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News for 05 February 2017

All the news for Sunday 5 February 2017

Women's HWL Round 2 - Valencia, Spain

Results from day 1

CZE - TUR     4 - 0
ESP - RUS     8 - 4
POL - UKR     3 - 2
SCO - GHA     1 - 0

FIH tournament micro site

Uttar Pradesh Wizards hold Ranchi Rays 0-0   

Ranchi: Uttar Pradesh Wizards drew with Ranchi Rays 0-0 in a nail-biting clash here on Saturday. Playing in front of a packed Ranchi Stadium, the two teams showcased exemplary defensive skills to deny either teams a goal in the fifth edition of the Coal India Hockey India League. This was Ranchi Rays second goalless draw after Delhi Waveriders held them to 0-0 on home turf.

The first quarter witnessed top-class hockey as both teams matched each other’s skill and tempo, neither of them allowing the other to take advantage despite trading a few PCs early on. It was Uttar Pradesh Wizards who won the match’s first PC in the 7th minute after launching a rapid attack by Seve van Ass. But the chance couldn’t be converted by Argentine dragflicker Gonzalo Peillat. The home team weren’t far behind when it came to earning PCs, they bagged their first in the 9th minute but Ashley Jackson’s fierce flicks was stopped beautifully by Uttar Pradesh Wizards defender Kothajit Singh. Another PC won by Uttar Pradesh Wizards’ forward Akashdeep Singh was dully denied by the home team’s defence thus ending the first quarter in a stalemate.

Though there were plenty of forays made into the striking circle, neither teams got lucky in the second quarter. A fantastic chance created by Ranchi Rays’ Mohd Amir Khan when he cut inside the circle and passed the ball to Flynn Ogilvie in the 26th minute went in vain as the Aussie’s push was not enough to send it past PR Sreejesh. This was perhaps the home team’s best chance at taking a 2-0 lead but the two teams stayed in the contest with the score reading 0-0 at half-time.

The pressure of this high stakes match caught on when Ranchi Rays’ defender Gurbaj Singh gave away a PC, thanks to a stick tackle within the striking circle. The Uttar Pradesh Wizards, however, tried a different variation that saw VR Raghunath act as a dummy drag flicker with the ball being tactfully passed to Seve van Ass after Ramandeep Singh’s near-perfect injection. But the fierce strike went off-course when Ranchi Rays’ young gun Sumit came up with a brilliant tackle that ensured the visitors did not get away with a lead. The inability of both teams to convert the number of PCs created would be a cause to worry for coaches Harendra Singh of Ranchi Rays as well as Roelant Oltmans of Uttar Pradesh Wizards.

The two teams were goalless when they entered the fourth quarter. Uttar Pradesh Wizards found another chance to earn a goal in the 49th minute. But Junior World Cup hero was incredible yet again as the first rusher when he tackled Gonzalo Peillat’s drag flick rather perfectly. With about six-and-a-half minutes left for the game to end, Mohd Amir Khan found a perfect opportunity to fetch a goal after a brilliant assist by Sumit but the ball rebounded off the post.

Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh Wizards lost another chance to convert the PC in the dying minutes of the match when VR Raghunath’s flick was saved at the goal line by English man Barry Middleton denying the visitors the goal that perhaps could have been a decider of the game.

Sumit of Ranchi Rays won the prize of Rs 25,000 for being the Hero Young Achiever of the Match from Olympian Sylvanus Dung Dung.

The Airtel Most Entertaining Player of the Match was awarded to Florent van Aubel of Uttar Pradesh Wizards that came with a prize money of Rs 25,000 and presented by Shri SN Prasad, Director (Marketing), Coal India Ltd.

Sumit of Ranchi Rays was declared the Man of the Match and was awarded a prize money of Rs 50,000 by Mr Sumit Seth, from Ranchi Rays.

Official HIL Site

Sumit denies dominant UPW victory

s2h team

The regular first charger Manpreet Singh Sr was injured after the first quarter. Dominating Uttar Pradesh Wizards were creating penalty corners with rhythmic regularity what with tried and trusted experts Rio Olympics top scorer Gonzalo Peillat and VR Raghunath in its ranks to fructify them.

