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News for 14 July 2016

All the news for Thursday 14 July 2016

Great Britain men head to 4 Nations in Dusseldorf

Ashley Jackson celebrates HCT2016

Great Britain Head Coach Bobby Crutchley has selected 18 athletes to compete in the Ergo Masters 4 Nations Invitational tournament in Dusseldorf, Germany.

With preparations continuing apace for the Rio Olympics in August the bulk of the Great Britain squad travelling to take on Belgium, Netherlands and Germany is comprised of the players who will compete in the Olympic Games. Captain Barry Middleton, David Ames and Nick Catlin have not travelled and will be rested during the tournament with Scotland star Chris Grassick and Phil Roper coming in to bolster the group. Ashley Jackson will captain the side in Middleton's absence.

Jackson, his country's all-time leading scorer is also in line to make his 100th appearance for Great Britain; currently he has 98 caps to his name. Striker Mark Gleghorne is also due to reach a century, the No14 has 99 combined England and Great Britain caps. 

Bobby Crutchley's team will start their campaign with a match against hosts Germany tomorrow (Thursday) at 1830 local time. Their next match is Saturday against Netherlands at 1400 with a Sunday showdown with Belgium all set for 1130am. 

Full Squad:
George Pinner (GK)
James Bailey (GK)
Henry Weir
Ashley Jackson (C)
Simon Mantell
Harry Martin
Alastair Brogdon
Michael Hoare
Sam Ward
Mark Gleghorne
Phil Roper
Adam Dixon
Dan Shingles
David Condon
Iain Lewers
Dan Fox
Chris Grassick
Ian Sloan

Full fixture details for the tournament can be found in the international section of our website.

A live stream of the action can be found here.

Great Britain Hockey media release

Injuries force Great Britain hockey team to reshuffle ERGO Masters squad ahead of Rio 2016.

By Mike Haymonds

GREAT BRITAIN’S men have had to make changes as they complete their build-up to the Rio Olympics at the four-nation ERGO Masters which starts today (Thursday) in Dusseldorf.

They would have expected to make the trip with the 16 players and three reserves announced for Rio last month but captain Barry Middleton (shoulder), Ulsterman David Ames (shin) and Nick Catlin (hip) are nursing minor knocks.

They are replaced by Scot Chris Grassick and Phil Roper who are not Rio-bound.

Britain face Germany tonight then meet The Netherlands on Saturday and Belgium on Sunday and head coach Bobby Crutchley said: “It is important the players are in the best physical shape possible when they get to Rio. Rehabbing their minor injuries therefore takes priority at this stage.”

At last month’s Champions Trophy, which Holland missed on the grounds that it did not suit their pre-Olympic plans, GB drew 1-1 with Germany and 3-3 with Belgium in pool games before losing 1-0 to Germany in the bronze medal match.

Coach Crutchley said: “These are important matches in our final preparations for the Games. While we will look to have good performances and aim to win matches the actual results are unlikely to have any significance in terms of the Olympics.”

Daily Express

Zalewski to replace injured White in Rio team

Holly MacNeil

Hockey Australia has advised the Australian Olympic Committee of the withdrawal of Tristan White (NSW) and nomination of West Australian Aran Zalewski as his replacement in the Australian Men’s hockey team bound for the Rio Olympics.

White sustained a tear to his posterior cruciate ligament during an internal training match, and will be unable to rehabilitate the injury in time to participate in the games which begin on August 5.

Hockey Australia High Performance Director, Andy Smith said: “It’s clearly devastating news for Tristan who has done very well to be selected in the final 16 in what would have been his first Olympics, following strong performances throughout 2016.

“Our senior centralised training environment provides strength and depth within the squad which has meant that we have been able to select Aran Zalewski into the 16 man team. Aran has been a regular member of the team over the last two years and narrowly missed out on selection initially.”

Finalising the full team, the three reserves who will travel to Rio with the team have been named as Jeremy Hayward, Tom Craig and Tyler Lovell.

