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News for 30 July 2015

All the news for Thursday 30 July 2015

A year to Rio

Q&A with the Australian head coaches a year out from the Olympics

Q&A with Adam Commens (above) and Graham Reid

We’re nearly one year out from the prestigious 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games, which for elite athletes is a chance to fulfil a childhood dream of winning gold for their country. August 5 will mark 12 months out from the Hockeyroos’ and Kookaburras’ Olympic campaigns, a moment in time where a dream starts to become reality. 

Eager to know where our Australian women’s and men’s hockey teams are at with their Olympic preparation, we put head coaches Adam Commens and Graham Reid in the hot seat, asking them five important questions a year out from Rio 2016.

Read their responses below.

Hockeyroos Head Coach Adam Commens

Hockey Australia (HA): We’re nearly one year out from the Rio Olympics, where are you at with your team’s preparation?
Adam Commens (AC): We’re a fair way along with our preparation. We’re just about to complete a two day review of our performances at the World League Semi Final tournament in Antwerp. We’ve made some good progression over the last months and it’s now about bringing it all together and making sure we refine that and take that next step over the next 53 weeks towards Rio.

HA: As a head coach you watch the athletes closely, what’s the general vibe amongst individuals in the team during this time?
AC: Our girls have a fantastic culture and they work really hard to ensure that they’re constantly improving and evolving. I think that our players are on track and they’re improving all the time. They’re fiercely determined to take that next step and move from our current ranking of two in the world to number one. It’s going to be difficult, it’s going to take a lot of effort and work but they’re fiercely determined to do that.

HA: How does a world class hockey team prepare for an Olympic Games?
AC: It’s an interesting one. It’s important that we look after the technical and tactical side of the game, the physical side of the game and the mental side. You give each of those areas of one’s development, and the team’s development, equal attention. You can be a wonderful technical and tactical side but if you don’t have the physical attributes you’re not going to progress. Similarly, you could have physical attributes that are brilliant, a great attitude but be poor technically and tactically and that’s going to hold you back.

It’s something as a coaching staff we’re looking at in a lot of detail. We try to ensure that we’re continually improving in all of those areas and it’s something that our players are acutely aware of and they’re striving to improve in each area of the axis along the road to Rio.

HA: Training for the Olympics is a fulltime job, how do you ensure the athletes have a good work/life balance?
AC: We are very clear and measured with how we approach our preparation. We have 20 to 25 hours a week of training and we’re clear with that. We try not to compromise that. We feel that it is enough to move forward and to continually improve but that gives them the ability to work or study for another 20 to 25 hours a week.

On top of that we find it very important that they have mental refreshers and periods that they can rest and have a break away from hockey. They obviously, as elite athletes, need to keep their body ticking over but we usually have breaks. We’ve just come off a break after the World League. It’s a nice refresher into a one year operation to the Olympic Games and we’ll have other small breaks of four days to a week, to ten days, and in particular over Christmas for three weeks, and that keeps the girls mentally fresh, physically capable to regenerate and to take that next step as we prepare to win that elusive gold medal.

HA: What needs to be different to improve on London’s result at Rio?
AC: I think there are a number of things that need to be different. That’s one of the big challenges of the last two days that we’ve spent together as a group to review. What we had hoped going into the World League Semi Final tournament was that we had closed the gap on the Netherlands. We were beaten narrowly by them at the World Cup (in 2014) when they were playing in front of a home crowd and they’ve had a number of players that have retired since that World Cup. We felt that we’d had a good training block and a good preparation leading into it but it is very clear that we’re still behind them if we’re not performing at our best.

We’ve had a good period of time to reflect on everything we did in the lead up to the World League Semi Final and our period ahead and how we will approach that. And we’ve done a lot of inward thinking and looking at ourselves and how we can refine our processes. We need to be better at all aspects of our game; our technical skills, our physical abilities, are we continually improving? Do we have the correct mindset in the way that we approach training and the way that we approach our matches against teams that are ranked alongside us or above us? That’s an area I think we can make real progress in over the next 53 weeks.

Kookaburras Head Coach Graham Reid

Hockey Australia (HA): We’re nearly one year out from the Rio Olympics, where are you at with your team’s preparation?
Graham Reid (GR): The next two months is a period of individual based strength and conditioning as well as skills training, it’s a bit of a refreshment for the boys who have had a big year so far.

