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News for 28 March 2018

All the news for Wednesday 28 March 2018

2018 Test Matches: ESP v CHN (W) - 3rd Test
Malaga (ESP)

ESP - CHN         1 - 1


Game on at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games

The beauty of the Commonwealth Games is the prospect of compelling match-ups between nations that rarely play each other. It is these scenarios where acts of ‘giant killing’ can take place and players who normally compete in front of a handful of spectators suddenly find themselves in the role of hero, with an audience of thousands.

It is an event where the world number one side can find themselves playing a team ranked 20th or lower in the FIH Hero Hockey World Rankings. Such will be the case when Australia men (WR:1) take on Scotland (WR: 23) in Pool A, or New Zealand women (WR:4) face Ghana (WR:30).

And yet, while the higher ranked teams should be expected to win with ease, that is often far from the case. A different style of play, a different pace to the game, players doing the ‘unexpected’ – these are all factors that can cause disruption to the well-oiled machines of the higher ranked teams.

We spoke to three coaches of nations ranked outside the top 10 to find out how preparations for the Games have gone so far. Zak Jones is head coach to Wales men, who currently sit at 24 in the rankings. He is confident that his squad are traveling to Australia’s Gold Coast in their best ever physical state.

For Jones, one problem in preparations has been contact time. He says: “We have been preparing ourselves as best we can, despite limited contact time.”  Jones explains that the players also have jobs or are students and there is not enough budget to allow for full-time athletes. Despite this, the athletes have been following intensive strength and conditioning programmes and have also played a number of test matches against higher ranked opposition such as Spain and France. All of which has put Jones and his men into a very positive mood ahead of their opening game against Pakistan on 5 April.

“Our performances over the past few months means the squad will go into the tournament not only looking forward to the challenge of playing against some of the world’s top teams but also believing that we can truly compete. You will see a very humble, proud and passionate team, who will look to play a positive brand of hockey,” says Jones.

For Sheldon Rostron and South Africa women (WR: 14), the Commonwealth Games is a great opportunity to pit themselves against top opposition and regain the top 10 status they enjoyed a few years ago. A secondary motive is to use a good performance at the Commonwealth Games to send a clear message to the National Olympic Association that South Africa hockey is ready to compete at Olympic level after missing out in 2016.

“This event will allow us to prove our capacity and capabilities as a team with the hope of qualifying for Tokyo 2020,” says Rostron. “Missing the past Olympics has damaged the opportunity for the team to be in the top 10 and we want to ensure that we can prevent this from happening again by delivering on their requirements and expectations.”

To prepare for the Commonwealth Games, South Africa women have played a number of tough matches against some of the country’s top men’s teams. Financial constraints make it difficult for the national squad to travel overseas for test matches but Rostron is happy that regular match ups against the men have been very beneficial.

“We have been able to put good programmes in place and still create a good training environment,” says the coach, who took control of both the men’s and women’s national squad as they chased successfully World Cup qualification in 2017.

“We have had multiple trainings and matches against men’s teams, allowing us to see both the progression as well as areas we still need to grow in. I think it would be naive to make statements on winning medals or finishing in the top three as teams. We simply want to perform well and to become better.”

Our third interview was with the charismatic coach of Malaysia women, Dharma Raj Abdullah. He admits that his recent experiences with the national women’s team have proven an eye-opener.

“The FINTRO Hockey World League Semi-Finals (in Brussels) were an eye opener for the players and even me. I have been coaching men’s teams all my life and had no clue how strong women’s teams were. We saw the standard required to be at this level and we realised how much more we needed to do if we were to match the top teams.”

So Dharma Raj and his team returned to Malaysia and started to work on a number of aspects to their game. This has included a lot of gym and speed work to increase the squad’s fitness levels and a lot of attention on specialist roles, such as developing a world class drag flicker.

“We have a tough group in the Commonwealth Games, with England, India, South Africa and Wales,” says Raj. “So I am more interested in seeing how much we have improved after 10 months of intensive training rather than where we finish.”

The Commonwealth Games gets underway on 5 April. Follow the action at www.fih.ch and through our social channels where we will post regular updates and reports.

FIH site

SA Women call up Kara Botes

Photo: Sydney Mahlangu /BackpagePix

The South African Hockey Association today has confirmed the call up of Kara Botes to the Commonwealth Games squad to replace Bernadette Coston, who is unavailable to travel with Team South Africa. An urgent “Late Athlete Replacement” application was submitted to the Commonwealth Games Federation who subsequently approved the inclusion of Botes.

Kara Botes is an established indoor and outdoor national player for South Africa having collected over 50 indoor hockey caps (the third South African to reach the milestone) and a further 31 in outdoor hockey. Kara was part of the SA Women’s Hockey team that qualified for the FIH Hockey World Cup when they finished fifth at the FIH World League Semi-Final hosted at Wits University in Johannesburg.

Kara also was part of the squad that went to Egypt and won the African Cup of Nations in October last year, further underlining how she should be able to blend straight into the squad in Australia.

The South African Women begin their campaign with a tough start against the English on the 5 April, before taking on Malaysia, Wales and India looking to secure a top 2 spot in group A to qualify for the medal play-offs.

The South African Hockey Association wishes Kara and the team well ahead of their tournament.

SA Hockey Association media release

Lovell: Why I Chose A Hockey Pitch Over A Cricket Pitch

Ben Somerford

Kookaburras goalkeeper Tyler Lovell will be standing between the sticks representing Australia at the Commonwealth Games next month but he may have headed down the cricket path.

The 30-year-old, who grew up in Forrestfield in Perth’s eastern suburbs, spent his childhood playing a variety of sports alongside his twin brother Mathew and sister Sara in both the backyard and at local clubs.