But the game threw a saviour for Ranchi Rays in Jr World Cup goldie Sumit. Following the spirit and daredevilry shown by first Fergus Kavanagh and Manpreet Singh, the Sonepat lad ran a few suicidal charges as a first charger to deny any worthy shots emanate from either of the two known penalty corner executioners.

This in a nutshell is the story of Match No.14 of 5th Hockey India League, last home match for the Ranchi Rays. The home team's defence quelled any number of other scoring chances of Wizards, as the match would end 0-0.

Sumit was fittingly declared Man of the Match, besides Young Achiever.

Ranchi Rays had its share of attacks, though considerably lesser than their rivals, but the goals were not coming. At least thrice Mohd Amir Khan had a had in the missed woes. Once his shot hit the right post and spurned back into the game, twice he harried his shots off excellent feeds.

The hosts Ranchi Rays held dominating Uttar Pradesh Wizards 0-0 at half time. The goaless first half saw plenty of cards and five penalty corners in all, but the scoreboard did not move.

In the second half, UPW got four more but Sumit had other ideas. Its second goalless draw match for Ranchi as it was against DWR in the first week of HIL.

With today's two points, Ranchi moves to third spot in the table (7 matches, 2 win, 3 draw, 2 defeat) while having played only three matches (1 draw, 1 win, 1 loss) UPW is placed just below.

The action moves to Bhubneswar where Kalinga will play Dabang Mumbai.

THRILLING GOAL Rs.50K: No goals scoredB


Ranchi Rays, UP Wizards play goalless draw

RANCHI: Ranchi Rays and Uttar Pradesh Wizards played a goalless draw in a Coal India Hockey India League (HIL) match at the AstroTurf Hockey stadium on Saturday.

Chances came both the teams' ways. UP Wizards bagged as many as five penalty corners, while the hosts got three but neither of them came out with a winner.

Both the teams had started the match on a fast note, pressing high early. UP Wizards were first to create a goal-scoring chance as a long aerial ball in the seventh minute saw Belgian Florent van Aubel see off two defenders and race into the Ranchi circle only to see his shots being blocked by goalkeeper Tyler Lovell. But the ball bounced off Lovell, giving UP Wizards a penalty corner but the visitors failed to make the most of it.

Three minutes later, the hosts too made their intentions clear by earning a penalty corner but Ashley Jackson's flick was not enough to breach UP Wizards' defence.

The intensity level was low in the second quarter, however, both the teams performed well defensively.

Australian Flynn Ogilve had a good chance to make it 2-0 for Ranchi in the 26th minute as he met Muhammad Amir Khan's baseline cross from the left but his drive at the near post was denied by a sliding goalkeeper PR Sreejesh.

In the third quarter, the defences of both the teams continued to foil advances - like Ranchi's Sumit ensuring Seve Van Ass' penalty corner flick went out of the mark in the 34th minute.

Ranchi, meanwhile, continued to disappoint the home crowd due to several mispasses.

Sumit, the first runner in Ranchi's penalty corner defence set-up, continued to impact the match as he blocked two penalty corner hits from Gonzalo Peillat in the fourth quarter.

The young Jharkhand player also set-up Amir for a back-hander on the right but the side-bar denied the hosts from taking a lead in the 52nd minute.

At the other end, Augustin Mazzilli earned a penalty corner for UP and this time, Raghunath saw his hit being saved. Barry Middleton, guarding the right post, made a goal-line save to keep the spirit of the home camp alive.

At the match inched closer to the final hooter, neither teams managed to come up with purposeful penetration as they were content with sharing two points each.

With this draw, third-placed Ranchi took their tally to 17 points from seven games, while UP Wizards, playing their third match of the campaign, remained in the fourth spot with eight points.

Kalinga Lancers are on top with 20 points from six matches, while second-placed Dabang Mumbai have 18 points from six games. Jaypee Punjab Warriors are fifth with six points from three matches and Delhi Waveriders are sixth and last with four points from three matches.

The Times of India

SK Uthappa wears multiple hats in the team

Tazeen Qureshy

One of the seniors and a key member of the Kalinga Lancers in the ongoing Hockey India League, SK Uthappa wears several hats at a time. And he relishes each of them fully.

As a player on field, his feats are quite visible. Like the deflection he made off Moritz Fuerste's gem of feed that gave his team full points against Uttar Pradesh Wizards on Friday.

