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News for 22 April 2020

All the news for Wednesday 22 April 2020

England & Great Britain Hockey's partnership with Investec to come to an end

Danson and Macleod Celebrate Euro 2015 Gold

England and Great Britain Hockey’s nine-year relationship with Investec comes to an end in August 2020, with the ending of the sponsorship contract, and we would like to sincerely thank Investec for its contribution to our sport.

Investec’s relationship with hockey has coincided with a hugely positive decade for the women’s game. Our senior teams have delivered significant on-field success, including England’s victory on home soil at the 2015 European Championship and, of course, Great Britain’s momentous Rio gold medal triumph in 2016, which inspired the nation. The game has reached new audiences with the development of the Investec London Cup and the staging of major global events, notably the 2018 Women’s Hockey World Cup, one of the biggest women’s sports events ever staged in Britain. This success and exposure has been translated into a healthy increase in women and girls playing hockey, the latter having grown by 90% since 2012, and significant increases in hockey’s fan-base with record crowds watching the FIH Hockey Pro League at The Twickenham Stoop in June 2019.

Investec’s commitment to women’s hockey has helped raise the profile of our athletes, elevated the experience at our events and enabled the sport to reach new audiences.  When the relationship began in 2011, it was pioneering and far-sighted to enter into a partnership with a women’s sport. This creativity, vision and courage has been rewarded and, a decade later and with progress to make, women’s sport is in a very different place in the national consciousness and mind-set of sponsors.

Jennifer Whiteford, Head of Brand at Investec, said: “It has been a huge honour for Investec to be involved with such an incredible group of women at the elite level who are inspiring the next generation of hockey stars. The game and players have allowed us to deepen our relationships with our audiences and strengthened our brand.”

Jon Cockcroft, Commercial Director of England Hockey, added: “We will look back on our relationship with great pride. Across all metrics the partnership has delivered for both Investec and hockey, and we have enjoyed so many great moments on and off the pitch. As we navigate through these difficult times, the importance of sport in terms of personal identity and social cohesion has been striking. We look forward to hockey resuming, the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and exploring future sponsorship opportunities with like-minded brands.”    

Great Britain and England Hockey now begins its search for a successor to Investec. We understand this is an uncertain time for some businesses but, with the Tokyo Olympics delayed by a year and hockey thriving at all levels, there is much about which to be excited.

Hockey holds a unique position as the most equal gender team sport, played by all ages and across the world’s major markets. We are looking for new partners who embody our strong values of spirit and togetherness and wish to tell their story through the medium of a leading Olympic team sport.

England Hockey Board Media release

Investec ends sponsorship with England Hockey ahead of Tokyo Olympics

By The Hockey Paper

England men lift the 2014 Investec London Cup - credit Ady Kerry.. Investec and Now: Pensions have backed hockey in recent years

English hockey was dealt a blow on Tuesday when Investec, its principal partner of the women’s game, ended its sponsorship less than a year out from the Tokyo Olympics.

Investec had inked two multiple year deals with England and GB Hockey – the first being a six-figure sum – since coming on board in 2011.

But the investment bank will end its agreement in August, a natural conclusion with the timeframe signalling what would have been the end of the Olympic cycle.

England Hockey said in a statement that it is currently searching for ‘new partners’ to cover the interntional, domestic and grass roots game.

But, as it stands in the current climate, the English game will start the new season without a main backer across the men’s and women’s game.

It is understood that Maddie Hinch’s partnership as a UK ambassador will end, although it is hoped that Investec will still partner with fellow ambassador Alex Danson.

Investec’s partnership extension was a huge boost for the national governing body, which was rubber stamped before Team GB’s gold at the Rio Olympics.

The asset management group backed the senior women’s team, the Women’s Premier Division, as well as school championships.

Exposure was certainly evident towards GB’s senior athletes, but whether Investec found value outside of the elite programme is another question, with poor coverage of the domestic game and low attendance levels at Lee Valley finals for League Play-Offs.

