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News for 27 February 2018

All the news for Tuesday 27 February 2018

Updated FIH Hero Indoor World Rankings published

It’s all change in the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Hero Indoor World Rankings with the two new Indoor Hockey World Cup champions, Germany women and Austria men, claiming the top spots.

Austria men became the number one ranked indoor team following their dream start to 2018. That included a golden double - the EuroHockey Indoor Championship and the Indoor Hockey World Cup titles.

They replace Germany, the team they beat in the final in Berlin, at the top, with their European neighbours slipping one place to number two. Czech Republic's men meanwhile made a giant leap from sixth to third while Iran are the highest ranked Asian team as they also move up the rankings from seventh to fourth.

The two biggest beneficiaries of finishing with a Indoor Hockey World Cup placing above their rankings are Belgium and Trinidad & Tobago. Belgium's sixth place finish in Berlin sees them move from 16th to 10th, while Trinidad & Tobago move from 18th to 12th on the back of their 10th place finish.

It is bad news for the Netherlands and Russia however. Netherlands failure to qualify for the Indoor World Cup has meant the 2015 Indoor Hockey World Cup winners have slipped to eighth, while Russia’s ninth place finish in Berlin leaves them in sixth, a drop of two places. England have also dropped down the rankings from 13th to 16th.

Switzerland move up one place to seventh; Australia – who enjoyed a great World Cup where they finished fourth – move up two places to sit at number nine. Other rising teams include South Africa (12th to 11th), Kazakhstan (16th to 13th) and Denmark (19th to 18th).

There have also been some big casualties on the back of performances in continental events. France dropped from 22nd to 39th; USA have plummeted from 15th to 42nd and Canada will be disappointed to have fallen down the rankings from 10th to 15th.

In the women’s FIH Hero Indoor World rankings it is also all change at the top. Germany have moved to number one, swapping places with the team they beat in the final -Netherlands. This is a finely tuned contest between the two indoor super powers as there is just 100 points separating the two teams.

The bronze medal won by Belarus has led to that nation moving up to third in the rankings, with Ukraine moving to fourth – a jump of three places.

One of the biggest movers in the women’s team rankings are Switzerland. A fabulous fifth place finish in the Indoor Hockey World Cup sees the European team leap up the rankings from 19th to seventh, a massive 12 places. USA continue their upward trajectory, moving eight places from 20th to 12th and Russia also move up from 17th to 10th.

Among the casualties of the revised rankings are Czech Republic who slip from third to fifth; Poland, whose eighth place in Berlin moves them from fourth to sixth; Austria, who drop from sixth to ninth; South Africa, who did not qualify for the Indoor Hockey World Cup, fall away to 16th from previous high of 10; and Canada who drop from 11 to 17.

Namibia, who were ranked at 14 move to 11, Australia sit tight at eight and Kazakhstan move up one place to 13th. All three teams achieved places above their rankings at the Indoor World Cup.

Check out the complete FIH Hero Indoor World Rankings here.

FIH site

USA women ‘mesh together’ at Indoor Hockey World Cup

Sarah Juggins

2018 Indoor World Cup, Berlin - USA women. Photo: Yan Huckendubler

They came into the cauldron of the Max-Schmeling-Halle as the lowest ranked team. They had an average age of just 20 - the lowest in the tournament. They had the least caps – an average of seven, compared to the tournament average of 14. In Madison Orobono, they had the youngest player at the event and eight members of the squad were still teenagers.

And yet, talking to the U.S. Women’s National Indoor Team, mid-way through their debut appearance at the Indoor Hockey World Cup, you got a sense of resilience, wisdom beyond their years and a total commitment to not just play their sport but represent it.

“Sport has given me a confidence and a belief in myself that I take into everyday life,” said one of the team’s senior members, Mary Beth Barham. Along with Ali Campbell and Hannah Prince, Barham is a team elder, albeit at the tender age of 24.

There is certainly no lack of direction or focus among the group of USA athletes who gathered for a discussion about their sport and their Indoor Hockey World Cup campaign.

“We have a serious amount of belief in this team,” says Campbell, who has 14 caps to her name and made the difficult decision to sacrifice her outdoor career to concentrate upon the indoor game.

“Sure the outdoor team gets more profile but that binds us together. We want to make our mark too and while we might not say it too often, I am pretty sure we all feel that. We get together before each game and we say ‘we want to put the pedal to the medal’.”

Just how committed these players are can be measured in time and mileage. Barham was an assistant hockey coach at Yale University. For training she goes on a four-hour drive after work. Captain Hannah Prince has a seven-hour drive. “We put a lot of miles on our cars,” she says, adding cheerfully: “But we car pool and we have a lot of fun. None of us thought of it as sacrifice. We want to be here and we are investing time, money and our hearts into it.”

