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News for 28 January 2017

All the news for Saturday 28 January 2017

Mumbai thrash defending champions JPW

s2h team

With a brace of goals coming from the sticks of each German star Florian Fuchs and Indian youngster Affan Yousaff, the hosts Dabang Mumbai posted the biggest score of the Hockey India League 2017 edition to notch up an amazing 10-4 win over the defending champions Jaypee Punjab Warriors today at the Mahindra Hockey Stadium in Mumbai.

With the second win, in addition to a first match draw, the Dabang Mumbai leads the points table with 12 points, two points ahead of Kalinga Lancers.

undefined A game marked for the astonishing work of forwards from either side, saw brilliant goals emanate in rhythmic fashion that kept the small crowd busy.

Sixty minutes of the absolute entertainer saw seven field goals, counting fourteen for record. Its actually Florian Fuchs and Nikkin Thimmaiah who rattled the Punjab defence time and again, though in the second half, Affan Yousaff struck twice in quick succession with hawkish eye on the ball and matching grip on the opportunism that came his way.

Both sides got two penalty corners each but Harmanpreet for the home side and Jasjeet for the visitors could not shine, stopping the pushed ball being the culprit, not stopped properly.

Arman Qureshi did help reduce the margin to 6-4 midway through second half, but the two stunners from Affan Yousaf doused the fire before it engulfed the hosts. With two thrilling field goals, each in first two quarters, the hosts Dabang Mumbai took 4-2 lead over defending champions Jaypee Punjab Warriors at half time.

First, as early as fifth minute, the visitors were stunned when ever alert Nikkin Thimmaiah raised his stick full high to whack a high rebound from the goalie to the ground inside the net to give side 2-0 lead.

Dabang Mumbai, playing its third match made use of its experience to rattle raw Jaypee who are playing their first match of the season.

As the first quarter progressed, Jaypee Warriors pulled up their stocks and started moving like a well-oiled machine, resulting in a flurry of goal attempts.

Matt Ghodes evened out in the wee moments of the same quarter.

At the stroke of goalless second quarter, much after his side failed to stop the lone penalty corner push, and surviving a Sunil's solo, Florian Fuchs, who missed at least twice gilt edged chances so far, turned in a great stuff. Trapping deep minus from right backline, turned a bit before whacking a straight reverse hand shot that crammed into the D between left post and the narrow gap given by covering goalie.

This helped Dabang Mumbai to change sides with a two-goal lead (4-2).


THRILLING GOAL Rs.50K: Matt Ghodes
MAN OF THE MATCH Rs.50K: Florian Fuchs


Dabang’s field goals drown Warriors

Nandakumar Marar

RUBBING IT IN: Yousuf Affan (left) scored two field goals in the last quarter to give Dabang Mumbai a runaway win over Jaypee Punjab Warriors.   | Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre

MUMBAI: Dabang Mumbai’s strikeforce unleashed its full fury on Jaypee Punjab Warriors, serving up a delightful treat of field goals for the home fans at the Mahindra Stadium on Friday.

Nikkin Thimmaiah set the ball rolling with a ninth-minute goal while Florian Fuchs and Affan Yousuf struck twice each for a glorious 10-4 win in the Coal India-Hockey India League.

Fuchs scored with power-packed shots on the run. Yousuf, smaller and muscular in comparison, tormented Warriors with quick movement and quicker hands. His first goal came with back to goal, the second by getting into position for trap and tap.

The visitors hit back with two field goals, but were always playing catch up.

Boosted by fightbacks in back-to-back games at home, Dabang was a confident group going into the third game.

Warriors got a sign of things to come in the ninth minute. Belgian Emmanuel Stockbroekx raced to the right flag and essayed a fierce shot into the goalmouth. Warriors custodian Tristan Clemons reacted in time to block the ball, but it rose for Thimmaiah to volley home.

A defensive slip-up, eight minutes later, saw Matthew Gohdes equalising. The Aussie forward, seized a gift from Harmanpreet, a neat shoulder feint allowed him to drift into space and squeeze the ball onto the boards from an acute angle.

