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News for 11 July 2018

All the news for Wednesday 11 July 2018

USMNT Evens Up Atlantic Series in 3-1 Win Over Scotland

Image Taken by Duncolm Sports Photography

GLASGOW, Scotland - July 10, 2018 - The second match of the three-game Atlantic Series between the U.S. Men's National Team and FIH Hero World Ranked No. 23 Scotland commenced Monday night at the Glasgow Hockey Centre. After an early morning practice that focused on outletting and offense, USA gained an early lead and they never relinquished in a 3-1 victory over the Blue Sticks.

USA's sunrise training showed immediate results from the opening whistle. There were no careless mistakes and defense held solid through the first quarter, ending 0-0. For the first time on their Europe Summer Training Tour, USA opened up the scoring in the second quarter. Sean Cicchi (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) made a lead that got him behind Scotland's defense. Paul Singh (Simi Valley, Calif.) saw the long ball clearly, from just above the 25 yard line. The drive connected with with Cicchi who scored on a reverse shot, not giving Scotland's goalkeeper a chance to react, to give the red, white and blue the 1-0 lead in the 19th minute.

Five minutes later, the Blue Sticks countered and scored off a penalty corner where Timothy Atkins made the drag flick to the inside post, tying the game. Just before halftime, USA regained the lead as Singh saw a lane open up to give Johnny Orozco (Ventura, Calif.) the perfect chance to deflect the ball into the goal making it 2-1 to USA at the break.

The third quarter was a tough battle as Scotland tried to put the pressure on and tie the game. USA's defense was firm all quarter despite numerous threats by the Blue Sticks. Back the other way in the 39th minute, Aki Kaeppeler (Stuttgart, Germany) broke down a play, eliminated an attacker and drove the ball directly into the circle on a lead made by Alex Grassi (Brookville, Md.).  Grassi trapped it under pressure from his defender, made the turn and got the shot off toward the far post, where Pat Harris (Moorpark, Calif.) was waiting to deflect it into the goal to take a commanding 3-1 advantage. The fourth quarter was full on assault by Scotland, which was neutralized by USA's defensive structure allowing the team their first win of their European trip.

With the series tied at 1-1, the U.S. Men's National Team returns for the final game of the Atlantic Series Wednesday at 9:00 a.m.

USFHA media release

Mouth-watering opening World Cup weekend in store!

England Hockey fans at Lee Valley

Forget the football (only joking – come on England!!), the UK’s 2018 World Cup is less than two weeks away – the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup starts on 21 July.

The opening weekend is set to be a brilliant spectacle featuring all of the World’s top teams. It’s an appropriate start to the best-selling women’s sports event ever in this country.

Session one on Saturday 21 July sees England begin their quest for a medal against India. This match sold out in the 2017 World Cup ballot but we are seeing occasional hand-backs or seats freed up as the stadium build is finished, so the eagle-eyed might still be able to get tickets.

Buy tickets to Saturday 21 July session 1

Session two features the Australia – historically one of the best teams in the World and in the hunt to win the tournament – as well as USA and Ireland – and their loyal fans will certainly create a brilliant atmosphere and a perfect way to spend a Saturday night.

Buy tickets to Saturday 21 July session 2

Sunday sees Argentina begin their campaign in session one – your chance to see a team who’ve consistently won medals at the highest level in recent years. They were runners up at the 2012 Olympics and are the number 3 side in the world.

Buy tickets to Sunday 22 July session 1

It’s a bumper second session on Sunday with reigning World Cup Champions and number one team in the World the Netherlands playing, as well as New Zealand – currently the fourth best team in the World. The Netherlands were the 2012 Olympic Champions, they won the Hockey World Cup on their home turf in 2014, and were runners up to Team GB in 2016 in that memorable Final.

Buy tickets to Sunday 22 July session 2

England Hockey Board Media release

Argentina’s María José Granatto heads debut gang at Hockey World Cup

“The World Cup happens very fast,” says Argentina forward María José Granatto, “and so that’s why we have to enjoy the process.”

Granatto, the young world player of the year, will be one of 10 Argentinian debutants at the Vitality Women’s Hockey World Cup after competing in two Junior World Cups. Eight of her team-mates won the 2016 Junior World Cup and will now be making their entrance in London.

This is certainly a young, talented team – the 2010 champions – which will aim to medal once again in the sport’s showpiece.

“I started the year very motivated to face everything that was coming my way,” said Granatto. “It’s my first World Cup, so I’m trying to enjoy every moment of the preparation and not to mention the tournament that I think will be unique.”

The Lionesses left for Germany on Monday where they will play the hosts, Holland and New Zealand in a Four Nations tournament before their World Cup opener on July 22 against Spain.

