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News for 12 March 2019

All the news for Tuesday 12 March 2019

Poland agree to late invitation

By Jugjet Singh

File picture of the national hockey team training under coach Roelant Oltman (right) on Nov 19, 2018 in Kuala Lumpur.

KUALA LUMPUR: World No 21 Poland have agreed to an 11th hour invitation to compete in the 28th Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh on March 23-30.

This came about after World No 16 South Africa withdrew due to financial reasons.

The tournament will see hosts Malaysia (13th), battle for their maiden title since 1983 with India (fifth) Canada (10th), South Korea (17th), and Asian Games champions Japan (18th).

Azlan Shah Cup organising secretary M. Selvakumaran thanked Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) CEO Datuk Tayyab Ikram for his help.

“Poland accepted our invitation to play even though the tournament is just around the corner and we are very grateful to them.

“This inclusion was made possible with help from AHF CEO Datuk Tayyab,” said Selvakumaran.

Malaysia have only seen silver since the inception of the tournament, but with regulars Australia, New Zealand, England and Argentina missing due to their FIH Pro-League engagements, this is coach Roelant Oltman's best hour to guide his side to the top of the podium.

New Straits Times

Young and restless

By T. Avineshwaran

Too close for comfort: Akhimullah Anuar Esook (blue jersey) in action against UniKL during the semi-final of the TNB Cup on Jan 4.

PETALING JAYA: Akhimullah Anuar Esook is hoping to be the youngest player to represent Malaysia at this year’s Sultan Azlan Shah Cup from March 23-30 in Ipoh.

The 18-year-old has been called up for the national training camp after playing an instrumental role in the recent Malaysian Hockey League (MHL), where he belied his age to score 10 goals for Tenaga Nasional where they finished second in the league.

He was also the top scorer in the Youth Olympics Games in Buenos Aires with 22 goals.

The youngster is looking forward to brushing shoulders with the senior stars in the national squad and earn the trust of head coach Roelant Oltmans.

“As one of the young players in the squad, I’ve to do my best to prove my credentials. I was surprised with the call-up by coach Roelant but I will do my best,” said Akhimullah.

“It feels daunting to be part of the senior squad because I am only 18, but I believe it will not take much time for me to adapt and get along with the seniors

“Even at Tenaga, I was mingling with the seniors, and we had no problems communicating. It will be a good experience for me.”

Akhimullah, together with Arif Syafie Ishak, Noor Firdaus Rosdi and Azrai Aizad Abu Kamal were called up for a special training camp to prepare for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and FIH Men’s Final Series from April 26-May 4 in Kuala Lumpur.

“The training camp will surely benefit me as a player. I’ve to absorb as much knowledge as possible from the seniors and coaches,” said Akhimullah.

“It will be great to play in my first-ever Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament. I’ve watched the competition on television many times.

“Whenever Malaysia play, I look forward to seeing Faizal Saari.

“He’s one of the best strikers in the nation, and I would love to learn from him during the training camp.”

This year’s Sultan Azlan Shah Cup will see Malaysia playing teams like India, Canada, Japan and South Korea.

South Africa pulled out due to financial reasons and will be replaced by Poland.

In last year’s edition, Malaysia finished fourth after Argentina beat them 3-1 in the third-fourth placing match. Australia were the champions last year.

The Star of Malaysia

Improvements Made Against Chile in Junior USMNT’s First International Contest of 2019

SANTIAGO, Chile -  After arriving in Santiago, Chile on Saturday, the U.S. U-16 and U-20 Men's National Teams hit the pitch yesterday for their first of four test games against Chile's junior squads at the Club Manquehue. The U-16 side played first, and despite leading at the half, the final frame saw Chile put in two additional goals for the 3-1 win. The U-20 team was also leading at the half but a succession of six penalty corners and one conversion by the host nation finished the match in a 1-1 draw.

A lot of progress has been made for both squads as just a year ago USA conceded 13 goals in the opening match.

"We started the day with a full practice and fitness testing followed by games for both teams in the evening," said Rutger Wiese, Junior USMNT Head Coach. "The teams played really hard [yesterday] with some great offensive structure. [Monday] we’re back on the practice field and we’re looking forward to more progress."

