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News for 12 December 2017

All the news for Tuesday 12 December 2017

Hockey woes

Moiz Munif

Australia under-18 rep Haley Crowhurst in control against Fiji U18 at the National Hockey Centre in Suva yesterday. Picture: JONA KONATACI

THE Fiji Invitational and President's sides conceded heavy defeats at the Oceania Hockey Challenge Cup in Suva yesterday.

Fiji Men's President's XI lost 1-8 to New Zealand President's XI in the second match of the day.

Hector Smith Jr scored the lone goal for the hosts in the encounter which was played under humid conditions.

The invitational side, mostly made up of development players ranging from the ages of 18 to 21, lost to Australian Country 0-9 in the opening match of the day.

Fiji Invitation coach Marcus Hicks said the exposure gained at the tournament would help the players.

"They are playing against players who are bigger than them and at times they get intimated.

"As the games go on the players are getting more motivated and inspired," he said.

The Fiji President's Women team faced Japan under-18 side in the last match of the day.

Japan is the new addition to the Challenge Cup this year.

Yesterday's results: Men's : Japan U21 - 3 NZ President's XI 0, Australian Country 4 Fiji President's XI 1, Japan U21 6 Australian Country 0, 4pm NZ President's XI 8 Fiji President's XI 1 .

Women's: Fiji President's 6 Fiji Invitation U18 - 0, Japan U16 - 6 Australian Country 1, Fiji Invitation 0 Australian Country 9.

The Fiji Times

Remarkable Rafters pull off the impossible in PHL semis

By Karien Jonckheere

The ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons' Jethro Eustice (left) gets ahead of the Mapungubwe Mambas' Kirwin Christoffels during the Dragons' impressive 5-2 semifinal victory at the Premier Hockey League in Johannesburg. Photo by Marcel Sigg

It was a day for the underdogs as the Premier Hockey League reached the semifinal stage in Johannesburg on Monday.

After a tournament of turnarounds, the teams that finished bottom of both the men’s and women’s logs in 2016 booked their places in the 2017 final, to be played at the Randburg Astro tomorrow. The Orange River Rafters will face the Private Property St Lucia Lakers for the women’s title and the ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons will take on the Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen for the men’s honours.

The Rafters barely made it into the semifinals. They had to pull off a remarkable bonus-point victory over the defending champions, the Tivoli Blyde River Bunters, in their last group game yesterday and then still relied on other results to go their way. But, taking on the same opponents in today’s semifinal, they once again produced an upset of note – rising from bottom place in 2016 to a guaranteed top-two spot and an unlikely shot at the title.

It was a tight first half, with the Bunters looking far better than they did during their 3-0 loss to the Rafters yesterday, and the scoreboard remained untouched by half time. It was then Donna Small who found the back of the net early in the third quarter to give the Rafters the lead, and it’s one they never relinquished. Captain Sulette Damons slotted in a second early in the fourth quarter to seal the 2-0 win – and take her to the top of the tournament’s goal-scorers list.

While the Bunters brought on a kicking back with seven and a half minutes to go, it was no avail as the defending champions could not find the elusive goal they sought.

“We said that the hardest thing to do is to beat a team twice and after we beat them yesterday we knew it was going to be tough because they’d come out firing,” said Small afterwards. “We believed that we could do it. We’re just lucky that we stuck together, stuck to the structure, and we pulled it off so we’re really stoked about that.”

Describing her goal, the striker added: “Oh my goodness – I think my eyes were closed the entire time. I just saw the ball coming across and put my stick out there and I was just lucky to get it I think. It was really important though. To score the first goal gave us confidence. But anyone could have scored it. I was just in the right place at the right time.”

Speaking about taking on the St Lucia Lakers in tomorrow’s final, Small said: “We lost to them in our first game. But I think we’ve learnt a lot throughout the whole process of PHL – and they have too so I think it’ll be completely different teams. Same people but better structures, so we’re excited to play them and hopefully pull out a win there too.”

The Lakers booked their spot in the final with a 2-0 win over the Old Mutual iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies in their semi, thanks to goals from Kara Botes and Tiffany Jones.

“It’s a great feeling. We really worked so hard and I’m just so proud we’re into the final,” said 17-year-old Bianca Wood afterwards. “I think we just came out with a lot more energy and we knew we had to win and wanted it more. We really showed our potential and used our chances.”

