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News for 31 January 2020

All the news for Friday 31 January 2020

Great Britain aim to make winning a habit

Great Britain women will be starting their FIH Pro League campaign with a tricky two-match encounter with Australia at the Olympic Park in Sydney over the weekend of 1 and 2 February. Last season, the Hockeyroos finished the competition in third position, while Great Britain were left in the bottom half of the table in eighth place.

Matches between the two sides saw Australia win 3-0 and 4-2. However, a new season, playing experience under the young team’s collective belt and the invaluable commodity of more time under the guidance of Head Coach Mark Hager has given captain Hollie Pearne-Webb fresh impetus and, as we hear in the video interview, the captain is raring to go.

What is the team hoping to achieve in the FIH Hockey Pro League this season?
Hollie Pearne-Webb: “We really enjoyed the Pro League last year and it really taught us a lot throughout the year. We sort of went on journey. This year we are looking to start as we mean to go on. We will go in hard. It is also just great preparation for the Olympic Games further down the year as well. So, yes, it will be good to see other teams and how they are getting on and how we match up at this stage with six months to go until the Olympics.”

How have your preparations for the competition gone so far?
Hollie Pearne-Webb: “The girls had a bit of time off after the FIH Olympic Qualifiers and then we were back in training. Then there was the Christmas break. The girls have come back in really good shape after Christmas. Training and the prep has been stepped up a bit to a higher level and that is great. I think we settled down and got some consistency in the Qualifiers and that has been lifted another level in training so that has been great.”

What do you need to do as a team to achieve your target for the season?
Hollie Pearne-Webb: “I think our target is to be as prepared as we can be for the Olympic Games and use every game as a real opportunity to get better. We obviously want to go and win and learn how to win. We want to make that [winning] a habit. The Pro League offers a really good opportunity for that to happen. It’s not just training, we want to go over to Australia and win and the same in New Zealand.

What do you feel you learnt from the first season that you will take into this season?
Hollie Pearne-Webb: “Last year we learnt a lot about ourselves as a team and playing people in different positions. And now we are sort of more ‘set’. I think this year our aim will be learning how to win and how to make that a habit. And there are all those tiny different little things we will do on the pitch - just honing those tiny little details.”

What do you expect from your opponents and how will you mitigate the challenges they pose?
Hollie Pearne-Webb: “Other teams will be doing similar things to us to prepare themselves as well as they can for the Olympic Games. Some teams will mix their teams up throughout the season, while others might try to solidify their squad. But we expect everyone to be raising the bar in every game. And we expect those games to be really, really challenging as we lead into those last few months ahead of the Olympic Games.”

What is your message to the fans?
Hollie Pearne-Webb: “I can’t wait for the home games. I loved playing at Lee Valley, I loved playing at The Stoop. It is just so exciting, and the fact that we have double headers as well, will just be great. Message to everyone is just come and watch. We really appreciate every single person who cheers us on. Each match is really exciting. It is always an event. We want to put hockey on the map and we want people to watch it and enjoy it just like we do.”


Official FIH Pro League Site

GB teams ready for first games in FIH Pro League 2020

Great Britain and Australia's women in the FIH Pro League

Great Britain's international hockey teams play their first games in the 2020 FIH Pro League this coming weekend.

When are the games taking place?
The teams are in Australia for four matches across Saturday and Sunday:
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

Where are the matches?
The games are all at Sydney Olympic Park. The Olympics were played at this venue 20 years ago, with both of Britain's teams exiting at the group stage.

Who's in the squads?
GB named 44 players across both genders for the games in Aus and NZ - read in full here.

Where can I watch them?
All of Great Britain's games in the FIH Pro League are live in the UK on BT Sport. They have now launched a £25 monthly subscription offer with no annual contract - click here to take a look.

How did GB do last season?
The men's team made it through to the Grand Final by finishing fourth in the table, then again finishing fourth overall after the final tournament in Holland. The women's team finished eighth in the league table.

Have Australia played yet?
Yes their teams have each played two games. Their women earned a shootout defeat and shootout draw against Belgium, while the men got a shootout win and a 4-2 normal time defeat to the same opponents. Jeremy Hayward stood out with two goals in two games for the Aus men.

What's changed in the Pro League this year?
India are now in the men's competition, and have hit the ground running in their first couple of games. There are no Grand Finals now, and the format has changed so that teams only play each other home OR away; with the schedule swapping over in 2021. So for example we play Australia away in 2020, and at home in 2021.

When are GB's next games after Australia?
The sides then go to Auckland, and again all matches are on BT Sport:
Sat 8 Feb New Zealand v Great Britain (M); 4am UK time
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 UK time

When and where are GB's home games?
Six of the eight home matchdays take place at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre (LVHTC)
2 & 3 May, GBR v India (M) / China (W) - LVHTC
16 & 17 May, GBR v Argentina (M&W) - Twickenham Stoop
24 & 25 May, GBR v Spain (M) / USA (W) - LVHTC
13 & 14 Jun, GBR v Germany (M & W) - LVHTC

How can I get tickets for home games?
Season tickets and four-day passes are on general sale right now by clicking here. If you're a club player, umpire/coach or purchased international hockey tickets in the last three years; you're in the Hockey Family and have exclusive access to tickets until Tue 4 Feb - click here for more information.

Great Britain Hockey media release

Nicola White: I’m not frightened by my concussion injury anymore

The Hockey Paper Exclusive

Nicola White celebrates with her GB team-mates

Nicola White, the Rio gold medal-winning Olympian, says she is doing all she can to still make selection for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

White, 32, has been out of action following a collision on the side of her head with an Irish player during a Commonwealth Games warm-up match in 2018. The two-time Olympic medallist has since been recovering from a debilitating, long-term concussion.

In a bid to find the right medication to finally ward off post-concussion symptoms, White recently revealed that she had Botox injections across her scalp and forehead in an attempt to stave off the painful migraines which have held her back in her recovery.

But in a hugely positive start to 2020, White believes that she is now on the right path after the chronic symptoms which have blighted the last two years of her career.

“I am trying to stay positive and it has been a painful journey but it has been a good start to the New Year,” she said. “If I can make a full recovery in the next few months I can pick up the phone to the GB programme and see where we are. It is the hope that is keeping me going.

“I haven’t spoken a lot about this and it’s about getting myself in the right place. It has taken me by surprise over how complex it has all been, while physically it has been a battle.”

White was recently removed from the GB programme, a decision which left her “hugely disappointed”, but her current mindset is one of optimism.

“I’m still trying to make it back and get myself fit and well. It is a big ask,” she noted. “It wasn’t necessarily my choice as I was taken off the programme and it does present a big challenge. But I’m on new medication and Botox and I’m hoping it is all positive.”

White has documented previously the isolating pain she had experienced following her on-field accident playing for England, the aftermath of which included constant dizziness and being unable to handle daylight.

She said: “In the early days it was so debilitating and you can’t function as a healthy person. It can get you down. For the brain to be injured to that level I have to understand it to accept it.

“I’ve fallen into a trap of being disheartened as it’s been so slow, but it’s now positive for me and it’s easy to see progress. I know I have to look after myself to make sure I get well. I’m not frightened by the injury now. Before I was unsure and anxious and I used to beat myself up about it.”

She admitted to holding a stick and being able to continue her training, as well as undertaking some coaching sessions.

“When I was coaching I couldn’t divide a group into numbers as I couldn’t think on my feet,” she said.

“It has taken time to get going but it has all flooded back and I can now explain how to push a ball! I’m just going to keep going until the door is definitely closed.”

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The Hockey Paper

Extra incentives for Kookaburras to rebound against Great Britain

If there was not enough motivation already, the debut of a rising star plus two significant individual player milestones adds further incentive for the Kookaburras when they take on Great Britain in the FIH Pro League at Sydney Olympic Park starting tomorrow.

Victorian 20 year old Nathan Ephraums will make his senior international debut, while midfielder Jake Whetton is set to make his 200th appearance for the Kookaburras and striker Tom Craig his 100th match.

