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News for 24 March 2020

All the news for Tuesday 24 March 2020

Hockey Australia Statement – 24 March 2020

Hockey Australia (HA) can confirm all National Championships, including Masters, for this year have been cancelled, but re-emphasises a commitment for local competitions to take place at some stage in 2020.

The decision was made after consultation and agreement with Member Associations (MAs) and the HA Masters Committee, coupled with the latest developments and government directives regarding COVID-19.

The Australian Masters Hockey Championships, which were scheduled to be held in June and July, had been initially postponed but are now cancelled. The 35+ and 40+ Men’s competition set down for October will also no longer take place, as well as this year’s Masters Indoor Challenge.

The National Country Championships scheduled for Albany WA in August will also be cancelled for 2020.

Planning around what these cancellations mean in regards to the timing and make up of all National Championships for 2021 has already commenced.

Considering the uncertainty around COVID-19 and these unprecedented times, the decision to cancel the entirety of HA’s national events was made in the best interests of the hockey community and to ensure the health and wellbeing of all players, staff and officials, which remains the highest priority.

It was also agreed that with the current restrictions in place, there would not be adequate opportunity to hold selection trials or competitions in order to select squads for the various championships.

The primary focus for HA and every MA for the remainder of this year will be on local competitions and working to ensure all Australian hockey members can operate and be part of viable competitions in 2020.

It is Hockey Australia and the Member Associations’ ambition to ensure members get hockey sticks in their hands at the soonest possible time as community hockey is the lifeblood of the sport in this country. HA and the MAs reinforce the intention and importance to get local competitions up and running, but obviously only if and once clearance and assurances have been announced by the government and relevant health authorities.

Notably, any decisions regarding local state based competitions and leagues are up to the respective MA and individual state/territory. For the latest information and updates on state based hockey leagues and competitions, please contact your relevant Member Association.

A decision on the Sultana Bran Hockey One League 2020 Season will be made in the coming days. The Hockey One Board is scheduled to meet tonight and is expected to confirm a position on whether plans remain for Season 2 of the competition to go ahead.

HA can also confirm the closure of the National High Performance Unit Daily Training Environment (DTE) in Perth until further notice in the best interests of athletes and staff. This decision follows the announcement by the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) that Australian athletes should prepare for a Tokyo Olympic Games in the northern summer of 2021, which stems from the IOC flagging a potential postponement of this year’s Games, together with changes in the public health landscape in Australia and across the globe.

HA fully supports the position taken by the AOC and have implemented this change in the best interests of our players, coaches and support staff. Kookaburras and Hockeyroos athletes have been instructed to return home, follow the necessary government protocols and remain socially responsible with planning now underway for a possible Olympics to be held sometime next year.

Meanwhile, the postponement of the FIH Pro League has been extended to 17 May 2020. This means the Hockeyroos’ and Kookaburras’ scheduled home matches against New Zealand on 16/17 May in Perth have been cancelled, together with the kids coaching clinics associated with the matches.

HA and the MAs reiterate the importance to follow all necessary measures and recommendations in preventing the spread of COVID-19, and will provide updates regarding community hockey and the 2021 calendar events in due course.

Hockey Australia National Events cancelled for 2020
Under 13 Championships
Under 15 Championships
Under 18 Championships
Under 21 Championships
Country Championships
Women’s and Men’s Masters Championships

HA will continue to monitor, and act accordingly, in response to statements and policies enacted by both Federal and State Health authorities. Further advice on the Coronavirus COVID-19 can be found from the Australian Government Department of Health (www.health.gov.au) or for general advice regarding COVID-19, call the Australian Government’s Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.

In the meantime, HA reiterates continuing to practice good hygiene by doing the following:

    Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze. Catch it, bin it, kill it. https://campaignresources.phe.gov.uk/resources/campaigns/101/resources/5016
    Put used tissues in the bin straight away.
    Wash your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.
    Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell.
    Keep a 1.5 metre distance from other people and practice social distancing.https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/what-you-need-to-know-about-coronavirus-covid-19#social-distancing
    Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
    Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.

