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News for 31 July 2020

All the news for Friday 31 July 2020

Hockey legend calls for new generation to deliver awesome hockey in Tokyo

As we continue our series of feature stories marking the original event dates of Tokyo 2020, we hear from a true Australia hockey legend, the four-time Olympian Jamie Dwyer.

With an international career that spanned 15 years, 365 matches and resulted in 215 goals, Dwyer couldn’t have started his Olympic odyssey in better style. At Athens in 2004, Dwyer scored a hat trick in his first game (against New Zealand), two more in his second (versus Argentina) and then scored the goal that gave Australia the gold medal in the final against the reigning Olympic champions, the Netherlands. In this interview Dwyer looks back at those magical moments and offers some golden words of advice to athletes heading to Tokyo.

Do you remember the feeling that you got as an athlete standing on the pitch as the national anthem played ahead of your first game at the Athens Olympics?

Jamie Dwyer: “I remember standing with my teammates listening to the national anthem. I was very proud to be there and I was super excited to get the game underway and I just couldn’t wait for the anthem to finish and the whistle to go so I was officially an Olympian.”

Can you talk us through the moment you scored the winning goal in Athens?

Jamie Dwyer: “In 2004 the Olympic final [in Athens] was against Holland and they had won the two Olympics before that. It was nine o’clock at night and a packed crowd. It went to extra time and we got a corner just at the end of the first period of extra time. I was lucky as the ball came over to me and I decided to hit it. It missed the runner’s foot, hit the ‘keeper’s pads and went into the goal. It was a dream come true. Everything I had wanted as a young kid was to go to the Olympics so to do that and win a gold medal was unbelievable. I still pinch myself to this day.”

Do you have a standout Olympic moment (apart from scoring that goal in the 2004 final)?

Jamie Dwyer: “I guess my standout in the Olympics, apart from winning the gold medal and that game, was probably my first game. It is something that has just stuck in my mind so clearly. It was over 16 years ago now. It was against New Zealand and a very hot day. I scored a hat trick, so I was very happy in that game and it meant we got off to a good start and that was when I realised I was an Olympic athlete.”

What has been the best piece of advice you ever received as a player? And what would you say to a young player going into his or her first Olympics?

Jamie Dwyer: “The best piece of advice I ever got was just to enjoy the game and try to reach your potential. So that was the attitude I had throughout my whole career. Going into an Olympics, my whole attitude was enjoy the experience and enjoy the moment but also get the most out of what you’ve got. The sky’s the limit so just grind away and chip away to be the best you can possibly be. If I was going to give any advice to athletes going into their first experience, I would say: ‘It is a unique experience, going to the Olympics, but just remember what you are there for and that is to compete and be your best.”

What do you hope for during the hockey competitions at next year's Tokyo Olympics?

Jamie Dwyer: “What I would like to see at the Tokyo Olympics is some really awesome hockey. Hockey is continually improving, athletes are getting better, the skills are getting better and I want to see unbelievable games. I want to see really competitive matches between all 12 mens’s and women’s teams and show some awesome hockey skills to the world.”

You can follow Jamie Dwyer on Twitter and Instagram

Olympic hockey through the ages

A look back at over 100 years of hockey at the Olympic Games

Los Angeles 1984: Despite Australia men winning the five previous tournaments that they entered, it would be Pakistan and Germany who competed for gold in what was a re-match of the 1972 final. This time, it was the Green Shirts who triumphed, securing a 2-1 win. In the women’s event, the Netherlands – inspired by the goal-scoring exploits of Fieke Boekhorst and Sophie von Weiler – grabbed the country’s first ever Olympic hockey gold medal with a dominant display, claiming five wins and a draw from their six matches in the round-robin event.

Tomorrow: Seoul 1988


On this day – 30 July 1976. New Zealand stunned Oceania rivals Australia in the men’s final, winning the gold medal at the Montreal 1976 Olympic Games at the dawn of the ‘synthetic surface’ era. Captain Tony Ineson, whose elder brother Chris played hockey for New Zealand at Munich 1972, scored the only goal of the game to give his team the Olympic title.

To find out more about purchasing tickets for next year’s Tokyo Olympics, please click here.


FIH site

Boot on the other foot: Retired Indian hockey players turning to coaching

Almost two dozen men and women players, who have all retired over the last decade, are going through Hockey India and International Hockey Federation’s certification process to become accredited coaches and give a fillip to the eroding grassroots structure.

By Mihir Vasavda

Former hockey players Prabhjot Singh, Deepak Thakur and Tushar Khandker.

