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News for 18 January 2021

All the news for Monday 18 January 2021

'We are focusing on what we can control' - Ireland's Lizzie Colvin

Lizzie Colvin was part of the Ireland squad which won a silver medal at the 2018 World Cup

Ireland's Lizzie Colvin says the squad are focusing on the factors they can control amid continuing speculation on whether the Olympics will go ahead.

The Tokyo 2020 Games were rescheduled for 2021 because of the Covid pandemic.

"We are focusing on the stuff we can control, training hard, working hard on the pitch and our results," said Colvin after Sunday's 4-4 draw with Spain.

"We can't control what happens over the next few months and that decision around Japan," she added.

"From a personal point of view I'm just taking every day as it comes and enjoying the time I have to play hockey and play alongside my friends."

Ireland recovered from a 4-2 half-time deficit against Spain to earn a draw in the fifth and final match of their series.

Goals from Zara Malseed, Deirdre Duke and two penalty corners from Lena Tice helped Ireland secure a draw,

Ireland finished their series with two wins, two draws and a defeat.

"We had a lot of young players in the squad, not so much experience, so there was a lot of trial involved and a lot of players playing out of position," explained Colvin.

"We've played some nice passing hockey and scored some really good goals so it's been really promising and really positive.

"Sometimes after Christmas it takes a while to get back up to speed but I think we have all been pleasantly surprised. The hard work we put in before Christmas has paid off and we've really hit the ground running."

The series in Murcia has been played with strict guidelines in place to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Team morale 'a huge thing'

"We have had Covid-19 protocols in place and we all want to act responsibly. That has been at the forefront of everything we have done," said Colvin.

"Team morale is a huge thing for us and we have taken time to get to know each other, catch up with each other, enjoy each other's company and relax away from the pitch.

"We were all giddy at the airport before we left - you'd think we had never been on a trip before - it's been great to get away together and play some international games."

BBC Sport

When the Voice of Hockey speaks, we listen…

BREDA – Nick Irvine, famous hockey commentator, Australia-India (1-1), finale Rabobank Champions Trophy 2018. Australia win the shoot outs. COPYRIGHT KOEN SUYK

After the corona year 2020, all hockey fans hope that in 2021 there will be plenty of ball and stick play. The big league starts on January 31, but how will it continue after that? We look ahead with famous and lesser known hockey celebrities. Today the experienced English hockey commentator Nick Irvine (68), better known as The Voice of Hockey .

When can we all start playing hockey again?

Nick Irvine: ‘Haha, always good if you start with the easy questions! This is only possible when it is one hundred percent safe to do so. The sooner we can all get the vaccine and keep to the quarantine regulations, the sooner that day will come. ‘

What will be the biggest challenge in the coming six months?

‘For many of our European clubs it is about survival. Clubs that rely on hospitality income and competition fees have had a particularly tough time. Sponsorship income can also be negatively impacted in the current climate, but hopefully sponsors will stay engaged as soon as the sport gets going again.

It is important for the players to stay fit and to keep in touch with each other. Judging from what I see on social media, that’s okay. You notice that everyone in the hockey family wants to leave covid-19 behind and go back to the fields. ‘

What will you do first if you have been vaccinated?

‘I think I’ll then find out in which restaurant I can have a nice bite to eat again. Then I am going to quietly look for the next holiday destination and see what the hockey calendar will look like. Not necessarily in that order, by the way. ‘

Nick Irvine at work in the press center during the 2014 World Cup hockey in The Hague. Photo: Koen Suyk

When is 2021 a success for you?

‘ 2021 is a success for me if we can say that we have won the battle against covid-19 and if society can open up again. In terms of hockey, it will be a success if we can look forward to events again with the confidence that they will actually take place. And that our clubs can again fulfill the role for which they are intended: lively social centers. ‘

Are the competitions going to end this season?

‘That will be very difficult without a flexible end date. I am sure that the competition leaders are working hard to map out all the possibilities. But all of this is happening in the midst of a battle with the virus, a tough and smart opponent. If we can win the battle against Covid-19 without a full hockey season, that’s a price we have to pay. ‘

“The Olympic Games in empty stadiums if necessary, that can’t be true, can it?”Nick Irvine

Are the Olympics going on and how?

‘The IOC feels an enormous obligation to keep the Games going. But when I look at the latest covid data from my locked bunker here in England, it’s hard to see how that should be done. There are noises to keep the Games in empty stadiums if necessary. That can’t be true, can it? Is that the setting for The Greatest Show on Earth ?

