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News for 25 August 2020

All the news for Tuesday 25 August 2020

Batteries charged: FIH Hockey Pro League all set for return

There is just under one month to go before the FIH Hockey Pro League makes a welcome return on 22 & 23 September. Reigniting the global league will be the men’s and women’s teams of Germany and Belgium as they take to the pitch in the first of a series of European focused matches.

It has been a long seven months without international hockey competition and players and coaching staff are relieved to be getting back to the action, albeit under very different circumstances to pre-Covid times.

Among the measures being taken to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the matches, the games will be played behind closed doors and in adherence to the safety guidelines of the competing governing bodies. Hygiene and personal safety equipment will be used in accordance to national association guidelines.

Despite a very different atmosphere around the stadium, with no spectators and strict hygiene protocols, everyone involved is buzzing with anticipation.

Belgium men's Head Coach Shane McLeod says that what his players might be lacking in match play they will more than make up for in enthusiasm. “It has been a long time since we have played an international match,” he says. “Our players have done a great job physically and we will take the opportunity to test where we are at after such a long period. Our structures may need to be put together again [after such  long break] but the skill levels should still be at a  high standard."

And the German women's captain Janne Müller-Wieland says: "It will be great to get back to international hockey. It will be a bit weird with all the safety guidelines and no spectators, but if that is what it takes to be allowed to play again, that is fine by us. It will be great for the hockey world to start the Hockey Pro League again."

Ireland's Alison Keogh will be one of the team of umpires officiating at the opening weekend of the FIH Hockey Pro league action. She says: “I’m looking forward to getting back out on the pitch. It’s been really strange not being at hockey or even being able to watch any games for so long. I think this was my first summer without hockey in over 10 years.”

Like the players, the umpires have been keeping fit and primed for a return to hockey through home workouts. As Keogh explains, it has been important for both physical and mental well-being to stay as active as possible throughout the months of lock-down.

“I made sure I kept on top of things training wise during the break, so I’m lucky that I could keep that going. It was so important mentally to keep active, never mind from a fitness perspective. My trainer at Fitness Health Performance was great at keeping me going with some home workouts during lockdown and since the gym opened I’ve been back training as normal. I’m feeling good.

Nick Pink is CEO of England Hockey and Great Britain. Great Britain will be returning to action in October with matches against the Netherlands and Belgium, before hosting Germany at home.

"At GB Hockey we are looking forward to the return to competitive international hockey, and an opportunity not only for our players, coaches and support staff but those  GB Hockey fans looking forward to an exciting year ahead leading up to the Olympic Games. Covid-19 has taken so much away from us in the last few months, not least the opportunity to host the GB Hockey home games in May and June, and we are hopeful for the restart, and excited about the international game returning with the FIH Hockey Pro League."

“We have been ramping things up,” says Great Britain’s Emily Defroand. “It has been so good to get back into training. There is a real buzz and energy around the team after this long break. We have had a lot of conversations with the coaches, the Performance Director, and we are very optimistic about the restart. We will be ready and firing on all cylinders by the end of October.

“This break has been good for us. Another year of honing our style of play, a year to develop as a team and it has also meant players carrying an injury has allowed them to re-set the battery.”

It is not just the players and coaches who are looking forward to a return to hockey action. In Hawaii, Argentinian super fans Melisa Lin and Eric Dubois are equally excited about the FIH Hockey Pro League being back on the screen: "We are following all the teams on Instagram and saw how they have started training and preparing themselves," says Melisa.

"We, as big field hockey fans, are super thankful to the FIH for giving us the opportunity to keep watching field hockey and to keep spreading the sport globally. Last year we were able to subscribe on "Bleacher Report" and watch all the games through that platform. We are Argentinian fans so we want them to win of course.”

One Argentinian who shares Melisa and Eric’s hopes for a good showing from Las Leonas is super striker Delfina Merino: “We are all looking forward to start again with the FIH Pro League,” she says. “The team has really missed international matches. Our last game was in Argentina against the Netherlands and it was really exciting and tense, so we are glad that time is coming again.”

For India’s captain Manpreet Singh, there is both excitement and a sense of caution. “Our team is always ready to hit the ground but, as you know, we have a few months till our Pro League matches [April], so we are keeping in mind the Covid situation and are working out in the best possible way to reach our top level fitness by the time the Pro League matches start.