Among the staple diet were basketball, football, hockey and cricket, but it was the latter two which held Lovell’s attention, excelling into his teens in both, spending summers hitting runs on cricket pitches and winters saving goals on hockey pitches.

“Mum got us into it,” he recalls. “The kids would be playing out the back. We never grew up with video games.

“We were always playing sports, any ball sports. We’d play out the back for hours on end but cricket and hockey were the main ones.”

Lovell played for Perth Cricket Club in the WACA Premier Cricket competition into his early twenties, representing the side as an opening batsman at second grade level.

He was also excelling in hockey, starting out with Kalamunda in the Perth’s hills area, before moving to YMCC.

“I couldn’t make the decision when I was younger which is probably why I didn’t go further with either until I was in my early-to-mid twenties,” Lovell recalls.

After brief flirtations with the national team and call-ups to various camps, Lovell decided to commit to hockey in 2012, after watching the London Olympics from afar as Australia claimed bronze.

Kookaburras legends Jamie Dwyer and Ric Charlesworth played their part.

“I still remember the conversation with Jamie,” Lovell reflects. “He said ‘you’re the best goalkeeper in Australia’ in his opinion, ‘you should be playing’.

“I sent Ric an email asking if I could be considered going forward. He rang me. We had a chat and said we’ll have a look at you in AHL 2012. I got a call to play in the Super Nines and went from there.”

Veteran goalkeeper Nathan Burgers finished up his international career after the 2012 Olympics and Lovell’s chance would come.

At the unusually late age of 25, Lovell debuted in his hometown against Korea in May 2013, before playing his part as Australia won the Oceania Cup later in the year in Stratford.

His biggest triumph to date would come little over six months later, helping Australia lift the 2014 World Cup in the Netherlands, in a campaign where he, alongside fellow keeper Andrew Charter, only conceded three goals.

The 2012 Olympics gave him the hunger and Lovell never had any doubt, he could succeed at the top level.

“I watched it and felt I was good enough to be there,” he says. “I thought I could do that, I’m good enough.”

Lovell missed selection for both the 2014 Commonwealth Games and 2016 Rio Olympics with only one goalkeeper taken given the previous 16-player roster allowances at those events.

However, the WA keeper has cemented himself in the side since the Olympics and was named in the 18-player team for the upcoming 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast where he’s got a burning desire to win a gold medal.

“That will be awesome,” Lovell says. “I went to the World Cup in 2014, a few Champions Trophies, everything besides for the Olympics.

“I didn’t go to the Comm Games after the World Cup because that was only 16 players but I’ve been to pretty much every major tournament since Rio. Bloody oath I’d love a gold!”

The Kookaburras, who are in Pool A alongside New Zealand (ninth), Canada (11th), South Africa (15th) and Scotland (23rd), will head to the Gold Coast on Wednesday 28 March.

Hockey Australia media release

Commonwealth Games: Pakistan depart for Australia with eyes on gold


The Pakistan national hockey team departed for Gold Cost, Australia on Tuesday morning from Karachi aiming to win gold at the Commonwealth Games beginning from April 5.

Pakistan’s senior team has won one silver and one bronze medal in 2006 and 2002 respectively during their four outings in the Games. They missed the event last time around, but are hoping to make up for it with gold in this year’s edition.

The team has been training with former India hockey coach Roelant Oltmans, who has signed a two-and-a-half year deal with the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF).

Senior players of the team are happy with Oltmans, who has also coached the national side back in 2003-2004.

“It is really good to be training under him as he is aware of the latest techniques of coaching. His experience with the Indian national team will also come in handy during the tournament,” Muhammad Irfan Senior told The Express Tribune.

“Apart from the language barrier, Oltmans has been helpful. We were lacking in a lot of areas where the local coached weren’t able to help us. Oltmans has filled that gap,” he added.

Olympic qualification main target: Butt

Pakistan hockey team goalie Imran Butt has said that their main target this year is to win the Asian Games, which will give them direct entry into Olympics.

“Our aim is to prepare for the Asian Games, however our new coach wants us to perform well in Commonwealth Games too, and wants us to at least give tough time to the top teams,” he said.

Sardar plans aggression for Games

Pakistan team manager Hasan Sardar has said that he is expecting a better show from the national side as compared to their recent performances on international assignments.

“Our concentration will be on playing fast and aggressive hockey,” Sardar told The Express Tribune. “The teams in our pool are either on the same level or better than us. India and England are ranked higher, but that does not mean that we will be under pressure. We have our plans ready and under Oltmans’ coaching, our boys are improving.”

Tournament fixtures

13th ranked Pakistan have been placed in pool B alongside sixth-ranked India, seventh-ranked England, 12th ranked Malaysia and 24th ranked Wales.

In pool A, hosts and top-ranked team Australia has been placed with ninth-ranked New Zealand, 11th ranked Canada, 15th ranked South Africa and 23rd ranked Scotland.

Pakistan will play their first match on the opening day of the event, April 5, against Wales before facing arch-rivals India on April 7, followed by England on April 8 and Malaysia on April 11.

The top-two teams from each pool will qualify for the semi-finals to be played on April 13, while the medal matches will be played on April 14.

The Express Tribune

We are hungry for success: Rani Rampal

Coach Harendra’s arrival has meant a lot to the team

Vijay Lokapally

Rani Rampal 

She played a World Cup when she was 15. Eight years down the line, Rani Rampal is now the face of Indian women’s hockey, exuding infectious confidence on the eve of the team’s departure for the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.

Apart from the pressure of being a key goal scorer, she carries enormous responsibilities as the captain of the team. “We have had some good results in recent times. We are confident and motivated. Self- belief has been the biggest gain after coach Harendra [Singh] took over. Winning habit and mental toughness have also changed the way we approach the game now. The coach tells us we can beat any team and we believe him,” said Rani.

