All the news for Thursday 26 March 2020
PAHF President Message to the Hockey Community
Alberto "Coco" Budeisky, PAHF President
Dear Hockey family,
COVID 19 is the most serious global health security threat in decades. Most countries are imposing much-needed restrictions to slow the spread of the virus.
This is causing unprecedented disruption to hockey activities, among others, bringing many changes to our lives: remote working, social distancing, cancelled events and training sessions, and most of all great uncertainty around sports activities and future funding.
However, PAHF and PAHF Educators are working towards building resilience in our community, by producing free webinars for coaches, umpires, Technical officials and players.
Stay tuned and check the calendar on our social media accounts starting tomorrow!
Your health and safety are always our top priority.
Pan American Hockey Federation media release
Nairobi's Hockey Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers postponed
By AGNES MAKHANDIA
Kenya Hockey Union President Nahashon Randiek arrives at the City Park Stadium on August 10, 2019. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Kenya plans to stage the men and women’s North East region qualifiers for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations on May 11-17 at the Sikh Union Hockey Stadium in Nairobi have been put on hold.
This is after the African Hockey Federation (AfHF) issued a statement Tuesday evening postponing all the 2020 international events as the coronavirus pandemic continues to bite.
At the same time, Africa Cup for Clubs Championship set for November 30 to December 5 in Malawi, Junior Africa Cup set for September 13-20 in Ghana as well as Indoor Africa Cup for June 12-14 in Durban South Africa have also been postponed.
Both events were to feature teams from both gender.
“Given the world wide development of coronavirus outbreak and following the World Health Organisation, International Olympic Committee and the International Hockey Federation directives as well as the measures taken by the governments of our events hosting countries with the respect to holding any sport gathering related activities, this is to announce that all AHF 2020 tournaments dates will be postponed until further notice. Another update will be made by the end of April," said AfHF in a statement.
"The well-being of our players, coaches, officials, managers and administrators is our ultimate aim and is our first priority whilst planning any sports events, historically or in future.”
The men's team was scheduled to face Burundi, Libya, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Seychelles where the top two nations were to proceed to next year’s Cup of Nations.
The ladies were to battle favourites Egypt, Burundi, Libya, Seychelles, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda for the two slots.
Kenya Hockey Union deputy match and fixture secretary, Moses Majiwa said they await the April communique from the African hockey governing body but also expressed fears that local league may not run as scheduled.
The league kicked off last month and was scheduled to end in December.
“The Ministry of Sports gave a 30-day suspension of all activities as at March 13, 2020, so we shall review after the said days. The likelihood of no international sports taking place this year is very high," Majiwa said.
"Even if the pandemic is contained by June, there will be no enough time for playing local league and also preparations for international events.”
Also shelved was the North-West region event that was set for June 14-21 in Ghana and was to feature Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo while Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe form the Central–South region that was set to host the qualifiers in August 21-30 in Zimbabwe.
The top two teams in each categories from the three regions were to join the top two ranked countries to compete in the Africa Cup of Nations. South Africa (women) and Egypt (men) are the top-ranked nations in the continent.
Hockey teams take Olympics postponement in stride
Skippers Manpreet and Rani continue to look at the positives
Looking ahead: Captains Manpreet Singh and Rani Rampal are now focussed on maximising the extra time available time till the Olympics are staged.
The news of Tokyo Olympics’ postponement is yet to sink in but India’s hockey captains Manpreet Singh and Rani Rampal are confident that they will take the disappointment in stride while working hard for the next one year.
“We had just finished the day’s evening session when chief coach Graham Reid informed us about the postponement of the Olympic Games,” Manpreet said.
Yet to sink in
“I think the news is yet to sink in for us. We were mentally gearing up for our first match on 25th July, so the disappointment is surely there but it is important for us to now look at the positives,” he added.
The Indian men’s and women’s teams have shaped up well over the course of the last year, winning big competitions such as the FIH Series Finals and the Olympic Qualifiers in front of the home crowd in November last year.
The men’s team made a fine start to the season this year with a fantastic outing in the Pro League while the women’s team was stoked after its tour to New Zealand earlier this year.
“Though, somewhere at the back of our minds we anticipated this could happen considering the impact COVID-19 has made across the globe, we had never let it affect our training or the intensity needed in every session,” Manpreet said.
Belgium captain Briels: ‘I’m lucky I can still go for a run’
Commenting on the postponement of Tokyo Olympics, Briels, a triple Olympian and silver medallist at Rio 2016, said he hoped for the Games to be held in a safer environment in front of spectators.
Thomas Briels, who is currently in isolation at his home in Antwerp, is utilising the time to keep himself fit and engaging with fans on social media to keep his mind occupied.