England Hockey said: “We understand this is an uncertain time for some businesses but, with the Tokyo Olympics delayed by a year and hockey thriving at all levels, there is much about which to be excited.”

Tuesday’s news continued Investec’s belt-tightening in sports sponsorship. In 2017, the investment back ended its partnership English cricket’s home Tests six years into a 10-year deal.

Investec partnered with The Hockey Paper on several occasions in recent years, latterly with its coverage celebrating 30 years of the women’s national league.

Help keep independent journalism alive in these uncertain times. Ahead of the new season, please subscribe in print or in digital format.

The Hockey Paper

Hockey Wales Award winners announced online

Rebecca Daniels winner of the Anne Ellis Award for Outstanding Contribution to Hockey

This week saw the announcement of the winners of the Hockey Family Celebration Awards.

Under ‘normal’ circumstances here at Hockey Wales we would have gone into ultra-creative mode and ensured a hefty dose of pomp and ceremony to celebrate our incredibly worthy winners.

When planning the awards back in January, there was very little talk of coronavirus and not an inkling of the situation we find ourselves in with no hockey!! We had so much planned to surprise our winners, but this wasn’t to be.

Instead, we used what we could to create a level of anticipation, alongside a huge amount of credit for the wonderful work of all the nominees, and ultimately our worthy award winners.

Hannah Bevan, Head of Development, has worked on the management of the Awards over these past few months,

“We had so many wonderful nominations this year, the judging panel had a really hard job selecting the winners.

“The vast array of entries allowed us to look at different ways we could announce the winners, but with the unprecedented circumstances we find ourselves in, we had to utilise the social media platforms as much as possible.

“As soon as we are out of lockdown there will be a celebration for all our winners, and a chance for us to say a big thank you to all of them. They do such wonderful work for the Hockey Family of Wales and truly deserve a special celebration.”

Anne Ellis Award for Outstanding Contribution to Hockey:

One of the most prestigious honours in Welsh hockey is the Anne Ellis Award for Outstanding Contribution to Hockey.

The winner of the award is selected by Anne, to recognise an individual that brings so much to the sport and contributes tirelessly to the Welsh Hockey Family.

This year’s winner Rebecca (Becca) Daniels truly embodies everything this award stands for.

Her love of hockey started at Ysgol Glan-y-mor School in Llanelli, she then took this passion with her wherever she went, including her next educational stop at Coleg Sir Gar.

There was no hockey team when Becca arrived but, being the character she is, she was able to enthuse her fellow students to play. She became the first captain of the college team and under her leadership, they progressed to the third round of the British Colleges Cup – a huge achievement, particularly given where they had started.

Becca was one of the first people to sign up to be a coach at a local primary school as part of the Dragon Sport (Coach Education) initiative, she then volunteered, and played with Llanelli Hockey Club.

Following her role as a Hockey Ambassador in Llanelli, Becca was soon “spotted” and invited to be a Welsh Hockey Young Ambassador. This resulted in her becoming a Youth Leader at a hockey camp in Holland where she looked after the Welsh team – Becca was in control, so staff put their feet up and had a holiday!

Coinciding with these many opportunities, in 2008 Becca was one of 6 Young Hockey Leader Finalists invited to make a hockey promotional presentation, in Victoria (Canada) to an International Jury including FIH and FHC Executive Board Members and Staff.

Following her time at Coleg Sir Gar, Becca travelled east to UWIC to study. Ever since, she has remained in Cardiff and now teaches PE at Fitzalan High School (Cardiff), alongside a vast amount of hockey roles.

Her club hockey includes player, coach and umpire as a member of Whitchurch Saints Hockey Club. Manager of Cardiff & Met’s National League team, keeping the squad (and management team) in order.

Her International credits include the role of Senior Women’s Performance Manager and prior to this she was the NAG Girls Manager.

Becca is also a Trustee of Friends of Welsh Hockey, where she finds herself responsible for the website and social media.