The scrapping of the Games has huge financial consequences and I feel sorry for the people who have to make a decision about it. The most important thing is that there is clarity quickly. I don’t want to be negative, but if the decision were to be made today, it wouldn’t look good. ‘

Irvine at work during the Grand Final of the first Pro League edition in 2019 in the Wagener Stadium. Photo: Willem Vernes

Are you going to the European Championships in the Wagener Stadium in June if the public is allowed to attend?

‘If we can play the European Championship in June and I can travel, then one hundred percent yes . The European Championship is one of my favorite tournaments and the Wagener is my spiritual hockey home. If the Games are canceled, it is possible that the EHF will revert to the original performance dates (from August 20-29, ed.). This way they can save a little more time. Fingers crossed . ‘

What are your expectations for the Orange teams this year?

‘The Dutch teams have a few new faces, but that will not diminish their strength. I expect they will still be among the top in the world by the end of 2021. Belgium is difficult to beat in men’s hockey. They are  a joy to watch . The Netherlands and Australia are just behind. For women, the Netherlands and Argentina are the favorite for Olympic gold. Great Britain will do everything it can to defend its 2016 Olympic title to the best of its ability. They do this with a promising mix of experience and young talent. ‘

Hockey World News

Rebooting KL City Hall stadium

By Jugjet Singh

The KL City Hall Hockey Stadium

THE most active artificial pitch in the country — the KL City Hall Hockey Stadium — has been vacant for almost a year due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Now, Kuala Lumpur HA (KLHA) deputy president I. Vickneswaran is working hard behind the scenes to bring it back to life.

While KLHA had 'lost' their president Datuk Seri Megat D Shahriman to disciplinary action, Vickneswaran's hands are tied by Covid-19.

"I had an online meeting with our affiliates on Jan 10, and we have drawn up some plans to jump into action the day fields are allowed to reopen for sports again. "The KL City Hall Stadium in Jalan Pantai was the most active pitch in the country with heavy bookings all day before Covid-19 wreaked havoc.

"The venue is the home of our development project.

"It also organises KL League and social matches.

"However, I believe when fields are allowed to reopen, our pitch will be 'flooded' with activities.

"Players, both seniors and juniors, are itching for action," said Vickneswaran.

Megat was banned for 18 months in November from all hockey-related activities for breaching the Malaysia Hockey League code of conduct after speaking to sponsors and the media before writing to the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) for clarification.

"We have fixed Jan 29 for an appeal hearing, but if the MCO is extended, the appeal committee in consultation with Megat's lawyers may reschedule it," said MHC legal committee chairman Jadadish Chandra.

Vickneswaran said: "We have a few plans in place which will enable KLHA to restart development work as well as tournaments with the KL City Hall, who is also very active in the sport."

KLHA have a healthy bank of junior players who need urgent attention.

"Yes, we need to restart the 'eco' system as soon as possible as some youth players did not get a chance to play in the National Under-14 or Under-16 tournaments, which were cancelled last year due to Covid-19.

"By restarting hockey in KLHA; officials, umpires and many other departments in the sport will also become active again," he added.

Only Covid-19 can set the reopening date for sports in the country, but KLHA have drawn up a blueprint to make up for the 'wasted' year.

New Straits Times

Hanan Shahid- All the Makings of a Star

By Ijaz Chaudhry

Hanan Shahid-Captain receiving Winners Trophy for his team

These days, all lament talent drought in Pakistan sports.

Still, some, such as Mahnoor Shahzad, female badminton star ranked 133rd in the world, and Hamza Khan, squash kid, winner of under 15 title at the last British Junior Open, bring hope.  

In hockey, Pakistan, the record four time World Cup winner, is currently ranked 17th.                   
They say hockey is in Pakistanis blood. Even today, highly talented players appear on the scene but the pathetic outdated domestic structure means they don`t grow to become the stars comparable to those who brought great glories to Pakistan in the past.    
Hanan Shahid is among the most promising players on the horizon of Pakistan hockey.            
The prolific scorer, who will only turn 16 this year, already has a very impressive CV:

Captain of the Punjab A team, winner of the last national under 16 championships where he also scored nine goals including one in the final.           
Player of Tournament at the last national junior (under 19) championships.

Not only the age group events, has also excelled at the National Championships. In the national tray championships, last October, Punjab team was the surprise package. They were not only the lone regional side to qualify for the national championships main round but also won the tray championship. And young Hanan was tournament's top scorer with 12 goals.

At the nationals main round also, Punjab did reasonably well. By finishing seventh among the 10 sides, Punjab team retained its place in the main round of the next nationals. Hanan was his team`s main goal getter.

