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News for 19 July 2015

All the news for Sunday 19 July 2015

Argentina tops pool A and Canada tops pool B in Pan American Games Men

Canada vs. Mexico: 8-1 (ht: 2-0)

In the final men’s pool B match, Canada and Mexico played. Mexico’s Ricardo Garcia was honored for his 100th cap before the match. The match started with Mexico on the attack and Bruno Peraza trying to take a shot on goal, but it was denied by Canada’s defense. Canada regained possession and Gabriel Ho-Garcia did a lot of quick dribbling in front of the goal and eventually got the ball past Mexico’s keeper Moises Vargas. Ho-Garcia’s goal in the 6th minute made the score Canada 1, Mexico 0. Mexico went on the counter attack, but Alexis Campillo could not get a shot off before Canada came up with the ball. Canada went back on the attack and eventually Ho-Garcia again figured out how to get past Mexico’s frustrating defense in the 14th minute to make the score Canada 2, Mexico 0 that remained the score at the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter started with play immediately in Mexico’s attacking circle. Canada then went back on attack and Mexico continued to play strong defense that led to Mexico being able to generate play in their attacking half. In the 21st minute, earned a penalty corner, but Canada’s keeper David Carter made the high glove save to block Francisco Aguilar’s high drag flick. Canada kept trying to attack, but Mexico kept forcing Canada to pass the ball amongst their defenders in the midfield. In the 27th minute, Canada was able to penetrate their attacking circle, but Mexico forced play back to the midfield. Two minutes later, Canada was back on attack and Ho-Garcia had another hard shot on goal that was again blocked by Vargas. With Mexico forcing Canada to take a difficult shot in the final seconds of the second quarter the score remained Canada 2, Mexico 0 at halftime.

Canada started the third quarter with a bang as Matt Guest passed back and forth with Matthew Sarmento who finished the play that gave his team a three goal lead in the 31st minute. Mexico then went on the counter attack and Campillo’s hard work on attack paid off with a penalty corner goal in the 36th minute to put Mexico on the scoreboard; making the score Canada 3, Mexico 1. Canada rushed back on attack and Guest shot the ball past Vargas just as he was falling to the ground to make the score Canada 4, Mexico 1 in the 38th minute. A minute later Canada earned their first penalty corner of the match, but the shot went wide. Canada then earned two more penalty corners, but Mexico prevented the first play from being executed and Vargas blocked the shot on the second. Mexico’s defense held Canada’s attackers outside the circle to keep the score at the end of the third quarter Canada 4, Mexico 1.

At the start of the fourth quarter Canada continued to pressure hard on attack and Sarmento scored his second goal of the match in the 47th minute. Canada was relentless on attack and Ho-Garcia again had Vargas read with a tough shot in the 52nd minute to make the score Canada 6, Mexico 1. Two minutes later, it was Ho-Garcia again with his fourth goal of the match to put Canada ahead of Mexico by seven goals. Canada’s attack was unstoppable with Paul Wharton then pushing the ball past Vargas in the 54th minute to make the score Canada 8, Mexico 1. In the 58th minute, Canada earned a penalty corner and the play resulted in a stroke. Froese barely got the stroke off that was easily stopped by Vargas. Thus, the final score remained Canada 8, Mexico 1 and Canada secured the top of Pool B.

Trinidad and Tobago vs. United States: 1-2 (ht: 1-2)

In the final pool A match, Trinidad and Tobago and the United States met. Both teams were looking for their first win. For the first five minutes of the match, both teams traded possession in the midfield in the 6th minute, the United States broke through on attack to find Wll Holt waiting at the top of the circle. Holt’s hard shot past Trinidad and Tobago’s keeper Andrey Rocke to give his team the lead. The United States continued to pressure on attack and earned the first penalty corners of the match, but Rocke was there for the saves. Trinidad and Tobago then came back on attack and earned their first penalty corner of the match, but United States keeper Chris Rea saved the shot. The energy of the match picked up as the both teams continued to pressure on attack. Alex Grassi’s shot in the 13th minute increased the United States lead to two goals. A minute later, it was Trinidad and Tobago’s Ishmeal Campbell scoring to cut into the United States lead. With either team unable to score again in the final two minutes of the first quarter, the score remained Trinidad and Tobago 1, United States 2.

The second quarter started with the United States pressuring on attack and earning a penalty corner, but the shot went wide. Both teams continued to battle for possession in the second quarter. Trinidad and Tobago increased their attacking pressure following two United States green cards, one to Moritz Runzi in the 20th minute and one to Aki Kaeppeler in the 24th minute. The United States, however, played strong defense to force Trinidad and Tobago to take difficult shots.  Then it was United States with the man advantage following a yellow card in the 28th minute to Trinidad and Tobago’s Mickell Pierre. Despite the United States advantage, Trinidad and Tobago was back on attack, but Rea had an incredible stick save to preserve his team’s lead. In the 30th minute, Trinidad and Tobago’s Aiden de Gannes received a yellow card. The score at halftime was still Trinidad and Tobago 1, United States 2.

With a yellow card to de Gannes, the United States pressured hard on attack to start the third quarter. The United States earned a penalty corner in the 35th minute, but could not get the shot off. Pierre then had some good attacking opportunities denied by the United States defense. Both teams kept battling for possession and Trinidad and Tobago earned a penalty corner in the 43rd minute. Rea saved the corner and with the United States defense holding off more Trinidad and Tobago attack the score remained Trinidad and Tobago 1, United States 2.

The fourth quarter was an intense battle for possession. In the 55th minute, Trinidad and Tobago had two shots on goal go wide. In the final minute, Rea again came up big to save a couple more shots by Trinidad and Tobago to preserve the win for the United States. Thus, the final score was Trinidad and Tobago 1, United States 2 and the United States got their first tournament win.

Argentina vs. Cuba: 5-4 (ht: 3-1)

On the final day of men’s pool play, under bright sunny skies, the first match was between Argentina and Cuba. From the opening whistle, Argentina controlled the possession and went fast on attack. Argentina missed a penalty corner shot in the third minute. Cuba’s Alexander Abreu, Minel Prado and Yasmanny Gutierrez played incredibly strong defense to prevent Argentina from scoring in the first quarter of the match; including great recovery by Gutierrez to avoid an Argentina shot in the 15th minute.

After a scoreless first quarter, Argentina continued to pressure on attack. In the 18th minute, Cuba’s Marcos Martinez was sent off with a green card. Argentina immediately capitalized as Lucas Vila flicked in a shot making the score Argentina 1, Cuba 0. Cuba then countered on attack and earned their first penalty corner of the match in the 21st minute. Yoandy Blanco’s drag flick tied the match 1-1. Both teams continued to battle for possession. Ten minutes later Argentina again took advantage of a green card this time to Cuba’s Adrian Molina. As a result Argentina earned a penalty corner and Peillat sent in his drag flick to give his team back the lead in the 28th minute. A minute later, Argentina’s Joaquin Menini’s shot made the score Argentina 3, Cuba 1 that remained at the halftime break.

At the beginning of the third quarter it was Cuba starting fired up on the attack. Cuba earned a penalty corner in the first minute of the third quarter, but Argentina’s keeper Juan Vivaldi blocked Blanco’s flick. For the next five minutes, Argentina pressured on attack and in the 37th minute Peillat converted the second of two penalty corners to increase his team’s lead by three goals. Cuba’s strong defense held off Argentina’s attack to keep the score Argentina 4, Cuba 1 at the end of the third quarter.

