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News for 28 February 2020

All the news for Friday 28 February 2020

2020 FIH Pro League (Men) - 28 February

28 Feb 2020     NZL v ARG (RR)     5 - 3
1 Mar 2020 15:00 (GMT +13)      NZL v ARG (RR)     Nga Puna Wai Hockey Stadium, Christchurch

Live streaming and full game replay on https://fih.live (May be Geo blocked if there is TV coverage)

Pool Standings (updated)

Rank Team Played Wins SO Win Draws SO Loss Losses Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
1 Belgium 6 4 1 0 0 1 19 11 8 14
2 Netherlands 6 2 2 0 1 1 17 17 0 11
3 Australia 6 2 1 0 2 1 19 16 3 10
4 India 6 2 2 0 0 2 17 15 2 10
5 New Zealand 7 2 1 0 0 4 13 22 -9 8
6 Spain 8 2 0 0 1 5 19 27 -8 7
7 Germany 2 1 1 0 0 0 7 3 4 5
8 Argentina 5 1 0 0 2 2 15 14 1 5
9 Great Britain 4 1 0 0 2 1 9 10 -1 5

FIH Match Centre

2020 FIH Pro League (Women) - 28 February

28 Feb 2020      NZL v ARG (RR)     1 - 1 (Shootout 1/4 - 3/5)
1 Mar 2020 17:30 (GMT +13)      NZL v ARG (RR)     Nga Puna Wai Hockey Stadium, Christchurch

Live streaming and full game replay on https://fih.live (May be Geo blocked if there is TV coverage)

Pool Standings

Rank Team Played Wins SO Win Draws SO Loss Losses Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
1 Netherlands 5 4 0 0 0 1 19 5 14 15
2 Argentina 5 3 1 0 0 1 16 7 9 11
3 New Zealand 7 3 0 0 2 2 14 11 3 11
4 Australia 4 1 1 1 1 0 6 5 1 9
5 Belgium 4 1 1 0 1 1 7 9 -2 6
6 Great Britain 4 1 1 1 0 1 6 4 2 5
7 Germany 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
8 China 2 0 0 0 0 2 2 7 -5 0
9 United States 5 0 0 0 0 5 5 27 -22 0

USA v NED (26.01.2020) worth double points because of the match cancelled on 24.01.2020
AUS v GBR (01.02.2020) worth double points because of the match cancelled on 02.02.2020

FIH Match Centre

Test matches RSA v GER (M)
Johannesburg (RSA)

22 Feb 2020 15:00     RSA v GER     2 - 11
23 Feb 2020 15:00     RSA v GER     1 - 7
27 Feb 2020 17:00     RSA v GER     1 - 1 (2 - 4 SO) South Africa's best result against Germany since 1994
29 Feb 2020 11:00     RSA v GER

FIH Match Centre

Consistency is key for Black Sticks

Graham Shaw became Head Coach to New Zealand women in 2019 after leading Ireland’s women to an incredible silver medal at the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup in London in 2018. Since then, he has overseen New Zealand’s qualification for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, achieved when the Black Sticks beat Oceania rivals Australia in the continental championships in 2019.

Now New Zealand face a tough FIH Hockey Pro League test as high-flying Argentina continue on their travels. Las Leonas are currently fourth in the FIH Hockey Pro League table, after beating USA and then winning one of their two encounters with the Netherlands. New Zealand are sitting in second place in the league, behind the Netherlands, after a series of mixed results. They won and lost against Belgium (1-2, 4-1), they lost and drew with Great Britain (0-3, 2-2, losing the ensuing shoot-out) and they won both games against the USA (3-1, 3-1). Shaw will be looking for his team to continue the attacking form they showed against the USA but will be mindful that Argentina’s attack is one of the deadliest in the league.

Can you reflect on your first few months in charge of the Black Sticks?
Graham Shaw: “It’s been nine months now that I’ve been in charge. It’s been a really enjoyable, big move for our family to come all the way down to New Zealand. And then obviously there is a different style of hockey but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve got a fantastic group of athletes and a fantastic staff, so I’m really looking forward to the next six months ahead but the first nine months have been very pleasing and very exciting.”

What have been your takeaways from the first few games of the 2020 FIH Hockey Pro League?
Graham Shaw: “We are a little bit disappointed really with some of the results. We feel we have performed well in some games but it has been a little bit inconsistent. That was the conversation we had today in our group about the inconsistencies in our play. When we show our style of play and we play our game, then we are a threat to anyone in the world but we need to find consistency in our performance now and we spoke about match intensity and so on, so I hope we can do that this weekend.”

What do you expect of Argentina this weekend?
Graham Shaw: “Argentina are a fantastic side, they are really well coached and play a lovely brand of hockey. We will need to match them in many areas and intensity is one of them. They like to play in lines and ask questions of you that way. We will have to match them from a physical point of view, a mental point of view and obviously they have got individual quality all over the field so we will have to defend really well. We will need to stay compact and make it difficult for them and then play our game when we get the ball and see if we can exploit the space they will leave in behind them. They are a really good side and it will make for a really good game and a really exciting game for people to come and watch.”