It’s not just the players who make sacrifices. The parents are in on the act too. Every team member had family support in Berlin, Germany. With the players self-funding the trip and all the training in the run-up to the event, it is easy to imagine that the parental support for these players has been huge.

It is something the players clearly appreciate. There was wobble of emotion in Corinne Zanolli’s voice as the 19-year-old indicated her mother in the group of onlookers listening to the interview. “My parents weren’t supposed to make the trip, and my dad hasn’t been able to, but we were playing a warm-up game and we had just finished against Russia and we were standing on court watching another game and I got a tap on my shoulder and my mum was there. We all started crying. Anyone of our parents would do that. We are on the world stage and it is so awesome to have that support.”

Youngers team member Orobono adds her agreement: “I know my friends back home are getting up at 4am to watch us. That means so much.”

At the event, Team USA did themselves proud. A tenth-place finish means they have moved 12 points up the FIH World Rankings. They drew with Poland, who were ranked fourth and they beat the higher-ranked Kazakhstan team. They also scored four goals against the number one ranked team at the time, the Netherlands.

“We have grown each game,” says Campbell. “The experience in each game has made us more confident. We had our first game jitters against Belarus and that could have destabilized us but we just de-briefed and moved on.”

Coached by the calm former Chinese player Jun Kentwell, the team grew with each match. They were devastated as they lost their final match on shoot-out, but with the resilience so evident in this young team, that will only be another tool for growth and development.

It is a point emphasized by Zanolli: “We don’t often get the chance to play those big games against top teams like the Netherlands. For me it was the first time I played a Dutch team and it is so cool to get those experiences. It’s the value of playing different styles of play.”

Just getting to the Indoor Hockey World Cup was a struggle. The team achieved it by winning the Indoor Pan American Cup, very much against the rankings. Barham says: “We knew that if we didn’t make it here then our program would be junked. Every game we were fighting for life and not just our lives but the lives of people in the future who want to play indoor hockey.”

And that message comes out loud and clear. These players want to create a legacy that allows indoor hockey to grow and be enjoyed by everyone. Anarose McDonough recalls how she began playing in a storage basement because that was the only facility available at the time. Now she walks around her campus or town and children ask for her to sign autographs. “They even follow me on Instagram,” she adds with a bemused grin.

Ali Campbell has known life as a field hockey player and says her ambition is just to grow the game indoors and outdoors. “It’s the sport I love,” she says. “We have a motto within Team USA, ‘Grow the Game’. I love that. There are a lot of kids who don’t know what to do and hockey provides a great opportunity to get involved in a sport.”

“There are not enough halls and pitches,” adds Zanolli, “but there is a real buzz around the game. And indoor is such a great sport to develop skills, especially when it is the cold months – you can keep playing and growing as an athlete.”

One thing can definitely be said of this team. There are no pretensions. The interview was informal and fun and the players were happy to talk. There is some tension in the USA, as there is in many countries, between indoor and outdoor hockey. These players just want to train and be the best they can be. As Campbell says: “I live in Lancaster and having Spooky Nook there, with all the age groups, other people get to see the real you. They see you in the street or in a shop and they see you on the field. They see the two sides of you and they get intrigued to learn about the real you.

“ I’m often told, ‘Wow, you are so different off the court’. They know that we are very individual. I would say we are a bunch of pretty unique individuals totally meshing together.”

Pan American Hockey Federation media release

Hafizuddin ready to battle Hairi for No 1 goalkeeper spot

By Naqib Nor Said

Hafizuddin Othman (right) and Hairi Rahman are the two custodians being considered as a replacement for former Asian No 1 keeper S. Kumar who is now provisionally suspended for a doping offence. Pix by Hasriyasyah Sabudin

KUALA LUMPUR: National coach Stephen Van Huizen will decide on his new national No 1 goalkeeper after the two international friendly matches against Olympic champions Argentina on Tuesday and Wednesday for next month’s Azlan Shah Cup.

Hafizuddin Othman and Hairi Rahman are the two custodians being considered as a replacement for former Asian No 1 keeper S. Kumar who is now provisionally suspended for a doping offence.

Van Huizen will also use both friendlies to evaluate his 27-member training squad before he picks 18 players for the annual tournament in Ipoh.

The Azlan Shah Cup starts on Saturday. Malaysia will battle Argentina, Australia, India, England and Ireland in the tournament.

Based on experience, Hafizuddin, 26, looks like a better choice as he has earned 43 caps while Hairi, 28, is at the prime of his hockey career.

Hafizuddin hopes he can impress Van Huizen against Argentina, who will have the services of World No 1 penalty corner flicker Gonzalo Peillat.

"I am aware that the matches against Argentina will decide who keeps goal for the country in Ipoh. Right now, both of us do not know who the coach favours, so we must give our best in the friendlies.

