News for 12 March 2016
All the news for Saturday 12 March 2016
Holcombe target play-off spot
Holcombe's Lucy Wood in action. Credit Andy Smith
Holcombe play host to third-placed University of Birmingham on Saturday, as their bid to book a spot at the League Finals Weekend reaches a thrilling conclusion.
Currently occupying the crucial fourth-placed berth, Holcombe could be overtaken by the two teams below them in the final two matches, so will want to take a win this weekend and ease the pressure.
And for the University of Birmingham, they will want to beat Holcombe and end a run of two league matches without a win which has seen them drop off the top of the table to third.
“It’s an important time for everybody at the tail end of the season, not just for us,” said Holcombe captain Leigh Maasdorp. “This is a game we’re looking forward to.
“Our form has been a bit up and down all season, but we’ve won the last two so we’re looking forward to getting a win and wrapping up our place in the play-offs.
“We will be without our Great Britain player Sarah Robertson who got injured last weekend, but most teams have injuries at this time of the year and I know Birmingham are in the same boat.”
Elsewhere in the top flight, last season’s champions Surbiton could wrap up top spot in the table if they win at Reading. But on the other side of the coin, Reading are desperate for the points to avoid the threat of the relegation play-offs.
East Grinstead could leapfrog Holcombe into fourth spot and into pole position for the final place at the League Finals Weekend, if they win at Canterbury. However, second-placed Canterbury will be no pushover, having lost just once in the league so far this season.
It’s the last throw of the dice for bottom of the table Buckingham, who must beat ninth-placed Bowdon Hightown away if they are to avoid automatic relegation.
Finally Clifton host Leicester, who could still sneak the final play-off spot if other results go their way.
In the Investec Women’s Conference North, it is a four-team race for the title and a place in the promotion play-offs. Wakefield are in the driving seat, top and two points clear, and they entertain Whitley Bay and Tynemouth who are desperate to avoid the relegation dogfight.
Brooklands Poynton are second and they head to third-placed Ben Rhydding. And fourth-placed Beeston host the University of Durham.
It will take some big scores for Sutton Coldfield to lose out on the title in the Investec Women’s Conference West, and they could make sure of first place this Saturday when they go to Swansea City.
At the other end of the table Bristol Firebrands go to Gloucester City as they aim to step away from relegation danger, while Olton and West Warwickshire host Trojans with both teams wanting to avoid the drop.
And in the Investec Women’s Conference East, Maidenhead face a tough battle against Conference winners Slough as they bid to avoid relegation.
FIXTURES – Saturday, March 12
Investec Women’s Hockey League
Investec Premier Division
Holcombe v University of Birmingham 12:00
Clifton v Leicester 13:00
Reading v Surbiton 13:30
Bowdon Hightown v Buckingham 13:45
Canterbury v East Grinstead 16:00
Investec Conference East
Cambridge City v Chelmsford 12:30
St Albans v Sevenoaks 13:00
Slough v Maidenhead 13:00
Wimbledon v Harleston Magpies 14:00
Ipswich v Hampstead and Westminster 18:00
Investec Conference North
Loughborough Students v Belper 12:30
Beeston v University of Durham 12:00
Liverpool Sefton v Springfields 12:30
Ben Rhydding v Brooklands Poynton 13:30
Wakefield v Whitley Bay and Tynemouth 13:30
Investec Conference West
Swansea City v Sutton Coldfield 12:00
Gloucester City v Bristol Firebrands 12:00
Olton and West Warwicks v Trojans 12:00
Isca v University of Bristol 12:30
Stourport v Oxford Hawks 18:00
England Hockey Board Media release
Resurgent Canterbury face Wimbledon
Canterbury player coach Kwan Browne in action. Credit Simon Parker
After battling to two victories last weekend, resurgent Canterbury head to Wimbledon for their final match and have top-flight survival in their sights in the Men’s Hockey League Premier Division.
Depending on other results Canterbury, who have been bottom of the table since early October, could avoid the drop in they beat Wimbledon on Sunday.
“We’re pleased to have put ourselves in this position from where we were,” said first team manager David Stevens. “We had one point at Christmas, so to have four wins from our last five is great.
