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News for 16 December 2015

All the news for Wednesday 16 December 2015

SA women win despite USA comeback


SA's Jess Glass and (from left) Amore de Wet, Jess O'Connor (12) and Megan Robertson celebrate an early goal. LB PHOTOGRAPHY

The Spar SA women’s indoor hockey team started like a house on fire to lead 4-0 in the first quarter but had to take heavy pressure from the USA in the second half before coming away with a 4-3 victory on day one of the Spar Four Nations tournament here last night.

A stunning run by SA captain Celia Evans in the opening moments earned a penalty corner (PC) award and the prolific drag-flick ace Kara Stella stepped up to fire low into the net (1-0).

Evans was creating havoc for the USA defence down the left and a great intercept and pass off the right board by Jess O’Connor ultimately led to another PC and Stella nailed it with unerring accuracy (2-0).

USA captain Hannah Prince working hard to rally her team but Stella threaded the ball through to Jess Glass who put the ball past USA goalkeeper Ainslie Rhoads with deceptive ease for the girls in green and gold to lead 3-0 after just eight minutes.

A minute later and stunning build-up by SA set up another PC and Stella netted her hat-trick, but Rhian Jones equalised superbly to pull one back for the Americans shortly after for the 4-1 half-time scoreline.

The second half belonged more to the USA who signalled they will be no easy touch as the Four Nations goes into Wednesday and Thursday's round-robin matches before Friday morning's playoff medal matches.

Without taking too much away from the impressive USA fightback, it was like chalk and cheese compared to head coach Lennie Botha's team's world-class first quarter of this match.

With two minutes left it was suddenly just one goal in it as the spirited Americans struck twice in succession through a PC and then a penalty stroke by Katie Gerzabek (4-3).

USA replacement keeper Anna Zarkoski made a fine stop from a Kara Stella PC but with seconds left the Americans were awarded a controversial PC, which was overturned after umpires Emily Carroll of Australia and Karine Alves Pereira of France consulted.

Spar SA won this testing clash 4-3 and face a tough match against Australia at 8.15pm Wednesday. The 7pm match will see USA take on Namibia.

Earlier Tuesday, Australia were pushed all the way by underdogs Namibia before coming out 2-1 victors.

A Caitlin Burns deflection goal, put the Aussies in front before Ilanda Botha tipped in the equaliser, but it was Sarah Darling who scored the winner for Australia when she beat brilliant Namibia goalkeeper Petro Stoffberg just before half-time.

SA Hockey Association media release

Great Britain avoid last spot as Reading and Canterbury maintain perfect records

By Mike Haymonds

Helen Richardson-Walsh celebrates scoring against South Korea. GETTY

GREAT BRITAIN women avoided last place with a 5 -1 win over South Korea at the World League Final in Rosario, Argentina.

A brace from Nicola White and strikes by Ellie Watton, Hannah Macleod and Helen Richardson - Walsh ensured GB finished the first stage on the Road  to Rio 2016 on a high following a disappointing campaign.

After a 2-1 defeat by the hosts,  a 1-1 draw with China and a deserved 1-0 victory over World No two Australia in their pool games GB lost 2-1 to eventual losing finalists New Zealand in the quarter-final, leaving them playing for 7th-8th place in the eight-team tournament.

Argentina beat New Zealand 5-1 in the final and Germany took bronze by beating China 6-2.

White, whose goals doubled her previous GB score from  56 appearances,  won her 50th GB cap in the opener against Argentina, while Richardson – Walsh, who reached 100 GB caps also against Argentina, finished as the tournament’s second highest goal scorer with three strikes.

Nicola White celebrates after scoring a twice in the 5-1 win in the World League Finals. GETTY

GB head coach Danny Kerry said: “The tournament as a whole has been a good experience.

"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. On another day the scoreline would be different."

Cullen, who came out of retirement after the London Olympics, chiefly for her corner drag-flicking prowess, said:  "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."

