I was coaching the Indian team for the first time in a tournament, they have surprised me with their high-level performance against Australia. It is good to see India in the semifinal of the tournament and I expect better performance in upcoming competitions."

Hockey India (HI) president Narinder Batra also congratulated the team for winning the metal.

"I am proud of this team. The way they played and bounced back into the tournament to clinch the bronze is amazing. The highlight was the win against Australia and this motivated them for the match against Korea. I congratulate the entire team for the bronze," Batra said.

The Times of India

Lack of an experienced back-up goalkeeper a worry for Sreejesh

PR Shrejesh. The Hindu

IPOH (Malaysia): India's PR Sreejesh is considered one of the best goalkeepers in the world at the moment, but the lanky Kerala lad feels that the absence of an experienced back up custodian is a major cause of worry for the team going into next year's Rio Olympics.

A day after proving his mettle under the bar and helping India finish third in the just-concluded 24th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup by effecting two saves in the penalty shoot-out, Sreejesh said India's back-up goalkeepers Harjot Singh and Sushant Tirkey needed to be provided more international experience in the near future so that they could fit into the shoes when required.

"The absence of a back-up goalkeeper is always a worry for us," an ever-jovial Sreejesh said in an interview after being named man-of-the-match in India's 4-1 win over Korea at the Azlan Shah Cup after both the teams were locked 2-2 at regulation time on Sunday.

"Harjot and Sushant are there and they are doing their best but they are not getting many opportunities to gain experience. They are not getting enough time on the turf because if you see all the matches here were important for us.

"Harjot only got some time to play against Canada. So they need to be given more chances in future when we play Test matches because a goalkeeper can only become better with experience," said Sreejesh, who made his debut for India way back in 2006 but became a regular in the team only in 2011.

'Sree', as he is fondly called by his teammates, also wants to do his bit in helping create a bigger pool of goalkeepers for India and plans to take up coaching once he calls it a day.

Revealing his future plans, the six feet custodian said: "What I want to do is that after taking retirement I want to go to Holland or South Africa to work under either Dave (Staniforth) or Martin Drijver for six months to one year, and then comeback and start a goalkeeping academy."

Asked what it takes to become one of the best goalkeepers in the world, pat came the reply: "Right training. There is no alternative to right training. My training stints with Dave Staniforth and Martin made me a totally different goalkeeper. They always told me to do simple things and that takes pressure off a goalkeeper. It also works as a motivation. It brings in a lot of confidence.

"The second thing is responsibility. Being a senior player there is responsibility on me. I have the responsibility of saving the team in crucial situations and responsibility comes only with experience."

Off the turf, Sreejesh is a funny man, always indulging in jokes and pranks with his teammates, but he is a totally different individual when he puts on his goalkeeping gears.

"I always try to control my emotions, feelings inside the ground. I try to keep myself cool and concentrate on the match. I feel a goalkeeper is a perfect man whose mistakes are always visible," he said.

"It's all about loving the game and having fun inside the ground. It is about enjoying your game and if you do so performance will follow," he said.

The unfortunate circumstances which led to his call up in the Indian team is still fresh in Sreejesh's mind and he credits former foreign coach Jose Brasa and national coach Harendra Singh for providing a platform to him.

Sreejesh got a surprise call to replace Baljit Singh in the Indian team for the Europe tour in 2009 after the latter suffered a career-jeopardising eye injury during a training camp in Pune.

"In everybody's life there comes an opportunity. For Balli bhai (Baljit), it was a very difficult time because his life stopped there and my life started. I feel the credit should go to Brasa and Harendra Singh for taking the decision to prepare a goalkeeper for the future and I got a call," Sreejesh said recalling the episode.

"In 2009 when I first came into the team I was always a back up to Adrian (D'souza) and then to Bharat (Chetri). So I always got that time to see and learn from them. And since 2011, I am playing consistently. I have learnt a lot from the seniors," he said.

