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News for 25 March 2018

All the news for Sunday 25 March 2018

2018 Test Matches: ESP v CHN (W) - 1st test
Malaga (ESP)

ESP - CHN         3 - 3

FIH Match Centre

Golden Games Moments: Smith - I Was Jumping Around Like A Pelican

Ben Somerford

When Jodie Kenny equalised with 12 seconds left in the 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medal match, Emily Smith was “jumping around like a pelican”.

The now-Hockeyroos captain was on the bench as the clock wound down, with Australia beginning to fear defeat in the final trailing 1-0 against England in Glasgow.

Australia had had their chances but it appeared like it wasn’t going to be their day. That was until Kenny fired home through a narrow gap amid several bodies from the third of three penalty corners.

The goal set off wild celebrations as the Hockeyroos breathed a massive sigh of relief.

“If you’ve seen any of the footage, I was on the bench and jumping around like a pelican,” Smith recalls.

“I was so excited. We were all high-fiving and hugging on the bench but quickly had to pull ourselves together to get prepared for the one-on-ones.”

Australia went on to triumph 3-1 in the shootout with Casey Eastham, Georgie Parker and Madonna Blyth converting while Rachael Lynch denied England three times.

“When we equalised, there was a mix of emotions because you get to that stage of the game where you think, ‘oh no we’ve let this one go’,” Smith says.

“Then with 12 seconds to go we’re equal and had to re-group for one-on-ones.

“The feeling from winning that and standing on the podium was something I’ve never done before and it makes you want more.”

Smith, who has played 189 times for Australia, said 2014’s gold medal, her first at the Commonwealth Games, had driven her for success ahead of the Gold Coast Games next month.

“It makes you realise all that hard work you put in does pay off,” the Crookwell product says.

“That’s what has probably kept me going for the past four years. I can’t believe it’s already been four years but that memory is very strong in my mind.

“Obviously it meant a lot to me and my team. It’ll be something that’ll keep me going for a long time.”

The Hockeyroos, who are in Pool B alongside New Zealand (fourth), Scotland (18th), Canada (21st) and Ghana (30th), fly out for Gold Coast on Wednesday 28 March.

Fans should go to gc2018.com/tickets to be part of the biggest event to happen in Australia in over a decade.

Hockey Australia media release

Norsyafiq out to put his name on score sheet in Gold Coast

By Aftar Singh

All in the family: Norsyafiq Sumantri (left) will have his sister Norazlin for company in the Commonwealth Games as both have been included in the hockey squads.

KUALA LUMPUR: Forward Norsyafiq Sumantri, who made his senior debut for the country in the recent Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, has caught the eye of coach Stephen van Huizen.

The 22-year-old – who made his debut against Ireland – has been included in the 18-member squad for the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, from April 5-15.

“It was a dream come true to play for the national senior team. I was excited when I earned my first international cap. I knew I had to really perform well in the tournament to win a place for the Commonwealth Games.

“My aim in the Games is to score my first international goal after failing to do so in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

“In the Commonwealth Games, we’ll be playing against strong teams and the challenge for me will be to play well and get my name on the scoring sheet,” said Norsyafiq, who will have his sister, Norazlin, for company as she is representing the women’s hockey team in her second Commonwealth Games.

The Star of Malaysia

Indian men’s hockey team has a big task on hand

The women’s squad is well balanced and has the experience to bring back the big prize

Uthra Ganesan

KEY PLAYERS: It would be to India's advantage if penalty corner specialists Rupinder Pal Singh and Harmanpreet Singh, seen with analytical coach Chris Ciriello, have a good conversion rate.  Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

As one of the younger sports in the Commonwealth Games stable, hockey hasn’t exactly been a medal favourite for Indians in the competition.

Despite the event actually ranking below the continental and world level events, the Indian men’s team has failed to breach the final barrier against a formidable Australia that has dominated every edition since inception.

On April 14, the current squad would be hoping to not just still be in the running for a medal but end the Australian jinx as well.

That is easier said than done. For one, Australia is playing at home.

Strong as the world’s top-ranked team is playing anywhere, it is virtually unbeatable on home turf.

With Mark Knowles declaring to call it a day after the Games, the team would want to give a fitting farewell to its legendary captain.

But Australia would not be the only hurdle. There is Pakistan, recently bolstered by former India coach Roelant Oltmans joining as coach, and New Zealand who was impressive as host in the recent four-nation series.

