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News for 09 July 2015

All the news for Thursday 9 July 2015

Argentina Tops USMNT in First Preparation Game

On a hot, humid summer day, the U.S. Men's National Team played their first preparatory game against Argentina in the heat of the day at Harvard University.

Starting tentatively and with some unnecessary errors, the USMNT trailed by a score of 1-0 at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter progressed but Team USA allowed a second goal on an Argentinean penalty corner. Without delay, Team USA responded and had numerous quick shots on cage as well as back-to-back penalty corners, with one hitting the crossbar.

Argentina capitalized on their chances and scored just before the half to take the lead, 3-0.

When the second half began, the U.S. Men's National Team came out more aggressive and found the attacking end of the field more easily, opening up the game for both sides. A penalty corner rebound by Argentina notched another one on the board giving them a 4-0 lead. Team USA tenacious to never quit mounted a comeback on a goal by Will Holt (Camarillo, Calif.) who found the roof of the net with a rocket of a flick to end out the third quarter, USA 1 ARG 4.

The final quarter began and Team USA was again creating chances and attacking more than earlier in the game creating multiple opportunities. On a penalty corner for USA, Holt again found the back of the cage to make the score USA 2, ARG 4. Pressure continued to be applied and the USMNT earned another penalty corner where they were ready for Holt to go 3-for-3 on the flick but an errant push out left the Argentinian defense with an easy clear. From there, Argentina was able to take control at the other end and seal the win on a goal in the 60th minute to make the final score USA 2, ARG 5.

"To play the way we did and have the chance to make the score 4-3 at the end would have been pleasing," said Chris Clements, U.S. Men's National Team Head Coach. "With the opportunities we had we must be more clinical as our opponent showed us. We must be more confident in our ability from the outset to not have to play catch up."

"However I am pleased with our ability to chase a game and make it interesting," continued Clements. "Preferably we need to be the one being chased and be comfortable with this."

"It was a good run around today with some learning points to build upon moving forward." commented Will Holt, U.S. Men's National Team Athlete. "We are looking forward to another opportunity tomorrow."

USFHA media release

Castro leads hockey revolution in Chile

Alfredo Castro has a big task ahead of him at the 2015 edition of the Pan-American Games, due to start in just a few day's time. He is emulating Argentine coach Carlos Retegui's performance at the 2014 World Cup by coaching both the men's and women's team at the same tournament.
The coach, who is in his second stint as Chile's National Senior Coach, is feeling positive in the lead-up to the Pan-Am Games, which are also Olympic qualifier events.
"Our objective is to get a medal with both teams, men and women," he says. "We know this will be hard, because of the quality and progress of the other teams, but we have two teams with a great attitude and that counts for a lot."
When asked about his team's strengths, Castro cited the tactical and strategic ability of the women's team and the penalty corner routine of his men's side as the secret weapons as Chile aim to win the Pan-American title.
Castro says that although he is the head coach, he has a strong support team behind him. While he is head coach, both teams have their own coach and assistant.
He also explains that the whole national coaching structure in Chile is very centrally-managed by him and his team. "As a coaching team, we are working hard with our under 21, 16 and 14 players to put in place and support a national team structure. At the same time we use talent detection from under 12; both for male and female players."
Castro was also Chile's head coach from 2004-2009, before leaving the entire Chile hockey scene to spend three years working in Argentina as a general sports manager. He returned to his former role just a year ago and watched his Chile team perform with increasing confidence at the Hockey World League (HWL) Round 2.
The team began with three straight losses, to Ireland, Italy and Austria, but then a victory over Russia (5-4 on shoot-out) and wins over the USA and Italy in the classification matches signified an upward turn in the team's performance.
"We will expect those squad members who played at the Hockey World League Round 2 to be really influential at the Pan-Am Games," said Castro. "They will have more experience of international competition and that will be important. We are also expecting a lot from our younger players."
He names Felipe Eggers, Nicolás Rens, and the Chile captain Raimundo Valenzuela as players who will be hugely important for his team in the men's competition.
Daniela Caram – who was top goal-scorer at the HWL Round 2, Carolina García, Constanza Palma and captain Camila Caram will be the key players for the women.
Like most of the Pan-Am teams, Chile's players are not professional sports men and women, but rather they fit their training in around work and study.
The national squads train together three times a week, with additional sessions working on their physical fitness and two weekly sessions with their clubs.
Asked about his rivals, Castro says that he expects the women's competition to be dominated by Argentina and the USA, while Canada also has a shout at winning a medal.
In the men's competition, Argentina and Canada are the teams he expects to be on the podium, which leaves a third space for Chile!