Belgium men’s hockey team captain Thomas Briels said that postponing the Tokyo Olympics to 2021 was the right thing to do, keeping in mind the health and safety of everyone involved.
Briels, a triple Olympian and silver medallist at Rio 2016, hoped for the Games to be held in a safer environment in front of spectators.
“It (postponing Olympics) is very sad, but I think we need to think about the safety and health of everyone in the world. Probably, it is a good and safer idea to postpone the Games so we can enjoy it more with a lot of supporters,” Briels told Sportstar in a Q&A session on Instagram.
The coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed over 18,000 lives and affected close to 4,00,000 worldwide, brought the world of sport to a screeching halt and has forced the International Olympic Committee to take the big decision to postpone the Games to 2021, on Tuesday.
Last week, International Hockey Federation had postponed international matches till May 17 which includes Belgium’s Pro League matches against Germany on March 19 and 26.
“I still can’t really believe it! Who would have thought we would be locked down a month ago. But it is what it is, hopefully we can get through it all together and learn from it and appreciate more what we have in life. My thoughts are with all the people who are suffering at the moment,” Briels said.
Briels, who is currently in isolation at his home in Antwerp, is utilising the time to keep himself fit and engaging with fans on social media to keep his mind occupied.
“We are lucky we can still go outside for a run. So I am doing an individual running program and a fitness program at home with some weights. And answering Instagram questions,” the Belgian skipper added.
The 32-year old also spoke of Belgium’s sustained success over the past few years which began with the Olympic silver medal at Rio 2016 which was followed by the 2018 World Cup title in Bhubaneswar and the 2019 European Championship crown.
“I think we have been playing a long time together with a big squad and we have gone through a lot together. The young talents who are coming in are easily integrated into our team. And we really are a team, we play for each other,” Briels, who has 343 international caps for Belgium, said.
For Briels, winning the bronze medal at the 2007 European Championship served as the flashpoint for Belgium. The win took the Red Lions’ to its first Olympics finals after a gap of 32 years. “A lot of changed after the European cup in 2007,” he said.
Until then, Belgium had just one major international medal to its name – a bronze medal at the 1920 Olympics.
After finishing eighth at 2008 Beijing Olympics, it took Belgium five years to win its next major medal – a silver at the 2013 European Championship.
By appointing New Zealand tactician Shane McLeod in 2016, Belgium found alchemy. Water-tight defence and aggressive pressing where the hallmarks of the team as McLeod’s men became the first Belgian side to lift a world title in a team sport at the 2018 World Cup in Bhubaneswar.
“In the end, the result is the most important thing. But if you perfect your playing style the result will follow while having fun,” he said.
Belgium is currently the No. 1 team in the men’s rankings and is on top of the Pro League 2020 standings with 16 points from 6 matches.
GB Hockey’s Harry Gibson on coronavirus and uncertainties
Great Britain goalkeeper has three stoic principles for living through unpredictable times
By The Hockey Paper
Harry Gibson had two notable events in pipeline for 2020 PIC: WORLDSPORTPICS
Three months ago, none of us saw this coming.
We were all going about our business, revelling in our new year’s resolutions, preparing for the year ahead as usual. For myself, 2020 included two relatively notable events that were out of the ordinary: the Olympic Games and my wedding.
Then we start hearing about the virus. It’s spreading in China. Now Italy has it. The first case in London. Northern Italy has locked down. Paris is completely shut. American travel bans. Where did all the toilet paper go? And then here we are; lockdown. Three months ago very few people would have predicted where we are. I’m sick of hearing the word ‘unprecedented’ on the news, but I suppose there is no other way to describe it; never done or known before.
The reason I reflect on this is that my anxiety about the situation has been teetering around the ‘quite unbearable’ mark for the last couple of weeks.
Upon some introspection, it’s clear that this anxiety is revolving around the uncertainty being caused by this disease. I’ve gone from having my entire year planned out perfectly, to having that plan thrown aside and replaced with absolute chaos:
Are we training this week? Am I going to get sick? Will there be any pro-league games? How many people are going to die? Is the Olympics getting cancelled? Is my wedding going to happen? How am I going to wipe my arse?
All these questions have been ricocheting around my skull for the last week, with very little room for anything else and leaving a rather irritable human behind the wheel. The truth is that none of these questions have answers. At least not today. They are all unknown, and more critically, they are all largely out of my control. It is my desire to control them that is causing this unease, my craving for certainty in an incredibly uncertain time that leaves me constantly at a loss.
So how do we deal better with uncertainty?
