All the news for Saturday 12 December 2020
Watch.Hockey fan vote: Ballenghien’s backhand voted best goal of FIH Hockey Pro League in 2020
Image: Ambre Ballenghien. Copyright: FIH / Getty Images.
We are delighted to reveal that Ambre Ballenghien’s superb backhand strike for Belgium’s women away to New Zealand on 1 February has been chosen as the Best Goal of the FIH Hockey Pro League in 2020, as voted by fans using the Watch.Hockey app.
Ballenghien’s goal earned 21.09 percent of the fan vote to finish ahead of India’s Gurjant Singh (14.54 percent) and Carla Rebecchi of Argentina (14.43 percent), who finished in second and third place respectively in a ten-strong, mixed gender shortlist that attracted votes in their thousands from all over the world.
To mark the occasion, we spoke with this rising star of Belgian hockey about her goal as well as her aims and ambitions with the team over the coming years.
FIH: Ambre Ballenghien of Belgium, I’m pleased to tell you that your goal against New Zealand has been voted as the best goal of the 2020 FIH Hockey Pro League. Thank you so much for joining us and congratulations! What is your reaction to that news?
Ambre Ballenghien: “Well, I’m really amazed by it, and it makes me very happy, for sure! I really didn’t expect it, so yes, I am pleased because there were a lot of amazing goals, and I didn’t think mine would win the competition, so I am very happy!”
FIH: Well, it was a great strike on the backhand; you didn’t have much of a target to aim for. There was a little space between the goalkeeper and her near post. Did you see the space, or were you just hoping for the best?!
Ambre Ballenghien: “Yeah, I think I was really hoping for the best, because as a striker you try to take every opportunity that you have to shoot on goal. I was there in the circle, even though it was a tight angle, and I thought: ‘just go for it, try to score it and you will see”. It was a bit of a lucky one, but I am happy to score it.”
FIH: The goal came just two minutes into the game, and you ended up going on to beat New Zealand 2-1 in that particular match. You look like you’ve really enjoyed playing in the FIH Hockey Pro League. Has that been the case?
Ambre Ballenghien: “For sure. It is a continuation of the first Pro League [season], which is where I actually made my debut for the national team and started to learn how it is to play at the international level. Every game I have really enjoyed and had a lot of fun, and it is allowing me to make my first steps. I want to enjoy and try to improve every game.”
FIH: You are only 19 so you very much have time on your side – you turn 20 this coming Sunday [13 December]. You are making quite an impression, despite being so young. What is it like being part of this exciting, young Red Panthers team?
Ambre Ballenghien: “I think I have [been given a big opportunity] to be able to start playing for them so young. I just enjoy it; I don’t put any pressure on myself. I just want to improve, and I think that having Pro League is amazing for youngsters like me to try and develop, to grow as a player. It really is an amazing opportunity for us [youngsters], so we all take it.”
FIH: What kind of ambitions do you have with Belgium, both on a personal level and also with the team itself? With potentially many years of playing ahead of you, what are you looking to achieve during your career?
Ambre Ballenghien: “With the team, for sure I want us to be in the top four [ranked teams]. It is what I dream about, and it is about making sure that we make progress and make history. That is really what I want in my career, to leave the shirt in a better place, and I’m sure we have the potential to do so. I know we are still behind the top teams for the moment. We can beat them sometimes, but we still need to make some steps, and I really want to be part of that generation that can win tournaments and medals, that is what I am going for. On a personal level, for sure I was to become one of the best players out there, be the best that I can, be a really good striker and drag-flicker as well, which is what I aim for.”
FIH: Yes, we have seen your drag-flick in action, you scored one [in the FIH Hockey Pro League] not so long ago. So that is something that you have been working particularly hard on?
Ambre Ballenghien: “Yes. Since I am quite young, I like to [practise] drag-flicks by myself, in training. But for sure it is a technique that takes quite a while to develop, and to start scoring. As you get more powerful, then they start to go in and you start to score some. Also, in my club I’ve started taking more drag-flicks, and scoring some which is nice, but [I] still [have] a lot of steps to make to be able to be consistent for it to become a key weapon.”