Hockey Australia media release

Stay home and watch “Hockey At Its Best”

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has decided to withdraw any geo-blocking in place for all FIH Hockey Pro League matches from 2019 and 2020 on its free OTT platform www.FIH.live.

The same will apply for all FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers, which were played in October and November last year.

This comes in addition to all matches from both 2018 World Cups, Men and Women, being already available (with no geo-blocking) on www.FIH.live:


“As hockey fans and players around the world are staying at home to help the fight against COVID-19, FIH has decided to strengthen its engagement with them by bringing the best of hockey to their households”, FIH CEO Thierry Weil commented.

Furthermore, FIH is currently producing a number of additional programmes for use by its 32 broadcast partners, reaching 192 countries around the world. The programming will include:

    FIH Hockey Pro League 2020 - Season So Far (26 minutes)
    FIH Hockey Pro League 2019 - How They Won It (26 minutes)
    Men's Hockey World Cup Review 2018 (52 minutes)
    Women's Hockey World Cup Review 2018 (52 minutes)
    Classic FIH Hockey Pro League Matches 2019 (26 minutes)

These programmes will also be available over the next couple of weeks on FIH social media platforms.

FIH site

Umpires turn to technology in order to stay at the top of their game

As much of the world goes into lockdown as governments and communities try to contain the spread of Covid-19, athletes have been posting videos and images of the ways they are staying fit and healthy, both physically and mentally, ready to get straight back to top level action when the world emerges from the other side of the virus.

Also looking to stay on top of their game are the umpires. Just as teams will be looking for a quick return to action, so too the umpires will need to be at their physical and mental peaks. We spoke to New Zealand’s Kelly Hudson to find out how she is coping with the challenges posed by living in lockdown.

How is the virus impacting your physical training as a high level umpire?
Until now my training has been unhindered, we have not yet started our hockey season in New Zealand, and I have been able to access my trainer, gym facility and physio with ease, but as I write this, the New Zealand government has implemented strict protocols, closing all non-essential businesses and asking people to stay at home, in self-isolation. These new government-implemented Covid-19 restrictions bring us here in NZ into alignment with what many of my colleagues have already been experiencing overseas.

The changes for me will be to essentially maintain communication with my coach in an online forum; we will re-create my sessions so I can continue my progression in a home gym set-up; nothing fancy, a bench, a couple of kettle bells/free weights, resistance bands, wind-trainer road bike, adjustable high bar. I am fortunate to have space around where I live and can access hills, and areas to run easily and stay in isolation, but also remain safe - this is not easy for everyone. I can also move some of these sessions to a park or the beach (provided I am alone) which will be amazing to still get out into the beautiful outdoors.

My physiotherapist will also be via online and while there won't be hands on, my treatment is a lot around strengthening other muscles and progressing exercises relating to identified weaknesses to improve stability, power, change of direction, so that is able to transition to an online chat fairly easily.

So while my training and wellness sessions will be different I'm pleased to be able to still have my support team connected in some way - this is hugely important as we are already operating in a fairly isolated capacity anyway.

What are you doing and what can others do to stay fit and focused
I see there is a guy in France who ran a marathon on his 7m balcony. That is motivation too, though not really for me, thanks. What it does prove though, is that anything is possible with a little imagination, you make a plan and stick to it.

There is a lot of uncertainty in the world right now, but one thing that has been a core value of mine throughout the latter stages of my umpiring career is that I can only control what I can control. I don't know if the Olympics will be postponed, what will happen with ProLeague matches, or even if our local hockey season will ever get to start this year, but what I do know is I can plan for the dates that I have right now, continue to strive to achieve my own fitness levels, maintain connections with my colleagues locally and around the world, and we can get through this together.

Small term pain like restricting movement and not being able to travel are necessary for longer term gain and hopefully containing this virus and saving people from pain and suffering.