HA: As a head coach you watch the athletes closely, what’s the general vibe amongst individuals in the team during this do or die time?
GR: We have just returned home from the World League Semi Finals and it was one of our objectives to put our stamp back on world hockey. Our underlining statistics were strong and there’s a feeling amongst the group of belief, however, there’s also the knowledge that we need to be far better in 12 months’ time.

HA: How does a world class hockey team prepare for an Olympic Games?
GR: We’re continually searching for ways to do things better, smarter and more importantly with less resources. Every part of our program is under constant review, looking for that little bit extra. What we try to create in Perth is an uncomfortable competiveness in our daily training environment.

HA: Training for the Olympics is a fulltime job, how do you ensure the athletes have a good work/life balance?
GR: It’s a difficult balance. We’re lucky to have great financial support from our stakeholders, the AIS and ASC, and also our sponsors. It’s a constant battle for that work/life balance, which an elite sport requires. We use every resource available to us.

HA: What needs to be different to improve on London’s result at Rio?
GR: The lessons from London have meant we’re probably much more aware of our athlete and staff freshness during our Rio campaign. We’re also aware our athletes needed to be far stronger from a mental perspective, so we have done a lot of work around this and we continue to do a lot of work in the team culture space.

Hockey Australia media release

Scottish umpire Sarah Wilson promoted to World Development Panel by FIH

Scottish umpire Sarah Wilson. Photo Credit Duncan Gray

Scottish umpire Sarah Wilson’s impressive performances at the recent World League Semi-Finals and Champions Trophy last December have been rewarded with her promotion to the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) World Development Panel.

The World Development Panel includes FIH Grade 1 umpires who have shown the potential to progress to the World Panel, the highest standard of officiating in international hockey. Additionally, those individuals elevated to the World Development Panel are considered to be ranked in the world’s Top 20 umpires.

Commenting on her promotion, a happy Wilson said, “I feel very honoured. There are only nine women on the World Development Panel and eleven on the World Panel. It is such a reward for all the hard work that has been put into getting this far. It was a real surprise to be promoted so quickly, as I only got my Grade 1 after my performance at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games last year.”

Chair of Scottish Hockey’s International Appointments Committee, and 2012 men’s Olympic final umpire, Ged Curran added, “Another official involved at the highest level can only be good for Scottish Hockey. Sarah is a role model for other women officials and she is going to be involved in all major tournaments in the coming years.”

As one of the youngest umpires promoted to the Panel, the 26 year-old’s rapid rise in the FIH grading system has been impressive.  She can now look forward to being considered by the FIH for appointments to the world’s top level tournaments on a regular basis,

“This promotion gives you more exposure to high level tournaments”, added Wilson. “You are deemed to be an experienced and capable umpire to play a crucial role in allowing the players to play the best hockey they can, but also work as part of a team and help develop other young umpires.

“I think the promotion gives you more confidence and belief that you have the trust of the Umpires Mangers, Tournament Directors, the coaches and players. It makes your ambitions seem more realistic.”

Sarah Wilson, centre, is aiming for the Rio Olympic Games next summer. Photo Credit Duncan Gray

Wilson is one of two Scottish umpires, Martin Madden being the other, who are currently on the Road to Rio Programme, a programme for umpires who have the potential to be selected to the Olympic Games in Brazil this summer.

And with the Games less than a year away, thoughts are turning towards what could be another successful summer for the former Scotland U21 international player, “I have been so fortunate to have already been to some incredible tournaments that were once only an ambition.

“I am down to the final 24 for selection to the 2016 Rio Olympics where they will take 16 or 17 [umpires]. I really didn't expect to be in the running until the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 so I feel very excited about this opportunity”, said Wilson.

This summer, Scotland’s top female whistler will travel to London to fulfil her appointment to the EuroHockey Nations Championship, which will be another fantastic achievement to add to her ever-growing CV.

However, as Wilson was keen to emphasise, it’s not just European hockey that is on her list of ambitions,

“I would love to do a World Cup and World League finals, but one I am particularly keen to experience is an Asian Games because their style of hockey is so different to European hockey. It’s a bit of a challenge which always keeps you on your toes!”