The 23-year-old’s form over the last 12 months warranted the FIH prize in Berlin, as well as a contract with Eindhoven’s Oranje-Rood for next season.

Granatto added: “It was a pride for me, it was a beautiful trip that added a lot of energy to face everything that comes personally and add the best for the team.”

“Today the team grew a lot, working with our psychologist Nelly (Giscafre), which helps us in communication and other aspects.

“The tours and trips also bind the group and I aim to give the best for the team and hopefully play the final.”

The Hockey Paper

Coaches Corner: Argentina ready to conquer the world

Argentina Head Coach Agustin Corradini is confident his team are ready to challenge for gold Photo: FIH/WSP

In this week's Coaches Corner we speak to the Head Coach of Argentina, Agustin Corradini, who believes his team has what it takes to win their third World cup gold medal.

A seventh place finish at the Rio 2016 Olympics has galvanised Argentina’s new look squad and they are heading to the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018 with huge ambitions.

Head Coach Agustin Corradini is not joking when he says that his team: “Has enough talent to cause all the other competitors major headaches.”

Argentina has a World Cup history to be proud of. They took silver in 1974 and 1978 before a lean spell in the 1980s. However, the subsequent years have seen Las Leonas finish no lower than fourth (Utrecht 1998); with a silver in 1994; two bronze medals in 2006 and 2014; and a glorious brace of gold medals in 2002 and 2010.

"We are a talented and hard working team and I know the players will contest every match right to the final whistle"
Agustin Corradini, Head Coach Argentina.

Former Argentina international Corradini is relatively new to the role of Head Coach – he took charge in May 2017 – but he has been a member of the coaching staff under both Carlos Retegui and Gabriel Minadeo. He also led the Argentina Under-21 side to the 2016 Junior World Cup in Santiago and his team selection reflects both the young players he has worked with in the junior set-up and the experienced players he knows he needs to stabilise the talented but mercurial team.

Argentina’s preparations have included intense training camps back home in Buenos Aires and they will consolidate this with a series of test matches against Germany just prior to their arrival in London.

“Of course you never feel as if your team is totally ready for the challenge ahead, there are always things to improve upon. In fact, we can improve some details in just about every area,” says Corradini. “But we are a talented and hard working team and I know the players will contest every match right to the final whistle.”

One thing that Corradini has impressed upon his players is the need for the entire squad to step up and take responsibility. In the past, Las Leonas have enjoyed the presence of some huge personalities on the pitch – Luciana Aymar and Carla Rebecchi are two players who come instantly to mind. With the new squad it is all about the team.

“We have given organisational roles and responsibilities to each player,” says Corradini, “That is the quality that the team has been lacking in recent times.”

The huge popularity of hockey in Argentina means the players will be used to competing in front of noisy, passionate crowds. All the same, this is a World Cup so the players will be certain to feel the pressure. Corradini agrees, but adds: “There is very little you can do to prepare the players for the mental stress of playing in a major tournament. Playing a World Cup is the only way to feel this pressure.”

Argentina, who are currently ranked at number three in the FIH Hero Hockey World Rankings, are competing in Pool C, alongside Germany (WR:6), South Africa (WR:14) and Spain (WR:11). Their opening match is on 22 July against Spain.


FIH site

Hockeyroos Set To Fly Out For World Cup

Ben Somerford

The Hockeyroos will fly out of Australia on Wednesday destined for London ahead of the 2018 FIH Women’s World Cup to be played from 21 July – 5 August.

Australia finished runners-up at the last World Cup in 2014, losing 2-0 in the final to the Netherlands in The Hague.

The Dutch remain the team to beat four years on with England (second) and Argentina (third) at the top of the rankings too, while the Hockeyroos have experienced major personnel and style changes and are now fifth in the world.

Despite that coach Paul Gaudoin is bullish about the side’s prospects having taken over in late 2016 following the Rio Olympics disappointment.

Australia are grouped with New Zealand (fourth), Belgium (13th) and Japan (12th) in Pool D.

The Black Sticks defeated the Hockeyroos for Commonwealth Games gold in April but Australia hit back by winning the Tri Nations in May, involving both New Zealand and Japan in a positive sign.

The Hockeyroos will touch down in London on Thursday and will play practice games against India on Monday (6pm local time) and Great Britain on Wednesday (2:30pm local time) at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.

“We want to get a good feel for the turf and the atmosphere,” Gaudoin said, speaking about the value of the practice games.

“The World Cup is a unique experience. It’s going to be a great opportunity.

“Those first few games are about getting used to playing in that environment.

“We also get to play against an Asian team in India and there’s some similarities in New Zealand and even Belgium in the way they play.

“As well we play Great Britain with a European feel so we’ll be prepared if we meet those teams we’ll have some experience against them.”

