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News for 13 December 2015

All the news for Sunday 13 December 2015

New Zealand are first team through to Argentina Hockey World League Final

New Zealand have finally shrugged off the mantle of fourth-placed team after a determined and battling 2-1 performance against Germany.

True to their form all tournament, Germany threatened to come back in the latter stages of the game, but New Zealand displayed their increasing maturity in these situations to hold a 2-1 lead and withstand the intensity of the German attack on their goal.

In the first semi-final of the Argentina Hockey World League Final, Germany began brightly. They forced the first penalty corner and Julia Muller's eventual strike served as a warning that the team that finished bottom of their pool but then beat the world number two side Australia in the quarter-final meant business.

As one of the most physically fit teams in the competition, New Zealand sought to create space for their forwards to run to. This tactic worked as the field spread out and New Zealand played the ball around the pitch and picked holes in the German defence. Janne Muller-Weiland made a rare defensive error which was punished when Stacey Michelesen intercepted a cross field pass and left Kirsten Pearce with a clear goal scoring chance. Pearce (9') made no mistake and New Zealand took the lead.

Germany took the initiative back as they forced their second penalty corner. But the shot went wide and Pippa Hayward set up a quick counter attack. Anita Punt received the ball and chipped Yvonne Frank in the German goal only to see Gemma Flynn knock the ball over the German goal. Frank and her team breathed a collective sigh of relief.

The second quarter saw both teams settle into their own style of play. For New Zealand this was quick passes that sought to get players behind the German defence: the German team by contrast played quick, passing game that gradually worked the ball up the field. what was similar about both teams' style of play was the intense physicality with which each team went into every challenge.

New Zealand were awarded their first penalty corner in the 23rd minute and Brooke Neal's shot was cleared by the German defence. A second penalty corner was awarded and this time Liz Thompson (25') made no mistake as she dragged the ball into the back of the goal. Gemma Flynn and Charotte Harrison almost combined to make it three when Flynn played a ball across the German circle but Harrison, who came at top speed into the path of the ball was unable to control her deflection. A typically direct run from Punt won New Zealand their fourth penalty corner, but Frank was down quickly to make the save. The second half saw nervous starts from each team.

Mistakes in defence, balls cleared uncertainly and loose passes meant that neither team really got a hold on the game. Germany were the first to create a clear scoring opportunity. A lovely ball into the circle found Marie Mavers, whose delicate little touch brought out a top save from Sally Rutherford in the New Zealand goal. The resulting penalty corner saw Eileen Hoffman (36') pick up on the rebounded shot and flick it over Rutherford to halve the lead.

Lydia Haase nearly made it all square when she managed to get on the end of a cracking pass and put it over the New Zealand goal.

The momentum changed as the half counted down, with New Zealand pressing high up the pitch and the German team had to stifle their attacking instincts and sit back to weather the Black Sticks storm. As the match reached the final quarter the question was whether New Zealand could hold their narrow lead or would the German team be able to turn their confidence in their ability to battle back in these circumstances to drive themselves to score more goals.

As the game counted down, there was a sense of increasing urgency in the German ranks. Julia Muller left the pitch for a crude tackle and New Zealand sought to calm things down with some precise passing and possession.

New Zealand's chance to put the game out of reach fell to Petrea Webster. The forward was found by Flynn after the midfielder robbed the German defence of possession. Webster's shot flew high over Franks and the cross bar. With two minutes left, Germany threw everything at the game, including removing their 'keeper with two minutes left. Mavers was unlucky to see her deflected shot fly high over the goal and this was Germany's last meaningful attack.

New Zealand will now play either Argentina or China for the gold medal.

"We don't really mind who we play in the final," said Stacey Michelesen after the game. "Argentina will have all the crowd behind them, but we haven't played China in a awhile – either will be tough."

And Sally Rutherford admitted the thought that Germany might force the game to shoot-out had crept into the team's minds as the match neared the end. "But, the biggest thing for us was to make the final. The last three major tournaments we have played in, we have finished fourth, so it is nice to get over that hurdle."

In the fifth place match between Australia and the Netherlands, it was a sole goal from Lidewij Welten that separated the teams. The midfielder was the beneficiary of a super, mazy run by Eva de Goede, and Welten was able to shoot home with accuracy and conviction.

Great Britain made certain of seventh place when they scored five past Korea. Nicola White opened and finished the scoring, with Ellie Watton, Helen Richardson-Walsh and Hannah MacLeod all finding the net. Han Hye Lyoung scored a consolation goal for Korea.

FIH site

Argentina beat China to set up thrilling final with Black Sticks

Photo: FIH/Getty Images

The second semi-final of the Argentina Hockey World League Final on Saturday 12 December was an encounter between the host nation Argentina and the runners-up from the Valencia HWL Semi-Finals, China.

The match, which finished 1-0 to Argentina was a game of cat and mouse as both teams tried to desperately break down staunch and well-organised defences with quick counter-attacking moves.

Argentina started strongly, and within seven minutes had won their first penalty corner after some strong running from the captain Carla Rebecchi. At the corner, the ball was switched to the far post by Delfina Merino where Maria Campoy (8') was on hand to slide the ball past Li Donxiao into the China goal.

China came to the game with a plan and despite Argentina taking the lead, they continued to play their own style of strategic, channeled play. Peng Yang was on hand to collect the ball as it was released down the line by Zhang Jinrong, but the Argentine defence was always wise to the move and the defence, marshalled by Noel Barrionuevo, was disciplined during these opening encounters. Belen Succi, who had been so instrumental in helping Argentina to the semi-final, was untroubled in the first quarter.

The second quarter followed much of the same pattern. Dupuy continued to sparkle with energy and it was her ball down the line to Maria Granatto that nearly put the young star into a goal scoring position. Speedy reactions from Li Dongxiao saved the day. Li Dongxiao was called on again just seconds later to make a fine double save when first Julia Gomes and then Dupuy took shots at the China 'keeper.

As the match progressed, Argentina played much of the game in the China half, but could find no way past the disciplined and brave Chinese defence. Such was the structure of both defensive units that neither of the goalkeepers were called on more than a handful of times in the first half. Meanwhile, the agile movement of Campoy continued to both impress and compound. She left the China defence tied in knots but still there was no way through for any shot on goal.

With under two minutes of the third quarter left a devastating run by Agustina Albertarrio left the Chinese defence standing and she won her team their fourth penalty corner. The shot was blocked and China cleared their circle with some relief.