Argentina quickly earned penalty corners to start the fourth quarter. But immediately after Argentina failed to capitalize off their penalty corner Cuba was fast with the counter attack. Cuba’s Yoel Veitia ran fast on attack and his shot in the 47th minute cut into Argentina’s lead to make the score Argentina 4, Cuba 2. Both teams continued to battle for possession, but Cuba kept up their attacking intensity. Cuba’s Roger Aguilera made the score Argentina 4, Cuba 3 in the 52nd minute. Argentina came back fighting even more on attack and Peillat scored his third penalty corner of the match in the 55th minute. In an exciting quarter, Veitia scored again two minutes later to make the score Argentina 5, Cuba 4. Vetia had another good shot in the 59th, but it went high. Thus, the final result was Argentina 5, Cuba 4.

The competition continues with the crossover round on 21 July.

Pan American Hockey Federation media release

Top ranked Argentina given stern test by Cuba

Teams on the hunt for a ticket to Rio at Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada

Men’s Day 3 at the Pan American Games Hockey competition in Toronto saw Pool A winners Argentina involved in a remarkably close contest before defeating Cuba, while USA took second place in the pool with a narrow victory over Trinidad & Tobago.

The results settled the standings in Pool A, with Argentina topping out the pool ahead of second placed USA, third placed Cuba and fourth placed Trinidad & Tobago. The teams will await the results of Saturday evening's Pool B matches before learning who they will face in the cross-over competition quarter-finals.

The coveted Pan American Games Gold medal comes with a direct qualification ticket to Rio 2016, ensuring that there is a huge amount at stake in this illustrious competition. More details on the matches can be found below.

Pool A
Argentina 5-4 Cuba
In their final Pool A match, 2014 Rabobank Hockey World Cup Bronze medallists Argentina were given a stern test by Cuba, a team that sits 42 placed below them in the FIH World Rankings before making it three wins from three at the 2015 Pan American Games. An open play strike from Lucas Vila gave 6th ranked Argentina a 1-0 lead in the second quarter, before the 48th ranked Cubans levelled the scores against their illustrious opponents thanks to a penalty corner from Yoandy Blanco, a player who has really made a name for himself in Toronto. Two goals in two minutes at the end of the quarter from Gonzalo Peillat and Joaquin Menini gave Los Leones a 3-1 lead at the break before Peillat added another seven minutes after the break. At 4-1, Cuba could have been forgiven for throwing in the towel, but showed a stunning desire to take the game to their higher ranked opponents to fight back to 4-3 with fourth quarter goals from Yoel Veitia and Roger Aguilera. Peillat completed his hat-trick five minutes before the end of the match to take the score to 5-3, but Cuba continued to fight and came within a goal of Argentina when Veitia grabbed his second of the game before time eventually ran out for a Cuban team that is making big waves at this event.

Trinidad & Tobago 1-2 USA
USA claimed a crucial victory against Trinidad & Tobago to seal a second place finish in Pool A and set up a cross-over quarter-final meeting with the team that finishes third in Pool B. Defeat for T&T confirmed a fourth place finish in the pool, meaning that they now face the unenviable task of playing the team that wins Pool B in the quarter-final phase. All of the goals came in the first period of the match, with Will Holt firing the USA ahead with an 6th minute field goal before Alex Grassi doubled the advantage in the 13th minute, also from open play. Ishmael Campbell reduced the deficit ahead of the quarter-time break, but 26th ranked USA defended well to deny their 29th ranked opponents any further goals.

Keep up with all of the action on www.panamhockey.org.

#PAGhockey15 #TO2015 #RoadToRio

FIH site

Canada goes undefeated in pool play with win over Mexico

Gabriel Ho-Garcia scores four goals in 8-1 victory

Shaheed Devji

Photo: Yan Huckendubler

On a night when Field Hockey Canada inducted five members to its inaugural Hall of Fame class, twenty-two year old forward Gabriel Ho-Garcia had a performance for the ages, scoring four goals and leading the Canadian men's field hockey team to an 8-1 victory over Mexico Saturday at the Pan Am Fields in Toronto.

"It's mainly when the team plays well," says Ho-Garcia, who scored a hat-trick in Canada' recent trip to Malaysia, about why his goals tend to come in bunches. "As you saw today, those were mainly all tap-ins. Team plays well, I get in the right positions and I get lucky."

With the win Canada finishes in first place in Pool B and will face Pool A's fourth place finisher, Trinidad and Tobago, on Tuesday in one of the tournament's four quarterfinal matches.

Ho-Garcia got the proceedings going early with a goal in the sixth minute after Mark Pearson did some nice work through the midfield to get him the ball. Ho-Garcia tapped it in to give Canada the 1-0 lead.

In the fourteenth minute, he got his second of the game as a loose ball in the circle fell to his feet with his back to the goal. A quick spin and shot caught the Mexican keeper Moises Vargas flat-footed and it was 2-0 Canada by the end of the first quarter.

Canadian keeper David Carter wasn't too busy in the first half, but made a key blocker save off a penalty corner to keep the Mexicans off the baord.

The scoreline remained the same until the second half when Canada had an offensive outburst.

Matthew Sarmento and Matthew Guest scored in the third quarter - with a Mexican goal sandwiched in between - before Sarmento added his second of the game,  Paul Wharton his first, and Ho-Garcia added two more in the fourth quarter.

"The thing we're more happy about is the way we scored the goals," says Guest, who in addition to scoring once, was instrumental in the build-up to several Canadian goals. "It wasn't so much individuals efforts as a lot of team goals, a lot of far post tap-ins. Those are things that Anthony, the coach, keeps drumming into us."

Not only did the goals come in the way they wanted, seven of the eight came from the the team's younger players. Ho-Garcia is only twenty-two and recently played in his 50th match for Canada, Wharton is only twenty-one, and Sarmento twenty-four.

"It's huge," adds Guest. "For the longest time we relied on senior guys to sort of wheel us through and now over the last tournaments, you look at the guys stepping up - Devohn (Noronha-Teixeira) stepping up at World League - and now another big tournament we've got young guys stepping up and putting the ball in the net."

The concept of depth and team play is important for the Canadians as they head into the quarterfinals, knowing the road gets tougher from here.

Canada faces Trinidad and Tobago on Tuesday and is hoping its hot start can continue and lead to two more victories and a spot in the Pan Am gold medal match for the eleventh straight tournament.

"Three and oh is nice," says Ho-Garcia. "But we've got to keep working at it, and not take the foot off the pedal. Every game is hard."

Of note, Paul Wharton playd in his 50th international match for Canada tonight. Guest will be playing in his 100th match in Tuesday's quarterfinal.

Field Hockey Canada media release

USMNT Rises Above Trinidad and Tobago to Finish Second in Pool A

Photo: Paul Winstanley

TORONTO, Canada – The U.S. Men’s National Field Hockey Team won a physical contest against 29th FIH World Ranked Trinidad and Tobago by a score of 2-1. Team USA's third and final pool play result at the 2015 Pan American Games secures their second place spot in Pool A heading into the quarterfinal classification round on Tuesday.

"I'm glad that we made the necessary adjustments to finish a game," said U.S. Men's National Team Head Coach Chris Clements. "In previous matches, we hadn't done that and put ourselves in difficult positions at halftime. Today we managed to continue playing our game for the remainder of the 60 minutes, and therefore, got the result and the place that we were hoping to earn. We're in good spirits right now. I'm really proud of them."

With the game starting off at a fast pace, the red, white and blue's forward line applied high pressure on Trinidad and Tobago’s defense to force multiple turnovers. A scoring opportunity came in the 6th minute when Will Holt (Camarillo, Calif.) was quick to scoop up a rebounded ball and capitalized on a powerful backhanded hit into the left of the cage to put Team USA up 1-0.