Australia’s first World Cup match is against Japan on Sunday 22 July from 5am AEST live on FOX SPORTS.

All of the Hockeyroos’ World Cup matches will be televised live on FOX SPORTS, with updates on @Hockeyroos on Twitter and @HockeyroosOfficial on Instagram.

Australia’s Women’s Hockey World Cup team:
Athlete (Hometown, State)
Jocelyn Bartram (Albury, NSW)
Kristina Bates (Port Melbourne, VIC)
Edwina Bone (Orange, NSW) *Plays for ACT
Kalindi Commerford (Mollymook, NSW) *Plays for ACT
Madison Fitzpatrick (Cabarita Beach, NSW) *Plays for QLD
Emily Hurtz (Sydney, NSW) *Plays for VIC
Jodie Kenny (Wamuran, QLD)
Stephanie Kershaw (Townsville, QLD)
Rachael Lynch (Warrandyte, VIC)
Ambrosia Malone (Burleigh, QLD)
Karri McMahon (Berri, SA)
Georgina Morgan (Armidale, NSW)
Kaitlin Nobbs (Newington, NSW)
Brooke Peris (Darwin, NT)
Kathryn Slattery (South Stirling, WA)      
Emily Smith (Crookwell, NSW)
Grace Stewart (Gerringong, NSW)
Renee Taylor (Everton Park, QLD)

Australia’s Women’s Hockey World Cup Schedule (all times AEST):
Sunday 22 July 5am - Australia v Japan
Tuesday 24 July 11pm - Australia v Belgium
Sunday 29 July 5am - Australia v New Zealand
Monday/Tuesday 30/31 July TBC - Playoffs
Wednesday/Thursday 1/2 August TBC - Quarter-finals
Saturday 4 August TBC - Semi-finals
Sunday/Monday 5/6 August 11pm/1:30am - Bronze medal/Gold medal match

Hockey Australia media release

Black Sticks forward Olivia Merry treasuring every minute as 200th cap nears


Olivia Merry will play her 200th test for the Black Sticks this week. DEAN MOUHTAROPOULOS/GETTY IMAGES

The last time the Black Sticks women went to the Hockey World Cup, Olivia Merry had 40 caps to her name.

When they arrive in London for this year's World Cup later this month, the Canterbury forward will have hit 200, provided she features twice during their Four Nations warm-up event in Germany.

"It's come around really quickly," said Merry, 26, before the team winged their way to Europe.

"You never play for the milestones, they're an added bonus, but it's very, very special - the 200th time of pulling on the black shirt is just as special as the first.

READ MORE: Black Sticks chase history at World Cup

"For me, personally, I treasure every minute I get out there. I can't believe how quickly it's come around."

The Black Sticks are ranked fourth in the world heading into the quadrennial event, where they will be looking to build on their gold-medal effort at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast in April, as well as their second-place finish at the World League final in Auckland last November.

Olivia Merry celebrates scoring in the gold medal match at the Commonwealth Games. RYAN PIERSE/GETTY IMAGES

Merry has scored 77 goals in 198 appearances since making her debut in 2012, including the winner as the Black Sticks beat England in the semifinals at the World League final, and the third as they beat Australia 4-1 to win gold three months ago.

Being able to draw on recent success stands her and the rest of the Black Sticks in good stead heading into the World Cup, where they face Australia, Belgium, and Japan in pool play, and are looking to win a medal for the first time.

"We did have some good form earlier in the year, and we've been working hard the last six weeks to maintain that form going forward," Merry said.

"There's a bit of excitement in the group, and having the team carrying on from that Commonwealth Games success, we've been able to build relationships between players."

Merry said the team didn't get long to bask in the glory of their triumph on the Gold Coast.

"We were back to training five days after our success, so it was awesome and we did celebrate it a bit, but we were quickly back to business.

"The World Cup is the second-most important event for us as Black Sticks players [behind the Olympics]. The Comm Games is cool, and the whole of New Zealand gets behind it, but for us the World Cup is every four years, and we've never won a medal at one, so that's definitely what we're hoping for."

Olivia Merry reacts after the Black Sticks' gold medal win at the Commonwealth Games. RYAN PIERSE/GETTY IMAGES

Black Sticks coach Mark Hager said it was exciting to see Merry reach 200 caps and join nine others in an exclusive club.

"It means you're a longevity player. Anyone that can play six years, seven years, eight years, 10 years, it's a testament to their character and their ability to push through the pain.

"The ability to keep yourself going and motivated, I think that's the hardest thing over that time, and not becoming complacent.

"Liv's been one of those athletes, she's worked hard for everything she's achieved. She's had some flat spots in her career, but hopefully we're starting to see her bounce out of that, and she's starting to go forward again.

