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News for 25 March 2021

All the news for Thursday 25 March 2021

Maybank try to make UniKL pay with title

By K. Rajan

UniKL will take on Maybank while THT will meet Tenaga Nasional at the National Hockey Stadium today. - Bernama file pic

IT will be a three-way battle for the Malaysian Hockey League (MHL) title.

Defending champions Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) lead the standings on 16 points, one ahead of Terengganu Hockey Team (THT) while Maybank are third with 13 points.

UniKL will take on Maybank while THT will meet Tenaga Nasional at the National Hockey Stadium today.

UniKL's current form suggests they are an indomitable force, having won five matches, drew 0-0 against Tenaga, scored a total of 26 goals and conceded two. However, underdog Maybank are capable of an upset.

UniKL midfielder Harvinder Singh said the team with more hunger will emerge as MHL champions.

"The top three teams have the chance to win the title in the final day of the league, so the 60 minutes will decide the champion.

"Maybank are a good side with experienced players and talented youngsters. We need to break their structure in the match, we had done it in the previous matches and if we can do it again, we can get the win."

RESULTS — Women: PKS UNITEN-KPT 6 Sabah 0, UniKL Ladies 4 Young Tigress 2, Mutiara Impian 0 Blue Warrior 10.

TODAY — Men: UiTM v Sabah (Pitch I, 6pm), UniKL v Maybank (Pitch II, 6pm), Tenaga Nasional v UiTM (Pitch I, 8pm), TNB-Thunderbolts v Nurinsafi (Pitch II, 8pm).

New Straits Times

British hockey’s golden boy Jackson to "step away" from Tokyo 2020 programme

By Mike Rowbottom

Britain's outstanding hockey talent Ashley Jackson has "stepped away" from the British programme for the Tokyo 2020 Games ©Getty Images

Ashley Jackson, regarded as the outstanding British player of his generation, has opted to "step away" from from the country's senior programme ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics for a mixture of personal reasons and injuries.

"Things haven’t worked out quite how I wanted for this summer," said the 33-year-old from Tunbridge Wells, who played for Britain at the Beijing 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympics.

"However I hope I haven’t put the shirt on for the last time."

Jackson has scored a record 137 goals for the England and Great Britain hockey teams and has has the second-highest tally of goals for Great Britain at the Olympics - matching Alex Danson's total of 11 and bettered only by the 16 scored by Sean Kerly, who helped inspire the winning team at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympics.

In 250 international appearances for England and Great Britain Jackson has won seven medals, including gold with England at the EuroHockey Championships in 2009 - the year he became the first Briton to be named as the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Young Player of the Year.

"After taking some time to speak and reflect with those close to him, after a number of recent injuries, he has made the choice to move on from the programme and focus on his wellbeing and exciting interests away from international hockey," an English Hockey release said.

Following the disappointment of Rio 2016, where Britain - having missed the podium by one place in London - finished ninth, Jackson took three years out from the programme, played ice hockey for Basingstoke Bison and helped make hockey history as Britain played at Harlequins' Twickenham Stoop in front of 11,500 people.

Ashley Jackson, who has scored a record 137 goals for England and Great Britain hockey, has "stepped away" from the Tokyo 2020 GB programme ©England Hockey

Britain hockey’s performance director Ed Barney said: "We’re sorry to see Ash step away from the programme.

"Ash has contributed a huge amount since his debut in 2007 - he has been a hugely respected member of the squad and a real asset to the England and Great Britain men’s programme both on and off the pitch throughout the Tokyo cycle.

"With such experience behind him, Ash has brought a massive amount of perspective, wisdom and grounding to the squad.

"We know this hasn’t been an easy decision but one that Ash has considered and worked through at length."

Danny Kerry, head coach of the men's squad, added: "Following the challenging months within the programme, I understand and respect Ash’s decision to step away.

"Ash has shown a depth of character and resolve to stand fast and push through a series of rehabilitation and physical conditioning phases.

"I wish Ash well in taking some time to recharge his batteries and I look forward to staying in touch to 'talk shop'."

Jackson added: "I’d like to thank Danny Kerry, Ed Barney, Adam Dixon and the boys for the memories since my return to the programme and I wish them all the best for the summer from the bottom of my heart."

Britain are one of 12 teams set to compete in the men's hockey tournament at Tokyo 2020 and have been drawn in Group B alongside Belgium, The Netherlands, Canada, Germany and South Africa.