Asked if he is still in touch with Baljit, Sreejesh said, "I am in constant touch with Balli bhai. Balli always tells me 'I never feel bad because you are doing a great job, I am happy for you', and that always work as a motivation."

Summing up India's performance in the just-concluded Azlan Shah Cup, the Indian vice-captain said they just tried to stick to their basics according to new chief coach Paul van Ass' instructions and it paid dividends in the end.

"We really played well in the last two matches. It was a do or die situation against Australia and we played fantastic hockey. In the third-fourth match against Korea too we had a nice game.

"Paul just told us one thing and that is to stick to our basics. All the players have been assigned a task. He told us to receive the ball and pass the ball. It is our first tournament with him. We hardly trained two weeks with him before this tournament. So we didn't have high expectations from this tournament," he said.

"Our aim was just to follow the structure which he told us. The match against Australia I think was the best match of the tournament," Sreejesh signed off.

The Times of India

Sultan Azlan Shah Cup a massive boost for Kiwis

By S. Ramaguru

IPOH: Newly crowned Sultan Azlan Shah Cup champions New Zealand received the perfect boost in their attempt to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The Kiwis, who defeated Australia 3-1 in the shootout after they were tied 2-2 in regulation time, will head for the qualifier in the World Hockey League Semi-final in Argentina from June 3-14.

They are placed in Group A with Holland, South Korea, Japan and Egypt. In Group B are Germany, Argentina, Spain, Canada and Austria. The top three teams qualify for the Olympics.

New Zealand coach Colin Batch said the win in Ipoh have given them the self-belief that they can raise their game to a higher level.

“We are happy to win it for the second time, I wasn’t part of the team that won here in 2012 but we do have six or seven players from that squad including Ryan (Archibald),” said Batch.

“We are in the midst of rebuilding and it is good to taste an early success here. It will help the players grow and believe in what they are doing. The World League is the target and we are focused on doing well there.”

Batch added the team head to Australia for a four-nation friendly in May before departing to Argentina.

“We matches against Australia, Pakistan and South Korea are our last tune-up for the World League.

The Kiwi coach is still overjoyed with the rare win over their more-fancied neighbours.

“As far as I can remember we beat them last in 2011 in an Oceania tournament. We did come out strongly in the final on Sunday as we always do in our matches against them. We played a very good first quarter but a disastrous second.

“We wanted to have the same consistency and pace for the 60 minutes. I was also very pleased with the shootout.

“It is always good to beat Australia as we do not get to do that often.”

The Star of Malaysia

We're last, but we're okay

By S. Ramaguru

IPOH: They may have finished last in the six-nation Sultan Azlan Shah Cup but the national hockey team did give a glimpse of their potential.

The Ipoh meet which ended on Sunday was seen as the best place to gauge the team ahead of the Olympic qualifier – the World Hockey League Semi-finals in Belgium in June.

And it certainly was an eye-opener for Malaysia. Not that it was a major surprise in terms of their performance.

Malaysia won twice (India 3-2, Canada 4-1) and lost thrice (New Zealand 2-4, Australia 2-3 and Canada 1-3 in the shooutout after a 4-4 draw in regulation time).

The glaring mistakes in defence are telling factor in their defeats. But there were some good play as well like their ability to score in every match.

They also kept to their structure of play and youngsters like Mohamed Haziq Shamsul, Mohamed Firhan Azhaari and Meor Mohamed Azuan showed maturity in their game.

There were some matches in Ipoh which could have gone their way had they stepped up their attacking play and stay focused.

National coach Tai Beng Hai said there were some positives to take away from Ipoh.

“We were able to get a lot of data during the matches although we were aware of the weaknesses before the tournament,” said Beng Hai.

“But the main objective was to help prepare the squad for Belgium. In that sense playing six tough matches have benefited the players.”