"Liv for us is a real good goalscorer, not just on set pieces, but field goals as well, so she's a real asset to the group."

All going to plan, Merry should hit 200 on Friday [NZ time], when the Black Sticks play hosts Germany in the second of three matches  at the Four Nations tournament.

That tournament begins early on Thursday when they play the Netherlands, with a match against Argentina to follow on Saturday, ahead of the start of their World Cup campaign on July 23.

Black Sticks' Four Nations fixtures
Thursday, July 12, 2am v Netherlands
Friday, July 13, 5.30am v Germany
Saturday, July 14, 9pm v Argentina

Black Sticks' World Cup squad
Stacey Michelsen (c), Madison Doar, Ella Gunson, Brooke Neal (Northland) Sam Harrison, Grace O'Hanlon, Liz Thompson, Lulu Tuilotolava (Auckland), Sam Charlton, Tarryn Davey, Frances Davis, Shiloh Gloyn, Rose Keddell, Amy Robinson, Sally Rutherford (Midlands), Anita McLaren, Kelsey Smith (Capital), Olivia Merry (Canterbury).


Green Machine and Green Army To Play In Dublin This Week

Both the Green Army and Green Machine have home internationals in Dublin this week, with 2 matches taking place at UCD and 2 at Pembroke Wanderers.

Green Army Head Coach, Graham Shaw, has announced Emily Beatty and Naomi Carroll has his 2 reserves for the World Cup and his squad will compete as a group of 20 over the course of the two fixtures.

Green Machine assistant coaches Jonny Caren, John Bessel and Kai de Jager have opted for a highly experienced squad to take on the up and coming USA in their 2-match series. The series also marks a return for Peter Chadwick who will take up the role of Manager with the team.

Green Army Fixtures:

Ireland vs Chile 12/7/18 6pm UCD
Ireland vs Italy 14/7/18 2pm Pembroke

Green Machine Fixtures:

Ireland vs USA 12/7/18 8pm UCD
Ireland vs USA 13/7/18 7pm Pembroke

Green Machine Squad:

Jamie Carr
David Fitzgerald
Mark Ingram
Eugene Magee
Owen Magee
Mitch Darling
Johnny McKee
Matthew Nelson
Jeremy Duncan
Alan Sothern
Shane O’Donoghue
Michael Robson
Sean Murray
Daragh Walsh
Stephen Cole
Luke Madeley
Paul Gleghorne
Jonny Bell
Stuart Loughrey
Lee Cole
Sam O’Connor

Green Army Squad:

Ayeisha McFerran
Grace O’Flanagan
Yvonne O’Byrne
Hannah Matthews
Elena Tice
Zoe Wilson
Roisin Upton
Shirley McCay
Katie Mullan
Nicci Daly
Gillian Pinder
Megan Frazer
Chloe Watkins
Lizzie Colvin
Deidre Duke
Nikki Evans
Ali Meeke
Anna O’Flanagan
Emily Beatty
Naomi Carroll

Tickets will be available on the gate:

Adult €10
Student/OAP €7
Under 18's Free

Irish Hockey Association media release

Belfield to host Thursday night international double-header

Gillian Pinder on the attack against Chile in 2016. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Belfield will host its first international hockey matches since October 2015 on Thursday evening as a late stand-in venue with the Irish women and men lining out in a double-header.

The women face Chile as part of a three-nations tournament at 6pm before the men take on USA at 8pm in ties originally scheduled to be played at Rathdown.

However, watering issues this week at the venue led to the switch to the former national hockey stadium. Full refurbishments are set to be carried out at Belfield before the club season with UCD taking on the replacement costs without the support of Hockey Ireland with whom they joint-funded the last surface.

The pitch lost its certificate for international matches in 2013 with a deadlock finally broken this summer over how best to replace it.

For the Irish women, the series will hopefully see the return of Megan Frazer to action after two years of injury travails. Coach Graham Shaw is hopeful she can test her knee against Chile on Thursday and then play an increased role on Saturday against Italy at Serpentine Avenue.

Shaw is also waiting on the fitness of Roisin Upton who has missed the last four test matches with a hamstring strain with the World Cup now just 10 days away.

Because of those concerns, Shaw has retained reserves Emily Beatty and Naomi Carroll for this series. The coach has released Sarah Torrans to join up with the Under-23s who are Antwerp-bound for a ‘mini World Cup’ with five other development panels which gets underway on Saturday.

For the men, the interim coaching group of John Bessell, Kai de Jager and Jonny Caren take charge of the panel for the first time since Craig Fulton moved to Belgium.

They have made a number of changes for their two game series with USA. David Fitzgerald, Stephen Cole, Luke Madeley and Sam O’Connor return to the line-up while David and Conor Harte, Chris Cargo, John Jackson, Matthew Bell, Peter Caruth, Neal Glassey and Julan Dale step out.

