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News for 29 June 2020

All the news for Monday 29 June 2020

Olympic-winning hockey coach Danny Kerry could quit the sport after Tokyo Games

Rod Gilmour

Kerry pictured in July 2008. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Danny Kerry, regarded as one of Great Britain's most successful coaches, has said he could leave hockey following the delayed Tokyo Olympics.

Kerry famously coached Great Britain women to gold at the 2016 Olympics in one of the standout moments of the Rio Games - and is now set to attempt a unique Olympic double with GB men in Tokyo after quitting the women’s role in 2018. But his hockey future beyond next summer is uncertain.

Kerry says he has had discussions with Eton College, which earlier this year advertised for a new director of sport.

Kerry told Yahoo UK: “As is the case toward the end of an Olympic cycle I, like others in roles similar to mine, have been approached about opportunities. The role at Eton College is one of the opportunities that have been presented to me and I met with them.

“I have spent an exciting 18 months building the men’s squad with a view to excelling both in Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024, but I am acutely aware I have no divine right to continue in post after Tokyo. As such, like many in my position, it was prudent to evaluate what my future holds.”

Kerry coached the GB women's hockey team to a famous gold at the Rio Olympics. (MANAN VATSYAYANA/AFP via Getty Images)

Kerry gives the team a talk after their win during the Men's Hockey World Cup Cross-over match between England and New Zealand in December 2018 in India. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images for FIH)

Eton College, the prestigious public school in Berkshire, advertised for a director of sport earlier this year, with interviews taking place in March, before the Tokyo Olympics was postponed until next year due to the ongoing pandemic.

An Eton College spokesperson denied Kerry, who is 50 in December, had already been appointed in the role.

After first working with national junior teams in the late Nineties, Kerry had two stints over a 13-year period coaching GB and England women. He guided England women to London 2012 bronze before leading them to one of the most memorable moments of the Rio Games four years later as they secured Olympic gold for the first time, beating the Dutch in an unforgettable shoot-out.

After several key retirements, Kerry was unable to add gloss to his CV when England exited the 2018 World Cup in London at the quarter-final stage. He was announced as England and GB men's coach in autumn 2018 with his teams finishing fourth at the last World Cup and fifth at last summer’s European Championships.

Ahead of Tokyo, Kerry will work alongside a new assistant coach after Russell Garcia, who played at the 1988 Games in Seoul, opted to leave his role and return to club hockey in Germany after honouring his contract with Great Britain Hockey until 2020.

Kerry with the Team GB Women's Hockey team after winning the coach award in November 2016. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images)

However, Kerry will have a full squad at his disposal during the next 12 months.

Several top GB stars were set to play in hockey hotbeds such as Holland and Belgium next season after signing contracts. But following the Olympics postponement, it means that GB players will stay put in England with a full-time central programme in place at Bisham Abbey. It is not known yet how much contact players will have with their English clubs during the season as a staged roadmap has yet to be established for the 2019/20 domestic season.

Yahoo News Australia

New pitches pave way for success

Chile and Uruguay

Sarah Juggins

Chile and Uruguay are two nations whose women’s national teams regularly appear in top tier competitions, flexing their bourgeoning hockey muscles against the likes of Great Britain, Argentina and India.

Although it’s the women’s senior teams that are leading the way, both Uruguay and Chile men’s national teams and junior squads are also making huge strides on the international stage.

Chile women are currently ranked 18th in the world, with the men’s team ranked 28th, while for Uruguay, the women are ranked 25th in the FIH World Rankings and the men’s team ranked 56th.

These achievements are remarkable as neither national association has a base that it can call home. In Chile, particularly in Santiago, there are sand and water-based pitches available for the teams to train on but no national stadium where the team can regularly meet and train. In the case of Uruguay, there is no water-based pitch in the entire country, so its teams are not able to train on the surface that they will compete upon in international competition.

Importantly, this also restricts competition as other nations cannot often be tempted to travel for test matches against Uruguay, thus denying the teams practice against top level competition.

But all that is set to change for both national associations. For Chile, the advent of the Pan American Games in Santiago in 2023 has provided the catalyst for the installation of a stadium complete with two water-based pitches in the country’s capital. It is something that delights Head Coach Sergio Vigil: “We all have a sports dream. And that dream is to do with the participation of the Diablos and Diablas at the next Pan American Games in Santiago. The venue will provide a place where hockey can be played by all people, regardless of their financial situation.

“The government has rewarded us, not just the national teams who are preparing to grow, who dream of being Olympians and playing their best hockey at the Pan American Games in 2023, but also it has rewarded the Federation for the work it has done with the different social classes, so they can all take part in hockey.”

And for Uruguay, all that stands between the national associations and a new water-based facility is a financial injection to get the project to the final stage of completion.

It has been a five-year process so far. In 2015, Uruguay Hockey Federation won the FIH Pablo Negre Award, which rewards innovation and adhering to the spirit of hockey. As part of the award, the Federation received support for both a new pitch and lighting.