“We’ve had a couple of players come back and we’ve got some consistency in the group. Having Kwan Browne back from his Achilles injury was a big boost for us.
“If we get a win on Sunday we will be safe, as the two teams above us are playing each other which means we will catch one of them.”
Currently bottom of the table, Cannock’s hopes of avoiding relegation hang on them getting a result against second-placed Surbiton on Sunday, and hoping Canterbury do not beat Wimbledon.
East Grinstead are still not safe from the drop, and they go to another relegation-threatened side, Beeston, knowing a win will ensure their place in the top flight for next season.
Elsewhere Reading travel to Brooklands Manchester University looking for a win to secure third spot, while table-topping Holcombe will aim to continue to build momentum heading into the play-offs away at Hampstead and Westminster.
The Men’s Conference East title will be secured by either Richmond or Southgate on Sunday. Richmond went top after beating Oxted last weekend, while Southgate fell to second following their home defeat by West Herts.
This weekend, Richmond go to Sevenoaks, while Southgate will be hoping to capitalise on any slip ups with a win against Oxted.
In the Men’s Conference North, there is a three-way battle to avoid relegation, with bottom team Olton and West Warwickshire desperate for points from their home match against Preston.
Meanwhile, Lichfield - who pulled themselves off the bottom with a draw against Sheffield Hallam last weekend, head to the University of Durham in search of points, while Wakefield, who could also go down, entertain Bowdon in their final match.
Chichester Priory Park and Guildford are both battling to avoid automatic relegation from the Men’s Conference West. Currently bottom, Chichester hosts Indian Gymkhana on Sunday, while Guildford are also at home as they take on Cheltenham.
FIXTURES – Sunday, March 13
Men’s Premier Division
Hampstead and Westminster v Holcombe 14:00
Cannock v Surbiton 14:00
Beeston v East Grinstead 14:00
Brooklands Manchester University v Reading 14:00
Wimbledon v Canterbury 14:00
Men’s Conference West
Team Bath Buccaneers v Univ of Exeter 14:00
Chichester Priory Park v Indian Gymkhana 14:00
Fareham v Cardiff and Met 14:00
Guildford v Cheltenham 14:00
Isca v University of Birmingham 14:00
Men’s Conference North
Olton and West Warwicks v Preston 14:00
Doncaster v Loughborough Students 14:00
University of Durham v Lichfield 14:00
Deeside Ramblers v Sheffield Hallam 14:00
Wakefield v Bowdon 14:00
Men’s Conference East
Oxted v Southgate 14:00
West Herts v Harleston Magpies 14:00
Brighton and Hove v Bromley and Beckenham 14:00
Sevenoaks v Richmond 14:00
Cambridge City v Teddington 14:00
England Hockey Board Media release
The Road to Lee Valley: Investec Women's Cup Semi Finals
Els Mansell in action for Clifton
The Road to Lee Valley picks up once again this weekend as the Investec Women’s Cup reaches the semi-final stage. For Brooklands Poynton, Buckingham, Clifton and Holcombe, the place in the final is tantalisingly close.
Brooklands Poynton, currently second in the Conference North and still fighting for promotion have been in searing form in the league and have carried that over into the cup. They saw off Cannock in the second round 3-0 before edging out Conference West high-fliers Stourport 1-0 in the next round. That set up a tie with giant killers Barnes, who accounted for the holders Surbiton. Poynton made sure the fairytale ended there and then with a professional display to run out 2-1 winners, securing their semi-final place.
Waiting for them in the last four are Investec Women’s Premier Division side Buckingham. Despite enduring a tough season in the Premier Division, where they currently occupy the automatic relegation place, Buckingham have found the cup a welcome distraction from their league travails. A double from Georgina Holme helped them to see off Reading in the second round before a Phoebe Richards brace in the next round put Hampstead and Westminster to the sword. A narrow 3-2 win over Ben Rhydding was next setting up the match with Brooklands Poynton for a place in the final.
The other semi-final is an all Premier Division affair with Clifton hosting Holcombe. Clifton, beaten finalists last year will be desperate to go one better this time out. Their road to the semi finals has seen them produce impressive displays every step of the way. They beat Maidenhead 3-0 before seeing off East Grinstead 3-1 and then defeated University of Birmingham 3-2 to keep alive their hopes of some silverware.
