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News for 16 January 2019

All the news for Wednesday 16 January 2019

2019 Test Matches: CHI v IRL (W) - 3rd Test
Santiago, (CHI)

CHI v IRL     3 - 0

FIH Match Centre

Green Army 0-3 Chile

The Irish women have lost the third Test in the 4 Test series against Chile.

The opening exchanges of this fixture weren’t hugely different to the previous two matches in the series with both teams taking some time to settle and create real chances on goal. Lena Tice was on hand to loft aerials over the high Chilean press but the hosts defence kept the Irish attackers quiet. Ali Meeke continued her good form and Hannah Matthews sent some long pint point passes into the danger zone but Claudia Schuler was hand to make the saves when needed. There was little to separate the teams in the possession stats but 2 converted penalty corners were the difference for Chile going into the half. Camila Caram fired a straight shot from the top of the circle in the 21stminute to put her side in front and Manuela Urroz doubled the lead with another well worked penalty corner routine. The Green Army weren’t without chances of their own and replied by winning a penalty corner a minute later but Roisin Upton didn’t fully connect with her shot and the chance went amiss.

Efforts on goal were few and far between in the second half with much of the game taking place in midfield or being passed around the respective backlines waiting for an opening that rarely appeared. Chile extended their lead via their third successful penalty corner routine, this time Maria Maldonado adding her name to the scoresheet. The Green Army chased a goal of their own but an effort off the post and another cleared from the line with Schuler beat summed up the small margins of the game that saw Chile convert 3 penalty corners and walk away victors.

4 Match Test Series, Santiago

Ireland 0
Chile 3 (Caram, Urroz, Maldonado)

Starting: E Murphy, A Naughton, Y O’Byrne, A Elliott, S Barr, E Tice, R Upton, N Daly, S Hawkshaw, D  Duke, B Barr

Subs: N Evans (Captain), R Maguire, A McFerran, H Matthews, S Torrans, A Meeke, G Frazer

Schedule (all times listed are local):

12/1/19 8pm Ireland 0 - 0 Chile
Prince of Wales Country Club

13/1/19 8pm Ireland 2 - 2 Chile
Prince of Wales Country Club

15/1/19 6:30pm Ireland 0 - 3 Chile
Club Deportivo Manquehue

16/1/19 6:30pm Ireland vs Chile
Club Deportivo Manquehue

Irish Hockey Association media release

Chile take laurels from game three in Santiago

Chile’s Camila Caram. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Chile took the laurels from game three of four in Santiago as they secured a 3-0 win over Ireland at the Manquehue club.

The opening exchanges of this fixture weren’t hugely different to the previous two matches in the series with both teams taking some time to settle and create real chances on goal.

Lena Tice was on hand to loft aerials over the high Chilean press but the hosts defence kept the Irish attackers quiet. Ali Meeke continued her good form and Hannah Matthews sent some long pin-point passes into the danger zone but Claudia Schuler was hand to make the saves when needed.

There was little to separate the teams in the possession stats but two converted penalty corners were the difference for Chile going into the half. Camila Caram fired a straight shot from the top of the circle in the 21st minute to put her side in front and Manuela Urroz doubled the lead with another well worked penalty corner routine.

The Green Army weren’t without chances of their own and replied by winning a penalty corner a minute later but Roisin Upton didn’t fully connect with her shot and the chance went amiss.

Efforts on goal were few and far between in the second half with much of the game taking place in midfield or being passed around the respective backlines waiting for an opening that rarely appeared.

Chile extended their lead via their third successful penalty corner routine, this time Maria Maldonado adding her name to the scoresheet.

The Green Army chased a goal of their own but an effort off the post and another cleared from the line with Schuler beat summed up the small margins of the game that saw Chile convert three penalty corners and walk away victors.

