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News for 22 July 2021

All the news for Thursday 22 July 2021

Tokyo 2020 – Men’s Pool B Preview – European heavyweights aim to assert authority

The fourth and final of our Olympic pool previews focusses on men’s Pool B, where reigning World and FIH Hockey Pro League title holders Belgium take on European champions the Netherlands, European silver medallists Germany, Great Britain, Canada and South Africa.

About the team: Following their stunning triumph at the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018, few would dispute that the Red Lions are the hockey success story of the past ten years. In the years leading up to that glorious occasion in India, it had been a case of ‘so near, so far’ for this hugely gifted side. By winning the 2018 World Cup, 2019 European Championships and recently being crowned 2020-21 FIH Hockey Pro League champions, the team coached by New Zealander Shane McLeod are rightly considered as one of the front-runners for gold in Tokyo.
Player perspective – Florent Van Aubel: “Every match is a very important match, and it is how you deal with the pool games. That sets you up for the quarter-final stage. That is something that we have been working a lot on. That format has been around for quite some time, and you need to have your peak performance in the quarter-final and it is based on one game, and that is what is so interesting about that format. You can be very good in the pool stage and finish first, but it is still played on one game. That is where we have tried to train to make sure that we are physically and mentally as fit as possible for that quarter-final.”
One to watch: Arthur Van Doren. A key figure in the Red Lions team that claimed the World and European titles in recent years, defender Arthur Van Doren is a two-time winner of the FIH Player of the Year award a true superstar of the sport. 

For more information on Belgium, check out our special interview spotlight feature by clicking here.

About the team: Led by globally respected head coach Max Caldas, the former Argentina international who coached the Netherlands women to Olympic and World Cup glory, the Netherlands are a phenomenally talented team capable of beating anyone on their day. Their sensational run to the final of the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018 ended in defeat to Belgium, but reconfirmed their status as one of the very best hockey teams on the planet. The Netherlands – who recently became European champions for a sixth time, defeating Germany in a shoot-out in the competition final – reached Tokyo through the 2019 FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers, powering to a 6-1 win over Pakistan in Match 2 after the first game in Amstelveen finished 4-4. Tokyo 2020 will be Caldas’s final competition in charge of the Oranje, who is moving on to pastures new by working with the Spanish men’s team.  
Player perspective – Jorrit Croon: “I think in our pool and the other pool, all of the opponents are really good teams. Internationally, all the teams are really close and play at such a high level, like we saw at the last Euros. We drew with Germany and Belgium and then drew with Germany again [in the final], so I think that shows how close teams are. I think it will depend on the shape of the day, and maybe if some player will stand up [and perform]. It is all about the details, I think. We are going to try to manage that as good as possible. Of course, the confidence boost of the Euros will help us a lot. But when we are in Tokyo, the Euros won’t count anymore. We will have to prove again that we are in a good way, show a good game and the best of ourselves. I think it will be a really nice Olympics because of how close the teams are.”
One to watch: Billy Bakker. The creative heartbeat of the current Netherlands team, the brilliant Billy Bakker is a player capable of dominating matches from any position he plays. Although he is primarily a midfielder who regularly creates goals thanks to his driving runs into the circle, his tireless running often sees him making crucial defensive interceptions, making him a vital component in the Dutch machine assembled by Max Caldas. 

For more information on the Netherlands, check out our special interview spotlight feature by clicking here.

About the team: The trophy haul achieved by Germany’s men’s team – known as ‘Die Honamas’ – down the years is intimidatingly impressive. Their four Olympic gold medals, two World Cups, eight European Championships and nine Champions Trophy titles provides clear evidence of their consistently excellent performances at the highest levels of international hockey. Having medalled at the previous four Olympic Games competitions (including gold at Beijing 2008 and London 2012), they also have a habit of peaking just at the right time. Germany – silver medallists at June’s EuroHockey Championships in Amstelveen, NED – were comprehensive winners against neighbours Austria in the 2019 FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers, winning 5-0 and 5-3 in Mönchengladbach.
Player perspective – Florian Fuchs: “It is a tough pool I guess, but every team is super-fit at the Olympics. Every team is determined to make it to the knock-out stages. I think it is pretty cool that we can play Belgium, the Netherlands and England [Great Britain], all teams that we played at the Euros, again. I think that is nice. [Regarding] being ranked high in the group phase, we were ranked first in 2016 and then we played New Zealand [who finished fourth in their pool]. You might think it is easier to play New Zealand, but it wasn’t that way, and we scored a last second goal [to win].”
One to watch: Christopher Rühr. A central figure in Germany’s Olympic bronze medal winning performance at Rio 2016, Christopher Rühr is a sensational attacker blessed with speed, skill, guile and supreme confidence. Named FIH Rising Star of the Year both in 2013 and 2015.

