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News for 26 April 2019

All the news for Friday 26 April 2019

FIH Men's Series Finals Kuala Lumpur 2019 - Day 1
Kuala Lumpur (MAS)

26 Apr 2019     AUT v BLR (Pool A)    5 - 0
26 Apr 2019 16:05 (GMT +8)     CAN v WAL (Pool A)
26 Apr 2019 18:05 (GMT +8)     CHN v ITA (Pool B)
26 Apr 2019 20:05 (GMT +8)     MAS v BRA (Pool B)

Upcoming fixtures

27 Apr 2019 18:05 (GMT +8)     AUT v CAN (Pool A)
27 Apr 2019 20:05 (GMT +8)     WAL v BLR (Pool A)

FIH Match Centre

Malaysia cannot afford any slip-ups

By Jugjet Singh

National men’s senior squad head coach Roelant Oltmans (second from left) oversees his charges during training as they prepare to take on Brazil in their opening Group B match in the FIH Series Finals that begins tomorrow (Friday) at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil. (PIC BY BERNAMA)

KUALA LUMPUR: The national men’s hockey team will step onto the FIH Series Finals stage against Brazil today with two stern warnings from their coach and the Malaysia Hockey Confederation (MHC) president.

National coach Roelant Oltmans said: “Brazil are ranked 27th in the world and if we lose to them, we better not think about the Tokyo Olympics.”

And MHC president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal had already said during the Azlan Shah Cup: “No more excuses that the team played well or put up a world class display of hockey, but then sadly lost the match.”

Brazil are no pushovers and Malaysia need to score early goals to break their spirit, as leaving it to the last quarter could turn out disastrous.

Following a 3-2 defeat to UiTM Hockey Club and going down 5-1 to the national juniors — Brazil have grown in strength through the friendlies played, only narrowly losing out to Canada 4-3.

Jet-lag is over, as the players came early to get adjusted to the 11-hour time difference in Rio de Janeiro.

Both the teams have not played in any international tournament prior to tomorrow’s (Friday) meeting, with their only recent encounter being 4 years ago back in 2015.

The Malaysia senior side were then in Europe and chanced upon meeting a touring Brazil side who were struggling to qualify for their own 2016 Rio Olympics.

A friendly match was arranged, and Malaysia had to go on a full on assault in the third quarter as they laboured to a 3-2 win, and this time round as hosts, the national senior squad cannot afford any slip ups in tomorrow’s opening match.

Skipper Shukri Mutalib knows this all too well.

“Even though I missed the Azlan Shah Cup because of injury, I know how hard everybody has been training in preparation for this tournament, and we’ve got a ‘big’ opening match against Brazil.

“I say big, as no team is too small in any tournament. We will play to win against Brazil, and the score line does not matter, as we need maximum points from all three group matches to make it to the semi-finals and avoid having to go through a second-third spot playoff,” said Shukri who is 33-years-old and has an astonishing 314 caps.

With stern warnings from Oltmans, Subahan, as well as a timely reminder of what needs to be done from the most capped skipper in the tournament, nothing must go wrong when the home side square off against Brazil.

Malaysia and Brazil will be playing in Group B, along with China and Italy, while Group A has Canada, Wales, Belarus and Austria.

World No 10 ranked Canada are expected to top Group A and snatch a berth to the semi-finals.

And the battle for the other slot in Group B will surely be between Malaysia and China.

“Malaysia were super as hosts for the Azlan Shah Cup and we have experienced the same here so far. I believe not only the hospitality is super, but the team as well, because they tend to play six notches higher than their ranking when playing at home,” said Canada coach Paul Bundy.

World No 12 Malaysia beat Canada twice in the Azlan Shah Cup, in a pool match and during the third-fourth placing, but that can’t be taken into account if both the teams end up squaring off in the final.

“I believe Malaysia and China will be the teams to beat for the gold medal and that is what we want from this tournament.

“First an appearance in this final in KL, and then qualify for the Olympics during the next round of play-offs (October or November),” Bundy revealed.

Canada are wary of Wales, while Belarus and Austria will be treated with equal respect.

“There are no weak teams in our group, and anybody who dares take Wales for granted based on their rankings (24th) will be in for a disappointment. The same goes for Austria (19th) and Belarus (31st),” Bundy pointed out.

Canada open their campaign against Wales, who have a youthful side known for their speed.

Meanwhile, Akhimullah Anuar Esook was flown down from Terengganu yesterday to replace striker Shahril Saabah who injured his shoulder during training.

The replacement should pose no problems as young Akhimullah is also a potent striker as he scored 22 goals to hand Malaysia gold in the Youth Olympics hockey 5s.



GROUP A — Austria v Belarus (2.05pm, Pitch 1), Canada v Wales (4.05pm, Pitch I)

GROUP B — Italy v China (6.05pm, Pitch 1), Malaysia v Brazil (8.05pm, Pitch I)

New Straits Times

Sukri vows to fulfil captain’s role and lead Malaysia to Olympics

By Aftar Singh

KUALA LUMPUR: No more heartbreak.

National hockey skipper Muhd Sukri Abdul Mutalib has promised to get it right in his mission to lead the Malaysian team to the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020 by delivering in the FIH Series Finals starting today at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Malaysia let slip a golden chance to seal a ticket for the Olympics after losing to Japan in a penalty shootout in the final of the Asian Games in Indonesia last year. They would have qualified if they had won the gold.

Malaysia have not featured in the Olympics since Sydney 2000 and the pressure is on them to get it right in the Series Finals, which is the Olympic qualifier.

Sukri, who has returned to the national team after recovering from a finger injury, thanked the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) for organising a doa selamat and solat hajat prayers for the team.

