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News for 24 May 2020

All the news for Sunday 24 May 2020

Ireland goalkeeper admits fears over Tokyo 2020 uncertainty due to coronavirus

By Michael Pavitt

Ayeisha McFerran has admitted having concerns over Tokyo 2020 not taking place ©Getty Images

Ireland’s Ayeisha McFerran has admitted to doubts over the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games taking place amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The goalkeeper is a key part of Ireland’s women’s hockey team, who were due to make their Olympic debut in the Japanese capital in July.

She helped Ireland win a shootout in a qualification match versus Canada in Dublin to help the team secure their place.

McFerran, who plays for Dutch team KV Kampong, told the Belfast Telegraph there was a fear over the potential cancellation of the Games should the coronavirus pandemic not be brought under control.

"There is definitely a bit of a fear but you have to look at the bigger picture and it's more important for Ireland and its people to be healthy than to have an Olympic Games," McFerran said.

"Closer to the time, and given more information from the World Health Organization, until that happens, I don't think I will have it at the forefront of my mind although later on it might be something we have to address."

Ireland's women's hockey team are due to make their Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 ©Getty Images

Ireland are one of 12 teams due to compete in the women’s hockey tournament at Tokyo 2020.

The country was drawn against Germany, India, South Africa, world champions The Netherlands and defending Olympic champions Britain in Group A.

Group B will feature hosts Japan, Argentina, Australia, China, New Zealand and Spain.

The Irish were runners-up at the 2018 Women's Hockey World Cup.

The rescheduled Olympic Games are due to take place from July 23 to August 8 in 2021, with the Paralympic Games following from August 24 to September 5.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said earlier this week that planning was required for different possible scenarios due to the uncertainty over the pandemic.

Tokyo 2020 Coordination Commission chair John Coates has said October could prove a key month in guiding plans for the Games, with possible quarantines and restrictions on spectators potentially necessary.

Coates said organisers are developing a range of scenarios this year, but admitted the Games could be "very different" to what people are used to.

Inside the Games

Recalling GB hockey Rio gold: Dutch antics, crashing sticks and tunnel focus

Exactly two months’ prior to the 2016 Rio final at the Deodoro Stadium, GB women had faced Holland in the Champions Trophy in London, where they fell to a 2-0 defeat.

Lining up in the tunnel before that loss, Danny Kerry’s side felt Dutch psychology come to the fore. The Hockey Paper heard from Team GB’s gold medallists as they looked back on how mind games subsequent fell into British hands.

Some of the Dutch players were shouting in the Lee Valley tunnel before that Champions Trophy encounter, most were banging sticks on the wall. Perhaps it was their way of showing their will to fight after losing on a shoot out the previous summer in the EuroHockey Championship final? Just an arm’s distance away, the moment had also got to some of the GB players.

“We were stood in the tunnel and some of our team shouted uncharacteristically. Nothing bad, just motivational stuff,” Kate Richardson-Walsh, the former captain, recalled.

“We talked about it afterwards and the need to do that or the purpose. We had a great, open conversation and I’m glad we did. We decided to ‘let’s just be us and it’s not in our make up or character to do those things in the tunnel’.”

A month later during the Olympics, Richardson-Walsh and Co went “back to basics” in the first game against Australia, where the Hockeyroos took up the pre-match mind games in the tunnel.

Richardson-Walsh said: “They were doing just that. It was absolutely for show. It was  a mental game and it made me smile. They had overcooked this, they are too hyped up and I thought we could leverage that.

“The same in the final. Ellen Hoog is a fiery character, when she crosses that white line she is a winner. Normally they are relaxed in the tunnel, but I remember Ellen banging her stick against the side. We did take confidence from that.”

Susannah Townsend says that the difference between the two sides first started in the changing rooms.

“We talked about how we wanted to behave and we were very consistent with that. I can’t judge how they did things. All I remember is how we would hear the music in their changing room when we were warming up. We don’t have that as we want to socially interact.”

Giselle Ansley, the Surbiton and England defender, “distinctly” remembers those tunnel moments.

