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News for 02 March 2019

All the news for Saturday 2 March 2019

2019 FIH Pro League (Men) - 2 March

2 Mar 2019    AUS v ESP (RR)   2 - 1

Unofficial Pool standings

Rank Team Played Wins Win Draws Loss Draws Losses Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points Percent
1 Australia 5 3 0 1 1 14 12 2 10 66.7
2 Belgium 4 2 1 1 0 14 9 5 9 75.0
3 Great Britain 3 2 0 0 1 12 9 3 6 66.7
4 Netherlands 4 1 1 1 1 15 15 0 6 50.0
5 Germany 3 1 0 0 1 5 5 0 4 44.4
6 Argentina 3 1 0 0 1 6 7 -1 4 44.4
7 Spain 4 0 2 0 2 11 13 -2 4 33.3
8 New Zealand 4 0 0 1 3 10 17 -7 1 8.3

The FIH inexplicably and confusingly use a system not used in any other sports League in the World, of making the Percentage more important than Points until the end of the League when they will revert to Points only. Fieldhockey.com prefers to use the conventional Points and so the Unofficial Pool Standings on this site are reflected in this manner.

FIH Match Centre

2019 FIH Pro League (Women) - 2 March

2 Mar 2019    AUS v USA (RR)  2 - 1  
3 Mar 2019 14:00 (GMT+8)     CHN v NED (RR) Wujin Hockey Stadium, Changzhou

Live streaming on https://fih.live (Geo blocked if there is TV coverage)

Unofficial Pool standings

Rank Team Played Wins Win Draws Loss Draws Losses Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points Percent
1 Australia 6 4 1 0 1 13 8 5 14 77.8
2 Netherlands 4 3 0 0 1 8 2 6 9 75.0
3 Argentina 4 1 2 0 1 7 6 1 7 58.3
4 New Zealand 5 2 0 0 3 8 6 2 6 40.0
5 Belgium 3 2 0 0 1 3 3 0 6 66.7
6 Germany 3 1 0 2 0 7 5 2 5 55.6
7 Great Britain 3 0 1 0 2 3 10 -7 2 22.2
8 China 3 0 0 1 2 5 8 -3 1 11.1
9 United States 3 0 0 1 2 3 9 -6 1 11.1

The FIH inexplicably and confusingly use a system not used in any other sports League in the World, of making the Percentage more important than Points until the end of the League when they will revert to Points only. Fieldhockey.com prefers to use the conventional Points and so the Unofficial Pool Standings on this site are reflected in this manner.

FIH Match Centre

Kookaburras Make It Three In A Row

Alexie Beovich

The Kookaburras have secured hard-fought a 2-1 win over Spain at the FIH Pro League in Sydney on Saturday afternoon.

Led by in-form Daniel Beale who scored the winning goal early in the fourth term and New

South Wales talent Lachi Sharp who scored the opening goal of the match, the Australians impressed in front of a strong Sydney crowd.

Goalkeeper Tyler Lovell returned to the side for his first match of the FIH Pro League following the birth of his first child and was exceptional all day, a number of saves late in the game helped to lock in the Kookaburras win.

Co-captain Aran Zalewski was named Player of the Match after an assured display, where the Kookaburras held on in the end.

Pau Quemada was Spain’s only goal scorer, finding a gap off the back post in the 26th minute of the match.

The win, Australia’s third for the season, puts the Kookaburras in a strong position heading into important matches against Argentina and New Zealand on the 16th and 17th of March in Sydney.

Argentina has just one win for the FIH Pro League and New Zealand are yet to earn a victory but both sides are highly ranked and will be strong opponents for Australia.

Australia pressed the attack early resulting in a number of circle entries from veteran Matthew Swann.

The Kookaburras first chance of the match came through Jacob Anderson in the fifth minute of the match. Off the back of an explosive run through the midfield, Tom Craig found Anderson on an open angle in front of goals but the ball was juggled out of bounds.

Sharp opened the scoring for Australia in the 22nd minute of the match. A deflected shot from Jack Welch found Sharp in front of an open goal and the local talent made no mistake, finding the back of the net with a deadly strike.