U-16 USMNT 1 - 3 Chile

The first quarter saw both USA and Chile apply solid pressure, share possession and looking to create offensive opportunities. USA goalkeeper Rafael Martell (Miami, Fla.) came up big and defended three rapid consecutive shots on goal while USA logged multiple attempts. Without any conversions by either team, the first quarter ended 0-0.

On a fast break half way through the second quarter, USA’s Colin Kirkpatrick (Annville, Pa.) dribbled the ball up the left side, punched through Chile’s defense and released a rocket to the far post to give USA a 1-0 lead.
Chile’s equalizer came in the third quarter following a great save by USA goalkeeper Russell Smith (Camarillo, Calif.), the rebound was quickly picked up and Chile found the net on the second shot. USA successfully denied three subsequent penalty corners to hold the host nation to 1-1 at the end of the third frame.
In the final period, play in the middle began to break down for USA allowing Chile to pull ahead with two additional goals. USA attempted to rally but in the end conceded the match to Chile 3-1.

U-20 USMNT 1 - 1 Chile

USA opened the game by taking the lead with an early breakaway by Alberto Montilla (Allen, Texas) who bested Chile’s goalkeeper in an open 1v1 at the 2-minute mark. USA controlled possession for the majority of the first half while Chile looked to settle into their game. Both teams started to connect well as the next few minutes saw multiple circle penetrations. In the 25th minute, USA earned a penalty corner but the shot went wide as the halftime concluded with the score 1-0 in favor of USA.

The start of the second half saw USA’s defense tested by a high press from Chile. The host nation earned six penalty corners but were only able to convert on one due to a solid defensive performance by USA goalkeeper Amar Singh (Santa Clara, Calif.). Toward the end of the third quarter, USA reorganized and earned two penalty corners of their own but was unable to convert on either ending the quarter at 1-1.

USA regained momentum in the fourth frame and continued to look for openings in Chile’s tight lines. A few good combinations led to circle penetrations but were ultimately not enough to take the lead. As time wound down, USA’s collective efforts kept it to a 1-1 draw.

Both teams will practice today before their second test games tomorrow, Tuesday, March 12 at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

USFHA media release

Charlet set to miss remainder of WatDucks season

©: World Sport Pics

Waterloo Ducks’ Victor Charlet is set to miss three to four months of hockey following an injury to his quadricep.

The defender with the big drag-flick underwent surgery this week on the right femoral muscle having sustained the injury while making a regulation sprint during physical testing with the French national team.

It is a tough blow for the WatDucks just a month out from their EHL KO16 date with Surbiton, especially as he has already nailed 15 goals this season.

"Everything went well and I feel good,” the French captain was quoted as saying on the HockeyBelgium website. “Following the operation, I will normally wait for six weeks for it to heal.

“I can then begin the rehabilitation phase, the duration of which we do not know yet. But these delays also depend on how my body will react. It is therefore almost impossible to give a date of recovery.

“What is certain is my season with Waterloo Ducks is sadly over. But hey, my teammates do not need me to fulfill the goals set for this end of championship division honor! I am motivated and ready to come back even stronger."

Euro Hockey League media release

Reid-Ross rescues point for Amsterdam after facing down a stroke

©: World Sport Pics

Justin Reid-Ross salvaged a dramatic draw for AH&BC Amsterdam against HC Rotterdam as he faced down a penalty stroke before then scoring a drag-flick of his own in the 2-2 tie.

Mirco Pruijser and Tjep Hoedemakers shared early goals to make it 1-1 after just seven minutes and that was the way it stayed all the way until seven minutes from the end.

But it all kicked off with eight minutes to go when a penalty corner awarded against Amsterdam with Jan de Wijkerslooth getting a green card.

With no sub goalkeeper on the team sheet, Amsterdam decided to put Reid-Ross in goal with a helmet. The Tristan Algera drag-flick that followed hit Nicki Leijs on the goal line, leading to a stroke which Jeroen Hertzberger nailed for 2-1 past the stick side of Reid-Ross.

But Amsterdam fought back and won a corner and the South African stepped up to whip home an equalising goal and a share of the spoils.

