All the news for Wednesday 1 July 2020
FIH marks one-year anniversary of inaugural FIH Hockey Pro League title wins
Lausanne, Switzerland: With the FIH Hockey Pro League 2020 currently on hold due to the ongoing COVID-19 global health crisis, the FIH took the opportunity to celebrate the inaugural winners of the competition that took place in 2019.
Exactly one year ago on Monday 29th June, the Netherlands women became the first ever FIH Hockey Pro League champions, with the dazzling Dutch team lifting the trophy on home soil at the Wagener Stadium in Amstelveen after a shoot-out victory against Australia in the competition final. To mark the occasion, FIH hosted an Instagram Live interview with Netherlands head coach Alyson Annan, who gave her thoughts on key games during the title-winning campaign that ran from January to June 2019.
Annan – who as a player with Australia won two Olympic gold medals (Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000), two World Cup titles (1994, 1998) and was twice named FIH Player of the Year (1998, 2000), scoring 166 goals in 228 appearances – discussed how the reigning world champions put together a 15-match winning streak to claim the title. Annan praised the battling qualities shown by her team in their narrow victories against New Zealand (3-2 – Den Bosch, NED), Great Britain (0-1 – London, ENG), Argentina (2-1 – Kampong, NED) and in the tournament semi-final against Germany, where late goals from Frederique Matla and Lidewij Welten gave the Dutch a 2-1 win after Germany had led for the vast majority of the contest.
“I selected the [New Zealand] game because it showed the mindset of the players. I don’t think we played well the whole time in the Pro League, I think at times we struggled because we had different teams”, said Annan, who used a total of 33 different players during the 2019 campaign, in an interview that was unfortunately cut short due to technical difficulties. “The mindset of the players, they continued going until the very end. Being 2-0 up, we gave away two goals – I think we had only one game in the [regular] Pro League season where we had two goals scored against us, and that was it.”
Tuesday 30th June marked the one-year anniversary of Australia men’s glorious FIH Hockey Pro League title success, where a hard-fought 3-2 triumph over reigning world champions Belgium in the tournament final gave them the trophy. Australia striker Blake Govers – who finished top of the Pro League scoring charts with 12 goals, including one in the final – took part in an Instagram Live chat with the FIH, reflecting on some of his personal highlights of the Kookaburras’ road to glory.
The prolific 23-year-old, who has scored 85 goals in 98 appearances for his country, assessed the campaign as a whole before highlighting four matches, all played away from home, that left a big impression on him. The first was the Kookaburras’ 4-3 win against New Zealand which was played in Auckland on Anzac Day, a national day of remembrance observed by both countries in recognition of Australians and New Zealanders who served and died in conflicts and peacekeeping operations. He also highlighted his team’s excellent away victories against Belgium (0-2) in Antwerp and the Netherlands (1-4) in Amstelveen, with Govers scoring twice in both matches as Australia gained terrific momentum in the lead-up to the FIH Hockey Pro League Grand Final competition at the Wagener Stadium. A 6-1 semi-final win over Great Britain set up a clash against the Red Lions, where Australia powered into a 3-0 half time lead before holding off a brilliant Belgian fightback to claim the title with a 3-2 victory.
Reflecting on the pulsating final, Govers said: “It was a great match, an amazing atmosphere. It was really good to put up a performance. It was one of those games that I look back on and wished I was in the stands watching as well! I like good hockey and a great atmosphere, and it was an awesome match.
“The Pro League is a very exciting competition. It’s a shame that things aren't really working out this year [due to COVID-19], of course, but we are really looking forward to getting back into the Pro League and taking hockey back around the world again [when it resumes].”
USA Field Hockey Announces 2020 Annual Awards Winners
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – USA Field Hockey is excited to announce the winners of the 2020 Annual Awards, presented by Longstreth, that more broadly recognize, honor and celebrate individuals across the field hockey community whose contributions have made a major and lasting impact on the game of field hockey in the United States.