For more information on Germany, check out our special interview spotlight feature by clicking here.

Great Britain
About the team: It has been 33 years since Great Britain’s men famously claimed the gold medal at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games. With the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on the horizon and Danny Kerry – the man who coach GB’s women to Olympic gold at Rio 2016 – in charge of capable group of players, could another success be just around the corner? GB have produced some fine performances in the FIH Hockey Pro League, and on their day are capable of competing against the very best in the world. GB overcame Malaysia in the 2019 FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers, beating the Speedy Tigers 4-1 and 5-2 at the Lee Valley Hockey & Tennis Centre.
Captain’s comment – Adam Dixon: “It goes without saying that we are there to win gold. I think we’d be foolish to downplay ourselves by setting any other goal. I think first and foremost, we have to target getting out of the pool to play those cross-over games. From there, just take each game as it comes. The pool stage is going to be very important for us. I honestly believe the playing field has been slightly flattened with the preparations, covid and everything else that has been going on. There are no certainties. The preparations of some nations will be slightly damaged by the travel restrictions, so I think the playing field is wide open. We are really looking forward to Tokyo.”
One to watch: Zach Wallace. Nominated for the 2019 FIH Rising Star of the Year Award, Zach Wallace is a wonderfully gifted, energetic and versatile player who looks to have a long international future ahead of him. 

For more information on Great Britain, check out our special interview spotlight feature by clicking here.

About the team: Canada will make their eighth Olympic appearance in the same city they made their first, with the Red Caribou debuting at the Tokyo 1964 Games. The team have long been one of the giants of Pan American hockey, becoming continental champions on no less than five occasions. They have yet to achieve an Olympic finish higher than tenth, but will be aiming to change that in Tokyo, having qualified by battling past Ireland in the 2019 FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers.
Captain’s comment – Scott Tupper: “Our best placement at an Olympic Games is tenth position, so if we can get into a quarter-final it would be the best performance by the Canadian men’s team ever, and we would love to do that. But I do really think it is one game at a time, and not letting say a tough match at the start of the tournament roll into the next game. Ultimately, it is possible that you could get through with two good results. We’d love to have more than two, but we really need to make sure that whether the previous game has gone well or not so well, we put it to bed and have a good game plan ready to go in order to be ready to seize any opportunity that might present itself.”
One to watch: Scott Tupper. Canada’s captain and talisman is a rock-solid defender who leads by example. Committed in the tackle and blessed with great vision, Tupper has a habit of controlling games from the back line and also getting on the scoresheet with crucial goals.

For more information on Canada, check out our special interview spotlight feature by clicking here.

South Africa
About the team: South Africa sealed their ticket to Tokyo by becoming African continental champions in 2019, with veteran defender Austin Smith playing a huge role in the success by finishing as competition top scorer with ten goals in five matches. The team has long been the dominant force in African hockey and will be determined to make a big impression in Tokyo. There have been two late athlete replacements for the South Africa team, with Daniel Bell and Rusten Abrahams replacing Clinton Panther and Mohamed Mea. To see the updated South Africa team list, click here.

Coach Quote – Garreth Ewing: “It’s definitely been an interesting 12 months. I think we have taken the positive in growing in maturity and culture over the past year. It is a great opportunity to make an improvement in the world rankings, but that is something we want to do over a sustainable period. I am very pleased with the squad we have put together. It was a difficult process, but I am certain we have the team that can go to games and meet our objectives.”

One to watch: Tim Drummond. South Africa’s captain is an influential midfielder who has plied his trade arguably the toughest club league in the world, representing Klein Zwitzerland and SCHC in the Dutch Hoofdklasse. Tokyo 2020 will be his second Olympics, having also been part of the squad that competed at the London 2012 Games.

For more information on South Africa, check out our special interview spotlight feature by clicking here.

The hockey competitions at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will take place from Saturday 24 July to Friday 6 August 2021. Both the men’s and women’s competitions feature 12 teams, split into two pools of six ahead of quarter-finals, semi-finals and medal matches. For more information about the hockey competitions at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, visit https://olympics.com/tokyo-2020/olympic-games/en/results/hockey/olympic-schedule-and-results.htm.

Make sure that you use #Tokyo2020, #Hockey, #StrongerTogether, #HockeyInvites @Tokyo2020 and @olympics on social media when showing your support for your nation. Be sure to follow FIH for all the latest updates as teams and fans get ready for the biggest show on earth – the Olympic Games.

FIH site

Tokyo 2020 Preview: Women’s Pool B – Las Leonas take on titans of Oceania & Asia

Today’s Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 pool preview focusses on Women’s Pool B, where Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, China and Japan will all fight it out for the top four places in order to progress to the knock-out stages. More information about the teams can be found below.