Malaysia will have to pull up their socks to be competitive in Belgium where they will face the likes of Australia, Belgium, England, India, Pakistan, Ireland, China, Poland and South Africa. The top three teams will head to the Rio Olympics next year.

The task is not impossible and it is in the hands of the players if they want to realise their dreams of competing in the Olympics.

And they have nine weeks to get their act together.

The Star of Malaysia

Hockey NZ names President’s XI teams

Claudia Hanham in action for the NZ Maoris. Photo courtesy Petrina Martelli

Hockey New Zealand has named the men's and women's President's XI teams after a successful Affiliates Tournament in Hawke's Bay.

A strong women's team has been named including three former Black Sticks in Sian Fremaux, Jasmin McQuinn and Cathryn Pollock as well as six returning players from the 2014 side which competed at the Oceania Pacific Cup in Fiji.

The men's team is a solid mixture of youth and experience including Development Squad member Joe Hanks and Future Black Sticks Alex Hanham and David Brydon.

CLICK HERE to view the men's and women's President's XI teams

Hockey New Zealand Media release

Great Britain squad for Nations Cup announced

Great Britain's Mark Gleghorne in action against Germany's Martin Zwicker - credit World Sport Pics

Great Britain Men’s Head Coach Bobby Crutchley has named a squad of 20 athletes ahead of the showdown against Germany tomorrow night. The final 18 athletes will be selected tomorrow to face the world number three side as they head back to Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park for the first time since winning gold at London 2012. The event is set to have an electric atmosphere as a maximum capacity crowd of 3000 will head to the new home of hockey at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.

Quotes – Great Britain Head Coach Bobby Crutchley.

Speaking ahead of the game tomorrow night Head Coach Crutchley said:

“It’s a great opportunity to play against Germany in front of a sell-out home crowd on [Queen Elizabeth] Olympic Park as we continue our preparations for the World League Semi Final in June. We played Germany last month in Mannheim and that game finished in a draw [2-2] and I’m sure this will be another close encounter against a quality opponent. Both teams [Great Britain and Germany] have a really busy summer ahead and for Germany I think they will be looking forward to the chance to play at Lee Valley [Hockey and Tennis Centre] ahead of the EuroHockey Championships in August.”

“It’s so important to play these one off internationals in front of crowds as we head into a summer of big tournaments; it’s great experience for the younger members of the squad and it’s really exciting for the whole squad to see these one off internationals proving to be so popular with the public and we’ll have a real home advantage with 3000 fans cheering us on.”

The squad

The Great Britain squad contains four athletes who competed at the 2012 Olympic Games; defender Iain Lewers and midfield maestros Harry Martin, Ashley Jackson and skipper Barry Middleton. Dan Fox and Nick Catlin, who were also members of the London 2012 team, which finished fourth, are sidelined through injury, along with Phil Roper.

Richard Smith and Simon Mantell are also not in contention at this time as they continue to recover from long term injuries. 16 of the 20 athletes named by Crutchley were part of the team who played out a 2-2 draw when the sides met in Mannheim last month.

Barry Middleton and David Condon netted for Great Britain on that occasion with Tobias Matania and Pilt Arnold on target for the Germans. Scotland duo Chris Grassick and Gordon McIntyre made that trip and bring a significant amount of experience to the squad having represented their home nation 80 and 63 times respectively.

Germany squad

The squad Germany have brought for the Nations Cup contains seven members of the London 2012 Olympic Gold medal winning side, Moritz Furste, Tobias Hauke, Jan Philipp Rabente, Christopher Zeller, Florian Fuchs, Christopher Wesley and Oskar Deecke. Nicolas Jacobi and Linus Butt were the two reserves. Keep an eye out for Number 14 Rabente, who scored both goals in the final. The squad also contains two former FIH World Players of the Year (Furste and Hauke) and four former FIH World Young Players of the Year (Ruhr, Fuchs, Hauke and Zeller.)