Thank you to all of those that took the time to vote and congratulations to all of the following award winners. The 2020 Annual Award winners are:
USA Field Hockey Grow the Game Award - is presented to a USA Field Hockey Member that has help lay a foundation, build a lasting program and impacted their community through field hockey. They have provided opportunities to countless field hockey players in their region that would not exist without their efforts
Grow the Game Award Winner: Rebecca Maciejewski
USA Field Hockey National Coach Award - is presented to a USA Field Hockey Coach Member that exemplifies the values of sportsmanship, fair play and healthy competition. This individual is dedicated to their craft and works tirelessly to make their players, fellow coaches and the field hockey community better.
National Coach Award Winner: Kelly Doton
USA Field Hockey National Umpire Award - is presented to a USA Field Hockey Umpire Member who has shown integrity and love of the game on and off the field of play. This recipient has treated players, coaches and fans with respect while enforcing the rules and keeping the game safe and fair.
National Umpire Award Winner: Mary Driscoll
USA Field Hockey National Club of the Year Award - is presented to the USA Field Hockey Member Club who has excelled on and off the field of play. This club has demonstrated skills on the pitch that are recognized by their peers and fans, but equally important they have shown their passion for hockey and sportsmanship off the pitch. They have used field hockey to make an impression on the lives of others and brought opportunity to their community.
Club of the Year Award Winner: Central Penn Field Hockey
USA Field Hockey Humanitarian Award - presented to an individual who has transcended the game of field hockey and achieved something inspirational to us all. This individual has used field hockey to better themselves, his/her community and beyond.
Humanitarian Award Winner: Tori Whitcher
The winners of each category will be honored on USA Field Hockey's website over the next few weeks. Make sure to check usafieldhockey.com to view the winners' stories.
USFHA media release
Drag-flicker Varun Kumar targets India comeback after break
Varun Kumar receives the man-of-the-match award after the Men's Hockey World Cup Group C match between India and Belgium at Kalinga Stadium. - GETTY IMAGES
Drag-flicker Varun Kumar believes that the Indian hockey team’s one-month break from the sport will help the players recharge their batteries for the challenges ahead, the major one being next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
The Indian hockey team was held up at Bengaluru’s Sports Authority of India (SAI) complex for more than two months due to the COVID-19 lockdown. The players were recently given a month’s break after lockdown restrictions were eased.
“I see this period at home as one where we will get the chance to rejuvenate ourselves, and restart everything from scratch keeping in mind that we need to be peaking during the Tokyo Olympics scheduled to start in July 2021,” Varun said.
“It’s not always about how fresh you are physically, but there is also a lot of focus on mental aspects.
“I feel this break has provided us with the opportunity to rest our minds, by spending some quality time with our families. This really helps you in just taking your mind off the sport sometimes,” the 24-year-old added.
The 2016 Junior Cup-winning defender could not play in the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers last year due to nerve damage to his right arm.
He has not represented the country since recuperating and recovering from the minor injury.
“It is definitely difficult for me because I haven’t been able to make the comeback to competitive hockey yet, but as things stand, everyone’s safety and health takes centre-stage,” he said.
“I am just being very patient and making sure that I am maintaining my fitness levels so that once we resume the sport, I can get into the rhythm of playing very soon.”
Varun said lifting the Junior World Cup in Lucknow remains his fondest sporting moment till date.
“During the lockdown, I have had the chance to reflect on my journey with the Indian team, and I feel really proud to have won the Junior World Cup in 2016, it was one of the best moments of my playing career,” he said.
“I haven’t really had the chance to reflect, but it was good to really sit with people like Krishan (Pathak), Harmanpreet (Singh) and Mandeep (Singh) who experienced that journey with me.
“We have spoken about how far we have since then, and it just gives you more confidence to achieve greater things for your country in future,” he said.
Great Britain hockey ‘return to school’ after lockdown training
There were school-like ‘first day back’ images and jokes about missing satchels as Great Britain’s hockey players were back at Bisham HQ for the first time in nearly fourth months on Tuesday.
The GB squad returned as part of a phased Return To Training (RTT) process which for the first two weeks will involve unopposed training with a 2 metre social distancing and training – and remaining – in small groups during this time.
As with their continental rivals, who returned in May, players turned up in training kit, while staff tested the squad for coronavirus symptoms and temperature checks on arrival.