"However, I believe both of us are ready for international duty, and even though, we are still far behind Kumar, we believe we can close the gap if given more chances to play in tournaments,” said Hafizuddin.

Junior goalkeeper Zaimi Deris is the third-choice custodian in training but he is not expected to make the final squad.

New Straits Times

Knowles ’Highly Driven’ To Go Out With Comm Games Glory

Ben Somerford

Retiring Kookaburras captain Mark Knowles says he remains as driven as ever to finish his decorated international career on a high at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Knowles confirmed he would retire from international hockey after the Gold Coast Games in April where the Kookaburras are chasing a sixth straight gold medal.

The 33-year-old has been part of three of Australia’s Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning sides and is determined to finish with another in his home state.

“I’m highly driven, I’ve been like this for my whole career,” Knowles said.

“I’ve set extremely high standards for myself, for my team and for our sport.

“When I told my Mum for example, she said ‘why did you do all that running every day at Christmas’ and I said ‘Mum I still want to be the best player in the world and I still want to be the best captain for the Kookaburras until April’.

“My standards are still extremely high and this allows me to enjoy the next 60 days to provide, shape and give more feedback to players who I won’t be around anymore.”

Knowles and the Kookaburras left Australian shores for Malaysia over the weekend for the Azlan Shah Cup which will be the side’s preparation before the Commonwealth Games.

The Kookaburras skipper acknowledged there would be pressure on Australia to claim another gold medal but the group was ready to embrace it.

“I think it always is for hockey in Australia. Olympics and Commonwealth Games we’ve always wanted to be high achievers,” he said.

“We definitely have a team and group who are good enough. The hardest thing is being at your best when it’s required.

“We didn’t do that in 2016 (Olympics) and that was a huge disappointment for me and the group.

“This new team is finding its own identity, we’re good enough but you have to play well in those moments.”

Australia will open their Azlan Shah Cup campaign on Saturday against England from 9pm AEDT, with the game televised on Fox Sports.

The Kookaburras’ team for the Commonwealth Games will be named after the Azlan Shah Cup in mid-March.

Kookaburras’ Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Fixtures:
Saturday 3 March 9pm AEDT - Australia v England - Delayed On Fox Sports
Sunday 4 March 11:30pm AEDT - Malaysia v Australia - Delayed On Fox Sports
Tuesday 6 March 9pm AEDT – India v Australia - LIVE ON FOX SPORTS
Wednesday 7 March 7:05pm AEDT – Australia v Ireland - LIVE ON FOX SPORTS
Friday 9 March 7:05pm AEDT – Argentina v Australia - LIVE ON FOX SPORTS
Saturday 10 March TBC – Finals

Hockey Australia media release

Indian hockey captain Manpreet Singh is confident his team can beat the world's best

Manpreet Singh - File Photo, PTI

Ace mid-fielder Manpreet Singh asserted that Indian team is capable of beating any top side in the world and promised to deliver at least a medal, if not gold, at the upcoming Commonwealth Games (CWG).

The 25-year-old Manpreet said the CWG hockey competition is of high standard with several top teams and his side would have to play their best to win a medal. He said Indian team has improved vastly since winning a silver at the Glasgow edition.

"We cannot underestimate any team in the CWG where the competition is tough. There is Australia, Great Britain, Pakistan, South Africa and others. Last time, we lost to Australia and won a silver. This time we will do our best and hopefully will win a medal," "In the last four years since Glasgow (2014 CWG), we have improved a lot. We have beaten all the top sides in the world, we can beat any team anyday," said Manpreet, refusing to talk about the colour of the medal.

Australia have won all the gold medals in men's hockey since its introduction in the 1998 edition in Kuala Lumpur. Manpreet, who has led the side in the past, was one of the two players rested for the March 3-10 Sultan Azlan Shah tournament in view of the April 4-15 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.

"I want to play in every match and tournament, every player wants it. But finally it is the decision of the coach and he gave me rest for Sultan Azlan Shah. I am happy with that. It may turn out to be good for me." He termed 2018 as an important year and said a good show in the CWG would boost the confidence of the team going ahead.

"This year is very important, we have CWG, Asian Games and World Cup. If we do well and win the CWG, it will be a big confidence booster going ahead in the year," said the Punjab player on the sidelines of a sponsorship announcement event of the Indian Olympic Association for the Gold Coast CWG.

"There is a lot of competition within the team and I think it is good for the team." Manpreet refused to agree with the notion that the Indian team quite often concedes late goals to squander matches from position of strength. "It is just that anything can happen on a hockey field. We are also scoring last minute goals these days," he said.

Defender Rupinder Pal Singh though said the Indian team has the best chance to win a gold this time. "On the given day, we can beat any team, including Australia. We want to win the gold. I think we have the best chance to beat Australia and win the gold this time," he said.