FIH: You are studying in Brussels at the moment, planning for the future. How are you finding the balance between study with training with the national team?
Ambre Ballenghien: “It is not easy, I have to be honest! You really have to be flexible in your mind, and in this corona period even more. Everything is uncertain, so you need to be able to adapt. Luckily, we have a lot of help, we have special status as top-sport athletes, to make sure we can succeed in both our hockey careers and in our studies. So, for the moment it is going well, and I’m thankful for all of the help I have around me.”
FIH: You mentioned the coronavirus situation. Obviously, that has reduced the amount of hockey being played the world over, and in Belgium it has been no different. You must be looking forward to hopefully playing a lot more international hockey in 2021.
Ambre Ballenghien: “Yes, I hope so because it seems like we have had a break of one year – that is how it feels. When I talk about the Pro League in 2019, it feels like it was a month ago, but it is already one year ago. I want to play a lot of games because as a team we really need it if we want to improve. We need to play against the top teams. Also, for myself, to gain experience comes only by playing. If you don’t play you don’t improve, so that is really what I am looking forward to.”
FIH: Well, thank you so much for joining us for this conversation. Do you want to say anything to the fans who voted for your Best Goal?
Ambre Ballenghien: “I want to say thank you to everyone! I’m really pleased to win it, and also thanks to all the others who were nominated for the best goal. I am really happy to have it, but there were other goals that were really amazing, so thank you to everybody!”
FIH: Thank you so much, and congratulations once again.
Ambre Ballenghien: “Thank you!”
The outcome of the fan vote for the Best Matches of the FIH Hockey Pro League in 2020 will be revealed between Wednesday 16 and Friday 18 December.
Don’t forget to download the Watch.Hockey app, where you can find the latest news and interviews as well as action replays and highlights. Simply search Watch.Hockey in the App Store or on Google Play. A desktop version of the app is available at www.watch.hockey.
FIH Delegation Inspects 2023 World Cup Venue in Odisha
By TAZEEN QURESHY
A delegation of officials from the FIH, visited Steel City Rourkela on Friday to inspect the infrastructure facilities in the city. Rourkela is one of the two venues which will be hosting the Men’s Hockey World Cup in 2023.
FIH President Narinder Dhruv Batra, Hockey India President Gyanendro Ningombam and several other technical officials visited the Biju Patnaik Hockey Stadium (BPHS) in Rourkela and took stock of the preparations for the World Cup. Officials from the Odisha administration including Sports Minister Tusharkanti Behera, State Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy and Sports Secretary Vishal Dev were also present.
“The FIH World Cup is the flagship event of hockey’s world governing body. Therefore, it is essential that all operational matters are conducted in a state-of-the-art way. I’m really pleased with the commitment of the public authorities of Rourkela and I’m convinced it will be a great venue for the FIH Odisha Men’s Hockey World Cup India 2023,” said Dr. Narinde Dhruv Batra.
Notably, the work around laying the new astro-turf at BPHS had been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Odisha Government left no stone unturned to make 2018 Men’s Hockey World Cup a truly international experience and in 2023 too it will excel in its execution and all stakeholders are collectively working towards it,” said Odisha Sports Minister Tusharkanti Behera.
A team of officials had earlier visited Kalinga Stadium, the other venue of the World Cup.
India will be the first country in the world to host two consecutive hockey World Cups. The 2018 edition of the World Cup was held at Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.
Besides renovating the hockey stadium, the Odisha Government has also elaborately planned on re-development of Rourkela. The multi-purpose Birsa Munda Stadium will be redeveloped and a multi-level car parking will be introduced.
The Rourkela Smart City Limited (RSCL) has also commenced the first stage of the smart road project and the second will begin soon.
Plans are also in the offing to restore commercial flights from the Steel City.
Rourkela comes under Sundargarh district of Odisha, which is considered the nursery of hockey in Eastern India. Several top players including former captain Dilip Tirkey and defender Birendra Lakra hail from Sundargarh district.
Kampong dealt blow with three-point deduction confirmed
SV Kampong’s men’s Hoofdklasse campaign has been dealt a blow with the imposition of a three-point deduction after their appeal to the KNHB proved unsuccessful.
