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News for 26 March 2018

All the news for Monday 26 March 2018

2018 Test Matches: ESP v CHN (W) - 2nd Test
Malaga (ESP)

ESP - CHN         0 - 0

FIH Match Centre

Host nation prepares to defend men's and women's titles

Host nation Australia is under a lot of pressure going into the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Firstly there is the pressure that comes from playing in front of family and friends. Then there is the stress of living up to the success of previous Commonwealth Games.

Australia men are the undisputed champions of the Commonwealth Games. Since hockey was introduced to the Games in 1998, the Kookaburras have won gold on every occasion. 4-0 versus host nation Malaysia in 1998, 5-2 against New Zealand at Manchester in 2002, a 3-0 victory over Pakistan in Melbourne in 2006, 8-0 against India in Delhi in 2010 and 4-0 over India at the 2014 edition.

For the women, it is an almost unblemished record. They have beaten England twice – a resounding 8-1 in 1998 and a much closer shoot-out win in 2014. They didn’t make the final in 2002, but bounced back to beat reigning champions India in 2006 (1-0) and then New Zealand in a  close match that went to shoot-out in 2010.

As women’s head coach Paul Gaudoin says: “Our record is very good. How do we explain it? Well the opponents all offer different styles of play but the commonality lies with us. Every Australia team, men’s or women’s, has the desire to be successful at every tournament and for these Games it is no different.

“There is a culture of hardworking athletes who will always play out the whole match. We never look to draw it, we are an aggressive attacking style of people and that potentially helps us deal with some big events in the Commonwealth Games. We will be looking for a win that we can translate into Olympic and World Cup success.”

Women’s captain Emily Smith acknowledges the effect the crowd might have upon the players: “There is a lot of pressure on us because of our previous successes and being in front of a home crowd but, once we get the first game under our belt, the nerves will settle and we can build into the tournament. I am really proud to be playing in front of family and friends. To actually have them in the crowd will be very special as they normally watch from afar. I know once the anthem gets played then our thoughts will turn to the game.”

Smith was a member of the gold-medal winning squad of 2014 and she recalls the final minutes of the match against England with a wince. “It was unbelievable. We were losing 1-0 with 12 seconds to go and then Jodie (Kenny) scored the equaliser. It was a roller-coaster of emotion because we had thought we had let that one go, then there was the excitement of scoring the equaliser and we were all high-fiving each other, then we had to get composed for the shoot-out.

“I still remember the emotional high of that moment and that is one of the things that has kept me going at this level for another four years.”

These Games will be an especially emotional voyage for Australia’s Mark Knowles, who has announced his retirement after these Games.

“I guess you could say this is all a massive achievement. It is just one of those dreams you have. I was lucky to play in Melbourne as a 22-year-old and now, here I am at the other end of my career, playing a very different role. It has taken a lot of hard work but mostly I am just proud to be here knowing my family will be watching.”

Knowles has gold medals from three previous Commonwealth Games, and is one of just six Kookaburras to pass the 300 cap mark. Each previous Games holds special memories for the Kookaburra skipper.

“2006 Melbourne was amazing to play in and to win a gold medal was just an amazing moment for us. 

“2010 in Delhi was one I will never forget. There were 15-16,000 Indians in the stadium and the noise was deafening. I have never heard anything so loud. For the first few minutes India were totally all over us. I think we were so over-awed we just kept giving them the ball. Then we settled and by half-time we were 4-0 up and that quietened the crowd. But it was 46 degrees on the field and I honestly think it was one of the hardest games I have ever played in my life.

“Glasgow 2014 was part of an unbelievable period of dominance for our Kookaburra team. We had just won the World Cup and we stood up and delivered in Glasgow too. I was flag bearer for that event, so that meant the world to me.”

Looking ahead to the Gold Coast, Knowles sees this as the toughest Games ever. “The teams are so evenly matched, I find it hard to know who will be in the top four. You have the usual teams  such as New Zealand, India and England but look at Malaysia; they did well in the Asia Cup, the Hockey World League Semi-Final and the Azlan Shah Cup. Then there is Canada – they have a tough, experienced team. Pakistan will always provide a challenge. I could probably name them all.”

For Paul Gaudoin, the tournament is about more than medals. “This is a wonderful tournament to play in. There are some teams we know well but there are others who we will never play in an Olympic cycle. That allows us to explore the global style of hockey. There are also an old rivalries, against England, New Zealand and us that brings out the best in us all.

“We see this as an opportunity to ‘sell’ the Kookaburras and hockey to the world on a big platform. We like to invest heavily in the success because it will help spread the sport to new audiences, not just in Australia but globally.”

Tickets for some matches at the XXI Commonwealth Games are still available. Click here to find out more


FIH site

Versatility, adaptability key as Indian men look to set tone for important year

Sundeep Misra

File photo of India captain Manpreet Singh. Getty Images

Indian hockey is a veritable book of stories. Stories of its rise, its opulence interwoven with silky skills, magical dribbles, of the shift from a giant to an also-ran, of the genius of Dhyan Chand, Balbir Singh Senior, Ashok Kumar, Mohammed Shahid. Mesmerising tales of a past you listened to in awe and watched without as much as a blink. Over the years it became an enigma; a past that didn’t match the present.

But in the last couple of months a transformation of sorts has been taking place. Much has been written about the importance of 2018 — a year in which Indian hockey can clearly stamp its authority once again in a world hoping to see the national team on the podium. That journey once again starts from the Gold Coast in Australia when India kicks off its campaign for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Call it a journey, an adventure, or a quest, but like a bunch of explorers looking for the ‘lost land’, this men’s Indian hockey team wants to merge the past into the present.

Not since the 2000 Sydney Olympics has a bunch of players raised such expectations where even the most pessimistic believe the national team would improve on its two silver medals won in 2010 and 2014 editions and bring back gold. Of course, in the path lie, as always Australia.

But the confidence, chatter, the articulation come from the coach. After the fifth-place finish at the Azlan Shah with a young team, Dutchman Sjoerd Marijne was asked: “The Aussies have won the Azlan and more important than the title have gained a momentum, do you feel that would be crucial?”

Marijne replied, with a little smile playing on his lips: “I don’t talk about other teams. But the performance and reply will come at the Commonwealth Games.”

Not many coaches in India’s recent past have had the start that Marijne has enjoyed. He started with a win at the Asia Cup, following it up with a bronze at the Hockey World League Final and then two finals in the double-leg 4-Nation tournament in New Zealand where they only lost to Belgium. The 5th position at the Azlan Shah would just be a stepping stone in their packed 2018 calendar. Playing the final at the Gold Coast would be India’s third consecutive, if they make it that far. Looking at the Pool and the composition of the team, the story of an India-Australia final, yet again, holds.

India has England, Pakistan, Malaysia and Wales in their group. One of the keen watchers of the Australia-England final at the Azlan Shah was Marijne. It’s a crucial match in India’s Pool B. In five appearances, England have two bronze medals while India have two silver in four CWG’s. But this England team is strong on the counter and plays with the pace of sprinters. It’s in the holding of the ball that India has that massive advantage where they clearly cut the pace, inject their own brand of skills and midfield domination to create chances of penalty corners (PCs) and field attempts.