Harendra’s arrival has meant a lot to the team. “Frequent change of coaches can impact because all have different styles. We were happy to have an Indian as the chief coach because he brings experience and language too is not a barrier any more.”

Reflecting on the team’s progress in the last couple of years, Rani noted, “We have worked on our mistakes. Our training has been good and consistency has improved. The defence is strong now. We need matches to Try out new combinations and give perfection to our training.”

On greater expectations from the women’s team of a gold this time than the men’s team she said, “expectations motivate you. I don’t think they create pressure. Earlier we used to wonder when would fans start expecting podium finish from us. The time has come. Women empowerment,” she smiles.

Rani, 23, cites the example of women’s cricket team. “Look at cricket. World Cup has changed the team’s fortunes. Women’s hockey needs something like that. Like [P.V.] Sindhu and Saina [Nehwal]. Maybe, women’s league, sometime in the future, can help. We need more competition.”

Striking an optimistic note, Rani added, “I welcome comparisons (with the men’s team). In 2002 we won the CWG gold. Men don’t have it yet. Our target is to regain the gold. We have the capability to do it. We are hungry for success.”

The Hindu

U.S. U-19 Women's National Team Shakes Off Slow Start Against Ireland to Win Second Test Match

WICKLOW, Ireland - Following a 0-0 draw in the first of three matches, The U.S. U-19 Women's National Team claimed their first victory of their Ireland tour with a 3-0 win over the U-21 Ireland team at St. Gerald's School. Similar to the two teams' first outing both sides agreed to four, 17.5 minute quarters, as well as a practice shootout round, where USA also won.

USA began slightly slower compared to their previous game and Ireland took full advantage by put them under pressure early. The red, white and blue's defensive unit stood strong however and did not allow Ireland good opportunities. Back the other way, USA had its own share of scoring attempts on the counter attack. In the 9th minute they nearly capitalized on one of those attempts to take the lead when Mackenzie Allessie (Mount Joy, Pa.) crossed a ball from the far side. Leah Crouse (Virginia Beach, Va.) got a touch on the ball, but sailed it just wide of the goal. Later on in the first quarter Ireland earned a penalty corner in the 16th minute which Kayla Blas (Pendleton, N.Y.) blocked as she ran out on the defensive corner unit.

USA wasted no time to get on attack in the second frame. Megan Rodgers (San Diego, Calif.) had the first shot of the quarter which was saved by Ireland's goalkeeper. Moments later, Grace Wallis (Blue Bell Pa.) saw her efforts mirror Rodgers' as her shot was deflected wide by an Irish defender. In the 25th minute USA's efforts finally turned to points as they worked the ball from left to right on a transfer. Meghan Schneider (San Diego, Calif.) slipped the ball back up to the right to Emma Deberdine (Millersville, Pa.) who ran the baseline and dished it to a marked Allessie for the one time goal and the first lead of the series as halftime quickly approached.

Out of the gate, Ireland opened up the second half with two penalty corner chances in the 40th minute. Both attempts were saved by Bri Barraco (Allentown, Pa.) as USA countered with corner chances of their own. The attempts could not translate to scores as the game continued back and forth in a 1-0 affair. In the 53rd minute USA midfield won the ball back from Ireland and countered quickly. Samantha Popper (Blue Bell, Pa.) was able to hit Wallis in full stride with a crisp pass. Wallis then took the ball into the circle and scored on a reverse hit to the far post to extend the lead to 2-0.

As the fourth quarter began, both teams continued to press the other downfield. With just seven minutes remaining in the game Riley Donnelly (Doylestown, Pa.) took a quick free hit and used some quick maneuvering skills to eliminate some defenders and sent the ball over to Allessie who blasted the ball into the net for the third and final score of the game.

The U.S. U-19 National Team will be back on the pitch tomorrow, March 28 for the third and final match of their Ireland tour, beginning at 9:30 a.m. ET. 

USFHA media release

The EHL KO16 Broadcast Schedule – where to watch the world’s best club hockey

©: Frank Uijlenbroek/world Sport Pics

As always, the EHL KO16 will be broadcast live by a wide variety of different outlets around the world, showcasing the world’s best club hockey competition. Here’s where you can watch each KO16 and the four KO8 knock-out games:

EuroHockeytv.org: all games will be streamed live via the European Hockey Federation’s dedicated platform, www.eurohockeytv.org. This service is available in all countries where there is no clash with rights holders which can lead to a geo-block.

NOS (Netherlands): Each match involving HC Rotterdam, HC Bloemendaal and SV Kampong will be broadcast via the NOS.nl and the NOS app.

On Saturday, HC Rotterdam vs Mannheimer HC (4pm CET) will be broadcast live on NOS’s television channel.  On Monday, the KO8 match at 4pm (CET) will also be shown live on NOS.

Eleven Sports (Belgium): each game involving Belgian clubs will be shown live on Eleven Sports 3 with commentary in French and Dutch.

Indeed, every game from the KO16 and KO8 will be shown live on the platform. You can avail of a special subscription offer viahttp://hockeypass.elevensports.be.

In addition, Eleven will replay matches from the tournament throughout the next week on Eleven Sports 2 or 3. Every match will also be available via Video On Demand (VOD) within 24 hours after each match is complete. This service will lead to a geo-block of the EuroHockeyTV website for Belgian-based viewers.

DAZN (Germany): all matches involving German clubs will be broadcast on DAZN. This service will lead to a geo-block of the EuroHockeyTV website for German-based viewers.

