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News for 25 September 2020

All the news for Friday 25 September 2020

FIH postpones 2021 Indoor Hockey World Cup

COVID-19 has forced the postponement of yet another major international sporting event with the upcoming FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup to be set back by 12 months.

Originally scheduled for February 2021, the International Hockey Federation (FIH), together with tournament hosts the Belgian Hockey Association, came to the decision to hold Indoor Hockey’s most prestigious event from 2-6 February 2022 in order to ‘maximise the athletes’ and fans’ experience’.

“We welcome the decision and look forward to our teams being able to compete and represent our country at the 2022 event,” said Hockey Australia CEO Matt Favier.

Australia’s men’s and women’s teams had started to ramp up their preparations for the tournament after details were announced in April, however the global pandemic has forced the FIH to act and postpone.

"It was always difficult to see how the World Cup could go ahead given the current circumstances the world faces with COVID-19,” said Australia Women’s Indoor Head Coach, Mark Sandhu.

“The Indoor Hockey World Cup is an event where the spectators play a massive role in making the event the spectacle it is.

“I really do feel sad for the players and teams who were preparing for this event. Our squad has been working via WebEx meetings on tactical preparedness as well as improving their fitness and strength since January with very good results.

Ultimately, the safety of everyone involved must take priority and we will now regroup and plan for 2022."

For Australia’s Men’s Team Head Coach Steve Willer, he believes the extra year will prove to be invaluable in achieving the high standards the team has set and bettering the impressive fourth place finish at the last Indoor Word Cup.

“The Indoor Hockey World Cup is an internationally recognised event, where the huge spectator presence plays a key role in the tournament’s atmosphere,” said Willer.

“With the current uncertainties facing all teams, players, officials and fans around the globe, it is essential to protect the health and well-being of everyone involved. Playing the tournament in February 2022 will assist in creating more certainty.

“We are excited that the show-piece tournament will still be held in Liége, Belgium.”

In announcing the postponement, FIH CEO Thierry Weil stated: “The FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup is a great hockey spectacle which generates a fantastic atmosphere. With the current major uncertainties which we are facing - such as the ability of all teams to travel, the completion of all continental qualifiers or the access of fans to the venue - and in order to protect the health of everyone involved, a postponement was the only option to go for.

The next FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup will be the sixth edition of the showpiece event, the tournament seeing 12 teams compete in both the men’s and women’s competitions.

The last FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup took place in 2018 in Berlin, Germany. More information about the history of the FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup is available here.

Australia has competed in every Indoor Hockey World Cup, which has been held five times since 2003.

FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup 2022 - Qualified teams

Belgium (Host)
Germany (Champion of Europe)
Austria (Europe quota)
Netherlands (Europe quota)
Russia (Europe quota)
Czech Republic (Europe quota)
New Zealand (Oceania quota – Champion TBC)
Australia (Oceania quota - Champion TBC)
Iran (Champion of Asia)
Kazakhstan (Asia quota)
Champion of Africa (TBC)
Champion of Pan America (TBC)

Belgium (Host)
Belarus (Champion of Europe)
Netherlands (Europe quota)
Czech Republic (Europe quota)
Germany (Europe quota)
Ukraine (Europe quota)
Austria (Europe quota)
New Zealand (Oceania quota – Champion TBC)
Australia (Oceania quota – Champion TBC)
Kazakhstan (Champion of Asia)
Champion of Africa (TBC)
Champion of Pan America (TBC)

Hockey Australia media release

FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup moved from 2021 to 2022 due to COVID-19 "uncertainties"

By Geoff Berkeley

Belgium is set to stage the FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup for the first time in 2022 ©Getty Images

The 2021 International Hockey Federation (FIH) Indoor Hockey World Cup has been postponed by a year due to "major uncertainties" caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Belgium was set to stage the event for the first time, with the city of Liège due to play host from February 3 to 7 2021.

But the sixth edition of the tournament has been rescheduled for February 2 to 6 2022 after the FIH and the Royal Belgian Hockey Association decided to postpone the competition "in order to maximise the athletes’ and fans’ experience".