But off the field, the Karnataka player Uthappa is also simultaneously playing the role of a translator and a coach for his juniors.

For the multi-tasking he does, Uthappa has already garnered praises from all quarters including skipper Moritz Fuertse, who has pinned lot of hopes on him.

“Many players in our team have difficulty in understanding nuances in English. There is a huge gap the way things are explained between English and Hindi. So, I contribute to help ease out things for some of team mates".

"The coach says something and I translate it to the guys. In the process, I get to learn a lot. It is always good to try to teach someone. You improve a lot personally. It’s like double-coaching for me - I get it from the coach and give it to the boys. That is how, I am the translator and coach for the junior boys,” says SK Uthappa.

On field, of course, Uthappa has a huge responsibility to guide the team.

“Since I am one of the seniors in the team, my job is to maintain the structure. On the pitch, I try to keep the motivation on and try to remain as long as I can, so there is less rotation,” he says.

Kalinga Lancers will next play against Dabang Mumbai in its last home match on Sunday.

“The crowd in Bhubaneswar is amazing. We now hope to gift them happiness by winning the last home match.”


Bye T&T, Dhaka here we come

THE Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) are scrambling against time to accept an invitation to play their World League Round Two match in Dhaka, instead of the scheduled Trinidad and Tobago venue.

This came about after Canada pulled out of the Dhaka WL on March 4-12 citing security concerns.

Malaysia were supposed to play their WL in Trinidad and Tobago on March 25-April 2.

Yesterday, Premier Division Malaysia Hockey League team managers received calls to attend a meeting on Monday evening to discuss this sudden move -- with an option to shorten the MHL which ends on Feb 26 -- just a week before Dhaka.

In a news report, Bangladesh Hockey Federation secretary general Abdus Sadeque said: "It is very sad that Canada have withdrawn from the tournament on security grounds, which we learnt on Monday through the FIH (International Hockey Federation).”

“We are taking this matter to the FIH because we have already given our security plans to them which include security from airport to the hotel, from the hotel to the stadium and security inside the team hotel.

"One of our vice presidents briefed the FIH on the detailed security plan,” Sadeque said.

“The FIH report has mentioned that Bangladesh have efficiently organised the England cricket team's Tour. It would have been better had the 11th-ranked team in the world Canada would have come as well.”

In Dhaka Canada were in Group A with Fiji, Oman and Bangladesh, while in Group B are China, Egypt, Ghana and Sri Lanka.

While in Trinidad and Tobago Malaysia are in Group A with Barbados, US and Chile. In Group B are Japan, Switzerland, Russia and the hosts.

Malaysian Hockey Confederation CEO K. Logan Raj said its still a wait-and-see situation.

"We have yet to receive anything from the FIH on the matter, but it looks like if we have to play in Bangladesh there are many factors to considerate.

"First, the dates are too close and we need to adjust many things. Secondly, looking at the teams in both venues, there is not much of a difference and in the end a decision will be made to make sure we qualify for the World League Semifinals," said Logan.

While Logan was non-committed, it was understood that Malaysia will be playing in Dhaka instead of Trinidad and Tobago.

For the record, in the last World League Round Two in Singapore, Malaysia thrashed Poland 8-0 in the final but still failed to advance to the Rio de Janeiro Olympics because they finished sixth in the World League Semifinals in Belgium.

And Canada qualified for the Olympics by finishing fourth in the Argentina World League Semifinals.

Jugjet's World of Field Hockey

Ansley brace helps Surbiton extend lead

Giselle Ansley in action for Surbiton. Credit Tim Reder

Giselle Ansley scored twice to give Surbiton an important 2-0 home victory over rivals East Grinstead in the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division.

As teams returned from the winter break Surbiton led the way by just a single point, but two penalty corners in a five-minute spell before the break were both converted by Ansley - who is now the league’s joint top scorer - gave the hosts the points.

Surbiton remain unbeaten in the league this season and now lead East Grinstead by four points with a game in hand.

Canterbury earned an impressive 1-1 draw at third placed Holcombe, in a low scoring week in the top flight.

Nic White scored a penalty stroke to open the scoring after the break for the hosts but Grace Balsdon was on target eight minutes from time to ensure the game finished level.