Yet, it will be an interesting and a highly intriguing match-up. But it is the opener against Pakistan that will catch everybody’s eye. Not only because it is Pakistan but that our rivals have poached former coach Roelant Oltmans. Now this is a potential Bollywood pot-boiler with themes like winning, jingoism and revenge coursing through the match. Oltmans was sacked and Marijne came in and now being on the other side of the border, he would aim to put it across.

At the moment, it would be a big upset if Pakistan win; the stats don’t show that — in our last six encounters, India have won all, most of them with big margins. Incidentally, in four of those ties, Oltmans was India coach. So the relevance of knowing exactly where India play and how, and which player is strong or brittle is knowledge that, among all coaches in the world, only Oltmans has. It’s another matter that Pakistan need to have that same class and talent that India brings on the pitch. Still, it is a tie not to be missed.

Against Malaysia, there are no mid-paths. Either we win big or lose narrowly. It’s always the start and early goals that put Malaysia under pressure. Their coach Stephen Van Huizen has always maintained that to contain India is one part of the story; the bigger challenge is to stop them creating chances. “We always believe we will have a chance but we need to stop India scoring early goals,” says Van Huizen. “I believe that we do get stronger as the match progresses. We need to hold our defence against their skills.”

Numbers are again with India as we have beaten Malaysia in our last three matches with the most recent 5-1 win coming in the 2018 Azlan Shah. Malaysia’s strongest point is their counters but Rupinder Pal Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Amit Rohidas and Sreejesh in goal would have the skill set to hold them back.

Wales should be the easiest game for India, though the cliché is ‘no game is easy.’ Yet in modern hockey, consistently playing matches through the years and in various tournaments gives you that edge that becomes crucial against a team like Wales. India have played six matches against them, an indicator of Wales not being top flight competition, and won five while drawing one.

For all the talk about a robust defence and a free-wheeling midfield, it’s the muscle in the forward line that most teams would be wary off. It is without any doubt India’s trump card and a lovely mix of deceptive skill strengthened by the muscular play of Gurjant, Mandeep and Dilpreet Singh. If there was a playmaker beyond the midfield, it is Akashdeep with his deceptive runs, artistry, finesse, taps and the ingenuity of the twist and pass in the opposition striking circle. Sunil has the speed to break through but at times needs support. Lalit would always be the change required when the opposition defence is slightly beleaguered and he is the one with the killer run combined with a sleight of hand and craftiness that keeps the defence guessing.

In the midfield, you have the legs in Chinglensana, Sumit and Vivek Sagar Prasad with Vivek being given the role to overlap. He did that quite well in the 4-Nation in New Zealand and got three goals. Except that he has never been tested in a tournament environment with the senior side.

In terms of skill, shielding ability, thinking on his feet, finding space and shooting, he has it all. Sumit’s selection in the team is purely on pace and the ability to carve a path through the midfield and overlap on the flanks. Plus the youngster, part of the 2016 Junior World Cup team, has enough in reserve and at times functions like the team’s reserve generator.

Indian captain Manpreet Singh loves moving up, but against teams like Pakistan, England and Malaysia, he would, more than once in a while, wear that defensive gown too. At the moment, he is the skipper and the man expected to lead the charge to the podium at the Gold Coast and also at the 2018 World Cup.

It’s in the defence that India need to be careful. Players like Rupinder Pal and Harmanpreet have the experience with Harmanpreet being one of the safest when carrying a ball through the defence, but youngsters like Varun Kumar, Rohidas, Gurinder need to show that ability that they can raise their levels under intense pressure.

Playing safe is one thing but in today’s hockey, usually when under pressure, defenders can create that aerial flick or a hard hit that reverses an opposition attack into a counter for India. Of the lot, only Harmanpreet has that presence of mind. But when it comes to PC’s, India has Harmanpreet, Rupinder Pal, Varun Kumar and Amit Rohidas. Not many teams can boast of a four-man team for a PC. Still, Marijne would use Rupinder and Harmanpreet, with one of them being on the field at any point of time. Tactical changes in the rotation of the PC’s will come in the form of Varun and Rohidas. With P Sreejesh and Suraj Karkera in goal, India is as safe as a military barrack.

It’s a big year. Big events. Big tournaments. And the curtains go up at the Gold Coast. There is no underlining the importance of a Commonwealth Games gold when it comes to giving that momentum to a team embarking on playing the Champions Trophy (top six in the world), Asian Games (winner qualifies for 2020 Olympics), Asian Champions Trophy (top six Asia), and then the holy grail, World Cup 2018. You can’t win them all. That would be a fairytale. And Marijne, even though he might say ‘we always play for a win’, understands the importance of picking and choosing your tournament.

Sometimes, big tournament atmosphere swallows you. Manpreet was asked about the match against Pakistan. His reply, in a way, was a throwback to the last decade and the changes that have come now. “We have our first match with Pakistan but I think it is more important to maintain our game and structure and not get emotional, because if we get emotional then there will be more chances to do mistakes. So we need to maintain our gameplan and structure and the chances we get, we change it into gold.”

Sjoerd Marijne has promised changes and podium finishes. Yes, it’s a step at a time. But it’s the team’s adaptability and versatility that should deliver the medals.


After Rio Olympics slump, new hope in Indian women’s hockey team

After 14 years, a new-look Indian women’s national hockey team, led by Rani, is out to bring back the golden days. Their first stop is the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018

Sharad Deep

Indian women’s national hockey team captain Rani (R) will hope to lead the side to glory at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games 2018.

After bagging their maiden gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, the Indian women’s hockey team went on to be crowned champions at the AfroAsian Games in 2003 and the Asia Cup in 2004. The successes put the Suraj Lata Devi-led team on the world map. After 14 years, a new-look India side, led by Rani, is out to bring back the golden days. Their first stop is the Commonwealth Games. Other important tournaments are the Asian Games in Jakarta, World Cup in London and the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

“We would like to begin with gold in Gold Coast. We have done our homework well and nothing less than a gold will satisfy us,” said Rani. The women’s team won gold in 2002 Manchester, defeating the hosts 3-2 in extra-time. They won silver in 2006 Melbourne, losing to the hosts. However, the team could manage only a fifth place in the 2010 and 2014 editions. The slump continued and the team finished 12th and last at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, prompting Hockey India to make some drastic changes to the coaching staff.

They roped in junior men’s World Cup-winning team coach Harendra Singh and the fortunes changed. The team won the Asia Cup last year, thus qualifying for this year’s World Cup.

“There is a change in the players’ mindset. They are more focused and are playing attacking hockey,” said Harendra. “The team has the capability to beat any side in the world now. Ranking makes no difference if you are playing well. We will focus on our game (in Gold Coast), rather than look at the strengths and weaknesses of the rivals.”