“We know the MHF want us to win the tournament. We have vowed to play to our true form,” said Sukri, who has been the national captain since 2016.

“The national players have been criticised many times for their poor finishing and also for conceding goals in crucial stages. But we have rectified all our shortcomings in the training and we are ready to put up a good show.

“Our hopes of qualifying for the Olympics will depend very much on our performance in the Series Finals. And we’ve promised to live up to MHC’s expectation to win the tournament.”

“There was pressure on us in the World League Semi-finals in London in 2017 but we finished fourth to qualify for the World Cup (in Bhubaneswar, India last December).

“We want to show the fans that we can qualify for the Olympics as we have experienced players. Five of us have played more than 200 times for Malaysia.”

Sukri leads the way with 314 caps, followed by forward Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Abdul Jalil (280), Muhd Razie Abdul Rahim (264), Muhd Marhan Mohd Jalil (242) and Faizal Saari (232).

“If the five of us can combine well with the other players in the team, I’m confident we can play consistently well,” said Sukri.

Sukri added that the team were inspired by the motivational talks by hockey legends and Olympians Datuk Seri N. Shanmuganathan, Nor Saiful Zaini and Datuk Mirnawan Nawawi on Wednesday and hoped to follow their footsteps.

Eight teams will feature in the tournament and world No. 13 Malaysia will kick start their Group B campaign against world No. 27 Brazil today, China on Sunday and Italy on Monday.

Said Sukri: “We’ll play an attacking game against Brazil to collect full points in the match. Our main challengers are China (on Sunday). A win over them will put us in a good position to finish top of the group.”

Brazil coach Claudio Rocha hoped to spring a surprise.

“We have 11 players who played in the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. We hope to spring some surprises to finish top four in the tournament,” said Rocha.

Group A comprises Austria, Belarus, Canada and Wales.

Group champions qualify for the semi-finals but the second and third placed teams play in crossover matches to reach the last four.

The Star of Malaysia

Olympic qualifying tourney tougher than W-Cup, says Canada coach

By Aftar Singh

File photo of Canada Mark Pearson struggling on the ball while Australia Simon Orchard falling off during the struggle at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in 2016.RONNIE CHIN/The Star.

KUALA LUMPUR: Canada are the top-ranked team at the FIH Series Finals but they'll be the first side to insist that no team can be taken lightly in the competition.
World No. 10 Canada enter the fray as the team to beat in the Series Finals starting today at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
The series serves as an Olympic qualifier and a total of eight teams are taking part.
Canada coach Paul Bundy said playing in the Olympic qualifying tournament would be harder than playing in the World Cup.
Although Canada are highly rated, Bundy said they would be wary of others as all the teams were competitive.
"We expect all our three group matches to be tough. Austria are the world indoor champions and they have a good set of players, who are playing in European Leagues," said Bundy.
"Wales too are a formidable side as they always push their opponents to the limit.
"We don't know much about the strength of Belarus but we cannot underestimate them.
Canada have set a top-two target and should face either world No. 13 Malaysia or world No. 14 China in the semi-finals.
"Malaysia are an experienced team that are well prepared for the tournament. They have the home-ground advantage and we've lost to them twice in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup (in Ipoh last month)," said Bundy.
"But playing in the Cup was good as my players got the chance to experience the hot and humid weather here."
Malaysia beat Canada 3-2 in the round-robin match in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup before they won 4-2 in the playoff for third place.
"This tournament will be tougher than playing in a World Cup," he admitted.

 Canada skipper Scott Tupper, who did not feature in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, is back to lead the team for the Series Finals.

Canada will open their Group A campaign against Wales today.

The 32-year-old Tupper, who has represented Canada 290 times, said they would not take world No. 24 Wales lightly.

 "In last year's Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Wales gave a good fight to world No. 6 England before losing narrowly (3-2) in a group match. So we can expect a real good fight from them," said Tupper.

The Star of Malaysia

Wiese Solidifies USMNT Roster to Compete at Hockey Series Final in India, Schedule Released

BHUBANESWAR, India – Just 41 days remain until the start of the Hockey Series Final in Bhubaneswar, India for the U.S. Men’s National Team. Following a series in Korea this past week and evaluation at multiple training camps, USMNT Head Coach Rutger Wiese and coaching staff have solidified the 18-athlete roster that will represent Team USA from June 6 to 15 in this Olympic qualifying event.

“I’d like to congratulate the selected players on setting the bar very high,” commented Wiese, on the named roster. “This selection was challenging for the staff as the competition within the squad is strong.”

Evaluations of the players took place over the course of the past year, and the USMNT coaching staff decided on the 18 selected players based on tactical, technical, mental and physical criteria. The selected squad is a mix of veterans and young talent, some of whom are getting their first opportunity to perform on the international stage. Leading with experience is the team’s most capped athlete Patrick Harris (Moorpark, Calif.), who is coming off a third-place finish in the Euro Hockey League with Mannheimer HC, captain Ajai Dhadwal (Agoura Hills, Calif.) and drag flick specialist Will Holt (Camarillo, Calif.). This is counter-balanced with a few rookies, two of whom will record their first competition with the senior squad. Julian Croonenberghs (Tervuren, Belgium) and Alberto Montilla (Allen, Texas) will be earning their first international cap for USA as striker Kei Kaeppeler (Stuttgart, Germany) and goalkeeper Daan Wisselink (Amsterdam, The Netherlands) will look to build on an already started career.

Returning to play after a 6-year hiatus is Sean Harris (Moorpark, Calif.). A defender, S. Harris was instrumental in the back during the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico and competed with the team at the most recent USMNT vs. South Korea series.