“He’s got a little bit of an x-factor about him,” said Kookaburras Head Coach Colin Batch on Ephraums.

“He will bring some energy to the group. First games can go one of two ways – they can be really nervous and not play so well, but I’m sure Nathan will embrace the opportunity, play his natural game and play well for us.”

Ephraums, who comes out of the Victorian Institute of Sport hockey program, was part of the National Development Squad last year and played in the Sultana Bran Hockey One League for HC Melbourne, while he also featured for Australia A in the recent matches against Belgium A.

“Seeing my name in the striker line for tomorrow’s game was really exciting…it’s something I’ve looked forward to for a long time, so getting to make my debut will be really special,” said Ephraums.

“There will be some nerves but I think that’s only natural. I know the guys will get around me and once I have my first few touches of the game I’m confident I’ll settle in pretty well.”

“This really has been a childhood dream. I used to look up to guys like Eddie Ockenden, so to run out with them will be really special.”

On the impending milestones of Queenslander Whetton and Sydneysider Craig, Batch lauded the duo for the way they have developed their games over the journey and for the contribution they have made to the Kookaburras.

“We’ve got Nathan playing his first game and then we have a 100 and a 200 game milestone, so it rounds it off nicely,” said Batch.

“With Tom Craig, a lot of people automatically revert to his physicality, his speed and how well he gets up and down the park, but he is putting a lot more craft into his game.”

“He’s not the complete player by any means but reaching the 100 game milestone for the Kookaburras is a great effort and I know he will contribute really well for us on the weekend.”

“Jake Whetton started out as a striker and we see this in a number of players that their career evolves over a period of time, so he went from being one of the outstanding goal scorers and now he is a midfield game manager.

“There has been a lot of growth in Jake’s game, he’s a very important player for us, he loves scoring goals and while the opportunities aren’t there as much, his ability to set play up is an enormous part of what we do.”

In addition to Ephraums making his debut, Batch has also brought in forward Trent Mitton, midfielder Corey Weyer and defender Jake Harvie for tomorrow’s opening double header.

After going down in both of their opening Pro League matches against Belgium last weekend and subsequently losing their number one world ranking, the Kookaburras will be out to get back on the winner’s list against a Great Britain team they had mixed results against last year.

“Obviously we weren’t too happy about our matches last weekend against Belgium, but my feeling is we have got an even group and we want to find out where they are at,” said Batch.

“Great Britain were one of the teams that beat us last year. They played really well against us in London and they have some great attacking players and their defence is very solid, so we’ve got to find opportunities up front and defend well.”

“We will certainly be looking for an improvement.”

Tickets for the Pro League double headers against Great Britain are available now through Ticketek.

Kookaburras Team v Great Britain – FIH Pro League (1 February 2020)


Name (Number) Date of Birth Hometown, State Hockey One Team Caps (Goals)
Tim Brand (29) 29/11/1998 Chatswood, NSW NSW Pride 36 (15)
Andrew Charter (gk) (30) 30/03/1987 Canberra, ACT Canberra Chill 178 (0)
Tom Craig (2) 3/09/1995 Lane Cove, NSW NSW Pride 99 (28)
Matthew Dawson (6) 7/04/1994 Killarney Vale, NSW NSW Pride 134 (12)
Nathan Ephraums (7) 9/06/1999 Keysborough, VIC HC Melbourne
Jake Harvie (4) 5/03/1998 Dardanup, WA Perth Thundersticks 64 (3)
Jeremy Hayward (32) 3/03/1993 Darwin, NT Tassie Tigers 151 (64)
Tim Howard (16) 23/06/1996 Wakerley, QLD Brisbane Blaze 56 (1)
Tyler Lovell (gk) (24) 23/05/1987 Perth, WA Perth Thundersticks 142 (0)
Trent Mitton (25) 26/11/1990 Perth, WA Perth Thundersticks 168 (75)
Eddie Ockenden (11) 3/04/1987 Hobart, TAS Tassie Tigers 360 (70)
Flynn Ogilvie (22) 17/09/1993 Wollongong, NSW NSW Pride 105 (21)
Lachlan Sharp (1) 2/07/1997 Lithgow, NSW NSW Pride 44 (9)
Matthew Swann (20) 16/05/1989 Mackay, QLD Brisbane Blaze 200 (7)
Corey Weyer (3) 28/03/1996 Biggera Waters, QLD Brisbane Blaze 38 (3)
Jacob Whetton (12) 16/06/1991 Brisbane, QLD Brisbane Blaze 199 (64)
Tom Wickham (5) 26/05/1990 Morgan, SA Perth Thundersticks 50 (20)
Aran Zalewski (17) 21/03/1991 Margaret River, WA Perth Thundersticks 185 (23)

Kookaburras v Great Britain – Overall Record

Played 62; Won 38, Drawn 16, Lost 8

FIH Pro League 2020 matches – Sydney Olympic Park Hockey Centre

Saturday 25 January
Kookaburras 2 (Hayward 49’, Craig 51’)
Belgium 2 (Briels 18’, Denayer 59’)
Belgium wins 4-2 on penalties

Sunday 26 January
Kookaburras 2 (Sharp 42’, Hayward 60’)
Belgium 4 (Hendrickx 13’/25’, Plennevaux 56’, Stockbroekx 58’)

Saturday 1 February
Kookaburras v Great Britain (4:00pm local)

Sunday 2 February
Kookaburras v Great Britain (3:00pm local)

Hockey Australia media release

200 game milestone really special for family man Whetton

Jake Whetton is a proud father, husband, son, teammate, Queenslander, Kookaburra, and on Saturday he will join an elite group to play 200 games for Australia’s men’s hockey team.

Just a week after another of the Kookaburras’ mosquito fleet Matt Swann reached his double century milestone, Whetton is set to join him in the 200 club when he runs out against Great Britain.

Similarly to Swann and all of his Kookaburras teammates, Whetton is a tenacious competitor who leaves nothing left on the field every time he plays for his country. When he talks about the immense regard he holds for representing the green and gold, it is clearly evident what it means to him.

Whetton is a World Cup winner, Commonwealth Games gold medallist, has won the Champions Trophy and Pro League title, and been shortlisted for the FIH Player of the Year in 2018.

Now on the brink of making his 200th Kookaburras appearance, with his parents having flown down from Brisbane, and his wife and young son having come over from Perth for the occasion, the 28 year old describes what the feat and being part of the Kookaburras means to him.

Reaching 200 games in any sport at any level is a massive achievement, but to do it for the Kookaburras and still be at the peak of the sport, what does it mean to you to be about to hit this milestone?

JW: “It’s going to be a really proud moment for me and probably more so my family and close friends who have been there from the start. It has been a long journey…there have been some really high points and some really low moments, but to be involved in a group like the Kookaburras, which is something I wanted to do from a young age, for the last ten years is really special to me.

People who know me know how much hockey means to me and to be able to represent the Kookaburras and Australia 200 times is really special and a real honour. I love being around this group and playing hockey for Australia.”

That is certainly evident every time you take the field and the way you go about it. Is there anything you can put your finger on that has helped you to maintain such a high standard up to 200 games and hopefully many more to come?

JW: “I think being involved with the group when I first came in and the success that the team had has really driven me for the last few years.

Now being more of a senior member in the group, I want that success for the younger guys. I know when I started how much the older guys within that Kookaburras group grabbed me by the scruff of the neck and took me on their journey and wanted me to become the best player I could be. I want that for everyone in this current squad.

I want us to be the best team possible and that comes from the top of the tree down to the guys who have yet to make their debuts, so I want everyone to come on this journey. We’ve got a really special group at the moment, so me being one of those senior leaders I really want to push this group and achieve some amazing things.”

Whetton celebrates at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in his home state.

When you look back from the time you made your Kookaburras debut to now, are there any memories that stick out?

JW: “There would be a number of them, probably too many to count. Certainly my debut in Malaysia…mum and dad flew over for it and they were such a massive support to me growing up and whatever I wanted to do they were right behind me.

