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News for 17 May 2017

All the news for Wednesday 17 May 2017

Black Sticks Women run riot over India

Photo: www.photosport.nz

The Vantage Black Sticks Women have secured one of their biggest ever wins over India with an emphatic 8-2 result in the second test in Pukekohe.

Following Sunday’s 4-1 win, New Zealand cranked up another notch and put the Indians to the sword in a stunning display of team hockey.

The Black Sticks went into halftime with a 3-0 advantage before pouring on another five goals in the second half – four of them coming in the final nine minutes.

In her first game back from injury, Stacey Michelsen was outstanding and was rewarded with a hat-trick while Samantha Harrison picked up a double.

Michelsen said it was a pleasing way to return to the turf with the team.

“I thought we moved the ball around very well, and the girls chose all the right options in the attacking circle to allow us to beat the goalkeeper,” she said.

“We did lapse a bit in the third quarter but it was pleasing to come back in the fourth quarter and put four more away.

“I’m really happy to see how the new girls in particular have stepped up and we are all training well together which really makes a difference come game time.”

The Kiwis were in top gear from the opening whistle and lit up the scoreboard after just three minutes when Harrison sent a reverse shot into the goal after deflecting off the crossbar.

Michelsen scored her side’s second goal of the match thanks to a lovely baseline run from Kim Tanner who passes in for an easy knock into the cage.

She scored her second right on the stroke of halftime after delivering a crushing forehand shot from the top of the circle which easily beat the keeper.

Down by three goals, India struck back in the 40th minute when Lilima Minz netted from a penalty corner opportunity.

Just one minute later though it was Michelsen in again for her hat-trick after flicking a loose ball into the net.

India remained in the game thanks to an Anupa Barla field goal with 11 minutes on the clock, but it was all New Zealand traffic from then on.

The Black Sticks stormed home with another four goals with Harrison picking up her double and Kirsten Pearce, Madison Doar and Steph Dickins all marking their names on the score card.

Both teams take to the turf in the third test at Pukekohe at 7pm tomorrow night with live coverage through the Vantage Black Sticks Facebook page.

Presale tickets for all three remaining tests are still available through the Vantage Black Sticks website (www.blacksticks.co.nz)

VANTAGE BLACK STICKS 8: (Stacey Michelsen 3, Samantha Harrison 2, Kirsten Pearce, Madison Doar, Steph Dickins)
INDIA 2: (Lilima Minz, Anupa Barla)
Halftime: New Zealand 3-0

Hockey New Zealand Media release

Black Sticks Women flatten India

By David Leggat

Samantha Charlton of Black Sticks Women. Photo / Photosport

Goals weren't an issue for the women's Black Sticks in tonight's second international against India at Pukekohe.

The fifth-ranked New Zealand team flattened India 8-2 at Rosa Birch Park to take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series. New Zealand won the first international 4-1 at the same venue on Sunday.

This series is being used as something of a selection exercise by New Zealand coach Mark Hager.

All 25 squad players will have at least three appearances as he looks to prepare a team for the World League semifinals in Brussels next month.

Hager will be liking what he's seeing, considering he's unlikely to play a first-team side until later in the series.

The scoreline blew out in the final quarter as New Zealand rattled in four goals in the last eight minutes.

The last time New Zealand passed eight goals was the 31-0 blowout against Samoa at the Oceania tournament in late 2015, and there was a 12-0 shellacking of Poland a couple of months earlier in Antwerp.

Black Sticks star Stacey Michelsen has had injury issues since returning from last year's Rio Olympics. She put those behind her in grabbing a fine hat-trick and showing some classy touches.

Attacker Sam Harrison snagged two goals with the other three coming from Kirsten Pearce, Maddie Doar and Steph Dickins, the latter two getting their debut international goals.

World No 12 India got goals from Liliana Minz, from a penalty corner in the third quarter and Anupa Barla scored just before New Zealand's late goal burst.

''In the first quarter India probably had the run of most of the play," Black Sticks assistant coach Sean Dancer said.

''We scored our first against run of play. It wasn't a great quarter but to girls credit they certainly stepped it up and scored some good goals."

There are a number of players vying for World League selection. Hands are being put up by players wanting to catch the selectors' eye.

''We're looking at the big picture and trying to give plenty of people opportunities," Dancer said.

''Maddie Doar has certainly had a couple of good games, along with a lot of other girls who are doing a good job at the moment."

There are some niggling injuries in the squad, notably key defender Liz Thompson, while Rose Keddell is battling a virus but no injuries are rated serious.

The third game of the series is at the same venue tomorrow night.

The New Zealand Herald

Stacey Michelsen scores three goals as Black Sticks thump India

Samantha Harrison opened the scoring during New Zealand's win over India at Pukekohe. Kerry Marshall

Experienced striker Stacey Michelsen struck a hat-trick as the Black Sticks thumped India 8-2 in Pukekohe on Tuesday night.

New Zealand were searching for consistency over the full match after Sunday's 4-1 win in the opening encounter of the five-game series.

The Black Sticks would have been largely happy with their performance, showing a ruthless streak in the goal circle.

Stacey Michelsen celebrates one of her three goals against India on Tuesday night. PHOTOSPORT

Michelsen took her chances well, netting three goals, while Samantha Harrison bagged a double.

Michelsen, in her first game back from a knee injury, said it was an improved showing from the opening test.

"I thought we moved the ball around very well, and the girls chose all the right options in the attacking circle to allow us to beat the goalkeeper.

"We did lapse a bit in the third quarter, but it was pleasing to come back in the fourth quarter and put four more away.

Harrison opened the scoring in just the third minute with a reverse shot effort, which was the lone goal of the opening quarter.