"We are playing attacking hockey now, it has become one of our strengths. We are also working on defensive aspects, things like man-to-man marking. We were giving away easy chances in the inner circle and we are trying to improve on those aspects," said the defender from Punjab. "We were not mentally strong when I started playing, but over the years we have become stronger."

He said Sardar Singh's return in the team and as captain in Azlan Shah Cup next month will motivate the side. "As senior players, it's our responsibility to encourage the youngsters. So, Sardar's presence will help the team which has a lot of inexperienced young players. He is a great player and it will help the side to go for the title at Azlan Shah Cup. We are still in the process of selecting the best 18, so a lot of players are being given chances and there is a rotation policy which ensures that more players get a chance."

Women's team captain Rani Rampal said her side has been focussing on fitness and penalty corner conversion ahead of the CWG. "The Korean tour (March 3-12) is very important exposure for the preparation of the CWG. If we do well there, it will give us a lot of confidence in the CWG," she said. "We are focussing on fitness and penalty corner conversion. We are in good form, we have prepared very well and there are a lot of talent in the team."

Asked about the IOA's move to replace saree by blazers in women's ceremonial dress, the ace striker said, "Our focus is on the game and not on the opening ceremony. Whatever we wear and told by the IOA is OK for us."

Daily News & Analysis

Mahindra Scorpio TOISA: Harmanpreet Singh, Savita Punia win top hockey

MUMBAI: Two pillars of the Indian men's and women's hockey teams which were crowned Asian champions last year, Harmanpreet Singh and Savita Punia, were on Monday adjudged joint Hockey Player of the Year at the third Mahindra Scorpio Times of India Sports Awards (TOISA) powered by All-Out.

Harmanpreet was the men's team's leading scorer in 2017 with 18 goals, including starring roles in the Asia Cup title run and India's bronze medal finish at the Hockey World League final in Bhubaneshwar. Savita, goalkeeper for the women's team, was exceptional during the Women's Asia Cup where she was named Goalkeeper of the Tournament.

The pair was nominated in a very tough pool which featured the two Asia Cup-winning captains in Manpreet Singh and Rani Rampal, the high-scoring Gurjit Kaur and immensely reliable Gurjant Singh.

Harmanpreet, 22, was India's top scorer at the Asia Cup with seven, a key force in the team clinching the trophy. During the HWL Final quarters, he scored India's second goal doing regular time and then the winning shot during penalty shootouts as World No 3 Belgium were knocked out. In the bronze-medal game, he scored a goal as India beat Germany 2-1. Other highlight of his stellar 2017 were all three goals of India's 3-0 win over New Zealand during the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, a brace to help beat Belgium 3-2 during the Three Nations Invitational Tournament in Dusseldorf, and two goals during India's 4-3 win against Austria during the men's team's tour of Europe.

Savita, 27, was a massive factor in the women's team lifting the Asia Cup for the first time since 2004. She allowed just five goals all tournament - keeping clean sheets against Singapore and Malaysia - and in the final pulled off a brilliant save with the scores locked at 4-4 to help India beat China and secure passage to the 2018 World Cup.

During the TOISA jury meet, the six-member panel comprising Abhinav Bindra, Bhaichung Bhutia, Devendra Jhajharia, Reeth Abraham and Gautam Gambhir along with the Chief Editor of Times Internet Ltd, Rajesh Kalra, deliberated at length on the success of each of the nominees in hockey. The names of Savita and Gurjit, who was the women's team's leading goal-scorer last year with 19, were the most discussed; in the end, it was Savita's brilliance during the Asia Cup, the only title the team won in 2017, that swung the votes her way.

"In a year of inconsistency and disappointments, from a team perspective, the men's and team's wins in the Asia Cup were what had to be valued the most, and in that regards Savita was just too good," said Kalra, also a member of the PM's task force on the preparations for the next three Olympics. "Even now, just recalling Savita's saves during the penalty shoot-outs in the final gives you goosebumps. She really was the difference in the final, and the way each of her team-mates as well as the coach Harendra Singh spoke of her dependability really underlines how critical she was in India winning the Asia Cup."

Abraham, a decorated athlete who was the first Indian mother to break a national record and the South Asian Games record, said: "Definitely you have to look at the top performers in the Asia Cup win, which was the only bright spark in an otherwise poor year for the Indian team in terms of results. Gurjit was a very consistent scorer all year, but when you focus on the biggest tournament and biggest match of the year, it was Savita who stood out."

The Times of India

Years of effort all worth it for Heyns

University of Johannesburg hockey star Gareth Heyns is thrilled to have achieved his goal of competing in the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April. Photo: Saspa

Years of dedication to the sport have all been worth it for University of Johannesburg hockey star Gareth Heyns following his selection this month for the Commonwealth Games.