With just 15 minutes left to get back into the game, China needed to start to pressure the Argentine defence as they looked to score the elusive equaliser. No matter how swiftly they transferred the ball around the pitch, the hard-working Argentine players were there, blocking China's progress up the pitch. With China looking to work the ball up the sides of the pitch, any time Las Leonas gained possession they were able to transfer the ball swiftly from side to side.

Rocio Sanchez played an important part in running the ball down the centre of the pitch to create opportunities and as the last quarter counted down, the speedy, skilful midfielder became increasingly influential to the Argentine attack.

With six minutes left, China began to really press high and leave gaps in their own defence. Julia Gomes, Dupuy and Martina Cavallero all took turns at running the ball at speed out of the Argentina half and playing China at their own counter-attacking game.

Speaking after the game, China captain Cui Qiuxia said she was devastated because the team had worked so hard. They would now have to pick themselves up for the bronze medal match. Team manager Zhao Xiaoyu added: "The team all had jobs to do and they all did them very well but Argentina are the third best team in the world and that was a tough game."

"It was a tough match but we played well," said captain Carla Rebecchi. "We were very pleased to concede no penalty corners as China have a great penalty corner routine. We would have liked to have scored more, but the important thing was to score a goal and not let that lead go."

"We have some new young players who have learnt a lot in this event. It is really important to use events like this in preparation for Rio with these young players."

SCHEDULE (Sunday 13 December 2015)

All times local

3rd/4th Play-off: China v Germany (16:30)
Final: Argentina v New Zealand (19:00)

FIH site

Black Sticks storm through to final in Rosario

Photo: Rodrigo Jaramillo

The Black Sticks Women will play for a gold medal at the FIH World League Final after defeating Germany 2-1 in this morning’s semi final.

New Zealand played an outstanding game against a strong German side, who were fresh off their quarter final win over Australia.

First half goals from Kirsten Pearce and Liz Thompson proved crucial for the Kiwis, while goalkeeper Sally Rutherford was superb under immense pressure.

It’s the second time New Zealand have beaten the Germans at the tournament following their 3-1 result in pool play.

The Black Sticks now progress to the final where they will go up against the winner of the Argentina vs China semi final at 11:00am tomorrow, with LIVE coverage on SKY Sport 4.

Black Sticks captain Anita Punt said it was another proud effort from her side who now have the chance to win the title.

“It’s an awesome feeling. It was a really hard battle out there but to hold on and come away with the win is amazing for New Zealand,” she said.

“They came out hard, especially in the second half, but credit to our defence we held them out well and never gave up.”

Germany were hot on attack in the opening stages but the Kiwis looked equally composed in defence.

The Black Sticks were first to light up the scoreboard when Gemma Flynn intercepted a terrible back pass and flicked over the sliding goalkeeper for Kirsten Pearce to slam home into an open goal.

New Zealand kept creating chances throughout the first half and extended the lead five minutes out from halftime with Liz Thompson sending a penalty corner flick into the bottom corner.

Germany responded after the break with Eileen Hoffmann tapping in the deflection from a penalty corner save by Sally Rutherford.

The Black Sticks were tested in defence in the fourth quarter but refused to relent. Germany won a penalty corner with just 12 seconds on the clock but couldn’t force the equaliser.

BLACK STICKS 2: (Kirsten Pearce, Liz Thompson)
GERMANY 1: (Eileen Hoffmann)
Halftime: New Zealand 2-0

Hockey New Zealand Media release

Black Sticks women beat Germany to advance to gold medal match at World League Final

New Zealand defender Liz Thompson celebrates scoring the second goal in the semifinal win over Germany in Argentina. GETTY IMAGES

The Black Sticks have beaten Germany 2-1 to advance to the title decider at the World League Final.

Only hosts Argentina stand in the way of the Black Sticks women returning from the World League Final with the gold medal they went to get.

After a series of almosts at major tournaments in recent years, including fourth at the 2012 London Olympics, fifth at the 2014 World Cup and third at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, New Zealand coach Mark Hager emphatically stated before departing that only the top prize in Rosario would leave his team completely satisfied.

"[We want a] gold medal and nothing less," he said when the team was named on November 12.

"We have to start putting our hand up and saying this is the mountain we want to climb. Until now I think we've been a little bit happy with climbing it halfway, getting a third, fourth or fifth.

"We don't accept that and it's time to make those changes."

It appears the fourth-ranked Kiwis have made significant progress with that shift in mindset, showing cool heads under pressure for the second successive match to beat Germany 2-1 on Sunday morning (NZ time) and advance to the tournament decider in Argentina at 11am on Monday.

The world No 4 hosts team edged China 1-0 in the second semifinal.

The Black Sticks held a 2-0 lead at halftime in their semifinal, before Germany pulled a goal back early in the third quarter and came storming back into the match. But New Zealand were able to weather the storm and even kept out a potentially match-levelling German penalty corner with just 12 seconds on the clock.

All this came two days after Great Britain, the team that beat the Kiwis in the bronze medal match at the London Olympics, levelled their quarterfinal with just four minutes to play only for Black Sticks striker Olivia Merry to reply with the match winner as the clock showed just 90 seconds left.

Behind the Olympics and World Cup, the World League Final is arguably the world's third biggest hockey tournament and the delight of reaching the gold medal match was written all over the face of New Zealand captain Anita Punt after the semifinal triumph.

"It's an awesome feeling. It was a really hard battle out there but to hold on and come away with the win is amazing for New Zealand," she said.

"They came out hard, especially in the second half, but credit to our defence we held them out well and never gave up."

While Germany started strongly, that was wasted when they made a horrendous mistake in front of their own goal to gift the Kiwis the lead.

Veteran defender Janne Muller-Wieland's cross-field pass was gleefully accepted by Gemma Flynn, who skilfully flicked over German keeper Yvonne Frank for fellow New Zealand striker Kirsten Pearce to slam home from close range.

The Black Sticks should have made it 2-0 moments later, but Charlotte Harrison's decision to try and deflect Flynn's goal-bound reverse stick strike in at the far post saw the ball deflect wide of the open net.

Eventually, after sustained pressure to start the second quarter, they were able to double their lead when defender Liz Thompson came forward for a penalty corner and flicked low past Frank.

Another Kiwi chance went begging for Flynn and Punt's penalty corner flick was well saved before halftime, but it was Germany who jumped out of the blocks in the third stanza and soon had one back.

An initial shot from a penalty corner was stopped by Rutherford, allowing Eileen Hoffmann to flick in off her reverse side from two metres.

The match was almost back on level terms when Germany blazed a great chance over the bar just a minute later, but the Kiwis were able to survive the onslaught

Germany pulled Frank from her goal with five minutes remaining in a last ditch attempt to force a shootout.

It offered them one last chance, but the late drama could not prevent a Black Sticks victory.

