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News for 25 November 2020

All the news for Wednesday 25 November 2020

La Gantoise go top as Waterloo win well at Orée

La Gantoise moved back to the top of the Belgian men’s Honor Division following the competition’s return to action on Sunday following a Covid-related cessation.

They got the best of Antwerp to make it seven wins in eight games – with a back match against struggling Namur also in the pipeline – as they remain the only unbeaten side.

Pascal Kina’s side led 2-0 after six minutes via goals from François Goyet and Juan Saladino. Scottish international Hamish Imrie pulled one back but Leandro Tolini and a hat trick from Alex de Paeuw completed a 6-2 success.

Previous leaders Orée were well beaten by Waterloo Ducks 3-0 with Elliot van Strydonck setting the Ducks on their way with a ninth minute opening goal. Nicolas Dumont and Louis Capelle netted second half goals to win the day.

For John-John Dohmen, it was his first match for Orée against Waterloo, the club he served so well for so long: “I want to remain positive despite the defeat,” he told Le Soir after the match.

“We controlled possession and our defensive outletting was very good. We didn’t make any mistakes but it was in the conclusion zone that we were much too naive. At this level, we have to be better. They proved to be more dangerous.”

The Ducks’ skipper Gauthier Boccard was delighted with the result: “We converted our big chances and took three valuable points given the schedule that awaits us to complete this first round of the season.  

“We were not technically and tactically ready after only 10 days of preparation. But we played with enthusiasm. Mentally, we were stronger than our opponents and it paid off. ”

The win sees Waterloo close the gap to second placed Orée to one point while their place in the top four also strengthened with Leopold drawing 2-2 with Dragons.  

KHC Leuven were caught in the last few minutes by a Simon van Diest equaliser to draw 1-1 with Herakles. German women’s head coach Xavier Reckinger was a surprise inclusion in the Hera line-up.  

At the bottom, Namur recorded their first win of the season with a 3-2 success against the Old Club.

Euro Hockey League media release

Cork sides handed 5-0 losses for refusing to travel to Dublin

Cork Harlequins drop to the bottom of the EY Hockey League table on goal difference with one point from three games

Stephen Findlater

Cork Harlequins have been handed a pair of 5-0 defeats for two EY Hockey League matches they did not fulfill before lockdown due to Covid concerns following an appeal by Muckross.

The Farmers’ Cross club decided not to travel to away games on September 26 against Muckross in Dublin and then again on October 10 at Belfast Harlequins.

In addition, Cork C of I and UCC have received the same sanction for their Division 2 games at Trinity and Monkstown, respectively.

All three clubs had initially been given a reprieve with those sanctions put on a “suspended” basis but Muckross duly lodged an appeal over that decision by the Irish Hockey League Sub Working Group.

The appeal cited the new Covid-19 appendices to the competition’s bye laws, circulated to clubs a day before the season started on September 25.

Those bye laws make no mention of “suspended” sanctions with the section titled “Failure to fulfil fixtures” stating when a club refuses to travel, they “shall be considered to have forfeit the fixture” with a 5-0 loss for the defaulting team. In addition, clubs who refuse to travel will also lose home advantage for subsequent games.

The independent appeals board agreed with Muckross’s argument, stating: “It appears common case that Cork failed to fulfil the fixture. The Panel take the view that any team entering a competition must abide by the rules of that competition.

“The reasons for such failure to fulfil the Fixture, whilst compelling, are not relevant to this appeal which is confined to the decision... The suspension of a penalty is not supported in any provision of the Regulations or Appendix.”

As such, all suspended sanctions have now been imposed, meaning Cork Harlequins drop to the bottom of the EY Hockey League table on goal difference with one point from three games. Muckross move off the bottom with their first points of the campaign.

Hockey Ireland, meanwhile, has suggested the EY Hockey Leagues could return as soon as December 12 if given the green light by government later this week.

Many club coaches and players, however, have voiced their concerns over the swift resumption so soon after a six-week ban on collective training, citing fears of a heightened risk of injury.

The quick return is what the governing body has called the “most positive option” with the aim of catching up on the six rounds of postponed matches.

Should this not be possible, two alternative plans are being prepared for the new year which are set to be presented to the regional branches.

A curtailed season has not been ruled out, particularly as the women’s season will need to have an early resolution to account for the international team’s European Championships commitments in June and the Olympic Games a month later.

For the men, there is a wider window to complete the season with their next competitive international fixtures not taking place until August.

Irish Examiner

How Gurjit Kaur’s drive to stand out gave Indian women’s team their first drag flick expert

Gurjit Kaur is a crucial part of the Indian women’s hockey team. And her rise a drag-flick specialist has a big role to play in that.