Although he has a number of national caps under his belt, the 26-year-old central defender is over the moon at being included in the national squad for the Games on the Gold Coast in Australia in April.

“I really didn’t think it was something that would happen, so when I found out I was going it was one of the happiest moments of my life,” said Heyns, who is in his masters year of a marketing degree at UJ.

“It has made all the hard work, long days and nights of training and difficult times worth it.

“I have played [for SA] before but I always thought that if I could compete on a stage like this it would be the ultimate reward. It’s been one of my major goals.”

The UJ star is, however, under no illusions about the task which lies ahead. South Africa are ranked 15 in the world and he said they had a big challenge facing them.

“But we have a lot to prove and a lot that we can achieve as a squad.

“We have a group of guys pushing for chances all the time and it keeps everyone on their toes, training to be the best we can. This creates the best environment we could ask for.”

He said most teams had been playing a series of matches to prepare for the Games, but South Africa did not have the same opportunities.

“We have our challenges where we unfortunately aren’t in the same position, but everyone is training hard to be in the best shape possible for this tournament.

“We are also trying to build towards something bigger for aspiring national hockey players, so it would be nice to set a platform for the guys coming through where they can carry on competing on this stage.”

He said their strength lay in having a good mix of experience and youth.

“The guys that have been there before are always willing to help and provide knowledge where possible so that the rest of us can step up our own games,” said Heyns.

“We are a very hard-working and focused unit and I believe that this is definitely something that works in our favour.”

Having grown up in Primrose in Johannesburg, where he still lives, Heyns took up the game of hockey 14 years ago.

“I started playing hockey properly when I was 12,” he said.

“The only reason I started was because of my brother, Kyle. He was at Jeppe High and I pretty much followed everything he did.

“He was and still is my role model, so any opportunity I had to be like him I took it.”

Heyns, who was educated at Bedfordview Primary and Jeppe High, said his parents instilled in them an attitude of always being the best they could be.

“That has always stuck with me,” he added.

Once he left school, he said UJ had provided the platform to compete at an elite level, while offering the opportunity to pursue his studies.

“The staff were always willing to help wherever they could to make the experience as easy and non-stressful as possible.

“I have made so many valuable friendships and memories here that I wouldn’t have wanted to do it any other way.”

With his family and friends his staunchest supporters, Heyns also paid tribute to UJ coach Garreth Ewing, under whose tutelage he has been playing since he was 15.

“He has been a big part of my progression as a player and a person. His input has helped me develop and understand the game in a different way.”

University of Johannesburg media release

Uniten thrash Penang to lift women’s league title

By Aftar Singh

Eyes on the ball: Uniten-KPT’s Noorhayati Sirkam (left) in action against Penang Juniors’ Nurul Hafizah Azahar during their women’s league match at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday. — IZZRAFIQ ALIAS/The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: PKS Universiti Tenaga Nasional (Uniten)-KPT lifted their second women’s league title in grand fashion.

The university team went on a scoring spree to trounce Penang Juniors 8-0 at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

At the Batu Buruk Hockey Stadium in Kuala Terengganu, Blue Warriors came from a goal down to beat last year’s league champions Terengganu 3-1.

Uniten and Blue Warriors completed their league fixtures with 30 points from 12 matches but the university team won the league title on goal difference.

Uniten netted a whopping 66 goals and conceded 11 while Blue Warriors scored 52 and let in 10 in 12 matches.

Uniten won their maiden league title in 2015.

Uniten pocketed RM30,000 while Blue Warriors received RM20,000.

Terengganu Ladies took home RM10,000 for finishing third.

Uniten were too strong for Penang Juniors and scored through Hanis Nadiah Onn (16th, 50th), Nuraini Abdul Rashid (38th, 48th), Nurul Nabihah Mansur (41st, 57th), Ellya Syahirah Ellias (14th) and Fatin Shafika Mohd Sukri (54th).

The Star of Malaysia

Polo move top of Spanish league after winter break

©: Frank Uijlenbroek/world Sport Pics

Real Club de Polo moved back to the top of the Spanish league standings, jumping ahead of Club de Campo over the weekend thanks to a commanding 6-1 win over Atlético San Sebastian.

Polo burst out of the blocks to score three times in the first quarter through Max Plennevaux, Borja Llorens and Marc Reine before Peio Azkoaga got one back.

But Alex Casasayas, pictured, put Polo pretty much out of sight at half-time and he got the sixth later on, adding to one from Tomás Terradas.

Their weekend got even better when Campo – leaders for the winter break – drew with third placed Club Egara at Pla del Bon Aire for a passionate affair.

Pol Gispert opened the scoring for the hosts but the Madrid side earned a point from Leandro Tolini’s penalty corner.