The disciplinary commission of the KNHB had ruled Kampong had not correctly reported a potential coronavirus case for their September 25th game with Tilburg.
In their ruling, they judged Kampong violated the government provisions put in place to allow top hockey to go ahead and fined the club €500. In addition, the game against Tilburg must be replayed.
In a press statement, the KNHB explained basis for the decision: “The competition management based the competition measure [three-point deduction] on the fact that the player in question had a test carried out one day before the game on the basis of minor symptoms, the result of which was not yet known before the start of Tilburg – Kampong.
“Based on the special additional provisions of the Federal Rules, published prior to the competition, the competition management reasoned that the player in question should not have been played by SV Kampong.
“The competition management was of the opinion that the player in question should have been quarantined on the basis of the fact that he had minor symptoms and had had a test performed, the result of which was not yet known.”
As a result, Kampong sit in third place in the Hoofdklasse on 13 points, eight points behind HC Bloemendaal but with a game in hand.
Euro Hockey League media release
Scottish North Conference brings top of the table contests
North district remains in tier 2 after the Scottish Government review on Tuesday and therefore this weekend`s North Conference games will go ahead, but West, East and Midland remain under tier 3 restrictions.
And there are a couple of first v second clashes in store, in the men’s conference Gordonians entertain Granite City Wanderers while Gordonians women travel to Ellon.
It`s tight at the top of the men`s table, Gordonians and Granite City are tied on 15 points, although the former have a crucial game in hand.
On paper there seems little to choose between the sides, both have seen off the opposition. But it was the Countesswells side that won the head-to-head a few weeks ago.
Gordonians strolled into a three-goal lead, Robbie Wallis (2) and John Hamilton were on target, and the contest seemed done and dusted, but back came Granite City to score twice through Josh Laurence, in the end it proved too little too late to effect the final outcome.
The other fixture between Ellon and Aberdeen Grammar FPs is at the other end of the table. Earlier this fixture provided the Rubislaw men with their only points so far, a 2-0 win at the same venue with goals from Kieran Christine and Stephen Malloy.
In the women`s competition this will be the third meeting between Ellon and Gordonians, the latter have come out on top 5-0 and 6-2.
At the moment Gordonians hold a six point lead at the top, and will set out to restrict any chance of that being eroded after Saturday`s game. However, if Louise Gordon can lift her side`s spirits to the level that got them four wins out of seven in the Conference so far, then Gordonians might have a fight on their hands.
While Gordonians have been high-flying with six wins to date, some vulnerability was shown when they unexpectedly went down 2-1 to Granite City Wanderers earlier in the campaign.
Rebecca Murray is nevertheless upbeat about last weekend`s 2-1 win over Granite City. “We were really pleased with our performance and it`s great to see the youngsters continue to progress week on week.” That is very much in accord with the spirit of the conference.
The other fixture pairs Granite City against Aberdeen University. Although the former won the earlier outing 2-1, there can be no doubt that the students results have shown steady improvement as the campaign has gone on, culminating in their 3-2 win over Ellon last weekend. An interesting match-up is certainly on the cards.
Scottish Hockey Union media release
Signing Jung Hyun priority for new THT coach Rajan
By Jugjet Singh
Jang Jung Hyun (left)
TERENGGANU Hockey Team (THT) have landed veteran coach K. Rajan for next season's Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) challenge.
Rajan is best remembered for coaching Tenaga Nasional for 12 seasons and also Malaysia's 2009 Junior World Cup team before moving to Singapore in 2016.
His contract with Singapore ends later this month.
He will arrive in Kuala Terengganu to manage THT ahead of the MHL on Jan 8-Feb 28.
"I was staying in Johor Baru and commuting to Singapore for four years. When the causeway closed about eight months ago, I was stranded in Johor.
"Singapore will now rely on their own coaches. THT have signed me up for next season's MHL" said Rajan.
Rajan's first task is to secure THT's penalty corner ace, Jang Jung Hyun, from South Korea.
"We are trying to sign Jung Hyun because he has always delivered for THT. He is one of the best penalty corner flickers around.