An average of 1,425 people per day tested positive for COVID-19 in Belgium over the last week - a 62 per cent increase from the previous week.

Hockey Belgium chief executive Serge Pilet said it was important to "put the pandemic behind us" before staging the event.

"In coordination with the Province of Liège, we are convinced that this is the wisest decision in regards to the actual health situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic," Pilet added.

"Let’s hope this postponement will enable us to organise a superb event in Liège’s magnificent Country Hall, in ideal conditions.

"But first, let’s try to put the pandemic behind us."

Austria celebrate after winning the 2018 Indoor Hockey World Cup in Berlin with victory over hosts Germany ©Getty Images

Both the men's and women's competitions will see 12 teams battle it out, with Austria and Germany going in as the respective defending champions.

"The FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup is a great hockey spectacle which generates a fantastic atmosphere," said FIH chief executive Thierry Weil.

"With the current major uncertainties which we are facing - such as the ability of all teams to travel, the completion of all continental qualifiers or the access of fans to the venue - and in order to protect the health of everyone involved, a postponement was the only option to go for.

"Our thanks go to the Belgian Hockey Association and the province of Liège for their great commitment to put together an amazing show in 2022."

The competition is due to be held at Liège's Country Hall, home of the Liège Basket club as well as being a music and entertainment venue.

Inside the Games

Saari brothers steal the show

By Jugjet Singh

Terengganu’s Faizal Saari (left) dribbles past Pahang’s Ismail Abu during the Razak Cup semi-finals at National Stadium in Bukit Jalil. - BERNAMA pic

The Saari brothers put up a super show to send Terengganu into the Razak Cup final yesterday.

Two goals each from Faizal and Fitri were enough to overcome a plucky Pahang side 4-3 while in the other semi-final, Perak beat Kuala Lumpur 4-3

Terengganu, who last won the Razak Cup in 2016, will be the favourites against Perak tomorrow.

Noor Firdaus Rosdi gave Pahang an early third minute lead, but goals by Fitri (5th and 6th) and Faizal in the 20th minute saw Terengganu prevail.

Pahang made a daring dash in the 57th minute through Idris Samad who scored. And they started playing without their goalkeeper, but from a dashing run which beat three defenders, Faizal nailed Terengganu's fourth goal.

Idris Samad again scored in the 59th minute for Pahang but time soon ran out on his team.

After scoring Terengganu's fourth goal, Faizal ran towards the corner flag and stood crossed-legged like a golfer holding his putter in celebration. This is the same player dropped by national coach Roelant Oltmans in February when he named his Azlan Shah Cup squad.

"I believe Faizal can still be an asset to the nation and even though he is not up to the mark in fitness, he still took on three defenders in a sprint and scored the fourth goal which actually handed us the win.

"If he is selected for national training again, he needs to be placed under a special training programme to get back his fitness. He can still help the nation in international tournaments," said Terengganu coach Tai Beng Hai, who has been following Faizal's progress since the latter was 16.


Final: Terengganu v Perak; Third-Fourth: Pahang v Kuala Lumpur.

New Straits Times

European draws revealed

Scotland`s European representatives now know their fate in Europe as the draws for the various tournaments were revealed.

Grange will once again take part in the elite EHL, this season it will be confined to a single competition over Easter at a venue yet to be confirmed. The tournament is called the EHL Final 12 and the Edinburgh side will play in the early knock-out round, probably against sides from top nations Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain or England. A victory would secure Grange a place in the quarter-finals.

Defeat would see Grange play a second match for crucial ranking points against one of the other losing sides. Such points are worth their weight in gold, Scotland currently lie 8th on the EHL ranking table, promotion to 6th would gain an additional side, but dropping below 11th would see us fall out of next season`s competition.

But Western Wildcats have also their part to play in this equation, a good finish from them in the second tier EuroHockey Trophy in Vienna on 2-5 April 2021 would also secure much needed ranking points.

The `Cats are top seeds for Pool B but the opposition is tough, WKS Grunwald Poznan (Poland), Rotweiss Wettingen (Switzerland) and HC OKS-SHVSM Vinnitsa (Ukraine). Only top spot in the group would take the Auchenhowie side to the final and precious ranking points into the bargain.