“It was like we were in a cattle shed in the tunnel, with the crashing of the sticks on the side,” she recalled.

Ansley and her team-mates just looked straight down the tunnel. “We know we didn’t need to do that. We had worked on our preparation and our routines to get us in the best place on the pitch.”

Townsend, meanwhile, just smiled to herself. It is a sentiment shared by several other players that sultry day. “Those things are obviously what they had decided to do in terms of mentally preparing for it,” said the midfielder. “That’s what they stuck by whereas we had a few different views. I can’t say there’s a right way or wrong way.

“I remember smiling to myself when I saw them do it. I do that stuff when I’m a bit more nervous. I can be a bit louder and a bit arrogant.

“But we were consistently at the same level and I think all felt that ‘we are one up on you here’.”

Lily Owsley, the England and GB forward, said: “We had gone in with seven wins and the Dutch had five wins. We had a lot of quiet confidence and we didn’t need that external energy. Whereas for the Dutch it was like they could still intimidate us being the No 1-ranked side in the world.

“It was never going to get us. We were in such a bubble. We built such a wall and we were in that moment. They were shouting, screaming and banging. It was weird – it was like a battle when everything is going on around you and there is so much noise.

“Lining up in the tunnel, there was such a quiet confidence, looking into each other’s eyes with the utmost belief.”

So perhaps sides may be wise to learn from a former captain’s piece of advice, an Olympic title-winning one from Richardson-Walsh.

“If you change who you are and particularly if you are doing it for reasons to have an effect on the opposition, you’re taking away focus on yourself.”

Team GB’s team collective clearly played its part both on and off the field in the Rio campaign. No player seemed to be overawed with the experience.

Ansley added: “We don’t let other teams effect what we do. It was really important for us in Rio. We have taken that learning for times like now.”

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The Hockey Paper

MHC waiting for green light to reopen pitches

By Jugjet Singh

THE Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) are still waiting for a reply from the Sports Ministry on the reopening of pitches for training.

Field hockey has yet to get its freedom from the government amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

The MHC submitted a proposal, titled 'Project Hockey Restart', to the Sports Ministry recently, outlining temporary changes to training protocols.

"We have yet to receive a reply from the Sports Ministry on field training.

"A decision might come after June 9 if the situation in the country remains positive like now," said MHC competitions committee chairman Datuk Seri Anil Jeet Singh.

Anil added: "Our proposal outlines safety guidelines for players before, during and after training only.

"It does not cover tournaments.

"Once freedom is granted (to restart training), the competitions committee will hold a meeting and plan for the first tournament (Razak Cup) after the Conditional Movement Control Order."

The Razak Cup on Aug 21-29 could be the first local hockey event post-Covid-19.

"We will come up with safety guidelines for local matches.

"We have had discussions online on guidelines for tournaments, even though were are not sure on whether the Razak Cup will be given the green light by the government."

New Straits Times

Hockey launches COVID Resource Hub with Return to Sport Toolkit

A ‘Return to Sport Toolkit’ formulated by Sport Australia with assistance from Hockey Australia (HA) has been disseminated for use by clubs and associations around the country.

Welcomed by HA and its Member Associations, the Return to Sport Toolkit includes a comprehensive checklist that provides advice for local administrators, along with a suite of template documents to help Plan, Prepare, Respond and Recover upon the resumption of training with an eye to eventually returning to play.

The Toolkit complements the AIS Framework for Rebooting Australian Sport in a COVID-19 Environment and has been developed as a resource for all sporting clubs in Australia.

A dedicated COVID-19 Resource Hub has been set up on the HA website, containing template resources for hockey clubs and associations, links to relevant information and FAQs.

This information will be supported by a dedicated COVIDsafe inbox, where club administrators can inquire and receive technical advice.

HA and its Member Associations strongly recommend that all hockey clubs and associations complete the checklist to provide the safest environment for participants.

“The release of the Return to Sport Toolkit is a welcome development in the return to hockey, and something designed to help the thousands of volunteer administrators in our sport,” said Hockey Australia GM- Legal Strategy & Growth, Michael Johnston.

