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News for 27 March 2020

All the news for Friday 27 March 2020

AHF clear their calendar

By Jugjet Singh

Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal

THE Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) yesterday effectively cleared their tournament calendar for the year — after shelving the boys’ Junior Asia Cup and women's Asian Champions Trophy.

The boys’ Junior Asia Cup was supposed to be held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on June 4-12 and the Women’s Asian Champions Trophy in Donghae, South Korea, on June 14-21.

Now, only the men’s Asian Champions Trophy, to be held on Nov 17-27 in Dhaka, remains standing.

“We have received a circular from the AHF postponing both the tournaments because of Covid-19. The MHC (Malaysian Hockey Confederation) will now plan how to keep both the teams on their toes while waiting for new dates,” said MHC president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal yesterday.

The AHF circular read: “As you will be aware, the vast majority of sports events originally scheduled for the coming weeks and months have already been postponed, or are currently being postponed – even a never-before-seen postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games has been announced.

“Given this situation and the escalating worldwide crisis, the AHF have carefully assessed all aspects of the impact on our events and come to the conclusion that the postponement of both the tournaments is unavoidable to protect the safety and health of our athletes, officials and the broader hockey family and to enable a fair and successful event at a later date.

“We are as disappointed as you to see this having become necessary and are working closely with the tournament hosts to finalise new dates as soon as possible.”

The AHF had earlier postponed the Women’s Junior Asia Cup in Kakamigahara, Japan, slated for April 6-12. The Sultan Azlan Shah was earlier shifted from April to September for the same reason. Jugjet Singh

New Straits Times

Hockey Ireland Coronavirus (COVID-19) UPDATE No. 3

Hockey Ireland continues to follow the advice of the Government and Sport Ireland and has noted recent Government announcements that further measures are being introduced to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

The Hockey Ireland Board, after further consultation with its branches, has decided the following in the interest of the health and safety of the hockey community and all people on the island of Ireland:

  • In line with government advice all hockey activity remains suspended.
  • In order to provide clarity and to assist with immediate and longer-term planning, Hockey Ireland is announcing that the 2019/20 hockey season for all league, cup and all other domestic hockey competitions in Ireland are deemed to have finished.
  • The consequences of this decision will be looked at by a Hockey Ireland Competitions Working group. The Competitions Working Group will consist of representatives from the Hockey Ireland Board, the Competitions Committee, and representatives from the each of the four branches.
  • The Competitions Working Group’s proposals, addressing the postponement or cancellation of fixtures, the final league standings, promotion and relegation, and possible European spots for the 2020/21 season will then go to the Hockey Ireland Board for consideration and approval. The final decisions on the details for the conclusion of 2019/2020 season will be published no later than the 12th of April.
  • The Hockey Ireland offices are situated on the UCD campus which remains closed since the 13th March, all staff continue to operate from their homes. We apologise for this disruption; however, staff continue to have access to our server remotely and are set up to respond to emails as usual.Hockey Ireland will continue to closely follow developments and issue further information as appropriate. Hockey Ireland would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding during this time and appreciates the efforts many of you are going to in order to continue training while at home.

Please keep safe. For further information on Covid-19: https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/coronavirus.html

Irish Hockey Association media release

Irish season finished over coronavirus

The Irish hockey season has come to an early end because of the pandemic

Hockey Ireland has announced that league, cup and all other domestic competitions are deemed to have finished because of coronavirus.

The governing body said it took the decision "in order to provide clarity and to assist with immediate and longer-term planning".

Issues including final league places, promotion and relegation will be considered by the Hockey Ireland Board.

The final decisions will be published no later than 12 April.

BBC Sport

England Hockey still considering outcome on league placings

Surbiton finished top of men and women leagues PIC: Simon Parker

England Hockey has yet to make contact with those league clubs whose seasons rest on the outcome made by the national governing body after the sport’s suspension following the coronavirus outbreak.

Unlike other sports, England’s two top flights had finished its regular season while Division One leagues had one match remaining before play-off matches were decided.

As such, plans for the remainder of the season, such as the Championship title, European places, promotion and relegation have yet to be resolved.

England Hockey said that it was still mulling over how best to finalise league placings.