How are you planning to counter the threat of Argentina and get the wins?
Graham Shaw: “We have been working hard on certain areas of our play and we will continue to work on them. It is just that consistency. We will do things really well in one game and then we will turn up and do something well in a different area. We want to find that consistency across the board. We know the areas that make us who we are and make us strong so we will focus on that and see if we can make another step forward this weekend.”

What sort of game play can the fans expect to see from the Black Sticks?
Graham Shaw: “Fast, a lot of intense attacking play. That is what we have asked of them. We want to play on the front foot. Sometimes we are playing a little passive and a little bit static so we want them [the New Zealand team] to play with flow. That’s how the Black Sticks play and that’s how we will approach this weekend. I think that is what the fans can expect. It will be a really exciting game between two very good sides. There is a lot of athletic ability and a lot of individual quality in each team, so should make it a really good weekend.

How are you enjoying your new hockey challenge in New Zealand?
Graham Shaw: “It’s totally different [to Ireland]. We have a whole different lifestyle here now and as a family it has brought us together. The New Zealand people are fantastic, really beautiful people with an amazing country and we are very lucky to live here.”


Official FIH Pro League Site

Peris: A wonderful opportunity to express and showcase our culture

Australia’s first Indigenous Olympic gold medallist Nova Peris OAM has shared her inspiration and what it means to her to have designed and painted the Hockeyroos’ and Kookaburras’ Indigenous playing kits.

Nova Peris is a dual Olympian, gold medallist, Young Australian of the Year, talented artist, former Hockeyroo and Federal Senator, but above all, a proud Aboriginal and Australian.

Now, she can also lay claim to being the person to design and paint the first ever Indigenous Hockeyroos and Kookaburras playing strips, as well as ‘The Seven Sisters and Emu in the Sky’ image which will feature on the front of the coaching and support staff polo shirts.

The following is an excerpt written by Nova outlining the background of the designs, the privilege of being asked to draw them and her continued passion for painting.

Hockeyroos and Kookaburras designs

“Back during my sporting days, I loved to paint as it was a way for me to relax, and if I was away overseas, I could take my mind back to my country where I drew inspiration from to paint.

I was fortunate to be asked for my paintings to be commissioned to various organisations, where I designed two coins for the Royal Australian Mint, an Olympic Swatch watch which was sold globally, and four Olympic pins.

I was not a fulltime artist; I was just a person who needed time away from sport and loved what painting gave to me.

To be asked to design the Hockeyroos, Kookaburras and the staff uniform was a humbling gesture. There have been many great Indigenous athletes that have represented Australia over the past few decades and to now have the opportunity to have our culture expressed and showcased to the world is absolutely wonderful and timely with the many other sports who have joined in the spirit of reconciliation.

I enjoyed painting again and both the Hockeyroos and Kookaburras uniforms allowed me to express how I felt during my time as a Hockeyroo.

Being a mother was hard at times, but I knew it sent a message that being a mother should not be a reason that you cannot compete at the highest level. There have been a few mothers that have played for the Hockeyroos since my retirement, and I know there are numerous mothers that also play hockey at national tournaments.

I used x-ray style paintings for both the kangaroo and kookaburra. My descendance is of the Iwatja peoples of Western Arnhemland and we have painted this way for thousands of years. I am also of the Yawuru and Gidja Peoples of the West and East Kimberleys.”

The ‘Seven Sisters and Emu in the Sky’ design

“For thousands of generations Aboriginal people lived under a luminous canopy of constellations, we absorbed the night skies into our cultural, social and spiritual life.

I used The Emu in the Sky and The Seven Sisters. They are both significant for us and for thousands of years they have featured prominently in our story telling.

Aboriginal astronomy is our map to understanding the ecosystems, surviving and living in harmony with this continent.

The “Emu in the Sky” is formed by the dark spaces between stars in the Milky Way, Other than the moon, the brightest object in the night sky in Australia is the Milky Way, which can stretch from horizon to horizon in a dark sky.

The Seven Sisters can be seen from almost every part of the globe. It looks like a tiny cloudy dipper of stars.

Australians are aware of the Southern Cross as it features on the Australian Flag, in fact if you look closely at the Southern Cross in the night sky you’ll see the head of the Emu and Its neck passes between the two pointer stars, the dark body of the Emu stretches the length of our luminous galaxy.”

Hockey Australia media release

Gurjit Kaur: India on track to peak at the right time

Gurjit Kaur...“I have had to step up and take up more responsibility as a defender, and I will continue to focus more on my defending abilities.”   -  Getty Images

The Indian women’s hockey team is steadily improving with every passing tour and the side will peak at the right time for the Tokyo Olympics, believes dragflicker Gurjit Kaur.

“Our tours and matches are being planned in such a way that we peak at the right time and our performance has been steadily improving,” said Gurjit.

India enjoyed a successful 2019, booking its berth in the Olympics and defeating quality sides like Spain, Ireland, Japan, China and South Korea. In its tour of New Zealand, India registered wins against the New Zealand’s development team, the New Zealand senior team and Great Britain. “The way we played in the New Zealand tour, we could feel the improvement in our performance, especially in comparison to previous year (2018) when we toured New Zealand,” Gurjit said.

