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News for 23 September 2020

All the news for Wednesday 23 September 2020

2020 FIH Pro League (Men) - 22 September

GER v BEL (RR)     1 - 6

Upcoming (GMT +2)

23 Sep 2020 18:00     GER v BEL

Live streaming and full game replay on the Watch Hockey App (May be Geo blocked if there is TV coverage)

Pool Standings

Rank Team Played Wins SO Win Draws SO Loss Losses Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
1 Belgium 7 5 1 0 0 1 25 12 13 17
2 Australia 8 3 1 0 3 1 27 20 7 14
3 Netherlands 6 2 2 0 1 1 17 17 0 11
4 India 6 2 2 0 0 2 17 15 2 10
5 Argentina 8 2 1 0 2 3 22 24 -2 10
6 New Zealand 8 2 1 0 0 5 15 25 -10 8
7 Spain 8 2 0 0 1 5 19 27 -8 7
8 Great Britain 4 1 0 0 2 1 9 10 -1 5
9 Germany 3 1 1 0 0 1 8 9 -1 5

FIH Match Centre

2020 FIH Pro League (Women) - 22 September

GER v BEL (RR)     2 - 0

Upcoming (GMT +2)

23 Sep 2020 15:30     GER v BEL

Live streaming and full game replay on the Watch Hockey App (May be Geo blocked if there is TV coverage)

Pool Standings

Rank Team Played Wins SO Win SO Loss Losses Goals For Goals Against Goal Difference Points
1 Argentina 8 5 1 0 2 23 12 11 17
2 Netherlands 5 4 0 0 1 19 5 14 15
3 New Zealand 8 4 0 2 2 19 14 5 14
4 Australia 6 1 1 1 2 6 9 -3 9
5 Belgium 5 1 1 1 2 7 11 -4 6
6 Great Britain 4 1 1 0 1 6 4 2 5
7 Germany 1 1 0 0 0 2 0 2 3
8 China 2 0 0 0 2 2 7 -5 0
9 United States 5 0 0 0 5 5 27 -22  

USA v NED (26.01.2020) worth double points because of the match cancelled on 24.01.2020
AUS v GBR (01.02.2020) worth double points because of the match cancelled on 02.02.2020

FIH Match Centre

Germany women & Belgium men victorious on return of FIH Hockey Pro League

Lausanne, Switzerland: After six long months, the FIH Hockey Pro League made a welcome return on Tuesday (22 September), with Germany women and Belgium men both recording fine victories in double headers between the neighbouring nations in Düsseldorf.

The first FIH Hockey Pro League match since March went the way of Germany, who shook off any rustiness caused by the lengthy lay-off by recording a 2-0 victory over Belgium's Red Panthers.

Remarkably, it was Die Danas' first FIH Hockey Pro League match of the season, with the COVID-19 global health pandemic putting the competition on hold before they could even take to the field.

Despite a strong start from the visiting Belgians, Germany were thoroughly deserving of the three points, dominating possession, circle penetration and penalty corner statistics as well as the score-line, with Naomi Heyn and Lena Micheel scoring the decisive goals.

Germany's Janne Müller-Wieland, who was named Player of the Match, said: "I think in the end we were more aggressive, maybe. We had more chances as well, so I think it is a fair win. We have to have a good cool-down. We only have 24 hours before we are playing again, and there is still a long list [of things] to improve for us."

Belgium's Barbara Nelen said: "I think it was a difficult game. We started a new season now, with new girls, and two new 'presses'. We tried a lot of things. We made some mistakes in the press, and I think Germany also found directly the solutions. They are a smart team, so that is why it was difficult to defend."

More information about this match can be found by clicking here.

In the men’s match, reigning world champions Belgium found themselves under early pressure from hosts Germany but grew in stature as the game progressed, going on to record a resounding 6-1 victory over their European rivals.

The Red Lions took the lead just before the break thanks to Gauthier Boccard before quickfire goals from Alexander Hendrickx, William Ghislain and Nicolas de Kerpel opened up a 4-0 advantage just minutes after half time. Lukas Windfeder’s ferocious penalty corner pulled a goal back for Germany, but strikes from Antoine Kina and Loick Luypaert ensured that Belgium claimed a comfortable win to extend their lead at the top of the FIH Hockey Pro League table.

