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News for 21 May 2020

All the news for Thursday 21 May 2020

International hockey can resume only after COVID vaccine is developed: FIH

The FIH believes global competition will be possible only during the last stage of the process, the timeline of which cannot be set.

International hockey will be played only after a vaccine is developed to cure the deadly coronavirus, the FIH has announced, as the world governing body revealed a five-stage process devised for resumption of the game at different levels.

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) believes global competition among its member countries will be possible only during the last stage of the process, the timeline of which cannot be set.

“These are very early days when it comes to a return to action but, within its guidance FIH has produced a five stage process showing the route back to something resembling normality. This starts, as has been seen in the Netherlands and Belgium, with a return to carefully managed training, still with social distancing measures in place,” the FIH said in a statement.

“The next stage will be a resumption of regional competition, followed by local travel between neighbouring nations. Trans-Continental competition will follow and, finally, once a vaccine is in place, it is hoped there will be a return to normal competition.”

“There is no time scale for these stages to be reached and it will vary from country to country.”

FIH said when competition resumes, organisers will need to be hugely conscious of safety measures that need to be implemented, in order to keep the workforce and fans safe.

The document will help and support Continental Federations, National Associations and clubs in their efforts to make a headway towards resuming some training activities.

“The guidelines, which are aligned to those issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO), cover the entire hockey workforce — athletes, coaches, officials, staff, administrators and volunteers. Along with a risk assessment chart to which all hockey organisations are advised to adhere, there are also guidelines for organisers of international events once there is a return to international competition,” the FIH said.

Just like other sports, hockey has come to a standstill because of the global pandemic, forcing the FIH to extend the second season of the FIH Hockey Pro League, which involves considerable international travel for competing nations, through to June 2021.

“Hockey, as a team sport, with contact, is seen as a higher risk activity and so is subject to higher levels of control and restriction.”

The Health and Safety guidelines of the FIH also includes a risk assessment — produced by Dr Sean Carmody, a doctor of sports medicine at Manchester Metropolitan University.

“Prior to resuming any activity, all hockey organisations should carry out an assessment based on Carmody’s risk assessment chart,” the world body advised.


Christopher shows clinical goal scoring precision

Christopher Rühr might strike fear into the heart of defenders as he runs at them, intent on finding a way to goal. But at his core he is a man to whom family and teammates mean everything and every goal he scores is dedicated to the memory of his late father.

An FIH Rising Star in 2013 and 2015, among his triumphs, Rühr has an Olympic bronze medal from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, a gold medal from the 2014 Champions Trophy and a gold medal from the 2013 Junior World Cup. He was also part of Germany’s Indoor World Cup team that took silver in Berlin in 2018, winning Player of the Tournament in the process.

Rühr made his senior debut in 2012 at the Champions Trophy in Melbourne Australia where he scored three goals. Since then, Ruhr has represented his country more than 140 times and has been leading goal scorer at no fewer than four major tournaments. When the FIH Pro League came to a necessary halt in February due to the Covid-19 restrictions, Germany had played two games and Rühr had scored three goals.

The word clinical takes on a double meaning in reference to the 26-year-old. Rühr’s prolific goal-scoring demonstrates all the dedication and precision of a world class striker but away from the pitch he is following in his father’s footsteps by training to become a doctor – a career where his determination and concentration will be an undoubted asset.

For this interview, Rühr took some precious time away from his medical studies to talk to us about the influences in his life, his proudest moments on the pitch and just how much his teammates mean to him.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career?

Christopher Rühr: Definitely my whole family, especially my late dad, who I dedicate all the goals I score to. My sisters, brother and mother always support me in all that I do. You also need a good coach and mentor, which I have in Andre Henning. He has supported me from a young age, obviously in hockey technical stuff but also mental stuff where I probably made my biggest development. That was probably the biggest part of my hockey.

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

Christopher Rühr: Tough question! I would say my attitude is determined, very competitive and probably a little cheeky at some points. When it comes to playing style I try to eliminate my opponents with high speed, skills and I think 3D skills at high speed are also part of my skill-set. That would probably sum up my playing style.

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

Christopher Rühr: I am obviously proud of every goal I score, especially when it’s a good one but the proudest moments are always winning trophies and celebrating with your teammates – that is just the best feeling in the world. The best moment was definitely the bronze medal at the Rio Olympics because the Olympics are the biggest sports tournament in the world and winning a medal at that tournament is something that is really unique and I am very proud of that. It was great fun celebrating that medal with my teammates and we are still always talking about how great it was.

It has been four years since Rio 2016, how have you changed as a player in that time?