FIH site

Hockey teams ready

Shalveen Chand In Port Moresby

THE Fiji hockey men's and women's team wasted no time in getting used to the Papua New Guinea heat as they await their first match in the Pacific Games on Monday.

The teams were making most of the newly built turf at Sir John Guise Stadium in Waigani in Port Moresby.

Fiji Hockey head coach Hector Smith said the team was focused on their task to win gold.

"This Pacific Games is very important to the teams especially for the men as they are back into the games after a lapse of 36 years," he said.

"They have a point to prove because we have come with a mission to win gold. The girls are defending their title which they won in 2007.

"New Caledonia did not have the hockey tournaments so there was no competition in 2011 but this year it's back in PNG."

The hockey in the Pacific Games will be played in the five-a-side code.

Men's coach Shaun Corrie said they were for serious business.

"We have trained to win gold and we mean business. The boys are fit and ready for their games," Corrie said.

The Fiji Times

I have not resigned: Shahnaz

Kashif Abbasi

"Technically, my contract has almost expired, but I have not resigned" - AFP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan hockey team’s head coach Shahnaz Sheikh has flatly refuted the claim made in a section of media that he has resigned.

“There is no truth in some media reports, which claimed that I have resigned from my position,” Shahnaz told Dawn on Wednesday.

He, however, said the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) had hired his services till the 2016 Olympics, but the team could not qualify for Olympic Games. “Technically, my contract has almost expired, but I have not resigned,” he clarified.

Meanwhile, PHF secretary Rana Mujahid said the federation never received resignation from the head coach.

He said the PHF hired Shahnaz till the Rio Olympics, but unfortunately the team could not qualify for the mega event, that means, the head coach’s contract was going to expire.

However, Mujahid said, so far, the head coach hadn’t tendered his resignation yet, but added that there were chances Shahnaz would make an announcement in this regard on Thursday, before the media in Islamabad.

On Thursday, Shahnaz along with PHF officials and captain Mohammad Imran will appear before a probe committee formed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to know the reasons behind Pakistan hockey team’s failure to qualify for next year’s Olympics.

Meanwhile, commenting on the team’s show in Antwerp, Shahnaz reckoned the government’s non-serious attitude towards hockey was the primary reason behind the debacle.

“I had a 150-day plan -- 70 days for training camp and 30 to 35 days for international matches -- before the commencement of the qualifying round in Belgium but I was not provided [required] resources to execute my plan,” the head coach lamented.


Pakistan Hockey Federation formulates own probe body

LAHORE: In a surprising move, the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has also formulated a probe committee of its own to investigate the national team’s failure to qualify for the Olympics following an order of Prime Minister Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif.

The premier, who is also patron of the PHF, has also ordered the Inter-provincial Committee to form a probe body, which has already been constituted with IPC secretary Ijaz Chaudhry, DG technical Akhtar Nawaz Ganjera as non-technocrat members along with three Olympians, Shahbaz Senior, Khawaja Junaid and Col Mudassar Asghar.

The first meeting of that committee is to be held on Thursday. Head coach Shahnaz Sheikh, captain Mohammad Imran, PHF president Akhtar Rasool and secretary Rana Mujahid all are to appear before that committee.

However, just a day before of the meeting of that committee, the PHF on Wednesday issued a news release in which it announced its own committee which has former Olympians Shahid Ali Khan, Mansoor Ahmad and Akhlaq Ahmad as its members.