Do you stay in contact with umpiring colleagues via social media?
Yes we have groups for Pro League as well as for Tokyo Olympics, and everyone has close mates within the officiating community across the world. It’s been amazing to have such close connections with people who are experiencing things in a totally different way to you, and yet we are all connected in this. The team of officials is incredibly unique in that it is truly international; so we all know people - our friends - in the areas that are worst affected. It’s very sobering when there is a real human connection.

What can you and your fellow umpires do to stay up with the speed of the game?
We are very fortunate at international level that we have access to CoachLogic, which has most international matches, certainly all the FIH Hockey Pro League games, that we are able to log onto, or create our own copy to then tag and review. We also have access to Umpire Managers who we can discuss things with. There have also been some excellent sharing of clips by people in our groups that we are able to view and comment on. Sometimes this happens in smaller informal WhatsApp groups. It is awesome to be able to stay current and strive to be consistent in our interpretations. It is an area that keeps growing as we become more familiar and comfortable with the technology.

Not everyone needs a flash forum or online portal to watch hockey though, FIH.live is a great place to start and there are other hockey matches available online. You can watch the game and nit-pick the decision-making, or watch from a broader game-sense perspective and see what you might have done differently if you had have been umpiring that match. You can add a few tricks to your tool kit and get them ready to try out when the season is allowed to start. Also get in touch with a senior umpire, or someone you think would be a good mentor; likewise reach out to younger or new umpires and be that person for them. There are lots of things we can talk about without having to be at a hockey field, we need to stay connected.

Do you have a message for umpires around the world right now?
Keep in touch with your hockey mates – I have just tonight been chatting with a couple of friends about what the situation is for them at the moment in terms of restriction of movement, and when schools are closing and so forth. It will be challenging working from home, training in isolation, everything moving online in terms of communication – but we can have fun with that too – I feel there will be an emergence of creativity over the next few weeks!

"He waka eke noa" (We are all in this together.)

FIH site

What Does it Take to be "Great"?

By Steve Horgan, USA Field Hockey's Director of Umpiring

To be successful at anything, there are a number of actions, qualities and resources necessary to reach a level of expertise that is recognized as “great” in your field. At the 2019 USA Field Hockey Summit in Baltimore, the group of umpires in attendance discussed and produced the following characteristics necessary to get to and stay at the top of the game.


Field hockey is not the type of game that is easy to follow or understand when it comes to umpiring and the rules. There are many gray areas and options as an umpire depending on the situation and temperature of the match. Just as in any job, there is an initial phase of study necessary to begin and there is ongoing study or professional development necessary to keep up with the continual evolution of the game. Studying is different than watching! Knowing the proper applications of the rules is paramount. Just like studying for a test, the reader does not just read the text once to fully understand it. The information needs to be thought about, but what does it actually say? Is it being understood as intended or is it being over analyzed?

In today’s world of video and electronics, it is also very easy to study the game as a visual learner. While watching any and all video available to you, umpires should view the game differently than the normal spectator. Umpires should “analyze” not critique or look for the mistakes while watching video of themselves or others. To study by video, clips need to be run and re-run just as if the information was in a book, read and re-read. What looks good? What looks bad? How is the game flowing? Is the umpire helping or hindering the game? Are the players content? Is the game tense? Are the rules being applied properly? Are players understanding the calls? Set your list of questions to answer before running the video, then go back with a different set each time so that all topics can be covered.

Studying takes time! Studying is not waiting to learn as others tell you how they would do it.


No one gets better at any physical activity by sitting in a chair and watching. In fi eld hockey, with the vast number of opportunities to umpire, practice opportunities are easily obtained. Volunteer for a local high school team or club. Teams greatly appreciate the ability to scrimmage with “real” officials. With real umpires, coaches can focus on their team without the extra task of con-trolling the players. Apply previous feedback of umpiring in a low stress environment. Work on the game as the need arises without having to worry about the outcome.

