All the news for Saturday 28 May 2016
Argentina and Canada through to the Pan American FinalBoth teams have also qualified for the 2016 Junior World Cup
Photo: Yan Huckendubler
All teams experienced a snapshot into a typical Toronto summer today with the humidity factor bringing the temperature to a muggy thirty degrees Celsius. A day full of exciting matches determined the two teams that would go on to compete at the 2017 Junior Pan Am Cup.
The opening match between Guyana and Mexico started off at a leisurely pace which was uncharacteristic of the Mexican team we’ve seen in previous games. The lack of speed did not prevent Mexico from taking a quick lead in the match. Jorge Aguilar was given time to make a reception, turn, and fire a clean shot that skidded past goalkeeper Scotland. Guyana’s Keon McKenzie evened up the score by potting his first goal of the tournament with an effective push on net. The teams went into the halftime mark with one goal apiece.
Mexico took back the lead four minutes into the second half off a penalty corner shot. With equal attacking opportunities being created by both sides, Guyanese veteran Aroydy Brandford matched the scoreline by taking a quick free hit, charging the circle and releasing a back hand a shot before the offense could blink. Both teams proceeded to worked their tails off to clinch the win they had within reach. Raymundo Lemus’s powerful sweep hit smashing into the back of the net placed Mexico one step closer to victory with only five minutes remaining. The Guyanese were unable to tie up the game with the limited time remaining, though not through lack of effort. They spent the majority of the final minutes in the Mexican circle but could not pull off the shot they needed to change the game. The Mexicans worked hard defensively to hold onto their lead and it paid off resulting in a 3-2 triumph over Guyana that would send them into the 5-6 game.
The second 5-8 placement match between Trinidad and Puerto Rico was very heavily dominated by T & T. Truly disheartened by their defeat in the quarterfinal match, Trinidad rose above the heartbreak and made a statement on the pitch today: they did not belong in this match. They proved their point by scoring only fifty seconds after the pushback. Their second and third goals followed closely behind making the score 3-0 after only six minutes. Trinidad provided variety in their attack; having five different goal scorers responsible for their seven goal lead over Puerto Rico by the end of the first half. Trinidad resumed control after the second half horn.
Puerto Rico managed to stave off any of Trinidad’s goal scoring opportunities for the first fifteen minutes. T & T’s Kieron Emmanuel eventually caused change in the scoreboard by the team their eighth goal off a penalty corner. The climbing goal difference resulted in a very frustrated Puerto Rican team facing an aggravated Trinidad looking to fill the chip on their shoulder. This combination made for an incredibly aggressive, and at some points, dangerous game. Umpires awarded five cards; three green, two yellow, throughout the match but these disciplinary actions were not enough to prevent a bench clearing fight from breaking out in the seventieth minute. Rumour has it - fists flew, which resulted in one five-minute yellow card and one ten-minute being awarded seconds before the match concluded. Though not a pleasant end to the game, Trinidad walked away feeling accomplished in proving their worth with an 11-0 win over Puerto Rico.
A classic matchup between team USA and Argentina took place for the first semifinal match of the day. Argentina scored after what felt like an eternity of intense play from both sides. The eternity was in fact only six short minutes, which meant an early lead for the South American competitors. Argentina resumed applying heavy pressure on American keeper O’Lari, who demonstrated his agility by blocking two speedy goal attempts. Argeninian Tomas Domene held a strong attacking position roofed the ball top corner before O’Lari had a chance to readjust for a third time. Argentina’s second, third and fourth goals were obtained within three minutes of each other and the energy completely shifted in Argentina’s favour. Their play resembling that of a team who knew they had already secured the win.
Unfortunately, the USA struggled to organize themselves and were incapable of creating any substantial attack on the Argentinians. The 5-0 scoreline at half made for a steep hill to climb for team USA in the second half. Argentina’s consistency was remarkable as their unrelenting attacking pressure gained them another five goals in the second half of the game. Massive celebrations from the Argentinians followed the final horn marking the end of the match and signifying their qualification for the 2016 Junior World Cup.