Player of the match Boccard, who scored arguably the goal of the game with a brilliant individual strike to break the deadlock, said: "I think we pressed well in the second quarter and the second half. We won some good balls in their half, and we started to get some early goals. For the rest, when you score three or four goals you could see the confidence. We had good ball possession and finished the game well."

Looking ahead to tomorrow's rematch against Germany, Boccard said his team would prepare 'the same way as we did today. We have to lift our level a bit more, like we did by the end of the game. The second game will be different, it is zero-zero and we will go for a second win."

More information about this match can be found by clicking here.

The matches were played behind closed doors, with strict COVID-19 protocols being followed by the teams, staff, officials and everyone within the venue. The Germany and Belgium men’s and women’s teams will return to the field for the second matches of their respective double headers on Wednesday (23 September).

Keep up to date with all the latest news on the FIH Hockey Pro League via the Watch.Hockey app, event website and through FIH social media channels - Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

FIH Hockey Pro League
Friday 22 September 2020 – Düsseldorf (GER)

Women’s result: Germany 2, Belgium 0 (Match 1 of 2)
Player of the Match: Janne Müller-Wieland (GER)
Umpires: Alison Keogh (IRL), Sarah Wilson (SCO) and Marcin Grochal (POL - video)

Men’s result: Germany 1, Belgium 6 (Match 1 of 2)
Player of the Match: Gauthier Boccard (BEL)
Umpires: Martin Madden (SCO), Marcin Grochal (POL) and Sarah Wilson (SCO - video)


Official FIH Pro League Site

Belgium's men thrash Germany 6-1 to extend Hockey Pro League lead

By Ali Iveson

Gauthier Boccard was named player of the match as Belgium's men thrashed Germany 6-1 ©Getty Images

Belgium's men extended their lead atop the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Hockey Pro League standings with an emphatic 6-1 win over Germany as the competition returned following a six-month hiatus brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Red Lions' victory in Düsseldorf followed Germany's women beating Belgium in what was their first match of the campaign.

Belgium were 1-0 up at the interval in the men's game, thanks to a Gauthier Boccard goal, but then raced into a 4-0 lead shortly after.

Alexander Hendrickx, William Ghislain and Nicolas de Kerpel produced three goals in three minutes to put the result beyond doubt and underline Belgium's firepower.

They average more than 3.5 goals per game so far this season - more than any other team - and Antoine Kina and Loick Luypaert added efforts later on, meaning that the six goals today came from six different scorers.

Lukas Windfeder scored the lone Germany goal from a penalty corner.

While Belgium top the table with 17 points from seven games, including five wins, Germany are bottom on five points but have played just three games.

The women's match which came before that encounter was won 2-0 by the hosts, thanks to goals from Naomi Heyn and Lena Micheel.

They had to be patient, with the score level at the interval, but ultimately made their dominance count, having won 13 penalty corners compared to Belgium's one and had enjoyed the lion's share of possession.

The Germans now have as many wins as Belgium, despite playing five games fewer, and trail them by only three points.

Belgium's women are fifth in the standings, Germany seventh.

Argentina, having played seven matches, are top on 17 points.

Both fixtures will be repeated at Düsseldorfer Hockey Club 1905 tomorrow.

The FIH has extended the current Pro League season until June 2021 to cater for the delay caused by the pandemic.

Inside the Games

Bloemendaal 100% in men’s Hoofdklasse as four lead way in women’s competition

Bloemendaal are the last men’s team with a 100% record to their name in the Tulp Hoofdklasse following their hugely impressive 3-0 win over Den Bosch on Sunday.

Roel Bovendeert was the star of the show, netting twice in the second half after the first phase ended scoreless. The first was a thunderbolt from the right edge of the circle while his second completed the victory with a neat deflection to a Tim Swaen penalty corner push.  

Swaen got the middle goal to help make it three wins out of three and put two points clear at the top of the table ahead of SV Kampong who were 11-0 winners over Almere with Bjorn Kellerman scoring four times.

Teun Beins helped Oranje-Zwart to a 6-3 win over HC Tilburg, scoring a hat-trick with two goals after their neighbours fought back to level the game at 3-3.  

Pinoké continued their good start to the season with a 2-1 away win over HGC with goals from Lukas Sutoris and Alex Hendrickx seeing them end the Hague club’s perfect start to the season. Hurley got their first win with a 2-0 victory over Klein Zwitserland.

