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News for 24 March 2016

All the news for Thursday 24 March 2016

Racing looking to cause massive EHL upset

Racing Club de France’s Simon Martin-Brisac says his side are “excited” but also “a bit scared” knowing the task in front of his side as they look to take down SV Kampong on Friday evening.

It is the ciel et blanc’s first trip to the KO16 having made their EHL debut last year in Barcelona, beating Monkstown before losing to Belgium’s Royal Daring.

As such, they go into the game with the Dutch giants as massive underdogs at the Wagener Stadium but it is a venue where they enjoyed one of their finest moments as a club – fourth place in the European Cup back in 1992.

Looking forward to the game, Racing’s star men tells the EHL website: “ We are excited because this is for this kind of game that we train hard for the whole year, especially the with the atmosphere in a beautiful stadium.

“We hope to have a great ‘Ciel & Blanc’ Kop supporting us for 70 minutes. We will need them!

“But we are a little scared because Kampong is a hockey machine with amazing players. It will be a big différence to the level of the French championship and I hope we won't have any acclimitisation period because Kampong would take full advantage.

“We will have to defend very strong and use every opportunity we'll have, from the first minute of the game.”

They go into the KO16 shy the services of David Bernstein in midfield; he is out injured having broken a bone in his shoulder over the winter. Max Riesser and Jean-David Koch will also be absent

“It’s disapointing because we would have loved to play with our full team. Our mission was already difficult, it became ‘mission impossible’ without them but we have to deal with it. The rest of the group is fit and ready for the battle.”

Racing returned to competitive action last weekend with a 5-0 win over Wattignies, formally confirming their place in the French top four playoffs. Martin-Brisac scored twice while Christophe Peters-Deutz, Nicolas Martin-Brisac and a beauty from Jean-Laurent Kieffer completed the win.

It concluded a lengthy winter break during which Racing used indoor to work on their physical preparation before collective training built up. Since then, they drew one challenge match with Saint Germain before beating them in a second game 2-1, one in which they were more satisfied with their efforts.

The striker adds that Friday’s game is likely to be totally different from these ties but “we are ready to give our best and try to create a huge shock”.

Euro Hockey League media release

Egara's Arch and Arbós line up Polo assault

Club Egara are in a unique position this season as the only Spanish side to have beaten Real Club de Polo so far, something they will hope to do once again in the KO16.

The pair meet in an all-Spanish affair in Amsterdam with the ratllats looking to repeat their 4-2 success of last November when Guillem Fustagueras netted two important goals.

Polo got their revenge last week in the Spanish Copa del Rey, winning 1-0 in the final, but the experienced Edu Arbós says his team is in “very good shape” with a full panel to choose from for the event.

They are set to be cheered on a big travelling support and Arbós told the EHL website tha facing Polo becomes “a very ambitious challenge for the team, since we are playing against a rival that we have been trying to beat in the last few years”.

The striker adds that the ambition is to put their best foot forward and “the willingness and the eagerness to show Europe our best version, not only as a team but also as a club.” 

Similarly, Egara defender Pere Arch emphasises the positive attitude of the team towards this game: “We have moved on from the Cup and are now 100% focused on EHL.

“We would have preferred to play against a foreign team because we know Polo very well. We have won twice against them this year but they beat us in the Cup. Now, it is time to face them in Europe and hopefully, this time, luck will be on our side”.

The winner of the duel Egara-Polo will play on Monday against the winner of the Wimbledon and Amsterdam.

Euro Hockey League media release

Wombles to fly the flag for England this weekend

Phil Roper in Wimbledon action

Wimbledon head into the heart of the lion’s den this weekend as they travel to Amsterdam to take in their first ever match in the Euro Hockey League (EHL.)

With the crème de la crème of the continent’s clubs heading to the Netherlands to battle for a place in the next round the draw was always going to be tough, but the Wombles have been handed an especially taxing assignment, facing the hosts, Amsterdam H&BC.

Great Britain star Phil Roper is relishing the prospect despite the challenge they face:

“If we had been offered a slightly easier draw for KO16, of course would have taken it, but it’s such a huge opportunity to play Amsterdam in their own stadium in front of hopefully a large crowd it should be a great challenge. We want to put our stamp on the competition and hopefully we can let our quality show on the big stage.”

Wimbledon are making their debut in the competition, making them the 58th different club to take part the world’s premier club competition. Despite the club being novices at this level, the Wimbledon squad has an abundance of international experience with no fewer than six of their team coming from the Great Britain central programme. Michael Hoare, Henry Weir, Roper, Ian Sloan, Ali Brogdon and James Bailey are all set to feature. Brogdon has played in the competition before, turning out for Belgian outfit Waterloo Ducks whilst Bailey has not only experience of the EHL, but also previous for knocking out Dutch opposition. In his stint with Reading, Bailey was hero, saving crucially in the shootout to dump Rotterdam out in 2013.

