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News for 25 April 2015

All the news for Saturday 25 April 2015

WP hot faves to beat Blues in U21 men's final

JONATHAN COOK at the AB Jackson

KZN Coastal Raiders U21 captain Ryan Wallace reflects on what might have been as WP Peninsula U21 keeper Matthew Martins breaths again during the epic encounter at AB Jackson Greenfields Turf Friday. PHOTO SEAN BURKE

VERY few fans give Northern Blues much chance of wresting the Greenfields SA U21 men’s Interprovincial Tournament (IPT) away from classy Western Province at AB Jackson Greenfields Turf Saturday, but stranger things have happened in national finals so rest assured that the defending champs won’t be complacent.

Saturday’s 1pm final is set to be the classic battle between the hot favourite and the unfancied underdog, although two weapons in Blues’ favour is their penalty corner attack with captain Tim Guise-Brown the primary finisher, as well as the game-breaking skills of Stephen Cant in confined spaces.

Blues under head coach Stewart Dunbar are a pretty solid outfit and won’t stand back. But senior SA player Dan Bell’s WP team are superb in every department and there can be few times in history that a team has so dominated, and so impressed, in the Pool round of an IPT.

Young WP goalkeeper Rob McKinley is a major talent – yet he has hardly seen action. Captain Bell’s men have scored 29 goals in five matches and conceded none. They have a host of goal-scorers who can change a game in an instant. Yet it is probably the cohesion and innate sense of purpose in coach Bruce Jacobs’ team that is their biggest weapon of all.

The biggest match Friday saw KZN Coastal Raiders needing an unlikely win by eight clear goals over Western Province Peninsula (Pens) to pip Blues for a berth in the final. At worst they needed a draw with Pens to ensure a shot at the bronze medal.

Pens, however, were on fire and despite not converting a penalty stroke in the second minute, the Western Cape lads then nailed down goals in the fifth and sixth minutes from field and set-piece play. At 2-0 up, they then hit the post! It could have been 4-0 in next to no time. It was a stunning start by canny coach Jason Mulder’s lads.

Raiders managed to pull a goal back in the 18th minute and did have other opportunities, but so did Pens, who effectively sealed the 3-1 final result four minutes before half-time when Ryan Cameron did the honours. The second half had action aplenty, but the goals didn’t come, not that it mattered to the delighted Pens team.

Whether Pens can knock off Southern Gauteng in the 11am battle for third place and the bronze medals at the AB Jackson Saturday is open to debate, but it would not surprise many at all. Indeed, Southerns arguably go into this bronze medal match as underdogs.

KZN Inland and Eastern Province were in search of nothing less than three points when they met in Friday’s late game to see who would dodge last place in Pool B.

Again it was a rousing affair and it was host province KZN Inland who emerged 2-1 winners, the goals going to Maritzburg College captain Tyson Dlungwana and his U21 captain Le Neal Jackson. There were anxious moments for KZN Inland fans after EP had pulled a goal back through the efforts of Dillan Langeveld with seven minutes to go, but the Maritzburg lads survived.

They meet North West 9am at AB Jackson Saturday for fifth and sixth place. North West were outstanding in holding hockey heavyweights Southern Gauteng to a 2-1 scoreline with just four minutes left Friday. However, a Brandon James hat-trick for Southerns in the ultimate 4-2 victory was deserved reward for the industrious forward and his team-mates.

Free State were good value for their 2-1 win over South Gauteng Witsies and they Raiders 10.30am Saturday at Maritzburg College for fifth and sixth. Free State scored through the ultra-brave Cheslyn Neethling who has been a warrior supreme for the Bloem lads this week.

Witsies face EP in the wooden spoon match (ninth and 10th) at 8.30am Saturday at Maritzburg College.

(All played 5. GD: goal difference)
Pool A:
1 Western Province GD29, 12pts
2 Southern Gauteng GD4, 7pts
3 Free State GD-4, 5pts
4 North West GD-14, 2pts
5 South Gauteng Witsies GD-15, 1pt.

Pool B:
1 Northern Blues GD10, 10pts
2 Western Province Peninsula GD0, 9pts
3 KZN Coastal Raiders GD1, 7pts
4 KZN Inland GD-5, 3pts
5 Eastern Province GD-6 0pts.

Saturday at AB Jackson:
(7th/8th) 9am KZN Inland vs North West
(3/4 for bronze medal) 11am WP Peninsula vs Southern Gauteng
(1/2 title match for gold medal) 1pm WP vs Northern Blues

Saturday at Maritzburg College:
(9th/10th) 8.30am EP vs Witsies
(5th/6th) 10.30am Free State vs KZN Coastal Raiders.

Friday results: Free State 2 Wits 1; KZN Raiders 1 Pens 3; Southerns 4 North West 1; KZN Inland 2 EP 1.

SA Hockey Association media release

Freak injury puts Kookaburras striker Glenn Turner out for six months

Lee Gaskin

Kookaburras striker Glenn Turner will miss the next six months with a torn pectoral muscle.

A freak injury, more often associated with rugby league, has put an untimely bump on the road in front of Kookaburras striker Glenn Turner before next year's Olympic Games.

The Canberra Lakers and Goulburn star will miss six months as he recovers from a torn pectoral muscle sustained in a training drill at an international tournament in Malaysia.

Turner, 30, who has played 114 Tests for Australia, went down awkwardly on his elbow while practising a penalty corner at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup earlier this month. He ripped the tendon off the bone..

Canberra Raiders prop David Shillington and Newcastle Knights halfback Jarrod Mullen are among the NRL players who have suffered a similar injury.

"It's obviously a freak injury, but hopefully I recover well and give myself a chance to return for the Olympics," Turner said.

