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News for 22 September 2015

All the news for Tuesday 22 September 2015

Versluys strikes four times for Racing Rats

Racing Club de Bruxelles made a major statement of intent for the new season in the Belgian Audi Hockey League as they beat KHC Leuven 8-2 in front of the live television cameras on the second day of competition.

It took less than 60 seconds for Tom Boon to break the deadlock and Cedric Charlier quickly got in on the act for 2-0. Boon made it three before Pau Quemada got one back for Leuven.

But a stunning seven minute spell wrecked their hopes as two goals from Anthony Versluys and one from Simon Gougnard rocketed the lead out to 6-1. Tom Degroote broke up that sequence but Versluys added another two for the big win.

Royal Daring eased to a 6-0 win over Antwerp with Tanguy Cosyns netting three times with further goals fromGeoffroy Cosyns, Alexander Beleand Alex Van Linthoudt also scoring.

Dragons ran up a similarly big 8-2 win over Pingouin with ThomasVerheijen,Jeffrey Thys(3),FelixDenayer, Mathew Cobbaert and Florent vanAubel on the mark.

Royal Leopold snatched an important point at Herakles late in the game. John Bessell’s team had started well with Gabriel Dabanch starting the scoring. Agustin Nunez equalised before Max Plennevaux restored Leo’s lead.

But, in an incredible closing phase, Amaury Keusters made it 2-2 in the 66th minutes from a corner rebound. Nicolas De Kerpel then made it 3-2 only for Tanguy Zimmer to propel the ball home with the very last act of the game.

Braxgata beat Ghent 2-1 while the Waterloo Ducks had a big 7-2 win over Beerschot.

Euro Hockey League media release

St Germain's magnificent Wattignies seven

Saint Germain picked up their first win of the campaign to stay within a couple of points of Racing Club de France with an emphatic 7-1 win over Wattignies.

They went goal-crazy in the second half of their tie after William Jeammot’s 19th minute goal had given them a narrow 1-0 lead.

Six second half goals – coming from Blaise Rogeau, Gregory Samson, Joris Harou, Thomas Pauchet, Francois Goyet and Kevin Mercurio – meant that they quickly pulled clear to land the victory.

The match was also marked by the awarding of the trophy for 2014-15 top scorer in the French top tier by Oliver Moreau, President of the FFH, St Germain’s towering forward Jean-Baptiste Pauchet, pictured.

For Racing, they defeated Paris Jean Bouin 5-1. They were boosted by a surprise addition with Spanish player Jacinto Dominguez from Zaragoza joining by surprise as part of his move to Paris to pursue his medicince studies and we went straight into their midfield line-up despite only arriving a couple of days before the game.

After a low key first quarter, Maxime Cheron broke the deadlock with a brillant deflection from a narrow angle. PJB equalised quickly from a corner but Racing stepped up the pressure and intensity.

Nicolas Martin-Brisac scored their second goal on a rebound from Simon Martin-Brisac for a narrow 2-1 lead at half time. The second half, though, was one-way traffic with Christophe Peters-Deutz’s short corner, Simon Martin-Brisac’s individual action and Antoine Ferec easily pushing the ball in the empty goal extending the lead out.

They lead the way with two wins from two so far in the competition.

Lille got their first win of the campaign with a single goal win over CA Montrouge courtesy of Theophile Ponthieu’s short corner deflection. Lyon had a similar win over Le Touquet (1-0) with a goal from forward Guillaume Pin from a corner.

Euro Hockey League media release

MHL: Paying the price of lavish spending...

By Jugjet Singh

WHILE about 3,000 fans went home feeling satisfied when the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) curtains fell on Sunday,  a handful of coaches were either not impressed, or want drastic changes in place for the next season.

The TNB Cup fan-fare was well planned, and there was drama worth the travel to Bukit Jalil as Terengganu Hockey Team (THT) and Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) battled neck-and-neck.

Sixty-minutes could not separate the teams who stood at 1-1, and even the five shoot-outs ended 3-3.

THT finally laid their hands on the TNB Cup, and a double double, by winning sudden-death shoot-out at 5-4.

Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) Technical Director Terry Walsh was among the thousands, but he was not impressed.

"If you ask me about drama, about a close finish its right there. But if you ask me about other areas... (he kept it to himself)," said Walsh while the prize-giving ceremony was ongoing.

Newly appointed national coach Stephen van Huizen was seated next to Walsh, and he is in no hurry to select a training team from this bunch: "There are no immediate assignments, and so, there is no hurry in naming the training pool just yet."

And at the press conference, KLHC coach K. Dharmaraj was more vocal about the MHL.

"Don't get me wrong, I am all for players to earn a good keep by playing in the MHL, but money is becoming a big problem right now.

"Local players are being paid big bucks and I mean really, really big amounts to secure the best. And the problem here is that the pool is very small, and these players are now demanding even more and are willing to give their very best to their clubs.

"However, it has and will back-fire in the long run, as they do not show the same determination and zest when playing for the country.

"In the long run, some players might just have the attitude of giving their best for clubs, while going through the motions when they receive a national call-up," said Dharmaraj.

Some of the local players receive up to RM20,00 per month, and it is not only for the six-week MHL, but are contracted for at least a year.

KLHC had lost many players to THT early this season, and the bargaining and pinching of players has already started -- for the next season.

Sapura coach Tai Beng Hai and Maybank coach S. Vellapan were also of the opinion that foreign and national players should be restricted to six per-team.

"Well I believe it would be better if the small pool of national players be equally distributed among clubs so that there will not be a big disparity in results. This can be achieved if say, clubs are only allowed to hire six professional players. By professional I mean national and foreign players.

"So each club can, lets say, field three national and three foreign players or at any other combination, but only six professionals per-team.

"This would see a healthier tournament, and the fans would also be kept guessing right till the end, and not know the results by just comparing club team-lists," said Beng Hai, a former national coach.

Maybank's Vellapan echoed the same opinion as Beng Hai.

This year's league was as predictable as the haze hitting Malaysia every year. And from the first whistle, it was a battle for titles between THT and KLHC while Tenaga Nasional, Maybank, Sapura and University Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) were just there to make up the numbers.

And if the other four also-rans want to lay their hands on the titles next year, they must be willing to fork out more than RM20,000 and a lucrative contract to secure the best available locals.

As for the foreign legion who came from Argentina, Pakistan, Ireland, India and South Africa -- they were a big let down -- and their contracts offered peanuts compared to what the cream of the locals received.

Jugjet's World of Field Hockey

Tenaga Nasional, a true bastion of Malaysian hockey

by S. Ramaguru

The Pintar Hockey Programme is one of the age-group tournaments sponsored by Tenaga Nasional to unearth new talents in the schools.

PETALING JAYA: Tenaga Nasional Berhad are synonymous with hockey.

From the era of grass to Astroturf, Tenaga have played their part in the growth of the sport in the country – encompassing all levels, from the grassroots to the elite.

The birth of Tenaga, who began as Kilat Club, dates back to the 1950s when they started playing in Division Two of the then Selangor Hockey Association League.

Throughout the 1960s, they were a regular feature in local competitions and Tenaga also provided employment to players involved in the sport.

It was Tenaga’s commitment in hiring hockey players that provided the impetus for players to take up the game seriously.

The Tenaga teams soon became a feeder to the national sides and also a platform for juniors to develop their talents. Many began to see joining Tenaga as a positive move to enhance their sporting and working careers.

There are also many top players whose names are synonymous with TNB.

Looking back, they had the Shepherdson brothers Mike and Christie in the early 1950s.

The talents and exploits of the likes of Kuldeep Singh, Jack Johnson and Harnahal Singh will never be forgotten either.

Then there are others like Poon Fook Loke, Razak Leman, Brian Sta Maria, Foo Keat Seong, Sulaiman Saibot, M.Surenthiran, Sarjit Singh, Nor Saiful Zaini (pic, bottom left), K Embaraj, S. Siva­balan, K. Dharmaraj and Mirnawan Nawawi.