Reading men and Canterbury women were the only teams with 100 per cent records in the Premier divisions, after the first of two weekends of the Super 6s indoor tournament, played in Kettering (men) and, for the first time, Telford (women).

This year the GB centralised training squad members are not playing indoors as the build-up to the Rio Olympics takes priority.

Reading’s games were all close. On Saturday they beat Loughborough Students 6-5 and Bowdon 7-5 followed by wins over Holcombe (5-4) and Beeston (7-5) on Sunday.

GB coach Danny Kerry insists the tournament was a 'good experience'. GETTY

Lying second, also unbeaten but two points behind, are defending champions East Grinstead, who are bidding for an eighth successive title, and beat Wimbledon 7-4 and drew with Sevenoaks 6-6 on Saturday before wins against Canterbury (6-5) and Holcombe (8-4) 24 hours later.

Canterbury, last season’s beaten finalists, and Sevenoaks are one and two points further adrift with fifth-placed Loughborough Students a further four points behind.

Leading scorers are Ed Horler (Loughborough) on 12 goals, Ben Allberry (East Grinstead) 9, and Tim Davenport (Wimbledon) 8.

Canterbury women had a 2-1 win against Sutton Coldfield before beating multi-times national champions Slough 6-1.

On Sunday they continued their winning form, albeit by only one-goal margins, against East Grinstead (3-2) and Leicester (5-4).

Their pursuers, defending champions Bowdon Hightown, East Grinstead, last season’s losing finalists, and University of Birmingham, are all three points adrift with the first two having identical records.

Last season’s losing semi-finalists Slough, in fifth place, are a further five points behind and are likely to need to win all their games on the second weekend next month to clinch a final-four berth for the finals at the Wembley Arena on January 31.

Leading scorers are 2012 Olympian Sally Walton (Bowdon) on 11 goals, Erica Sanders (University of Birmingham) 10 and evergreen 45-year-old Tina Cullen (Bowdon) 9.

Daily Express

Lusaka Sharks 0-2 Telkom Orange: Okumu and Simiyu steer champions into semis


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

Champions Telkom Orange beat hosts Lusaka Sharks 2-0 to reach the semi-finals of the Africa Hockey Club Championship in Lusaka on Tuesday.

Goals either side of the half from debutant Maureen Okumu and former Kenyan international Barbara Simiyu handed the seven-time champions their first win at the event and a place in Thursday's semi-final as they seek to win a record eighth continental crown.

The win at the Olympic Development Centre Stadium also saw Orange move top of Pool ‘A’ with four points from two matches.

Orange drew 3-3 with Ghana Police in their first match on Sunday and will now hope the Ghanaians lose or draw with Sharks so as they finish on top of the pool.

The two sides face off Wednesday afternoon as the competition enters its fifth day in the Zambian capital.

Orange coach Jos Openda lauded his team for advancing to the last four and warned his rivals that they would not relinquish their title.

“We converted the few chances we created and our defence was in top shape today. The players are slowly getting used to the sandy pitch and I think we are in good shape going into the semi-finals,” Openda told Nation Sport on phone from Lusaka.

“Sharks are a good side, very fast and I would not be surprised if they join us in the semi-finals. We are ready for any team at this stage and our goal of retaining the title is very much alive.”

National team captain Tracy Karanja, who missed the first game, replaced Irene Ofula while Ruth Njoki retained her place in goal. The home side were quick off the blocks as Orange struggled to string passes on the sandy pitch.

The 17-time Kenyan champions did eventually settle in the match and took the lead with their first attack of the game when substitute Okumu scored within a minute of coming on with her first touch of the game.

The former Sinyolo Girls player finished off a sweeping move blasting the ball past Sharks keeper Esther Mwale in the 21st minute to score her first club championship goal. The goal gave the champions the impetus to attack further and they threatened with a series of short corners just before the break.

Five minutes after the restart, veteran striker Jackline Mwangi, who had a quiet first half, teed up Simiyu to fire a brilliant field goal that beat Mwale at her near post to double Orange’s lead.