More recently my wife being able to be at tournaments whenever she can get to them, that’s pretty special. And now with my son, it’s pretty cool to have him be there but not really knowing what’s going on. I remember last year at the first game he was at, we got beaten by Belgium at the start of last year and I was pretty disappointed, but to see him after the game, he obviously had no idea what was going on and had a big smile on his face. So they are times I look back fondly on.

The World Cups and Commonwealth Games wins, having those people that were and still are a big influence on me at those big games means the world to me. I just love being able to represent Australia in the game that I love and hopefully I can continue doing that for a few more years.”

Tickets for the matches against Great Britain are available now through Ticketek. The matches will also be broadcast on Kayo and/or Fox Sports.

Hockey Australia media release

Over $30,000 raised and counting for bushfire relief

The total amount raised by Hockey Australia and the country’s hockey community for the bushfire crisis has surpassed $30,000 after the weekend’s FIH Pro League matches and the conclusion of the Australian Indoor Hockey Festival.

Hockey Australia and its corporate partners Ausdrill and its parent company Perenti, TigerTurf and Westfund pledged $500 for every goal scored by the Kookaburras and the Hockeyroos across the four FIH Pro League match days in Sydney.

Australia’s national teams struck a combined eight goals against Belgium, taking the figure to $16,000 for the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal with next weekend’s two double headers against Great Britain to come. Over $600 was also raised through spectator donations across last weekend’s two match days.

Prior to the matches with Belgium, Hockeyroo Kalindi Commerford pledged $50 for every goal scored by all four teams (men’s and women’s) and $100 for each goal she scored across the weekend.

Commerford will donate $1,750 out of her own pocket, while a number of her Hockeyroos teammates have also contributed over $100 each to the Treading Lightly Inc Milton Ulladulla Region Bushfire Appeal.

Furthermore, across the three weeks of the Australian Indoor Hockey Festival, a grand total of $5,436.85 was raised for bushfire and drought relief.

These funds came from amounts donated by teams who won the Play the Whistle Awards in each age group, team donations (Queensland’s combined state teams donated $1,800 over the course of the festival), along with donations from spectators.

Australian hockey legend Jamie Dwyer managed to raise $11,000 to the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal after offering to give away his Rio Olympics playing shirt and hockey stick as incentive for people to donate.

Then there is the $5,000 Hockey Victoria is donating towards the Victorian Bushfire Appeal, while Hockey ACT are providing support through the #WeAreOne campaign.

“There has been a fantastic response from the hockey community and there is more to come,” said Hockey Australia CEO Matt Favier.

“The funds raised will go to helping the people that need it most as they look to rebuild and recover from the devastating catastrophe of the bushfires.”

“We applaud and sincerely thank everyone who has put their hand in their pockets to donate, particularly those at the Indoor Hockey Festival.

“This shows the strength of the Australian hockey community to come together and contribute to aiding a disaster that has struck many regional communities, including the hockey fraternity in these areas.”

The current total does not include the US$25,000 and signed memorabilia donated by Hockey India plus the other fundraising initiatives of fellow hockey nations including Great Britain whose men’s team are conducting a clinic at Ryde Hockey Club in Sydney tonight to raise funds for the bushfire appeal ahead of this weekend’s FIH Pro League matches in Sydney.

Kookaburras players will also hold a junior coaching clinic prior to the Pro League matches this Saturday and Sunday with proceeds going to the bushfire appeal.

Details of the fundraising campaigns including how to donate can be found here.

People can still donate to those affected by the bushfires and drought through a host of charity and emergency organisations including the Red Cross Bushfire Appeal, NSW Rural Fire Service, Victorian Country Fire Authority and WIRES Australian Wildlife Rescue Organisation.

Tickets for the Kookaburras and Hockeyroos FIH Pro League matches against Great Britain are available through Ticketek.

Hockey Australia media release

Hockey umpires whistle up world first on Kiwi turf

Suzanne McFadden

One of the world's top hockey umpires, Kiwi Amber Church would relish the opportunity to control a men's international match. Hockey New Zealand

This story was originally published on Locker Room at Newsroom.co.nz, and is republished with permission.

Something revolutionary will roll out on a New Zealand hockey turf on Saturday: for the first time in top-tier international history, a woman will umpire a men's test match.

When the Black Sticks men play world champions Belgium at the brand new National Hockey Centre in Albany, Australian umpire Aleisha Neumann will control the game on the field alongside her fellow countryman Adam Kearns.

Two hours before, a man and a woman will also hold the whistles in the Black Sticks women's match, also against the Belgians, to start their 2020 Pro League campaign.

It will be the first time a mixed gender pairing has umpired an international of this status.

Both games are part of a trial by FIH, the world hockey body, in line with their "Equally Amazing" ethos: to be gender inclusive in all facets of the sport.

The "mixed gender appointments" will be trialled in eight games of this season's Pro League, played by the world's top nine men's and women's nations. But eventually it could be commonplace to have women and men umpiring side-by-side at the Olympics and the World Cup.

New Zealand hockey officials selected for the Tokyo Olympics (from left): Simon Taylor, Kelly Hudson, Jackie Tomlinson, Amber Church and Dave Tomlinson.

It's a transformation that top New Zealand hockey umpire Amber Church can't wait to see - for both women and men. The Gisborne schoolteacher is a regular in the Pro League – umpiring the women's matches between Australia and Belgium last weekend and acting as video umpire for the men's matches. 

"I think it will be great for our sport in general to have more equality," Church says. "Eventually it shouldn't be gender-based – if you're good enough and you're the right person, you'll be appointed to the game."

Church, in fact, kicked off her career umpiring male hockey - as a 15-year-old she got special dispensation to umpire the national boys' U13 tournament, the Hatch Cup. "And I loved it, it was great. I even asked if I could go down the men's hockey pathway, but they weren't having a bar of it," she laughs.

She regularly umpires men in local club games in Gisborne and up to U21 level. "The men's game is faster, so your positioning has to be a little different. But I don't think it would be any different than umpiring different countries – it's more about the style of hockey that changes," she says.

"Men need different skills to umpire a women's match too – choosing which skills to use is different. There should be no reason why someone can't umpire the opposite gender – as long as they're the right person for the job and they're good enough to do it." 

Church was asked if she wanted to umpire a men's international in this season's trial. "I was 100 percent interested, but I wasn't appointed, unfortunately," she says.

Pro League matches must have neutral umpires, so Wanri Venter from South Africa and Australian Steve Rogers will be on the pitch for the historic Black Sticks women's match on Saturday. In the first season last year, all of the women's games in the Pro League were controlled by female umpires.

Hockey New Zealand's technical manager Colin French says the mixed gender trial is "a big deal", and one that New Zealand strongly supports.

"As a sport we take pride in our gender balance – we're one of the few sports in the world were there's a 50/50 balance for female and male players at an international level. This is a big part of Hockey NZ's values – inclusivity in our hockey whanau," he says.

"We have men umpiring women's games and women umpiring men's games throughout our club hockey."

So why were two tests in New Zealand chosen to first trial a mixed pair of umpires? 

"I think the FIH looked at the right kind of game, the right kind of pairing and the right kind of umpires. They want to test the water first, dip a toe in - but it's definitely here to stay," says French, who's also an umpire manager in the Pro League.

In control of the men's match, Neumann has had plenty of experience as both a player and an official. Also a schoolteacher, she has played hockey for Australian Country, and has umpired at the Commonwealth Games, World Cup and last year's Pro League.

French says the umpires will have been chosen for the "standard characteristics" - mental aptitude, mobility, speed to move around the field, decision-making and the ability to build a rapport with players. "It doesn't matter if you're male or female, the right capabilities will have you appointed."

Speed has always been touted as the difference between the two sexes, but French says the women's game has significantly increased in speed and skill in the last 15 years. "These girls hit harder than most men's club players; their strength and speed has made a huge leap."

It won't be the first time a woman has umpired a men's international. In keeping with "Equally Amazing", Germany's Michelle Meister and Belgium's Laurine Delforge became the first two female umpires to take charge of men's games in the Euro Hockey League in 2018.