Both women`s teams, Clydesdale Western and Edinburgh University, are in the third tier Challenge 1 tournament in Prague on 2-5 April 2021. They even share Pool B alongside Siauliai Ginstrekte (Lithuania) and SG Amiscora (Italy). But only the top side in the group can make the final on the last day and promotion to the Trophy level.

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Brendan shows Creed of positive thinking

The first week of EHL Premier Division action saw Surbiton men resume winning ways with a dominant 8-1 win over Brooklands MU. For Surbiton’s Brendan Creed, the ability to play competitive league hockey again was a huge relief – not least because it had been 330 days since he last played a competitive match.

It was almost 12 months ago that Creed ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). An operation, involving a 10-inch graft from the hamstring to the ACL, promised a long road to recovery. And of course, somewhere along that timeline was the lure of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

As he was delivered the news, Creed says his first emotion was one of a deep nauseous lurch in the pit of his stomach, then the full scale of his injury and its impact hit him.

“I gave myself 30 to 40 minutes to get everything out, I was just lying on the physio’s couch letting every emotion spill out,” he said. “Then it was a case of ‘right, let’s go, let’s make a plan and attack everything’.

“Out on the pitch, I had basically felt a pop in my knee but I didn’t think it was an ACL because I could still put weight through it. I thought I might have dislocated it.” recalls the 27-year-old England and Great Britain player.

In the room at the same time as Creed was discovering the true extent of his injury was England and Great Britain’s Sabbie Heesh. The goalkeeper had been through a similar trauma and it was her supportive presence, plus her advice to Brendan to “just let it all out”, that allowed the midfielder to wash all the emotion out.

Looking back, Creed has a very self-possessed take on it.

“I was blessed, if that was the right word, because the damage wasn’t as severe as it could have been. You normally get other issues, such as problems with the ligaments or meniscus but I was lucky because I only tore my calf, so the rest time for that was only as long as the recovery from surgery. So I knew there was a sniff of a chance to recover for the Olympics. That was enough to go after.”

Of course, Creed knew that the chance of recovery in time for the 2020 Olympic Games was very slender but, he says, that had the benefit of focusing his mind. He followed the advice of the physiotherapist and strength and conditioning coaches to the letter and he emerged from the recovery period in the best physical shape of his life.

For many people, the target of a place at the Olympics could have led to a rushed and potentially disastrous outcome, but Creed’s inner voice was one of caution and reason.

“I told myself, I’m only 27, so I know I have another Olympic cycle in me. I sat down with the physio and did the ‘hard truth’. If I wasn’t physically ready, then I wasn’t going to rush it. I would have been quite comfortable to say ‘let’s rein it in.”

Creed featured for Surbiton in the 2018/19 League Finals

Following rehabilitation, Creed says it took him two or three months to get the confidence to train at the intensity he wanted to. “Sprinting was something that worried me, but now I am very confident doing that.”

As a youngster, Creed had faced many setbacks and injuries. An 18-month recovery after surgery for bilateral spondylosis was probably the worse of a number of injuries but again, Creed finds the positive.

“I have bounced back from so many injuries that I know what recovery takes,” he explained. “Leading up to big tournaments I always seem to pick up quite significant injuries, I have been through it before so there was never a doubt in my mind.” He pauses before adding: “I couldn’t allow any doubts in.”

There was an upside to the recovery period. As a northerner based in the south, Creed rarely gets to spend time with his family. The months of rehab allowed for that. For his friends, the good news is that he has also been brushing up on his cookery skills. Post-match get-togethers likely involve “Enchiladas at Creedy’s”.

But for now, Creed is focused on helping Surbiton maintain their position as the leading club in England, despite the threat of further lockdown restricting playing opportunities.

“We have to be sensible with the decisions we take. We mustn’t take too many risks with Covid still such a huge threat. I would feel uncomfortable if we were doing things that some parts of the country can’t do.

“That said, our team ethos is all about winning the league. We have strengthened this year – James Royce is staying an extra year, which is fantastic for us. He brings sensible level-headedness to the team. Judging by some of the signings the other top teams have made, they are thinking the same thing. It will be a really interesting season because other teams are posing threats that we are not really certain about. It’s going to be a very competitive league.”