New Zealand 2 (Kirsten Pearce 9, Liz Thompson 25 (PC)) Germany 1 (Eileen Hoffmann 36 (PC)). Q1: 1-0. Q2: 2-0. Q3: 2-1.


Hockeyroos settle for sixth

Australia go down 1-0 to Netherlands in 5th/6th playoff

The Hockeyroos have had to settle for sixth place at the World League in Rosario after going down 1-0 to the number one ranked team in the world the Netherlands Sunday morning.

Pleased with the Hockeyroos’ performance against a strong Dutch side, Head Coach Adam Commens believed the girls created good opportunities in what he thought was a fairly even contest.

“This was one of our best performances of the tournament. We really created a lot of chances against the Dutch, it was probably the best we have played against them and we were unlucky to not get a result, however, I’m really happy with our performance all round.

“There are certainly some details that we need to work on in terms of capitalising on the opportunities that we create, but ultimately what we’re doing for 90% out on the pitch we have made big steps forward. We have exposed a number of new players throughout this year and what we saw today was that our players are well and truly up to this level.”

Speaking about the public announcement of the Hockeyroos’ Olympic training squad later this month, Commens added, “We now have a much better idea about the players that we would like to have in that squad. It’s important that we create an environment that is highly competitive, which we now have with 27 players that are all capable of playing high level international hockey. I will be really satisfied with the group that we announce in less than a week.”

The Hockeyroos managed to create themselves some valuable opportunities in the first half against the Netherlands, however, it was ultimately their execution in the circle that failed them against a world class defence. 

It wasn’t until the 42nd minute mark that the Netherlands broke through the Hockeyroos’ defence. Picking up a diving save outside the circle from captain Madonna Blyth, Eva de Goede worked her way forward taking on Brooke Peris and Karri McMahon, however, was quickly denied by Australia’s goalkeeper Rachael Lynch. On the rebound, Lidewij Welten fired an unstoppable strike to the right post and successfully hit target, breaking the deadlock 1-0.

Bad weather in Rosario caused the fifth place playoff to be delayed 11 minutes before the final siren, as dangerous lightning settled in above the Estadio Mundialista de hockey stadium.

Heading back onto the field after the delay, Victorian goalkeeper Rachael Lynch was put under pressure by the Netherlands’ forwards, however, she responded well with a double save to ensure the opponents didn’t extend the lead.

Receiving their second penalty corner opportunity in the 54th minute, Australian youngster Georgina Morgan’s low and hard drag flick to the bottom corner was rejected by Joyce Somebroek’s diving save.
Unable to create a final opportunity in the dying minutes of the match, Australia was forced to settle for sixth place, with the Netherlands running out 1-0 victors.

After a busy and successful year of international tournaments, the Hockeyroos will now take a well-deserved break before returning to the squad in Perth in early January to commence training for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games.
Lidewij Welten 42 (FG)                                                       
Classification 7th/8th: Germany 5-1 Korea
Classification 5th/6th: Netherlands 1-0 Australia
SF1: Germany v New Zealand (To be confirmed following the conclusion of the semi-final)
SF2: Argentina v China (To be confirmed following the conclusion of the semi-final)                                     
Hockeyroos' squad v Netherlands
Madonna Blyth (Brisbane, QLD) 315/68
Jane Claxton (Adelaide, SA) 77/6
Kirstin Dwyer (Mackay, QLD) 89/8
Jodie Kenny (Wamuran, QLD) 153/92
Rachael Lynch (Warrandyte, VIC) 134/0
Karri McMahon (Berri, SA) 84/8
Georgina Morgan (Armidale, NSW) 20/2
Georgia Nanscawen (Melbourne, VIC) 167/33
Kathryn Slattery (South Stirling, WA) 32/9
Emily Smith (Crookwell, NSW) 134/56
Mariah Williams (Parkes, NSW) 28/4                                                                                                   

Used Substitute
Edwina Bone (Evatt, ACT) 88/2
Madison Fitzpatrick (Cabarita Beach, NSW) [QAS athlete] 10/3
Gabrielle Nance (Kingscliff, NSW) [SASI athlete] 15/1
Ashleigh Nelson (Wagin, WA) 190/66
Brooke Peris (Darwin, NT) 69/12
Renee Taylor (Everton Park, QLD) /0
Ashlee Wells (Moe, VIC) 62/0    

Hockey Australia media release

Great Britain end World League campaign with 5-1 win

Great Britain put in a stylish performance to seal a 5-1 win and take seventh place after mixed results at the Hockey World League Final in Rosario, Argentina.

The first quarter of this 7/8th place match between Great Britain and Korea was a battle for dominance in the centre of the pitch. Both teams were guilty of crowding the middle of the pitch and failing to challenge either circle. There was a lot of passing around, but little penetration into the opposition's circle for much of the first seven minutes of play.

The deadlock was broken by Nicola White (9'), whose run into the circle was unimpeded. Almost unable to believe her luck, the player smashed the ball deep into the far corner, past Korea 'keeper Jang Soo Ji. Great Britain had no time to rest on their laurels as the ever-dangerous Korea attack countered and Park MiHyun was left with only Kirsty Mackay in the Great Britain goal to beat. Mackay came out to reduce the angle and Park shot wide.

Helen Richardson-Walsh, who was enjoying a busy time in midfield, made a mazy cross pitch run, only for the Korea defence to cut out all passing options.

The second quarter began with the energetic Susannah Townsend running at the Korea defence. Laura Unsworth, who has enjoyed a steady tournament, was on hand to feed the ball in from the resulting long corner and Great Britain set up temporary camp around the Korea circle.

Kate Richardson-Walsh and Emily Maguire provided the cover, and any attempt by Korea to break out during this period of dominant play by Great Britain was cut out by the two experienced defenders.

As Korea finally managed a break-out, an uncompromising tackle by Crista Cullen put a halt to the speedy running of Cheon Eun Bi. The Korea forward picked up a fantastically placed ball from Lee Young Sil and was on route to Mackay's goal when Cullen stepped in with a risky, but ultimately successful tackle.

Great Britain's first penalty corner was won by some good build-up play from Alex Danson and Hannah MacLeod, but the ensuing corner was a disappointment. The ball was injected slowly and Hollie Webb undercut the ball and shot wide.

A second penalty corner was equally poorly executed. Kate Richardson-Walsh's shot was blocked and the slack clearance from Korea was not capitalised upon by the Great Britain forwards. Ellie Watton found some space seconds later, but her shot was well saved by Jang.

It was Watton (29') who doubled Great Britain's lead seconds later. She was in the right position as Alex Danson danced her way through the Korea defence. Danson slipped the ball across the face of the goal for Watton to shoot sharply home.