There were three-player ‘bubbles’ on the Bisham turf and they were also refrained from touching equipment.
With lockdown occuring four months before the Olympics, which were subsequently shelved until next year, the players were understandably becoming anxious.
Now, however, the women’s players believe that the break from routine, coupled with the extra time to gel under coach Mark Hager. will hold them in good stead.
“I was driving on my way [to training] and I was all excited. I haven’t been excited about hockey in a while actually, or for the last six months, and speaking to the girls everyone felt the same,” Susannah Townsend told The Telegraph. “We were pushing, pushing, pushing to peak in Tokyo and the time away, it’s like anything, you don’t have something and you miss it – it makes the heart grow fonder.”
Meanwhile, the return proved very timely for Brendan Creed, who was back training for the first time in eight months after recovering from an ACL injury.
“I kind of lost my way a bit over the past few weeks,” Creed told the BBC last month.
“But I’m now getting back into it and the postponement gives me a full season to attack everything.”
The Hockey Paper
'Time away has made me love it again': GB women's hockey team revel in return to training
After a four-month absence, the players returned to 'bubble' training on Tuesday as the countdown to next year's postponed Olympics begun
By Molly McElwee
Susannah Townsend, pictured playing for England during last year's European Championships Credit: AP
Great Britain’s women’s hockey team returned to training on Tuesday, after a four-month absence due to Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.
Players’ were subjected to symptom and temperature checks upon arrival at the Bisham Abbey National Sports Centre for the first time since February, and the squad divided into two groups for separate sessions.
On the pitch, players were put in ‘bubbles’ of three, rotated across three different drill stations with coaches and were not allowed to touch any equipment except with their sticks.
Members of the squad, who were set to defend their Olympic title at the Tokyo Games in August before it was rescheduled for 2021, told Telegraph Sport they were relishing the opportunity to get back on the pitch despite new social distancing measures limiting their training.
“It is exciting to be back in the kit, that was a big one for me today, trying to find all my kit again,” 2016 gold medallist Shona McCallin joked. “It was a bit like the first day of school.”
On a more serious note, Susannah Townsend said the break had done the team some good in terms of mindset.
Last year they achieved comparably poor results compared to their usual form, with only five wins from 16, while they were able to play just three matches before the season was put on hold in February.
The constant grind of the Olympic cycle was weighing heavily for some: “I was driving on my way [to training] and I was all excited. I haven't been excited about hockey in a while actually, or for the last six months, and speaking to the girls everyone felt the same," Townsend said. "We were pushing, pushing, pushing to peak in Tokyo and the time away, it's like anything, you don't have something and you miss it - it makes the heart grow fonder.”
“You put everything in the whole Olympic cycle but the closer you get the more nerves come through, selection, everyone's scared of injuries. And as disappointed as everyone was that it was postponed, at the same time it's given us an extra year to make sure we do as good as possible.
Townsend says she thinks their chances of success at Tokyo are higher now they have gained more time: "We would have been okay in August, but I think we'll definitely have a better chance next August and I don't mind saying that at all. Time is only a blessing to us. This time away has made me love it again.”
McCallin agrees and says despite the return to action on the pitch and the team now having their provisional training schedule for the next 12 months laid out, the focus is on well-being and not a high-pressure countdown to Tokyo.
“In the news recently you see how quickly things can change, with Leicester going back into lockdown, so in that sense I don't look too far in advance, just taking it week by week because of the fluid climate we're in,” McCallin said. “I think as a team, cliche as it sounds, we have to take it step by step and ease our way back into it.”
Jo Hunter returns to Buckingham after leaving Surbiton
GB midfielder Jo Hunter is back in the club game after signing for Buckingham HC, the current national indoor hockey champions.
After nearly 18 months away from club hockey, Hunter, 29, will play with the Premier Division side after leaving Surbiton.
Hunter last played for the club from 2006-2009 before going on to study at Nottingham University.
She said: “I couldn’t be more excited to be heading back ‘home’ to Buckingham after 10+ years.