‘On track’

“The gap was narrowed to one goal from earlier when the goal difference was a lot. We even won big against them. We have been working towards achieving the parameters set by the coaching staff and I believe we are on track to peak at the right time,” she added.

The Indian team has been put through the grind at the ongoing national camp here. Chief coach Sjoerd Marijne is making them sweat under sultry summer sun in the hope that the players will not wither away in the stark conditions that await them in Tokyo during the Olympic Games.

“During our meetings, we have discussed how the weather will be very challenging in Tokyo,” Gurjit said.

Intense training

“It is expected to be over 30-35 degrees when we play in Tokyo and it is also expected to be very humid which is why our training sessions are planned at different times in this camp. Usually, we would train on the pitch between 8am and 10am in the morning and 4pm to 6pm in the evening, but now we train around 12 noon or 2pm under the afternoon sun. The training is intense and it’s not easy to keep up speed in these conditions,” she explained.

Over the last two years, Gurjit has proved to be an important player in the Indian team. While her dragflicking abilities have been rather formidable, she has matured as a defender, too. “We had seniors like Sunita Lakra and we have Deep Grace who is now the senior most defender in the team, but yes, I have had to step up and take up more responsibility as a defender, and I will continue to focus more on my defending abilities,” she said.


Frazer and Carroll back in Irish touring squad for Durban trip

Megan Frazer in action in 2018. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Megan Frazer and Naomi Carroll have both been handed great opportunities to force their way back into the Olympic hockey reckoning after lengthy spells out injured.

Both were named in Sean Dancer’s 21-player Ireland panel to travel to Durban next month in a hastily rearranged warm-weather tour which was originally due to be in Malaysia.

That was changed due to the coronavirus and so South Africa – where China and Japan have taken up residence – will be the base for 20-day camp which will feature eight international matches.

For Frazer, she will hope to play in her first Irish match since last summer’s FIH Series in Banbridge when she suffered her latest knee injury.

All told, she has played just 10 games for the Green Army since 2016 due to those ongoing issues following a cruciate damage with five of them coming at the 2018 World Cup.

Carroll – capped 111 times – is also on the comeback trail after knee ligament problems sustained while playing Gaelic football for Clare ruled her out for the whole of last season.

Since returning, she has been in sparkling form for Catholic Institute with seven goals in the EY Hockey League to date while she also earned a call-up to the Irish indoor team’s European Championship campaign.

Also on the comeback trail are Zoe Wilson and Nicci Daly, the latter scoring in her first game of the season for Loreto last weekend with a typically high quality goal.

Shirley McCay is included despite missing Pegasus’s trip to Limerick last weekend with a broken toe which should heal in time.

There is also a potential first cup for 19-year-old Carlow woman Ellie McLoughlin. She takes over the role of reserve goalkeeper from Lizzie Murphy for this series and could become the first-ever graduate from Naas hockey club’s youth system to play for Ireland.

All told, 14 of the side that earned the Olympic ticket last November are included with Deirdre Duke, Chloe Watkins, Serena Barr and Murphy stepping out this time.

Irish women’s squad for training camp in Durban, South Africa (March 16 to April 5): Ayeisha McFerran (SV Kampong), Roisin Upton (Catholic Institute), Nikki Evans (Old Alex), Kathryn Mullan (Ballymoney), Shirley McCay (Pegasus), Megan Frazer (Ulster Elks), Lena Tice (UCD), Gillian Pinder (Pembroke), Beth Barr (Belfast Harlequins), Lizzie Colvin (Belfast Harlequins), Nicola Daly (Loreto), Hannah Matthews (Loreto), Sarah Hawkshaw (Railway Union), Anna O’Flanagan (Muckross), Zoe Wilson (Randalstown), Ellen Curran (UCD), Alison Meeke (Loreto), Ellie McLoughlin (Muckross), Hannah McLoughlin (UCD), Sarah Torrans (Loreto), Naomi Carroll (Catholic Institute)

The Hook

Axed brothers cry foul and will not return under Oltmans


Sore: Fitri Saari (left) and his brother Faizal will not return to the national fold if coach Oltmans is still there.

PETALING JAYA: The Saari brothers Faizal and Fitri are up in arms over their omission from the national team.

According to Faizal and Fitri, they were dropped because of poor form due to hip injury and commitment issues respectively and would not be part of the national centralised training camp for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup starting on April 11.

The brothers from Terengganu called the decision made by national coach Roelant Oltmans as illogical – and they plan not to return to the national team as long as the Dutchman is there.

On Tuesday, Oltmans chose 11 players and dropped five – Faizal, Fitri, skipper Sukri Mutalib, Nabil Fikri Mohd Noor and Joel van Huizen for different reasons. The Dutch coach however, did not divulge the reasons behind their omission but said it was the prerogative of the players to let others know.

And Fitri opened up by airing his frustration.