The 8-1 win over Brooklands MU at Sugden Road was the bright start that Creed wanted on his return, although conceding a goal was not on his ‘wish-list’. This week’s encounter with Beeston will be a stern test for the reigning champions but one that the returning player is relishing.

England Hockey Board Media release

Reading aim for swift return to hockey top flight

Reading HC are looking to bounce back to Premier Division

Reading HC hope to bounce back and challenge for Europe after losing their 27-season stay in the men’s top flight.

Reading lost to Old Georgians on the final day last season to the Surrey club, having seen seven notable players leave Sonning Lane in recent seasons.

The club won two of 18 games but Tim Hamilton, Reading’s performance director, said: “We remain convinced that our general approach is correct, we continue to believe in investing in the best available coaches and providing a platform for young, talented players to develop and improve.

“With new entrants into the league wielding financial muscle we continue to find it challenging to retain good talented players, but thankfully we continue to develop and attract a pipeline of excellent prospects.”

With that in mind, Reading appointed Danny Newcombe as their director of hockey, aiming to oversee the men’s and women’s sides back to the top flight. Reading men open their new life in Division One South on Sunday against Teddington.

Newcombe also continues as head coach of the men’s side, while also taking the helm as Wales national men’s coach after Zak Jones stepped down to take up a role at GB Hockey.

Newcombe has previously worked with Jason Lee, head of the performance squad for two seasons, but the former GB and England coach will still act in a mentor after taking on roles as coach consultant with several football clubs.

Hamilton told local media: “Danny will continue to be assisted and mentored by Jason Lee. We have also appointed an exciting young South African coach, Martin Schouten, to assist the men’s 1st XI and look after the M2s.”

The Hockey Paper

From brink of extinction to “highest honour” on the Portrane rollercoaster

Chris Neville lifts the Irish Hockey Trophy

A century in the making, it was beautifully fitting that Portrane’s finest hour would see a Neville flick in the winner and a Henchy on the sideline, calling the shots.  

The Fingal club have been through it all, from the brink of extinction just over a decade ago before this latest remarkable renaissance. With a gloriously situated water-based pitch in the heart of Donabate, nearly 200 kids in the youth section, a place in men’s EYHL2 and seven adult teams, you could argue they have never had it so good.

And last Saturday’s Irish Hockey Trophy success was the cherry on top, “the highest honour in our history” according to Adrian Henchy, a history dating back 101 years in 1919.

They almost blew it; they should have been in cruise-control when they built up a 3-0 lead by the 45th minute. Dylan Eustace set the ball rolling after Stephen Rogan robbed the ball on halfway and slipped to Ossian Elmiger to shoot. The half-saved effort fell to Eustace to clip home.  

Moments into the second half, straight from the tip off it was two after an excellent run down the right wing, Sean Graham found Rogan who pirouetted on the flick spot to score.

Graham nabbed the next, played in by Adam Agnew and then Eustace, and it could have been even more comfortable but for the post.  

Quins, however, stormed back into contention with Michael Patterson netting a penalty corner in the 48th minute and it was game on when Stephen McGrath scrambled in at the third attempt.  

That set nerves jangling as Portrane conceded six corners in the closing quarter, the sixth of which came from the very last play of normal time when Patterson struck once more. Quins had beaten Waterford in the semi-final with a buzzer-beater and they had a repreive

Portrane, however, got the only of the shootout when Neville flicked high into the net for a 1-0 victory with Dan Graham keeping out all five of the Quins shoot-outs.

“We started to defend too deep, maybe got a bit nervous but we certainly imploded a bit!” Henchy said of those nervous final moments.  

“Chris getting the winner was fitting – he’s the grand-nephew of Paddy Neville and there’s that connection going back through the generations. We won the Irish Challenge in 2011 and the Irish Junior Cup in the 30s and 40s but this is certainly the highest honour.”

A dozen years ago, this was scarcely believable. Numbers had dwindled to the extent they needed to amalgamate with St Brendan’s/Phoenix Park for a couple of seasons before reforming as a single team near the bottom end of the Leinster league ladder.