New Zealand built a 3-0 advantage by halftime with Michelsen scoring twice in the second term.

She benefited from a nice pass from Kim Tanner to make it 2-0, then grabbed another with a cracking forehand shot at the top of the circle.

India pulled a goal back early in the second half, before Michelsen completed her hat-trick after flicking a loose ball into the far post.

To their credit, India refused to go away and reduced the deficit to 4-2, giving them a glimmer of hope.

The final quarter was all New Zealand with the Black Sticks going on a scoring rampage with four goals in the final eight minutes.

Youngsters Madison Doar and and Stephanie Dickins both notched their first international goals to cap off a pleasing result.

The sides meet again in Pukekohe on Wednesday with the series shifting to Hamilton's Gallagher Hockey Centre for the final two tests on Friday and Saturday.


New Zealand 8 (Stacey Michelsen 3, Samantha Harrison 2, Kirsten Pearce, Madison Doar, Stephanie Dickins)
India 2 (Lilima Minz, Anupa Barla)

HT: 3-0


New Zealand thrash India women’s hockey team 8-2 in second Test

New Zealand defeated India women’s hockey team 8-2 in their second match of the series to take a 2-0 lead.

India women’s hockey team are 2-0 down against New Zealand in the five-match series.(AFP)

New Zealand produced a brilliant performance as they thrashed India women’s hockey team 8-2 in the second match of the five-match series in Pukekohe on Tuesday.

For New Zealand, Samantha Harrison (third minute), Stacey Michelsen (21st, 30th minute), Kirsten Pearce (52), Madison Doar (56), Samantha Harrison (56) and Stephanie Dickins (60) scored the goals while for India, Lilima Minz (40th) and Anupa Barla (49th) found the back of the net.

Though India began with positive intent, hosts New Zealand put India on the backfoot with an early 1-0 lead when Samantha Harrison scored a 3rd minute field goal.

India couldn’t clear the ball through the right wing and Samantha Harrison beautifully converted the pass into a goal from close range.

A chance to equalise went begging in the sixth minute when striker Rani could not get a touch on the ball to deflect it into the post from a long-range assist.

In-form keeper Savita made a couple of saves to deny New Zealand from increasing the lead while Anupa Barla’s shot was also saved by the Kiwi keeper Grace O’Hanlon in the 12th minute.

The Black Sticks women dominated, holding their structure and looked like scoring more while keeping the Indians at bay. Though India played with high intensity, it was not enough to match New Zealand’s accuracy.

After entering the second quarter with a 1-0 lead, the hosts held most of the possession and ended up scoring a brilliant field goal in the 21st minute on the counter through Stacey Michelsen.

India earned a penalty corner in the 24th minute but it was promptly denied by keeper Sally Rutherford.

New Zealand kept up the pressure on India and created more chances but Savita made several saves to keep India in the game.

READ | Indian women suffer 1-4 loss to New Zealand in first hockey Test

However, good pressing from hosts along with their ability to be patient and move the ball to drag the defenders out meant that New Zealand scored their third goal through Stacey in the 30th minute and take a comfortable 3-0 lead.

India made amends in the third quarter when they earned two penalty corners. Though the first went amiss, Lilima Minz managed to get a deflection to finally win India a goal in the 40th minute.

Though Stacey scored her third goal of the match in the 42nd minute, India showed grit to score their second goal in the 49th minute through Anupa Barla. This helped India narrow the gap to 4-2.

But just when India looked like they could come back into the game, their defence collapsed in the final quarter with New Zealand taking complete advantage by scoring as many as four goals in the last eight minutes of the match.

New Zealand increased their pace and attack to converted goals through Kirsten Pearce, Madison Doar, Samantha Harrison, and Stephanie Dickins to end the match on a high note.

The two teams will now play the third match on May 17.

Hindustan Times

India lose 2-8 against New Zealand in women's hockey

PUKEKOHE: Indian women's hockey team suffered an embarrassing 2-8 defeat against hosts New Zealand in the second of the five-match series here on Tuesday.

Experienced striker Stacey Michelsen (21st, 30th, 42nd) struck thrice, while Samantha Harrison (3rd), Kirsten Pearce (52nd), Madison Doar (56th), Samantha Harrison (56th) and Stephanie Dickins (60th) also sounded the board.

For India, Lilima Minz (40th minute) and Anupa Barla (49th) were the goal-scorers.

India began with positive intent but New Zealand put India on the backfoot with an early 1-0 lead when Samantha Harrison scored a 3rd minute field goal.

India couldn't clear the ball through the right wing and Samantha beautifully converted the pass into a goal from close range. A chance to equalize went begging in the 6th minute when striker Rani could not get a touch on the ball to deflect it into the post from a long-range assist.

In-form keeper Savita made a couple of saves to deny New Zealand from increasing the lead while Anupa Barla's shot was also saved by the Kiwi keeper Grace O'Hanlon in the 12th minute.

While the Black Sticks women dominated, holding their structure and looked like scoring more while keeping the Indians at bay. Though India played with high intensity, it was not enough to match New Zealand's accuracy.

After entering the second quarter with a 1-0 lead, the hosts held most of the possession and ended up scoring a brilliant field goal in the 21st minute on the counter through Stacey Michelsen.

India earned a PC in the 24th minute but it was promptly denied by keeper Sally Rutherford. New Zealand kept the pressure on India and created more chances but Savita made several saves to keep India in the game.

However, good pressing from hosts along with their ability to be patient and move the ball to drag the defenders out meant that New Zealand scored their third goal through Stacey in the 30th minute and take a comfortable 3-0 lead.

India made amends in the third quarter when they earned two PCs. Though the first went amiss, Lilima Minz managed to get a deflection to finally win India a goal in the 40th minute.