In the women’s competition, four teams are level on 12 points with four wins to their name with AH&BC Amsterdam, Den Bosch, HDM and SCHC all flying high.

Jip Dicke got a hat trick for HDM away to Victoria to keep their super run of form rolling as they won 4-1. SCHC beat Hurley with two goals in the eight minutes before half-time – scored by Ginella Zerbo and Kyra Fortuin – for a 2-0 success.

Amsterdam had few problems when they saw off Bloemendaal 5-0 and Den Bosch won 3-0 away against Pinoké.

Euro Hockey League media release

UCD come close to Irish Senior Cup double in Ireland

UCD came within 12 minutes of a dream Irish Senior Cup double as their women stormed to a brilliant 3-1 success over Pegasus in their final held over from the 2019/20 season before their men pushed huge favourites Lisnagarvey all the way.  

For the women, UCD coach Miles Warren hailed it as the “strangest” victory of their three titles in the past four years. He was able to recall three players who have departed for pastures new with the competition using last term’s registrations while clearance to play was only given late on Friday night from the college authorities due to an increase local Covid-19 restrictions.

In the circumstances, Warren admitted he was surprised how well they gelled in building a 2-0 lead in the first quarter via Hannah McLoughlin’s drag-flick and Michelle Carey’s audacious dexterity.  

Pegs fought back via Ruth Maguire’s strike in the third quarter but a brilliant counter-strike from Katherine Egan settled the tie.  Warren paid tribute to Suzie Kelly and Patton sisters Orla and Sarah for making themselves available.  

“The three girls who came back have played massive minutes for us in the last two years so they arrived at their one training on Thursday and slotted in seamlessly. They are such lovely girls that, socially, it made the dynamic in the group so happy.   

“We came in with little pressure because we felt our preparation wasn’t ideal and it was about enjoying the day which they did!”  

Later the same day, UCD’s men came agonisingly close to a maiden Irish Senior crown as a brilliant first half saw them build a 2-1 lead courtesy of Andrew Meates and Sam Byrne.  

And they held that advantage until 12 minutes from time when Garvey – despite a sin-binning for Andy Edgar – stormed back with Ben Nelson and Andy Williamson scored in quick succession for a 3-2 final score.

It was Lisnagarvey’s 24th victory in the competition which dates back to 1893 and is hockey’s oldest club cup.

“It was a proper cup final. UCD, a young team with a lot of representative players at Under-18 and 21, and some now in the senior setup, played their part and it could have gone either way,” said Garvey coach Erroll Lutton who was his club’s captain the last time they won the cup in 2005.

“Maybe not as much quality as both teams would like but that’s regularly the way – you don’t get the quality but you do get the drama, getting down to the last quarter 2-1 behind.”

Euro Hockey League media release

Pahang steamrolls Melaka in Razak Cup

By Jugjet Singh

Pahang players celebrate after a goal against Melaka. - Pic source: Facebook/MalaysianHockeyConfederation.

Pahang, spearheaded by former national player Ismail Abu, knocked out defending champions Melaka 2-1 in the Razak Cup quarter-finals yesterday.

Pahang will now play Terengganu in the semi-finals while Kuala Lumpur will meet Perak in the other battle tomorrow.

Ismail, 36, who last played for Malaysia at the 2014 Hague World Cup, scored Pahang's opening goal in the 18th minute.

Firdaus Omar equalised for Melaka in the 35th minute but Hafiz Zauri made sure his team play in the last four with a 36th minute strike.

Ismail is also coaching the Pahang Malaysia Games team together with Pahang Razak Cup coach Sufian Mohamad.

"I am the oldest player in the team while the others make up an average age of 21 and they are my Malaysia Games players.

"On the pitch, I am just their skipper as all the players are allowed to give their views freely. Next, we will play Terengganu who are tournament favourites, and we hope to reach the final on teamwork again," said Ismail.

Sufian said his players have been together at the Pahang Academy, established in 2013, and their understanding is good.

"Our Malaysia Games target is to become champions, and the Razak Cup is a stepping stone to gauge our performance against the best in other states. So far, my players have not disappointed."

Faizal Saari, a former national player, destroyed a young Sabah side with two goals for a 2-1 win for Terengganu.

And he only had good things to say about Sabah. "Sabah have shown tremendous improvements in every department, and I believe the other states should follow their development if they want to keep pace," said Faizal who has scored 16 goals in the tournament

Faizal struck in the 19th minute, but Sabah's super kid Shello Silverius equalised in the 52nd minute. However, Terengganu pulled away as winners from a 54th minute goal by Faizal.

