All the news for Wednesday 29 January 2020
Black Sticks and GB teams set for first matches in FIH Hockey Pro League 2020
Match Week 4 of the FIH Hockey Pro League sees double headers taking place in Spain, New Zealand and Australia. Spain’s men take on the Netherlands in Valencia, New Zealand’s men and women open their 2020 season against Belgium in Auckland while Australia’s national teams entertain Great Britain’s men and women in Sydney.
A little bit of hockey history will be made in Saturday’s games in Auckland, which will be the first top tier international hockey matches to have mixed gender umpires on the field of play. Steve Rogers (AUS) and Wanri Venter (RSA) will take charge of the women’s clash between New Zealand and Belgium, with the men’s fixture been umpired by Adam Kearns (AUS) and Aleisha Neumann (AUS).
More information about all of this week’s double headers can be found below, with the complete match schedule available by clicking here.
Spain v Netherlands (M)
Where: Estadio Betero, Valencia (ESP)
When: 31 Jan & 01 Feb 2020, 1100 (01 Feb) & 1300 (02 Feb) local time (GMT/UTC +1)
Summary: The Netherlands travel to Valencia looking to bounce back from their recent trip to India, where they claimed just one point from a possible six on offer in the double header against the hosts in Bhubaneswar. 2019 European silver medallists Spain also have only one point to show from their opening home fixtures against Germany, making this meeting the perfect opportunity for either team to add to their points tally. In their previous 14 meetings, the Netherlands have the edge with eight wins compared to Spain’s four, with two draws. However, the Red Sticks emerged triumphant in their most recent meeting, a 4-3 victory in the Belfius EuroHockey Championship 2019 semi-finals thanks to goals from Pau Quemada (2), Josep Romeu and Ricardo Sanchez. In terms of the new match-based FIH World Rankings, two Spanish wins could see the Red Sticks move from ninth to eighth and force the Netherlands down from third to fifth.
Match pages (Head-to-heads, squads* & officials*): Match 1 | Match 2
New Zealand v Belgium (W&M)
Where: North Harbour Hockey Stadium, Auckland (NZL)
When: 01 & 02 February 2020
Women’s matches: 1700 (01 Feb) & 1500 (02 Feb) local time (GMT/UTC +13)
Summary: Belgium women will arrive in Auckland in confident mood following three points from a maximum six taken against higher-ranked Australia in Sydney at the weekend. However, the Black Sticks – who have won five of their seven meetings against the Red Panthers – will want to make a statement here. In the 2019 edition, Belgium recorded a stunning victory over their higher-ranked hosts in Auckland, a result avenged by the Black Sticks who triumphed 3-0 in the reverse fixture in Antwerp. Depending on results elsewhere, two New Zealand wins could see them climb up to fifth in the FIH World Rankings. Two victories for Belgium will push the Red Panthers up to eighth.
Match pages: Match 1 | Match 2
Men’s matches: 1930 (01 Feb) & 1730 (02 Feb) local time (GMT/UTC +13)
Summary: Belgium’s men made a superb start to this season’s competition, claiming five points from a possible six away from home against reigning Pro League champions Australia to move to the top of the FIH World Rankings at the expense of their opponents. Whilst the team coached by New Zealander Shane McLeod will be determined to remain there for as long as possible, the Black Sticks will be relishing the opportunity to test themselves against the World and European champions. Two wins for the Red Lions will ensure that the retain their world number one status, but two New Zealand victories could see the hosts move from eighth to seventh.
Match pages: Match 1 | Match 2
Australia v Great Britain (M&W)
Where: Sydney Olympic Park (AUS)
When: 01 & 02 February 2020
Men’s matches: 1600 (01 Feb) & 1500 (02 Feb) local time (GMT/UTC +11)
Summary: After claiming just one point from the six on offer against Belgium in Sydney at the weekend, the Kookaburras will have a point to prove when they face Danny Kerry’s talented Great Britain team this weekend. Australia know that if Belgium slip up against New Zealand, they have a chance to re-claim top spot in the FIH World Rankings. With eight wins, two draws and four losses against the Brits in their previous 14 meetings, the statistics align with the rankings in making Colin Batch’s Australia favourites. The teams met on three occasions in the 2019 Pro League, with Australia winning 2-0 in Perth, drawing 2-2 in London before losing the shoot-out 4-3, and winning 6-1 in the semis at the Grand Final event in Amsterdam. GB will fancy an upset, and in Phil Roper, Ashley Jackson, Alan Forsyth and rising star Zach Wallace they have players capable of producing game-changing moments.