Carrying an aggressive mentality to find the next goal, Team USA earned back-to-back penalty corners in the 10th minute mark off of stick fouls near the goalmouth. One of Aki Kaeppeler's (Stuttgart, Ger.) initial drag flicks from the top center of the circle was barely blocked by the goalkeeper's toe while his other corner shot dented the left post nearly adding Kaeppeler's name to the score-sheet twice.

In the 12th minute of play, Trinidad and Tobago earned their first penalty corner of the game. The fiery strike, courtesy of Shaquille Daniel, off the chance was forcefully turned away by USA’s goalkeeper Chris Rea (San Diego, Calif.). Off the outlet, USA took the opportunity to generate instant offense and cruise through the center of the field to their circle. An individual, world-class diving effort by Alex Grassi (Brookeville, Md.) from the left post in the 13th minute sent the ball into the mesh and created a second goal for Team USA and established a score of USA 2, Trinidad and Tobago 0.

"I got the ball on the outside and played it into Tyler Sundeen who spun strong and dished the ball to me again," said Grassi. "I beat a defender with a cut and pulled the goalkeeper out to send a reserve chip into the goal."

Responding just a minute later, Trinidad and Tobago Ishmael Campbell’s desperate effort to close the scoring gap came when he launched a hard strike on cage that put Trinidad and Tobago on the scoreboard, 2-1.

Back and forth play ensued as both teams fought relentlessly to earn another scoring opportunity. A physical game developed as USA’s Moritz Runzi (Boston, Mass.) received a green card in the 20th minute and Kaeppeler received a green card in the 23rd minute. Trinidad and Tobago came close to finding an equalizer when a forward released a backhanded shot that Ajai Dhadwal (Agoura Hills, Calif.) was able to jab with his extended reach to redirect away from the cage. Two minutes later, another chance developed for Trinidad and Tobago as a diving backhanded attempt flew clear over the crossbar, testing Rea and his defensive unit. Continuing their persistent attack, an incoming Trinidad and Tobago forward challenged USA’s goalkeeper Rea in a 1v1 situation. Rea came hard out of the goal to cut down the shooting angle and meet the forward toe-to-toe to erase the play.

In the closing minutes, before the half, Team USA’s defense held strong to deny and clear shots that were fired on target. Two individual yellow cards issued to Trinidad and Tobago players closed out the second quarter, leaving the score at USA 2, Trinidad and Tobago 1.

"The team has been fighting hard, and we are happy that our effort led to a win today," said Grassi. "It feels really good to be second in the pool and it sets us up for a good game in the quarterfinal which is what we wanted. This sets a tone for the knockout stage."

Entering the third quarter with a two player advantage from the previous Trinidad and Tobago cards, Team USA wasted no time to burst into their attacking end. In the 35th minute, the USMNT earned a penalty corner, but the Trinidad and Tobago defensive unit broke down the opportunity not permitting a strike. The ball continued to move at a rapid pace from end line to end line as both teams generated forward movement in hopes of changing the goal differential.

Heated physical play persisted in the fourth and final quarter. Not resting on their one goal led, Team USA’s Runzi and Michael Barminski (Ventura, Calif.) both ripped backhand shots from close range testing Trinidad and Tobago’s goalkeeper. Play continued to be an even possession contest as the final minutes of the game closed in. In desperate efforts to find the equalizer, Trinidad and Tobago replaced their goalkeeper in the 59th minute with a kicking back, adding an additional field player. In the final seconds of play USA’s goalkeeper Rea made a crucial glove save at the right post to secure Team USA’s win with a score of 2-1.

Previously in preliminary pool play, the USA tied Cuba 3-3 and fell to Argentina 0-6. The next game for the U.S. Men’s National Team will be on Tuesday, July 21 against the international squad that finishes third in Pool B.

USFHA media release

Fiji wins men's hockey

Shalveen Chand In Port Moresby

The Fiji hockey men's team doing the cibi after their win.Inset: Adrian Smith sets to take a shot. Picture: SHALVEEN CHAND

LIKE a boss! That is how the Fiji men's hockey team played their gold medal winning match and thrashed Vanuatu 15-1 to the top spot in the Pacific Games.

The turf at the Sir John Guise Stadium saw some fast paced hockey from a young Fiji side who in their previous encounter had to work for their win.

Fiji began the scoring after Vanuatu started barraging the Fiji goalmouth. Fiji's defence held and soon Fiji was up a goal and then one after another Fiji managed to score.

Adrian Smith dazzled the Vanuatu defence with the his skills while the younger bunch of players combined well as well.

Coach Shaun Corrie said the win was very special.

"Men's hockey returned to the Pacific Games after 36-years and it is an honour to be the first team to win gold," Corrie said.

"The boys had been focused and I had a talk with them to keep their minds on the game and play their game and put into practice what they had trained."

Adrian Smith said Vanuatu was tough but the boys stuck together.

"Most of us have been playing together for the past eight seasons, even the younger players have been playing with us. So we know how we play and understand each other," he said.

The Fiji team comes back today.

The Fiji Times

Fiji Women's hockey grabs gold

Shalveen Chand In Port Moresby

IT was in 2007 when the women's hockey was last played in the Pacific Games and Fiji were champions there and now eight years later, the Fiji women are champions again.

Fiji beat hosts Papua New Guinea 9-4 to win the gold medal play-off.

The PNG team and its large and loud supporters did not upset the rhythm of the Fiji women's team who held onto their nerves to win the game.

The Fiji women marshalled by captain Catherine Thaggard and Maxine Browne led the young girls well as only they had previous games experience, others were first-timers to the Pacific Games.

Thaggard said a gold medal win was an indescribable feeling.

"I feel so happy that we have won it, eight years after hockey returned to the Pacific Games," she said.

"In 2007, it was my first Pacific Games and I scored the winning goal in extra time for Fiji to win gold then. Now I have returned as the captain to lead the team to another gold medal.

"The girls played their hearts out and I am very proud of them. For us we go back and hopefully to a week's rest and then back to training for the Oceania Games."

The Fiji Times

Green Army beat France 7-1 in Euro Championships Opener

Photo credit: Eurohockey

Ireland’s first match in the Eurohockey Championships II saw them put the heartbreak of Valencia firmly to bed in a clinical 7-1 victory over France. 5 different names got on the score-sheet in what was a cohesive performance that yet hinted at more to come.

Katie Mullan’s early goal in the 6th minute was quickly cancelled out in the 7th by a goal for France. But that was one of only a handful of times the Green Army didn’t look in control. The mixture of experience and youth, Kerri McDonald winning her first cap today, proved a successful combination as Naomi Carroll and Nicci Daly both scored within 4 minutes of each other to make it 3-1 at half time.

Captain Megan Frazer led by example as she darted through the centre of the French defence and scored in the opening 2 minutes of the second half. Deirdre Duke was next on the score sheet as she skilfully drew the goalkeeper from her line and side stepped around her to clinically score. Again Frazer showed her skill, leaving defenders in her wake, as she set up Carroll for her second goal. With 1 minute to go Frazer scored again to make the final score 7-1.

Speaking after his first match in charge, Coach Graham Shaw said “We’re happy with the result and are looking to make improvements in every game. I thought the game was a bit loose at times but to score 7 goals in an international match is always nice. We must recover well now and get ready for Ukraine tomorrow night”.

Ireland’s next match is against Ukraine tomorrow at 7:15pm (Irish time)

Eurohockey Championships II, Prague

Ireland 7 (Mullan, Carroll 2, Daly, Duke, Frazer 2)

France 1

Team: McFerran, Brown, Mullan, McCay, Frazer (C), Carroll, Pinder, Watkins, Daly, Matthews, Sargent
Subs: Davis, O’Byrne, Lloyd, Duke, McDonald, Meeke, Beatty.