“Due to dismal and humiliating performance of the Pakistan hockey team in the Hockey World League Semi-Finals, under the orders of Honourable Prime Minister of Pakistan, the PHF has appointed Fact Finding Committee, who will probe the matter and will submit its findings to the PHF,” it stated.

At the HWL Semi-Finals in Antwerp, Pakistan needed to finish fifth to have a chance of making it to next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro but finished a lowly eighth.


Massive reforms needed to revive hockey: Naveed Alam

ISLAMABAD: Former Olympian Naveed Alam on Wednesday called for strict action against the national hockey team and its management for their embarrassing failure in the recently held Hockey World League (HWL) in Antwerp, Belgium.

Welcoming the government’s decision to set up a committee for probing the team’s failure in the HWL, Naveed said that “massive reforms are needed to rehabilitate national hockey.”

“Whosoever from the team, its management and from the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) is responsible for the failure should be held accountable if we want to save our national game,” he emphasised.

Pakistan finished at a pathetic eighth spot in the 10-team HWL at Antwerp, in a tournament which served as qualifiers for the 2016 Olym­pics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In the 2010 World Cup held in India, Pakistan came last in the 12-nation showpiece. The green-shirts then also failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. Earlier, at the 2012 London Olympics they again fared badly by finishing seventh.

Naveed disputed the PHF claim and that of the players that lack of funds hindered the team’s preparations for the Antwerp event.

“If the funds received by the PHF in early tenures had been used properly, this situation might not have arisen,” he said. “No system of check-and-balance was in place to see whether the funds are being used properly.”

“The PHF needs new faces who can run the game with passion and absolute honesty so that Pakistan can regain the status in world hockey.”

“There was a time when opposing teams feared facing Pakistan but the situation has now reversed and now it is Pakistan who fear encountering even weaker teams,” regretted Naveed.

He also offered a helping hand for the game’s revival: “Drastic changes and steps are required to save the game.”

Naveed expressed his surprise that great players like Islahuddin Siddiqui (chief selector) and Shahnaz Sheikh (head coach) couldn’t fix the game when chances were given to them.


Corporate sector support crucial for hockey revival: Enver Baig

ISLAMABAD: Feeling dejected by the shameful performance of the national team in the World Hockey League’s semi-finals, ruling PML-N leader and former member of the Standing Committee on Sports, Enver Baig urged the government to seek corporate sector’s help to uplift the standard of the national game.

Speaking to Dawn, the former senator said: “All over the world the teams are financed and supported by the corporate sector and it should be no different in Pakistan.”

He said that due to lack of financial resources, both from the government and private sector, no serious work has been done during the last two decades to improve hockey infrastructure and facilities.

The former senator said that for the revival of national game, the key ingredients are professionalism, honesty and dedication coupled with the government and private sector’s financial support.

“It will take some time to bring the team back to an international level if appropriate measures are in place. As hockey is still in our blood, there is vast talent waiting to be recognized.”

Enver said that downfall of the hockey started in the beginning of 80s but the people at the helm of affairs didn’t take any step to arrest the decline.

“The result of this negligence has brought the national game to a humiliating position in international hockey. By not winning any mega titles in the past 20 years the team’s rating has gone from the highest rank to as low as number 10,” he bemoaned.

He said that major disadvantage to the game is the unavailability of Astro Turf in the rural areas of the country which were the breeding ground of many talented players of the past.

“Young players start developing skills on natural grass or mud fields. By the time they reach the urban areas to further improve their skill, they have hand no experience of playing on artificial surface which requires quicker reflexes, body movement and greater stamina to match requirements necessary to compete on an international level,” he said and added that in comparison, top hockey playing nations provided grass root training on artificial turf.

“We have to provide Astro Truf at grass root levels,” he emphasised.

The ex-senator further said that it is high time to strengthen hockey academies as the training institutions available to youth have over the years failed to produce any talent due to the mismanagement and corruption in the ranks of Pakistan Hockey Federation.

He suggested that hockey should be commercialized to create more interest for players in the game and look at it as a career option like other sports.


Jamali set to be new PHF president

Mohsin Ali

ISLAMABAD - Former Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) president and ex-prime minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali is all set to become new PHF president within next couple of weeks.