The result sees both still sit outside the playoff places. HGC scored a big 5-3 win over Oranje-Rood with Max Plennevaux playing a huge part with the first two goals before Olivier van Tongeren made it 3-0.

The Eindhoven club fought back with goals from Mink van der Weerden and Lucas Martinez but Nick Budgeon put HGC 4-2 ahead with 10 minutes to go.

Niek van der Schoot reduced the deficit once more but a last minute Floris van der Linden goal settled the tie.

Bloemendaal stay six points clear at the top with a 2-1 win over Almere while SV Kampong won 3-1 against Pinoke to remain in second place.

Euro Hockey League media release

Sir Owen Glenn gave Hockey NZ funding to ex-Black Sticks coach Mark Hager

Sir Owen Glenn continues to stand by former Black Sticks coach Mark Hager. SUPPLIED

Sir Owen Glenn has revealed funding he withdrew from Hockey New Zealand has been given to former Black Sticks women's coach Mark Hager.

Glenn is a staunch supporter of Hager and last month, in the wake of the latter's departure to Great Britain, the Auckland businessman confirmed he had frozen the $2 million funding he had committed to the New Zealand men's and women's hockey teams due concerns over the sport's governance.

Hager, who led the Black Sticks to gold at last year's Commonwealth Games, was at the centre of an independent review in which 24 of the 33 current and past players interviewed had serious concerns over a "negative" team environment.

The review, conducted by Maria Dew QC, also found Hockey NZ had not done enough to respond to concerns when previously raised and to ensure player welfare was adequately considered.

Hager resigned as the Black Sticks coach in mid-January to take up the same role with Great Britain and England, at a time when he had seen a draft copy of Dew's review.

Glenn, meanwhile, had originally called for Hockey NZ to be investigated for his funding to continue.

But the sport's governing body found an unlikely ally in Hager, who has convinced Glenn to end his suspension.

"It wasn't Hockey New Zealand that did anything. Mark [Hager] said it's passed, let it go, I don't want to keep fighting," Glenn told NZME. "It's clearly wrong but I don't want to keep fighting, so he just said I've moved on so let's just accept it.

"But all of those Hockey New Zealand people who have apologised are still there."

The funding will resume from this month but Glenn said the payments from January and February won't be back-dated.

Instead, the money has gone to Hager.

"The two months payments that I would have given the women's team, I've given to Mark Hager. It will allow him four return trips to see his family. His family have now settled in New Zealand and obviously he's in England and they don't want to go there," Glenn said to NZME.

Glenn said Hager had suffered throughout the ordeal, adding that some of the players, who have been guaranteed anonymity, were "stabbing him in the back".


Sir Owen Glenn gave hockey funding cash to former coach Mark Hager

By Alex Chapman

Sir Owen Glenn has used money that would have gone to the New Zealand women's hockey team, to help out their former coach.

It was revealed by the Herald last month that the long-time benefactor froze the $1 million he had committed to the women's Black Sticks, because of dissatisfaction with the sport's governance. He continues to stand by now-departed coach Mark Hager, who he has been a vocal supporter of.

Hager resigned in January to take over as coach of the British and English teams leading to the Tokyo Olympics. His decade-long Black Sticks tenure culminated in a maiden gold medal at April's Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. Hager also took the team to two Olympic fourths, two World League finals and a Champions Trophy bronze.

But he has been at the centre of the review, and believing he could no longer be himself, left the role.

The six month independent review conducted by Maria Dew QC found serious failings by Hockey New Zealand. The review revealed that of the 33 players interviewed, 24 players reported 'serious concerns' about the environment within the team.

The majority player view of a negative environment had been experienced for at least the last two years, with players arguing that the environment wasn't helping them reach their full potential, and was impeding the success of the team.

Sir Owen demanded that Hockey NZ be investigated if they were to earn the money back.

He says those haven't been met, but a call from Hager has led him to start funding them again from this month.

"It wasn't Hockey New Zealand that did anything. Mark [Hager] said it's passed, let it go, I don't want to keep fighting. It's clearly wrong but I don't want to keep fighting, so he just said I've moved on so let's just accept it.

"But all of those Hockey New Zealand people who have apologised are still there."