When Tushar Khandker began his international career in the early 2000s, dribbling the ball along the carpet was still considered one of hockey’s ultimate skills. By the time his days with the national team got over, after a 12-year career, that artistry was making way for sorcery. The dribble was quickly becoming passé and hockey, instead, was going ‘3D’. More and more players were learning to lift the ball off the turf and dribble it in the air while continuing to sprint simultaneously (the art of changing the direction of the ball mid-air creates an illusion of sorts, hence the name ‘3D’).

Today, even that has become a basic skill. “Hockey is changing every four-five years nowadays,” Khandker says. “And we have to keep adapting to all these changes.” Adapting to changes hasn’t really been India’s strength. Indian hockey has been notoriously slow in responding to almost every change that has been introduced in the game over the last five decades and watching domestic hockey is sometimes akin to indulging in time travel.

Now, Khandker and his contemporaries are trying to bring about a change. Almost two dozen men and women players, who have all retired over the last decade, are going through Hockey India and International Hockey Federation’s certification process to become accredited coaches and give a fillip to the eroding grassroots structure. The list of players wanting to turn into coaches is long: apart from Khandker, his former India teammates Deepak Thakur, Prabhjot Singh, Devesh Chauhan, Shivendra Singh, Bharat Chetri, Gurbaj Singh, Sameer Dad, Vickram Kanth and Girish Pimple are some of the players who have undertaken the course along with 2002 Commonwealth Games gold medallists Pritam Siwach, Sanggai Chanu and Helen Marry, among others.

During the lockdown, the 32 men and 23 women’s team players in the core group for the Tokyo Olympics attended a basic course online as part of Hockey India’s ambitious attempt to formalise India’s coaching pyramid. Since the process was introduced in April 2019, roughly 650 coaches have gone through the certification programme, according to Hockey India’s high-performance director David John.

“It is by design (to have recently-retired and current players into the coaching programme). The idea is to give them an early introduction to see whether they like this and then it is their choice,” John says.

Like in most other areas, India has woken up late to the concept of getting the players into coaching. In the Netherlands, for example, it is common for senior club or national team players to coach the junior teams simultaneously while playing. It is similar in Australia as well, where the players begin coaching while having an active career. Hence, it is common to see just-retired players taking up senior roles with different national teams: for instance, 34-year-old Chris Ciriello, who played for Australia at the 2016 Olympics, is currently the analytical coach of the Indian men’s team.

India, on the other hand, has made its aversion to investing in coaches obvious over the years. That Graham Reid was the 26th men’s team coach in 25 years when he was appointed in May 2019 shows the complete lack of understanding of the head coach’s role. At the same time, developing domestic coaches has never been a priority until now; a fact that many say is the reason for the national team’s relentless slide since the mid-1970s.

Getting up-to-date

Despite having produced some world-class players, one can count on fingertips the number of player-turned-coaches who have made an impact since India won its last Olympic medal in 1980 – MK Kaushik, Rajinder Singh Senior, Vasudevan Baskaran and Harendra Singh. “We all assume great players become great coaches but that’s not always the case,” John says.

While mere certification might not be the magic bullet, John says it will help create a cohesive playing style across the country, especially at the sub-junior level, and help Indian coaches get up-to-date with modern hockey’s systems and terminologies. John says the aim is to develop an overall playing philosophy that will be implemented bottom-up, and within that structure, give the domestic teams the space to maintain their own style. “Having been to four national championships, I have seen very little difference between the teams in the way they prepared and were coached… no change in patterns or style or structure in any of the teams really,” John says.

He cites rolling substitutions as an example. “In international hockey, we make 60-80 rotations in a match so the players are very familiar to be changed every 2-3 minutes whereas in domestic hockey, it’s seen as a slight if a player is made to change.”

Khandker, who was India’s assistant coach at the Rio Olympics, says the coaching programme has given him an idea about dealing with player injuries, recovery, psychological issues and man-management. There are other visible changes as well.

For instance, at the National Championships in Gwalior two years ago, Khandker, one of the coaches of the Petroleum Sports Promotion Board team, stationed himself on top of a water tank near the ground to provide tactical inputs to Devesh Chauhan, who was handling the dugout. This role – extremely critical in modern hockey as it gives a bird’s-eye view of the match – is fairly common internationally as well as club hockey elsewhere but very few domestic teams in India do it because of lack of personnel in the coaching team as well as lack of knowledge.