The sources informed this scribe that the prime minister was very upset with the current incompetent PHF management and wanted to bring in a Noor Khan like person and his installed structure who may safe hockey blushes and command respect among hockey circles, Olympians, players and masses. “The PM has already talked to Jamali and conveyed message through his military secretary.”

The sources said Jamali had agreed in principle to take over the helm of PHF affairs, as he enjoyed tremendous success in his short six-month tenure and earned a lot of respect for Pakistan hockey at international level. “Now, the PHF will be lot more broad and like national hockey federation, unlike of past practice of granting all the powers to four districts and three or four persons running the affairs and free to take decisions of their liking,” the sources said and added when Pakistan hockey team’s participation in 2008 Olympics was under serious doubts, Jamali handled the situation quite well and only in six-month tenure, he steadied Pakistan hockey ship.

The sources said there were a few front runners as former Olympian Samiullah was also in the line to take over the helm of PHF affairs, but due to his affiliation with a certain political party, his name was chopped while former secretary Brig (R) Khalid Khokhar was also a front runner for the president slot. “Former Olympian and captain Shahbaz Senior is a hot favorite to take secretary slot, while Olympian Naveed Alam is also a dark horse and main contender for secretary slot.”

The sources said that the government didn’t need to issue SRO or appoint an ad-hoc on PHF, as there was a very simple solution of getting rid of both Chaudhry Akhtar Rasool and Rana Mujahid. “Akhtar Rasool is convicted in Supreme Court attack and Rana Mujahid is facing two inquires – one of trying to establish parallel Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) and second of facing allegations of misuse of Rs 100 million funds of national games and already inquiry is being underway in this regard.”

The sources said: “Shahbaz Senior is running from post to pillar to land secretary post and posing himself as hot favorite, while former world cup winning goalkeeper Mansoor Ahmed is also very much in the frame to land some important post in the new set up, while former PHF secretary Col Mudassar is also a candidate for the secretary slot.”

“For the past 10 years, there was no hockey system existed in the country. The IPC minister probe committee will meet today (Thursday) at Pakistan Sports Complex. The hockey federation officials and head coach Shahnaz Shaikh were asked to bring their reports. The decision has already been made in principle to show the door to incompetent management, as only meager formalities are left,” the sources concluded.

The Nation

Women did a fantastic job in Antwerp: Oltmans

Uthra Ganesan

Roelant Oltmans.

The Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams had contrasting outings at the recent Hockey World League semifinals in Antwerp. While the men disappointed despite finishing fourth in the tournament, the women all but booked a historic Olympic spot despite a fifth-place finish.

“We can see that the girls did a fantastic job out there. I am proud of the girls — they had the desire, composure and willingness and there was a lot of improvement in their game. Of course, there is still a lot of work to be done, we saw that against New Zealand and the Netherlands but that again was not a surprise,” Hockey India’s high performance director Roelant Oltmans told The Hindu a day after returning from Belgium.

“As for the men, I agree the team did not play consistently and we were not up there against the top teams. Conceding four-five goals against teams like Australia, Belgium or Great Britain meant we were not at the level expected in this tournament,” Oltmans added.

However, he refused to press the panic button. “I am not afraid for the team’s future. We did pretty well six months ago and we can do it again. It is now up to us to transform this bunch of players into a winning unit in our progress towards the Olympics,” the Dutchman said. The team missed a few senior players in every department but Oltmans admitted that there were no excuses for poor performances. “We have a core of 30 plus players so there are no excuses. Yes, the team did not perform up to the level this time but I am confident of the players,” Oltmans said.

Coach Paul van Ass had advocated total hockey before the tournament but the Indian team failed to execute the plan. “Obviously Paul would be disappointed with the overall performance of the side. But I am very sure that this tournament would not affect the long-term prospects of the team,” Oltmans said.


The high performance director, however, is now looking at getting the Indian women a lot more exposure. “We finished last at the Champions Challenge last year but our preparations were aimed at the Asian Games and we did pretty well there. We had the test series against Italy and Spain and the New Zealand tour which were very important to our performance here. We now have to plan from now to the Olympics and the main thing is to ensure a lot of international exposure for the women,” Oltmans said.