Though Stacey scored her third goal of the match in the 42nd minute, India showed grit to score their second goal in the 49th minute through Anupa Barla. This helped India narrow the gap to 4-2.

But just when India looked like they could come back into the game, their defence collapsed in the final quarter with New Zealand taking complete advantage by scoring as many as four goals in the last eight minutes of the match.

New Zealand increased their pace and attack to convert goals through Kirsten Pearce (52nd), Madison Doar (56th), Samantha Harrison (56th) and Stephanie Dickins (60th) to end the match on a high note.

The two teams will play the third match on May 17.

The Times of India

Black Sticks women's coach Mark Hager borrows from All Blacks playbook


Black Sticks Head Coach Mark Hager has a selection headache ahead of next month's world series in Belgium.

There is a coaching code of conduct and it reads - do as Steve Hansen and the All Blacks do.

Although not dealing with an oval ball, Black Sticks women's hockey coach Mark Hager says the same principle applies and he takes note on what the All Blacks selection panel has done in creating depth across the board.

Stacey Michelsen celebrates her goal with Kirsten Pearce against India on Tuesday night. PHOTOSPORT

This week Hager has stepped down as head coach to allow himself to watch from the sidelines and concentrate solely on selecting the right combinations for the upcoming world league semifinal in Brussels next month.

So far the Black Sticks have pummelled India 4-1 and 8-2 in the first two matches of a five-test series, under assistant coach Sean Dancer.

Hager said the results have been pleasing, but it is causing him a real selection headache as he has over 30 players he could take to Belgium.

"We've got about 33 players exposed, and it's giving us a good look at everyone, some of these players are giving me headaches. If you'd asked me about the squad last year before the Argentina series I would have given you a completely different answer to now.

"There's a lot of players putting their hands up."

Hager said, like the All Blacks, he is trying to increase the depth of the Black Sticks. He has often admired the way New Zealand rugby has continually been able to produce players year after year in every position to back up key All Blacks.

"I look at the All Blacks from afar and they have cover in every position. There is a production line of three or four to replace the top players, or injured players."

He wasn't ruling out the recall of former Black Stick Gemma McCaw or other players looking to make their way back to the top, but said it would be a demanding schedule and he would expect full commitment ahead of the 2018 world cup.

"I haven't had discussions with those players yet, but we will sit down with them and have a look at what they can commit to.

"It's quite a good headache to have."

Hager is confident he will have the right side when it comes to leaving for Brussels for the tournament beginning June 21.

He said the side is continually improving through each test, since they began the year in Rangiora against the USA, with a loss before winning the second.

"The conversion rate is probably the best I've ever seen it. We have done a lot of work on it so it's good to see it paying off."

Players like Olivia Merry, Stacey Michelson, who scored a hat trick against India on Tuesday night, Sam Harrison,  Kirsten Pearce, Madison Doar and Samantha Charlton were all stand-outs for Hager this week.

However, he is under no illusion the world series will be a lot tougher but is also confident his side will be better.

New Zealand have matches against Spain, Australia, Belgium and Malaysia and are likely to face reigning champions the Netherlands and heavyweights China in playoff stages.

The tournament will act as a world cup qualifier for 2018, in which the Black Sticks will have to finish in the top seven if they are to qualify. They will get a second crack if needed at the Oceania Cup later this year.

The World Series league final will be held in Auckland later this year also, and being hosts New Zealand will automatically qualify.


Women's Hockey World League Semi-Finals June 21 –  July 2, Brussels
June 21 vs Spain
June 24 vs Australia
June 25 Belgium
June 27 Malaysia


Hockeyroos team announced for World League Semi-Finals

Holly MacNeil

Photo credit: Ned Dawson / Planet Hockey

The Hockeyroos team which will contest the World League Semi-Final in Brussels, Belgium from June 21 – July 2 was announced today.

The Semi-Final which not only acts as a qualifying event for the World League Final but also for the 2018 World Cup, will see an 18-strong team head over to Europe to compete against seven other countries in a bid to qualify for both events.

Included in the team for the first time is Georgia Wilson (WA) who will make her senior international debut in the green and gold; while Jocelyn Bartram and Madison Fitzpatrick have been included in the team to widen their exposure at an international level following impressive work in training.

Georgie Morgan and Karri McMahon will return to the team for the first time in 2017 – Morgan returning from a short period out with a niggling foot injury, while McMahon returns following rehabilitation from knee surgery which took place at the end of September.

Hockeyroos head coach Paul Gaudoin said: “The team we have taking part in the World League Semi-Final sees the return of some senior players who have been out of the squad so far this year due to injury.

“Their return will add some depth to our defensive line, and along with the debut of Georgia Wilson we should see some interesting new dynamics within the team.

“We’ll be looking to implement some of the learnings we made from the Hawke’s Bay Cup in New Zealand earlier this year, and having a couple of practice matches in Holland prior to the Semi-Final should ensure we’re match ready.”

If the Hockeyroos place in the top three at the World League Semi-Final they will automatically qualify for the World League Final which will take place in Auckland in November, while if they finish in the top five they will automatically qualify for the 2018 World Cup which will take place in London next July.

The Hockeyroos will head over to Europe on Sunday, June 11 where they will take part in a two-game practice test against Holland prior to the World League Semi-Final in Belgium.