Inside the Games

Hockey Australia statement regarding current athlete appeals

Hockey Australia provides the following statement regarding the current Athlete Appeals of Rachael Lynch and Georgina Morgan.

Hockey Australia is mindful of the proximity of the Tokyo Olympics and would like to see the players' appeals determined as soon as possible.

These appeals are being heard by an independent appeals tribunal, thus the process and subsequent timing of the decisions are not matters that Hockey Australia can control, but it is doing all that it can to facilitate a quick resolution of the appeals.

The timetable for the appeals that the tribunal put in place was agreed to by all parties but has been extended to accommodate requests for additional documents by the players’ lawyers.

Hockey Australia looks forward to the tribunal handing down its decisions so the focus can turn to giving the Hockeyroos and Kookaburras the best opportunity to be successful in Tokyo.

Hockey Australia media release

Hockey Australia address appeals delay

Hockey Australia insist they are not to blame for the delay into the appeals of Rachael Lynch and Georgina Morgan as the star Hockeyroos duo attempt to keep their Olympics dream alive.

Lynch and Morgan were controversially left off the Hockeyroos' 2021 contract list by coach Paul Gaudoin late last year.

Gaudoin quit last week following the release of a damning independent review that found a dysfunctional culture existed within the elite women's hockey set-up.

Some Hockeyroos players threatened to strike when Lynch and Morgan were dropped from the contract list.

Morgan is one of three former co-captains who left their role in recent months, while Lynch is the 2019 FIH goalkeeper of the year.

The Tokyo Games are less than four months away, meaning time is of the essence for Morgan and Lynch to learn their fate.

The Australian Hockey Players' Association has called for the appeal to be moved forward.

As it stands, the appeal isn't expected to be heard until April 12, and HA defended the delay.

"These appeals are being heard by an independent appeals tribunal, thus the process and subsequent timing of the decisions are not matters that Hockey Australia can control," HA said in a statement.

"But it is doing all that it can to facilitate a quick resolution of the appeals.

"The timetable for the appeals that the tribunal put in place was agreed to by all parties but has been extended to accommodate requests for additional documents by the players' lawyers."

HA launched the independent review after current and former players alleged they had been subject to body shaming, homophobic behaviour and bullying.

The independent review provided 29 recommendations for HA, with the governing body yet to declare which ones they will implement.

Yahoo Sports Australia

FIH partners with FOX Sports in Asia

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) is glad to announce a non-exclusive media rights agreement with FOX Sports in Asia, for the remaining matches of the 2020-2021 FIH Hockey Pro League season.This news comes after a similar deal was recently signed by FIH with the network For the Fans (FTF) in the United States and Canada.

The agreement includes the following territories: Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Mongolia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, East Timor, Thailand and Vietnam.

The matches will be available either live or delayed.

FIH CEO Thierry Weil said: “We’re very happy to be partnering with FOX Sports, which will help us increase the reach of the FIH Hockey Pro League – ‘Hockey at its Best’ – in Asia. In these particularly challenging times, being able to sign this deal with such a strong network - in addition to the one we achieved with For The Fans recently - is a really positive sign.”

For more information about FIH and hockey in general, please download the Watch.Hockey app or follow the FIH social media channels - Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – and website.


FIH site

Why We Umpire: The Heart Behind the Yellow Shirts

The motivations behind umpiring and how umpires are changing the game

As interest and participation numbers in field hockey grow, more playing and development opportunities are being introduced to players across the country. While playing elite hockey is a goal for many, umpiring is another avenue that is sometimes left untouched. Though it may appear daunting to some, the role has changed not only the lives of those who umpire, but also the pace and shape of the sport itself.

Field hockey in her veins, umpiring as Sacre’s domain

Lelia Sacre was only three weeks old in a photograph where she is pictured being held in the background of an international field hockey match — one her dad was playing in. Born into a hockey family, it’s not a cliché to say that the sport was in her blood from birth: Sacre’s mother played at San Diego State before coaching while her father starred on both the Canadian junior and senior national teams. While the urge to quit came up on several occasions, it was through her parents’ encouragement that she stayed. Eventually, Sacre saw an improvement in her skills, enough to justify her place in the game.

During her adolescent years, Sacre played for a variety of clubs and provincial teams before representing Canada at the 2005 Junior World Cup. Around the same time, she started umpiring on the side for a bit of pocket money and didn’t think much of it until Alan Waterman and Madge Johnson approached her during a national championship.