Match pages: Match 1 | Match 2
Women’s matches: 1830 (01 Feb) & 1730 (02 Feb) local time (GMT/UTC +11)
Summary: Australia did not have it all their own way in their opening FIH Hockey Pro League fixtures against Belgium in Sydney, taking three points by drawing both matches and winning one of the two subsequent shoot-outs. Ahead of his team’s meeting against reigning Olympic champions Great Britain, Australia head coach Paul Gaudoin will be focussing on the positives, particularly the desire shown in match one by scoring two dramatic late goals to pull level at 3-3 before winning the shoot-out. GB, guided by head coach and former Australia international Mark Hager, will certainly provide the Hockeyroos with a stern test – a strong Pro League performance could be vital if they are to defend their Olympic title at Tokyo 2020. Two wins for Great Britain would have a big impact on the rankings, forcing Australia down to fifth and moving GB up to fourth.
Match pages: Match 1 | Match 2
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* available 48 hours before each match
Official FIH Pro League Site
Hager: Where we’re looking to grow in this year’s FIH Pro League
Mark Hager and Great Britain's women in the FIH Pro League
Great Britain's women's coach Mark Hager has outlined his aims as his team prepare for the first game in 2020's FIH Pro League.
Having finished eighth out of nine teams in last year's competition and winning three games out of 16; Mark is aiming higher for the second iteration of the new global league.
Hager's team take on Australia in Sydney this coming Saturday and Sunday, and he said, "We're looking to challenge ourselves.
"Last year we didn't do as well as we'd have liked; we're certainly looking to deliver in our games this year and improve performances on the road, that's something we didn't do well last time out.
"We were disappointed last season and I take some responsibility for that with experimenting, playing people in different positions and using the full squad. It was a bit disjointed but by the time we got to the Olympic Qualifiers late in the year we were more settled.
"That said, last year was an important and valuable piece of the journey on our route to Tokyo. We have had some good training blocks and a great programme over the coming six months which will set us up to excel.
"The real challenge for us is getting consistency in performance."
Great Britain's women in the FIH Pro League
With the Tokyo Olympics this summer, there are two aims for the FIH Pro League; getting the best possible results and preparing for Japan.
Mark said, "We want a a bit of both. In order to get belief in the team, we've got to get some good results. We're taking 20-odd athletes on this trip, we're hoping everyone will get an opportunity and we're going away again to South Africa in March so hopefully anyone who missed out will get an opportunity later. Then when we get into the home games in Pro League it's when we start to hone in."
Asked if he has a squad in mind for the summer, he commented, "You always have shadow teams but it changes after every game or training session! We've got 26 players all capable of playing in an Olympic games.
"We've got experienced winners from Rio, their challenge is to repeat success, if we can get them to challenge the rest of the group we've got a good chance."
Britain's teams are in action over the next two weekends, with all games live on BT Sport:
Sat 1 Feb Australia v Great Britain (M); 5am UK time
Sat 1 Feb Australia v Great Britain (W); 7:30am
Sun 2 Feb Australia v Great Britain (M); 4am
Sun 2 Feb Australia v Great Britain (W); 6:30am
Sat 8 Feb New Zealand v Great Britain (M); 4am
Sat 8 Feb New Zealand v Great Britain (W); 6:30am
Sun 9 Feb New Zealand v Great Britain (M); 2am
Sun 9 Feb New Zealand v Great Britain (W); 4:30am
Great Britain Hockey media release
GB Hockey’s Lizzie Neal: ‘Ballgirling helped me on journey to elite player’
By Rod Gilmour
Lizzie Neal has risen to the GB women ranks PIC: WILL PALMER / WORLD SPORT PICS
Five years ago at the Hockey Writers’ Awards, Lizzie Neal was asked about her aims after winning the junior prize. “My ambition is to play at the 2020 Olympics – maybe if that’s a bit early, the one after,” she said at the time.
The Tokyo Games are now coming into view – as is the FIH Pro League – and Neal, 21, is also in the frame to make that ambition an early reality after a debut year in the GB women’s programme where she has prospered under coach Mark Hager’s stewardship.
As Neal looks out over the Lee Valley pitch recalling her career influences and her rise to the international ranks, it seems that she has always stood out early on the scene, even if she thinks she has sometimes jumped the gun.
She was a dual sport talent from a young age, starting hockey in Year 3 and cricket at Year 4, while the latter took priority when she played for Canterbury 1s in Year 10. “I miss cricket but it was a great decision as look where I’ve got at the moment,” she confidently tells The Hockey Paper.
Indeed, she made her international debut in GB women’s first ever FIH Pro League game against New Zealand before scoring her first senior goal against China soon after. It is a goal which will be forever etched in her memory, rather like the winning one she still cherishes for Kent College at the under-13 schools final.
Her form then set her on an early path to the Canterbury senior team, but she had to wait for her moment and so she signed up for a season of ballgirling – and urges all juniors to do the same.
She says: “I enjoyed it when I did it. I saw the fast-paced game they were playing and I wanted to be out on the pitch joining them. Some of the goals they were scoring, I was like ‘wow, how are they doing that!’”