Las Leonas (The Lionesses) have long been considered as one of the world’s most fearsome attacking teams and are undisputedly a true powerhouse of the game. Since the 2014 retirement of eight times FIH Player of the Year Luciana Aymar – unquestionably one of the greatest players in the history of the sport – Argentina have claimed numerous titles, including the 2016 Champions Trophy, the 2017 Pan-American Cup and the 2019 Pan American Games, with the latter sealing their spot at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Player perspective – Delfina Merino: “It has been really hard for all the players, but also for everyone, because no-one saw Covid coming, and our lives changed for a whole year. Knowing that Tokyo will take place is really fantastic. We are training lots, which has been tough as there haven’t been any matches. It will be a special Olympics, it will be emotional I think.”
One to watch: Delfina Merino. ‘Delfi’ is Argentina’s creative mastermind. She has a reputation for scoring spectacular goals, regularly delivering when her team need it most. Named FIH Player of the Year for 2017.

For more information on Argentina, check out or special interview spotlight feature by clicking here.

About the team: Between 1994 and 2000, Australia were by far and away the best team on the planet, claiming two Olympic gold medals and two World Cups as the team coached by Ric Charlesworth – and inspired by the attacking brilliance of current Netherlands women’s head coach Alyson Annan and Katrina Powell, the current Hockeyroos head coach – ruled the hockey world. Now back high in the FIH World Rankings, Australia are once again a genuine powerhouse of the global game. The team secured their place at Tokyo 2020 via the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers, defeating Russia 4-2 and 5-0 in Perth. There has been a late athlete replacement, with Georgia Wilson coming in for Penny Squibb. To see the updated squad, click here
Player perspective – Jane Claxton: “I think that for anyone who enters a sport, at any age or when you go into the junior or senior ranks, [the Olympic Games] is the pinnacle of our sport. Not just attending an Olympic Games, but also doing extremely well at those Games. Coming from a sporting nation like Australia, the focus is medals. That is the expectation. I think the Olympic Games is the pinnacle for hockey, and that is the biggest accolade you can get in our sport.”
One to watch: 
Rachael Lynch (GK). A sensational shot-stopper who was named FIH Goalkeeper of the Year in 2019, Rachael Lynch is a huge asset to the Hockeyroos, both in regular play and, if it should come to it, shoot-outs.

For more information on Australia, check out or special interview spotlight feature by clicking here.

New Zealand
The Black Sticks have been outstanding performers over the last decade, regularly getting themselves in contention for podium finishes. Fourth place finishes at the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games split by a fifth-place finish at the 2014 Hockey World Cup has proven something of a frustration, but their gold medal success at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games showed that they are more than capable of winning titles. The team once again found themselves sitting top of the podium in 2019, defeating host nation Australia at the Oceania Cup to guarantee their participation in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. 
Coach quote – Graham Shaw: “With the lack of opportunities we’ve had it was a difficult squad to select. It’s certainly been very unusual circumstances, but I think we’ve got a balanced squad that poses a massive threat on attack alongside a strong defensive unit. We have some exciting young talent in our ranks especially Olivia (Shannon), Katie (Doar) and Hope (Ralph) who have stood up in recent years and all have huge futures in the black dress.”
One to watch: Stacey Michelsen. Widely regarded as one of the world’s most skilful players, Stacey Michelsen – who was nominated for the 2019 FIH Player of the Year Award alongside team-mate and prolific striker Olivia Merry - has effortlessly transitioned from a defender into a midfielder in recent years and is very much the creative heartbeat of the Black Sticks team.

For more information on New Zealand, check out or special interview spotlight feature by clicking here.

There can be no doubt that under the guidance of head coach Adrian Lock, 1992 Olympic gold medallists Spain have undergone an impressive revival. The Englishman – a former U-21 international – has been getting the best out of an extremely talented group of players that managed to reach the quarter-finals of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games before suffering defeat at the hands of eventual gold medal winners Great Britain. However, it was their performance at the Vitality Hockey Women’s World Cup London 2018 that really highlighted their progress, with the Red Sticks storming to the bronze medal by defeating Australia in the 3-4 place play-off, giving Spain their highest ever finish at a women’s World Cup. The team secured their place at Tokyo 2020 through the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers, defeating Korea 2-1 and 2-0 in Valencia.
Player perspective – Berta Bonastre: “In the Olympics, every game is a challenge and I think all the teams play differently, in a competition like that. As a team, what we expect is to play game by game, not thinking about the final objective. Every game is a war. You have to analyse and study every team, because each team is there [at the Olympics] because they are strong, intelligent and technical.”
One to watch: Georgina Oliva. Spain’s vastly experienced captain is capable of having an influence in both defence and midfield. She is the sister of men’s international Roc Oliva.

