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News for 22 March 2020

All the news for Sunday 22 March 2020

Harte believes Olympic postponement needed for athletes’ peace of mind

David Harte was on a conference call with the IOC along with 220 athletes representatives this week. Pic: Frank Uijlenbroek / World Sport Pics

David Harte says he hopes to see the Tokyo Olympics postponed until later in 2020 to give all athletes involved “peace of mind” amid the Coronavirus pandemic.

He spoke to The Hook on Thursday following a call with the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday along with 220 members of international athletes commissions from around the world.

Harte is currently secretary of the European Olympic Committee Athletes Commission as well as being co-chair of the European Hockey Federation Athletes Commission and sits on the Olympic Federation of Ireland’s Athletes’ Commission.

The organisers in Tokyo affirmed they still plan to go ahead with the Games on the original dates with the event set to get underway on July 24.

While all the hockey spots in Tokyo have long been confirmed, just 53% of athlete spots at the competition have been allocated.

The mid-event cancelation of the European boxing qualifiers this week means more athletes are in limbo about what happens next. For those that have qualified, training worldwide has almost universally been impacted with the Irish women’s collective training at a complete halt for the time being.

In such a context, Harte’s personal view is it is unfair on the athletes to face into potentially the biggest competitions of their lives – attempting to fulfill the Olympic ‘faster, higher, stronger’ ideals – in such circumstances.

“I really hope a postponement would be in place to allow proper qualification to take place, to give peace of mind and mental wellness to those still looking to qualify and those who have already qualified.

“I can see the IOC perspective that they want to show athletes they are doing what they can with the info they have from the World Health Organisation to see if the Games can still go ahead.

“On the flip side, there is little guarantee around a couple of aspects, the main one being qualification. Numerous qualification events have fallen by the wayside due to the virus and no real sign of when these qualifiers can then take place.

Harte’s club season is currently on hold until April 1 at the very earliest. Pic: Frank Uijlenbroek / World Sport Pics

“There’s 47% of places at the Olympics still up in the air. That was a huge talking point and an obvious concern for athletes and their representatives from around the world.

“If you look at it in a fair way – which you would hope is what the Olympics stands for – you want an equal playing field for all. Those suffering most from a lockdown have a disadvantage right now compared to athletes who can freely train in their countries.

“It’s different right down to different countries and then their different federations. The answers [about what happens next] that came back were all a bit too diplomatic for my liking.”

Harte, though, says rearranging the Olympics is a far more complex task than for other big events on the agenda with wide-ranging impacts for all 33 sports involved.

For starters, the contract to host the Games states it must take place in 2020. Move it into 2021 – like UEFA did with soccer’s European championships – and it opens up a whole can of worms for each sport’s governing body.

The consequences affect so many people’s personal, athletic and professional lives.

“People ask why you can’t just push it into 2021 but I don’t think it’s as simple a solution as that. There are 33 different sports which all have their own domestic, continental and international calendars in 2021.

“From my perspective hockey, it will have a huge impact on the Dutch club league and then trying to accommodate the Pro League. It will be a complete and utter mind-boggler.

“I have complete empathy to the governing bodies about how they are going to manage it and what strategies they try to put in place, predicting what’s to come for something that is evolving every day.”

There is also the macro-economics at play. Japan Olympic Committee Board member Kaori Yamaguchi said the Tokyo Olympics should be postponed because athletes are unable to prepare adequately because of the pandemic.  Given his position, the local stock exchange suffered a 16% hit that day.

For Harte, he sees his role on the various athletes’ commissions as one of a communicator.

With so much noise going on and the situation changing hour by hour, he says: “the role is purely to get the correct information out to the athletes across all the disciplines and to reassure them as best as possible that the IOC is putting the health of the athletes, volunteers and spectators to the fore.

“They are liaising closely with the World Health Organisation who, ultimately, will be making the decision if the Games are to go ahead or not.”

To that end, the athlete365 website set-up by Zimbabwean swimmer Kirsty Coventry is a key portal while Harte has praised the Irish group – led by Shane O’Connor and co-ordinated by the OFI’s Heather Boyle – as being highly functioning in “their care of the athletes and their love of the Olympics”.

While the Irish men’s team are not going to the Games to play, Harte is accredited and plans to attend as one of the candidates for the IOC’s athletes commission. For now, he is bunkered down in Utrecht in social distancing mode with the Dutch Hoofdklasse on hiatus

He did get some training sessions in at the local park with his twin brother Conor before he had to return to Belgium with an impending lockdown in place.