Ashish Magotra

It is impossible to imagine a side rising to the top in international hockey without a drag flicker in their ranks. It is impossible because without a specialist, a team will never be able to take full advantage of the penalty corner. Throw in a few variations and you have a weapon that’s hard to stop. Perfect it and you can rise to the top. At the international level, roughly one-third of the penalty corners result in a goal.

Jay Stacy (the former record holder for most caps for the Kookaburras) is credited as being the first to use the skill in the 1987 Australian Hockey Championships in Hobart. Up until that point, the hit was the preferred option. But the smooth astroturfs made it possible to drag and then flick the ball with amazing power and precision.

Other teams were quick to find their own stars. Great Britain had Calum Giles. Holland had Floris Jan Bovelander. Pakistan had Sohail Abbas. But India relied on the hit for a long time before they finally found enough astroturfs to give them a Jugraj Singh in 2001.

A similar trend was observed in women’s hockey as well. The best teams had their penalty corner specialists. India had none. They relied on the hit and that just doesn’t get the required results. But all that changed in 2017, when Gurjit Kaur got a game during a tour of Malaysia.

The 25-year-old defender from Punjab scored in her first match and has since then emerged as one of the most crucial cogs of the team. The emergence of a drag flicker opened up the game that little bit more for India. It also gave the team a bonafide goal-scoring option in addition to skipper Rani Rampal.

Being different

Gurjit’s story starts differently too. She didn’t play sport in her early years. In her village (Miadi Kalan in Amritsar), but for the odd mention of kabaddi, sport was never high on the priority list.

Her father, Satnam Singh, wanted to give her a good education but since the school was a fair distance away from the village, Gurjit along with her sister was sent to the hostel and it was there that she had her initial brush with sport.

“I didn’t play any sport as a kid,” said Gurjit in an interview to Scroll.in. “There isn’t a sporting atmosphere in our village as such. A long time back they used to play a bit of kabaddi, so I knew a little about that but not much more. My school was quite far from the village, so I was eventually put in a hostel. Right next to our hostel, there was a ground where hockey was being played. We would keep watching them and felt like playing too. We asked our parents for permission to play and we were gladly given permission.”

Gurjit added: “In school, I had no knowledge of the drag flick. I would just try and push the ball. But my coach knew about it and he got me a wooden hockey stick which had a slight bend. And he slowly kept feeding me information. Initially, I too would just hit the ball but then I saw others do it and I was like ‘I want to try this too’. I didn’t want to do what everyone was doing. I wanted to try something different. And the drag flick is so different that not everyone can do it.”

She was in sixth standard when she finally picked up the sport. Gurjit was powerfully built but hockey is as much about pace and technique as it is about physicality. So, she would spend hours watching her seniors play the sport.

“When I was in school, I would try and drag flick but I didn’t have too much knowledge about the technique,” said Gurjit. “So when I played senior nationals, I got called up for the junior camp and that is when I truly understood the mechanics and the technique behind the drag flick. I had continued with my own feeble efforts to figure things out on my own but this is when it truly began for me. I would take every opportunity to watch the good drag flickers, even the ones in the men’s team, and learn from them. The footwork, the build-up and every other little thing that I could notice, I would try and incorporate into my technique as well.”

Stepping up for India

Waiting for the ball to be pushed in. Image credit: Hockey India

A few years after making the junior camp, Gurjit was called up for the senior camp. Her flick, like that of most youngsters, was still a work in progress but it had turned heads.

The drag flick is a complicated technique to learn. It requires coordination, strength and timing and may take years to master. In addition, you need to set aside time to perfect it after practising your primary job of being a defender or a midfielder or an attacker. So it almost never ends in one session. That alone takes a toll.

And then there is the additional load of mastering the variations. Gone are the days when a drag flicker could just smash it in. With protective equipment becoming better, the rushing defenders are that little bit faster than they used to be and with just seconds to pull the trigger, Gurjit needed to become smarter too.

Still, it helped that she managed to score early in her international career.

“My first tour was that of Malaysia in 2017 and there I had a chance to employ the drag flick in international hockey for the first time. I scored in my first match itself and that gave my confidence a huge boost. And from that point on the desire to keep scoring with the drag flick increased and I kept up my practice sessions.”

It has been three years since her debut but Gurjit continues to focus on the basics with quiet determination. She doesn’t want to let her team-mates down.

“That they believe in me makes me feel blessed,” said Gurjit. “That I can score for the country makes me feel blessed. We are like a family here. We share our joys and sorrows and if anything, I want to come through not just for myself but for my team too.”