Spain didn’t go down without a fight, breaking through the Aussie defence in the 26th minute with a goal to Quemada. A Spanish attack through Marc Bolto forced Australian goalkeeper Lovell out of the goals and Quemada capitalised with a deflection from the back post.

Lovell showed why he's been missed by the Australians, diving on a dangerous ground ball just moments before blocking a seemingly guaranteed goal that was fired above his head in the 38th minute.
Beale sealed the win for Australia in the 47th minute, nailing a powerful shot on the move off an assist from Dylan Wotherspoon.

Australia 2 (Sharp 22', Beale 47')
Spain 1 (Quemada 26')

Hockey Australia media release

Hockeyroos Comeback In Three Goal Thriller

Alexie Beovich

The Hockeyroos have earned a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over the USA in front of 2,000 hockey fans at the FIH Pro League Match in Sydney on Saturday night.

USA opened the scoring through Danielle Grega in the first term and held onto a 1-0 lead for 39 minutes before Australia could hit the scoreboard.

Goals in the final quarter to Jodie Kenny and Mariah Williams solidified Australia’s comeback win.

Kenny made her impact in the 46th minute when she fired her best penalty corner flick for the day, rocketing the shot into the top-right corner of the net.

With the pressure mounting on team USA late in the game,co Williams nailed a crucial goal in the 52nd minute off of a back stick pass from Emily Chalker, giving the Hockeyroos their first lead of the night.

USA’s Jessica Jecko was named Player of the Match after an outstanding day in the goals.

Saturday night’s win marks they Hockeyroos 4th regulation win of the FIH Pro League.

The side faces Argentina and New Zealand on the 16th and 17th of March in Sydney.

Australia dominated the attack for most of the day, leading circle entries 37-16 and penalty corners 8-2.

Despite their attacking pressure, the Hockeyroos found themselves trailing 1-0 at the half time break.

The USA hit the scoreboard through Grega in the 7th minute, after she found herself with enough room to move close to goals. The USA midfielder snuck a shot past Aussie goalkeeper Ash Wells.

A penalty corner opportunity in the dying seconds of the first half saw the ball flicked into Brooke Peris, the Australian forward looked sore but was able to play out the match.

Jocelyn Bartram made her presence felt as soon as the second half began. Defending a deadly penalty corner with some impressive stick work from behind her back.

Sophie Taylor had an opportunity to hit the scoreboard in the 36th minute of the match, she found herself within striking distance off of a deflection but her shot fired wide on the near-side.

Another Australian penalty corner chance went array in the 36th minute of the match. Kenny’s shot was stopped by Jecko with an impressive diving save.

Despite multiple penalty corners and circle entries, Australia still trailed 1-0 at the final break.

The fourth quarter started with a chain of penalty corners for Australia and it was co-captain Jodie Kenny who made the breakthrough.

In the 46th minute Kenny started the Australian comeback, nailing her first penalty corner goal for the match.

With the Sydney crowd cheering and chanting, the Hockeyroos continued in their pursuit for victory.

Spurred on by her home crowd, New South Wales forward Williams gave Australia the lead it needed, scoring a powerful goal in the 52nd minute of the match.

A late defensive stop from Edwina Bone locked in the Hockeyroos’ win.

Australia 2 (Kenny 46' Williams 52')
USA 1 (Grega 7')

Hockey Australia media release

2019 Test Matches: FRA v WAL (W) - 3rd Test

Result for 1 March

FRA v WAL     0 - 5

France win the 3 Test series 2 -1

FIH Match Centre

TNB Cup Final: UniKL waiting for Godot

By Jugjet Singh

KUALA LUMPUR: Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) will be waiting for a miracle to appear in their inbox by today morning, ahead of their TNB Cup clash against Terengganu Hockey Team (THT) at the Tun Razak Stadium.

Dutchmen Valentin Verga, Robert Kemperman and Martijn Havenga, as well as top Irish goalkeeper David Harte, who helped UniKL win their first League title in nine years, will only be around to help them to a double if the European Hockey Federation (EHF) bothers to reply their email request.

This is because the four are no longer available from March 1 onwards, as they have a contract to play in the European Hockey League (EHL) knock-out stage from April 17-22.