As well as her hockey credentials, Becca also has friends in high places – she has met with Prince Charles and Barack Obama, visited 10 Downing Street, carried the Olympic torch in Llanelli in 2012 and met the Queen on behalf of the hockey volunteers at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014.

On receiving news of her accolade Becca told Hockey Wales how much it meant to her,

"It is a huge honour to receive the prestigious Anne Ellis 'Outstanding Contribution to Hockey' Award.

“At the age of 17, a conversation in the Coleg Sir Gar changing room between my wonderful coach Rae Ellis and I, changed my sporting life. I will be forever grateful to my role model Rae for believing in me and nominating me to be a youth activator.

“I feel very proud to be part of such an amazing hockey family. Thank you to every player, teammate, support staff and parent I have been involved with on this wonderful journey, in the sport I love. I feel completely overwhelmed.

“Finally, to Anne, an inspiration in our game, words cannot express how much this means to me. Thank you very much."

A worthy winner of the Anne Ellis Award, presented in recognition of her outstanding contribution to hockey in Wales.


2019/20 Award Winners:

Club Coach of the Year: AJ Pingram
Club of the Year: Rhondda Ladies Hockey Club
Community Umpire/Official of the Year: Jim Marchant
Performance Umpire/Official of the Year: Chris Brewer
Contribution to Masters Hockey: Jeff Robinson
Teacher/Lecturer of the Year: Gwennan Harries
Team of the Year: Carmarthen Athletic Men's Hockey Team
Volunteer of the year: Margaret Jones
Young Ambassador of the Year: Ffion Ross
Young Coach of the Year: Lowri Seer
Young Umpire of the Year: Ffion Horrell
Youth Club/Section of the Year: Gwent Girls Youth
Male Junior Performance Player: Ben Wall
Female Junior Performance Player: Nell Butler
Male Senior Performance Player(s): Jacob Draper & Rupert Shipperley
Female Senior Performance Player: Eloise Laity
Performance Coach of the Year: Zak Jones
Anne Ellis - Outstanding Contribution to Hockey: Rebecca Daniels

Hockey Wales media release

There is still a lot to achieve, says Netherlands captain Billy Bakker

The memory of what happened on the 9th August 2012 is something that continues to burn brightly inside the mind of Billy Bakker.

It was semi-finals day at the London 2012 Olympic Games, and the Netherlands faced their biggest challenge of the competition so far: a clash against in-form host nation Great Britain in front of 15,000 screaming fans at the Riverbank Arena. With both teams going through their respective pools unbeaten – GB finished second in Pool A behind Australia; the Netherlands won all five of their matches to top Pool B – the predictions ahead of the semi-final were split down the middle. Would it be the inspired home favourites, or the dazzling Dutch who would triumph? Despite the divided opinions amongst the media and the fans, there was pretty much universal agreement that the match would be a close-run thing. How wrong we were.

In what was the biggest Olympic semi-final winning margin since Dhyan Chand’s India crushed France 10-0 at the Berlin 1936 Games, the Netherlands produced a breath-taking display of attacking hockey to record a stunning 9-2 victory. Billy Bakker was unquestionably the star of the show, with the 23-year-old attacker scoring a majestic hat-trick as his skills, pace, power and vision made him simply too hot to handle throughout the contest. Despite the Dutch suffering heartbreak in the final against eventual gold medallists Germany, Bakker’s semi-final display against Great Britain was seen by many as the day he truly announced himself as a superstar of the sport.  

In the eight years following London 2012, Billy Bakker has won two European titles (2015, 2017), two World Cup silver medals (2014, 2018) as well as being twice nominated for the FIH Hockey Stars Player of the Year Award (2017, 2018). Now playing at the heart of the Dutch midfield, Bakker has captained the team since 2018 and has amassed 217 international appearances, scoring 61 goals.

Speaking to FIH from his home gym during the COVID-19 lockdown, Billy Bakker tells us about his career to date, personal highlights and much more.