Meanwhile, in the men’s competition the Dragons continued their rapid rise from being last year’s wooden spoon recipients with an impressive 5-2 win over the Mapungubwe Mambas in their semifinal. The Dragons went 4-0 up before the Mambas could register a goal, and with that cushion already safely in place by half time, they were never really troubled.

Coach Sihle Ntuli said afterwards he was not surprised by the massive win.

“For us internally in the group – this is really what we believe we deserve. Last year hurt coming sixth. Like I’ve said before, when we look at all our games, even last year, our stats were always in our favour but we haven’t been able to convert our chances so for this to happen today in the way that it has – we hope that we can continue that into tomorrow and finish off what’s been a good three weeks for us.”

Speaking about taking on the Cavemen in the final, Ntuli added: “The Cavemen are defending champions obviously. They’ve got a lot of experience. I know some of the more experienced guys have picked up a couple of niggles but I’m sure they’ll get onto the park tomorrow and add value. If you look across the field, they’ve got senior players in all the different lines so they’re a very well-balanced team and as we all know, a big threat on short corners so it’ll be a difficult game.”

The Cavemen continued their march to defending their title by handing the Kilimanjaro Addo Elephants a humiliating 6-1 defeat, in a repeat of last year’s final. A hat-trick from Lance Louw did much of the damage with Cerezo Comerasamym, Hendy Seerane and Michael Abrahams scoring the other goals for the 2016 champions.


11 December 2017

 Private Property St Lucia Lakers 2-0 Old Mutual iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies
ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons 5-2 Mapungubwe Mambas
Orange River Rafters 2-0 Tivoli Blyde River Bunters
Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen 6-1 Kilimanjaro Addo Elephants


12 December 2017

1pm: Woen’s bronze playoff: Old Mutual iWYZE Namaqualand Daisies v Tivoli Blyde River Bunters
3pm: Men’s bronze playoff: Mapungubwe Mambas vKilimanjaro Addo Elephants
5pm: Women’s final: Private Property St Lucia Lakers v Orange River Rafters
7.30pm: Men’s final: ProGrip Drakensberg Dragons v Crossroads Maropeng Cavemen

SA Hockey Association media release

Police, Telkom close in on titles


Leon Magomere of Greensharks (left) and Oliver Echenje of Kenya Police tussle for the ball during their Kenya Hockey Union Premier League match at City Park Stadium on December 10, 2017. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU |  NATION MEDIA GROUP

Kenya Police and Telkom will inch closer to winning the men and women’s Premier League hockey titles with victories in their Jamhuri Day fixtures at the City Park Stadium, Nairobi.

Police take on bottom placed Technical University of Kenya (TUK), while Telkom will be up against second-placed Amira Sailors in two of the six matches lined up on this holiday.

Parklands, smarting from their 3-0 loss away to Nakuru on Sunday tackle Chase Sailors, as champions Strathmore University Gladiators take on Kenya College of Accountancy in a relegation dog fight battle.

The last match of the day will see former champions Sikh Union up against Wazalendo. The match between Police and TUK marks contrasting fortunes for the two teams.

While a win for Police will leave them needing six points to clinch the title, a loss for the students will see them relegated.

Police responded from their first loss of the season away to Western Jaguars 11 days to go, with a 2-1 win over Greensharks on Sunday.

The result lifted the leaders to 64 points, 13 ahead of Butali who are in second place. Police coach Kenneth Kaunda is hoping his charges can build on their impressive result against Sharks as they close in on the title.

“It was important to get a response after the loss away to Jaguars and we are now almost certain of clinching the title, it is ours to lose,” Kaunda said.

TUK face a tall order as they bid to avoid the big drop in their maiden season in the top flight.

“We just have to go out there and play like it is a final, Police are beatable and we have no option but to do it,” TUK coach Peter Mwathe said. Police won the first leg encounter 2-1 on April 28.

In the women’s Premier League, Telkom will move 11 points clear of the table with a win against Amira with five matches left.

Telkom, who chasing a record 20th title, are yet to lose a match this season and have scored an impressive 93 goals, conceding only twice.

“We want to wrap up the league and turn our attention to next month’s club championship in Accra,” Telkom coach Jos Openda said. Amira dropped two crucial points in their 1-1 draw against Vikings as they look to secure second spot.