With their FIH Hockey Pro League competition also starting again in April, Australia’s Tyler Lovell says his team are taking a slightly different approach to many of the other competing nations: “With such a long build up to our next Pro League game, we have the opportunity to review and analyse areas of our game that we need to improve on and adjust.

“Our build up to the next Pro League game will be very different to a lot of the other nations. We’ll have a daily training environment starting up in January 2021 and a lot of high intensity and competitive inter squad games which we’re confident will have us ready to go come April.”

As the FIH Pro League prepares to spring back with its exciting brand of global hockey, FIH chief executive officer Thierry Weil is also delighted to see the sport ready to resume its season, albeit with strict and necessary measures in place.

"The FIH Hockey Pro League has been created to boost the promotion of hockey," says Weil. "It brings ‘hockey at its best’ to fans, who can enjoy thrilling matches from the stadium or watch them on TV or digital streaming. Therefore, after such a long break due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential and delightful that this competition, which hockey fans and players have been missing so much, comes back, with of course all necessary measures to protect everybody’s health.”



Official FIH Pro League Site

Defroand's down-to-earth approach

Hockey players are often asked to be ambassadors for projects and organisations. As people who are frequently in the public eye, combined with the many values associated with a successful sports career, international sports athletes can often get across messages that teachers, parents, managers and politicians often cannot.

All of which means that the athletes must take their role as ambassadors very seriously and give a certain level of commitment to their chosen charities or organisations. They also have to be acutely aware of the messages they are putting across, because the range and volume of social media outlets means one slip-up can destroy months or even years of good work.

One highly active and very committed ambassador is Great Britain and England hockey player Emily Defroand. The 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist spoke to FIH about her work as ambassador for three organisations that are working in a field that is well and truly under the spotlight.

As ambassador to the East London Project, Spencer Lynx Hockey and Flyerz Hockey, Emily Defroand is kept very busy. All three organisations are concerned with increasing hockey’s diversity and inclusivity, issues that Defroand is both passionate about and committed to.

“Myself and Helen Richardson-Walsh [2016 Olympic gold medallist] were asked to be ambassadors for the East London Project and, in that role, we have visited loads of different schools, clubs and hockey events,” says the 26-year-old midfielder. “As part of the ongoing project – which launched to coincide with the 2018 Women’s World Cup in London – we run hockey sessions, chat to the children and try to get hockey to be a sport that is relevant to the kids in this area.”

Taking a role as an ambassador with the East London Project resonates strongly with Emily; she is a product of the state school system herself and went to the Coopers Company and Coburn School in Havering – one of the London Boroughs at the heart of the East London Project.

“Hockey is primarily a white, private school sport in England,” she says. “I went to a state school that taught hockey on the curriculum and, while we didn’t play half as much as some of the schools in the country, or have the same sort of facilities and resources, I was still lucky to get the opportunity within my school experience.”

One of the key factors in getting people from a diverse range of backgrounds into the sport is the visibility of relatable role models. For youngsters growing up in deprived and disadvantaged areas of London, Defroand certainly offers that.

“We laugh about it within the squad, but I do sound different to the majority of the hockey community,” says Defroand, who has a instantly recognisable East London accent. “When I am visiting schools, I get children coming up to me and saying ‘Miss, you sound like me, where have you come from? Are you really a Great Britain player?”

There are already signs that the project is working. Defroand regularly receives messages from children she has coached to say that they have taken part in a hockey festival or been to a training session at a club. Some of the schools that the project has visited are now competing in local events.

But Defroand has a realistic view on the challenge hockey faces in spreading to a wider section of the population. “There are many, many children who don’t have the same opportunities and we have to ask how can we make sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to participate in our sport. The East London Project is a start but we would be kidding ourselves if we said, two years in, that the job is done. There is a long, long way to go with the provision in the inner cities.”

Defroand is also an ambassador for the Spencer Lnyx project, which is providing hockey in the community in South West London. Her fellow international Rhys Smith has launched Hockey Inner City to introduce hockey in cities, particularly to children from Black and Asian communities. These, along with Flyerz Hockey, which provides hockey opportunities to people with disabilities, are three examples of a number of initiatives across the UK.

For Defroand, one of the most important things that the national governing body, England Hockey, can do to address diversity issues is to support these projects that are already up and running and to promote a joined-up approach between clubs and schools. “I think they [England Hockey] are very aware of issues within the sport. What would be great is to see the good work being done by such projects built upon and expanded.