USMNT Hockey Series Final Roster:

Michael Barminski (Ventura, Calif.), Tom Barratt (Greensboro, N.C.), Sean Cicchi (Thousand Oaks, Calif.), Julian Croonenberghs (Tervuren, Belgium), Christian DeAngelis (Doylestown, Pa.), Ajai Dhadwal (Agoura Hills, Calif.), Mohan Gandhi (Ventura, Calif.), Patrick Harris (Moorpark, Calif.), Sean Harris (Moorpark, Calif.), Will Holt (Camarillo, Calif.), Deegan Huisman (Almere, The Netherlands), Aki Kaeppeler (Stuttgart, Germany), Kei Kaeppeler (Stuttgart, Germany), Jonathan Klages (Berlin, Germany), Alberto Montilla (Allen, Texas), Johnny Orozco (Ventura, Calif.), Paul Singh (Simi Valley, Calif.), Daan Wisselink (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Taking place at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, India, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) confirmed the pools and schedule just this morning. Placed in Pool A is host and highest ranked No. 5 India with No. 21 Poland, No. 22 Russia and No. 43 Uzbekistan. No. 25 USA sits in Pool B with No. 16 South Africa, No. 18 Japan and Pan American foe No. 39 Mexico.

Over the next few weeks, the USMNT will train decentralized. Starting on May 15, the team will be together in The Netherlands at the Hockey Club Hilversum for final preparations before they depart for India. They will play practice matches against Ireland on May 24 and 26.

USMNT Hockey Series Final Schedule:

Wednesday June 5        USA vs. South Africa    11:15 p.m. ET
Saturday, June 8        USA vs. Mexico        7:30 a.m. ET
Sunday, June 9        USA vs. Japan        11:15 p.m. ET

*Per the FIH, all games will be streamed on FIH.Live

The FIH Series Finals include some of the best teams in the world and are one of the roads to reach the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. The top two teams from each FIH Series Finals event will secure a place in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers which will be held in October and November 2019 (*).
#FIHSeriesFinals #RoadToTokyo

(*) Note: if Japan, Scotland or Wales finish in the top 2 of their respective pools, they will not secure a place in the Olympic Games Qualifiers. Japan have already qualified as both host and winners of the Asian Games; for Scotland and Wales, the reason is that England are the nominated country for GBR’s qualification pathway. If any of these three teams do finish in the top 2, the team that finishes third does NOT automatically qualify for the Olympic Games Qualifiers. Any such additional place is determined by the FIH World Rankings as at the completion of the continental championships (8 September 2019)

USFHA media release

All to play for at the half-way mark

On Friday 26 April, the group phase of the inaugural FIH Pro League reaches its half way point when the Germany’s women face the Netherlands at the Mönchengladbach Hockeypark. The 64th match of the bold, groundbreaking global ‘home and away’ competition will be immediately followed by Match 65 as the Germany and Netherlands men’s teams take to the field at the iconic host venue of FIH Men’s World Cup in 2006.

On the eve of one of the most fascinating and enduing rivalries in international hockey, it is the perfect time to reflect on what has been a dramatic and action-packed first half of the FIH Pro League, where the world’s finest teams and players have produced some wonderful moments over the previous 63 matches.

Whilst there is a lot of hockey still to be played, the race for that all-important top four finish in the Pro League - which brings with it the duel prizes of berths in October’s Olympic qualifiers and June’s showpiece FIH Pro League Grand Final at Amstelveen’s Wegener Stadium - is very much up and running.

There have been some scintillating moments in the women’s competition. 2018 world champions the Netherlands(points percentage: 85.71) have shown their staggering strength in depth, with head coach Alyson Annan seamlessly blending numerous exciting youngsters with the existing players to lead the way at the top of the standings. Four wins from five away matches coupled with two home wins ensures that the mighty Dutch remain the team to beat.

The tricky 2018 endured by Argentina (83.33%) has well and truly been forgotten thanks in no small measure to the return of brilliant 34-year-old striker Carla Rebecchi and head coach Carlos Retegui. Rebecchi - who returned to the international stage after a three-year absence and less than a year after starting a family - has been in sparkling form up front, while former Argentina men’s defender Retegui has introduced a steeliness to the backline that has seen them ship just nine goals in ten games and included a remarkable four-and-a-half match, 234-minute run without conceding. Las Leonas are, indeed, roaring once again.

Belgium’s Red Panthers (72.22%) have also been baring their teeth in recent months, tearing up the FIH World Rankings to become serious challengers for a top four finish. The lowest ranked team in the competition have been a revelation, with their superb away wins over New Zealand and Australia, the latter being the only team to beat the Netherlands in the first half of the season, giving an indication that that there could be plenty more to come from the team coached by Niels Thijssen.

Despite home losses against Belgium, New Zealand and Argentina, Australia’s Hockeyroos (62.96%) can feel proud of their performances at the half-way stage, especially after their superb 5-0 Anzac Day victory over the Black Sticks in Auckland this week. With only away matches left to play, their form in Oceania - aided by some wonderful individual displays from goalkeeper Rachael Lynch and Mariah Williams - leaves them in fourth place and very much in contention.  

Outside the top four, it is Germany (53.33%) who are the nearest challengers in fifth position, having opened up a significant gap between themselves and sixth-placed New Zealand (36.36%) thanks to their differing results this week. Germany’s 2-0 triumph over Great Britain on Wednesday combined with New Zealand’s home defeat against Australia has created something of a gulf between the two sides, although much can change over the next two months.

The bottom three positions of the FIH Pro League ladder are occupied by Great Britain (27.78%), China (23.33) and USA(12.5%). Olympic champions Great Britain will be looking forward to getting their home campaign underway after six matches on the road, while China and USA have both shown occasional moments of brilliance in the first half of the season. China goalkeeper Ye Jiao has been in sensational form so far, while draws against high-flying Argentina and Belgium certainly suggests Janneke Schopman’s promising young USA team has some real potential.