Like the EY Hockey League, Harte does not know yet whether there is any hope of completing the current campaign with SV Kampong.

“All matches are to be cancelled against April 1 initially and then it was extended until the Easter weekend. As a governing body, I can’t imagine how they can organise the logistics of it all.

“The news also came through that no matches in the FIH Pro League will be held in Kampong in the Pro League with that competition going on hold until May 17. My gut feeling is things are being pushed back further and further and the biggest fear is there won’t be a resumption of the Hoofdklasse and we may just run into a new season in September, depending on what happens in the Olympics.

“I was planning to make my way over to Tokyo for the lobbying for being elected toward the IOC’s athletes commission. That’s also in doubt now because we don’t know will happen and still trying prepare for that.

“I also have another life-changing event coming up in June with myself and Lynn’s first child due; it certainly puts an interesting spin on the summer!”

The Hook

Coronavirus has not hampered our Olympics preparation, says Graham Reid

Graham Reid hopes against the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.   -  BISWARANJAN ROUT

The Indian men’s hockey team chief coach Graham Reid believes eight-time champion India is better placed than its opponents when it comes to preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, as unlike other nations the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t hampered its training program.

Despite being disappointed that India won’t be traveling to Germany and England for its FIH Pro League matches after the competition was put off till May, Reid tried to look at the positives in these trying times.

He lauded the steps taken by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Hockey India (HI) amid the ever-rising danger posed by the virus outbreak.

“The authorities were quick to take action and isolate the SAI Centre. We are isolated but we can carry out our normal schedule. Things are very smooth. We can’t control the virus but we can control our environment,” Reid told PTI in an interview from SAI South Centre in Bengaluru.

“Things are changing on a daily basis but one of the great thing is our ability to continue training which other countries don’t have. Australian players are based with their families and train in Perth. Argentines have a centralised program but I don’t think they are training at the moment where as our entire group is together.

“We have 32 campers here and we can play competitive hockey against each other. We are playing internal games in international tempo. We are playing different styles everyday. One day, we are playing like Germany, the next day like Australia,” Reid added.

India was scheduled to travel to Germany for matches on April 25 and 26 before taking on Great Britain in London on May 2 and 3.

“We are continuing what we can do best i.e play hockey in a closed and safe environment. We’re still waiting to hear from Hockey India and the government on their recommendations. Definitely, we will have to reorganise our Olympic preparation schedule,” the 55-year-old Australian said.

Reid said postponement of the Tokyo Olympics because of the pandemic is a possibility but hoped against it.

“I have no comment to make whether Olympics should be postponed or not, it is up to the IOC and Tokyo Games organisers. But Olympics is something special, every athlete dreams to be a part of the event some day,” he said.

Reid believes India can finish on the podium in Tokyo, provided it plays according to its capability.

“In these circumstances you have to maintain positive mental attitude. The boys gel in each other’s company and the Olympics is certainly enough motivation,” Reid said.

“We now have belief after playing 3 Pro League matches against top 3 teams in the world. Olympics is different but if we play our best, everything is possible.”

Reid has his wife by his side here but his two children — a son and a daughter — are away and just like any father he is little worried about them.

“My son is in Amsterdam but Amsterdam is reasonably under control. He is safe and sound. My daughter is in Perth and she is a physiotherapist so she can take care of herself.

“But as a father, you will always be worried and caring for your kids,” he signed off.


Indian hockey teams' preparation not affected by coronavirus

The Indian men's and women's hockey teams' preparation for Tokyo Olympics has been unaffected by the coronavirus pandemic as they train in Bengaluru.

The Indian men's team is scheduled to play New Zealand in its first match at the Tokyo Olympics.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

With just 125 days to go until the Indian men's and women's hockey teams take the field against New Zealand and Netherlands respectively in their first match at the Tokyo Olympics, both sides are continuing to train hard amid the rise of the coronavirus pandemic.

The players and support staff are taking all the necessary precautions at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) facility in Bengaluru. The campus is well-equipped for regular practice sessions and no unauthorised persons are allowed to enter the premises.

"The COVID-19 outbreak has not affected our practice sessions. We are continuously washing our hands and our temperatures are being checked regularly. The authorities at our SAI campus are ensuring that we are training in a safe environment. With the backing of SAI and our Coaches, we have been training very hard for the Olympics," said Indian men's team captain Manpreet Singh.