In the 44-year-old history of Indian women’s hockey (when they first began competing at multi-nation events), the team has won six gold, including two at the Asia Cup, five silver and seven bronze at international events. The Commonwealth Games will be their last major event before the women’s hockey World Cup in London in July-August.

“We aren’t thinking about what happened at the last Commonwealth Games. We are a balanced side. The biggest change is in the attitude of the players, who are eager for success,” said Rani. Ranked 10th in the world, India are clubbed with world No 2 England, South Africa (ranked 14th), Malaysia and Wales in Pool A.

“We need to play aggressive hockey against all teams in the pool,” said Harendra, adding the team’s success on the recent tour of

South Africa was a morale booster.

India are confident of making it to the knockout, and once there, the pressure will be from higher-ranked teams like Australia, England and NZ.


Rani: After leading India to victory at the Asia Cup and a 3-1 series win in South Korea, the seasoned forward Rani will have to lead the attack if India are to regain the title.

Vandana Kataria: The forward, who has played 135 matches, is swift inside the penalty circle. Was India’s top scorer in the side’s bronze-medal win at the 2013 Junior World Cup.

Deepika Thakur: Returning from a serious injury after almost a year that also saw her get married, the backbone of Indian defence will be hoping o make up for lost time. She issed out on the Asia Cup, which India won last year, so this will be a massive opportunity for her to win a major medal.

Hindustan Times

Fazilla ready to turnon the heat in Gold Coast

By Aftar Singh

KUALA LUMPUR: Prolific goal-scorer Fazilla Slyvester Silin (pic) hopes to be on fire for Malaysia in the hockey competition at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.

The Games from April 4-15 will be her first international assignment in seven months.

The Sarawakian took a break after the World League Semi-Finals in Brussels, Belgium, in June last year to attend a six-month training with the Fire and Rescue Department to become an officer.

The 31-year-old midfielder is raring to see action in her third Games.

“I thank coach K. Dharmaraj for naming me in the squad after a long break. I’m happy that my services are still needed,” said Fazilla.

“I’m fit despite the break. I’ve gone through physical training with the fire department.

“I played for Terengganu Ladies team in the national league since early this month and I’m still in good form,” said Fazilla, who made her international debut at the 2007 Korat SEA Games.

Fazilla scored five goals in the World League Second Round in Kuala Lumpur in January last year to help Malaysia finish runners-up and netted 10 goals en route to winning gold at the 2013 Myanmar SEA Games.

Fazilla’s scoring prowess, through both the field goal and penalty corners, is not confined to the national team as she scored 25 goals to help Castelldefels Club win promotion to the Spanish Women’s League Division One in 2012.

Fazilla hoped for a top-six finish in Gold Coast.

“We finished seventh at the last Games in Glasgow. I’ll do my part to lead the team to a top-six finish in my third attempt,” she added.

Malaysia are drawn in Group A with England, South Africa, India and Wales. In Group B are Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Canada and Ghana.

The Star of Malaysia

U.S. U-19 Women's National Team and Ireland Finish First Test Match in a Scoreless Draw

WICKLOW, Ireland - After having training camps the first three months of 2018, the U.S. U-19 Women's National Team traveled to Ireland to get their first taste of international competition. The squad arrived on March 22, took part in a few training sessions at the University College Dublin before having their first competition in a three game series today at St. Gerald's School against Ireland's U-21 team. Although both sides were presented with multiple scoring opportunities, neither team was able to get it across the goal line as the game concluded in a scoreless draw.

The U-19 USWNT and Ireland agreed to play four, 17.5 minute quarters, and the first period saw both teams testing one another and really getting a feel for their opposition. Play was back and forth for most of the quarter as USA got into the groove and were able to generate some threatening attacking opportunities.

The second quarter started strong for the U-19 USWNT as they earned a penalty corner in the first minute. Unfortunately, Lindsay Dickinson (Glen Mills, Pa.) got under the ball, raised it and it was deemed dangerous. Riley Donnelly (Doylestown, Pa.) kept the pressure on and earned a shot that just missed the frame in the 20th minute of play. Ireland found themselves playing a solid defensive unit and were denied by goalkeeper Gabrielle Barraco (Allentown, Pa.) anchoring that unite between the pipes for the first half. Ireland kept pressuring and earned a penalty corner in the 33rd minute of play, but USA stood strong to bring the score at halftime deadlocked 0-0.

To start the second half, USA switched out their goalkeepers. The third quarter had a similar start to the first with some good opportunities for both teams but neither were able to capitalize. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, goalkeeper Katherine McGuire (St. Louis, Mo.) made some nice saves and was able to maintain the goose-egg for USA. The U-19 USWNT created a nice 3v2 up the right side but was unable to convert.

In the 60th minute of play off a transferring outlet from left to right and up the field, Mackenzie Allessie (Mount Joy, Pa.) found herself near the stroke mark one-timing a shot on goal but Ireland's goalkeeper made a great save. USA continued the nice passing and created more opportunities that did not come to fruition. In the 69th minute, USA earned a penalty corner. Sammy Popper (Blue Bell, Pa.) inserted and the ball was slipped to a wide open Meghan Schneider (San Diego, Calif.) who swept it just wide, unfortunately no one was able to get a deflection to allow USA to take the lead. The game concluded in a scoreless draw.

Both squads decided to take advantage of the training opportunity and took a practice shootout. USA converted 1 to Ireland's 4.

The U.S U-19 Women's National Team will train tomorrow before the second game of the series against Ireland's U-21 team on Tuesday, March 27 at 12:30 p.m. ET.

USFHA media release

Punjab crowned National hockey champion

Its cohesion and big-match temperament bests a star-studded PSPB

Uthra Ganesan

Victorious: The Punjab team which won the 8th men’s National championship on Sunday. 

Punjab won its first National title in five years, registering a 2-1 win against Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) in the final of the 8th men’s National hockey championships here on Sunday, as the team’s cohesion and big-match temperament got the better of a star-studded PSPB.

Clearly the better team on the day, Punjab relied on the pace of its youngsters and the experience of its senior players to constantly create chances upfront. Barring the opening goal in the third minute by PSPB — courtesy a penalty corner conversion by Gurjinder Singh — the debutant in the competition struggled to find opportunities, staying largely defensive.

In fact, it was all about Punjab in the second half as the former champion, which last won the title in 2012, kept finding gaps in the PSPB defence but was unlucky to see the balls rolling away.

Dharminder Singh came close to scoring but was warded off by PSPB custodian Vikas Dahiya, Sarwanjit Singh kept shooting wide and Pawandeep Singh was unable to get the final touch in.

In all this, captain Gurbaj Singh was all over the field, bolstering the defence and opening up gaps in the attack even while feeding the youngsters ahead.

The constant offence finally paid off when Punjab earned its first PC but Sarwanjit’s push was too weak to even reach the top of the circle. It was Punjab’s second PC — it was converted to a stroke for deliberate obstruction by Vickram Kanth — that saw the team finally get the equaliser in the 53rd minute.

The goal seemed to bolster the team’s confidence even more and — even as the game appeared headed for a shotoout — an overhead diagonal pass by Jasjit Kular in the final few seconds found an unmarked Sarwanjit Singh lurking inside the circle, who took no time in trapping and shooting past an advancing Dahiya for the winner.