A lot of current coaches have a diploma from the National Institute of Sport in Patiala. “That gave an overall perspective on coaching. The current programme gives me specific insights on hockey coaching,” says Pritam Siwach.

The 2002 Commonwealth Games gold medallist has been running an academy in Sonepat and has produced several players from the region. Siwach says she has made ‘small but important changes’ to her style. “When a young child comes, I don’t give her a hockey stick. Instead, for the first few weeks, she plays football and/or relays. It takes the pressure off them and they can put to use their learnings from other sports in hockey,” she says.

Following sports other than hockey is a key element of the programme. “It’s also important they watch Pro League matches and see if other countries use patterns and systems which we aren’t using in India,” John says.

The whole purpose of the exercise, John adds, is to create a pool of Indian coaches who are well versed with the latest rules and tactics, and not necessarily to reduce India’s reliance on foreign experts. In the last decade, Harendra has been the only Indian coach to have taken charge of the national men’s team.

“Belgium is world number one and they don’t have a Belgium-born coach coaching any of their teams, men or women,” John says. “With a foreigner, you get a good viewpoint. (Legendary Australian coach) Ric Charlesworth always had a European on his coaching staff to get a perspective when they were playing a European opponent. (But) it’s important to have a good representation of Indians on coaching panels. Going forward, their positions will get senior, and that’s good for Indian hockey.”

New Indian Express

Kookas duo bring hockey joy to Pilbara

The Pilbara region in Western Australia has had its first visit from some of Australia’s hockey elite for 2020 as Kookaburras Tyler Lovell and Jake Whetton held a host of coaching clinics across two jam packed days.

The Kookaburras duo, together with Hockey WA’s Schools & Inclusion Officer Melissa Gmeiner, conducted hour long hockey clinics, comprising skills and games, for students in Years 3-6 at the following schools: Tambrey Primary School, St Paul’s Primary School, Baynton West Primary School, Pegs Creek Primary School, Karratha Primary School and Roebourne District High School. They also held a session for juniors at the Karratha Hockey Association.

Lovell and Whetton also distributed a large number of HookIn2Hockey packs, which include hockey sticks, balls and shin pads. HookIn2Hockey is Hockey Australia’s dedicated kids hockey start up program.

Upon their return to Perth, Lovell reiterated how worthwhile the experience and time spent is, not only for the students and the Pilbara community, but also the High Performance athletes who go.

“It was fantastic. The kids were really excited and engaged…they loved it,” said Lovell.

“These trips are about promoting hockey in the Pilbara and making it fun for the kids, getting them active.”

Lovell and Whetton’s visit was part of the Pilbara Community Hockey Program, a program that sees Hockeyroos and Kookaburras athletes make special visits to the Pilbara to promote hockey, exercise and a healthy, active lifestyle, particularly to kids.

Thanks to the support of Fortescue Metals Group, one of Hockey Australia’s major partners, the Pilbara Community Hockey Program continues to grow and is now into its tenth year.

Hockey Australia media release

The Help Side Podcast

Looking for a quality hockey and sport podcast? Check out ‘The Help Side’, an outstanding podcast hosted by Kookaburras forward Tom Craig.

Simply, The Help Side features Tom speaking to some of the most recognisable names in world hockey.

The thought of a podcast that provides a rare insight into the minds and journeys of some of hockey’s elite and best known players and characters had been on Tom’s radar for some time.

Then when COVID-19 hit, forcing the 2020 FIH Pro League and Olympics to be postponed, it provided the ideal opportunity for him to delve in and launch into it.

Tom has already released 12 episodes of The Help Side and his guest list is already full of five-star hockey talent including triple Olympic gold medallist Rechelle Hawkes, dual FIH Women’s World Player of the Year Eva de Goede, current Kookaburras co-captain Aran Zalewski and 2019 FIH Women’s Goalkeeper of the Year Rachael Lynch to name but a few.

The Help Side - The greatest Hockeyroos team?

Rechelle Hawkes won Olympic Gold with the Hockeyroos in 1988, 1996 and 2000. If these teams faced each other, who would win? #TheHelpSide Spotify: bit.ly/TheHelpSide Apple Podcasts: bit.ly/The_Help_Side

Posted by The Help Side on Friday, June 12, 2020

 If you are yet to catch any of the previous episodes never fear, all of Tom’s guests and an overview on each podcast is below – the are all well worth a listen.

Make sure to follow The Help Side social media channels and subscribe to the podcast to stay across whenever another edition is online.