Turner is resigned to missing the entire men's Capital League 1 season, but is aiming to return in time for the Australian Hockey League in Darwin at the end of September.

His next goal is to be part of the Kookaburras side for the World League in December, a build-up to next year's Olympic Games in Rio.

"No one's ever seen it before in hockey, it's more of a bench press injury," he said.

"It's unlucky, but hopefully I can use it as an advantage.

"It gives me a good rest off the legs and gives the ankles and knees a bit of a break.

"I then get back 10 months or so before the Olympics, that's enough time to get back."

Turner was on hand to see Goulburn continue its impressive early season form with an 8-2 victory against Old Canberrans on Friday night.

Central and Western Districts remained unbeaten. Central defeated St Pat's 4-2 and Wests hammered Tuggeranong 7-1.

Men's Capital League 1: Goulburn 8 bt Old Canberrans 2. Western Districts 7 bt Tuggeranong 1. Central 4 bt St Patrick's 1.

The Canberra Times

Indian hockey team starts training for Japan series

NEW DELHI: Indian hockey team on Friday began the preparation for the upcoming Test series against Japan but coach Paul van Ass has FIH Hockey World League semifinal in mind as the players fine-tuned their skills in a practice session, here.

The India-Japan Test Series is scheduled from 03 to 09 May 2015 in Bhubaneswar.

Coach Paul van Ass worked with the team, overlooking the session.

"For the last few days, we have been working hard with FIH Hockey World League semi-final keeping in mind. We know there will tough teams we are going to face but nothing is impossible for our team. This preparation camp and the upcoming Japan Series will be very important for us. We will play at the highest level against Japan and will bring out the best performance from the team," the coach said.

"I believe that best performance come out of high pressure. For me defense line-up is not with four-five people only, it's the whole team-effort. So we are working to strengthen defense-side in the whole team. We are hoping for the best performance in the Japan Series and will take-out some positive results."

Captain Sardar Singh said, "As of now, we are focusing on the preparation camp and the upcoming Japan Series. Our only job is to implement strategies on field and bring-out best results out of the matches. These results and inputs will help us in the FIH Hockey World League Semi-Final round."

"After the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, the team is in better shape and very confident. We just need to strengthen our mental and physical stability, which help us in our team-work. We are looking forward to the Japan Test Series and expecting a good show."

The Times of India

Indian side prepares ahead of Indo-Japan test series

New Delhi: Following a glorious bronze medal finish at the recently concluded 24th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, the gritty Indian National Hockey Team was seen practicing rigorously at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium today. The practice sessions are in preparations for the approaching India- Japan Series which is schedule to take place from 03 May- 09 May 2015 at Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

The coach Paul van Ass is working meticulously on the team and preparing them to be able to apply their new skills attained under his training. The team looked focused and was seen fine-tuning their skills in order to give a hard time to the opponents in their first clash slated for 03 May 2015.

Speaking post the practice session, Coach Paul van Ass said, “For the last few days, we have been working hard with FIH Hockey World League Semi-Final keeping in mind. We know there will tough teams we are going to face but nothing is impossible for our team. This preparation camp and the upcoming Japan Series will be very important for us. We will play at the highest level against Japan and will bring out the best performance from the team. I believe that best performance come out of high pressure. For me defense line-up is not with four-five people only, it's the whole team-effort. So we are working to strengthen defense-side in the whole team. We are hoping for the best performance in the Japan Series and will take-out some positive results."

Captain Sardar Singh said, "As of now, we are focusing on the preparation camp and the upcoming Japan Series. Our only job is to implement strategies on field and bring-out best results out of the matches. These results and inputs will help us in the FIH Hockey World League Semi-Final round. After the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, the team is in better shape and very confident. We just need to strengthen our mental and physical stability, which help us in our team-work. We are looking forward to the Japan Test Series and expecting a good show."

The India-Japan Test Series is scheduled from 03 to 09 May 2015 in Bhubaneswar.


Speed is my priority: Paul van Ass

by Mithun M Kuriakose

Paul van Ass and P. R. Sreejesh. Sibi Mampuzhakary

New Delhi: Brash and sassy, the Indian men's hockey team coach Paul van Ass's no-nonsense attitude has blended nicely blended with the 'circumstances' that are quintessentially Indian.

When he took over the reins of coaching from the soft-spoken Australian Terry Walsh, van Ass didn't have any high hopes or expectations from this team. However, van Ass - who has come here to mould this Indian team into a competitive unit against superpowers like Australia - was left shell shocked by his own boys.

Within two weeks of taking charge of the team, van Ass saw India topple a strong Australian side in the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia. The coach resembled a bewildered school teacher who had just seen a poor student score 100 per cent marks in a subject which he regularly used to fail.

The good show in Azlan Shah tournament has given van Ass fresh hope that he could do wonders with this team. He is strict, but by no means is a dictator. His biggest strength is his ability to motivate the team in a crisis. Van Ass spoke his mind during a break from training schedule at the Dhyan Chand Stadium.

On his coaching tactics: This is a good team. My strategy is based on speed. Hockey is a fast game and it is not a physical sport. My style is to torment our rivals with speed and agility. Some people may not agree with me. I will take each and every game seriously and there is no room for complacency.

Changes in the teams: The team should make winning a habit. They should also change the habit of losing early matches which evaporates chances of winning the tournaments. We should strengthen our defence and should stop the tendency of conceding soft goals. The blame for conceding goals should not be put entirely on the defence or on the goalkeeper. The entire team should be made responsible as they should also be capable of defending.