Athlete (Hometown) Rio 2016 Olympic Games
Daniel Beale (Brisbane, QLD) 1st Olympic Games
Andrew Charter (GK) (Canberra, ACT) 1st Olympic Games
Chris Ciriello (Melbourne, VIC) 2nd Olympic Games
Matthew Dawson (Central Coast, NSW) 1st Olympic Games
Tim Deavin (Launceston, TAS) 2nd Olympic Games
Jamie Dwyer (Rockhampton, QLD) 4th Olympic Games
Matt Gohdes (Rockhampton, QLD) 2nd Olympic Games
Blake Govers (Wollongong, NSW) 1st Olympic Games
Fergus Kavanagh (Geraldton, WA) 3rd Olympic Games
Mark Knowles (Rockhampton, QLD) 4th Olympic Games
Eddie Ockenden (Hobart, TAS) 3rd Olympic Games
Simon Orchard (Maitland, NSW) 2nd Olympic Games
Matthew Swann (Mackay, QLD) 2nd Olympic Games
Glenn Turner (Goulburn, NSW) 2nd Olympic Games
Jake Whetton (Brisbane, QLD) 1st Olympic Games
Aran Zalewski (Margaret River, WA) 1st Olympic Games

Jeremy Hayward (Darwin, NT)
Tom Craig (Lane Cove, NSW)
Tyler Lovell (Perth, WA)

Hockey Australia media release

From a rank ‘outsider’ to Indian hockey skipper

Harpreet Kaur Lamba

For those familiar with Sreejesh P.R.’s days of struggle at the junior India camps, it will be hard to fathom that he has made his way up so rapidly and will lead the team at the Rio Olympic Games.

Back in 2004, Sreejesh’s early days at the junior camp in New Delhi, the Ernakulam-born six feet tall goalkeeper did not know Hindi, was in danger of being sent home since his family could not afford `5,000 for his goalkeeping kit and was constantly mocked by fellow campers, who found him a ‘misfit’.

In the fast-paced life of the capital city, Sreejesh was the odd one out. Clad in a lungi with torn slippers, he wasn’t someone they were expecting and the teenagers did not take to it kindly. While some made fun of his traditional clothes, others offered him money to buy himself new slippers - something he never accepted. On the field, however, they all went quiet as the lanky youngster threw himself at everything and stood out easily.

Every night after training, Sreejesh would spend time stitching his torn jersey - he only had two of them and knew he could not call up his farmer parents asking even for a paltry amount - and prepare for next day’s training.

Those were tough times for Sreejesh, but they taught him lessons he does not forget even now. More than hockey, it taught him how to fight the odds and turn things in his favour whatever the situation.

It is an attitude that he carries to the field even now - fearless and confident - and is known for both by team mates and his opponents.

As the 29-year-old - the only living Olympian to have a road named after him in hometown Kerala - prepares to lead the team at Rio, he cannot help but recall the time that shaped his future.

"I think there were days when I did not even have `100 to spend, but as long as I had a place to stay and food, I was okay. I was not this competitive guy who wanted to play for India, nor did these things made me angry," recalls Sreejesh, albeit with a smile.

"I used to feel embarrassed and sad, but never bitter. My father is a farmer and I had seen him work almost 20 hours a day for food and the next day would be the same. So, I never called them for money or to say I was struggling. My only focus was to get a job."

And an India berth, one asks.

"India berth?" stresses Sreejesh. "At that time, that was not really my priority. Also, I was not sure if I was good enough for that. I wanted to be a physical education teacher and support my family.

"I think I took things seriously when Harendra (Singh) sir saw the potential in me and said you can be the best if you work hard. I was a confident player and enjoyed goalkeeping and things changed when I was picked for the junior team."

At the senior level, Sreejesh spent many years playing second fiddle to Baljeet Singh, Adrian Dsouza and Bharat Chetri, but when his time came in 2013 he made the place his own.

Today, Sreejesh has carved his name among the best goalkeepers in the world, played a crucial role in India’s 2014 Asian Games gold medal triumph effecting crucial saves, won the Arjuna award and was even named Hockey India player of the year a few months back.

Former India skipper Jagbir Singh calls him ‘Sreesreshth’ (better than the best), while his team mates have named him the ‘Wall of India’. His fans want him to be nicknamed the ‘defence minister’ for his consistent saves!

But ask Sreejesh what matters the most, and his answer is always the same: "The team".

"No individual can claim honours alone or should be credited for the victory. It begins and ends with a team. Even when I received the player of the year award, I felt it belonged to my team," says Sreejesh, who will become the second goalkeeper after Chetri to lead India at the Olympics.