Irish Hockey Association media release

Strong start for England U23 Men in Breda

ENGLAND Under-23 Men made a strong start to the Six Nations Tournament in Breda, Netherlands, beating Belgium 4-0 on Saturday afternoon.

A hat-trick from Luke Taylor helped underpin England’s victory, while James Albery added the other goal. All four came in the second half after a tense first period ended goalless.

Taylor broke the deadlock from a 37th minute penalty corner, scoring with a drag-flick which went low to the goalkeeper’s right.

Eight minutes later Albery doubled their lead with a reverse stick strike, and Taylor bagged his second on 65 minutes from a penalty stroke, awarded for a Belgian foot on the line.

Finally Taylor completed his hat-trick in the final minute, again from a penalty corner drag flick which went low and hard.

“It’s a good way to start the tournament,” said Head Coach Ben Marsden. “I was pleased with a strong second half performance which came after a day of travel and a practice match against Germany last night.

“The first half was well contested and we improved in the second half. There are improvements to make and we have a long way to go but it’s a good start.”

England played Germany in a practice match on Friday evening, and will face them again in their second match of the Tournament on Sunday evening.

Marsden added: “We beat Germany 3-1 in the practice match on Friday, but it will be a big challenge in the competitive game. Germany typically tend to take practise games quite easily and step up a gear in the tournament, so it will be a tougher challenge.”

Belgium 0 (0)

England (0) 4
Luke Taylor 37, 65, 70 (PC, PS, PC)
James Albery 45 (FG)

England Hockey Board Media release

Future Black Sticks Men hold Dutch to draw

Photo credit: Koen Suyk

The Future Black Sticks Men, coached by Bryce Collins, have drawn nil-all against host Holland in their first game of the Volvo International Series in Breda.

After only one warm-up match against Belgium, the New Zealand boys went into the first match against the home team excited by the challenge. A large crowd turned out to support the local team, with the sun also coming out to make for warm conditions.

"The boys played really well, in testing conditions, and in front of a vocal home crowd. Despite limited lead in matches, they defended well and created some really good opportunities. Individually we were able to threaten the Dutch defence,” said Hockey New Zealand's high performance director Terry Evans.

The Dutch dominated early possession, but the longer the game went, the more the confidence of the Kiwi team grew.

Richard Joyce was outstanding in the New Zealand goal making some crucial saves throughout the match.

The Kiwis created good opportunities including being awarded several penalty corners, with the Dutch keeper being called into action.

The second half was an arm wrestle with the home crowd cheering their team on. Some ill discipline made New Zealand's job more difficult with two players receiving yellow cards.

The resolve of the Kiwi team was tested, but they were able to meet every challenge, and late in the match they created some clear chances of their own. Despite the nil-all scoreline, the game was very exciting, and the local crowd were kept in the game as both teams created real scoring opportunities.

“I know the coaching staff are working to continuously develop this group, and all of us are encouraged by the team’s performance today. I spoke with some of the players after the game and while they enjoyed the match and the demands it asked of them, there was a sense that perhaps they could have taken some of the opportunities they created. Each game presents another opportunity for development," said Evans.

The Future Black Sticks Men take on India tomorrow at 3.15am (NZ time). The Future Black Sticks Women play their first game of the tournament when they face England at 1.15am (NZ time) tomorrow.

Hockey New Zealand Media release

Indian colts starts Volvo event with a win

Breda (Netherlands): Indian colts have defeated several time Junior World Champions Germany 3-0 in the Volvo International 6-nation tournament in the opening match today at Breda, The Netherlands

PC expert Harmanpreet Singh, captain Harjeet and Arman Qureshi struck a goal apiece

Arman Qureshi put India ahead through a field effort in the 29th minute, which set the tune and tenor of the opening match. The Indians maintained the pace in the entire first half and did not allow the German men to open their scoring act, scores stood 1-0 in favour of India at half time.

Captain Harjeet Singh smartly entered the opponent’s D and smashed an excellent field goal in the 46th minute to double the lead to 2-0.

On the other hand, Germany constantly tried to create space in the opponent’s circle in vain.

India’s Harmanpreet Singh efficiently converted a penalty corner, thereby adding the third goal to the Indian team’s account in the 52nd minute. Unsuccessful in scoring any goal, Germany lost to India 0-3.

The Volvo Invitational U-21 Tournament 2015 will be held from 18-26 July 2015. Indian men will now clash against New Zealand tomorrow 2045 hrs IST.


India U-21 beat Germany 3-0 at Volvo Invitational

BREDA: India's U-21 men's team beat Germany 3-0 in their inaugural match of the Volvo Invitational hockey tournament on Saturday.

The tournament witnessed an exciting face-off between India and Germany where both the teams made crucial attempts to penetrate the defence of the other.

India began the game on a good note by scoring its first goal in the 29th minute which came from the stick of Armaan Qureshi through a field effort.

Having started the proceedings, the Indian men maintained a good pace in the entire first half and did not allow the German men to open their score card and the scores stood 1-0 in favour of India at half time.

The game continued to be in support of India as the proceedings in the second half were initiated by Captain Harjeet Singh who smartly entered the opponent's D and smashed an excellent field goal in the 46th minute to double the lead to 2-0.

On the other hand, Germany constantly tried to create space in the opponents D but all its efforts went in vain when India's Harmanpreet Singh efficiently converted a penalty corner, thereby adding the third goal to the Indian team's account in the 52nd minute.

Unsuccessful in scoring any goal, Germany lost to India 0-3. India will now clash against New Zealand tomorrow.

The Times of India

Indian junior eves to face Holland in Volvo hockey opener

NEW DELHI: A tough opening contest awaits Indian junior women's hockey team in the Volvo Invitational U-21 tournament as it prepares to take on hosts The Netherlands in its first match in Breda on Sunday.

The opponent, notwithstanding, the Indian girls would be hoping for a positive start to the tournament.

After gaining a good experience during their tour to New Zealand last year where they drew three matches, lost two and won one, the Indian eves seem confident of performing well at the big stage.

After the match against the home team, the Indian side led by Rani Rampal will face Germany, followed by games against England, New Zealand and China.

Speaking on the team's tournament opener, captain Rani said: "We are looking forward to performing to the best of our capabilities in the match against The Netherlands and start well in the tournament.

"With the world's best teams participating, we will aim to get on the field with good tactics and enough zeal, and showcase the strength of our team. We have practised hard and hope to give a tough fight in all the games."

India's coach N S Saini added: "The team is well prepared for the first clash against The Netherlands and will definitely put up their best game skills. The tournament is crucial for the girls to boost their morale for the upcoming major tournaments and hence we will not only try to perform well but also take the best lessons."

The Volvo International U-21 tournament will be held from July 19-26.

The Times of India

Germany too strong for Under-16 Boys

THERE was a tough start for England Under-16 Boys in the Six Nations Tournament at Breda in the Netherlands, with Germany securing a 4-0 victory in Saturday afternoon.

An early goal put England on the back foot and they never really recovered, although there were some positives to come out of their defensive work later in the match, especially from goalkeeper Oliver Payne and captain Lucas Ward who did well creating threats in midfield for England.

Fedor Bok got Germany off the mark after just four minutes, and Teo Hinrichs doubled their tally from a penalty corner on 23 minutes.

Max Weiher scored from open play on 28 minutes to make it three-nil at half time, and Laurens Halfmann scored their fourth and final goal on 47 minutes.

“There were some good individual performances,” said Head Coach Jerome Goudie. “But we didn’t execute well enough or consistently enough to really contend with the Germans over the course of the game.

“We will look to learn our lessons from today’s match and put in an improved performance against Belgium tomorrow morning.”