Nations Cup - Great Britain squad v Germany

Name Club
James Bailey Wimbledon
Alastair Brogdon Wimbledon
Tom Carson Reading
David Condon East Grinstead
Adam Dixon Beeston
Mark Gleghorne East Grinstead
Chris Grassick Surbiton
Chris Griffiths East Grinstead
Mikey Hoare Wimbledon
Ashley Jackson East Grinstead
Iain Lewers Holcombe
Harry Martin Beeston
Gordon McIntyre Beeston
Barry Middleton Holcombe
George Pinner Holcombe
Dan Shingles Reading
Sam Ward Beeston
Henry Weir Wimbledon
Tim Whiteman Beeston
Ollie Willars Beeston

England Hockey Board Media release

Wimbledon stun east Grinstead in Pensions League play-off final

By Hugh Walker

Ben Hawes' Wimbledon stunned East Grinstead in the play-off finals. GETTY

AN OLD pals' act took Wimbledon to the Pensions League title as they stunned favourites East Grinstead 8-5 in the play-off final at the Olympic Park.

Australian Blake Govers, 18, hit five goals, outshining Great Britain's Ashley Jackson's hat-trick in a great display of penalty corner finishing that took one of the world's oldest clubs into Europe after only their second season in the top flight.

Wimbledon captain Ben Hawes is a friend of Australia's World Cup winner Kieran Govers, and that led to his younger brother signing up for the second half of the season. "The goals just seemed to roll on in," said Govers, who returns to Australia next month.

East Grinstead will be glad to see the back of him after the league winners' title hopes were blown away for the second successive season.

Hawes, part of the London 2012 Olympic squad who lost out so painfully in the semi-finals, said: "It has been a fair journey for me - unbelievable. Like a lot of others here I am coming towards the end of my career. I didn't have a great experience in the Olympics semi-final the last time I was in the Olympic Park so it is nice to come and win something.

"It has been a real club effort. Blake's corners are deadly. We are talking with him and laying the platform for next season."

Canterbury kept their premier division status as they were joined by Kent neighbours Holcombe, marshalled by Great Britain captain Barry Middleton.

Holcombe's millionaire chairman David South promised a big next season. "We will strengthen the side," he said. "We already have several irons in the fire."

Daily Express

Monkstown win third Irish title in succession

Monkstown claimed the number one European place from Ireland for the third successive year following their 2-1 Irish Hockey League final win over Banbridge on Sunday in Dublin.

Richard Sykes scored two drag-flicks to under-pin their victory, opening the scoring in the fourth minute before winning the game with 12 minutes to go.

In between, Jamie Wright equalised for Bann just after half-time but they found Town goalkeeper David Fitzgerald in great form to keep out six penalty corners as well as a number of other chances.

It meant that Monkstown were the national champions for a third successive season, each time seeing off Banbridge in the final.

Bann will takes Ireland’s second European spot in 2015/16 but both have to wait and see at what level they will compete. They are dependent on how Three Rock Rovers do in the EuroHockey Club Champions Trophy after Monkstown were knocked out in the group phase of the EHL round 1 in Barcelona.

Euro Hockey League media release

Briels heading back to Belgium

Belgian star Thomas Briels has made the decision to return to his roots, moving back to KHC Dragons from Oranje Zwart after seven seasons.

Speaking about the move, Briels said: “I have thought long and hard about the pros and cons and, like always, I followed my instincts.

“I've always dreamed to ever return to the club where I grew up. I really want a few years to show the best of myself to my family and best friends.

“It has been a very difficult decision. My career at Oranje Zwart has been a childhood dream come true. In addition, I have made friends for life. I will never forget my time in Eindhoven and with OZ and the great pleasure I have had living here.”

During his time with the club, Briels won the Hoofdklasse title while, just last week, the side won their first Euro Hockey League in dramatic fashion after 11 rounds of a shoot-out.

Euro Hockey League media release

Brinkman makes move to HC Bloemendaal

Thierry Brinkman with Bloemendaal legends Floris-Jan Bovelander and Teun de Nooijer.