"I believe in communication. I never hold back when I see someone is little laid back or lacklustre, even when I am not the captain. I shout instructions to everyone from my goalpost," he says.

"I believe it is very important to fight together. I also tell them to enjoy their hockey. Many times between breaks or change overs, I even sing songs to keep myself calm. I think the secret to excelling is enjoying the game and I do not want to give that up ever."

In the last two years, almost every Indian success has been replete with one common aspect: Sreejesh’s excellent performance. So much so that experts had begun to say that on days Sreejesh did not do well, India could not win.

Says Sreejesh, "For me, it means they trust me and do not want me to fail. It means I cannot afford to have an off day. I read all that stuff and take that as motivation."

All this though took years of hard work and constant analysing. If Harendra spotted him during junior days, the man responsible for shaping Sreejesh into a top-level goalkeeper was South Africa’s Dave Staniforth.

Staniforth’s first reaction after seeing Sreejesh at a national camp was that the Keralite did not have a very clean style of play, which he named jokingly the "lungi style" of goalkeeping. Work first begun on basics and then on what the top goalkeepers were doing differently.

From a learner, Sreejesh slowly became a man to be feared. It is that quality that the world and Indian fans would want to see when their ‘keeper of faith" leads the team in Rio in three weeks from now.

The Asian Age

Surender: from wilderness to Rio

Uthra Ganesan

Surender Kumar. Getty Images

On Tuesday, Surender Kumar was named among the 16 players to represent the country at Rio.

Five months ago, Surender Kumar had been out of even the probables’ list for the Olympics and had little hope of making the national hockey team in the near future. On Tuesday, he was named among the 16 players to represent the country at Rio.

The fairytale may have come true but the 22-year old defender remains as shy as he was back then. “I have never spoken to the media, I don't know what to say,” he mumbled, before agreeing to answer questions.

In February, Surender had said he was only hoping to force his way back into the core group through his hard work and performances in the Hockey India League. “That was the original aim. Then I got my first chance with the national team at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, where the coaches tried me out. I did reasonably well there, so the coaches gave me more chances, first at the Champions Trophy and then the Spain tour. They must have thought I did well, that’s why they have now selected me for the Olympics,” Surender told The Hindu.

Surender was one of the stand-out players in the fourth edition of the HIL with his franchise Delhi Waveriders having enough faith to retain him ahead of stars like Sardar Singh. For the second year running, Surender was the bulwark of Delhi’s defence and the silent worker whom the opposition found impregnable. A clean tackler and someone unafraid to throw his body around, Surender came for praise from experts during the Champions Trophy as well.

Enjoyed the pressure

“Pressure at CT was actually less than at Azlan Shah. I already had tournament experience and knew my strengths and also the opposition players. Azlan Shah, however, was my first-ever senior tournament and I knew I had to give my best and perform well if I had any hopes of playing further for the country. But I also enjoyed that pressure because the coaches gave me a lot of encouragement,” Surender, who played the junior World Cup in 2013, said.

Unlike several others in this team, there is nothing flamboyant about the lanky defender who prefers to stay away from the cameras, listen to music and keep things simple. He is also one of the calmest players on the field. “I don’t do any thing special. I just don’t think much and only do what the coaches suggest — focus on the ball and not commit too many fouls. You do get frustrated sometimes when there are mistakes but not too often,” he smiles, looking up for the first time throughout conversation.

“This journey in the last few months has been like a dream come true, I am happy. I used to think of this day. I first dreamt of it when I saw, on television, Sardar Singh play, when I was not even part of the junior camp. God has blessed me, my family has supported me and now I only hope to try and do my best under all the pressure of the Games,” he signed off.

The Hindu


Devinder Walmiki: “I dedicate my selection to my brother and family”

K Arumugam

Devinder Walmiki yesterday was an emotion personified. He could not believe the day has come, and his dream has fructified.

‘I am going to be an Olympian’.

This feeling engulfed the youngster who has seen deep lows, plateau, pains before the peak of Rio scaled.

“I know I did well in all the opportunities provided to me in the recent past and was hopeful of making it to the Olympics. When it dawned today that I really made it I cannot but thank the Almighty for bestowing the grace” the all rounder said moments after receiving tickets, shawl and momento from BJP President Amit Shah, triple Olympian Harbinder Singh and Union Minister for Sports, Vijay Goel, respectively.