Orange’s defence, marshalled by Terry Juma and captain Betsy Omalla, thwarted all home attacks with Njoki having little to do in the match.

Daily Nation

Ghana’s rep off with good start

Ghana’s representatives at the ongoing hockey Africa Club Championship at the Olympic Development Centre in Lusaka, Zambia, began their campaign in the competition with wins in their matches last weekend.

The ladies’ team of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) were involved in the opening match of the competition against De Stars of Zambia and won the match by 6-0.

Priscilla Forkuo, popularly known among peers as ‘Shaker’, scored four goals while Elizabeth Opoku and Linda Effah Barnie added the remaining two goals.

In their second game against Weatherhead of Uganda, GRA ladies thrashed them by 14-0, with goals coming from Priscilla Forkuo (two), Monica Grant (three), Elizabeth Opoku (six) and Linda Effah Barnie (three).

They will play their next game against Sharkia of Egypt tomorrow.

Police Ladies, who are participating in the competition for the first time, also played against defending champions Telkom Orange from Kenya and managed to get a 3-3 draw.

Police goals were scored by current Africa best player Nafisatu Umaru, together with Linda Effah and Martha Sarfo, also known as ‘Charles Taylor.’

It was the first meeting between the two sides at any level, and Telkom Orange, who are the only Kenyan club at the annual event, were hoping for a win to kick-start their defence for a title record eighth time.

Police will also take on Lusaka Sharks of Zambia tomorrow.

Ghana’s sole men’s team, Trustees from the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) also came up against the Sharks of Zambia and won the match by 3-0.

A goal each from Leslie Barnor, Daniel Bempah and Samuel Afari was enough to give Trustees the three maximum points needed.

The ongoing club championship is expected to end on Saturday, December 19, 2015.

Clubs participating in the men’s category are Wananchi Hockey Club of Uganda, Sharkia of Egypt, Rockets Hockey Club of Uganda, Kenya Police, Hippo Club of Zimbabwe and Lusaka Sharks of Zambia.

The rest are DE Stars of Zambia, Eastern company of Egypt, Trustees Hockey Club of Ghana, Niger Flickers of Nigeria, Kanemi Flickers of Nigeria and Alsabah FC of Libya.

Also, Orange Hockey Club of Kenya, Weatherhead of Uganda, Lusaka Sharks of Zambia, DE Stars of Zambia, Hippo of Zimbabwe, GRA Ladies of Ghana, and Strathmore University of Kenya.


GOLD CUP: BPCL down IOC, set up CAG clash

Rohan Alvares

MUMBAI: Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd.(BPCL) reduced their much-anticipated semifinal duel with Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) to a largely lopsided affair as a 4-2 win saw them storm into the final of the Dabang Mumbai - 50th All India Bombay Gold Cup at the MHAL Mahindra Stadium here on Tuesday.

This was more than just a rematch of last season's final, which BPCL had won in a tense shootout. Contributing to its marquee status was the presence of seven India internationals who featured in the bronze medal winning squad at the recent Hockey World League Final. Teammates only over a week ago in Rai pur, Indian Oil's VR Raghunath, Dharamvir Singh and Kothajit Singh found themselves up against Birender Lakra, Manpreet Singh, SV Sunil and Mohd. Amir Khan whose names stood out from BPCL's lineup.

Throw in a mix of current India probables and former internationals, including Tushar Khandkar, the present Indian team assistant coach, and everything seemed to point to a rousing tie rather than the anticlimax which the audience ended up having to settle for. It was the holders who struck first as Ravi Pal's firm scoop from the left was deflected into the goal off an Indian Oil defender in the 8th minute. IOC drew level three minutes later through skipper Deepak Thakur who prodded home from close on his third attempt.

You wouldn't have hesitated much in handing the edge to IOC in the penalty corner department with the presence of seasoned drag flicker Raghunath and his highly rated younger colleague Gurjinder Singh in their ranks. Yet, even as both were guilty of two misses apiece, it was BPCL's Gurpreet Singh who enhanced his reputation as a short corner specialist on the day, converting the only two opportunities that came his team's way.