Fixtures (All matches at City Park Stadium)

Premier Women: Strathmore university v UON – 9am, Telkom v Amira -10.30am

Premier Men: Kenya Police v TUK- 12noon, Parklands v Chase Sailors- 1.30pm. Strathmore University v KCAU-3om, Sikh Union v Wazalendo – 5pm

Daily Nation

Successful tournament raises Bhubaneswar’s status as sporting hub

Jitendra Nath Misra

Fans at the Kalinga Stadium during the Hockey World League Final in Bhubaneswar. Firstpost

At the just-concluded Hockey Men’s World League Final at Bhubaneswar, there was ample praise from officials for the conduct of the tournament. Comparison with the Champions Trophy 2014, which also I attended, makes the change in organising principles clear.

In 2014, the Kalinga Stadium was new. The organisers were testing their mettle in a zone of uncertainty, and the spectators were more curious than committed. Bringing international hockey to a city that lacked a global reputation was novel, and it showed.

In 2014, I was witness to stands that were only partly filled up for the morning league games. Those spectators were mostly school children in uniform. Looking at them, we might have been forgiven for thinking the event was a communist leadership’s show of power in a public space.

In 2014, the approach to the Kalinga Stadium had a trickle of spectators, and there was not the loud and bold statement that an elite sporting contest should make. There were no festoons or food stalls, nor other merchandise on display. There was some music, in the form of the signature International Hockey Federation (FIH) tune during corners, and the iconic Chak DeIndia song, and Indie pop motivational songs. There was little to showcase local culture.

At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, India’s goalkeeper, AB Subbaiah, had told me how hockey in Europe was fun. Venues were for families, where children tried their hand at hockey, and spectators appreciated good play all around. India’s play was appreciated whenever the team played in Europe. Everybody had a day out.

I noticed the same festive atmosphere during a visit to the 2015 World League Semi-Final at Antwerp. Eateries, bands and spectators out to enjoy outdoors made for a relaxed and cheery atmosphere.

This had been the missing piece of the jigsaw at the 2014 Champions Trophy at Bhubaneswar.

But in 2017, at the World League Final, the stadium was transformed. Being the home ground of the Hockey India League’s Kalinga Lancers, the organisers had gained international experience, and shown quick reflexes in embracing the FIH’s vision of making hockey bold and loud. The sustained build up had been filled with the symbolism and statements of an international event.

The Odisha government had smelt an opportunity to showcase the state’s rich culture — from the Odissi performance and film on Odisha tourism at the opening ceremony, to hip Odia pop songs, to a trilingual commentator equally at ease in English, Hindi and Odia. NBA or IPL-style cheerleaders filled in the silences during pauses in games. Spectators got involved.

This time around, the entire city was filled with hoardings welcoming the World League. At the stadium the crowds swelled and yelled, even when India were not playing. Up to 9,000 people were in attendance, in mostly cool weather.

On 8 December, even in pouring rain, 7,000 spectators turned up. They cheered every team, and embraced the home team as only a child can embrace its mother. The applause for the defeated German team in the bronze medal game against India was noteworthy.

This surprisingly knowledgeable crowd understood hockey’s nuances. But people with no knowledge of hockey also attended. I heard many comments on the play from those next to me, not so well informed, but involved regardless.

The main point was the fun of it all. It was a day’s family outing, just the way it is in Europe. There were eateries, Boyanika sari stalls, and other merchandise. This had not been the case at the National Stadium in Delhi, where I have seen many world-level hockey tournaments.

Bhubaneswar has piled the evidence to its claim to being one of India’s fast-growing sports hubs. South Korea came with their coach and team for practice games. Malaysian coach Stephen Van Huizen, who also attended, told me: “Bhubanewar has fantastic crowds and atmosphere.”

Subbaiah voiced praise: “Odisha has a very sports-conscious chief minister who knows the pulse of the people. The stadium gets upgraded in a timely manner for each tournament. Odisha is at the forefront of hockey.  When teams need infrastructure facilities, it is given any time.”

The governance too was good: “I was the manager of Kalinga Lancers. We got whatever we asked for. The chairman and managing director of Odisha Tourism Development Corporation helped us. There is lesser interference in technical matters,” Subbaiah asserted.