On preparation for Rio Olympics: My priority is to select the 25 best players in the country. We need to strengthen the core of the team. The upcoming World Series tournament is an important one for me as well as for the whole team. You can evaluate how good the team is based on the performance in this tournament. After having gained qualification for Olympics, I don't think the players will be complacent while competing in World Series. I will be putting pressure on them to perform to their best of abilities.

On Sreejesh: At present he is our best goalkeeper. But Sreejesh needs to play more against stronger teams. We have looked into Sreejesh's request for appointing a specialised goalkeeping coach. But under the present circumstances, it is highly unlikely that we will appoint someone.

Manorama Online

NBP defend U-20 National Hockey title

LAHORE - National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) defended their title when they convincingly beat Pakistan Wapda 3-1 in the final of the 34th U-20 National Hockey Championship at the Hockey Club of Pakistan Stadium Friday.  According to the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) spokesman, it was the sixth title win for the bankers in the junior section. In another match of the day, Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) defeated Punjab A 5-4 to win the third position in the championship.

The bankers dictated their terms from the beginning. Their forwards demonstrated their skill in dribbling, dodging and ball possession and made a good number of moves which rewarded them. Taimoor, M Naveed and Aamir Ali made a fine move in the 5th minute of the final and Naveed struck the first blow through a beautiful field goal. In the 27th minute Azfar Yaqoob dribbled beautifully and intruded into the D to earn a penalty corner and scored the goal on the rebound. Mubashir Ali struck the third blow on a penalty corner which was a reward of another brilliant move between Faizan Ali, Naveed and Azfar in the 47th minute.

Wapda fought hard in the second quart and leveled the score amid a lone move by Hamza Sajid who pass the ball to Bilal Mehmood in the D who neatly pushed it through the goal line. They missed a couple of chances. In the third quart when they were trailing by one goal, Sohail Anjum missed a simple chance to level the score. They also got four penalty corners but wasted all amid poor stoppage on the D. Kamran Hussain and Shahid Pervaiz were the field umpires.

Third position match between SSGC and Punjab-A was decided in the penalty shoots out stage after ending at 3-3 draw in the stipulated time. After SSGC Captain Zeeshan Bukhari scored a field goal in the 6th minute, Mohammed Rizwan struck twice - a field goal in the 27th and on a penalty corner hit rebound in the 36th minutes respectively. From Punjab Mohsin Sabir (29th min), Umar Mubashir (37th min) and Jalil Ahmed (58th min) scored one goal each. In the penalty shoots out stage Punjab scored one while SSGC scored two goals. Takreem Iftikhar and Mohammed Arshad supervised the match.

Pakistan Hockey Federation President Akhtar Rasool Chaudhary who was the chief guest of the final gave away winning trophy to winning captain Atiq Arshad. Rana Mujahid Ali announced Rs. 100, 000 for the NBP team.

The Nation

NBP thrash WAPDA to retain National Junior Hockey title

By Mirza Iqbal Baig

KARACHI: Defending champions National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) thrashed Pakistan WAPDA 3-1 in the final to maintain their domination in the 34th National Junior Under-20 Hockey Championship at Hockey Club of Pakistan Stadium here on Friday. It was the sixth title win for the Bankers in the junior championship. Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) president Chaudhary Akhtar Rasool was the chief guest on the occasion distributed prizes among winners and runners-up. PHF secretary general Rana Mujahid Ali and other officials were also present on the occasion. Rana Mujahid announced Rs.100,000 cash prize for the winning team - NBP. Enjoying the services of eight Pakistan junior internationals, NBP scored through Muhammad Naveed, Azfar Yaqoob and Mubashir Ali to register an easy win over their rivals. The Banker's maintained ascendancy throughout the match with better brand of hockey.

After missing an opportunity in the start, forward Mohammad Naveed netted the opener in the fifth minutes. However WAPDA, soon after resumption of second period, drew level when Bilal Ahmed smartly dodged a couple of defenders to make it 1-1 in the 17th minute. NBP kept WAPDA defence under pressure with some solid attacks. Azfar Yaqoob again put NBP 2-1 in front when he struck via penalty corner. It was Mubashir Ali who scored his team's third goal by converting a penalty corner in the 47th minute. Kamran Hussain and Shahid Pervaiz were the field umpires.

In the playoff for third place, debutant Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) defeated Punjab A 2-1 on penalty shoot-out after their match ended in 3-3 stalemate in the regulation time. After SSGC captain Zeeshan Bukhari scored a field goal in the 6th minute, Mohammed Rizwan struck twice - a field goal in the 27th and on a penalty corner hit rebound in the 36th minutes respectively. From Punjab A, Mohsin Sabir (29th minute), Umar Mubashir (37th minute) and Jalil Ahmed (58th minute) scored one goal each. In the penalty shoots out stage, Punjab scored one while SSGC scored two goals. Takreem Iftikhar and Mohammed Arshad supervised the match.

The Daily Times

U20 national hockey: NBP defeat WAPDA to win title

KARACHI: NBP successfully defended their title with a convincing 3-1 win over Wapda in the final of the 34th U20 National Hockey Championship, which was played at the Hockey Club of Pakistan in Karachi on Friday.

NBP, who have now added a sixth junior trophy to their cabinet, took the lead in the fifth minute through Muhammad Naveed before Wapda bounced back with a field goal from Bilal Mehmood to level the score in the 16th minute.

NBP then restored their lead when Azfar Yaqoob struck the back of the net in the 27th minute and Mubashir Ali sealed the win in the 47th.

In the third-place playoff, SSGC defeated Punjab A 5-4 in a penalty shootout after the match ended in a 3-3 draw.

Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) President Akhtar Rasool Chudhary, chief guest at the final, gave away the trophy to winning captain Atiq Arshad, while PHF secretary Rana Mujahid announced Rs100,000 as prize money for NBP for their achievement.

The Express Tribune

Hockey woes continue: Rs9.7m not enough for Australia tour, says PHF

By Nabil Tahir

"It’s not enough, and we will arrange the remaining amount somehow, either by borrowing or contributing from our own pockets," PHF secretary Rana Mujahid. PHOTO: APP

KARACHI: The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has received a combined grant of Rs9.7 million from the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) and the Sports Board of Punjab (SBP), but it is still not enough for the upcoming tour to Australia for the Four-Nation Hockey Tournament.

The SBP released Rs8.6 million from the Rs18 million which they owe to the PHF, while the PSB issued Rs1.2 million, which is only one-fourth of the promised grant, informed PHF secretary Rana Mujahid.

Rana said that although he was happy to receive any support in the current dismal financial situation of the country’s national game, the received amount was not enough for the Australian tour, for which they need at least Rs15 million.

“It’s not enough, and we will arrange the remaining amount somehow, either by borrowing or contributing from our own pockets,” Mujahid told The Express Tribune. “We won’t stop the team from participating in the events at any cost.”

The official added that the federation has decided to hold the daily allowances and incentives to the players and management staff. “We will clear all the dues of the players as soon as we get the required funds,” he said.

According to the plan provided by the PHF management, the players will continue training till they leave for Australia on April 30, where the nine-day event starts on May 2. The team will then fly to Korea to play a five-match series, which will be a fully sponsored tour by the host nation.

Meanwhile, the special grant of Rs350 million announced by the Prime Minister is still awaited after Finance Minister Ishaq Dar asked for an audit of the funds released previously.

The trials to select the final line-up for the participation in the upcoming tours and the 2016 Olympics qualifying round will be held on Saturday.

The Express Tribune

Akhtar Rasool hopes PHF financial crisis will end soon

Anwar Zuberi

KARACHI: Reposing full confidence in Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is also Patron-in-Chief of the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), the PHF President Akhtar Rasool has expressed optimism that the financial crisis would be over soon.

“The Pakistan hockey team has a hectic schedule ahead including participation in Olympic qualifiers and it requires huge funding,” he told newsmen at the Hockey Club of Pakistan Stadium where he had arrived from Lahore to grace the national junior hockey championship final on Friday.

First, the team will travel to Australia to feature in a quadrangular tournament being held there from May 2 to 10. This will be followed by tour to South Korea to play five-Test series from May 15 to 25. The preparation culminate with the participation n Olympic qualifiers at Belgium in June-July.

He said the trials to select the Pakistan team for the coming international assignments will be held at Lahore’s National Hockey Stadium on Saturday.

Akhtar added that he had a brief conversation with the prime minister in the national assembly on the matter and was confident that he would issue necessary instructions to dole out funds considering the importance of back-to-back events. “I’m expecting positive results,” he added.

Asked about the audit of last five year’s accounts, the PHF chief said he had submitted necessary documents with the Ministry of Inter-provincial Coordination (IPC) and was ready to cooperate.

He went on to say that Punjab chief minister’s financial support to the tune of 100 million rupees has immensely helped the PHF to carry out regular activities. He agreed to a questioner that statements given by former Olympians to the media in the past has created doubts in the minds of bureaucrats.

Akhtar said he has also sought the FIH president’s help for reviving international hockey in Pakistan.


Enrich going back to his roots

Andreu Enrich will return to his roots as he takes up the coaching reins with Atletic Terrassa next season as the boss of the women’s first team for 2015/16.

He takes over the post from Oriol Felix who took the decision to step down at the end of this season. Enrich moves back to Atletii after two years with Pinoke in Amsterdam where he was studying for a masters degree, combining his time with some coaching duties with his club.

Enrich began playing for Atletic when he was six years old and spent 12 years in the first time, winning eight league titles and two cups before moving to the Netherlands. He will be official presented as the bumblebees' new coach in May.

Euro Hockey League media release

Twigg relishes return to Olympic Park

Georgie Twigg slots home a penalty stroke

Georgie Twigg was just 21 years old when she competed at the London Olympics in 2012. A glorious summer for British sport will live long in the memory for the Surbiton star who collected a bronze medal along with the rest of the Great Britain women’s hockey team.

Now, three years on, she returns to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park this weekend to play as part of a Great Britain squad for the first time since that incredible summer. Like many of her teammates, any return to the Olympic Park is of great excitement to the midfielder:

“It’s always amazing going back there. It always give me tingles walking thought the park. I have so many special memories and it’s great to be able to play there in our own hockey venue where we can host tournaments and matches. It’s a great pitch and arena and it’s fantastic to have people coming to watch us back there all over again.” she adds “It’s nice seeing where we stayed and I always remember seeing the pitch from the bus before a game and getting that nervous excitement. We still all get that every time we go to play there.”

Georgie Twigg celebrates at London 2012

Despite her fondness for the venue, Twigg will be going there this weekend in typically focused mood as her side face a stern test from a Japanese side that are, like Great Britain, preparing for the upcoming Olympic qualifiers.

“We expect they’ll be pretty sharp having played in the Eight Nations competition in New Zealand. We have to be ready for them from the start. They’re a bit different to the style of play we’re used to in Europe; they’ll be tricky, with good individual skills but it should be a good test.” she continues “I hope we can get a result. It will be a tough game. We are ready to play some competitive games ahead of the summer so it should stand us in good stead.”

With such a crucial period of tournaments coming up for Danny Kerry’s side one could be forgiven for thinking the pressure and strain of selection hanging over the group was taking its toll. Twigg however looks at it as a positive rather than a negative.