“It’s the same with the clubs. We have a great club system in the UK, but how can we get them more involved to welcome people from all backgrounds through the door. The clubs can offer facilities and expertise to schools that don’t have an astroturf or even a playground.

“I want hockey to be a safe place where everyone from all backgrounds can be proud to play hockey,” says Defroand. “It is a big challenge but that is where we come on board, as ambassadors. Whether we are from an ethnic minority background, a LGBTQ+ background, a different social class – as ambassadors we can show that hockey is a sport for all.”

Throughout lockdown, Defroand has been working hard on making sure the message is getting out. She has been interviewed for a number of online sports websites and blogs, she is hugely active on social media platforms and she hosts her own online chat show – a Cuppa and a Natter – where she interviews elite female athletes from a range of sports.

“Whenever I have an opportunity to use my platform to raise an issue that is important, I think it is a no-brainer. Hockey has given me so much, it is my duty to give back to the sport and help to make hockey bigger and better. All three of my ambassador commitments are about inclusivity and that is something I am hugely passionate about.”

“My priority is my hockey, whether that is Surbiton [Defroand’s club], England or Great Britain, but it is not 24/7. And, in truth, having something else to take the focus away from hockey is really good for me. It means I can be refreshed when I get back on the hockey pitch.

“I try to use social media to celebrate things that people have achieved. You do get some negativity but you just have to ignore that. I also have to stay aware that I am representing not just myself but my squad too. So that is always in the forefront of my mind when I post anything on social media. There is a line that I have to watch as an international athlete.”

FIH site

Learning the art of drag-flicking the turning point of my career says Gurjit Kaur

Learning the art of drag-flicking has been the turning point of her career as it helped her find success while representing the national side, said women’s hockey team star Gurjit Kaur.

Gurjit was part of the silver medal-winning team at the Asian Games 2018 and was the leading goalscorer in India’s triumphant campaign at the women’s FIH Series Finals last year.

“I think learning the drag-flicking technique properly has been the turning point of my career. Everyone has a role to play in a hockey team and I am very happy about putting in a lot of effort to be a good drag-flicker for our side,” Gurjit was quoted as saying in a Hockey India media release.

“I have received a lot of support from my teammates and coaches to learn and fine-tune the art of drag-flicking as my career has progressed,” she added.

The 24-year-old, who has gone on to become a crucial drag-flicker for the Indian side, said that she didn’t have much knowledge about the art prior to joining the junior national camp.

“I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about drag-flicking before I joined the junior national camp in 2012. I used to practice drag-flicking before I joined the camp, but I hadn’t learned the basics of the technique properly.”

“When I joined the camp then only, I understood the basics of drag-flicking and I kept getting better at it during the course of my career,” said the defender.

Asked about the one thing that has helped her become a successful athlete at the international stage, Gurjit said that consistent hard work has never let her down.

“Working hard is the most important thing for anybody to be a successful athlete. I have worked very hard on my game and therefore I am enjoying the fruits now,” she said.

“I always train hard during practice sessions and I never give up in any situation. I will continue to put in my efforts and I am sure it will hold me in good stead throughout my career,” Gurjit added.

Inside Sport

Rani Rampal is India's veritable Hockey Queen

Errol D'Cruz

Under her leadership India made vast strides. Photo: K. Arumugam

Rani Rampal has been the face of Indian women’s hockey for well over a decade. Her stature and value to the Indian women’s hockey team duly brought her the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, adding to the Arjuna she won in 2016  and Padmashree earlier this year.

Of course, that face wasn’t viewable in the general sports media unless one were to be, not just a hockey aficionado, but a women’s hockey buff. After all, hockey if at all, gets scanty coverage and women’s hockey generally gets relegated to News In Brief.

Occasionally, however, Indian women’s hockey expands to a two column or three column story with a picture and a mention on Page 1. On those occasions, Rani has been an integral part of the team’s ground-breaking surge.

Be it Belarus or Belgium Rani invariably leaves her mark. Photo: K. Arumugam

Two of those instances concerned the women’s team’s qualifying for the 2016 and 2020 Olympics. The first brought India a place at the Games after 36 long years. And the first time that the women successfully went through the grind of qualification successfully.

At Moscow 1980, India entered the fray as invitees in a field hit by a US-led boycott that left only six nations – devoid of most leading lights — participating.