Add England, a tricky Malaysia and there are enough reasons for coach Sjoerd Marijne to not take it easy.

Risky mix

The Indian team is a bold and risky mix of youngsters with a smattering of experience. There are untested players who have impressed the coaches enough to be fast-tracked (Vivek Sagar Prasad) and some returning from injuries (P.R. Sreejesh).

There are still others, like drag-flickers Rupinder Pal Singh and Harmanpreet Singh, who have been struggling with form in recent times.

Most importantly, the heart of any side, the midfield, appears to be the weakest.

Once India reaches the semifinals, though, a medal should be certain.

However, anything less than a final would be deemed failure for Asia’s highest-ranked side.

Things are comparatively clear in the women’s section. The team appears balanced, has enough experience and its recent series win in Korea would be a confidence-booster.

India needs to win three games to reach the medal rounds but the opposition — England, South Africa, Malaysia and Wales — while not easy, is not as tricky either.

The women also have history on their side.

The CWG is one of those rare competitions where the Indian women have bigger boasting rights than the men, with a gold and silver in their kitty.

As such, while the men would be hoping to create history by winning their maiden title, the women would be looking to re-create their own golden period.

The Hindu

How the Indian women’s hockey team went on to become a potential gold-winning squad

The women are gearing up for the Commonwealth Games that will begin in Australia next month

Uthra Ganesan

Coach Harendra Singh with the women’s hockey team during a training session at Sports Authority of India’s Centre of Excellence in Bengaluru. Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

Harendra Singh, coach of the Indian women’s hockey team, is a stickler for rules. The day I land in Bengaluru to spend a day with the players training at Sports Authority of India’s (SAI) Centre of Excellence, there is only one stipulation from him: don’t be late.

With the team of 30 that Singh is training to compete in the upcoming Commonwealth Games (CWG) in Gold Coast, Australia, punctuality, however, is never an issue. This has been his easiest outing yet, the coach admits. “Their focus is amazing. If the training is to start at 8 a.m., they are on the ground five minutes before time. If it ends at 10, they hang around for another 10 minutes, discussing the session,” he says proudly.

No looking back: Skills apart, the team has worked on building confidence and motivation. Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar
It’s all part of the dream the 30 women have together: to get into the top six in the world, to be counted as serious competitors, and win the big medals, starting with the CWG and going on to the World Cup and the Asian Games. More importantly, it’s a fight for recognition, a desire to find their place in the sun, so long the preserve of the Indian men’s hockey team.

It’s attitude that sets the women apart from the men’s side. Even though the intensity is as high, the men’s training is often fun-filled. Not here, where even a minor game between two groups of trainees has the women going all out to outwit the opponent. “We all feel it is important to stay focussed. If it is a 60- or 90-minute training session, I don’t see why anybody should have a problem concentrating completely on the game for that period of time. We are free the rest of the day anyway, right? Not that we don’t have fun, especially when it is light training,” says goalkeeper Savita Punia, one of the seniormost and key players in the side.

The team’s scientific advisor, Wayne Lombard from South Africa, is proud of the work the women have put in over the past few months. “You talk about fitness, I have the data for Great Britain, China, South Africa, Ireland and Australia. And these girls are on par with them. In every sense. There has been a complete cultural change in training. Normally, I would prefer to test the girls every quarter but here it is done more often. And every time I test them, there is an average 0.2% improvement in their fitness levels, which is too good even at the highest level. They are amazing girls,” Lombard says, one eye on his laptop, tracking the GPS coordinates of the players on field.

A Chak De! moment

This women’s team first made news in 2016 when they played at the Rio Olympics, qualifying for the quadrennial event for the first time ever — the only previous appearance in 1980 was invitational. There was little hope but even so, no one expected a last-place finish. Not even the women themselves.

“We still believe we were better than what the results showed in Rio, but it wasn’t our best performance. We learnt a lot from that experience,” says 23-year-old Rani Rampal, captain, and one of the seniormost in the team, having made her India debut at 15.

The learnings, however, came later. In the immediate aftermath, it was shock and doubt that surrounded the women. Did they even deserve to be on the world stage? Were they the laughing stock of the hockey world? How could they face the questions back home, from family, friends and complete strangers?