There seems to be less incentive to watch 1s hockey in the current English set up and Neal concurs. Ballgirling, she says, simply gives something back to the club.
“The teams need it and I see how beneficial it is even for the matches I play now,” she adds. “Getting involved in the club environment, it’s not an essential part, but if you want youngsters there you have to give them some entertainment and ballgirling provided both for me.
“Holland is such a different environment where they are on the pitch at half-time and you wouldn’t see that here. We can change a lot and learn from what they do in the sense of getting juniors involved.”
Yet, she adds, it is a difficult balancing act due to their own commitments and “not being able to have the time to watch the top players in their club”. For Neal, time spent on the sidelines was short lived. When she turned 15 she played her first national league match and duly scored against Olton and West Warwicks.
The same year she won the Hockey Writers’ Award in 2014, former Canterbury star Grace Balsdon told me of an emerging player who had “fantastic fight and grit you see in few people”.
Neal was that player and it is clear that from her ballgirling vantage point, she took in the likes of Mel Clewlow and Jen Wilson battling opponents with their physicality and sheer will to win. “Jen taught me to be so gritty and ruthless. I started up front when I was there, being chucked in there and the senior players directing me. I didn’t have to focus too much, I didn’t have to communicate,” adds Neal. “Jen told me to enjoy it, take everything in your stride and not to worry too much about how I was playing.”
Clewlow was also a key figure. “Jen was the coach but I looked up to Mel in the team. The way she plays is very composed and I always wanted to have that in my game. I’m still developing that now,” she says.
“At this level you have to have physicality and you wouldn’t get away with being light on the ball. It’s what you have to have in this sport. As a school girl you don’t expect it but suddenly you are thrown into it and I’m like ‘C’mon, don’t be thrown off the ball unnecessarily’.”
Neal left Canterbury for her university studies and is now in her final year in sports management at Loughborough University, where she will have another season with the Students.
Asked if she would return to Canterbury, Neal says she would love to don the green and white once more but admits that “I don’t know where my life will be when I finish at Loughborough”.
Yet, her life right now certainly has direction. A GB career for this most confident of characters has only just begun.
This article has been adapted from our November print edition
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The Hockey Paper
China-Belgium on hold
Due to the current uncertainties around the outbreak of the coronavirus in China, the International Hockey Federation (FIH), after consultation with the Hockey Associations of China and Belgium, has decided that the upcoming FIH Hockey Pro League matches between the women’s national teams of China and Belgium, initially scheduled on 8 and 9 February in Changzhou, will not be played.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) will engage with both Hockey Associations of China and Belgium to look jointly at all potential options to play these matches at a later stage, if possible.
Meanwhile, for future matches in China, the FIH keeps on monitoring the evolution of the situation closely and following the recommendations of the World Health Organization. Also, the Chinese Hockey Association is in regular contact with the local authorities.
Official FIH Pro League Site
Indian women’s hockey team lose 0-1 to New Zealand
India had earlier registered a 4-0 win in their first match against the New Zealand Development squad but lost 1-2 in the following match
The Indian women’s hockey team suffered a 0-1 loss to New Zealand in its third match of the ongoing tour on Wednesday.
New Zealand’s Hope Ralph (37th) was the lone scorer of the match.
India had earlier registered a 4-0 win in their first match against the New Zealand Development squad but lost 1-2 in the following match.
India were quick to get off the blocks on an attacking mode, winning a PC in the second minute of play but they missed the chance to convert it and put New Zealand on the back foot.
In the following minutes, New Zealand created two PCs but India’s defence was rock solid to deny them a goal.
“Today, we tried a few things on the defensive side and that allowed New Zealand to come in our circle and create opportunities but it’s better to practice these variations now in the matches as this Tour is more about our preparations for the Olympic Games and see how we can be better,” explained Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne after the match.
In the second quarter, Indian strikers did well to create a PC but the hosts denied India a goal through good defence.
Both teams were on par in the second quarter with tactical play that kept each other from creating potential shots on goal.
“Our game is improving every match and today was again better than the previous match. At this moment, results are not important but the process is, and we are working on some new tactics that will help us in the long run,” added Marijne.
After ending the first half with the scoreboard reading 0-0 stalemate, New Zealand began the third quarter on a positive note with Hope Ralph converting a field goal in the 37th minute.
In the last quarter, though both teams traded PCs with New Zealand earning two PCs and India creating one, neither found success ending the match with the scoreboard reading 0-1 in favour of New Zealand.
India will take on Great Britain on February 4.
2020 Test matches RSA v IRL (W)
19 Jan 2020 RSA v IRL 0 - 1
26 Jan 2020 RSA v IRL 1 - 5
28 Jan 2020 RSA v IRL 1 - 2
FIH Match Centre
Improved performance from South Africa in final Irish Test
The Summer of hockey between Ireland and South Africa came to its conclusion tonight at Maties Stadium in Stellenbosch. The summer of course kicked off with an indoor hockey test series between the two nations, before the outdoor sides locked horns this week with a firm eye on the Tokyo shaped horizon speeding towards us. The two teams will play their opening games against one another on the 25 July at the Olympic games.