Just like the women’s competition, it is the reigning world champions who sit at the top of the standings in the men’s FIH Pro League, with Belgium’s Red Lions (80%) continuing the outstanding form that took them to the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 title. Shane McLeod’s sideclaimed three wins and two draws from their opening matches despite having played four of their five matches away from home. Superb victories on the road against Argentina and Australia were complimented by a sensational 7-3 thrashing of Spain in Brussels earlier this month, where the exceptional Arthur Van Doren gave yet another hockey masterclass.

Australia (79.17%) sit just behind the Red Lions thanks largely to the comprehensive 4-1 loss they suffered at hands of the world champions at home in Melbourne. The Kookaburras have six wins from eight matches, seven of which were at home before travelling to Auckland this week to beat New Zealand 4-3. While Colin Batch’s team now have six successive away matches in which to seal their place in the top four, the Kookaburras have proven on countless occasions that winning on the road is very much second nature and they will be relishing the challenges that lay ahead.

Third-placed Great Britain (75%) have made a strong start to their FIH Pro League campaign by winning three of their four away matches, starting with a thrilling 6-5 victory against Spain in Valencia before Sam Ward hit a hat-trick in a 6-2 thrashing of New Zealand in Auckland. Danny Kerry’s team bounced back from a 2-0 loss to Australia in Perth by securing one of the standout results of the competition so far, as Alan Forsyth and Phil Roper both hit doubles in a remarkable 5-1 away win against Olympic champions Argentina (54.2%), who currently sit fourth in the standings. Los Leones - inspired by the excellent form of attackers Lucas Vila and 37-year-old Matias Paredes - have won four of their eight matches, beating New Zealand both home and away as well as home wins against the Netherlands and Spain.  

The fifth and sixth positions are currently occupied by Germany (53.3%) and the Netherlands (50.0%) respectively. Die Honamas have been on the road for all of their five matches, picking up significant away victories against New Zealand and the Netherlands, the latter thanks to a solitary goal from Florian Fuchs. The team were beaten by Australia and missed out on a bonus point in a shoot-out loss to Spain, with their weather-cancelled meeting against Argentina in Rosario seeing a point awarded to both teams. The Netherlands made a strong start to the FIH Pro League when they claimed five points out of a possible six in Oceania, beating New Zealand and winning a shoot-out against Australia. However, a shoot-out loss to Spain’s Red Sticks in Valencia was followed by defeats against Argentina and Germany before normal service was resumed with a 4-0 home win against the Spaniards in Rotterdam. The result of the upcoming meeting between Germany and the Netherlands could be significant in the race for the top four places. 

Seventh-placed Spain(29.63%) have been involved in some scintillating clashes so far, with their ability to recover from losing situations to force four shoot-outs - all of which they have won to claim valuable bonus points - earning them the title of comeback kings. They will be frustrated not to have claimed an outright victory in their nine matches played to date, something that competition top scorer Pau Quemada and co. will be looking to rectify in the upcoming games. New Zealand (7.41%) are rooted to the bottom of the table having played all of their home matches, meaning that they need to hit some serious form on the road if they are to climb the standings. However, they have rarely been outclassed, drawing with world champions Belgium and Spain while suffering single goal defeats against the Netherlands, Argentina (twice) and Australia. A place in the top four might be just out of reach, but they are certainly capable of winning matches and will be determined to prove their qualities in the second half of what is proving to be a fascinating debut season for the FIH Pro League.

FIH Pro League - the stats story so far …
After 63 matches (36 women / 27 men)

Women’s competition

Total goals: 131
Field goals: 77
Penalty corners: 51
Penalty strokes: 3
Top scorer: Olivia Merry - New Zealand (8 goals in ten matches)

Total number of cards: 78
Total number of green cards: 65
Total number of yellow cards: 13
Total number of red cards: 0

Highest scoring team: Netherlands (23 goals in seven matches)
Most team circle entries: New Zealand (214 in 11 matches) 
Most team saves: China (47 in 10 matches)

To see more in-depth statistics from the women’s competition, click here.

Men’s competition

Total goals: 155
Field goals: 111
Penalty corners: 38
Penalty strokes: 6
Top scorer: Pau Quemada - Spain (7 goals in seven matches)

Total number of cards: 52
Total number of green cards: 41
Total number of yellow cards: 11
Total number of red cards: 0

Highest scoring team: Australia (26 goals in eight matches)
Most team circle entries: Australia (190 in eight matches) 
Most team saves: New Zealand (43 in eight matches)

To see more in-depth statistics from the men’s competition, click here.


Official FIH Pro League Site

Spark blames 'human error' for hockey delay that has RWC fans nervous

Tom Pullar-Strecker

Spark says it will be "intensively reviewing" what went wrong with streaming of hockey game. PHOTOSPORT

Spark has blamed "human error" at Spark Sport's United States' technology provider iStreamPlanet for its failure to live-stream the whole of the women's Black Sticks' game against Australia on Anzac Day.

Spark Sport head Jeff Latch did not respond to a request for further comment, but spokesman Andrew Pirie said it was a case of someone "not pressing the button" to start the live stream.

That might be a "slight over-simplification", but that was essentially what had happened, he said.

"Technically the platform is working fine. It is just very unfortunate and disappointing that something like this would cause a problem."

Pirie believed the live-stream began part way through the first quarter of the match, which Australia won 5-1.

The problem arose with Spark already facing intense scrutiny over its ability to successfully screen the Rugby World Cup in Japan in September.

Spark spokeswoman Samantha Smith said earlier on Friday that "a human error at our platform provider iStreamPlanet meant the streaming of the game started late, which meant fans missed the start of the game".

