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News for 07 July 2020

All the news for Tuesday 7 July 2020

French hockey co-captain Genestet retires after positive cocaine test

By Michael Houston

Hugo Genestet could face a four-year ban ©Getty Images

French national hockey team co-captain Hugo Genestet has retired from the international game after testing positive for cocaine, abandoning his chance of playing at his home Olympics at Paris 2024.

The 28-year-old, who has made 167 appearances for the French national team, was playing for indoor club side Amicale Anderlecht in Belgium when the banned substance was detected from a test on February 9.

Cocaine also showed up in his B-sample with the midfielder facing a potential four-year ban.

If he is to face the maximum sentence, he would only return to action five months before the start of the Paris Games.

The French national team made it to the quarter-finals of the 2018 World Cup ©Getty Images

On June 26, Genestet, who plays in the outdoor season for Waterloo Ducks, was temporarily suspended pending a trial before a judge at the end of July.

President of Waterloo Ducks, Géry Dohmen, said: "It's a very sad story.

"The club obviously cannot condone such actions which tarnish the image of hockey, but we respect the presumption of innocence since Hugo repeated that the had not ingested this substance."

During his international career, Genestet won a silver medal at the Junior World Cup in New Delhi in India in 2013.

He also competed at the 2018 World Cup where his team reached the quarter-finals – their best performance in 28 years.

Prior to his retirement, he was the second-highest capped player currently playing in the French team.

Inside the Games

Performance Network Launches exciting plan for 2020

In 2017 Hockey New Zealand underwent a strategic project that looked at the way the sport was delivered in New Zealand. Both National Teams ranked between 5-10 in the world. The project was necessary in order to help shift our teams to perform in the top tier of world rankings, whilst continuing to grow the game.

Following two years of research and consultation with the hockey community, Hockey New Zealand landed on a model we believe will improve these world rankings and at the same time enhance the experience for participants.  Players, Coaches and Umpires are able to be supported in a way that means they remain closer to their support networks while receiving the development needed to push for selection in National teams.

The 2020 season saw the implementation of the Performance Network and Development Programme. The purpose of the Network is to be the connector between Community and High-Performance. This linking with the 32 Associations and not being additional is key in sustained delivery.

The Performance Network made a start prior to COVID 19. Setting up these structures allowed our Athletes across the country to stay connected.  Now returning to the turf post-COVID the training program is less reliant on a centralized model. There are increased Association and National activities working together to support participants growth towards High-Performance hockey.

Like all organisations, Hockey New Zealand has needed to be agile since the COVID 19 pandemic hit and affected the International Calendar. With the Tokyo 2020, Olympic Games and Hockey Pro League postponed the Vantage Black Sticks had no immediate competition. Hockey New Zealand is re-designing a High-Performance Program that provides the National Squad with competition to best prepare for the return of International Hockey.

Hockey New Zealand is currently working on still delivering the inaugural domestic Premier Hockey League, to be held in August and September 2020. A chance to showcase our top players from across the country over several weekends. This competition provides the Vantage Black Sticks as well as the emerging next tier with competition, selection and learning opportunities. This will help to prepare our teams for the 2021 Oceania Cup, Tokyo 2021 Olympic Games and the future health of the Vantage Black Sticks programme.

While the COVID 19 pandemic has forced a shift from Hockey New Zealand, it has not diluted the importance of having quality coaches connected across the country and participants with opportunities to access the best support possible.

Hockey New Zealand Media release

New Premier Hockey League underway next month

New Zealand's top men’s and women’s hockey players will feature in a new Premier Hockey League launching next month.

The eight-team (four men and four women), 28-match competition will double as a selection event for the Vantage Black Sticks as they rebuild towards next year’s postponed FIH Pro League and the Tokyo Olympics.

The inaugural league will be held at the new purpose-built National Hockey Centre in Albany, Auckland and matches will be free to attend. The league will run from August 20-23 and September 9-13 for the men, and August 27-30 and September 17-20 for the women.

Hockey New Zealand CEO Ian Francis said they were excited to deliver the competition following today’s funding announcement from the Minister of Sport and Recreation Grant Robertson.

“We’re grateful to Sport NZ and Minister Robertson for the incredible support announced today, and look forward to bringing top-class domestic hockey to our communities”.