Women’s international test match
Chile 3 (Caram, Urroz, Maldonado)
Ireland 0

Ireland: E Murphy, A Naughton, Y O’Byrne, A Elliott, S Barr, E Tice, R Upton, N Daly, S Hawkshaw, D Duke, B Barr
Subs: N Evans (Captain), R Maguire, A McFerran, H Matthews, S Torrans, A Meeke, G Frazer

The Hook

2019 Indoor Test Matches: CZE v RSA (W) - Tests 1 - 3
Prague (CZE)

14 Jan     CZE v RSA     3 - 1 (1 - 0
15 Jan     CZE v RSA     1 - 4 (0 - 3)
15 Jan     CZE v RSA     4 - 2 (2 - 2)

FIH Match Centre

50 up for Reed in opening defeat to Czech Republic

SPAR South Africa endured a 16-hour transit from Switzerland to the Czech Republic for the second part of their European Tour. The trip, which was hastily changed due to an avalanche, saw the team take five busses and two trains on their trip to Prague. Having arrived in the morning on Monday, they faced the fifth ranked Czech Republic in the first of four test matches in Prague.

The opening test was started with Kelly Reed receiving her 50th cap, joining both Jess O’Connor and Cindy Hack in the 50-cap club. It’s a testament to the work done by Lennie Botha and the superb sponsorship by SPAR that the indoor hockey ladies have had a world class program developed for them.

The hosts were the favourites and lived up to that billing in the first half opening a two-goal lead through Lucie Duchkova and Natalie Hajkova. They extended the lead in the second half when Nikol Babicka made it 3-0. The SPAR South African ladies were quite tired but created good chances themselves with Cindy Hack hitting the post twice and Tegan Fourie missing the kind of chance she buries regularly. They did get the consolation goal for the visitors through the impressive Jess Lardant who finished from a fantastic flick at penalty corner time.

So, with 1 game down in the series, the South Africans will look to rest well and return to the action with two tests on Tuesday. They would love to secure a victory that would ultimately be the ultimate feather in the cap of a superb tour!

We will be keeping you updated right here!

SA Hockey Association media release

3 Nations Invitational (M) Chile - Day 1

Result 15 January

CHI v JPN (RR)     2 - 4

FIH Match Centre

Hockey World Cup winners Belgium involved in betting on their own matches?

Jaspreet Sahni

The Pro League ia around the corner, but before the International Hockey Federation's (FIH) pet project takes off on January 19, the governing body has an unexpected issue on its table.

On Tuesday, reports in Belgian media revealed that as many as 20 matches involving the country's mens team - from 2015 to the World Cup they won in India last December - could be under investigation for possible illegal betting by players and/or staff.

According to newspaper reports quoted by Sporza.be, the Belgian Hockey association has been approached by the gambling committee on the issue, following which the Gaming Commission has opened an investigation.

"We are at the stage when the Gaming Commission gathers information, which is not a police investigation, contrary to what is in the paper," the website quotes Denis Van Damme, Director of Marketing and Communication with the association.

If the investigation leads to the identification of any offences, then the commission will file a report with the public prosecutor's office, which may lead to a judicial inquiry.

Van Damme and Belgian captain Thomas Briels didn't respond upon being approached by TimesoFindia.com. However, the FIH did reply saying that they are keeping an eye on the developments.

Based on these media reports, we have contacted the Belgian Hockey Association and have full confidence that they will handle this with full cooperation and transparency," said Nicolas Maingot, the FIH Senior Communications Manager.

"As an overall principle - and unrelated to these reports - the integrity of competitions is of paramount importance for FIH, as the FIH Integrity Code confirms," he added.

Belgium are scheduled to play the inaugural match of the Pro League against hosts Spain this Saturday.

The Times of India

Related stories from Sporza.be


New Pro League designed to raise hockey's profile

By Brian Homewood

LAUSANNE (Reuters) - Hockey hopes to begin a new era on Saturday when Spain and Belgium kick off its ambitious annual Pro League, a new competition which aims to transform the sport and reduce its dependence on the Olympic Games for exposure.

The league will feature nine national teams in the men's and women's competitions, playing each other home and away over a six-month period followed by semi-finals and a final.

It is a bold move for an amateur sport but Thierry Weil, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) chief executive, told Reuters in an interview it would offer top-level international hockey outside the World Cup and Olympic years.