RESULTS — Men, Quarter-finals: Pahang 2 Melaka 1, Terengganau 2 Sabah 1, Kuala Lumpur 3 Police 2, Perak 2 Perlis 0.

TOMORROW — Men, Semi-finals: Terengganu v Pahang, Kuala Lumpur v Perak.

New Straits Times

Surprise, surprise!


Match winner: Pahang’s Muhd Hafiz Mohd Zauri (right) scored the winning goal against Melaka.

KUALA LUMPUR: Skipper Ismail Abu is on cloud nine after steering Pahang to a surprise upset win over defending champions Melaka in the quarter-finals of the Razak Cup hockey tournament.

The former international scored a field goal in the 18th minute to give his side the lead before Melaka equalised through a penalty corner in the 35th minute by Muhd Firdaus Omar.

But a minute later, Pahang’s Muhd Hafiz Mohd Zauri netted the winner at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday.

Pahang will take on heavyweights Terengganu, who edged Sabah 2-1, in the semi-final tomorrow.

The 36-year-old Ismail, the oldest player in the team, hopes to see his young teammates continue their good run against the favourites.

“We had no pressure against Melaka as we were the underdogs. I just used my experience to guide the players on the pitch.

“We just kept our composure and controlled the tempo of the game, ” said Ismail.

“Reaching the semi-finals is a bonus, We hope to create history by continuing our run in the tournament.”

Ismail who is also an assistant coach with the Pahang Sukma team said they will work on rectifying their mistakes to be ready for the Terengganu game.

“Terengganu will be tougher opponents and we have to play possession-hockey as they have players who can punish our errors, ” said Ismail.

“Our run to the semis is good training for the team as some of the players are preparing for the Johor Sukma next year.”

The Star of Malaysia

MHC: Stick to SOP as investigation on Megat continues

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) have reminded teams participating in the Razak Cup to observe the standard operating procedures (SOP) set by the National Security Council.

The competition has been marred by allegation of a breach of the SOP by Kuala Lumpur Hockey Association president Datuk Seri Megat D. Shahriman Zaharudin.

Megat was alleged to have brought his family including his children, to watch the Kuala Lumpur-Negri Sembilan match at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Saturday.

MHC competitions committee secretary Francis Xavier said they are collecting information on the incident before taking the next course of action.

“We regret that security was breached despite taking all the precautions and we have reminded the teams of their responsibilities during the Razak Cup, ” said Francis.

“We are disappointed that the incident happened. We have sent memos to all teams to remind them of their responsibilities. We will also look into the security at entry points to the stadium.

“We have drawn the SOP which is approved by the National Security Council to avoid the spread of Covid-19 cases. Everyone needs to keep this in mind, ” he added.

“We are not out to victimise or make it difficult for participants. We are just following the rules and regulations set to ensure the health of the players and officials are not at risk.”

The Star of Malaysia

We are preparing for the worst possible scenario, says Indian hockey coach Graham Reid

Reid knows they have next to no chance of playing international matches, including friendlies, possibly till the end of January

By Swaroop Swaminathan

Graham Reid. (File Photo)

CHENNAI: The revamped 2020-21 edition of the Pro League resumed in Dusseldorf on Tuesday, with Germany's men's and women's teams playing their Belgian counterparts. Watching on from afar was India's men's chief coach Graham Reid.

Even if Belgium vs Germany kickstarted the return of elite international hockey, Reid knows they have next to no chance of playing international matches, including friendlies, possibly till the end of January.

Is that a disadvantage? In an interview to The New Indian Express, the Australian also elaborated on why it's been good to have this time where they have returned to the basics with the squad, the plan for the six players who have recovered from COVID-19 and how he has informed his players of planning for the worst. Excerpts:

On resumption of sporting activities last month:

Really good to get back to the basics, restarting from scratch. Not just from an aerobics point of view but with the skills and everything else as well. It's nice to break down everyone's game down to that. I'm a big believer in if you want to be the best team in the world, you have to have the world's best basics. The basics needs to be reproduced under pressure. By having this time with the group, it enables us to do that.  