In the playoff for the third spot, defending champion Railways edged past Air India 6-5 in shootouts after the teams were tied 1-1 at the end of regulation time.

It was a match that both teams seemed determined to lose, missing chances by the dozen and shooting waywardly.

Railways earned eight penalty corners through the match and had as many open chances but could not find a way past Air India goalkeeper Adrian D’Souza, who proved why he continues to be rated so highly in the country, diving and leaping to keep his team in the game.

At the other end, Arjun Sharma and Mohd Faraz missed sitters in front of empty goals.

In the shootout, while Railways managed to score off all its five attempts, A.B. Cheeyanna missed for Air India.

The results: Final: Punjab 2 (Sarwanjit Singh 2) bt PSPB 1 (Gurjinder Singh).

Third place playoff: Railways 1 (Sayyed Nizam Rahim) bt Air India 1 (Shivender Singh) 6-5 in shootouts.

The Hindu

Brant brace helps Buckingham reach play-offs

Univ of Birmingham's Lydia Macdonnell and Slough's Leanne King. Credit Andrew Smith

Two goals from Abbie Brant helped Buckingham snatch the final play-off berth in their last game of the regular season after a 3-1 win over Bowdon Hightown in the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division on Sunday.

Buckingham will join Surbiton, Holcombe and East Grinstead at the Finals Weekend at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on April 28-29.

The University of Birmingham began the day fourth but could only manage a goalless draw against Slough - their fifth game without a win.

Buckingham turned their fortunes around with a third consecutive win, but they had to come from behind after Tara Melvin gave Bowdon the lead after 25 minutes.

Brant netted her first just eight minutes later from a penalty corner, and with time running out Lauren Thomas put Buckingham ahead on 65 minutes before Brant sealed the deal with a last-minute strike.

At the other end of the table Leicester are relegated after drawing 2-2 with fellow strugglers Clifton Robinsons.

Isabel Palmer and Nicola Moss scored the goals to earn the point for Clifton – a point that ensures their safety.

Leicester scored through Olivia Back and Katie Long but only a win would have been enough to save them from the drop.

Canterbury beat Holcombe 5-0 on Sunday with a double from Penny Squibb and goals from Sarah Kerly, Mary Flint and Nicki Ball. They have now lost just once in their last 11 league games.

Investec Women’s Conference East

Hampstead & Westminster were crowned champions of the Investec Conference East after beating fellow promotion hopefuls Sevenoaks 2-1 and securing top spot with a game still to play.

Meg Byas opened the scoring on 14 minutes and Melanie Wilkinson made it two just before the break. Jess Denniff pulled one back for Sevenoaks but it wasn’t enough.

Relegated Chelmsford’s last game of the season was a heavy 9-0 defeat at the hands of St Albans with Kirsty Barber and Nakira Downes scoring two each.

A Lauren Rowe brace condemned Southgate to relegation play-offs as her Harleston Magpies side won 2-1.

Cambridge City drew 0-0 with Barnes and Lizzie Jones scored twice in Wimbledon’s 3-2 win over Bedford.

Investec Women’s Conference West

Stourport are champions of the Investec Conference West after a 5-1 defeat of Team Bath Buccaneers – a result that sees Team Bath relegated. Lora Symonds and Sarah Parkinson-Mills did most of the damage with two goals each.

Reading miss out on the title by a point despite a 5-0 win against second-bottom Cannock. Sophie Shakespeare scored a hat-trick including two goals in the space of a minute. Cannock will have to go to relegation play-offs to decide their fate.

A Sally Walton goal was enough to see Olton & West Warwicks to a 1-0 win against Oxford Hawks.

Investec Women’s Conference North

Liverpool Sefton were relegated from the Investec Conference North after slipping to a 4-2 defeat at Loughborough Students in their final game of the season.

A win would have seen them face relegation play-offs but the defeat means that two goals from Beth Peers and others from Lizzie Neal and Annabel Sams saw Loughborough take the win.

Wakefield will go to relegation play-offs after finishing second from bottom. They lost 2-0 to Brooklands-Poynton. In the other game of the day, the University of Durham beat Sutton Coldfield 4-0.

England Hockey Board Media release

Wimbledon top after beating Reading

Sam Spencer celebrates his goal for Surbiton against Beeston. Credit Rob Inglis-David Kissman Photography

Wimbledon came from behind to beat Reading 2-1 and top the Men’s Hockey League Premier Division, a result which means their opponents will miss out on the play-offs.

Reading’s defeat left the door wide open for Hampstead & Westminster to take the final play-off place, and they took their chance with Matt Guise Brown’s hat-trick helping them beat Canterbury 5-3.

Only a win would do for Reading and Ciaran O’Connell put them ahead after 35 minutes. However, Simon Mantell squared the scores for Wimbledon just before the hour and Jonny Codling scored the all-important winning goal from a penalty corner with four minutes remaining.

Canterbury needed a win to escape automatic relegation. Sam Barrett, Christian Schellinger and James Oates put them into a 3-1 lead at half time with Guise Brown scoring for Hampstead.

But Hampstead hit back with second half goals from Will Calnan, Sam French and two more from Guise Brown.

Elsewhere former leaders Surbiton beat hosts Beeston 5-2 to leapfrog their opponents and finish second. Arjan Drayton Chana scored twice for the visitors with Zach Wallace, Conor Williamson and Sam Spencer also on target. Elliot Hibell’s brace proved to be only a consolation for Beeston who still qualify for the play-offs with third place.

Sevenoaks already knew their best-case scenario would be relegation play-offs and that proved to be the case after Ashley Jackson’s hat-trick saw them beaten 6-1 by East Grinstead. Tony Wilson scored a brace and Simon Faulkner notched Grinstead’s other with Brandon Gibbs on target for Sevenoaks.

Peter Flanagan scored a late leveller for Brooklands MU as they drew 2-2 with Holcombe. David Flanagan scored the other for Brooklands with Matthew Symonds and Glenn Eyers slotting home for Holcombe.

Men’s Conference East

Old Loughtonians secured their Conference East status for next season with a 3-0 defeat of already-relegated West Herts, thanks to goals from Tom Stumbke, George Lilley and Elliot Smith.

Old Georgians must go to the relegation play-offs their 4-1 defeat at the hands of champions Oxted. Chris Porter was on target twice.

Southgate finish second and ended their campaign on a high with a 2-1 win against Cambridge City. Matt Daly hit a brace in Teddington’s 2-1 defeat of Richmond and Ollie Baxter also scored two as his Chichester side beat Brighton & Hove by the same score.

Men’s Conference West

The University of Exeter needed a last-minute winner against second from bottom Cheltenham to claim the title in the Men’s Conference West.

Cheltenham desperately needed a win to climb out of the bottom two but with Exeter needing the win to wrap up the league, it proved to be a close encounter. The breakthrough came in the 69th minute with James Thomas sweeping in from a penalty corner.