"There was a little bit of a wake-up call from the IOC in 2014 in relation to hockey, based on attendances and figures during the Olympic games," said the Frenchman, who worked as marketing director at global soccer body FIFA for nine years.

"From then onwards, the FIH has been developing this hockey revolution."

Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Britain, the Netherlands and New Zealand will play in the men's and women's leagues with Pakistan and Spain completing the lineup in the men's and China and the U.S. in the women's.

India, eight-times men's Olympic champions, are not taking part, having pulled out 18 months ago as the federation did not believe it would benefit the women's team and did not want only the men's team to take part. Weil said they would join in 2021.

"We must continue to be a role model and a good federation within the Olympic movement," he added. "But we also need to do other things which allow us to generate revenue on our own, not being 100 percent dependent on the Olympic movement."

The teams in each league were selected via an application process and there is no relegation -- something which in soccer would lead to criticism of a closed shop.

But Weil said it was necessary to ensure participants had the resources to take part so the competition was sustainable.

"You can generate revenues at your home games with ticketing and sponsorship locally but you also need to fly to the other games which is costly," he said.

Weil is promoting the idea of relegation internally and the home-and-away format meant "we will have loud and good games with good crowds," he added.

The FIH said it would ensure that all Pro League matches would be broadcast live, either on free-to-air channels in 'home' nations or via its own OTT (over-the-top) platform FIH.live, launched in January and which is free to all fans.


Field hockey has a long tradition, having been included in the first modern Olympics in 1908, and is widely played, with the FIH boasting 137 national associations.

It is, however, not generally considered a mainstream sport although it seems unfair to describe it is a minority sport.

Even Weil does not know how many people play the sport.

"The first mission we have is to find out how big the sport is; it's a strange comment from the CEO of a federation (but) currently we get surprises every day on how many players there are in the world," he said.

For example there are about 76 college teams in the United States, even though the national federation is relatively small.

"There are hockey fields all over the place in the U.S., in college, and you ask yourself why do you not take advantage of that? There must be people loving hockey a lot in the US."

One of Weil's main tasks is to find the right sponsors -- those who cannot afford to go into soccer but want exposure.

"Hockey has quite a premium fan base. They are fans who can spend quite a bit of money but we need to find the brands who are looking to sponsor and we need to deliver properly to those companies," he said.

After working with the world's biggest game at FIFA, Weil now finds himself on the other side of the fence in a sport which has to fight hard to attract sponsorship and fans.

"It's more down-to-earth, its more realistic," he said, adding that he wanted to learn how smaller federations coped.

"I always admired the small federations for... how they get events organised and get teams to locations. At FIFA, every team coming (to a tournament) is paid for, hotels are booked, reserved, you have all the staff and agencies.

"The approach here is different; hockey is based on a huge number of people doing it on a voluntary basis."

One thing that struck him was the sense of fair play.

"Given the speed of the game, a player has no time to complain. If a player stays on the ground and pretends to be injured, they penalise their own team," he said. "If you're part of it, you don't notice... but for me, it was 'wow'".

The Star of Malaysia

Pak participation in FIH Pro League depends on govt grant: PHF

LAHORE - Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Associate Secretary Ayaz Mahmood Tuesday said that Pakistan’s participation in the FIH’s Pro League would only be possible if the federation gets the required funds from the government.

Addressing a news conference along with Pakistan hockey team coach Danish Kaleem coach, the PHF official made it clear that if the PHF does not get the necessary funds, it will not be possible to ensure the participation of the green shirts in the pro league. Ayaz who only took the office early this month, faced a barrage of stinging questions.

“The present setup of the federation has been functioning for the last three and a half year. During this period, the PHF received a total government grant of Rs 542 million from which Rs 320 million were given by federal government, Rs 220 million by Sindh government and Rs 2 million by Punjab government,” he said. The breakup of the expenditure was later presented to the media persons.

“Presently, we only have Rs 17.5 million in the kitty. For our first Pro League assignment in Argentina, almost Rs 30 million are required. For the entire Pro League, Rs 100 million to 120 million are needed,” said the PHF official.