The younger generation will know players like Mohd Ikmar Mohd Noor, the late Chua Boon Huat, S. Kumar, Nor Azlan Abu Bakar, Mohd Amin Rahim, M. Kaliswaran, Faizal Saari (pic, top left), Mohd Firhan Azhaari and Mohd Ramadan Rosli.

And it’s not just the players.

TNB can also lay claim to having one of the best coaches in their ranks. Sidek Othaman took over as coach of the national team from Bakri Mohd Noor in 1974 and led the team to a bronze medal in the Asian Games in Teheran that year.

Nor Saiful, who is now the TNB Sports Unit head, reckons that TNB’s policy of hiring and developing players has paid dividends over the years.

“The Kilat Padang in Bangsar is where some of the best talents in the country were unearthed and groomed. This Padang is also historic ... and one that we are proud of,” said Nor Saiful.

He is right because it was at the Kilat Padang that Malaysian hockey made history in 1975.

That was the year Malaysia hosted the Hockey World Cup. And it was at the Padang that Malaysia sensationally defeated Holland 2-1 to qualify for the semi-finals.

The fourth-place finish in the World Cup still ranks until today as the best-ever achievement by the national team.

And Nor Saiful is glad that TNB’s policy in hiring and developing players has continued unabated.

“That policy continues till today. Many top players have gone through the TNB ranks and most are household names. We don’t believe in just hiring top players to boost our team because we also have a well-structured development plan,” he said.

“We believe that as a corporate entity, we must do our part to help develop sports, which in our case is hockey. But we’ve also hired badminton players and athletes.”

One player who is grateful that he joined TNB is national goalkeeper Kumar (pic, below), who is considered one of the best in Asia.

“I don’t think my career would have blossomed had I not join TNB. They gave me a job and stability to train and improve my game,” said Kumar.

Nor Saiful said that many credited TNB for their hockey development.

”Everyone of us who joined TNB and kept playing the game benefited from their sponsorship. It gave us the freedom to play the game because we knew our livelihood is being taken care of.

“It made us better players. Many also have ventured into other areas of expertise in the game,” said Nor Saiful, who today also coaches the TNB team and at the national level.

Nor Saiful has played in the World Cup, Olympics, Asian Games, SEA Games and Champions Trophy and, in his heyday, was a prolific penalty corner goal scorer.

Today, he spearheads TNB’s efforts in grooming young players.

TNB, the title sponsors of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL), are just one of the two teams to have played in the league since its inception in 1987.

Their biggest contribution today is the Thunderbolt programme, which with its tag line “Powering Champions”, clearly states its intention.

The programme is all about producing talented youngsters for the national teams and many schools have benefited from their involvement in the programme.

Another former national player and Thun­derbolt programme coordinator Lailin Abu Hassan said that TNB believe in looking ahead and providing a platform for youngsters to grow.

“This programme is about long-term benefits and to give hockey players a career path as well as help improve their game with a structured programme.

The Star of Malaysia

Player cap needed to make MHL more exciting and fair

By S. Ramaguru

No joy for the KLHC team players after losing the TNB Cup final to Terengganu in a penalty shootout on Sunday. - IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/ The STAR

KUALA LUMPUR: There is a dire need to curb the number of national and foreign players per team in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).

The two-month league ended on Sunday with Terengganu crowned double champions for the second straight year. They edged Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) 5-4 in a sudden-death penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw in regulation time.

It came as no surprise that Terengganu emerged winners again as the east coast side were laden with national and foreign players. They had eight national and five foreign players – four Argentines and one Pakistani – in their ranks.

Under the league’s rule on players, each team are allowed six foreign and six national players. But some clubs managed to circumvent the rule by saying the players were employees of their teams.

Out of the six teams in the league, only Tenaga Nasional fielded an all-local side. They were out of their depth. The former double champions could only finish fourth in the Premier Division and failed to make the semi-finals for the overall title.

Team officials believe that unless there is a player cap the MHL is doomed for a slow death.

“There is interest in the MHL but letting just one or two teams to dominate is not the right way to develop the league,” said Sapura coach Tai Beng Hai, whose team defeated Maybank 6-0 on Sunday to finish third overall.

Beng Hai said he was not against the hiring of foreigners but there should be quality in the acquisitions.