Ireland had won the opening two games with convincing displays, but the character of a South African will shine through brightest when our backs are against a wall. And this is the way the hosts started in the bright sun of the Western Cape.
Robyn Johnson found space down the right-hand side and fired in a cross that the Irish defence was unable to deal with. Nomnikelo Veto was the quickest to react to the loose ball and fired home on the dive past a helpless Murphy in the Irish goal. It was Veto’s second of the series and her fifth in her 15 International games so far. It was exactly the kind of start coach Robin van Ginkel would have been hoping for.
South Africa were having a fair amount of the ball in and around the Irish defensive quarter but were failing to get as many penetrations as their performance deserved and were left to pay for it in the second quarter. Ireland hit the post after a thrilling counterattack before winning a penalty corner from the same play. Although the initial slap was saved, the ball rebounded to injector Hannah Matthews, who after 145 test caps was never going to miss.
At 1-1 South Africa created a wonderful opportunity through a superb drive by Kristen Paton but her finishing was off target. Had she scored it would have been one of the goals of the summer. It was clear that Paton and Quanita Bobbs were growing in influence in the game in the third quarter which is why the timing of the Irish second would have frustrated the South Africans.
Just before the break at the end of the third quarter the South Africans needlessly gave away a penalty corner with a poor tackle. Roisin Upton showed the value of a quality drag flick as she finished superbly. The South Africans had two penalty corner opportunities to pull the game level and grab a few ranking points but were unable to breach the Irish defence and ultimately had to settle for a 2-1 defeat.
It was a clearly improved performance, but the South Africans will have their work cut out for the remainder of the Summer Series as they face Germany over three tests on 30 January, 2 February and 4 February. For Ireland its job well done and focus on further preparations.
Summer Series – SA vs. Ireland – Results
First Test – SA 0-1 Ireland
Second Test – SA 1-5 Ireland
Third Test – SA 1-2 Ireland
SA Hockey Association media release
2020 Test matches CHI v ARG (M)
25 Jan 2020 CHI v ARG 1 - 4
28 Jan 2020 CHI v ARG 1 - 4
FIH Match Centre
2020 Test matches ARG v ESP (W) - 3rd test
Mar del Plata (ARG)
28 Jan 2020 ARG v ESP 3 - 1
FIH Match Centre
2020 Test matches CHI v JPN (W) 1st & 2nd Tests
26 Jan 2020 CHI v JPN 0 - 1
27 Jan 2020 CHI v JPN 1 - 1
FIH Match Centre
Enjoying what you do is key for Olivia
Olivia Merry is New Zealand’s goal scorer extraordinaire. The Black Sticks striker finished the FIH Hockey Pro League as top goal scorer and scored the goal in the 2019 Oceania Cup that sent the Black Sticks to Tokyo as continental champions. She is looking forward to continuing her scoring habits throughout 2020.
Each of the Hockey Stars interviews published on the FIH website are with the nominees for Best Player. The winning athletes will be announced in February.
What does the nomination for FIH Best Player mean to you?
Olivia Merry: “I guess it is a reflection on the hard work that the team puts in and I’m just lucky to be nominated. If I’m honest, I was pretty surprised to see my name there bu I’m pleased to be sure.”
Looking back to 2019 what was your best and most memorable moment?
Olivia Merry: “Qualifying for the Olympics at the Oceania Cup was a big highlight for us. Not just me personally but the whole team. We put in a couple of really good performances and it was pretty awesome so that was definitely one of the highlights.”
Why do you think 2019 was such a good year for you?
Olivia Merry: “I’ve been asked this question a few times and I don’t really know the answer but I think I was just enjoying it and having fun. Also, it is probably the environment and really being able to express yourself is really key but most of all, having fun.”
What are your dreams and aspirations for this year?
Olivia Merry: “We have obviously got Tokyo and that is a really big ambition for us. We want to medal in Tokyo, and not just medal but win gold. But there are a lot of processes and a lot of time before then and we have to put consistency and performance throughout the year in that and I guess it starts with Pro League. We want to better than we did last year in that, and we want to put in some good performances in Pro League because that will put us in good stead for the rest of the year.”
Jillaroos team named for first 2020 internationals
Maddi Smith is part of the squad to take on Japan
A 20-player Jillaroos team (Australia’s Junior Women’s Hockey Team) has been announced for four matches against Japan’s Junior Women’s Team to be played in Canberra in late February.
Jillaroos Head Coach Tim White has introduced seven new faces to the team that competed in the home tri series against New Zealand and India back in December.