Even though there is ample time, the European Hockey Federation (EHF) has only allowed their players to ply their trade overseas until Feb 28 even though their tournament will only be held at a much later date.

UniKL wrote to the EHF some time ago but have yet to get any response.

"We are expecting a reply from the EHF by tomorrow (today) morning, and hopefully UniKL's appeal receives a positive response," said UniKL coach Arul Selvaraj.

Terengganu HT coach I. Vikneswaran is the least bothered about the saga involving UniKL's foreign imports.

"I will only concentrate on my team, and plan for matters which are in my hands. The availability or inavailability of UniKL's foreign players is not in my hands, so I will not think about it at all.

"Penalty corners could decide the outcome, and that is in out hands to plan for," said Vikneswaran.

Terengganu HT have tournament top-scorer Jang Jung Hyun with 21 penalty corner goals, while UniKL's Razie Rahim has nailed 14 goals.

The team which gives away the least penalty corners will have the upper hand today.

SATURDAY: TNB Cup Final: Terengganu Hockey Team v Universiti Kuala Lumpur (Tun Razak, 5pm); Third-Fourth: Maybank v Tenaga Nasional (Tun Razak, 3pm).

Jugjet's World of Field Hockey

Jong-hyun challenges UniKL to stop him from scoring

By Aftar Singh

KUALA LUMPUR: Stop me if you can!

Terengganu penalty corner specialist Jang Jong-hyun has challenged defending champions Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) to stop him from scoring goals in the TNB Cup (overall) final at the Tun Razak Hockey Stadium today.

The top form South Korean defender is the leading scorer in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) with 21 goals.

Jong-hyun single-handedly converted five penalty corners to steer the East Coast team with a convincing 5-2 win over Tenaga Nasional in the semi-finals, return-leg match on Thursday.

In the semi-finals, first-leg match on Tuesday, the South Korean netted one to help Terengganu win 3-1.

Terengganu qualified for the final with an impressive aggregate of 8-3.

Jong-hyun, who will turn 35 on March 28, was delighted with his goal-scoring spree.

“I want to score two or three more goals in the final to help Terengganu win the Cup. I challenge the UniKL defence to stop me from scoring the goals,” said Jong-hyun.

The South Korean is set to win the top-scorer award for the third time in MHL as his nearest challengers are UniKL’s penalty corner ace and defender Muhd Razie Abdul Rahim (14 goals), Maybank captain and former international forward Hafifihafiz (13).

Jong-hyun made his debut in the MHL with Terengganu in 2014 and won his first award in 2016 with 16 goals and won his second in 2017 with 28 goals.

Last year, he featured for KL Hockey Club and netted 12 goals to finish as the joint second highest scorer with Jeroen Hertzberger of UniKL in the league.

The Star of Malaysia

UniKL will make do without ‘The Four’

KUALA LUMPUR: No fabulous four for Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL), no problem!

On paper, the prospect of defending the TNB Cup looks daunting for UniKL in the absence of Ireland captain and goalkeeper David Harte and three Dutch internationals Robert Kemperman, Martijn Havenga and Valentin Verga at the Tun Razak Hockey Stadium today.

But UniKL coach A. Arulselvaraj is not fretting.

He has faith on the rest of the team to finish off the job.

“This is the time for the other players in the team to come out of their shadows (four players) and perform well. The message to them is – just do your job,” said Arul.

“Most of the players played last season and have the experience playing in the final.”

UniKL’s “The Four” will return to Europe on Sunday as the European Hockey Federation (EHF)’s window to play in overseas leagues ended on Thursday (Feb 28).

The players have a contract to play in the EuroHockey League knockout stages from April 17-22 – with Harte, Havenga and Kemperman playing for SV Kampong while Verga will be featuring for Amsterdam in Holland.

Forwards Kemperman and Havenga have been instrumental for UniKL – having scored eight and seven goals respectively.

In their absence, Australians Kieran Govers and Timothy Deavin will marshal UniKL’s attacking machinery while three national players – Muhd Marhan Mohd Jalil, drag-flick specialist Muhd Razie Abdul Rahim and Muhd Shukri Abdul Mutalib are expected to add sting.