Jason McCracken, chief executive officer of the FIH, who measures his language with customised rigour, told me: “India are outstanding hosts. As a referee, I’ve been here many times. This is the best reception I’ve seen anywhere in India. The crowd is very knowledgeable. This was the best opening ceremony ever in hockey anywhere. The World Cup promises to be even bigger.”

Bhubaneswar will be happy with such ringing endorsements. With a track record of hosting the Asian Athletics Championships 2017 in 90 days, the city deserves the accolades. Hockey India’s decision to take the sport to its catchment areas has been spot on.

Jitendra Nath Misra is a former ambassador to Portugal and Laos, and vice president of Jawaharlal Nehru Hockey Tournament Society


I'm happy players' mindset is changing: Sjoerd Marijne

By Rutvick Mehta

Hockey-players Sjoerd Marijne says players will get more consistent with experience , PTI

How would you analyse the team's performance throughout the Hockey World League Final? A bit of a mixed bag, considering the team clinched bronze despite the inconsistent performance?

It was a good tournament. I feel we need to improve upon our goal-scoring in penalty corners as well as field goals. We had a lot of chances but we didn't make them. We have to work on our consistency. One match we're really good, one match we go down. One match we beat a team like Belgium, one match we lose to England. We played at a below-par level against England, but in the very next game, we were much better. So there are two sides to this team.

Talking about inconsistency, the blow hot, blow cold nature of the team has become a trend now. Is that still the biggest concern for you?

Yes, it is a concern. But there are other concerns as well, like penalty corner conversion and scoring field goals. Look, this team has potential, there's no doubt about that. It's about converting that potential to its fullest. But it is important that we have the potential. It would've been a much bigger problem if we didn't have potential.

What would you attribute the inconsistency to? Is it purely mental? Surely, the skill levels cannot drop or rise so drastically overnight...

There could be many factors. There could be distractions. Every day is a different day. But it is normal. That is why sports is so attractive. No two days will be the same, and to maintain some level of consistency despite that is the challenge. The biggest opponent in sport is your own mind. It's not the opposition team on the park, it's your own mind. And that is what makes sport so beautiful. For example, in tennis, Roger Federer is the best in the business when it comes to that. He has tremendous control over his mind, and that is what makes him the champion that he is. That is something these players need to learn.

But as a coach, how do you go about addressing an issue as complex as this?

Look, most of these players are still young. And they are still learning about thinking entirely on focus points. Experienced players get better at that as they play more at the international stage, and that is why experience counts so much in any sport. Young players have to get better at that, and I think these boys will sooner rather than later.

You had spoken about setting higher goals when you took over. In that regard, how important is it to return with a bronze in a tournament featuring the top eight teams in the world?

This bronze gives self-belief to the team. We challenged almost every team throughout the tournament, and that's something that players were not used to. That is changing now, and it is really pleasing. No country was much better than us. We played against every country and we had a chance to win against each one of them. I was really happy with that. And I'm really happy that the mindset of the players is changing.

What is the one biggest positive and the one biggest area of improvement that you take from this tournament?

Biggest positive is the mindset of the players, the fact that they now have the belief of being able to challenge and even beat any top team in world hockey. Biggest concern is the unforced errors. We need to make lesser mistakes, and stop giving easy goals away.

Two tournaments, two medals. It has been a good start for you as coach of the team...

It was important for me as coach to develop my relationship with the players, and this tournament I have been able to do that. It will only grow, of course, more so because we came back with something from this tournament. Medals like these are vital for India. Playing under pressure, in front of the burden of expectations of your home crowd, and still holding on to your own and winning a bronze. I think the players coped with the pressure really well.

Now that you want to set higher goals, what are your targets for 2018, which will be a key year for hockey?

The goals next year will be gold at the Asian Games (in August-September), and doing well at the FIH World Cup (November-December). But before these two key tournaments there is also another important event – the Commonwealth Games (April). It is important that we play well there because it will give us the required confidence going into the Asian Games.

Daily News & Analysis

Why India hockey coach feels playing with Pakistan isn’t necessary

Sjoerd Marijne feels the biggest achievement from the Hockey World League Final 2017 is the confidence the Indian players have gained that they can beat any team in the world. He also said that for Asia to remain a force in international hockey, it’s not necessary for India and Pakistan to play each other.

Ajai Masand

India defeated a spirited but depleted Germany 2-1 to clinch the bronze medal at the Hockey World League Final on Sunday.