“Shah Rukh Khan in the beginning of Chak De! India must have felt something like that,” the women joke, but the pain is still alive in their voices.

“It was bad and it took us some time to recover, yes. But after a while, we decided we had to look at the future, not worry about a past that cannot be changed. Mind se hata diya Rio ko,” says Deep Grace Ekka, defender and self-proclaimed team chatterbox.

Says Rani, “Maybe we would never have started on the road to recovery if we had not experienced that loss there. We collectively decided to think two years ahead, to the Asian Games and the CWG. And then, maybe 2020, when we would not be newbies any more.”

The women are busy training for the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Australia. Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

These are young women, most of them, and they have mostly stayed away from the media glare. And it shows in their attitude and temperament. Singh says one of the things he has insisted on is that players address each other by their names. And everybody has to ask questions during team meetings. “It is inherent in their upbringing, the respect for seniors and coaches. But hierarchy in a team cannot win you titles. Now they are slowly coming around,” he says. Largely, though, he prefers to stay in the shadows, allowing the women to tell their own tales.

And they have begun doing so. Forward Vandana Katariya says earlier it was confusing on the field when everyone shouted ‘Didi, didi’ for ball possession; that’s changed. “The coach insists we call each other, and him, by name. We haven’t exactly reached that stage, but we do add a name before ‘didi’ now,” she laughs.

Singh is relentlessly pushing the women to break out of their shells. A month before our meeting, when I contact him to schedule my visit, he is eager and says he looks forward to outsiders visiting. “The more unscheduled questions the girls are asked, the more they will be forced to think for themselves,” he says. The women admit it has helped. “Thodi daring aa gayi hai ab. Now we know even if we are wrong, they will explain it to us and correct us,” says reserve goalie Rajani Etimarpu.

Singh knows the importance of routine and repetition. He is also a big fan of the haka (Māori war cry or ceremonial greeting) and its effect in psyching the opposition on the field. The girls have a chant: ‘We dream the same dream. We think the same thing. We are the dream team. We are the Indian team. We are a champion team.’ They say it before and after every game, and at every break, every time. It’s amazing how, for a bunch that is as comfortable with English as an emu in flight, these lines just roll off the tongue. And there is no embarrassment; the women shout out at the top of their voices. “I want any team that plays us to know we are in it to win and we will do anything for it. No more shoving us around or walking all over this team any more,” says Singh.

The confidence has trickled down to the youngest players. From Namita Toppo and Rajani to Deepika Thakur and Savita, each one believes she is no longer there to simply make up the numbers. “When we went to the Asia Cup, everyone was determined to win gold and qualify for the World Cup,” Rajani says. “We all know what it means to play for India.”
Turning point

It was during the Europe tour before the Asia Cup, where the women did reasonably well even against the Belgian junior men’s side, that they first believed they could win. The real turning point, however, was the Asian Champions Trophy three months after Rio, where the Indian women won their maiden gold. “That’s when the first spark was ignited; that even though Rio wasn’t great, we were ending the year on a high and could begin the new year with a new confidence,” says Rani.

Skills apart, the team has worked on building confidence and motivation. Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

Individual brilliance versus team effort has always been a tricky issue in Indian hockey. While most former greats continue to insist that Indians should rely on individual excellence because that’s what they are good at, a series of foreign coaches have tried to build a firm team structure.

“On and off the ground, we are working on improving our understanding of each other. Earlier, there was some selfishness in scoring, but in the past 7-8 months, since Harendra sir took over, most of our goals have come from the second post. The structure has changed a lot. We have actually started playing as a team with everyone thinking of the team result and not the scoresheet,” says Vandana.


It’s half past noon, and training and lunch is over. The women troop in in twos and threes for their daily neurotracker session. It’s an activity they love, the highlight of their day, and perhaps the one thing that has seen their focus and peripheral vision shoot through the roof.

The target is simple: eight balls in constant motion on the screen, with four of them picked randomly to change colours. 3D glasses make it more real. The women have to keep tracking the balls that change colour, and identify them every time they stop moving. Each correct attempt increases the speed of the balls, wrong ones slow them down over a set of 30 attempts. The difficulty levels are from basic to advanced.

“Some of these girls have improved by more than 150% in their focus and performance here. In fact, only P.R. Sreejesh (the men’s goalkeeper) has been able to keep up with them in terms of advancement. These girls are simply amazing,” says SAI psychologist Priyanka Prabhakar.