It may be another four or eight years till mixed gender umpiring is adopted in Olympic hockey, Church believes. "But it will be so exciting. I can't wait," she says.

"It's important to remember that this is still a trial, and it will continue to be reviewed. But we're really fortunate to have so many capable umpires, male and female, in world hockey."

* The two tests at Albany on Sunday afternoon - again the Black Sticks versus Belgium - will revert to the status quo of two male umpires at the men's match, and two female umpires for the women.


Rio Olympics pain still fresh for Gemma McCaw as she returns to the Black Sticks

Andrew Voerman

Gemma McCaw last played for the Black Sticks at the Rio Olympics in 2016. MARK KOLBE/GETTY IMAGES

When Gemma McCaw made her debut for the Black Sticks as a 17-year-old in 2008, she wouldn't have imagined ending up where she has in 2020.

For a while there, it looked like the Rio Olympics in 2016 would be her last outing in a black singlet – one that ended with a loss in the bronze medal match, just like in London in 2012.

But after having a daughter with husband Richie at the end of 2018, she found herself drawn back to the sport she loved – first at club level in Christchurch, then with Midlands in the National Hockey League, and now with the Black Sticks.

McCaw has returned alongside fellow veteran and mum Kayla Whitelock, who also stepped aside after Rio, and the pair are set to resume their international careers on Saturday in Auckland, when the second edition of the FIH Pro League gets underway.

Reflecting on Rio, McCaw said the pain of losing to Germany and missing out on a bronze medal was "fresh in the mind, even four years later".

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't bitterly disappointed. We put so much into that campaign and to fall short was devastating.

"Afterwards I just took some time [for myself] and it still didn't make it any easier looking back at the result. You can go on holiday, but when you come home, it still sits with you."

McCaw played for Midlands in the NHL in 2017, but in October that year, she brought an end to her international career, having not played for the Black Sticks during the past 12 months.

Then came the arrival of daughter Charlotte, in December 2018, and a chance encounter with an inspirational quote early last year.

"That quote just really resonated," McCaw said.

"'It's not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours'.

"I saw that and I felt that sense of unfinished business, deep down, just burning away."

McCaw had played a game of club hockey when Charlotte was four months old, where she "felt that sense of excitement again".

The next step was turning out for Midlands in the NHL in her hometown of Tauranga last September, where she met with Black Sticks coach Graham Shaw.

"[He] actually emailed me to have a coffee during the NHL, so I thought, well, if he's having a coffee with me, then he might be thinking that way.

"He had the conversation with me then and that's when I knew I had an opportunity, if I continued to perform in the NHL.

"After that he rang me up and offered me a place in the squad."

McCaw was one of 25 players named in the national women's squad for 2020 – a group that will have to be whittled down to 16 in time for the Tokyo Olympics, which start at the end of July.

Charlotte will at for this weekend's games against Belgium at the new National Hockey Centre on Auckland's North Shore, her presence helping to spur mum on as she adds to her 246 caps – and extends an international career that began more than a decade ago.

Looking back at how she felt back then, McCaw said: "I just wanted to enjoy every game that I did get".

"I was lucky enough to be in the team for a long time and each time the opportunity came around, I did everything I could to take that chance.

"I probably didn't think as a 17-year-old when I first debuted that I'd be here in 2020 with a baby, lining up a fourth Olympics."


2020 Test matches RSA v GER (W) - 1st Test
Stellenbosch (RSA)

30 Jan 2020     RSA v GER     0 - 4

FIH Match Centre

2020 Test matches CHI v JPN (W)
Santiago (CHI)

26 Jan 2020      CHI v JPN     0 - 1
27 Jan 2020     CHI v JPN     1 - 1
29 Jan 2020     CHI v JPN     1 - 1
30 Jan 2020      CHI v JPN     0 - 1

FIH Match Centre

Tumilty Contract Extended to end of Olympic Cycle

A decision has been made by Hockey Ireland to extend Mark Tumilty’s contract as Head Coach for the Irish Men’s Squad.  Tumilty will continue as the Men’s Head Coach, in a full-time capacity, until December 2020 the conclusion of the Olympic Cycle.

Speaking on the announcement of his extension, Mark said “I am delighted to be given the opportunity to continue in the role for 2020. I am really look forward to working with a very talented group of players and support staff. We need to grow the depth of our squad and to ensure all players fulfil their potential. I want to play an attacking and exciting brand of hockey, with our goal to get the Irish Men moving up the world rankings again.”

Hockey Ireland will advertise the full time Head Coach position after the conclusion of this Olympic cycle.  Hockey Ireland wish to offer an opportunity for all suitable candidates to apply at the end of an Olympic cycle. The Head Coach position will therefore be advertised in late 2020 and at this juncture all suitably experienced Irish and international coaches with the relevant skills and experience are encouraged to apply.

Irish Hockey Association media release

AfHF introduces new Cup of Nations qualifying criteria


Kenya will be forced to take part in a qualification tournament to seal its place in the 2021 Hockey Africa Cup of Nations, according to new rules introduced by Africa Hockey Federation (AHF).

In the previous editions, nations participated in the event by virtue of their position in the rankings thus locking out a number of participants.

The newly introduced continental qualification system has seen regions divided into three with Kenya being drawn in the North-East Africa region, alongside Burundi, Libya, Seychelles, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda for the qualifiers.

North-West region has Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo while Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe form the Central South region.

The two top teams from the three regions in the men’s category, will join South Africa and Egypt, while in the ladies version, winners will link up with South Africa and Ghana that were given a bye.

The move to introduce the new system was to improve participation of teams and at the same time give a level playing field.

“Many a time countries have failed to participate in the event due to various reasons but budgetary issues have been the major reason. For instance, it will be easy and cheap for Kenya to field a team in event hosted in Tanzania or Uganda than sending the team to South Africa,” said Kenya Hockey Union deputy fixture secretary Moses Majiwa.

“The move will also help with the growth and improvement of the sport in these regions especially in the countries that the discipline is not popular."

Kenya teams participated in the last edition that was held in Egypt and they both finished last in the four-nation tournament that saw Egypt win the men’s’ version while South Africa won the ladies title.

At the same time, KHU secretary general Wycliffe Ongori said they hope to field the teams in the event set for April in a yet to be decided venue.

Ongori however revealed they have bid to host the event.

“We send our budget to the Sports Ministry before December 31 as they had demanded and we hope we will have the finances as we are willing to host the qualifiers and if not compete in the event. But this can only happen if we have money," said Ongori.

Daily Nation

Rani wins The World Games Athlete of the Year 2019 award

Lausanne, Switzerland: India women’s captain Rani has won The World Games Athlete of the Year 2019 award. The prize, which is voted for by the public, is given for outstanding performances, along with social commitment and fair behaviour.

There were initially 25 nominees, male and female, which was reduced to 10 in the final round of public voting. Among her rivals to the title were karate star Stanislav Horuna of Ukraine, the Canadian powerlifting champion Rhaea Stinn and Janja Garnbret, a sport climbing star from Slovenia.

Rani, who has been a member of the national team since she was a mere 15-year-old and currently has more than 240 caps for her country, stated: “It is my privilege and honour to win this award. The award goes to my team and my country. It is always nice when your country recognises your effort. It is even better when the international sports community recognises it. Thank you so much to everyone who voted for me. 2019 was a great year for our team because we qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. As a team we want to make 2020 a great year!”

FIH CEO Thierry Weil said: “On behalf of FIH and the global hockey community, I would like to extend our warmest congratulations to Rani for having been voted The World Games Athlete of the Year 2019. This is an acknowledgement of her outstanding performances - together with her teammates -, of her dedication to hockey and of her leadership. This prestigious Award is also a great recognition for hockey globally.” And he added: “We are working hard for and look forward to having Hockey 5s as a demonstration sport at The World Games 2021.”

Looking back on 2019, the highlight for Rani and her teammates was the FIH Women’s Series Finals in Hiroshima, where Rani herself was Player of the Tournament and her team sealed their qualification for the Olympics Games Tokyo 2020. Prior to that competition, Rani had also led her team to victory in the Ready Steady Tokyo 2020 hockey test event in August.


