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News for 15 July 2020

All the news for Wednesday 15 July 2020

I was a doubt for Tokyo 2020, admits Black Sticks ace Hugo Inglis

In less than two weeks’ time, the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 were due to begin. The world’s finest hockey players, representing the world’s best teams, would have been adding the finishing touches to their preparations, each athlete brimming with excitement about the prospect of competing at ‘the greatest show on earth’.

As we are all too aware, the seriousness of the COVID-19 global health pandemic triggered the postponement of the Tokyo Games by one year, with the multi-sport extravaganza now set to take place in July-August 2021.

For all athletes set to compete in Tokyo, the move from a four to a five-year Olympic cycle presented challenges. Most athletes felt the desire to push on for another 12 months, chasing that Olympic dream. For others – like New Zealand’s Gemma McCaw, who recently called time on her international career – it has proven to be a bridge too far.

For McCaw’s compatriot Hugo Inglis, the classy attacker who has scored 66 times in 232 appearances since making his Black Sticks debut in 2009, it is a very different situation. In February this year, after struggling with a back complaint for the previous eight months, he had surgery on a prolapsed disc, targeting a return to full fitness in time for Tokyo 2020. In an interview with New Zealand’s Otago Daily Times in March, Inglis admitted he knew the risks, telling reporter Adrian Seconi that competing in Tokyo “would be fantastic, but if it is too soon, it’s too soon. That’s life.”

Whilst his desire to compete at a third Olympic Games – Inglis represented the Black Sticks at both London 2012 and Rio 2016 – was one of the reasons for his decision to have the operation, it was certainly not the only one. “It is also about building my back for life”, said Inglis in the same interview. “I’ve had eight months of pain — actually it has probably been eight years of back pain.”

So, had Tokyo 2020 taken place as originally scheduled, would New Zealand’s talismanic striker have made it? In a special interview for FIH.CH, the Black Sticks striker reveals the answer to this and many other questions whilst also looking back on his stellar international career.

Hi Hugo, thank you for talking to us! Since making your debut in 2009, you have played for the Black Sticks over 230 times and scored more than 60 goals, competing at the biggest hockey competitions in the world. When you first started playing, did you ever imagine achieving everything that you have done so far in your career?

Hugo Inglis: “For me, playing for the Black Sticks just one time was a massive privilege, and it is the same every time I go out there on the field with the guys again. It’s a huge honour – I never envisioned playing 200 games for the Black Sticks. I just hoped that I’d be able to beat my brother in the back yard once!”

Looking back at your international career so far, what moment would you say that you are most proud of, and what is your biggest ambition in the years ahead?

Hugo Inglis: The moment I’m most proud of was probably a combination of my debut and representing New Zealand at the Olympic Games. For me, the Olympics were a huge dream, but just being part of the wider New Zealand Olympic team and being able to play at that major event was a pretty proud moment.”

When you were growing up, how did you first get into hockey? Who first influenced you to pick up a stick?

Hugo Inglis: “When I was growing up, my brother was a massive influence. He was bigger, faster, stronger and much better than me at hockey, so I just wanted to try to press him. Some of my really good friends were playing hockey at the time. We used to go down to the turf as kids every other day, and once we got the bug, we couldn’t stop playing.”

This month would have been the start of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which has now been delayed by one year due to the COVID-19 global health pandemic. We understand that you've had a few injury issues in recent months. If the Olympics had been going ahead as planned, were you in danger of missing it through injury?

Hugo Inglis: “Yeah, I had back surgery in February of this year, in the hope of coming right for Tokyo 2020. Luckily for me, the Olympics has been postponed, but when you look at the consequences on the wider world of COVID-19, you know, the Olympics pales into insignificance. It’s fortunate with the timing, potentially, as I don’t think I would have been ready. The way the surgery has panned out, it’s taken a little bit longer to come back from. I’m hoping to be back on the field soon for the mighty Howick Pakuranga (Hockey Club) here in New Zealand.”

New Zealand earned their ticket to Tokyo thanks to two excellent victories over Korea in the FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers in Stratford. You must have been very proud of the team’s performances against a talented and dangerous opponent. 

Hugo Inglis: “The boys did really well against Korea. We prepared really well for that series, and we knew Korea was going to be a pretty tough opposition to play. They had a lot of their old guys back in the team, the likes of Jang [Jong-Hyun] and Lee [Nam-Yong], who are phenomenal hockey players. We were really well prepared for them, and the boys played really well under a high-pressure situation.”