The club has grown and achieved so much in that time whilst keeping the passion, drive and togetherness that was instilled in me when I first joined.”
Hunter will combine club duties with her GB commitments at Bisham Abbey as she bids to make the Tokyo 2020 squad.
Buckingham coach Zak Jones said: “Having coached Jo during her first spell at the club and having known her and her family for many years, I am confident that we have a player who knows the club really well, understands our core values and whose pace, athleticism and experience will be a real asset to the squad moving forward.”
The Hockey Paper
SA Hockey confirm submission regarding return to play
The South African Hockey Association today confirms its submission to the Ministry and the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture. Minister Nathi Mthethwa on 11 June announced the provisions of Government Gazette 43434 that would regulate the return to play for National Federations. These regulations have determined that return to play will be done in a phased approach for non-contact and contact sport at the various alert levels as per South Africa’s Risk Adjusted Strategy.
Hockey is classified as a contact sport and as per the regulations is only permitted to return to training at this stage under Level 3. This return to training must be done in a phased manner and under strict health & safety protocols. SA hockey’s submission done last Friday to the Minister details the envisaged phased in return to training and focuses on the following:
Phased return to training of national high-performance squads as well as provincial high-performance squads at Level 3.
Identification of venues and their state of readiness
The appointment of compliance officers nationally, provincially and at every training venue
The finalisation of a Return to Play Framework and the Operational Guidelines thereto
The Operational Guidelines will be announced once approved by the Minister of Sports, Arts and Culture together with the relevant office of the National Institute of Communicable Diseases.
The hockey community is understandably very eager to return to play, we however request that all stakeholders respect and abide by the current legislation issued for the sport sector as wells as by the Minister of Basic Education in relation to school sport which is currently not permitted at Level 3.
SA Hockey will further advise all stakeholders once the pre-requisite approvals have been received for the current phased in return to training as well as any new regulations announced in relation to return to competition.
SA Hockey Association media release
LGBTQ+ community share their incredible hockey this Pride Month
With Pride Month coming to an end, we continue to look at the inclusivity of our sport. Yesterday we published an insightful article written by England and Great Britain hockey goalkeeper Amy Tennant and today we share the stories and experiences of LGBTQ+ players from across England.
In all the testimonials there is a theme of acceptance and no judgement from clubs across the country. One player, from The London Royals Hockey Club, Casey Bennet, came out as non-binary (Non-binary gender identity is a term used to describe individuals who may experience a gender identity that is neither exclusively male or female or is in between or beyond both genders) and shared their experience “They (the club) were so supportive and instantly started using my new name and pronouns. The club is a safe space to be yourself.” said Casey.
Two other members from The London Royals, Marie La Boissiere, who came across the club at Black Pride, and Helen Oakleigh spoke about the openness and inclusivity of the club and the sport. Both players love the friendliness and are looking forward to playing again, especially at the annual Pride Cup tournament that was shortlisted for the England Hockey Innovation Award. “The comradeship is great. The best thing is going on tour where you can play hockey and meet people from the rest of Europe and further afield. I’m really looking forward to starting the new season.” Marie stated.
Alice Joan Tilley from Mossley Hill Hockey Club truly felt the love of the hockey family when her wife Catherine, also an avid player at the club, passed away. The club reached out to encourage her and her daughter Martha to come back and play hockey. “The club is a place where teenagers and people in their 20s through to 60s choose to spend time together safely and freely whoever they love.” Said Alice. The club now has an award named after Catherine and gets awarded at the End of Season Dinner every year. “We always felt safe to be our best selves at MHHC and now that Catherine is no longer with us, we know that there are always folk there, of all ages, from the men’s teams as well as the women’s teams who will talk with us and indulge us in celebrating Catherine.”
For some, hockey is a safe place. It is a place where you can be yourself and not be judged for your gender or sexuality. Laura Kennedy, from South Berkshire Hockey Club, and Marianna Alexandrou, from Brentwood Hockey Club, both had family members react negatively to them coming out and found that hockey was their safe place. “During the first few months, I found myself then beginning to struggle to cope with how my parents reacted. I felt low, isolated and began feeling depressed, but this is where I found acceptance within my hockey club.