Sjoerd Marijne would have never thought in his wildest dreams that he would be in the hot seat, charting the future of the Indian men’s hockey team. Until two-and-a-half months back, he was women’s team chief coach, and this elevation would have caught him by surprise.

However, he has not only planned India’s victory in the Asia Cup but also a bronze-medal finish in the Hockey World League Final in Bhubaneswar, no mean achievement given that the top seven teams in the world were competing for honours.

In a chat with Hindustan Times, the 43-year-old Dutch expert spoke about his plans for India and the role of seniors in the team.


Q: Did you really expect a third-place finish in the HWL Final in such a strong field?

Yes, there were doubts. I didn’t what to expect. It was very difficult because I had barely taken over (from Roelant Oltmans). We won the Asia Cup, but that was against teams ranked No 12 and above in the world and not against the Top 5 or 6. I was pretty curious what will happen. But we played tactical and mental games and I am happy we made it to the podium.

Q: India beat Germany, though the team was weakened by injuries and illness. How do you see it?

A: I am happy with that. I am a little disappointed with the semi-finals (loss to Argentina). The circumstances were really poor. No one could do anything because it was raining heavily. It was a difficult and a strange match (due to rain, India couldn’t play their natural game). That was a little awkward. Then we beat Germany for bronze, which brought the trust and confidence of the boys back.

Q: Have the players have responded to your coaching style?

The feedback I am getting from them is that they have liked my style of coaching. My style is usually player-driven because, on the pitch they have to take all the important decisions. With 9,000 in the stadium, they can’t hear my voice. So, taking their decisions, that’s what they are learning. And my doors are open and they can always come to me.

Q: Had the weather been ideal, do you think India could have beaten Argentina?

The Argentine coach insisted on playing (on a soggy pitch) knowing that we wouldn’t be able to play our natural, fast-paced game. That was a compliment for us. The head of the No 1 team in the world was afraid of our speed. Now I know Argentines are better when it rains so harsh (laughs). I am disappointed we couldn’t play in good circumstances against them. I was confident of winning; it’s a pity we lost.

Q: Could India have beaten Argentina on a perfect day?

Yes, we had a lot of confidence and the plan was ready and I was happy with the confidence of the players. After this tournament, no one in the team is afraid of any player of any country… that is a good thing.

Q. What does it take to beat the super teams of the world?

Self-belief, that’s the first thing. Then it’s consistency. See, the number of unforced errors Roger Federer makes is very low. So, the more unforced errors we make the more chances we give our opponents. Against England in the league phase, we were not consistent and lost. But statistically we did really well and created chances.

Q: How did you react to finishing at the bottom of the pool after the league phase?

I was not so disappointed. I had full faith in the team. On an average, I was giving a rating of 7 (out of 10) to the players. Some of the players were 10 out of 10. I knew if every player played with that consistency, we could beat any country. Against Belgium, we performed at the level for the entire match.

Q: Historically and legacy-wise we can’t defend goals. We lead by two and concede three. How will you rectify that?

If you see the statistics, on an average teams were able to enter our circle no more than 16 times; that’s a good number. In the pool match against Australia, they could enter only 10 times, which is a huge improvement.

Q: Oltmans had said when we were consistently beating Pakistan that it’s not about beating them, world hockey is much bigger. Do you believe in that philosophy?

Yes, I think so. I just had two matches against Pakistan and I experienced for the first time in my life how it was. Players told me it was a normal match for them and that’s the way to see it, but you (people in India and Pakistan) always see it as a special match.

Q: Have we seen the last of Sardar Singh?

No. We said before the tournament that I want to try out various combinations. In the Asia Cup, we saw Sardar with Harmanpreet Singh. Here, we wanted to see Rupinder with Harman. After the tournament, we will discuss what’s the best combination.

Q: You are guarded when it comes to Sardar.

It’s not about Sardar, it’s about the whole team. I’m searching for the best team, a balance between young and old, experience, senior players, etc. In this tournament, I am proud to have the youngest team -- seven boys under 22; no team had that. We’ll certainly build on that.

Q: How important is the Pro League. Has India made the right decision to not play in it, especially when they had the chance to play nine top nations?

Well, you play one match and that’s it. Then, you have to leave. Then you travel a lot and have to adjust a lot only for one match. So, I think for us right now, it doesn’t look good enough to play there.