Their first tie is at 8pm at Belfield before facing the same opposition on Friday at 7pm in Pembroke. The Irish women’s second game of their competition will be played on Saturday at Pembroke at 2pm.

Elsewhere, Jonny Caren has finalised an Irish Under-23 selection for their development tournament in Antwerp which gets under way on Saturday and features India, the Netherlands, Belgium and Great Britain.

Speaking about the squad and tournament, Caren said “This is another fantastic opportunity for us to develop our Under-21 players in a non-major competition year, with high caliber opposition in both European and Asian teams.

“With us missing four players to the senior programme as they compete for their spot in the World Cup squad, it enables us to look at players in a high pressure tournament environment that we maybe wouldn’t have been able to before.

John Bessell, one of the Irish assistant coaches, has helped name the latest panel. Pic: Adrian Boehm

“With promising performances in the USA Junior 3 Nations tournament in May, this will be a step up to challenge our team on the next level competing against U-23 teams.”

Ireland women’s squad (Three Nations tournament vs Italy and Chile, July 12-14): Ayeisha McFerran (University of Louisville), Grace O’Flanagan (Railway Union), Yvonne O’Byrne (Cork Harlequins), Hannah Matthews (Loreto), Lena Tice (UCD), Zoe Wilson (Belfast Harlequins), Roisin Upton (Cork Harlequins), Shirley McCay (Pegasus), Katie Mullan (UCD), Nicci Daly (Loreto), Gillian Pinder (Pembroke), Megan Frazer (Mannheimer HC), Chloe Watkins (HC Bloemendaal), Lizzie Colvin (Belfast Harlequins), Deidre Duke (UCD), Nikki Evans (HC Hamburg), Ali Meeke (Loreto), Anna O’Flanagan (Pinoke), Emily Beatty (Pembroke), Naomi Carroll (Cork Harlequins)

Thursday: Ireland vs Chile, 6pm, UCD
Saturday: Ireland vs Italy, 2pm, Pembroke

Ireland men’s squad (vs USA, July 12-13): Jamie Carr (Three Rock Rovers), David Fitzgerald (Monkstown), Mark Ingram (HC Rotterdam), Eugene Magee (Banbridge), Owen Magee (Banbridge), Mitch Darling (Three Rock Rovers), Johnny McKee (Banbridge), Matthew Nelson (Lisnagarvey), Jeremy Duncan (Herakles), Alan Sothern (La Gantoise), Shane O’Donoghue (KHC Dragons), Michael Robson (Lisnagarvey), Sean Murray (HC Rotterdam), Daragh Walsh (Three Rock Rovers), Stephen Cole (Oree), Luke Madeley (Three Rock Rovers), Paul Gleghorne (Crefelder HTC), Jonny Bell (Lisnagarvey), Stuart Loughrey (Hampstead & Westminster), Lee Cole (Oree), Sam O’Connor (Glenanne)

Ireland Under-23 men’s squad for Five Nations (Antwerp, July 14-21): James Milliken (Lisnagarvey), Josh McCabe (Cookstown), Ben Wallace (Annadale), Peter McKibbin (Lisnagarvey), Sam Grace (UCC), Keith O’Hare (Pembroke), Alex Tinney (Banbridge), Sam Hyland (YMCA), Ryan Getty (Lisnagarvey), Scott McCabe (Lisnagarvey), Matthew Crookshanks (Beeston), Luke Witherow (Banbridge), Craig Getty (Annadale), Callum Robson (Annadale), Freddie Morris (Schaerweijde), Andrew O’Hare (Lisnagarvey), David Rae (Kilkeel), Gavin Gibney (Glenanne)

Saturday, July 14: Ireland v India, 12pm
Sunday, July 15: Ireland v Netherlands, 12pm
Wednesday, July 18: Ireland v Great Britain, 1.30pm
Friday, July 20: Ireland v Belgium, 6pm
Saturday, July 21: Crossovers

The Hook

Jen Wilson appointed new Head Coach of Scotland women

Scottish Hockey is delighted to announce that Jen Wilson has been appointed as the Head Coach of Scotland women on a three-year contract.

The triple Olympian will begin in post on 1 August, kick-starting an exciting new era for women’s international hockey in Scotland.

Jen Wilson said, “It is a real honour to be appointed as the Head Coach of the Scotland women’s team.

“I have always been incredibly impressed with the passion these girls play with and their desire to continually make improvements in their game. I’m looking forward to working with the players, the support team, and the hockey community in Scotland.

Photo by Duncan Gray

Wilson has had a strong and varied coaching career to date, including spells as an assistant coach with Scotland in 2015, 2016 and 2017, in addition to high level domestic experience in England in both the men’s and women’s game.