“Hockey in New Zealand underwent a comprehensive strategic review to ensure we were fit-for-purpose to achieve one of our key goals for the Vantage Black Sticks Men and Women – to win medals at the upcoming Olympics.

“We have evolved our system to ensure we work more closely with the next tier of players, as well as helping bridge the gap between club and international hockey. This will not only help our national team’s performance on the world stage, but it will continue to grow our game.”

The Premier Hockey League is focused on progressing New Zealand’s top talent into the high-performance environment. Players for the league will be selected from across the country and are all available for Vantage Black Sticks selection. Many are part of the newly developed Performance Network, and all have been back training to prepare for full match play next month.

Hockey New Zealand is also thrilled to announce that Sky Sport is confirmed as the new League’s official broadcaster.

Tex Teixeira, Sky Sports Chief Content Officer commented, “Our aim at Sky Sport Next is to support and encourage New Zealand athletes across a wide range of sports, particularly those with a pathway to the Olympics.  We’re excited that Sky Sport and Sky Sport Next will showcase the Premier Hockey League including the Vantage Black Sticks National Squads – inspiring future world champions, Commonwealth Games athletes and Olympians.”

The previous Ford National Hockey League is now called the Ford National Hockey Championships and is where the 32 Associations will compete for national honours. Along with the K Cup for women and the Challenge Trophy for men, these tournaments remain the pinnacle provincial competitions in the country. They will return in 2021 after Covid-19 enforced cancellations this year.

Premier Hockey League dates (all matches at the National Hockey Centre in Albany, Auckland)

20- 23 August – Men

27 – 30 August – Women

9 – 13 September – Men

17 – 20 September – Women

Hockey New Zealand Media release

Stralkowski the new coach at Uhlenhorst Mülheim

HTC Uhlenhorst Mülheim have announced that Thilo Stralkowski will be the new coach of their men’s first team. 

He will work together with Johannes Schmitz who played a key role alongside Omar Schlingemann in theclub’s last two championship titles as they aim to continue their successful path of recent years. 

“We are very happy and are incredibly proud that we have two Uhlenhorster coaches on board with Thilo and Jo,” said President Hanns-Peter Windfeder.

The 33-year-old Olympic gold medalist has been one of the most recognisable faces on the field at the Mülheim club as a wily forward with a powerful corner shot.

He will be hoping he can finally help guide his club to the EHL FINAL4 and beyond. On the field, he helped the club reach the KO8 twice but they were denied a couple of times when hoping to reach the semi-finals.

Uhlenhorst are currently scheduled to face Rot-Weiss Köln in the FINAL8 of EHL Men on October 15 (17.00 CET) at the Wagener Stadium in the rescheduled competition.

Euro Hockey League media release

Hockey players returned to school, took exam

While he stayed mum on whether any of the players flunked the course, he said most of them had done well.

By Swaroop Swaminathan

India's senior Men's coach, Graham Reid

CHENNAI: The senior men’s and women’s hockey teams, during the lockdown enforced by the coronavirus pandemic, briefly went back to school as they had to study two Hockey India coaching modules before giving a test on the same. As they all locked in their rooms, HI decided now would be a good time to get the players involved in a first-of-its-kind move. As some of the players reciprocated, they got all of them involved in the process followed by an exam.

Coach Graham Reid explained the genesis behind the move. “It was probably a mixture of a lot of things,” he told this daily. “A couple of players showed interest and Hockey India at the same time wanted to do that... and because of Covid-19 there was an opportunity. Everyone was here. It was another opportunity for us to keep learning about the game.”Considering the team and the support staff had already analysed all the games they had played in the previous six months, this opportunity also came at a ‘good time’.

Even otherwise, the Australian was happy that his charges undertook the course. “I think they did level 0 and level 1 of the Indian system,” he said. “There were a lot of things on the classes, the rules for example. I was very happy with what we were going through because in this day and age with referrals and everything, it’s an important part of learning as a player as well. They seemed to take that on board and there will be more opportunities open.”

What was the process like? The former Australian international explains. “They were given a powerpoint presentation they had to look at, they were given a rule book which they had to study... some of them knew it better than the others. But that’s the good part about it, if you had to study for a test, you end up learning a lot more.”