Ayaz said even in past, when Pakistan won all the meaningful titles, World Cup (four times), Olympics (thrice) and Asian Games (eight times), the federation was dependent upon the government grant. The PHF associate secretary agreed that the government’s reluctance could be due to the damaged credibility because of the misdoings of the past federations.

Danish Kaleem emphasized that Pakistan’s participation in the FIH Pro League is important for a number of reasons. “Mere participation would give Pakistan a large number of FIH ranking points. Canada (10th) and Ireland (11th) in the FIH rankings are not part of the Pro League. Our presence in the Pro League should enable Pakistan (12th) to easily go past these countries in the FIH rankings which will increase our chances to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. Moreover, the experience of playing 16 matches against world’s top teams would be a wonderful exposure for our young team,” he elaborated.

Ayaz Mahmood said: “In the case of non-participation, the FIH could impose a ban on Pakistan’s participation in the international events apart from inflicting a fine. In all probability, hockey is the sole hope for Pakistan’s presence at the 2020 Olympics ‘through qualification’. Otherwise, it won’t be different from the 2016 Olympics, when not a single sports person could qualify from world’s fifth largest country. The seven Pakistani entrants only came through quota spots/wildcard,” he added.

When asked about reinvigorating the domestic hockey scene, the associate secretary said: “Pakistan Hockey Super League (PHSL), which will be a privately sponsored event scheduled in March, promises a lot. I am optimistic about its success. That should lead to more corporate interest in Pakistan hockey; lessening our dependence on the government funds.

“I will request the media to fully support PHF’s request to the government for the monetary grant to ensure Pakistan’s participation in the FIH Pro League - so important for the survival of our national game,” he added.

The Nation

Do's and Don'ts of Preparing For a Tournament

Tom Bean

The new Pro League from the International Hockey Federation takes it's bow this weekend. Designed in a similar vein to UEFA's Nations League, the 9 best men's and 9 best women's teams from around the world will battle against one another to become Pro League champions.

Retired Sardar Singh named in selection committee of Hockey India

Sardar Singh. File photo

Former captain Sardar Singh has been included in a 13-member Hockey India selection committee, to be headed by BP Govinda, a member of the 1975 World Cup winning team.

Sardar, who wanted to continue playing till the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but was forced to quit after a disappointing Asian Games campaign last year, confirmed the development.

“Yes, I was offered the role and I accepted it. It is a new challenge for me and I am always eager to serve Indian hockey in any way I can,” Sardar told PTI on Tuesday.

“It’s a completely different challenge and an exciting one. All these years I served as a player now I got the opportunity to serve from the other side of the table.”    

The selection committee also includes Harbinder Singh, Syed Ali, A B Subbaiah, R P Singh, Rajnish Mishra, Joydeep Kaur, Surender Kaur, Asunta Lakra, High Performance Director David John and chief coaches of the senior men’s and women’s teams.

Having been on the other side of the pitch just a few months back, Sardar very well knows what it takes to build a team and pointed out that any day he would prefer experience over youth.

“I have been player for the past two decades and I know what is important for a team. Youth can never replace experience. What I feel is that any good team is a balance of youth and experience. Look at Belgium,” he said.

“As a selector my approach would be the same. I would always vouch for experience but at the same time will like to see good youngsters in the team. India need experienced players like P R Sreejesh, Rupinder Pal Singh and S V Sunil to guide the youngsters till the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.”       

Post retirement Sardar is a busy man, working on numerous personal projects like his upcoming academy in Haryana and also an NGO.

To add to it, he also has a few offers lined up to play in European leagues.

Asked how he will prioritise, the former star midfielder said: “It won’t be a problem at all. Yes, I am working on a few personal things but serving Indian hockey is always a priority for me.”       

Harendra Singh had a major role to play in reviving Sardar’s career and the former captain said the sacked India coach wasn’t given enough time to prove his worth with the senior national side.

“I think it was not a wise decision. Harendra (bhai) is one of the best coaches of India. I think we didn’t give him enough time. In the 4-5 tournaments with the senior side he managed 3 podium finishes for India.