A spokesperson said: “We are considering the impact of the on-going suspension of the England Hockey League programme and unfinished Clubs and Schools Championships and will communicate with all parties in due course.”

— GB Hockey’s Harry Gibson on coronavirus and uncertainties

On Thursday, the Football Association announced the end of its non-league season for Step 3 and below. All results were expunged, making the season null and void with no promotion and relegation.

However, there’s no doubting that English hockey chiefs have been left in a tricky position with the leagues having been so close to being completed.

In the men’s Premier Division, Reading have been automatically relegated, while University of Exeter’s fate has yet to be sealed after they finished in the promotion/relegation play-off position of ninth and set to play the loser of the Division One play-off match. In Division One North, University of Durham and Bowdon were set to push back in the final game of the season to determine the league winners, while Oxted awaited the winner after finishing as Division One South winners.

In the Investec Women’s Premier Division, Surbiton, as with the men, finished as league champs, while East Grinstead hold second spot. Hampstead & Westminster and Buckingham also reached the play-offs and are still in with a chance of top honours and European outdoor action for the first time. The same goes for Old Georgians in the men’s league, with Hampstead and Wimbledon having also qualified for the now cancelled play-offs.

Meanwhile, Wimbledon, champions of the Investec Division One, Leicester City and Swansea are all within touching distance of the women’s Premier Division. With Bowdon Hightown relegated, ninth place University of Birmingham’s future as a top flight club has yet to be determined.

There has been talk of expanding the Premier Division to 12 teams for one season, to potentially include Swansea, Wimbledon and Leicester. Some regional leagues have already finalised their seasons, the East League determining placings on a percentage points basis while the South Clubs and Midlands women’s leagues opting to conclude the season on final league placings.

On Thursday Hockey Ireland announced that the 2019/20 season for all league, cup and all other domestic competitions in Ireland had ended.

Final decisions on the details for the conclusion of the season will be published no later than April 12.

The Hockey Paper

Camacho: decision on local Outdoor hockey season on hold

By Nigel Simon

SPORTT Company CEO Jason Willams, left, and SPORTT Company Chairman Douglas Camacho, right, and SPORTT board of director Hayden Mitchell inspect the old hockey turf at the National Hockey Centre, Orange Grove Road, Tacarigua last August. NICOLE DRAYTON

A decision on when or if the T&T Hockey Board Outdoor League 2020 season commences will not be made until a clearer picture becomes available with regards towards the coronavirus (COVID-19) world pandemic that has so far accounted for one death and 61 confirmed cases locally.

This was stated by Douglas Camacho, president of the T&THB when he spoke to Guardian Media Sports on Thursday on matters regarding the sport locally.

Two years ago, the local Outdoor season was cancelled as repairs to the turf surface which had been in use since 2007 took precedent at the National Hockey Centre, Orange Grove Road, Tacarigua.

However, there was a further delay in the laying of the new $1.3 million turf due to the problems between Polytan GmbH officials in Chile and the surface manufacturers in Germany as the delay was caused by the Sport Company of T&T's (SPORTT) re-structuring and the revision of numerous service level agreements with all national sporting organisations falling under SPORTT’s remit.

Polytan GmbH is a Burgheim, Germany-based manufacturer and installer of synthetic sport surfaces, including running tracks and synthetic turf and their surfaces have been in use for more than 37 years, with more than 25 million square metres of sports surface installed across the world.

The European-based company was originally intended to deliver the turf ahead of the March 25-April 2, 2017 FIH Men’s World League Tournament hosted by the TTHB, with the turf being accompanied by the appropriate cleaning machine for it.

Eventually, a team of workers from Polytan GmbH arrived in T&T last August and began work on the relaying of the surface after the local Outdoor Hockey season flicked off on March 24 but was forced to an abrupt end on May 3, 2019, on the request of the Water and Sewage Authority (WASA) due to the low water supply across the country.

The locals were then given a July 3 deadline by the T&THB Competitions Committee to submit proposals with regards the stalled T&T Hockey Board Outdoor season, which eventually resulted in the remainder of the season being called off, while the National Indoor Championships took place as was rescheduled in September, with T&T’s qualification to the Pan American Indoor Championship scheduled for March 2020 their focus.