The Under-16 boys continue their Six Nations Tournament with a clash against Belgium at 10.15am (GMT) tomorrow, Sunday 19 July 2015.

Germany (3) 4
Fedor Bok 4 (FG)
Teo Heinrichs 23 (PC)
Max Weiher 28 (FG)
Laurens Halfmann 47 (FG)

England (0) 0

England Hockey Board Media release

Battling England U16 Girls go down to hosts Germany

A battling display from England Under-16 Girls was not enough to beat hosts Germany as they went down 3-0 in their opening match of the Six Nations Tournament in Bremen on Saturday.

England kept a clean sheet for much of the first half and had plenty of possession and showed inventiveness, but it took the wind out of their sails when they conceded in the last few seconds of the first period.

A second German goal followed on 50 minutes, and a third came on 59 minutes – again from open play.

“They competed well and they kept their shape,” said Head Coach Marc Bourhill. “It was a tenacious performance and it was just some errors that cost us. The Germans capitalised on those errors very well, but there were plenty of positives for us to take forward.

“Their work rate was excellent, and the fact that they never gave up. They defended well despite a lot of pressure, competed well in midfield and went forward quite a lot but just couldn’t turn that into goals.”

England Under-16 Girls face the Netherlands in their second match on Sunday, starting at 4pm GMT.

England (0) 0

Germany (1) 3
- 35 (FG)
- 50 (FG)
- 59 (FG)

England Hockey Board Media release

Plenty of positives as both Irish U16 squads take on Europe's elite

After a good start with lots of pressure on the Belgium team Ireland were unfortunate to go a goal behind after twenty minutes. A quick break away from Belgium resulted in a corner which was then converted. Unfortunately after several good chances Ireland went into half time 2:0 down but were very much still in the game.

The third Belgian goal came immediately from hit off after some naive defending. Ireland piled on the pressure and scored when Michelle Carey crossed ball to her sister Niamh Carey who then hit it first time into back of net. The game finished with Ireland putting Belgium under major pressure however failing to convert many chances.

The U16 girls face Germany tomorrow at 7pm

U16 Girls
Ireland 1 (N Carey)
Belgium 3

Ireland had a goal disallowed in the first half and absorbed pressure the Dutch well. The Netherlands converted their chances and scored from a well worked penalty corner.

Ireland had several good chances in the second half but the Dutch converted to make it 3-0 until Jack O Grady rifled the ball into the bottom corner to make it 3-1. The Dutch responded quickly and made it 4-1. 4 mins from time Ben Wallace struck from top of the circle to make the final score 4-2.

The U16 boys play Germany tomorrow at 11am

U16 Boys
Ireland 2 (O'Grady, Wallace)
Netherlands 4

Irish Hockey Association media release

Richest prize in SA hockey up for grabs when Badgers meet Kearsney

JONATHAN COOK at Riverside

The biggest cash prize in South African hockey history is at stake at 11.15am Sunday at Riverside Sports Club in Durban North when the showdown for the 2015 Greenfields Elite Club Challenge title plays out.

If Friday night wasn’t enough drama for the hockey fans who packed out the splendid Riverside Sports Club, the tension was ratcheted up yet another notch Saturday night when Wanderers Jockeys fashioned a remarkable second-half performance to beat frontrunners Kearsney Hockey Club 5-2, but in the final analysis the Johannesburg lads were edged out of the final by Kearsney on goal difference.

Saturday’s late game featuring host club Riverside and defending champions Western Province Cricket Club Badgers was a replay of the 2014 final. Indeed, Riverside won the inaugural title in 2013 while last year’s showdown for the ultimate honour saw the Badgers from Cape Town prevail over the home team.

The Badgers needed a draw this time round to advance to the final, and it was a must-win for the hosts. Riverside gave it all they had and enjoyed the lion’s share of goal-shots, but ran into a Badgers keeper at his best and bravest.

Mark Turner was magnificent under the Badgers crossbar, making several saves that took the notion of selfless courage to a new level, one in particular from the fiercest effort one could possibly imagine off the stick of multi-capped SA striker Taine Paton that knocked the shot-stopper’s facemask clean off his head.

The Badgers defenders were also on their mettle and Greenfields Elite Club Challenge Player of the Day Rhett Halkett made some critical, goal-denying interventions.

As has been their differentiator, the Badgers maximised opportunity. Captain and double Olympian Andrew Cronje’s team stamped their mark from the get-go, outstanding vice-captain Wade Paton opening the scoring with a goal from field play in the second minute. National captain at the 2015 Indoor World Cup, Dale Isaac, took the Badgers two goals clear with a 44th minute strike - and that was it.

Sunday’s 11.15am final could be anyone’s game, but it is going to take a massive effort from Kearsney to unseat the Badgers of Cape Town. The third-fourth playoff between Riverside and Wanderers Jockeys is at 9.30am.

In contrast to Friday night’s nail-biters, Saturday’s morning match-ups produced convincing victories.

Kearsney outplayed tournament newcomers Old Edwardians of Johannesburg 7-1 after leading 5-0 at half-time. The on-fire lads from Botha’s Hill went 3-0 up inside the first 10 minutes thanks to a strike from the penalty spot by Davyn Keuter and two field goals off the sticks of Troy Marais and Dutch player/coach Gijs Hardeman.

After 20 minutes Kearsney had established what turned out to be an unassailable four-goal advantage when TJ Smith got on the scoresheet from field play. Old Eds were unable to recover and Kearsney added further field goals through Jarryd Jones, Robin Jones and Smith. Old Eds grabbed a consolation goal four minutes from the end when Jeremy Hart scored.

The 7-1 defeat was a massive disappointment to player/coach Thornton McDade’s side, who had run Badgers so close on Friday night before losing by the odd goal in five, the Badgers’ winner coming from the penalty spot after the final hooter. To their great credit, Eds came back in the afternoon to account for Old Albanians 2-0. Sunday’s 9am tussle on Pitch 2 will feature the same teams in the playoff for fifth and sixth places.

On Saturday morning, host club Riverside recovered from their disappointing 1-0 loss to Wanderers Jockeys on day one to register a polished 5-1 win over the hard-working Pretoria club, Malik Old Albanians.

Coach Sheldon Klingbiel’s Riverside lads established a 2-0 lead by half-time, both converted from the penalty corner set-piece, the first a powerful drag-flick by Karl Oftebro and the second a great effort off a rebound by Chicken Price.

A Tim Drummond field goal and Terence Kidd’s successful penalty corner put Riverside 4-0 to the good midway through the second half before Mike Wiggett established a five-goal cushion a minute later. Old Albanians worked without reward until the 53rd minute when skipper Mark Holliday pulled one back with this entertaining encounter’s final goal.

In the last match of the morning session, WPCC Badgers were 3-0 winners over the Wanderers Jockeys with Rhett Halkett’s superb tip-in off a 17th minute penalty corner in the first half followed by second-half strikes from Lloyd Norris-Jones and Matt McConkey.

If days one and two are anything to go by, Sunday’s playoffs should be a treat.


Friday - Western Province CC Badgers 3 Old Edwardians 2; Kearsney HC 2 Malik Old Albanians 1; Wanderers Jockeys 1 Riverside HC 0.

Saturday - Riverside HC 5 Malik Old Albanians 1; Kearsney HC 7 Old Edwardians 1; WP CC Badgers 3 Wanderers Jockeys 0; Old Edwardians 2 Malik Old Albanians 0; Wanderers Jockeys 5 Kearsney HC 2; WP CC Badgers 2 Riverside 0.

Sunday - 09h00 (turf 2) – 5th / 6th place playoff: Old Edwardians vs Malik Old Albanians; 09h30 (turf 1) – 3rd / 4th place playoff Riverside vs Wanderers Jockeys; 11h15 (turf 1) – FINAL: WPCC Badgers vs Kearsney HC.