On if it's an advantage or disadvantage that India don't play in the Pro League till April:

I don't like to put a label on things, I see it that's what's been dealt to us. Given Covid, it puts us at a risk if we have to travel. I don't think it was ever going to be an option anyway. If anything it gives the surety and security that our next three months or so is going to be here, we can move forward with that.

On the chances of going abroad for a trip in January:

We remain positive, working on the assumption that it could happen in the end of January. Let's see what happens, it's a moving piece at the moment. We don't know one day from the next. Looking at the Indian (Covid) numbers over the last couple of days, it's encouraging. Let's all hope and pray that things will get better and the second wave of Europe doesn't eventuate. We are also preparing for the worst just in case. As a coach, you have to plan keeping in mind different scenarios and let the players be aware of it.

On whether landing up in Tokyo without a single match represents the worst case:

Yeah, probably. It's something that I announced to the players the other day. We have to be prepared that might be the case. But I'm hoping that won't be. We have a full tour planned and pro league and all that (next year). What's great about the world at the moment is that there all these different sporting events going on. Lots of things will be learned, best practices will be worked out and things like that. There will be data, therefore I remain positive.  

On the plan for the six men's players:

Actually not to dissimilar with people who miss out after suffering from injury. We call it return to play, they are now almost fully integrated with the group to be honest.

On what happens next:

That really depends on what's the next phase with respect to opening up around the place. Maybe in the next camp (the teams will break soon for a short break but the players will remain at the SAI premises because of the virus situation) we could have tactics and all that and that could hopefully include intra-squad games.

New Indian Express

Chris Ciriello quits as analytical coach of Indian men's hockey team

Uthra Ganesan

Chris Ciriello has been suffering from extreme skin cirrhosis and is undergoing treatment.   -  BISWARANJAN ROUT

It's official. Chris Ciriello has become the third high-profile name to quit Indian hockey in a month, increasing the uncertainty around the men's national team and headaches for the federation.

Sportstar had first reported earlier this month that Australian Ciriello, the men's analytical coach, was unlikely to return due to health issues. On Sunday he formally sent in his resignation, citing the same.

Ciriello had joined the side in 2018 primarily for penalty corners but was soon an important part of the coaching staff. The former World Cup winner has been suffering from extreme skin cirrhosis and is undergoing treatment. The rising cases of COVID-19 in the country also played a role in his decision.

With less than a year to go for Tokyo Olympics, Hockey India is struggling with loss of personnel from the men's coaching staff. In fact, the team only has coach Graham Reid and trainer Robin Arkell left at the SAI Centre, Bengaluru, besides Shivendra Singh and Piyush Dubey as assistant coaches.

Sources admit wary foreigners unwilling to travel and the continued de-recognition has added to the federation's troubles.


Award of Merit - Minka Woolley

Minka Woolley has demonstrated meritorious achievement at the highest level of the sport of hockey in Tasmania during her long career as a player, and as a national and international official where she progressed to the highest level.

Minka achieved her Australian Umpires Badge in 1991, and umpired at the Australian Hockey League from its inception in 1993. She was first appointed to the International Panel at the 4 Nations in Hobart in March 1995 and has umpired consistently at the highest level, including the Olympic Games in 2004 and 2008.

On her retirement from the FIH Umpire Panel she continued to progress as an Umpire Manager, including at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and the 2012 Olympic Games. She was appointed as Umpire Manager for the 4 Nations Test Event in Rio De Janeiro in 2015, the World League Final (Argentina 2015) and the Olympics in 2016.

Minka has twice been named Australian Female Hockey Official of the Year, and she continues to have valuable input into the Hockey Tasmania Officiating Committee (responsible for Rules & Interpretations and Directions to Umpires). She also umpires regularly in her local area, mentors local umpires, and has established a successful Junior Umpire Academy in the North West of the state.

What she said…

“It is a wonderful honour to be recognised with the HA Merit Award and I thank the Awards Committee for this. Hockey has been part of my life for over 50 years and it has been incredibly generous to me in so many ways from playing at a local and state level through to international umpiring and umpire managing. I certainly would not have continued my involvement in the game if it were not for the wonderful support of my family and the fabulous people I have met along the way. I feel incredibly proud to represent the NW coast of Tasmania at both a national and international level – this award is a recognition not just of my efforts but also for all those people from smaller hockey communities like mine, who remain involved simply for the love of the game.” Minka Woolley