The new additions include Isabella Colasurdo, Western Australian duo Annie Gibbs and Renee Rockliff, Amy Hammond, Ruby Harris, Grace Young and Casey Dolkens, who joins her sister Dayle in the team.
White says the matches against Japan provides a great opportunity and valuable experience on the international stage, particularly the seven players who were not part of the tri series.
“The main reason around introducing some new players is to give them some exposure at international level,” said White.
“Being the national junior squad, we look to give opportunities to a wide range of athletes, importantly making sure that they deserve the opportunity first and foremost.
“Given that we’ve just come off the tri series late last year, a number of those athletes have been selected again and we have chosen some others to give them a chance and be able to have a look at them at this level.”
A full 27-player Jillaroos squad will assemble at the Australian Institute of Sport on 16 February for a four day training camp before the selected team of 20 stays on for the four international matches to be played on 22/23/25/26 February at the ACT Hockey Centre.
“All of the athletes had programs over the break they were completing which were driven by their state institutes and we were continuing to monitor them over that time,” said White.
“Now they are all in full preparation for the camp. It’s going to be a demanding schedule so we’re looking forward to the series. “
White was encouraged by the development of the group during last December’s tri series and believes there were a host of positive signs as players continue to develop and aspire to become future Hockeyroos.
“Having not had the group together for some time (prior to the tri series), we were able to establish some good structures and identify the Jillaroos’ way of play,” said White.
“Heading into this series, it will be a matter of fine tuning that. The athletes that were part of the tri series will have that knowledge and then we will up skill the new group so we can build on what we were able to do at the tri series.
“Every time we get the players together, we see the benefit of playing matches at international level and the development of individual athletes.
“It’s a matter of making sure that whenever we get an opportunity, we give this group more exposure because there were some really encouraging performances during the tri series and we are looking forward to identifying more athletes of potential during the matches against Japan.”
Jillaroos Team (Australia’s Junior Women’s Hockey Team) for Japan internationals
Alice Arnott Darling Point, NSW
Hannah Astbury Cannon Hill, QLD
Morgan Blamey Warrawee, NSW
Isabella Colasurdo East Keilor, VIC
Emma de Broughe Park Holme, SA
Casey Dolkens Coomera, QLD
Dayle Dolkens Coomera, QLD
Kendra Fitzpatrick Balmoral, QLD
Annie Gibbs Waterford, WA
Amy Hammond Kangaroo Flat, SA
Ruby Harris Korinda, QLD
Carly James Point Cook, VIC
Morgan Mathison Balmoral, QLD
Eva Reith Snare Orange, NSW
Renee Rockliff Victoria Park, WA
Courtney Schonell Narellan Vale, NSW
Hattie Shand North Adelaide, SA
Maddi Smith Parramatta, NSW
Aisling Utri Moonee Ponds, VIC
Grace Young Yowie Bay, NSW
Training Camp Details
17-20 February 2020
ACT Hockey Centre, Canberra ACT
Jillaroos v Japan Junior Women’s Team – Match Details
Saturday 22 February (6pm AEDT)
Sunday 23 February (6pm AEDT)
Tuesday 25 February (6pm AEDT)
Wednesday 26 February (10.30am AEDT)
Hockey Australia media release
Born to play – and coach – hockey
By RAJES PAUL
Like father like son: Former international Stephen Van Huizen (left) with his son Joel.
HIS Eurasian features seemed to be weathered after years of tireless service but when Stephen van Huizen speaks about hockey, the years fall away. His eyes light up with enthusiasm, reflecting nothing but his passion for the sport.
After four decades as a player and coach, the 61-year-old’s tenure with the national team ended last year, but it’s not going to stop this zealous Olympian, not even slow him down.
“I can’t sit still, that’s me, ” said Stephen, who represented Malaysia at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, and is currently the vice-president of the Malaysian Olympian Association (MOA).
“I will contribute, maybe in an advisory role. There are ongoing MOA projects, I can share my experience.
“Even my wife thought I would give up hockey after marrying her. I did. For six months. After that, my passion and love for the game drove me back, ” he said, bursting into laughter.
The reason behind Stephen’s involvement in hockey is a no-brainer. The van Huizens are synonymous with hockey in Malaysia.
His father Lawrence represented Malaysia at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and his uncle Peter featured at the 1956 Melbourne Games. They were heavily involved in playing, coaching and development of the sport in the 60s, 70s and 80s. Stephen knew at a very young age that he had to carry on the van Huizen legacy.
“Coming from a family of Olympians, I wanted to follow their footsteps, ” said Stephen, who was a star player in his school St Paul Institution in Negri Sembilan and captained the Junior World Cup side that finished fourth in Paris in 1979.
One of the album: (from left) Datuk Ow Soon Kooi, Stephen, Foo Keat Seong and Soon Mustafa
He should have gone for the 1980 Moscow Olympics but Malaysia boycotted the Games for political reasons.