After the players were given sufficient time to read the course material, all of them had to sit through an online exam. Curiously, the question papers were prepared in such a way that no two players got the same paper. This was to ensure that the players did not resort to asking for answers from their neighbours! “After that, they did a vigorous online test where they were all given different versions of the same test. The whole exercise was good as it acted as a good bonding time as well for the players.”

While he stayed mum on whether any of the players flunked the course, he said most of them had done well. “I am not at liberty to tell you that information (laughs),” he said. “But it was a pretty good result by most of them.”

New Indian Express

Newcomers City Hall out for instant impact

By Jugjet Singh

KUALA Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) are eager to make an immediate impact in their Malaysian Junior Hockey League (JHL) debut.

The club hope to play top-tier hockey in Division One next season by finishing top four in Division Two this year.

"We are ready for the challenge. The target is to play against the elite teams next year," said DBKL team manager Abdul Razak Rahman.

The postponed JHL is expected to start in September.

"Most players are PPR (People's Housing Project) residents in KL. Some are products of the KL Sports School.

"I believe we have the best players in KL. Our long-term plan is to field as many of these players in the Malaysia Games.

"The only path to a good Malaysia Games team is to let them play in the JHL, and that is why DBKL had agreed to form a junior squad," he added.

DBKL are serious in grooming young talents under their grassroots programme, known as Hockey Development Plan.

With DBKL taking over the management of the KL Hockey Stadium from Kuala Lumpur HA recently, they can now focus on grooming more players.

New Straits Times

Hockey World Cups, dodgy Olympic qualifiers and nightclub exploits

Men’s World Cup is off to India once again WORLD SPORT PICS

Following the acrimonious ending to Ireland men’s Olympic bid this season, Claire Middleton looks back at four controversies down the years

Call me a naïve Corinthian but I reckon sport should be a good thing; fun, a challenge where you give of your best, promoting teamwork, fair play and leadership.

Well, unfortunately, money and medals have stuffed up that notion good and proper but mention the word ‘controversy’ and it’s not hockey that ever comes readily to mind.

Soccer, with VAR, racism and a Qatar World Cup – now, that’s controversial. Athletics, with the Nike Oregon Project and drugs in general – now that’s controversial.

Cycling, with testosterone, poor medical record keeping and athlete welfare issues, is controversial. Cricket, with sandpaper and racism, is controversial.

In contrast, hockey, a barely professional sport generally involving nice people, almost global with reasonable equality between the sexes and a pretty good record on anti-doping – surely there’s no controversy there?

Like hell there isn’t! There’s plenty of controversy, it’s just that it gets very little oxygen. Believe me it’s there, it just largely stays within the sport, shut down by governing bodies and the FIH. Oh we Tweet and ‘like’ and comment, but we are talking amongst ourselves. NOBODY ELSE OUT THERE IS LISTENING.

Controversy 1: India’s World Cup

Can you imagine the furore if the soccer World Cup was awarded to the same nation three times out of four? That would be great for England, for example, who would not have to qualify but could rest on their laurels as hosts. Do you think other nations would stand for it?

However, having hosted in 2010 and 2018 the next men’s World Cup (in 2023) is heading to India, according to the FIH because of its “income-generation potential”. Just the men, obviously, because we all know that the Indian women’s team are second-class citizens in their own country.

You might point out that Holland have been allocated the event three times … that’s true, but it’s three times since 1971! While the awarding of the event has generated much ill feeling, the real controversy is the lack of transparency over the decision.

A brief press release is all we get with no detail of the bid itself. It’s the three words “income-generation potential” which speak volumes. For all the baloney which was spoken about in the creation of the Pro League, is there a magic money tree anywhere?

Controversy 2: 2020 Olympic qualifier

Yes, yes, yes, it’s Canada v Ireland in the men’s Olympic qualifier last month in Vancouver. The best-of-two play-off saw Ireland win the first match 5-3 but then their legs turned to jelly and it all started going wrong in match two.

However, despite the nerves and the missed chances, it was 2-1 to Canada with one second to go. With one second on the clock, Ireland were heading to the Olympics with a 6-5 aggregate win. Yet in the final Canadian attack, as the final whistle blew, a coming together in the circle led to a last-ditch team referral, more in hope than expectation.