Deep Grace loves the activity the most. She operates the software. “When Grace is around, all of us just chill. She is the lord and master of this set-up,” laughs Priyanka.

Singh is also working on making the women up-to-date on all the latest rule changes in international hockey, and the loopholes they can exploit on field. “It is important to be smart — you need to decide whether to work your a** off like a donkey or be a smart worker like a horse. International sports is not just about skill and strength, it is equally about smartness,” Singh says.

Battle against self

On field, the women get grilled for even the slightest signs of indiscipline. “Discipline is a habit, just like winning and losing are. Small things add up to big achievements. We know it all, but the past few months, we have been working on getting it into our subconscious. The pace at which hockey is played today, the absence of even one player for just two minutes can be critical. Sometimes, we concede soft goals because of it,” Rani says.

All this progress, topped with the Asia Cup, where India got the better of three stronger, higher-ranked teams, has finally brought the team in the spotlight. For the first time in recent history, the women’s team received more coverage and appreciation than the men.

It has made them more confident but there is no pressure of performance, they say. “Earlier, hardly anybody came to watch women’s games and not many knew of our matches, but now Indian supporters come to watch us; they came in Singapore, Korea and Japan too. It feels good to have that support. But there is no pressure. It only motivates us to do better,” Vandana says. “We are now determined to do even better in the Commonwealth Games and prove ourselves. This year is very important for us and for women’s hockey to claim its rightful place,” says Rajani.

In absolute terms, the journey from a last-place finish at Rio to winning the Asia Cup was not very long. For the women who were part of both campaigns, however, it was a battle they had to fight, and win, against themselves.

As Rani says, “Losing all the time had eroded our self-belief and motivation. We had to start from zero and understand that we have to win to convince both ourselves and others that we are good.”

They were given few shots to do so, but that absence of spotlight seems a blessing in hindsight. They did not have a coach for more than a month, then three coaches were changed within a year and a half, one halfway through a European tour. But all that churn has seen them emerge even more self-reliant. They now carry that confidence into Gold Coast next month.

The Hindu

Mizo girl Siami lets her hockey stick do all the talking

Manuja Veerappa

BENGALURU: Lalremsiami’s manner may be menacing. The aqua blue mouthguard coupled with the you-don’t-want-to-mess-with-me look stand out as she makes inroads into the striking circle. The 17-year-old, who has turned out to be the surprise package of the Indian women’s team, however, lets her stick to do the talking.

Off the pitch, the teenager says very little. Battling a language barrier, she smiles in response to most queries. Siami, as she’s known, hails from Kolasib, a scenic town three hours away from Mizoram’s capital Aizawl. Siami was a member of the India U-18 Asia Cup team in 2016. She was spotted by junior women’s coach Baljit Singh Saini and drafted into the senior camp the following year.

Her elation at making the national team was somewhat doused by her inability to communicate in a language other than Mizo. The youngest member of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games women’s hockey squad found help and solace in a Mizo-Hindi-English dictionary. But that wasn't enough.

During India’s Asia Cup challenge last year, she was benched by chief coach Harendra Singh after failing to respond to his queries on why she wasn't following instructions. As a teary-eyed Siami sat on the bench, the other team members explained her plight to the coach.

Harendra explained, “I use hockey terminology and practically show her what those words mean. For example, baseline, forehand and inside close are words we use on the pitch and she now knows what they mean and what is expected of her when we say that.”

Harendra harked back on his time in Europe. “Most of the clubs have players from across the world who speak different languages, yet play together as a team. One of the things we did was make skipper Rani her roommate. We haven’t asked her to join any language class because teammates are the best teachers,” he said.

Siami now converses in broken Hindi. Her favourite word is ‘bahut accha’. “Initially when I came into the team, I didn’t know any other language, but for Mizo. So, I would find it difficult to communicate and that would sometimes leave me in tears. But my teammates showed a lot of patience. During practice, I used to ask around on what the coaches meant when they shouted out instructions, but now I have picked up key words. In case they speak fast, I don't hesitate to ask them to repeat,” said Siami, who comes from a family of agriculturists.

Siami believes if she hadn’t found support from her teammates she would have long returned home. One of the biggest factors which influenced her to stay is her roommate and skipper Rani.