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Quest for Instant Success Pulling Back Indian Hockey

By K Arumugam

Strange things are not uncommon in Indian hockey. Still, what happened recently exceeds everything we are used to. Employee says he has been sacked, while employer refutes it! In a quicksilver atmosphere where each passing hour witnesses ‘breaking news’, it’s difficult to say who lies, the Hockey India represented by its controversial head Narender Batra, or its employee Paul van Ass, who till last year was the national chief coach of The Netherlands. The latest trigger centres around an altercation between Van Ass and the temperamental Batra after, ironically, India won the quarterfinals against Malaysia at the Hockey World League Round 3 called Semifinals, at Antwerp, Belgium. Batra wanted the team to do better, and the coach felt it was wrongly timed as ‘he controls boys on the ground’. India’s chief coach told Batra ‘either you leave or I leave’. Batra left the scene.

It would have been a small matter had it ended there. As is usual in Indian sports, treatment caused more damage than the disease. Van Ass didn’t turn up for the camp that started a fortnight later or submit the mandatory tournament report. Batra fumed and appeared logical till Van Ass broke his silence and claimed he had already been ‘fired’.

No one knows even now whether Van Ass has been actually ‘fired’ or not. He was appointed by Sports Authority of India (SAI) on the recommendation of HI. Only SAI is authorised to terminate his three-year contract. SAI has not done that. It later came to light that Roelant Oltmans, High Performance Director with HI, informed Van Ass of something like that. Van Ass could have picked up his phone and clarified with either SAI or HI but he didn’t. He started speaking through the media and his subsequent actions established he is not interested in the job any more, though at one point, after thoroughly muddying the waters, he said he wanted to come back.

Van Ass first claimed he didn’t get the return ticket, though it was proved it was sent to him a month ago. He later accepted he didn’t properly check his inbox.   In the subsequent war of words, he even exceeded Batra in egoistic expressions. “I travelled in Indica in India while Bentley is waiting at my garage”. Batra, for his part, claimed he wasn’t a ‘good coach’ but only a ‘manager’. Being a shrewd administrator, Batra constituted a nine-member Special Committee. The committee, headed by a triple Olympian, expectedly decided to sack Van Ass on grounds of indiscipline. The internal panels of national federations in India have no credibility. They are ‘His Masters’ Voice’ kind. So Batra’s will prevailed. Van Ass is the fourth foreign coach in five years to be sacked. Each one had a sordid story to tell of his own. India is a great challenge for every established foreign coach. They feel India doesn’t perform befitting its talent, mass support and a wealthy national association. This is the feeling among many Indians as well. Analysts feel India, currently eighth in world rankings, underperforms though it has potential to reemerge as a world power.

The question of appointing foreign coaches gained momentum after India failed to qualify for the 2008 Olympics. The government loosened its purse. Most top coaches showed interest. First to come was the legendary Ric Charlesworthy, but the then boss KPS Gill apparently ill-treated him. He went back in six months. Then came Spaniard Jose Brasa. His contract wasn’t renewed after a year. Michael Nobbs survived two years, but India expected quick results and he too had to go. His countryman Terry Walsh transformed Indian hockey in the quickest possible time. India won the elusive Asian Games gold. But within a month, Batra saw him off on flimsy grounds. Van Ass didn’t even survive six months.

What’s wrong with foreign coaches? Why do we get them if we can’t handle them? Are Indian administrators always at fault or the coaches too are party to their own undoing? What’s the road forward, especially since the Olympics is just a year away? In answers to these questions lie the future of Indian hockey.

There’s no second opinion that Indian hockey needs foreign expertise. Indian coaches, by and large, live in the stone era. Hockey has become a straight simple science of fitness. Everything else is secondary. Australian hockey follows the Australian Rules Football style. Players mostly weigh 80-90 kg, but are highly agile, quick, dynamic and tactful. India’s task is to attain that level of fitness, and then work on strategies through exposure, experience and experimentation. This is costly and requires patience. But the Indian media, public and administrators want quick results. They are weighed down by the burden of history. Administrators are market-driven and want to see India win every tournament.

India needs good results to survive and sustain the hugely popular Hockey India League. Batra wants a series of sponsors to realise his ambition. He made his brainchild HI the most affluent national federation in the world. HIL is one of its kind in hockey, a cash cow for hundreds of foreign stars. He is in a hurry to move forward and needs consistently good results from the national team.