Junior FC remain in fourth after their 3-1 win over CD Terrassa, keeping them three points ahead of fifth placed Atlètic Terrassa who were 2-0 winners at RS Tenis with Jan Malgosa and Santi Morera among the goals.

Euro Hockey League media release

Grundie laments “silly mistakes” as Ards drop a level

Ards’ indoor side finished eighth in Prague last weekend.

Ards have been relegated from the second division of the European Indoor championship after losing 5-1 to Slough in their final match of the tournament in Prague on Sunday, writes John Flack.

Now Gareth Grundie’s side will be turning their attention to the weekend’s crucial EY Irish Hockey League clash with Belfast Harlequins, who will be in buoyant mood after a 2-1 Irish Senior Cup second round win over Pembroke on Saturday.

Temperatures in the Czech capital plummeted to minus six degrees over the weekend which obviously didn’t affect the indoor event but Grundie is concerned that his team might be caught cold as they prepare for Saturday’s game at Londonderry Park.

He said: “We won’t arrive back until late on Monday so we won’t be training in our usual slot and with snow forecast for Wednesday, it’s not looking good as far as training then is concerned. But at least we were able to play plenty of hockey in Prague although we are naturally disappointed that we will be back in the third division next season.”

“Silly mistakes particularly in the key match on Friday against the Croatian side, which we knew was going to be key, cost us dearly and that 2-0 defeat left us with too much to do. We had a chance of staying up if we beat Slough by three goals and we gambled by taking off our keeper when it was 1-1 in the first half but we were left exposed so it didn’t pay off.”

On Saturday, having earlier lost 4-1 to Lithuanians Gintra Ards were ahead on three occasions against Stade Francais after two goals from Chloe Brown and one from Linzi Hamilton. But the French side scored from a late penalty stroke to win 4-3 to leave the Irish champions with too much to do yesterday when Sara Alexander got the consolation goal.

Emily McStea scored twice as Queen’s beat Ballymoney 3-1 in the top of the table Ulster Premier League game at the Joey Dunlop Centre as the students took over at the summit.

Elsewhere, Randalstown were 1-0 winners over North Down while Banbridge and Dungannon fought out a 1-1 draw and in Senior One, there’s no stopping Garvey who beat CI 5-0, helped by a hat-trick from Alyssa Jebb.

In the men’s Ulster Premier, two goals from Ryan Burgess gave Bangor a 2-1 win at Mossley while Instonians kept up the pressure on the leaders. Dane Ward and Gavin Leckey scored in the 2-0 home victory over Portadown, with Harlequins and South Antrim drawing 1-1.

In the John Minnis Estate Agents Burney Cup quarter-finals, Methodist College defeated arch-rivals RBAI 1-0 while Wallace High cruised to an 8-1 win over Regent House. Sullivan also progressed following a 3-0 win over Campbell College.

Ulster Premier League: Mossley 1 (H Dow) Bangor 2 (R Burgess 2); Instonians 2 (D Ward, G Leckey) Portadown 0; Belfast Harlequins 1 (M Patterson) South Antrim 1 (J Patterson)

Antrim 2 (S Clyde, D Wilson) North Down 8 (J Bond 2, J Moore 2, R Linter, J Linter, J Green, G McKeown); Raphoe 0 Newry 2 (A Irwin 2); Queen’s 7 (M Getty 2, A Doyle, F Harkin, R Blair, N Gamble, R Kelly) Civil Service 5

John Minnis Estate Agents Burney Cup, quarter-finals: Methodist College 1 RBAI 0; Regent House 1 Wallace High 8; Sullivan Upper 3 Campbell College 0

EuroHockey Indoor Trophy:
Saturday: Ards 1 (K Harvey) Gintra Strekte (Lithuania) 4; Ards 3 (C Brown 2, L Hamilton) Stade Francais 4
Sunday: Ards 1 (K Alexander) Slough 5

Ulster Premier: Ballymoney 1 (C Stacey) Queen’s 3 (E McStea 2, R McKee); Banbridge 1 (S McCullough) Dungannon 1 (K Elliott); Portadown 2 (C Dunn 2) Rainey 0; Randalstown 1 (H Taggart) North Down 0

Senior One: Armagh 0 Raphoe 4 (W Patterson 2, S Barnett, A Kirkpatrick); CI 0 Lisnagarvey 5 (A Jebb 3, R Houston, A Morwood); Knock 0 Ballymena 11 (C Gillespie 4, B Reynolds 4, E Morrison 2, E Anderson); Priorians 4 (R McSparron, J Kennedy 2, S Black) Ballyclare 0; Victorians 3 (J Orr, E Conlin, R Hewitt) Omagh 2 (A Buchanan, E Shortt)

The Hook

Banbridge To Host EY Champions Trophy For Next 2 Years

Hockey Ireland is pleased to announce that Banbridge Hockey Club have been awarded the right to host the EY Champions Trophy event for the next two years. The EY Champions Trophy marks the pinnacle of the domestic hockey season and provides the top teams around the country with a chance to earn those coveted European spots. With 4 teams on the men’s side and 4 teams on the women’s, it is always an action-packed weekend of the highest quality hockey with a plethora of international players lining out for their clubs.