Standing in their way are Kent side Holcombe. The teams drew 2-2 in the league and will face each other on the last day of the season, but Holcombe, currently in the fourth playoff spot are in good form. The were handed a walkover by Havant in this competition before rattling in seven goals against Staines in the next round, including a treble for Jess Brooker. Sarah Jones’ goal was enough for a 1-0 win over Bowdon Hightown in the last round to set up the intriguing semi-final clash with Clifton.
The final is within touching distance for these sides, and on Sunday we will know who is in the final, battling it out for the silverware. The Road to Lee Valley is almost complete!
England Hockey Board Media release
Tubau retires from Spain as Copa del Rey nears
The Copa del Rey takes place this weekend in a thrilling three-day series that will ultimately crown one of Spain’s potentially three European places for the 2016/17 season.
Real Club Polo de Barcelona is the host for the event which starts this morning with Club Egara taking on Junior FC in the first quarter-final.
Egara will feature Edi Tubau who announced his retirement from international hockey this week after close to 300 caps and 15 years with the national team.
He confirmed the decision this week after he initially took a break in the wake of the 2014 World Cup, taking on a new job and following the birth of his daughter.
During his career, he won silver at the 2008 Olympics, bronze at the 2006 World Championships and gold at the 2005 Europeans.
In the other quarter-finals, RS Tenis have been drawn to play Atletico San Sebastian before SPV Complutense meet Club de Campo. The highlight of day one, undoubtedly, is the last quarter-final which pits Polo against the reigning champions Atletic Terrassa – this game will be broadcast live.
Polo are 27-time champions and will hope top scorer Xavi Lleonart can continue his form in front of goal, helping the Barcelona club to 12 wins from 13 games so far this season.
For Atletic, they seek a 16th title and sit third in the Spanish league with Albert Beltran in the running for MVP.
The semi-finals will be played on Saturday with the final on Sunday at 1pm (CET).
Euro Hockey League media release
Charging Strathmore Gladiators go flat out for win
By BRIAN YONGA
Kenyatta University's Shadrack Ruto (left) challenges Ian Shama of Strathmore University's Gladiators during their Kenya Hockey Union men's premier league match at City Park Stadium on August 30, 2015. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Two-time champions Strathmore University Gladiators will be out to collect six points from their two Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) men’s premier league matches this weekend.
The students welcome Western Jaguars Saturday evening at City Park Stadium before hosting Nakuru Hockey Club at the same venue on Sunday.
Victory in both matches will see the Gladiators move from their current sixth position to fourth on the log with 39 points. Seven other matches are lined up this weekend in Nairobi and Kisumu as the second leg gathers momentum.
Gladiators lost 2-1 to champions Butali Sugar Warriors last weekend and will seek to bounce back from that loss against Jaguars - who are 12th in the league with 24 points. The students have blown hot and cold this season having topped the league during the first leg before a string of inconsistent outings saw them drop to their current position.
Gladiators coach Meshack Senge has called on his lads to rediscover their first leg form and finish the season strongly.
“Our target at the beginning of the season was to finish in the top two positions,” Senge told Saturday Nation Sport.
“We will keep fighting until the end of the season but we need to start getting good results.”
Western Jaguars coach Michael Malungu is confident his team can upset the hosts and also edge out 2012 champions Sikh Union Nairobi in tomorrow’s encounter.
“We are coming to Nairobi to collect all six points,” he warned.
“The boys are fired up this weekend and we respect our opponents but our aim is to win convincingly.”
The first leg encounter played in Kakamega last year ended in a goalless draw.
In the relegation battle, Coastal side Mvita XI, who are second from bottom, have two vital fixtures in their fight to avoid the drop. They take on Nakuru Hockey Club Saturday afternoon at City Park before tackling Parkroad on Sunday.
Mvita failed to honour their last two fixtures against USIU and Butali two weeks ago due to lack of funds. The team has nine points from 19 matches, six more than bottom side Mombasa Sports Club.