However, team rebuilding has its own pace. Foreign coaches concentrate on marquee tournaments at the cost of other events like Test series, invitational tournaments like Azlan Shah Cup etc. They are ready for bad results being part of experiments. That’s how all amateur sports function globally. But India, being the market leader, doesn’t permit what in science is called Normal Temperature and Pressure for any experiment to succeed. Foreign coaches face cultural differences in the new environment. Multiplicity of agencies, mass media, a demanding federation, skewed selection process, denial of autonomy to plan are some of the issues they confront. Foreign coaches are paid handsomely. Comforts provided to them are also manifold. They revel in their new-found heroism in being in the limelight. But these charms dissipate against the mountain of expectations.

Batra has transformed Indian hockey into a global hub of competition and finances. `6 crore was the annual total turnout of the previous regime. Now, it’s touching `100 crore. HIL has made over 100 players millionaires overnight. National championships in all categories were held regularly in the last five years, which is a record. But hockey needs Olympic success to get a foothold in the collective consciousness of India. Results can’t come overnight. It will happen if Batra gives time to coaches and maintains a line between administration and technical things. His impatience may undo all the good work he has done so far.

The New Indian Express

Not guilty, says dropped Gurbaj

The midfielder, who is facing disciplinary action, says he never indulged in groupism, indiscipline
Sabi Hussain

Gurbaj Singh said he once told former coach Paul van Ass that it may be difficult to expect the same performance from him if his position is changed, but “that was a polite suggestion, nothing else”. File

New Delhi: Gurbaj Singh has refused to take things lying down. In fact, the experienced right-half, who has been accused of misbehaviour and creating disharmony within the team, has chosen a rather difficult path to prove his innocence. It’s a path which other hockey players in recent memory have feared to tread for the sake of their careers.

The 26-year-old has challenged Hockey India (HI) by raising serious questions about the findings of the coaching staff and the subsequent punishment handed out by the Harbinder Singh-led Special Committee.

The committee was originally constituted to decide on Paul van Ass’ continuance as the chief coach of the national team.

Gurbaj, who has over 200 international caps, has mustered the courage to confront the committee members and ask them on what grounds has he been accused of indiscipline and groupism. The disciplinary action recommended by the committee has cost him his place in the squad for the European tour.

“All the allegations levelled against me are baseless. I have been wronged and I would like to be provided an opportunity by HI to defend my case. I have sought an audience with the committee members. I actually want to know who has levelled such charges against me,” Gurbaj told The Tribune, breaking his silence on the issue for the first time.

“I don’t know when I misbehaved with the coaches or indulged in groupism. Neither High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans nor Van Ass ever said anything negative about me. In fact, Oltmans told me after his meeting with Batra in Delhi that he had no problem with me. During our team meeting, (captain) Sardar Singh also said there’s nothing wrong with my behaviour.

“If we talk about the two Indian coaches, Jude Felix and Sandeep Sangwan, who accompanied the team to Belgium, I share a very good rapport with them. Sandeep was the manager of the team and he must have filed the report on the team’s performance and players’ behaviour. If the manager has mentioned such things about me, then I would like to question his findings during the hearing. I would request the committee to immediately convene a meeting and call all the parties concerned,” he added.

The right-half, who has been one of India’s top performers at the international level, was asked by Van Ass to shift to the right-wing position during the Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia. The same experiment was repeated during the Test series against Japan and the HWL Semifinals, where he was made to juggle between the right-half and right-wing positions.

“I don’t know why Van Ass thought of experimenting with my position despite the fact that I am much better as a right-half. During the Azlan Shah Cup, Van Ass asked me to give it a try and I agreed to his suggestion. The same experiment continued in Japan and Belgium. It was during the HWL Semifinals that Van Ass came up to me and praised me for accepting his challenge of playing at a different position. That’s all I know,” Gurbaj said.

Asked if he ever disapproved of playing at a particular position, Gurbaj said he once told Van Ass that it might be difficult to expect the same performance from him if his position was changed. “That was a polite suggestion, nothing else. That was made at the Azlan Shah Cup and nobody ever talked about it later. I don’t know what happened in Belgium,” he said.

Gurbaj said he has always played for the team and given his all as a midfielder, a statement backed by India’s two most experienced players, Sardar and goalkeeper PR Sreejesh. “He is a very good player and it takes a lot of hard work to become a player like him and reach that level. We need Gurbaj,” Sardar said.