“We’re still waiting for official selection for the World League so there is plenty of competition for places and we’re all vying for a spot in that group. The depth in the squad is good and it can only make us better having that competition for places.”

With the Olympic qualifiers looming large on the horizon the serious business on the Road to Rio starts in earnest this weekend. You can be there to witness the action and drama first hand as tickets are still available. All the details you need are here.  

England Hockey Board Media release

Road to Lee Valley: Amersham daring to dream

Amersham and Chalfont Investec Women's Vase Finalists 2015

With the focus falling on culmination of the Road to Lee Valley this weekend with the finals of the Investec Women’s Knockout Competitions England Hockey catches up with one of the teams looking for glory as we speak to Amersham and Chalfont who will face Oxted in the Vase Final.

A small club from Buckinghamshire, Amersham have sold approaching 200 tickets to their big day out, something that fuels skipper Sarah Wood’s nerves as well as her determination:

“We’re very excited. Nervous, too as we don’t often get to play in front of a big crowd but it’s a new experience and one we’re looking forward to. We’re really thrilled at the number of friends, family and members of the club who have bought tickets to come and see us play." she adds "It does add a bit of pressure to win but hopefully they’ll get behind us. We had good crowds in the previous rounds and it does give you a bit of extra energy in the legs, so hopefully that’ll happen this weekend too.”

The team have had a good season, finishing 3rd in their league behind strong opposition. Those challenges stood them in good stead for their cup run where their never-say-die attitude saw them squeak past Mid Somerset in the quarter-final thanks to a penalty corner goal on full time, before winning their semi-final against Yateley on penalties. Coach Shay O’Connell praised his side’s character on their way to the final telling England Hockey:

“We’ve built good momentum over the season. We had a decent league campaign and the cup gave us a bit of an incentive to keep going and look for a trophy. The quarter final was tough. We scored with the last hit of the game against Mid-Somerset but the girls came through it. The character was great. They kept believing and it was fantastic to get through. It’s so exciting for us to be playing at Lee Valley, it’s effectively Hockey’s Wembley.”

Despite extolling the virtues of his charges, O’Connell is well aware of the threat their opponents, Oxted will pose in the final:

“They score an awful lot of goals so it should be a good attacking game for the neutral. They’ve come through some tough games and we are taking them very seriously. Obviously we’re desperate to win but we’re not taking anything for granted.”

The Investec Women’s Knockout Finals give a chance to some of the lesser known clubs to have their moment in the spotlight and O’Connell is hoping a national title win will help Amersham as they try to grow and improve their whole club set up:

“It would be phenomenal for the club. We’re aiming to get a new pitch and clubhouse next season so to have a national title under our belts should show people we are a club going somewhere. It’s an exciting time to be here and we’re relishing it. It’s been a fantastic season, they’re a great bunch of girls and I hope they get their reward.”

Whatever happens on Saturday, both sides can be mightily proud of making it this far.

England Hockey Board Media release

Investec Women's League Teams of the Season 2014-15

Rebecca Herbert with her award 2014-15

As with the Men's Hockey League, we have been busy collecting the votes to crown the Investec Women's Hockey League Players' Players of the Season as well as the teams of the season. After carefully collating all the votes, the results are in. Check below to see who made the cut to be one of the best in the league.

Premier Division

IWPL Team of the Season 14-15

The Investec Women's Premier Division Player of the Season was Surbiton's Rebecca Herbert. The striker also finished as the division's top scorer as her side swept to an all conquering season, going undefeated and winning the championship playoffs. Herbert's lightning speed, skill and ability to finish chances has caught the eye in the top flight and earned her the two top awards.

The team of the season has three players from Canterbury as Mel Clewlow and Grace Balsdon, part of the defence who kept nine clean sheets this season line up alongside Great Britain duo Hollie Webb (Surbiton) and Laura Unsworth (Holcombe.) Bowdon Hightown's Amy Tennant continues to get rave reviews as the division's top stopper and takes the No1 jersey. 
The third Canterbury player is Susannah Townsend. Clifton's Joie Leigh is recognised for her excellent season and is joined in the midfield trio by Alice Sharp of Birmingham University. Player of the Year Herbert spearheads and attack with club teammate Sarah Page and rising star Holly Hunt, the Hockey Writers' Club Young Player of the Year.  

West Conference

IWWC Team of the Season 14-15

Oxford Hawks defender Takara Haines has capped a fine season by being voted the Player of the Season in the West Conference. Despite their mid table finish, Hawks boasted the fourth best defence in the league. Haines' tenacity, tackling and work rate more than played its part.

The team of the season is dominated by Champions Slough who have five players included. Dilly Newton, Jo Bryant, Kat McGonigle, Laura Bailey and Jess Brooker all got the nod. Top scorer in the division Zoe Burford joins Brooker and Holly Savage of Firebrands up front whilst Olton duo Kerry Thompson-Moore and Katie Brough also make the cut. Trojans goalkeeper Claire Gover takes spot between the posts after a splendid season. 

North Conference

IWHL North Team of the Season 14-15

Ellie Tait is the double award winner in the North Conference as her 20 goals fired her to both top scorer and Player of the Season gongs. The Loughborough Student has really impressed with her fast hands and predatory instincts inside the circle accounting for almost 59% of her side's goals this season. She was, without doubt, the most feared striker in the division.

Ben Rhydding's defensive unit gets some recognition with goalkeeper Charlotte Smith and defenders Rachelle le Bourdon and Tash Janzen making the team of the season. Sophie Manning is also in the back four alongside Jane Donnelly of Wakefield. The Student sides are prominent with Durham duo Molly Rawnsley and Phillipa Lewis lining up alongside Tait and Loughborough skipper Kim Leiper. Wakefield's Sally Walton and Sutton Coldfield's Emma McCabe take the final two slots.