Banbridge are proven hosts of top competitions having previously hosted the EY Champions Trophy in 2016 as well as Round 1 of the European Hockey League (EHL) in October of the same year. Their teams’ success and commitment on the pitch is mirrored by an enthusiastic and passionate club of volunteers off it, ensuring spectators and players alike are guaranteed to be treated to a top-class event.

Speaking about the announcement, Mike McKerr, Country Managing Partner, EY Ireland commented “Congratulations to Banbridge Hockey Club on being awarded the hosting of the EY Champions Trophy event. The club continues to make huge strides with the instalment of a new pitch to add to its top-class facilities and consistently proves itself as a fantastic destination for the biggest hockey fixtures. As a firm, EY is extremely proud of our continued sponsorship of Irish hockey and look forward to what promises to be a highly competitive Champions Trophy event.”

Banbridge Hockey Club President Roger Martin said "We are delighted to once again be hosting the EY Champions Trophy Weekend at Havelock Park. Those competing will be the top players from across the island of Ireland and it will be great to have such talent on display in Banbridge. With plans in place to start replacing our pitch at Havelock Park this week, hosting the EY Champions Trophy in May will be a fantastic way to launch our brand-new facility. We look forward to welcoming all the players and supporters here and it will be a big boost to the club and the whole Banbridge district. We will now be putting plans in place to ensure that once again we deliver a fantastic weekend."

Irish Hockey Association media release

SPAR KZN School Girls’ Hockey Challenge – Ferrrum again take the honours

The next tournament takes place on March 10 with the first of the Pietermaritzburg tournaments, the PMB Central, followed by the PMB Northern Regional on the next day.

A busy goal mouth sees Dundee High School taking on Ferrum in the Pool games at the SPAR KZN School Girls’ Hockey Challenge hosted by Sarel Cilliers on Saturday.

Kicking off the first tournament on Saturday, February 24 in the eighth year of the South African SPAR KZN School Girls’ Hockey Challenge, the defending champs, Ferrum Hoërskool managed to retain their title in the Northern KZN Regional that took place at Sarel Cilliers High School in Glencoe.

Ferrum took on Pionier in the gold silver medal game. In a tough duel, Ferrum netted the winning goal with 11.5 minutes on the clock. The only goal scorer in the main game, vice-captain, Lucretia Struwig found the net in free play after a frenetic build up with the ball sneaking past the keeper. Struwig had a good attacking tournament, setting the tone with scoring the first goal in the tournament and then following on taking her team through in the semi-finals with the only goal scored early in the game against Sarel Cilliers.

Pionier started off in a determined fashion but sadly ran out of steam once the Ferrum ball hit the back of their goal. Having had a sterling build up to the finals, the team topped their pool with three impressive wins, and 13 goals in their three games.

St Dominics Jayde Caldecott (white and grey, centre) and Dundee High School’s Cheryl Ngobese await the outcome of the tackle of Dundee’s Nadia Raffenberg, by a St Dom’s player during their pool game of the Northern KZN regional of the annual SPAR KZN School Girls’ Hockey Challenge on Saturday, February 24 at Sarel Cilliers School in Glencoe. PHOTO: VAL ADAMSON

In a feisty replay of last year’s final where Ferrum managed a 2-1 win against Pionier reclaiming their stronghold in this region.

They met St Dominics in the semi-final winning that game 1-0, taking them into their second successive final.

Pionier’s coach K.J. Ewert said that the girls did their school proud in the tournament and were obviously disappointed at not being able to eclipse Ferrum High’s winning streak.

“They played extremely well to have got into the finals of this regional, and it was a good opportunity for us, but unfortunately it was not to be. The good score card will show that it was a heavily contested regional,” he said.

In a feisty replay of last year’s final where Ferrum managed a 2-1 win against Pionier reclaiming their stronghold in this region. A determined outfit took to the field in this year’s SPAR KZN tournament where Ferrum surged forwards but were unable to break the quietly determined Pionier defense barring their tournament-winning goal.

Dean Bond, Ferrum’s coach, delighted with his team’s win said “There were big expectations for Ferrum as defending champs. We had lost 8 players from last year’s team, so we knew we had to work hard for it. But it was a total team effort. We put in the hours and the results have paid off. The girls really played with their hearts on their sleeves in this incredible heat.”