As a double Olympian who played at both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Games, what did it mean to both you and your family to represent New Zealand on the world's biggest sporting stage?

Hugo Inglis: “The Olympic Games is the pinnacle in hockey, and the pinnacle in most sports. For me to go to London as a 21-year-old and Rio as a 25-year-old was pretty special, and I was lucky enough to have my family over there supporting me in both Olympics. It’s a pretty special moment to run out on the field, representing your country, knowing that your parents are in the stands and you’ve got your family supporting you from back home as well. It’s been massive, and fingers crossed I can get to a third one.”

What is your best Olympic memory so far, either on or off the field?

Hugo Inglis: “My best Olympic memory is the camaraderie that we had with the wider New Zealand Olympic team. Both in London and in Rio, the New Zealand Olympic Committee did a great job to build a really special environment for all the New Zealand Olympians. As a team, we bond really tightly, and we support all the other sports. To have that experience, being part of the wider Olympic team and representing your country is something that was pretty special to me. We use a lot of the multi-cultural [aspects] to bind our team together. The Tangata whenua, the indigenous people, and their culture is super important to us here in New Zealand, and as the wider New Zealand team, we try to show that with our performances on the field.”

Finally, if you had one piece of advice you would give to aspiring young hockey players around the world, what would it be?

Hugo Inglis: ‘I always like the [advice given by former ice hockey star] Wayne Gretzky: ‘Go where the puck is going to be, not where it is’.”

Profile*: Hugo Inglis – New Zealand
Position: Forward
Shirt number: 29
Age: 29
International appearances: 232
International goals: 66
Club: HC Rotterdam (NED) / Howick Pakuranga HC (Auckland, NZL)
Hometown: Dunedin (NZL)

You can follow Hugo Inglis on Twitter and Instagram.

* Information correct as of 14 July 2020.

FIH site

Hockey New Zealand CEO Ian Francis resigns following spate of high-profile departures

Hockey New Zealand chief executive Ian Francis has resigned after several high-profile departures over the past two months. Photos / Photosport

Ian Francis has resigned as chief executive of Hockey New Zealand, after four turbulent years in charge.

The organisation confirmed Francis' departure in a statement today, saying he would step down in October.

Francis had signalled to the Hockey NZ board his intention to move on earlier in the year but was asked to stay and manage the sport through the initial challenges of Covid-19, the statement said.

His decision follows a spate of high-profile departures from the Black Sticks women's programme in recent weeks - including Gemma McCaw, Brooke Neal and assistant coach Katie Glynn - and reports of a fractured squad struggling to deal with the fallout associated with the departure of former coach Mark Hager.

While Hockey NZ have denied the player departures were linked to any issues highlighted in these reports, High Performance Sport New Zealand confirmed to the Herald in May there were "ongoing issues within the high-performance set-up".

The Weekend Herald first reported that issues within the camp stemmed from the findings of the Dew report, commissioned shortly before Hager's departure in January last year, which pointed to a "negative" environment.

Gemma McCaw retired from the Black Sticks for the second time last month. Photo / Photosport

The review was launched months earlier after Hager, a former Australian international, accidentally sent an email to the entire team, naming and shaming individual players for their performance and effort, after finishing 11th at the women's World Cup.

Three months earlier, they had won gold at the Commonwealth Games.

In May, sources told the Herald the situation within the team was "faulty" and that some members of the squad and management team were actively working against changes that current coach Graham Shaw has been trying to implement. Well-placed sources also warned that well-known players were considering retirement because of concerns with the environment, even with the Olympics on the horizon.

On Wednesday, Hockey NZ chair Mike Bignell said with community hockey now back up and running, and with the international game in a Covid-enforced break, it was the right time to transition to a new leader.

"Hockey has an incredibly busy two years ahead. At community level we are working with associations to introduce more competition opportunities. We are also increasing the depth of our high performance playing pool through the development of 100 athletes outside our national squads," Bignell said.

"And internationally our Black Sticks teams, which are both ranked amongst the world's top nations, will compete in the annual FIH Hockey Pro League as well as the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 followed by the World Cup and Commonwealth Games in 2022."

Ian Francis, Hockey NZ CEO, has resigned after four years in the role. Photo / Photosport

Francis took over as the permanent CEO from Malcolm Harris in July 2016, following six months in the acting role.

He joined Hockey NZ in 2011 and was credited with playing an integral part in driving the sport's growth as General Manager Community Sport and Events.