For now, the Olympics have been shut out of her mind. Each day has a steady rhythm to it – Gurjit standing at the top of the D, stepping in, following through and dragging the ball to the desired corner of the net. Then, she goes back to coach Sjoerd Marijne and looks through the video; she gets his suggestions and repeats the action over and over again until she feels every part of the movement is in sync.

“There is always scope to improve and I know I can be much better,” said Gurjit. “We are starting again from the basics after this long break. But I am only looking at it as a chance to build from the ground-up again. Since I know more than when I first started, it should be easier. Then again, who knows what I might learn this time around.”


Aslam Sher Khan writes over Batra being made Hockey India ‘life president’

Aslam Sher Khan sent the letter to Kiren Rijiju on Monday, just days before the Delhi High Court hears his plea in which he alleged that Hockey India had created posts in violation of the code.

Aslam Sher Khan helped India win the gold medal in 1975 World Cup. (File)

Olympian Aslam Sher Khan has sought the intervention of sports minister Kiren Rijiju after claiming that his ministry ‘is amending the sports code’ in a way that will make officials hold ‘posts which are declared unconstitutional and illegal by the Hon’ble High Court.’

Khan sent the letter to Rijiju on Monday, just days before the Delhi High Court hears his plea in which he alleged that Hockey India had created posts in violation of the Sports Code.

In August, the Delhi High Court asked the sports ministry and Hockey India for their stand on Khan’s plea. A member of the Indian team that won the 1975 Hockey World Cup, Khan alleged that Hockey India had violated the national sports code by creating posts like ‘life member’, ‘life president’ and ‘CEO’, which are not permitted under the rules. He had also filed a complaint with the sports ministry in July.

The petition in the Delhi High Court, filed through advocate Vanshdeep Dalmia, also sought quashing of the appointments of Narinder Batra and Elena Norman as the hockey federation’s life member and CEO respectively.

Khan, in his letter to Rijiju, cited the examples of other federations, like tennis and kho kho, that had abolished the post of life president after the sports ministry raised objections.

Khan wrote: “Other NSFs like tennis and kho kho have also been told to demit office due to the creation of such posts like ‘life member’ and ‘life president.’ Now I have been told that the MOYS is amending its Sports Code in order to make Mr Narender Batra eligible to hold such posts which are already declared unconstitutional and illegal by the Hon’ble High Court.”

He went on to seek Rijiju’s intervention in the issue. “I request your good office to intervene in this matter so that no such illegalities are committed in order to favour one person like Mr Narender Batra. The next date of the matter is on 28.11.2020.”

Indian Express

Taranaki Hockey getting innovative to develop officials

Five seasons ago, almost all of the umpiring in Taranaki’s New Plymouth primary competition was done by coaches or parents. While it was fantastic to have so many parents and coaches helping out to ensure that their kids were still able to play, it was limiting the number of umpires who were being developed in the Association and transitioning through to the next tier of secondary school and club hockey. That was until four wonderful volunteers stepped up, looked at the problem head-on and came up with a strategy to strengthen the umpiring development in the area. They began recruiting, training and mentoring. The initiative has been so successful that they are now in the enviable position of having too many umpires each week that they can’t find them games to officiate.

Over the last two years, 40 new junior umpires have been trained. One of the mentors, Lachie Hanser, is a secondary school student who umpires club and representative games himself. Lachie allocates umpires to all of the primary and intermediate games, and attends the games, ensuring there are at least two mentors on duty at all times.  These mentors work with the umpires, providing feedback after every game, and coordinating with each other to ensure that messages and “workons” are consistent and manageable.

The umpires often arrive early on a Saturday morning and stay right through the morning as they love the atmosphere of being part of the “Team of Yellow” which in turn attracts other players to want to be a part of the fun they have.

Parents and Coaches are constantly praising the ability and dedication of the umpires and mentors and the sideline behaviour has definitely improved as the initiative has progressed.

Philip Hanser chair of the Taranaki Hockey Umpires Division commented “Watching the young umpires enjoy themselves and seeing their confidence grow each week, has been such a rewarding experience. I am extremely grateful for the significant time our mentors contribute. The success and what has been achieved comes down to the ongoing effort & commitment of the kids themselves, so the programme was designed to foster that commitment. We’ve focused on making it a fun experience, and limiting the teaching to just basic umpiring principles initially. As their experience grows we slowly introduce more technical aspects. Our retention level is 90%. Our first two young men through the junior programme progressed to club umpiring during 2019/20, and two young ladies will follow in 2021″.