The Times of India

Kabir Khan 2.0? Indian hockey coach plans brutal training strategy for Commonwealth Games 2018

Indian men's hockey coach Sjoerd Marijne - File Photo

Sjoerd Marijne is handing out punishments to erring players training for the Commonwealth Games, the Indian men's hockey team chief coach trying out the unique experiment to inculcate in his wards discipline, which he says is key to achieving success.

The Dutchman, who replaced the legendary Roelant Oltmans at the helm, is taking his players to task whenever they are found to be lacking in discipline. The punishments range from doing push-ups to crawling from one side of the goal to the other and, according to the coach, the players have readily accepted his method.

"I am really happy with our preparation. 2018 is a big year for us and the Commonwealth Games is the first big major tournament and we want to do well in it," said Marijne. "But to do well in big tournaments and against top sides like Australia, we need to be disciplined. We have been working hard on discipline area and the boys have also realised discipline can make the difference.

"The players who are found to be less disciplined and less energetic on the pitch are given punishments like push-ups and crawling from one side to the other. Of course,the punishments are not from a negative point of view," he said.

Marijne said such tasks would make a player realise that hockey is a team game and one individual mistake can ruin its chances. "If a player is not doing his task properly and with dedication, it can effect the whole team. So, here comes discipline," he said.

With the Asian Games, Champions Trophy and the year-ending World Cup at home, India have a busy calendar year lined-up and the coach said the Commonwealth Games would set the tone for the important tournaments ahead.

"It is a challenging and exciting year for us. The Asian Games is very important for us as we can qualify for the Olympics from there. Then you have the Champions Trophy and later in the year you have the World Cup at home," Marijne said.

"But it doesn't mean we will give our 80 per cent in the Commonwealth Games. We try to give our 100 per cent in every tournament and the Gold Coast event is very important for us. It's about taking small steps which will eventually lead to bigger goals."

World champions Australia have been a thorn in the flesh for India in the last two Commonwealth Games, having outplayed them in the finals in 2010 and 2014 editions, but Marijne said there is no reason why his side can't get the better of the Kookaburras in Gold Coast.

"Goals are always difficult to set but being the second highest ranked team we will definitely go for the highest position," he said. "I can't say anything about past but we have closer and closer to Australia so why can't we win (against Australia). It's all about belief. But for me the most important match right now is our first game against Pakistan."

Consistency is something which has been hurting Indian hockey for long, and Marijne said: "Consistency is also about discipline. If you are disciplined on the pitch, consistency will come automatically."

India left out their most experienced player and former captain Sardar Singh from the CWG squad and the coach said he has selected the best possible team for the Games. Marijne further said that irrespective of their performances, the CWG-bound players will continue to be part of the 24 crore probables group, which will be revised after the Games, in a way hinting that it would be tough for Sardar to make a comeback.

"We saw 50 players in five months and played them in two tournaments each and this group has convinced us the most. The 24 players core group will be reworked after the CWG but these 18 players will be there," he said.

Daily News & Analysis

Gandham could be made International Umpire Manager

India's Harsha Vardhan Gandham could be made an International Umpire Manager by the International Hockey Federation (FIH).

The FIH announced its decision on Friday after his name was recommended by Hockey India and supported by Asian Hockey Federation.

Gandham, a former hockey player himself, hails from Guntur in Andhra Pradesh. He began his umpiring career in 2005 which has seen him officiate at major domestic tournaments for more than a decade. Gandham's good officiating at the domestic circuit saw him being given his first international assignment in 2008 when he officiated in an 8-Nations Tournament in Germany.

It was post that tournament that Gandham was given the FIH Umpire Badge, and after having completed assignments such as the 2013 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia, Sultan of Johor Cup in Malaysia, 8 Nations Tournament in Malaysia in 2011 and 4 Nations Tournament in Malaysia in 2012, the 37-year-old was forced to switch to the duties of umpire manager after suffering an injury in 2017.

Post the injury, 37-year-old Gandham has officiated in six tournaments as an Umpire Manager, including the 7th Hockey India National Championships held last year.

The 37-year-old expressed his delight at the news, he said: "It has been a different experience for me as an Umpire Manager as it is interesting as well as challenging. But it is always nice to share my experience with the young and upcoming umpires from India.

"It is an opportunity for me to mould these umpires and I would like to see as many umpires from India receive FIH appointment in the future.