FIH site

UNIQUE ACCLAIM: Rani is the World Games Athlete of the Year

s2h team

New Delhi, 30 January 2020: Indian Women's hockey captain Rani Rampal is the World Games Athlete of the Year 2019. She is the first Indian Athlete ever to win the prestigious global award, after garnering close to 200 thousand votes, notches above near contenders.

This was the 6th edition of the IWGA (International World Games Association) initiative that recognises and honours an athlete or a team for their outstanding performance in 2019, or for their social commitment or particularly fair behaviour.

The 25 athletes nominated for this award from 25 sports were recommended by their International Federations and in Rani's case, the FIH had recommended her name for the award for her outstanding performance and her ability to lead by example. She was instrumental in India qualifying for the first time in back-to-back Olympic Games.

The winner was adjudged through the number of public votes garnered and Rani accumulated a mammoth 199,477 votes. Last year, the Acrobatic Gymnastics couple Mariia Chernova and Georgii Pataraia (Russia) won the title with 159,348 votes, just ahead of American Powerlifter Jennifer Thompson with 152,865 votes.

Rani who was recently shortlisted for the prestigious Padma Shri award, thanked her fans and well wishers for supporting her and voting for her to win the World Games Athlete of the Year 2019. "I thank each and everyone for supporting me and ensuring they voted for me. I am overwhelmed with the number of people, Indian sports Icons and also celebrities who urged everyone to vote for me and in return ensured the focus remained on Indian Women's Hockey. If I have been able to come this far in the sport then it is because of my teammates too. I dedicate this award to Women's Hockey and all those young aspiring women who want to chase their dreams, nothing is impossible if you believe in it. Thank you," stated an emotional Rani, who is in New Zealand for a five-match tour.

Congratulating Rani, Mohd Mushtaque Ahmad, President, Hockey India said, "I congratulate Rani for winning the prestigious World Games Athlete of the Year 2019 Award. This is a very proud moment for all of us. She is the first Indian athlete to win this award and through her achievements Rani has been able to draw a lot of attention towards women's hockey. Many people are aware of the team's recent accomplishments and I am confident this team is capable of winning larger goals and I wish Rani and the team best of luck this Olympic Year."


Rani Rampal wins ‘World Games Athlete of the Year’ award

Indian women’s team captain Rani Rampal on Thursday became the first-ever hockey player to win the prestigious ‘World Games Athlete of the Year’ award.

File Photo: Under Rani’s leadership, the Indian women’s team qualified for just the third Olympic Games in its history.   -  special arrangement

Indian women’s team captain Rani Rampal on Thursday became the first-ever hockey player to win the prestigious ‘World Games Athlete of the Year’ award.

The World Games announced the winner on Thursday after 20 days of polling by sports fans worldwide.

“Indian hockey superstar Rani is The World Games Athlete of the Year 2019! Huge congratulations!,” the World Games said in a statement.

“With an impressive number of votes, 199,477, Rani is the clear winner of the Athlete of the Year race, where sports fans all over the world have voted for their favourite during 20 days of polling in January. All in all, over 705,610 votes were cast during the poll,” it added.

Last year, India won the FIH Series Finals, and Rani was named Player of the Tournament. Under Rani’s leadership, the Indian women’s team qualified for just the third Olympic Games in its history.

“I dedicate this award to the entire hockey fraternity, my team and my country. This success has only become possible with the love and support from hockey lovers, fans, my team, coaches, Hockey India, my government, friends from Bollywood, fellow sportspersons and my countrymen who have continuously voted for me,” said Rani, who was recently named among the Padma Shri awardees.

“Special thanks to FIH for nominating me for this prestigious award. Thank you to The World Games Federation for this recognition,” she added.

Role model

“Rani is an inspirational athlete and a role model for many in India. It was amazing to see the support the Indians, even as high up as Mr Rijiju, the Minister of State, Youth Affairs and Sports gave to her in this vote together with the Hockey fans all around the world. This is what sport is about: uniting people from different backgrounds and different countries,” said International World Games Association President Jose Perurena.

Outstanding performance

The International Hockey Federation also congratulated Rani.

“Congratulations @imranirampal for becoming the first-ever Hockey athlete to win the prestigious @TheWorldGames Athlete of the Year award!” the FIH, who nominated Rani for the award, said on its twitter handle.

“On behalf of FIH and the global hockey community, I would like to extend our warmest congratulations to Rani for having been voted The World Games Athlete of the Year 2019. This is an acknowledgement of her outstanding performances - together with her team-mates - and her dedication to hockey and her leadership,” FIH CEO Thierry Weil said.

“This prestigious award is also great recognition for hockey globally. Furthermore, we are working hard for and looking forward to having Hockey 5s as a demonstration sport at The World Games 2021.”


'Always nice when your country recognises your effort': Rani Rampal on winning ‘World Games Athlete of the Year’ award

Indian women’s team captain Rani Rampal on Thursday became the first-ever hockey player to win the prestigious ‘World Games Athlete of the Year’ award.

Rani Rampal , SAI Twitter handle

Indian women’s team captain Rani Rampal on Thursday became the first-ever hockey player to win the prestigious ‘World Games Athlete of the Year’ award.

“Indian hockey superstar Rani is The World Games Athlete of the Year 2019! Huge congratulations!,” the World Games said in a statement.

The announcement came after 20 days of polling by sports fans worldwide.

“With an impressive number of votes, 199,477, Rani is the clear winner of the Athlete of the Year race, where sports fans all over the world have voted for their favourite during 20 days of polling in January. All in all, over 705,610 votes were cast during the poll,” it added.

After winning the prestigious award, the skipper told PTI, “I dedicate this award to the entire hockey fraternity, my team and my country. This success has only become possible with the love and support from hockey lovers, fans, my team, coaches, Hockey India, my government, friends from Bollywood, fellow sportspersons and my countrymen who have continuously voted for me”.

Rani, who was recently named among the Padma Shri awardees also said, “Special thanks to FIH for nominating me for this prestigious award. Thank you to The World Games Federation for this recognition”.

Rani, who had a successful 2019, is now looking forward to keeping the Olympics in mind.

“It is my privilege and honour to win this award. It is always nice when your country recognises your effort. It is even better when the international sports community recognises it. Thank you so much to everyone who voted for me,” she said.

“2019 was a great year for our team because we qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. As a team, we want to make 2020 a great year!”

Rani has been part of the national team since she was a 15-years-old, currently has more than 240 caps for India.

“Rani is an inspirational athlete and a role model for many in India. It was amazing to see the support the Indians, even as high up as Mr Rijiju, the Minister of State, Youth Affairs and Sports gave to her in this vote together with the Hockey fans all around the world. This is what sport is about: uniting people from different backgrounds and different countries,” said International World Games Association President Jose Perurena.

The International Hockey Federation also congratulated Rani on being named for the award.

“Congratulations @imranirampal for becoming the first-ever Hockey athlete to win the prestigious @TheWorldGames Athlete of the Year award!” the FIH said in its twitter handle.

There were initially 25 nominees, male and female, who were nominated by their respective sports federations. It was later reduced to 10 in the final round of public voting.

The FIH has recommended Rani’s name for her outstanding performances and her ability to lead by example.

Karate star Stanislav Horuna of Ukraine came in second with over 92,000 votes and Canadian powerlifter world champion Rhaea Stinn was third.

Daily News & Analysis

Stats Speak: Indian Hockey Player Rani Rampal received International World Games Association Award 2019

By B.G.Joshi (Sehore-Bhopal, India)

The International World Games Association has honoured Indian hockey player Rani Rampal with Athlete of the Year in its sixth annual award. The International Association of each sport sends a player's nomination based on its player's outstanding performances, along with social commitment and fair behaviour.Rani Rampal was nominated by the International Hockey Federation this time.