Esports 3 (Spain): all matches involving Spanish teams will be broadcast live

BT Sport (Great Britain/Ireland): BT will broadcast the following matches
Friday, March 30 (1.15pm CET) – Holcombe vs Real Club de Polo
Saturday, March 31 (11.30am CET) – Saint Germain v Three Rock Rovers
Sunday, April 1 (3pm & 5.15pm CET) – both KO8 matches
Monday, April 2 (1.45pm & 4pm CET) – both KO8 matches

BeIN Sports (Australia): Selected matches on delayed transmission

SuperSport (South Africa): Selected matches on delayed transmission

**NOTE: The four ranking matches which take place on Sunday, April 1 and Monday, April 2 will not be broadcast.

Euro Hockey League media release

EHL KO16 to host first ever stand for blind and partially sighted fans

©: Frank Uijlenbroek/world Sport Pics

The Euro Hockey League will offer blind and partially-sighted fans a unique hockey experience at HC Rotterdam on Monday, April 2. In association with Koninklijke Visio and ABN AMRO, the stadium will host a special stand with seats for the blind.

Koninklijke Visio welcomes the special stand for the blind as experiencing a sports match with others in this way has many benefits for visually impaired people, getting a taste for top sports and being immersed in a big event.

Following the success of this special stand for the blind at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament, the organising team of the always innovative EHL embraced the idea.

By doing so, the EHL has scored a first for the hockey world. ABN AMRO is offering 20 duo-tickets for the afternoon match, in which home squad HC Rotterdam may be entering the fray.

Earlier on Monday, a special hockey clinic is being organised for people with visual impairments to give them an idea of how it feels to play hockey.

Here’s what one visitor said who experienced the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament from the special stand for the blind said of the initiative: “This was my first time here and it was truly amazing!

"I’m no tennis fan, indeed I didn’t know much about it. Why would I go to a match if I can’t follow what’s going on? But it’s really cool, you hear lots of background information and you really get a sense of what’s happening!”

** If you or someone you know would like to get a spot in the stand, contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Euro Hockey League media release

Stage set for ABN AMRO Junior EHL

©: Hannie Verhoeven

The ABN AMRO Junior EHL will run in parallel to the EHL with six of Europe's top youth clubs contesting the trophy this season.

In Pool A, HC Bloemendaal battle it out with Spain's Real Club de Polo and Ireland's Three Rock Rovers. Bloemendaal won a playoff with Rotterdam and Kampong for the right to represent the Netherlands while Polo did likewise in Spain against Atletic Terrassa and Club Egara. Three Rock become the first Irish team to compete in the Junior EHL.

In Pool B, Uhlenhorst Mulheim and Racing Club de Bruxelles take up the German entries while Wimbledon won a playoff against Holcombe for the right to be England's side in the competition.

They will play group games on Sunday, April 1, leading into playoff matches on Monday, April 2 and the finals where a new champion will be crowned, taking over from Kampong who won the last editions.

POOL A: HC Bloemendaal (NED), Real Club de Polo (ESP),Three Rock Rovers (IRL)
POOL B: HTC Uhlenhorst Mülheim (GER), Racing Club de Bruxelles (BEL), Wimbledon (ENG)

M1 10.30h Pool A: HC Bloemendaal – Three Rock Rovers (pitch 2)
M2 11.40h Pool B: Racing Club de Bruxelles – HTC Uhlenhorst Mülheim (pitch 2)
M3 12.50h Pool A: Real Club de Polo – HC Bloemendaal (pitch 2)
M4 14.00h Pool B: Wimbledon – Racing Club de Bruxelles (pitch 2)
M5 15.10h Pool A: Three Rock Rovers – Real Club de Polo (pitch 2)
M6 16.20h Pool B: HTC Uhlenhorst Mülheim – Wimbledon (pitch 2)
M7 18.30h Semi Final 1: 1st Pool A – 2nd Pool B (pitch 2)
M8 19.45h Semi Final 2: 1st Pool B – 2nd Pool A (pitch 2)

* All games are 2 x 20 min

5/6 U14EHL: 09.15h pitch 2 (2 x 25 min)
3/4 U14EHL: 10.30h pitch 2 (2 x 25 min)
Final U14EHL: 12.00h pitch 2 (2 x 25 min)

Euro Hockey League media release

Vantage Black Sticks heading to Cromwell

Photo: Planet Hockey

The Vantage Black Sticks Women are set to play in Cromwell for the first time when they contest the Pioneer Energy Tri Nations Women’s International Hockey tournament this May.

The series sees New Zealand (world ranking 4th) go up against trans-Tasman rivals Australia (5th) and Japan over 9 days of exciting international hockey from 19-27 May at the Pioneer Energy Sports Turf.

Teams will play each other twice during a round robin phase, with the top seed automatically progressing to the final where they will meet the winner of a 2nd vs 3rd playoff.

Cromwell will play a superb host to the series, following the recent upgrade to the Pioneer Energy Turf which has enabled games to be played at international standard.

It’s also a growing hockey community with the Central Otago Hockey Association increasing to more than 900 registered players since the upgrade.

Hockey New Zealand CEO Ian Francis said it was exciting to be bringing international women’s hockey to Cromwell.

“It’s exciting to be bringing world class hockey to Central Otago and fantastic to see the immense support from the local community in Cromwell,” Francis said.

“Bringing the Vantage Black Sticks to smaller regions is something we are proud of and we are looking forward to seeing a packed crowd cheering on New Zealand as they take on Australia and Japan.”

Chairman of the Central Otago Sports Turf Trust Michael Paardekooper echoed the enthusiasm.

“An opportunity to watch international level sport is rare in Central Otago and we expect sports lovers to travel from all over Central Otago and Southern Lakes to enjoy some world class hockey,” he said.