The women's team skipper Rani Rampal expressed that her side is fortunate to continue to train for the Olympics in a safe environment.

"We are very fortunate to have a facility like the SAI campus here. Everyone is working very hard so that the hockey teams can continue to practice for the Olympics. Our health is being monitored everyday and we are taking all the necessary precautions. The authorities at SAI have helped us to continue to focus on our goal of performing well at the Tokyo Olympics," said Rani.

The men are scheduled to play New Zealand and the women are slated to face Netherlands in their first match at the Tokyo Olympics on 25 July 2020.


Wary of Covid-19, hockey teams continue to train for Tokyo Olympics

Captains Manpreet and Rani say SAI Bengaluru a safe environment for training

Manpreet Singh, India captain

Isolated inside the Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre here, it is business as usual for the Indian men’s and women’s hockey players as they prepare for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics in a “safe environment”.

The SAI facility, which has been shut for visitors, is well-equipped for regular practice sessions and no unauthorised person is allowed to enter its premises.

“The Covid-19 outbreak has not affected our practice sessions. We are continuously washing our hands and our temperatures are being checked regularly. The authorities at our SAI campus are ensuring that we are training in a safe environment,” said men’s team captain Manpreet Singh.

We’re lucky: Rani

The women’s team captain Rani Rampal said her team is fortunate that they are able to continue to train. “We are very fortunate to have a facility like the SAI campus here. Everyone is working very hard so that the hockey teams can continue to practise for the Olympics,” said Rani. “Our health is being monitored everyday and we are taking all the necessary precautions.”

Waiting for July 25

The men’s team is scheduled to play New Zealand in its opening match of the Tokyo Olympics while the women’s team face the Netherlands, both games on July 25.

The Tribune

Stuck, Quarantined, Isolated – Ways to Stay Active

As you are stuck inside your house and forced to social distance yourself as uncertainties continue to rise surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19), this is a good time for athletes to stay active and accountable to their training plan. While many gyms may remain open during this time, it is suggested to think twice and take precautions when venturing into shared spaces with other individuals.

Just because you are quarantined, doesn’t mean that your fitness regimen has to be put on the back burner. Many fans and followers have already shared ways on how they are staying active and USA Field Hockey wanted to highlight some of those best creative ideas as well as outline a quick at home workout to add to your training plan.

Keep a Stick in Your Hand

When space allows, continue to activate your stick skills in the house (with permission!), garage or outside. Use everyday objects as obstacle but keep your hands and wrists moving. If using a standard field hockey ball worries your parents that the floors or carpet might get damaged, adjust with a softer option such as a tennis ball or GO Ball.

???Toilet Paper Challenge??? #TPChallenge. A post shared by Mustangs Field Hockey Club (@mustangsfhc) on Mar 15, 2020 at 11:04am PDT

Day One QuaranTRAIN: Want fast hands like NC Player of the year @_katieso? Five minutes a day. No couch potatoes here! #QuaranTRAIN. A post shared by Charlotte Ambush FH Club (@charlotteambush) on Mar 15, 2020 at 8:54am PDT

At Home Exercises

You need minimal equipment to get a full body workout that even includes getting your heart rate up.

Before you dive right in, make sure you properly warm-up by going through some dynamic and active stretching. Focus on the areas that you will be targeting the most during the exercise including hip and glute flexion.

Lower Extremity Strength – 3 rounds

    Lunge (forward) | 10 each leg (in place or over a distance)
    Air Squat | 10 total
    Single Leg Hip Bridge | 10 each leg
    Lateral Lunge | 10 each leg
    Box Jumps | 10 total (use an inside or outside step at any height, piece of wood, etc.)

*Run through each exercise set once, three times. Do not take breaks in-between to keep your heart rate high. For more of a challenge, take a lunge or squat and add an isometric hold at the bottom or increase your heart rate by adding a jump at the top. You can even solely focus on one exercise with variations. For example, do 10 jumping squats, 10 regular squats and a 30-second isometric squat hold at the bottom. Repeat this 3-5 times.

Upper Extremity Strength – 3 rounds

    Tricep Dips | 10 total (use a small sturdy table, chair, bed, couch, etc.
    Towel Row | 10 total (use both arms)
    Pushups | 10 total

*Run through each exercise set once, three times. Towel Row can be done by wrapping a towel around a doorknob or use a resistance band, if available.