Taranaki will now replicate the program in Stratford where the Central Taranaki Junior Hockey league is run to ensure the future of umpire in Taranaki remains strong.

Hockey New Zealand Media release

GB Psychologist Teaming Up With Marcus Rashford To Inspire Children Through Reading

Katie Warriner

“Everyone has a right to dream but not everyone has the right support or opportunity to find their voice and unlock their potential. Books can play a key role in inspiring young people to believe in themselves and to learn from role models.”

These are the words of Katie Warriner, a performance psychologist who works with the Great Britain men’s squad and is teaming up with footballer Marcus Rashford and sports journalist Carl Anka to create a series of books for children across the UK.

The trio will be collaborating with Macmillan Children’s Books on one fiction and two non-fiction titles to be released in 2021 and 2022. These books will be based around Rashford’s own experiences and will aim to inspire readers to work on their resilience and belief, showing them that with hard work and persistence, anyone can achieve their dreams, no matter where they are from.

"I’m passionate about helping young people in particular, they deserve the best from us all," Katie – who joined the GB set up in 2017 and is also the co-founder of The Prime Clinic – said.

"I’m personally so inspired by Marcus Rashford’s courage on and off the field. He is a brilliant reminder that sport is about so much more than medals and trophies, it's about making a difference in the world. Not just in how it develops our character, helping us be the best we can be, but then the platform you have to contribute positively to the world around you.

"From a values point of view, it’s a dream project to support."

One thing Katie is particularly keen to get across during the project is the fact that everyday people can achieve exceptional things. And by learning from role models like Rashford, we can find and develop our own potential.

For many children, the idea of becoming an elite athlete or reaching the pinnacle in any chosen industry can seem to be an almost impossible reality for any variety of reasons. But by working alongside the Manchester United footballer, she is hoping to provide the youngsters with the knowledge and belief that they can achieve their goals and overcome any barriers along the way.

"Beyond the elite work our hockey squads demonstrate on the pitch and in the gym, they are human beings first and for most! It doesn’t matter where you’re from, we are all human. We all have doubts and worries, hopes and dreams," she said.

"So if you’re a young person who wants to become a pilot, an actor, a doctor, be the first person in your family to go to university or even just learn to read and own a book, let’s support each other with our goals and be there during the struggles.

"That’s what’s so beautiful, everyone is unique, has a unique gift and an individual path.

"When we eventually get to publication day, we will try to get the book in the hands of as many young people as possible and I hope they read it and realise that they are brilliantly unique, just like everyone else."

Great Britain Hockey media release

RAF Women’s Hockey Team raise over £3,000 for Royal British Legion

SAC Katie Vickers, from RAF Benson, currently deployed with the Joint Helicopter Support Squadron on Op NEWCOMBE in Mali.

Throughout lockdown many of us have had to adapt our fitness routines. The RAF Women’s Hockey Team took it one step further this month and committed to each running the 10km Poppy Run on the 11th November to raise money for the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal.

“With Remembrance events scaled back due to COVID-19, RAF Hockey were extremely proud to do all they could to assist the Poppy Appeal this year. The Royal British Legion continues to provide much needed support to veterans, serving personnel and their families, which is even more important during these difficult times. They have also been an invaluable sponsor to RAF Hockey in recent years and the Poppy Run was a perfect opportunity for the team to give something back to this outstanding Armed Forces Charity.”
Wing Commander Sharon Evelegh-HallRAF Hockey Chair

While most were in the UK for this event and ran at their respective Units, a few took part whilst deployed on operations overseas.

Senior Aircraftman Katie Vickers, from RAF Benson, is currently deployed with the Joint Helicopter Support Squadron on Op NEWCOMBE in Mali, she said: “It was around 25 degrees by the time I had finished the 10km run at 7:30am. The uneven terrain and dust make running out here especially hard. 27 Squadron had already organised a 5km event in support of the Royal British Legion, with about 50 personnel from the detachment taking part, which was really great to see and meant that I wasn’t running the whole thing by myself.”

SAC Katie Vickers wearing the Poppy Run T-Shirt

Collectively the RAF Ladies Hockey Team raised £3,223 for the Royal British Legion.“We’re in a second lockdown now. League hockey has been cancelled and the gyms are closed, so having a challenge like this and an incredible team of women behind me was exactly the motivation I needed to get my running shoes on and get myself out of the door. On the day of the run it was incredible just watching the pictures and updates come in as everyone completed their run. We haven’t been able to train together since February, but the Hockey Family is always there when we need it.”

Flight Lieutenant Kathy Morten RAF Hockey Player with service dog

Hockey World News

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