“They both said, ‘Hey, have you thought about taking [umpiring] seriously?’ and I laughed nervously and said no,” Sacre described. “They told me it was there if I wanted it because they saw something [in me].”

Like many players, Sacre had the persistent goal of making the national team — which she achieved — but it wasn’t until university when she realized her body wasn’t going to be able to hold it. Her dream of playing internationally was over, but the desire to represent Canada was still there.

“That’s when I started to take everything more seriously,” she said. “I got appointed to the junior touring squad in 2012 and…that really exposed me to different colleagues and different styles of hockey. That’s when I knew it was my new pathway.”

Passion for sports turns into global hockey family for Robertson

Megan Robertson was similarly influenced by her parents at a young age, particularly by her mother who has been involved in nearly every aspect of the sport as a player, coach, official and administrator. It was her who first encouraged Robertson to become a certified umpire. Since then, Robertson has gone on to officiate at several international tournaments, namely the last two Pan American Games in 2015 and 2019, and the 2018 Hockey Series Open.

“Each tournament is an important opportunity to represent yourself and your country,” Robertson said. “Being in downtown Toronto [during the 2015 Pan Am Games] was fantastic. I’ve had the good fortune to umpire at the University of Toronto venue a number of times…and it was a privilege to have a ‘home’ Games and share the experience with my parents, my hockey community, and so many Canadians.”

She recalls Lima 2019 as an important competition for her after facing several setbacks that made her question her future, including a knee injury and major illness. Having overcome that turbulent time, Robertson shows a deep appreciation for her experiences around the world and the hockey family she’s grown along the way.

“All of us are part of the hockey family.”

“I have been so fortunate to experience the different cultures of hockey,” she said. “The excitement of little girls in Argentina screaming for Aymar, the emotion of the Korean women winning the Asian Games in Incheon and securing their trip to the Olympics, and the dedication of athletes, parents, and volunteers shoveling the snow from Hawkings Field in Calgary so that we could start our games. All of us are part of the hockey family.”

Umpiring field evolving; more dynamism and athleticism brought to pitch

Umpiring has changed tremendously over the last decade with technology playing a new role in determining correct calls and leaving little room for errors. Athletes are noticeably faster and more dynamic — forcing umpires to approach the game differently in terms of positioning and anticipation.

Sacre recalls experiencing her first video referral at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and describes it as a ‘terrifying’ moment, attributed to her hopes of getting the call right.

“It’s a whirlwind of emotions,” Sacre said. “[Umpires] are there to facilitate the game, not be the showcase. Sometimes umpires forget that they’re there to bring the best out of players, and spectators forget that we’re all human and we make mistakes too. We’re all doing our best because we enjoy it.”

Sacre and Robertson both agree that video reviews and radios have made the game better in many ways. “We want to make the correct decisions for players and for the game and it shows how we can work as a team of officials to get things right,” added Robertson.

Umpires without a doubt play a highly important role in hockey, and with each passing opportunity, the goal is to hone in on existing skills and build upon others. With the pandemic keeping everybody off the field temporarily, there comes many chances for those wanting to pursue an officiating pathway through online methods.

An alternative to playing, umpiring serves as a rewarding way to stay within the sport as games become more competitive and passionate from start to finish.

“We really want to give back and have young umpires coming through saying, ‘This is the pathway and it will be challenging, but it is so worth it’,” Sacre explained. “You appreciate every opportunity that you get that much more because you know how much you’ve had to work for.”

As for advice for up-and-coming umpires and officials, Robertson wants to push individuals to dream big, yet remain truthful in the process.

“Always be yourself. Hockey is an amazing part of life. Finding how it fits with the different goals that you have and how it can push you to be your best will be different for everyone. Listen, learn, and try to help others be their best too.”

Ultimately, by doing what they do, the goal is to inspire more people to pick up the whistle and put on a headset. Behind every yellow shirt on the pitch is the heart and soul of somebody who genuinely loves the sport, and an entire community that backs them.

If you want to get involved as an umpire or official, please visit our Resources tab on our Team of Teams hub. If you would like to become a general volunteer, visit our Volunteer Opportunities page. Stay tuned for more ways to join our team!

Happy Officials and Umpires Week!

Field Hockey Canada media release

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