“The development of the Pioneer Energy Turf in Cromwell and putting on events like this is only possible in a small town because of the tremendous amount of support there is from our sponsors and funders as well as from within the Central Otago community.”

Tickets are available online or at the gate, with cheaper presale tickets on sale now from just $10 through www.dashtickets.co.nz

CLICK HERE to buy tickets now

Pioneer Energy Tri Nations Women’s International Hockey – Match Schedule

Saturday 19th May - 4:30pm
Vantage Black Sticks vs Japan

Sunday 20th May - 2:30pm
Vantage Black Sticks vs Australia

Monday 21st May - 6:30pm
Australia vs Japan

Tuesday 22nd May - 6:30pm
Vantage Black Sticks vs Japan

Wednesday 23rd May - 6:30pm
Vantage Black Sticks vs Australia

Thursday 24th May - 6:30pm
Australia vs Japan

Saturday 26th May - 4:30pm
Playoff for final (2nd vs 3rd)

Sunday 27th May - 2:30pm

Hockey New Zealand Media release

What it's like to umpire a major international tournament

Rachel Williams at the Indoor World Cup 2018

In February, England had a strong representation in the Officials team at the Indoor World Cup in Berlin, with the following individuals representing England:

David Collier – Technical Delegate
Jo Pennycook – Technical Official
Louise Knipe – Umpire Manager
Lee Barron – Umpire
Rachel Williams – Umpire

Furthermore Lee and Jo took charge of the men’s final, while Rachel umpired the women’s semi-final and we caught up with her during the tournament.

What does it mean to you to umpire at the IWC?
Being the only indoor FIH event, it is a phenomenal achievement for me to be asked to umpire at the IWC. Whilst my focus isn’t solely indoor hockey, to be appointed to such a prestigious event so early in my international career is an absolute honour and really gave me a focus on something to work towards. With the event being hosted by Germany, the home if indoor hockey, I knew the event was going to be something special – and it sure delivered!

What has your preparation entailed for the event?
My appointment came through in September 2017 so I had five months of preparation time. I was lucky enough to be appointed to the indoor PanAM qualifiers at the end of October, where I took charge of the final. Having that event as preparation was incredibly useful groundwork in what to expect at events like these. I also umpired the Premier division of the domestic competition this season and was lucky enough to umpire at the Super 6’s finals at the Copper Box (including the final). Having this experience of umpiring in great venues, with fantastic atmospheres created by the fans really set me up for the Indoor World Cup.

How did you get involved in umpiring in the first place?
I began to umpire following a knee injury when I was 17, as this kept me involved in the sport. I was lucky enough to umpire at my club and got spotted as someone with potential, so went to my regional Hockey Umpiring Association (HUA) where the Young Umpires Action Group worked with me and soon enough, I was on the National Young Umpire Promising List – it was all a bit quick really! Being able to get the support of the coaches at all of the stages was a real benefit with me and indoor umpiring has also helped me with my outdoor game, speeding up my decision making and whistle speed skills.

What is the best thing about umpiring at the international tournaments?
There’s a different feel from national finals – they are with players that I may have umpired during the season and it’s very much a “hockey family” we have that makes the tournaments so enjoyable. When you go overseas, you get to meet a different “hockey family”, with just as passionate supporters. Whilst umpiring at Wembley, Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre or the Copper Box brings a great atmosphere, when you have 8,000 fans all wanting a home win in an international tournament – this is just a different, but still as exciting atmosphere than at home.

England Hockey Board Media release

The impact of Club Umpire Developers

Janet Belk - Club Umpire Developer

With over 170 clubs now having a dedicated team of Club Umpire Developers, we caught up with Janet Belk from Didsbury Northern to see what positive impact the Club Umpire Developers are having on both the umpires and players at DNHC.

What have you done in the past season or two to support umpiring within the club?
At the start of each season I run a survey to see who would like to join the umpiring team within the club. Over the past couple of seasons we’ve grown our numbers, bringing 20+ new umpires into the club and they are being used at appropriate levels in the first case, ranging from adult hockey to our U12s. Usually, we only had three or four people take up umpiring a season.

We also have a Facebook group where we have weekly discussions over the correct decision of a scenario that happened over the weekend – we get comments from both umpires and players as this increases the understanding of the rules for everyone involved. Add into this the regular debates in the bar on a Saturday after matches, this means that umpiring is top of people’s thoughts.

Our six Umpire Developers make themselves available to watch a game every fortnight and they work with all of the umpires, advising and guiding our umpires on simple umpiring aspects of umpiring, such as positioning or player management, to make their experience more enjoyable and make umpiring easier for them.

Do new umpires have to start umpiring league matches straight away?
No, we use junior and adult training sessions for new umpires to come along and pick up a whistle for 10-15 minutes. Our coaches are great at making training sessions mainly gameplay scenarios, so it’s easy for our newbies to have a go in a safe environment, with umpire developers there to support them.

We also use our Ladies 7s training sessions on a Monday night as a weekly “starter” session for individuals who have either taken a course but not confident enough to do a game, or for individuals who haven’t done a course but are interested in learning. Our Ladies 7s are very sociable and full of new players to the club (and the sport) so this is a great learning environment for everyone.

Has this bought any additional benefits to members within the club?
Yes, but these are all based around the playing experience for our players, as well as the levels of knowledge of the game within the club. We’ve had a lot of people visit the HockeyHub to do the online rules test who don’t even umpire, so they know why umpires keep penalising them for things within matches.

This work has also led to better relationships between players and umpires within the club, with more people looking to support the umpires on match days and less arguing over silly little mistakes!

Other clubs who share our home pitches have also joined in with the Facebook discussions and we now have a small umpiring community, with us all helping each other out for umpires if availability on a given day is poor.