The final game of the day saw host team Canada fight Chile for the looming World Cup qualification. Both teams came out firing on all cylinders playing at with intensity that has yet to be seen in today’s matches. A proper goal scoring opportunity would come to be a rare commodity in this evenly matched pairing. Finn Boothroyd made sure to capitalize on Canada’s first opportunity on net by executing an excellent reverse shot into the top shelf. The frantic pace of the game began to dwindle as the half progressed. The calmer energy of the game appeared to work in Chile’s favour as they netted the equalizing goal off an effective penalty corner flick. 1-1 at halftime.
The pace to start the second half slowed, with each team playing tight, with maybe some nerves creeping in, with a spot in the finals and junior world cup on the line.A green card to Chilean player Bravo in the 44th minute opened the game up. Canada quickly took advantage and capitalized on the ensuing play. Great individual skill was displayed by Dhaliwal on the right side as he drove the baseline. Left alone, he had time to make the shot, drawing the goalkeeper Araya and placing the ball gracefully into the left side netting.
In the 59th minute, the ball came high off the stick of Chilean player Olavarria into a Canadian player in the circle, leading to a Canadian penalty corner. The Canadian left option flick led to a goal-front scramble, ultimately cleared by Chilean keeper Araya. The pressure did not relent however, as in the 60th Canada got the two-goal lead. Sidhu ran the left baseline and popped the ball through for the easy finish by Aujla. From there, Canada slowed the play and displayed great individual skill to eat up time. The game ended 3-1 in favour of Canada, earning them a date in the finals with Argentina tomorrow.
Pan American Hockey Federation media release
Canadian men headed to Junior World Cup and Pan Am final with win over Chile
Canada’s Under-21 men celebrate a 3-1 win over Chile (and a berth in the upcoming Junior World Cup) in the 2016 Junior Men’s Pan American Championship semifinal in Toronto (Photo: Yan Huckendubler)
Canada’s Under-21 men booked a ticket to the 2016 Junior World Cup in India later this year with a 3-1 semifinal win over Chile Friday at the Junior Men’s Pan American Championship in Toronto.
The win guarantees a top-two finish for Canada, which means it joins Argentina – the other Pan Am finalist – as the two Pan American representatives at the upcoming Junior World Cup in December. Canada and Argentina will also meet in Saturday’s Junior Men’s Pan American Championship gold medal match at 2:30pm PT/5:30pm ET.
With a spot at the Junior World Cup and in gold medal match on the line, the game started tentatively with neither team wanting to make the first mistake.
It wasn’t until the eighth minute of play – when Chile was able to earn a corner – that the offense and emotion began to pick up.
The dragflick on Chile’s corner was put high over the Canadian goal and keeper Iqwinder Gill, who was making his fourth start of the tournament.
Canada went on the attack shortly after in the 10th minute when captain Brandon Pereira sent a ball high through the air and up the field to forward Rohan Chopra, who turned on the jets and raced past the last Chilean defender and to the ball before being fouled. The play resulted in Canada’s first corner, but Pereira but his own flick wide.
But Canada would have another chance to crack the scoreless draw in the 12th minute and made good on the opportunity when Amrit Sidhu set up Fin Boothroyd in the Chilean circle. Boothroyd showed great patience and skill to turn the ball to his backhand and chip it over Chilean keeper Agustin Araya to give Canada the 1-0 lead.
Chile tried to push back, but Canada, as it did for the better part of the match, defended well thanks in part to strong defensive plays from the likes of Floyd Mascarenhas, and some luck with Chile not being able to connect on a good scoring chance for Axel Troncoso in the 21st minute.
In the 27th minute, however, Chile did tie the game on their second penalty corner of the game. The dragflick was faked and the ball dished to Nicolas Renz who put it by Gill to even the score heading into the second half.
Canada dodged a bullet early in the second half when Pereira went off with a green card and Canada was forced to play shorthanded. Gill also kept the game tied when he made a save in tight on Franco Becerra on a redirect.
Knowing they had avoided going down, Canada took advantage of its next opportunity in the 44th minute, when a ball was played cross-field to Shahbaaz Dhaliwal, who headed towards goal and flipped the ball over Aray for the 2-1 lead.
The Canadians would add an insurance marker in the 61st minute after Harbir Sidhu took a quick free hit and beat several Chilean players to enter the circle and work his way towards goal before dishing off to Kabir Aujla who tapped it in.
The Chileans pulled their goalie in favour of a kicking back but couldn’t create any chances as Canada went on to the 3-1 win.