SA Hockey Association media release

Deepak Thakur stars in IOC’s win

IOB suffers its second successive defeat; Mumbai holds CAG

K. Keerthivasan

RELIEVED LOT: The Mumbai team members celebrate after a last-gasp goal from Manpreet secured it a draw against CAG.Photo: M. Vedhan

Indian Oil Corporation, undoubtedly, has the best line-up of stars in the competition. As anyone will tell you, the defending champion is easily the team to beat in the 89th all-India MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament here, but its performance so far has been nothing to rave about.

After managing a draw against Karnataka the other day, IOC survived by the skin of its teeth when it edged out Namdhari XI 2-1 in a Pool A match here on Saturday. It was bailed out by its skipper Deepak Thakur’s brace.

With the teams locked 1-1 and just five minutes remaining for the hooter, Deepak struck for IOC. A costly defensive lapse saw Deepak, who had parked himself near the goal-mouth, slot home.

Earlier, Indian Overseas Bank — runner-up in the last edition — went down 4-1 to Indian Railways — the National champion — in a Pool B contest. With its second successive defeat, IOB’s chances of qualifying for the knock-outs look remote. Mumbai, one of the youngest teams in the tournament, salvaged a 2-2 draw with a last-minute goal against CAG in their opening Pool A match.

Manpreet Singh with his brace was crucial in Mumbai sharing honours with CAG. Just when it looked like Mumbai, which was bristling with energy and enthusiasm for the major part of the first half, would go on to lose the match came the stunner. With seconds to go for the final whistle, Manpreet struck a near-perfect penalty corner that found the roof of the net.

One of the best managed sides in the State and perhaps the country, Indian Overseas Bank is going through a lean patch. Lack of recruitments and injuries to key players have put the team in an uncomfortable position.

More than the defeat to Railways, it was the manner of losing that would have hurt the team’s supporters. Neither was there any push from the midfield, nor did the attack have the teeth to convert the opportunities. After the long goal by Rafeeq in the first minute, it was a Railways show all the way. IOB has two more matches against Punjab and Sind Bank and SAIL.

The results:

Pool A: IOC 2 (Deepak Thakur 16 & 25) bt Namdhari XI 1 (Avtar Singh 18); Mumbai 2 (Manpreet Singh 13 & 70+) drew with CAG 2 (Azam Baig 54, Chandan Singh 58).

Pool B: Indian Railways 4 (Narad 1, Sandeep Singh 50, Simrandeep Singh 62, Vinod Kumar 64) bt IOB 1 (S.M. Rafeeq 1).

The Hindu

van Ass exit imminent

Uthra Ganesan

With the Hockey India deadline to return and submit his report long gone, chief men’s coach Paul van Ass is all set to bid adieu to the team barely six months into his tenure. At the same time the goalkeepers are set to get specialised coaches to improve their performances.

The men’s team begins its training on Sunday in Shilaru, but no one has any information on the Dutchman. Hockey India president Narinder Batra said the national team’s training cannot be treated lightly and if someone wasn’t professional enough to take charge of the camp on schedule, it was time to take some hard decisions.

“I have no idea about Paul. He hasn’t come, he hasn’t sent his report on the team’s performance in Antwerp and no one here knows his whereabouts. I cannot let the national team’s training be affected by someone’s whims and fancies,” Batra told The Hindu.

According to federation and team sources, van Ass is most likely not to return.

Instead, High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans would be given additional charge as chief coach of the men’s side with a slew of coaches to assist him. Antwerp was the first big challenge for the 54-year-old van Ass.

A final decision, however, will be taken on July 24, when a nine-member committee of Olympians chaired by Harbinder Singh meets to evaluate and assess the team’s performance at the Hockey World League semifinals and the reports submitted by members of the coaching staff.

With van Ass neither appearing in person nor sending his report so far, it is unlikely he will be considered to continue.

Also, Hockey India has tied up with South African Dave Staniforth and Dutchman Martijn Drijver for a series of short, high-intensity camps till the Rio Olympics. The two have worked with Indian goalkeepers earlier and come highly recommended by the players. The camps will include goalkeepers from both the senior and junior for men’s and women’s teams.

The Hindu

Paul Van Ass skips camp, Hockey India president says 'I don't depend on one person'

"The coach hasn't reached yet. He was supposed to come on July 17, but he hasn't come yet," Batra confirmed to dna on Saturday.

Rutvick Mehta

Paul Van Ass and Narinder Batra

In what can be interpreted as a case of all's not well between India hockey chief coach Paul Van Ass and Hockey India president Narinder Batra, the former won't be part of the national camp beginning on Sunday. At least for the time being.

Adding to the issue, Batra, on Saturday, said he is prepared to run the team without the chief coach in the run-up to next year's Rio Olympics.

While all players and coaching staff including high performance director Roelant Oltmans reported at the Shilaroo Hockey Stadium in Shimla on Saturday, there were no signs of the Dutchman, currently in The Netherlands on leave, returning to India.

"The coach hasn't reached yet. He was supposed to come on July 17, but he hasn't come yet," Batra confirmed to dna on Saturday.

And in what could be seen as a stern warning about the coach's future, Batra said, "I don't depend on one person. The Olympics are next year, and I'm not dependant on any one person," he said.

Problems, apparently, began to crop up between the outspoken Van Ass and the association president during the recently-concluded Hockey World League Semifinals in Antwerp.

While Van Ass was reasonably satisfied with the team's fourth-place finish in the tournament, Batra made his disappointment of losing heavily to big teams clear publicly, and asked for a report on the show from the men who matter by July 15. Van Ass has paid no heed to that demand.

"The report was supposed to be submitted by July 15. It hasn't come yet. Everyone else has submitted it. Only Paul hasn't," Batra said.

Batra said HI was "prepared for all eventualities" if Van Ass continues to stay away from the camp, adding that the association will hold a meeting soon to decide on the future course of action.

"We will have a meeting and we will evaluate the performance (of the team in HWL Semifinals) properly. Only after that will we take a decision. That meeting will tentatively be on July 24 or 25," he said.

Oltmans, who was on his way to Shimla on Saturday afternoon, too told this paper that Van Ass hadn't arrived yet and that there was no clarity on the same.

"For me it's not clear at all at the moment. The only thing I can say about it is that hopefully there will be clarity soon," the Dutchman said.

Significantly, unlike in the past when Oltmans would take charge of a camp in the absence of the head coach, the high performance director isn't making all the decisions this time.

"It's not up to me to decide (on the areas to work upon for players in the camp). We'll have a chat with everyone and make that clear," he said.

Asked about his thoughts on the performance of the team in the HWL Semifinals, Oltmans seemed to have an underlying message for Batra.

"Overall the performance in the tournament, and especially towards the end, was disappointing. But it wasn't as bad as everyone thinks it was," he said.

The camp will go on till August 8.


Hockey India to evaluate the performance in FIH World League SemiFinals

NEW DELHI: As part of its preparation for the next year's Olympic Games, Hockey India will evaluate the performance of the national men's and women's teams in the recently-held FIH World League SemiFinals in Belgium.

A Special Committee was formed by HI President Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra, early this month to assess the performance of the teams. The meeting of the committee will take place on July 24.

"The committee is made up of former Olympic players and international players and is chaired by Mr Harbinder Singh. Other Committee Members include Mr. B.P Govinda, Mr. V Baskaran, Dr. A.B Subbaiah, Mr. Thoiba Singh, Dr. R.P Singh, Ms. Asunta Lakra and Ms. Jasjeet Kaur," HI said in a statement.