However, the January and February payments won't be back-dated. Instead, they've gone to Hager himself.

"The two months payments that I would have given the women's team, I've given to Mark Hager. It will allow him four return trips to see his family. His family have now settled in New Zealand and obviously he's in England and they don't want to go there.

"He's had to suffer. I just hope I've softened it. But some of them [the players] are frankly stabbing him in the back, but they've been guaranteed anonymity. The whole governance of sport in New Zealand needs to be addressed. I'm not sure who will look at it, but somebody needs to. It's not just hockey, it's cycling and rowing and all sorts of things."

Sir Owen's also offered some advice to incoming women's Black Sticks coach Graham Shaw.

The Irishman was last week appointed as Hager's replacement, and will take over in May.

"I don't know him. He did well for Ireland, took them to the World Cup final. I have no opinion on him though. I wish him well … I only hope he looks at his contract," Glenn said.

The New Zealand Herald

Durban Girls College come out tops at hockey challenge

Sophie Thompson

Maintaining her balance as she moves the ball infield, Olivia Sharratt is captured mid-step in her pool game at the Durban Central Regional of the SPAR KZN Schoolgirls’ Hockey Challenge that took place at 3 School’s Trust on Sunday. Picture: Rogan Ward

Durban - The only team to keep their 100% record, Durban Girls’ College took the honours for the ninth time at the Durban Central Regional of the SPAR KZN Schoolgirls’ Hockey Challenge on Sunday.

It was not all plain sailing for College who met host school, Durban Girls’ High School in the regional final. The defending champions had to work incredibly hard for their only goal. Defending like trojans, Durban Girls’ High boldly stood firm again and again with relentless attacks by College.

It wasn’t until midway through the final that the feisty, intrepid Bulelwa ‘BB’ Mzimela managed to slip one over the line for College. Mzimela was in the right spot at the right time for a pass flying from the right, straight across the goals, finding her outstretched stick near the left post, the ball changed direction. Her tournament-winning goal ensured that the hardworking College team advanced through to the Grand Finals in July, the only team to have made an appearance every year in the nine-year history of this tournament.

On the way to the finals, Durban Girls’ College met St Henry’s in the first semi-final. College quickly got into their offensive game with a 3 nil triumph. Goal scorers for College were Amanda Holmes slotting in a flick off a short corner, BB Mzimela knocking in the second off a pass and Pippa Meek capitalising off some messy play in the goal mouth.

In a wonderfully equal yo-yo of a game, Durban Girls’ High School took on Maris Stella in their semi-final. The game bounced between the two goals, with both teams nearly scoring, but magnificent defence on both ends saw the game level with no goals at the conclusion. Being a semi-final the game needed a winner, so it progressed to a penalty shoot-out. Tamika Pillay, Latoya Boon and Tianna Anderson all weaved their magic for Girls’ High and found the back of the box. Maris Stella’s Holly Chellin and Sarah Proctor slotted in their attempts easily, but unfortunately for Maris Stella, Kelsey Wassink’s flick found the pads of Asanda Ncube in goals for Girls’ High, giving the hosts a 3-2 advantage and an opportunity to meet the defending champs.

Stand-in Coach for College, Mike Cullen stated after the victory, “With only 20 minutes, it is always a bit of a challenge, a lottery because one goal against you and you are under pressure. On the whole, I thought our girls played really well, we moved the ball nicely, we managed to score lots of goals. We also did a lot of things that we talk about which from a coaching point of view is pleasing.”

Cullen helped College while their usual coach was away cycling the Cape Town Cycle Tour, shared his favourite moment of the day: “Winning - without a doubt! Cos the team (myself included) were all under an incredible amount of pressure being the only team to have claimed the title of this region,” a supremely chuffed Cullen said.

Being acknowledged for her unfaltering presence with the whistle, Melissa Calitz from St Henry’s was awarded Umpire of the Day.

The fourth team to earn their ticket to the Grand Finals, Durban Girls’ College join the two Pietermaritzburg teams that have already earned their spots. The first team to qualify was St Anne’s College (Pietermaritzburg North Region) followed by Epworth School (Pietermaritzburg Central Region) and then Crawford La Lucia (Durban North Region).