Wimbledon, the reigning English champions have had a patchy season by their lofty standards but secured the fourth qualification place at the domestic playoffs at the tail end of the season. Their form has been good in recent weeks and Roper hopes they have timed it just right:

“We have been improving throughout the season and are hoping to peak for the Euro Hockey League. There is a lot of excitement around the club about our debut season in the EHL; we have great support from all areas of the Wimbledon club, plus we have a lot of talented hungry players fighting for competition so it makes for an exciting month.”

With plenty of international stars in their ranks, plus some outstanding club players, the team’s strength in depth could be the key to competing with the Dutch giants:

“We have a strong squad, so having players to come in and have an impact on the pitch when we are away is great. I think the more high quality players you have in a training environment is only going to improve the standard so it can only be a good thing.” said Roper.

Fans of hockey will be able to watch the EHL live on the EHL website this weekend. With three German and three Belgian clubs taking part it is a great chance to get a sneak peek at some of the international talent who will be present this summer at the men’s Hockey Champions Trophy in London. For details on how to be there, click here.

England Hockey Board Media release

Trio of Canadian women set to hit big milestone in New Zealand

Shaheed Devji

Photo from left to right: Thea Culley, Abigail Raye, and Kate Gillis. Credit to Shaheed Devji and Yan Huckendubler.

It’s only been done twice before. Playing 150 international matches for Canada’s senior women’s field hockey team is a rare feat. But if all goes as planned on the Women’s National Team’s current trip to New Zealand, three more women will join the exclusive 150 club.

With two test matches against the New Zealand Blacksticks beginning this weekend, followed by the Hawke’s Bay Cup tournament in April, Canada’s women have eight games ahead of them. And in the span of those games – barring injury – veterans Abigail Raye (143 games played), Kate Gillis (143), and Thea Culley (145) will all hit the 150-game mark.

It’s a big milestone, but not one that has been a point of focus for the women.

“We’ve been so focused on improving our team performance since [the recent series against the United States in] San Diego,” Culley says. “That’s really been at the forefront in each training.”

“But it’s an exciting milestone to hit. I didn’t know that there were only a couple others who have done that.”

Stephanie Jameson (168) and Laurelee Kopeck (163) are the only two women on record to have reached and eclipsed 150 matches. That Raye, Gillis, and Culley will all soon join them is a yet another testament to the health of the Women’s National Program.

“I think through my career, building on those milestones, we’ve come a long way,” says Gillis, who – in recent years – has served as the team’s captain. “I think that’s what’s most important. Not the number of caps, but how far our team has come and how important it is for us to stick together through this process and make it to those Olympic Games.”

With the team goal of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup and the 2020 Olympic Games and a core group of athletes committed to seeing it through, it is conceivable that the trio of women, who will all likely be at the top of the Canadian women’s all-time caps list by this time next year, could also be joined by others who are currently on the team.

Defender Sara McManus is expected to hit 100 games in New Zealand. By doing so, she will join Raye, Gillis, Culley, Hannah Haughn, who recently became the youngest Canadian woman on record to hit 100 games, and Danielle Hennig (107), as the six active Women’s National Team members of the century club.

But for this group, it’s not all about milestones. It’s about improvement and achieving tangible success on the field. Something which the team did last year at the 2015 Pan American Games by winning a bronze medal – the first time the Canadian women have done that in 16 years.

It stands out as a highlight for both Culley and Gillis.

“That was so special for us,” Gillis says. “And also my 100th cap. We tied England, which was really such a great game for us.”

And throughout it all, having teammates to share the milestones and the successes on the field with is what is most important to the women.

“It’s the girls on the team that make it worthwhile to play, and to continue to play,” Culley adds. “So it’s great to be able to celebrate it with people that you’ve played with for the last eight or nine years.”

The Canadian Women’s National Team faces the Blacksticks in two test matches on March 27 and 28 before opening the Hawke’s Bay Cup against Korea on April 2.

Field Hockey Canada media release

Canadian over-50 men and women to compete in Masters World Cup next week

Shaheed Devji

Photo courtesy of imhacanberra2016.com

After the launch of Canadian Masters Hockey last year, Field Hockey Canada’s over-50 men and women are set to compete in the 2016 Masters World Cup in Canberra, Australia from March 29-April 6.

A total of thirty Masters athletes, seventeen men and thirteen women, will represent Canada at the Games, which will be played at Canberra’s National Hockey Centre, in the Australian capital city.