“But we made it to the 1984 Olympics by being the third ranked Asian team behind India and Pakistan. Those days, the qualifying process for the Olympics was simpler – it was just based on world rankings, ” he said.
“We finished 11th but it was a dream come true just to be at the Olympics. It was inspiring to watch the heroics of other stars, including sprinter Carl Lewis.”
More determined, he went on to captain the 1986 Asian Games side before ending his 12-year stint in the senior team in 1989. His adventures as a coach then began.
He made it to three Olympics – as assistant coach to Terry Walsh at the 1992 Barcelona Games; to Volker Knapp at the 1996 Atlanta Games; and finally as chief coach in the 2000 Sydney Games.
He was also assistant to Paul Lissek at the 1998 Commonwealth Games, where Malaysia won a silver at home. That remains one of the high points of Malaysian hockey.
His last stint with the national team was under head coach Roelant Oltmans but Malaysia narrowly missed the chance to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games. The team needed a win against Japan in the final of the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta but their dreams were shattered in a penalty showdown. Then, they were beaten by Britain in a final two-leg Olympic qualifier last year. Over the decades, with so many changes in the game, Stephen has seen outstanding players who are perfect role models for others.
Olympic stars: (from left) M. Shurentheran, Stephen, Sukhvinderjeet Singh and Ahmad Fadzil.
“The grass fields turned to turfs. Rules changed with rolling substitutes, off sides and Olympic qualifying process. From two halves, it became four quarters. It’s all about power play now, but I’m proud to say, our players have always adapted, ” said Stephen.
“In terms of discipline in training, Nor Saiful Zaini is a class above. Mirnawan Nawawi was an exceptional goal-getter, S. Kuhan was dependable and always there to help out.
“Calvin Fernandez and Brian Jayhan Siva were intelligent players on and off the field. These doctors managed their time well to excel in sports and careers.
“There are dedicated players in the current batch too – Mohd Sukri (Abdul Mutalib), Mohd Razie (Abdul Rahim), Tengku (Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Abdul Jalil) and S. Kumar. I may have missed out some but there are always a few standouts in every generation.”
The Van Huizen names continue in hockey with Stephen’s 27-year-old son Joel in the national team too. Asked if Joel has the pedigree to carry on his family legacy, he said: “No matter what I do, people tend to say there is favouritism.
“I’ve never used my influence. The selection is always fair. Every player in the team has his own talent. Of course, as a father, I want Joel to do well.”
The former bank employee, who retired from CIMB last year, hoped the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) would start their preparations early to qualify for the next Olympics in Paris in 2024.
“I’m no longer part of MHC but I have no hard feelings. I can’t see myself in the team in the next five years. But the rebuilding process has to start now, ” said Stephen.
Olympian family: Stephen with his father Lawrence (left) and uncle Peter.
“Hockey will have to make it to the Olympics to remain as one of the core sports in Malaysia.
“The boys did well leading up to the Tokyo Olympic qualifiers with many positive results. They worked hard but there have been narrow misses.
“Our standard has not dropped but other teams are more serious. European nations have good professional league. Some have a bigger pool of players.
“We have to expand and expose our juniors. Sports Science and fitness are crucial. As pros, players have to focus on better lifestyles – with good rest and healthy eating habits. It all involves sacrifices.”
And Stephen’s hope is to see a truly Malaysian side at the Paris Games.
“There has to be a blend of strength of the various communities in the team. Whether one is Malay, Chinese, Indian, Sikh, Eurasian, natives, it does not matter. The best must represent the nation, ” he said.
“Do not blame anyone if one group is monopolising the team. Send your kids for hockey programmes, encourage and inspire them. Instead of criticising, be part of the solution.”
The Star of Malaysia
England Hockey Jaffa Super 6s Team Insight: East Grinstead
Find out more about East Grinstead’s men in our club by club preview of each of the teams competing in this year’s Jaffa Super 6s Finals.
How did East Grinstead get to the Finals?
A tough start saw East Grinstead lose their opening match to Wimbledon (6-3), though they replied emphatically with six consecutive victories to book their place at the Finals and have a shot at defending their crown.
Who will they play in the semi-finals?
East Grinstead will take on Holcombe at 14:15 in what looks set to be a tight match with only two points separating the sides in the qualifying stage.
Ross Stott (7), Simon Faulkner and Ben Mackey (both 6), Alexander Hemmersbach (5), David Condon (4), Daniel Faulkner, Richard Lane and Joe Naughalty (all 3), Tijn van Groesen (2), Frederik Lizinger (1)
Players to watch:
Club captain Simon Faulkner scored two crucial goals to see his side surpass Hampstead & Westminster in last year’s semi-final before netting in the shootout to triumph over Surbiton in the final.