The next regional returns to the 3 Schools Trust for the Durban South Regional on Sunday 7 April, with defending champs, Amanzimtoti High School hosting the tournament. Thereafter, five more regionals remain in the 2019 KZN tournament.


1 Durban Girls’ College,
2 Durban Girls’ High School,
3 Maris Stella,
4 St Henry’s,
5 Port Natal School,
6 =Ridge Park College,
6 =Inanda Seminary,
6= Inanda Ntumzuma KwaMashu (INK),
9 Brettonwood High School

Daily News

16s Club Cup plays out at Peffermill

Despite the rain, snow and hail the U16 Club Cup took place on Sunday at a wintery Peffermill. In both boys and girls competition there were 12 teams entered from across Scotland. The teams were split into 4 pools, each undertaking 2 matches.


In pool A last years winners GHK faced Watsonians and new comers to the competition ESM. GHK won over Watsonians with 2 goals to nil, however could not secure the points against ESM as they lost by 1 goal to nil. Watsonians against ESM match ended with Watsonians taking the 3 points, leaving all three teams on 1 win a piece. GHK top the table on goal difference.

In the Girls Pool B CALA took on Inverleith and Western Wildcats. Wildcats making their debut in the competition had 2 tough matches. CALA ran out 5-1 winners over the cats and Inverleith 2-0. CALA and Inverleith could only manage a draw against each other. CALAs impressive goal difference took them to the top of their table.

In Pool C for the girls Grange, Perthshire and Granite City Wanderers battled it out. Granite City were the strongest performers on the day. They did not concede a single goal in their matches and took the 6 points available. A late winner for Grange in their match against Perthshire took them into second place.

In the remaining pool  Fjordhus Reivers, Clydesdale and Dunfermline Carnegie fought for top spot. Reivers put in a strong performance and took all 3 points in both their matches, leaving Clydesdale and Carnegie to fight for second spot. A scoreless draw between the teams meant that Carnegie snuck into second.


In the Boys competition pool A featured Grange, Western Wildcats and Grove Menzieshill. Wildcats and Grange split the points with a 1-1 draw. Grange put 3 past Menzieshill to edge the top spot. Wildcats were defeated by Menzieshill leaving them in third spot.

In Pool B Clydesdale, Inverleith and Perthshire were familiar foes all having competed in previous years. It was Perthshire with a clean sweep to top the group. Inverleith and Clydesdale played a hard fought match but were proven to be equal to each other as they shared the points from a 1 all draw. With the better result against Perthshire Clydesdale clawed into second spot.

In the third pool Watsonians, Highland and Uddingston fought it out. Highland were deserved winners against Uddingston with a 2 nil win. Watsonians ran out 4 nil winners against Uddingston leaving them in the third spot. Watsonians topped the group with a win over Highland to complete the pool

In the last of the pools for the boys Hillhead, ESM and Dunfermline Carnegie made a full complement of 12 teams for the Boys competition. Carnegie and ESM have never competed at this competition before. It Was Carnegie who dominated the match between the two, with a 4-1 win. Hillhead and ESM mustered a 1-1 draw. In the final match of the group Carnegie took the win with a 3-1 score line.

The concluding day of the competition will take place on the 24th of March at Peffermill where one team from the girls and boys will be crowned under sixteen champions.

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Shamala looking for equality

By Jugjet Singh

Dr Shamala (right) and her Asian buddies including AHF CEO Datuk Tayyab Ikram (centre), in Gifu recently.

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Dr S. Shamala has dedicated her life to hockey in Malaysia since her playing days, and was recently recognised for her immense contributions by the Asian Hockey Confederation (AHF).

At the end of their AGM in Gifu, Japan, recently Malaysian delegate Shamala was called up to receive the AHF Order of Merit.

And at the AHF website, the Order of Merit was describes as -- "This is one of the most prestigious awards given by the AHF."

Shamala juggles many 'jobs' while rising from the ranks to become the current Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) deputy president while her bread-and-butter is Professor at the Universiti Putra Malaysia Department of Communication Technology and Network.

"The award could not have been achieved without dedication and commitment form the MHC team, and so, I would like to thank everybody from the bottom to the top level," said Shamala.