Among many steps was the arrival of Mukhtar Ahmed, a motivated and hugely positive coaching force and a more than decent player to boot.

“We were pretty much gone; that gave us a year or two and we just got back together as one team in Division Five. We won the Challenge in 2011 – that was Mukhtar’s first season with us and has been there since. That was the seed of our survival, going from 5 to 4 to 3 to 1.  

“Two years ago, we were bottom of the league until the last match of the season, finishing second from bottom on goal difference with a last day win. But last season was fantastic – we only lost to Railway and Clontarf, home and away to both.”

It was one of the pities of Saturday’s final that Ahmed and Imran Khan – a former Pakistan and Azerbaijan international – could not be present. The duo have played key coaching roles in the local schools and the club but returned to their homeland when lockdown fell; they have their work permits in order to return but the Department of Justice did not yet clear their return in time for this final.

But, within that, it laid more experience on the club’s young guns who have come through the resurrected youth section formed 12 years ago.

“We struggled to attract and retain boys but there’s a good crew who have come through the youths and they are getting better and better. Marry in [former youth international] Brian McMahon from Skerries and Chris Neville and Adam Agnew as well who has been a great addition.  

“Then when Mukhtar and Imran are around and with Derek Ledwidge back, there’s a good balance between lads who have been around the scene and emerging players.”

Numbers have swelled to introduce a third adult team last season but it is on the women’s side that the club has absolutely “sky-rocketed”.

On the same day, their firsts won the Division 9-10 cup final against UCD 6ths with eight first half goals; many of their number have helped Loreto Balbriggan and Drogheda Grammar win a couple of schools cup titles of late.

They are currently working through the divisions one at a time but Henchy believes they should be bumped up a few leagues to match their abilities.  

Friendly matches against Division 3 and 4 teams have yielded wins and the hope is it won’t have to require pulverising teams by double figures regularly in the lower tiers to make their case.

In the past, Kilkenny, Monkstown and YMCA have availed of a couple of gaps in higher divisions to hasten their rise and he is hopeful a similar opportunity can open up.

“We don’t want to spend 10 or 12 years [to work through all the divisions],” he continued. “There has to be a bit of vision there to see we are doing things in the right way with our coaching.  

“I feel there should be clear pathways for first teams from EY to Division One to Division Two for first teams. There is about 30 clubs so there should be like a senior league, inter league and junior league for first teams to move between and find their level in a reasonable short period of time.”

Much of this has been made possible by what the club’s Twitter account is keen to label Henchy field. It was almost consigned to being a white elephant before getting sorted.

He is passionate and steeped in the club’s history with his father Percy part of the club’s golden era and a former president of the Leinster Branch. More than that, Adrian is a pivotal figure on the peninsula in Donabate as a local councillor while he managed the local Gaelic football team, St Pat’s, to four promotions in five years up to Division One.

In his playing days, he lined out with current Dublin manager – and Irish Under-21 hockey player – Dessie Farrell and Kieran McGeeney in the Na Fianna senior team, men “you can only but learn what high performance is really about”.

That GAA influence and his own hockey history steeled his passion to get a facility to be proud of for his community.

“In 2011, disaster – three days after getting the keys, it flooded and we had to decamp to ALSAA [15 km away] for three or four years while it all got sorted.  

“It disconnected us from the schools and community. The pitch is at the centre of the Donabate community, in between the village, every housing estate and the major schools. Everyone in the area is aware of the club and we are beginning to see it with parents in the club who have made Donabate their home and their kids are joining the club.

“We have so many coaches now who never played the game but are getting involved with their sons and daughters. We are fortunate with some great people on the admin side. Then with Mukhtar and Imran on coaching and development in the club and going into the schools, it has planted the seeds of the game.”