From those in the know…

“Minka Woolley is highly respected at all levels of hockey for her honest, dedicated, compassionate and professional approach not only as an Umpires Manager but also for her overall coaching, encouragement and development of umpires. Her appointment as the first female Umpires Manager at a Men’s World Cup in 2018 demonstrates the trust that the FIH holds in her ability. She is an outstanding role model for the sport.” Peri Buckley (HA Awards Committee Member)

Hockey Timeline


1991 Australian Umpire Badge awarded
1993 Umpire at AHL

1995 4 Nations Tournament
2004 Athens Olympic Games
2008 Beijing Olympic Games

Umpire Manager

2012 London Olympic Games
2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games
2015 4 Nations Test Event
2015 World League Final
2016 Rio Olympic Games
2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games
2018 Men’s World Cup
2019-2020 FIH Pro League
2020 Tokyo Olympic Games

2004, 2008 Australian Female Hockey Official of the Year

Hockey Australia media release

Loreto’s O’Donnell more than happy to give back after all hockey has given to her

Bronwyn O’Donnell is presented with their award by Mary O’Connor, CEO of the Federation of Irish Sport, and Richard Gernon, Regional Manager EBS, during the Volunteers in Sport Awards presented by Federation of Irish Sport with EBS at Farmleigh House in Phoenix Park, Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Bronwyn O’Donnell says sport has given her so much in life that she is “more than happy to give back” her time as part of Irish sport’s incredible volunteer army.

In 2019, she was selected as the Dublin winner of the 2019 Federation of Irish Sport Volunteers in Sport Awards, supported by EBS, for her tireless work with Loreto Hockey Club in Beaufort.

From club captain to President, Secretary to Development Officer, O’Donnell has been a driving force at the club for the guts of 40 years.

She started out with the club as a player in the first team in her teenage years and while she admits she is dropping down the teams these days – having some success with the second, third and fourth teams along the way – she is passionate about giving back.

“I love the sport of hockey, the comradeship and the friendships made, and am more than happy to give back because I have got so much out of the club,” she told Dublin City Fm’s Declan Hughes of her involvement.

Crucially, she was the driving force behind Summer Hockey for Mums, a club initiative which has grown over the last three years, bringing up to 70 participants into the sport each time. More than that, the project had an exponential benefit for all involved.

“We were thinking of ways to get people back into the sport or start up playing? We sent out a note to all the junior section mums and said we will run a pilot for the next 10 weeks.  

“Come down, we’ll provide sticks, just bring a gumshield and shin pads, and we will teach you the game and have a little blitz at the end. We thought we would get 25 people – the first night, we had over 70 mums there.  

“At the end, we turned it into a big community event and there must have been 300 or 400 people. You had the mums, who brought the dads who brought their kids. It has become a really big event.  

“It’s not top class hockey but it’s people playing the game, some who never have before, some who played a bit in school. Those same people have joined our vets or volunteered for manager roles or check gear. It was a really successful way of getting people into it!”

She is hopeful that this can snowball further with more joining the army of 450,000 volunteers in sport across Ireland who go above and beyond what is asked of them to ensure that sport takes place.  

These volunteers dedicate some 37.2 million hours of volunteering across the country’s 13,000 sports clubs and associations each year.

Now more than ever, volunteers are a vital resource with Covid-19 requiring ever more people to offer their time, whether it be to wash balls or act as officers to ensure games go ahead safely.

“I saw our club president Wendy Byrne out there disinfecting every ball that was touched,” O’Donnell said of her own club’s experiences. “These are changing times and more requirements for safety for everyone. These new jobs require more people to put their hand up.

“People were so pleased to be back training again last month, even in the lashing rain, after lockdown; people of all different abilities thrilled to get back out.  

“We are going to appreciate sport more and more in the current climate. During lockdown, a lot of work into the back to play protocols with our Covid committee to see what we could do to get back playing. That’s people giving their time to get us back out there because they love it and are delighted to be back!”

The Hook

Small Sticks provides a great foundation for rising hockey player

Like many of today’s promising hockey talent, Aimee Mitchell first picked up a stick as part of New Zealand's Small Sticks programme. With 11 years of hockey under her belt, she’s now a key member of North Harbour U18 and will captain her beloved St Mary’s College at next month’s Auckland Secondary Schools Festival.

Aimee Mitchell was always under the impression that netball was the sport for young girls. Aspiring to be a Silver Fern was the natural order, but Aimee had two older sisters who broke the mould.