"I would like to thank Hockey India and its Umpiring, Technical and Competitions Committee for providing us with the right facilities and encouraging us to do better each day."

Hockey India (HI) also congratulated Gandham on his appointment.

Business Standard

It’s PSPB vs Punjab

Air India makes the Petroleum team earn its win

Uthra Ganesan

Midfield action: Tushar Khandker, who scored two goals for PSPB, takes an evasive action as Air India’s Joginder Singh passes the ball to his teammate. 

Punjab’s big match temperament will come up against PSPB’s resolve in the final of the 8th men’s National hockey championships after the two won their respective semifinals here on Saturday.

PSPB, participating in its maiden national championship since it was revived by Hockey India in 2011, managed to edge past former champion Air India 3-2. With seven national campers in the side and others part of the Indian team till recently, PSPB was always favourite but Air India’s ageing warhorses proved they still had a trick or two in them.

With support from inexperienced newcomers, Air India kept PSPB at bay in the initial period and even got the opener against the run of play in the 10th minute, through Arjun Sharma’s opportunistic goal.

But Tushar Khandker, till recently coaching the Indian team, flicked his stick backwards to sound the board four minutes later to level the scores. Keeping possession and relying on pace, PSPB managed to make constant inroads into Air India’s circle but was unable to get the final touch in or earn penalty corners.

While Air India custodian Adrian D’Souza let in two easy goals, he was also responsible for saving at least three more to keep the margin respectable.

Air India, at the other end, struggled with its youngsters faltering and losing control too often. Arjun finally got his second in the final minute and, seconds later, was pushed inside the five metre circle as Air India sought a PC but was denied.

Earlier, Punjab’s big names stepped up when it mattered most with a comprehensive 3-1 win against defending champion Railways, ending the latter’s hegemony in the competition.

Railways, which came in boasting of a hat-trick of titles, was outplayed in every department as Punjab captain Gurbaj Singh played the perfect playmaker. Railways, having lost several of its long-time players to other organisations in the last one year, struggled for both possession and position.

For Punjab, which last won the title in 2012, this would be the fifth final in eight editions and Gurbaj would be desperate to break the jinx. PSPB, on the other hand, would want to go all the way in its very first outing.

Air India, a two-time champion in 2013 and 2014, would now be keen to avenge its semifinals defeat in 2015 to Railways that, in a way, saw the baton shifting from one well-oiled institutional team to another.

The Airmen finished third back then and would be hoping to finish on the podium yet again for a first medal three years.

The results (semifinals): Punjab 3 (Dharamvir Singh 2, Sarvanjit Singh) bt Railways 1 (Malak Singh); PSPB 3 (Tushar Khandker 2, Affan Yousuf) bt Air India 2 (Arjun Sharma 2).

The Hindu

Big win for Hampstead sets up dramatic finale

Hampstead action

Play-off hopefuls Hampstead & Westminster beat strugglers Sevenoaks 10-2 in the Men’s Premier Division on Saturday to ensure their push for a play-off spot goes down to the last day of the season.

Currently fifth but just one point away from the play-off spots, Hampstead & Westminster knew they had to make up a big goal difference to compete with their rivals.

And they responded well, scoring ten times to give themselves a realistic chance of making the play-offs assuming other results go their way on Sunday.

Sam French led the scoring with four goals while Will Calnan hit a double with Matt Guise Brown, Michael Watt, Kwan Browne and Stephen Dowds scored their other goals.

Brandon Gibbs and Tom Chandler scored the consolations for Sevenoaks who are destined to finish in the bottom two.

Hampstead & Westminster visit struggling Canterbury on Sunday as they bid to overtake Reading on Surbiton.

The pressure is off for Wimbledon – they booked their place in the finals with a 2-1 defeat of Brooklands MU courtesy of goals from Johnny Kinder and Phil Ball.

The other team in contention, Surbiton, currently occupy third place but face leaders Beeston.

Earlier in the week, other sides in the Premier Division caught up with games postponed after the recent snowfall.

Wimbledon galvanised their play-off position with a 4-0 win over Sevenoaks on Wednesday with Simon Mantell’s brace sandwiched between goals from Ben Arnold and Ben Roe.

On Tuesday, East Grinstead beat Canterbury 5-1 and on Friday evening, Nick Bandurak was the star of the show as he netted five goals as Holcombe beat Canterbury 8-0.