The South African had five seasons in charge of Ashford men’s 1st XI in the Kent/Sussex and South Premier League.

Wilson also led Canterbury women to top spot and two second-placed finishes in the Investec National Premier Division as well as two successful campaigns in the EuroHockey Champions Cup.

As an international player Wilson represented South Africa achieved great success, including appearances at three Olympic Games (Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012), three World Cups (Australia 2002, Spain 2006, Argentina 2010) and three Commonwealth Games (Manchester 2002, Melbourne 2006, Delhi 2010). At the 2004 Games in Athens, she finished tournament top scorer.

In an exceptional international career Wilson scored 65 goals in 180 appearances for South Africa.

Jen will be contracted on a part-time basis, which will align directly with key preparation and competition phases in the international calendar, as well as regular training camps.

Scottish Hockey’s Head of Performance Andy Tennant said:

“We are delighted to have a coach of Jen’s ability and potential on board. She has exactly the profile and philosophy we are looking for, with a great mix of skill, experience and ambition. We are looking forward to working with her to deliver transformational change to our senior women’s programme.

“We look forward to welcoming Jen on the 1st of August when she will commence the role, in what is an exciting new era for Scottish women’s Hockey.

“I would also like to place on record our thanks to our principal funding partner sportscotland, the King’s School, Canterbury, and Sevenoaks Hockey Club for their support in making this happen.”

Scottish Hockey Union media release

FIH CEO excited by potential in Pro League and Hockey Series

New CEO Thierry Weil is looking forward to launching the FIH Pro League in 2019

The prospect of leading a growing International Federation into its next phase was enough to draw Thierry Weil’s attention to the position of CEO of the International Hockey Federation (FIH), but it was the enticing three word phrase, “FIH Pro League”, that sealed the deal.

“Someone sent me through details of the FIH Pro League and it captured my imagination,” says Weil during his first interviews as the new CEO.

“This is the first time, in any sport, that international teams will play in a home and away global league. There’s so much that is exciting and challenging about that.”
Thierry Weil, FIH CEO

As a former FIFA employee, Weil is used to dealing with sport on a global scale, but the size of this challenge – to fit all 152 games into a six-month calendar, is as tough as it gets.

Weil pays tribute to the work that has already been done. “This is the first time such a league will be played and that is thanks to the participating National Associations. Believe me, to put a six-month league into an existing calendar is really difficult and needs a lot of collaboration and good will from the athletes, clubs and national leagues, so this is a real testament to everyone’s commitment and good will.”

The CEO made sure that the move towards the FIH Pro League implementation had universal approval. To his surprise everyone was on-board. “I had individual talks with the 11 participating nations and I also had meetings with other organisations such as the League Management Panel. All the participating nations are very much in favour and everyone I have spoken to sees the positive in the FIH Pro League. Let’s face it, hockey will be regularly and permanently on television, with the best nations playing each other. That has to be good for the game.”

Three of the qualities that Weil brings to the role are clear thinking, good decision-making and an open mind. He needed all three as he got to grips with the proposals in the early stages. Even for a Federation that has a ‘Revolution’ as its strategy, this was ground-breaking stuff.

“When you come into an organisation and you find something like the FIH Pro League in the planning stage, you have to take step back and really understand it. You must find out how people view it, are they supporting it? You have to take the time to get a clear view of every angle.”

Despite the excitement surrounding the FIH Pro League, Weil has not lost sight of the other roles central to the FIH. While the World Cup and Olympics are pinnacle events, the Hockey Series is extremely important to the growth and development of the game across the globe.

“We have 137 National Federations and the Hockey Series provides an opportunity for teams that have never played on an international stage before to do so. At the moment we have a number of Associations participating in the Hockey Series Open. We had teams playing in Mexico, for example, who had never been on that stage before, that is fantastic. Regardless of the score-lines – and we had some big scores – they will learn from that and grow.”

Weil sees the knock-on impact of the Hockey Series as increased sustainability and development of the game globally. As more nations see the opportunities presented by the Hockey Series, including Olympic qualification and world ranking points, more nations will sign up to take part.

This, in turn, will lead to more opportunities for players, coaches and officials. The increased involvement of commercial and broadcast partners will also lead to more social responsibility programmes around the world.

“There are challenges ahead,” says Weil. “Aside from the logistics of initiating a global home and away league, there are all the other opportunities that are presenting themselves at all levels of the game. This means it is difficult to set priorities or take the time to evaluate the steps we need to take.

“But I have been impressed by the commitment and passion shown by all those involved in the game and I am looking forward to the challenge of leading the FIH through this period of growth and development.”