Both sides kept attacking in the second quarter. Two penalty corners only added a flicker of excitement without goals.

Then Fuchs trapped a Kemperman pass, turned in quest of space and whacked a backhander. No Warriors player was in sight to challenge the German and Dabang’s second field goal swelled the lead to 4-2.

Fuchs later produced another stinging shot to the right corner to make it 6-2. But, Arman Qureshi directed home a pass from S.V. Sunil to keep the visitors within striking range.

In the fourth quarter, it was a Yousuf show.

The scores: Dabang Mumbai 10 (Nikkin Thimmaiah 9 FG; Florian Fuchs 29, 42 FGs; Affan Yousuf 48, 50 FGs) bt Jaypee Punjab Warriors 4 (Matt Gohdes 17 FG, Arman Qureshi 44 FG).

The Hindu

Dabang Mumbai beat JP Punjab Warriors 10-4

Dhananjay Roy

MUMBAI: The MHA-Mahindra stadium here had seen Mumbai franchises (both the current outfit Dabang Mumbai and the erstwhile Mumbai Magicians) experience several heartbreaks at their home venue in the HIL. But, things have turned around dramatically in the fifth season of the competition, with the hosts pulling off a sensational 4-3 win over UP Wizards in their previous encounter with merely 26 seconds remaining on the clock. In their opener last Saturday against Ranchi Rays, they scored the equaliser with only 43 seconds remaining.

As a result, expectations were run ning high when Mumbai took on defending champions Punjab Warriors on Friday , in their third straight home game. And they did not disappoint their fans, notching up a convincing 10-4 win. After things looked pretty close in the first three quarters of 15 minutes, Mumbai ripped apart the Warriors' defence in the final 12 minutes, with striker Affan Yousus scoring a brace in the 49th and 51st minutes.

Striker Nikkin Thimmiah put Mumbai in the lead in the fifth minute off a rebound. Emmanuel Stockbroekx, who enjoyed a standout game, ran in brilliantly from the right flank and struck the ball which was deflected by goalkeeper Tristan Clemons only to see an unmarked Thimmiah make the most of this opportunity .

The Warriors struck back to level proceedings through a magnificent goal by Matt Gohdes in the 13 minute. The Aussie was a beneficiary of some lose defending by Harmanpreet Singh, who having lost the ball, could not prevent his opponent from running into the striking circle and unleashing the ball past goalkeeper David Harte.

The visitors could have edged into the lead in the 20th minute, but for a terrific save by the Irish goalkeeper who chested away the ball struck by a diving Thimmaiah from the top of the circle.

Mumbai earned their first penalty corner in the 26th minute but were unable to make it count. A minute later, the Warriors too won their first PC with dragflicker Mink van der Weerden firing way off the post.

With only two seconds remaining for the end of the first half, Mumbai skipper Florian Fuchs showed why he is among the finest players in world hockey today . Having skilfully latched on to an accurate pass from Robbert Kemperman, the German striker unleashed a scorching reverse hit past Clemons to put his side into a 4-2 lead.

Fuchs wove his magic again in the 43rd minute after some exceptional dribbling and an accurate cross by Thimmiah saw the German beat the goalkeeper. Mumbai had opened up a 6-2 lead but it was cut down to 6-4 in the very next minute with striker Arman Qureshi beating Harte. The hosts found themselves in a comfortable position when Yousuf struck twice in quick succession to hand his team their second win in three matches.

The Times of India

Dabang Mumbai thrash Jaypee Punjab Warriors 10-4

MUMBAI: Skipper Florian Fuchs and striker Affan Yusuf struck a brace each as Dabang Mumbai thrashed defending champions Jaypee Punjab Warriors 10-4 to register their second win in the fifth season of the Hockey India League (HIL), here on Friday.

The fifth goal for the winners came from India international Nikkin Thimmaiah.

All the seven goals which were scored in the game were field goals, which give a team two points.

In the opening minute of the match, a reserve flick by SV Sunil for the Punjab team was brilliantly saved by goalkeeper David Harte. The two sides continued playing an aggressive brand of hockey for the next four minutes with attacks and counterattacks.