In order to help be the best possible official, it is highly recommended investing in time resources that will provide valuable help through one’s career. Being an umpire who only officiates during the “season” and looks to improve during the season is not being fair to the players, fans and spectators who expect the best performance from officials on every match. Field hockey is now an all year-round sport, with indoor and outdoor opportunities to get and keep the game sharp. With the standard of today’s players playing every chance they get, so should the umpires. If officials would even put in half the time toward learning as the teams’ practice, the game would be a whole lot better.


Yes, field hockey umpiring is a profession that is mainly a paid part-time job in the United States. Therefore, there is a high expectation of mobility, ability and reliability for the money being paid for umpires by schools and clubs. With the expectation of mobility, field hockey umpiring is an intense physical activity when done right. For anyone to think that they can be at the top of the game by just walking onto a field without physical training is in for a rude awakening. Umpires jog, sprint, twist, turn, signal and whistle which all require a level of cardio training to do properly. Thus, “umpires are athletes” and must treat themselves and their profession accordingly. Athletes strive to be as physically fit as possible and so should officials.

The expectation of ability is a perception from others that an umpire is prepared, focused and have professionally developed him or herself for the betterment of the game. An officials’ ability must match the ability of the players and the level of the game. When the ability of the players is above the ability of the umpires, the game can be a disaster. Officials are heavily critiqued on their ability to manage, control and understand the game so that the players and fans get full enjoyment of being part of the game no matter the outcome. Ability does not come to someone just because he/she has umpired many games. It comes gradually by the study of the game and the practice mentioned above.

Reliability is an aspect that every employer loves to have. When an umpire is reliable, he/she are on time, ready to go, calm and consistent in the performance of one’s necessary duties. This includes duties outside of the game timeframe like checking the nets, scorekeepers, field and equipment. If an umpire is not on time for these duties, he/she get passed over and eventual problems can arise. Even though the match starts at a certain time, officials have the responsibility to be there well in advance to be sure everything is in order before the whistle is blown. Umpires also are expected to be reliable in their presentation. Being calm and consistent for an entire match is an art. Officials cannot allow their emotions to get to them as this will invariably affect the ability to make sound decisions. This in turn will also affect the necessity of being consistent which is required in order for the players, fans and coaches to fully understand the umpiring.

“Great” is a term that is used in various ways. In this instance it means being the best one can be as recognized by others with an ability and quality considerably above average. The choice is up to the individual. As an umpire, one can be average and go about the job just to have it. Or one can study, practice and be professional striving to be great at the job knowing that every time they exit the field, they gave it their best and worked to be the best possible.

This article was featured in the Summer 2019 issue of FHLife Magazine. To read more inspiring, knowledge-packed and fun features revolving around field hockey, fitness, healthy eating and how to strengthen your game, subscribe to the quarterly publication by clicking here.

USFHA media release

It's only fair to put 2020 Olympics on hold, says Ireland hockey captain

John Flack

Only 53% of the qualification has been completed for this summer's Olympic Games.

Ireland men's hockey captain David Harte is the latest in the growing list of athletes and other stakeholders to back the idea of postponing the Tokyo Olympics until later in 2020 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Kinsale native, who played in the Rio Games in 2016, has an inside track as he sits on the Olympic Federation of Ireland's Athletes' Commission.

Harte was among 220 athlete representatives who took part in a conference call with Olympic chiefs, who have consistently stated that the Tokyo showpiece will go ahead as planned with the opening ceremony scheduled for July 24.

However, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has insisted that "cancellation is not on the agenda" and added that "of course, we are exploring different scenarios".

Last night, he admitted that a postponement was a possible option.

In calling for a postponement, Harte emphasises the fact that athletes across the vast majority of the 33 Olympic sports are unable to prepare properly for Tokyo due to the need for social distancing.

Ireland men's hockey captain David Harte

His own sport is a case in point as Ireland's women's hockey players have already had eight of their Olympic warm-up matches cancelled due to the impact of the virus, and the players are training on their own at home.

Harte is also concerned that many of the qualifying events from other sports have been put on hold, with just 53% of the total number of Olympic places allocated.

Harte said: "There's 47% of places at the Olympics that are still up in the air and that was a huge talking point (in the conference call) 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.