Q: For Asia to remain a force in international hockey, should India and Pakistan play more often?

I don’t know. I think this year we have played Malaysia a number of times, which is good. I don’t think it’s (playing Pakistan) necessary.

Hindustan Times

Hertzberger, Harte and de Wijn take up MHL challenge

©: World Sport Pics

HC Rotterdam’s Jeroen Hertzberger and SV Kampong’s David Harte and Sander de Wijn have all been signed up as part of UniKL’s team for next month’s Malaysian Hockey League.

They will join Australian internationals Glenn Turner, Kieran Govers and Tim Deavin as part of a six-strong set of new additions for the team coached by Arul Selvaraj.

Selvaraj previously worked with Harte during his time in Ireland as national assistant coach and he is looking forward to working with a top set of players this time around.

“We are fortunate to get the services of these players and credit goes to the management as they planned the signings early,” said Selvaraj.

“We are looking forward to a good season and preparations have started with the local players. The foreign signings are expected to report after Christmas.”

On the local front, UniKL have the services of national players Marhan Jalil and Najmi Farizal along with Joel Samuel van Huizen.

Euro Hockey League media release

Johor stage fightback to salvage draw against Selangor

By Aftar Singh

Quick reflexes: Negri Sembilan’s Mohammad Hafizie (right) blocks a shot by Kuala Lumpur’s Mohammad Shafiq during the 1MAS Under-14 tournament at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday. — ART CHEN/The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Last year’s runners-up Johor clawed their way back from a goal down to snatch a 1-1 draw against Selangor in the boys’ Group B match to qualify for the second round of the 1MAS Under-14 hockey tournament.

Wan Amirul Rifqi Wan Amran gave Selangor the lead in the sixth minute off a field attempt at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

But Muhammad Jeffryzin saved the day for Johor with the equaliser off a penalty corner in the 37th minute.

Johor top the group with eight points from two wins and two draws while Selangor have four points from three matches.

Selangor will wrap up the group fixtures against winless Sarawak today but their chances of reaching the second round looks rather slim.

Perak, who have seven points from three matches, just need a draw against Singapore to pip them.

Johor team manager Hilmi Hafidz Haidir said that his players were tired after the hectic schedule.

“We played four matches in four days and to make things worse, we played Singapore on Sunday at 7pm.

“We only had 15 hours to rest before the match against Selangor today (10am),” said Hilmi.

“Our key player Ronny (Richard) suffered a gash on his right eyebrow against Singapore and received four stitches. But he still played against Selangor.

“We welcome the one day rest tomorrow before starting our challenge in the second round.”

In Group A, Kelantan also took a step closer of a second-round berth after edging Perlis 2-1.

Skipper Ahmad Izzat Safuan Omar gave Kelantan the lead in the fifth minute off a penalty corner before Muhamad Luqman Fauzi doubled the score in the 12th minute off a field attempt.

Muhammad Irfan Ajmal Usfairee narrowed the deficit with a field goal in the 46th minute.

Kelantan have six points from three matches and need a draw against Penang to book their place.

The Star of Malaysia

Prestigious SJA award for Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh

National Lottery prize SJA Awards 2017

England and Great Britain hockey players past and present took the limelight at the annual Sports Journalist’s Association (SJA) British Sports Awards held at the Tower of London on Wednesday 6 December.

And it was clear from the attention the players received that next year’s Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup is already starting to create a buzz among the British sports media.

Just one year ago the team - represented by Alex Danson, Shona McCallin and Nicola White - collected the SJA Team of the Year Award. This year it was the turn of Helen and Kate Richardson-Walsh to steal the show as they received the National Lottery Spirit of Sport Award.

“Candid, brave, bold and proud,” was how Jan Paterson – chief executive of the British Olympic Foundation – eulogised the Olympic gold medalists as they picked up their prize. She then continued to describe the pair as two women who have become inspirational figures, not just through their sporting achievements but also through their determination to stand up and talk openly about same sex relationships and mental health.

Collecting the award, Helen highlighted the impact and importance of funding, saying: “If it wasn’t for the National Lottery, we would not be stood here today as gold medallists. We are true National Lottery babies, we got into the squad in 1999 and we really benefited from that for the 17 years that we were elite hockey players.”

Kate added that the reception the entire gold-medal winning team has received since they returned to the UK from Rio has been incredible. “We did it as a team and I think that is what everyone picked up on – that squad of 31 women and the incredible staff,” she said.