They will also be banking on experienced players such as Izwan Firdaus Ahmad Tajuddin, Faridzul Afiq Mohd, Mohamad Ashran Hamsani, Ezad Hakimi and former internationals Baljit Singh and Harvinder Singh.

The Star of Malaysia

Bann versus Garvey and YM against C of I the key battles

Banbridge’s Eugene Magee and Lisnagarvey’s Richard Arneill in the 2016 IHL final. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Banbridge and Lisnagarvey’s Saturday night tie and YMCA’s hosting of Cork C of I look set to be the weekend’s pivotal battles in the men’s EY Hockey League.

Second and third respectively, Bann and Garvey are taking the 6pm slot on Saturday evening to up the crowd for what is one of the marquee ties on the calendar.

Garvey have ominously found their form and they will land at the home of their big rivals on the back of recent wins over Three Rock Rovers and Pembroke.

The Hillsborough outfit have also inflicted Bann’s only league defeat in the corresponding league fixture earlier in the season when they came out on top after a nine goal thriller.

Mark Tumilty’s side bowed out of the Irish Senior Cup in a blip to their form but Eugene Magee and Josh Moffett have been in fine fettle up top to do damage.

At the bottom, YMCA and C of I have a crucial showdown at Wesley. Both have recent wins over Cookstown to draw confidence from still fresh in the mind.

Crucial to the tie is, perhaps, how well YM defend against penalty corners, both in their concession and their running lines, against an in-form John Jermyn who whipped in five last weekend.

C of I stay in the vicinty for Sunday’s tie against Three Rock Rovers, meeting a side they have a rough record against in recent times. Three Rock’s first game of the weekend is against Monkstown, a key one for both clubs if they are to get back into the mix for a Champions Trophy place.

Leaders Glenanne will hope to be more efficient with their chances when they take on Cookstown at St Andrew’s. They missed the injured Cedric Jakobi’s corner prowess last Saturday against Pembroke when they let nine corner chances go incomplete.

Nonetheless, they showed created plenty of chances that, if replicated, could see them run up a few against a Cookstown side that has conceded 22 times in their last five games.

Fourth place Pembroke go to Annadale, a side who have endured a 5-0 loss and 3-3 draw at Strathearn in recent times but did beat the Dubliners in the return fixture.

In Leinster, UCD have ridden their luck at times against the sides at the bottom of the table at times since the turn of the year to amass a five-point lead at the top.

As such, their trip to Clontarf will be a tester and Railway Union and Corinthian will be hoping to see them drop points to reignite their title challenges; they meet Kilkenny and Portrane, respectively. Avoca host Rathgar while Dublin University come up against Dublin North.

Men’s weekend fixtures (Saturday unlees stated)
EY Hockey League
Saturday: Annadale v Pembroke Wanderers, Strathearn, 2.30pm; Banbridge v Lisnagarvey, Havelock Park, 6pm; Glenanne v Cookstown, St. Andrews College, 3pm; Three Rock Rovers v Monkstown, Grange Road, 3pm; YMCA v Cork C of I, Wesley College, 3.15pm
Sunday: Three Rock Rovers v Cork C of I, Grange Road, 2pm

Leinster Division 1: Avoca v Rathgar, Newpark, 12.30pm; Clontarf v UCD, Mount Temple, 12.30pm; Dublin University v Dublin North, Santry Avenue, 12.45pm; Railway Union v Kilkenny, Park Avenue, 2pm; Portrane v Corinthian, 12.30pm, Donabate

Munster Senior Cup, semi-finals: Ashton v Bandon, Ashton School, 2pm; Cork Harlequins v Catholic Institute, Farmers’ Cross, 1.30pm

The Hook

Speers and Pegasus look to knock rising Railway off track

John Flack

Pegasus’ Alex Speers faces her old club Railway Union. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Alex Speers reckons Railway Union will pose a stiff test on Saturday at Malone as Pegasus aim to close the gap at the top of the EY Hockey League table.

And the former Ireland captain is well qualified to give a considered opinion, having spent four years with the Dublin club before returning home to join Pegasus.