Canada advances to the tournament final against Argentina on Saturday (2:30pm PT/5:30pm ET). The game will be a rematch of the 2015 Pan American Games men’s final when Canada’s senior men lost out to the Argentines on home soil.
The game can be watched live online here.
As a top-two finisher, Canada also moves on to the 2016 Junior Men’s World Cup in India later this year.
Field Hockey Canada media release
U-21 USMNT Falls to Argentina in Junior Pan Am Semifinals
Photo courtesy of PAHF
TORONTO, Canada - The U.S. U-21 Men's National Team suffered defeat today against an exceptional Argentina team in the Junior Men's Pan American Championship semifinals. There is still play left for Team USA as they have the opportunity to compete in the bronze medal match tomorrow against Chile.
In hot and humid conditions, Argentina attacked from the starting whistle.There was a clear change in pace and intensity from Argentina’s performances earlier in the tournament and they made the U-21 USMNT pay with some ruthless finishing. Their first goal came from a penalty corner that was flicked home and despite justified USA protests the goal stood.
Falling behind could have caused Team USA heads to drop, but that was far from the case. Intense levels of hard work from midfielders Christian DeAngelis (Doylestown, Pa.) and Jaspreet Gill (Placentia, Calif.), together with the entire team, prevented Argentina from having clear looks at goal. When they did, USA goalkeeper Nate O’Lari (Orange, Mass.) stood tall.
Unfortunately for Team USA, they couldn’t stop wave after wave of Argentina attacks and the world-class strikers representing the South American team began to find spaces that they exploited with some exceptional goals. The halftime score was stood at USA 0, ARG 5.
As the second half started, it was clear Argentina were not going to relent with their pace and intensity. The sheer levels of half-ball work that the U-21 USMNT was doing started to take its toll and the age and experience of Argentina told as they found spaces on the counter attack. Grayson Javins (Paihia, New Zealand) substituted in to goal for Team USA and continued where O’Lari had left off with some great saves, supported by some exceptional defending by Ajit Parmar (Freemont, Calif.). But when a team is as good as Argentina has the ball they are always capable of producing something exceptional. Some of their goals could have graced an Olympic Games stadium. The final score was USA 0, ARG 10.
“You can never be happy losing a semifinal but when you’re defeated by a team as good as Argentina, sometimes you have to stand back and say 'well done'," said Rutger Wiese, U-21 USMNT Head Coach. "I don’t see anyone beating them in the final and I wish them well. But now we have to concentrate on ourselves and we will prepare for our game tomorrow. We have a chance to win a medal and if we work as hard and as diligently as we did today, we have a shot. I trust these young men completely and I’m excited to see what we show tomorrow.”
The U.S. U-21 Men's National Team will play in the bronze medal match of the Junior Men's Pan Am Championship against Chile on Saturday, May 28 at 3:00 p.m. EST. Stream the game live here by clicking here. #NoOffDays
USFHA media release
Little details making big things happen for Chilean umpire
Photo: Pan American Hockey Federation
Legendary US basketball coach John Wooden once said: "It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen." This quote resonates well with one up and coming umpire who is currently living the dream at the men's Pan American Junior Championships taking place in Toronto, Canada this week.
Chilean umpire Matias Barbosa Castaño, officiating at the Hockey Junior World Cup qualifier in the Canadian city, took charge of his first international tournament three years ago. Since then, he says he has learned a lot along the way, and for him, it's the little things that make the biggest difference in terms of his development.
“I see myself between now and then and I must say that I’m a completely different person. More relaxed, wiser and much more knowledgeable.”
However, Matias says he still has much to learn: “If I can put it in numbers, I would say I am up to 20 per cent of my potential. I just want to keep on learning. Every tournament is different, and in all of them I learn different things.”
This is Matias’s second major tournament in Toronto and he says that the first experience was one of the highlights of his career.
He said: “The Pan American Games in 2015 was a complete success: the umpiring, the managers, the games, the whole organisation, the volunteers. It completely exceeded my expectations. It reinforced to me why I wanted to umpire in the first place. I came back to Toronto for the Junior Pan Am Championships hoping that it will be as fulfilling as the last time I was in Toronto.”
One of the best moments for the Chilean umpire could also have been one of the toughest moments of his career if things had been slightly different. He explains: “My last game in the Pan Am Games was Cuba against Trinidad and Tobago. It was for 7-8th place and Cuba had only eight players for the match. I expected the game to be catastrophic: I thought that the Cuban players would be aggressive, that they would delay the game as much as they could, that it would be a game with a lot of injuries and cards. But I was completely mistaken.