Fitri said the reason given did not make any sense to him, and was shocked with the news even though he had been a regular in the recently concluded Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).

“He told me that I did not give my fullest commitment by missing some training sessions before the Olympic qualifiers due to classes,” said the 26-year-old, who is pursuing his Masters in Sports Management at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).

“When I trained under former coaches Paul Revington, Tai Beng Hai and Stephen van Huizen, they had no problems with me going for classes, but Roelant has different ideas.

“He made this clear, and now, I have to accept that I am no longer with the team. Right now, I’m looking for a job. I will not go back to the national team if Roelant is still there,” said Fitri, who was one of the vice-captains in the national team together with Mohd Razie Abdul Rahim and Mohd Marhan Abdul Jalil.

The 29-year-old Faizal, who had complained of hip problems last year and missed some of the training sessions, found it baffling that Oltmans thought that he was still unfit.

“I did not stop and still gave my all. He told me face-to-face that I am not in shape. I was shocked, but if he is happy with that decision, I cannot do anything about it,” said Faizal.

“If this is the reason why I was booted out, then why were some players, who did not even play in the league or were not regulars, selected in the team.

“His reasoning is unacceptable. I can still give my all in the game, but if he is still the coach, I will not return to the national team,” added Faizal, who plans to conduct hockey clinics for school children as he has received several offers.

He has been also asked to play in Germany, Spain and Australia, but will take his time to choose the best option.

The Star of Malaysia

Firhan misses MHL but gets national call-up


KUALA LUMPUR: Forward Mohd Firhan Ashaari did not play in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) which ended last week because he was recovering from a left knee surgery.

But the Tenaga Nasional employee was still among 34 players called up for national training by chief coach Roelant Oltmans on Tuesday.

The team will start training on Monday in preparation for the six-nation Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh from April 11-18.

The 27-year-old Kuala Terengganu player, who underwent surgery last June, however, was not surprised over his call-up.

“Although I did not play in the MHL as I was undergoing rehabilitation, I knew I would be called up.

“Coach Oltmans met me when I came to watch Tenaga team play and said he needed my services.

“I thank the coach for having faith in me, ” said FIrhan, who has played under Oltmans in the 2018 World Cup in Bhubaneswar, last year’s Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and the FIH World Series in Bukit Jalil last May.

“I was playing in all tournaments for Malaysia until I suffered the injury last June, ” said Firhan, who has 185 caps since making his debut in the Asian Champions Trophy in Ordos, China in 2012.

He has featured in the two World Cups – in The Hague in 2014 and in India in 2018 – and was in the team that won silver medal in the Asian Games in Jakarta in 2018.

The father-of-one last played for the country in the FIH World Series where Malaysia lost 1-0 to Canada in the final.

Firhan said his main goal was to make sure he won a place in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup side.

“I have been out of action for the last eight months and I need to improve on my fitness and also get my confidence back.

“It is going to be a challenge to improve my fitness and also my game in three weeks as the coach will trim the squad from 34 to 25 in the third week of March.

“But I am ready for it, ” said Firhan, who scored four goals in the FIH World Series last May.

The other teams in the fray for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup are 10-time champion Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea and Pakistan.

The Star of Malaysia

NSC want women's team to be Asia's best

By Jugjet Singh

Malaysia have always been fifth in Asia, but the NSC feel that the No 1 target is achievable, and they will help get the best coach available for the women’s team. - NSTP/SYARAFIQ ABD SAMAD

BE no 1 in Asia. That’s the tall order from the National Sports Council (NSC) to the Malaysian women's hockey team yesterday.

Malaysia have always been fifth in Asia, but the NSC feel that the No 1 target is achievable, and they will help get the best coach available for the women’s team.

After K. Dharmaraj did not re-apply for the women's position and left for a coaching job in Indonesia, a whopping 23 aspirants have applied for the vacant slot.

“A total of 23 coaches, 11 local and 12 foreigners, have applied for the national women’s team job.

“A special committee will be formed by the coaching committee to look into the applications and we will name the candidate by March 15," said Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal.

Subahan said: “The MHC have set third in Asia as our target, but the NSC want the top spot.

“We are fifth now but the NSC want the women's team to be No 1 in Asia and they will give all the help they can to achieve it.

“We have also been contacted by some coaches who are currently preparing teams for the Olympics and for obvious reasons we can't name them.

“They will also be contacted once the Olympics are over,” said Subahan.

India, China, South Korea and Japan are ranked in the top four in Asia respectively.

This means Malaysia will have to beat them all, especially in the Asian Games, to achieve the Asian No 1 target. The Malaysian men are ranked No 2 in Asia behind India.

New Straits Times

Olympian & Former USWNT Goalkeeper Briggs Joins Wake Forest Coaching Staff

Content Courtesy of Wake Forest Athletics

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. -  Wake Forest field hockey head coach Jen Averill announced the addition of Jackie Kintzer Briggs to the coaching staff.

"I am thrilled to announce the hiring of Jackie Kintzer Briggs," Averill said. "I have great respect for her passion and ethics in sport. Her technical and tactical strengths will have an immediate impact on our backfield and goalkeepers. We welcome her winning attitude and energy."