Parklands, who are in third from bottom, will seek to move further away from the relegation zone with a win against seventh-placed Parkroad in another men’s premier league match this afternoon at City Park.
The league debutants lie in 13th place with 14 points, five ahead of Mvita XI as the fight to stay up gears on.
In Kisumu, Bay Club host Dedan Kimathi University in a men’s national league encounter this afternoon, while tomorrow, the visitors will be up against Kisumu Youngstars.
FIXTURES (All Matches at City Park Stadium unless stated)
Premier men: Parklands v Parkroad (2pm), Nakuru v Mvita (4pm), Strathmore v Western Jaguars (6pm)
National men: Bay v Kimathi – 2pm (Kisumu)
Premier men: Parkroad v Mvita (9am), Strathmore v Nakuru (11am), Sikh Union v W. Jaguars (1pm)
National men: Kisumu Youngstars v Kimathi- 9am (Kisumu), Karate Axiom v Daystar (3pm)
Methodist College Win Subway All Ireland Schoolgirl Championship
Methodist College won the Subway All-Ireland Schoolgirls Championships for the first time by the narrowest of margins, edging out reigning champions Crescent College by a single goal on goal difference.
It owed much to the inspiration of captain Katie Larmour who hailed her side’s amazing achievement, winning the competition after her side only won the Ulster title last week for the first time in 28 years.
“It’s so exciting. Methody have never won it and I don’t think we have ever been down involved in the competition before,” she said. “It’s just unbelievable; if someone had of said we would win the Ulster schools cup and the Kate Russell, I probably would have laughed at them. The level of competition was fabulous.”
Her role encompassed six goals and four assists en route to earning the player of the tournament crown, something she said was a bit out of the norm for her but a truly special way to end her schools career.
“It is a bit unusual; I don’t regularly score. It’s a bit of a change! This is the last time I will wear this school shirt so I am so happy that it ended like that. There aren’t that many in upper sixth like me, most have another year so they should have a great team for next year.”
It was a thrilling duel throughout with Methody, Crescent and Alexandra College all vying for the title from beginning to end.
The Ulster side were denied the perfect start to the competition late in the day as Maebh O’Sullivan’s goal saw them tie 2-2 with Crescent in the tournament’s opening game.
From there, though, they produced a perfect record. They ran up a cracking 5-3 win over Galway’s Salerno in their second tie with Katie Larmour firing home a hat trick.
It left them in a share of second place after day one with Crescent who beat Loreto Kilkenny in their other tie 2-0 with Niamh O’Keeffe powering home twice. Alexandra College topped the table after they beat Salerno 2-1 and Kilkenny 4-1, setting up a thrilling second day of action.
Methody put the pressure on when they beat Loreto Kilkenny 4-0 with Rhiannon Coulter netting twice in the closing few minutes. These goals would prove crucial in the final standings.
Crescent continued their charge with a 4-0 win of their own against Salerno with Aebhfhinn Bourke scoring all four goals in a brilliant performance.
Crucially, though, Methody followed up with a 3-1 win over Alexandra College, leaders after day one.
The Dubliners had taken a first half lead when Jan Cleary poked home from a couple of inches out. But the story of the tournament was one of penalty corners and Methody converted three in the second half to claim this result with Madison Bowyer, Larmour and Rhiannon Coulter all finding the backboard.
That result left Alex out of contention for the main title but Limerick hosts Crescent still could pip the Ulster side if they could pull off a three-goal win in the tournament’s final game.
Crescent created numerous first half openings against Alex with Jane Kirby wreaking havoc but no goals accrued until 11 minutes from the end when Aebhfhinn Bourke – with her fourth goal of the day – converted.
They threw everything forward but could not break through, meaning Methodist were the victors in the final reckoning. Crescent ended second overall with Alex ending third.
Speaking at the prize presentation, Muriel O’Grady, Marketing Board Chair SUBWAY® Ireland said:
“Congratulations to the newly crowned SUBWAY® All-Ireland Schoolgirls Champions, Methodist College.
The skill and sportsmanship of all the schools participating in the SUBWAY® All-Ireland Schoolgirls Championship has been hugely impressive and their schoolmates, who travelled from all over the country to support their teams, should also be congratulated.