“The Cuban team played their best. They were playing not just for the love of their country, but for love of the sport and out of respect for their opponents. For the whole match they were running, creating play, with no complaints.
“Cuba lost 13-0 and at the final whistle, the players fell to the ground exhausted. The Trinidad and Tobago players helped them to stand up and carried them around the whole field so that the spectators could cheer them. 1,000 people gave a standing ovation to those eight players. It was a moment that I will never forget, and the reason of why I love this sport.”
While Matias is thriving in his role as an international umpire, he admits that there are moments when his composure may be threatened by circumstances. Experience gained over the past eight years has helped him cope with these stressful moments.
“I think this is the biggest difference between an experienced umpire and someone relatively new. Umpires are people; amazing people, but just people. We make mistakes during the game and, obviously, we get upset about some decisions we make. But we can also learn from those mistakes.
“It's very important that as you enter the field you are in the right frame of mind. To achieve that it's important to have good pre-match preparation with your umpire partner, make good use of your pre-match time for warming up, get to know the field and take a look at the teams as they warm up. It's all about feeling familiar with the surroundings.”
While dealing with pre-match nerves, calming down irate players and making match changing decisions could make an umpire’s life seem very stressful, there is always a lighter side to the role.
“I was umpiring a normal game, but in a rural area,” recalls Matias. “There were no problems during the whole game. Then 10 minutes before the game ended, a dog entered the field, grabbed the ball and ran away from the stadium. We didn’t have any balls left so we had to finish it 10 minutes before it really ended. We all had a good laugh about it afterwards.”
Matias is one of the leading umpires from Chile and, as such, he is heavily involved in the Chile Hockey Federation’s drive towards increased professionalism. In line with the FIH Hockey Revolution goal to make the sport more professional, he says: “We are working on “professionalising” the careers of umpires in Chile. Debriefing umpires after games will be crucial to this. Once a month I try to get in touch with my fellow umpires so we can join in a discussion of past games… but it’s not all serious, we do our debrief with a cold drink in our hands.”
RAZAK CUP: Terengganu v Police final
By Jugjet Singh
TERENGGANU will play Police in the final of the 54th Razak Cup Sunday at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
In the semi-finals, Terengganu dumped defending champions Malacca 4-0, while Police beat silver medallists Perak 3-0.
It was an amazing feat from both the finalists, as Terengganu finished a lowly sixth last season, while Police gained promotion after becoming champions in Division Two.
Malacca were in total shambles, as Terengganu slowed down the match and scored a goal in each quarter.
Faizal Shaari opened scoring with a reverse stick in the third minute, and contributed another in the 32nd minute. The other goals were scored by 16-year-old Akhimullah Anuar (25th), and Firhan Ashaari (60th).
As for Police, their opening goal was scored with a tap-in by Kamarudin Latiff, after a super solo run and a reverse stick pass from national player Nabil Fiqri in the 48th minute.
The second goal followed soon, with a field attempt from Faizal Raza in the 52nd minute. And Nabil rounded up the score to 3-0 with a field attempt in the 56th minute.
"Our plan worked well as we deliberately slowed down the match to our pace. Malacca are a very fast outfit, and to play their pace would have been disastrous.
"We were sixth last season, and it is an achievement to reach the final this year. We have a chance to lay our hands on the title, and I believe my players will not waste this golden opportunity," said Terengganu coach Sarjit Singh.
Terengganu's revelation in the Razak Cup is Akhimullah, 16, and going places.
"He just returned from the Mannheim (Germany) Under-16 tournament and his parents gave him leave to play in the Razak Cup. He scored the second goal today (yesterday), which eased some pressure on us. I believe he has many more good years to offer his state, as well as the country," said Sarjit.
Akhimullah scored two goals against the German Under-17 team in Mannheim, to hold them 5-5.
"I could not have asked more from my players, who rose from Division Two champions to enter the Division One final. This a great moment for the Police Force, and hopefully, we can lift the trophy on Sunday," said Police coach Gurmit Singh.
RESULTS: Division One -- Semi-finals: Malacca 0 Terengganu 4; Perak 0 Police 3.