For more information on Spain, check out or special interview spotlight feature by clicking here.

China Head coach Yang Wang has every reason to believe that this rapidly improving team can outperform expectations in Japan. There is certainly plenty of quality players to call upon, including Cui Qiuxia, a hugely experienced and utterly fearless defender. The team also has a world class shot stopper in Li Dongxiao (nominee: FIH Goalkeeper of the Year 2015), while outfield player Zhong Jiaqi was nominated for the 2019 FIH Rising Star of the Year award. China secured qualification for Tokyo 2020 with a dramatic shoot-out victory over Belgium in the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers in 2019.
One to watch: Cui Qiuxia. Having represented her country at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as well as the Hockey World Cups in both 2014 and 2018, defender Cui is one of the most experienced players in the China team and has a reputation for putting her body on the line.

For more information on China, check out or special interview spotlight feature by clicking here.

Japan claimed a remarkable gold medal success at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia, meaning that the Cherry Blossoms had effectively qualified for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 twice over, adding to the ticket already awarded as the host nation. The Asian Games victory – where they defeated higher-ranked India in the competition final – will have given the Cherry Blossoms a real taste for success, something they will be determined to replicate on home soil in Tokyo. The team are coached by former Spanish international Xavi Arnau, who as a player won Olympic silver at the Atlanta 1996 Games.
Captain’s comment – Yukari Mano: “Our goal is to leave behind a positive legacy for all the people who have supported us. As for the Olympics being held in Japan, I hope to take this opportunity to spread an awareness of the beauty of Hockey that I have given 16 years of my life to.”
One to watch: Shihori Oikawa. A tenacious, brave defender with an eye for a pass and the ability to contribute to the score-sheet from penalty corner situations.

For more information on Japan, check out or special interview spotlight feature by clicking here.

Our final pool preview, which will go live on Thursday, will focus on Men’s Pool B as Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, Canada and South Africa do battle for the four quarter-final places on offer.

The hockey competitions at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 will take place from Saturday 24 July to Friday 6 August 2021. Both the men’s and women’s competitions feature 12 teams, split into two pools of six ahead of quarter-finals, semi-finals and medal matches. For more information about the hockey competitions at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, visit https://olympics.com/tokyo-2020/olympic-games/en/results/hockey/olympic-schedule-and-results.htm

Make sure that you use #Tokyo2020, #Hockey, #StrongerTogether, #HockeyInvites @Tokyo2020 and @olympics on social media when showing your support for your nation. Be sure to follow FIH for all the latest updates as teams and fans get ready for the biggest show on earth – the Olympic Games.

FIH site

Germany overcome fighting Indians 3-2 in practice match at Tokyo

s2h Team

Indian men were waiting for this day. They were longing for an encounter, practice or serious, to test the turf and their own at Tokyo since they landed in Tokyo for days ago. They had a serious outing today, fourth day of their stay in Tokyo.

They engaged Germany on the main turf around 12.00 in the noon (Japan time).  India put up a measured fight in the first quarter before caving into the German assault in the next. However, a brave third quarter, which is also last of the shortened match, saw India scoring a brace of goals, one apiece from Mandeep Singh and Dilipreet Singh to make it a match and get a measure of justifiable satisfaction. Germany though won the  first of the practice match 2-3 today at Oi hockey stadium, Tokyo.

It was first practice match for India which had just completed its 3-day quarantine, which prevented them from engaging with other teams. Of course, they had team practice on all three days on the practice pitches which are almost half the size of the North and South turfs.

India-Germany Practice match at Tokyo

It was a hot day. The match started after almost 30 minutes of warm up. It was India that looked going ahead when it pressed hard from both wings. As a result India got a penalty corner nine minutes in to the game. However, Vivek Sagar Prasad could not stop the pushed ball, and it bounced outside the circle.

Two minutes later, Lalit Upadhyay, who proved elusive for the Germans, set up Gurjant on the top of D with a gentle pass but, despite at a good position to trap and strike, he missed to trap. Even the chief coach nodded in disbelief.

A minute before the first break, German left winger surged from his wing, outwitting chasing Amit Prasad, entered the D with a couple of trick in the air to strike an acute shot, which sent the ball to the other corner of the net (0-1).

Ten minutes later, Germany earned its first penalty corner. The direct hit was brilliantly saved by goalie Krishan Pathak – who replaced Sreejesh in the first quarter – but could not prevent from conceding another penalty corner from which the team enlarged the lead (0-2).

Shortly, Lalit’s backhander was just cleared by ever-alert Martin Haner at the goaline, leaving the entire Indian bench in disbelief.