But it was Nikkin Thimmaiah, who put the hosts in the lead, by scoring a field goal off a rebound after the flick by Emmanuel Stockbroekx, was saved by Warriors goalkeeper Clemons Tristan. Thimmaiah made the most of the opportunity and put the hosts up 2-0.

In the 13th minute, Australian Matt Gohdes, ran in from the half and beat Mumbai defender Harmanpreet Singh before dragging the ball past goalkeeper David Harte to score a magnificent field goal and level the scores 2-2.

In the 26th minute, Mumbai failed to convert their and the match's first penalty corner. The Punjab team, who a minute later got their first penalty corner, also failed to convert it even as the Mumbai supporters vociferously cheered for the home team.

With just a few seconds remaining for the half time, German striker Fuchs, one of the leading players in the globe, on a pass by Dutchman Robbert Kemperman scored a field goal by an outstanding reverse hit, which beat opposition goalkeeper, taking the hosts ahead 4-2.

In the third quarter, Punjab got their second short corner of the game in the 35th minute but they again failed to convert it. While Sardar Singh dragged the ball, it was Dutchman Van Der Weerden Mink, who wasn't able to trap it properly and was cleared by the Mumbai defence with an ease.

In the 43rd minute, it was Fuchs show again. This time the German striker, converted a pass from Nikkin Thimmaiah and by running zoomed past the defence of Punjab Warriors and scored the goal to make it 6-2.

Not even a minute had passed, Punjab came back strongly with Armaan Qureshi scoring a field goal from a pass from S V Sunil and the score line became 6-4.

A minute for the close of third quarter, Mumbai again got a short corner again and failed to convert it. In the fourth and the last quarter, it was show by stirker Affan Yousuf, who in two minutes scored 2 quick goals making it 10-4 and almost impossible for the visiting team.

While in the 50th minute, Affan superbly converted a pass from Gurjant Singh, as he extended the lead of the home team to 8-4.

Bhopal born Affan showed his skills again this time in a reserve hit scored the fifth goal after getting a pass from Nikkin Thiamaiah with the score line reading 10-4.

Unlike the last match against the UP Wizards, when Dabang Mumbai scored a come from behind 4-3 victory, this time they dominated from the first minute itself literally and gave no chance to the opposition.

The Times of India

Waveriders have their task cut out against Rays

Y.B. Sarangi

RANCHI: Delhi Waveriders will seek to regain some lost ground in its second consecutive away match, against Ranchi Rays, in the Hockey India League at the Astroturf Stadium here on Saturday.

Waveriders had a disappointing start to the league as they lost 1-0 to Kalinga Lancers in Bhubaneswar last Sunday. The 2014 champions, who had adopted an attacking approach and dominated for the most part, suffered against Lancers due to their below par finishing.

Waveriders not only wasted many field goal chances but also frittered away several penalty corners against Lancers, who defended their post well.

Against Ranchi, Waveriders’ forwards Simon Child, Justin Reid-Ross, Talwinder Singh and Mandeep Singh should aim to enhance their accuracy in the opposition circle. The penalty corner specialists, led by captain Rupinderpal Singh, would also be keen to employ more variations.

The Ranchi team meanwhile will be full of confidence as it plays its second home match in front of its vociferous supporters. Rays, after recording their first win — a big 7-2 thumping of Lancers — following a draw and a loss, are placed second with eight points.

Rays, flaunting some top-class foreigners in Englishman Ashley Jackson and German Christopher Ruhr and talented Indians such as Gurbaj Singh, Mohammad Amir Khan and Manpreet Singh, had troubled Lancers with their possession on Thursday.

The host is likely to adopt a similar strategy to gain the upperhand against Waveriders, which is slotted fifth among six teams with just one point from its first match.

Waveriders will have to maintain their composure to hand the formidable Rays a defeat at home.

The Hindu

SA men keeping bigger picture in mind

Keeping the bigger picture in mind and giving promising youngsters the opportunity to play international hockey is the main focus for the South African men’s hockey team in the current Cape Town Summer Series.