The AHF used to be more involved in protocols, but according to Shamala, that's history.

"The delegates who came to Gifu were committed to shed the AHF's 'protocol image' and move towards 'action base'. This includes having more Asian teams in the next World Cup and Olympics.

"And at the bottom half, teams like North Korea, Afghanistan and Oman are also keen to move up and are involved with many AHF activities now," said Shamala.

She also aims to start the ball rolling for the Asian continent to earn their rights and equality of the FIH world ranking system which prefers Europe and the Pro-League more than Asian and Olympics respectively.

For example, even continental championships provide different points as in Europe its 750 points for No 1, while in Asia it's 650 points for gold.

"Yes, I will push for equality especially in ranking points provided for championships, as in the end, points are what matter most for a team to qualify for the Olympics and World Cup now," said Shamala.

He other burning desire is to see field hockey played more regularly at the Sea Games level.

"Manila (2019) will only have indoor hockey while Vietnam (next hosts) have totally take hockey out.

"It is ok for Sea Games to include some traditional sports, but don't sideline Olympic and world level sports in the same breath. Sea countries must be realistic and move forward," said Shamala.

And if more AHF as well as Sea country officials have the same mindset like Shamala, the continent can finally move forward and have more world beaters in their ranks.

Jugjet's World of Field Hockey

How a Cart-Puller’s Iron-Willed Daughter Became India’s Beloved Hockey Captain

She was only 14 when she made her debut to the senior Indian Women’s hockey team as the youngest player.

by Jovita Aranha

Rani Rampal. Source: प्रजापति दलबीर बजीणा/Facebook

Hailing from the small town of Shahabad Markanda in Haryana’s Kurukshetra district, Rani Rampal set foot on the hockey field at the tender age of six.

Known as Sansarpur of Haryana, after the hockey hub which gave India top players like former women’s team captain Ritu Rani, Rajni Bala, Navneet Kaur along with drag-flicker Sandeep Singh and Sandeep Kaur, Rani Rampal’s journey into hockey was anything but easy.

She was only 14 when she made her debut to the senior Indian Women’s hockey team as its youngest player.

When India qualified for the 2016 Olympics after a solid 36 years since the 1980 Summer Olympics, she made the winning goal.

It wouldn’t be an understatement that this iron-willed daughter of a cart puller has taken the nation by storm with her performance on the field year after year.

Today, she is leading a brigade of top players as the captain of the national senior women’s team!

This is her story.

On the field. Source: @iamranirampal/Twitter

In an exclusive interview with The Better India, she narrates, “I grew up in a place where young women and girls were restricted to the four walls of the home. So when I expressed my wish to play hockey, neither my parents nor my relatives supported me. My parents come from a humble background and weren’t very educated. They did not think sports could be a career path, not for girls at least. Besides, my relatives would often tell my father, ‘What will she do playing hockey? She will run around the field wearing a short skirt and bring a bad name to your family’.”

The same people now pat her back and congratulate her when she is home.

When she first started playing, Rani did not think she would be in the national team or get a job as an Assistant Coach with the Sports Authority of India. Her dream was to build a home for her family.

If you looked at the swanky building she built for her parents in Shahabad in 2016, you would find it difficult to believe that she once grappled with acute poverty. The building bears the five Olympic rings on the top!

Rani grew up in a humble home where her father worked as a horse-cart puller and sold bricks to make ends meet. The money was never enough to sustain the family of five.

She recalls how their kachcha home would often flood during heavy monsoons, as young Rani and her two brothers prayed for the rains to stop.

Speaking to The Better India, she says, “I knew I wanted to play hockey. But the expenses that came with it–training at an institute, buying a hockey kit or even shoes–were beyond what my father could afford. This, coupled with the societal fears of my parents, made it difficult for me to convince them. I remember pleading to them, ‘Give me one chance, look at me play, then if you think I am doing something wrong, I will stop’.”

And she did not disappoint them.

With her parents. Source: Rani Rampal/Facebook

Her constant support during this period of crisis was her coach, Dronacharya Awardee Sardar Baldev Singh. He took her under his wing and started training her at the Shahabad Hockey Academy.