The quarter came to an end, as India was seen pressing hard to get a goal.

It came through Mandeep Singh, who was almost rested in the preceding quarter. He was quick to lap it on a midfield through pass before whacking a forehand from top of the circle (1-2). However, the lead survived only a couple of minutes. German right winger earned a penalty corner, shot of which was kicked out by Sreejesh.

Germany India practice match at Tokyo. Lalit had a wonderful time, setting up goals

Seven minutes into the third quarter, he saved another penalty corner. Dilipreet got a chance to equalize but he fumbled. Amit Rohidas set him up with a neat pass from near the top of circle, only to see Dilipret harried to stop it.

In the ensued scramble, German forward picked up the ball, surged form the left wing into the circle, unchallenged and whacked a goal (3-1). This goals should be a cause for concern for Graham Reid. IT could have been avoided with a bit more caution from the Indian defence.

Dilipreet Singh shortly made amends for his earlier miss with a close range push that reduced the margin to 2-3. Again, its Amit who set him up for the opportunistic goal.

Former Indian Olympian Shivendra Singh, who is manager of the team, was the umpire while another from German took care of another half.

After the match, which ended after three quarters, a penalty shoot out was also held. Each side took six tries. India won the shoot out with Sreejesh saving twice.

For India, Nilakanta Sharma, Lalit Upadhyay, Rupinder Pal Singh, Vivek Prasad scored their quota before Harmanpreet Singh missed his. Coming last Mandeep Singh also scored outwitting the German goalie.

It was a practice match. Nothing much need to be read over the outcome.


No Matter How Much You Train, Practice Matches Important Before Olympics: Hockey Coach Sjoerd Marijne

The Indian women’s hockey team will play a practice match in Tokyo against Argentina. This will be its first match in almost five months

Soumitra Bose   

The Indian women’s hockey team is in a tough pool. They finished sixth at Rio 2016 but Dutch coach Sjoerd Marijne feels India can make the quarterfinals at Tokyo 2020. Courtesy: The Hockey India

A match-starved Indian women’s hockey team will play a practice match against Argentina in Tokyo on Thursday. Rani’s team has not played a competitive match since February-March 2021 when India toured Germany for four matches. The warm-up game against the Argentines in Tokyo will give head coach Sjoerd Marijne some insight into his team’s current capabilities.

The match against Argentina women will be a 40-minute affair, 20 minutes each half. Indian women are in Pool A along with defending Olympic champions Netherlands, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland and South Africa. Pool B comprises Australia, Argentina, New Zealand, Spain, China and Tokyo 2020 hosts, Japan. India play their first match against the Netherlands on July 24.

Dutchman Marijne spoke to Outlook before the Indian women’s hockey team departure for Tokyo. Excerpts from a conversation.

Q: You must be super excited with the Games upon us? What are you telling the girls?

A: The girls just want to go out and play. The first match is against the Netherlands and it is nothing to do with nerves. It has been five years that they have played the Dutch and our girls can’t wait to play the No. 1 team in the world.

Q: Training and playing competitive matches are two different things. How do you access India's preparation considering the two factors?

A: Yes, there is a big difference and it is a big problem. It was very important that we arrived early (the Indians arrived in Tokyo on July 18 and had to quarantine for three days) because we did not have a proper practice match in the last five months. You can train how much you want but it is not the same as a practice match. It’s like you are preparing for an exam …learning and learning but no test exams. If you don’t know what type of questions will be asked how do you get ready? Practice matches put pressure and help in decision making. Playing intra-team matches in camps are not enough because you know what’s coming. There are many things beyond control.

Rani is not the only leader in the team. Every player will have to take responsibility, says Sjoerd Marijne. Photo: The Hockey India

Q: There are no easy matches in India's group. How important is to win that first game against the Dutch girls?

A: The tournament doesn’t end after the first match. Yes, you want to have a good result but we also have to be realistic. Netherlands is the best team in the world at this moment by far and it is important that we show our capabilities and the girls play to their potential and then we will see what the end score is. Then the tournament goes on and we will take it match by match.

Q: Rani's leadership will be key. In a sport where there are rolling substitutions, have you identified a leadership group?

A: I don’t agree with this question and I don’t think Rani’s leadership will be key. We have a group of 19 players and everybody is important. And if Rani is on the bench someone else takes over and if Rani is on the pitch, she is just playing a game. It’s not about leadership inside because she is also playing her own game. I think we have to stop talking about only Rani’s leadership. We have to talk about leadership of every individual in the group and every player has to take own responsibility and that is leadership.

Q: What were the challenges you faced over two years cooped in a camp?