Hockeyroos World League Semi-Final team:
Athlete (Hometown, State)
Jocelyn Bartram (Albury, NSW)
Edwina Bone (Orange, NSW) *plays for ACT
Jane Claxton (Adelaide, SA)
Jacqui Day (Mountain Creek, QLD)
Madison Fitzpatrick (Cabarita Beach, NSW) *plays for QLD
Jordyn Holzberger (Ipswich, QLD)
Stephanie Kershaw (Townsville, QLD)
Rachael Lynch (Melbourne, VIC)
Karri McMahon (Berri, SA)
Georgina Morgan (Armidale, NSW)
Gabrielle Nance (Kingscliff, NSW) *plays for SA
Georgia Nanscawen (Melbourne, VIC)
Madeleine Ratcliffe (Warnambool, VIC)
Kathryn Slattery (South Stirling, WA)
Emily Smith (Crookwell, NSW)
Renee Taylor (Everton Park, QLD)
Mariah Williams (Parkes, NSW)
Georgia Wilson (Mahogany Creek, WA)

Hockey Australia media release

Pakistan Seniors down Whites 2-0

Pakistan's Senior Hockey team had to dig deep to overcome the fighting Whites side 2-0 at Okara's recently laid synthetic  turf .

It was scoreless at the half time.

A crowd of around two thousand enjoyed the well contested encounter.

The goals came in the third quarter and Aleem Bilal was the scorer each time.

Both the goals came via set pieces; penalty corner and penalty stroke.

PHF Media release

Keeping quandary

With India hockey skipper PR Sreejesh out with an injury, goalkeeping duties fall to Akash Chikte in HWL Semi-Final

By Aravind Suchindran

The Indian men’s senior hockey team has been beset with problems, but goalkeeping was never thought to be one of them. In PR Sreejesh, the 28-year-old captain, India have an experienced and dependable custodian, capable of delivering top performances until at least the next cycle — after the Olympic Games in Tokyo. However, the recently-concluded Sultan Azlan Shah Cup proved an eye-opener.

Sreejesh suffered a knee injury during the pool game against World No 2 Australia on May 2 and will be out for three months. The injury rules him out of the HWL Semi-Final and the tour of Germany that precedes the high-profile tournament. At the Azlan Shah tournament, Akash Chikte, the reserve keeper who made his debut in the same tournament in 2016, came under focus. Chikte will be promoted to No 1 over the next three months while Sreejesh recuperates. Vikas Dahiya, the Junior World Cup winner, and newbie Suraj Karkera will be reserves to Chikte.

Chikte is a handy player in the team, but he is raw and is yet to grasp leadership skills that make a goalkeeper exceptional. A team’s defence begins with the No 1 player after all. It is he who directs play down the field. India, who fielded an experimental side, won the bronze in the Azlan Shah tournament, but Hockey World League Semi-Final in London, which begins on June 15, will be a different ball game. The stakes will be high.

Coach Roelant Oltmans however revealed he already had plans of resting Sreejesh for the HWL Semi-Final. “That’s (lack of an experienced goalkeeper) not a big problem at all,” Oltmans said on Tuesday. “It’s good that the other guys get experience now in big games. So of course, it’s upsetting for Sreejesh. But we had already thought of resting him for this tournament anyway to get the others some match exposure. We have nothing to win or lose as we have already qualified for the (HWL) Final.

“Upfront, we thought of getting young talent because if something like this happens before a major event, they (the goalkeepers) have to be ready. Only way to be ready is to play big matches. They are good no doubt. They train hard and are coming closer (top top level) no doubt. But they need match experience. Now, we play 12 matches in the European tour and that’s good experience for the young goalkeepers.”

The bigger question, however, is how ready are India’s second-line of goalkeepers for big matches? Oltmans underlined the importance of match experience in defining a good goalkeeper. “Match experience is not only about stopping balls, but also about coaching your defenders,” Oltmans said. “They need to understand the coach’s system and coach defenders. And the more experience you have, the better you understand. You see that many goalkeepers become better when they are older. Juan Manuel Vivaldi, the Argentine goalkeeper, is 37. He became the Olympic champion last year. I have seen him for 20 years and he’s at his peak only now. That’s the importance of experience.”

Chikte has had mixed results so far, while Dahiya is yet to step into the big shoes. When Chikte had to come on against Australia, he shipped three goals. Against Japan in the next game, he conceded three and a bad team effort led to them losing 0-1 to Malaysia. Chikte maintained a clean sheet in the third place playoff 4-0 win against New Zealand.

“I had to play all of a sudden so I thought ‘yeah, let me do it’,” Chikte said. “I couldn’t afford to make mistakes because it was part of a crucial stage of the tournament. Mentally I was relaxed (until then) because I thought he’s (Sreejesh) the captain and would definitely play all the matches. I thought that I would get a chance perhaps in later in the tournament against Japan or Malaysia. At first, (when I had to come on against Australia), I felt a bit nervous. But someone has to take the responsibility and I had to play.”

Sreejesh meanwhile will work on his rehab at the SAI campus in the city and will briefly go to his home in Kerala as he and his wife are expecting a child.

Bangalore Mirror

Tuks women’s hockey team secure home final against Maties in Varsity tournament

PRETORIA – When the going gets tough, the tough gets going. With such approach to hockey, it should be no surprise that the Tuks women’s team has secured a home final against Maties on Monday in the Varsity Tournament.

The Tuks team’s performance over the past two weekends was, to say the least really impressive. In eight games they scored 28 goals and conceded only three. The team only lost one game.

In Monday’s semifinal in Potchefstroom Tuks managed to beat Wits 3-2. Maties beat Pukke in the other semifinal where the score was also 3-2.

Inky Zondi (Tuks head coach) can justly feel like saying: “I love it when a plan comes together.”

He realised from the start the importance for his team to put in a 100 percent effort every time they played. As with each victory, they came closer to securing a home final.

In Monday’s semifinal against Wits Zondi proved his tactical astuteness. With about four minutes remaining the Wits players were launching attack after attack. They only needed to score one field goal to secure a victory.