Blessed with perfect sunny weather and a committed workforce, the Polytan team was able to complete the removal of the old playing surface at Tacarigua and laying of the new astroturf just under five weeks.

But, once again, the T&THB ran into some problems, as the Polytan workers were unable to relay the surface to their regular high standards.

The key fault in the newly installed surface was that with the underlying surface which was not rolled out smoothly and showed visible bumps, which caused the local hockey authorities to request the surface being relayed once more.

Reached for comment yesterday, Camacho said the T&THB had already discussed plans to start the Outdoor season on grass surface across a few venues that they have singled.

"We made other arrangements to get the season going as the repairs to the Tacarigua surface were put on hold due to the Polytan officials being barred from entering the country at this time due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as well as continuing discussions between the Government and the manufacturers concerning how the cost of the repairs will be covered and by whom.

He said, "The board (T&HB) had discussions about starting the Outdoor Hockey season by mid-March/April and we had already singled out the University of the West Indies (St Augustine), Diego Martin Sports Complex, Hasely Crawford Stadium, Training Field and WASA Sports Ground in St Joseph as four venues to utilise."

"We were looking at spreading the game to a wider viewing public across the country, but before we could have even got the season off to a start the COVID-19 dealt our plans a severe blow."

With the entire season now on hold due to the suspension of all sporting activities on a national level as well, Camacho, a former T&T Olympic Committee president said that T&THB has no choice but to wait until there is some form of normalcy before moving ahead with plans for the season.

"Once the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control and world travel gets back to some sort of normalcy, then we can think about the Polytan officials coming back to this country to assess the Tacarigua surface to determine if it will need to be relayed completely or if the underlying surface just needs minor repairs."

"When that is determined then the Government and Polytan will determine who will be covering the cost of having the repairs done, and then we will know how soon the work will commence and a time frame for its completion and resumption of playing at Tacarigua.

With regards to the durability of the surface, Camacho, a hockey player himself said he anticipates the warranty would be for seven years, while the current actual turf has been going on 12 years.

The Trinidad Guardian

Irish men set for Gniezno, Poland for 2021 Euros

The Irish men are bound for Poland in 2021. Pic: Adrian Boehm

The Irish men have been provisionally booked in to play in Gniezno, Poland in the EuroHockey Championship II from August 1-7, 2021.

It follows their relegation from the top tier last August in Antwerp and sees them line out in a tournament which also features Austria, Croatia, Italy, Scotland, Switzerland, Ukraine and hosts Poland.

The breakdown of the pools is the responsibility of the FIH and will use appropriate world ranking positions at the time the match schedules are prepared.

The dates for the tournament do come with a caveat from the European Hockey Federation with the event potentially subject to change depending on when the new Olympic dates are announced.

The Irish women’s tournament was already confirmed for Amsterdam’s Wagener Stadium with the dates confirmed at August 20-29.

Their tournament features Belgium, England, Spain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Scotland.

The Hook

How GB athletes are keeping fit at home

Whilst squad based training at Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre has been halted, the GB athletes have still been working hard to keep in shape whilst at home, we take a look at what they've been getting up to.

Esme Burge

Having converted her garage into a cross between a pitch and gym, Esme Burge has created a space to practice both her hockey skills and maintain her fitness.

    Brilliant from Esme Burge, who has converted her garage into a pitch/gym to ensure she stays sharp over the next few weeks ����

    Who will be doing/has done something similar? Send us your pictures/videos! ��

    �� @esmeburge pic.twitter.com/N3nZ0Q3Etq
    — Great Britain Hockey (@GBHockey) March 20, 2020

        Mixing up training this morning and putting @patrick_burge through his paces using the new addition to the home gym...thanks @TeamFKPro! #TeamHome pic.twitter.com/tIMqhgDY76
        — Esme Burge (@esmeburge) March 26, 2020

Chris Griffiths & Liam Ansell

    There's no need for a garage for Chris Griffiths and Liam Ansell who are using the garden as a gym - let's hope the sun stays out!


Hannah Martin

Making the most of her surroundings, Hannah Martin has been creative in finding ways to keep active from home.