"The error is something that we will be reviewing intensively with iStreamPlanet to make sure there isn't any repeat for future events," she said.

Although the error was with its platform provider, it was not a technical error, she also emphasised.

"The actual streaming service worked very well once it began – both for the rest of the live women's match and for the men's match that followed a couple of hours later."

Spark had announced when the game was due to start that coverage had been "delayed due to technical difficulties," with that information given out on Spark Sport's Twitter feed.

When Spark Sport announced in November that it had selected iStreamPlanet to underpin its sports streaming service, chief financial officer David Chalmers put heavy emphasis on its experience streaming events such as the US Super Bowl.

Chalmers said then that iStreamPlanet had sports streaming in its "DNA, having been in the online sport streaming game for 15 years".

"They use leading cloud technologies to provide a reliable, scalable and exceptionally high-quality video experience for sports fans – and that is exactly what we want to provide New Zealanders for the Rugby World Cup 2019," he said announcing its contract with Spark.

Smith said the hockey match error "does not impact our position regarding our ability to deliver the Rugby World Cup".

Sky Television has vowed to remain "the home of sport" in the face of competition from Spark Sport.

Its spokeswoman Kristy Martin said it would not be commenting on Spark's hockey-game issue.


Sean Dancer announced as new Head Coach for Irish Women’s Hockey

Sean Dancer has today been announced as the new Head Coach for the Irish senior women’s hockey team.

Dancer brings a wealth of experience to the role. Having represented Australia himself at U21 level, Dancer began his coaching career while playing for the Heracles club in Antwerp, Belgium. He became National Junior Head Coach for the Belgian U16 women’s squad in 2007 before moving to New Zealand in 2009 to be High Performance Manager for the Wellington Hockey Association. Following this, he held several pivotal roles within Hockey New Zealand, including National Assistant Coach to the ‘Black Sticks’ men’s squad, National Junior Head Coach for the U21 NZ women, and National Assistant Coach to the ‘Black Sticks’ women’s squad – where he has been positioned since 2014.

Highlights of his tenure as assistant coach to the New Zealand women’s team include a 4th place finish in Rio in 2016, along with securing Common Wealth Gold in 2018. During this period the team has also enjoyed unprecedented success with the side maintaining their world ranking and never dropping outside 6th in the world.

In January 2019, he took on the Interim Head Coach role, with the purpose of guiding the team into the new FIH Pro League Competition, with the team within striking distance of a top four/semi-final position after the first half of the competition.

“We are delighted with the appointment of Sean, who emerged as the top candidate in a thorough and competitive recruitment process. His experience and skill set will be a great asset to Hockey Ireland and we look forward to him getting involved with our ambitious high-performance plans” said Hockey Ireland CEO, Jerome Pels.

Speaking on the move, Dancer said he had thoroughly enjoyed his time with Hockey NZ over the last 10 years. “Apart from developing some great NZ friendships, I have also had the opportunity to coach with, and learn from, some of the world’s best coaches Mark Hager and Shane McLeod. I am grateful and proud of the team’s progress and their achievements to date.

To be provided with the chance to lead a quality programme and team on the World stage, is something that I have personally aspired to for a long period of time. I am grateful to Hockey Ireland for this opportunity and I’m excited to continue, and add to, the team’s World class performances over the last 12 months.”

Commenting on the appointment Hockey Ireland High Performance Director Adam Grainger said, “Hockey Ireland, and the Senior Women’s Team specifically, are very fortunate to secure the appointment of Sean Dancer as Head Coach. With it being mid-Olympic cycle, internationally recognised coaches like Sean with Head Coach and Olympic experience are not easily found. Sean comes into a well-established and strong management team and will no doubt have a significant positive impact as we build towards Olympic qualification."

Hockey Ireland will host the FIH Series Finals for Women between June 8th and 16th 2019 in Banbridge Hockey Club. This tournament is the first step to Olympic qualification for the senior women’s team and will also be the first opportunity for the Irish public to watch the Green Army play since winning a silver medal at the World Cup in 2018. Both the Senior Women’s and Men’s teams have been working tirelessly with the support of Sport Ireland, Sport Ireland Institute, and Sport Northern Ireland staff, building and preparing for the upcoming FIH Series Finals.

While home-hosted FIH Series Finals in June and Olympic Qualification are the pinnacle of a busy year, there is also the EuroHockey Championships to look forward to in Belgium this August. The Irish Senior Men’s team will also compete in the FIH Series Final in Le Touquet (France) 15-23 June 2019.

To purchase tickets or find further information on the FIH Series Final tournament in Banbridge this June, please see: //www.hockey.ie/buy-tickets/ 

Irish Hockey Association media release

Sean Dancer appointed as the new Green Army coach

Sean Dancer in a coaching role with New Zealand

Ireland and New Zealand’s exchange of coaching know-how is set to continue with Sean Dancer swapping hemispheres to take on the role as Green Army head coach.

Up until Wednesday this week, he was keeping the hot seat warm with the Blacksticks for Graham Shaw who left Irish hockey last month for his “dream job” with the world number six side.

Dancer, a former Australian Under-21 international, was holding the job on an interim basis since January following 10 years in a variety of roles in New Zealand including high performance manager in Wellington, Under-21 national coach and national assistant coach.

In that latter role, he helped Mark Hager and the team land Commonwealth gold in 2018 and a fourth place at the 2016 Olympic Games.

Since January, he has been the Blacksticks’ interim head coach up until Wednesday’s 5-1 defeat to Australia in the Pro League where they look set to miss the playoffs with four wins out of 11.

Speaking on the move, Dancer said he was delighted to learn from some of the world’s best coaches like Hager and Shane McLeod – who led Belgium to the men’s World Cup – in New Zealand.