A: We have faced a lot of challenges in the last two years because of COVID and we had to deal with it. These are things we can’t control and that’s the most important we have learnt as a group. We have to appreciate what we have. We had planned a few tours which were not possible. You can sit and whine about it but that’s the way it is. This has given a lot of positive energy to the group and we have discussed it really well. We didn’t lose energy on things that we couldn’t control. The girls had confidence in the process we were following at the camp.

Q: Realistically speaking, what are your expectations from this Indian team? Where do you think the girls can finish?

A: We want to play match by match and first goal is to reach the quarterfinals and from there on the tournament is open and starts again. We are in a very difficult Pool with a lot of good teams and we have to play to our potential. I will be happy if we can do just that and then see what the score is. We can certainly reach the quarterfinals but we have to grow (in confidence) in every game because we haven’t played at all in the last five months. I also don’t know what to expect and all that I can say is that the girls are confident, feeling strong and we did everything we could as support staff. It was frustrating at times but that’s that.

Q: Guess the semifinalists if you can.

A: I can guess one semifinalist and it’s going to be the Netherlands … that’s the easy one!

Outlook India

‘It’s not just up to Rani Rampal to raise women’s profile’

Coach Sjoerd Marijne says it is down to the India team – not captain Rani Rampal – to raise the profile of women in their homeland.

India men's hockey coach Graham Reid says team's mental resilience key to winning medal at Games

India will open their campaign against New Zealand on 24 July. Reid, in an interview to PTI, said the pandemic has helped his team discover the strength it previously wasn't aware of.

File image of Graham Reid. AFP

New Delhi: It's all in the mind, stressed Indian men's hockey team coach Graham Reid, confident that his side has what it takes to end a four-decade-long medal drought at the Olympics where "mental resilience will be an important factor" due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

India will open their campaign against New Zealand on 24 July. Reid, in an interview to PTI, said the pandemic has helped his team discover the strength it previously wasn't aware of.

"I think it's (mental resilience) probably one of the most important thing right now. We had a pretty tough 16 months. No one has been spared from quarantine. It's unprecedented but I am very pleased and happy how this group has handled things in the last 15-16 months," the Australian said.

"I always tell them that don't underestimate the power of the things we went through together and this will hold us in good stead for what's ahead," he explained.

Reid said the tough circumstances that some of the players have encountered growing up will also be a motivation for them.

"... we don't know how tough the Indians actually are. If you look at the back stories of some of the players, they are really inspiring, shows some of the hardships that they went through to get to where they are right now.

"To get to the pinnacle of sport you have to go through a hell lot of things and that's what at the end of the day mental resilience is about. Mental resilience is to get back up after someone knocks you down."

Being placed fourth in the world currently, India are being seen as among the favourites to stand on the podium in Tokyo after more than 40 years.

India's last of the eight Olympic gold medals in hockey came way back at the 1980 Moscow Games.

Th 57-year-old Reid, who has been in charge of the Indian men's hockey team for more than two years now, said his players are well equipped to overcome adversities.

"...if you prepare well for an exam then you are much more confident when you go into the exam.

"They had those experiences so they can draw parallels from them. It's about getting to understand that you need to draw on those experiences when the chips are down, when they are in the battle. I can do this because I have done it before,' he said.

A video enthusiast, Reid prepared short visual snippets about every player of the Olympic-bound team during the COVID-forced lockdown period. He feels the exercise has helped him to have a better understanding about the players.

"I love to play around with videos, it's a bit of a hobby of mine and when we got into lockdown I thought it would be nice to know about the guys better because you sometimes don't get to know about the background of all the players.

"But during COVID we didn't have too much to do, so I asked them a series of questions, different for different players, just simple things like tell us your story about like tell me some interesting things about something which happened in your young days," he recalled.

"I definitely know now that I have a much better understanding of the players as a coach."

Reid feels that the team has made enough sacrifices to be in the reckoning for a medal in the Olympics.

"There is definitely a chance if we play well and if we play where we need to. In the men's competition any 10-12 teams currently can beat each other on a particular day.

"I talk a lot about zooming out and zooming in and zooming out is about looking at the big picture and the big picture is yes absolutely we see ourselves standing on the podium in Tokyo," he said.

"Sacrifices is one of the things that stands successful people apart, they are prepared to forego gains for something better down the track," he added.

The road to Tokyo was a tough one for the team as five players, including skipper Manpreet Singh tested positive for the virus after returning to the national camp in Bengaluru following a short break last year.

"When these guys got tested, there was a bit of stigma attached to COVID. My reaction was 'I can't believe, how did it happen?'

"(But) it was a good learning experience. It was an interesting time, it was a difficult time as well. Whenever a group of people goes through a shared experience and often that experience is bad, it binds you together, it bonds the group."