Cardiff & Met’s 3-3 draw against Olton & West Warwicks means that they are now out of the championship race, although they still have to play the champions in their final game.

Isca secured their national league survival and Clifton Robinsons were relegated after the two sides battled to a 5-5 draw. The University of Birmingham beat Havant 5-2 and Fareham drew 3-3 with Team Bath Buccaneers.

Men’s Conference North

The University of Nottingham simply had to win today to clinch the Conference North title and they did so in style, beating Doncaster 5-2 with Edward Iffla, Adam Laitt and Jonny Ruiz putting them 3-1 up at the break.

Loughborough Students finish two points off Nottingham but did all they could in their last game, beating strugglers Cannock 5-1. Murray Collins led the scoring with a brace.

The University of Durham drew 1-1 with Deeside Ramblers and Bowdon beat Preston 4-2. Sheffield Hallam drew 2-2 with Yorkshire rivals Leeds.

Relegation is yet to be decided with three points separating Deeside, Preston, Doncaster and Cannock. Of those sides, only Doncaster have played all of their games.

England Hockey Board Media release

Wimbledon’s amazing comeback complete with run to English title

Wimbledon came from behind to beat Reading 2-1 and top the English men’s Hockey League Premier Division, earning them a European spot as they produced an incredible comeback

The Londoners had been well off the pace in the early stages of the campaign, waiting until their sixth game to get their first win of the season.

Since then, they won 11 out of 12 games - drawing the other one - and coped better with international absentees at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and Commonwealth Games preparation. Rivals Surbiton lost three of their last five games and Beeston two of their last four to open the door to snatch the top spot.

For Reading, only a win would do and Ciaran O’Connell put them ahead after 35 minutes. However, Simon Mantell squared the scores for Wimbledon just before the hour and Jonny Codling scored the all-important winning goal from a penalty corner with four minutes remaining.

A day earlier, Wimbledon had put themselves in the frame when they won a back-match 2-1 against Brooklands MU.

Elsewhere, former leaders Surbiton beat hosts Beeston 5-2 to leapfrog their opponents and finish second. Arjan Drayton Chana scored twice for the visitors with Zach Wallace, Conor Williamson and Sam Spencer also on target. Elliot Hibell’s brace proved to be only a consolation for Beeston who still qualify for the play-offs with third place.

Hampstead & Westminster finished the season in the fourth playoff spot.

Euro Hockey League media release

Irish Mens EYHL Weekend Round Up

Glenanne moved another big step closer to the men’s EY Hockey League title as they ground out a 1-0 win over Railway Union while Lisnagarvey’s 3-3 draw with Pembroke gave them another boost.

Shane O’Donoghue’s first half goal handed the Glens their ninth victory this season out of 12 by a single goal in the league, showing their ability to eke out results from tight situations.

That put them 10 points clear of the chasers overnight but Garvey had a chance of eating into that gap when they faced Pembroke on Sunday. It did not go to plan, however, as they fell 3-1 behind to goals from Alan Sothern, Nick Burns and Keith O’Hare.

Sean Murray’s screamer led the fightback and a Paul Gleghorne goal drew them level but they could not find a winner and now trail by nine points but just one game left in hand. They did beat Cookstown on Saturday 3-1 thanks to a Matthew Nelson hat trick.

Three Rock Rovers continued their good form going into next weekend’s Euro Hockey League campaign as they beat Banbridge 6-3 with Peter Blakeney and Conor Empey both scoring twice. It was a cracking game with Rovers leading 5-2 at half-time.

Pembroke moved up to fourth with a 2-1 Saturday win over Annadale to go with their Garvey draw. Monkstown snatched a late draw at Cork C of I with Guy Sarratt nicking a point in a 1-1 result which sees the Dubliners drop down to fifth place. C of I, meanwhile, move another step closer to safety with seven points to spare over Cookstown and Railway Union.

Men’s EY Hockey League – day 15 round-up

Saturday: Cookstown 1 (T Sloan) Lisnagarvey 3 (M Nelson 3); Cork C of I 1 (J Dale) Monkstown 1 (G Sarratt); Glenanne 1 (S O’Donoghue) Railway Union 0; Pembroke 2 (A Sothern, T Hill) Annadale 1 (C Roberts); Three Rock Rovers 6 (P Blakeney 2, C Empey 2, R Pautz, L Madeley) Banbridge 3 (E Magee 2, J Moffett)

Sunday: Lisnagarvey 3 (M Robson, P Gleghorne, S Murray) Pembroke 3 (A Sothern, N Burns, K O’Hare)

Day 15 reports

Saturday: Glenanne 1 (S O’Donoghue) Railway Union 0

Glenanne moved a step closer to men’s EY Hockey League glory as Shane O’Donoghue’s first half goal kept them 10 points clear at the top of the table overnight on Saturday.

It was a low-key game, shy on chances as Railway made things difficult for the table-toppers to get rolling. The first shot on target came 20 minutes in from Railway, moments before the Glens got the only goal. It came via lovely interplay from Gary Shaw and O’Donoghue, the former’s reverse dink leading to the latter finishing one-handed.

A couple of Glenanne corners were well defended, keeping the gap at the minimum. Into the second half, three Railway corners drew a couple of saves from Iain Walker before the Glens started running up set pieces of their own which Stephen O’Keeffe kept out.

Glenanne had half chances for further goals snuffed out with Kenny Carroll and Jeremy McKeever doing well to shut them out while O’Keeffe blocked a corner on the final whistle, meaning the Glens had yet another single goal victory.

Three Rock Rovers 6 (P Blakeney 2, C Empey 2, R Pautz, L Madeley) Banbridge 3 (E Magee 2, J Moffett)

Three Rock Rovers completed their preparations for Europe with a thrill-a-minute 6-3 win over Banbridge, keeping them in second place in the table and close to a Champions Trophy place.

It was 2-2 after just 15 minutes as Peter Blakeney and Eugene Magee exchanged corner goals before Conor Empey and Josh Moffett netted from play in quick time. Blakeney’s second made it 3-2 before the end of the first quarter and the game was won in the second period when Richard Pautz and Luke Madeley’s drag made it 5-2 at half-time.

The second half was tighter-knit with Magee giving Bann an outside chance of a comeback but Empey replied within a minute for a 6-3 lead which they held for the last 19 minutes.

Pembroke 2 (A Sothern, T Hill) Annadale 1 (C Roberts)

Pembroke moved back into the top four with a 2-1 win over Annadale at Serpentine Avenue. Tim Hill finished off a good team move and Alan Sothern posted up, spun the defender and fired home for the second. Connor Roberts got the Dale goal with nine minutes to go, a result which gives the Ulster side little chance of reaching the top four places.

Cork C of I 1 (J Dale) Monkstown 1 (G Sarratt)

Cork C of I and Monkstown drew, the result edging the Garryduff side ever closer to confirmed safety while Town lost a place in the division by the end of the weekend’s play.

Simon Wolfe had the best of the first quarter chances but saw his reverse well saved by Gordon Clarke – standing in for David Fitzgerald between the posts – before Town had two major chances in the second quarter via Jason Lynch and Andrew Ward.