South Africa is playing against Holland and Belgium in this series and all matches are played at Hartleyvale. Holland is the third best team in the world, played in the World Cup final in 2014 and finished fourth at the Rio Olympic Games. Belgium is fourth on the world rankings and won the silver medal in Rio. South Africa is currently 15th on the world rankings after not playing international hockey for almost a year. The last time they played against international opposition was during last year’s Summer Series.

The big tournament of this season is the World League during July. This tournament is a World Cup qualifying event. According to Tim Drummond, captain of the men’s team, that is what they are working towards and that the Summer Series is vital in preparation for World League.

In the first two matches of the Summer Series against the Dutch the South African showed some promise, but conceded 13 goals and scored only 3.

“Sunday is a very important game for our squad. It's another opportunity to play one of the top hockey nations in the world which is an incredible chance for us to see if we have grown in our abilities as a collective and individually over the series,” said Drummond.

“We have emphasised our defensive structure as we have conceded a lot of goals, but for me, I would like us to be more positive in our actions to create more scoring opportunities.”

South Africa has chosen a very young squad for the Summer Series with various players from the SA u21 team that finished 10th at the recent World Cup; the best ever showing by a South African u21 team at a Junior World Cup. Some of these players include the captain Alex Stewart, Ryan Julius and Bili Ntuli (who captain the SA u19 team at the Youth Olympics a few years ago where they finished fourth). The 18-year-old Dayaan Cassiem from Bishops also made his debut in this series and Andrew Hobson who matriculated from Paul Roos Gymnasium last year is also in the squad.

“We have a good balance of experience and youth and it's important the younger members play with freedom and play the type hockey which earned them a place in this team. We will be pushing hard for the last game and showing plenty more desire as a squad to get a win against the Dutch on Sunday!” Drummond added.

Sunday’s match is at 18:00. It will be the last game against the Dutch before the matches against Belgium starts.

SA Hockey Association media release

Schopman Names 2017 U.S. Women's National Team Roster

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Three new athletes have been extended the opportunity of a lifetime to represent the United States on the international stage. Thirteen Olympians continue to commit to the program. Four hockey legends confirm their retirements. Five new high performance staff members will join the support team. One new head coach will artfully mesh the old with the new to expand upon the squad’s ever-growing profile to achieve success globally on the pitch.

It’s the same mission, new era.

Looking back, 2016 was a year of outstanding performances and noteworthy results for the program. The U.S. Olympic Women’s Field Hockey Team’s thrilling comeback story during the course of a 4-year block has been one filled with resilience, spotlighting the depth of the team’s strength. Immense program progress was displayed in Rio de Janeiro as the USWNT hurdled over top-ranked opponents to secure a 5th place finish at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, moving seven spots up from London 2012’s Olympic result.

The USWNT were also dubbed bronze medal winners after a tremendously fought match-up against Australia, with a 1-0 shootout tally, after a draw of 2-2 in regulation time, to quench a 20-year FIH medal drought at the women's Hockey Champions Trophy 2016.

Looking forward, 2017 contains a calendar year of promise. In addition to several, home-based series yet to be announced, Team USA has earned the right to compete at the FIH Hockey World League Semifinals from June 15 to July 23 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Also in the line-up of events is the all-important Pan American Cup where global talent will be on full display in Lancaster, Pa. from August 4 – 13. Both events are direct routes of qualification to the sought after Hockey World Cup 2018.

With the drive and vision to build upon the team's previous successes, Janneke Schopman, USWNT head coach, confirms the 2017 U.S. Women’s National Team roster.



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USFHA media release

USMNT Plans Program’s Progressive Course for 2017 with Intense Training Camp in Spain

TERRASSA, Spain – To set a platform for the year ahead, the U.S. Men’s National Team has traveled to Spain for 10 days of intense training and competition. Based in Terrassa, a town just outside of Barcelona, the team is looking to not only build on its recent first place finish at FIH World League Round 1 in Salamanca, Mexico, but also establish its identity under a new coaching staff led by Rutger Wiese. In addition, this tour is will lead to selections for the FIH World League Round 2 hosted in Trinidad & Tobago from March 26 - April 3.