“For the time being, however, the players have been given 10 days off for rest. While the men will regroup for the next camp on July 18, the women will be getting back to training in the first week of August. That’s because a lot of our girls are also part of the national junior side and will be training with them for the junior Asia Cup (in September).”

Interestingly, the teams were supposed to have their next camps in Bengaluru but the new turfs being laid there are yet to be ready. As such, the venue for training is yet to be decided. “We have options. It could be Bengaluru, Shilaru or Delhi, let’s see,” Oltmans said.

The Hindu

'Flying' Ritu Rani in pursuit of nation's dream

Indian women's hockey captain is confident of results going in India's favour as they seek to qualify for Rio Olympics following fifth-place finish in HWL Semifinals

Adit Ganguly

Ritu Rani (right) says that there was no pre-match talk ahead of the Japan game

Antwerp on Saturday, New Delhi on Monday and back home in Shahbad, Haryana, the same day. The cities may be different, but what's stayed the same for Ritu Rani, captain of the Indian women's hockey team, has been the celebrations.

And why not? With a win over Japan to finish fifth at the Hockey World League Semifinals, the eves stand a chance of qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics for the first time since 1980.

Speaking from her residence, Rani was elated with her constant giggles on the phone. "None of the team members was even born then (1980), so you can imagine the celebrations after the game on Saturday. We have almost completed the dream. It was good to see so many fans at the airport in Delhi waiting to welcome us with band and garlands so early on Monday morning," said Rani, who has been captain of the side since 2011 and has more than 200 caps under her belt since her debut in the 2006 Asian Games in Doha.

"Even at home, the mood has been like a festival. Sweets in the entire locality were distributed the moment we beat Japan," said Rani of the Haryana Police.

At the start of the tournament, Rani and her side kept a top-four-finish as their goal. "Our initial goal was entering the semifinals. That would have sealed our place for Rio without having to depend on other teams and tournaments. We seemed on course when we entered the quarterfinals but the 0-7 drubbing to Holland changed everything," Rani said. "It is one thing to lose and another thing to be handed a seven-goal drubbing. Despite the defeat, we still had a match left to play and all that we had to do was win. Each one of us knew that the situation could have been much worse. We could have finished outside the quarterfinals."

The 23-year-old said there was no special pre-match motivational talk ahead of the Japan game. "It was a do-or-die game for us. Our goal was 60 minutes away. Some of the players knew that this could be their last chance.

Sometimes, this is all the motivation one needs. We didn't want to return home on the back of a defeat. We did get the start we wanted with Rani Rampal's goal in the 13th minute. We did try to increase our lead in the next two quarters but the momentum swung their way in the final quarter. We knew they needed just one goal to get back into the game. Not once did we even think of taking the match to extra time or penalties. All that we wanted was to win," said Rani.

All that Rani and her team can do now is wait for results to go their way. "By October end, we would come to know if we've qualified or not. There will be a few camps held before that, but once we know for sure, our preparations for Rio will begin in full swing. Right now, we're just enjoying the moment and hoping for the best," she said.


By beating Japan and finishing fifth, India have a shot at the reserve spot that can open up if the same team that has qualified through the Hockey World League Semifinals also wins the continental title. Thus, for India to qualify:

Australia or New Zealand have to win the Oceania Championship in Stratford (Oct 17-25)

Great Britain, The Netherlands or Germany have to win the European Championship in London (Aug 21-30)

Argentina or USA have to win the Pan American Championship in Toronto (Jul 13-24)


Women hockey players ‘unhappy’ with their jobs

Nitish Sharma

Ritu Rani, captain, women’s hockey team

Shahabad (Kurukshetra) - Women’s hockey team captain Ritu Rani and another star player Rani Rampal, natives of Shahbad, are unhappy with their jobs given by the state government.

Ritu Rani is an inspector in the Haryana Police, while Rani Rampal is a senior clerk in the railways.