“I think any coach needs at least four years to build a team and get desired results,” Sardar said.

Sardar said with no one at the helm, the Indian men’s hockey team is now in a no man’s land with the Tokyo Olympics just a year-and-a-half away.

“We have to go through a difficult Olympic qualifier and any new coach will take at least 5-6 months to get his footing. With a new coach there is always the risk of adopting to a completely new style of hockey,” he said.

“So I think it wasn’t a wise decision. But as players we don’t have any say. We have to play and adapt to circumstances that we are put through.”

The Tribune

Nothing official about Sardar’s elevation as selector

Former captain claims he hasn’t been officially told; HI says he has been a selector for two weeks now

Vinayak Padmadeo

Sardar Singh

It’s been over two weeks since Hockey India (HI) appointed former captain Sardar Singh as a national selector but he has not yet been “officially” informed about it. Sardar has been part of the 13-member selection committee, which is headed by former India captain BP Govinda, since January 1.

Sardar, who announced his retirement last year after he was dropped from the core group for the World Cup, said he had heard of his appointment from journalists but was yet to get an official communication about it.

“I have been told so yes,” Sardar told The Tribune on Tuesday. “I don’t think I have been officially intimated through mail but to be honest I have not checked it also. I have only heard about my appointment but I have not been officially told,” he added.

Hockey India president Mohammad Mushtaque Ahmad said he was included in the selection committee for some time now. “Yes, he is part of our selection committee and his name is there on our website too,” he said.

Right mix

Sardar, meanwhile, said that he would strive to convince the committee members to strike the right balance of youth and experience in the team.

Last year, the selectors, with inputs from high performance director David John and coach Sjoerd Marijne, focused on blooding young players at the cost of a few of the experienced players. Even after Harendra Singh became the coach, the trend continued, with Sardar left out of the core group for the World Cup.

Sardar said it was one of the areas which required a fresh look. “I will make sure that those talented players who have come into the core with their hard work… selections will happen on merit. Having said that, I cannot say that selections have been wrong since HI took over. But yes the selections will be done on merit because if you don’t pick deserving players for tournaments, it will break the player,” he said.

“As an athlete, whatever I have faced is an experience for me to take it forward. Hockey has given everything to me so the focus will be to select a strong team. Often we have seen that we have picked a few inexperienced players who struggle during crunch situations. So we have to ensure a proper mix of youth and experience in the team. Young players have to be eased into major tournaments as they may struggle in big matches. And honestly we are harming their progress by selecting them for big tournaments,” he added.

Age is only a number

Having had to sit out many times due to his ‘ageing legs’, Sardar said that a player’s performance should be the main focus for selection and not his age. “Jamie Dwyer, Mark Knowles played even when they were in their mid-30s. Age is not an issue, fitness and performance is. The key is to select someone on performance and not on his or her age,” he said.

The Tribune

Difficult to lengthen MHL season

By Naqib Nor Said

KUALA LUMPUR: There is no guarantee of a balance in quality between teams apart from escalating costs which makes the proposal of lengthening the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) season as something that is virtually impossible.

National women’s squad coach, K. Dharmaraj said that even though from a positive angle, such a move could improve the level of competition while also making it perhaps even more attractive, however there are many aspects that need to be considered first before such a proposal can be put forth to the Malaysia Hockey Confederation (MHC).

"In my personal opinion, if at all we want to have a league that is as long as in Europe, then we must make sure that we can get at least 10 teams that are of equal quality which is very difficult to do.

"If we look at the men’s league this season, only three of the competing seven teams are of somewhat equal strength while the rest seem to be lagging far behind, and for the women’s league it’s only four out of the seven teams that are on a level playing field… and this too because of the participation of top China League club Liaoning Infinite Space who have been invited to take part.

"It just does not make sense for us to lengthen the league when the matches played are not of a certain level or quality,” he said.

Apart from this, Dharmaraj, 50, also outlined the potential inability of certain teams in paying out salaries for world class foreign imports for a long period as another reason why lengthening the league is not a viable option.