What support have you received for this programme?
The North West Hockey Umpiring Association, especially Tony and Chris, have been great in supporting our “friendly” summer league, advising and coaching both our umpires and umpire developers to help upskill them ahead of the season. With help from England Hockey, the NWHUA have run a couple of Club Umpire Developer sessions in the area for us to refer people to and EH have also been supplying scenarios for our Facebook group, or videos for our umpiring “get togethers” to debate decisions and get clarity on some of the more technical rules of the game. We also access the HockeyHub regularly for the “You’re the Umpire” feature, as this normally sparks a debate internally!

Finally, what is the goal for you as a club with developing their own umpires?
We want to ensure people enjoy umpiring and inspire others to umpire and improve the game for everyone involved. There’s also a lot of talk about umpires getting “abuse” from players, which is something I believe can be avoided by umpires having the correct training, tools and being confident at the level they are umpiring; this is something that we are trying to support as much as possible for everyone at the club.

Learn more about the Club Umpire Developer and other resources available for upskilling your umpires within your club by accessing the HockeyHub here or by e-mailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

England Hockey Board Media release

Gormley hails Pro Series Indoor experience as one of the most special hockey atmospheres in the game

Ronan Gormley leading out the World Stars team and the PSi in South Africa

Ronan Gormley has played in more arenas than virtually any other player in Irish hockey history but reckons few compare to the Pro Series Indoor which got underway in South Dublin this week with other franchises hitting the boards in the coming weeks.

The former national captain – currently Ireland’s second highest capped players – is one of just two Irish people along with Ross Canning to have experienced the event up close and personal.

They formed part of the World Stars team that played in an invitational showcase just before Christmas in Cape Town with the indoor hockey event now looking to make its mark with its introduction in Ireland.

“I jumped at the chance,” Gormley told The Hook of how he got involved as, first, former Pembroke team mate John McInroy – who MC’d the event – and PSi owner Simon Martin got in touch to see if he wanted to be part of the event.

“I was aware of it though seeing the videos and excitement on Facebook, and hearing from other players who had played about how cool it was.

“When you hear that from the likes of the best players in the world i.e. Moritz Fuerste, Benni and Timo Wess, Andreu Enrich, Robert Tigges etc you know there is something pretty special going on!

“Apart from the personal experience of playing in front of a big crowd of noisy and enthusiastic kids and playing with/against the world’s top indoor players, seeing the amount of youth hockey lovers getting to be involved in an experience like PSi is just fantastic.

“Hockey doesn’t have many events like it, so those who get to take part are very lucky, including me!”

The PSi initially starts off this month with a series of leagues in franchises around Ireland, catering for boys and girls from fifth class in primary school up to Under-15 level.

The South Dublin Vikings got underway in St Columba’s and Loreto Dalkey while the North Dublin Knights are in DCU.

The Wicklow Wasps start in Loreto Bray and the Kildare Swans in King’s Hospital on April 7. A day later, the Kilkenny Cats league in the Watershed, the Limerick Lions in UL and the Belfast Bears in Strathearn and the Antrim Forum start up.

These leagues will play out for several weeks up to mid to late May. Following these leagues, participants will then have the potential opportunity to play in the end of season PSi Festival which will take place on June 22 to 24 at Gormanston College’s campus in north Dublin.

South Dublin Vikings players enjoying the first day of PSi leagues in Ireland last weekend.

There, they will play off against the various leagues around the country in the PSi festival. On each night, there will be a PSi Showdown, pitting some of the world’s best indoor players from Ireland and beyond against each other.

It provides an unforgettable experience for the young players, playing all day before enjoying an incredible hockey experience in the evening.

“The senior players who go over take the games very relaxed, it really is a showpiece for the kids,” Gormley said of the Showdown. “However when we took to the pitch it gets competitive quickly! I think I saw steam coming out of Teun Rohof’s ears at one point!!

“There was a great mix of players from different countries. The highlight for me was seeing some of what Benni Wess, Andreu Enrich, Robert Tigges and Teun Rohof can do on an indoor pitch… though top prize for silky skills must go to Nicki Leijs – the boy must have glue on his stick!

As for the atmosphere: “Unbelievable. When you have a good indoor venue it multiplies the noise like you wouldn’t imagine. I remember one indoor match in Germany that was in a really compact hall and the 200 spectators sounded more like 2,000!

“PSi has a great mix of hockey and good fun. There is music, energy, constant prize giveaways, a great mascot and a DJ all combining to make the occasion what it is. In terms of noise and energy, it really does compare to some of the bigger outdoor crowds I have played in front of!

Gormley currently lives in Germany where he plays with Crefelder HTC. The country is one of the main drives of indoor hockey worldwide, allowing him to see first hand the value the version of the sport can bring.

“The speed they play at is incredible and you can really see how the reduced space and increased ball contact vastly improve key areas of their game – tight skills, control, accuracy of passing, speed of decision making, low body position and goal scoring.

“A mistake in indoor is very often punished by a goal, so the value on basics and accuracy is huge. It is only natural that this then transfers to their outdoor play and mentality and I think we can all recognize some of these traits in the German teams we have seen over the years.

“One further area not mentioned above is tactical discipline. This is key in indoor in terms of the angles you need to defend or angles you need to create for offensive passes.

“Transfer this to outdoor and your ability to play your way out of a press can improve significantly, along with the ability of a team to cover the right angles defensively and make the area they have to defend smaller and more manageable.”

And his message for any young players thinking of taking part?

“DO IT! Really can’t recommend it enough!

** For all information about the Irish Pro Series Indoor and how to register, click here

The Hook

Pahang hope to get the better of champions SSTMI

By Aftar Singh

KUALA LUMPUR: Pahang Hockey Academy (AHP)-SSP-Thunderbolt are eyeing the scalp of fancied and defending overall champions Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI)-Thunderbolt in the Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL) match today.