Christopher Rühr: I guess my role in the team has changed a little bit. I am not the ‘young guy’ anymore. So that has changed. My playing style has changed in that I am probably more thoughtful on what I do. Consideration of when to go one-one-one, or one-on-two is probably healthier than back then. I always wanted to attack and go, no matter what happened afterwards, so that has changed definitely.

What part of returning to playing after this enforced break are you most looking forward to?

Christopher Rühr: Definitely the fun part. Training with my teammates, laughing at training sessions, mucking around. Besides the fact that I love the game and love playing, doing exercises and playing games is the fun part. Meeting the boys and having laughs with them is the thing I am missing the most.

Profile*: Christopher Rühr - Germany
Position: Striker
Shirt number: 17
Age: 26
International appearances: 141
Place of birth: Dusseldorf (GER)
Club: Rot Weiss Köln

You can follow Christopher Rühr on Instagram and Twitter
FIH site

Australian hockey captain Kenny puts retirement on hold to compete at Tokyo 2020

By Michael Houston

Jodie Kenny will now retire in 2021 ©Getty Images

Australia's women's hockey co-captain Jodie Kenny has said she will delay her retirement until 2021 so she can compete at the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Kenny, who is a two-time Olympian with the Hockeyroos, had initially planned to retire in August after the Games, but will now wait another year.

It follows Tokyo 2020 becoming the first Games in Olympic history to be postponed, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The Olympics will now start on July 23, 2021, and end on August 8.

Speaking to 7 News, Kenny said: "At first, hearing the news, I was quite emotional.

"Obviously I invested a lot into preparing for an Olympic Games, but you could see it coming.

"All you had to do was turn on the TV, and you could see how it was escalating, and you could see why they made the decision.

"I could definitely see the bigger picture, but it was still an emotional time to have those goalposts move on you after investing so much effort and time into training."

Kenny said that any Games without fans would be unusual, but she would still be grateful to be able to compete if this was the scenario.

She added: "It would definitely be very different to my two other Olympic campaigns.

"But to be honest, we would be so grateful to be out on the pitch and have the opportunity to compete in Tokyo 2020, even if it is in 2021.

"I think that's what's making these times so difficult – it's that there is so much uncertainty.

"We don't know when we can get on the pitch, we don't know what the travel restrictions will be like in the lead-up for preparation.

"Every country is at different phases of this virus, we just have to wait and see and prepare as best we can within Australia and with what access and facilities we have here.

"Every country has the same difficulties and restrictions, so we are making the most of what we can in our preparation.

"We have moved into more structured training where they provide us with gym programmes and running programmes.

"We still can't get out on the pitch and we're itching to do that, but we're waiting until it is safe."

Kenny and fellow co-captain Emily Chalker are two of the highest-capped players in Australian hockey, with 233 and 243 appearances respectively.

Australia will be looking for their first Olympic medal in women's hockey at the Games since they won at home at Sydney 2000.

Inside the Games

Hockeyroo Jodie Kenny puts retirement on hold for Olympics

By The Hockey Paper

Hockeyroo Jodie Kenny, who became a mother in 2017, says she has put retirement on hold to chase gold at next year’s Olympics.

The two-time Olympian is currently Australia co-captain and has now set her sights on Tokyo.

“At first, hearing the news, I was quite emotional,” Kenny, 32, told Australia’s 7 News.

“Obviously I invested a lot into preparing for an Olympic Games. But you could see it coming.”

With the FIH having released guidelines for national federations and a staged return to global tournaments, there is still uncertainty as to how the Tokyo Games will be formatted.

“It would definitely be very different to my two other Olympic campaigns,” Kenny added.

“But to be honest, we would be so grateful to be out on the pitch and have the opportunity to compete in Tokyo 2020, even if it is in 2021.

“We have moved into more structured training where they provide us with gym programs and running programs.

“We still can’t get out on the pitch and we’re itching to do that, but we’re waiting until it is safe.”

Please 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

"The first few times you play for England or GB, you'll remember those forever"

Emily Defroand  and Anna Toman while in the NAGS setup

For any athlete, being able to pull on a shirt emblazoned with your country’s flag is always the highest honour.

While senior international debuts are often the most special moments, for many the opportunity to represent their country at a junior level is just as special.

This was certainly the case for Emily Defroand and Anna Toman, who recalled what it was like playing for England as part of the NAGS set up when they were younger in the latest Inside The Circle:The Podcast episode.

“It’s amazing. Those first few camps, those first few times that you play – whether you’re U16, U18 or U21 – for England or GB, you will remember those moments forever,” midfielder Defroand said.

“To be at that age and be able to go and play in a different country against the best European teams in the world, it’s something that you feel so grateful for. It’s really, really special.

“You get so nervous, you don’t feel nerves like it any other time. Your friends and your family are all really supportive. It is amazing, the whole experience on the field, your first taste of international hockey.