Here are statistical highlights of Rani Rampal:

Rani Rampal in International Hockey

By   B.G.Joshi



of times









World Cup




World League




HockeySeries Finals




Asian Games




Asia Cup




Asian Champions Trophy




Commonwealth  Games




South Asian Games




Champions Challenge I and II




Olympic Qualifiers




Invitation Tourneys




Test Series(17 numbers)








Debut: Apr 19,2008; Kazan OQ,vs Russia; won 3-1


President Alvi assures PHF of all-out support

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) President Brig (R) Muhammad Khalid Sajjad Khokhar called on President Dr Arif Alvi here at Aiwan-e-Sadar.

Talking to The Nation on Thursday, Khokhar said: “It was very fruitful meeting and I want to personally thank President Alvi for sparing his time and holding a long-awaited meeting. I briefed him on hockey affairs, discussed ways to uplift the national game and requested him for govt’s patronage in its promotion.

Dr Alvi assured his all-out support to the PHF chief in the efforts to hold the first professional hockey league in October this year. He also promised to arrange his detailed meeting with IPC Minister Dr Fehmida Mirza and promised the government’s full support.

Khokhar said the federation will generate required funds through private sponsors for the 1st Pakistan Hockey League. He informed Dr Alvi about the players’ miseries saying the PHF wants to offer central contracts to the players so that they may focus on playing hockey, rather than running to earn bread and butter for their families.

He further informed the President about the acute shortage of funds, due to which a number of goals set for hockey revival were not met. “After the meeting, I am hopeful that we will jointly overcome all minor problems and succeed in regaining Pakistan’s lost hockey glory. I am satisfied with the meeting and looking forward for another meeting soon,” Khokhar concluded.

The Nation

Sr National QFs: Air India stun Haryana

s2h Team

In a giant killing act, Air India stunned Haryana in the quarterfinal of the 10th Hockey India Senior Men National Championship 2020 (A Division), underway at the Major Dhyan Chand Hockey Stadium. In the other quarterfinals, Services, Punjab & Sind Bank and Petroleum Sports Promotion Board (PSPB) registered respective winD to make it to the semifinals.

In the first QuarterD, Services edged out Mumbai 1-0 in a closely-contested match. Services took the lead in the fourth minute and thereafter managed to stay in the lead right till the end of the game. The Mumbai TEAM tried their best to find an opening, but the Services defense unit stood tall. Jugraj Singh (4') scored the lone goal for Services Sports Control Board.

Punjab & Sind Bank registered a comprehensive 2-0 victory over Karnataka in the second Quarter-Final match. Both sides were neck and neck in the first half when Punjab & Sind Bank and Hockey Karnataka couldn't find a way to break the 0-0 deadlock. However, Punjab & Sind Bank gained momentum and found the back of the net twice in the third quarter. Prabhdeep Singh (36') and Parvinder Singh (43') were the scorers for Punjab & Sind Bank.

PSPB and Tamil Nadu played an interesting game in the third Quarter-Final match. PSPB took the lead in the third quarter through a field goal before Hockey Unit Of Tamil Nadu struck in the same quarter. In the dying minutes of the match, Petroleum OUTFIT converted a Penalty Corner and sealed a 2-1 victory. Talwinder Singh (34', 56') scored for PSPB, while Selvaraj Kanagaraj (42') netted the lone goal for Hockey Unit Of Tamil Nadu.

Air India and Hockey Haryana played a high octane game in the last Quarter-Final. Haryana took the lead in the 7th minute, however, Air India fought back through a Penalty Corner in the 13th minute. Thereafter, both sides were neck and neck for the most part of the match until Air India converted a stroke in the dying minutes of the match. Air India Sports Promotion Board sealed a place in the Semi-Finals with a 2-1 victory. Joginder Singh (13', 54') scored for the winnng side while Pankaj (7') found the back of the net for Hockey Haryana.


Semi-Final 1: 1300 hrs IST - Services Vs Punjab & Sind Bank
Semi-Final 2: 1500hrs IST - PSPSB Vs Air India


'Zidane' scores on return to pitch with broken jaw

By Jugjet Singh

UniKL’s Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Abdul Jalil in action during their 4-2 win over Maybank on Wednesday. -NSTP/Courtesy of UniKL

A day before he underwent surgery, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Abdul Jalil turned up for the Malaysian Hockey Confederation’s (MHC) fact-finding mission on the national team’s failure to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics.

He was not on the list to be interviewed by MHC, as a few days before that the Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) forward broke his jaw in a Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) match.

But Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin, also known as Zidane, walked into the MHC seminar room in Bukit Jalil, nevertheless.

And barely three weeks after his surgery, he was back on the pitch and even scored a goal in UniKL’s 4-2 win over Maybank (on Wednesday).

He wore a protective headgear, designed for rugby players, during the match.

UniKL can again bank on the national player, who made his international debut at the 2005 Rottterdan Junior World Cup, to give his best against Tenaga Nasional.

“I am perfectly in the right frame of mind to play. It was a bad injury and everyone was concerned.

“Team manager Datuk Amir (Azhar Ibrahim), coach Arul (Selvaraj) and my teammates kept asking me if I was sure about playing,” said Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin.

“But my body and mind told me I was good to play again.

“It was a risk but I am okay. I enjoyed the match against Maybank.”

UniKL lead the standings on 18 points from six consecutive wins, two more than second-placed Tenaga.



NurInsafi v HockAdemy (Sg Petani Stadium), Terengganu Hockey Team v Maybank (Batu Buruk Stadium), UniKL v Tenaga (Bangi Stadium), TNB Thunderbolts v UiTM (National Stadium, Pitch I).

*matches at 5pm unless stated.

New Straits Times

Chin up – ‘Zidane’ is back


KUALA LUMPUR: “Zidane” is back – and in a hurry.

Universiti Kuala Lumpur’s Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin Tengku Abdul Jalil (pic), who suffered a broken jaw in the match against Hockey Academy of Kuala Lumpur on Jan 12, has made a surprisingly quick return.

The seasoned campaigner suffered the injury when a ball struck by a Pakistani player hit him. He underwent surgery two weeks ago and was told he would be out for about three months.

Tengku Ahmad, known as “Zidane” to his teammate, is back in just three weeks. Not only that, the former national forward scored the opening goal for UniKL in the 12th minute against Maybank as the league leaders ran away with 4-2 victory to take their winningstreak to six matches.

Tengku Ahmad surprised fans and even his teammates when he entered the pitch against Maybank at the Tengku Abdullah Hockey Stadium in Bangi on Wednesday, by wearing a headgear designed for rugby players.

Tengku Ahmad said that he had no phobia in making a quick return after breaking his jaw.

“I am in the right frame of mind to play. It was a bad injury and everyone was concerned. Team manager Datuk Amir (Azhar Ibrahim), coach Arul (Selvaraj) and my teammates kept asking me if I was sure I wanted to play after the injury, ” said Tengku Ahmad.

“It was a risk to play but I am okay. My body and mind tells me I am good to play again. I did not have any fear playing against Maybank. Instead, I enjoyed playing and even scored the first goal for my team, ” said Tengku Ahmad.

Tengku Ahmad added that the National Sports Institute (ISN) was helping him obtain a custom-made headgear for better protection of his jaw.

“It may take a week before I receive it from the manufacturers, ” said Tengku Ahmad, who is looking forward to playing in the top-of-the-table clash against Tenaga Nasional at the Tengku Abdullah Hockey Stadium in Bangi today.

Tenaga Nasional drew 1-1 against Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) on Wednesday and dropped to second in the standings.

Defender Baljit Singh Charun, the most senior player in UniKL, was elated with return of Tengku Ahmad after suffering a serious injury.

“Personally, I am so glad to see Zidane back. He was amazing against Maybank. He was everywhere on the field almost like nothing had happened to him.

“He is a committed player and we would love to have his services for the match against Tenaga, ” said Baljit.

The Star of Malaysia

Saiful’s ‘mighty men’ play like schoolboys against university side

KUALA LUMPUR: Tenaga Nasional coach Nor Saiful Zaini (pic) had a nightmare watching his players in action against minnows Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) on Wednesday.

The team, with 13 national players, managed to make what should have been an easy walkover against a weak varsity team into a do-or-die battle, having probably their worst outing in the six matches so far.