As humans, we’ve evolved to be curious, to understand and predict our environment. The uncomfortable feeling of not knowing is hardwired into our very DNA, as in our past not knowing meant not surviving. How then, do we learn to live with this vulnerability, this raw exposure that we so badly wish to escape?
Tony Robbins has a quote about uncertainty:
The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably deal with.”
Although this is clearly oversimplified, I believe it to be true in respect to the coming weeks and months we face at the mercy of this virus. Uncertainty will be a constant theme, and the quality of our lives in lockdown will most definitely be affected by our ability to get comfortable with it.
For me, dealing with similar issues of uncertainty in the past – notably selection for tournaments – has always led me back to stoic philosophy. Below are three principles born out of stoicism, that I believe can help get us through these uncertain times.
The first is detachment. Fundamentally, we can’t begin to embrace and accept our new uncertain future if we are still fully attached to our old plans or the idea of how we think everything should turn out.
For years I’ve been thinking about my preparations for the Tokyo Olympics. I’ve envisaged the entire build up, my training schedule, opening the selection email, the kitting out day, the weeks and months up to that first game planned down to the day. That’s all gone now. Even if the Olympics goes ahead, that plan is out the window, and the longer I stay attached to that plan the more pain and anguish I cause myself. I must relinquish control and detach myself from any wishing or longing for a future that can no longer exist.
The second principle is that of perspective. The uncertainty pertaining to the two major life events I have coming up this year is clearly enough to cause me some anxiety. Given the significance of those events, I don’t believe this is completely unwarranted. However, the uncertainty is caused by a deadly disease that is killing thousands of people across the entire planet. Economies are shattered, many are out of jobs, doctors and nurses are being worked to the bone whilst putting themselves at tremendous personal risk.
My problems are minute in comparison. ‘Ask yourself, ‘Why is this so unbearable? Why can’t I endure it? You’ll be embarrassed to answer.’ This quote from Marcus Aurelius stunned me to silence. Yes, the situation we are facing is unprecedented, disruptive, and rather terrifying all at once, but am I not capable of overcoming that? I’m not on the front line, I’m not risking my life to save others, I am not dying. Take perspective.
The final principle I have found to be of use, and one I ironically need reminding constantly to apply, is to be present. In a time where the situation changes so frequently, our lives resetting every evening as Boris delivers another update, it can be easy to get caught up in it all. What an opportunity it is then, in today’s overly connected and busy world, to get to sit with ourselves and discover what it truly means to be present.
As Seneca, the Roman philosopher, put it, “Nothing, to my way of thinking, is a better proof of a well ordered mind than a man’s ability to stop just where he is and pass some time in his own company.” Our values, what’s most important to us, our reason for being, our ‘why’, will likely be questioned through this troublesome time. The opportunity for introspection, to order our minds, to sit and be comfortable with ourselves and what we stand for, will allow us to act with clarity and vigor in the face of uncertainty. Using this quarantine as a chance to cultivate this stillness within ourselves, will prove useful for the rest of our lives.
Ultimately, the next year has been cast into utter uncertainty by this pandemic. But isn’t every year uncertain? Isn’t the future always unpredictable? With the principles outlined above, we give ourselves the ability to choose. To choose detachment over wishing. To choose perspective over ego. And to choose presence over uncertainty. It’s for these reasons that Seneca reminds us: ‘The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.’
The Hockey Paper
“When we come back, we will be stronger”, says Spain captain Miguel Delas
Spain captain Miguel Delas has spoken to FIH about the COVID-19 global health crisis, expressing the importance of taking care of ourselves in this challenging time. Speaking shortly before the announcement regarding the postponement of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the Red Sticks defender – a European silver medallist in 2019 and competitor at three FIH World Cups and two Olympic Games – discusses the switch in focus from elite sport to staying healthy.
For completely understandable reasons, the FIH Hockey Pro League is one of numerous global sporting events being affected by the ongoing COVID-19 situation, with some of your matches being put on hold. What are your thoughts about the situation?
Miguel Delas: “It is very important to know that sport is not the most important thing. We have to take care of ourselves, with what is going on in the world. I think that everything has to be on hold and wait until the security of everybody is clear. Now sport, FIH and everything is in second place, and the most important thing is [staying] healthy, [having] healthy habits.”
What is the general mood of the team like at the moment?
Miguel Delas: “Yesterday there started to be rumours that the Olympics were going to be cancelled [postponed*]. It’s really normal [that this is being considered]. As I said before, we need to know what is going on in the world, and the Olympics, although it is a really huge event and everybody wants to be there, we need to know that it is not the moment to focus on that.”
Much preparation can be carried out as an individual. What sort of activities - working with video analysts, strength and conditioning, flexibility - have you been doing?