“He supported and encouraged my hockey dream when nobody else did. From giving me hockey kits to buying shoes, he helped me with everything. When I scored a difficult goal at the academy, he gave me a Rs 10 note. He signed it and wrote, ‘You are the future of India.’ It is one of my most treasured memories. While I did try to save the note as long as I could, our financial state at the time was so poor, I had to use it.”

When she was training at Chandigarh, he made sure that she lived with his family, where her dietary needs were taken care of by his wife.
“More than hockey, he taught us to help each other. To guide younger players restricted by financial issues, help them with kits and any other support they needed.”

With coach Baldev Singh

This is a trend that continues at the academy.

The selection to the Indian hockey team wasn’t a cakewalk. In fact, it was much like an arduous trek.

“Training was tough in all weathers. And discipline was the first value we were taught. We would train for hours and never miss a single day. Punctuality was foremost. When we turned in late, we would be punished by our coach, who was a strict disciplinarian. Almost nine players from the academy were in the national team back then. Their stories further pushed us to work hard and prove our merit.”

Her hard work did not go to waste.

In the June 2009 Champion’s Challenge Tournament held in Russia, Rani scored four goals in the finals and won ‘The Top Goal Scorer’ and the ‘Young Player of the Tournament’.

She competed in the 2010 Commonwealth Games where she was nominated for FIH’s (Fédération Internationale de Hockey) ‘Young Woman Player of the Year’ Award. Her performance in the 2010 Asian Games at Guangzhou made her a part of the All-Star team of the Asian Hockey Federation too.

At the 2010 Women’s Hockey World Cup held in Argentina, she scored seven goals placing India ninth in World Women’s Hockey rankings. This was also considered India’s best performance since 1978, where Rani won the ‘Best Young Player of the Tournament’ for her stellar performance as the top field goal scorer.

She represented India in the Junior World Cup 2013 where we won a bronze medal for the first time. Here too, she won the ‘Player of the Tournament’.

In 2016, she was honoured with the Arjuna Award.

Receiving the Arjuna Award from former President Pranab Mukherjee.

Under her captaincy, the Indian team clinched silver at the 2018 Asian Games, finished fourth at the Commonwealth Games and eighth at the London World Cup.

And despite the laurels, when I ask her what is her biggest achievement, she humbly answers, “It is the honour of leading the women’s hockey team.”

From being considered underdogs on the world hockey stage to their recent tour to Spain where they pitted and won matches against stronger teams of Ireland and Spain, the team has certainly come a long way.

Their first friendly match against Ireland was a 1-1 draw, but the second and final matches saw them beat the world cup silver medallists with a 3-0. The team was a good mix of senior as well as junior players.

“As a senior player and captain, it is my responsibility to take younger players along, encourage and give them the required exposure to international matches. We want to thank Hockey India for making the tour possible,” says Rani.

When asked about clinching silver at the Asian Games where they lost to Japan and missed the guaranteed direct qualification in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, she says,

“We were extremely disappointed when we did not win. But no matter how big the match is, the nature of the game demands that we move on and work harder. And we haven’t lost sight of our goal. The Spain tour gave us the much-needed confidence. The team now believes that if we play well, we can beat anyone. And so, every day at the training, we give more than our hundred per cent. We want to get Indian Women’s Hockey on the world map. Our eyes are set on qualifying for the Olympics 2020.”

When I ask her if anything has changed in the way the Indian audience perceives women’s hockey, she answers, “From the time I started playing hockey, a lot has changed. Back in the day, women’s hockey did not get the recognition or appreciation it deserved. But over the last few years, this has changed. People have taken interest and are appreciating the sport. But it more limelight and support.”

Not just hockey, but badminton, wrestling or weight lifting, women are dominating several sports, and it is a trend that needs to continue, believes Rani.

Winning silver at the 18th Asian Games

She signs off with a special message for young girls and women:

“Women need more self-belief. And we, as a society, can help them by believing in them and encouraging them to chase their sports dreams. To women, I say, don’t consider yourselves secondary to anyone. Set your own goals and chase them with determination. You can do anything. It is only when we believe in ourselves that others will believe in us.”