Rani’s terrific strike, high into the Japanese net in the HWL at Antwerp, Belgium, eked out a 1-0 win for India and a historic entry into the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The second, at Bhubaneswar in the Olympic Qualifier against the USA last year — another Rani special that travelled at lightning speed into the back of the net to book India a spot for the now postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

She, most often, has made it count. And in the case of the Bhubaneswar encounter against the Americans who came back sensationally in the second leg and threatened to deny India an Olympic spot.

Some more three-column coverage. In 2017, India won the Asia Cup in Kakamigahara, Japan, beating powerhouse China via the shootout in the final.

It was a stupendous achievement, given the stature of the Chinese. The decisive goal in sudden-death, needless to say perhaps, came through Rani!

In the pool match, the Indian lasses thrashed China 4-1 with Rani again getting onto the scoresheet. But more than mere statistics, the Shahabad girl, inspired by the ‘Chak De India’ girls who wrested 2002 Commonwealth Games gold at Manchester, represented India at just 14 and has since exerted a profound influence on the pitch.

A forward, who doubles up as midfielder, Rani has stick skills, speed, ball control, telepathic passing ability and an astute capability to read the game – facets she has displayed in 212 matches during which she has scored 134 times.

A year earlier, the Rani-led team showed signs of things to come. They beat China 2-1 in the final of the 2016 Asian Champions Trophy in Singapore to wrest their first title.

A protégé of Dronacharya awardee Baldev Singh at the Shahabad Academy in Haryana, she has grappled with poverty and prejudice to shatter the stereotype in her town where an adverse gender balance – among the worst in the country — can be debilitating.

Her father, a cart-puller and mother fought local barbs that denounced girls playing in shorts and skirts and prophesised doomsday for the family in terms of social standing.

Back to cold facts and figures: Rani was voted Player of the Tournament at the 2013 Junior World Cup in Moenchengladbach, Germany. The award recognized her role in India’s historic bronze medal finish in which India beat England in the tie-breaker where Rani was successful in both her attempts.

Think for a moment: This was a podium finish at a global major. It was huge in the context of Indian women’s hockey. No surprise, perhaps, if you followed the goings-on at the 2010 Women’s World Cup in Rosario, Argentina. There, Rani, just 16, emerged best young player. Repeat: It was the World Cup, the senior edition.

Rani’s goal that led India to Tokyo qualification. Photo: Shamim Qureshi

She’s also been included in an FIH World Stars XI in 2010. An Indian woman, included in the best of the world team. That’s symbolically awesome. And for good measure she was voted World Games Athlete of the Year earlier in 2020 in a poll involving sports fans all over the world.

The intangibles add to Rani’s value. The team revolves around her. When things were falling apart against the USA in Bhubaneswar, the team came back in the fourth quarter firing on all cylinders with Rani as the fulcrum. Off the pitch, she’s been responsible and articulate in her views, speaking her truth quietly and composedly and never failing to exude confidence and a sense of discipline.

She promptly dedicated the award to Corona Warriors and viewed the award as a boost to women’s hockey and the team’s chances of a podium finish in Tokyo next year.


Women’s hockey on the front foot

Indian women’s hockey, for long underrated and under-performed, thought to be subdued and submerged to their male counterparts, seem to have shacked the silhouettes. They are on the forefront. They are talked about. Since they have qualified for the Olympics second time on the trot, hopes are even raised for an Olympic medal this time.

The women’s team evoke optimism. The scale of which is certainly unprecedented.

The beginning of the year saw the country turning its head towards an young Mizoram girl, Lalremsiami. She had just won India’s first FIH Rising Player of the Year Award. The 20-year old, the youngest in the senior National team, is the lone Indian women hockey player to enter the elite FIH acclaim.

Shortly later, the senior most in the team, Rani Rampal, became first-ever world hockey player to win the prestigious World Games Athlete of the Year Award.

With an impressive 199,477 votes, Rani emerged gloriously where sports fans all over the world have voted for their favourite in a three-week polling in January.

Around the same time, Government of India announced her nomination for the top third civil award Padamshree. Thus she became only the fourth women hockey player in the annals to be honoured so. Since the awards were given to sports in 1957, only Eliza Nelson, Selma D’Silva and Saba Anjum have got the honour in the distaff side of Indian hockey.

Three awards in three years – Arjuna, Padmashree and Khel Ratna– to Rani Rampal is not only the reflection of the heights she scaled, but also how the profile of women’s hockey underwent a massive change..