"At present our league allows each team to have up to six foreign imports, so if the league period is extended then it could make it difficult for top foreign players to come and play here because they also have offers to play from clubs in Europe.

"In fact, our teams might also not be able to cope with the high salary demands of these world-class foreign imports. Just try to imagine a month’s salary that is presently being paid, multiplied by six months, can the teams really afford it?

Speaking on the difficulty experienced by local players to fight for places in the national team supposedly because of a lack of competitive action after the MHL draws to a close, Dharmaraj has his own opinion on this matter as well.

"By right our local crop of players must be brave and daring to try their luck overseas such as on the European continent, such as what veteran forward S. Selvaraju is doing by playing in the Italian league.

“If we were to just take a look at Pakistan and India players who do not manage to get into their respective national sides, they are always brave, willing to leave their comfort zones to improve on their physique and game, so that they are in the best shape to perform.

"I would like to propose to young and upcoming players to build on their potential by using the right channels available to them, as there are many of our coaches who have links or ties with overseas clubs who could help such players to secure playing or training stints which would benefit them,” he said.

New Straits Times

Khelo India Youth Games 2019: Odisha crowned champions in Under-21 men's hockey

Khelo India Youth Games 2019 Odisha team , Khelo India

Odisha were Tuesday crowned as the champions after defeating Haryana 4-2 in the penalty shootout in the final of the Under-21 men's hockey competition of the Khelo India Games.

The scores were tied at 2-2 after the end of regulation time, which resulted in the penalty shootout where Ashis Topno, Gregory Xess, Shilanand Lakra and Dipsan Tirkey converted for Odisha while only Kuldeep and Yashdeep

Siwach could score for Haryana, a statement by Hockey India said.

In the bronze medal match, it was Punjab who registered a 2-0 victory in the penalty shootout against Uttar Pradesh after both the teams were tied at 1-1 after all four quarters.

Meanwhile, in the Under-17 women's competition, Jharkhand defeated Delhi 11-0 in Pool A match.

In another Pool A match, it was Punjab who came out on top against Chandigarh by 4-3.

Matches in Pool B saw Mizoram and Haryana register victories in their respective matches.

While Mizoram defeated hosts Maharashtra by 5-1, Haryana registered a 3-2 win over Odisha.

In the Under-21 Women's competition, Maharashtra and Jharkhand played out a goal-less draw in Pool A.

In the other Pool A match, it was Odisha who played out a 1-1 draw against Mizoram to split the points, the statement added.

Daily News & Analysis

Rising Star Tice in “total shock” at FIH nomination despite medals on four fronts in 2018

Lena Tice tearfully salutes the crowd in London

Lena Tice says she “never even considered” she would be nominated for the FIH Rising Star despite one of the most spectacular years by anyone’s standards, winning medals in four separate jurisdictions.

It started with double success with UCD, landing the EYHL regular season crown and the Irish Senior Cup before the summer’s groundbreaking World Cup silver medal in London.

Hot on those heels, she jetted off down under for a pre-arranged link-up with North Harbour Hawks – helped by contacts set up by Irish assistant coach Colin Stewart – with whom she won the New Zealand Hockey League.

Less planned was her time in Australia but she jumped at the chance of playing for the ACT Strikers and duly won the player of the tournament as well as a bronze medal.

To cap it off, December brought the Rising Star nomination – alongside Ayeisha McFerran’s Goalkeeping of the Year nod – with the voting running for another couple of days.

Reacting to the news, Tice told The Hook her “initial reaction was total shock”.

“It is of course a real honour but it is really just a reflection of this amazing team, the staff and most of all the teammates I have around me. It was far less of a shock to see Ayeisha be nominated for goalkeeper of the year. No one deserves it more than her!”

It has been a meteoric rise to this level for the 21-year-old though she has been an international sports star for over seven years now since making her Irish cricket debut in August 2011.