Speers has been in terrific form this season and has scored 15 goals in all competitions, including nine in ten matches in the all Ireland league.

Pegasus trail leaders Loreto by four points but have the benefit of a game in hand over the Leinster side, who beat Railway 3-2 last week.

However, the previous week, Railway produced a master class in crushing Belfast Harlequins 5-1 at Deramore and then went on to beat Loreto in the Jacqui Potter Cup.

Pegasus recovered from a 3-2 loss to UCD to beat Pembroke 2-0 in their last outing but Speers knows they will have to be in top form if they are to make it two home wins in a row.

She said: “Railway have been in great form over the last few weeks with some impressive victories and our matches are always close. We went behind in our league match with them before Christmas before grinding out a win so we know it won’t be easy on Saturday.

“They have talented players all over the pitch which I know from playing with the club can hurt us if we aren’t at our best.

“But we bounced back well in that win over Pembroke after losing to UCD and hope to keep that momentum going against Railway.”

Belfast Harlequins have slumped to third from bottom, after picking up just one point from a possible six in their last two outings.

However, it’s well within their grasp to still make the top four and a place in the end-of-season play-offs as just two points separate them from fourth-placed Cork Harlequins.

Davy Frazer’s side face a double header this weekend with a trip to Dublin to face Muckross followed by an away clash with their Cork namesakes.

After several weeks without Zoe Wilson, the Ireland World Cup silver medallist is set to return at the weekend, having been given the all-clear by her physio after an ankle injury.

“Zoe trained with us last week so fingers crossed she’ll be able to play in both matches which are vital for us,” said Frazer.

“It’s a massive weekend for us and it will either keep us in or around fourth place or we could be out of it depending on how the games go.”

For Cork Harlequins, they have a doubt over Julia O’Halloran who sustained an injury on Irish Junior Cup duty last weekend against UCD II.

Darren Collins’ side is looking to replicate their fine away form on home turf; they start their weekend on the road to Pembroke before returning to Farmers’ Cross on Sunday for the Belfast game.

UCD are playing twice at home over the weekend before they vacate Belfield on Monday as work gets going on the National Hockey Stadium.

It would have been three home ties ticked off this week had their game against Muckross on Wednesday night was completed but the fog came down and it was abandoned in the second quarter at 3-1. They face Old Alex on Saturday and then Ards on Sunday.

For Ards, it is a testing weekend with Loreto visiting on Saturday. The weekend finishes out on Sunday evening with Railway coming up against Pembroke in a potentially spicy Dublin 4 derby with both sides in the playoff chase.

In EYHL2, the midweek tie between Corinthian and Trinity was called off after eight minutes due to fog.

Both are on the road in Leinster Division One on Saturday with the reds going to Glenanne and Trinity facing another tester when they go up against North Kildare.

Monkstown will look to continue their chase when they play away at Our Lady’s; Naas will hope to get something from their game against Avoca which may see them safe if other results go their way. Genesis play Rathgar.

Glenanne won 4-0 in midweek against Our Lady’s with Sarah-Jane Kelly, Paula Fitzpatrick, Kate O’Connor and Aisling Boyle all on the mark.

Women’s fixtures (Saturday unless stated)
EY Hockey League
Saturday: Ards v Loreto, Londonderry Park, 2.30pm; Muckross v Belfast Harlequins, Muckross Park, 3.15pm; Pegasus v Railway Union, Malone Playing Fields, 4pm; Pembroke Wanderers v Cork Harlequins, Serpentine Avenue, 2.30pm; UCD v Old Alexandra, Belfield, 2.50pm
Sunday: Cork Harlequins v Belfast Harlequins, Farmers’ Cross, 12pm; Railway Union v Pembroke Wanderers, Park Avenue, 4.15pm; UCD v Ards, Belfield, 1.30pm

Leinster Division 1: Genesis v Rathgar, St Raphaela’s, 3pm; Glenanne v Corinthians, St. Andrews College, 1pm; Naas v Avoca, Naas SC, 2pm; North Kildare v Trinity, The Maws, 2.30pm; Our Lady’s v Monkstown, Terenure, 12.30pm