Abdominal Strength

    Crunches | 20 total
    Plank | 30-50 seconds

Full Body

    Mountain Climbers

*The burpee or mountain climbers are full body exercises that can be modified. Remember to always keep your weight balanced and shoulders over your wrists for both exercises.

Make a workout to challenge yourself by incorporating a section of each area of strength. For example, do 10 air squats, 10 tricep dips, 20 crunches and 10 burpees. Repeat this several times for an easy total body workout.

This sample at home workout can be altered or modified to adjust to space and equipment available. Even though it will take place in your home, don’t forget to practice good health and recovery habits by washing your hands regularly, cleaning your workout area/equipment and staying hydrated. The possibilities are endless to work up a sweat in your living room.

Below is a great example of an at home creative workout!

QuaranTRAIN Day Six: Getting creative now! 2021 Ambush U19 Goalie Grace Crutchfield @grace_crutchfield shows us how to use some household items to train. #quarantrain #winasone #bleedpurple. A post shared by Charlotte Ambush FH Club (@charlotteambush) on Mar 20, 2020 at 7:33am PDT

This article was constructed with the assistance of a strength and conditioning professional.

USFHA media release

Players get creative with their training during MCO

By Jugjet Singh

National hockey player Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin does push-ups with his son on his back in screen grab of video uploaded to the official twitter of MHC. MHC TWITTER PIC

NATIONAL hockey players Hairi Rahman, Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin and Haziq Samsul have uploaded some interesting training videos as they keep fit during the Movement Control Order (MCO).

With his young child watching and mimicking his moves, goalkeeper Hairi was skipping, running on the spot, doing sit-ups and push-ups at home.

Striker Tengku Ahmad, who is still recovering from a broken jaw, is seen happily enjoying “buddy time” with his two young children.

Tengku Ahmad even performed push-ups with his son on his back, milk bottle in hand, while another child is also seen joining in the action.

“We (athletes) are away from home for long periods when training and playing for the country.

“I am taking this MCO in a positive way to be with my family," said Tengku Ahmad.

Striker Haziq is seen practising his dribbling skill, with the ball poked into a pail at the end.

Dribbing past five full-face motorbike helmets on the floor of his shop, Haziq then moved past a hanger and car tyre before flicking the ball onto a bench which has another helmet spiralling on a gadget. He flicked over that as well, before neatly planting the ball into a pail.

This is a side of the hockey players that fans would not have seen, if not for the MCO.

Over to golf, Gavin Green is seen chipping the ball over a pool at home, and it neatly landed into a cup.

Hopefully, this practice will help Gavin to land more birdies in his next tournament.

The simple message from these athletes is: “Stay at home, let’s fight Covid-19 together.”

The hockey action can be seen on twitter @hockeymalaysia while Gavin’s chip can be seen at @TeamMsia.

New Straits Times

Keeper Hazrul gets chance to be the perfect husband


Hazrul: ‘I can now help my wife with the house chores. I also get to spend more time with her.’

KUALA LUMPUR: Goalkeeper Mohd Hazrul Faiz Ahmad Sobri was raring to start training for the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Ipoh, when the Covid-19 outbreak spoilt his plans.

The tournament, scheduled for April 11-18, has now been postponed to Sept 27-Oct 3.

And the national men, women and junior teams have stopped training at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil since March 16.

Following the movement control order (MCO) issued by the government effective from March 18 to 31 to curb the outbreak, Hazrul has to start training at home.

Terengganu-born Hazrul, who got married last August, is not complaining.

“I will just stay at home until March 31 and hopefully fewer people well get infected. The government is doing the best to control the outbreak, ” said Hazrul.

National coach Roelant Oltmans has given all the national players a training programme to be carried out at home.

“I am doing exercises like stretching, push-ups, squatting to maintain my stamina and fitness. Only thing is that we are not allowed to do is to go out of the house to jog and do sprints, ” said Hazrul.

“But it does not matter as I can now help my wife (Zulaika Atilla Zakaria) with the house chores. I also get to spend more time with her.

“I’m also helping my wife to cook and do other things together, ” added Hazrul, who was among 34 players called up by Oltmans.

Hazrul, who made his international debut in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in 2014, said that his main aim is to play for the national team again.

“I am 26 now and I can still play for Malaysia for another few years. And I don’t want to waste this opportunity, ” said Hazrul, who has played six times for Malaysia – the last time was during the playing tour to Japan in 2016.