FIH site

Polo and Garcia Cuenca agree to extend hugely successful spell for one more year

©: Frank Uijlenbroek

Real Club de Polo de Barcelona and Carlos García Cuenca have reached a renewal agreement for a seventh and final season in charge of the first team.

García Cuenca previously worked in the lower leagues as head coach of Pedralbes DHB, the affiliate club of Polo, before taking on the role in August 2012.

In his first season, he completed a perfect debut in which the first team won all the competitions, the Honor Division, the Copa del Rey, the regular season title and Campionat de Catalunya.

Since then, they have become the benchmark in Spain, reaching the KO8 of the EHL in four of the last five seasons. During his tenure, they have won five regular season titles, four Honor Divisions, four Copa del Reys and three Campionats de Catalunya.

It makes it one of the most successful periods in the club’s history and the club they can finish off his spell in charge of the club on a high note.

Euro Hockey League media release

Country’s best hockey talent gear up

This is the only non-tertiary club tournament in the history of South African hockey to offer the largest prize money to the winning team.

SA and Riverside Hockey Club player, Taine Paton, makes a diving attempt to disrupt Old Albanians counter attack in the 2017 Belgotex Elite Club Challenge. PHOTO: Steve Haag

DURBAN is gearing up for this year’s annual Belgotex Elite Club Challenge that will be hosted at the Riverside Sports Centre in Durban North from Thursday, 12 July to Saturday, 14 July.

This is the only non-tertiary club tournament in the history of South African hockey to offer the largest prize money to the winning team. The total prize money being handed over to the men’s and ladies’ winning teams is R40 000 split proportionally between the men’s and ladies division courtesy of Belgotex Sport who are the proud sponsors of this tournament.

Not only will there be top class hockey played by senior teams over the three days, but this will also be the first year to provide young up and coming players the chance to show off their skills in between the main matches with the Elite 5’s Challenge being launched at the tournament.

Girls and boys aged from U11 to U13 are able to register and play and will form part of this hugely popular sporting spectacle that also offers the very best in food, music and all-round entertainment right on Durban’s doorstep.

Riverside Hockey Club’s first team coach and the current SA Men’s hockey coach, Mark Hopkins said it was a great event to be a part of.

“Our first teams look forward to every year. The quality of hockey played and at such fantastic facilities makes this a highlight in our hockey calendar. We have seen the level of hockey improve year upon year and that’s why initiatives like these are so important to grow and develop our country’s talent from grass roots level,” he said.

Northglen News

iWYZE Schools International Series | Night One

On the back of the iWyze Under 16 Hockey Nationals in Pietermaritzburg, the now annual International U18 Series between the South African Schools and Australian District Schools kicked off in front of a fantastic crowd at the UKZN Astro. Not only was there a big crowd at the stadium, but the game was streamed live on YouTube much to the delight of the hockey supporting community.

Girls | South Africa 2-1 Australia

In the opening game it was the South African girls who made history when they beat Australia for the first time in the history of these series. It didn’t start well for the SA girls as they found themselves trailing to an Annika Toohey goal as the Australians looked to be up to speed quickly in the game. The South African girls, under the tutelage of double Olympian Lenise Marais, grew into the game and started to create more sustained possession and a few circle entries, but were probably not creating enough chances and it looked like it would remain 1-0 at half time before Bianca Wood produced a fantastic control and finish to pull it level.

The goal delighted the fans including South African U21 coach Robin van Ginkel who would have been impressed by some of the action that he saw. In the second half both teams created opportunities but were kept out by some incredibly disciplined defensive displays. The game looked like it needed a moment of quality to be the differentiator and ultimately it was Bianca Wood who created it with a great touch to create space before sliding it past Caitlin Barnard in the Australian goal to secure a historic victory for the South Africans.

SA Girls Team – Mishka Ellis, Jacolene Mclaren, Ammaarah Hendricks, Edith Molikoe (C), Angela Welham, Carienke Jacobs, Kayla de Waal, India Hardie, Thati Zulu, Bianca Wood, Francisca Darkoh, Zimkhita Smayile, Laila Williams, Samantha Smuts, Julia Hoal, Jean-Leigh du Toit & Elita van Staden

Boys | South Africa 3-3 Australia

Lightning does in fact strike twice in Pietermaritzburg as the Australian Boys mirrored the start of their female compatriots when they took a 1-0 lead in 2 minutes through a lethal bullet from Cambell Geddes at the penalty corner. South African star Jethro Eustice was on commentary and had remarked how impressive Geddes was in the warm-ups, we didn’t have to take his word after seeing that goal go in. But in the exact same way as the Girls game, South Africa started to grow into the game and the form of Cody Posthumus, Peter Jarvis and Jared Campbell was turning the momentum into the hosts favour and the increased pressure paid off when Jarvis finished off a brilliant bit of work by Posthumus. Both sides created chances but were unable to make them count as the first half came to an end.