One day Aimee’s sisters came home with a permission slip to play winter hockey for Stanley Bay School. They told their father they were “too short” for netball, and hockey would be better because it was played close to the ground.

Once Aimee’s sisters started playing, she soon got dragged onto the turf when the team was short of players. Taking to the turf for the first time can be a daunting proposition for any young hockey player. For Aimee, this is where Small Sticks came in.

“If it weren’t for Small Sticks, I wouldn’t have had that base that led to the hockey I am now playing.”

With a focus on the fundamentals and enjoyment of the game, Small Sticks has provided many children with a strong foundation for playing hockey. And the social aspect has left a lasting impression.

“I learned to love hitting the ball around and having fun on the turf with my mates. That has not changed even to this day.”

Now an experienced midfielder, Mitchell admits the transition from playing ball sports using your hands and feet to one holding a stick was initially difficult. She found tackling the most challenging skill to pick up.

“I thought the aim of the game was to swing your stick around until you somehow managed to get the ball and just go on a dribbling rampage around the field.”

Mitchell has grown into a leader, captaining her beloved St Mary’s College team for three years. She has also been a crucial part of a resurgence of the sport at the school. St Mary’s have gone from playing in the Auckland D grade and only having one team to now having ten teams and playing in the Supercity Premier Grade for the past three years.

But it’s been a tough final year at college, with Covid-19 meaning Auckland schools couldn’t attend the September tournaments.

“Not having tournament week this year was upsetting for all the girls. I don’t think we understood how much it meant to us until it wasn’t there this year.”

Like most of our hockey community, Aimee has loved giving back by getting heavily involved in coaching at North Harbour and St Mary’s. It has also provided her with opportunities off the turf. Next year Aimee will be attending Massey University where she has received an Academy of Sports Scholarship which will help her achieve her lifelong dream of studying Veterinary Science.

From being “too short” for netball and a good base with the Small Sticks programme, Aimee continues to play hockey with lofty future goals.  She has been playing for the North Shore United Premier side for the past four years and has found the mentorship and guidance from former Vantage Black Stick Kat Henry invaluable.

“I would love to see how far I can get within hockey and test myself against the best players.”

About Small Sticks

Established in 2012, 17,000 children were given the opportunity to give hockey a go in the first year of the Small Sticks initiative. The programme has since grown exponentially, with more than 62,000 taking part last year.

Contact your local Association to find out how to become involved in Small Sticks in your area.

Hockey New Zealand Media release

The first public hockey fields are underway

Federacion Chilena de Hockey


The work is part of the remodeling and restructuring project of the National Stadium Park, which seeks to transform itself into a place that integrates recreation, high-performance sports and healthy life.

During yesterday's session, the president of Panam Sports, Neven Ilic; the Minister of Sports, Cecilia Pérez; The president of the COCH, Miguel Ángel Mujica and the CEO of Santiago 2023, Felipe De Pablo, met in the National Stadium Park to review the progress of the first and long-awaited construction contemplated in this sports venue: the public hockey fields.

The work is in its first steps and will become the first training center for this sport, which includes two fields with the highest competition standards required for the next Pan American Games in Santiago 2023.

In addition, this project seeks to give field hockey its own space, which has become one of the most successful team sports in our country in recent times, but which did not have public pitches.

“For ten years this has been asked for and it is incredible to see how it is finally being achieved,” says Camila Caram, captain of “Las Diablas” and Team Chile, who also participated in the visit.

In addition to Camila's words, the president of the Chilean Olympic Committee, Miguel Ángel Mujica highlighted the importance of the work, since at the time "many agreements and contracts were signed that never started, but fortunately today the project it’s going."

“With three years to go for the Games, there is already an earth movement,” said the CEO of Santiago 2023, Felipe de Pablo, about the work that will begin to materialize in October of this year and expects to be delivered at the end of 2021. “It is a tremendous pride to see how dreams come true," he added.

Also, the president of Panam Sports, Neven Ilic, declared that he was very happy with the start of the works, because "infrastructure is the critical line in this process of the Pan American Games." In addition, he highlighted that these fields, like the other constructions, are part of the legacy of Santiago 2023.

Finally, the Minister of Sports, Cecilia Pérez, referred to this project as a possibility of “having better and more national teams”, thus achieving growth in high-performance sports and in the country's sports culture.

Pan American Hockey Federation media release

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