With most of the team arriving Friday, January 20 to the training camp,  there was no delay in getting on the field. Intense double sessions the first two days were designed to not only push the players but also prepare them for challenging games against Catalunya and European Hockey League (EHL) regulars, Atletic Terrassa.

Game one against Catalunya saw the USMNT come up against a team dominated by Spanish national team players, several of whom had played during Spain’s impressive performances in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. For many of the juniors players that have joined the USMNT squad for this tour, it was an invaluable experience. Playing opponents of the very highest level is seen by Wiese as a key ingredient to the team’s future success.

The following morning, January 24, the team played the same team again and the steps taken in less than 24 hours were clear. More chances were created and there was a tighter, more coherent structure that showed the coaching staff that progress was being made.

This tour is not only about performances off the field, however. Wiese is keen to stress the importance of mental strength, which is exactly why game three took place the same day as game two – with a start time of 9 p.m. local time. One of Spain’s most famous and successful clubs, Atletic Terrassa was a fantastic host and provided a stern test. The result was a defeat for the USMNT, but even with such a young and inexperienced line-up it proved that this group of men could compete with top teams – they just need the opportunity to be tested.

“Intense training combined with three matches in four days pushed the team extremely hard both physically and mentally,” said Wiese.  “As a coaching staff and team, we have no doubt we will continue with the same intensity and desire the next three days of camp.”

The next three days will include a game each day against Wales, a team with an FIH world ranking just five places below Team USA. Further progress is assured for a USMNT that is only looking forward.

USFHA media release

Super 6s Men's Final Four: Sevenoaks

Sevenoaks celebrate at Wembley

The fourth and final contender at the Men’s Super 6s semi-finals is Kent side Sevenoaks. The team from Holly Bush Lane are back for a third consecutive year at finals day at the SSE Arena, Wembley and after some dramatic close calls they will be ready and raring to make it all the way to the finals this time around. We take a look at the Kent side ahead of the big day.

 Sevenoaks’ story is a fantastic one. They started out in the indoor form of the game just eight years ago, at the bottom of the pyramid in the Kent Regional Qualifiers. A succession of promotions later they are now considered one of the best indoor outfits in the domestic game and are heading to the semi finals for the third consecutive year.

Despite being relatively new to the indoor scene, Sevenoaks have been to the big stage before. Two years ago they were left broken-hearted as Liam Foster’s winner with milliseconds to spare handed Canterbury a 6-5 win in the semi final. Last year they fell to the might of East Grinstead. Captain Nick Barker hopes the knowledge they’ve gained from those near misses will stand them in good stead:

“Third time in a row at the finals day is a good feeling. We made a poor start but we worked hard and got some big scalps on the way. I’d like to think we’ve gained some experience from the previous years. We’ve had some good results so far and we rate our chances.”

Sevenoaks Super 6s 2017

Sevenoaks won four of their eight games en route to the finals with a draw and three losses. They netted 37 times in their eight games. Their four wins included one of the rarest of things in the indoor format- a clean sheet as they defeated East Grinstead 1-0. Their match with semi-final opponents Surbiton went right down to the wire with Surbiton notching a 5-4 win.

Barker identifies George Torry (eight goals) as the team’s danger man but Michael Barber’s 15 goals will not have gone unnoticed by their opponents. Sevenoaks are a good solid indoor outfit and with their experiences of the previous years in the bank they will be looking forward to the big day.    

No mention of finals day can be complete without referencing East Grinstead’s dominance. Barker is respectful of their amazing achievement but undaunted and, some would say very interested in being the team who breaks the streak:

 “They’ve won it eight times in a row which is absolutely phenomenal. To be the side that stopped that run would be a massive achievement for Sevenoaks. We’re taking nothing for granted, though. We have out semi-final first. We’re looking forward to it and who knows what could happen?”

Will Sevenoaks’ Cinderella Story reach its fairytale conclusion this week? Can they go all the way? Not long to find out as the action is all set for Sunday morning.