The second half had more bite with the game being played in the Monkstown half and C of I went in front via Julian Dale’s drag into the goal from a near impossible angle from the left baseline. He almost repeated the trick but hit the side-netting.

Monkstown fought back, won a couple of corners and scored from the second of them through Guy Sarratt with five minutes to go.

Cookstown 1 (T Sloan) Lisnagarvey 3 (M Nelson 3)

Matthew Nelson’s hat trick keeps Lisnagarvey’s feint chances of winning the EYHL regular season title alive as they beat Cookstown 3-1 at Steelweld Park. They remained 10 points off leaders Glenanne on Saturday night but had two games in hand and a meeting with the Glens on April 14 to try and put the pressure on further.

Nelson scored the only goal of the first half in the 22nd minute while Josh McCabe made a couple of great saves to limit the damage. Nelson followed up with a trianing ground corner goal three minutes into the second half. The points were secure when he completed his treble soon after before Timmy Sloan reduced the gap in the last 10 minutes.


Lisnagarvey 3 (M Robson, P Gleghorne, S Murray) Pembroke 3 (A Sothern, N Burns, K O’Hare)

Lisnagarvey fought back from 3-1 down but a 3-3 draw ultimately meant lost ground in their bid to catch Glenanne at the head of the table. With Alan Sothern, Nick Burns and Keith O’Hare all on the mark in the first half, Pembroke spun out to a 3-1 lead only for Sean Murray to score a screamer and reduce the gap to 3-2 at the big break.

 Paul Gleghorne levelled from a corner and his side went close to nicking the win from another set piece that saw two back post sliders combine to chip the ball wide. Pembroke won a corner on the final whistle but it, too, went incomplete and a draw ensued.

Irish Hockey Association media release

Irish Womens EYHL Weekend Round Up

UCD kept their strong four-point lead in tact at the top of the women’s EY Hockey League with a high quality 2-1 win over Railway Union.

Early goals from Emma Russell and the returning Katie Mullan proved vital, netting the first league goals against Railway by any team in the league since the turn of the year.

Cecelia Joyce got one back but the Sandymount side were unable to force an equaliser.

Cork Harlequins remain in pursuit thanks to their 3-0 win over Pembroke with Roisin Upton’s corner and a brace for Rebecca Barry put them on course for the win.

Pegasus, meanwhile, strengthened their hold on third place with Hannah Grieve’s 14th minute goal all that stood between them and Hermes-Monkstown.

The win gives the Ulster side a three-point buffer in the third automatic Champions Trophy spot while Hermes-Monkstown have five points to make up if they are to avoid automatic relegation.

Jenna Watt and Zoe Wilson scored in the opening 11 minutes to put Belfast Harlequins in position to win their fourth match of the year, beating Trinity 2-1 at Santry Avenue.

Niamh Sweeney scored a cracker to get her side back in the mix before half-time but the students’ loss means they remain in the relegation playoff place.

Loreto and Ards were both unable to make major inroads into the gap to the top four as Chloe Brown’s goal 10 minutes from time cancelled Sarah Torrans’ first half effort out.

Women’s EY Hockey League: Cork Harlequins 3 (R Barry 2, R Upton) Pembroke Wanderers 0; Loreto 1 (S Torrans) Ards 1 (C Brown); Pegasus 1 (H Grieve) Hermes-Monkstown 0; Trinity 1 (N Sweeney) Belfast Harlequins 2 (J Watt, Z Wilson); UCD 2 (E Russell, K Mullan) Railway Union 1 (C Joyce)

Day 14 reports

UCD 2 (E Russell, K Mullan) Railway Union 1 (C Joyce)

UCD put in a superb performance to win one of their toughest games of the season, over-turning a Jacqui Potter Cup final defeat to the same opposition seven days earlier.

For UCD, Katie Mullan came back into the team but Deirdre Duke and Sara Twomey were missing through concussion protocols and Sorcha Clarke was also out. Railway had Emer Lucey, Emma Smyth, Cecelia Joyce and Kate Dillon all come back in.

Despite this, the Belfielders got off to a glorious start with Emma Russell breaking the deadlock before the influential Mullan made it 2-0. Joyce got one back in the second quarter and that was how it remained in a high quality, quick-paced tie.

The win keeps the students four point lead in place with four rounds of games to go.

Pegasus 1 (H Grieve) Hermes-Monkstown 0

Hannah Grieve’s 14th minute goal proved the difference as Hermes-Monkstown put in another robust defensive performance against highly-ranked opposition but fell to a single strike.

Grieve struck from a corner amid a frantic start at Belfast HS and they held the upper hand for much of the rest of the tie with Monkstown sitting deep and looking to counter.

But they were unable to eke out a precious goal and so remain on four points, needing at least two wins from their remaining league ties. For Pegasus, the win strengthens their place in the top three playoff places.

Cork Harlequins 3 (R Barry 2, R Upton) Pembroke Wanderers 0

Cork Harlequins kept up the pressure on UCD at the head of the women’s EY Hockey League table with a 3-0 win over Pembroke at Farmer’s Cross. Roisin Upton’s penalty corer in the 15th minute got them up before Rebecca Barry put them further ahead in the second quarter.

The hosts did ride their luck just before half-time with Emma Buckley called on to save a penalty stroke to remain two up. Barry made the game safe with her second goal in the third quarter. They remain four points behind UCD, hoping for a few favours in the closing weeks of the season.

Loreto 1 (S Torrans) Ards 1 (C Brown)

Loreto and Ards shared the spoils at Beaufort, a result that makes it harder for the two clubs to get within range of the playoff places as they sit in fifth and sixth place, respectively.

Sarah Torrans gave Loreto the lead in the second quarter from a corner move and they held that advantage all the way through to 10 minutes from time when Chloe Brown levelled matters. Loreto saw Hannah Matthews depart early with a nasty head injury. They have six points to make up on fourth place Railway with four rounds of games to go.

Trinity 1 (N Sweeney) Belfast Harlequins 2 (J Watt, Z Wilson)

An early Belfast Harlequins blitz propelled them to an important win at Santry Avenue that eases them away from any potential fears of a relegation playoff.

The first came four minutes in when Quins passed the ball around Carolyn Crampton with Jenna Watt on hand to finish off. Zoe Wilson then netted a penalty stroke 11 minutes in for a dream start for the visitors.

Trinity fought back and had one disallowed before Niamh Sweeney got them on the board with a cracking reverse-stick finish before the half-time break.

Into the second half, the students had another effort disallowed while Quins went close to making the game safe from a Wilson drag-flick at a keeperless Trinity goal but Isy Delamer brilliantly tipped it away. It did not matter in the final reckoning, though, as Quins got their fourth win of the campaign while Trinity stay in the relegation playoff spot.

Irish Hockey Association media release

Ballynahinch Crowned Irish Hockey Challenge Champions

Two goals in three minutes saw Ballynahinch eventually break through against Catholic Institute to land the Irish Hockey Challenge title for the second time in their history.