Briggs joins the Demon Deacons after serving as the volunteer assistant with North Carolina during the 2012, 2018 and 2019 seasons. Briggs graduated from UNC in 2010 and then spent nine years with the U.S. Women's National Team before retiring from competition in 2018.

As a Tar Heel, Briggs helped lead North Carolina to two NCAA Championships in 2007 and 2009 and one Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship in 2007. She earned first-team All-America honors in her junior and senior years, when she also was named to the All-ACC and All-NCAA Tournament teams. As a senior, she was the recipient of the team's Carmen and Michael Hooker Leadership Award and the Laree Beans Practice Player of the Year Award.

During her stint as a volunteer assistant coach in 2012, she helped the Tar Heels to an ACC title.

Briggs earned 184 caps during nine years as part of the U.S. Women's National Team, representing her country as an alternate at the London 2012 Olympic Games, rostered athlete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and at the World Cup in 2014 and 2018. She was nominated for the FIH Hockey Stars Awards Female Goalkeeper of the Year Award in 2016 and 2017.

Briggs played alongside current Wake Forest assistant Melissa Gonzalez on the U.S. Women's National Team before both players retired in 2018.

"I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with a coaching staff of this caliber and represent an amazing ACC school, Wake Forest University," Briggs said. "I have looked up to Jen Averill and have had the highest respect for her and her coaching style and values since I was in high school.  The chance to work for and learn from her is one that I will be forever grateful for.  I have had the privilege of playing on the national team with Melissa Gonzalez for eight years and know how passionate, hardworking, and competitive she is on and off the field.  I am beyond excited to work with her and grow alongside one of the most loyal teammates I've ever known.  I cannot wait to hit the ground running and help the team in any way I can."

Her husband, Michael Briggs serves as an eighth-grade counselor at Mills Park Middle School in Cary, N.C., where he is also the head football coach.

USFHA media release

Scottish Premiership back in action this weekend

It could hardly be more competitive at the head of the women`s Premiership – Edinburgh University, Clydesdale Western, Watsonians and Dundee Wanderers all rest on 21 points, separated only by goal difference, with Western Wildcats waiting to pounce only two points adrift.

The game of the day therefore is Watsonians` home clash with champions Edinburgh University at Peffermill.

The sides met on the opening day in the campaign and Watsonians emerged with a 4-3 victory, courtesy of a double from Lucy Lanigan while Bella Fisken and Sarah Jamieson got the others. In fact, Jamieson has been a regular on target for Watsonians and could be the biggest threat to the students` defence.

Watsonians coach Keith Smith gave a confident assessment of the task ahead.

“We’re expecting a tough game as we know all about Uni’s attacking threat, but they will be well aware now that we can cause plenty of problems for them too.

“We know when we play well that we’re more than a match for anyone; the challenge for us in the second half of the season is to be close to our best more consistently.”

Smith confirmed a couple of players out with long-term injuries and they will also be without the influential Lucy Lanigan who is Australia for the rest of the season.

But Smith added: “We’ve got a big squad this season and real competition for places, so we can be confident of our strength in depth.”

When Keith Smith was referring to University`s attacking strength, he will no doubt mark out Amy Brodie for special attention. The former Scotland player was on fire towards the end of the first half of the season, 13 strikes in the last five outings was impressive finishing.

Edinburgh coach Sam Judge is confident that circumstances have changed since the opening game of the season.

“We are looking forward to getting the second half of the season started and want to maintain top spot so we’re going to have to beat Watsonians to do that.

“It will be tough as we lost to them earlier in season but I believe we are a different team now and am confident we can win.”

Judge confirmed that the champions will not quite be at full strength, Laura Swanson is still a few weeks away from full fitness. But like Watsonians, the Edinburgh coach maintained that there is strength in depth in her squad for Saturday`s clash.

The four team log-jam at the top is certain to be broken up in some way following the outcome of the Peffermill encounter.

Second-placed Clydesdale should move on to 24 points at the expense of Hillhead, given the earlier result was a 5-1 victory for the Titwood-based outfit.

Dundee Wanderers will aim to follow suit after their visit to GHK, last time out the Taysiders totalled eight without reply. Wanderers made an impressive start to the season with five straight wins, but then came the unexpected slump with defeats at the hands of the Edinburgh students and Western Wildcats, with the loss of 12 goals without reply in the process.

Wanderers followed up with a couple of close wins against Grove Menzieshill and Glasgow University, so it will be interesting to see if they can defeat GHK in Glasgow.

Western Wildcats lie in wait, only two points adrift of the top four, and should maintain their challenge at home to bottom side Gordonians.

The winner of the clash between Glasgow University and Grove Menzieshill has a great chance to make progress out of the relegation area. Grove Menzieshill could potentially move up to sixth with the three points, they won the opening fixture 4-2, Sam Sangster getting a couple from set pieces.

Up for debate in the men`s Premiership is… who can stop the Grange bandwagon? On Saturday it is Kelburne`s turn to try at Glasgow Green.