Men’s Conference East

Old Georgians gave their survival hopes a shot in the arm with a 3-0 win against fellow Conference East strugglers Old Loughtonians. James Tindall hit a brace with Noah Sharples grabbing the other.

With Oxted having the title sewn up already Southgate and Teddington, in second and third respectively, are battling for second place and they met with Southgate winning 5-3.

Tom Barratt’s early strike, along with a John Sterlini brace and an Alex Williams goal had seen Southgate go 4-1 up by half time, although Teddington continued to battle.

In the other game of the day, Cambridge City battled back from 3-0 down to draw 4-4 with Richmond.

Men’s Conference West

Cardiff & Met’s push for the title in the Men’s Conference West suffered a knock when they were held to a 4-4 draw by Havant on Saturday.

The University of Exeter have the upper hand now in the race for promotion; the top two sides face each other on the final day but Cardiff need to beat Exeter by a 10-goal margin to be champions.

Cardiff looked to be heading for a routine win with a Jack Pritchard double helping them to a 4-1 lead. But goals from Ethan Hoddle, Adam Bloomfield and Jonathan Pickett tied the scores.

Tom Mallet and Chris Rawlings both hit a brace for Olton & West Warwicks as they took a 7-3 win against Isca and the University of Birmingham were 3-2 winners over Cheltenham.

Men’s Conference North

Loughborough Students missed the chance to go top in the Conference North after being held to a 3-3 draw away to Bowdon.

Goals from Rohan Bhuhi, Ronan Harvey-Kelly and Tendo Kimuli weren’t enough to take all three points. They could still win the title but are reliant on Nottingham losing to Doncaster on the final day.

Goals from Akshay Ahitan, Will Hearne, Liam Brown and Tom Brammer saw Sheffield Hallam take a 4-2 win against Deeside Ramblers. The Ramblers are fighting for their lives tomorrow, just a point off the bottom.

England Hockey Board Media release

Late goal sees Buckingham beat Surbiton

Holcombe's Steph Elliott in action against the Univ of Birmingham's Freya Bull. Credit Andrew Smith

Abbie Brant’s last minute strike helped Buckingham beat leaders Surbiton and maintained their hopes of reaching the play-offs in the Investec Women’s Hockey League on Saturday.

The win leaves Buckingham fifth in the table and just one point behind the University of Birmingham, while third-placed East Grinstead are also within their reach if they can beat Bowdon Hightown by six goals on Sunday.

Holcombe secured their spot in the play-offs with a 2-1 win at the University of Birmingham, Heather McEwan scoring both their goals while Erica Sanders scored a consolation from a late penalty strike for Birmingham.

Elsewhere, Leicester gave their hopes of avoiding relegation play-offs a boost when they won 2-1 at Bowdon. Katie Long and Katie Hockley scored their goals, and although Maddie Goodman pulled one back for the hosts it wasn’t enough.

Also battling to avoid relegation are Slough and Canterbury, and they drew 1-1 with Mel Clewlow and Georgina Bathurst scoring the goals.

Clifton Robinsons are also in the relegation dogfight, and they secured a 2-0 win at East Grinstead with Hannah Coulson and Abi Porter scoring their goals.

Investec Women’s Conference West

The title race in the Investec Women’s Conference West will go down to the last day of the season with the top two, Stourport and Reading, separated by just one point.

Leaders Stourport were 4-2 winners at Olton & West Warwicks with Sarah Parkinson-Mills scoring two and others coming from Lora Symonds and Sophie Thompson. Sally Walton scored both Olton goals.

Elsewhere Reading won 3-2 at home against Swansea City. Zoe Hopkinson scored twice for Reading while Elizabeth Chambers added the other.

Elsewhere on Saturday Gloucester City were 1-0 winners over Cannock, while Isca won 4-1 against Oxford Hawks with Anna-Rose Gabbitass scoring two of their goals.

And bottom of the table Team Bath Buccaneers were 3-1 winners at Trojans with their goals coming from Vikki Warwick, Courtney Hansford and Samantha Roberts.

Investec Women’s Conference North

Second-placed Brooklands-Poynton inflicted Beeston’s first league defeat of the season in the Investec Women’s Conference North, beating the champions 3-0.

Sophia Crawshay, Cat Savage and Tor Hughes scored the goals as the visitors proved victorious.