Hi Billy - thank you for talking to us. What have you been doing to stay active and healthy during the ongoing COVID-19 global health crisis?

Billy Bakker: “It is a difficult situation, of course. In this period nobody is able to go outside, especially not to go on the pitch. I’ve got my own gym, and I’m doing some work in here every day just to make sure that I’m staying in basic condition by doing some strength exercises. We’ve got some more time, because normally we are spending a lot of time playing away games with the FIH Pro League, so family time is an advantage because I can spend some more time with my son, which helps me keep everything in balance during this period.”

Since making your Netherlands debut in 2009, you have experienced some incredible moments during your career. What have been the highlights of your time with the Oranje, and what is still left to achieve?

Billy Bakker: “I think the highlights are the two European Cup [wins], and also the semi-final of the Olympics in London [2012]. There’s still a lot to achieve, because we are not number one in the world or World Cup winners. An Olympic title or a World Cup title would still be interesting. We are now focusing on the Olympics in 2021, so that is still something definitely to achieve.”

Who or what first influenced you to pick up a stick and play hockey?

Billy Bakker: “My brother used to play hockey, so that was one of the reasons I started to play because [as a] little kid I was always watching the games of my brother, so yeah, that’s the reason I started to play hockey.”

Who has been the biggest influence on your career and why?

Billy Bakker: “That is a good question! I think my team-mates, not a specific person. During my time I’ve always had really good team-mates, with the national team but also my club team, so those have been the biggest influences for me, playing this game.”

If there was one sentence to sum up your playing style or attitude on the pitch, what would it be?

Billy Bakker: “I think I’m always wanting to play forward. I’ve always had the [desire] to play forward, which is something which centres me a bit, yes.”

What moment on the pitch are you most proud of and why?

Billy Bakker: “There are a few I’m proud of, which is similar to the second question, about what I have achieved with the team. The European Cup titles and also the Olympic Games semi-finals, but also competing at the Olympic Games. Those are things that are still in my memory.”

What would be the best advice you could give to aspiring young hockey players?

Billy Bakker: “I think it is important that you don’t push yourself too hard. Just make sure that you have enough pleasure in the game, because if you have enough pleasure, you will probably have the commitment and internal motivation to train every day. So, make sure you have the pleasure, and just train enough to show you can be a good hockey player.”

Profile*: Billy Bakker – Netherlands
Position: Midfielder
Shirt number: 8
Age: 31
International appearances: 217
International goals: 61
Place of birth: Amstelveen, Amsterdam (NED)
Club: Amsterdam H&BC (NED)

You can follow Billy Bakker on Instagram using the billybakker8 handle.

* Information correct as of 21 April 2020.

FIH site

Using time to introspect on our game: women’s hockey team midfielder Sushila Chanu

Speaking of their daily schedule, the 28-year-old said the focus is on maintaining physical fitness.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

Members of the Indian women’s hockey team are using the forced break to introspect on their own game and identify areas that require improvement, said midfielder Sushila Chanu.

The 24-member core probables for the Olympic Games are currently stationed at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Centre in Bengaluru where they continue to focus on individual fitness routines and working out in isolation.

“Though hockey training is suspended, we watch a lot of our previous match videos as well as opponent teams videos to analyse their game,” said Chanu, who led the Indian side at the Rio Olympics four years ago. “We use a software to do this and I feel this is the best time to introspect on our own game to understand which areas need improvement.”

Leaving behind the disappointment of the Tokyo Games being postponed to 2021, the players hope they can carry forward the momentum they have built in the past one year.

“We collectively felt that this was best case scenario for us as we have been improving steadily over the past two years and we believe we can build on this rhythm in the coming months,” Chanu said.

Speaking of their daily schedule, the 28-year-old said the focus is on maintaining physical fitness.

“Our scientific advisor, Wayne Lombard, has given us specific workout charts which we need to follow.

“The focus right now is to maintain our fitness levels, and workouts vary from individual distance running to bodyweight training, workouts using stretch cords and some weights we have available in our rooms.”