Irish Hockey Trophy final

Portrane 3 (D Eustace, S Rogan, S Graham) Belfast Harlequins 3 (M Patterson 2, S McGrath), Portrane won shoot-out 1-0

Portrane: D Graham, R McKeon, B McMahon, D Ledwidge, O Elmiger, S Graham, C Neville, J Skehan, A Agnew, A Darroch, S Rogan

Subs: S Healy, C Shoebridge, C Best, D Eustace, R Shoebridge

Belfast Harlequins: C Andrew, J Metcalfe, M Patterson, D Frazer, R Quigley, S McGrath, C Gardner, B Patterson, M Gray, C Lemon, C Callender

Subs: A Kenny, N Anderson, A Murphy, R Yousaf, N Wilson, I Kelly

Umpires: M Coombes, C Kavanagh

The Hook

Cork C of I refusing to travel to Dublin for season opener

'I have to think of the welfare of our players [which includes four healthcare professionals] and it is ridiculous to put them in that position'

Stephen Findlater

Cork C of I have taken the decision not to travel to Dublin to face Monkstown on the opening day of women’s EY Hockey League Division 2 with Cork Harlequins and UCC considering following suit.

It leaves them potentially open to tough sanctions with a fear of serious penalties should they not fulfill fixtures over Covid concerns.

The EY Hockey League’s Division One and Two have been classed as hockey’s elite competitions by Sport Ireland and thus given the green light to go ahead in Dublin despite ongoing level 3 status.

Harlequins, UCC and Cork C of I are all scheduled to play in the capital but all have safety concerns about travelling.

C of I confirmed they will not play their Division 2 game against Monkstown with a player testing positive for Covid-19 this week. The positive case, however, does not automatically lead to a formal postponement.

Speaking of the decision, manager Sarah Jones said she “admires Hockey Ireland for trying to get the games organised but it is completely irresponsible in the current situation to make us travel up to Dublin when it is in lockdown.

“I have to think of the welfare of our players [which includes four healthcare professionals] and it is ridiculous to put them in that position. Why could they not be flexible and rearrange for local teams to play against each other to avoid this?”

Harlequins, meanwhile, also have a number medical workers involved who have been told by employers they will have to self-isolate for 10 days should they make the trip to face Muckross in Division One.

They requested a postponement from Hockey Ireland. If it is refused, should they decide not to travel, the likelihood is the game would be declared as forfeited. This is based on the precedent created last Sunday when Blackrock did not field for the Irish Hockey Challenge final.

Quins coach Darren Collins feels clubs and players are being put in an unfair position.

“They’re treating us like Munster or Leinster [rugby] or the League of Ireland; we are miles from that level,” Collins told the Irish Examiner. “We simply don’t have the resources or expertise; we are not being tested all the time and we don’t have a medical team around us every day.

“We are really stuck because we also don’t want to forfeit points. We are just looking for common sense and a small bit of empathy. If we are really worried about cases, we should be given the chance to refix matches to a later date.

“It doesn’t seem to be getting any traction up there. They tell us Sport Ireland says it’s ok so off you go. If you don’t play, you might be in trouble.”

Collins adds that playing could also set a dangerous precedent. They must make at least nine similar trip this season - six in Dublin - with no car-pooling and no changing facilities available at the other end.

For UCC, discussions are ongoing this afternoon between the club and the college regarding whether they could travel to Santry to face Trinity.

The Irish Examiner

Great Britain Hockey appoint Ralph as head coach of women's elite development programme

By Nancy Gillen

David Ralph has been appointed head coach of the women's elite development programme ©GB Hockey

Great Britain Hockey has announced David Ralph as the new head coach of its women's elite development programme.

Ralph is assistant coach of the British and English senior women's hockey teams and is set to remain in the position until the conclusion of the postponed Olympic Games in Tokyo next year.

Simon Letchford has been appointed interim head coach of the elite development programme.

Ralph's spell with the senior women's team has resulted in medals at the EuroHockey Championships and Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games.

He also held the same role for the Britain and England senior men's programme for four years.

As a player, Ralph earned more than 100 caps for Scotland.

"I am delighted to accept this role," he said.

"The development of our younger players is something that I am very passionate about and I believe I have the skills and experience to provide an exceptional training environment for them to achieve their potential.

"I believe in our younger players and have very much seen their potential first hand with those who have joined the senior team in the last few years.