“We want our youngsters to learn from the foreign stars. There must be a transfer of knowledge from the foreign players to our local players. That’s not happening at the moment.”

He also suggested that more teams should be allowed to compete to make the league more competitive.

Maybank coach S. Vellapan concurred with Beng Hai’s call for the cap on national players in each team.

“I think a fairer distribution of national players will make the league more competitive… and make it worthwhile for the fans.

“I am also in favour of doing away with the home-and-away format for the knockout stage. Have just one match at each round of the knockout phase. It’s more interesting,” said Vellapan.

Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) deputy president George Koshy, who is also the competitions committee chairman, said they were in the process of reviewing all the competitions, including the MHL, in the country.

“Due to time constraint we were unable to make changes for this year. We have asked the clubs and teams for feedbacks and we will also seek the views of the other stakeholders. The objective is to make our tournaments more interesting,” he said.

The Star of Malaysia

Investec Women’s Cup Second Round Draw

Surbiton celebrate winning the Investec Women's Title 2015

The draw for the second round of the Investec Women’s Cup has been made following yesterday's round one matches.

The stand out tie of the round is an all-Investec Women's Hockey League Premier Division tie between Buckingham and Reading, who started the season with a 1-1 draw last weekend. The other tie which sees league counterparts go head to head is between Sevenoaks and Chelmsford from the Investec Women's Conference East Division.

Current holders Surbiton will travel to non-Investec Women's Hockey League side Barnes, with 2013 champions Bowdon Hightown making the trip to Liverpool Sefton. There’s a tricky away tie for 2015 runners-up Clifton as they travel across the M4 to take on Conference East side Maidenhead. Elsewhere with the Investec Premier Division teams, East Grinstead travel to Gloucester City, with Holcombe and University of Birmingham hosting Havant and Wakefield respectively.

There are two all non Investec Women's Hockey League ties where Staines take on Old Loughtonians and Boots host Timperley.

The draw in full can be seen below.

Investec Women’s Cup Round 2 Draw – Ties to be played Sunday 25th October

Barnes v Surbiton
Ben Rhydding v Didsbury Northern
Boots v Timperley
Brooklands Poynton v Cannock
Buckingham v Reading
Doncaster v Stourport
Gloucester City v East Grinstead
Holcombe v Havant
Lindum v Hampstead and Westminster
Liverpool Sefton v Bowdon Hightown
Loughborough Students v Leamington
Maidenhead v Clifton
Sevenoaks v Chelmsford
Staines v Old Loughtonians
Sutton Coldfield v Beeston
University of Birmingham v Wakefield

For all the draws and results throughout the competition click here.

England Hockey Board Media release

Iain Lewers is a bargain buy

IAIN LEWERS is considered a bargain buy at £11,600 after being picked up by the Delhi Waveriders at the Hero Hockey India League auction.

By Graham Wilson and Dave Wright

Middleton (18) and Jackson (8) celebrating the 2015 Hero Hockey India League title with Rays

England and GB international Lewers, of the Kent club Holcombe, is regarded as one of the world’s best defenders, and joins his team-mates Barry Middleton and Ashley Jackson, who are the Ranchi Rays titleholders.

Beeston England defender Adam Dixon was bought for £9,600 and will play for Kalinga Lancers alongside Germany midfielder Mo Furste, who commanded a record fee of £67,679.

Dixon’s clubmate and England penalty corner drag-flicker Mark Gleghorne was picked up in the reserve auction for Jaypee Punjab Warriors and came out as the top English player going for £12,888.

The auction featured 135 Indian players and 141 foreign players. The month-long league starts at the end of January.

Jackson scored in Holcombe’s 5-3 win over champions Wimbledon in the England League premier division on Sunday with team-mate Sam Ward also hitting two.

Alan Forsyth scored a hat-trick for Surbiton for the second week running beating Brooklands Manchester University 6-4. But they were 6-1 up when the hosts hit three goals in the last three minutes.

It is looking very worrying for East Grinstead, who finished top of the division last season.

They have lost a host of players including Jackson and Gleghorne, and badly need a win with a European tie coming up next month.