Great Britain got off to a fantastic start in the second half as Hannah MacLeod (33') got a touch to a shot from Danson. This seemed to energise the whole team and the sixth-ranked team won a series of penalty corners. The lack of clinical finishing in these situations is something that must cause some concern as the first four penalty corners yielded no shots on goal.

Han Hye Lyoung sparked a Korea attack, which alleviated the pressure on their goal, but found Unsworth in fine form as she took the ball neatly from the Korea captain's stick. A second wave of attack by the Asian champions was equally effectively dealt with as Crista Cullen stepped up to take the ball from Cho Hye Jin.

A fifth penalty corner nearly yielded results as Crista Cullen flicked high. Jang saved, and was then nimble enough to make two subsequent saves as the Great Britain forwards tried to put the ball away. There was finally success from a penalty corner in the 48th minute of the game. The ball was slipped to Nicola White who made no mistake as she put away her second goal and extended Great Britain's lead to four.

It was a case of Jang versus the Great Britain forwards for the next three minutes as the Great Britain team won a series of penalty corners only to see the acrobatic 'keeper make save after save.

The final five minutes saw Great Britain continue to flow forwards. From his vantage in the stand, head coach Danny Kerry exhorted his players forwards. The pressure paid off as Ellie Watton won a penalty stroke. Helen Richardson-Walsh made no mistake in slotting the ball home for her third goal of the competition.

Korea came back into the game with a consolation goal when Han Hye Lyoung put away a penalty corner.

Head Coach Danny Kerry:

"The tournament as a whole has been a good experience. The critical game was the China game where we created lots of chances but the ball wouldn't go in. Against New Zealand,the first half was really disappointing and as a result we find ourselves playing for 7/8th place.

"There were other interesting results. Australia and Netherlands in the bottom half too, is interesting.

"We have built some good understandings among the younger players and I am very pleased with the way we played against Korea. They play in a certain way and we negated that.

"Crista [Cullen] is coming back and we wanted to protect her a little from getting injured but she will get a lot of time now. We had 10 penalty corners today, another day the scoreline would be different.

"The players now get three weeks off. Then we will have a lot of meetings and some good matches through the January, February, March period. Then there will be some refining."

Crista Cullen:

"Set pieces are something you just have to believe will come. I am increasingly getting myself into situations where I have the opportunity to score. I am not getting frustrated, I am just keeping my cool.

"We must now go back and review and understand what happened. There was a culmination of errors as to why we didn't get a semi-final spot. We need to be hard on ourselves and learn from the mistakes. Come Rio we must be on the right end of the scoreline."

Great Britain 5 (2)
Nicola White 9 (FG), 48 (PC)
Ellie Watton 29 (FG)
Hannah Macleod 33 (FG)
Helen Richardson-Walsh 58 (PS)

Korea 1 (0)
Hye Lyoung Han 58 (PC)

Great Britain Hockey media release

Kiwis down champs

Pravin Narain

THE New Zealand President's women thumped defending champions Australia Country 6-1 to win the Tai trophy in the final of the Fiji Hockey Invitational Series 2015 at the National Hockey Centre in Suva yesterday.

Tinesha Caney and Hannah Mowat scored two goals each while Vanessa Martelli and Lynda Coldicutt got a goal each.

New Zealand President's midfielder Aleesha Nana said they were happy with the win.

"It was a stunning win for us and we lost to Aussies twice last week but we came back to win.

"We had a game plan in place which we followed.

"It was a decent win for the girls after hard work throughout the week."

She said the team planned to return to compete in the annual event.

"Our game plan was to make sure there was ball movement and people got tired.

"We also made sure we had a passing game and used our transfers," the 27-year-old said.

"It is my second time here and we had another great week with the awesome weather of Fiji.

"We had few functions here at the resort and met the locals as well.

"Coming back here next year is absolutely on the card."

The Fiji Times

Aussie men's win

Pravin Narain

Nathan Mitchell of New Zealand President's men's team tries to hit the ball against Australia Country in the men's final of the Fiji Hockey 2015 Invitational Series at the National Hockey Centre at Laucala Bay, Suva yesterday. Picture: ATU RASEA

THE Australia Country men's team came from behind to beat New Zealand Presidents 3-2 in the final of the Fiji Invitational Series 2015 at the National Hockey Centre in Suva yesterday.

New Zealand led 2-0 at half time with goals from Jan Patterson and Gerard Scott.

Australia came with a different game plan and opted to play attacking hockey in the second half and as a result won the game.

Australia's Jay Paritt pulled one back early into the second half and then Ed Hamill levelled the scored from a penalty.

Hardworking Kieran Symons scored the winning goal.

Australia coach Jai Singh said he was happy with his side's never say die attitude.

"It was a fantastic game of hockey. I'm so proud of the boys as they played a very good game," he said.

"We were two-nil down and we needed heart to make a come back. The Aussie spirit never dies.

"I have been with this particular team for the past four years and it is a young team. I am looking forward to bringing this team again next year. Fiji has looked after us well and I enjoyed Fiji culture very much."

New Zealand coach Brad Jensen said they loved their stay in the country.

"We ruled the first half of the game and probably we lost in the second," he said.

"We have been here from last year and we loved our stay at the Uprising Resort."

The Australia Country teams return home on Tuesday.

The Fiji Times

Telkom Orange tackle Ghana Police in opener


From left: Telkom Orange players Ruth Njoki, Flavian Mutiva and Lilian Aura leave the pitch after their national women's league match against Kenyatta University on May 23, 2015. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU |   NATION MEDIA GROUP

Defending champions Telkom Orange launch their Africa Club Hockey Championship title defence Sunday morning against Ghana Police in Lusaka as the competition enters its second day.

It will be the first meeting between the two sides in the Pool A encounter which also has home side Lusaka Sharks.

Orange, who are the only Kenyan club at the annual event, will fancy their chances of claiming an opening win as they bid to win the title a record eighth time.

The Kenyan champions left the country Wednesday afternoon and arrived in Lusaka on the evening of the same day.

The 18 players trained at the Olympic Development Centre, venue for the event, on Thursday and Friday with only Kenyan captain Tracy Karanja missing from the squad.

Karanja, who remained in the country due to educational commitments, is due to join the squad tomorrow evening. Orange coach Jos Openda has urged his charges to make a statement as they seek to win their fourth straight title.

“We are the defending champions and therefore everyone will be looking at us. We therefore need to show that we are here to play well and win the title,” Openda told Sunday Nation Sport on phone from Lusaka.