IOC's ineffectiveness from the short corner caught both coaches by surprise. "It was a huge disappointment as I expected our penalty corner experts to come good considering their quality," rued IOC coach Ramesh Parmeshwaran who paid tribute to BPCL's polished defensive display. Khandkar, the player-coach of BPCL said: "If a side has two good drag flickers, you would expect them to take advantage of that. But I thought we defended well."

BPCL will meet CAG in Wednesday's final as the latter held their nerve to beat Western Railway 4-2 in a tiebreaker in the second semifinal after leveling the tie at 2-2 with a last-minute penalty corner.

The Times of India

BPCL storms into second consecutive Gold Cup final

Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited remained firmly in control enroute to a 4-2 win over Indian Oil Corporation, booking a final place for the second consecutive year at the 50th Bombay Gold Cup Hockey, sponsored by HIL franchise Dabagn Mumbai. The defending champion won the semifinal on the strength of defensive ability, captain Birender Lakra showing the way. Drag flicker Gurpreet Singh pumped in two goals via the direct route past international custodian Devesh Chauhan. Manpreet Singh struck the fourth.

The defending champion went ahead in the eight minute as Ravi Pal flicked in after a move down the touchline. IOC captain Deepak Thakur's goalmouth instinct fetched his team the equaliser, following up an attempt and slotting the rebound home. Gurpreet converted two out two penalty corners forced by BPCL, powering the ball into the net to take his team head 3-1, Manpreet slotted home the fourth (4-1) before Thakur completed an indirect version of BPCL's fifth penalty corner (4-2).

Comptroller & Auditor General (CAG) sneaked into the maiden Gold Cup final, beating Western Railway in penalties 6-4 (full-time 2-2). Harjit Singh in goal saved one penalty in regulation time and four in tie-breaker, outwitting the forward attempt to score via running penalty. Dharshan S V converted a penalty corner for CAG after the final hooter had gone and was named Man of Match. The champion team will earn Rs 3 lakhs, the losing finalist Rs 1.5 lakhs.

BPCL soaked up pressure as rivals went on a goal hunt and excelled in penalty corner defence, blocking attempts from India drag flickers V Raghunath and Gurjinder Singh. IOC went on the offensive right till the final whistle, Kothajit Singh picking up a clearance and racing into the rival half. Dharambir Singh, Roshan Minz, S K Utthappa. CAG will play in title for the first time, BPCL will be making fourth final appearance (lost to Army XI in 2006, defeated Air India 2007, lost to Army XI in 2008).

Semifinal results: BPCL 4 (Ravipal Singh, Gurpreet Singh 2, Manpreet Singh) bt IOC 2 (Deepak Thakur 2). MoM: Gurpreet Singh; CAG 6 (Dharshan D S, Deepanshu Bhargav 2, Naeemuddin Mohammed, Sarabjit Singh, Nikkin Thimmaiah) bt Western Railway 4 (Stanley Minz, Jai Karan, Vinod Kumar, Manjinder Singh) via penalties (full-time 2-2). MoM: Dharshan D S).

The Hindu

Danson, Hinch and Owsley up for FIH awards - vote now!

Alex Danson against Germany Euros

Three of England and GB's Unibet Eurohockey Championships 2015 gold medallists have been nominated for hockey's international governing body's prestigious annual awards - FIH Hockey Stars 2015.

It's your votes which help decide the winners so cast your votes now and we can collectively get even more recognition for the women's team after an amazing 2015.

Online voting is now open at www.fih.ch/HockeyStars

Alex Danson has been nominated for Player of the Year, Maddie Hinch for Goalkeeper of the Year, and Lily Owsley for Rising Star of the Year. All three have had outstanding years, with Alex Danson winning the Player of the Tournament award at EuroHockey 2015 and Maddie Hinch making the crucial saves which helped England to win their Gold medal. Lily Owsley's influence on the team has grown further in 2015 - she's an exciting talent to watch on the pitch and surely a star of the future.