Beeston, still missing Dixon and Gleghorne who are resting following the recent European Championship, put three goals past the Sussex side without reply.

Reading came back from a two-goal half-time deficit to beat hosts Canterbury 4-2 while Hampstead and Westminster drew 2-2 with Cannock.

Leicester and Rachel Mack celebrating her goal against Holcombe. Photo: Andy Smith

Reading’s women are smarting after losing another of their internationals to Holcombe. England’s Emily Maguire joins fellow defender Leah Wilkinson and Sarah Jones.

Reading were only told of the move on Wednesday and on Saturday they were trounced by a high-flying University of Birmingham side 5-0 in the Investec League.

Erica Sanders, Olivia Paige, Tina Evans, Holly Hunt and Vanessa Hawkins all got on the scoresheet.

England and GB captain Kate Richardson-Walsh, who is taking a level 2 coaching award, becomes assistant coach at Reading.

After their European gold medal success at the Olympic Park, she and Helen Richardson-Walsh plan to resume playing in two weeks.

England’s Susie Gilbert says she will return next weekend. Nothing is certain at this stage, but Reading hope they can count on England striker Alex Danson to make the occasional appearance.

Daily Express

Big-ticket buy: Pillay, Cedric back Akashdeep

Rohan Alvares

MUMBAI: There are still a few months to go before the fourth edition of the Hockey India League begins, but, there's already a buzz around the Uttar Pradesh Wizards camp, thanks to their eye popping capture of the 20-year-old talent Akashdeep Singh.

The striker was the cause of an intense three-way tussle involving Dabang Mumbai, Ranchi Rays and the Wizards at last week's HIL auction in Delhi. By the time proceedings had ended favourably for the Wizards, Akashdeep was left to come to terms with his newly earned status as 'highest paid Indian player'. The UP franchise splurged $84,000 on him, and it was money well spent according to the team's technical director Dhanraj Pillay.

"We were on the lookout for a player like him, and if you look at the last two to three years particularly, his performances have been very good," the former India captain told TOI. "He has emerged as one of the main players in the Indian team. He makes his presence felt with his ability to earn penalty corners for his team. That's why we decided to go all out, even though every franchise was wary of their budget in the final minutes."

Akashdeep's stock is said to have soared mainly as a result of a key rule change to be implemented from the forthcoming season where a field goal will be worth double. In the pre vious edition, the young striker, then with Delhi Waveriders, was joint-highest in that department with four efforts from open play. Despite losing Akashdeep's services to a rival, Waveriders coach Cedric D'Souza insisted he had no regrets.

"You win some, you lose some. I have always maintained that one man doesn't win you games," D'Souza said although going on to express his wholehearted admiration of his former ward's talent. "I'd describe him as a complete player. He's a great striker, a superb carrier of the ball with a lethal finish.

"I'm very happy for him.Just because he won't be playing for Delhi, don't expect me to now say something negative," added D'Souza.

As Pillay and the Wizards celebrate their prized acquisition, D'Souza said his focus would now turn to devising a plan to neutralise the threat posed by Akashdeep. "We will have our strategies in place as will the other teams he comes up against," he said.

The Times of India

India, New Zealand to play six-match hockey Test series

NEW DELHI: As part of their preparations for next year's Olympic Games, India will compete against New Zealand in a six-match hockey Test series from October 2 to 11 in Auckland, Nelson and Christchurch.

"While India will play the first two matches against the New Zealand A team the last four matches will be played against the New Zealand senior men team," Hockey India said in a statement.

For India, the Tour will be in preparation for the all-important FIH Hockey World League Final to be held in Raipur later this year, followed by the Rio Olympics slated in 2016. New Zealand, on the other hand, will seek to prepare for the upcoming Oceania Cup wherein a win there would confirm a berth for them in the Rio Olympics 2016.

After a successful Europe Tour in August, where India defeated France and Spain, the Indian team is upbeat and expects positive results from the tour.

Indian players are going through training in New Delhi and getting ready for the series.

In June 2015, New Zealand playing in the FIH Hockey World League Semi-Final in Argentina finished sixth after a loss against Canada in the quarter-final match.