Division Two: Semi-finals: Penang 7 Kelantan 3; Armed Forces 1 Perlis 4; Seventh-Eighth: Sarawak 2 Kedah 4; Fifth-Sixth: Selangor 8 Sabah 2.
Women's Round Two - Group X: Kuala Lumpur 5 Malacca 1; Group Y: Armed Forces 6 Perak 2; Group M: Sarawak 0 Terengganu 3; Group N: Sabah 1 Johor 3.
Division One: Third-Fourth: Malacca v Perak (8pm, Pitch II); Fifth-Sixth: Negri Sembilan v Kuala Lumpur (6pm, Pitch II); Seventh-Eighth: Pahang v Johor (6pm, Pitch I).
Division Two: Third-Fourth: Kelantan v Armed Forces (8pm, Pitch I).
Women's Round Two - Group X: Malacca v Pahang (7.30am, Pitch 1); Group Y: Perak v Selangor (7.30am, Pitch 2); Group M: Terengganu v Malacca (9.30am, Pitch 1); Group N: Johor v Penang (9.30am, Pitch 2).
Jugjet's World of Field Hockey
Police reach first ever Razak Cup final
By Aftar Singh
Police’s Kevinder Singh (second from left) shields the ball from Perak’s Mohamad Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin (left) during the Razak Cup Division One semi-finals at National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jali. - IZZRAFIQ ALIAS / The Star
KUALA LUMPUR: The Police hockey team are one game away from making Razak Cup history.
Coach Gurmit Singh’s men came alive in the fourth quarter to blow away last year’s runners-up Perak 3-0 in the semi-finals at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Friday.
Police, last year’s Division Two champions, will take on Terengganu in Saturday’s final.
Terengganu pulled off a stunning feat themselves, ousting defending champions Malacca 4-0 in the other semi-final.
But it was Police who stole the limelight as they checked into the final for the first time ever.
They, however, left it late – scoring three goals in eight minutes in the fourth quarter.
Kamarudin Mohd Latif gave Police the lead in the 48th minute off a pass by Nabil Fiqri Mohd Noor.
Four minutes later, Faizal Reza Mohd Noor scored from close range before Nabil Fiqri completed the rout in the 56th minute.
“It’s a fantastic achievement for us to reach the final ... no one believed we could do it after gaining promotion by winning the Division Two title last year,” said Gurmit.
“I could not have asked for a better performance from my players ... they rose to the occasion, though a bit late in the game.”
The other semi-final saw Malacca being let down by poor defending and finishing.
Terengganu, with 13 Sukma (Malaysia Games) players in the side, were clearly the better team.
Forward Faizal Saari inspired Terengganu to victory by netting a brace (3rd and 32nd minute).
Sixteen-year-old Muhd Akhimullah Anuar Esook (25th) and Muhd Firhan Ashaari (60th) added one apiece to complete the rout.
Terengganu coach Sarjit Singh praised his boys for converting their chances.
“We never allowed Malacca to control the match. Although Malacca had a few penalty corners, they didn’t trouble us as they don’t have a good flicker,” said Sarjit.
“The early goal motivated my players to go all out for more goals.
“I’m also impressed with Akhimullah. He’s only 16, but he did well to beat a defender before scoring with a reverse stick.
“We have a day’s rest to plan our strategy for the final.”
The Star of Malaysia
Head-to-head battles for German playoff spots
Who will join Mannheimer HC in the German playoffs? It promises to be a thrilling final day to the regular season campaign in the Liga with four sides battling it out for the three remaining playoff places.
Second place Rot Weiss Köln host fifth place Crefelder with the winner of the tie assured of a place in the final four. Indeed, Rot Weiss are all but assured of a place in the playoffs barring a heavy defeat in this game.
Crefeld were in great shape to reach the playoffs until a 6-2 blow-out against eighth place Berliner HC dropped them from second to fifth place and they will need to bounce back quickly if they are to have a chance of reaching the post-season.
Lose, though, and the final four will be confirmed no matter what happens elsewhere.
Harvestehuder THC, in third, meet fourth place UHC Hamburg in the other critical game with both sides in the same position, knowing a win will guarantee them a playoff spot.
A loss for either – or a draw for UHC – will have them anxiously checking their phones for details of the score from Rot Weiss. Up to 1,000 spectators are expected at HTHC’s Voßberg home for the crucial game.