Thierry Brinkman will play next season with HC Bloemendaal following the announcement earlier today that he has signed a three-year contract with the north Holland club.

Brinkman is one of the highest-rated young players in the Netherlands having made his Hoofdklasse debut in the 2012-2013 season.

The 20-year-old player was part of the 2014 national junior team, playing in the European championships, before making his senior international debut.

Speaking about the arrival of Brinkman from SV Kampong, Bloemendaal President Henry Goeman Borgesiuslaan: "It fits in with our policy to bring together young talents playing with experienced internationals which we believe in and we have also been successful with.”

Euro Hockey League media release

Ice cool Ashley Jackson aims to stave off summer hockey grind with Rio 2016 Olympic qualification

Great Britain's star midfielder on ice hockey, Hockey India League, Olympic qualifiers and aiming for gold at EuroHockey Championships
By Rod Gilmour

In on the act: Ashley Jackson gets set to unleash another drag flick Photo: ADY KERRY

In a sport where rolling substitutes form an integral part of the game, players can sometimes go unnoticed over 60 minutes, yet one man continues to stand out from the rest.

Ashley Jackson’s unerring stick skills, wonderful vision and all-round flair were evident on Sunday, when he scored a hat-trick for East Grinstead in a losing cause, as Wimbledon defied the odds to lift their first league title.

Jackson, 27, will have a chance to atone for that defeat on Tuesday night at the same venue – Lee Valley at the Olympic Park – when Great Britain play Germany, the Olympic champions, in the sold out Nations Cup.

Jackson in action at last year's World Cup in the Hague (ADY KERRY)

It will be the start of a five-month campaign where GB will hope to qualify for Rio 2016, before a majority of the squad revert to England colours for their European Championship campaign in London.

Jackson will also be back in a red shirt for the first time on British soil since he lifted his penalty stroke high into the net as England won bronze at the Commonwealth Games, with the last flick of the game.

“It was an amazing moment,” he says. “More so if it hadn’t have gone in. Another fourth place finish tied to all the other fourth finishes, it really would have been difficult to get back to work and go on.”

With a bronze banked, Jackson has revelled in an injury-free season. England played well at the Champions Trophy in India, but an unpopular quirk of the draw saw them finish seventh after winning their group, Jackson netting his 111th international goal to break Calum Giles' international record.

Jackson says that Germany “didn’t bother” with their first three games as the Olympic champions finished bottom of the group to set up a quarter-final with England, unbeaten and looking strong.

“There’s no disgrace in losing to Germany in any competition,” he said of their quarter-final defeat. “We were unlucky to be on the end of the way they played the tournament.

“That was a shame that we couldn’t keep up the good performances. It was disappointing to finish seventh but as a group it was a pretty successful trip.”

Jackson subsequently took a month away from the sport, swapping field hockey for the ice version as he carved out a four-week spell in the rink for Kent-based side, Invicta Dynamos, who play in the National Ice Hockey League.

Jackson, who naturally bagged goals during his stint, says that playing for the Dynamos was a “release”.

“We are here [Bisham Abbey, England Hockey’s headquarters] so often and rarely get the chance to do something different,” he said. “It just so happens that I like to do stuff like that rather than sitting on a beach. It was great fun doing something equally as challenging.”

Most international coaches might have sent Jackson to the team psychiatrist on first hearing of the request, but the GB playmaker has played ice hockey since he was a teenager while Bobby Crutchley, the men’s coach, was unconcerned.

“Not many play ice hockey I must admit but he has a history," Crutchley said. "There are times when I want the guys to play sport if the time is right. It gave him a chance to relive his youth and what's most annoying is how bloody good he still is at it.”

The month proved beneficial as he led the Ranchi Rays franchise, co-owned by Indian one-day captain MS Dhoni, to success in the Hockey India League.