Munster Division 1
Saturday: Ashton v Limerick, Ashton School, 12.30pm; Belvedere v Catholic Institute, Ballincollig Comm. Sch, 12.30pm; UCC v Waterford, Mardyke, 2.15pm
Sunday: Catholic Institute v Cork C of I, Rosbrien, 12.30pm

The Hook

National League 1 and Scottish Cup double header

This weekend`s double header of National League 1 fixtures and Scottish Cup quarter final ties throws up some mouth-watering possibilities – the league and cup clashes between Edinburgh University and Clydesdale Western stand out over the two days in the women`s competition, while Clydesdale`s home cup tie against Grove Menzieshill looks to be the pick of the men`s round.

Three points separate the top four clubs in women`s National League 1 – so it could hardly be tighter. But only six goals divide Clydesdale Western and Edinburgh University at the top, both are on 31 points but the former also have a game in hand.

The champions have made a slow start to the defence of their title since the winter break – a 3-2 loss to Wildcats was followed by a narrow 2-1 victory over Watsonians. In contrast Western`s only outing was a convincing 6-0 win over GHK.

Further, when the sides first met back in November it was the Titwood-based side that emerged 1-0 victors courtesy of a first half strike by Fran Lonergan.

Derek Forsyth`s squad will have the bonus of the return of Jen Eadie and Heather Howie, back from international duty in Italy.

However, all this may pale into insignificance compared to which side is the hungrier on the day…or days on this occasion.

Waiting in the wings at the top of the table are third-placed Western Wildcats, they are only two points adrift and are favourites to take the points away to Hillhead. Recent wins against Edinburgh University and Grange have propelled the Auchenhowie side into genuine title contenders. Depending on the result at Peffermill, Western Wildcats could be sitting in second spot by Saturday evening.

Dundee Wanderers have also taken the full six points from their two games since the shutdown and they are only one point further back. Again they are at home and will aim to see off the challenge of Glasgow University, especially having totalled eleven goals in their last two outings, Vikki Bunce and Charlotte Watson being the main strikers.

Watsonians have slipped back to sixth in the table but will target a return to winning ways against bottom side Grange. Coach Keith Smith was buoyant about his side`s performance against Edinburgh University last weekend. “We played well and restricted them to just a handful of chances and no corners, and created plenty ourselves. We just lacked that clinical edge a little at the crucial moment.” If that latter failing is solved, then a victory over Grange could follow.

Fifth-placed Grove Menzieshill could continue their drive towards a top four spot with an away win over GHK, but at the moment they are ten points adrift but with a game in hand.

In the cup on Sunday the clash between Watsonians and Western Wildcats could be a close encounter, although the latter won the equivalent league fixture 3-1, Catriona Booth (2), and Rachel Bain provided the winning goals.

A team from the lower divisions is a certainty in the semi-final draw as Erskine Stewart Melville are at home to Stirling Wanderers. In the final tie Wanderers have the challenge to try and see off Uddingston on Tayside.

23 February 2019 at Auchenhowie. Scottish League Division 1 match Western Wildcats v Grange – photo by Duncan Gray

Grange survived their visit to Auchenhowie last weekend, they emerged with a 1-1 draw and maintained their six point cushion at the top of the men`s National League 1. With only five games left the Edinburgh side is in a good position to retain its crown, especially as the chasing pack of the Western Wildcats and the Hill have drawn games.

The champions will be out this weekend with the aim to collect another three points at home to eighth-placed Watsonians at Fettes. However, the earlier league encounter in November wasn’t convincing, only a second half counter by Duncan Riddell separated the sides.

Second-placed Western Wildcats have a tricky away clash with a Hillhead side that are keen to hang on to fourth spot. Mark Ralph`s side have won both their games since the restart, and have yet to lose a goal in the process, but they have been against the bottom two sides in the division.

Western Wildcats are playing some good stuff, they were perhaps unlucky not to take more from last weekend`s clash with Grange. But putting the ball in the net is something for coach Harry Dunlop to work on during this week`s training sessions if they are to emerge from their present drawing mode.

However, Western Wildcats did give Hillhead a 6-0 defeat in the initial league fixture; an Andrew McConnell hat-trick was the catalyst.