The umpire on the pitch saw no foul, his colleague did not indicate anything to the contrary. However, the video umpire saw something akin to attempted murder and awarded a penalty stroke, to the surprise of absolutely everybody.

As we know, the stroke was converted, the aggregate was levelled and the ensuing penalty shuffle competition went the way of the Canadians, leaving Ireland distraught.

As a couch-potato viewer of that particular match, streamed by BBC Northern Ireland, it was impossible to see what was going on in the circle. None of the video angles I saw illustrated anything conclusive, one way or the other. The commentary team, which included 1988 gold medallist Sam Martin, were not in Vancouver so could offer no additional insight.

So answer me this, FIH. You say there were six camera angles available at the game. So why can’t the video footage used by the video umpire be uploaded onto the FIH website?

Controversy 3: Round robin furore

The Canadians may have been celebrating in 2019, but it was a much less happy tale when they attempted to qualify for the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. The eight-nation round robin was held at the Polo Club in Barcelona and when it got to the sharp end of the tournament, Canada and Malaysia were battling for the final spot.

Their last games were against Belarus and India respectively; if the matches went to form (Canada beating Belarus, and India beating the Malaysians), the Canadians would go through. First up was India v Malaysia and I recall Chris Moore, then the Daily Telegraph’s hockey correspondent, writing in his report that the 0-0 draw was a travesty of a game with both sides barely taking a foot into their opponents’ half.

“You could not believe it,” said a Great Britain spectator, recalling the match. “It was awful to watch. The Canadians were jumping up and down on the side-lines absolutely furious, and I don’t blame them.”

The Canadians took out their frustrations on Belarus, winning 7-1, but it was Malaysia who joined Holland, India, Great Britain and Spain at Atlanta later that year. Nothing was done about the match at the time, nor about extremely credible additional allegations of attempted bribery and match-fixing, but that round-robin qualification format was not used again.

Controversy 4: Olympic spirit crushed

The 2008 women’s Olympic qualifying tournament in Baku, Azerbaijan provided a most extraordinary story of international dirty tricks. Spain eventually clinched their spot in the Beijing Games but two players subsequently tested positive for the nightclub drug ecstasy, having apparently ingested it the evening before their all-important winner-takes-all final against their hosts.

The rules were such that if more than one player was found guilty of a doping violation, their team can be thrown out of the competition. The players denied having taken the drug – as they would, you might say – but because the squad had undergone a fortnight of harassment at their hotel, the team management suspected something fishy.

The squad, plus various officials including the Spanish Hockey’s elderly president, had dined on two separate tables at a restaurant that night. Hair testing carried out on the entire party showed that everyone who had sat at one particular table (including the president) tested positive for ecstasy. The FIH found one player guilty of a doping violation without significant fault or violation and the other was exonerated of any offence but Azerbaijan took the case to CAS with the aim of having Spain chucked out of the Games and taking their place.

CAS heard that four members of the team had collapsed in the hotel prior to a match against Kenya having inhaled gas that had escaped through the air conditioning system, while the whole squad had been unable to sleep having been bombarded with telephone calls to their rooms overnight.

Others felt ill after drinking water provided during matches by organisers.

Azerbaijan’s case was thrown out on August 2 2008, just before the Games, which started six days later. Spain, although they took part, were never in the medal hunt having had their preparations completely undermined.

Azerbaijan’s next move was to turn up at the 2009 European Nations Cup in Manchester with a whole new team – comprised mainly of South Koreans who had “married” Azerbaijani nationals to get passports. Honestly, you couldn’t make this up.

In conclusion…

So, hockey is not immune to controversy and these items don’t tell half the story. If there is a common thread, it’s the lack of leadership and transparency of the FIH allied with a lack of investigative probing by the media – or any other party who does not have a vested interest. Television commentators, for example, are hamstrung by FIH rules on what they can say and those who want the work have no choice but to abide by them.

Newspapers and radio stations no longer send correspondents to attend events and coverage for hockey is extremely limited. This means that the sport’s suits can set the agenda and wear any storms because they are likely to be short lived.

So, I’ll see you on Twitter when the 2027 men’s World Cup goes to …..

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