Elsewhere the University of Durham had a good away win, beating hosts Ben Rhydding 3-0 with their goals coming from Tess Howard (2) and Lorna Cruickshank.

Loughborough Students were 4-1 winners at Timperley with their goals being scored by Megan Lewis-Williams, Phoebe Tomlinson, Ella Cusack and Sharon Seaton.

The game between Fylde and Sutton Coldfield ended as a 1-1 draw, as did the relegation scrap between the bottom two, Wakefield and Liverpool Sefton.

Investec Women’s Conference East

The title race continues in the Investec Women’s Conference East with three teams still in the hunt.

Hampstead & Westminster lead following their 3-0 win over Chelmsford with Lauren Turner, Joyce Esser and Louise Radford their scorers on Saturday.

Second-placed Sevenoaks were 4-3 winners over Harleston Magpies on Saturday with goals coming from Cathy Gilliat-Smith, Jess Denniff, Maddie Thompson and Renee Ojikutu, following on from their mid-week 6-2 win at Southgate.

But third-placed Wimbledon could also take top spot, with two outstanding games. They were 5-1 winners at Barnes on Saturday with Crista Cullen and Eliza Brett both scoring two, while Fiona Bruce added another.

In other Saturday action, relegation-threatened Bedford and Southgate drew 0-0, while Cambridge City beat visitors St Albans 6-2 with Hannah de Selincourt scoring twice for the home side.

England Hockey Board Media release

Defending champions Perak to meet Johor in final

By Aftar Singh

KUALA LUMPUR: Johor were held to a 2-2 draw by Penang but it was enough for them to reach the boys’ final in the TNB-1MAS-MHC National Under-16 championships.

Johor, who top their Group X with four points from two matches, will face defending champions Perak in the final today.

The silver state chalked up their second win in Group Y by edging Melaka 1-0 at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday. On Wednesday, Perak beat Pahang 1-0.

Muhd Amirul Haniff Mamat was the toast, scoring the winning goal for Perak in the 52nd minute.

Johor, who defeated Kuala Lumpur 2-0 on Friday, scored in the fifth minute through Muhd Hafizz Fikri Zali.

But Penang equalised in the 27th minute off a penalty corner converted by Muhd Zahirruddin Hamdan.

Johor regained the lead through skipper Mohd Fauzan Shah Mohd Nizam in the 54th minute but Zahirruddin equalised in the last minute of the match.

Johor team manager Mohd Hilmi Hafidz Mohd Haidir said they have achieved their target to reach the final.

Meanwhile, Pahang and Melaka ended their Group Y matches with one point each from two matches. Both teams also had the same goal difference and they will compete in the penalty shootout in the morning to decide the boys’ third and fifth placing playoff matches.

The Star of Malaysia

Nyanza Region: Sinyolo Girls and Kisumu Day retain hockey titles


KSSSA Regional Games Sinyolo Girls Hockey players celebrate after winning the seventh title against Nyamira Girl's during the Regional games in the Hockey final's at St. Mary's Yala on 24-3-2018 [Phillip Orwa, Standard]

Kenyan National and East Africa hockey champions Sinyolo Girls and Kisumu Day successfully defended their titles with an identical 1-0 scoreline at St. Mary’s School, Yala yesterday.

Sinyolo, once again ended Nyamira Girls' hopes of featuring at the national games by coming top in the final match watched by hundreds of fans.

Yesterday’s game between the two arch rivals was a repeat of last year’s final and the other five years finals (since 2012) in which Sinyolo has won with an identical 1-0 scoreline, with the exception of 2017 in which they prevailed 2-0.

Sinyolo dominated the match from the start but had to wait until the start of the third quarter to take a lead through Maureen Owiti’s solitary goal, that also enabled them qualify for the nationals games in Embu in a fortnight.

The goal rejuvenated the Alloise Owino and Hellen Juma coached side steered side as they restrained their opponents in their half but failed to add to their goals tally.

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Following the victory, Sinyolo have now won the title for a record seven consecutive years and will be seeking to win the national title for the third time in a row.

In the boys’ final, Emmanuel Juma’s only goal was enough to separate Kisumu Day and Kisumu Boys, in what was a repeat of last year’s final.

After battling out to a scoreless draw in the first three quarters, Juma decided the match in the dying minutes of the last quarter to book them a slot at the nationals.

The Standard Online

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