Fourth-placed Clifton Robinsons also had to settle for a point as they drew 1-1 at Bowdon Hightown.

Jess Bloom converted a penalty corner on 23 minutes for her seventh of the campaign but Emma McCabe hit back eight minutes later to earn a share of the spoils for Bowdon Hightown.

The University of Birmingham drew level on points with Bowdon Hightown after a 1-0 home victory over Slough, Anna Toman scoring the game’s only goal three minutes from time.

Reading’s search for a league victory goes on, as they went down 2-1 at Leicester.

Maddison Rosser gave them hope when she opened the scoring after nine minutes but two goals in a minute from Madeleine Newlyn and Elizabeth Honarmand secured the points for the hosts.

Investec Women's Conference East

A hat-trick from GB Olympic ace Crista Cullen helped Wimbledon secure a 5-1 win at West Herts and preserve their lead in the Investec Women’s Conference East on Saturday.

She scored twice in the first half to help her side lead 2-1 at half time, before they eased to victory with her third goal and others from Rose Winter and Rosie Macpherson.

Sevenoaks are still three points behind Wimbledon after they beat Cambridge City 3-1, while Harleston Magpies stay third thanks to a 7-1 win over hosts Northampton Saints, with Lauren Mickleburgh and Abby Gooderham both scoring twice.

Elsewhere, Hampstead and Westminster were 3-0 winners over Chelmsford, while St Albans recorded a 2-0 win at Southgate.

Investec Women's Conference North

Brooklands Poynton and Beeston pulled further clear of the pack in the Investec Women’s Conference North as both sides recorded comfortable victories.

Brooklands still lead the way by two points after a 5-0 home win over Belper, Helen Turner with a second half brace and Claire Wallace, Caroline Hulme and Annabelle Watton all on target.

Beeston won by the same margin away at Timperley, Sophie Robinson scored a first half double to take her tally for the season to 13 with Rosario Villagra, Paige Gillott and Alice Huddlestone all on target.

Ben Rhydding and Liverpool Sefton drew 1-1, whilst third place University of Durham were held to a goalless draw at home to Wakefield.

Bethan Merriman and Vicky Woolford scored one apiece as Sutton Coldfield edged out Loughborough Students 2-1.

Investec Women's Conference West

Stourport replaced Buckingham at the top of the Investec Women’s Conference West on goal difference, as both sides registered away victories in their return to league action on Saturday.

Stourport ran out 6-1 winners at Trojans, Claire Pearson and Sarah Parkinson-Mills both netting twice, whilst conference leading scorer Lora Symonds scored her 13th of the season.

Buckingham won 3-0 at Isca with Natasha James scoring either side of half time and Alexandra Naughalty adding a third.

Olton and West Warwicks lost ground on the top two after they were held at home to Oxford Hawks. Sally Walton scored her tenth of the campaign for the hosts, before Lucy Stewart equalised in the second half.

Elsewhere, Exe are now bottom of the table after going down 2-0 at Swansea City, as Bristol Firebrands leapfrogged them with a 3-1 victory at Gloucester City.

Investec Women’s Hockey League (Saturday, February 4, 2017):

Investec Women's Premier Division: Bowdon 1, Clifton Robinsons 1; East Grinstead 0, Surbiton 2; Holcombe 1, Canterbury 1; Leicester 2, Reading 1; University of Birmingham 1, Slough 0.

Investec Women's Conference East: Hampstead and Westminster 3, Chelmsford 0; Northampton Saints 1, Harleston Magpies 7; Sevenoaks 3, Cambridge City 1; Southgate 0, St. Albans 2; West Herts 1, Wimbledon 5.

Investec Women's Conference North: Ben Rhydding 1, Liverpool Sefton 1; Brooklands Poynton 5, Belper 0; Sutton Coldfield 2, Loughborough Students 1; Timperley 0, Beeston 5; University of Durham 0, Wakefield 0.

Investec Women's Conference West: Gloucester City 1, Bristol Firebrands 3; Isca 0, Buckingham 3; Olton & West Warwicks 1, Oxford Hawks 1; Swansea City 2, Exe 0; Trojans 1, Stourport 6.