“We all take the job of being role models very seriously and I know that the team going forward is doing exactly that.”

Talking about gender and sexuality in sport, she added: “We feel very fortunate to have grown up in a sport where we feel comfortable in our own skin and we feel supported by our team mates and our families but we also know that not everyone is as lucky as we are. We feel everyone should have the ability to feel comfortable in their own skin and be the best versions of themselves that they can and achieve what they want to achieve.”

Current captain Danson made a mad dash across the capital from a previous engagement to see her former team-mates receive their awards, while Giselle Ansley and Sarah Haycroft were among many elite athletes who also attended the awards.

The Surbiton, England and GB pair spoke to Faye Carruthers about the impact a vociferous and supportive crowd would have upon the team at next year’s Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup.

“We heard Gordon Banks speak earlier about how special it is to play in your home country in a World Cup,” said Sarah. “And that is going to be so true when the World Cup comes to London on the Olympic Park next year.”

Giselle then added: “I know it is a cliché but a home crowd really is your twelfth player.”

England Hockey Board Media release

FIH appoints former England and Great Britain captain Jon Wyatt as Sport and Development Director

Jon Wyatt comes to FIH with a lot of hockey and business experience

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has announced the appointment of Jon Wyatt as Sport and Development Director, who will take up his position in the FIH Headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland in April 2018.

The Olympian earned 195 caps for England and Great Britain during a successful career in which he captained both teams.

Jon participated in the Atlanta 1996 Olympics before captaining Great Britain at the Sydney 2000 Games. He also took part in two World Cups (Utrecht 1998 and Kuala Lumpur 2002), four Hockey Champions Trophies (Berlin 1995, Brisbane 1999, Amstelveen 2000 and Rotterdam 2001), two European Championships, winning a bronze medal on both occasions (Dublin 1995 and Padova 1999) and two Commonwealth Games, in Kuala Lumpur in 1998 where he won bronze, and in Manchester in 2002. At club level he also captained Reading Hockey Club to a European Club Champions Cup victory in 2003.

Following his career as an athlete he joined Lighthouse Communications who were then acquired by sports marketing agency Fast Track, and subsequently CSM. As Managing Director of Fast Track, he led a team of 50 in the London office and was responsible for implementing their global strategy overseas. He also managed the development and roll out of Fast Track’s client servicing and account management strategy.

During this time, Jon gained extensive experience in sports marketing, working with brands and sporting bodies in the build up to, and during, the London 2012 Olympic Games and the 2015 Rugby World Cup, as well as with the English Premier League and the British & Irish Lions tour of Australia in 2013.

He is leaving his current role as Commercial Director of the Event Rider Masters (ERM), an Olympic level international equestrian series. There he was responsible for contracting events and venues, centralising commercial rights, promoting them through digital and linear TV platforms and commercialising them by bringing in international brands as sponsors.

In addition to his business commitments, Jon devotes time to charitable causes. He is an Ambassador for Access Sport, a UK based charity providing sporting facilities and inspiration for children. He has also taken on a number of fundraising activities which have included climbing Mount Kilimanjaro as well as participating in the London Marathon, London Triathlon and Etape du Tour.

Speaking about his appointment, FIH CEO Jason McCracken said: "We’re delighted that Jon will be joining the FIH team next year. He has proven to be a commercially astute leader and manager of people, whose strategic thinking will be of great value to the organisation and the development of the sport.”

He continued: “With his experience captaining national teams in major competitions, combined with his business knowledge gained over the past 20 years working with brands, rights holders and Governing Bodies, Jon brings both an expert understanding of hockey and the skills required to push our sport to the next level. He will therefore be a crucial component within our Hockey Revolution strategy which aims to make hockey a global game that inspires the next generation.”

Speaking about his move to the FIH, Jon said: “I am delighted to be given the opportunity to join the FIH at this incredibly exciting time for the sport. Not many people have the chance to combine their passion for the sport they love with the professional skills they have developed. I’m really looking forward to starting next year and helping grow hockey across the world at all levels.”

He replaces former national team-mate David Luckes who is moving to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to take on the role of Head of Summer Olympic Sports and International Federation Relations.

Currently there are several hockey vacancies open across the world. To see all opportunities, visit FIH.ch.

FIH site

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