It was a Hockey India’s impeccable Team Announcement Function.

Draped in blue band-gala suit, that added further flip to the shining persona of Devinder Walmiki obviously had no appropriate words to describe his emotion.

However, he was, moments later, in his self.

“My brother Yuvraj just missed out last time for the Olympics. I dedicate my selection to him (Yuvraj Walmiki)” said grateful younger sibling.

My elevation is due to the support and encouragement I got from my mother, my brother”, he added.

Young Devinder’s career took off dramatically, before plunging logarithmically downwards and then suffered as much as turns and twists in the Indian hockey politics, underwent.

He was selected for the maiden Sultan of Johor Cup in 2011, but his preference, following ill-advice of so called advisors, took him to lows. He preferred to play for the World Hockey Series, where he showcased his talent as an all rounder including converting penalty corners aplenty.

Two formative years were lost, as every star who participated in the WSH has been ruthlessly sidelined by the Hockey India, which was contemplating its own league called Hockey India League.

Once the WSH died its own, and much time has lapsed, he was recalled, an opportunity that the energetic younger lapped it up with both hands.

His performance in the last World Series Final in Raipur brought him into limelight.

Then the London Champions Trophy brightened his prospects.

Roelant Oltmans, who has a sharp eye for talent scouting and polishing, used him sparingly, bringing almost in the third quarters.

This spell always saw strategic change.

It is at this juncture, he came out with sterling shows, even puncturing world’s best goalies.

And, as destiny’s irresistible child, he is there for Rio show.

Having played an European Club, and gone through ups and downs in so short a spell, Devinder today is a mature boy.

A boy whose allrounderism will be in focus in the coming days.

“Getting selected in one part. Now, my focus is to live up to the expectations of everyone” Devinder says.

He will. We feel. He then rushed to nearby hoarding where some of his peers were surrounding Dhanraj Pillay for selfie moment.


Nikki overcomes hurdles to become Jharkhand's first woman hockey Olympian

Ranchi: Nikki Pradhan was not picked for the country's junior national hockey camp in 2011-2012 and didn't know what the future held for her. Now, sheer dedication and hard work have seen this tribal girl make the cut in the Indian women's hockey team for the Rio Olympics.

Nikki started to play hockey in her village before joining a coaching camp in Ranchi in 2005. She made her debut for the senior Indian team in 2015.

The region that is now Jharkhand boasts of five Olympians -- Jaipal Singh Munda (Amsterdam 1928), Michael Kindo (Munich 1972), Silvanus Dungdung (Moscow 1980), Manohar Toppno (Los Angeles 1984) and Ajit Lakra (Barcelona 1992). However, Nikki is the first woman hockey player from the state on the world's biggest sporting stage.

Chief Minister Raghubar Das has congratulated Nikki on her selection in the Olympic squad, saying it was a matter for pride for all of Jharkhand.

Sate Sports Minister Amar Bauri said that her achievement would be an encouragement to other sportspersons from the state. Hockey Jharkhand chief Bholanath Singh said that after a long time the state is once again in the news for its achievements in hockey.

"The matter was of great pride and Hockey Jharkhand was committed to do its good work," Bholanath said.

Former national selector and international woman hockey player Savitri Purti too greeted Nikki.

However, her childhood coach Dasrath Mahto said that Nikki was earlier sacred of playing the sport as due to her lean figure she used to think that the stick would one day break her legs. However he kept on encouraging her after which she decided to pick up the stick.

Nikki belongs to a small village named Hesel in Murhu block of Khunti district. Unfortunately, the people of her village were unaware about her achievements until the media started airing the news.

Her father Soma Pradhan is with the Bihar Police while her mother Jitni Devi is a housewife.

What is surprising that while the state government makes tall claims of taking care of sportspersons, this Olympian lives in a thatched mud house in which the toilet and the bathroom does not even have a proper door.

The Times of India

Oltmans, players visit Shahid

NEW DELHI: Chief coach of Indian hockey team, Roelant Oltmans and five senior members of the Rio-bound men's team visited ailing hockey legend Mohammad Shahid at a private hospital in Gurgaon on Wednesday. While team members got emotional du ring the meeting, Shahid tried to say something to them but was unable to speak. He, however, wished them luck with a smile.