Sreejesh said he found nothing wrong in his behaviour. “He is a fantastic player, one of the best in the team. He is an experienced guy with a lot of talent,” Sreejesh said.

Gurbaj said that the committee should ask coaches such as Harendra Singh, Cedric D’Souza and Joaquim Carvalho about his commitment to the team. “As far as my relationship with my teammates is concerned, please go and ask them how much we love each other. All these talks of creating rift are untrue,” said Gurbaj.

The Tribune

Turkstra returns to Dutch side for Euros

Hidde Turkstra’s return is probably the most notable name in the Dutch panel named by Max Caldas for the upcoming European Championships in London in late August.

The Rotterdam man is back in the panel for the first time since 2013 with Caldas saying Turkstra has “done very well in our preparation. He showed the right attitude and worked extremely hard for his place”.

The side features plenty of changes from the recent World League semi-finals with Amsterdam’s Mirco Pruyser and new Bloemendaal recruit Thierry Brinkman also coming. They replace Jelle Galema, Niek van der Schoot and Floris van der Linden.

In the Belgian panel for the event, Dragons-returnee Thomas Briels  and Simon Gougnard are two big names to miss out with Briels not selected for a tournament for the first time in nine years.

Jeroen Delmee has decided to test the mettle of young players like Matthew Cobbaert and Alexander Hendrickx while Alex de Paeuw and Cedric Charlier are also back to stake their claim for more permanent places at the tournament.

Euro Hockey League media release

66,000km and counting

Toowoomba’s Liam Brown travels 150km to play hockey

For the past 13 seasons, Toowoomba’s dedicated fullback Liam Brown has travelled 150km each way to hockey training and matches every week in the Brisbane Hockey League.

Raised in a hockey family, the 28-year-old is the brother of Australian representatives Kiel Brown and Hope Munro, making his first-grade debut in the Brisbane Hockey League for Commercial in 2003.

In total, Liam has travelled more than 66,000km to compete in the Brisbane competition, spending 770 hours or 32 full days travelling in his car to make training sessions and matches.

“My parents began to drive all of my brothers and sisters to play hockey in Brisbane when I was 15,” said Liam.

“For me, driving to Brisbane to play hockey is a normal routine. Bulimba Hockey Club in Brisbane has a fantastic culture and I feel motivated to contribute towards the clubs goals. My passion for the sport outweighs the travel.

“Don’t get me wrong, Toowoomba arguably have the best facilities in Queensland, however, capital cities tend to offer a stronger competition. My late grandfather Leon Giltrow (OAM) started Norths and Rangeville in Toowoomba. After my game in Brisbane, I drive home and play in the Toowoomba competition as well.”

A former Northern Territory Stingers representative in the Australian Hockey League, Liam has played in the Brisbane and Toowoomba competitions concurrently from the age of 15.

As well as playing with the likes of Australian Olympian Troy Elder at Bulimba, Brown is also the current player-coach of Norths in the Toowoomba A-grade competition.

He was recently rewarded for his ongoing commitment to the sport, when he hit his 200th match in the Brisbane Hockey League in July. Congratulations Liam!

Hockey Australia media release

Coaching Education Progresses in Revamp of Program

USA Field Hockey’s National Development Director Kyle Boyer and her Sport Development Team released their 3 year strategic plan for efficiently growing the game. A core component of the agenda is the Coach Education Program. 

“During the course of the next 3 years, the current tracks of Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 Coaching Accreditation, will be completely rebuilt with respect to the curriculum and accreditation processes,” said Boyer. “It is not any easy process, by any means, to completely overhaul a coaching education program. 

It is particularly challenging when you have coaches who are in a habit of asking, ‘What’s next for me?’. While that is a great position to be in, that our constituency is interested in developing themselves as teachers of the game, it is also a lengthy process that takes time to perfect.”

Boyer, who has extensive experience in developing training for coaches, added, “We recognize that many people are waiting on our roll-out of the new, improved and completely standardized program. We are confident that in the interim as we release the levels during the next 3 years we will provide continuing education to all coach members through other offerings, such as the National Coaches Forum and our inaugural National Convention.”

