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News for 30 April 2020

All the news for Thursday 30 April 2020

Postponement gives Indian women's hockey team scope to improve, says midfielder Salima Tete

File image of Salima Tete. Twitter@TheHockeyIndia

Bengaluru: Indian women hockey team's young midfielder Salima Tete feels an extra year gives the side a lot of time to improve its game ahead of the postponed Tokyo Olympics.

The 24-member core probables for the Olympic Games are currently stationed at the SAI Centre where they continue to focus on individual fitness routine and workout in isolation.

"There is a lot of scope to improve our game in the next one year and by focusing on our fitness during the lockdown, we are in shape to re-start training once all this is over," Tete said.

"We are mentally prepared to work hard and face any challenges that come our way in our preparations for the Olympic Games," she added.

The Tokyo Games were pushed back by a year due to the fast-spreading COVID-19 pandemic.

Having debuted for India in early 2017 against Belarus, Tete became a young prodigy who was touted to be the next big thing in Indian hockey.

However, the 19-year-old struggled to impress in her first outing and it was not until last year that she became a regular in the senior squad.

"I lacked confidence when I played for the senior team in 2017. I was scared and that reflected in my game. It was not a memorable debut for me," she admitted.

She led the side in the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018 alongside her deputy Siami Lalremsiami.

"It was at the 3rd Youth Olympic Games where I really stepped up my game. Siami and I would tell ourselves before every match that we have to lead the team from the front so that the rest of the squad would play with confidence. I feel the experience I gained from this multi-discipline event was a turning point."

Tete's performance in Buenos Aires where the team won the silver medal was praised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who applauded her efforts.

Tete, who is from a small hamlet in Simdega district, Jharkhand has since proved her potential in the Indian team, with Chief Coach Sjoerd Marijne often trusting her with an important role in the midfield and in the backline.

"The seniors in the team have really helped me improve my performance. They constantly talk to me and encourage me especially when we play big teams like Australia, Spain or Japan. The year 2019 in specific was extremely good for the women's team and we have been on the right path," said Tete.


The perils of selection uncovered in Inside The Circle: The Podcast

George Pinner and Dan Fox at the 2014 World Cup

Selection is one of the things that makes sport stand out from any other career.

Where else would you spend months and months training to become as good as you can be, only to find out that you haven’t made the final cut?

This is something George Pinner and Dan Fox very candidly open up about in the latest episode of Inside The Circle: The Podcast.

When it goes your way selection is one of the most wonderful things that can happen for an athlete. This is especially the case if you are picked for one of the major events, such as the Olympics or a World Cup.

Recalling hearing he had been chosen to represent England at the 2014 World Cup in The Netherlands, Pinner said: “I remember getting a letter from Sally Munday. You forget that it’s the biggest competition you can play in as an England player – obviously the Olympics is GB.

“We had that letter and when we turned up to that tournament, you’re playing in football stadiums that have been converted into hockey stadiums and you realise the enormous nature of it and you realise how big a World Cup is.

“Because you have the Olympics you can sometimes forget just how big the World Cup is but that event was huge for me.”

While that was Pinner’s first World Cup, it was a second for Fox having been called up to the 2010 tournament in Delhi in unique circumstances.

“I’d only played 14 times for England at the time and I was reserve for the 2010 World Cup,” he recalled.

“The preparation was mixed because there had been a serious terrorist threat on the whole tournament – there had been this will they/won’t they put it on, will they move it etc.

“The team went out to Qatar and trained before going to the tournament while I was at home teaching at the time, doing some part-time work around the hockey. Two days before they flew to India I got a call saying that Matt Daly had broken his foot and that I was next in line if anyone else got injured. So I went to work and told them.

“I remember being sat in the staffroom and saying to someone that until midnight that night I could get the nod and go to India on the first flight. At that very moment the phone rings; it’s Bobby Crutchley saying Simon Mantell had had another bit of rotten luck, been hit on his foot, broken his toe and wouldn’t be able to play in the tournament. So I had to get to Heathrow Airport by 9am the next morning in order to go and play in the tournament.

“With the nature of our sport those sorts of things sometimes happen. It was obviously terrible luck for both of them but from it came an opportunity for me that I wasn’t expecting.”