“The club gave me an escape and distraction from home life by giving me more responsibility within the club; my team nominated me to be Vice-Captain for the Ladies 2’s; many members helped and supported me during dark times by simply listening and giving me advice, but most importantly, the club accepted me, just for being me.” expressed Marianna.
Laura’s experience started at the age of 25 when she fell deeply in love with a girl, she opened up to her family and began to feel lost. “Whilst falling in love for the first time was the most amazing feeling, coming out, particularly a little later in life at the age of 25, felt confusing and terrifying. I struggled with my identity, I was fearful of people’s response and I suffered with some negative reactions from certain family members. I very much remained in the closet at work, and the only place I felt safe to be out was amongst my teammates and my hockey family. Being gay wasn’t an issue at hockey, I felt like I could be myself with no judgement. I was accepted for me, and it was the only place I felt truly comfortable and able to be my authentic self.
“As time has passed, I have accepted my sexuality, I have come out at work, and I am proud to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community. But I honestly do not think I would feel as comfortable as I do now, without the love and support shown to me from my hockey family.”
The word “family” is used a lot by people within the hockey community, and for one lady, the announcement of the extension of her family, both at home and her club, was nothing less than exciting. Sarah Trinder, from Cheam Hockey Club, went from side-line supporter to Members Secretary when her partner finally persuaded her to play. When the pair revealed they were going to adopt a child, the club were ecstatic. “There was nothing but support and real jubilation. Our son joined us at 3-years-old and he became accustomed to watching us play, either being looked after by one of the junior’s mum’s or playing with the kids of other players on the side-line.” explains Sarah. Now, the big happy family enjoy playing hockey together.
For so many hockey is a hobby, a place to meet up with friends and have fun. Danielle Du Toit, from Newbury and Thatcham Hockey Club, joined three seasons ago at a Back To Hockey session with her girlfriend at the time, and revealed: “I have never felt as though I have had to hide who I am, and I have always found people at the club to be positive, supportive, and inclusive. NTHC is a family made up of people from all walks of life; and me and my rainbow heart couldn’t be happier or prouder to be part of it!”.
Michelle Yam had to choose between two clubs, eventually deciding to join a small club in Milton Keynes called Enigma Ladies Hockey Club, “I called the captain of Enigma Ladies Hockey Club to discuss joining and was instantly excited to meet the team. It was a bit daunting, but the team made me feel really welcome. After my first session, my mind was made up. Enigma are a small local team, which welcomes all ages and skills, which is another reason why I love my team. They have allowed me to really learn from other players, either by being on the pitch or watching on the side-lines. I can 100% say that I’ve never felt my sexuality was in anyway an issue. They welcomed me as a teammate and hockey player before anything else!” recalls Michelle.
For Steph Welsh, it was a bit different, she has been openly gay for a while and no longer hides her sexuality. She joined Bicester Hockey Club after attending a rush hockey session to get back into the sport having not played for years, saying “I’ve never had any negativity from anyone, and on reflection there has been nothing but support.”. For her, the surprise came from the younger players, as she explains: “What has surprised me with being at the club is that there have been a few younger players who are still at school and are open about their sexuality. This would never have been an option when I was at school and it’s great to see that things have moved on and that the younger generation feel able to be who they are, meaning that they can concentrate their efforts on the pitch.”.
Across England there are thousands of hockey clubs filled with amazing people. This is just a small snippet celebrating Pride Month.
England Hockey Board Media release
Hockey India launches application submission system for registration of coaches
Hockey India (HI) on Wednesday launched an open application submission system for registration of its coaches and technical officials. As per the system, probable coaches and technical officials can submit their application online through an open link via social media for approval from HI’s Registered Member Unit (RMU).
Once a candidate submitted the application, he or she would need the approval of the concerned RMU.
An HI release stated that once the application was approved by the RMU, it would require the final approval from the national federation for registration as a coach or technical official.
“It’s brilliant to see the open application and registration platform for coaches and technical officials. The platform will certainly help anybody and everybody, who would like to register as a coach or technical official,” HI president Mohd Mushtaque Ahmad said.