The SUBWAY® brand and our network of franchisees all over Ireland are very proud to be supporting schools hockey throughout Ireland and already looking forward to next year’s competition”.
Subway Kate Russell All-Ireland Schoolgirls Championships
Day one results: Crescent CC 2 (M O’Sullivan 2) Methodist College 2 (K Larmour, A Armstrong); Alexandra College 2 (I Delamar, A Acheson) Salerno 1 (M Corcoran); Crescent CC 2 (N O’Keeffe 2) Loreto Kilkenny 0; Methodist College 5 (K Larmour 3, M Bowyer, S McCollum) Salerno 3 (M Hughes, R Gilligan, E Burke); Alexandra College 4 (F McDermott 2, A Acheson, S Roopnarinesingh) Loreto Kilkenny 1 (J Brennan)
Day two: Loreto Kilkenny 0 Methodist College 4 (R Coulter 2, K Larmour, J Savage); Crescent College 4 (A Bourke 4) Salerno 0; Methodist College 3 (M Bowyer, K Larmour, R Coulter) Alexandra College 1 (J Cleary); Salerno 1 Loreto Kilkenny 1 (S Browne); Alexandra College 0 Crescent 1 (A Bourke)
Standings: 1. Methodist College 10pts (+8) 2. Crescent College 10pts (+7) 3. Alexandra College 6pts (+1) 4. Salerno 1pt (-7) 5. Loreto Kilkenny 1pt (-9)
Irish Hockey Association media release
S3 Girls Cup RoundUp
Scottish Midland schools dominate at S3 Semi finals - Dollar Academy and Strathallan progress to the final
Yesterday saw the S3 School Girls take to Glasgow National Hockey Centre to battle it out for a place in the final.
Following on from Tuesday’s Open Girls tournament, the day repeated the high calibre of hockey from all participants.
The event format ran as 2 pools of 4 with cross over matches to decide on placings.
High School of Glasgow topped Pool A with a 100% record and without conceding a single goal. Close behind them were Strathallan who had recorded a win, a draw and a loss to secure a place in the semi finals.
It was very close at the top of Pool B with George Watsons College and Dollar Academy both finishing on 7 points after winning 2 matches each and drawing 2-2 with each other in a very competitive match. It was however George Watsons who topped the group on goal difference after they recorded an impressive 19 goals for and only 3 against. With Dollar finishing second they would face the undefeated High School of Glasgow in the other semi-final.
Impressive performances from Marr College saw them finish 5th overall with Robert Gordons College claiming 6th place. Galashiels Academy had to overcome a committed Millburn Academy to claim 7th with the Highland team finishing 8th.
The semi-finals saw Dollar Academy end High School of Glasgow’s undefeated run in the competition claiming a narrow 3-2 victory and secure their spot in the final. Strathallan overcame a well organised George Watsons College by 2 goals to nil to make it an all Midland final.
Can Dollar reclaim their title or will Strathallan become the new cup holders? The finals date will be confirmed soon.
Results of the day were:
|Pool A||Pool B|
|Strathallan 0–1 High School of Glasgow||Millburn Academy 0–12 George Watsons College|
|Galashiels Academy 0–1 Marr College||Robert Gordons College 0–4 Dollar Academy|
|Galashiels Academy 0–0 Strathallan||George Watsons College 2–2 Dollar Academy|
|Marr College 0–1 High School of Glasgow||Millburn Academy 0-6 Robert Gordons College|
|Marr College 0–1 Strathallan||Dollar Academy 11–0 Millburn Academy|
|High School of Glasgow 2–0 Galashiels Academy||George Watsons College 5-1 Robert Gordons|
High School of Glasgow 2-3 Dollar Academy
George Watsons College 0-2 Strathallan
The final with take place at Glasgow National Hockey Centre at the end of April alongside the Open Girls Finals, Boys Open and S3 Cup and Plate and finally the Boys and Girls Aspire Cup.
Scottish Hockey Union media release
TNB CUP: SSTMI v BJSS final
DIVISION Two outfit Anderson Thunderbolts almost created an upset when they beat BJSS Thunderbolts 4-3 in the second leg semi-finals of the TNB Cup, but lost out on aggregate.