As well as reflecing on the good times, in the podcast episode both Pinner and Fox look back on some difficult experiences too.

Just a few months after the 2010 World Cup, the latter received the news every hockey player dreads – that they were being dropped from the Great Britain squad.

While he managed to regain his place to go on and play in another World Cup, two Olympic Games and much more, it is a memory that has stuck with Fox ever since.

“If you don’t get selected it’s always a miserable experience,” he explained.

“I remember we went to a Champions Trophy in 2010, won a silver medal on the Sunday, flew home Sunday night and on Tuesday I went on holiday. Then I got an email saying I hadn’t been selected for the Commonwealth Games and that I was no longer part of the Great Britain squad.

“I got this email in a field in the middle of North Wales on holiday with my now-wife and she saw my face drop. It’s never going to be a good message and there’s never going to be a good way of receiving that.”

Having initially struggled to break into the first team with England and Great Britain, Pinner also explained how this has made him even more grateful every time he receives the nod to pull on the international jersey.

“I had four years of not being picked and it doesn’t get any easier,” the 33-year-old said.

“That’s why when you get picked, even when people tell you you’re a certainty for trips or you’re definitely going to get picked, you still sit around waiting for that email no matter who you are.

“I remember speaking to Barry Middleton and he never took one selection for granted; even he was waiting for that call up.”

Make sure to subscribe to Inside The Circle: The Podcast to hear all this and much more:

Great Britain Hockey media release

Ludiali upbeat of African Cup of Nation dream

By Washington Onyango:

Western Jaguar's Ivan Lufiali (right) in action during a past KHU Premier League match against Sailors. [Courtesy]

The 20-year-old represented Africa at the World Youth Olympics in 2018

He is a Bio-systems Engineering student at the University of Nairobi and plays for Western Jaguars in the KHU Premier League.

Ivan Ludiali is a dedicated young hockey player who strives to get the best out of himself every time he suits up to play.

Despite his age, he's only 20, and with only five years’ experience of playing hockey, Ludiali has already made strides in the sport.

He signed for Kakamega-based Western Jaguars Hockey Club, which plays in the Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) Men’s Premier League, immediately after leaving Maseno School in December 2017.

He won a bronze medal with the Kenya national under-17 men’s team that finished third at the Youth Olympic Qualifiers in Algiers, Algeria, in July 2018.

Ludiali then represented Africa at the World Youth Olympics in Argentina, in October the same year.

“Playing for the national team is always a dream for any sportsman or woman. I am privileged to have made it to the team at the age of 18, a feat which am proud off,” he said.

He made his senior national debut last year during the Tokyo Olympics Qualifiers in South Africa, where Kenya was knocked out.

However, Ludiali says he is not ready to give up on representing Kenya at a major international stage saying his eyes are fixed on helping Kenya qualify for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

“Missing the chance of going to the Olympics was a tough one for us especially with the wealth of talent Kenya has in hockey. To be at the Olympic would have been a privilege and therefore giving up is never an option for me when it comes to hockey.”

The 20-year-old youngster started playing hockey while in Form Two at Maseno School in 2015.

Western Jaguar's Ivan Lufiali in action. [Courtesy]

“I was influenced by Ian Keganda, who was a senior player in our school. We also shared a dormitory,”

At that time, Maseno School had lost both the national and East Africa secondary schools titles to Friends School Kamusinga.

There was stiff competition as players chased a place in the Maseno team. This, however, did not deter an amateur Ludiali.

“I really wanted to represent the school so when I was presented with the opportunity of playing hockey, I decided to take up the challenge even though it was my first time,” said the first born in a family of four.

In 2016, Maseno made it to the nationals at Kamusinga but were eliminated at the group stages.

During his final year in 2017, they were again eliminated at the regional games after losing to Kisumu Day in the final.

Nevertheless, Ludiali kept his inner fire burning and signed for Western Jaguars in December the same year, thanking his then high school coach Frankline Odayo for encouraging him to keep working hard.

“Everything was new at Jaguars. The level of competition was different and everyone was expected to perform at a high level. Thanks to head coach Mike Malungu and captain Willis Malesi, I settled in well,” he said.