Last week, the Indian women’s hockey team launched a fun fitness challenge to raise funds for migrant labourers whose families have been affected by the nationwide lockdown to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

In four days, the team has raised more than ₹7 lakh and crowdfunding will continue till May 3 when the lockdown is scheduled to end.

“It is very encouraging to see so many people support the Indian women’s hockey team’s goal of feeding 1,000 people who have been affected by the lockdown due to Covid-19 pandemic,” Chanu said. “We have received so much love and support from the people of this country towards our quest for success in hockey and the team felt this was the time to step up and do something for the people.”

Chanu had challenged people, including former teammates Poonam Rani and Lily Chanu Mayengbam, to do 20 push-ups and 20 dips.

In a subsequent team challenge to do the V-sit for two minutes, Chanu challenged state mates from the Indian men’s hockey team Kothajit Singh and Chinglensana Singh.

She also challenged boxer Sarita Devi to take up the challenge and donate ₹100 towards crowdfunding.

“We are delighted that people are not just donating for the cause but they are also participating in the fitness challenge.

“It is very important to remain physically active and the workouts we have designed throughout this challenge are not very difficult and can be done indoors,” she said.


An Agonizing 'Pop': My Journey Through Injury

By Ali Campbell, U.S. Women's National Team Defender

Not again. Not again.

As I laid on that high school field turf on our first game of my senior season. So many thoughts, feelings, emotions, swirled through my mind. How could this happen again? I did everything I can do to make this not happen again. How is this going to affect my college career? Will I even be able to play again?

Tearing an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and going through full reconstruction and coming back is a feat in itself. Tearing the other ACL and going through another full reconstruction and coming back while entering a collegiate career is normally unheard of. I am proud to say that I have defied those odds and would like to share a shortened version of my experience.

Spring of my freshman high school year, I tore my ACL in what would think was a normal activity. I was goofing around with a friend, she nudged me. I fell sideways and heard a crack in my knee. Instant pain occurred, but as a person who has a body that “cracks” a lot, I felt I just had a sore area that sometimes would come with cracking a finger. A few days went by, I received treatment for a sore knee and kept playing lacrosse. I was able to still pivot, change direction, run, etc. - which is not normal for an ACL injury. I would occasionally be running or cutting and fall, but I would just get right back up. It wasn’t until I started having consistent achiness that we decided as a family to go and get checked out by an orthopedic doctor. I got an magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) then had my follow-up.

He saw the state of my knee, manipulated the stability test and just kept scratching his head. I had a habit of swinging and shaking my legs when I am nervous or feeling anxious. As he was beginning to talk about what he saw in the MRI he stopped, and I’ll never forget him saying, “I just don’t get it, you aren’t supposed to be able to do that.” Naturally I was confused, but as he then explained that my ACL was completely gone, frayed, vanished from any connection. Usually, when a knee goes through that much trauma, I probably shouldn’t even have been able to run or walk for that matter. Long story short - I was confused, upset, mad, angry, sad, happy - all the emotions. We knew we had the best doctor in the world taking care of me but I knew the journey was only just starting.

I recovered fully from a complete left knee ACL reconstruction. That process was more than emotionally or physically draining. There were highs and lows. Not to mention at that time, recruiting was becoming a huge part of my field hockey reality because I wanted to get the opportunity to play in college. That is also what kept me driven. Days and days of towel pulls and heels slides for range of motion; it was so hard to do something so simple. Single leg heel taps off a box were my nemesis. Just when you started to make some progress, they upped the rehab never letting me be comfortable or allowing me to become complacent. The weights would be added, then added some more. The agilities got more complex. Do not even get me started on learning to walk - then even think about learning to jog again! Through all the aches and pains of a grueling rehab, I made sure I spoke through my emotions with my parents, and my physical therapists, and they all helped me to keep my end goal in mind of coming back better than ever.