Although the concept of a hockey venue was born back in 2015, it wasn’t until November 2019 that work finally began on the new water-based pitch, which will be supplied by Polytan Asia. The first job was to clear land and dig foundations at the city council-owned Lavalleja Park land, which has been handed over to the association for a 20-year period.

By April 2020, the sub- base level was complete; the synthetic floor was travelling to Uruguay from Germany; the shock-pad from Portugal and Italy; the water treatment system from China; and machinery from Hong Kong. All the equipment is now in storage and the Hockey Association is waiting for borders to re-open so the Polytan technicians can start to install the shock-pad and carpet.

With the dream so close to realization, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic could not have come at a worse time. Finding sponsors and fundraising activities all ground to a halt and now the project is hovering tantalizingly near completion. President of the Uruguay Hockey Federation is Danae Andrada. She voices her frustration: ‘We know we need support for the last step and COVID-19 situation has made it a real struggle for us when it comes to finding new sponsors or financial aid from our government. For sure health and social concerns are above all but we are running our own race to finish this construction.”

And so the Uruguay Hockey Federation is calling on the hockey community to help get the project over the finish line. A further 30 per cent of the final costs are still needed, but the Federation is turning to technology and innovation to get the dream realized.

An App has been launched, called Cancha Celeste or Sky Blue Pitch – in recognition of the striking blue turf that will eventually be laid. Via the App, people are invited to buy a metre of the turf anywhere they choose on a virtual replica of the playing surface. Early popular purchases are in both goal mouths, circle areas and around the centre spot.

Individuals, clubs, national associations and continental federations who donate money and buy a metre of the pitch in this way will see their name displayed on a huge advertising banner that will be situated next to the pitch.

Substantial support has already come from the Federation’s sponsors: Movistar, Polytan, Gustavo Amespil Dispatchers, Musco. Now the Federation is asking the wider international hockey community for some support to push the project to completion.

In Chile, the progression towards a new facility is a few months behind their neighbors. Walter Kramer explains that the national association is currently going through the bidding process for the construction of two water-based pitches. Once that process is complete, then the fine-tuning of the plans will be the next stage.

The plans are exciting and vast. The Chile National Hockey Stadium will comprise two pitches with stands, accompanying dressing rooms, a suite of offices, media facilities and a well-equipped gym. It will provide a home to a whole range of users: club teams, national league games, national teams – seniors and juniors – and regional teams. The facility will be ready in time for the 2023 Pan Am Games, but the legacy of such a development will benefit generations to come.

Financing such an operation has been as much a challenge as the actual construction, but the Chile Hockey Federation has been engaged in conversation with three consecutive governments. The advent of the Pan Am Games in 2023 was the catalyst for the final push for completion.

Kramer’s excitement is palpable as he talks about the new facility. “The impact of the development will be huge,” he says. “It will open doors and provide the venue to plant seeds [of interest] in huge non-hockey communities.

The pitch development in Chile has been driven by the Chile Hockey Federation Board. Kramer says: “The current Board has been in office since the beginning of 2013 and we made the new pitch and stadium a top priority. Yes, it took us quite some time to get here, but we were able to rightly justify the need for it.

“There were times when it was at risk of not getting the approval for the funds, but at the end of the day, the driving force has really been the growth and the hunger we have see in our teams and our players. We really needed a new house to host all this developmental opportunity.”

The importance of building more high-quality pitches in the region has been noted by Pan American Hockey Federation President Alberto ‘Coco’ Budeisky. Speaking about the Uruguay pitch project he said: ’The end date of a dream held for a long time by the entire Uruguayan hockey family is approaching. The completion of the first synthetic water hockey pitch.

‘Uruguayan hockey has seen great growth, especially in the women's sector, in recent years. It has shown such potential at youth, junior and senior levels.

‘Despite not having a water pitch to train, the brave Cimarronas have demonstrated

their qualities and determination to progress. Its leaders and fans have made great efforts to support this project, which was born some years ago with the Pablo Negre Award from the FIH.

‘Now in the midst of the pandemic, which does not make things easier, we see how this is taking shape. It is a deserved achievement, which will help the development of hockey in Uruguay and consequently, across all Pan American hockey.’

For both Chile and Uruguay, the development of water-based pitches and accompanying stadiums will not only allow them to train on the same quality and type of pitch that they will encounter at international tournaments, it will also make them attractive destinations for travelling teams.

And for hockey development in South America, this is all good news. Hockey spectators can watch top level hockey and become inspired to play. New hockey players make for a wider talent pool, which in turn strengthens the sport at all levels. It is a magnificent example of hockey’s virtuous cycle.

Pan American Hockey Federation media release

Polytan Installs First SmarTracks System for Hockey

At the beginning of June Polytan installed hockey’s first ever SmarTracks System as part of the exciting new hockey facility at Massey University in Palmerston North, New Zealand.

The new hockey pitch, built on an old overflow car park, incorporated Polytan’s innovative in-ground SmarTracks System which can test and record fitness levels and precise performance diagnostics down to the millisecond. The system consists of SmarTracks timing gates that are invisibly integrated into the pitch, a wearable sensor weighing just 12g and the SmarTracks diagnostics software.