Newly-appointed Union sports minister Vijay Goel also visited the former India captain who is undergoing treatment for liver and kidney ailments.

The Times of India

Gwalior is India's new hockey nursery

Ramendra Singh

BHOPAL: Gwalior is fast earning a reputation as 'women's hockey nursery'. The city has made history with seven players - including captain Sushila Chanu - who trained at the Gwalior-based Madhya Pradesh Women's Hockey Academy making it to national team which will represent India in Rio Olympics.

The academy, which is run by the state's sports department, was started with a handful of players in 2006. In a span of 10 years, the academy has already sent 24 players to the national team. Incidentally, almost all junior players selected in first three years made it to the national team.

Before this academy in MP, the Shahbad girls' academy in Haryana, and before that, the Bariatu Girls High School (Ranchi) enjoyed the distinction of churning out players for the national team. Gwalior has gone a step ahead by having seven players in the national team, a feat not achieved by any other nursery.

"The idea was to provide a platform for women players. There was support for the men's team but the women's team was languishing. With this academy, we wanted to promote and nurture women hockey players," said sports minister Yashodhara Raje Scindia.

She said: "Doubts were expressed at the time of the opening of the academy. But I was confident that the girls we had selected from across the country would do wonders in future.

The result is there for all to see."

As for the choice of Gwalior for the academy, she said, "Choosing hockey was well thought out as we wanted to support the game which has a long history in the state. Hockey turned out to be the first choice. I am on cloud nine after the selection of seven players. They have proved that we made the right decision 10 years ago." Chief coach Paramjit Singh said, "Gwalior has become a hub for women's hockey. Captain Sushila was part of the first batch with which we had started the academy." Singh feels coming from the same academy gives these players an advantage. "These players know each other's game, which will come in handy in Olympics."

The only time Indian women's team played in Olympics was in Moscow in 1980 when the Rupa Saini-led team missed a bronze by a whisker.

The Times of India

The Olympics that changed the history

K Arumugam

German captain receives gold medal, while Indian captain Harmik Singh looks on from the background.

The 61st minute penalty corner goal was the last of legendary Michal Krause’s ten thundering goals he posted in Munich, but the one that changed the goalposts of global hockey once for all.

For many its Black September episode that revives the memory of Munich Olympics, but for the hockey connoisseurs it’s consequences of Michael Krause's stunning winner that takes is talked about.

Monopoly of two unlikely giants of Olympic sport has been broken, and with exceptions apart, once for all at Munich.

1972 Munich Olympics is in many ways a Mutiny Olympics of sort for the global hockey.

It was unusual, unexpected and wholly irreversible as turned out be later.

Two unlikely giants of a Olympic sport, India and Pakistan -- who have been dominating the field hockey scene since 1928 -- has been done in at Munich.

The giants could not get up thereafter, so much so in the decades that followed even being there in the Olympic theatre had become a task in itself.

After the defending champions India was dethroned in the Mexico semi-finals, Pakistan ascended to the throne.

The Olympic gold stayed with Asia, however.

Since 1956 to 1964, the finalists were from Asia, before that it was exclusively Indian domain.

India and Pak shared three continuous Olympic finals, Melbourne, Rome and Tokyo.

In 1968, Pakistan held the Asian flag high in their straight fourth Olympic final entry.

The Munich saw the mutation.

Australia drowned India in the Mexico semis, but Germany did the same to Australia in the final.

One Asian in the final starting from 1928 legacy continued, with Pakistan taking on the home side.

Events were many, but the 61st minute goal off Michael Krause that came after earlier attempt was believed to have hit the foot of first charger Ishlahuddin Siddique of Pakitan, crashed in to the cage off kneeling goalie Munnawar.

The 1-0 goals sustained, despite Pakistan doing everything including a couple of penalty corners. Germany withstood to rewrite the history.

Pakistan thereafter misbehaved during the medals presentation ceremony even a player was alleged to have hung the medal on his foot. The team was banned from participation from international tournament for many years, but intervention at top political level and apology cut short the punishment.

The resilent Pakistan, without many stars, went on to win the World Cup in a year’s time is a different story.