That is when Zondi indicated that he wants his team to take their “power play”. That meant Wits had to take two players out of the game for two minutes. In doing so they lost their momentum in the attack.

Zondi is however not one to take any credit for what happened on the field.

“It was the players who did the job. Any coach is only as good as his players. Over the past two weekends, every player did what was expected from them. That led to us being able to dictate the game each time we played.”

One of the most unfair questions to ask a coach is to name the players who impressed him the most.

“I don’t like to single out any specific player as hockey is a team sport, but I got to credit my senior players for the way they led by example especially Natalie Esteves (captain) and Izelle Verster (vice-captain).”

In the eight games played they both were recipients of the Player of the Match Award on two occasions.

In the round, robin fixture Tuks managed to beat Maties in tightly-contested game 3-1.

“Monday is going to be a totally different game obviously because it is a final. The fact that we had a good result against Maties means they will be out to set the record straight. In the end, it is all going to boil down to who has the biggest desire to take it all.

“From playing against them I realise that Maties is a very competitive team. They will certainly come hard at us.

What makes them good is their ability to play at such a high intensity and how they are able to move the ball around on the attack. As a team, they are always looking for ways to put the opposition under pressure.

“We will have to focus on making sure we come out on top in the real tight phases of the game. When on the attack the players will have to create chances so as to keep Maties on the back foot.”

The Tuks goal-scorers in the first eight games are Natalie Esteves (7), Anel Luus (5), Chané Hill (5), Catherine Morris (5), Mabongi Nyalunga (3), Amy Etherington (1), Claire Gibbings (1) and Izelle Verster (1).


Varsity Sports pushes ‘sportainment’ to the next level with Varsity Hockey rule changes

Maties celebrate after winning the final match against PUKKE in a penalty shoot out in the 2017 VARSITY HOCKEY. Photo by: HALDEN KROG/SASPA

It’s the 80th minute and the hooter has sounded. You’re glued to the stadium seat as the opposition kicker places his kick. He slots it through the uprights and the final whistle goes. The scoreboard reads 15-15. An entire day, from the agonising journey through the traffic and the insufferable queues for beer, to losing your voice as you urged on your beloved team – and it ends in a stalemate. There was never a more apt name. How stale the feeling of a match ending in a draw. But Varsity Sports is changing that, one event at a time.

Ever wondered what makes American sports so great? Capacity crowds flood stadiums week in, week out. Americans are the pioneers of driving entertainment in sport. They’ve managed to rethink everything from mascots to how players are drafted into squads. Half time is never a mind-numbing 10-minute period used for toilet breaks in the USA; it’s the one time you don’t want to be absent from your seat.

Is it the class of athletes? Perhaps. Is it the in-stadium entertainment and experience? That’s certainly a key element. What about the rules? When was the last time you heard about a baseball, basketball or American football game being tied? Well that’s probably because it doesn’t happen.

Americans love their sport. You’ll struggle to find a more passionate bunch. And sport and passion make for a prosperous marriage. Whether you leave a stadium bursting with joy or filled with disappointment – there should always be emotion present. One half of spectators grinning all the way home while the other half grumble about who they’d have substituted and how blind the referee was.

But nothing is worse for sport than both sets of fans leaving the stadium blank, emotionless. No loser, but no winner. There’s a reason you can’t have draws in World Cup finals and playoffs – America has realised that. Maybe it’s time for South Africa to do the same. Sport is a competition and there can ultimately only be one winner. But why should we wait until finals; why not always have a winner?

Well Varsity Sports lives by ‘sportainment’ and for Varsity Hockey they’ve kicked draws to the pavement. No match can end in a tie. When matches end all square, they immediately go to penalty shootouts. When Maties and Pukke ended goalless in this year’s group stages it was a relatively dull affair for 60 minutes. Typically the weekend would have ended that way. No winner in the biggest match of the weekend. A dull match and a stalemate in front of a capacity crowd. But that was not to be the case as the crowd was treated to a nail-biting conclusion and Maties emerged victorious in a shootout that would have had Clint Eastwood beaming.

Georgia Grobler of Maties runs around Marine Kock of PUKKE to score during a penalty shoot out after both teas failed to score during the match in the 2017 VARSITY HOCKEY. Photo by: HALDEN KROG/SASPA

In addition, the Powerplay rule allows each team to initiate a two-minute period where goals not only count double, but the the opposition lose two players.

“I think the Varsity Hockey rule changes have certainly had a positive effect on the game,” said Gregg Clark, former South African national player and coach. “Both attacking and defending teams have had to put a lot of time and thought into how they are going to play their hockey…both in and out of the Powerplays. I’m not sure we’ve hit the the winning formula with the Powerplay rule specifics – this is maybe backed up by the lack of Powerplay goals – but I think the rule changes made have taken us a step closer.”

Varsity Sports is constantly working to add entertainment value to sports, while encouraging the development of the sporting code. Keep an eye out for entertaining half time games, dancing mascots and best of all – know you will leave filled with emotion. There are are no draws, no unfinished business and nothing is stale.

I guess this is where we’re supposed to say ‘at the end of the day sport triumphs and everyone is a winner’. But that’s not true, is it? Sometimes there’s got to be a loser and secretly we love it. Here’s to putting stalemates where stale things belong.

Varsity Sports media release

WKS Grunwald Poznan in pole position in Poland

WKS Grunwald Poznan produced two wins in four days to confirm they will top the regular season standings in Poland and advance to the playoffs as the number one seed.

They started off with a 5-1 win over AZS Politechnika Poznańska with Artur Mikula and Mateusz Hulboj scoring two goals a piece.