And Hazrul, who played for Terengganu in the Malaysia Hockey League for the last four years, will face a challenge from three other goalkeepers for a place in the national squad.

They are Tenaga Nasional custodian Mohd Hairi Abdul Rahman, Maybank’s Mohd Zaimi Mat Deris and Universiti Kuala Lumpur’s Adrian Albert.

Hairi is the one with more experience having featured in the World Cup in Bhubaneswar in 2018 and in the FIH World Series in Kuala Lumpur last May.

The Star of Malaysia

1975 World Cup hockey legend Balasingam dies

By Adrian David

Malaysia's 1975 World Cup hockey legend Balasingam Singaram. - Pic courtesy of James Sia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's 1975 World Cup hockey legend Balasingam Singaram died last night after battling with colon cancer for several years. He was 73.

Better known as S. Bala, the left-half was part of the 16-man squad that made Malaysia proud with the best ever finish of fourth place in the world ranking.

He leaves behind wife Indra and son Kumar.

His death was also announced by the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) on their Twitter account.

Balasingam's close friend Royal Selangor Club teammate James Sia said the former died at his Taman Overseas Union Garden home at about 8pm.

Born on Nov 15, 1947 in Ipoh, Balasingam made his international debut at 21 at the 1968 International Hockey Tournament in Lahore, Pakistan.

He went on to play at the 1972 Munich and 1978 Montreal Olympics as well as the 1973 World Cup in Amsterdam.

Balasingam was inducted into the Olympic Council of Malaysia Hall of Fame in 2004, along with his 1975 World Cup teammates.

"Bala grew up mainly in the Klang valley under the watchful eyes of the La Salle brothers at La Salle Brickfields and subsequently at St John's Institution.

S. Balasingam (standing, third from rright) with the legendary 1975 World Cup hockey team. Pic courtesy of James Sia.

"Back in his school days, he played in many positions but found his niche as a left-half, a position which gained him prominence and a place in the Malaysian national team in 1968," said Sia.

Sia added that Bala would always be remembered how he first rubbed shoulders and competed against the hockey legends of his era, where in the next eight years he continued to make his name as a regular in the national team.

"He used to laugh as he recalled how the national team of yesteryears trained at the police training centre in Jalan Semarak, putting up at the barracks and taking showers at the fire station nearby.

"Then there were mischievious teammates stealing towels and leaving them stranded until it was dark enough to run back to the barracks, and meals were mainly 'mamak' food!

"Things were much simpler then, and players did not ask for much," said Sia.

Balasingam continued to play hockey until the age of 60 in 2007, representing RSC in the KL Hockey League since 1977.

S. Balasingam (right) in action during his prime. Pic courtesy of James Sia

"But in reality he was also a good golfer, a game which he excelled at naturally, playing off a single handicap until the day he gave up the game in 2004 but continued to serve RSC's hockey section for many more years," said Sia.

In 1993, after contributing 22 years of service to the Rubber Research Institute (RRI) as a Technical Soil Surveyor, Bala ventured into the fertiliser business with his wife in the Brickfields office.

Former international Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad described Balasingam as "A very nice gentleman" and he played with him for many years at Selangor Club in the 80s and 90s.

Balasingam's funeral is today (Sunday) at the Puchong crematorium at 9.30am.

New Straits Times

The godfather of Zimbabwean hockey

Don Makanyanga

FROM the minute you walk into the Manolios home in the Mount Pleasant suburb of Harare, you are immediately greeted by a collage of hockey memorabilia that includes pictures, trophies, hockey balls and sticks, most of which belonged to the late domestic iconic figure Mark Manolios.

It is these images that Jessica Evans has which have shaped her early childhood, with her prized possession being a small hockey stick the three-year-old received from her grandfather Mark before he died in September last year.

The stick lies on the table, although most of her attention is solely fixed on newspaper articles that act as part of the lounge’s décor.

Mark’s daughter and mother of three-year-old Jessica, Kristina Manolios-Evans, gave an insight into the hockey player, coach and administrator that her late father had been.

“Dad was passionate about hockey, I do not think there is someone who loved hockey the way he did.

“You see this hockey stick? It’s Jessie’s, which she was given by dad, and if he was still here with us, she would be having many of these by now.

“He gave all his grandchildren sticks at a tender age,” said Kristina, the last born of the late hockey legend.