East Conference

IWHL East Conference Team of the Season 14-15

Few surprises in the East Conference as East Grinstead's Sophie Bray collected both Top Goalscorer and Player of the Year awards. The Great Britain No19 went on to showcase why she was so highly regarded by her peers with some outstanding displays in the promotion playoffs to help her side into the Premier Division. Bray has skills aplenty, pace and an eye for goal. A class act as recognised by the rest of the division.

East Grinstead have two other players in the team of the season with Joanna Davis in defence and Kirsty Mackay in goal. St Albans trio Natasha Humphries, Ellie Watton and Hannah Macleod are also in with Wimbledon and Chelmsford represented by Amy Tippen and Emer Acton respectively. Emma Lee-Smith's nine goals for Harleston give her a place whilst the front three is a formidable trio. Bray is joined by two ex-England stars in Cathy Gilliat-Smith and Jane Smith. Plenty of goals there!

Premier Division
Amy Tennant, Bowdon Hightown
Hollie Webb, Surbiton
Mel Clewlow, Canterbury
Laura Unsworth, Holcombe
Grace Balsdon, Canterbury
Susannah Townsend, Canterbury
Joie Leigh, Clifton
Alice Sharp, University of Birmingham
Sarah Page, Surbiton
Rebecca Herbert, Surbiton
Holly Hunt, Bowdon Hightown

West Conference
Claire Gover, Trojans
Dilly Newton, Slough
Takara Haines, Oxford Hawks
Jo Bryant, Slough
Kerry Thompson-Moore, Olton and West Warwicks
Kat McGonigle, Slough
Laura Bailey, Slough
Katie Brough, Olton and West Warwicks
Zoe Buford, Gloucester City
Jess Brooker, Slough
Holly Savage, Bristol Firebrands

North Conference
Charlotte Smith, Ben Rhydding
Rachelle Le Bourdon, Ben Rhydding
Sophie Manning, Sutton Coldfield
Jane Donnelly, Wakefield
Tash Janzen, Ben Rhydding
Molly Rawnsley, University of Durham,
Sally Walton, Wakefield
Kim Leiper, Loughborough Students
Ellie Tait, Loughborough Students
Phillipa Lewis, University of Durham
Emma McCabe, Sutton Coldfield

East Conference
Kirsty Mackay, East Grinstead
Joanna Davis, East Grinstead
Natasha Humpries, St Albans
Amy Tippen, Wimbledon,
Emer Acton, Chelmsford
Ellie Watton, St Albans
Hannah Macleod, St Albans
Emma Lee-Smith, Harleston Magpies
Cathy Gilliat-Smith, Sevenoaks
Sophie Bray, East Grinstead
Jane Smith, Maidenhead

England Hockey Board Media release

Over 160 clubs to deliver Back to Hockey

BtH - New to Hockey Slogan

Our Back to Hockey campaign starts on the 11th May and over 160 clubs will be delivering sessions.

Do you want to get Back to Hockey? Whether it's your first time or you're returning to hockey, Back to Hockey is a great way to exercise as part of a team with a focus on fun, fitness and friendship.

Back to Hockey is designed for players who want to come back to hockey having played maybe at school or university.  It is based around fun, sociable hockey that gives players the chance to get fitter and enjoy themselves while playing some informal hockey.  The programme is run in 6 to 8 week blocks which will introduce you back to the game by mixing in some skills exercises with some small sided game play (eg 5v5, 6v6).

We also welcome new players to try hockey for the first time.  It will provide you with a great opportunity to make new friends and will give you the basic introduction if you haven't played before in a friendly and relaxed environment without the pressure to perform.

See the England Hockey site for more details

England Hockey Board Media release

Fulton Names Senior Men Squad  

The Irish Senior Mens training squad has just been named for the remainder of 2015

When naming his enlarged squad National Coach Craig Fulton said “The culture we are creating around the squad is one of healthy competition for places, teamwork and the belief we can qualify for Rio. With a month till final selection to WL3 the squad will train and play matches against Germany, France and Belgium in the lead up to the Tournament in Belgium from 23 June/6 July"


11 & 12 May v Germany at Krefeld, Germany
23 & 24 May v France at Lille, France
6 & 7 June v Belgium at Antwerp, Belgium


Jonathan Bell - Lisnagarvey
Matthew Bell – Banbridge
Stephen Brownlow – Glenanne
Jonny Bruton - Three Rock Rovers
Peter Brown – Banbridge
Drew Carlise – Banbridge
Jamie Carr (GK) - Monkstown
Peter Caruth – Monkstown
Chris Cargo -  Reading
Luke Chadwick – YMCA
Tim Cockram – Lisnagarvey
Stephen Cole – Monkstown
Lee Cole – Monkstown
Mitch Darling – Three Rock
Stephen Dowds – Banbridge
David Fitzgerald (GK) Monkstown
Maurice Elliott – Pembroke Wanderers
Neal Glassey – Mossley
Paul Gleghorne – Instonians
Kyle Good – Dragons
Ronan Gormley – Krefeld
David Harte (GK) Kampong
Conor Harte – Racing
Mark Ingram (GK)-  Pembroke Wanderers
John Jackson – Reading
James Lorimer – Lisnagarvey
Stuart Loughrey – Cannock
Billy Lynch (GK) – Cork Church of Ireland
Eugene Magee – Banbridge
Owen Magee – Banbridge
Bruce McCandless - Banbridge
Shane O Donoghue – Dragons
Michael Robson – Annadale
Kirk Shimmins – UCD
Alan Sothern – Racing
Michael Watt – Surbiton
Stephen West (GK) - Three Rock Rovers

Irish Hockey Association media release

Smith Names Senior Women Squad

National Coach Darren Smith has this morning named his squad of 20 to travel to the USA & Canada where they will play seven test matches in their final preparations for WL3 in Valencia from 10/21 June as they continue on their Road to Rio.