“There were a lot of different pressures with everything that comes with being captain over in India,” he admitted.

“But it was equally as motivating to make sure that you weren’t looking after a side that did poorly.”

Jackson’s side, which included team-mate Barry Middleton who was free from the rigours of team leadership, went from “strength to strength” through the month-long HIL, the captain finishing as top-scorer.

“It is impossible to sit here and describe it,” he said. “It’s certainly an experience and being in India puts a lot of things into perspective.

“I have won it two times in three years and that makes a big difference when the tournament can drag on.”

Two months’ on from his success on the sub-continent and Jackson comes in to the Bisham Abbey café, sweat-laden from a depleted GB training session, with several players away on European duty.

At one point during the session, the players are locked on to Jackson, who is imparting advice alongside the GB coaching staff. Is this a usual occurrence? “There are certain roles with some of the senior players, where a lot of ideas go between the coaches, assistant coaches and players,” Jackson says.

“Each has their own strength, so Barry might talk about a strength in his game or something that I perceive in my own game.”

No doubt the younger members of the squad will be regaled with stories of England’s European gold in 2009 [beating Germany 5-3 in the final] at some point this year, with the EuroHockey Championships taking place at Lee Valley in August.

GB men's coach Bobby Crutchley, with Jackson in the background (KOEN SUYK)

“That was still was one of my greatest memories on a sports field,” Jackson recalls. “It was what kept me going for a long time after.

“We had a long summer, it just came good at the right time. I wish we knew what it was that clicked, otherwise we would be doing it a lot more regularly. That’s all part of the unknown.”

What is known is Jackson’s form in recent months, which Great Britain will hope can continue into a crucial period.

The World League semi-finals may sound like another run-of-the-mill tournament but June’s event in Antwerp will act as Olympic qualifiers.

Jackson says: “They are the priority for us. Let’s get through that, qualify for Rio and if it is successful then we can look forward to the Euros in front of a home crowd and hopefully come away with another gold medal.

“If we don’t qualify for the Olympics by then, it will be a long grind of a summer and one that won’t be particularly enjoyable to be part of.”

The Telegraph

Teams & Fixtures for Scottish National League Division 1 Play-Offs confirmed

Following the conclusion of Men's and Women's National League Division 1 this weekend, the teams and fixtures for the National League European & Promotion/Relegation Play-Offs are now confirmed.
European Play-Offs (two leg semi-finals)

In the Men's National League Division 1 European Play-Offs, title winners Bromac Kelburne will take on fourth place AAM Gordonians, while second place Grange will face Western Wildcats.

Western Wildcats have the task of trying to impose the first league defeat of the season on Edinburgh University when the two teams clash in the Women's National League Division 1 European Play-Offs.

In the second play-off match, Grove Menzieshill and Milne Craig Clydesdale Western will go head-to-head for a place in the Grand Final.

All matches will take place over two legs on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 April on a home and away basis, the highest ranked team having home advantage in the second leg.

The team with the highest aggregate score in each semi-final will progress to the Grand Final to be played over two legs on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 May at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre.
Promotion & Relegation Play-Offs (two leg semi-finals)

Division 2 runners-up Uddingston have promotion as their target when they play Inverleith in the Men's National League Division 1 Promotion/Relegation Play-Offs.

Meanwhile, Dundee Wanderers and Hillhead will scrap it out in the second play-off, with the winner keeping their place in Division 1.

In the Women's National League Division 1 Promotion/Relegation Play-Offs, Kelburne Ladies will play Watsonians, while Inverleith Ladies will battle it out with GHK Ladies.

All matches will take place over two legs on Saturday 25 and Sunday 26 April on a home and away basis, the highest ranked team having home advantage in the second leg.

The team with the highest aggregate score in each semi-final will play in Division 1 in season 2015/2016.