BJSS, who beat the Ipoh school 5-3 in the first leg, advanced to the final on 8-7 aggregate.
They will play SSTMI Thunderbolts for the TNB Cup Sunday, and for the record, SSTMI will be going for their fifth consecutive double while BJSS last won the title in 2009.
SSTMI were also taken to the wire when SSP-MSP Thunderolts gave them little room, and could only edge the Temerloh school 3-2, to advance on 5-2 aggregate.
Hafiizhuddin Zaidi saved the day for BJSS by scoring two crucial goals (20th, 38th) to take his total to 19 field goals in the Junior Hockey League.
Anderson were 0-3 down by the 38th minute, when Rahimi Rosley was on target in the 37th minute, but Anderson put up a gallant fight to win 4-3 after a rain-delay break.
The Anderson goals were scored by Azrai Aizad (46th), Azrul Hariez (52nd) and Fuad Zaquan (68th, 69th).
BJSS coach Lokman Yahaya paid tribute to Anderson's fighting spirit.
"We had the game in our hand for a comfortable win but Anderson put up a great fight to win the game. We were lucky to have a two-goal cushion from the first leg," said Lokman.
And for the final: "We need to be sharper during penalty corners as we won seven against Anderson but only scored one. However, it is a great feeling to be back in the final of the TNB Cup after such a long absence."
RESULTS -- Semi-finals, second leg: BJSS Thunderbolts 3 Anderson Thunderbolts 4. (BJSS win on 8-7 aggregate)
SSTMI Thunderbolts 3 SSP-MSP-Thunderbolts 2. (SSTMI win on 5-2 aggregate).
SUNDAY: TNB CUP Final: SSTMI v BJSS (8.30pm); Third-Fourth: Anderson v SSP-MSP (5.45pm).
Note: Both matches at Pitch II of the National Hockey Stadium.
Jugjet's World of Field Hockey
SSTMI focused on winning the double again
by S. Ramaguru
SSTMI focused on winning the double again
KUALA LUMPUR: It’s an all-sports school affair for the overall title of the Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL).
Defending champions Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI)-Thunderbolt and Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS)-Thunderbolt will square off in the final on Sunday at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
SSTMI booked their place after beating Pahang Sports School-MSP-Thunderbolt 3-2 in the second leg for a 5-3 aggregate win.
BJSS lost 4-3 to Anderson-Thunderbolt in Friday’s return leg but ended up winning 8-7 on aggregate.
In the SSTMI-Pahang Sports School match at the same venue, the defending champions got their goals through Mohd Alif Syazwan (2nd, 29th) and Mohd Fitri (27th). The Pahang side replied through Mohd Ikmal Hafiz (13th) and Mohd Idris Samad (26th).
SSTMI team manager Adam Izamry Idrus said his team is now focused on winning the double again.
“The Pahang team gave us a good fight, but with the first-leg cushion, we were able to hold out for another win,” he said.
“We are focused on winning the double again. There were no cards or injuries in the match ... so, we will have all our best players for the final.”
The same cannot be said about the BJSS team, who suffered a mighty scare at the same venue yesterday.
BJSS were leading 3-0 – courtesy of goals by Mohd Hafizhudin Zaidi (20th, 38th), Mohd Rahimi Rozley (37th) – and looked to be cruising to a comfortable win.
But Anderson fought back to score four goals through Mohd Azmi Aizad (46th), Mohd Azrul Hafiz (52nd), Mohd Fyad Zaquan (68th, 69th).
Although BJSS are through to the final by the skin of their teeth, they are likely to be without top striker Hafizhudin, who picked up two yellow cards in yesterday’s game.
BJSS plan to appeal against the second yellow card.
BJSS coach K. Rajan blasted his players for the lackadaisical attitude in the game.
“We were three goals up and then we just folded up. It was plain complacency. If the game had gone on another five minutes, I have no doubt that we would have lost. It was a close shave ... we must now look forward,” he said.
The Star of Malaysia
Beng Hai keeps an eye on new talents
by S. Ramaguru
KUALA LUMPUR: The players in the 1MAS-Milo Under-16 hockey championships will have an added reason to shine when the matches get under way at the Kuala Lumpur Hockey Stadium on Saturday.