“We know nothing about our opponents and that makes it a very tricky encounter but the players have prepared well for this event and we will give our all.”

Openda could hand debuts to newcomers Maureen Okumu and Georgina Lumumba in the match while it remains to be seen who will start in goal between Kenya’s first choice keeper Ruth Njoki and former club number one Josephine Ataro who was recalled from retirement.

On-form veteran striker Jackline Jow is likely to start in attack supported by internationals Lilian Aura and Audrey Omaido.


In other matches Sunday, men’s champions Sharkia of Egypt take on Hippo of Zimbabwe while Lusaka Sharks take on Ghana Trustees.

The event has attracted seven men’s and women’s teams with the top two teams in both categories advancing to the semis with the final set to be played on Saturday.

Locally, last season’s women national league runners up Strathmore University Scorpions thrashed Kenyatta University 3-1 in a women’s national league encounter at the City Park Stadium on Saturday.

Two goals from Kenya International Yvonne Karanja and another from Judy Odhiambo gave Scorpions the victory over their rivals in the university derby. Prudence Wasilwa had levelled for Titans in the first half.

The match, which had originally been scheduled for last Saturday but was called off due to lack of water, began at 1pm three hours behind schedule due the same issue.


Women: Orange v Ghana Police (9.15am)
Men: Sharkia v Hippo (11.30am), Lusaka Sharks v Trustees (4pm)

Daily Nation

Orange Telkom battle Ghana Police in opener

By Elizabeth Mburugu

Hockey Vaisakhi finals Orange Telkom ladies celebrate after winning Vaisakhi Tournament 2015 at City Park. ON 27/04/15 PHOTO: JENIPHER WACHIE

Africa hockey queens Orange Telkom face an acid test today as they begin their continental title defence against Ghanaian champions Ghana Police in their opening match at the Olympic Youth Stadium in Lusaka, Zambia.

The reigning Africa Cup of Club Championships (ACCC) title holders Orange are in pool A with the Ghana law enforcers and home girls Lusaka Sharks.

Orange will leave nothing to chance as they seek to defend their crown and win an eighth continental title. In an earlier interview with FeverPitch, Orange head coach Jos Openda said his charges will go for nothing less than the trophy.

“We will be on a title retention mission and will not rest until we have the trophy safely with us. I believe that we are the best hockey club on the continent and we will be out to prove that again,” he said.

Openda pointed out the Ghanaian clubs pose a major threat to their title ambitions, but concluded that his players were equal to the task ahead and will return the diadem home.

The clubs will be meeting for the first time, but some of the players will be familiar with one another having met while on national team duty.

Openda is expected to field his best in this tie with national team players, led by the ever green midfielder Audrey Omaido, Betsy Ommalla, Terry Juma, Tracy Karanja, Caroline Guchu, Glennis Namasake, Flavian Mutiva and goalkeeper Ruth Njoki.

Former number one goalkeeper Josephine Ataro, who returned from retirement, will compete with Njoki for a place in the goal.

Orange players who took part in the continental Olympic qualifiers that were held in South Africa will not be familiar with Police players as the Ghana Police also field their best. Nafisatu Umaru, who was named the most valuable player at the South Africa showpiece, will be out to prove that she indeed deserved the award.

Others will be Serwaa Boakye, Abigail Boye, Linda Sasu, Cecilia Amoako and Martha Safoaa who all turned out for the silver medal winning Ghanaian national team.

The Standard Online

Canterbury and Reading unbeaten

Canterbury celebrate reaching Hockey 5s final

Canterbury and Reading both have 100 per cent records after day one of the Men’s Super Sixes Indoor Championships at Arena Leisure Village in Kettering on Saturday.

Last season’s beaten finalists, Canterbury top the table on goal difference after beating Beeston 7-1 and Wimbledon 7-6.

Harry Jawanda, Liam Foster and Craig Boyne all scored twice in their win over Beeston, with Ross Gilham-Jones also scoring.

Then in their dramatic 7-6 win over Wimbledon in the day’s final match, Gilham-Jones and Jawanda both bagged another two, Kwan Browne added a brace and Wei Adams also scored.

Reading notched up a 6-5 win over Loughborough in their opening match, before winning 7-5 over Bowdon later in the day.

Loughborough looked to have victory sewn up, but two goals in the final minute from Andy Watts saw Reading snatch victory. Captain Chris Newman had also scored twice in that win, while Peter Kelly and Tom Carson also scored.

Kelly scored a hat-trick in Reading’s win over Bowdon, while other goals came from Watts, Carson, Ben Boon and Jack Smart.

East Grinstead lie third after beating Wimbledon 7-4, then fighting out a dramatic 6-6 draw with Sevenoaks.

Holcombe were beaten 4-6 by Sevenoaks, but then bounced back to beat Loughborough 9-5, while Bowdon began the day well with a 3-0 win over Beeston before their loss to Reading.

* For goalscorers and full competition details, including live updates click here - https://englandhockey.altiusrt.com/competitions/9

England Hockey Board Media release

East Grinstead unbeaten in Women's Super 6s

Tina Cullen celebrates scoring in Hockey 5s final 2015

Last season’s runners-up East Grinstead made a great start to their campaign in the Women’s Super Sixes Indoor Championship at the Phoenix Sport and Leisure Centre in Telford, beating Slough and Surbiton on Saturday.

Goals from Zoe Burrell, Ruth Gordon and captain Joanna Davis gave EG their win over Slough, while against Surbiton Emma Lee-Smith hit a hat-trick, Malou Pheninckx scored twice and Gordon and Davis got on the scoresheet again.

Canterbury are the only other unbeaten team following wins over Sutton Coldfield and Slough. In the last match of the day at Telford, they won 6-1 against Slough with goals coming from Sarah Kerly (2), Anna Kolarova (2), Lizzie Neal and Anna Baker.

Meanwhile, reigning champions Bowdon Hightown suffered a set-back on day one, losing to the University of Birmingham in a 6-5 thriller in the second match of the day. They went on to beat Reading 4-2, but that defeat will be a big dent to their hopes of successfully defending the title.

Goals from Georgie Blackwood and Emma Scriven gave Reading a 2-0 lead over Bowdon at half time, but last year’s champs hit back to win with Tina Cullen scoring two and others from Sally Walton and Michelle Liptrot.

Earlier in the day, Reading had won three-nil over Surbiton with goals from Blackwood, Ellie Cockburn and Rebecca Van Berkel, while Sutton Coldfield edged to a 3-2 win over Leicester before a narrow 2-1 loss to Canterbury.

Leicester have also won one and lost one, as they bounced back from their opening loss to beat the University of Birmingham 2-0 on Saturday afternoon.