Overall there are five female and 5 male nominees each for Player of the Year, Goalkeeper of the Year and Rising Star of the Year Awards. These were selected by a panel consisting of the FIH Athletes' Committee, Continental Federation Presidents and FIH media personnel. All awards are based on performance at international events during the 2015 season, as well as the player's overall contribution to the sport.

The nominees for the 2015 Player of the Year Award are:

Alex Danson (GBR)
Delfina Merino (ARG)
Jodie Kenny(AUS)
Lidewij Welten (NED)
Mi-Hyun Park (KOR)

Robert van der Horst (NED)
John-John Dohmen (BEL)
Tobias Hauke (GER)
Chris Ciriello (AUS)
Mark Knowles (AUS)

The nominees for the 2015 Goalkeeper of the Year Award are:

Kristina Reynolds (GER)
Maddie Hinch (GBR)
Joyce Sombroek (NED)
Dongxiao Li (CHN)
Jang Soo Ji (KOR)

David Harte (IRL)
Jaap Stockmann (NED)
David Carter (CAN)
Andrew Charter (AUS)
Nicolas Jacobi (GER)

The nominees for the 2015 Rising Star of the Year Award are: (the Rising Star Award is for players under 23)

Lily Owsley (GBR)
Xan De Waard (NED)
Charlotte Stapenhorst (GER)
Rose Keddell (NZL)
Maria Verschoor (NED)

Christopher Ruhr (GER)
Blake Govers (AUS)
Akashdeep Singh (IND)
Shane O’Donoghue (IRL)
Sukhi Panesar (CAN)

Winners will be decided by the combined results of an online vote that is open to everyone and a peer vote from international athletes. Voting is open until 20 January 2016. Winners will be announced on 26 January 2016. Players will be presented with their awards in their respective home countries during the first quarter of 2016.

Speaking about the Awards, FIH President, Leandro Negre, said: “The ambition of the Hockey Revolution, our ten-year strategy for hockey, is to make it a global game that inspires the next generation. Our international players have a big role to play in making this ambition a reality. Hockey Stars allows the hockey community to celebrate these stars and provide recognition to the very best in international hockey. We invite our fans from around the world to vote on their Hockey Stars!”

Along with these three awards, the FIH will also be awarding a Coach of the Year and an Umpire of the Year Award as part of Hockey Stars 2015. These awards will be decided on by a peer vote and winners will be announced on 26 January as well.

The Umpire of the Year Award is new for 2015. It is also a result of the Hockey Revolution, as the increase in the degree of professionalism throughout hockey is a major goal of the strategy. Recognising the very best in international umpires is in-line with this goal.

The Coach of the Year Award for 2015 will see a slight change. Introduced in 2014, the Award was originally awarded to the best coach of a female or male international team. From now on, the Award will be given to the best female and male coach of an international team. Hockey is a very inclusive sport with equal numbers of male and female players and FIH is committed to ensuring this balance across all areas of the sport.

Online voting is now open at www.fih.ch/HockeyStars

England Hockey Board Media release

Black Sticks give Taranaki kids top tips

Christmas came early for 100 lucky students when they got the chance to be on the turf with three national hockey players at the TET Multisports Centre in Stratford this week.

Black Stick Natasha Fitzsimons as well as National Development players Michaela Curtis and Erin Goad were in Stratford to give coaching advice to Under 11 and Under 18 players. 

The students had an hour on the turf and were given a chance to learn the basics about the game, as well as run through some drills and play games.      

“We learnt all the skills - passing, dribbling - I’m excited to use the drag push in my next game,” said Cian O’Brien, who is in Year 5 at Stratford Primary School. 

Goad said she was impressed with the students’ skills and really enjoyed spending time with them. 

“There are a lot of keen hockey players there – a couple of them were ripping up the field and tearing past me!