The committee will review the reports and provide feedback and recommendations for the future course of action for the teams in their preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Speaking ahead of the meeting HI Secretary General Mohd. Mushtaque Ahmad Secretary General said, "It is very essential for Hockey India to closely monitor the performance of the teams as we are gearing up for 2016 Olympics and there cannot be any leeway or scope for error now."

The Indian women's team secured a fifth place finish at the World League Semi Finals and which should be sufficient for them to gain entry in the Olympic Games.

The Times of India

Parkroad rally to bring down brave Nakuru


Prudence Wasilwa of Kenyatta University. She scored two goals as KU demolished Mount Kenya University 3-0 in a national women’s league match at City Park Stadium on July 18, 2015. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU |

Parkroad edged out Nakuru Hockey Club 2-1 in a pulsating Kenya Hockey Union league match played at the City Park Stadium on Saturday.

Gilbert Langat and Brian Shilton scored for Parkroad to overturn Nakuru’s lead via Ben Kiprotich effort.

Earlier, Kenyatta University beat Mount Kenyatta University 3-0 in a national women’s league match while Technical University of Kenya played out to 2-2 draw with Kisumu Youngsters.

Nakuru took the lead with Kiprotich scoring a field goal that beat Parkroad keeper Allan Agesa at his near post in the 18th minute.

Parkroad hit back after the break two minutes after the breather when Langat scored from a penalty corner from Collins Cheloti and three minutes later Shilton scored the winner to give Parkroad the three points.

Parkroad team manager Mordecai Ogada praised his charges for digging deep for the win adding that they fully deserved the win.

“We fought for every ball and dug deep and were eventually rewarded with the win.

“We want to build from today’s win,” Ogada said.

Nakuru coach Tony Agesa said his team was punished for failing to convert the chances calling on them to be clinical in front of goal.

KU scored through a double from Prudence Wasilwa and another strike from Leah Omwadho to hand them their third win of the season over their university counterparts.

In the national men’s league, Kisumu Youngsters rallied from two goals down to rescue a point. Leny Otieno and Emmanuel Otieno scored in the second half to cancel out early goals from TUK.

Daily Nation

W C Eagles sweep USA National Club Championship age groups for 3rd straight year

W C Eagles retained the Under 14, Under 16, and Under 19 USA National Club Titles winning all 18 games over 9 days in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, for the third successive year.
The W C Eagles U14 set the tone, romping through their Pool games, 9-0 over Freedom (MD), 7-0 over Saints (VA), and 9-0 vs Striker Stars. In the Quarter Final they overcame Windy City (IL) 4-0 to move into the Semi-Final where they beat their perennial rivals Spirit of USA (NJ) 6-0. The Final saw a rematch against the Saints. Two quick, early, goals put the Virginia team on their heals and W C Eagles ran out 6-1 winners to claim the U14 National Club Championship for the 4th straight year.
W C Eagles got off to a strong start in the U16 Division with a solid 6-1 win over IFHCK (KY). After holding W C Eagles to 1-1 for the first 15 minutes, Northeast Elite (NH) found the W C Eagles ball speed and high pressing forwards difficult to handle and W C Eagles pulled away to win 15-2. The talented and skillful TCOYO (VA) club moved the ball around with good movement and accurate passes and soon had W C Eagles under pressure. Finding themselves 1-0 down, W C Eagles pulled themselves back into the game with crisp passing and a resolute defense and managed to tie the score just before half time. Both teams went close on several occasions before W C Eagles pulled away with two well executed penalty corners to win 3-1.

An outstanding performance by the Jersey Intensity (NJ) goalkeeper thwarted numerous scoring opportunities but two goals in each half paved the way for W C Eagles to roll into the Semi-Final match up against Princeton (NJ). With their goalkeeper also pulling off a number of fine saves, the Princeton offense took advantage of two penalty corners to go into half time with a 2-1 lead. W C Eagles coach, Jun Kentwell, made some adjustments at half time which quickly paid dividends. With W C Eagles tightening their defensive shape, and with Erin Matson taking control of the midfield with her deft stick work, pinpoint passing and probing runs, W C Eagles created avenues through the Princeton defense to score six unanswered goals and run out 7-2 winners.
PA Mavericks had only conceded one goal on their way to the U16 Final but two opportunistic goals gave W C Eagles the early lead. A workman like performance kept the play in the PA Mavericks half throughout the game and W C Eagles added two ore goals either side of half time to secure a 4-0 win and their third successive Under 16 National Club Championship title.
Three solid wins in their Pool, 7-0 vs Focus (VA), 6-0 vs FH Life (OH), and 15-0 over Howard Stampede (MD) paved the way for W C Eagles U19 team to the Quarter Finals where they overpowered Princeton 7-1. With both teams having Junior National Team players in their starting line-ups, the Semi-Final against the Nook (PA) was always going to be a tight and outstanding game, and it did not disappoint. In an exciting battle of fast, skillful, forwards against tight, resolute defenses, the game swung from end to end, with each team surviving near misses. The second half continued to keep the crowd on the edge of their seats and, as they threw everything into attack, both teams had two "goals" called back. With seconds remaining, and the game heading to a shoot-out, Corinne Zanolli threaded the ball through the Nook defense from the 25 to the far post where the diving Sophia Tornetta deflected it into the net to give W C Eagles a 1-0 victory and a place in the Final. The Saints (Va) were waiting to offer another stern test in the Final but right from the start W C Eagles attacked and pressed with speed and capitalized on two early chances and added a third midway through the half to take a 3-0 lead. The Saints pulled one back from a penalty corner on the stroke of half time to get back in the game but with W C Eagles lifting their intensity in the second half the Saints eventually succumbed to the constant pressure and W C Eagles ran out winners by the score of 5-1 and captured their 4th straight Under 19 National Club Championship title.


Why Rani Rampal, finest forward in women’s hockey, struggles to survive

All Rani Rampal had was hockey, astonishing talent and her parents’ unstinted support. But why does she still struggle to survive?

Rani Rampal in a lane in Shahabad.

In a Haryana town not known for kindness to girls, all Rani Rampal had was hockey, astonishing talent and her parents’ unstinted support. The finest forward in India has now given the Indian women’s team a fighting chance at qualifying for the Rio Olympics. But why does she still struggle to survive?

Situated 200 km north of Delhi on the historic Grand Trunk Road, Shahabad Markanda is a mofussil town of 45,000 inhabitants. If not for its daughters, it would have been one of those tiny dots on Google Maps that you drive past without acknowledging its existence. But you do acknowledge, especially if you have even a remote interest in the sports pages of newspapers. “Ah, Shahabad,” it prompts you to think every time you pass by. This is, after all, the single biggest assembly line of women’s hockey players in India. About 45 players have represented India at senior and junior levels. Shahabad is to women’s hockey what Sansarpur in Jalandhar once was to men’s hockey, or to the cricket-minded, what Mumbai has been to the Indian team.

That’s one part of the story, but Shahabad, in Kurukshetra district, Haryana, is more than just that. Over time, it has become a powerful symbol as well. Unlike the men of Sansarpur and Mumbai, Shahabad’s daughters, in this land of khap panchayats, have broken a seemingly impenetrable glass ceiling too. They have chosen to step out of the four walls, wear shorts and skirts, and take up a pursuit mostly reserved for men. Thanks to their determination and achievements, this way of life is now — willingly or grudgingly — accepted. There’s hope that soon it will probably be celebrated even. For, the women’s hockey team await the confirmation of their maiden qualification to the 2016 Olympics, due to come in October. And India stands on the cusp of history, courtesy the stick of the supremely gifted Rani Rampal.