In fact, women’s hockey’s might was subsumed in three areas in comparison with men’s. They are the World Cup, the Olympics and the Asian Games.

Let me, for instant, quote what transpired in 1998.

Pritam Rani’s team entered the Asian Games final after 16 years in 1998. They went down to mighty Koreans, who were world no 3 then by an odd goal in five. Yet, their emergence was lost in the glory the men’s team attained at the same Bangkok. They won the gold after 36 years.

Not being in the Olympics and not making a mark at World Cup dented women’s profile largely, while Indian men made news in these quadrennial events.

Jakarta 2018 seemed to have changed the scene.

Women’s entry into the final of the Asian Games largely off sent the sombre mood set in by the Indian men’s surrender to Malaysia in the semis.

That Rani Rampal, women’s captain, not PR Sreejesh, the men’s captain was chosen to lead the Indian contingent at the  closing ceremony conveyed the unmistakable image transition.

If there was any doubt, a year later, the girls proved why they are so highly rated nowadays.

At the Bhubaneswar Olympic Qualifying Series, they outplayed the challenger States in the first encounter and then fought gallantly to save the day in the repeat match. The way they played the second half and the fashion with which the senior most in the team Rani Rampal struck a Olympic berth deciding goal, proved the miles the girls have covered in their journey.

That the present team has as many as six players whose international career is running into a decade, each one is battle hardened and looking to go further.

Its a rare kind of continuity and experience that makes the women’s team a hot property for the coming Olympics.  There is a realization in the top circle, say Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Indian Olympic Association, Hockey India and public in general that the future of Indian hockey lies with the women’s team.

The series awards that Rani has got, and the one Deepika Thakur was conferred (Arjuna), and at least half a dozen deserving women hockey players are awaiting their turn, are a reflection of their improving the game’s profile.

Women’s hockey is on front foot.


Covid-19 gave Malaysian hockey teams time to rebuild

By Jugjet Singh

National players of both genders have been released to play in the Razak Cup. - NSTP/File pic

THE Covid-19 pandemic has a "positive" effect — it has given the national men's and women's hockey teams more time to rebuild for a packed calendar next year.

Other than the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) which ended in February, there has not been a single international tournament or friendly match for them to prepare for. Only the Razak Cup remains standing in September.

The lull in competitions this year will enable more time for new coach, Arul Selvaraj who succeeded Roelant Oltmans, to be with the national men's team.

And it also makes the ongoing search for a women's head coach less hectic,

"I will end my 14-day quarantine on Wednesday (tomorrow) and meet the players after my second Covid-19 test.

"I will get a chance to be with the players for a longer period now that the ACT (Asian Champions Trophy) has been moved to March next year.

"It will be used as a bonding period to get to know each and every player, and get the best out of them," said Arul.

Arul won't be a stranger to the senior players as he was the Univertiti Kuala Lumpur coach in February when they won a triple in the MHL.

However, he will need to get to know some of the younger players better.

The ACT was scheduled to be held on Nov 17-27 in Dhaka, but has been moved to March next year because of the pandemic.

"The postponement of the ACT will give the coaching set-up more time to prepare a team as we will have a tight schedule to follow.

"I believe next year will start with MHL, then ACT and finally Azlan Shah Cup if all goes well.

"The next few months will be utilised to prepare for a hectic schedule," said Arul.

The only local tournament left is the Razak Cup on Sept 18-26 at the National Stadium.

National players of both genders have been released to play in the tournament, and it will be used as a selection ground for more youth players.

New Straits Times

Premier Hockey League Update

Hockey New Zealand will confirm a new start date for the inaugural Premier Hockey League later this week.

The first three rounds of both the men’s and women’s league, due to run between 20 and 30 August, were postponed due to the Covid-19 Alert Level 3 restrictions.

Hockey NZ is currently working through what yesterday’s extension of the Level 3 restrictions means for this exciting new league, which will see our top players go head-to-head in an eight-team (four men and four women), round-robin competition at the new purpose-built National Hockey Centre in Albany, Auckland.

In addition to this postponement, all hockey facilities in Auckland, Counties Manukau and North Harbour will be closed until Alert Level 3 restrictions are lifted at midnight on Sunday 30 August.

For the rest of New Zealand, please contact your local Association as community hockey can continue at Alert Level 2 with gathering sizes limited to groups of 100 people and contact tracing in place.

Please continue to stay safe in our battle against Covid-19.