Top scorer at the end of day one is the University of Birmingham’s Erica Sanders, who scored five goals, while Bowdon’s Sally Walton and Tina Cullen are second and third in the table with four and three respectively.

* For goalscorers and full competition details, including live updates click here - https://englandhockey.altiusrt.com/competitions/8

England Hockey Board Media release

Faizal and Syamim to wait a little longer for verdict

by S. Ramaguru

Malaysia's Faizal Saari (in yellow) in action against Belgium at the Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Belgium in June.

KUALA LUMPUR: National hockey players Faizal Saari and Mohd Syamim Yusof will have to wait a little longer to know their fate after attending a two-hour disciplinary hearing at the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) office in Bukit Jalil.

The two were hauled up for failing to attend national training.

The five-man board have already completed their investigations, but their decision will only be announced after it is endorsed by the executive board.

“The decision will be announced in due time. It is basically a suspension, ban or a warning. That is what the rules allow for,” said MHC chief executive officer K. Logan Raj.

“The meeting went well and both players explained their situation and presented their side of the story. The executive board meeting is tentatively set for Dec 19.

“For now, the two players have been dropped from the national team ... any recall will depend on the decision by the board and the national team management.”

The disciplinary board comprised chairman SAC Datuk Mohd Adnan Abdullah, Datuk Arthur Edmonds, Datuk G. Vijiyanathan, Awtar Singh Grewal and former international R. Shankar.

Faizal and Syamin just want to put the disciplinary case against them to rest and move on.

Both players attended the disciplinary board hearing to give their side of the story.

Syamin attended two days of training before leaving camp while Faizal did not turn up at all for the sessions, which started in early October.

Syamin said it was all “a misunderstanding”.

“It had nothing to do with me not wanting to play. I was injured and could not give my best in training. Perhaps, there was some misunderstanding ... and the reason got lost in the process,” he explained.

“I’m still not fit and the ankle injury still bugs me. Although I played in the recent Razak Cup, I was only half fit.”

Faizal, who was accompanied by his Terengganu team manager Roshali Taha, also prefers not to dwell on the disciplinary case.

Roshali said that Faizal had given his explanation to the board and will not comment on the matter for now.

“It’s only proper that we wait for the board’s decision and then take it from there,” he said.

“Faizal is sad that the matter has come to this. He is a talented player and wants to play for his country. It was just that he had certain things happening at that time. I’m sure he will want to represent the country if he is recalled. Let’s wait for the decision.”

Syamin also indicated that he will answer future call-ups.

“I actually have no problem with that (call-up). But we need to wait and see what happens next. I’m sure the injury will heal soon and I will be able to give my best then,” he said.

Syamin and Faizal were members of the Project 2013 team who finished fourth in the Junior World Cup.

The Star of Malaysia

Run a league if you want funding, state hockey told

by S. Ramaguru

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) have warned their affiliates that those not willing to organise a state league will not be given funding.

The MHC had announced on Thursday that for a start each affiliate would be given RM50,000 to run a league programme.

This is in line with MHC’s development plan and part of the process of revamping their domestic competitions.

MHC chief executive officer K. Logan Raj said that there are conditions attached to the grant given to the states.

“The most basic is that there must be a league competition. Not any short-term league,” he said.

“We are aware that quite a number of states do not have a league and would need help with organising one. We will provide help ... including in drawing up the format for the league.

Logan said that the MHC competitions committee, chaired by deputy president George Koshy, are drawing up the criteria for the state league and will provide the affiliates with a template to follow.

“By the end of the month we will provide the affiliates with a handbook that spells out their duties and also what is expected from them,” he explained.

“We will monitor the league to see how the funding is being used and help to ensure that they do not spend the money on unnecessary things.

“States can seek help from us. They don’t need to just depend on the grant given, but also seek their own sponsors to make the league viable ... and, if possible, profitable.”

The MHC also providing each state with RM10,000 for administrative purposes.

Logan said that two other affiliates – Police and Armed Forces – will also be eligible for the grant although they’re not able to organise a state league.

“There are in a different position. Each of them have competitions of their own ... like Police have the IGP Cup. So, we will look at these tournaments and see how they can be enhanced and streamlined with our objectives.

“They will get the grant. There is no issue. We will discuss with them and offer our help,” he said.

The Star of Malaysia

Bombay Gold Cup: Quarterfinal on Sunday

s2h Team

Rich fare await Mumbaikars as the city's own All India event, Mumbai Gold Cup, will witness four exciting quarterfinals on Sunday.

In the morning, Indian Oil will engage Indian Navy followed by Western Railway - South Central Railway quarters in the noon. Local outfit Central Railway will take on emerging CAG in the next. The day will conclude with Air India - BPCL encounter. The BPCL today lost to CR today

Inspired Central Railway down BPCL 4-3

Mumbai, December 12: Central Railway humbled defending champions Bharat Petroleum 4-3 in an absorbing and thrilling Pool-A match of the Dabang Mumbai – 50th All India Bombay Gold Cup hockey tournament, at the MHAL-Mahindra Stadium on Saturday afternoon. The scores were level at 3-all at the end of the first session.

Central Railway got off to a rousing start with Yuvraj Walmiki drawing first blood in the very second minute. The mercurial forward trapped Victo Singh’s forward pass before beating goalkeeper Swinder Singh with a rasping drive from the right of the circle. Eight minutes later he did well to deflect home Harmeet Singh powerful centre from the left and two minutes later Devendra Walmiki added the third from a penalty corner. Victo’s push in was stopped by Harmeet and Devendra sidestepped the onrushing defender and unleashed a crisp angular reverse hit which whizzed past goalkeeper Swinder into the goal.

However, Central muffed up some sitters. BPCL regrouped after those early setbacks to launch a series of attacks and managed to open their scoring when Gurpreet Singh struck from a contentious penalty corner awarded by umpire Vijay Singh in the 25th minute. The railwaymen had protested about the umpire’s decision but he was unmoved.

Later international S.V. Sunil made some darting runs down the flanks and with support from his teammates scored two quick goals to help BPCL restore parity. In the 32nd minute he scored after receiving a short pass from left outer Somanna Pradhan and in the next minute cut into the circle on his own and beat Central goalkeeper Avadhut Solankar with a snap hit.

After switching ends, BPCL mounted pressure on the Central citadel, but found it difficult to break through the rival defence who put up a good showing before regaining the lead from a swift counter. Victo worked in tandem with Devendra to open up the rival defence before hitting the target with a fierce shot. A couple of minutes later Devendra set up Affan Yusuf and he sounded the borads but the goal was disallowed as umpire Vijay pulled him for an infringement.