The former champions from Paisley have been rebuilding over the past two seasons and sit in the lower echelons of the table.

In the opening game of the season Grange were eight goal winners with Josh McRae, Duncan Riddell and Dan Coultas from penalty corners getting most of the goals.

Although Grange are capable of finding the net, they are also stingy at the back – seven goals conceeded in nine outings so far is good defending.

In contrast the Kelburne defence has conceded 46 so Grange will might confidence that they can find the net.

Western Wildcats are in second place, five points adrift of the champions, and they have a home tussle with a Clydesdale side whose form can be hard to predict.

Towards the end of the first half of the campaign, the Titwood-based side strung together three straight victories, but that was followed by a 5-1 reversal at Uddingston.

But it could be close, earlier in the campaign the Dale went into a two goal lead at Titwood, but then allowed Western Wildcats to claw their way back to 2-2 at the end, Andrew McConnell levelling with four minutes left.

Grove Menzieshill occupy third spot, four points further behind, and they have a visit to second bottom Hillhead on Saturday. Hillhead have already been in action since the winter shutdown, going down 4-0 to Grange.

The Hill will hope for the three points, as in the first game of the season, and only that outcome will keep their status in the table.

Fourth placed Edinburgh University have a local derby against Watsonians to look forward to – but not a repeat of the result in the first game.

It was Watsonians who took the points that day with a 4-3 win, courtesy of strikes by Ally Dougall (2), Danny Cain and Euan Burgess.

While students` coach Graham Moodie might be more confident of a better outcome this time around, he did watch in frustration at his charges almost surrendering a 5-2 lead in the cup against Kelburne last weekend, only to finally take the tie 5-4 in the end.

The final fixture on the card takes bottom side Dundee Wanderers to visit Uddingston.

There is plenty of incentive for both sides here, the Lanarkshire side could put pressure on a top four place with the three points, while Wanderers will strive to get off that bottom spot.

Sunday sees the third attempt to get the second round Scottish Cup tie between Clydesdale and Grange off and running. So far frost and sleet have been the victors at Titwood.

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Lakers beef up squad ahead of 2020 season

By Washington Onyango

Vivian Onyango of Lakers (R) tussles for the ball against Strathmore University's Cynthia Achieng during premier league match in Kisumu. [Washington Onyango/Standard]

Lakers and Wolverines Hockey Club have bolstered their squad ahead of the 2020 Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) Women Premier League season, which kicks off on Saturday.

The Kenya Hockey Union released fixtures for the new season that will have six leagues; Premier League (men and women), Super League (men and women) and National League (men east and western region).

And with less than 48 hours to the start of the season, teams have been making vital adjustments and recruitment as they aim to assemble a stronger squad.

Kisumu-based Lakers, who finished fourth in their 2019 debut season, continued with their philosophy of tapping young talent after signing 10 new players.

Team manager John Paul Otieno told Standard Sports they signed four defenders, four midfielders and two goalkeepers with majority of them being students drawn from top hockey performing schools and colleges within the region.

“We brought in a crop of young talented players from Maseno University, Sigalagala Polytechnic, Egerton University, Trans Nzoia High School and Bondo. We are giving the young players an opportunity to grow,” Otieno said.

The team new signings are Prudence Mugala, Nancy Oyagi, Linda Nelima, Lancy Leah (defenders), Debra Otieno, Maurine Achieng, Lencer Akinyi, Ruth Oluoch (midfielders) and Quinter Okore, Rebecca Nasambu (goalkeepers).

In Nairobi, Wolverines have also beefed up their squad with eight players ahead of their premier league debut.

The Dutch Flower Group (DFG) sponsored club clinched a ticket to this year’s premier league after winning the 2019 Hockey Women Super League ahead of Orange Leonas, who will also be making their debut.

Wolverines head coach Gordon Oduor exuded confidence in the new signings saying he is focused on securing a podium finish during their first year in the premier league.

Wolverines Hockey Club. [Courtesy]

He said they have signed Pauline Achieng (University of Nairobi), Mary Kyusia (Multimedia University), Jackline Kaguya (Kenyatta University), Nancy Wanjue (Strathmore) Lucy Kimari (Sliders), Viona Atieno (Tigoi Girls), Pauline Nduta and Jane Kamau (Kerugoya Girls).

Team manager Dennis Owoka saidhe has his eyes fixed on a long term goal of taking part Africa Cup for Club Champs (ACCC) in 2022.

“The league is tough and most of our players have never featured in the premier league so it’s a tall order. In our recruitment, we have a blend of tried and tested in Lucy Kimari and Nancy Wanjue. We also brought in super league player of the year Pauline Atieno.”

“Personally, I have the girls to work hard and finish in a respectable position with a top four finish will be a bonus. We will strengthen further this season and hopefully represent the country in the ACCC in 2022. Key is to develop our young players to championship levels. The journey has started and we are not looking back,” said the former Butali Sugar head coach.