England Hockey Board Media release

Team GB and UNILAD to stream Super 6s

Super 6s

England Hockey are delighted to have secured a groundbreaking triple online streaming offer for the Hockey Super 6s event this Sunday 29th January.
The women’s and men’s final matches will be streamed on both Team GB and UNILAD’s Facebook Live pages to a combined following of more than 26 million.
In addition, the semi-finals and finals will all be streamed on England Hockey’s own Facebook page, giving comprehensive digital access to this showpiece hockey event. Among the commentary team on the day are gold medallist Maddie Hinch and fellow Olympians Dan Fox & Sam Ward.
Since the historic women’s team’s gold medal at the Rio Olympics, hockey has continued to flourish and this is another example of the sport’s reach into the public consciousness in the digital age. As part of Team GB’s historic success in Brazil, we are delighted to now present our sport back in front of Team GB’s devoted and enthusiastic digital fanbase.
With athletes on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, presenting live on ITV1 at the National Television Awards and now household names, the sport’s reach continues to grow exponentially. The impact has also been felt at grass roots level with a significant increase in youth participation, and continued growth in commercial interest.
England Hockey Commercial Director Jonathan Cockcroft said, “We are delighted that both Team GB and UNILAD will be streaming the Super 6s and it is a significant step forward for the sport to reach digital audiences of that magnitude.
“The Super 6s is an excellent showcase for the sport: fast paced, dynamic & well-suited to a digital audience, and we look forward to opening our sport up to even more people.
“With the men’s Hockey World League this summer and the Women’s World Cup next year, we have major hockey events coming up on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and there are very exciting times ahead for our sport.”
Liam Harrington, CEO of UNILAD said, "We're absolutely delighted to be supporting the Super 6s. Opening the sport up to our digital audience will hopefully help hockey flourish and grow in a way that it has never been seen before"
Facebook users can tune in at:
www.facebook.com/TeamGB, www.facebook.com/UniladFootball and www.facebook.com/EnglandHockey. The finals take place at 4pm (women’s) and 5:15pm (men’s). The stream will also be shared at www.facebook.com/UNILADMag
Maddie Hinch is also scheduled to host a UNILAD Snapchat takeover on Sunday via their @UNILADsnap account.

Match coverage will be led by leading hockey commentator Nick Irvine, as well as Olympian Simon Mason and England assistant coach Andy Halliday.
The Super 6s is the culmination of our indoor tournament featuring the best women’s and men’s players in the country. Our gold medal-winning women’s team will be hosting a parade and autograph sessions on the day, and our men’s Olympians will also be meeting supporters at the event at the SSE Arena, Wembley.

England Hockey Board Media release

How to meet Great Britain's Olympians this Sunday

Olympic Champions

A number of Great Britain's Olympic athletes, including many of the women’s gold medal winners, will be at our Super 6s event at the SSE Arena, Wembley this Sunday 29th January.

Among the female athletes currently due to attend are Maddie Hinch, Kate Richardson-Walsh, Helen Richardson-Walsh, Hollie Webb, Nicola White, Shona McCallin, Crista Cullen, Susannah Townsend, Laura Unsworth, Joie Leigh and Emily Defroand.

From the men’s team, George Pinner, Sam Ward, Chris Grassick, Chris Griffiths and Henry Weir are also scheduled to meet supporters.

If you’d like to meet your heroes for autographs, you need to:

• Make sure you have a ticket for the Super 6s! On sale here.
• Pick up a wristband on the day of the event from one of our programme sellers, first come first served.
• There will be two afternoon signing sessions in the foyer at the SSE Arena. Your wristband will allow you access to one of those sessions - look for signs to know which session your wristband gives you access to.
• Buy a programme on the day to ensure you have something for the players to sign!
• The gold medal-winning women’s team will also perform a parade before the final women’s game of the day – be in your seat at 3:45pm to send them congratulations!
• Our men's players will be on the pitch at half time in the men's final looking ahead to a new era for our team.
• Please note not all players will attend both signing sessions but they will also be around the venue on the day so keep your eyes peeled!