The Help Side Podcast
Apple Podcasts:

PodBean: http://thehelpside.podbean.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/thehelpside

Instagram: @thehelpside

Twitter: @TheHelpSide

Episode 1 (Jeremy Hayward)
Jeremy Hayward has been one of the mainstays in the line up of the Australian men's field hockey team, the Kookaburras, over the past five years, winning gold medals at the World Cup and Commonwealth Games. But it hasn’t all been plain sailing. In this episode, he talks about the challenges of relocating to Perth as an 18-year-old, the disappointment of the 2016 Olympic campaign as well as what it’s like to live with a partner who is also an elite hockey player. Spotify: bit.ly/TheHelpSide Apple Podcasts: bit.ly/The_Help_Side

Episode 2 (Matthew Swann)
Matthew Swann or Swanny as he’s affectionately known, is one of the most popular players not just in the Kookaburras squad but in the sport! He’s a two time Olympian, a dual World Cup gold medallist and a qualified accountant. The energiser bunny of the Australian team, he can be carrying the ball into the attacking circle at one end and in a matter of seconds, inexplicably be making a goal-saving tackle at the other. Swanny’s skill, speed and elite level of fitness has made him one of the most dominant outside halves of the decade.

This interview follows Swanny’s journey from central Queensland where he grew up, to Brisbane then Perth in pursuit of his hockey dreams, and ultimately to the pinnacle of hockey at the London and Rio Olympics - and he’s not done yet. Spotify: bit.ly/TheHelpSide Apple Podcasts: bit.ly/The_Help_Side

Ever wondered what a day in the life of a professional athlete looks like? Let alone one who juggles a full-time job...

Posted by The Help Side on Thursday, April 30, 2020

Episode 3 (Aran Zalewski)
Aran Zalewski or Moose as he’s more commonly known is the co-captain of the Australian men’s hockey team and a proud West Australian. Hailing from the famous Margaret River region, Moose is one of the premier players in world hockey and was nominated for the FIH World Player of the Year award in 2019 - an impressive accolade to add to his gold medals at the World Cup and Commonwealth Games. He is the general of the national team - a big, strong defensive midfielder who calls the shots for the Kookaburras in both attack and defence.

In this interview, Tom and Aran talk about leadership, the professionalism required to make it to the top in elite sport, and the insatiable quest for self-improvement that has made Aran the world-class player he is today. As you’ll hear there are two sides to Aran - the determined, ultra-competitive elite athlete - and the chilled, laid back surfer dude - a juxtaposition that makes him a fascinating guy to chat to. Spotify: bit.ly/TheHelpSide Apple Podcasts: bit.ly/The_Help_Side

Episode 4 (Katrina Powell)
Katrina Powell is a bona fide legend of Australian Hockey. A key member of the all-conquering Hockeyroos team of the 1990s and early 2000s, Triny went to three consecutive Olympic Games and achieved every hockey player’s dream, not once but twice, winning gold medals at both the Atlanta and Sydney Games. A prolific goal scorer, Triny found the back of the net an impressive 141 times for the Hockeyroos across a career spanning the best part of a decade. Post her playing career Triny is continuing to score goals as a coach.

In this interview, she reflects on what was a golden era of Australian hockey to understand the ingredients that made the Hockeyroos so dominant but also delves into why that dominance ended. She talks about the challenges of transitioning from an athlete to a coach and also her take on how the sport can do better to support women to become more involved in coaching. As someone who has dedicated their life to hockey, Triny has amazing insight into what it takes to succeed. Spotify: bit.ly/TheHelpSide Apple Podcasts: bit.ly/The_Help_Side

Episode 5 (Rachael Lynch)
Nurse, business owner, mental health ambassador, Australian hockey player, shoot-out beast and FIH World Goalkeeper of the Year. These are just some of the ways to describe star goalkeeper Rachael Lynch. After debuting in 2006, Rach has played a whopping 223 games for the Hockeyroos, a statistic that includes appearances at three World Cups, five Champions Trophies, three Commonwealth Games and the Rio Olympic Games. Playing in arguably the most competitive position on the field, Lynchy provides a goalkeeper’s take on competing at the highest level, and all that entails.