They followed up with a 7-3 win over LKS Gasawa with Mikula adding another couple of goals while Waldemar Rataj also netted twice at a match frequented by Olympic bronze medal winning wrestler Monika Michalik who showed off her medal afterwards.

Grunwald now sit eight points clear of KS Pomorzanin Torun with two rounds of the regular season still to play. Torun have also qualified for the playoffs with AZS AWF Poznan a point away from the third place.

UH 1954 Start Gniezno are in pole position to complete the list ahead of Gasawa and AZS Politechnika Poznańska. The playoffs take place on June 17 and 18.

Euro Hockey League media release

Can Surbiton transfer domestic dominance in Europe?

By Mike Haymonds

SURBITON  women are the best team by some distance in the Investec Premier League, having won the last four league championships, three of the last four cup finals, clinched the league and cup double this season,  as well as having lost only one league game since Feb 2014.

But their performances at the EuroHockey Club Championships in the last two years since their debut have fallen far short of their domestic domination. In 2015 they lost on penalty shuffles to Club de Campo Madrid before finishing fifth (of eight). Last year they were without their first keeper Abi Walker and their Rio Olympians for much of their preparations and suffered a 6-0 drubbing by UHC Hamburg before a 3-2 defeat against Canterbury saw them finish sixth. This year five members of the Great Britain central training squad will be in Madrid for a week-long camp, returning only days before the team departs for Holland. Again their first goalkeeper – this time Sabbie Heesh – is sidelined with an ACL injury but Emily Defroand (ankle) and Sarah Page (nose) are expected to recover in time. However, drag-flicker Robyn Collins has not been released from Scotland’s preparations for the European Championship in August.

Surbiton have the same problem English sides always face in Europe with their domestic season ending almost two months before the European tournament. By contrast, the Dutch, German and Spanish clubs have the advantage that their league seasons run until just before they leave for Europe.

Despite recent history head coach Brett Garrard is confident his side will reach ‘s-Hertogenbosch next month in better shape this season.

“We will prepare as best we can. We will continue to train twice a week and play against male mixed sides of club junior and senior players chosen for the way they will test the European squad,” he said.

Unfortunately, the one exception to the policy of not playing female opponents – a game against an England U21 side will be played without the  international absentees.

With only two group games to win a place in the semi-finals Garrard is aware of the need to win the opening game. This year Complutense from Spain present the first hurdle on June 2 with the star-studded host team Den Bosch likely to follow a day later.

Garrard said: “We don’t set ourselves targets, even for league games, but in Europe it is vital to win that first game so we must strive to perform at our best from the first match.”


Under 18s Australian Show brings Real Hope for Pakistan Hockey

By Ijaz Chaudhry

It was the first of its kind: a Pakistani national age group hockey team competing in the national championship outside the country.

Pakistan’s under 18 team recently participated in the highly competitive Australian under 18 National Championships in Hobart, the capital of Tasmania state. The other nine sides were Australia’s state and territorial sides. The ten sides were divided into two pools.

Pakistan began well, defeating Victoria 2-1. But they lost the next match against the hot favourites New South Wales 2-3. However, they lifted the game to win the next three ties and made it to the 4 teams playoffs.

The greenshirts were at a handicap here. Although, Pakistan had won their pool, New South Wales, the other qualifier from the pool, carried the three points for their win against Pakistan. Likewise, Western Australia, one of the playoff qualifiers from the other pool also had three points in the kitty. So Pakistan had to win both the playoff games against Western Australia and Tasmania to get into the final.

The lads rose magnificently to the challenge. They brushed aside the hosts Tasmania 5-1 and defeated the strong Western Australian side, in what was the virtual semifinal, by two goals to nil.         

In the final, Pakistan again came across New South Wales who had had defeated them in the pool game.    By now, the visitors were quite battle hardened and confident. That was displayed on the ground as the young green shirts controlled the game from the start and ran up to a 3-0 lead by the 44rth minute. The NSW managed to make it 2-3, via penalty corner and penalty stroke. But with just five minutes left, they couldn’t find the equaliser.

Boys’ Australian journey is not yet over. All the 21 boys have stayed back. They have been engaged by the Australian clubs participating in the states’ leagues, mostly by the Grade 1 sides. The leagues will go till August.

The head coach of the under 18 team, former star centre forward Kamran Ashraf, scorer of Pakistan’s eight of the total 12 goals in his country’s last World Cup triumph (1994), appeared to be a very satisfied man.   

“It was a wonderful show. The performance graph showed upward curve throughout and we peaked for the final.

-Did the loss in the second game made you worried?

Not at all. It was a closely fought encounter and my boys had matched them in fitness and all round play.  In fact, it is good that they learn to make a comeback. In the playoff phase too, we were under pressure as Pakistan needed to win both the games to enter the final. The team responded well.                                                   

-What were the strong areas of this squad

Defence is often regarded as Pakistani squads’ weak link. But in these championships, our defence did an excellent job- goal keeping and deep defence.

-The boys who shone the most?

Goal Keeper Waqar Younis, defender Rizwan Ali, and midfielders Moin Shakeel, Adeel and Junaid Manzoor were truly outstanding. Among the forwards, Naveed Alam, Ifraz and Ghzanfar were impressive.
-Areas still needing special attention

Penalty Corner:  conversion of own PCs as well as defending opponents PCs

-What makes Australian domestic competitions so special that other countries send their national squads? At the end of the day, it is only a domestic event; all the other sides were Australia’s state or territorial sides

We all know that Australia is a great sporting nation. Their achievements in so many disciplines are tremendous-unbelievable for a nation with a population of just 24 million.

Sports are everywhere in this country and so well organized.