And he is looking forward to the transition to the number one gig with the 2018 World Cup silver medalists.

“To be provided with the chance to lead a quality programme and team on the world stage, is something that I have personally aspired to for a long period of time.

“I am grateful to Hockey Ireland for this opportunity and I’m excited to continue, and add to, the team’s world class performances over the last 12 months.”

Exactly when he starts remains unclear, an important point with the Hockey Series Finals taking place in 43 days in Banbridge, the next phase of the Olympic qualifying process.

Given the time constraints and the point within the international calendar, Hockey Ireland high performance director Adam Grainger said the side were “fortunate” to get Dancer at this stage.

“With it being mid-Olympic cycle, internationally recognised coaches like Sean with Head Coach and Olympic experience are not easily found,” he said.

“Sean comes into a well-established and strong management team and will no doubt have a significant positive impact as we build towards Olympic qualification.”

Hockey Ireland CEO Jerome Pels added: “We are delighted with the appointment of Sean, who emerged as the top candidate in a thorough and competitive recruitment process. His experience and skill set will be a great asset to Hockey Ireland and we look forward to him getting involved with our ambitious high-performance plans.”

Who is part of his backroom team is also up in the air. The popular Colin Stewart stepped away from the assistant coach role last week which he occupied since June 2016 when he was brought in by Shaw for the Hawkes Bay Cup and became a fixture thereafter

Famed for his technical work, Stewart duly left his role in New Zealand hockey at the time to link up with the Green Army.

Along with Gareth Grundie, he had been heading up the group since Shaw’s departure with Arlene Boyles continuing in her managerial role.

The Hook

Sean Dancer appointed as new Ireland women’s hockey coach

Former Australia U21 player was assistant with the New Zealand women’s team

Johnny Watterson

Sean Dancer has been named as the new head coach to the Ireland women’s team. Photograph: Simon Watts/Hockey NZ

Hockey Ireland has appointed former New Zealand assistant coach Sean Dancer as the new head coach to the Irish senior women’s hockey team, taking over from the departed Graham Shaw.

A former Australian under-21 player, Dancer grew up near Shaws Bay before moving to Brisbane when he was 21. After leaving Australia for what he believed would be a one-year working holiday in Belgium in 2001 he ended up staying in Europe for seven seasons, becoming head coach for the Belgian U16 women’s squad in 2007.

When he retired as a player Dancer was offered a full-time role in New Zealand and has been there since 2009 as a full-time coach. He attended the 2010 World Cup and 2012 Olympic Games as a part-time assistant coach with the New Zealand men’s team and was appointed assistant coach of the national women’s team in January 2014.

Highlights of his role as assistant to the New Zealand women include a fourth place finish in Rio in 2016, along with securing Commonwealth gold in 2018. During that period the team maintained their ranking among the best in the world and never dropped outside sixth, where they are currently ranked. Ireland sit at eighth in the FIH world rankings.

It is difficult to escape the irony of the coaching movement between Ireland and New Zealand. Shaw stood down from his Irish position earlier this year to coach the New Zealand women’s national team, with Dancer leaving the assistant job in the New Zealand national team to take up the head coach role in Ireland.

Shaw led the women’s team to unprecedented success last summer, when they won an historical place in the final of the Women’s World Cup in London before being beaten by the Netherlands in the final.

In January of this year, Dancer took on the interim head coach role with New Zealand women following the departure of Mark Hager. Hager left to take up a coaching role with the Great Britain team when concerns were raised about a negative environment. Hager accidentally sent an email to the entire team, naming and shaming individual players for their performance and effort after finishing 11th at the World Cup.

“To be provided with the chance to lead a quality programme and team on the world stage is something that I have personally aspired to for a long period of time,” said Dancer. “I am grateful to Hockey Ireland for this opportunity and I’m excited to continue, and add to, the team’s world-class performances over the last 12 months.”

The new coach has 43 days before Hockey Ireland host the FIH Series Finals for women between June 8th and 16th, 2019 in Banbridge Hockey Club. This tournament is the first step to Olympic qualification for the senior women’s team. It will also be the first opportunity for the Irish public to watch the silver medallists play since the World Cup in 2018.

The Irish Times

Black Sticks women's assistant coach Sean Dancer leaves to take up role with Ireland

Black Sticks Women coach, Sean Dancer. Photo / Photosport

New Zealand hockey have lost another coach, with Black Sticks women's assistant coach Sean Dancer leaving to coach the Ireland women's national team.

Dancer, who has been with the Black Sticks women since 2009, acting as assistant coach since 2013, helped the side to a record high sixth in hockey's world rankings, as well gold at last year's Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.

Dancer's departure comes after head coach Mark Hager quit in January. Hager's departure was followed by a review into the Black Sticks women's team, that found a negative environment.

In a media release, Dancer spoke of his feelings in leaving an organisation he's been part of for over a decade.

"I would like to thank the players for all their efforts," Dancer said. "Hockey New Zealand for the opportunities, the staff for their hard work and my family and friends for all their support, that has made this last 10 years an unforgettable period of my coaching career and life.

Rose Keddell of the Black Sticks Women in the FIH Pro League. Photo / Photosport

"Apart from developing some great NZ friendships, I have also had the opportunity to coach with and learn from some of the world's best coaches in Mark Hager and Shane McLeod.

"To be provided with the chance to lead a quality programme and team on the world stage, is something that I have personally aspired to for a long period of time ... and look forward to the opportunity to continue and add to the team's world-class performances over the last 12 months".

Hockey New Zealand's High-Performance Director, Paul MacKinnon, said Sean's input had been outstanding.