It was a deserved win for a side inspired by former Annadale man Willie Edgar and Instonians alumni Matthew Martin who provided the star turns for Hinch.

Indeed, they created numerous chances in the first half but could not get past the defences of Tristan Murphy and his cohort of scrambling defenders.

Grant Hayes shot wide twice from two of the openings while an Edgar drag was tipped away by the post-man. Ed Gleeson saved another off the goal line and Alex Millar reversed wide in a dominant showing for Hinch.

John Wallace was another to sweep off the Insta line as the Ulster side attacked in waves. Edgar had another reverse brilliantly saved by Murphy as they ended with nothing to show for their first half play.

Roy Gleeson’s deflection in the 34th minute was the best of the Limerick side’s chances, Aaron Donnell saving well, and they started the second half well, winning the first corner which was charged down.

But the game was settled between the 47th and 50th minute as Edgar picked up the ball on the left of the circle following a couple of ricochets to hit home the first goal.

Hayes then finished off with an excellent finish, controlling with his back to goal and sliding the ball home on his backhand for 2-0.

Insta pressed on for the last 20 minutes, powering a number of balls into the circle but all were blocked. The pick of their chances came with eight minutes to go when Kevin Fleming drew a good save from Donnell’s knee to keep Hinch out of range.

Men’s Irish Hockey Challenge final

Ballynahinch 2 (W Edgar, G Hayes)
Catholic Institute 0

Ballynahinch: A Donnell, S Creen, S Hunter, A Brown, L Harrison, R Coffey, M Martin, J Campbell, W Edgar, A Mulholland, G Hayes

Subs: D Roe, A Millar, M Brown, J Higginson, D Ross, A McIlwaine, D Marshall

Catholic Institute: T Murphy, G Acheson, I Moore, E Gleeson, Cormac O’Byrne, R Gleeson, G O’Connor, J McCarthy, J Wallace, H Walsh, Colm O’Byrne

Subs: M Ryan, S Brickenden, K Fleming, J Roulston, J Brosnahan, G Fleming

Irish Hockey Association media release

Some top performances in this weekend’s Scottish National League 1

Gary Maitles flies through the air to score Kelburne’s third goal – photo by Duncan Gray

Bromac Kelburne reserved their best performance of the season with a 5-3 victory over second placed Grange and now open up a four point lead at the top of Men’s National League 1.

The Paisley side could not have got off to a better start, within the opening four minutes Adam Bain fired home a rebound at a penalty corner and soon after Josh Cairns converted from the spot for an early two goal lead. Kelburne went three up when Michael and Johnny Christie combined to open up the Grange defence and Gary Maitles finished off the move with a lob over the keeper.  Just on the interval Frank Ryan pulled one back for Grange with a low flick at a penalty corner. A brilliant individual goal by Jack McKenzie provided Kelburne`s fourth, the Kelburne youngster picked up the ball on the half way line, he then waltzed past three Grange defenders and then fired the ball into the roof of the net for 4-1.

Finally a needless foul in the circle presented Grange with a glimmer of hope and Killan Polling duly scored from the spot. There was then a let-off for Kelburne as a Luke Cranney shot at a penalty corner rebounded off the crossbar. With seven minutes left Grange coach David Knipe took the decision to replace his keeper with an additional outfield player, but the gamble failed as Johnny Christie stroked the ball into the empty after a good interception by Neil McIntyre for a comfortable 5-2 lead. Todd Mills scored a late goal for Grange but it proved little more than a consolation.

Grove Menzieshill are still in third place after seeing off bottom side Inverleith 7-0 on Tayside. However, it was only 1-0 at the interval through a penalty corner strike by Aidan McQuade. But the floodgates opened after the interval, Paul Martin grabbed a hat-trick, Cameron Golden scored twice while McQuade got his second of the match.

The Clydesdale renaissance continues to march on, they beat Western Wildcats 2-1 at Auchenhowie to confirm their fifth place in the division. The contest was goalless until the final ten minutes, Clydesdale`s David Nairn opened the scoring after Struan Walker did the spacework. With two minutes left a fast break by Clydesdale found Nairn and he rounded the Wildcats` keeper for the crucial second. Hamish Gault reduced the leeway at a late penalty corner but not enough to change the result.

Edinburgh University held on to sixth place despite being held to a 1-1 draw by Dundee Wanderers, Alan Oldham scored for the students while Sean Diowie replied from the spot for the Dundonians. Hillhead eased their relegation concerns with a 4-3 win at Uddingston, there were two goals each for Graeme and Ewan Campbell.

Photo by Mark Pugh

Edinburgh University retained pole position in the women`s National League 1 with a single goal victory over Dundee Wanderers. The Edinburgh students, who look to be on top form, continue to sit pretty at the top of the league as the title race nears the latter stages.

Milne Craig Western Clydesdale maintained their second spot in the table with a convincing 4-0 win at Western Wildcats. Jen Eadie, Julie Lonergan, Susie Gilman and Emma McGregor were on target for the Titwood based side, who are enjoying a solid run of form and will again be looking to apply some pressure on Edinburgh University as the season gets to the nitty gritty.

There was a victory for Grange in their visit to the Glasgow National Hockey Centre for a clash with Kelburne. The Edinburgh side ran out 2-0 winners to put some light between themselves and the bottom of the table.

In the final of just four matches in Women’s National League 1 there was little change in the lower reaches of the division following a 2-2 draw between GHK and Hillhead, Katie Gardner and Lynsey Buchanan-Barbas were the home side’s scorers while Maatje Zaal and Wendy Andrews replied for Hillhead.

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Denayer and Van Aubel renew contracts with Dragons

©: Frank Uijlenbroek/world Sport Pics

KHC Dragons received a double boost on Sunday with the news Felix Denayer and Florent van Aubel have renewed their contracts with the club.

The announcement came just before their meeting with fellow EHL entrants Herakles with the pair both confirming they will stay for two more seasons despite reportedly strong interest from Dutch clubs.

"Our two players want to focus 100% on hockey through an optimal balance between their club and national team performances,” a club statement about the renewals said. “Dragons remain ambitious in Belgium and are still a candidate for the title but also on the international scene where we aim to be on top in Europe."

They are also currently working on a couple of replacements for the departure of Arthur van Doren to Bloemendaal this summer, Jeremy Celis’s retirement, Louis Rombouts taking a break and Victor Wegnez potentially moving on.

On the pitch, Dragons won 3-2. Jérôme Legrand scored the first goal for Herakles before Henri Raes tied the game up for Dragons for whom Loic van Doren made some key saves.

Jeffrey Thys put Dragons in front in the second half – despite Denayer going off as a precaution for an injury – only for Herakles to fight back and equalise through Antonio Sanz Del Campo.

But Thys won the game – and the match MVP ring – in the 49th minute when he was well placed to clean up a rebound off Amaury Timmermans.

Dragons stay hot on the heels of the leaders, the Waterloo Ducks, who beat Beerschot 4-2. Racing got back on track with a 2-1 win over Oree while Braxgata beat Royal Leopold 3-2.