Both players lamented state government’s indifferent attitude towards players. “We have created a history. There were seven girls from Haryana in the hockey team and we have made the state proud, but there has been no appreciation from the state government,” Ritu Rani told The Tribune here today.

The team has booked a berth in the Rio Olympics.

“It is not befitting a sportsperson to be given a job in the police department. It will be good if we get jobs in departments related to our sports as we can deliver more in our area of interest,” Ritu Rani told The Tribune here today.

She said sportspersons should be appointed as coaches, District Sports Officers (DSOs) and Deputy Director (Sports).”

“After retirement, I will have to work in the police department — a different ball game for me. I cannot with my game after since the police do not have a hockey team,” Ritu Rani said.

Rani Rampal has been playing for the country for nine years, but the monthly salary she draws as a clerk in the railways has been demotivating. “The salary of Rs 13,000 is less in comparison to my achievements,” she said, adding “my family depends on me. My father still works and I don’t like this”.

To a query, she said: “Being sportspersons, we don’t have time to raise our voice for our rights. But the state and the Centre must know that what their players are doing and what they deserve.”

The Tribune

Lessons to be Learnt by Indian Hockey Team

Indians not only failed to convert penalty corners but their frailties in defence were also exposed in the Hockey World League semi-final tournament. India conceded quite a few soft goals leaving a lot of opposition players inside the D unmarked.

File photo of the Indian hockey team.

The Indian Hockey team finished 4th in the Hockey World League semi-final tournament in Belgium, missing out on a podium finish. The performance of Sardar Singh and company against higher ranked teams like Australia, Belgium and England was disastrous. India conceded 15 goals and scored only 3 against the big 3 teams. The Indian team was found wanting in many departments. They struggled to score goals and also conceded quite a few soft goals which resulted in defeats by big margins.

Looking at India's below average performance the task is cut out for coach Paul Van Ass and if there is one area the teams needs to quickly turn things around in, it's the penalty corner department. In the Hockey World League semis the Indian drag-flickers managed to convert only 5 penalty corners out of 20 that went their way. The injury to ace drag-flicker Rupinder Pal Singh didn't help India's cause, as the star player missed 5 out of the 7 matches in the tournament. (Indian team needs to organise defence better: Sardar Singh)

"Well 5 out of 20 is 1 out of 4 that is too low, it is 25% and you should be in 33. So, it is very simple." said High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans on India's poor conversion rate in penalty corners.

The Indian team not only failed to convert penalty corners but their frailties in defence were also exposed in the tournament as they conceded quite a few soft goals leaving many opposition players inside the D unmarked. But despite the loop-holes in defence, High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans defended India's defenders.

"Well it is always simple to call only about defence because for me defence is a team effort. It starts with the strikers, your mid-fielders and your defenders as well." said Roelant Oltmans.

The Challenge for India's coach Van Ass will be to work on both the defence and penalties so that the players concede less and score more.

"We will have to work on our defence and the most important thing is that we will have to score goals and I think the team will have to work a lot in these things." said India's defender Rupinder Pal Singh.

With the Rio Olympics just a year away, Sardar Singh and company will have to quickly iron out their flaws or their dream of winning a medal at the Olympics will not turn into reality.

NDTV Sports

Top Clubs Gather for the 2015 US National Club Championship

LANCASTER, Pa. - The time has come as the top club teams in the U.S. will gather in Lancaster, Pa. for the 2015 National Club Championship (NCC), presented by Harrow Sports. As games get underway at Spooky Nook Sports, grit and heated competition will be evident as the right to hoist the golden stick is up for grabs at the conclusion of each age division.

Club teams across the country have battled it out from March through June at Regional Club Championships. Sixteen elite club teams in each division claimed their spot to travel to Pennsylvania for the National Club Championship.

"We are looking forward to another National Club Championship, said Karen Collins, USA Field Hockey Director of Events. "Many club teams have prepared all year for this event and we are excited to see what the competition brings."