In 2018, he went for the national under 17 trials at City Park in Nairobi and was lucky enough as he made the team to the Olympic Qualifiers in Algeria, his first outing with Kenya.

“The experience was great. To play in Algeria made me realise that I must work hard and believe in myself, for I could achieve more,” he said.

In the premier league, Ludiali has been an instrumental key midfielder for Jaguars and head coach Malungu believes he has a bright future.

“The boy has a magic touch. He is still young and he will win trophies; if not for Jaguars then for Kenya. All he need is to continue training hard and believing in himself,” Malungu said.

Ludiali, who idols Butali Warriors head coach Zack Aura, said his dream is to help Jaguars qualify for the Africa Cup for Club Championship.

The Standard Digital

My First Match Holding a Whistle: Mary Driscoll

When Mary Driscoll received the call for the possibility of umpiring her first international tournament, she practically dropped the phone and had a 2-year-old on her hip but luckily didn’t drop her. As it happened, an umpire from South America became unavailable for the 2012 Junior Pan American Championships schedule about six weeks away in Guadalajara, Mexico. Therefore, USA Field Hockey was asked if they could supply an up and coming umpire who would be available. On the call, Driscoll was both excited and nervous knowing this was going to be a huge decision in her life.

After taking the time to talk with family and fully understanding that a “yes” would mean two weeks away from home, she took on the challenge. Driscoll also knew that by taking this step it would be a path that would lead to long-term goals and not just a one and done event. Therefore, as a mother of three she also knew that planning for the family while she was away, communication with her young children and leaving her personal training business would be issues to be sorted out before leaving for Mexico.

Usually, preparation for an international tournament starts many months in advance. Driscoll had less than two as the new challenge in her life had been well received and supported by her family.

“The day I fly out to umpire at any [field] hockey tournament, I usually get a ride to the airport by my dad,” said Driscoll. “This has become almost ritualistic on my part, as on the way he gives me confidence that I will be safe in my travels, and that my kids will be taken care of and loved. He also builds confidence in my abilities that I will ‘kick butt at my tournament!’”

Anxious and nervous about this endeavor, Driscoll made sure the family had plenty of food and set ground rules for communication. Knowing her schedule at the tournament and the schedule at home were hours apart, she made it clear that she would not call regularly and would only be able to take calls from home in case of extreme emergency. With her husband, Will, at the helm of the household, things went very well. Meanwhile, Driscoll’s planning and the support of her family allowed her to be focused on the tasks at hand knowing everyone at home was smooth.

Even before blowing the whistle in her first game, Driscoll set her own expectations for her performance. “My expectation into my first match was that I would be calm, collected and in full control of the match,” continued Driscoll. “That was not the case! I felt very nervous during the first five minutes of play, like my heart was going to beat out of my chest. My head was spinning. In those moments I forgot about game flow, advantage and I was just happy to see the foul and call it. What I learned after my first match is that we have to prepare for anything that comes our way: transportation issues, weather issues, heckling from fans or coaches, language barriers and unexpected game outcome. I also realized after my first game how important fitness contributes to seeing the game and ball on the correct lines and in good position. I realized that umpiring at this level was much harder than it looked and I had a lot of work to put in!”

When asked if she was ready, Driscoll was unsure how to respond, nor did she know what that actually meant. The heat in Guadalajara was much different than she was used to and with a language barrier that she had never experienced, she had to adapt quickly and be very instinctive. After this and a few more international tournaments, Driscoll said, “I have learned a lot about how to control my nerves especially in front of people and I am more confident and comfortable when presenting or public speaking which is a great help being a personal trainer.”

As she has grown from this experience and others, Driscoll continues to rise in the umpiring ranks. She is now an International Hockey Federation (FIH) Advanced Umpire Panel with having officiated 48 international matches and also umpired the final of the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, Peru. She is a consistent umpire at the NCAA level and was on the umpire panel for the Division I Final Four this past season. She is well on her way to a long and successful career after her experience of blowing the first whistle.

“I umpire from my gut and try to shut off my brain - see the foul and feel the game,” concluded Driscoll. “Through experience I feel like I continue to grow and enjoy the game more each time!” 