"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."

Belfast Telegraph

Captain Siti to take up coaching badges

By Jugjet Singh

Siti Noor Amarina Ruhani (second from right) with MHC officials at a recent meeting in Bukit Jalil. PIC BY MHC

KUALA LUMPUR: A day before the Movement Control Order (MCO) was enforced, the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) had a meeting with national women's team captain Siti Noor Amarina Ruhani to decide on her future.

But before plans could be implemented, the country's sporting activities came to a standstill.

The 30-yer-old has set her mind on becoming a coach and the MHC are bent on helping her.

“Yes, we had a meeting with Siti a day before the MCO was enforced. It was a move to plan her career after she calls it a day as a player.

“Siti wants to become a coach, and the MHC will help chart her new career path," said MHC deputy president Datuk S. Shamala.

Present were MHC president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal and CEO Norfaraha Hashim.

Last year, Siti graduated from Universiti Putra Malaysia with a bachelor’s degree in education (physical education).

It took her seven years to complete it.

"It is not easy for athletes to complete their studies on time as they also need to focus on sports.

“Once, I stayed awake for four days to complete my coursework," said Siti on the UPM portal.

For the record, Siti led Malaysia to three gold medals in the Sea Games (2013, 2015 and 2017 editions). Her team also won silver in a World Hockey League tournament in 2017 in KL.

New Straits Times

BACK IN TIME: When England hammered Belgium 8-2 and won 2009 EuroHockey

Claire Middleton recalls missing out on England Hockey’s last major trophy a decade ago

England savour success in Amsterdam PIC: World Sport Pics

The 2009 EuroHockey Championships left me seriously peed off.

A decade or more covering England and Great Britain, with their high hopes and false dawns, and as soon as I move 10,000 miles away, they actually go and win something.  I was in Perth, Australia, which is totally beautiful and mainly tranquil. England’s men were in Amstelveen, that pulsing, thriving home of Dutch hockey, silencing the Oranje hordes and coming home with European gold for the first time. Typical.

There had been signs something was brewing and I was lucky enough to see the bulk of the squad playing as Great Britain during the 2008 Olympics where they finished fifth and but, for a silly yellow card against the Dutch in a group game (Holland promptly scored), might have squeaked into the semi-finals.

“We came away pretty happy with that, which might seem a bit funny for a team which went on to win a gold medal the next year and reach the semis in London,” said Jonty Clarke, the former Reading striker.

“But we had gone into the tournament ranked around ninth in the world so finishing fifth represented good progress. Beijing made us feel close to the top teams, we knew we were there or thereabouts.”

The Olympics are usually a watershed for international teams as players step down to pursue careers outside the sport or retire, not wanting to commit to another four-year cycle. However, the lure of London 2012 was strong and coach Jason Lee was able to retain the majority of his squad, and make quality additions like Iain Mackay, Adam Dixon and Richard Smith.

“There was continuity but also some new blood to keep things fresh,” said Clarke. “A lot of us had been together in the Under-21 squad which went to the Junior World Cup in 2001 – I think Ben Hawes, Richard Mantell, Glenn Kirkham, Barry Middleton, Richard Alexander, Rob Moore were all there – so by 2009 most of us had been playing four or five years of international hockey and it all seemed to click.

England players celebrate against Germany PIC: World Sport Pics

“London was just around the corner and nobody wanted to miss out on that. I think for a lot of other teams there had been a significant changing of the guard.”

England opened their European campaign with a 5-0 win over Austria and followed it up by drawing 4-4 with Germany, the Olympic champions. England trailed 2-1, led 4-2 and were then pegged back as Christopher Wesley grabbed the Germans’ equaliser four minutes from time.

Despite letting that victory slip from their grasp, there were no holds barred against Belgium, who were demolished 8-2, Ashley Jackson grabbing a hat-trick and Clarke scoring twice. “We hammered them – which would be unthinkable given their standard now. Back then they were a decent side, but we played really well that day,” said Clarke.