The seasoned side, gunning for the league and overall Cup double, put up a pathetic performance and even had to come back from a goal down to salvage a 1-1 draw.

With the draw, Tenaga lost two valuable points and dropped to second spot in the eight-team league with 16 points from five wins and a draw.

Nor Saiful now has a bigger nightmare – he has to get his team, now low on morale, up and ready for a torrid time against high-riding reigning league champions Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) at the Tengku Abdullah Hockey Stadium in Bangi today.

UniKL, led by four foreigners, are in top form after registering their sixth consecutive win by defeating Maybank 4-2 in Bangi on Wednesday.

Nor Saiful was understandably annoyed with his players’ performance.

“They have been playing together as a team for the last few years but the match against UiTM is the worst we ever played in the MHL.

“We made far too many silly errors and our passing was really poor. We were also let down by poor finishing. We created 20 field attempts at goal and had nine penalty corners but managed to score from only one penalty corner.

“I have been telling my players since the league started on Jan 10 that they cannot win if they don’t score. And what I feared happened against UiTM, ” said the former international.

National defender Syed Mohd Syafiq Syed Cholan was rested against UiTM as he was down with fever and Nor Saiful is not sure if Syed would recover in time for the match against UniKL.

“We only have a day’s rest and I am not sure how I am going to motivate my players to rise to the occasion against UniKL.

“Despite our poor performance against UiTM, I am not pressing the panic button. I have faith in my players and believe they will bounce back to play much better against UniKL.

“Our chances for the league title depend on the match against UniKL. If we win, it will be a great comeback for us but if we draw or lose, it is going to tough for us, ” said Nor Saiful.

Last year, UniKL won the league title by staying unbeaten for 12 matches. They defeated Tenaga twice (3-1) at home and (4-2) in an away match last season.

The Star of Malaysia

Trophy named after hockey star Anthony

KUALA LUMPUR: Former hockey international Anthony Ravindra Arulanantham has been honoured with a trophy named after him at the Klang Hockey Fest. The organisers, Synergy Hockey Club, have named the tournament’s main Challenge Trophy after the player who died at the age of 56 last year.

Club president Gurdip Singh Mann said it was an honour to name the 9-a-side Open category title after Anthony, who died after suffering a heart attack while playing a practice match in October.

“Anthony, who helped Selangor clinch the 1984 Tun Abdul Razak Cup, was still actively playing in veteran tournaments and was also involved in an under-11 development program in Klang until his death.

“He featured for Synergy Hockey Club in various tournaments, state league games and including the previous edition of Klang Hockey Fest, ” he said. Besides the Open category, the veteran 9s for those aged 45 and above will also be played during the fourth edition of the tournament to be held on FEb 29 at the Pandamaran Hockey Stadium in Klang

The Star of Malaysia

England Hockey Jaffa Super 6s Team Insight: Wimbledon

Find out more about Wimbledon in our club by club preview of each of the teams competing in this year’s Jaffa Super 6s Finals.

How did Wimbledon get to the Finals?
With three victories from their opening four matches, Wimbledon started off in fine form. Going on to take five victories and three defeats from their eight matches, Wimbledon recorded clinical successes including a 9-2 win over Canterbury and a 13-2 demolition of Bowdon.

Who will they play in the semi-finals?
Wimbledon will come up against Surbiton, the side that led the way in the group stages, in what looks a daunting match after falling to a 9-3 loss to the side in their qualification match.

Qualification goalscorers:
Rory Patterson (16), Ed Horler (15), Ben Arnold (4), Benjamin Francis (3), Steven Ebbers (2), Dominic Bowden and Jack Waller (both 1).

Players to watch:
It’s hard to look any further than the young dynamic duo of Rory Patterson and Ed Horler who finished second and third in the top scorers list from the group stage. Between them they recorded 31 of the team’s 42 group stage goals and will be vital if Wimbledon are to advance through the semi-finals.

With England and GB internationals Rhys Smith, who won the competition last year with East Grinstead, and Michael Hoare in their ranks, the team has numerous high quality players to field on Finals day.

Did you know?
Having only finished 7th in the 2018/19 Jaffa Super 6s group stage, it’s been a vastly improved Wimbledon side this time around who will be looking to lift the trophy for the first time.

England Hockey Board Media release

England Hockey Jaffa Super 6s Team Insight: Buckingham

Find out more about Buckingham in our club by club preview of each of the teams competing in this year’s Jaffa Super 6s Finals.

How did Buckingham get to the Finals?
Despite finishing fourth in the group stages, Buckingham proved a tough side to get the better of having only been defeated once (a 7-3 loss to Bowdon Hightown) in the qualifying stage.

Putting together a strong run in where the team went unbeaten in their final six matches, drawing three games 2-2 against Sutton Coldfield, East Grinstead and Slough whilst also recording as many victories to secure qualification.

Who will they play in the semi-finals?
Buckingham will take on East Grinstead, who topped the group table, and after drawing in the earlier rounds, this match looks evenly poised heading into Finals day.

Qualification goalscorers:
Lottie Porter (9), Maddy Newlyn (7), Abbie Brant and Rebecca van Arrowsmith (both 5), Katrina Nicholson (4), Natasha James (2).

Players to watch:
With Welsh international Megan Lewis-Williams and Zoe Shipperley, who has featured internationally for England, in defence, Buckingham will be a tough team to break down.

At the other end, Lottie Porter was the fourth highest scorer in the group stage and will pose a big threat to opposition teams when given a chance in front of goal.

Did you know?
Having only been promoted to the Premier Division two years ago, Buckingham impressed in 2019 as they reached the Jaffa Super 6s final before ultimately being defeated by East Grinstead, this makes it two consecutive appearances at the Copper Box Arena since that promotion.

England Hockey Board Media release

Meet international athletes at Jaffa Super 6s Finals!

Helen Richardson-Walsh, Sam Ward and Simon Mason chat about Hockey

The Jaffa Super 6s Finals return to the Copper Box Arena this Sunday 2 February and, as well as an entire day of exhilarating indoor action, there’s plenty more to look forward to.

England and GB internationals Sam Ward, Emily Defroand, Henry Weir, Amy Tennant and Brendan Creed will all be in attendance over the course of the day with three signing sessions (11:30am, 1:45pm and 4.30pm) taking place where you can get autographs and selfies with them.

Not only is there the opportunity to meet five current internationals, you’ll also be able to watch some headline names in action for their clubs.

Olympic gold medallists Sophie Bray (East Grinstead) and Sam Quek (playing as Sam Mairs for Bowdon Hightown) as well as the most capped international player in England and GB history, Barry Middleton (Holcombe) will all be on display at the Copper Box Arena on Sunday.

Sophie Bray 6s

Gates open at 9.45am before the first match of the day begins at 10.30am when reigning champions East Grinstead take on Buckingham in a repeat of last year’s women’s final.

England Hockey Board Media release

English duo make umpiring history

Lee Barron and Sean Edwards

English duo Sean Edwards and Lee Barron recently made history when they became the first umpires from the same country to officiate an international final.

The pair recently took charge of the EuroHockey Indoor Nations Championship in Berlin from 17 to 19 January in which the best countries from across Europe compete for the title of European Champions of the indoor game.

After the event, Edwards commented: “It was all a bit of a blur! I was at work on Wednesday and had a message asking me to fly out to Berlin the next morning as a replacement umpire, so I didn't really have any time to set my expectations for the tournament. 

“The atmosphere in the stadium was incredible, and to get some of the best games of the tournament including Germany v Netherlands, the Netherlands v Austria semi-final and, of course, the final was amazing. English umpires have consistently done well at the top level of the indoor game, so to be part of an all English team for the final with Lee was a real honour.”

(Edwards (left) and Barron (right) umpired together during the 2019 Jaffa Super 6s Finals and will do the same again this year.)

For Barron, who umpired the final of the previous two Indoor World Cups, being able to officiate alongside Edwards only heightened the experience at this event, as he commented:

“I was absolutely delighted to be appointed to my third Nations Championship final here in Berlin, following on from doing Prague and Antwerp. You could certainly say that Germany is the home of indoor hockey and the atmosphere in the stadium was electric.