Euros the perfect preparation for Ireland's intense Olympic schedule, says captain Mullan

'It's so exciting' - Mullan says Ireland are 'buzzing' ahead of Olympic opener

Mullan says Ireland are growing increasingly acclimatised to the heat in Tokyo

Captain Katie Mullan believes Ireland's participation at the recent European Championships was a "blessing" in priming the squad for an intense Olympic schedule in the Tokyo heat.

Sean Dancer's side will play five times in eight days, starting with Saturday's Group A opener against South Africa.

But Mullan feels the squad are in great shape after three Euros outings in the space of five days in June.

"We had some really intense back-to-back games over there," she said.

"So I have confidence that we're physically in the best shape we've ever been in. We've given ourselves the best chance to fit that schedule that's been put in front of us, but everybody's in the same boat."

Mullan added: "You see the other nations, none of them have had the perfect preparation.

"None of them have had this heat exposure because of Covid and they haven't been able to travel, so it's a level-playing field - that's the way we're viewing it."

Prior to leaving for Japan, Ireland worked hard to prepare themselves for competing in draining conditions with sessions in the heat chamber and saunas at the team's Jordanstown training site.

Mullan says the players have found each day "a little bit easier" since landing in Tokyo as they continue to acclimatise themselves to the Japanese summer before a testing campaign which pits them against world and European champions the Netherlands (who also won gold at the 2008 and 2012 Games), Germany, India and 2016 gold medallists Great Britain in addition to South Africa.

This week, of course, marks the culmination of a 20-month journey which began with Ireland securing their place at the Games with a highly dramatic shootout win over Canada at Donnybrook in November 2019.

And now that the Olympics are finally here, Mullan admits she "cannot wait" for Saturday to get Ireland's quest for a medal up and running.

"It's just such a special moment for our team," said the 27-year-old.

"But at the end of the way, when we cross the white line it's a game of hockey and that's the way we have to view it.

"It's so exciting that it's finally here. We've had to wait an extra 12 months but we're absolutely buzzing.

"That first game is a target game for us, so it's important we get a result on Saturday so now we're just focusing on the gameplan and preparing the best we can.

"I think the experience we've had at major tournaments in the past will stand to us come Saturday."

BBC Sport

Coaching Contingent flying the South African Flag in Tokyo

The South African challenge in Tokyo gets underway on Saturday. The 18 players in the squads will give their all after a long period of preparation and uncertainty, making the South African Hockey Family proud. Of course, as they have been along the journey, they will be superbly supported by our management teams that have led with the character that is so authentically South African.

Both teams are joined by five staff members in the Village who will help guide the teams for the tournament as we look to produce some memorable moments. The SA Womens Hockey team are led by head coach Robin van Ginkel, who is assisted by right hand man Inky Zondi. Gill Doig is the team manager while the team is completed by Cristy Mullender and Taren Naidoo.

The SA Hockey Men are led by Garreth Ewing, the head coach, while team manager Martin van Staden is the only member of the team that has been to the Olympics before having been with the team in 2012 in London. Sihle Ntuli, the current SA U21 Head coach is one of the assistants alongside Cheslyn Gie and Ashlin Freddy.

The South African Hockey Association thanks each member of our coaching staff for their superb service and wish them the best for the tournament!

SA Hockey Association media release

In Tokyo Indian Hockey seeks an identity, not glory...Here's why?


It’s Olympic time! And, once again, Indian field hockey is under the scanner. The cliché, question and doubt — I don’t see any difference between them – is whether Indian hockey will regain its past glory.

Brisbane awarded 2032 Olympics with Ballymore set to host hockey venue

By Rod Gilmour

Kookaburras great Mark Knowles said on Wednesday that Brisbane’s awarding of the 2032 Olympics and Paralympics was a momentous day “for young hockey players in Australia”.

Hockeyroos test out ‘anti-sex’ athletes’ beds

Australia women’s players have tested out the cardboard beds at the Olympic Village in Tokyo as the ‘anti-sex’ theory continued to be debunked.

‘Urgent action’ to address concussion in sport, inquiry finds

The DCMS Committee’s inquiry into concussion in sport has concluded that “urgent action” is needed by Government and national sporting bodies to address a long-term failure to reduce the risks of brain injury on sports fields.

Paul Confirms Women’s U-22 Junior Pan American Championship Roster

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – U.S. U-21/22 Women’s National Team Head Coach Tracey Paul has confirmed the 18-athlete roster that will compete in the women’s 2021 Junior Pan American Championship (JPAC). Taking place August 21 to 28 at the Prince of Wales Country Club in Santiago, Chile, six nations will gather in the women’s division for this qualifier for the 2021 FIH Hockey Junior World Cup.