England Hockey Board Media release

UniKL can do just that with win over UiTM

by S. Ramaguru

KUALA LUMPUR: The second half of the Premier Division begins today with seven teams trying to do the same thing: beat defending champions and leaders Terengganu.

The east coast side lead the eight-team standings with 19 points after seven matches – just two ahead of second-placed Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) and four in front of Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL).

Tenaga Nasional round up the top four with 13 points, followed by the stragglers Maybank and TNB-Thunderbolt (both on six points) and UiTM-KPT and SSTMI (both on one point).

Terengganu coach Sarjit Singh is aware that his team’s two-point advantage is not a comfortable one and that all the other teams will be gunning for his side’s scalp.

“It’s all about winning and staying ahead of the pack. We’re looking at a fourth league title and we do not plan to take any team for granted at this stage,” said Sarjit, whose team should have no problem taking all three points today when they take on bottom-placed SSTMI.

With Terengganu looking good for a fourth title, UniKL are just hoping for a top-four finish.

A win over UiTM today should virtually guarantee them that.

“UiTM enjoyed an extra day’s rest after their match (against TNB-Thunderbolt) on Friday was abandoned. So, they will be fresher for the match and this is something we need to be careful about,” said UniKL coach A. Arulselvaraj (pic).

“My players are tired as we travelled to Malacca (to play against Maybank on Friday). We had a tough match there as well despite the 6-2 score line.

“We know that getting the three points tomorrow is vital to our aspirations of a top-three finish in the league ... we will go all out to secure the points.”

UniKL are expected to rest goalkeeper Thomas Santiago of Argentina as he has ulcers in his mouth. He also did not feature against Maybank and his replacement, Khairul Nizam Ibrahim, produced an outstanding display.

“Khairul has been playing well and made several crucial saves. I have two keepers who can be rotated and this is a welcome headache,” said Arulselvaraj.

Also expected to be rested today is defender Zul Firdaus Mizun, who was rushed to hospital after the Maybank match with high fever.

There were fears that he could have contracted dengue as the team trained in Bukit Jalil on Sunday. However, blood tests have ruled that out and he has been discharged.

The Star of Malaysia

Faizal out for season with hamstring injury

Faizal Saari (left)

KUALA LUMPUR: Terengganu forward Faizal Saari is out for the rest of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) season.

And with an almost three-week recovery period, his chances of playing for Malaysia in the World Hockey League Round Two next month is also in jeopardy.

The mercurial striker tore a hamstring in the 6-1 win over Tenaga Nasional at the Batu Buruk Hockey Stadium in Kuala Terengganu on Friday.

Terengganu coach Sarjit Singh said that he would need nothing less than three weeks to recover.

“By then, the MHL would be over. I would say that his season has ended,” said Sarjit.

Faizal is the second highest scorer in the Premier Division with eight goals. His team-mate Jang Jung-hyun, of South Korea, is the top scorer with 13 goals.

But Sarjit isn’t too worried about Faizal’s absence as he believes he has an able replacement in Dutch international Valentin Verga, who only joined the team on Thursday.

Terengganu lead the eight-team standings with 19 points after seven matches – two points ahead of second-placed KLHC.

On the international front, a fit Faizal would have been a shoo-in for one of the 18 places in the team for the World Hockey League Round Two in Trinidad and Tobago from March 25-April 2.

The Star of Malaysia

1st Women Hockey League: Islamabad  & Lahore victorious on Opening Day

Lahore: Pakistan's 1st Women Hockey League kicked off with two matches at National Hockey Stadium, Lahore.

In the first match, Islamabad Shaheen went past Peshawar Deers 2-0

It was goal less after the first half.

Mahjabeen broke the deadlock in the 38th minute with a field goal. In the 46th minute, Iqra Hanif doubled the score, also through open play.

Islamabad Shaheen: 2,     Peshawar Deers: 0

Scorers: Mahjabeen  (38') & Iqra Hanif (46')

In the afternoon match, Lahore Lions roared past Karachi Dolphins 4-0

Lahore Lions proved too strong for the Karachi Dolphins.  They were up by three goals at the half time.

In the 10th minute, Sehrish Waheed converted a penalty corner before Kalsoom Shahzadi doubled the lead through a field goal in the 21st minute. Within three minutes, Ishrat Abbas' penalty corner strike made it 3-0.