In the opening match, the Pahang team stunned the league champions Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ)-Tigers 3-1 at home while SSTMI got two wins over SMK Datuk Bentara Luar-UniKL-PHJ 4-0 and SSTMI Juniors 7-0.

The Pahang team also have a score to settle with SSTMI as they were denied their first silverware in the Under-19 league in the final for the overall Cup.

AHP-SSP-Thunderbolt lost 4-3 in the penalty shootout after both teams failed to break the 2-2 deadlock in the regulation time.

Last year in the league match, SSTMI edged Pahang 2-1.

The MJHL will resume today after a two-week break due to the boys’ and girls’ National Under-16, which ended on Sunday in Bukit Jalil.

Pahang coach Mohd Sufian Mohamed said they hope to create another upset against overwhelming favourites SSTMI.

“We upset MBPJ and now we want to get the better of SSTMI,” said the former international.

“But it is not going to be easy as we are playing away in Johor. And SSTMI are the strongest team in the league and they have nine players, who played for TNB-Thunderbolt in the senior Malaysia Hockey League (MHL), which ended last month.

SSTMI coach Wan Mohd Roslan Wan Abdul Rahman said they have respect for the Pahang team, who upset MBPJ in the first match.

“We know that they will be going all out to create another upset but we are ready to face them after the break.

“Our mission is to win one of the two titles and we will give our best in every match to collect full points,” said Wan Roslan, who guided SSTMI to win double from 2012 to 2015.

The Star of Malaysia

Hockey challenge is hotting up

Pictured before training are vice captain Chantel Botes, with captain Chrizelda Delport, who both play upfront for their team, Kuswag.PHOTO: Supplied

EIGHT schools will be converging on the three Schools Trust Astroturf to participate in the Durban South Regional tourney of the Spar KZN School Girls’ Hockey Challenge on March 25 in South Africa

The host school is one-time winner, Kuswag Hoërskool. Kuswag took the honours in the inaugural tournament in 2011 and the team are eager to topple defending champions Amanzimtoti High School. In their first outing to the grand finals, Kuswag finished ninth overall in the KZN Spar tournament.

Toti have represented this region for the past three consecutive years, advancing through to the grand finals where they finished 10th overall in all three appearances. This year, the defending champs start an exciting new chapter and will be taking to the turf under the guidance of new coach Cris Clarke.

In last year’s regionals, it was anyone’s trophy, with an epic Amanzimtoti three-way duel developing between Amanzimtoti, Kingsway and Kuswag, with Toti knocking in one goal against Kuswag to claim the 2017 victory.

In the build-up to this year’s tournament, Kingsway and Kuswag stretched their legs at the Scottburgh Festival held two weekends ago.

Kuswag drew in all three of their games, and Kingsway faired marginally better with two 0-0 draws and one victory against Scottburgh.

Taking to the field for this regional tourney, Pool A consists of Kuswag, together with Amanzimtoti, Grosvenor and Rossburgh.

In Pool B are Werda, Kingsway, Queensburgh and New Forest.

The games are 23 minutes long with a one-minute change over at half time.

Once the pool games are concluded, the tournament advances to a cross pool playoff, with the two semi-finals taking place. Once the semis are done and dusted, the third and fourth positions will be played for, with the main game taking place mid-afternoon.

The Durban South Regional is one of the most festive tournaments in the KZN area, with all teams showing off not only their hockey skills but dance skills too, taking to the pitch for a dance-off in flash mob style in previous years.

Encouraging everyone to bring their A game to the regionals on the day, the tournament also awards the most promising umpire.

Scouts for Varsity College also travel around to all 10 regionals tournaments, and at the grand finals, award hockey bursaries.

Last year, the Durban South player Phiwo Myeza, who was the 2017 captain for Amanzimtoti High School, was one of the recipients of this bursary.

The winner of the Durban South Regional tourney will be the fifth team to secure their spot at the grand finals, which take place at St Mary’s DSG in Kloof at the end of July.

Teams that have already secured their place are Ferrum Hoërskool from the Northern KZN region, newcomer Epworth School from PMB Central region, St Anne’s Diocesan from PMB Northern region and the winning team from the Durban Central region, which took place on March 17.


Thierry Weil named as FIH Chief Executive Officer

Thierry Weil, the new Chief Executive Officer of the International Hockey Federation (FIH).

Lausanne, Switzerland: The International Hockey Federation (FIH) today announced the appointment of its new Chief Executive Officer (CEO), with Thierry Weil set to join the organisation in April 2018.

Mr Weil has more than 35 years’ worth of experience as an executive leader and has a proven track record working at the highest levels of sports administration on the global stage.

A French national who is fluent in French, German and English, Thierry Weil is multi-cultural, multi-national and multi-lingual. His strong international reputation in the highest echelons of the sports industry has been cemented thanks to his executive roles at two companies – Adidas Global and, most recently, Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).

Mr Weil spent over 25 years working for Adidas and held the position of ‘Vice President, Global Football Sports’ between 2003 and 2007, before enjoying a ten-year spell as the 'Director of Marketing' with FIFA at their headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.

Commenting on the appointment, FIH President Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra said: ‘The FIH Executive Board and myself are absolutely delighted that Thierry will be joining the FIH. He has an impressive and varied skillset which combines a strong, successful commercial background with the know-how that comes from a decade of working at the largest international sporting federation in the world. We were left in no doubt that he was the stand-out candidate for this crucial leadership position.'

Mr Weil, who replaces previous incumbent Jason McCracken following his departure earlier this year, joins the FIH at one of the most exciting times in the long history of the sport.