The Better India

2019 USA Field Hockey National Club of the Year Award Winner: WC Eagles

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Each week, a USA Field Hockey Foundation Annual Award Winner will be highlighted on the website, prior to the ceremony for each winner at the 2019 USA Field Hockey Summit, presented by AstroTurf, on Saturday, March 16 at Lord Baltimore Hotel in Baltimore.

The USA Field Hockey Foundation is proud to announce that WC Eagles was selected as the People’s Choice 2019 USA Field Hockey National Club of the Year Award recipient.

The founders and owners of WC Eagles are Jun and Richard Kentwell, who bring a wealth of field hockey knowledge through their involvement with the sport throughout the world.

After coaching at a hockey camp in 2005, four young players asked Jun if she would give them private lessons. Little did she know that five years later she would have a club with more than 250 players, ages 8 to 18, and that those four girls would be at Duke University, Northwestern University, the University of Iowa and Ohio University on scholarships.

By September 2005, WC Eagles was formed with the mission, “To prepare the girls for college and international hockey through total player development, whereby the players learn the modern skills and tactics of the game under pressure of time and space in a competitive environment.”

Today WC Eagles has more than 400 members, ages 6-18.

WC Eagles has quickly established itself as a premier club in the United States, winning an unrivaled 21 National Club Championship titles since 2009 and in the last three years the club has won 65 pool championships at the National Indoor Tournament. In the summer of 2012, 2016 and 2017, at the invitation of the Chinese Hockey Association, the club participated in the China U-18 National Championships, winning the silver medal in each event.

In 2014, the WC Eagles U-18 squad toured New Zealand, winning every game against the top regional teams in the country. In the Summer of 2018, they won the U-14 Repton Cup in England.

WC Eagles athletes have also earned field hockey scholarships to many of the top ranked college hockey programs and elite academic institutions in the country, including North Carolina, Duke, Maryland, Stanford, Princeton, Michigan, American, Yale, Harvard, Cornell, Northwestern, Iowa, Connecticut, Delaware, Wake Forest, Boston College, Syracuse, Boston University, Michigan State, Lafayette, James Madison, Villanova, University of Pennsylvania, William and Mary, Georgetown, Richmond, Columbia and Ohio State.

In the past three years, a total of 132 players have gone on to play college field hockey. WC Eagles players have won NCAA Division I National Championship in each of the last 10 years. Eight WC Eagles were on the 2018 North Carolina Division I NCAA Championship Team.

Currently, three former WC Eagles are on the U.S. Women’s National Team, including 18-year-old Erin Matson, who has already earned 50 international caps as a member of the team. There are also six WC Eagles athletes on the U.S. U-21 Women's National Team, nine on the U.S. U-19 squad and eight players on the U.S. U-17 team.

Additionally, two boys were on the roster for the U.S. U-21 Men’s National Team at the 2015 Pan American Junior Championships and one athletes, JaJa Kentwell, is currently a member of the U.S. Men's National Team. WC Eagles also has representation on men's junior teams with one on the England U-18 team and two on the U-18 USMNT.

In January 2016, six WC Eagles played for the U.S. Women’s National Indoor Team, which won the silver medal at the Rohrmax Cup in Austria. Eight athletes were on the 2017 Indoor Pan American Cup team, that claimed gold, and went on to play for USA at the 2018 Indoor Hockey World Cup in Berlin, Germany.

Join the USA Field Hockey Foundation to celebrate and honor all the 2019 Annual Award winners on Saturday, March 16, 2019.

USFHA media release

Vale Lou Hailey AM

Ben Somerford

Hockey Australia is saddened to learn of the passing of former Australian national player and HA Life Member Lou Hailey AM.

Lou represented Australia at both the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and 1960 Rome Olympics as a goalkeeper.

He represented Australia from 1954-1956 and 1959-1960. He was a HA Life Member and received the Award of Merit.

He was also an Australian Men’s selector for almost two decades from 1969 to 1988 and was highly regarded by all in the Hockey community.

Lou represented Queensland from 1954-1956 and 1959-1960. He was named Hockey Queensland’s (HQ) goalkeeper for their Team of the Century and is in HQ’s Hall of Fame.

Lou passed away on Sunday aged 93. HA sends its sincere condolences to his family at this emotional time.

Hockey Australia media release

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