The lone goal of the second half was netted by Ambreen Arshad via open play.

Scorers: Sehrish Waheed (10'), Kalsoom Shahzadi (21'), Ishrat Abbas (24') & Ambreen Arshad (51')

Matches on Saturday:
Quetta Panthers vs Isalmabad Shaheen:  10:00 am
Lahore Lions vs Peshawar Deers:          02:30 pm

PHF Media release

1st Women Hockey League: Quetta & Lahore victorious on the second day

Lahore: On the second day of the 1st Women Hockey League, two matches were played at the National Hockey Stadium

Quetta Panthers Edge Past Islamabad Shaheen in an Exciting Encounter

It was Quetta Panthers first appearance while Islamabad Shaheen had won their first match on Friday.

Both the teams displayed attacking game and it was a thrilling spectacle.

Quetta went ahead when Nafeesa Anwar found the target in the 13th minute.  Islamabad put it even in the 19th minute through Sadaf Rafi. However, within three minutes, Quetta restored the lead, again through Nafeesa Anwar; the only penalty corner conversion of the match.

Up and down game continued but no further goal could be scored till the end of the third quarter.||

Just one minute into the last quarter, Aqsa Javed made it 3-1 for  Quetta. Down by two goals with just 14 minutes left, Islamabad had an uphill task. Fast paced game continued and Islamabad made it 2-3, through Iqra Hanif in the 58th minute. But Quetta saw through the last two minutes to garner full three points.

Quetta Panthers:3   Islamabad Shaheen: 2

Quetta Panthers: Nafeesa Anwar (13' & 22'),  Aqsa Javed (46')
Islamabad Shaheen: Sadaf Rafi (19'),  Iqra Hanif (58')

The Player & Shakarganj 'Player of Match'  award: Nafeesa Anwar (presented with Gift Hamper & Tracksuit)

Lahore Lions' Roar with Second Big Win

Lahore Lions had an easy ride against Peshawar Deers, who had lost their first match as well.

Ambreen Arshad put Lahore ahead in the 19th minute with a field goal.

It stayed 1-0 till the 28th minute. Then Hamra Latif found the target twice within three minutes, one  open play and one penalty corner goal.

Peshawar Deers fared better in the second half and didn't let Lahore add to their tally in the last 30 minutes.

Lahore Lions: 3      Peshawar Deers: 0
Hamra Latif (28' & 30'), Ambreen Arshad (19')

The Player & Shakarganj 'Player of Match'  award: Maira Sabir  (presented with Gift Hamper & Tracksuit)

Matches on Sunday:
Karachi Dolphins vs Quetta Panthers   11:00 am
Lahore Lions vs Islamabad Shaheen    02:30 pm

PHF Media release

The reluctant role model

Sarah Juggins

Janneke Schopman, USA Women’s Team Coach

The coaching team led by Craig Parnham and Janneke Schopman took the U.S. Women’s National Team from a dismal 12th place finish at the London 2012 Olympics through to a fifth-place ranking, bragging rights over Argentina at the 2015 Pan American Games and a bronze medal at the 2015 Champions Trophy. Not bad for just over three years of work.

Now Parnham has moved on and Janneke Schopman, the straight-talking Dutch Olympian, has taken over the helm. She is determined that the very thing that Team USA has become renowned for – namely never giving in – will continue to be the bedrock philosophy of her team, despite a few personnel changes within the ranks.

But another role that Schopman has taken on, albeit not by choice, is that of role model for women wanting to get into high performance coaching.

Among the top 20 women’s national field hockey teams there are just three female head coaches and a scattering of assistant coaches. Of the top 20 men’s field hockey teams there are no female head coaches and no female assistant coaches.

Three is an improvement on things from even a year ago. At the start of 2016, former Australian international Alyson Annan was the sole flag-bearer for female head coaches at the top of the global game. She is head coach of the Netherlands women – the world’s number one team. She has since been joined by two Dutch Olympians, Ageeth Boomgaardt, who coaches the Belgium Red Panthers and Janneke Schopman, head coach to the U.S. Women’s National Team.

It is the newest recruit to the elite club of female head coaches, Janneke Schopman, that we spoke to about what it means to be a head coach and why she feels there are so few female coaches in that role.