As well as the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018 (21 July - 5 August) and Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 (28 November – 16 December) events which take place later this year in England and India respectively, the inaugural season of the Hockey Pro League is also very much on the horizon.

The game-changing competition sees 152 international matches being played between January and June 2019 at locations all around the world, with nine men’s and nine women’s teams competing for the title.

Speaking about his appointment, Mr Weil said: ‘I am honoured to have the trust of the FIH President and the Executive Board for the CEO position. My mission, together with our team in Lausanne, will be to inspire the next generation and make the Hockey Revolution happen.’

Dr Batra added: 'Thierry’s vast experience and knowledge will prove invaluable to the FIH as an organisation and also to the Hockey Revolution, as we enter the next phase of our ambition to become ‘a global game that inspires the next generation’. We greatly look forward to his arrival in April.'

FIH site

England Hockey chief Sally Munday dismisses FIH role for domestic focus

By Rod Gilmour

Sally Munday celebrates England’s winning 2018 Women’s World Cup bid in 2013

Sally Munday, England Hockey’s chief executive, has revealed her intentions to see through the growth of hockey in the UK after turning down the opportunity to apply for the vacant role at the International Hockey Federation (FIH).

Munday told The Hockey Paper that the world governing body had spoken to her regarding the chief executive position in Lausanne after Jason McCracken left the FIH less than a year into the job.

She said: “There was a conversation had with me about whether I would be interested in the role and the answer was ‘no’. It is the question in the last month I have been asked the most but I did not apply for the job.”

Munday, one of eight female CEOs at UK Sport-funded governing bodies, then outlined a passionate stance of staying within the game by bringing hockey to a wider UK audience on the back of Olympic women’s gold and ahead of next year’s launch of the global Hockey Pro League.

She said: “I care deeply about this game. I’ve been a player, coach, team manager and administrator since I was 14. I care deeply about what it’s given me as a human being, the massive influence it’s had on me and on the person I am today.

“It’s [hockey] truly dual gender. We care about ethics and people. People joke about ‘The Hockey Family’. But we are serious about that due to the kind of people it attracts and those are genuinely decent people.”

Speaking at England Hockey’s headquarters in Bisham Abbey, she added: “I care about the sport’s future. I think I can have a good enough influence sat here and I don’t think I need to be the CEO of the FIH to have the influence to take the game forwards.”

Munday, who was also speaking before Thierry Weil, a former Fifa and Adidas executive, was announced as McCracken’s successor by the FIH on Tuesday, added: “It’s a critical role and the FIH has had a difficult few months with key staff leaving, there’s no hiding from that.”

The Pro League will feature top nation the Netherlands from January

Women’s World Cup in London aside, the focus for Munday is the Pro League – the home-and-away format which will involve GB men and women competing in two leagues of nine – and her vision to get eyeballs on the sport and new fans into the game, rather than rely on one-off Tests and meaningless trophy tournaments.

For the last nine years since she took up her position at England Hockey, the question most conveyed to Munday is how to get the sport on TV on a consistent basis.

From next year, the Pro League will give a six-month window from January to June on television. And Munday is naturally revelling in the prospect of a consistent set of matches locked down in the calendar, similar to, say, the Six Nations dates, the Lord’s Tests or Wimbledon, where sports fans know these weekends from yore.

“People will know when they can watch our sport at the same time every year,” said Munday. “We can grow our fan base every year due to the regularity of top level hockey being on TV. On the back of that we will see growth in the domestic game.”

With the FIH holding the rights to the Pro League, discussions are also taking place with a number of broadcasters with a decision expected next month on which UK broadcaster will screen the games.

The BT Sport commitment runs through to the end of 2018, which includes the men’s World Cup in December, but Munday expects a competitive fight as to who lands the Pro League rights, be it satellite or free-to-air.

“The Hockey Pro League has created massive interest across the world. The way it’s broadcast now is hugely appealing and what the Pro League gives is the regularity and the increase in appointments to view and a story of a beginning, middle and end which is what they want.”

Fan engagement is huge in Argentina, but can it exist in England?

Munday … On the domestic product

“We would love to have a domestic product that attracts a decent audience and people turning up and paying to watch. It benefits the clubs. Big numbers at the clubs means conversations with broadcasters. At the moment, they laugh in conversations about the domestic competition. We simply don’t get enough people watching. Some say whether the level of the domestic game is good enough. That’s not the answer. The level is good enough. What they want to show is a fan base enjoying the game.

“We know from the research what hockey consumers want. They want parking, easy access, a seat under cover, the whole family experience. They want what we are trying to provide at international level. The reality is that clubs struggle to attract big numbers. If we can help clubs develop the ability to provide the consumer with the experience over time then I can see us evolving our domestic game.”

On holding GB matches outside London

In the short term, says Munday, Great Britain’s matches in the Pro League will be held at Lee Valley. But Munday revealed that cities have also enquired as to hosting matches, with Nottingham, Manchester and Birmingham mooted.

“Take Birmingham. They are doing some very interesting development around the Commonwealth Games. We are saying not to think from a temporary point of view but what we could do permanently in Birmingham which would then be able to develop an audience week in week out. If we could generate eight of these venues across the country and be able to provide to the consumer with what they want, then we are in a very different place. But it will take time.”

On club environment watching top teams

“This is something we have to develop and for me there would be a danger in going back to club teams playing at the same time. The reality is that people want to play on their own terms. There needs to be flexibility. There is too much choice in society these days. They need hockey and the sport they play to fit in with the rest of their life. What we’re seeing is that the clubs that are providing the most flexibility and variety of offer, like walking hockey, summer hockey, are the clubs that are growing and thriving.”

The Hockey Paper

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