“On what is the last day of National Volunteer Week, being able to provide this level of support to our volunteers comes at an ideal time.”

“We understand how complex the current arrangements are. This Return to Sport Toolkit and the supporting documents are designed to give clubs and associations a head start in creating safe environments and to meet their local obligations.

“It will be really important that our volunteer administrators continue to stay up to date with requirements in their respective state or territory and incorporate this into their planning.

“Our Member Associations will continue to provide regular advice to clubs and associations and support them with the checklist over the coming weeks.”

In announcing the Return to Sport Toolkit, Sport Australia Acting CEO Rob Dalton expressed his gratitude to Hockey Australia and experienced sport executive Iain Roy for their involvement, while emphasising the importance of continuing to follow advice from Government health authorities.

“We thank the National Sporting Organisations for their input into this Toolkit, in particular Hockey Australia, and are confident sports will welcome it,” said Dalton.

“But I urge all sporting participants not to jump the starting gun without first the consent of your relevant State and Territory Government health authorities.”

“We know this is a tough time for sport and all Australians. But if we can each commit to getting through this challenging period together, we have every confidence sport will play a prominent role in lifting the nation’s energy and spirits again.”

The creation of the Return to Sport Toolkit and Resource Hub forms the first phase of a staged return to hockey, as outlined below.

Put plans, processes and systems in place to meet local government and health requirements and provide safe environments.

Once COVID safety measures are in place, clubs resume training in line with advice from their state and territory governments and their COVID-19 Safety Plans.

When government restrictions are lifted, competitions can resume in a COVID safe manner and respond in line with their COVID-19 Safety Plans.

When public health officials determine that the outbreak has ended in the local community, clubs consult with relevant authorities to identify criteria for scaling back its COVID-19 prevention actions. Clubs will also consider which protocols can remain to optimise good public and participant health.

The Return to Sport Toolkit can be downloaded at sportaus.gov.au/return-to-sport

Hockey Australia media release

KHA secretary gathers appreciation for services towards hockey

Former international hockey player Haider Hussain has organised more than 40 domestic men’s, women’s and junior level competitions besides organising several training camps in Karachi to promote the national game. PHOTO: KHA

Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) president Khalid Sajjad Khokhar awarded a cash prize of Rs50,000 and an appreciation letter to the secretary of the Karachi Hockey Association (KHA) Haider Hussain in recognition of his services towards the game.

It is important to mention that former international hockey player Haider Hussain has organised more than 40 domestic men’s, women’s and junior level competitions besides organising several training camps in the city to promote the national game.

Haider also played an important role in the hurriedly organised National Hockey Championship at the Abdul Sattar Edhi Hockey Stadium in Karachi last year.

Khokar said Haider is a reliable and hardworking person and hoped he will continue with the same spirit in the future as well.

The PHF president added that “we need such people to promote the [national] game at the grassroots level”.

The Express Tribune

Umpiring: The Best View on the Pitch

Written by Peter Caulder, Co-Founder of Umpires Universe.

When one thinks of umpiring a hockey match, the first thing that pops into their head is usually standing on the field after have given a decision with players surrounding you, the crowd boo’ing and the coach telling you how it was the wrong decision – but that is not what umpiring is really all about. Thinking umpiring is negative is looking at it one dimensionally.

Umpiring is about giving back. It is an avenue for individuals who wish to help grow the sport and help players achieve by allowing great skill to be played. In my view, umpiring is the best view of the game. You are right there in the action. As the goal is scored and the teams and spectators jump for joy, the emotion surrounds you, an experience one struggles to put into words. It’s surreal.

Umpiring also teaches life skills, like how to be calm under pressure. I can think of many a time where a game has gotten heated and as an umpire, I have had to remain calm and focus on the job on hand. This is not just a skill for umpiring but something that can be transferred into an everyday life skill.

South Africa is a vast country with two of the main cities connected by a two-hour flight. This allows a unique system to be put in place whereby majority of our training and assessments for umpires is at tournaments or festivals. This process has its advantages in the sense that an umpire needs to be ready from day 1 of the tournament if they wish to do well at said tournament. This starts from U12 level and continues all the way to our flagship events.