“It’s a really vibrant hockey environment in Taranaki which is exciting to see - lots of young players with lots of potential, so hopefully we were able to share our knowledge with them,” said Goad, who plays for North Harbour and has played three tests for the Black Sticks.

Following the on-turf session yesterday, the national players then assisted Hockey New Zealand’s coaching and development manager Brad Jensen in delivering a clinic for 20 Taranaki coaches. 

Taranaki Hockey chief executive Reachelle Beasley said to have some of New Zealand’s best players running the sessions was inspiring for the youngsters and gave them a chance to get up and close to their heroes. 

It’s been a big year for Taranaki Hockey due to a massive 13% increase in registered players for the 2015 winter season. There were 1,386 players that took the turf this year, including 1,012 players under the age of 18.  

“We have seen a lot of growth in the sport over the last twelve months which we believe is a result of the work we have completed in schools the trough our Small Sticks programme and our focus on delivering a quality program.”

The next big event for Taranaki Hockey is Taranaki Lightning 5s which will be held on 11th – 13th March 2016 in Stratford.

Hockey New Zealand Media release

Junior Black Sticks squad named for Aussie tour

Frances Davies, www.photosport.nz

An extended squad has been named for the Junior Black Sticks Women’s tour to Australia in the New Year.

The tour is a development opportunity for young players who are deemed 3-5 years away from National Squad selection.

The squad will play as two teams in games against Australia and Japan Under 19 groups on the Gold Coast from 8-15 January.

Junior Black Sticks Women’s Squad Gold Coast Tour



Josie Ackroyd

North Harbour

Jessie Anderson


Johanna Avery


Millie Calder


Ailsa Connolly


Frances Davies


Ella Hyatt-Brown

North Harbour

Polly Inglis




Hattie Jones

North Harbour



Bridget Kiddle


Kelsey Lewis


Alex Lukin


Amelia Marlow




Clodagh McCullough

North Harbour

Maddi McLean


Neve McLean


Annie McNaughton


Whena Munn


Tegan Muraahi


Siobhan Nuzum


Holly Pearson


Emma Rainey


Kayla Reed

North Harbour

Tori Robinson


Kate Sellar

North Harbour

Charlotte Symes




Casey-Mae Waddell


Tayla White


Madeleine Williamson

North Harbour

Ginny Wilson


Emily Wium


Maddie Wotton


Hockey New Zealand Media release

Husband and wife combination to coach Canterbury Cats

Hanne Davis

Sue and Andy Innes will take on the coaching duties at the Canterbury Cats in 2016. Dean Kozanic/FairfaxNZ

The Canterbury Cats will have a new coaching setup for 2016 with Andy and Sue Innes appointed as co-coaches in an effort to better 2015's third consecutive fourth-place finish in the National Hockey League.

Both have represented Canterbury, Sue was also part of the New Zealand team that competed at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, with Andy also playing for the Black Sticks during his career.

The husband and wife combination will take the helm from Aaron Ford, a step up for Sue who was assistant coach to Ford for the 2015 season. Andy brings a wealth of experience to the table, he was Canterbury' women's coach between 1993 and 1996 and took home a three national titles before he joined the women's Black Sticks for two years.

"I think Sue and I have thought about it a bit, and we feel we have a lot to offer as far as coaching goes for the Canterbury team, so we're really looking forward to it," said Andy.

He said they made a good coaching team, helped by a great understanding of each other and finding agreement in how they liked to play the game.

"Sue's strength in past New Zealand and Canterbury teams, she was as a forward so you always like to coach your strengths,. Whereas I was a full back so more of a defensive player.

"I think in that sense we would follow that pattern and take roles in those areas."


He said the team has done very well, but a big part of their role would be getting the team to perform under pressure, placing emphasis on a strong work ethic across the board.

"It's making sure that when they do get to those big games that they can finish it off really.

"The key thing is you can always get to quarter and semifinals, but then it starts again and you have to make sure you can finish the teams off and have that mental approach and the ability to do that with the skills and environment."