With 14 years of experience, Rach has seen almost all there is to see over her stellar career with the Hockeyroos. From the ordeal of missing two Olympic selections to being crowned World Goalkeeper of the Year, you’ll find Rach has learned an incredible amount over her journey that started with a 12-year-old basketball-playing tomboy from Melbourne. Rach shares those lessons in a very candid manner, along with some of her goalkeeping secrets to being the best in the world. Spotify: bit.ly/TheHelpSide Apple Podcasts: bit.ly/The_Help_Side

Episode 6 (Adam Dixon)
Part A

Adam Dixon is the current captain of the Great Britain men’s hockey team and is one of the most highly respected players in world hockey having represented England and GB on more than 250 occasions. Adam is an Olympian, dual Commonwealth Games medallist, European Championships Gold medallist, Hockey India League champion, and above all else he is a ripping bloke. Tom and Adam cover plenty of ground in this interview - so much so that it had to be split into two episodes.

In this episode, Adam gives us an insight into the GB high performance set up and the challenges of the lockdown - including how he was forced into early isolation with suspected coronavirus symptoms. He talks about the current state of the game in the UK - a country where hockey is enjoying a bit of a renaissance following the London Olympics and the gold medal success of the GB women at the Rio games. Adam is open, thoughtful and has some interesting perspectives on where the game needs to head to break into the mainstream. Spotify: bit.ly/TheHelpSide Apple Podcasts: bit.ly/The_Help_Side

Part B
In this episode, Adam shares his journey as an international hockey player - from winning gold at his first international tournament to missing selection at his home Olympics in London through to getting his chance to shine at Rio and now being on the verge of leading his country to the Tokyo games as captain. Spotify: bit.ly/TheHelpSide Apple Podcasts: bit.ly/The_Help_Side

Episode 7 (Michael McCann)
As one of only 16 Kookaburras to have won an Olympic gold medal, Michael McCann can rightly be considered one of the greats of Australian hockey. From his aunty giving him 10 cents a goal as a kid running around Bankstown in Sydney’s west, to playing in the pressure cooker of Olympic and World Cup finals, and now coaching at the elite level in Germany, Mick has done just about everything there is to do in the sport.

Mick’s insight, humour and unbridled love of hockey shines through in this interview and you will come to appreciate why Mick believes “hockey is in his blood". He takes us behind the scenes of the famous Athens gold medal-winning class of 2004 with some cracking stories that you won’t want to miss. The interview concludes where Mick reflects on the culture shock of starting out as a coach in Germany, a nation where things are done a bit differently from the way we do things in Australia. Spotify: bit.ly/TheHelpSide Apple Podcasts: bit.ly/The_Help_Side

Episode 8 (Ashley Morrison)
For hockey fans down under, Ashley Morrison can reasonably be considered the voice of hockey. With 32 years in media across 37 different countries, Ashley is the world’s premier hockey broadcaster with a level of insight and attention to detail that is second to none. He’s a commentator, journalist, writer, award-winning documentary maker, and as anyone that knows him will tell you - a fierce ambassador for sports like hockey that maybe don’t get the recognition in the mainstream media that they deserve. If you haven’t listened to his podcast, search for Not the Footy Show on any podcasting platform, it is a cracking sports show.

Ash is a man with a passion for both the history and the human side of sport and in this podcast we talk about his journey as a sports journalist - a path that has taken him to all corners of the globe - and we tackle some of the big issues facing hockey as a sport from TV coverage and the Pro League, to the domestic and international calendar, through to grassroots hockey and the current state of the game. Spotify: bit.ly/TheHelpSide Apple Podcasts: bit.ly/The_Help_Side

Episode 9 (Rechelle Hawkes)
When it comes to champions of hockey they don’t get any bigger than Rechelle Hawkes. Winner of an incredible three Olympic and two World Cup gold medals, Rechelle was the captain of the all-conquering Hockeyroos during the 1990s, an era where they swept all before them to become one of the greatest teams of all time, not just in hockey but across any sport. In 2000 Rechelle joined Dawn Fraser as one of only two Australian women to win gold at three separate Olympic Games and in 2018 she was made a member of the Order of Australia for significant services to hockey as a player, captain, role model and commentator.

From growing up in Western Australia to reading the Athlete’s oath at the Sydney Olympics, Rechelle’s story is one of resilience, determination and extreme dedication that saw her reach a standard of achievement that quite frankly may never be seen again in our sport. Spotify: bit.ly/TheHelpSide Apple Podcasts: bit.ly/The_Help_Side

Episode 10 (Eva de Goede)
Part A

Back-to-back reigning FIH Women’s Player of the Year, Eva de Goede, joined Tom for a two-part special. Few teams have dominated a sport to the extent that the Dutch national team have dominated the women’s game since their Olympic Gold in 2008 and Eva has been there for every major moment along the way. A two-time FIH World Player of the Year, Eva has arguably the most impressive hockey resume of any current hockey player. Boasting over 230 internationals, Eva has incredibly lost only two games across three World Cups and three Olympics in her career.