Euro Hockey League media release

Perak retain Under-16 title after penalty shootout

Happy bunch: Perak players and officials posing with their medals after winning the TNB-1MAS-MHC National Under-16 hockey championships yesterday. — M. AZHAR ARIF / The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Perak reigned supreme again in the TNB-1MAS-MHC National Under-16 hockey championships.

Perak retained the title after defeating Johor 5-3 in a penalty shootout after both teams failed to break a 1-1 deadlock in regulation time.

The Silver state took the lead through Muhd Zulhanif Sahran in sixth minute off a penalty corner but Johor responded with an equaliser in 35th minute through Alfarico Lance Liau, also off a penalty corner.

Both teams went all out but failed to get the winning goal.

In the penalty shootout, Perak scored their goals through Zulhanif, Muhd Amar Mustaqim Che Said, Muhd Amirul Haniff Mamat, Mohd Haikal Azeem Rozaini and Izz Daniel Hishammuddin.

Johor got their goals through Alfarico, Mohd Fauzan Shah Mohd Nizam and Muhd Hafizz Fikri Zali.

Perak team manager Mohd Shahpri Mohd Zain gave credit to his players for scoring all five in penalty shootout.

The Star of Malaysia

PHF has formed three-tier system to strengthen hockey base: Qamar Ibrahim

Anwar Zuberi

KARACHI: Former Olympian and manager of the Pakistan junior hockey team Qamar Ibrahim has said that the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) had formed nucleus of players — seniors, juniors and development squad — under a three-tier system in order to strengthen the base for the revival of game in the country.

He expressed optimism that good results would be visible only after skills of the players are polished under the visiting Dutch coach Roelant Oltmans.

“Some 40 to 42 players, who are under my team management, will assemble at a camp in Islamabad on April 1 to prepare for future international commitments,” he told Dawn on Saturday.

He is being assisted in the camp by coach Kamran Ashraf, Nasir Ahmed (goalkeeping coach) and Asim Abbasi (video analyst).

Qamar, who has assumed charge of manager of the junior team about six months back, said the juniors will tour a number of foreign countries including Canada, Poland, France, Holland and Spain in June and play 12 to 15 matches.

“The PHF is working to finalise the Pakistan juniors’ upcoming tour programme aimed at giving them maximum exposure,” he said.

He said that the development squad is likely to compete in the Youth Olympic qualifiers (Asia) being held at Bangkok from April 25 to 29.

He added that prior to taking the charge, the juniors, for the first time, have undergone over two months tour of Australia and played a number of matches and returned with flying colours in their national junior under-18 championship at Hobart in their conditions. Then, former Olympian Kamran Ashr af accompanied the team as head coach, he added.

The manager said the team was shaping well and had played half-a-dozen matches including two against the World XI. The remaining four practice matches were played against seniors — two before the Oman tri-series and two recently against the Commonwealth Games bound team.

“Oltmans, who will lookafter Pakistan hockey training structure, had noticed grey areas including fitness of the juniors and will give a schedule to improve it,” he said.

Qamar, who is qualified FIH coach and had remained associated with the Bangladesh hockey team in the past, was confident that training methods of Oltmans will make a big difference and bring the national game back on the track.


World class facility coming to North Shore, New Zealand

A new world class hockey facility at Rosedale Park West on the North Shore is set to create a centre of excellence for the sport locally, regionally and internationally.

Resource Consent was granted in 2017 and construction will be underway in April to be completed by 2020.

North Harbour Hockey Chief Executive Riki Burgess says the centre will be built to International Hockey Federation (FIH) Tier 1 specifications, which means it is capable of hosting a World Cup tournament as well as the new FIH Hockey Pro League series commencing in 2019.

From a community perspective Mr Burgess is thrilled with the potential the venue offers for all grades of hockey and the experience it will provide for those entering the sport as well as more seasoned players.

"What a fantastic opportunity for our community including all of our clubs, competitions, schools and association programmes, including our own regional HEART Academy, to play at an international grade facility. It will also be an advantage for our members to be playing alongside top athletes such as the Vantage Black Sticks who will have their training base at the venue."

Four hockey turfs will be built around a two-storey pavilion which will provide clubrooms, changing rooms and member facilities for the local community.

There will also be a new footbridge across Alexandra Stream connecting Harbour Hockey’s existing sand turf located in Rosedale Park North. There will be seating for 450 with capacity for temporary seating for special events.

Burgess acknowledges that North Harbour Hockey’s journey to its new home has been lengthy and challenging, and the association and its partners, Harbour Hockey Charitable Trust (the facility owner) and Hockey New Zealand are delighted to have reached this major milestone.

"We are really looking forward to seeing that first sod turned."

In 2013, the Harbour Hockey Charitable Trust, North Harbour Hockey and Hockey New Zealand had jointly planned to upgrade the existing hockey facility at Rosedale Park South, with work set to commence in mid-2015.

In early 2015 the partners learned their plans needed to be revised and a new venue found due to land requirements associated with building the Northern Corridor Improvements (NCI) project,  a new multi-mode project that will build a new motorway connection between SH1 and SH18, extend the Northern Busway and create over 7km of new walking and cycling paths.

Trustee Sharon Williamson notes the effort made to find a location that would continue to provide the playing and social benefits associated with a centralised venue.

"We are grateful for the efforts of the NZ Transport Agency and Auckland Council to find a viable alternative. We would also like to thank the other sports that have been impacted, for their constructive and collaborative approach to this reshuffle and for enabling it to happen."

The NZ Transport Agency is also working with other affected parties, creating a new shared equestrian facility in Wainoni Park and relocating the North Harbour BMX Club to Hooton Reserve as part of the project.

The Transport Agency was keenly aware of the value the existing North Harbour Hockey venue provides to the community and Hockey’s vision to create a hockey hub that is recognised internationally. 

The Transport Agency worked for two years with North Harbour Hockey, Harbour Hockey Charitable Trust, Hockey NZ, Watercare and Auckland Council to investigate options for relocating the hockey facility.

"We have been committed to finding a solution that provides fantastic recreational facilities for the wider community while allowing people to benefit from the fabulous travel solutions that the Northern Corridor Improvements project will deliver,"says Transport Agency’s Senior Manager Project Delivery, Chris Hunt.

The new venue will provide expanded and enhanced community facilities to support the growth (and growing needs) of community users; and to promote and support participation in the sport of hockey throughout New Zealand.

Burgess says when the facilities are not being used by the hockey community they will be made available for other sports for events such as school cluster days.

Organisations and businesses from the local area will also be able to use the pavilion’s spaces for meetings, seminars, and business networking events and workshops, as they currently do at Harbour Hockey’s existing facility.

The new facility will be built on behalf of Harbour Hockey by the NCI project team as part of its community mitigation.

A dawn blessing with mana whenua for the new facility will be held on 26 March and establishment of the construction site will begin in April.

For more information go to harbourhockey.org.nz or nzta.govt.nz/Auckland-northern-corridor

Hockey New Zealand Media release

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