For the first time in the history of the tournament, St Domimics finished on a podium step, having defeated one-time winners Sarel Cilliers for the bronze title. St Dominics

Nine schools took to the field participating in the sweltering northern KZN heat, with Pool A consisting of Ferrum in first, St Dominics, third placed Dundee, Vryheid High andPongola and Pool B with Pionier, Sarel Cilliers, Newcastle and Vryheid Landbou.

The first umpire in the eighth tournament to be awarded Most Promising Umpire, Piet Retief resident Mia Steenkamp representing Pionier has been invited to further her umpiring career at the Grand Finals at St Mary’s DSG in Kloof in July.

The next tournament takes place on March 10 with the first of the Pietermaritzburg tournaments, the PMB Central, followed by the PMB Northern Regional on the next day.


1. Ferrum High School, 2. Pionier Hoërskool, 3. St Dominics College, 4. Sarel Cilliers High School, 5. Newcastle High School, 6. Dundee High School, 7. Vryheid High School, 8. Vryheid Landbou, 9. Pongola Akademie.

St Dominics Erin le Roux (second from left) and teammate Lonathemba Mazibuko (second from right) work together to break through Dundee’s defense of Anien Schulze (left) and Margeux du Plessis (right) during their pool game of the Northern KZN regional of the annual SPAR KZN School Girls’ Hockey Challenge on Saturday, February 24 at Sarel Cilliers School in Glencoe. PHOTO: VAL ADAMSON

The Northern Natal Courier

Coaching with Cancer

Joy Shrum

Field hockey is a tough sport. It requires endurance, stamina and focus. The game is exhausting and it takes dedication and a lot of practice.

For Cathy Miller, 40 of Lusby, field hockey is what keeps her going. She’s entering her seventh year coaching the junior varsity team at St. Mary’s Ryken High School and her fourth year battling cancer-- with no end in sight. “I have stage four papillary thyroid cancer,” Miller explained.

It’s the most common type of thyroid cancer. About 80 percent of all thyroid cancers are papillary thyroid cancer, also known as papillary thyroid carcinoma. It has a high cure rate, if it doesn’t spread. Unfortunately, if the papillary carcinoma does spread, the prognosis is much worse. By the time Miller was diagnosed it had already spread to her lungs. “Without a cure, doctors give me one to two years to live,” Miller shared.

Miller learned she was sick because she was having a hard time breathing. After she opted for an exploratory surgery at John Hopkins, they discovered her cancer. “If I had not chosen to have that surgery, I would be dead. I wouldn’t be here today.” Miller said she had no other symptoms. In fact, she has no thyroid issues and her thyroid levels are perfect.

Despite the grim prognosis, Miller refuses to give up. “I’ve been on several clinical trials. I just did a chemo treatment for 30 days and we found out I can’t continue because it’s causing my kidneys to fail.” She’s now counting on a new clinical trial out of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, a world-class cancer care center. “It’s an IV chemo trial that’s been used on some aggressive breast cancers.”

Twice a week, Miller travels to John Hopkins in Baltimore to meet with her doctors. Three times a week she receives magnesium and potassium infusions at Calvert Memorial Hospital. Six days a week, you’ll find her at Ryken High School with her field hockey team.

“This is my release; this is my savior,” Miller said. She said her doctors know they can’t stop her from being out here. “They can’t take it away. I feel like I have super powers when I’m out here. I can arrive not feeling well and then as soon as I get on the field, I feel nothing.”

Tara Everly, head coach for the Ryken field hockey team, told TheBayNet.com, “It’s a testament of her spirit and who she is. She loves field hockey and she loves the girls. I think they help her push through.” Everly acknowledges what an inspiration Miller is for the entire team, “They may have a bad day, but she had a worse day. I don’t think anyone realizes what she goes through but they’re really inspired by her and they enjoy seeing her smiling face.”

Ryken High School competes in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC)—which requires the team to travel to Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, Baltimore and Bethesda. “We travel quite a bit and it makes for a very long day,” Miller noted. “I get up early and make my doctor’s appointments for the first thing in the morning so I can make it on game days.”

Miller shares her battle with her players. “I’m pretty upfront with it and I tell them I’m battling it the best I can.”

Kellyn Murphy will be entering her junior year. She has been the JV captain the past two years. “It’s amazing how Coach Miller shows up every day. She’s always here, she never sits out. It’s really amazing to watch.”

Murphy said her coach motivates her to push herself, “She’s always positive. She’s a great coach and she’s the one who has pushed me to do my best and she inspires me every day to work harder.”

Miller hopes her battle encourages her players to always do their best, “I preach to these girls about believing in yourself. If I don’t show them that, I’m a hypocrite. This is the next generation here and I want to lead by example.”

Content Courtesy of Joy Shrum, TheBayNet.com

USFHA media release

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