Hockey began to take centre stage around 2014 and made her senior international debut in November 2015. Crucially, she earned a spot in the Hawkes Bay Cup panel in early 2016 in New Zealand once Graham Shaw and her parents were assured her Leaving Cert studies would not suffer.

“Graham was extremely helpful in that he talked to my parents and my school coaches and accommodated my studies. My parents were happy for me to miss school for hockey in the leaving cert year and they supported me all the way.

“I had to work hard around it and get the most out of my time. But I knew I wanted to get as many games under my belt as possible and I definitely wanted to be on that plane to New Zealand.

“It was an incredible opportunity at a young age. The other squad members were always supportive and welcoming as a entered the squad. I also had my best friend Zoe [Wilson] there with me to learn the ropes with! She probably caught on quicker than me though!”

It proved formative and Tice went on to play in each of 2017’s big events, earning qualification for the World Cup. The low point was the Europeans in Amsterdam, surviving relegation by the skin of their teeth.

But, out of that tournament’s debrief, the lessons learned proved invaluable.

“The Europeans in 2017 was a tough tournament, by anyone’s standards but it made us tougher and more resilient. It forced us to grow and get stronger as a unit.

“Our team culture was tested and as a result, forced to get better and better. And I think if you ask any of the girls, it was our culture that stood to us the most at the World Cup. So now we must build on it again because we know our togetherness will be a huge deciding factor on our road to Tokyo.”

Quite how that would manifest itself from her personal perspective, though, is something she could never have envisaged when she was penning her list of goals at the start of 2018.

“I do set goals. But they are mostly performance related instead of outcome related. Obviously my goal was to get selected for the World Cup and for us as a team to compete at a high level.

“However, I would be lying if I said a World Cup silver medal or medals in Australia and New Zealand were even considered! This year has been a real blessing. I’m incredibly thankful to have had the opportunities that I have and I’m well aware that the timing worked itself out incredibly well for me in order to allow me to go away and play. It’s been amazing for all of us!”

Reflecting on the year gone by, Tice looks back on a slightly bittersweet time with UCD in some respects.

“We performed extremely well in the league the entire season and came away with the ISC but unfortunately came up short in the the Champions Trophy.

“It was definitely a tough one to stomach at the time and took a few weeks to get over. Playing for UCD means a lot to me and it was a special team to be a part of.”

She also picked up a hamstring injury early in the European Club Cup in Surbiton, an event she had dreamed of playing in, and was ruled out after game one.

The World Cup followed soon after but she had precious little time to savour the moment as she embarked on her southern hemisphere odyssey.

“Yeah it was definitely a bit hard leaving,” she admitted as the team enjoyed numerous special invitations to a range of events off the back of their heroics.

“I left Ireland 10 days after the final and so it did feel like I was leaving a lot behind. It’s always hard leaving the girls after a tournament, never mind a tournament like that.

“When you have been in each others pockets for so many weeks or months, and shared so much, it’s always hard to part ways for a while. I also have terrible fear of missing out, haha. But once I arrived down under, it was all go and I had a great two weeks holiday before starting hockey in New Zealand.

“It was a good quality tournament, definitely testing me in new ways. It was an easy enough transition into a very welcoming new team. It always takes a week or two to settle but once I had become a little more accustomed to the style and got to know the girls, it turned out to be an absolutely fantastic few weeks, topped off by a tournament win.

“The Australian Hockey League was a very strong standard. When playing against Victoria, New South Wales or Queensland, you would be lining out against teams with eight or nine Hockeyroos on the field at times. It was very fast and took some adjusting to but definitely taught me a lot. The Australian style is fast and attacking, so again, challenged me in new ways.”

London, though, will always remain the highlight and Tice is keen to see it as the beginning of a sustained period of success for the Green Army on the world stage.

“The World Cup was like a dream. I would be lying if I said I thought we would come home with a medal but I definitely knew we had something special in us and we still do.

“We have a lot of talent and experience in or squad and, more importantly, we have an abundance of drive. So we have put the World Cup to bed and we are totally focused on June 2019 and the Hockey Series Finals.”

** To vote for Lena Tice for the FIH Rising Star award, click here

The Hook

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