To become an umpire in South Africa, the first step is the Level 0 Umpire Course, which is the theory of the rules, how to interpret them and some basics on umpiring. It is a three-hour course that, pre-Covid, could be attended in person, usually in a school hall. Umpires Universe set up and online course a year and a half ago, now with the current climate, has now aligned with the South African Hockey Association as an accredited Level 0 Course which can be taken in the comfort of ones home. The material is split into bite-sized chunks of information and presented in video format, with each video approximately 5 to 10 minutes in length. At the end there is a test and once the user passes, they can download their official South African Hockey certificate.

After this has been completed, we encourage individuals to pick up the whistle and umpire some of the lower levels of hockey so that they gain confidence. Umpiring is all about being confident and someone only gets that from practice.

As an individual grows in their abilities, they can be sent to tournaments across the country to receive a grading. We have a system from Level 0, to Level 4, with each grading having specified achievables for the umpire and linked to the level of hockey being played. For example, the top umpires at the U16 national tournament are eligible for a fully achieved Level 1. Once they get this, they can then go to the U18 National event and try for a Level 2. This system applies to Outdoor Hockey and Indoor Hockey, however an umpire will receive a separate grading for both, so an umpire could be a Level 2 Indoor and a Level 3 Outdoor.

All these grading forms are stored on the Umpires Universe system. We created software that allows an accredited grader to login and grade an umpire, with the umpire having access to their report on the system once it has been completed. When the umpire needs to be assessed again their previous report appear so the new grader can see where they have improved and upgrade them accordingly.

Our next focus is creating more quality content for the portal to help grow the sport. We are busy with a Level 0 Indoor Hockey Umpire Course that we hope to launch in the next month, followed by three or four more courses that cover other areas of the game in both the Umpiring and Technical Sphere.

Although the certificate at the end of the course is specifically for the South African environment, it doesn't mean that anyone from around the World cannot make use of the foundation step into umpiring and get to know the Rules and take the first steps into enjoyable world of umpiring

All our courses can be found at www.ump-uni.com

Umpires Universe media release

Young Welsh star Olivia Forey goes viral with hockey skills videos

Wales’ Liv Forey has been posting backyard skills videos since lockdown, with her latest ‘computer game’ effort going internet viral. The Hockey Papaer finds out more…

How did you come up with the idea and how does it work?

My dad is a coach at Gwent HC and comes up with lots of cool ideas for me and my sister Becca to try. This drill involved my family (Liv and her sister have played cricket for Wales and her mum has been to two Commonwealth Games with bowls) rolling hockey balls at me at different speeds and angles, whilst I tried to move from one set of white cones to the other keeping control of my ball.

What skills has it made you learn?

This drill was to master my close control ball skills, footwork and hand-eye co-ordination.

What have you learnt in lockdown from others and not being able to play on the pitch?

Lockdown has been difficult as I really miss playing hockey. I have been watching different videos online and thinking of things I can practice so I can use them when we get back to playing matches!

Has the lockdown made your love of the sport stronger?

I have played hockey since I was eight – I absolutely love it! The lockdown has shown me just how much I miss playing with my friends and team-mates.

What events were you hoping to play this summer and what are your hockey dreams?

I was selected to represent UK Lions this season and so this summer was due to play in Netherlands, Repton Cup and in Ireland. I was also meant to play for the South Wales Dragons in Nottingham in the regional championships. My hockey dreams are to represent Wales U16s and eventually hopefully play for GB. I am 13 and at the moment I am in the Hockey Wales pathway in the Aspire group.

What has been the reaction to your videos?

My sponsors Grays Hockey have been fantastic supporting the skills videos I’ve posted. The response to this one has been unbelievable – I can’t believe some of my hockey hero’s like Alex Danson and Sam Quek have seen it!

For more of Liv’s skills videos head to Twitter

Please help keep independent journalism alive in these uncertain times. With the media industry affected by advertising, we are continuing to offer our coverage free until we return in print.

Ahead of the new season, please subscribe in print or in digital format. Subscriptions for clubs, schools and individuals.

The Hockey Paper

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