Welsh international midfielder Lewis Prosser, who has had spells playing in Spain and Belgium, will also be a player to keep an eye on. Having been a defeated finalist for Surbiton in last year’s finals, Prosser will be hoping to o one further this time around.
Did you know?
East Grinstead have been an unstoppable force in the competition’s recent history, lifting the trophy in 10 of the last 11 years.
England Hockey Board Media release
England Hockey Jaffa Super 6s Team Insight: Bowdon Hightown
Find out more about Bowdon Hightown in our club by club preview of each of the teams competing in this year’s Jaffa Super 6s Finals.
How did Bowdon Hightown get to the Finals?
Beginning the qualifying campaign with a thrilling 6-5 victory over Leicester, a game in which they had been 4-0 down, Bowdon went on to record victories over Buckingham, Clifton Robinsons and Holcombe to make it four wins on the bounce.
Other than a lone defeat to Slough (6-1) it’s been a ruthless run through the group stage for Bowdon who emerged level on points with top of the table East Grinstead on 19 points after securing six wins, one draw and a solitary defeat from their eight matches.
Who will they play in the semi-finals?
Bowdon will take on Sutton Coldfield at 11:45am in the semi-finals, hoping to go one step further than last year when they were knocked out by Buckingham in a shootout at this stage.
Sally Walton (21), Charlene Mason (4), Megan Batchelor (3), Sam Mairs (2), Alex Lukin, Hannah MacDonald and Lucy Tennant (all 1).
Players to watch:
Comfortably the highest scorer in the qualifying stages with 21 goals (seven ahead of second top scorer Sophie Bray on 14), Sally Walton will undoubtably be catching the attention of opposition defenders and on watching spectators.
Meanwhile Rio gold medallist Sam Quek (playing as Sam Mairs) will bring experience and quality to the Copper Box Arena.
Did you know?
Other than last year’s winners, East Grinstead, Bowdon are the only other team of the four sides competing in Finals day to have won the competition in the past decade having lifted the trophy in 2010/11, 2014/15 and 2017/18.
England Hockey Board Media release
Wrist of fury drives Syed
By T. AVINESHWARAN
PETALING JAYA: Most people want to forget their injury nightmares. Not Tenaga Nasional fullback Syed Syafiq Syed Mohd Cholan (pic).
His wrist injury is what is driving him to succeed in 2020.
The player, who fractured his wristbone while playing for Malaysia in the World Cup in 2018, had to undergo for surgery after it flared up when he helped Tenaga Nasional win the Tan Sri P. Alagendra Cup, the opening match of the season last year.
His club, however, failed to win any of the two titles at stake – the league and overall title – and that has only inspired the 24-year-old Syed Syafiq to help his team bag a double this year.
“It is one of my career targets. I have been with Tenaga since 2014. In 2016, we qualified for the final of Tan Sri P. Alagendra Cup, only to lose to Sapura in the final. That motivated me to win the Cup.
“Three years later, we won the Cup, but it came at a cost. I had to take an extended break because of it and affected my plans to help Tenaga achieve a double.
“This year, I am fully fit, and that injury has only spurred me to give my best and ensure that I help this team achieve a double.”
Syed Syafiq, who is one of the designated drag flickers in the team, has scored four goals in the league so far and has helped marshal the defence with his leadership and strength. The team have won all their five matches to date and remain among the favourites to win the league title.
At his age, he is hardly a senior but is taking on that role with no complaints, and his charisma can be seen on the pitch.
“We struggled in our first match against TNB Thunderbolts, but after that, we have shown significant progress. The young players in the team have shown great understanding, and the forwards are beginning to find their rhythm upfront.
“The players need to be consistent. There are no secrets behind our unbeaten run. We are young and energetic, and there is also the belief that we can beat anyone in the league.”
The league leaders face Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) today at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil, and Syed Syafiq has urged his mates not to underestimate them.
“We cannot look down on UiTM. They have some players from the Thunderbolts programme, and I am sure they will give us a great fight.”
Syed Safiq also had praise for his coach Nor Saiful Zaini, who he said was willing to give space for players to learn.
“There is an excellent understanding between the coach and players. We can grasp his tactics well because he understands the dynamics of each and every player.
“He is always there to support you and never undermines our efforts. That is what we want from a coach.
“With that kind of backing, it is obvious that we want to reward him with the double.”
The Star of Malaysia
Awesome Aussie fitting right in
Experienced: UniKL’s Kieran Govers played 126 games for Australia and scored 60 goals.
PETALING JAYA: Universiti Kuala Lumpur’s (UniKL) Australian forward Kieran Govers was a household name in the world of hockey.
Winning two World Cups (2010,2014), three Champions Trophies (2010,2011,2012), a Commonwealth Games gold medal (2014) and an Olympic bronze medal (2012), the 31-year-old played 126 games for his nation and scored 60 goals.