USFHA media release

Young Pilgrim makes progress as 11-year-old hockey umpire

By Richard Bright

An 11-year-old hockey fanatic is widely thought to be the youngest ever in the England to become a Level 1 hockey umpire and he now wants other youngsters to follow suit.

History was made in December when young Tom Pilgrim umpired at the Indoorhockeyuk19 Championships at London’s Copper Box where he was awarded his Indoor Level 1 alongside three other Lincolnshire recruits.

“It was pretty awesome. I met many new faces and learnt so much,” the confident young official and player said. “It was quite scary as I had to learn the indoor rules as I’d never umpired indoor.”

The Copper Box Championships saw Tom meet one of hockey’s top umpires, Lee Barron, in surprising circumstances. His day in London was given a massive lift when he was about to umpire one match before his co-official suddenly stepped out of play and Barron took his place to surprise Tom. “That was a bit of a shocker,” joked Tom.

England Hockey rules state the minimum age to receive Level 1 is 14 but thanks to an initiative at East Young Umpire Pathway, run by Will Davey, opportunities have arisen to give tasters for younger budding officials.

So far, Tom, who started playing aged four, has umpired at three primary school events and four mini league tournaments in Lincolnshire, as well as his biggest date yet at the indoorhockeyuk tournament at Christmas.

He has also doubled up at the County-wide mini leagues, starring for Spalding, where he plays as a forward, at under-13 while umpiring the under-11 matches.

“It helps that you know the rules when you then play,” said Tom. “You can prevent being caught out by the rules. It also makes the game easier and it would really help the game if there were more umpires. It improves your insight and everyone should take it up!”

Tom is part of a hockey-playing family who all play at Spalding HC, with dad Matt and his mum, Sally, also playing and umpiring, while sister Jessica also plays at the club.

Matt said: “We’ve always played hockey and in the last year he has picked up a whistle and gone on from there. He’s now got the bug.”

The Spalding Grammar School pupil loves to watch Great Britain play, citing Sam Ward and former star Barry Middleton as his favourite players. When he does so, he admits to watching the players and “not focusing too much” on the umpires.

We first featured Tom in our February print issue

Tom has yet to hand out a card in his short career and now hopes to bag enough experience over the next few years before he takes his Level 1 outdoors when he turns 14.

In January, Tom was handed the Lincs young umpire of the month award as he became the first winner of the inaugural prize.

Barron, pictured above, said of Tom’s abilities: “He was very keen to learn and certainly wasn’t afraid to ask a question or two! If one hand was going up to answer a question it would always be Tom.

He is so enthusiastic and passionate about the game he just wants to do well. After the end of the first day we nicknamed him ‘SpongeBob’. One he never shut up and two he just wanted to absorb everything. If he keeps going at the rate he is, he could have a very good future in the game.”

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

The Hockey Paper

Annabel Pennefather passes away

The International Hockey Federation is saddened to learn that former FIH Vice President Annabel Pennefather (née Dillon), a hugely influential and greatly admired member of the Singaporean, Asian and International hockey family, has passed away.

Annabel held various positions during a life dedicated to our sport, being President of the Singapore Hockey Federation between 2004 and 2012, during which time she brought the Men’s Junior Hockey World Cup to Singapore in 2009. In 2006 she became the first woman ever to be elected Vice President of the Singapore National Olympic Council, as well as being a Vice President of the Asian Hockey Federation.

In her playing days, Annabel captained the Singapore women’s national team before going on to become a respected official, being the Technical Delegate of the women’s hockey competition at the Olympic Games Sydney 2000. In addition to being an FIH Vice President, she held numerous other positions with FIH down the years, including chairing the FIH Umpiring Committee and, most recently, being the President of the FIH Judicial Commission.

“It is a huge shock for everyone that Annabel has passed away”, said FIH President Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra. “She was held in highest regard by everyone who knew her, and her influence on the sport thanks to decades of work with the Singapore Hockey Federation, Asian Hockey Federation and the FIH cannot be overstated. She was a dynamic operator and a true giant of our game who will be sorely missed by all. On behalf of the FIH and entire hockey family, I offer my deepest condolences to Annabel’s family at this terrible time.”

FIH site

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