Senior Manager of Coaching Education, Liz Tchou, recently worked with the National Federation of High Schools (NFHS) on an agreement to redesign the existing Coaching Field Hockey online course, which has been available since late 2011. The existing course is currently available to members and non-members at a fee of $75. The new NFHS Learn online course will be free to all members of USA Field Hockey in early 2016 and will serve as the Level 1 online course within the Level 1 Accreditation. It is imperative that USA Field Hockey leads the way in educating our current and future coaches of the sport.

“Our goal is to provide long, overdue value to the USA Field Hockey Coach Membership and go one step further,” said Tchou. “The Level 1 Online/NFHS Learn course begins with a strong foundation, including an understanding of the sport while being current and up to date with the rapidly changing and evolution of the modern game. The ‘Coaching Field Hockey’ online course will be the top coaching resource for novice to mid-level coaches in the USA. It encompasses every facet of the game, including field hockey’s rich history, learning and applying effective teaching methods of how to coach the basic skills and tactics, along with a solid understanding of the rules of hockey.”

Tchou, a 1996 Olympian, former Division I collegiate coach and former Senior Manager of Sport Development for USA Field Hockey added, “Throughout the process, the development manuals and curriculums we produce for all levels will be the work of a variety of constituents within and outside the sport of field hockey. The plan is to produce information that will allow for successful outcomes to continue regardless of personnel changes.”

In 2016, Phase One of the Coaching Accreditation Plan will include the new Level 1 Online course, Coaching Field Hockey and 10 Level 1 Instructional clinics that will be available to USA Field Hockey coach members.  During the year of 2016, USA Field Hockey will build a Level 2 Online course, as well as a Level 2 Instructional clinic program; both will be available in 2017. 

Phase 2 will begin in 2017, when both the Development and High Performance Programs will become available. A Level 3 Instructional clinic will be built and will become available shortly thereafter. In conjunction with the new curriculum offerings, the accreditation programs have been redesigned as follows:

  • USA Field Hockey Level 1 Certified Coach = Current Coach Membership with background check, completion of Level 1 Online course (free) and completion of Level 1 Instructional course (fee)
  • USA Field Hockey Level 2 Certified Coach = Current Coach Membership with background check, USA Field Hockey Level 1 Certification, completion of Level 2 Online course (fee) and completion of Level 2 Instructional Clinic (fee)
  • USA Field Hockey Level 3 Accredited Development Coach = Current Coach Membership with background check, USA FH Level 2 Certified Coach and completion of Level 3 Instructional Clinic (fee) and other evaluation criteria. 
  • USA Field Hockey Level 3 Accredited High Performance Coach = Current Coach Membership with background check, USA Field Hockey Level 2 Certified Coach, 2-day attendance at National Coaches Forum (fee), successful performance at an Advanced Skills Clinic (fee) and other evaluation criteria. 
  • USA Field Hockey Level 4 Accredited Development Coach = program will be built out for coaches aspiring to become USA Field Hockey Level 4 Development coaches. Details for those accreditations will not begin until Phase 2. 
  • USA Field Hockey Level 4 Accredited High Performance Coach = program will be built out for coaches aspiring to become USA Field Hockey Level 4 High Performance coaches. Details for those accreditations will not begin until Phase 2. 

After the completion of the Level 2 online and instructional clinic, individuals will be able to apply to either the USA Field Hockey’s Level 3 Development or Performance pathway.  It is important for our organization to provide additional opportunities for greater growth in the pursuit of higher level coaching as well as a more in-depth study of the athlete development pathway.

“The Level 1, 2 and 3 Development tracks will be geared towards educating the majority of our coaches in the country - PE teachers, recreational program coaches, middle school, high school, club and college coaches.  Attention to the needs of these coaches across the country and giving them the tools and methodologies to inspire and motivate young players nationwide will improve our player skill base and their understanding and love of the game”, stated Tchou.  She went on to add, “Level 3 Performance and above coaches will be challenged to advance their coaching styles and methods.  Our focus will be to make sure that people are gaining access to pertinent information and challenged to become better at their craft.  We also want to ensure that talented, aspiring coaches are afforded the opportunity to work within our Development and High Performance programs.”