 In hockey, the Aussies are the reigning World Champions. There are annual National Championships for under 13, under 15, under 18 and under 21. Therefore, most of the boys in these state under 18 sides had five to six years of experience in competing in the age group nationals. Then the preparations of a state team are comparable to that of the national squad. They have the services of professional coaches and physiotherapisst. Serious preparations for the national under 18 started a couple of months back. Apart from the training sessions, the state teams played exchange matches with other sides. Indian, Malaysian and New Zealand’s national age group sides have been figuring in Australia’s various age group national championships.

-About the players staying back in Australia  

This is another first. All the 21 members of this Pakistan under 18 squad have been engaged by the Australian states’ clubS

Most of them have been contracted with the Grade 1 teams while some are appearing in the Grade 2. The states’ club championships would run till August with the playoffs in September.

PHF had talked to hockey Australia. However, we were apprehensive whether all the members of the squad will be picked; plus, if they would get good teams to play for. After watching Pakistani boys’ display in the national under 18s, the clubs picked up the whole bunch and most of them were taken up by the top tier teams, mostly in and around Sydney.

-What facilities the clubs would provide to these contracted players

They all have been provided with full boarding and lodging. The players in the Grade 1 will also be paid.

In addition, the PHF in collaboration with Hockey Australia has arranged special coaching sessions for Pakistani players under renowned trainers including Michael Nobbs.  The boys will also be attending grooming classes and lessons in spoken English.

“Next year, we plan to enter this team, which will be under 19 then, in Australia’s National Under 21 Championships”, Kamran signed off.

Ijaz Chaudhry writes on hockey & other sports. For more about him and his work, visit: www.sportscorrespondent.info  


Former MJHL winner Sufian now wants to taste glory as a coach

by Aftar Singh

Heyday: Telekom Pahang, led by Mohd Sufian Mohamad, defeated Bukit Jalil Sports School 1-0 to clinch the Malaysian Junior Hockey League title in 2002.

KUALA LUMPUR: Fifteen years ago, Mohd Sufian Mohamad skippered Telekom Pahang to their first-ever silverware in the Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL).

Now, Sufian is hoping to coach Pahang Hockey Academy (AHP)-MSP-Thunderbolt to the same overall title when they take on four-time double champions Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) Thunderbolt at the Tun Razak Stadium on Sunday (8.30pm).

In last weekend’s semi-final, the Pahang team beat Anderson Thunderbolt 4-2 on penalty shootout after both teams failed to break the 3-3 deadlock in regulation time.

SSTMI, who are gunning for their 12th title in the league since 2010, outplayed defending overall champions BJSS Thunderbolt 3-0 in the other semi-final.

The 33-year-old Sufian admitted that it would be a dream come true if he guide his boys to victory over favourites SSTMI.

“I won the overall title as a captain 15 years ago – when we beat favourites Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) 1-0. Now, I’m leading the Pahang Hockey Academy into the final as a coach,” said the former national midfielder.

“I want to help the Pahang Hockey Academy become the second team from my state to lift the overall title.

“We have made steady progress since featuring in the league in 2014. Last year, we finished third overall. This year, we are in the final for the first time. My players are in high spirits and ready to give their best against SSTMI.

“My boys know that SSTMI will be a tough nut to crack ... they have won titles every year in the Under-19 league since 2010.”

He is certainly right.

SSTMI, coached by Wan Roslan Wan Abdul Rahman since 2002, have been a force to be reckoned with since winning their first league title in 2010.

In 2011, the Johor Sports School bagged the overall title.

They then created history by clinching the double four times in a row from 2012 to 2015.

Last year, SSTMI retained the league title but lost 4-3 to BJSS in the final for the overall title.

In the league match this season, SSTMI edged the Pahang team 2-1 at the SSTMI pitch in Johor.

So, the odds are indeed stacked against the Pahang team.

The Star of Malaysia

Kingsridge top regional hockey tournament again

Kingsridge had another successful outing when they won the Border Inland tournament in the South African SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge for the second time in Queenstown on Sunday.

The King William’s Town school qualified for the provincial finals in August after defeating Aliwal North High 1-0 in the final.

Tournament director Bev Forword said the match was the culmination of another “wonderful day of hockey, in which the players had fun and showed great sportsmanship”.

She said one of the highlights of the tournament was the exciting cross-pool play-off between Aliwal North and hosts Queenstown Girls’ High.

“Aliwal equalised with two minutes to go and forced a penalty shoot-out, which they won 2-1.

“It is the second year in a row that Girls’ High have lost in a shoot-out after being edged by Burgersdorp last year.”

Burgersdorp reached the semi-finals again, but could not contain the strong attacking play of Kingsridge, who won 6-0.

Forword made special mention of tournament debutants St Christopher from King William’s Town.

“They have never played on astroturf before, but performed with such passion and with a great spirit. They ended up sixth which was highly commendable.”

SPAR Eastern Cape promotions and advertising manager Alan Stapleton said they welcomed newcomers such as St Christopher to the tournament.

“It was excellent exposure for them as well as for schools such as Aliwal North, Hangklip, Templeton and Burgersdorp,” he said.

“We have seen a lot of interest from these schools as they get a chance to compete against sides they would not normally meet.

“And, from another perspective, it is a great opportunity for coaches to try out different combinations and to introduce younger players into the first team without too much pressure.”

He added that the regional tournaments had been “a huge success”, attracting the attention of hockey supporters in the way Twenty20 cricket does.

“There is a great vibe to these tournaments, with a competitive yet friendly atmosphere.

“We have had lots of positive feedback about the concept and the hockey fraternity just love it.”

Kingsridge join Union High of Graaff-Reinet as the first two qualifiers for the provincial finals at Woodridge just outside Port Elizabeth on August 12.

The Schoolgirls Challenge will continue on Sunday when the Border Coastal tournament is held in East London.