With another defeat against Spain in 5th-6th Classification Match, New Zealand missed the opportunity to qualify for the Rio Olympics.

However, New Zealand still has a chance to qualify for the Olympics if they win the 2015 Oceania Cup, which will be held at their home-turf coming October and hence their clash against India will be an important ground to gear up for the upcoming challenge.

Speaking on the Tour, Mohd Mushtaque Ahmad, Secretary General, Hockey India said, "The series was planned keeping in mind the upcoming important tournaments that are lined up for the Indian team.

"Series like this will help our team to understand the continuing changing game style of the opposition and this helps us to further work on our strategies. The team is very excited and are looking forward to continue their good form in the series."

Malcolm Harris, Hockey New Zealand Chief Executive said, "We are very excited about this upcoming series - it's the first time since 2009 that India Men have toured New Zealand. Our fans can't wait to welcome India - it's a great chance for Kiwis to see world-class hockey here in New Zealand.

"It also provides the Black Sticks Men with some strong competition ahead of the important Oceania Cup (Stratford, 21-25 October)."

The Times of India

Bovelander wants big investment in Indian hockey infrastructure

JAMSHEDPUR: India will have to invest huge amounts to improve hockey infrastructure in order to regain the top slot in the world, according to former Dutch hockey star and Olympian Floris Jan Bovelander.

A gold medalist in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Bovelander was talking to newsmen after meeting Tata Steel officials regarding setting up of a hockey academy in Jharkhand.

Bovelander was accompanied by Rob Van Nes, associated with the project "One Million Hockey Legs", and Khorshed Talati, senior development officer of Tata Trust.

He said that India had enough potential and skill to play and match the European and Australian style of hockey.

One of the areas of investment is artificial grass on which young talent (from under 14-year age group) have to be trained to improve hockey standards dramatically, he says.

"I have visited places like Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Vadodara. India has talented players as well as world-class technique, but does not have adequate infrastructure," he rued.

The former Dutch star, who was renowned for his penalty corner execution that saw him score 216 goals in 241 internationals, said he ideally wanted to promote hockey from the school level and involve more school children to spread knowledge of the game among them.

The Government of India and Netherlands had signed an MoU in January, 2014 to promote and improve hockey in the country, he said.

"Under the agreement, we want to explore the possibility of how we could help India improve its facilities, coaching and nurture talent," Bovelander said.

About the discussion with Tatas, Bovelander said it was an exploratory visit and they had a positive discussion about the game.

The Times of India

Changing Dynamics of High School Sports

This year, 2015, is my 34th year of coaching high school sports in Section I. Every so often someone comes up to me and asks, “After all these years have the kids changed? Is coaching different than it used to be?” In fact, I truly feel the kids have not changed. It’s the culture and world around them that is so very different. Kids still want to succeed. They want to be a part of something bigger. They love to represent their school. They will work hard. They are dedicated. They are easy to inspire and motivate.

It’s just that so much around them is different. The game outside the game has changed.

Kids these days are not allowed to be kids. They are not allowed to go outside and play without it being a planned supervised activity. They have to get a certain score on the SAT. They have tutors and attend SAT prep classes. They play club sports at an early age. The pressure mounts. They have to be the best. They have to go to colleges and get scholarships.

Stress, anxiety and depression plague our young people on a daily basis. Girls suffer from low self-esteem. The need for top test scores and college acceptance letters are everyday concerns.

Iphones, Ipads, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, texting — this is a way of life for our teens. Coaches have to reinforce interpersonal skills. Every day a player (usually a junior varsity player) comes up to me and just blurts out some random request. I have to remind them to say “hello” or “good morning” first.

At Lakeland High School, I have had the pleasure of working alongside some of the best coaches in Section I. I have had amazingly committed student athletes, including many Division I All Americans, National Champions, Junior National Team players and a 2012 Olympian. I have seen what hard work and dedication can achieve.

Our best educators reinforce that high school athletics are amazing opportunities to share memories but also instill incredible character and morals. Playing multiple sports in high school gives a student athlete an even better chance of success in their chosen sport in college. Being a student athlete allows a young person to develop leadership ability, dependability, humility, compassion, determination and more. High school student athletes are better equipped for future life experiences.