    Fast hands on the pitch & even faster hands with a skipping rope �� ��

    Check out the innovative ways Hannah Martin is using to keep in shape ��️‍♀️

    How are you adapting your workouts? Let us know! ��

    �� @hkmartin7 pic.twitter.com/yTui16DqME
    — Great Britain Hockey (@GBHockey) March 25, 2020

Sam Ward

As well as making the most of a WattBike to ensure he's staying fit, Sam Ward has taken a different approach from many and has created the "Isolation Olympics" in which he's playing a variety of sports from home - certainly an interesting watch.

    TODAYS EVENT - ISOLATION CRICKET @bbctms @Benedict_B @BBCSport @SkyCricket @ICC @ECB_cricket @GBHockey @CharlesDagnall @jamestaylor20 pic.twitter.com/cVn5Sb2GtD
    — Sam Ward (@Samuel_Ward13) March 21, 2020

Great Britain Hockey media release

Isolation Olympics: England hockey player Samuel Ward keeps up spirit after postponed Games

Isolated swimming, tennis with a saucepan - England's hockey player Samuel Ward has found a coping mechanism to deal with postponed Olympics.

Great Britain forward Sam Ward had to undergo a cheek reconstruction surgery after suffering facial fractures during the Olympic Qualifiers in November.   -  Twitter Great Britain Hockey

The outbreak of coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc affecting day-to-day life globally. The unprecedented situation has forced the International Olympic Committee to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Olympics to next year. As global sport remains suspended, athletes across the world are finding new ways to deal with the unusual situation of spending days without training sessions and matchday action.

England and Great Britain hockey player Samuel Ward has found a hilarious way to cope with the postponement by creating "Isolation Olympics" at his home in Maidenhead. Ward, who suffered a career-threatening injury to his left eye during last year's Olympic Qualifiers, was set to make his international comeback in the FIH Pro League before the tournament was suspended earlier in March.

The 29-year old has been posting videos of the games on social media which includes rest day and media day.

Ward announced a rest day for the games as he posted a video of himself playing cricket with a hockey stick with England's cricket selector James Taylor making an appearance as the umpire.

As the Badminton Horse Trials in England announced cancellation, Ward announced dressage as the third event.


Hannah Martin: Keeping it in the family

One of the great values inherent within our sport is its quality as a ‘family sport’. At hockey clubs around the globe, there are entire families whose sport of choice is hockey. It is not unusual for fathers and sons, mothers, sisters, aunts, to all be members of the same club.

And the history of international hockey also reflects the family-focused nature of the sport, with many siblings representing their country at elite level. We caught up with Great Britain and England’s midfield dynamo Hannah Martin, who revealed what a great inspiration brother Harry [also Great Britain and England] has been to her as she made her way into the international squad.

What influenced you to take up hockey as opposed to other sports?
Hannah Martin: “What influenced me to take up hockey as opposed to other sports, is that it was a team sport. I started playing hockey at school and I got to play alongside my friends which I absolutely loved. I love the fact that you can share all the moments both on and off the pitch.”

How helpful was it to have Harry a couple of years ahead of you as you followed the talent pathway?
Hannah Martin: “It was extremely helpful to have Harry a couple of years ahead of me when I was following the talent pathway because I always looked up to him. He was a huge inspiration and role model for me. I was just so proud of him and I just wanted to do the same. As siblings we were extremely competitive so anything he did, I also wanted to do. In all seriousness though, I am so proud of him and I especially remember watching every game at London 2012 and watching my 19-year-old brother absolutely crush it on the world stage. I thought this is just incredible and I knew I wanted to follow in his footsteps and I am incredibly grateful to him for all the guidance he has given me on my hockey journey.”

How involved have your parents been in your hockey career?
Hannah Martin: “Our parents have been very involved in our hockey careers. We were both so lucky that they were incredibly supportive of any sport we wanted to play when we were growing up. Our dad took us here, there and everywhere to play any sport we were playing at the time. Their support was immeasurable and we wouldn’t be where we are now without them."

Do you and Harry chat about hockey at family gatherings or do you steer clear of the topic?
Hannah Martin: “Harry and I tend to avoid hockey conversations at family gatherings just because it dominates both of our lives most of the time. When we are away from full-time training it is quite nice to just clear your mind and forget about it and listen to what other people have to say.”