Fast forward two and a half years and I am running our warm-up lap around that very same high school field turf, I was ready to have a killer senior year before I graduated early to grey shirt in college. The game began and we were off. About halfway through the first half, I pulled right to eliminate a defender and felt a snap, crackle and pop in my right knee. I immediately recognized that sound, fell and screamed out of frustration. The coach and training staff came out and helped me off the field. I was beside myself. The trainer did the physical manipulation and told me she thought it was just a sprain. I told her it didn’t feel right, but she told me I could continue to play if I wanted. Hello, I am a competitor. I’m going check myself back in the game. So, I go back in, fly on a penalty corner (which some laugh at me too) and I intercept the shot, pull right and…. well I think we know where this ends.

This time around, it was way different. I was way less mobile, on crutches and swollen right away. Morale and mentality: goodbye, gone. After another complete ACL reconstruction, now on my right knee, I felt a weird sense of not having the time to get back. Remember when I mentioned grey shirting in college? Yeah … I wanted to be back and stronger than strong so that I could start off on the right foot. The timeline for that? Not the normal for an ACL recovery. I started doing exercises on my own too early, pushing the margin too far. Thinking that if I was able to hit milestones earlier, I would be right back on track. After a checkup feeling like hot-stuff showing my doctor, he told me to knock it off. He said, “You realize you can reinjure yourself, right? You thinking you know the way just because this is your second go around isn’t going to help you get back faster, its actually going to inhibit and stunt the recovery.”

Defeated. I felt defeated. This is the part where I didn’t always tell my parents and doctor everything. I was depressed. I felt so low that I didn’t know how I was going to recover.

You see, I am not good with change. When I felt like I had the control of the situation by starting things up quicker and hitting milestones sooner, I felt like I was on cloud nine, but the reality of patience hit me square between the eyes. I was still going to go to college but, it was just going to look different than I wanted. I haven’t really told many people I experienced an emotional depression during this time. I was ashamed of how I allowed myself to get so low, rather than feeling ready to conquer this rehabilitation again. It felt alien to me: not having the positive vibe and emotional clarity to attack this thing. But you know what, here I am today. Stronger than ever. Ready to conquer even this bowl of popcorn that sits in front of me.

DO I have the answers? If I did, I would be a millionaire. But here are a few points that I have prioritized over the years. Sure, I’ve talked about ACL specific injury, but this advice can reach a lot of athletes who face any injury.

  • Get back when you get back.
  • Trust your process. NO matter how long or short it may be. Stay the course. Set milestones in the general time frame with your doctor/therapist’s advice.
  • Listen to your body. Rest when you need to rest, mind included.
  • You are not perfect, it is okay to feel really good one day, and not so much the next. Be kind to yourself and give yourself some grace when you need it.
  • Change is okay.
  • Planned or unplanned, change can be tricky. Look at it as a challenge. We are competitors. We can do great things, remember that.

I want to step aside and reflect to you as an athlete. Injury stinks. Plain and simple. But you know what. It is going to be okay. It is okay to feel your feelings. It is okay to not be okay. It is hard work, but you know what? YOU GOT THIS.

USFHA media release

National Volunteer Week – Feature Volunteer Diane Huneault

By Joshua Rey

Field Hockey Canada is celebrating National Volunteer Week from April 19-25. This week, we will feature a few volunteers from across the country. Thank you for the many nominations from your communities. We are thrilled to have such a terrific cast of volunteers and staff from coast-to-coast. Please enjoy our National Volunteer Week series!

Diane Huneault Q and A

Today’s featured volunteer is Diane Huneault of Burlington, Ontario. Diane is an umpire, manager, community supporter and tournament organizer. She is a dedicated volunteer with the Halton Field Hockey Club as well as Field Hockey Ontario.

Field Hockey Canada: How did you get into Field Hockey? Walk us through your introduction to the sport? Who or what introduced you and when?