The second half started with Australia starting stronger and they created a superb chance through the individual skill of Craig Marais but a fantastic save by Sihle Ngcongo kept it level. Ngcongo turned it on again when he saved a penalty stroke from Joshua Brooks to keep it level. Which didn’t stay that way for long as Steven Conway put SA ahead through a great PC variation. Australia pulled level eventually managing to beat the inspired Ngcongo in goals when Marais finished off a fantastic team goal to level with 15 minutes remaining. You may have been excused for thinking the game would peter out into a team draw but both teams had different ideas when Peter Jarvis put South Africa ahead with just sixty seconds left on the clock but Joshua Brooks atoned for the missed penalty stroke when he finished off in packed D to send the travelling support into celebration.

SA Boys Team – Taine Bird, Suubi Sekawabe, Andre Bradford, Jared Campbell, Mpumelelo Maphumulo, Luke Wynford, Idrees Abdulla, Teven Petersen, Cody Posthumus, Peter Jarvis, Angelo Walstroom, Marvin Simons, Matt Dewar (c), Ivann van der Merwe, Joshua Findlay, Steven Conway, Niel Raath & Sihle Ngcongo Tonight will be the second match of the series with the boy’s game at 17:45 and the girls at 19:30.

SA Hockey Association media release

iWYZE Schools International Series | Night Two

The second night of the Old Mutual iWYZE International School Series offered as much excitement as the opening night with more frenetic play and superb crowd support in Pietermaritzburg. Once again, the games were streamed on YouTube, with the likes of Cindy Hack and Jethro Eustice on commentary rounded off the product fantastically.

Boys | South Africa 4-4 Australia

The opening game of the series produced a pulsating 3-3 draw, where both teams felt they could be more clinical and take advantage of circle entries throughout the game. It was a less frenetic start this time round as both teams felt out the action tentatively in the early exchanges. The game ignited in the 19th minute when the superb Craig Marais gave the Australians the lead with a goal that came out of nowhere, showing his clinical ability. The goal spurred South Africa into action and Cody Posthumus hit the post from a penalty corner, the resultant melee produced another penalty corner which was eventually put away by Luke Wynford after a goal mouth scramble. Three minutes later it was Samuel Bell who scored with a simple effort from a PC, which would have disappointed the SA team with its soft nature. It took only two minutes though before Cody Posthumus levelled for the host team again with a superb drag flick. South Africa then took the lead through another goal mouth scramble and it was Angelo Walstroom who converted. 3-2 at half time.

A more technical astute second half saw Australia level through a Ky Willott penalty stroke in the 40th minute, South Africa though took the lead again through a Peter Jarvis deflection. But for the second game in a row South Africa did not protect their lead giving away another debatable penalty stroke, which I think the umpire got spot on, which Ky Willott converted to secure a second draw and keep the series very much in the balance for the final match.

SA Boys Team – Taine Bird, Suubi Sekawabe, Andre Bradford, Jared Campbell, Mpumelelo Maphumulo, Luke Wynford, Idrees Abdulla, Teven Petersen, Cody Posthumus, Peter Jarvis, Angelo Walstroom, Marvin Simons, Matt Dewar (c), Ivann van der Merwe, Joshua Findlay, Steven Conway, Niel Raath & Sihle Ngcongo

Girls | South Africa 3-1 Australia

It was a far more conservative game to start when the girl’s sides played in the later game and took a full 29 minutes before the opening goal of the game when Kayla de Waal capitalised for the South Africans on the profligacy of the Australians. It was a brilliant finish by de Waal to give the South Africans the lead.

The score remained the same until the second half and Australia were delighted when Ruby Harris levelled from a field goal in the 58th minute to set up a superb finish to the match.  With just 10 minutes remaining it was over to the player of the match from the opening game, Bianca Woods, to separate the two sides with a great finish after Laila Williams fantastic skills set up the goal.

As Australia pushed to level the game and keep the series alive it left gaps at the back and Edith Molikoe, who has just been selected for the SA Indoor side to play in Zimbabwe, converted a late goal with the reverse strike to seal the match and a historic first series for the South Africans over the Australians.

SA Girls Team – Mishka Ellis, Jacolene Mclaren, Ammaarah Hendricks (c), Edith Molikoe, Angela Welham, Carienke Jacobs, Kayla de Waal, India Hardie, Thati Zulu, Bianca Wood, Francisca Darkoh, Zimkhita Smayile, Laila Williams, Samantha Smuts, Julia Hoal, Jean-Leigh du Toit & Elita van Staden

Tonight will be the final match of the series with the boy’s game at 18:40 and the girls at 17:00.

SA Hockey Association media release

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