Miguel Delas: “Well, now it is a difficult moment because we cannot go outside and we cannot train as we normally do, so we have to focus on ourselves, working on our core stability, there are some exercises we can do at home. I make sure that we do everything that makes us better, and when we are able to come back to the pitch, we will do it as quickly as possible.”
Finally, do you have a message for the Hockey Family at this time?
Miguel Delas: “Stay safe, stay at home, and make sure that when we do come back, we will be stronger.”
‘English Domestic hockey is disjointed and we all need to get on same page’
By The Hockey Paper
Surbiton are high fliers but there is a disconnect between senior and junior game at clubs PIC: Tim Reder
Kate and Helen Richardson-Walsh both enjoyed meteoric international careers, their grounding established in domestic hockey before the introduction of the full-time programme. In a wide-ranging conversation with THP editor Rod Gilmour, the gold medal-winning couple dissected the future of the club game
Celebrating 30 years of national league women’s hockey, with Investec
Do you miss the buzz of opening weekend in the league?
Kate: As I got older and more experienced the more nervous I got. There was massive expectation as an international player to perform and everyone coming to watch. That’s a good pressure to have.
Helen: When I played for Leicester in ’98, we were ‘the next Slough’ and expected to win the league. I was incredibly nervous. The best thing then was the rivalry, from Hightown to Canterbury and the players and characters of the time.
Kate: We weren’t training full time as a national team and so the people you saw the most were your club mates. I remember my first pre-season aged 16, Hightown were against Formby men and I was watching on the sidelines. It was heated and players were squaring up. When you played National League I now knew I had to train, turn up and look after myself.
So, in its 30th year, is the league in a healthy place and what can get better?
Helen: We ask ourselves this question the whole time. We look at the league and what can we do to improve. Rugby went professional, netball has franchises now. That avenue has been explored and it needs a huge injection of funding.
Kate: There is no easy answer. There can be better sharing of information and best practice from club to club. It’s how we can pool pitches, coaches and sharing of resources at participation level.
Helen: I agree to a certain extent. Can we then bigger clubs which then put resources into one pot? The issue that brings is travel time which then increases.
Will we reach a time where club hockey comes first?
Kate: One of the major things at the elite end, from the very start of the central programme in 2009 is that club needs to be combined with the central programme. They can’t be separate entities and players have to be released to club and club training has to be part of their weekly training. And if national coaches don’t feel that quality and intensity of training is good enough then support those coaches to make sure the level is right. When I was 16, it was laid out to me that I need to join a national league club to play for England. My dad drove me and my sister miles to do just that. I don’t feel there is that [today]. You want players at the very top so you can advertise it to the rest of the club members to come down and watch. We don’t have that at the moment.
Helen: The fact that for a long time in our career training, once a week with our clubs was acceptable, now it’s twice per week. That’s not going to be good enough to produce the level we want to see. Is there a desire from the elite club player to train more? That is a massive question mark, even if they were being paid like in Holland, due to the demographic of hockey player we have. The bottom line is we need to train more.
Kate: Coaches need to be supported to be able to grow, learn and develop as well as there being a pathway. There needs to be more connected thinking between the coaches, clubs and association.
What has been the biggest change in domestic hockey?
Helen: Without doubt, the dominance of private schools and where players are coming from. I feel like hockey is moving away from state schools due to the change of surface and astroturfs not necessarily being available. The private schools have all the facilities and the trade-off between club and school on a Saturday is challenging. Private schools have good coaches, kids are getting scholarships and I genuinely feel for some of these younger players. They are being pulled everywhere with school and club matches, the NAGs and JPCs and there isn’t that shared approach to how we develop the sport as a whole.
What is the league’s future?
Kate: Because of history and tradition, in society men have earned money in days gone by and women didn’t go into business, those men have then put money into the sport they love. If it was hockey, they would often, not at every club, put it into the men’s section. It was the old boys’ network. It’s a question whether that will shift due to society changes as women are now earning. Lots of clubs are now propped up by rich benefactors. What happens when that dries up?
We need to find a new way, our way, and establish the objectives. What do we need to get out of club hockey at participation and elite level? We need to get a buy in from clubs and the national associations. The purpose now is so disjointed … we want a national team to compete for medals, or to grow participation in the area, or 500 people down in the bar on a Saturday. We need to all get on the same page.
Helen: There’s certainly a disconnect between the juniors and the first team and it’s something I’ve spoken about at Cambridge City. This is something we can take from the Dutch, the juniors have grown up looking at the 1s and there isn’t that same inspiration here. Coming at it from the grassroots is absolutely fundamental to the success of the national league.
This feature ran in our September print edition to kick off our 30th anniversary coverage of the women’s domestic league.
The Hockey Paper