In 2013 and 2014, WC Eagles (Spring City, Pa.) captured a sweep of first-place finishes in the Under-14, Under-16 and Under-19 divisions and will look to extend their reign during the 2015 NCC. Under-19 runner-up Xcalibur (Elverson, Pa.) hopes to overcome 2014's defeat and make it back to the final game and be victorious. Saints Hockey (Henrico, Va.) will try to avenge their second-place finish in the Under-16 division and North East Elite (Windham, N.H.), who finished second in the Under-14 division for two years in a row, looks to capitalize on every opportunity.

The National Club Championship was inaugurated in 2011 and gives club teams the unique opportunity to earn ultimate bragging rights on an outdoor pitch and the chance to turn the spotlight on their hometown. The 2015 championship is sure to be a highly contested and competitive tournament.

Best of luck to all competing club teams on their quest for gold!

Click here to view the 2015 National Club Championship Event Program.

USFHA media release

WP U13 boys retain national hockey title

JONATHAN COOK in Pietermaritzburg
Defending champions Western Province retained the SA U13 Boys Interprovincial Tournament (IPT) hockey title after fashioning two more victories on the penultimate day of the competition in Pietermaritzburg Wednesday.

Coach Grant Peacock’s side had to work hard for their back-to-back victories over KZN Coastal (4-0) and South Gauteng (3-1) at the AB Jackson Greenfields Turf. Thursday’s final round of boys’ A Section matches – at Maritzburg College’s Pape’s Astro - see WP up against Amathole at 11am.

Even if second-placed Eastern Province beat fourth-placed South Gauteng in the 10am match and top dogs Western Province succumb to a stunning defeat at the hands of sixth-placed Amathole, which would leave EP and WP tie on 18 log points, the Capetonians have a far superior goal difference (of 16 going into the final day) than the Port Elizabeth lads in their favour.

Irrespective of Thursday’s results, EP are assured of the runners-up spot while KZN Coastal, Southern Gauteng and surprise packets North West are in a close race for third place. If KZN Coastal beat North West in the 9am match they will be certain of ending in third spot, with South Gauteng certain of fourth place and North West fifth.

In the last three, second-last Northerns have a chance to leapfrog Amathole for sixth position, provided they beat bottom-placed KZN Inland in the tournament’s last match, which starts at 12 noon. However, if KZN Inland beat Northerns, which they have to do to stave off relegation to the B Section of next year’s IPT, then Northerns will relegated.

This scenario make Thursday’s last match the most important of the day in the boys’ A Section.

In the girls’ A Section, current log-leaders Southern Free State (15 log points), defending champions Western Province (14 points) and third-placed KZN Coastal (13 points) are set for a thrilling end to the tournament.

SFS take on WP at 11am on the AB Jackson Greenfields Turf. At 10am, KZN Coastal meet last-placed Amathole. Should KZN Coastal beat Amathole, as the formbook suggests, it will leave WP and Southern Free State knowing exactly what they have to do in their match, which follows directly after.

At the bottom of the table, second-last KZN Inland will know what they have to do in the final match in the girls’ A Section, against Eastern Province. Should KZN Coastal beat Amathole, as expected, then KZN Inland will probably be safe from relegation and the East London-based girls will take the drop.

Boys – at Maritzburg College: North West vs KZN Coastal (9am); South Gauteng vs EP (10am); WP vs Amathole (11am); KZN Inland vs Northerns (12.00).
Girls - at AB Jackson: Northerns vs SG (9am); Amathole vs KZN Coastal (10am); WP vs Southern Free State (11am); EP vs KZN Inland (12.00).

Boys - at AB Jackson: WP 4 KZN Coastal 0; Northerns 1 EP 4; Amathole 0 SG 1; KZN Inland 0 North West 0; Northerns 1 Amathole 1; SG 1 WP 3; EP 4 NW 0; KZN Coastal 5 KZN Inland 0.
Girls - Maritzburg College: WP 1 SG 0; KZN Inland 0 KZN Coastal 2; Southern Free State 3 Amathole 0; EP 1 Northerns 0; Amathole 0 WP 1; KZN Inland 0 SFS 1; KZN Coastal 4 Northerns 1; SG 2 EP 1.