The team with the lowest aggregate score in each semi-final will progress to the Promotion/Relegation Play-Off to be played over two legs on Saturday 2 and Sunday 3 May at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre.
Division 1 Last Place & Division 2 Winners

To confirm, in Men's National League Division 1, 10th place Watsonians are relegated and Grove Menzieshill are promoted as champions of Division 2.

In Women's National League Division 1, 10th place Hillhead are relegated and Erskine Stewart's Melville FP will take their place in Division 1 next season as the title winners in Division 2.

For full information, please visit the Competitions section of the website.

Scottish Hockey Union media release

National hockey camp in full swing at Johar Town Stadium

LAHORE: Pakistan hockey team have resumed their training camp here at the Johar Town Hockey Stadium ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics qualifiers despite being told that the promised grant of Rs350 million from Prime Minister and Patron-in-Chief Nawaz Sharif was put on hold. Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) President Akhtar Rasool had met with the PM on April 7 outside the Parliament house where the grant was agreed upon, but Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has asked for an audit of the previously released funds as they were not utilised properly for the promotion of the national sport.

Although this was a major setback in their preparations, the Punjab government stepped in with their promise of sponsoring the team for thier tour to Australia and extended the funds to helping out in the running of the camp. However, the PHF was told that the government would release Rs.15 million in parts. The funds will be used to pay for the daily expenses and allowances of the camp and its players and officials while the remaining sum will be used for the tour of Australia. The next assignment to South Korea will have the hosts bearing all costs. "If the funds are utilised properly, they are enough to run the training camp for the next 16 days - including the trials - and cover costs for Australia as well," a PHF official said. "The management cannot afford to waste this money as the grant from the Punjab government has come after great difficulties."

The players initially started their preparations on March 16 for the upcoming four-nation tournament in Australia, test series in Korea and qualifying round in Belgium, but the camp was called off on April 1 as there was no funds to run it and several players were injured due to the poor conditions of the astro-turf at the Naseer Bunda Hockey Stadium in Islamabad. Due to this, the camp has been shifted to Lahore. Trials for the final team selection for the upcoming assignments will be held after two days of training and the selected players will continue the camp for the following 16 days before leaving for Australia on April 28. "During the trials, we will be testing the physical fitness of the players as they were given a self-training plan for the past 10 days," said head coach Shahnaz Sheikh. "The players who are in full fitness and who perform well will be selected for the tours."

The Daily Times

PIA Whites face Wapda

LAHORE: PIA Whites and Wapda reached the final of the 10th Nishan-e-Haider Hockey Tournament at the Dring Stadium in Bahawalpur on Monday.

PIA Whites derailed Railways 4-0 in the first semi-final while Wapda outclassed Asia Ghee Mills 5-1 in the second last-four clash.

For PIA, Waseem Akram scored a field goal in the ninth minute, while Ammad Butt struck back-to-back goals in the 14th and 25th minutes converting penalty corners. Inayatullah’s 42nd field goal completed the tally.

In the second semi-final, Wapda took lead with a field goal through Waqas Sharif in the first minute. Asia Ghee equalised in the 20th as Adnan Butt scored a field goal.

Wapda however then surged ahead as Shahbaz Ali (38th), Umar Bhutta (44th, 50th) and Ijaz (53rd) made the match completely one-sided.


Exasperating criticism of players to take youth away from sports, fears Imran

“I don’t think we could even inspire our own children to play any game for a secure future,” says Pakistan hockey captain Mohammad Imran. — AFP/File

LAHORE: Visibly disturbed by what he terms relentless bashing of the country’s current players by some experts, Pakistan hockey captain Mohammad Imran has endorsed the view of Test cricket skipper Misbah-ul-Haq that if the same trend continues the nation’s youth would lose the inspiration to become sports professionals.

“Misbah is saying it now but I have been shouting about it for several years that if players start appealing to the prime minister and the chief ministers through media for proper patronage, I don’t think we could even inspire our own children to play any game for a secure future,” Imran said when he was asked if he agreed to Misbah’s view that the irritating way some experts were criticising current national players of different games would result in the youth not willing to join any sport.