Euro Hockey League media release
Polo announce double boost for next term
Real Club de Polo announced a double boost to their pack ahead of the Spanish finals weekend in Madrid with confirmation David Alegre and Matias Rey will remain with the club for two more seasons.
Polo will face Atlètic Terrassa on Saturday afternoon in the semi-final in Madrid at 3pm (CET) for a place in the final on Sunday. Polo are looking to continue their excellent run in recent years, including three league titles and three cups under Carlos García Cuenca.
The club will have a number of changes in the wake of this season and the coach said that: "winning the league would be the best way to end this cycle.
“It would be something historic, because we started with winning the league in 2013 and we can finish in the same way.”
On the other side of the draw, regular season champions Club Egara – who have already qualified for the EHL – will meet tournament hosts Club de Campo.
For Egara, they have announced that Narcissus 'Siso' Ventalló will be their new coach for the 2016/17 season, taking over from Patricio Keenan.
Ventalló coached Egara 1935 this season as they ended up third in the B Division in Spain and reached the final of the championship of Catalonia.
** You can watch Polo’s game with Atlètic Terrassa here:
** You can watch Club Egara vs Club de Campo here:
Euro Hockey League media release
Dean Lomax, Hockey Hero
Celebrating the heroes of community hockey
By Lawrence West
On the first day of National Hockey Week, which runs until Sunday 5 June, we’re profiling some of the individuals whose contribution to hockey in their local area makes them a Hockey Hero.
They are being recognised for their role in either growing the game, promoting hockey or facilitating the enjoyment or development of others.
Our second Hockey Hero is Dean Lomax of Bunbury, WA. Well done, Dean!
Name: Dean Lomax
Hockey Hero of: Boyanup, Bunbury, WA
Hockey Hero super powers: Leadership, pursuit of excellence and the promotion of hockey
“Dean is part of everything and everywhere with hockey – he is continually helping out the sport at a local, state and national level, and genuinely cares about everyone he deals with, whether that be a Hookin2Hockey clinic or a fellow national player.
“He goes above and beyond, not just offering his hockey knowledge and skills, but also his media background to help promote the sport. He truly is a great asset to the sport and an absolute legend!"
Those are the words of Dean Lomax’s daughter, Jordan.
The owner of a media company, Dean frequently uses his professional background in making videos, adverts and filming matches for the benefit of the sport, not only locally but, on occasion, nationally. More often than not, he does this completely free of charge as he looks to help spread the word about hockey.
His attitude of getting out there and getting it done has seen him twice bring in Healthways sponsorships to the tune of around $5000, directly benefitting the members of the hockey community in the area.
His leadership saw him successfully lobby for Bunbury to host the first international test in regional Western Australia, when the Kookaburras hosted the Netherlands in January 1998. And he followed that up more recently as the leader of the local organising committee for the hosting of the Hockeyroos’ matches against Great Britain in February 2016.
When not lobbying for grants and sponsorship, or international matches, Dean’s day-to-day commitment to hockey sees him serve on the executive of the WA Country Masters Hockey Association, which he has done since 2012. Previously, he has been president of his club, Towns Souths, of which he was made a life member in 2012. He has also sat on the executive committee of Bunbury and Districts Hockey Association, of which he was president for two years.
As a player, a coach and manager, Dean is constantly talking up hockey and helping to get local clubs and associations out there. He is a strong and positive influence on the juniors in the area, and at the other end of the scale has played for the WA Masters for the past five years, and the Australian Masters for the last three – winning two World Championships.
We’re leaving the final word to daughter Jordan, who says…
“In short, he is an outstanding sportsman, constantly striving to be better, train harder and do his team proud. As one of the oldest men out there playing B grade, he is always the one who runs that little but further, gets back when the opposing team gets a break and does as much as he can to inspire his team to do the same. He really is a Hockey Hero.”
Congratulations Dean on being named a Hockey Hero as part of our first ever National Hockey Week.
Hockey Australia media release
Royals approval for London's LGBT hockey club
While Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre in London will be ringing out with cheers when the Hockey Champions Trophy bursts into life in just a few days time, the national hockey centre offers much more than just a platform for elite hockey.
Another team who has made the Olympic Park venue it’s home is one of the youngest clubs in the UK – the London Royals.