(all played six, goal difference, points)
Boys: 1 WP (gd27) 18pts; 2 EP (gd11) 15pts; 3 KZN Coastal (gd4) 10pts; 4 South Gauteng (gd0) 9pts; 5 North West (gd-10) 8pts; 6 Amathole (gd-4) 4pts; 7 Northerns (gd-11) 3pts; 8 KZN Inland (gd-17) 1pt.
Girls: 1 South Free State (gd8) 15pts; 2 WP (gd5) 14pts; 3 KZN Coastal (gd7) 13pts; 4 EP (gd1) 10pts; 5 Northerns (gd-4) 6pts; 6 South Gauteng (gd-5) 6pts; 7 KZN Inland (gd-5) 3pts; 8 Amathole (gd-7) 3pts.

SA Hockey Association media release

Head, face and eye injuries common in women’s field hockey

By Lisa Rapaport

(Reuters Health) - Head, face and eye injuries happen regularly in women’s collegiate field hockey and can often lead to concussions, a study suggests.

Researchers reviewed injuries reported by National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) schools sponsoring women’s field hockey teams and found most of these types of injuries involved contact with a ball or stick. Concussions accounted for about 43 percent of injuries.

With the ball and stick being as hard as they are, it is not surprising that when lifted off of the playing surface, even when legally done, this can cause significant injury said lead study author Dr. Elizabeth Gardner, a sports medicine researcher at Yale University School of Medicine.

To gather evidence for assessing possible protective measures, like helmets or goggles, Gardner and colleagues reviewed NCAA data on injuries for school years starting in 2004 to 2008. The data were based on reports from about 9 percent of roughly 250 NCAA schools with women’s field hockey teams.

The researchers measured injury rates against what’s known as athletic exposures (AEs), which occur each time one athlete participates in one practice or game that has the potential to result in an injury.

Over the course of the study, there were 7,944 practices or games, each involving between 5 and 35 athletes per session, for a combined AE of 148,705.

There were 150 traumatic injuries during the study period, including 112 to the head or face, 15 to the nose, 13 to the mouth and 9 to the eye.

That amounts to an overall injury rate of 0.94 per 1,000 AEs.

Almost half of the injuries resulted from contact with an elevated ball, while about 22 percent were due to contact with a stick and 25 percent happened in a collision with another player.

While most injured players returned to the field during the current season, 10 percent of injuries were severe enough to sideline players for the rest of the season. Three players with season-ending injuries had concussions, while five of these injuries involved the eyes or cheeks.

Among the majority of players with concussions who returned to the game during the current season, 77 percent were back in action within 10 days of their injury, while the rest needed up to 20 days.

After concussions, facial contusions and lacerations were the most common injuries, and these were most often caused by contact with an elevated ball. About 6 percent of athletes with these facial injuries missed at least 10 days of play before returning to the field.

One limitation of the study is its reliance on the small fraction of NCAA schools reporting data on women’s field hockey injuries, which might make injury rates in the study different from the actual injury rates for all college players, the authors acknowledge in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.

In addition, the NCAA only records injuries that resulted in lost playing time, the researchers note.

While the study highlights the need to ensure that current playing rules are enforced to minimize the risk of concussions and other injuries, the findings aren’t enough to support changing rules or modifying requirements for protective gear, Gardner said by email.

Overall, the available evidence suggests that the incidence of head and face injuries is not alarmingly high and the majority of these injuries are not severe, Dr. Swarup Mukherjee, a researcher at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said by email.

But there is still room for improvement, said Mukherjee, who wasn’t involved in the study.

Field hockey involves far less protective gear than other similar sports like ice hockey, where the required list of equipment includes helmets, face masks, mouth guards, gloves and shin pads, Mukherjee said. For field hockey, only a mouth guard is mandatory and head wear is only permitted for medical reasons.

These are sensitive and vital body parts and an injury can lead to long-term and even permanent damage, Mukherjee said. Protection is of paramount importance.

SOURCE: bit.ly/1IJZOwi American Journal of Sports Medicine, online June 19, 2015.


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