The Pakistan captain was talking to reporters on the first day of the national training camp that started here at the National Hockey Stadium on Monday for next month’s tour to Australia where the green-shirts will be featuring in a four-nation event.

He said though the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) was facing paucity of funds, still the players had retained the resolve to give their hundred per cent for the national team, an effort which, the captain said, was now getting rhythm.

“The May 2-10 Australia tour could prove exactly the right platform for the players to hone their skills for the upcoming important assignment of the Rio Olympics 2016 qualifiers,” the captain stated.

Pakistan will be playing the Olympic qualifiers in Belgium this July.

Meanwhile, head coach Shahnaz Sheikh said the first stage of the camp was held in Islamabad but it was closed because of the poor condition of the astro turf. Besides, he added, the PHF was facing acute shortage of funds.

“I hope the squad for the Australia tour will be named by April 20,” the coach said.

Asked if the funds shortage was creating a major problem in the team’s preparations, Shahnaz said: “The PHF has not hidden the true picture from the players. And after having understood the genuine problem, all of them have shown the resolve to produce their best performance for the country.”

Claiming there was no issue of money for the players, the coach said they had been making wholehearted efforts on the field in all circumstances just to bring victory for Pakistan.

Shahnaz, meanwhile, appreciated the financial assistance the PHF had received from Punjab government, Omar Associates and Malik Riaz in recent past.

Commenting on the national camp, the head coach said around 32 probables had reported on the first day, adding two players out of the remaining five were on injury list.

The former Olympian said though he was expecting 30 to 35 international matches for the Pakistan players before they competed in the Olympic qualifiers, the team would get around 15 matches, which the coach termed reasonable, if not enough.

“Pakistan missed the Azlan Shah Cup, which ended in Malaysia on Sunday, with New Zealand winning the title [beating Australia in the final],” Shahnaz regretted. “New Zealand won a title after many years but they have been in, consistently featuring in international events.”


Clubs nominated for EHF Club of the Year

EHF club of the year

The EHF Club of the Year is an annual award for nominated clubs throughout Europe. England Hockey has put forward three clubs, all of which have demonstrated incredible passion and dedication to deliver Hockey in an excellent environment.

The criteria for award nominations is:
"EHF invites you to nominate a club/s from your nation that is doing great work for hockey in your country."

• Massive growth in junior section -55% in U10’s
• Has seen 8% growth across both ladies and mens sections
• Strong community connections through schools, Cherwell DC and local sponsors
• Run large club festival
• Clubs first Club
• Successfully run Back to Hockey
• Club Weekend Spotlight Club
• Run community RUSH sessions
• Have excellent social media presence

Felixstowe HC
• EH Club of the year 2014
• Suffolk Sport Club of the Year 2014
• Felixstowe men’s 1stXI have been promoted in 4 out of the last 6 seasons
• Our junior section has grown from 0 members in 2010 to over 100 regularly attending training every Saturday.
• In 2015 all Felixstowe schools will be coaching hockey as part of the curriculum, and both the senior school and primary schools are running their own after school hockey clubs
• In March 2014, the first Felixstowe schools hockey festival was hosted by FHC. This saw 120 local primary school children playing hockey
• Suffolk Youth Hockey league which is organised by Flexistowe  saw thirty one 7 a-side teams compete in league matches at under 10’s and under 12’s level.
• ClubsFirst
• Run a successful Back to Hockey programme

Old Sils HC
• 85 New junior members 30 new adult members
• Excellent coaching structure
• X3 level 3 umpires
• Great community links with schools, community activities and local businesses
• Host the Silz festival which is one of the largest mixed hockey festivals in the country
• ClubsFirst registered
• RunBack to Hockey
• Always Club Weekend

The winner will be announced soon - good luck to all the nominated clubs.

England Hockey Board Media release

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