“But it’s also the experience off the field too. The friendships you make of the pitch that will stay with you for a lifetime, even at that young age. I’ve got such fond memories, so many good ones looking back.”

As well as forming lifelong friendships, touring with your national side whilst still a teenager can also play a crucial part in helping develop life skills too, as Toman observed.

“It was an amazing experience at such a young age to be able to go to all these different countries and play against some of the best players in the world. I also think it helped me grow up quite a bit and I became quite independent from it,” the defender said.

“I know a lot of people experience that when they go to university as they have to start cooking and cleaning for themselves but I think that [NAGS tours] helped me gain independence.

“We were looked after a bit more than what we are now when we go away but you’re still going away without your family, which not many people did at that age, and you’re going through long periods of time without seeing them.

“I always had so much fun – obviously when you win it’s better but I remember even some of the times when we lost. But what you do off the pitch, the people you’re meeting, I always had great experiences.”

Subscribe to the podcast below to hear the episode in full and catch up on any you may have missed:

Great Britain Hockey media release

‘Inspiring’ coach Phil Gooderham retires after University of Birmingham tenure

By Rod Gilmour

Long-serving coach Phil Gooderham cemented Birmingham’s place as one of top university hockey teams in the country PIC: UOBHC

University of Birmingham HC coach Phil Gooderham has been hailed as one of the “kindest and most inspiring coaches” following the news that he has headed into retirement after 15 “exceptional” years at the helm of the ladies’ side.

Coaching a university side at Premier Division level must rank as one of the hardest jobs in hockey given the turnover of players every season. But Gooderham, 60, seemed to relish the challenge and became a master tactician in doing so as the club became the longest standing University side in the Women’s Premier Division after promotion in 2009.

Under his helm, Gooderham took Birmingham to countless BUCS titles, six in the last 10 years, with five silver medals and nine league titles in all. Birmingham finished fourth in their first elite campaign in 2009/10, reached several league play-offs and also won the Investec Women’s Cup in 2012 for the first time.

Gooderham, who has coached for over 35 years, has also coached a succession of students who went on to claim international honours – and Olympic success, including Lily Owsley and Sophie Bray – as well as a raft of current England and GB development, Welsh and Scottish players.

GB international and former student Owsley said that Gooderham was “one of the kindest, most inspiring coaches I’ve ever had.”

She added: “It’s no wonder Birmingham University students put their bodies on the line for him week in week out. It’s testament to Phil’s tactical understanding that the university have achieved so much under him and his individual player coaching and management that so many of the players he has coached have gone on to achieve great things.”

For the last three years, he had also coached the men’s side, underlining his commitment to the university as a whole.

Matt Simonds, the men’s 1s captain, said: “What is so impressive about Phil is not only the longevity and calibre of his successes, but the enthusiasm, knowledge and good heartedness that accompanied them. The club will miss him hugely and wish him a long and happy retirement.”

Tom Thorne, UOBHC’s president, added: “He has fostered such a great environment at the university and the players have really appreciated what he has done. He has been exceptional.”

Gooderham’s other achievements – he is also a former Cannock player – included overseeing promotion of both men’s and women’s 2s to join the first teams in the national league. Birmingham have also completed four seasons in the women’s Super 6s Premier Division.

The university has yet to make an announcement on who will take over from Gooderham.

What else they said

“Phil has been the backbone of UOBHC for the past 15 years and it will be very difficult for someone to fill his boots! His desire to win and passion as a coach, as well as a genuine fatherly nature, is something I have been extremely grateful for during my time at Birmingham.
Lauren Hunt, women’s 1s captain

The Hockey Paper will feature a full interview with Phil and his achievements when we return in print ahead of the new season.

Please 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

Vale Michelle Flouch

Hockey Australia is saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Michelle Flouch after she lost her battle with cancer.

A talented goalkeeper who represented Australia at U21 level, Michelle was involved in a number of Australian senior camps during her playing career.

Michelle then turned her hand to coaching in Victoria, starting with the Victorian Institute of Sport in 2001 where she has been the Women’s Goalkeeping Coach since.

During this time Michelle has overseen and positively impacted so many aspiring goalkeepers. She was instrumental in the development and progression of Olympic gold medallist Rachel Imison and current Hockeyroos goalkeepers Rachael Lynch and Ashlee Wells to name but a few.

Michelle’s contribution to Victorian and Australian women’s hockey has been significant and this tragic news is a great loss for hockey and for the many people whose lives she impacted for the better.

Hockey Australia was privileged to have Michelle attend the Hockeyroos’ last FIH Pro League matches against Argentina in Perth earlier this year where she managed to catch up with some of her proteges.

Everyone at Hockey Australia sends its deepest condolences to Annette and the Flouch family at this extremely sad time.

Hockey Australia media release

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