The 2015 fall sports season is up and running. Many field hockey programs have dropped their JVs this season. Athletic directors have said that numerous girls’ JV soccer teams and boys’ JV football teams have been dropped, forcing athletic programs to hustle up and try to fill those spots. Why has 2015 been the biggest drop in Section I programs in the past four decades? Specialization and pay-to-play sports are the biggest reasons.

I not only coach high school field hockey, but I am the club director of Hudson Valley Field Hockey. This is a small club that attends many high level tournaments and showcases. We have players from Rockland, Westchester, Dutchess and other counties. Many of our players have played at a very high level. All of our players play multiple sports. Not one player missed a college opportunity due to playing a second or third high school sport. It is my priority to support their high school activities while giving advanced opportunities in field hockey.

I started out as an educator and I will finish as an educator. I don’t begrudge the club coach that makes thousands upon thousands of dollars for their training — it is a choice. I simply don’t think it’s as valuable as the six-day-a-week experience they get from most of our high school programs.

I’m worried that the game is changing. I’m worried that parents are drinking the proverbial Kool-Aid that many club coaches are giving out. Allow your children to play high school sports for as long as it is available. High school sports are the best experiences kids can ever have. Just tell the club coach your child wants to enjoy the best of their high school experience.

And don’t look back.

Courtesy of USA Today High School Sports

Sharon Sarsen is head field hockey coach at Lakeland High School. Over the course of her 34-year tenure she has coached boys lacrosse, girls basketball, softball, girls lacrosse and field hockey.

USFHA media release

Rye appeals boys' field hockey ban; time against kids

Nancy Haggerty

From left, Rye's Phile Govaert and his sister Fusine, take part in field hockey practice at Rye High School Aug. 20, 2015. (Photo: File photo by Frank Becerra Jr./The Journal News)

The Rye School District has asked the state Education Department commissioner to overturn Section 1’s decision barring two boys from playing on its varsity field hockey team.

However, it appears unlikely a decision will be rendered in time to allow the boys the chance to play this season.

Neither details of the appeal nor details of the section’s decision have yet been made public.

The boys are prohibited from practicing with the team as well as playing for it.

In a brief statement released through the district’s public information office Monday, Superintendent of Schools Frank Alvarez said, "The Rye City School District wants to champion opportunities for all students."

Alvarez and the Board of Education made the decision to appeal, district Public Information Officer Sarah Derman said.

But New York State Education Department regulations map out a very lengthy appeal process.

According to its guidelines, a petition to state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia is not ready for review by the commissioner's legal staff until all papers (answer, reply and briefs) are filed. Because of established time frames, a file is not complete, according to the Education Department, until about two months after a challenge is filed and extensions may be granted beyond that.

Then a decision, which can be appealed in state court, is not typically rendered for another six to eight months.

With 3-0 Rye’s regular season games running only through October 24 and playoffs concluding soon after, that means that senior Sean Walsh’s Rye field hockey career is almost assuredly over after just one season.

Walsh played on the varsity last year and was to have been joined on the team by freshman Phile Govaert this season. Govaert played on the JV last year.

The boys practiced as members of the varsity during the preseason this year until until a Section 1 eligibility committee denied Rye’s request to allow them to play.

Students seeking to play on traditionally opposite-sex teams must apply each season for the right to play.

The boys took a physical fitness test last spring to help determine their eligibility to play this fall. But it’s unclear whether that test was used to conclude they possess an unfair physical advantage over female opponents.

Govaert’s father, also named Phile, earlier said his 114-pound son took the test a year earlier as well to play for the JV. He said his family was told Phile had to obtain at least minimum standards to be eligible. He said his son had had to train for three weeks last spring to meet those standards in the mile run, sit-ups and more.

While indicating he was happy with the decision to appeal, the elder Govaert, who earlier had decried the committee’s ruling as discriminatory, declined further comment, referring questions to the district.

Monday, the district said Journal News requests for copies of the Section 1 decision and Rye's appeal would be considered by its Freedom of Information Law officer.


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