The Wollongong-based player is also known for his deadly drag flicks.
No wonder then that some of his teammates were star-struck when he first played in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) in 2018, after last featuring for Australia in the Darwin International Hockey Open in Sept 2018.
My teammates are great, very friendly and with a warm welcome every time we come or turn up for training.
“They love to ask a lot of questions which is good. I think at first they were a bit star-struck, but at the end of the day, we are just like them, normal people!”
For Govers, the idea of playing in a new country fancied him, and he has not looked back and is now into his third season with UniKL.
“It is so easy for us to come into an environment like this, especially with the way Arul (UniKL coach Arul Selvaraj) approaches life and hockey, ” said Govers.
“He understands our needs on and off the field, and it was a smooth transition coming into the team.”
It is no surprise to see Govers loving things at the moment as his team are unbeaten in five matches in the league, but they will face a tricky test against Maybank today at the Tengku Abdullah Stadium in Bangi.
“They have a few good players who we have to look out for and shut down quickly. We have played them a lot over the last two years, so we know them pretty well. We need to be on top of our game as they can be dangerous.
“Going unbeaten? That is the last thing on our mind.
“We have been a little patchy in some games but we are trying to work on that and improve.
“Obviously it would be great to go unbeaten, but our focus now is on Maybank than the game after that.”
While being unbeaten is not on his mind, winning titles is.
“Obviously, I come here to win.
“I have a great drive to be successful and want to do everything I can within my own game and improve the players around me.
“UniKL have come along way in the last few years under Arul so we would like to continue that tradition.
“We need to execute the game plan then let fate do the rest.”
The Star of Malaysia
Hockey league only solution to revive national game: Bhandara
Lahore - Advisor to President Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), Mian Pervez Bhandara, has said that the only solution to save the sinking ship of Pakistan hockey is to conduct the Pakistan Hockey Super League (PHSL) this year.
Talking to media here Tuesday, Bhandara, who is associated with international and Asian hockey federations, said: “We have a great example of India, which conducted leagues in different games especially in cricket and their teams have started performing exceptionally in almost all int’l ernational events. Similarly, if Pakistan conduct hockey league , it will certainly prove fruitful for the country and PHF. We can find and give chance to fresh talent, who, if provided with proper facilities, is bound to excel at higher level.”
He further said: “I hope the Pakistan Super Hockey League will be held in Pakistan in September this year. The successful conduct of the league will contribute in finding, training and grooming the promising talent and also help and motivate the youngsters to come forward and serve the country through national game. If they succeed in impressing the national selectors, they will also get place in the national team and represent the country at international level and win glories for it globally.
“Pakistan, which once ruled the hockey world for many decades, has been declining with each passing day due to non-cooperation of government and corporate sector. It badly needs funds as investment on the national game can attract the youth towards it. The more youth will play hockey, the better results we will produce at international level. It is my request to government as well as sponsors to come forward and help the national game, which in return, will laurels for the country,” the advisor to PHF chief concluded.
Lakers and Western Jaguars win Eregi Open tourney
By Washington Onyango
Lakers players celebrate after winning [Washington Onyango/Standard]
Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) Premier League sides Lakers and Western Jaguars are the 2020 Eregi Open hockey champions.
Lakers thrashed Western Regional School champions Tigoi Girls 3-0 in the girl’s hockey finals with 2019 KHU Women’s Premier League MVP Alice Owiti scoring two goals and her sister Maureen Owiti sealing the win.
Speaking after the win, Lakers Team Manager John Otieno said he was impressed with the team’s performances as they prepare for the 2020 season.
He said the two teams they registered showed resilience and determination to play for victory.
“The girls played well last season in the league and it was wise to start early preparations ahead of the 202 season. We are looking to bolster our squad with new young energy and am glad the team played well after a long break,” he said.
Lakers finished unbeaten in the tournament after thrashing Mudavadi Girls 5-0, Nyanza Region defending champions Nyamira Girls 2-0 and Eshitari Girls 4-0 in the group stages.
In the quarters, Lakers knocked out Eregi Girls after beating them 6-0 before seeing off Sinyolo Girls 1-0 in the semis to book finals.
Lakers B on the other side defeated Kaimosi Girls, Butere Girls and Nyawara Girls 2-0, 5-0 and 1-0 respectively in the group stages before losing out to Nyamira Girls in the quarters.
In the men’s category, Western Jaguars defeated their second string side Jaguars B 3-2 to successfully defend the title they won last year. Jaguars registered two teams in the tourney.
“Both of our teams reaching the finals shows how good we prepared for the tourney and how fit the team is ahead of the new season. We are determined to build a stronger squad as we seek to challenge for the trophy,” Jaguars coach Mike Malungu said.
Lakers will be preparing to participate in the upcoming Maseno Amadi Open, Nyamira Open and Maseno University Open. [Washington Onyango]
The Standard Digital