A panel of coaches, led by 1MAS director Tai Beng Hai, will be there to select trainees for the national Under-16 squad, who will compete in the Mannheim tournament in Germany from May 13-16.
“Yes, a panel of selectors will be on hand to watch the players and select the best players. We plan to pick an initial squad of 25 players, and then hold a camp during the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh,” said Beng Hai.
“The squad will then be trimmed and a final phase of training will be held in May before they leave for Germany.”
The panel will include the two coaches – Nor Saiful Zaini and Mohamed Suffian – who will take the team to Germany. The other two coaches in the panel are S. Vellapan and Mohd Amin Rahim.
A total of 13 teams will take part in the boys and girls’ categories of the tournament. Sarawak are the only team absent from both categories.
Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) deputy chairman and competitions committee chairman George Koshy confirmed yesterday that the duration of the matches will be shortened by 10 minutes.
“Since this is a nine-a-side affair, we’ve decided to play the games in two halves of 25 minutes each.
“We will review the format after the tournament,” he said after a mock cheque presentation yesterday.
Milo have joined 1MAS in being the main sponsor for the tournament yet again.
The Star of Malaysia
Mind games: Australian hockey star's struggle with mental illness and triumph
Harpreet Kaur Lamba
Kookaburra Simon Orchard share his experiences of mental health issues
In the microscopic world of sport that dwells on every high and dissects every weakness, athletes are often on the edge. The mental pressure of going from a hero to a zero is intense, and anxiety and fear of failure often gets to even the best of them.
Australia’s hockey player Simon Orchard has seen quite a lot of it. If one were to look at his career achievements, it is stuff that dreams are made of. Orchard is a successful striker with medals at the World Cups and the Olympics. Australia are ranked number 1 in field hockey and Orchard is central to their plans.
But far from the world of on-field encounters, Orchard goes through a thousand battles every single day, and almost at every hour.
The 29-year-old Orchard suffers from "health anxiety", a syndrome that he begun to understand "in depth" only recently. While most of us dismiss signs of common ailments like cold, cough or headache with a simple shoulder shrug; for Orchard, they are sometimes as big as "life-threatening diseases". The anxiety grips him so hard that he is unable to focus on training and matches.
In a detailed chat with this newspaper, Orchard says it "took him sometime to come to terms with it" and he now wants to "share his story with people to make them understand mental health issues and wants athletes with similar problems to draw inspiration from it".
"Mental health has a stigma attached to it. People don’t understand such things and just say ‘toughen up’, ‘get on with life and you will be okay’.
"But it is hard. One needs a broader spectrum to understand and more importantly, to accept," says Orchard.
"I suffer from health anxiety. The first signs came when I was 20-years-old and had left home for hockey and my scholarship, but I never understood what it was.
"During one of my training sessions, I felt this sudden pain in the chest. I checked with my trainer, we got scans done but nothing came out. But I seriously believed something was wrong with me. That was how it begun.
"Then the more difficult time came in Holland a few years ago. I remember a little lump popped up on my neck and I panicked. I started Googling. Was it a swollen lymph node? Was it life threatening? The internet mentioned it could be cancer and I froze. Was I going to die?
"I remember training the next day and picking up balls between drills when I stopped and thought to myself ‘How can I play hockey with cancer? This might be it for me.’ The thought consumed me until I saw a doctor who said ‘It was just a fatty deposit which will go away on its own. Don’t worry’.
"I never focused on the last two words it seems. I never stopped worrying."
As time passed, things got so bad for the sprightly forward that he finally took time off the game last year to understand "what was going wrong".
Says Orchard, who declared to the world about his suffering last August through a hearty-wrenching blog, "It was a hard decision, but a well-thought one. I was doing well, winning medals, travelling... but everything was taking a toll on me. I was constantly under the scanner and my mind made it more difficult for me.
"Everything from my hockey, relationships and university to simple things like what I order for dinner or other mundane things. I was anxious about all of them.
"I am usually a good speaker but on that day I was a complete mess. I gathered my team mates and the coach, and had a feeling that once I’d told everyone what was happening, I would be fine. I think I got five seconds into my speech and lost it. Our coach Poss Reid jumped in and saved me. I spent the next few minutes crying uncontrollably and looking at the floor. I felt like shrinking into the hole.