The stand-out pitch was constructed using the same surface developed for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Poligras® Tokyo GT – the most environmentally-friendly synthetic turf made of 60% regrowable raw materials, specifically sugar cane. The new pitch also features water harvesting and LED lights with hinging towers and Intelligent Play Pitch monitoring.

The Manawatu community are thrilled to be back playing hockey at this new Massey University facility now that restrictions have been lifted.

“It will assist with fostering excellence through providing a world-class facility for hockey players of all ages to hone their skills, and for student and staff engagement as the turf will be accessible for Massey’s community to use as a further source of recreation,” Vice-chancellor, professor Jan Thomas.

For more information on Polytan’s SmarTracks System or world-class sustainable turf please contact:

Polytan NZ General Manager, Cody Linton
T: +64 4 802 3960
M: +64 21 831 061
E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
W: www.polytan.co.nz

Hockey New Zealand Media release

Mir Ranjan Negi still an inspiration in hometown Indore

Negi, who was the inspiration for the hockey-themed movie Chak De India, hosted a five-minute audio narrative, telling stories on diverse topics, from hockey lessons to life skills.

Nandakumar Marar

These days, as the world shakes off the inertia following the coronavirus-induced lockdown, the voice of the former India international Mir Ranjan Negi has been music to the ears of listeners in his home town Indore.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

There was a time when Mir Ranjan Negi had to shut his ears to the taunts of him betraying his country. That was after the debacle that was the 1982 Asian Games hockey final in Delhi that India lost 1-7 to Pakistan.

These days, as the world shakes off the inertia following the coronavirus-induced lockdown, the voice of the former India international has been music to the ears of listeners in his home town Indore. The goalkeeper hosted a five-minute audio narrative for the Acropolis Group of Institutions over 45 days, telling stories on diverse topics, from hockey lessons to life skills.

“I started two days after the lockdown was enforced and took a break on June 18,” says Negi.

The audience for the morning talk show, which started at 7am, included students, parents and school management.

“The idea is to help listeners keep a positive outlook during the lockdown via real-life stories about people who overcame huge odds to come up in life,” says Negi, citing the examples of Olympic pistol shooter and national coach Mohinder Lal, hockey icon Dhanraj Pillay and hockey World Cupper Yuvraj Walmiki.

“There is an audience eager to hear stories from well-known sportspersons. All that is needed is the narrative should be done in a short time and using simple words. From the feedback received, listeners connect emotionally when an India player talks to them directly in the first person. It does not matter if he or she can talk fluently or not.”

Negi and Mohinder Lal, who retired as a deputy inspector general of the Border Security Force, struck a close bond due to sports. “A reputed pistol shooter with a shooting hand so powerful that in training at the range he endured the weight of his two kids dangling on the arm, it is said he was so focused that once during a national championship when the pistol sight broke off, he blocked the negative vibes and shot his way to the gold medal,” says Negi. “I met him first due to my friendship with his brother Kulbhushan, my classmate at Christian College (Indore). A fierce competitor, Mohinder Lal was reputed to be an experienced sports administrator, full of energy.”

Dhanraj Pillai (left) in action during a hockey match in New Delhi.   -  THE HINDU ARCHIVES
Pillay’s rise in world hockey from a humble background in Khadki in Maharashtra and Walmiki chasing his hockey dreams from Mumbai while living in a shack were other popular narratives.

Negi’s recovery from the emotional scars of the Delhi defeat to becoming a successful India women coach was reflected in scenes in Chak De! India, a hockey-themed film. Later came an invite to participate in Jhalak Dikhhla Ja, a celebrity dance show on television.

“I did my part in the goal for India over many tournaments. One bad match turned my world into a nightmare. I recovered to coach the national team, guiding the girls to victory at the Asia Cup (in Delhi) and the Afro-Asian Games (in Hyderabad),” says Negi.

Having moved base to Indore after a hockey career with Mumbai Customs, Negi helps out the Madhya Pradesh organisation’s sports and cultural activities. The goalkeeper-turned-coach learnt voice modulation techniques and improved his Hindi vocabulary before trying the audio route. “I tried to evolve as a person and currently am doing an online course on leadership,” he says.

Negi also spoke about the value of sport in dealing with stress management in schools. The interactive video session was organised by Indore Schools. The webinar saw a parent questioning him about sports affecting studies due to the difficulty in managing time for both.

“The self-confidence from exposure to sport for children gets reflected in the way a student looks at life. Students have a better chance of becoming successful in their careers if they are street smart, learn to deal with teammates, coaches, opponents, and develop lifelong friendships through sport. All this cannot be understood by reading books only,” he says, citing India teammates Zafar Iqbal, M. M. Somaya and Merwyn Fernandes as examples of sporting achievers who reached high positions in their professional careers. “The key is to find out what you feel very passionate about. Once that happens, you will find a way and create time to do both.”

For sports-minded schoolkids at home during the lockdown, Negi suggests visualisation as a way to keep the mind in touch with sport, alongside indoor workouts. “Sporting greats visualised their best moves before going out to compete. The human mind is so powerful that the body will obey a message from the brain when you step out on the pitch next time.”


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