How the coaching education program will handle current levels of accreditation:

  • The educational components of the accreditations do not expire; accreditations only expire if a coach lets their membership/background check expire.  
  • Level 1 Accredited coaches are able to work toward the new Level 2 Certification when it becomes available.  
  • Level 2 “Provisional” Accredited coaches are able to apply for a waiver to be grandfathered into Level 2 Certification (this form will be available in late 2015).  
  • Level 2 “Developmental” Accredited coaches will be given Level 2 Certification status, but will be encouraged to take Level 2 course, when it becomes available, for free and are able to work toward either a Level 3 Development or Performance Accreditation status as programming becomes available.  
  • Level 2 Accredited coaches are able to work toward either a Level 3 Development or Performance Accreditation status as programming becomes available.  Level 2 Accredited coaches are able to apply to become an instructor, and will be considered based on experience and other qualifications.  
  • Level 3 “Pending” Accredited coaches will be given Level 3 High Performance status.  Yet, in order to be recommended for advancement into the Level 4 High Performance course, these individuals must take the new Level 3 High Performance course free of charge when it becomes available.  
  • Current Level 3 Accredited Coaches will maintain their Level 3 High Performance Accreditation and will be recommended for advancement into the Level 4 High Performance course.  

Moving forward, coaches will be able to access information about USA Field Hockey’s Coaching Education Program (CEP) offerings on the coaching education section of our website. We will keep in contact with our coach membership (through the USOC Coaching Newsletter and monthly e-blasts), as well as provide tools and resources to all members through the Team USA Mobile Coach Application. USA Field Hockey reminds all members that the Team USA Mobile Coach Application, sponsored by our partner Zag Sports, provides added tools and resources to use from your smartphone or desktop.  For more information about registering for the application through your membership number, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

USFHA media release

Tribute - Gary McLeod - A very special man

By Steve Jaspan

Former SA National Team Manager, Gary Mcleod

Obituaries in the press chronicle life events accurately but often do not capture the essence of a very special person.

Rather than being an obituary this is a tribute to Gary McLeod, the warmest and most generous man you could hope to find.  Gary died in Port Elizabeth on 14 July 2015 at the age of 74 after a long battle with cancer.

Gary is fondly remembered as a top provincial hockey player who played goalkeeper for Western Province in the late 60s and Eastern Province in the early 70s.  There are even a few stories about his escapades including one which led to the nickname of “Hangkas”.  No doubt Brian Edwards, the legendary SA National Player and Coach (who made a fine tribute to Gary at a recent SA Hockey Council meeting) and others can elucidate.

But Gary’s impact on South African Hockey was greatest as the very finest of National Team Managers.  He had succeeded the likes of Froggy Miot but Gary raised the bar to new heights.  I remember, whilst President of the South African Hockey Association, having that feeling of utter confidence that when the SA Men’s Team played or toured the delegation was led by a gentleman who lived and practised by the highest standards. I knew that the team’s sportsmanship and behaviour would be above reproach.

He commanded complete respect from the team and its individual players, coaches, and medical personnel.  I know they also had enormous affection for him.

Gary created a special Manager’s Manual which he used as a checklist to tick all the boxes when it came to tour and team details.  Nothing was missed and this became a template for team managers who followed him.  Even those who followed have found it difficult to emulate his “super-efficiency and calmness under pressure” - qualities that Tony Godding, former SA National Coach and selector has highlighted amongst others.

But it went much further than that because Gary realised that additional resources were required to ensure that the team were properly prepared and kitted out so Gary, with no fuss, simply went out and raised money or mobilised “the troops” accordingly.

For many years he and his Company helped with funding and sponsorship of the National Team and SA Hockey.

“I had the great fortune of being in a number of South African Hockey Teams that Gary managed in the post-isolation era.  He was a superb mentor for every player in the team and as a team leader and ambassador for our country there was no better”, said Gregg Clark, SA’s most capped player of all time.

Gary enjoyed nothing better after a hard but rewarding day on tour than to relax with team management and enjoy banter and some jokes.  He also had a wonderful relationship with opposing team managers.  He was great company and as you spent time with him his love and affection for his family shone through.

To Mary, Gavin, Kate,  Fiona and the family – our thoughts are with you.  You have lost the most wonderful husband, father and grandfather.He was loved and revered in hockey circles and will be remembered with fondness and respect by countless people whose lives he touched.  That unquestionably is the mark of an exceptional man and a life well-lived.

SA Hockey Association media release

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