·         18, 19 & 21 May v USA at Nook Sports, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA
·         23, 24, 26 & 27 May v Canada Toronto, Canada

Smyth said of his selection “It is always tough to narrow the squad down for a series but in this case we have stuck with the World League 2 team with the addition of Yvonne O’Byrne and Chloe Brown to make a final touring group of 20”

“The 3 matches against USA will be extremely difficult and give us a great practice toward the upcoming World League 3 in Valencia. We will also welcome the challenge that Canada will bring over 4 matches in Toronto immediately after we complete the USA leg. Canada and Ireland had two hard fought even matches in the recent World League 2 in Dublin and we expect exactly the same sort of contest on their home soil. The 7 matches over 10 days will be ideal preparation leading into a demanding World League 3 schedule”

The World League 3 squad will be selected immediately after the USA/CAN series at the end of May.

The Squad for USA & Canada series 14/28 May is:

Chloe Brown - Ards
Naomi Carroll – Catholic Institute
Lizzie Colvin – Loreto
Aine Connery – Hermes
Nicci Daly – Loreto
Kate Dillon – Railway Union
Nikki Evans – UCD
Megan Frazer – Ulster Elks
Emma Gray – Hermes
Shirley McCay – Ulster Elks
Ayeisha McFerran – Pegasus
Hannah Matthews – Loreto
Ali Meeke – Loreto
Katie Mullan – UCD
Yvonne O'Byrne – Cork Harlequins
Anna O'Flanagan – UCD
Gillian Pinder – UCD
Cliodhna Sargent – Cork Harlequins
Emma Smyth – Railway Union
Chloe Watkins – UCD

Non travelling reserves
Emily Beatty – UCD
Deirdre Duke – UCD
Stella Davis – Pembroke Wanderers

In addition to the 23 named above Smyth has added 5 players to his National Squad for 2015, following consistent performances in club, regional and international age group hockey.

Gemma Frazer – Ulster Elks
Kate Lloyd – Railway Union
Hayley Mulcahy – Loreto
Kerri McDonald – Ards
Zoe Wilson – Randalstown

Smyth added “Congratulations to Kate, Zoe, Hayley, Kerri and Gemma who deserve their selection after strong performances in club, regional and age-group international hockey”

“This squad will be complimented with a development group of 10-12 who will be named over the coming weeks and finalised after the national U18 team completes European Cup in July”

Irish Hockey Association media release

Bumper Weekend of Cup Finals at UCD

The Final weekend of cup action all being played at UCD this weekend with Irish Junior Cup, Irish Hockey Challenege and Irish Hockey Trophy Finals all taking centre stage


Saturday 25 April

12.45 Mens Challenge: Dublin University v Armagh
15.00 Womens Irish Junior Cup: Pembroke Wanderers v Bandon
17.00 Mens Trophy: Clontarf v Bandon

Sunday 26 April

12.45 Womens Challenge: NUIG v Wexford
15.00: Womens Trophy: Cork C of I v Galway
17.00: Mens Irish Junior Cup: Monkstown v Three Rock Rovers

Irish Hockey Association media release

One Thousand Hockey Legs gathers pace

A project in India is proving that mixing business with pleasure can be a good thing

As we celebrate projects around the world, many of which seek to enhance the lives of people through hockey, it is worth remembering that some, if not all, the projects would not be able to survive without outside support. Many of the projects are helping to lift disadvantaged children out of poverty and introduce them to a better health and education. One man who has used his passion for hockey, political know-how and business contacts to great effect is former geologist, turned journalist and now chief executive of an NGO, K Arumugam.

One Thousand Hockey Legs is a project that tries to take hockey to young school kids. It's a programme that was started by the Hockey Citizen Group,with the aim of providing children with an opportunity to understand, play and enjoy hockey. The programme structure includes forming one or two teams per school, conducting friendly matches between schools, forming a team in each city, participating in state and national level competitions, holding exhibition matches, organising an annual hockey run and mentoring talent for the national team

The sub-plot of One Thousand Hockey Legs is to help lift disadvantaged children out of poverty and give them an opportunity for a better life. And the hard work of the past seven years was recognised when Arumugam was presented with Outstanding Achievement of the Year award by Hockey India President Dr Narinder Batra at the 2014 Hockey India Annual Awards.

On receiving the award, K Arumugam said: “This is like the Nobel Prize for me. It is by far the biggest recognition of my work.”

The idea behind the project can be traced back to 2008 when India failed to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Arumugam started his own National Governing Organisation, the Hockey Citizen Group, and One Thousand Legs was the first project under that umbrella. The passionate hockey fan’s aim was to start raising the level of hockey in the country from the grassroots upwards.

Explaining in greater depth just what One Thousand Legs hopes to achieve, the CEO says: “The chief target of the NGO is to bring 500 new kids into hockey in each city in India. The idea is to start and then run hockey teams in at least 25 schools in each city.”

This target has already been reached in Delhi, and an additional target was met when three young players from Delhi were selected to play in the 2015 Junior National Championships.

“So far, we have introduced about 2,400 children to the sport. This is an uphill task, but receiving awards like this are just the right kind of recognition and motivation we need,” said Arumugam.