Field Hockey Canada launched its Masters Hockey initiative in May 2015, with the strategic intent of developing and strengthening field hockey across the country and fostering a robust Canadian hockey family.

Engaging Master level athletes, the Canada Masters Hockey program provides field hockey players of all ages the opportunity to continue participation in the sport at an international level.

Canada’s teams headed to the Masters World Cup comprise of athletes of all skills levels and walks of life, including those who wore the red and white for Canada’s senior National Teams, athletes who have played recreationally for their entire lives, and those who took up the sport as adults.

The event is organized by the International Masters Hockey Association (IMHA), and is aimed at promoting field hockey for 35 to 60-year-old men and women at an international level.

The Canadian women will open the tournament on March 29th against Ireland, while the men will begin play on March 30th against Australia.

For more information about the 2016 Masters World Cup, visit the official tournament website.

Canadian Over-50 Men’s Masters Team


Al McBeth* (Vancouver, BC)
Balgit Singh Grewal (Kelowna, BC)
Daryl Homeniuk (Japan)
Davis Vaitkunas (Vancouver, BC)
Guy Manwaring (Delta, BC)
Ishrat Khan (Ottawa ON)
Jagdir Dhanawa (Victoria, BC)
Jaimud Dean (Richmond, BC)
Jim Jenkins (Alberta)
K.D. Singh (Victoria, BC)
Ken Beckett (Vancouver, BC)
Malcolm Fernandes (Vancouver, BC)
Markus Krueger (Seattle, USA)
Sandeep Chopra (Ottawa, ON)
Shad Stephens** (Vancouver, BC)
Thomas Augustine (Victoria, BC)
Wayne Marshall (Kelowna, BC)

Canadian Over-50 Women’s Masters Team


Alison McGillivray* (Vancouver, BC)
Anne Webster (British Columbia)
Beverley Rankin (New Hampshire, USA)
Denise Fuchko (Vancouver, BC)
Diane Russell** (Vancouver, BC)
Eliner Maxwell-Smith (Vancouver, BC)
Fran Sloan Sainas (North Vancouver, BC)
Heather Banham* (Kelowna, BC)
Heather Barnett (Vancouver, BC)
Jo-Ann Smith (North Vancouver, BC)
Julie Neville (Kelowna, BC)
Linda Atkinson (Ontario)
Paula Pappajohn (North Vancouver, BC)


Field Hockey Canada media release

Junior women form tight bond in short time leading up to World Cup qualifier

Shaheed Devji

Photo: Junior Women’s National Team celebrates a goal in Santiago, Chile in January 2016. Taken by Lorena Angus.

In the last year, the Canadian Junior Women’s National Team hasn’t competed internationally very often. In fact, they haven’t been together as a team all that much. But that hasn’t stopped the group of young athletes from uniting ahead of the most important competition to date in their international careers.

With athletes located across the country, and not many opportunities for international competition at the junior level, the squad has been limited to annual training camps and two test series to become a team.

But in this case, quality trumps quantity, and with one week to go before the start of the Junior Women’s Pan American Championships – a 2016 Junior World Cup qualifier – in Trinidad and Tobago, the Canadian junior women are as much as a team as any.

“We all learned a lot and become extremely close,” says one of the older girls, Nikki Woodcroft. “We’re all really confident with each other, believe in each other, and trust in each other’s abilities.”

For a team that has only been together for about a year, that’s quite the feat.

The junior women were just getting to know each other, a lot of the women playing together for only the first time, last February in a series with the United States Under-21 team at the Spooky Nook Sports Complex in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

“I think our team improved a lot since the U.S. series at Spooky Nook,” says newcomer to the international scene Margaret Pham. “We have really gotten better playing with each other and our chemistry has improved. We know how each other plays and works as a team.”

A lot of that improvement can be credited to time spent together at camps throughout the year, instruction from National Team coaches, and maturity as hockey players. But no experience was more important to the team’s progression – on and off the field – than the trip to Santiago, Chile to face the Chilean Under-21 team earlier this year.

“I think it was extremely important, because we’ve had a few camps here and there, but it gave us an opportunity to get to know each other even more,” says Woodcroft, who, after the series in Chile, went on to earning her first senior international cap in February in San Diego.

“On the field, knowing how each other plays and where we’ll be, when to pass the ball, and communication. Even off the field, we’re all so close, always hanging in out each other’s rooms. Just getting really familiar and comfortable with each other.”

That familiarity and comfort led to a successful series against Chile.

In seven games, the Canadian women won three matches, capping the series off with a convincing 5-0 victory.

But success was not only measure in the win-loss column, especially for players like Pham, who was new to the entire international experience.

“It was a really different and cool experience because this was my first time outside of North America, experiencing a different culture and country,” says the native of Mississauga, Ontario.