Strathmore University have also beefed their squad with majority coming from high schools namely Rita Opiyo, Damaris Akinyi, Beryl Akinyi, Jane Mango (Nyamira Girls), Cickline Achieng (Kisumu Girls), Lillian Wasonga (Eregi Girls), Maurne Ongode and Stephaine Rebecca (Sinyolo Girls), Rachel Kamau (Misihu Girls0 and Veice Sudi (Keremi Girls).

Wolverines will begin their premier league trophy hunt against Strathmore University on March 8 with Lakers first match coming in April against Amira Sailors.

Ashley Akinyi of Lakers tussles for the ball with Strathmore University's Denis Odongo during premier leage match in Kisumu. [Washington Onyango/Standard]

The Standard Digital

How Belper continues to punch above its weight

Australian coach has returned to a club where he first set down roots

Celebrating 30 years of Women’s National League Hockey, with Investec

Craig Keegan was part of the GB Hockey set up for a decade WORLD SPORT PICS

In an ideal world, Craig Keegan would love nothing better than to have the GB central programme moved to Derby where he could work from home and be involved at performance level once more.

The Australian misses the daily grind of player contact time and the professional coaching and training staff, but his heart, work and home is now in the Midlands.

After leaving the GB set up nearly two years ago, Keegan, who joined Belper nearly two decades as a player-coach for the men’s side, is now ladies 1s coach, alongside his day job as a sports director at the University of Derby.

“I almost wasn’t ready to be back but it has been part of my life during my time in the UK,” he says. “They approached and it was an opportunity to be a part of it.”

The club won the Midlands Prem in 2018, the goal then to get into the top seven to get promoted to the Division 1 North. They’ve had a difficult start to the season, not helped by the major flooding, on top of extensive travel times in the expansive league structure. As you’d expect from someone who has been involved in elite performance, Keegan has plenty of views on the club game.

“The challenges from a high performance environment transitioning to a club is the contact time, down to once per week at Belper for two hours,” he tells The Hockey Paper.

“National league hockey is not the No.1 priority for players. They have jobs, university, schools, loved ones, sometimes hockey is third or fourth on the priority and rightfully so.”

Keegan says the gap between the Conference and the Premier Division was “significant”.

Now there are two Division 1s, Keegan believes the the Conference can act as a feeder league. A good thing, he says, has been established. But there is a caveat. “Now there are effectively four new national leagues across men and women, the challenge is facilities, match managers, umpires and I don’t believe any of that is in place to sustain another four leagues at national league level,” he admits.

“We’re all giving up more time that we have to develop the sport that we love. It does appear that the standard is not at a Div 1 level. It will take a number of years for it to even out.”

Keegan is enthused about the talent pool at Belper, the club continually “punching above its weight” for an almost village-feel club. Belper proudly boasts of having the likes of Hollie Pearne-Webb and Anna Toman as former players.

Today, Keegan has eight under-18 players in his squad and says that the under-14 group “looks very exciting”. Naturally, they all know about the Rio gold.

“Still to have a real family feel it’s a fantastic achievement,” adds Keegan. “It was one of the draws for me to be involved in the club.”

This originally featured in a previous Hockey Paper edition. Don’t miss out. Subscribe in print or in digital format.

The Hockey Paper

Hockey Foundation Announce first Projects for 2020

The Hockey Foundation in New Zealand is excited to announce they have supported their first projects for the year to two deserving associations Otago Hockey and Nelson Hockey, both focusing on proving great development programmes for kids with an important coach development focus.

We believe that to grow the game we all love it is so important to start at the grass-root level. By mentoring and upskilling coaches, it will benefit the numbers of kids developing and enjoying hockey.

“Thank you to the Hockey Foundation for your generous contributions to our organisation. The grant will help aid us in providing an Open Development Program to the Nelson Hockey Community. The goal of the program is to grow the young athletes and Coaches in Nelson to develop their hockey skills and knowledge of the game with the overall goal to grow the sport within the region.”

“Otago Hockey is extremely grateful for the support offered by the foundation. The foundation’s commitment to our upcoming programmes is going to be of great assistance in helping us to get out wider than the boundary of our association and support the greater hockey community with a fantastic player and coach development opportunity.

The foundation is also supporting us with an exciting new event where we have partnered with three other sports to provide a fantastic participation opportunity and introduction to the sport for 300 primary aged girls.”

The next round of Funding applications close on the 1st April. The Hockey Foundation wants to invest back into our communities with innovative, sustainable projects that help grow the game and level of our sport.

We also encourage people to apply for the Chica Gilmer scholarship for a deserving U19 female player or umpire and the Alan Lints Senior Scholarship for a deserving U19 male umpire. Applications close on the 31st March.

Please visit our website for more information on this www.hockeyfoundation.co.nz

Hockey New Zealand Media release

Indian domination of FIH looks set to continue as Narinder Batra's opponents yield ground

The Hockey Insider

File image of FIH President Narinder Batra. AFP

Founded in 1924, the International Hockey Federation was a Europe-centric organisation and remained so for 92 years before the global body decided to bring in a non-European to head it in the winter of 2016.