In the remaining period Central continued to defend well and managed to hand on dearly to their lead to troop out worthy winners.

Both Central and BPCL were already through the quarter-finals. Central who topped the pool will meet CAG and BPCL will run into Air India in Sunday’s quarter-finals.

Later in the evening, South Central Railway, Secundrabad bounced back strongly after Thursday’s 1-7 drubbing they received at the hands of Indian Oil, to record an authoritative 6-0 win against Mumbai Customs in the final Pool-D league match. The win ensured South Central finished second behind Indian Oil and a place in the last eight. Customs, who had lost 4-8 to Indian Oil, only required a draw to qualify for the quarter-finals.

South Central scored their goals through Gurbhej Singh(10th min), Atul (22nd min), Sadeep Singh (25th min) Poonacha M.G. (38th min), Mayank James (39th min) and Ayappa (65th min).

Results: Pool A: Central Railway 4 (Yuvraj Walmiki 2nd, 10th, Devendra Walmiki 12th, Victo Singh 53rd) beat BPCL 3 (Gurpreet Singh 25th, S.V. Sunil 32nd, 33rd).

Pool D: South Central Railway 6 (Gurbhej Singh10th, Atul 22nd, Sadeep Singh 25th, Poonacha M.G. 38th, Mayank James 39th, Ayappa 65) beat Mumbai Customs 0.

Sunday’s quarter-final schedule

8.30 am: Indian Oil Vs Indian Navy
2.00 pm: Western Railway Vs South Central Railway
4.00 pm: Central Railway Vs CAG
6.00 pm: Air India Vs BPCL


Media Watch: Nehru Society confers Lifetime Achievement Award to Patrick Rowley

K Arumugam

Veteran journalist Patrick Rowley, who is on a sojourn in India en route personal Oceania trip, got a pleasant surprise when famed Nehru Tournament Hockey Society -- started in 1964, and is organizing a chain of six tournaments every year -- honoured him with the ‘Life Time Achievement Award’, here on Thursday.

Patrick, known as Pat to hockey world, is a former editor of ‘World Hockey’, now defunct mouthpiece of FIH, the world hockey body.

“I know Pat when I played European Hockey League in the 80s”, recollected Kukoo Walia, Secretary General of the Nehru Society.

“My Club from Czeck played in the EHL. He noticed me and wrote my scoring. Pat has contributed immensely to the sport of hockey over a long period of time with his pen, and happy to see him still writing and thinking about hockey”, he said in the simple but impressive ceremony held at the Russian Cultural Centre.

While accepting the scroll, Pat reminisced his hockey career: “My visit to Bombay in the 70s as manager of the Europe Continental team is as equally exciting as I was stopped at the Pak-Af border. I was with Rane Frank, then FIH president, and PHF president then. The reason they told was something pertaining to my professional career, but what I remember is al the three dignitaries with me refused to step into Af border without me”.

"Nowadays I am actively involved in hockey museum", he added.

He also recollected how as a boy he witnessed the 1948 Olympics from ‘top stands’.

On the occasion, Nehru Society made a power point presentation on its annual achievements.

Rajeev Mehta, Secretary General of Indian Olympic Association was also present on the occasion.

Pat, the prolific writer, also compiled a classic ‘The Book of Hockey'.

Its worth mentioning that the visiting journalist penned a signature column for this site during the Athens Olympics.


Green Machine + Craig Fulton Nominated For RTE Sports Awards

Hockey Ireland is delighted to announce that both the Green Machine and coach Craig Fulton have been nominated for awards at the prestigious RTE Sports Awards. The Green Machine are nominated for RTE Sport Team of the Year while Fulton picks up a much deserved nomination for RTE Sport Manager of the Year!

The winners will be revealed and presented with their awards at The RTÉ Sport Awards in association with Sport Ireland which will be broadcast live on RTÉ One, Saturday 19 December at 9.40pm.

This year the highly-coveted RTÉ Sport Team of the Year Award will again be open to a public vote. The public will be able to vote for their favourite Irish team of 2015 by phone and text on the night. Voting lines will be open on the night with details announced at the beginning of the programme and on www.rte.ie/sport.

Celebrating the collaborative achievements of Irish athletes, the RTÉ Sport Team of the Year shortlist features: Dublin Football - a clean sweep of honours in 2015. Kilkenny Hurling - claimed back-to-back All Ireland Hurling titles. Cork Camogie - won back-to-back All Ireland Camogie titles. Cork Ladies Football Team - won their 10th Ladies Football Championship in 11 years. Dundalk - won back-to-back SSE Airtricity League titles and sealed the double by winning the FAI Irish Daily Mail Cup. Ireland Men’s Rugby Team - 6 Nations Champions. Ireland Women’s Rugby Team - 6 Nations champions. Ireland Men’s Hockey Team - beat England to win Euro bronze, became the first Irish team to qualify for an Olympic team event since 1948. Ireland Boxing Team - picked up a phenomenal 10 medals in 2015 at the European Games, the European Championships and the World Championships. Northern Ireland Soccer Team - qualified for their first ever European Championship Finals. Republic of Ireland Soccer Team - qualified for Euro 2016 after a play-off win over Bosnia and Herzegovina. Special Olympics Team Ireland - 88 athletes brought home 82 medals, amassing 26 gold, 28 silver and 28 bronze medals. Ireland Women's Cricket Team - won the Women's World T20 Qualifier beating Bangladesh in the final in Bangkok and make up the final nomination.

In recognition of the huge effort behind the scenes and on the sidelines, the RTÉ Sport Manager of the Year award features the following 12 nominees: Brian Cody - managed the Kilkenny Hurlers to an 11th All-Ireland senior title under his charge. Craig Fulton - coached the Ireland National Men's Hockey side to their first Olympics qualification in 108 years. Jim Gavin - managed the Dublin footballers to All-Ireland victory.

Stephen Kenny - his Dundalk side’s retained their SSE Airtricity Premier Division title and added the FAI Irish Daily Mail Cup. Willie Mullins - trained a record eight winners at this year’s Cheltenham Festival. Paudie Murray - led his Cork Camogie side to back-to-back All Ireland Camogie titles. Martin O’Neill - managed the Republic of Ireland to Euro 2016 qualification after beating Bosnia and Herzegovina in the play-offs. Michael O’Neill - under his tutelage Northern Ireland topped their Euro 2016 group and qualified for their first ever European Championship finals.