The Super 6s brings together the best indoor teams and players in the country, with men’s and women’s champions to be crowned at the finale of an action-packed day’s hockey. Tickets start at £8 for U18s and £18.50 for adults – click here for more details.

England Hockey Board Media release

EHL Backstage: Banbridge’s “best weekend ever”

For every EHL tournament, a huge amount of work goes in behind the scenes to help produce the best club hockey competition in the world. Today, we hear from the members of Banbridge who helped make ROUND1 in Ireland a great occasion.

This is shortened version of an article that appeared in Planet Hockey magazine; you can read a full, 10-page spread in the latest edition by clicking here

On the walls of the Havelock Park clubhouse, the Banbridge Chronicle hails “Bann’s Hockey Heroes”, a pictorial tribute to the club’s glorious 1985 EuroHockey Club Champions Trophy success.

Space is already being cleared for their latest exploit following their hosting of Euro Hockey League ROUND1 with Banbridge club president Roger Martin saying it was “the best weekend ever” for his sporting home.

It shows the power of the club, the root from which the vast majority of European hockey grows, to go beyond the sum of its parts to make memories for life.

Bann became the first club in Ireland to host the competition in October, welcoming teams from 11 other countries as well as a couple of thousand fans for three days.

Over 5,000 supporters took in the action with close to 2,000 taking in the club’s two games. As a comparison, 2,200 were in attendance for Ireland’s final Olympic qualifier game against Korea in 2012. It justified the EHL’s leap of faith to take the competition away from mainland Europe, testing out a new venue in a country where hockey is on the rise.

By the Sunday evening, commentator Nick Irvine – known as the “voice of the EHL” – hailed it the best ROUND1 event in the competition’s 10-year history. That the host club upset the odds, defeating French side Saint Germain and drawing with Royal Leopold to knock-out the hot favourites from Belgium, was the cherry on top.

The club was formed in 1897 and hosted its first international match in 1920. Since then, Bann have produced over 30 Irish internationals, over 50 titles, an Olympian and that European title. The EHL hosting will sit proudly alongside those successes. Here’s the story of how it all came together from some of the club’s key people.

Jonto Walker, a former club president, is a local hotel owner used his contacts, organising all the food, the VIP zone and a more than steady flow of Guinness in the sponsored marquee.

“My affiliation with Banbridge has been a lifetime as my father will always be synonymous with the club in every aspect! I was president 5 years ago when Banbridge lifted the Irish Hockey League (IHL) for the first time.

“The EHL was a total club effort right down to the team itself. I recall many a Thursday night meeting with Mark Tumilty, the coach, who had the same vision. He realised the importance of raising the bar both on and off the pitch and this made us hungry for more.”

Club secretary John Bell – a chief driver of the organising committee – adds that experience of hosting Irish Hockey League finals gave them a great base to work from: “We had a template to work off and are fortunate to have so many capable people to call upon.

“At the outset, it was definitely a sense of excitement but, as it ramped up, there were certainly days when we though ‘what have we taken on?’

“We always believed that the tournament would grab the attention of the local sports fans. We had people attending who had not been at hockey matches for a number of years as well as some who had their first exposure to our sport.

“The local Angling Club and Boxing Club willingly handed over their facilities for our use for most of the week. The cycling club volunteered to help out with car parking and the golf club allowing use of their car park.”

There were headaches; being a small town meant large hotels were few and far between, making transport for the teams a logistical and costly affair. But the club boxed off support from the local council with a sizeable donation, promotion from the tourist board and the sports minister. With those elements in place, the stage was set to let the hockey do the talking.

Walker adds: “I was able to pull in a few favours such as the Guinness marquee and the corporate VIP areas. This proved a great success both in revenue and craic.

“They were aware of how passionate the sport means to the community and appreciated the diversity of the people attending. This, in turn, motivated staff who engaged with visitors to make it a memorable occasion.”

Club President Roger Martin said of the final week of preparations: “I had been to the EHL previously in 2011 in Antwerp, when Bann took on UHC Hamburg and CA Montrouge. I really wanted to try and emulate the experience we had at KHC Dragons ground at Havelock Park.