Click here for more information on our Covid-19 guidelines

Click here for more information on the Premier Hockey League

Hockey New Zealand Media release

England Hockey’s bold vision to boost talent development for all

By Richard Bright

England and Great Britain Hockey has laid out a blueprint which the national governing body recognises will be a “seismic change” for the nation’s talent pathway for the first time “in a decade, if not a lifetime.”

Led by Ed Barney, England and GB Hockey’s performance director, it has published ‘Talent Development – A New Way Forward‘ aiming at the hockey pathway to be “accessible for all” for talented juniors and which hopes for the club game to thrive after years of falling short in Europe.

“For us it’s a vibrant elite game in England, English clubs excelling in European club hockey and role models inspiring through consistent international success,” said Barney on how success might look in six to eight years time.

Adding that the sport needed to be diverse and inclusive, Barney outlined a vision to create “more ‘exceptional talent environments’ with great coaching, where training sessions and competitions are frequent and of the highest quality.”

At the heart of the stategy, EH says that that club game is “critical” to future success.

“Evidence from around the world in both hockey and other team sports is clear that a high-quality club game is critical to the health and vibrancy of the sport and to international success.”

EH admitted that the Player Pathway Performance Centres are constrained by “limited contact time and struggle to stretch the abilities of our best players often enough.”

Barney said that EH would aim to create a more bespoke, less conflicting hockey schedule for the Centres, while the talent pipeline would be accessible for all players.

In this regard, the vision is to put club and school at the centre of talent development, given that this country’s most talented players spend more than 80 per cent of their time playing in club or school teams.

However, EH stressed that there needs to be flexibilty in future collaboration with clubs and schools.

EH wants to open the access routes and for clubs and schools to sit alongside local Academy Centres as recognised entry routes. Crucially, EH says it will address “positive action in the representation and selection of state educated players”.

Speaking to many club officials in recent years – especially those in the north – the consensus has been that the single and player pathway system has had a lot to offer for a strong national side, but what does that do to hockey in general?

One club told THP that “we do not get ‘the rub of the green’ due to a lack of funds or willingness from all relevant bodies.”

Thus, EH “recognises this will be a seismic change but it’s a critical one we need to make if we are going to achieve this ambitions.”

The development plan added: “We need the highest potential players to be able to access the best training, with the best coaches two, three or four times a week as is the case for many of our international competitors.”

EH said it will conduct forums and workshops in the coming months to further develop its plan. Following this, a more detailed roadmap for junior talent development will be shared.

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The Hockey Paper

Reg Plummer – Field Hockey Canada Hall of Fame Inductee

“I can’t imagine my life without it.” Reg Plummer reflects on his international career and the importance of community.

By Josh Rey

Reg Plummer’s family moved to Melbourne, Australia when he was 14 and he discovered the joys of field hockey. In 1969, they moved to Ottawa and there he started playing field hockey with the Ottawa-Hull Field Hockey Club which is now known as the Outaouais FHC. He still plays and mentors at the same club to this day.

“It was all these fellows who were in their mid twenties, [through] their forties, and they were from all over,” he said. “As you can imagine, field hockey back in those days was very much an immigrant sport. So these guys were from Holland and Germany and India, Pakistan and Kenya and Uganda, you name it. I discovered it was just so much fun. It was a blast. So that was my introduction to field hockey.”

Plummer participated in the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal and 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles as well as three Pan American Games and the 1978 World Cup. By the 1976 Olympics, the game was growing in Canada and he says that he and his team were part of the growing process.

“I think by the time we got to ‘76, maybe I had 30 international caps, which I think in today’s terms would not be very high,” said Plummer. “I think you do that pretty quickly. Back in those days, we thought 30 international caps was pretty dramatic, but the game was in the process of changing the international calendar. It was just exploding and it continued to explode and it has continued to expand. So players nowadays, I think getting up to 250 caps is not unheard of. Whereas back then it was unthinkable. 100 was astonishing.”

Plummer reflects on the importance of the international and Canadian hockey community and noted the challenges of retiring from the game at the top level. “It’s hard to close the door on something like that; I found it psychologically difficult. It felt like I was a part of a big international community and it was very sad to let that go.” By the end of his career, Plummer had participated in 125 international matches and was a key leader and star player for the Canadian National Team in the 1970s and 80s. He may have retired from international play, but Plummer is still playing with the Outaouais FHC. In addition to his on field contribution, he has shifted into a coach and mentor role for many in the Ottawa area.