"We have a challenge on our hands to help develop the players to emulate the success that the senior team has had and I very much look forward to that and working with a talented playing group and staff team."

Simon Letchford will be the interim head coach of the elite development programme until after Tokyo 2020 ©GB Hockey

Letchford worked for Great Britain Hockey as a coach developer in the 2000s and also coached a number of clubs in the English national league.

He moved to Belgium in 2012, most recently becoming head coach of the country's under-21 men's team.

Letchford also spent four years as assistant coach to Belgium's senior women’s team and two as head coach of the women's under-21 squad.

"After eight years overseas I am delighted to be returning to the UK and am really excited at the prospect of re-joining Great Britain and England Hockey," Letchford said.

"Being appointed head coach of the elite development programme is an honour and I look forward to helping individual athletes continue their personal development and transition from age group hockey players into senior athletes for Britain and their respective home nations.

"I also welcome opportunity to prepare and lead the England under-21 squad into the Junior World Cup in South Africa next year."

GB Hockey’s head of elite talent development Heather Williams congratulated both Ralph and Letchford on their appointments.

"I’m delighted that the head coach role has attracted outstanding coaches of the calibre of David and Simon and congratulations to both of them on their appointments," she said.  

Inside the Games

Pakistan hockey team to feature in Junior Asia Cup

LAHORE - Pakistan junior hockey team will participate in the Junior Asia Cup Hockey Tournament to be played in Dhaka/Bangladesh from January 21 to 30 next year.

“In order to groom the goalkeepers on modern scientific lines a physical fitness training camp of national junior goalkeepers will be established here from September 25 to October 5,” said PHF spokesman on Thursday.

As many as seven goalkeepers will be attending the useful activity to be supervised by former Olympian Nasir Ahmed, who will be coordinated by Khawaja Junaid."

On the recommendation of chairman selection committee Manzoor Junior, PHF president Brig (R) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar has approved the names of seven goalkeepers for the camp.

The Nation

Weekend College Games: Atlantic Coast Conference

As the only conference playing field hockey this fall, the Atlantic Coast Conference's (ACC) second weekend of action will have two games on both Saturday and Sunday. Most matches this weekend are available for live stream on the ACC Network.


No. 7 Wake Forest at No. 2 Virginia | 12:00 p.m. ET | Live Stats

No. 7 Wake Forest will travel north to Charlottesville, Va. to take on No. 2 Virginia in a two-game series. The last time these two teams met was early November 2019, where Virginia got off to a hot start on their way to a 3-1 win.

Wake Forest kicked off the 2020 season last weekend, hosting No. 1 North Carolina. The Demon Deacons were able to contain the reigning National Champions' press, not allowing a goal in the first quarter. The Tar Heels struck off a penalty corner in the 23rd minute but Wake Forest answered right back, tying the game off a goal by Nat Friedman. North Carolina took a 2-1 lead into halftime scoring off another penalty corner and eventually added another to make the final 3-1. The Demon Deacons will look to rebound against the Cavaliers.

Virginia is coming off a 18-5 season, after going 4-2 in the ACC and making their fifth trip to the NCAA Semifinals, before falling to eventual runner-up Princeton. The Cavaliers led all schools with having three players named to the 2020 Preseason All-ACC Team. These include senior Rachel Robinson, junior Amber Ezechies and junior goalkeeper Lauren Hausheer. Robinson, a first team All-American, first team All-South Region, first team All-ACC and VaSID Field Hockey State Player of the Year, started all 23 games for Virginia last year as a defensive midfielder. She ended the season with five goals and four assists and was also named the 2019 ACC Scholar Athlete of the Year. She has been a member of the U.S. Women's National Team since January. Ezechiels, a second team All-American, first team All-South Region and second team All-ACC honoree, has been a key component in Virginia's defensive unit that logged seven shutouts last season. Goalkeeper Hausheer posted an 18-5 record last season, including the team's seven shutouts. Her 1.00 goals-against average was the top in the ACC and ranked third nationally. She is also a member of the U-21 USWNT. Cavaliers' head coach Michele Madison was named the VaSID State Coach of the Year, her seventh time winning the honor, after leading the squad to the NCAA Semifinals and tallying her 400th career victory. On the Virginia coaching staff is also three-time Olympian, former USWNT athlete and current U.S. Women's National Development Team Head Coach Rachel Dawson.