That clinched England’s spot in the last four and a semi-final against their Dutch hosts. Holland had finished outside the medals in Beijing (beaten by Australia for bronze) and, playing at home, had much to prove.

For Clarke however, way more nerve-racking than playing for his country in a massive European match, against a side roared on by a packed stadium, was the wait for the results of his final accountancy exams.

The match was a corker (more about the exams in a minute), going to extra time before England struck the killer blow for a 2-1 win in the 87th minute. Jackson converted the vital corner, England held on and recorded a superb win.

“My memory of that game was actually sitting on the bench with my phone as the others warmed down,” said Clarke. “They were doing a lap of the pitch and I was waiting for a text message to say if I had passed my exams.

“I had put my accountancy career on hold for Beijing but had done three final exams – the last exams of my life, thank goodness – just before the Europeans. I was so relieved to have passed them because it meant I knew I had a career to fall back on after hockey.

“If I’d not had a game that day, I would have been pacing around being a nervous wreck!”

Of the 18-man squad, two would miss out on selection for the final, with only 16 allowed in the match-day team. Clarke had missed the group game against Germany after picking up an ankle injury and had joined Nick Brothers, the No2 goalkeeper in the stands.

“Jason said he would come to the hotel and tell whoever was missing out the bad news, so we all went back worrying who would get the knock on the door,” said Clarke. “I was in my room when there was a knock on the door … I opened it, thinking I was going to get the chop … but it was Ali Wilson asking if I had some stick tape.”

It was Alistair Brogdon who had to join Brothers watching from the sidelines as England secured a most extraordinary triumph.

What a final. Jackson struck, Germany levelled. Hawes scored, but then Germany forged ahead 3-2. However, England, resilient to the core, won two penalty corners – both converted by Richard Mantell – and delivered the coup de grace for a 5-3 win courtesy of a Jackson penalty stroke.

Jonty Clarke eyes the prize

England collected gold and Jackson was named the 2009 FIH Young Player of the Year, the first time the honour had gone to an Englishman.

The group went on to London and reached the semi-finals before getting tonked by the Dutch. They then lost out on bronze medals to Australia.

“We came away from that one feeling we didn’t do ourselves justice when it got to the business end of the tournament,” said Clarke. “I think that sense of frustration is something felt by just about everyone who was involved.”

It’s so hard, in elite sport, to finish on a high, to retire while at the summit of the tallest peak. It’s all about that journey, so I can understand Clarke and Co being happy with fifth (in Beijing) and then disillusioned going one better, in London.

However, it’s a shame if a squad who delivered arguably England’s best men’s result should finish their international careers reflecting on a disappointment rather than reminiscing about a triumph. After all, at least they were there, winning, in Amstelveen. I was in bloody Australia.

ENGLAND: James Fair, Nick Brothers, Glenn Kirkham, Richard Alexander, Richard Mantell, Ashley Jackson, Simon Mantell, Matt Daly, Jonty Clarke, Rob Moore, Ben Hawes, Adam Dixon, Ali Wilson, Barry Middleton, James Tindall, Iain Mackay, Alistair Brogdon, Richard Smith.

This feature orginally appeared in a previous print edition.

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The Hockey Paper

King conveys condolences to hockey legend's family

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

KUALA LUMPUR: The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah yesterday extended his condolences and sympathy to the family of Malaysia’s hockey legend S. Balasingam following his passing on March 21.

“I have heard of his extraordinary skills, passion, hard work and discipline for the game he so loved. He was indeed an inspiration to a nation that will forever be indebted to such a dedicated player.

“Our country has lost another legend and we mourn with you. But his legacy will live on in our hearts. He was a true son of Malaysia,” said His Majesty in a statement yesterday.

His Majesty also expressed his appreciation for Balasingam’s contribution to the country throughout his career.

Balasingam died after battling colon cancer for several years. He was 73.

He was part of the 16-man squad that made the country proud in the 1975 World Cup in KL.

Malaysia finished fourth.

New Straits Times

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