The London Royals is the UK’s first and largest Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) hockey club, although as a spokesperson points out:“We are completely open to those of all sexual orientations.”
The club was recently short-listed for club of the year at the England Hockey annual awards and, while it just failed to take the main prize, the nomination is an indication of how far the club has come in a very short time.
This year the club introduced its ‘meet n greet’ events, which have resulted in a further 56 players coming along to try the sport.
The London Royals also entered five teams into the EuroGames in Stockholm, with both the men’s and women’s teams returning with gold medals.
For one young member of the club, the Royals has offered more than just a chance to play hockey.
Sam Golding joined the Royals four years ago. He said: “After watching the Olympics in 2012, I was inspired to join a team sport. I'd grown up around hockey, making it the obvious choice. I went onto the internet and searched for LGBT hockey teams and I was fortunate to find that the Royals trained five minutes from my house every Sunday.
“I turned up one grey Sunday morning in February and was met with the warmest welcome. It was obvious that I had forgotten every single rule there was in hockey but that didn't matter. There was no judgement on my skill or me. Something quite different to most experiences in sport that I've had before.”
Hockey ran in Sam’s family; his dad, Paul, played indoor hockey for England and had played and coached many teams to a high level. Sam says that he and his dad had drifted apart, a situation due, in some respects, to Sam’s sexual orientation.
So it was a major step for both father and son when Paul agreed to become coach for the London Royals – a commitment that involves him travelling from his home in Suffolk to the Olympic Park.
“The LGBT hockey club has really helped us understand each others’ worlds,” says Sam. “I've been exposed to the world of sport and hockey and he's been exposed to people in the LGBT community.”
For Paul, the first session was a real eye-opener. “I just did not know what to expect, it was a great surprise. Whatever standard or age, there was enthusiasm, commitment and, most of all, a great welcome. Everybody wanted to improve at hockey and have fun, whatever the experiences they had in team sport before.
“The improvement was astonishing, so much so that they are already playing league hockey. The club is going from strength to strength. They welcome everybody. They stand for everything that is great in sport.”
As someone who had shunned team sports, finding the experience intimidating, Sam has found his hockey family. “All people want to do is enjoy themselves playing in a team sport. The Royals provide a platform that allows people who have faced challenges in entering sport to access it. It’s because of this dysfunctional hockey family that, despite my earlier best efforts to avoid it, I call myself a hockey player.”
The London Royals is the epitome of inclusive sport and, as such, is a great example of the FIH Hockey Revolution’s aim to generate millions more followers and participants in the game. To find out more about the Hockey Revolution, FIH's 10-year strategy aimed at making hockey a global game that inspires the next generation.
To find out more about the London Royals, click here.
Hockey Australia Statement
By Lawrence West
STATEMENT FROM CAM VALE, CEO, ON BEHALF OF HOCKEY AUSTRALIA
“It was with great disappointment that I learned yesterday of the drink-driving offence committed by Anna Flanagan, a member of the Australian women’s senior national squad, in March. Over the subsequent 24 hours I have conducted an investigation into the circumstances of the offence and into Anna’s failure to disclose the matter to Hockey Australia.
“In relation to the drink-driving offence, Anna’s actions were dangerous and irresponsible and cannot be condoned under any circumstances.
“Her failure to disclose the matter to Hockey Australia was misguided and goes against the open and supportive culture that the Hockeyroos team and the organisation have developed over many years.
“On behalf of the board of Hockey Australia and in consultation with Adam Commens, the national coach, and Andy Smith, the high performance director, the decision has been taken to withdraw Anna from the Hockeyroos’ squad for the International Hockey Open in Darwin next week and from the Champions Trophy in London next month. She remains eligible for nomination to the Australian Olympic team.
“Anna’s welfare remains of paramount importance to us and we will continue to support her on and off the hockey field as we would any member of our national program.”
STATEMENT FROM ANNA FLANAGAN
“I deeply regret my actions. Drink-driving is irresponsible and I deeply regret my decision to drive after drinking.
“I wish to apologise to my family and friends, my Hockeyroos teammates and coaches, Hockey Australia and to all of those people who have supported me, and continue to do so. I realise that my actions were not in keeping with those expected of someone in my position.
“I accept that my actions have consequences and I will work hard to make it up to those that I have let down.”
There will be no further comment on the matter.
Hockey Australia media release