“Obviously what made this final rather special was having my little buddy Sean Edwards by my side. I am not too sure whether any nation has ever had two umpires appointed to the final, so this is a fantastic achievement for us both and also for English hockey."

Both Edwards and Barron will reunite and take to the field once again this weekend when the Jaffa Super 6’s Finals returns to the Copper Box Arena on Sunday 2 February.

England Hockey Board Media release

AGM Resolution - Dan makes a stand for change

By Sarah Juggins

Dan Fox

The debate and conversation around the AGM Resolution continues to take place among clubs and associations up and down the country, Sarah Juggins talks to double Olympian Dan Fox to find out his take on the future of our sport.

As a defender for Great Britain and England, Dan Fox was brave and unflinching. As Director of Hockey at Guildford Hockey Club, he remains unflinching but he also balances strong opinions with equanimity and an acceptance that there will be other viewpoints.

Dan Fox Guildford

‘In Surrey, where I am a relative newcomer, both the county and the South Hockey Association have been doing a great job for a long time. There are so many players, teams and clubs, it is almost an embarrassment of riches. There is great competition, and I think almost 40 per cent of youngsters coming into the club game, come from the South. But even so, it would be a really good exercise for the bodies involved to take look and ask if they can improve on what they are doing.’

Fox cites the ability of teams to progress as one example. ‘Every team wants to compete at the highest possible level but the competition in our area is so tight that it is really difficult for teams to progress. And this will only be made easier if rules and regulations surrounding the game are aligned and simplified.

‘When I talk to players, other coaches or people new to the game, I am always struck by how complex every aspect of the sport is,’ says Fox. ‘Whether it is structure, relegation process, travel, finding results or fixtures – it is often difficult to work it all out. What appeals to me under the proposals is that it will be possible to manage clubs and teams in a far simpler structure.

‘There is also all the stuff around how leagues are run and inconsistencies between leagues. They don’t come up as problems very often but when they do, they are a real pain. Whether it is around league rules, filling in a team sheet or umpire regulations. They are little things that are normally fine but when they go wrong, they can cause a headache.’

Dan Fox Guildford

This of course feeds into the discussion surrounding volunteers. Fox believes that when it comes to volunteering, a simpler structure is a real bonus. ‘This will be a less complex system that people can access and understand more easily. There will no longer be duplication of resources. There can be an organised results service.  A lot of people want to get involved in hockey, so let’s make this easy for them. You don’t want to put barriers in front of volunteers.’

So while Fox is sympathetic to detractors of the proposals, he also urges them to see the bigger picture. ‘This is not necessarily about getting rid of some organisations but just being more flexible around how we organise them. A lot of organisations have been doing a really good job for years but that’s not the point. The point is the bigger picture and we need to rationalise the whole hockey scene.

‘The benefit will be that we will have effective hockey provision across the whole country. This is not about reducing the quality, it is about delivering good hockey everywhere.’

England Hockey Board Media release

Scottish Indoor National League 1 reaches penultimate stage

The destiny of this season`s Indoor National League 1 Championships enters its penultimate stage this weekend, with the men playing on Saturday and women on Sunday.

It starts with the final pool matches to decide the semi-finalists and relegation contenders, and then the semi-finals themselves to determine the sides that will contest the final on the GALA Day next Sunday.

Much has already been determined in the men`s pools, both Inverleith and Grove Menzieshill will finish top of their respective pools and will consequently avoid each other in the semis.

However, the second spot in Pool A is still live action particularly between Grange and Western Wildcats, with the former taking forward a single point advantage. In addition, the Edinburgh side are also playing bottom side Clydesdale.

However, last time out only a strike by Duncan Riddell with three minutes left rescued a 3-3 draw for Grange against the Glasgow outfit. And Clydesdale have a top striker in Struan Walker which may upset Grange`s aspirations.

Further, Clydesdale are not totally out of the reckoning either if they can see off Grange, but they would have to make up a large goal difference deficit.

So Western Wildcats will have to dig deep if they are not to drop out of defending the title they won last season. They are up against Inverleith who triumphed 4-1 in the first meeting in December, and in any case the Wildcats still have to hope that Grange flounder against Clydesdale.

Western Wildcats have yet to show the form that was so successful last season, but back-to-back victories over Clydesdale have at least kept them in the running.

There are several outcomes on offer in Pool A

Pool B is already decided with the Dundee pair Grove Menzieshill and Dundee Wanderers through to the semi-finals, so they can relax in their final pool encounters against Dunfermline and Uddingston respectively.

The leading women`s semi-finalists are already determined with champions Dundee Wanderers and Clydesdale Western taking their places, but what is much less clear is who will join them.

Pool B contenders could hardly be closer; Watsonians and Edinburgh University are both on seven points with the former just ahead on a single goal difference.

But Watsonians may have a further advantage, they play a Grange side that are without a point on the board and at the foot of the pool. Yet when the sides met in the league Watsonians only triumphed 3-2 with a second half penalty corner conversion by Emily Newlands securing the three points.

In contrast, the Edinburgh students are up against the pace-setters Dundee Wanderers who were eight goal victors earlier in the season; Vikki Bunce was top scorer that day with four.

In the other pool Inverleith will hope to join Clydesdale in the penultimate stage, a win over Hillhead would see off any challenge from Grove Menzieshill. The earlier result was emphatic, a hat-trick by Sarah Jamieson and a double from Sarah McKay contributed to a seven goal victory.

Grove Menzieshill, on the other hand, have had a challenging season by their own standards and have a tough contest against Clydesdale in their final pool match.

What is, however, certain is that Grange and Hillhead will contest the relegation encounter.

So the women`s semi-final line-up looks like Wanderers against either Inverleith or Grove Menzieshill while Clydesdale Western will take on Watsonians or Edinburgh University.

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Belper HC - Not drowning but playing…A big Thank You to the Hockey Community

Belper HC Wellies

Belper Meadows Community Sports Club (BMCSC) in England worked hard to recover after being inundated by 1.5 metres of floodwater.

The flooding left a layer of sludge and slime that amounted to tons of mess to clear when spread over the pitch used by Belper Hockey Club. But it didn't end there, the new Clubhouse, although built above predicted flood levels, was immersed by 450mm of floodwater.

The Clubhouse and playing surfaces under water on November 8 2019.

Dismayed but not defeated, all sections of the Club rolled up their sleeves, grabbed their wellies and got stuck in to the clean-up. A disaster recovery plan was initiated with the various sports sections of BMCSC working together.

Hockey players of all ages, partners, parents and friends all armed with shovels, wheelbarrows and brushes cleared the pitch of the sludge and slime. The clubhouse was also on the plan. Another group, this time armed with cleaning supplies repeatedly scrubbed walls and floors to try and reverse the signs of flooding.

Support came in many forms, including a friendly building firm and even local townsfolk helped by washing kit.

Thanks to the combined efforts, within two weeks of the flood both the pitch and clubhouse were back in use, albeit in an impaired mode.

Belper HC can't believe the great work by the volunteers!

A fraction of the mess that volunteers had to clear up.

The impairments that remained included; replacing the pitch watering control system, repairing the disabled lift, deep cleaning and biociding of the pitch, clearing blocked drains and more.

All the remaining jobs required specialists which all came at a cost. The club estimated the costs would be around £8k but were in fact a lot more.

Belper Hockey were blown away by the generosity of the Hockey Community; they set up a JustGiving page and the donations came flooding in (couldn’t resist the pun).

They were amazed to receive donations from Hockey Clubs across the country including some of their dearest enemies.

Cash was gifted by members current and past, their families and friends, also by visiting; teams, umpires, individuals and supporters including Derbyshire Hockey Association.

Within 6 weeks, Belper had met the original target and want to thank the Hockey Community across the country who wished them well and for giving their donations, time and putting in some hard graft.

Belper have a long way to go but haven't let the flooding stop them.

Specialist equipment hired in to deep clean the mud embedded in the Astro carpet and shock pad.

England Hockey Board Media release

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