"Narrowing our squad down from 32 has been extremely difficult and highlighted the depth and talent we have,” commented Paul. “There is a lot of potential in this team and I am very excited to see what this group of not only talented athletes but exceptional young women can bring in Chile. I think we have a balanced squad that poses a huge threat on attack alongside a strong defensive unit, and I am looking forward to seeing them perform at JPAC.”

At the end of June, a training squad was established following the Young Women’s National Championship. Select athletes from this group participated in a four-game series against Chile from June 30 through July 4 at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va. for further evaluation and to assist in narrowing the final team.

Leading the squad is Erin Matson (Chadds Ford, Pa.), who is the only individual who competed in the 2016 edition and has 62 senior international matches to her name. She is joined by nine athletes who were added to the U.S. Women’s National Team in June, and are of age to compete, including Leah Crouse (Virginia Beach, Va.), Charlotte De Vries (Malvern, Pa.), Adele Iacobucci (Malvern, Pa.), Ali Marshall (Rehoboth Beach, Del.), Madison Orobono (Macungie, Pa.), Hope Rose (Dauphin, Pa.), Ashley Sessa (Schwenksville, Pa.), Paityn Wirth (Thompsontown, Pa.) and Madeleine Zimmer (Hershey, Pa.).

The goalkeepers for the tournament are Gianna Glatz (Medford, N.J.) and Annabel Skuzbisz (Houston, Texas).

Congratulations to the following athletes who have been selected to represent Team USA at the women’s JPAC:

Kayla Blas (North Tonawanda, N.Y.), Skyler Caron (Hampton, N.H.), Leah Crouse (Virginia Beach, Va.), Charlotte De Vries (Malvern, Pa.), Emma DeBerdine (Millersville, Pa.), Riley Donnelly (Doylestown, Pa.), Gianna Glatz (Medford, N.J.), Adele Iacobucci (Malvern, Pa.), Alia Marshall (Rehoboth Beach, Del.), Erin Matson (Chadds Ford, Pa.), Madison Orobono (Macungie, Pa.), Sammy Popper (Blue Bell, Pa.), Hope Rose (Dauphin, Pa.), Ashley Sessa (Schwenksville, Pa.), Annabel Skubisz (Houston, Texas), Lauren Wadas (Annville, Pa.), Paityn Wirth (Thompsontown, Pa.), Madeleine Zimmer (Hershey, Pa.).

The two traveling reserves are Gracyn Banks (Burlington, N.J.) and Megan Rodgers (San Diego, Calif.).

At the 2016 JPAC, USA finished second behind Argentina. Qualifying for the FIH Hockey Junior World Cup they placed eighth out of the sixteen participating teams.

USA sits in Pool B with Chile and Trinidad and Tobago. They open against Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday, August 21 at 1:00 p.m. ET and play Chile on Sunday, August 22 at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Sat. August 21 1:00 PM B USA vs Trinidad
Sun. August 22 1:00 PM B Chile vs USA
Wed., August 25 2:30 PM 5th/6th 3rd Pool A vs 3rd Pool B
Fri., August 27 10:30 AM SF1 1st Pool A vs 2nd Pool B
  12:30 PM SF2 1st Pool B vs 2nd Pool B
Sat. August 28 10:00 AM 3rd/4th Loser SF1 vs Loser SF2
  12:00 PM 1st/2nd Winner SF1 vs Winner SF2

*All times are Eastern Time Zone

The top three women’s teams at the JPAC will qualify for the 2021 FIH Junior Hockey World Cup, set for December 5 to 16 in Potchefstroom, South Africa.

USFHA media release

Hockey India launches player-oriented web-based platform for players

All the former and current hockey players who have played for India can register their profiles on the platform verified by the national federation.

Hockey India has launched its own player-oriented web-based engagement platform, the 'Heroes Connect' in its bid to curate a detailed database of the players who have represented the country in both men and women's game.

The unique responsive platform has been designed to encourage former and current Indian hockey players to initiate constructive discussions around the sport.

All the former and current hockey players who have played for India can register their profiles on the platform verified by the national federation.

According to a HI statement, these profiles consist of general details of a player, matches played for the Indian team, duration of career, tournaments played, year of retirement, memorable career moments, awards won, social media profile and photographs of the player.

Former Olympian Sabu Varkey said the 'Heroes Connect' platform is a beautiful initiative, which will help him in connecting with his former teammates.

"It's a beautiful initiative. I am not in touch with many of the players I have played along with, so this is a very good platform, where I can get their contact numbers and connect back with them and speak to them.

"Recently, I was searching for the contact details of my teammates, and luckily, Hockey India just launched it, so I feel this will help me get in touch with my former teammates, " said Sabu, who was part of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics squad


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