The current guidelines for sports venues provided by the Commonwealth of Virginia under the "Forward Virginia" plan (announced June 18), allow for the lesser of 50 percent occupancy of the facility or 1,000 patrons.

No. 4 Duke at No. 5 Louisville** | 1:00 p.m. ET | ACCN

No. 4 Duke will have their official first game of 2020, after last weekend's contests against No. 6 Syracuse were postponed, against No. 5 Louisville in Kentucky. Last year's match-up was a low scoring battle, as the Cardinals defeated the higher ranked Blue Devils, 1-0.

Two athletes from each team's rosters were named to the 2020 Preseason All-ACC Team. Duke represents with senior Lexi Davidson who returns after starting all 21 contests as a junior. She helped Duke's backline to seven shutouts and a 1.13 goals against average. For Louisville, senior Mercedes Pastor sees her name on the list for the second straight year. The two-time All-American posted a career-best nine goals and 22 points and was named to the All-ACC Tournament team. She was one of the four finalists for the 2020 Honda Sports Award for field hockey.

Last season, Duke finished 13-8 overall, 1-5 in the ACC and earned their 18th berth in the NCAA Tournament, falling to No. 6 Iowa in the opening round. They welcome six newcomers to the team that includes Barb Civitella, a member of the U.S. Rise Women's National Team, and return a veteran class that includes sophomores and U-21 USWNT athletes, Hannah Miller, who garnered All-South Region Second Team recognition last year, and Josie Varney. Junior Leah Crouse, All-ACC Second Team and U-21 USWNT athlete, will use her leadership on the forward line after leading the Blue Devils, tied with Miller, for 11 goals. They have also added USWNT goalkeeper Jess Jecko to the staff as a volunteer assistant coach.

Louisville finished 2019 with an overall record of 16-6, tying a program record for wins, and were 3-3 in the ACC. Their historic run came to an end in the NCAA Quarterfinals after falling to Boston College in a victory shootout. The Cardinals return 15 letterwinners and nine starters from last year's historic team, including Pastor and fellow All-American senior Alli Bitting. Louisville's 2020 roster also features five player who are members of the U-21 USWNT in Bitting, Erica Cooper, Margot Lawn, Meghan Schneider and Minna Tremonti while freshman Sofia Pendolino is on the Rise USWNT and senior goalkeeper Hollyn Barr is a member of the U.S. Women's National Development Team.


No. 7 Wake Forest at No. 2 Virginia** | 12:00 p.m. ET | ACCN

No. 4 Duke at No. 5 Louisville | 1:30 p.m. ET | ACCN

USFHA media release

England Hockey deeply saddened by the passing of Tarsem Chagger

Tarsem Chagger

England Hockey were deeply saddened to learn that Tarsem Chagger passed away last weekend after a short illness. He was aged 72.

Tarsem was best known as a popular and well-respected umpire. He officiated in the first season of the Men's National League in 1988, and continued to do so for a remarkable further 20 seasons.

Tarsem arrived from Kenya in the early seventies and joined Bedford Hockey Club as a player in 1973 and at the time of his passing was one of the club’s longest-serving active members.

He started umpiring in the early eighties, rapidly becoming recognised as a top class umpire in the East before joining the National League panel. He continued as an active umpire in the East and also in Masters hockey, enjoying the company of many of the players he had umpired over the years. He umpired at the European Masters Hockey Championships in Glasgow in 2017 and Antwerp in 2019. Indeed, he was due to travel to Tokyo in November to umpire in the now-postponed World Masters Championship. He combined umpiring with match official duties in the England Hockey League.

Tarsem’s service to our sport is legendary. He was an appointment secretary’s dream. At a moment's notice, he’d change plans, travel anywhere to do a game, umpire it well and enjoy a pint with players afterwards and discuss it fairly and objectively.

Our condolences go to Tarsem’s family and friends at this sad time. Rest in Peace Chags.

England Hockey Board Media release

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