"I have no recollection of what I said but I think the guys got a grip of what I was going through. Someone said "We love you Orch" towards the end and I think that’s how I begun my recovery process," he recalls.
Hockey wasn’t the only worry for Orchard during this time. His personal life too was affected.
"I must thanks my parents, sibling and my partner for being so supportive. They could have backed out, but they stood strong and helped me get out of it. It was tough on them too," says Orchard, who returned stronger and better after two months of treatment.
He was back in the national squad, and recently took part in the Hockey India League here in February, representing eventual winners Punjab Warriors.
"I returned a changed man. The symptoms have not gone away completely but I am more in control of things. I know there can be times when I will fall over again, but this time I will pick myself up," says Orchard, who is now eyeing to represent Australia at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
"My perspective towards life changed, I realised that there is more to life than just one’s career. I think it made me more compassionate towards life and people.
"I decided to share my story and also in future, I would like to help people who go through a similar struggle. If I can reach out to them and help them, it shall help me too."
The Asian Age
German men give helping hand to Alster Grootbos Hockey Foundation
Members of the German men's national team inspired local children in South Africa (Photo: DHB)
The delight on the young hockey player’s faces was clear for all to see as 2015 FIH Rising Star of the Year Christopher Ruehr, team-mates Moritz Fuerste, Florian Fuchs and the rest of the German men's national hockey team turned up to join them for a training session at the Cape Town pitch in South Africa.
The German men’s team took some time out of their recent busy test match schedule against South Africa to pay a visit to a Cape Town project that, over the years, has become very important to the German Hockey Association (Deutscher Hockey-Bund [DHB]).
The team has been on an eye-opening and inspirational trip to the Floral Kingdom region of Cape Town as part of its commitment to the Alster Grootbos Hockey Foundation, part of the non-profit making organisation Grootbos Foundation. Their aim is to create a sustainable, environmentally sound community within the Cape Town Floral Kingdom. Protection of the natural flora and fauna of the area is combined with a drive to educate the community in agriculture, environmental issues and conservation through a number of projects.
The Foundation’s implementation strategies are based on three integrated ‘umbrella’ programmes: 'Green Futures’ which focuses on conservation, ‘Siyakhula’ which focuses on the creation of sustainable livelihoods through enterprise development and ‘Football Foundation’ which focuses on utilising sport for development.
It is this latter that the German Hockey Association has been supporting for the past seven years, and the Hockey Foundation has been instrumental in developing social integration, promoting healthy lifestyles and increasing environmental awareness and life skills amongst communities.
The DHB first became involved in the project in 2009 through the enthusiasm and drive of former national league player Delf Ness, from the Alster Club in Hamburg. Since then, support and interest in hockey has gained momentum and the recent visit by Valentin Altenburg and his Olympic squad sent the local population into a hockey frenzy.
A report on the Grootbos Foundation website says: “We were thrilled the German men’s team were coming to visit. The preparation for the visit started early, our hockey players watched some of the German men’s hockey matches and identified some of the key personalities in the team. On the day, the German flag was painted on all faces and “Wilkommen in Gansbaai” was diligently practised.
“Nothing could prepare our children though for the hockey players arriving in their big coach and walking onto the hockey pitch. We played a mixed match with some of the players mixing with the young hockey players on each team and did some technical drills before having the opportunity to watch the hockey team in action. The children found the interaction inspiring and this representation of the sport has gone a long way to inspiring some talented, up and coming players.”
And the enjoyment of the German team’s visit was a two-way thing. Talking about the experience, FIH Rising Star of the Year Christopher Ruehr said: “We had a great day in the Alster Grootbos Hockey Foundation. It was a total contrast in experiences [from our test matches against South Africa], the contrast could not be greater. Hockey training with kids from the nearby township has left many impressions, which still have to be processed.”
Hockey projects like this are key to inspiring the next generation - the overall aim of the International Hockey Federation's Hockey Revolution. To find out more about this strategy, click here.
For more information about the Alster Grootbos Hockey Foundation, click here.