However, once the mental block of invincibility of India-Pak suzerainty is broken, every surprised happened subsequently.

The Munich, the last Olympics on natural grass, thus turned out to be a watershed. Thereafter, with the introduction of synthetic surface, new nations started winning Olympic Gold, New Zealand in 1976 to start with.

India and Pakistan however hardly woke up, though India won the gold at the depleted Moscow, Pakistan in 1984. Except a brief revival at Sydney, Pakistan could not find its moorings. It did not even qualify for the Rio number.

For India, the fate is almost same, failed to be at the Asian number Beijing.

Munich mutiny therefore is historic, worth recollection for all it portends.


Chasing The Dream with USWNT Athlete Alyssa Manley

Although currently and comparatively short in length, the width of Alyssa Manley’s budding international field hockey career covers serious ground. 

Joining the red, white and blue at the senior level in 2015, Manley secured her first international cap within a few short weeks against Argentina in February.

Four months later in Toronto, Manley scored her first goal where she connected ball to board at the semifinal match at the 2015 Pan American Games to help lead Team USA to a gold medal and an Olympic Games qualification.

She played in the 2015 World League Round 3 in Valencia, Spain and the 2016 Champions Trophy to win the bronze in London, England.

Less than a year after she scored her first goal and 32 caps later, the Lititz, Pa. native’s name is etched on a list that will forever be part of national sport history – the 2016 Rio Olympic Games roster.

That’s the feel-good, TV presentable version of Manley’s story. A rookie racks up almost instant success to be a pivotal part of Team USA’s starting lineup. While it makes for an accurate, impressive headline, there’s much more to be said about Manley.

“At first I wasn’t really sure where I stood on the team because it all happened so fast,” said Manley. “I went from college to the U-21 National Team to the senior team in comparatively short amount of time. Although I felt prepared for the jump, the fitness of the girls was so much higher; the speed of the game drastically increased and the technical skill was far better. It was almost like a completely different game moving from college to the international scene. I love this version of the sport and how athletic you need to be.”

During her time at Warwick High School she earned First Team All-State, First Team All-Region and First Team All-League honors her senior year and even earned Lancaster Sports Writers & Coaches Field Hockey 2011 Player of the Year. In those impressionable years as an athlete and a person, Manley became part of USA Field Hockey U-17 National Team in 2011, earned playing rights to the 2012 USA Field Hockey Futures Elite Championship, and built up to USA Field Hockey’s Under-19 National Tournament. There was progression. There was promise.

She earned a scholarship to Syracuse University, and then something stopped clicking. After completing her freshmen, Manley began reevaluating her decision to play.

“It was difficult,” said Manley. “I’ve never been away from home or separated from family and friends before. That feeling began to outweigh my love of the game. It’s almost like I lost it.”

So the summer during her sophomore year she did something to help her game – she put down the stick. Taking three months off from high performance training and competing, Manley booked a plane ticket to Ireland to visit a best friend and tour Europe.

“I came back and a switch had flipped,” said Manley. “I was different player making a huge impact on the field and became one of the top-tier players at Syracuse. I needed that mental break to reevaluate what I wanted with the sport. I have been playing field hockey for so long, since I was 6, that I needed to step back and really plan my course.

“I don’t like giving up on things. At the end of the day, that’s who I am. I couldn’t risk giving something like this up,” said Manley. “I knew my coach and teammates would push me through to be better. This was a pivotal moment for me. There was growth in all areas of my play.“

She went on to be a Honda Sports Award Recipient for field hockey, the first player to receive the honor for any sport in Syracuse history. She was a Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year Finalist at the CWSA Sports Awards and Female Athlete of the Year at the 10th-annual 'Cuse Awards. She was named NFHCA First Team All-American, NCAA All-Tournament Team, ACC All-Tournament Team and dubbed ACC Defensive Player of the Year and earned a spot on the All ACC first team; all in her senior year.

Now Manley adds another accolade to the list - Olympian.

“When I found out I made the Rio roster, there was so much relief,” said Manley. “It was overwhelming in the best way. It’s a dream come true.”

USFHA media release

Kapiti premier 1 women's hockey team hope to avoid relegation

Part of the Kapiti premier 1 women's hockey team.