"However, the Covid-19 quarantine period could be a stumbling block.
"We are trying our best, and we will know soon if the Korean is coming or not.
"We already have 22 local players in the squad. Although I have yet to see the players in action, I have been told about their quality.
"It could be a level-playing field this year as MHL teams are unlikely to have foreign players," he added.
Last season, the 36-year-old Jung Hyun was the MHL top-scorer with 23 goals.
The men's MHL will see eight teams fighting for honours while the women's section has attracted six clubs.
The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) are expected to announce the teams today.
New Straits Times
Hockey Ireland Announce National Boys Development, U16 and U18 Coaches.
Hockey Ireland are delighted to announce the appointment of an array of experienced coaches to the Boys Junior Age Group Squads.
Former Hockey Ireland international Joe Brennan has been appointed as the National Boys Development Coach and U21 Boys Head Coach. In the absence of a specific U21 Boys programme in 2021, Joe will take over the U19 Boys team later this year with Niall Denham stepping away from the programme in May for a sabbatical period. The former international player is also a former Assistant Coach to the Senior Women, as well as previously holding Head Coach roles in Muckross, Three Rock Rovers, and Glenanne.
Simon Lowry takes over as Head Coach to the Boys U18 squad, with Simon supporting Joe Brennan as they set their sights on the U18 EuroHockey Championship in Valencia in July, facing Germany, the Netherlands, and Russia in Pool B (to which Hockey Ireland are sending U19 squads).
Ronan Hickey will take over the Boys U16 squad as Head Coach as they focus on an Easter Five Nations (Covid 19 dependent).
Speaking on the appointments, High Performance Director Adam Grainger said, “It’s fantastic to be able to announce these appointments. Between international playing experience, and coaching at domestic and international level, the knowledge and experience these individuals will bring to the squads will have a lasting impact on the development of underage boys’ hockey in Ireland for years to come.”
Irish Hockey Association media release
Howard: "We Are Sticking It To Racism - There Is No Place For It"
Mark Hager #StickItToRacism
Ahead of their FIH Hockey Pro League matches against The Netherlands and Belgium, Great Britain’s men and women announced they were going to ‘Stick It To Racism’.
Supported by GB Hockey, England Hockey, Scottish Hockey and Hockey Wales, the players wore face masks with the statement during their tour, while the logo was also displayed on all social media graphics.
As part of the statement, they made it clear that ‘there is no place for racism in our sport or society’ and committed to working with the governing bodies to support their diversity and inclusion work.
“It really came out as a result of us believing that there is no racism in hockey, in sport or in society,” explained Tess Howard.
“We felt strongly enough that this is what we should be doing; we should not accept racism. Coming together to show that we are sticking it to racism, every member believes that there is no place for racism and that’s as simple as it is.”
With the suffering of black people in particular coming to prominence this year, the squads have been educating themselves to help further their understanding the discrimination endured by many for so long.
As role models to so many, they know that they can use their voices to try and influence change and that is what they hope to achieve in the ongoing months and years through ‘Stick It To Racism’.
Furthermore they want everyone to have the opportunity to play the sport they love and remove any potential barriers that stand in the way,
Emily Defroand said: “We feel very strongly that our sport is one of the best things that you can do.
“We all love it, we have such a passion for it and we feel everyone should have the opportunity to play our sport and be comfortable within the hockey family. They shouldn’t feel restricted because of the colour of their skin or their gender or their background.
“You see other sports doing their thing and we felt really passionate that we wanted to show our support.
“Moving forwards, we want to continue to educate ourselves, continue our learnings as a squad and also individually. We’re so passionate to help to support GB Hockey in this matter, to really tackle racism. There really is no place for racism in our sport.
“Now is the time to be allies of our black counterparts. For us as role models, to share our opinions and our views but also help support and highlight these issues within our society is something for me that is really, really important.”
Great Britain Hockey media release
Marge Watson: In Memoriam
USA Field Hockey celebrates the life of Marge Watson, who passed away on Saturday, December 5 at the age of 90. A field hockey athlete at Ursinus College, Watson served as an assistant coach on the U.S. Women's Olympic Team that won the bronze medal at Los Angeles 1984 Olympic Games.