And Amurugam and his team have been proactive in reaching out to businesses and organisations for help. The recent Cairns Junior Hockey Cup was sponsored by oil producers Cairns India and served to provide a competitive platform for the children of Delhi who had been enjoying regular coaching through the project.

Also earlier in the year, Hockey Australia chief executive Cam Vale joined the Australian Minister of Business and Trade on a fact-finding and relationship-building tour of India. As part of the initiative, which was exploring ways that sport and business could build international ties, he organised a hockey coaching clinic in Delhi. The clinic was led by Australian international umpire Tim Pullman in conjunction with coaches from the Hockey Citizen Group. The youngsters were presented with Kookaburra Hookin2 Hockey packs.

Speaking after the Cairns Junior Hockey Cup, Arumugam said: “The energy and enthusiasm surely gives a glimpse of what lies ahead for school hockey in Delhi.”

FIH site

USA Field Hockey Welcomes New Addition to the National Club Challenge

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Field Hockey is pleased to announce the addition of an 11-a-side Under-12 Co-Ed Division to the annual National Club Challenge to be held in conjunction with the July 9-14 National Club Challenge at the National Training Center in Virginia Beach, Va. The U-14, U-16 and U-19 National Club Championship will take place at Spooky Nook Sports in Lancaster, Pa. during the same week.

Registration for the first annual U-12 National Club Challenge is open. Click here for the application form. The deadline for applications is until Thursday, May 14, 2015 and teams will be announced on Monday, May 18, 2015.

During this inaugural year, registration will be based on the clubs involvement in developing U-12 athletes in the past, present and future. Each club is allowed to submit one application. All clubs and players must be a member in good standing with USA Field Hockey in order to compete in this event. USA Field Hockey will select eight clubs from the pool of applicants based on their past, present and planned future commitment in developing these young male and female athletes.

The registration process will be reviewed for 2016 and onward.

The U-12 National Club Challenge coincides with USA Field Hockey’s Strategic Plan in continuing to improve playing opportunities for young athletes. The National Club Championship and National Club Challenge are ideal opportunities for clubs to compete against each other at a highly competitive event.

USFHA media release

Volunteer Yan Huckendubler continues to support field hockey growth in Canada

Year of Sport: April celebrates the unsung heroes of sport

Shaheed Devji, fieldhockey.ca

Canadian FIH Media Officer Yan Huckendubler in London   

When Yan Huckendubler moved to Canada from his native France nearly thirty years ago, one of the first things he did was look for a field hockey club to join.

It was done as much out of habit as it was out of passion. For as long as he can remember, field hockey has been a part of Huckendubler’s life.

“It’s not a big sport in France. It’s a little bit like Canada in fact,” he explains from his home in Gatineau, Quebec. “You only played field hockey if somebody in your family or your friend plays.”

Huckendubler started playing field hockey in Paris when he was eleven years old. And in one way or another, he has been involved in the sport ever since.

But as any athlete will tell you, there comes a time to hang ‘em up. And Yan was no exception. Unlike many who may leave sport behind though, Yan has continued to become more and more involved in field hockey – as a volunteer – after his playing days.

After being part of the same Parisian club for twenty-five years, during which he played, umpired, organized, etc., upon arriving in Canada Huckendubler didn’t miss a stride.

“Somehow I got in touch with Field Hockey Canada (FHC), at the time they were in Ottawa, and said I had some time on my hands and if you are looking for people to help just give me a call,” he recalls.

They did.

“My first volunteer position was for the domestic competitions.”

And there have been many positions to follow. An I.T. engineer professionally, one of his volunteer roles had a large impact on the growth of Field Hockey Canada's presence worldwide and online, and has stuck for the long run.

“At the time – in the early the 1990s – the Internet was starting and Field Hockey Canada didn’t have a website or e-mail,” he explains. “I thought as a project I could do a website.”

He was a pioneer of sorts in this area. While other national field hockey associations had websites, the way they were used was mainly for static purposes.

But when Huckendubler attended the Hockey World Cup in the Netherlands in 1998, he went above and beyond.

“I said since I’m there – I was planning to go on my own to enjoy the hockey – maybe I could try updating the website from out there; do a few reports, and take a few pictures,” he recalls of his plans.

“That was really the first time we did something special on the FHC website.”

And it was well received by fans of the sport back home, who had no other way of following a sport that was and still is lacking in coverage by the mainstream.

Since that first foray into the communication side of the sport, Yan has gone on to work as a media officer for Field Hockey Canada, the Pan American Hockey Federation, and Commonwealth Games Canada at various major events including the Olympic Games, World Cup and Commonwealth Games.

A lot of it has been done on his own time and own his dime, but for Huckendubler, the benefits significantly outweigh any costs associated with the years of volunteering he has done.

“Having the chance to go to the Olympics is something I’m still shaking my head at,” he says. “I grew up looking at the Olympics as the pinnacle of sport. Because I was involved with the Canadian team at the Pan Am Games in 1999 and they qualified, that allowed me to go with them to the 2000 Olympics. That stays with me as one of the heights of this whole time.”

With Canada’s men and women inching closer to qualification for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Yan is looking forward to the chance to returning to the Olympics in some capacity.

And with all the time spent going to tournaments and taking in matches, having developed relationships over the years, the most important role he might have is as a fan.

“By going to tournaments and staying involved, first you get to know a lot of the athletes and the coaches,” he says. “You’re not exactly part of their community, but you get to know them so it’s quite an experience to see them grow through the years and become top athletes.”

But ask anyone who has dealt with Yan Huckendubler and they’ll tell you that while he hasn't been on the pitch, he’s been as much a part of the team as anyone.

Field Hockey Canada media release

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