"Overall [Sean] has been outstanding, from 2013 to 2018 as Assistant Coach where the achievements have included Commonwealth Games Gold and Bronze Medals, World League Silver and Bronze Medals and a 4thplace at the 2016 Rio Olympics," MacKinnon said.

"Sean has taken on the Interim Head Coach role since early January with the high level of commitment, energy and leadership that this has required, to guide the team into the new FIH Pro League Competition, which he has achieved seamlessly.

"His level of coaching knowledge, expertise and contribution to the National Women's programme will be missed by all, however, the exciting opportunity of the Head Coach role for the Irish Women's Team in front of Sean, is one that we congratulate him on and wish him all the very best for."

The New Zealand Herald

Coach swap: Sean Dancer leaves Black Sticks women to replace his NZ replacement in Ireland

Sean Dancer has been interim head coach of the Black Sticks women's team in recent months. GETTY IMAGES

Sean Dancer has followed Mark Hager out the door of Hockey New Zealand to become the next head coach of Ireland's women's national team.

Dancer has been the interim head coach of the Black Sticks women's team after the controversial departure of Hager, who resigned in January to take up a role with Great Britain before an independent review revealed serious concerns from players about a "negative environment" during his tenure.

Ironically, he will now replace the man who is replacing him at the Black Sticks, former Ireland coach Graham Shaw, who was appointed as New Zealand women's coach in March.

Former Ireland coach Graham Shaw is replacing Sean Dancer in New Zealand. GETTY IMAGES

An assistant to Hager since 2013, Dancer has been involved in some capacity with New Zealand's men's and women's national teams since 2009.

In Dancer's time as an assistant with the Black Sticks women, the team never dropped outside of the world's top six and they won their first gold medal at the Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast last year.

Sean Dancer is leaving New Zealand for a coaching job with Ireland. GETTY IMAGES

Dancer, who has led the Black Sticks in the first 11 matches of this year's FIH Pro League, said he was proud of the team's progress and achievements.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with Hockey NZ, over the last 10 years. Apart from developing some great NZ friendships, I have also had the opportunity to coach with and learn from some of the world's best coaches in Mark Hager and Shane McLeod," he said in a statement.

"I would like to thank the players for all their efforts, Hockey New Zealand for the opportunities, the staff for their hard work and my family and friends for all their support, that has made this last 10 years an unforgettable period of my coaching career and life.
"To be provided with the chance to lead a quality programme and team on the world stage, is something that I have personally aspired to for a long period of time. I am grateful to Irish Hockey and look forward to the opportunity to continue and add to the team's world class performances over the last 12 months."

Sean Dancer took the reins when Mark Hager resigned. GETTY IMAGES

Paul McKinnon, Hockey New Zealand's High Performance Director, wished Dancer well for his new role with Ireland.

"Sean's input, initiatives and contribution to the Black Sticks women's team and programme overall has been outstanding, from 2013 to 2018 as assistant coach where the achievements have included Commonwealth Games gold and bronze medals, World League silver and bronze medals and a 4th place at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

"His level of coaching knowledge, expertise and contribution to the National Women's programme will be missed by all, however, the exciting opportunity of the head coach role for the Irish women's team in front of Sean, is one that we congratulate him on and wish him all the very best."


Ex-Olympian Duff Added To HA Analysis/Coaching Team

Ben Somerford

Hockey Australia (HA) today advises of the appointment of former Kookaburra and 2000 Olympian Jason Duff as Performance Analyst/Specialist PC and Drag Flick coach.

Duff joins HA having previously worked for the organisation in a number of roles including coaching, performance analysis and specialist skills coaching.

He represented Australia 106 times from 1993 to 2000, including winning a bronze medal at the 2000 Sydney Olympics and two Champions Trophies (1993 and 1999).

HA High Performance Director Toni Cumpston said: “Jason’s experience will add considerably to our off-field team and will enable us to continue to address critical performance areas to ensure we are the best prepared teams leading in to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“I look forward to welcoming Jason to the team when he commences with our High Performance Unit in Perth.”

Duff will primarily provide performance analysis support to the Kookaburras program but has also been engaged to provide Specialist drag flicking coaching across both programs.

He will also manage PCD and PCA databases and provide specialist advice on both these critical tactical components of our game to the Kookaburra and Hockeyroos programs.

Duff will commence on Monday 29 April.

Hockey Australia media release

UJ squad enjoy a perfect mix for Varsity Hockey

UJ Johannesburg women’s team prepares to participate in the Varsity Hockey tournament.

National player Kristen Paton will add invaluable experience to the University of Johannesburg women’s squad when they compete in the Varsity Hockey tournament starting in Cape Town on May 3. Photo: Luigi Bennette/

The University of Johannesburg women’s team are preparing for theSouth African  Varsity Hockey tournament which kicks off in Cape Town next Friday.

The first weekend of matches takes place at the UCT Astro from 3 to 6 May and UJ hockey manager Elize le Roux said they were preparing for a tough competition.

She added that a mix of senior stars and promising U21 players formed the core of the squad and they had been working together well in the build-up to the competition.

“We have a great base of players from our senior group available,” said Le Roux.

“For example, national Olympic squad player and vice-captain Kristen Paton, captain Lisa Hawker, who played in the 2015 and 2017 tournaments and is a national squad member, and Namibians Phia Gerber and Jivanka Kruger are some of the senior players.

“Combine them with several U21 players and we have a squad full of experience and youth.

“But we know we need to stay calm and follow the coach’s plans, taking each game at a time.”

Le Roux said it was difficult to separate the top contenders.

“I really feel that all the teams are in the running. The sides that perform most consistently on the first weekend will obviously be the ones to watch, but it will probably all boil down to what happens on the second weekend.

“In addition, I think the bonus points on offer could be crucial in separating the teams in a tight competition.”