Schopman was part of the Netherlands hockey team that won Olympic gold in 2008 and gold at the World Cup in 2006. She was appointed assistant coach to Team USA in 2013 and was promoted to head coach at the end of 2016. As she explains, coaching is something she has always wanted to do and even in her teens she had ambitions to be an international head coach someday.

“I started coaching when I was 18 and I retired from international playing when I was 33. Coaching is part of my life and something that I love to do. For me, being a female coach was never the challenge. When I was a player, I did have teammates who used to say they preferred to be coached by a man rather than a woman, but when I asked ‘why’, they didn’t really know, it was just a feeling they had.”

Although Schopman didn’t delve into the specifics of gender inequities in field hockey coaching, she does concede that there are issues in some parts of the world.

“In other parts of the world, I don’t know why woman would struggle to reach a head coach position. I think it comes down to personal choice, certainly many of the players I know just want to follow another career when they stop playing.”

Schopman explains that although male and female coaches differ in the way they operate, when selecting a head coach the focus should be restructured to account for the athletes’ preferences. “Of course there are some differences in the way men and women coach, but I think the bigger difference lies between coaches of either gender, and whether they prefer to coach men or women. It is the nature of the group being coached rather than the style of the coach where the bigger difference occurs.”

She expands this point: “As a female coach you might have an advantage because you understand women a little better. Equally a male coach might understand men better. But I don’t think you need to ‘understand’ necessarily how men and women are thinking, you just need to coach them and get the results.

“I think as a player I just wanted the best coach, male or female. I just wanted them to show me how to do things and explain why I was doing them. Being knowledgeable was the important thing for me. That is what I want to pass onto my players now.”

Within the USA, field hockey is in a unique position as many of the college teams do have female head coaches. This contrasts with college sport generally where figures released last year by the Women’s Sports Foundation showed that only 23 per cent of teams across all sports had a female head coach.

Schopman feels that field hockey’s good showing among these figures relates to the fact that the sport in the USA is predominantly a female sport, and that there is a clear pathway for women to move from playing to coaching.

On her appointment to head coach role, Schopman is far more forthcoming and she bristles with positivity as she says: “It’s a great honor for me to be appointed as head coach, it was something I always dreamed of after I retired as a player and, yes, it is a great opportunity for me at this time.”

Schopman's apprenticeship for the role was three years as assistant to Craig Parnham, a former Great Britain field hockey player and coach who joined the USA set-up in 2012. Between them, Parnham and Schopman helped USA move up the rankings to fifth in the world; win gold medal at the 2014 Champions Challenge; a gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games – a match in which they beat the world number two side, Argentina in a thrilling encounter – and nab a bronze medal at the 2016 Champions Trophy. On each occasion the team punched above its weight and beat higher ranked opposition.

“I learn every day from people around me,” she says. “It was great to be around Craig, he was very easy to talk to and I felt like I could always walk into his room and ask him a questions or give a suggestion. That is something I definitely want to achieve as head coach. I would like people, whether they are staff or players, to feel they can voice their opinion freely.”

After interviewing Janneke Schopman, the over-riding impression is of a woman for who life is a series of black and white answers. She admits at times she can be impatient, “I do try to work on that”, and despite constant attempts to get her to admit that there were gender inequalities in coaching, her take on it is simply based on her own experience – it is not a problem she has encountered and so she has not formed any opinions either way.

What is clear is that she will continue the tradition of Team USA being a hard-working, honest hockey team. It is an ethos that has won them friends all over the hockey world and it is not something that will change during Schopman’s reign.

That is not to say that the next few months will not be challenging. For a start, some of the team stalwarts retired after the Rio Olympics, notably team captain Lauren Crandall and world class defender Rachel Dawson, and Schopman says that is likely to cause some headaches.

“There have been retirements which will give us some challenges in the near future as we currently don't have the depth within our squad to deal with that,” is her honest appraisal.  “There is talent in the U-21s knocking on the door but in terms of depth in the squad we probably need some time. But you always know that the USA is a team that will always fight for every meter they can on the field and will bring that to every team they face.”

While Janneke Schopman may not be beating the drum for more female coaches, in her own highly professional way, she has become the walking embodiment of a role model to any aspiring coach.

Pan American Hockey Federaion media release

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