In the World Hockey League semifinals in Belgium earlier this month, she scored the equaliser and the final sudden-death goal in a must-win match against Italy, before scoring the winner against Japan in the last do-or-die encounter. Her decisive interventions meant India finished fifth, which was good enough to all but make the Rio Games.

Rani Rampal, 20, is from Shahabad.


Drive past monstrous construction projects north of Delhi. Whizz past hideously named water parks. Glide past acres of freshly tilled earth and paddy fields. Leave Sher Shah Suri’s Kos Minars at Karnal in your slipstream and take the flyover to skip Kurukshetra. Now get off the highway. Today, Shahabad isn’t a passing dot on Google Maps. It’s the red balloon that indicates “destination”.

The town is littered with “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” placards and posters. To someone with mild dyslexia — such as this writer — the slogan of the central government scheme to arrest India’s skewed child sex ratio appears to be “Beti Bachao, Beti Badhao”. Badhao also means forward. And forward we march to the house of the finest woman forward this town — and the country — has produced.

Let’s just say that it’s a very modest house in a very humble neighbourhood. Rani’s father, Rampal, ushers you in. You have read about him, too. But contrary to those reports, he doesn’t pull a cart. His horse does. The living room is small and cramped. There are shelves on the walls but no doors. The setting reminds you of Hindi author Yashpal’s immortal story Purdah. Only, unlike the protagonist in the story, Rampal never “fell” on hard times. He has co-existed with it all his life.

On the table lies a Hindi newspaper. The front page has a report about illegal ultrasounds and foeticide. The back page has Rani’s picture splashed on it.

“Mushkil to tha shuru-shuru mein,” Rampal begins to narrate the story. Of how he and his wife — one semi-literate, the other illiterate — decided that their six-year-old daughter should not only be sent to school but also enrolled in the town’s hockey academy. There was no precedent in the neighbourhood. Relatives opposed them. Some even questioned the couple’s sanity.

Their efforts almost came unstuck on the first day. The academy, which was situated in Rani’s school, had a disciplinarian coach, Baldev Singh. “He saw Rani and he rejected her right away,” recalls Rampal. “He said she was too frail.”

The couple didn’t give up and went back the next day. “Perhaps he was in a good mood, because he relented and told Rani to run a few laps around the field,” Rampal remembers. “She did, and he was impressed with her agility. He agreed to coach Rani.”

Baldev Singh, who would later get the Dronacharya award, the highest decoration for a coach in India, remembers the incident differently. It wasn’t down to his mood. “The first thing that struck me was their poverty. But it wasn’t because she was poor or frail that I had declined. It’s just that as a rule we didn’t take any girl under eight. She was barely six, and looked even smaller. But she was so gifted that I had to relax the rule for her. And I am glad I did,” Baldev says.


She was the youngest in the academy, and in the years to come she would be the youngest ever in the Indian team. In 2009, even before she played with the junior national team, Rani made her senior India debut aged 14. Fourteen! Our collective idea of a child prodigy, Sachin Tendulkar, had made his India debut when he was 16.

It was an emphatic start; she hammered four goals in the final to give India the title. She finished as the top-scorer in the tournament. “That Champions Challenge tournament in Russia was also one of the stages of the London Olympics qualification process,” says Rani. “I had no idea then what the Olympics were, and why it was such a big fuss. I was playing for fun. For me, back then, the biggest deal was the Commonwealth Games,” she says, shyly.

It’s a statement that puts the Indian women’s hockey team’s latest achievement into perspective. The men in our hockey have grown up on the lore of eight Olympic gold medals. In fact, in all non-cricket sports nowadays, our performance in the Olympics is the main yardstick. The only time an Indian women’s hockey team has appeared in the Olympics was in Moscow 1980, and they were invited to make up the numbers after the West had boycotted.

In the absence of Olympic glory or even participation, therefore, India women’s hockey team’s most storied achievement remains the gold medal in the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester. Hence, Rani’s fascination with the CWG. To her, these three letters also mean hope and despair. She remembers the awards and the accolades that the Class of 2002 got. Some, like her mentor Suman Bala, were from Shahabad. Heck, their story inspired the Hindi film Chak De! India.

Rani remembers, too, the awards and accolades that the team of 2010, of which she was a part, didn’t get at CWG Delhi, having missed out on the medal round on goal difference. And the disappointment when the Haryana government opened its purse for all 2010 CWG medal winners from the state. Later that year, 15-year-old Rani was named in the International Hockey Federation’s World XI. But individual honours such as these don’t yield cash prizes. Her father had to keep spurring the horse to put food on the table.

“It embarrasses me and pains me to see my father having to drive the cart around even now. But there are no other options. I don’t earn enough,” says Rani, who works as a junior clerk in the railways. “But it’s my source of strength too. You earlier asked me why I don’t get nervous. I will tell you why. We were trailing against Italy, and in the sudden death, I was thinking about my father. I couldn’t afford to be nervous,” Rani says. Rampal nods approvingly.


Olympian Rani. Six years ago, she wouldn’t have given this adjective much of a thought. But today, it’s become a necessity, an obsession and a possible panacea even for her struggles. She feels that a shot at the Olympics will land her a job better than the one she has right now, and provide some sort of financial security to the family. She contrasts her position with Sandeep Singh, one of the two Olympians from Shahabad (the other being former hockey player Sanjeev Dang). Sandeep is a deputy superintendent of police with Haryana police. He lives in the posh HUDA society.

In hockey as in life, Rani and Sandeep Singh have few similarities. Sandeep is a good defender and a very fine drag-flicker. She is a striker who often doubles as a mid-fielder. Whenever there is a comparison across the gender divide, Rani is deemed to be more like Sardar Singh. Her electric speed, superior stick work, ball sense and confidence remind you of the current India captain. “Sardar Singh is here,” Rani says, bringing her palm parallel to her eyes, indicating a certain stature. “And I am here,” she says, lowering it all the way to her knee. But she is flattered by the comparison.

“Do you know we belong to the same community of potters?” Rani says. “And that he was also named in the FIH All Star in 2010? But he is a big, big name. And also a DSP,” she says. What remains unsaid is this: Sardar earns big bucks in the Hockey Indian League, too, while there is no such thing for a women’s hockey player.

While there is some envy and lament in Rani’s statement, there is also a bit of acceptance of a harsh reality. Rani and her ilk have overcome a rigid, feudal society. They have even become a source of pride in a town whose sex ratio (860) is significantly worse than the rest of the state (879) — which in turn is the worst in the country. But they are helpless against the inherent bias in Indian hockey, Indian sport and the Indian attitude in general. Encouraging its daughters to play isn’t a priority for India. Beti Khilao is not a slogan yet.

Fab Four

Ritu Rani: A product of the famous Shahbad Hockey Academy in Haryana, Ritu Rani, 23, is known for her ability to make precise passes and her keen eye for goals. Under her captaincy, India won bronze medals at the 2013 Asia Cup in Kuala Lumpur and the 2014 Incheon Asian Games.

Savita Punia: Punia is one of the main reasons India is on the cusp of qualifying for the Olympics. Her heroic efforts under the bar against Japan in the fifth-place playoff match contributed immensely to India’s cause. Two years ago, she was named the best goalkeeper of the Asia Cup .

Sushila Chanu: A ticket collector with Mumbai’s Central Railways, the 23-year-old was one of the key figures of the team that won the historic bronze at the 2013 junior World Cup, where she was the captain. She plays as a midfielder and is known to convert several scoring opportunities into goals.

Vandana Kataria: From Haridwar, Kataria started playing hockey despite her family’s opposition. In 2010 , she made her senior debut and has become one of the pillars of the team since then. She was India’s top-scorer in the 2013 junior World Cup, where India won its first-ever bronze medal.

Indian Express

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