“I was very confident we could deliver. I spent the Monday before the tournament at the club and, seeing the work progressing with our volunteers and the EHL team, I felt very comfortable it was all coming together and that’s when the realisation hit home that it was going to be very special for the club.

“I am still amazed about the amount of time and effort people gave to the club. As the week went on more pieces fell into place and it really did come together perfectly.”

Now it was down to the on the pitch activities. Banbridge – like all clubs in Ireland – are amateur and had to outdo a Royal Leopold side for whom Kookaburra star striker Glenn Turner showcased their ability to attract world class talent.

For coach Mark Tumilty, his players “very much focused on the playing side and the committee focused on the organisation.

“In the final week, with the stands and broadcast towers arriving, EHL signage going up round the ground and the marquee going up the excitement grew for myself and the players.

“By Thursday night at our last session the ground was complete and, by then, the players had recognised the magnificent effort the club had made and now it was out turn to perform.”

Captain Matthew Bell – the son of John – concurred: “People were weeding around the sidelines, picking up leaves, building the goals. Physically seeing the work being put in, it helped us as we felt we owed it to the club and everyone who helped out and give them something to cheer about.”

Once everything started, coach Tumilty said it was key to let his players feel part of the event: “It was important to let players mix with family friends and our supporters as they are a very important part of the club. I encourage that at all times. It was also great to see so many hockey people at the event from all over Ireland.”

They took that momentum of a 2-0 win over Saint Germain into a thrill-a-minute 3-3 draw with Leopold, enough to see Banbridge advance on goal difference.

Tumilty side put in a brilliant defensive performance in the last 20 minutes to get over the line.

“To see a hockey ground in Ireland with such large crowds for three days, seeing top class hockey at a small local club from Ireland, putting on such a show on and off the pitch; incredible.”

For ]ohn Bell, that final whistle meant a glorious conclusion to months of planning: “After the final match on the Sunday, it was then that I think that we realised we had created something special. The unpredictable Irish weather even behaved for the three days.

“Any club is only as good as its members and I believe that Banbridge proved we have a membership base that is second to none.”

Club President Roger Martin summed it up: “Emotional, proud, happy would be the words I would use to describe it. I don’t think I have ever been happier for all linked to Banbridge; the members, volunteers, my family and friends who were involved throughout. I have to admit there were a few tears shed!”

Euro Hockey League media release

Johannesburg Hockey players gear up for new season

JSA commence with their season.

by Annette van Schalkwyk

JEPPE ST Andrews’ JSA hockey club has been a force to be reckoned with in the Southern Gauteng Hockey league for a number of years. They have won the Women’s Premier League four out of five years.

Last year they won the league and the Shelia Brown Cup Tournament. The club plays in the top two Southern Gauteng leagues, with the second ladies’ team playing in the Reserve league.

The first side is also taking part in the Elite Club Challenge tournament, where the top three teams in Southern Gauteng, the top two in Northern Gauteng and North West University will play each other over three weekends.

Their Junior section, made up of u.15 and u.17 girls, also hold their own in the Colt League and have won these leagues on numerous occasions. The mini section welcomes boys and girls aged four to 13. They play tournaments and learn skills that will help them in their future hockey years.

JSA includes players from all areas who wish to play in the Southern Gauteng League. It welcomes anyone who wants to play the beautiful game of hockey. The club practises at St Andrew’s School for Girls but has players from all schools in the area and even from far afield. The girls get to mix with others from different schools and make lifelong friends while learning new skills in a friendly, fun environment.

JSA would like to invite all aspiring hockey players to join the JSA family. Women’s training has started and anyone is welcome to join. They practise on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 18:30 to 20:00.

Juniors will start training in the second week of March 2017 – u.13 and u.15 on Mondays from 18:00 to 19:00, and u.17 on Wednesdays from 18:00 to 19:00.

Mini hockey training will begin on the first Saturday in March, from 08:00.

For more information phone Claudette Oakes on 061 182 7989.

The Alberton Record

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