The Lahore boy comes from a distinguished hockey family. It started with Afzal Manna, silver medallist 1964 Olympics, who was Hanan`s grandfather`s real brother. Manna`s younger brothers, Sarwar Jamshed and Anwar Jamshed, played for Pakistan Youth and Pakistan Whites respectively. While Manna`s son Zahid Afzal appeared for Pakistan in test matches against the visiting Chinese national team in 2003. Manna’s three nephews, including Hanan`s father Mohammad Shahid, played for either Pakistan juniors or the whites’ squad.  

The third generation is carrying the legacy. Hanan`s first cousin, Azfar Yaqoob is a member of the national team for quite some time now. Azfar`s younger brother Murtaza Yaqoob has appeared for Pakistan at the Youth Olympics` qualifiers in 2018.

- I was born in a hockey family, and had gripped the stick before I could even stand on my feet. My family runs the Pak Heroes, one of the leading clubs of Lahore, where I have been doing my regular training since I was four. For last many years, the club practices at the Johar Town stadium which has one of the four synthetic turfs in Lahore. Right from the beginning, I have played at the centre forward position.

Till recently, it was mostly club and school

-I began representing my club in local and outstation tournaments from an early age, and have also toured Malaysia, Dubai and Thailand with Pak Heroes. In Malaysia, it was an under 14 hockey tournament in Ipoh at the famous Azlan Shah Stadium in 2017. At the Pakistan Day Hockey Cup in the Thailand`s capital Bangkok in 2018, I was the top scorer.

Hanan has recently completed his matriculation from Crescent Model School, one of Lahore`s most prestigious educational institutions which boasts top notch sports facilities.

-I am lucky to have studied at Crescent Model School. Sports have always been a part of students` life there.  The inter house competitions in various sports are very enthusiastically participated.  The school has produced quite a few internationals in different disciplines. In recent times, tennis star Aisamul Haq and test cricketer Sami Aslam have made Crecentarians proud. The school gave me a full scholarship. Whenever I had to go out of the town to play some tournament, I did not have an issue with my attendance list plus my school work was sent online. I feel proud to have contributed in quite a few achievements of the school team:  
Winners of the Himont inter school tournament 2017, Runners up at the Punjab Olympics 2018, Champions of Lahore School Sports 2019. In fact, I also had the honour to captain my school team at these successes.

Crescent Model School doesn`t compromise on the educational performance, and Hanan didn’t disappoint

-I always took my studies seriously. During the weekdays, I used to skip the morning practice session and only went to the stadium in the evenings. Moreover, I always completed my school task regularly.  All this paid off as I got 70% marks in my class X board exam and recently got admission at Government College, Lahore in the Intermediate Commerce group.

Education continues to be the priority

-I am aiming for a post graduate degree. It could be in accounts or may be in sports sciences. Sports wings of some departments have approached me to join their hockey team. I have declined so far. Once, you are employed with the department, it becomes obligatory to play for them when called. My studies take precedence. Hence, till now, I have been appearing only for the regional sides in the national events.

Scoring goals is in his blood

-Everyone in my family across three generations has played in the forward line. Hence, centre forward has been my favourite position. However, positional flexibility is an essential element of modern hockey. I have also played in the inside right and inside left channels and even in the centre of the midfield.

The scribe talked to some connoisseurs of the game and reputed coaches. They speak highly of Hanan.      It is their shared opinion that boy possesses all the attributes of a modern day striker:  finishing, positioning, individual runs, elimination skills Plus passing, receiving as well as the ability to switch positions.

The exceptional young talent has already caught the attention of mega sponsors

After watching my performance at the national tray championship, Mr Khawar Anwar Khawaja, the CEO of the world renowned sports goods manufacturers Grays of Cambridge, announced a cash award of Rs 30,000 there and then. On top of it, since then the Grays have been sponsoring my full hockey kit.

-Hanan is a keen student of the game

We are lucky to be living in this age of global internet communication. I regularly watch international hockey`s main events and also the major European domestic leagues especially the Hoofdklasse (Dutch league). One learns a lot.

-About his favourite player

German international Florian Fuchs who plays his club hockey for the Dutch team Bloemendaal inspires me the most because of his great skills and excellence in finishing.

-Close to getting national colours

I have attended the last two national junior camps. The most recent one was for the twice postponed Junior Asia Cup in Bangladesh, also the qualifier for the next Junior World Cup.

Hanan`s widely acknowledged talent, enthusiasm and the will to learn and succeed are definite indicators of a future star.

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


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