Victoria University's late winner prevented the Kapiti premier 1 women's hockey team from securing a draw in front of their home crowd last weekend.

Kapiti were beaten 3-2, with Victoria scoring about five minutes from the end of Saturday's game at the Kapiti Sports Turf.

The result means Kapiti will finish bottom of the table after the round-robin - they play Toa at the Kapiti turf on Saturday to close the regular season.

In their first season in the P1 grade for more than 20 years, they are yet to win a game. 

"We've still got a bottle of champagne sitting in the assistant coach's cool bag," coach Paul Tessier said.

Performances have been improving, and the losses getting closer, through the season.

"Our recent results show we deserve to be in P1."

After this weekend, Kapiti need one win to avoid relegation to Premier 2. On July 23, Kapiti will play P1's fifth-placed team.

If they lose that game, they will face the loser of the clash between the sixth and seventh-placed sides.

Lose that, and they face a promotion-relegation match against the top team from P2.

Kapiti started Saturday's game on the front foot, but were unable to convert a series of penalty corners in the first 10 minutes.

Soon after, they opened the scoring through striker Emma Aitken's penalty stroke, and took their lead into half-time.

Victoria struck twice early in the second half to, but Kapiti equalised shortly after, when Aitken turned in Jorjah Patu's cross from the left.

They tried for an equaliser, but couldn't respond to Victoria's late goal.

Tessier was disappointed with the result, but encouraged by the performance.

"It's one of those losses we couldn't have done much more."

Paraparaumu College student Maia Black was named Kapiti's player of the day for her performance on the right side of midfield, while Tessier said his team looked more dangerous with Patu, who has only been available occasionally this season, playing up front.

Kapiti's game was the first of four on the turf - all P1 games were held back-to-back.

Tessier guessed between 200 and 300 spectators watched the Kapiti game, and said his side enjoyed playing in front of a home crowd.

Dominion Post

Negri going for gold despite hectic schedule in Sukma hockey competition

by Aftar Singh

Perak emerged champions in the last Sukma hockey competition in Perlis.

KUALA LUMPUR: It looks like only the fittest will survive the Malaysia Games (Sukma) hockey competition.

Teams are set to play six preliminary round matches in a week and that will surely take a toll on the players.

Negri Sembilan coach S. Chandran knows only too well how taxing that can be. His team were trounced 6-0 by Perak in the men’s final at the last Sukma in Kangar two years ago because his players were simply drained by the hectic schedule.

But that hasn’t stopped the Negri Sembilan Hockey Association (NSHA) from setting a gold medal target for their team at the 19th edition of the Sukma in Kuching, which will be held from July 22-31.

The hockey competition, with 13 teams in the men’s section, will begin two days earlier.

Chandran admitted that fitness would be the key to victory at Sukma.

“I’m focusing more on my players’ fitness to make sure they can last the whole tournament and win our first gold medal in Sukma,” said Chandran, who has been coaching Negri’s Sukma hockey team since the 2002 edition in Sabah. 

Negri are in Group B and will open their campaign against Kelantan on July 20, followed by matches against the Federal Territories (July 21), Selangor (July 22), Pahang (July 23), Sabah (July 25) and Terengganu (July 26).

Group A comprises defending champions Perak, Penang, Malacca, Johor, Perlis and Sarawak.

The semi-finals will be on July 29 and final on July 30.

In preparation for Sukma, Negri played in a quadrangular tournament in Kuala Lumpur last month and emerged champions.

Negri drew 0-0 with the Federal Territories before beating Perak 2-1 and Terengganu 4-2.


Muhammad Fitri Jasni, Mohd Danial Mohd Zafrin, M. Saravanan, Abdul Shafiq Abdul Razak, Mohd Zabad Rosly, Mahatir Rathuwan, Muhd Syabariq Shamsuri, Muhammad Aiman Shamsuri Marzuki, Muhammad Ikwan Ishak, S. Devan, Mohd Zainul Hafzan Ahmad Suhaimi, Mohd Ismady Alis, Muhammad Faiq Nazwan Azar, Muhd Adhwa Mohd Jalil, Mohd Shahkairul Rusyaidi Abdullah, Shamsul Aliff Shamsul Husni, Sandeep Singh, Muhammad Chairil Daniel Rusli.

The Star of Malaysia

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