The second weekend will take place in Potchefstroom from 10 to 13 May, with the play-offs being held on the Monday. The final will be played on 20 May.

UJ are operating with a new coach this year in former South African star Tsoanelo Pholo and Le Roux said preparations were going well under her leadership.

“Tsoanelo has brought a lot of her own coaching culture to the squad,” she added.

“She has seen our players perform in various tournaments so the adjustment period was not too long.

“Players have linked with her and there is a good coach-player relationship. As the season progresses I am sure this will get stronger and more consistent.”

The Northcliff and Melville Times

FIH and AHF deliver joint education programmes in Malaysia

The 28th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup was a success and finished in style with that amazing goal from Korea’s Nam Yong Lee in the final shootouts. But outside the field of play, there was another big success story as FIH Academy and Raja Ashman Shah Hockey Academy delivered 4 courses for Coaches, Educators and Technical Officials. The programme started with a Level 3 Coaching course, from 22 to 25 March, followed by an Educator course (26-27 March), a Level 2 coaching course (27-30 March) and finally and Level 3 Technical Officials course (28-30 March). In total there were 55 candidates (40 men and 15 women), 26 nations and 5 continents represented.

For the 4th consecutive year, Asian Hockey Federation and FIH Academy have partnered in the delivery of Education programmes in Ipoh, Malaysia. Aimed at supporting the development of the Asian continent's workforce, these courses have attracted people from all over the world, from year 1. Most of the candidates in these courses come from Asian countries where education is sometimes not easily available. But when they arrive at the course opening they find themselves in the middle of a multinational audience with different views and experiences. This fact has been much appreciated across the world as candidates can expand their perspectives and their knowledge with ideas that they would not easily get access to. "I got new ideas and way of think from different coaches" said one of the candidates.

Tayyab Ikram, Asian Hockey Federation CEO, couldn’t be happier with this: "Ipoh and the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup helped turn the education partnership between AHF-Raja Ashman Hockey Academy and FIH Academy into a global programme that brings together people from all the corners of the world. This has also helped us identify and develop the talent of Coaches, Officials and Managers in various regions of Asia, which is a crucial part of our development goals.”

The ability to share knowledge and improve competencies is at the heart of FIH Global Development Programme, Hockey4LIFE. Education is one of the 4 building blocks of the programme together with Participation, Infrastructure and Inspiration. Mike Joyce, FIH Development Director said: "Education is one of the building blocks of FIH Global Development programme, Hockey4LIFE. The education programmes that AHF-Raja Ashman Hockey Academy and FIH Academy are delivering in Ipoh alongside the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup are a strong contribution to our goals."

For the Asian Hockey Federation, education is a central piece in development activities and it’s been one of the engines for improving their member nations performance. Over the past few years, it has had a strong impact in nations like Myanmar, who was second at the last South East Asian Games, and Vietnam, Bangladesh or Nepal, who have had successful participations at international competitions in the continent.

Candidates don’t learn for themselves, their success is also the success of a strong team of FIH Academy educators that bring the candidates knowledge to life and challenge them to improve it. It’s all about the candidates at FIH Academy courses. Siegfried Aikman, Head Coach of Japan, Elisabeth Fuerst, FIH Pro League Panel Technical Official and Lim Chiow Chuan, former coach of Malaysia, were the leads of this year’s courses and together with them they had other world class educators from Asian nations helping in the delivery of World Class Education. "It was an opportunity to network with high level coaches from other cultures” said one of the participants.

For Asian Hockey Federation these educators are the key to open the door for a better skilled workforce. All the Asian educators in Ipoh deliver education programmes for AHF on a regular basis, helping developing Hockey nations get access to the knowledge necessary to improve their performance.

In the end, it’s all about sharing knowledge and learning from other, which for some people might seem trivial but many others is the key for success. With a pathway designed to identify and share the knowledge relevant to each stage, the FIH Academy together with the Continental Federations and National Associations is working hard to make sure that everyone can access the knowledge they need to make their hockey better.

Nam Yong Lee's shootout masterpiece was the perfect ending of 10 days where High Performance Hockey Competition and Education.

#Hockey4LIFE #FIHAcademy #AsiaHockey #SultanAzlanShah

FIH site

Tokyo 2020: FIH sees good progress on venue construction

In the week before Easter, FIH was pleased to visit Tokyo as part of a formal International Federation visit to meet with representatives of Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (TOCOG) and Japan Hockey Association (JHA) in preparation for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

During the visit the FIH was excited to see the progress on venue construction ahead of the Ready Steady Tokyo Test event to be held from 17 - 21 August 2019. FIH were also pleased with the updates provided by the various functional areas within TOCOG in respect of the progress on operational aspects, noting to the teams in Tokyo that this is a crucial time in the planning phase and encouraging all parties to continue working on the details and to take advantage of the Test Event to learn from and optimise operations for next year’s Olympic Games.

FIH, represented by Tayyab Ikram, Chair of International and Olympic Relations and Executive Board Member, along with Fumio Ogura Asian Hockey Federation President, Hilary Atkinson, FIH Pro League & Olympic Games Director and TOCOG Hockey Manager Satoshi Kondo met with Mr Nakasone, President of Japan Hockey Association and Member of House of Councillors, The National Diet of Japan to update him on the good progress at Oi Hockey Stadium and on the work of the teams at TOCOG and TMG in planning for the Olympic Games and its legacy.

The second session of the National Technical Officials (NTOs) training programme was also held in Gifu where the participants were supported with practical training delivered by FIH Academy Educators and the NTOs are looking forward to continuing their training in the lead up to the Ready Steady Tokyo Test event.

The XXXII Olympic Summer Games will take place from 24 July to 9 August 2020 in the Japanese capital. 


FIH site

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