In this episode, she discusses what it is that makes the Dutch so successful, and what it feels like to be part of that team. She also provides some of her most memorable hockey moments, of which there are many. In typical Dutch fashion, Eva is incredibly forthright about her experiences at the top and as you can imagine has some wonderful lessons to share as she’s progressed from the fresh-faced 17-year-old debutant from a little town in the Netherlands to the captain of the world’s best team.

Part B
In this episode, Eva touches on her learnings from taking a year away from the sport. The results of that break were remarkable with de Goede being crowned the FIH Women's Player of the Year twice after her return. Talk about a good sabbatical. Spotify: bit.ly/TheHelpSide Apple Podcasts: bit.ly/The_Help_Side

Episode 11 (Flynn Ogilvie)
Part A

Flynn Ogilvie burst onto the international hockey scene in 2014 and has since mesmerised defenders and spectators alike with his skill and speed. Hailing from Wollongong on the NSW South Coast, Flynn has been through a lot on his journey to 109 games for the Kookaburras, a tally that includes a Commonwealth Games Gold and a berth at a World Cup, both in 2018.

In this episode, Flynn talks about what it’s like to grow up in a family with six siblings who all play hockey. He then touches on his journey from playing juniors in the Gong to a whirlwind move to Perth in order to vie for a spot at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, including discussing the things he learnt in overcoming a serious injury that put him out for the better part of a year. Flynn is a ripping lad and speaks openly about the highs and lows of living in a high-performance environment. Spotify: bit.ly/TheHelpSide Apple Podcasts: bit.ly/The_Help_Side

Part B
Learning to play a new position is tough at any level, let alone having to do it on the international stage with the Kookaburras. Flynn Ogilvie talks through his transition from midfielder to striker and much more in Part B of his interview. Spotify: bit.ly/TheHelpSide Apple Podcasts: bit.ly/The_Help_Side

Episode 12 (Kieran Govers)
The man they call the Tattooed Titan, Kieran Govers. After bursting on to the scene for the Kookaburras as a youngster at the 2010 World Cup, Kieran quickly became one of the most popular players in world hockey and made a name for himself as a lethal striker and walking highlight reel, with some of the most unforgettable goals scored on the world stage. Kieran’s story is by no means a smooth one, and the resilience Kieran has shown throughout his career is something truly inspiring.

Tom and Kieran sat down after a game of golf in the change rooms of Sutherland Hockey Club and chatted about the highs and lows of his career. Being one of the great Sydney clubs, you’ll hear a bunch of excited kids in the background at times, eager to get back to training and there’ll be an intrusion or two, but to be honest, it was kind of fitting. Kieran is one of the true servants of hockey, and despite it being really quite a cruel game to him at times, his love and passion for the game and its development remains quite incredible. Spotify: bit.ly/TheHelpSide Apple Podcasts: bit.ly/The_Help_Side

Hockey Australia media release

Negri to challenge on two fronts

By Jugjet Singh

Malaysian National player Marhan Jalil, who powered Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) to three titles this season, will lead Negri’s Razak Cup challenge. - NSTP file pic

NEGRI Sembilan have set two targets for Malaysia's Razak Cup on Sept 18-26 at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Their first target is to qualify for the men's quarter-finals while the second is to field a combined Under-14 and Under-16 side in the women's tournament.

"Qualifying for the men's quarter-finals will depend on the draw.

"Fielding a young women's team is also our dream this year," team manager S. Chandran.

The men's event will see 15 teams in four groups while 11 teams will fight for the women's crown.

However, Negri's hopes of fielding a young women's team will depend on whether the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) is extended beyond Aug 31.

"School children are only allowed to play sports on weekends during the RMCO.

"We have a back-up plan in place if the RMCO is extended.

"We will field our Under-21 team, instead, who are preparing for next year's Malaysia Games," said Chandran.

National player Marhan Jalil, who powered Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) to three titles this season, will lead Negri's Razak Cup challenge.

As for retired national goalkeeper S. Kumar, who hails from Tampin, Chandran said he will have to get clearance from the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) to play for his state as he is a full-time attachment coach now.

"But even if Kumar can't play, we still have national junior goalkeeper Che Shahrul Azmi to depend on," Chandran added.

All Razak Cup teams will only be allowed to train and play friendly matches from Aug 15.

New Straits Times

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