Diane Huneault: When I was about 12, and a noted bookworm, I was given a novel that opened with the main character in the midst of her British private school ‘hockey’ game. Although I’d never heard of field hockey, I think somehow I must have identified with that character and her love of participating and giving your best effort regardless of whether winning or losing. It stayed with me. Organized sports were not a part of my growing up, but I loved getting on skates on frozen ice patches in our farm field and playing with homemade pucks and hockey sticks with my brothers and sister. My next exposure to field hockey came in my first year of university – I saw the game being played, even tried a practice or two, but my athletic abilities didn’t match up with what was required. But I was still interested. After graduation I moved for a job to the area where I now live. I was ecstatic to find a women’s club in my city, and went off to check it out. Within 3 or 4 years I learned the game well enough to want to take umpire and coaching courses to be able to contribute in those ways.

FHC: In your eyes, why field hockey? What makes this sport so special?

DH: There’s something about it that grabs, and I’ve seen school girls who’ve loved the game even when playing conditions were horrendous (long grass, muddy patches, etc), so I’m certain the game has an attraction for many more than just me. We are blessed to no longer have to play on grass, so it’s so much easier to sell the sport to a larger audience.

FHC: What role does volunteering play in your life?

DH: Growing up, in my family volunteering was just a fact of life – my parents always were involved in the community. It was part of the social fabric. I think it is the same for me. Although I have gained a lot from my experiences, it’s more about being a part of, and contributing to, the community.

FHC: What motivates you to volunteer?

DH: My involvement has brought a lot of joy to my life, introduced me to a lot of friends, helped me to develop into the person I am now.  I especially like the grass roots sport – everyone needs to be physically active and I like to grow the opportunities so more people can experience the joy of participating, no matter what their level of athletic ability, real or perceived.

Field Hockey Canada media release

Anil adept with gun, hockey stick

By Jugjet Singh

Datuk Seri Anil Jeet Singh

AN uncle, his nephew and his grand nephew — coming from three generations -have been keeping hockey ticking along nicely in Sabah.

Ajaib Singh was a long-time former Sabah Hockey Association secretary, and he passed the baton to his nephew, Aftar Singh, who is the current secretary.

Ajaib’s grand nephew, Datuk Seri Anil Jeet Singh, aimed for the Sabah HA presidency, and got it, unopposed.

“I was more interested to serve football and was quietly doing my work at the district level to help Sabah FA,” said Anil Jeet.

“That was until my uncle (Aftar) asked me to switch to hockey instead. I played the sport at school level, and after a few meetings with Sabah HA affiliates, I decided to stand for elections and won unopposed.

“After that, I stood for the MHC (Malaysian Hockey Confederation) vice president's post and have just started development work, but Covid-19 stopped everything, including my work to get more artificial pitches across the sea,” added Anil Jeet.

For one, Sabah HA had wanted to field four teams (two boys’ and two girls’) in the national Junior Hockey League (JHL) which would have cost them at least RM80,000 in flight and accommodation to participate.

“The cash was ready and so were the teams, but travel restrictions, as well as MCO (Movement Control Order), have hampered our plans to expose more youth from Sabah in the JHL.

“There is no other way for Sabahans to try and break into the national juniors but to compete here (Kuala Lumpur). That is why we decided to field four teams in the JHL.

“Sabah HA also have plans to hold indoors as well as outdoors international tournaments and were working on having more artificial pitches around our Likas Sports Complex, but everything had to be shelved for the moment. Hopefully Covid-19 will be beaten (with a vaccine) soon,” said Anil Jeet.

The plantation owner has another hobby which he loves as much as hockey — shooting wild boars.

“The MCO has stopped that activity as well! I have a gun and a shotgun licence to hunt at my plantation. Wild boars, when they grow in numbers, can become pests and need to be controlled,” said Anil Jeet.

While waiting for the MCO to pass, and the wild boar hunting season to come, Anil Jeet, who is also the MHC competitions committee chairman, is planning for a revamp of the national body’s sporting calendar due to Covid-19.

New Straits Times

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