A century of European monopoly of the position atop the FIH executive was very much on the cards when Spaniard Leandro Negre, a former Olympian goalkeeper, held sway of the body. But Nerge’s re-election for a third term ran into a deadlock over the body’s own rules and suddenly the international federation had to look around for a new president.

Narinder Dhruv Batra, presiding over Hockey India that was recognised as the national federation in India by the FIH through some controversial procedures, was not in the frame when the elections were announced. Even when the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) announced his nomination, Batra was not the front-runner, but he gathered steam quickly to take the pivotal position when the African and Pan-American continental federations joined the Asian block to back his candidature.

In November 2016, Batra’s election to the FIH President’s position came through the first ballot of the FIH elections held in the Emirate of Dubai. Between them, the two other candidates did not have the wholesome support of all those opposed to the Indian candidate.

While Batra polled 68 votes, David Balbirnie of Ireland (29 votes) and Australian Ken Read (13 votes) failed to garner enough votes to take the contest to a second round of voting. The election result highlighted the dramatic shift in India’s position as the commercial hub of international hockey. How things had changed since 2008 when the FIH accepted Hockey India as the new national association for hockey in the country! Hockey India had occupied the space that for long belonged to the Indian Hockey Confederation (IHC) — a move that was thereafter fought in several law courts.

Notwithstanding that it had not clinched a medal at the Olympics or the World Cup since 1980, India’s status had recently grown by leaps and bounds within the FIH simply because of the green-bucks it supplied to the Lausanne-based FIH for running the sport globally. The phenomenal commercial success of the 2010 World Cup had brought about a dramatic change in the FIH’s outlook.

Four years later, India continues to bank-roll the FIH and that is reflected in its position in the official hierarchy. India remains the cornerstone for FIH’s global events and Batra’s leadership keeps getting endorsed, albeit there is evident heartburn among a few European officials. Even in the midst of toasts being raised and exquisite souvenirs being received during the 2018 FIH Congress in New Delhi, The Hockey Insider gauged the resentment at the European delegates’ continental meeting.

After some intermittent arm-flexing primarily by a few European officials in the early part of his Presidential tenure, Batra seems firmly in the saddle as the FIH heads for its quadrennial election this year. Some pensive days followed his emotional outburst (albeit the comments were in an individual capacity) against the British police, which had summoned former Indian captain Sardar Singh to Leeds a day ahead of the India-Pakistan encounter during the 2017 Hockey World League Semi-Finals in London.

The ensuing disciplinary action and censure of Batra by the FIH Board seems to have exposed the FIH boss to public embarrassment, but Batra took it all in his stride and gradually regained his control on the organisation. In the next FIH Congress in New Delhi (2018) a couple of his detractors lost their positions in the Executive Board as Batra’s backers gained ascendency. The Hockey Insider can confirm that FIH Executive Board’s composition is now inclined to support all of Batra’s decisions. This seems to have played a key role in India putting up — and clinching — the bid for the 2023 World Cup that will bring the elite event back to Bhubaneswar. Big bucks, of course, sweetened the Indian bid beyond temptation.

Batra’s rivals seem to have yielded plenty of ground since the last biennial Congress in New Delhi — just ahead of the World Cup in Bhubaneswar that reinforced India’s status as the top-class host with no rivals in putting up a similar show. All this without even considering the financial bonanza India continues to offer to the FIH.

Before allocating the 2020 FIH Election Congress to India, the FIH changed several key rules and incorporated that the country/federation now hosting the FIH Congress will bear the cost of accommodating the delegates, while the FIH will chip in with dollars to buy the air tickets. This decision of the Batra-led Board has placed small FIH member nations at par with the game’s powerhouses. Even if they cannot field teams regularly in competitions, this will ensure their presence in the FIH conclaves. A huge gathering apart, the current leadership will also benefit from the brownie points. With the hosts having to write cheques for hotel rooms for delegates, India’s bid to host the 2020 FIH Congress faced no opposition as one bidder after the other dropped out.

The Hockey Insider has learnt that the European hopes of wresting back the FIH leadership has suffered a big blow with a second successive FIH Congress being allocated to the Indian capital. FIH officials from different continents have told The Hockey Insider that Batra ought to fancy his chances of a unanimous re-election at New Delhi, in November 2020, as the world body’s chief for the next four years. However, a European challenger should not be ruled out, even if the opposition is just symbolic.

The Hockey Insider now finds Batra in the pivotal position with his detractors, who are primarily from Europe, in complete disarray and after failing to come up with a bid to stage the FIH’s election congress.

The Netherlands was being touted as a formidable candidate for the 2020 FIH Congress. With that idea being a non-starter, it reflected the end of European opposition. The scales remain tilted in favour of India’s domination of the FIH for another four-year term.


R.I.P Yuri Pérez (Cuba)

Yuri Perez (CUB)   

The former Cuban Hockey player and coach Yuri Pérez passed away yesterday  in Venezuela.

The great Cuban captain and coach who participated in the Pan American Games, Central American and Caribbean Games, Copas Americas, etc., leaves a great memory among his teammates, friends and family.

All of our support to Yuri’s family and friends.

Pan American Hockey Federation media release

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