What would you say makes hockey such a popular family sport?
Hannah Martin: "What makes hockey such a great family sport is that it is fast, quick, exciting and has a high skill level and that is what makes it a great team sport to watch. Also it is a sport for all, any family member can take part or get involved and that is what makes it so fantastic.”

FIH site

I don’t do this for the ego, says committed Sutton Coldfield volunteer

Sutton Coldfield are enjoying a surge in junior success as club plans robust future

By The Hockey Paper

Sutton Coldfield Ladies may have endured another season away from the top flight in the outdoor game, but its junior section continues to offer a glimpse into a bright future for the Midlands club.

The home of Olympian Jane Sixsmith, Sutton Coldfield scooped the club of the year title in 2019 at the region’s sports awards, a year which also saw the club merge its adult and junior sections.

Now entwined into one club – there are around 700 adults, including 200 junior members – it means better revenue and funding options, with Sutton Coldfield also looking to have its own home for the first time, complete with a potential three-pitch facility, thanks to the local council opening up new land.

“What we want to do is become a robust, sustainable club,” said men’s chair Peter Westbrook.

Robust is one word to describe its junior section. In 2019 the under-12 girls won back-to-back Warwickshire Championships without conceding a goal. And this follows the previous  year’s under-10’s success in winning a brace of local youth Championships.

Coldfield had entered two teams in the age category, with both sides qualifying for the final, a Championship first. The two budding outfits scored a combined 25 goals, without conceding, while Sutton 1 beat Sutton 2 by a 3-0 scoreline in the county final.

Perhaps all this girls’ success has propelled a visionary change for this season when the club reverted from wearing its red and blue colours to pink shirts and blue skort or shorts, and pink socks, across all mens’ and ladies’ teams.

Or perhaps its success is down to the club’s hardy volunteers and coaches. Step forward Dave O’Brien, who works as a Royal Mail postman alongside his tireless hockey work.

“I’ve always looked at Beeston in our local area as a club we should be aiming to be,” O’Brien, pictured above, says confidently. “If we want the Ladies to be back in the National League then we have to be regularly reaching national finals. You’ve just got to pick yourself and go and work hard. That’s how you get results.”

Speaking with a Sutton Coldfield official will usually entail a Sixsmith anecdote – and O’Brien is no different.

His involves a routine training session, when the former Great Britain forward asked O’Brien – by no means a hockey specialist but who has a deep passion for reading other coaching cultures such as Dutch football and All Blacks rugby – for his opinion on certain Sutton Coldfield players.

“You’re Jane Sixsmith, and you’re asking me?” countered a surprised O’Brien, who then asked her why she had sought a response. “She said that anyone who has a passion she always asked, even though she may not agree,” recalls O’Brien. “Really, you couldn’t meet a more humble, genuine person.”

It was Sixsmith who encouraged O’Brien to branch out as a volunteer coach on his own, first at a nearby school, Oasis Academy Short Heath in Birmingham, and now this year to another school close to his home.

He may not actively seek public attention, but as the season closes – where he has influenced more kids to take up sport – let’s give him some anyway.

O’Brien, who describes himself as a ‘committed, passionate’ volunteer, used to be a level 2 cricket coach, but two bad experiences at local clubs thrust him into the world of hockey.

He starts work well before dawn, six days a week at Royal Mail. With early finishes, it means he can return home for a swift change of clothes before focusing on his volunteering club work, which stretches beyond the call of duty.

On Tuesday’s, it’s coaching at a local school, followed by junior training in the evening. Wednesday sees training with the men, Friday’s 6-7pm with junior girls, while Saturday likely starts with a 3.10am trip to work, back for lunch and then to oversee a match and video a men’s side. Sunday is morning training, then 1-4pm at Rugby School assisting with Warwickshire’s under-13 county girls. An evening Sunday roast follows. Oh, and Monday? That’s set aside for yoga.

The double workload can be tiring, but not when O’Brien sees kids far from downtrodden when it is raining or a cold front sets in.

“I don’t do this for the ego,” he added. He simply does it for the passion. And the junior section is seemingly responding in kind.

This article has been adapted after first appearing in print in 2019. Jane Sixsmith will be on Question of Sport on March 27 at 7.30pm

The Hockey Paper

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