“Right now, I’m coaching the Merivale High School field hockey girls,” said Plummer. “I totally love it. It’s just so much fun. It feels like they’re giving me as much as anything I could be giving them.”

Reg Plummer’s induction into the Field Hockey Canada Hall of Fame is a celebration of a decorated international player and a dedicated individual who is always giving back to his community.

Click here for a presentation and interview with Reg Plummer

Field Hockey Canada media release

Inspirational Athletes

Ashley Morrison

We have all heard of the expression behind every successful man is a strong woman, but frequently the comment is said in jest, even when it is true.

Hockey Stalwarts Demand Immediate Removal of President & Secretary PHF

By Ijaz Chaudhry

'Pakistan Olympians Forum and Hockey Lovers Family' is a group of former hockey stalwarts and fans of the game. Like every Pakistani hockey follower, the group is also perturbed by the continuous decline of Pakistan`s hockey fortunes and it has decided to launch a 'Save Pakistan Hockey Movement'.

In this regard, the group organized a press conference in Gojra on Sunday. Pakistan`s hockey greats and the game`s lovers came from different parts of the country.

Prominent among them were Rasheedul Hassan (Grand Slam Winner: Golds at Olympics, World Cup, Asian Games, Asia Cup, Champions Trophy & Junior World Cup; also captained Pakistan), Manzoorul Hassan (World Cup winner, Triple Asian Games Gold Medallist and former captain), Naeem Akhtar (Olympic gold medallist & Double Asia Cup gold medallist), Usman Sheikh (World Cup winner and former captain), Naveed Alam (World Cup winner), Saleem Nazim (World Cup silver medallist & Olympic bronze medallist).

They all took turns to speak on Pakistan hockey`s miserable state and also answered the questions of the journalists who were present in a large number.    
The reign of the incumbent President PHF Khalid Sajjad Khokhar was termed as the worst ever in country`s history.

"When Khokhar became the President of the federation in 2015, Pakistan were ranked 10th in the FIH rankings, now we are 17th. Pakistan failed to qualify for the next Olympics. They finished 12th at the last World Cup and fourth at the Asian Games- equaling country`s worst ever positions at either event.  Pakistan got a golden opportunity to rejoin the mainstream of international hockey when they were selected for the FIH Pro League for four years in July 2017. The inaugural edition was scheduled to start in January 2019. Despite having ample time to plan for the all-important event, the PHF withdrew the team just 10 days before Pakistan`s first match. It was no less than a national humiliation as the FIH also imposed a heavy fine on the PHF. "

"PHF Secretary Asif Bajwa held the same office from 2008-2013. He was removed amid charges of corruption and human smuggling. He is yet to be absolved of these allegations. Still, he has been reappointed to the same office".

"Last year, Zahir Shah, the President of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Hockey Federation, who is also a member of the PHF Executive Board as well as its Congress, made shocking revelations about the financial bungling in the PHF. He even mentioned a cheque number dated February 10, 2016 of the amount of Rs5 million which was issued and cleared in the name of ‘Effective Media.’ No one knows anything about this media.”

"A delegation of distinguished former hockey players, including some present here, met the minister of Inter Provincial Coordination Ms Fahmida Mirza to apprise her of the PHF`s affairs. After a long discussion, the minister accepted that the PHF is not managing the hockey affairs in a proper manner. She also declared that the federal government`s grants to the PHF would no longer be issued.

Moreover, a couple of weeks back, the minister told the media that there are audit paras in the audit report of the PHF. "

Further, senate`s standing committee on IPC formed a sub-committee to look into the PHF`s affairs. Headed by Senator Waleed Iqbal, the sub-committee recommended the immediate removal of the PHF, President and Secretary"

"And this is also the demand of Pakistan Olympian Forum and Hockey Lovers Family: President and Secretary PHF be dismissed forthwith. An Ad Hoc body should take charge of the PHF. This body must carry out fair scrutiny of the clubs in each district to be followed by elections of the district hockey associations and finally the provincial bodies

The Prime Minister, in his capacity of the PHF`s Patron In Chief should appoint a competent and honest President of the federation. The new President PHF`s selection of the Secretary PHF must be based on merit and proven ability".

Ijaz Chaudhry writes on hockey & other sports. For more about him and his work, visit: www.sportscorrespondent.info 


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