He said the Cats would have a big challenge in 2016 as some senior players look likely to be called up for Black Sticks duty in Rio, but the prospect of developing new talent for the senior team was an exciting one.

"It's always nice to coach those players and pick up on where they can improve and help them," said Innes.

"Being able to still pass on our knowledge of the game and experience, we should able to help with some of the depth we have in Canterbury.

"Really that was it, with Sue as assistant coach last year she was keen to take it further, hence the combination really. She felt she was able to work with me rather than someone new, so that was an added bonus."


Seven junior athletes to centralize with Canada’s senior women in January

Shaheed Devji

When the Women’s National Team reconvenes and begins training again in Vancouver in January, they will welcome some new – young – faces to the fold.

Seven athletes from the recently named 2016 Women’s National Team Junior Development Squad (JDS) have been chosen to centralize and train full-time with the senior athletes at the National Training Centre in Vancouver.

Alexis de Armond (Victoria, BC), Hannah Eborall (Beamsville, ON), Margaret Pham (Mississauga, ON), Nikki Woodcroft (Waterloo, ON), Rowan Harris (Ottawa, ON), Shannon Pereira (Toronto, ON) and Thora Rae (Vancouver, BC) have all accepted the selection opportunity to go full-time with the National Program.

“These young and aspiring players will enter a well established athlete-centered, performance-driven environment that will accelerate their growth.” says Women’s National Team Director and Head Coach Ian Rutledge. “They all have immense potential. Their selection will allow them to accelerate their development and provide the opportunity for each of them to turn this potential into a reality.”

“We currently have an exceptional core group of senior athletes; some not that much older than this group. With an eye towards the 2018 World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, it is critical to our ongoing growth and success that we continually develop and maximize our time together in the fulltime daily training environment. The various athletes within 2016 Squad compliment each other very well. All of them are hungry for success and this will in turn maintain the high standards already set by the current group.”

The chance to train with the senior athletes and coaching staff on a day-to-day basis will definitely give the seven girls the best chance at realizing their potential.

It’s something that the young group is well aware of.

“Training every day in that environment will make us that much better,” says Nikki Woodcroft, who was a part of the JDS last year and has spent the past two seasons playing for the University of Toronto Varsity Blues (Canadian Interuniversity Sport). “Just being pushed by the older girls and seeing what it takes to be great athletes, I think that will really help our game.”

Quick development will be beneficial for the junior girls as Canada’s Junior Programs have a big year ahead with the 2016 Junior World Cup on the horizon at the end of 2016.

The Canadian junior women have yet to qualify, and with that in mind, the Junior Women’s National Team will be off to Chile early in the year for a test tournament, and then will attempt to qualify for the World Cup at the 2016 Junior Pan American Championships in Trinidad and Tobago in March.

And being in a full-time daily training environment with athletes who have competed at major competitions including the Commonwealth Games and Pan American Games, and have gone through the junior process themselves will provide value above and beyond to the on-field instruction.

“It’s so amazing. I still can’t believe it” says sixteen year-old Thora Rae. “Last year was my second U16 identification camp and (the senior girls) were coaching there and mentoring us. Now just one year later I’m getting the opportunity to play with them, which is amazing. I think I’ll be able to learn so much from them.”

With the senior team having recently cracked the top twenty in the world, winning a bronze at the 2015 Pan American Games, and retaining almost its entire 2015 senior National Team for 2016, the program is on steadily on the rise.

The Canadian women have eye on 2018 World Cup and 2020 Olympic qualification, and the junior girls who are centralizing have the opportunity to put their best foot forward as the journey to the Olympic continues.

Field Hockey Canada media release

Ian McPherson

We are saddened to learn that Ian McPherson passed away on 1 December.  Ian made a fantastic contribution to hockey in his lifetime - he had been a member of East Midlands Hockey Umpiring Association for many years and had been an England Hockey Technical Official since 2005.

Ian’s funeral will take place at Saint Helen’s Church, Church Street, Stapleford NG9 8DA on Friday 18 December at 10.30am.

England Hockey Board Media release

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