Mark succumbed to heart failure in South Africa, where he had gone to seek medical attention.

However, his passion for hockey did not die as his last born, Kristina, has taken over and is keen to keep the legacy alive.

She acknowledges that it is a tough task, but she is willing to give it her best.

“I do not know if you will ever find someone who was as passionate about hockey as my dad was; he adored the sport, and it was something that flowed in his blood.

“I would I want to follow his footsteps, but I do admit that his shoes are too big for me to fill alone,” said the 36-year-old Scorpions captain.

The late Manolios started his hockey career in 1955 after his short-sightedness prevented him from pursuing a career in football and rugby.

After failing to make his debut at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, because the Rhodesian regime was under international sanctions, Mark was to head Team Zimbabwe at their first Olympics in Moscow, Russia, after the country attained independence in 1980.

Coincidentally, as the deputy chef de mission of the Zimbabwe contingent at the Games, it was hockey that flew the country’s flag high by scooping the coveted gold medal.

That women’s team that rocked the world has over the decades been fondly known as the Golden Girls.

“Being the chef de mission of the Golden Girls team was something special to him; he always told us about that time, it being a story he loved to tell,” said Kristina.

Four years later, he was again to lead Team Zimbabwe to the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.

After the 1984 Games, Mark was invited by the United States’ hockey association to coach the American national teams, and on his return to Zimbabwe, he founded Mark Manolios Sports, which was to spearhead development of the sport in the country.

At the time of his death, Mark had been to nine Olympics as a coach and an administrator.

He spent 15 years as the national senior men’s coach, 25 years as an administrator and had a stint with the Kenyan team, which he guided to bronze at the 1988 Six Nations tournament.

The late Mark was also an international umpire, a member of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Equipment Committee, and served in various positions in the Zimbabwean sports sector.

“Everything he did for Zimbabwe, he did it with all his heart; he had passion for Zimbabwean sport, and this was despite the fact that hockey was his one and true love.

“He gave decades to the sport, pouring his heart and soul, and it was his dream to see Zimbabwe thriving and competing at the highest level.

“He wanted to see the development of all sports,” said Kristina.

Kristina was first introduced to the sport at the tender age of three, and went on to represent Zimbabwe at various levels.

She founded her own hockey team — the Scorpions.

“Like I said before, to say that I would one day fill his shoes is a lie, but I will work hard to carry his legacy,” she said.

Following the Golden Girls’ success story, the sport grew exponentially, which resulted in Zimbabwe hosting several major tournaments that include the 1995 All-Africa Games and the 1998 World Cup qualifiers.

Sadly, hockey stadiums, just like many other sporting infrastructure, have suffered from years of neglect and are a caricature of the venues that used to stage big international competitions.

Government’s recent decision to move the management of the National Sports Stadium, which houses Magamba Hockey Stadium, to the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation has led the hockey community to believe that existing facilities will be refurbished.

Currently, Zimbabwe has three astroturf fields — two in Harare (Arundel School and St John’s College) and one in Bulawayo at Khumalo Hockey Stadium — which are now a requirement for field hockey.

“About three weeks ago, I actually noticed that Minister Kirsty Coventry visited Magamba Hockey Stadium and Chitungwiza Aquatic Complex, and so I am hoping that this may mean there is another one (astroturf) in the pipeline.

“Two turfs — in Harare and Bulawayo — are not enough, if we are to compete at the highest level,” she said.

The Scorpions captain said the state of hockey stadiums had been a major setback and largely contribute to Zimbabwe’s failure to compete at the highest level.

“In 1998, we hosted the World Cup qualifiers at Magamba Stadium and the stadium worked well for us. But now it is dilapidated, and this is a big setback to our national teams when they play in important tournaments.

“We cannot train on grass and expect to compete on astroturfs.

“When it comes to competitions, that is the biggest challenge that we are facing.

“Zimbabwe has the talent and capability of competing at the highest level,” she said.

She also bemoaned the lack of sponsorship.

“Currently, hockey in Zimbabwe is about passion. There are no sponsors, and people have to fork out their own money to fund games and trips.

“This has made it difficult to run the sport well,” she said.

Zimbabwe is set to host the 2021 Central-South Africa Qualifier for the Africa Cup of Nations at St John’s College from August 21-30.

The qualifiers will see Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia Swaziland and Zambia battle it out for the two available slots to the Africa Cup of Nations in 2021.

Sunday Mail, Zimbabwe

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