Elsewhere, Grove Menzieshill should return to winning form against Kelburne at Glasgow Green, while Edinburgh University`s clash with Clydesdale could be the closest encounter of the day. A Clydesdale victory here could propel the Titwood-based side into the top four should Hillhead founder at Anniesland.

In the cup on Sunday Grange, Edinburgh University and Western Wildcats will hope to enter the semi-final draw – but there are no real certainties in such one-off clashes.

Fifth versus third at Titwood is an enticing prospect. In October the Taysiders came to the south side of Glasgow and emerged with a comfortable 4-0 victory, Cameron Golden got three while Albert Rowling the other. Then two weekends ago Clydesdale emerged from Tayside with a 1-1 draw, Chris McFadden`s second half penalty corner strike cancelling out the opening from Grove Menzieshill`s Chris Moon. This could be one of the games of the weekend.

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Gabriel driving hockey development in Africa

What do you get if you take a hockey-loving humanitarian and give him a mini-bus? Well, in Gabriel Tuscher’s case the combination led to an ambitious project called La Route du Stick.

In 2015 Tuscher, who has a long history in hockey humanitarian projects, drove a van from Switzerland to Belgium picking up hundreds of pieces of donated hockey equipment from local clubs and associations along the way. His aim was to take the equipment to the African nation of Burkina Faso where he hoped to inspire the local youngsters to take up hockey and improve their health and social welfare in the process.

Having collected hundreds of sticks and other hockey kit, he then faced the problem of how to get it from Belgium to Africa. The answer … to drive it.

The success of that venture, four years ago, has prompted Tuscher to repeat the initiative but on a much larger scale. On 19 September 2019, he will set out on a similar journey, but this time collecting equipment from a number of European hockey events being held in the coming months.

From previous experience, Tuscher knows that persuading people to donate equipment will be the easy part. In 2015 a message on social media brought three tonnes of equipment. This time around he has the additional help of a number of National Associations and Regional Associations in collecting donations.

But what is the driving factor that is behind this second trip?

“The first trip was a great experience,” says Tuscher. “Crossing West Africa by road, meeting people day after day. When you travel by plane you reach your destination in a few hours and you even don’t know the name the guy sitting next to you. By road you have to meet people. And when you want to spend more than one night in a place, you appreciate it. You meet local people, fisher men, farmers, tailors. By road you see how populations and cultures change.”

Of course, crossing Africa by minibus is not easy task. Tuscher says the journey will test his patience and flexibility. “I know Burkina Faso well, I have been involved there for more than 20 years, but the other countries are different, culturally and administratively.

“You face new cultures, new ways to get across borders. Crossing a border can take between two hours to a few days. In Africa you have to learn to be patient and flexible. You know your programme can change daily.”

To complete the journey, Tuscher is aiming to raise 20,000CHF which will help source a second hand mini-bus, which he will fill to the ceiling with donated equipment.

Tuscher will then drive the 8,700 kilometres from Brussels to Togo, West Africa, visiting seven nations along the way. Over a three-four month period he will deliver education courses for teachers, coaches and umpires and run hockey coaching clinics for children or teams. Each coaching clinic will then benefit from some donated equipment. He also hopes to hold some talks with government departments to discuss future initiatives with both the National Associations and the African Hockey Federation.

And twice, it seems, is not enough for this dedicated hockey humanitarian: “I’ll set a schedule and try to drive across as much of Africa as I can. If I can’t do it all in this next trip I’ll do it again, and again, and again, once or twice a year maybe.”

The project is supported by The Hockey Foundation (THF), which exists to promote and develop hockey throughout the world in liaison with the FIH. The aim of The Hockey Foundation and one which makes Route du Stick such a perfect match, is to make the world a better place through hockey. La Route du Stick will contribute to HockeyReady, an initiative that aims to source and distribute more than 100,000 hockey sticks to development projects across the world. The HockeyReady initiative is part of Hockey2024, the FIH/THF joint global development strategy.

How can you help Gabriel and La Route du Stick?

Information about equipment collections will be announced over the next few months, in the meantime, to support and donate, please follow this link here

FIH site

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