Eamonn Ryan - the Cork Ladies Football manager guided his side to the ladies senior football championship for the tenth time in eleven seasons. Joe Schmidt - managed the Ireland rugby team to back-to-back 6 Nations championships. Tom Tierney - his Ireland Women’s rugby team clinched a second 6 Nations title in three 3 years. Billy Walsh - the former Head Coach of Irish Boxing whose team won 10 medals this year at the European Games, the European Championships and the World Championships.

Congratulations to Craig and the Green Machine, make sure to tune in and vote for the team on December 19th!

Irish Hockey Association media release

Hockey family deeply saddened by death of Tom Wilson

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) and the entire hockey family are mourning the death of 22 year old hockey player Tom Wilson, who died tragically earlier this week following an injury sustained during a training session with Old Loughtonians Hockey Club in England.

Tom was a key member of the Old Loughtonians Men’s 1st XI team, had come up through the club junior sides and was a very popular young man who was a much admired role model for younger players at the club.

Leandro Negre, FIH President said: “This is very tragic news. It is still hard to believe what happened. We are deeply saddened and our hearts go out to his family, friends and his team mates at this extremely difficult time.”

The well-being of athletes is a number one priority for the FIH and incidents such as this one are almost unprecedented in hockey. The FIH is constantly striving to make the sport as safe as possible.

FIH site

Hockey player died after being hit with stick in freak accident

Tom Wilson, 22, died after receiving a blow to the head
By Lucy Clarke-Billings

Tom Wilson was a trainee surveyor Photo: Facebook

A hockey player died in a "freak accident" playing the sport he loved, his distraught parents revealed.

Graduate Tom Wilson, 22, died after receiving a blow to the head from a stick during a training session for his club Old Loughtonians in Essex on Tuesday evening.

His PE teacher mum Lisa Wilson, 52, and father Graham, 63, chairman of the Hockey Writers' Association and former Daily Express reporter, were at home when they got the call.

They rushed to the hockey club to find their son lying on the pitch as doctors battled to save him.

The trainee surveyor was flown to a central London hospital by air ambulance, but despite the best efforts of medics he passed away a day later.

"We've never heard of a injury that led to such a fatality. It was a blow to the head. It was a tragic accident. He was a fantastic son and I will miss him very much,"
Graham Wilson, Tom's dad, former Daily Express reporter

Following his tragic death his mum and dad have spoken of their pride in their son for selflessly becoming an organ donor while he was at Nottingham Trent University.

Lisa said: "He was a perfect son, brother grandson nephew cousin and wonderful sense of humour.

"And so charming, and couldn't have wished for any better.

"It was a freak accident. We've heard of bad injuries in hockey. We've heard of concussion and things but rarely of fatalities."

Mr Wilson added: "We've never heard of a injury that led to such a fatality.

"It was a blow to the head. It was a tragic accident.

"Hockey was his big passion. He was brought up in hockey. The whole team is distraught about what's happened.

"He was a fantastic son and I will miss him very much. They call hockey the family game and he was part of that family."

Describing the moment they got the call from Tom's team mates, Lisa said: "He was training with the team and at about 9.15pm I got the call he got hit and suffered a head injury.

"Immediately he had a cardiac arrest and the ambulance was called and they worked on Tom for quite some time.

"The boys that were around were fantastic. Someone quickly called 999, but some other team members performed CPR which was vital.

"They may have not been able to save Tom, but they kept his heart alive and since has left to him being able to donate his organs.

"They played a major part in saving somebody else.

"The doctors and all the medical people were superb and they flew him to the Whitechapel hospital.

"But he had suffered a major cerbeal haemorrhage which was inoperable."

Doctors pronounced him brain dead and she added: "We heard the great news that Tom, while he was at University he signed the donor card.

"It took the decision away from us and it was what he would have wanted. It was a very brave decision by Tom to do that.

"We would have considered it, but its and extremely tough call to make.

"We've now heard he could contribute and save over 20 people's lives.

"They found matches for all the major organs and half his liver, we've heard will go to a child.

"Even in death he has made us very very proud, by making that decision. It's the only comfort we can take.

"He was a wonderful boy and life was perfect."

At Nottingham Trent University he studied business and sport management and since graduating last year worked at property developer Lambert Smith Hampton who were helping him do a masters.

He had been on course to become a chartered surveyor by the age of 25.

He had a girlfriend Daisy who he met at university and although he lived in central London with his cousin regularly came back coming to Hornchurch to play hockey for his beloved team.

His mum said: "He was very well liked and had a lot of friends at university, he was very popular and had a great sense of humour.

"He was playing the best hockey of his life for the first team."

He had been playing since the age of nine first for the Havering Hockey club, then at university and finally for the old Old Loughtonians, training twice a week and playing on Saturdays.

Growing up he was sports mad, and was even a sports captain The Coopers' Company and Coborn School, were he got the chance to dance with Olympic gold medallist Denise Lewis at the sport presentation evening.

His sister Philippa, 20, is in her final year at Birmingham university.

Old friends from school and hockey team visited Tom while he was in hospital to see him.

His mum, a PE teacher and deputy headteacher at a nearby school, added: "The whole team is distraught, and I'm very proud they came down to see him.

"Nobody that age should see their friends on a ventilator.

His team have announced they have cancelled all their matches this weekend as a mark of respect, and the family received flowers from England Hockey.

The Telegraph

Olympic Games next for retired Richie McCaw

Herald on Sunday editor Miriyana Alexander gives Richie McCaw a souvenir front page. Photo / Greg Bowker

Richie McCaw is Olympic-bound.

But he won't be making a dramatic return to rugby to help the All Blacks Sevens in their bid to win gold.

The recently retired captain, who played 148 tests for the men in black between 2001 and 15, will be in the grandstands cheering on his partner Gemma Flynn and her Black Sticks hockey team-mates.

"Obviously the Olympics is something I want to watch, with the girlfriend who's going to be playing," McCaw said.

"The Olympics is something that if I was still playing I wouldn't be able to do, but next year I'll head there without the pressure of having to do anything."

Flynn witnessesd some of the biggest milestones in McCaw's career in recent years, including his 100th test and the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup final win against the Wallabies - McCaw's final match of professional rugby.

On Friday night he made an emotional address at the New Zealand Rugby Awards at Auckland's Viaduct Events Centre, and took possession of a framed front-page of the Herald on Sunday's historic 8am World Cup edition.

The souvenir image, showing McCaw surrounded by ecstatic team-mates celebrating their back-to-back triumph at Twickenham, was presented by the paper's editor, Miriyana Alexander.

Although his playing days are over, he stressed he wouldn't be totally lost to the national game.

"I will want to give something back at some point, but what that actually means I don't know yet."

He has already entered April's GODZone 550km adventure race in the Tasman District to raise money for the Cure Kids charity.

The New Zealand Herald

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