"Marge Watson made a huge impact on the sports of field hockey and lacrosse," stated Simon Hoskins, USA Field Hockey's Executive Director. "She is recognized with great admiration as the assistant coach of the bronze medal winning USA team."
Marge Watson '52, the legendary coach who started the women's lacrosse program at Ursinus, passed away December 5 at the age of 90.
Watson is integral to the college's legacy of women's athletics, standing among the giants in a long line of pioneers. As an undergrad she played field hockey, basketball, and softball for the legendary Eleanor Frost Snell, who eventually encouraged Watson to bring a new sport to campus.
Watson's Ruby senior bio describes her as "mother of the class," "philosophical thinker," and "creative talent." Right in the middle is a small note: "Trying to bring Lacrosse to Ursinus."
She did just that. Watson received approval from then-president Dr. Norman McClure, and Watson's Bears became an official program in 1955.
"I went, he said yes, and the rest is history," Watson once said.
Over the next quarter-century, Watson developed Ursinus into a national power. Her charges achieved seven undefeated seasons, runner-up finishes in the 1979 USWLA National Tournament and the 1981 AIAW National Championship, and 199 victories against just 19 losses. Watson's overall win total and winning percentage (.896) still rank second in NCAA history.
The Bears came up short in a 5-4 thriller against Maryland in the 1981 title game, her last as coach, but Watson's unparalleled success paved the way for NCAA championships in 1986, 1989, and 1990. Ursinus remains the winningest program in NCAA history.
A member of the Ursinus College Hall of Fame for Athletes, Watson was inducted into the inaugural class of the Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA) Hall of Fame in 2017. She was previously inducted into the Delaware County Hall of Fame, the Montgomery County Hall of Fame, the US Lacrosse Philadelphia/Eastern Pennsylvania Chapter Hall of Fame, and the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
Watson's impact on her players – sometimes referred to in yearbooks as 'Watson's Wonders' – was extraordinary, and a host of them went on to carve their own careers in the sport Watson did so much to grow.
"Marge was an inspiration," said Judy Wolstenhome '65, who played on many national teams before becoming one of the top officials in the sport, in advance of Watson's induction into the IWLCA Hall of Fame three years ago. "She was always very enthusiastic and really wanted to win.
"A Hall of Fame coach carries forward the future of lacrosse, and the number of women that she touched through coaching who then went on to become coaches or umpires or got into administrative positions, she started the tumbleweed and it just grew and grew and grew."
"Marge's secret to success was that she understood people and cared about people," said Sue Stahl '66, who served as an assistant under Watson for a decade. "She wanted you to be successful, and it wasn't all about her. I think if you look at all great coaches, that's a common thread."
Watson was also part of one of the most historic field hockey events in United States history. She served as an assistant coach on the team that won bronze at the 1984 summer Olympics in Los Angeles, the first Olympic medal ever won by the United States women's national team. Two Ursinus graduates played on the squad, and Watson was one of three alums on the coaching staff.
In addition to her success on the field, Watson had an impeccable record of service. She helped to found the Philadelphia Colleges Women's Lacrosse Association (PCWLA) in 1970 and received the IWLCA Lifetime Achievement Award (later renamed the Diane Geppi-Aikens Award) in 2000. For more than four decades, Watson ran both a national lacrosse clinic and the AmLax CHALLENGE invitational high school tournament in St. Petersburg, Florida.
"I love the game," Watson said before her IWLCA induction ceremony. "Somebody once said something to me about lacrosse, and I said, 'I am lacrosse.' It's part of me, it's part of my life. It's what I am."
Watson and her late husband, Reid (Class of 1951), had five children, all of whom were involved in the sport. Their Ursinus legacy continues today with their grandsons Cole Racich '08, son of late legendary wrestling coach Bill Racich; Sam Stahller (Class of 2010); and Quinn, a sophomore on the men's lacrosse team.
The Watson family would approve of any donations to the Ursinus College Athletic Program in the name of Margery and Reid Watson.
Content by Ursinus College Athletics
USFHA media release