The Kingsridge team that won the Border Inland tournament in the SPAR Eastern Cape Schoolgirls Hockey Challenge in Queenstown at the weekend were, back from left, Toets McCune (manager), Ongeziwe Ngcese, Mbasa Fassi, Taigan Hall, Alan Stapleton (SPAR Eastern Cape promotions and advertising manager), Jordan Herbst, Robin September, Haylee Lines, Kirsty Elders, Mark Taljard (coach) and, front from left, Aya Yaso, Siphelele Nzima, Nela Mbedu, Margaret Ann Otto, Sibulele Majerman, Charmone’ Theron and Sambesiwe Tyali.

SPAR Hockey Challenge media release

Back To Hockey to most improved player of the year!

Back To Hockey Jules

Jules Le Bihan shares her story of how she found her nearest Back To Hockey session and her journey getting back to hockey with Stroud hockey club.

Last Spring I happened to see a flyer in my local leisure centre for some 'Back to Hockey' sessions. Having given up 5-a-side football when I left my old company I played for a few years earlier, I was reminded of the fun of team sports and thought I'd give it a go.

I hadn't played hockey since school back in the early eighties when we played on grass and the only protective gear we had was little rubber patches on the ankles of our canvas boots so I was a little apprehensive about giving it a go. I phoned the number on the flyer and spoke to Pauline who was really enthusiastic and explained that there was a new league running and Stroud were planning to form a third ladies team to take part. Pauline confidently assured me that my 30-something year break from hockey would be no obstacle and so, one wet May Wednesday evening, I put on my trainers and wandered along to the pitch.

It was clear immediately that lots of work had already gone into the venture as there were a good few new ladies like me. The coaches arrived prepared and had set up a variety of exercises for us to get stuck into. They were all very positive and encouraging, whatever our level and experience, and everyone was hugely welcoming.

And it was like that every week.

In addition a number of players from the other ladies teams came along to the sessions to participate in short games as well as some of the men. Everyone was so encouraging, offering tips and advice as well as enthusiasm and support that I already felt like a member of the club, so I signed up and started regular training.

Our captain, Pauline, worked incredibly hard on and off the pitch: not just with all the necessities of the league registration and documentation, but making sure we all got to play in matches, ensuring we had transport for away games, turning up with oodles of spare kit for those of us just starting back as well as plenty of off-pitch pastoral support throughout the season and doing a match write-up every week for our club website. The coaches always arrived at sessions full of enthusiasm and expertise, and regularly turned up to our matches to look for areas to work on, even if they had their own games on the day as well. Other club members would turn up to see our games and support us as well as giving us tips on how to progress.

I had such a great time that I never wanted to miss a training session or a match and what I lacked in skill, I made up for in effort. The support of the club made me feel really committed and this must have shown as I was delighted to be voted 'Most Improved Player' in our end of year team awards.

My hockey season started on the back of the Ladies GB team winning gold in Rio, and I think I might have been just as proud to receive my somewhat humbler award as they were to get their historic medals. But my award is entirely down to the time, effort and support I got from my club so I thought I would pass on my experience to offer encouragement with the Back to Hockey initiative.

I'm sure there are many women of my generation, and probably younger too, who were not encouraged to continue with sport after leaving school and they may not realise that there is fun and friendship to be gained from joining a club, not just the fitness benefits. Long may it continue.

England Hockey Board Media release

Young Umpires inspired at In2Hockey

Young Umpires In2Hockey 2017

It wasn’t just the players that had the chance to play in national finals at the weekend; it was a chance for our young umpires to gain valuable experience at the In2Hockey Finals over the weekend.

The team was comprised of 16 Young Umpires, who had all been nominated from their Regional Young Umpire Action Groups (RYUAG's) as showing great potential and talent for umpiring. The nominated umpires were given the full "National Tournament" treatment.

This included the team arrival Thursday night including an ice breaker activity and a pre tournament briefing. On the Friday they umpired during the day followed by an evening participating in a ‘Hockey Quiz’ to help them broaden knowledge of the game and discussing some aspects of the day's performances to increase their performance. They finished their weekend with more umpiring on the final day of competition on the Saturday.

The umpires in question were supported by a team of two Umpire Managers and six Umpire Mentors, of whom all of them are operating in the National Programme and have umpired previously at this tournament.

We caught up with a few of the umpires over the weekend to see how they got on. Ryan who is 22 and from Middlesex said; ‘This is my second year attending as an umpire and back in county, I have been umpiring at Development Centres and low level league matches to build my skills. I have progressed to become a member of the National Young Umpire Promising List and am looking to take the step to Regional Adult umpiring next year.’

Owen from Sheffield and who is 14 said; ‘I've been umpiring for about a month, learning by umpiring the Under 10's and Under12's at my club (Wakefield). My dad is an Regional Umpire so he's been helping me along the way. I enjoy umpiring as it's helping me learn more than just playing and to get the chance to meet other people of my age and learn from the coaches has been a great experience. I can't wait to come back next year!’

17 year old Ellie from Derby said; ‘To come back for my second year has been great, as it's a good place to meet other people of my own age group and umpire with them, as well as have two days away from home and experience a "proper tournament". To umpire the Under 13's Schools Girl's Final was a great privilege and is reward for the practice and help that I've had through the Midlands Young Umpire Group and back in my club.’

Sean Edwards (National Young Umpire Lead) said; ‘This is the 11th tournament I have been involved in, as I started as an umpire and I have gone on to become a National Panel Umpire and has led to me umpiring in European Outdoor and International Indoor tournaments. It's a great tournament to see the future generation of umpires come through and can't wait to work with them in the upcoming years.’

England Hockey Board Media release

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