Getting that first-time experience out of the way will allow Pham and her teammates to focus on the hockey in Trinidad and Tobago.

And according to Woodcroft, the experience over the last year has positioned Canada’s junior women

“I think we all really believe that we can do it and that we’re good,” she says. “I think it really helped.”

The Canadian Junior Women open the 2016 Junior Pan American Championships on March 30th at 4:00pm local time (1:00pm PT/4:00pm ET) against Bermuda.

Field Hockey Canada media release

Chasing the Dream with USWNT Athlete Alesha Widdall

Remember when a bright orange flyer landed in your hand for middle school field hockey, acting as an open invitation to sample the sport? When the coach went around and asked who was interested in defending the goal cage, eyes may have sheepishly dodged to the ground. It’s a big role to own with quite a few solo pitch performances. The massive kickers and pads might have even be a little intimidating at that age.

In her adolescent years, a Whitney Point, N.Y. native's a hand popped into the air. With that simple gesture, Alesha Widdall began writing a career full of international travel and caps while representing the United States. And she isn’t close to putting down the pen.  

“It was voluntarily,” said Widdall, USWNT goalkeeper. “A couple of my good friends were playing or had played the position, and I wanted to do that with them as well. And I didn’t like running when I was younger either and wanted to be in a position where you didn’t have run.”

Before Widdall started hockey, she made a name for herself in the pool. Times are a little different now.

“I have got in the pool recently and it is a struggle,” said Widdall. “Now I can run really well, but I still hold records from when I was 11 years old in backstroke. The main reason I didn’t like swimming was because I couldn’t breathe properly. This is why I switched to field hockey.”

Little did Widdall know but she has been preparing for her role on Team USA since she was a child. 

“I am the youngest of six and there is a 5 year age gap between me and the next youngest,” said Widdall. “I have always been part of a team and field hockey gave me that feeling of being on a team rather than an individual sport like swimming.”

When she’s not on the pitch, she’s taking classes to fulfill prerequisites for physical therapy school. She enjoys helping people and feels the physical therapy route would be one of the best ways to give back.

“I have a special place in my heart for the elderly and very young, especially toddlers with special needs,” said Widdall. “I can see myself working with infants and toddlers like that. When I was younger my mom worked in a nursing home so I volunteered a lot of time there helping the elderly. Growing up my best friend was my grandmother.”

To relax, Widdall keeps it simple. Reading and playing videos games provide an unique outlet and escape.

“I am kind of a nerd,” said Widdall. “I like to read a lot of fantasy. I like being transported into other worlds, which goes with the video game thing.”

She’s owns her uniqueness with a cool demeanor, confident in her passions and talents. It falls in line with the mentality of being a goalie, there’s no room to be timid or shy. It’s a piece of pitch property reserved for the bold and fearless. And sometimes that courage is merely just raising your hand and trying something new.

USFHA media release

Special invite for Indian hockey team

Ashwin Achal

Former India hockey players Gagan Ajit Singh and Rajpal Singh may have done duty as security personnel at Mohali, but their younger peers got a feel of the action at the ICC World Twenty20 in a completely different capacity.

In a fine gesture, the Indian hockey team — in the city for a preparatory camp — were invited by the Board of Control For Cricket in India (BCCI) to watch their cricket counterparts take on Bangladesh at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Wednesday.

Clad in red t-shirts, head coach Roelant Oltmans and his players savoured the view from the terrace stand.

“The entire squad is here. The atmosphere at the stadium is fantastic. We are having a good time,” defender V.R. Raghunath told The Hindu.

“It is a privilege to be here. We are thankful to the BCCI for this gesture,” the penalty corner specialist added.

The Hindu

Herschel wins St Mary’s U16 hockey tourney

Pietermaritzburg Girls' High School's (GHS) hockey team proved to be the better team against St John's DSG on Sunday. The final score was 2-0 to GHS.

ST Mary’s DSG hosted another exciting U16 hockey tournament on the weekend. According to Grant Price, head of high school sport at the school, this was the fourth year of the event, which has grown from six schools to 12 schools, featuring several of the top hockey schools in SA.

The winner of the tournament was Herschel, followed by St Mary’s in second spot (Herschel won the final against St Mary’s through the eight-second challenge), Epworth in third, St Anne’s fourth, Paarl Gym fifth, Waterkloof sixth, St John’s seventh, Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High eighth, St Mary’s U14A ninth, Danville 10th, Maris Stella 11th and Durban Girls’ High School 12th.

The player of the tournament was Amy Goodwin from Herschel and the top goal-scorer was Hannah Shirley from St Mary’s DSG.

Highway Mail

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