"I am very grateful for the commitment and willingness of our hockey community to work together in the sport's best interests, and this has allowed us to drive some real progress," Francis said.

"I'm also pleased to leave knowing that New Zealand now has a strong voice at the global hockey table.

"There's no doubt it's been a challenging year for the sport with Covid-19 halting all hockey for months, the Tokyo Olympics being postponed, and the ongoing work in response to the independent review of the Black Sticks Women.

"But there's real excitement about the new Premier Hockey League launching next month followed by probably the busiest period in the sport's history in 2021 and 2022."

The New Zealand Herald

Hockey New Zealand CEO leaves legacy of significant growth

Hockey New Zealand Chief Executive Ian Francis has today announced he will step down from the role later this year to allow a new CEO to lead the sport into its next phase.

Francis, who has been with Hockey NZ for nearly a decade including more than four years at the helm, had earlier in the year signalled to the Hockey NZ Board his intention to move on but was asked to stay and manage the sport through the initial challenges of Covid-19.

Hockey NZ Chair Mike Bignell said with community hockey now back up and running, and with the international game in a COVID-enforced break, it was the right time to transition to a new leader.

“Hockey has an incredibly busy two years ahead. At the community level, we are working with associations to introduce more competition opportunities. We are also increasing the depth of our high-performance playing pool through the development of 100 athletes outside our national squads.

“And internationally our Vantage Black Sticks teams, which are both ranked amongst the world’s top nations, will compete in the annual FIH Hockey Pro League as well as the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 followed by the World Cup and Commonwealth Games in 2022.”

Bignell said Francis should be immensely proud of his achievements over the past decade, especially in driving participation growth across New Zealand as well as significantly strengthening hockey’s commercial partnerships and revenue.

“During Ian’s tenure, hockey has become a year-round game, with registered numbers steadily growing each year. With around 90,000 registered players, our participation levels are now nearly 50% higher than 10 years ago.

“Ian has also overseen our Vantage Black Sticks teams moving from amateurs to semi-professional athletes, and he has played a leading role in the development of the new FIH Hockey Pro League as one of just three national CEOs on the Pro League panel.”

Bignell added that during his four years as Chief Executive, Francis had been instrumental in building strong partnerships which have seen commercial, philanthropic and broadcast revenue more than quadruple to support the game’s transition to semi-professionalism.

“Ian leaves a strong legacy behind him, with the sport well positioned for the next Chief Executive to continue this journey.”

Francis said it was a privilege to lead hockey throughout New Zealand.

“I am very grateful for the commitment and willingness of our hockey community to work together in the sport’s best interests, and this has allowed us to drive some real progress. I’m also pleased to leave knowing that New Zealand now has a strong voice at the global hockey table.”

Francis said one of his proudest achievements was hosting the Owen G Glenn FIH Men’s Champions Trophy in 2011 after original hosts India had pulled out only 12 weeks earlier.

“Champions Trophy showed us that we could deliver world-class events at home, and also gave us the impetus to host international events around the country. These events have been embraced by our communities, with thousands of people coming to support the Black Sticks in their local region.”

He was also pleased with the work he had done in leading a whole-of-sport review of the way we deliver hockey in New Zealand – removing the duplication of resources and aligning high-performance programmes across the country.

“There’s no doubt it’s been a challenging year for the sport with Covid-19 halting all hockey for months, the Tokyo Olympics being postponed, and the ongoing work in response to the independent review of the Black Sticks Women.

“But there’s real excitement about the new Premier Hockey League launching next month followed by probably the busiest period in the sport’s history in 2021 and 2022.”

Former Black Stick and current Hockey Northland CEO Grant McLeod said Francis had gone over and above in his desire to support and help the hockey community.

“Ian will be remembered for the development and rollout of the Small Sticks programme, his tremendous work ethic and his ability to engage with the hockey community. His leadership during Covid-19 was exceptional and was gratefully received by the associations.”

FIH Chief Executive Thierry Weil wanted to extend his sincerest thanks to Francis on behalf of the world body.

“Ian has been instrumental in the operational set-up and successful creation of the FIH Pro League. I’ve always appreciated his professionalism and commitment.”

Francis, who was previously Hockey NZ’s General Manager of Community Sports and Events, will continue in his role until the end of October to enable a replacement to be recruited over the next few months and to ensure a smooth transition.

Hockey New Zealand Media release

Sardar Singh Birthday Special: Lesser-Known Facts About India's Legendary Hockey Captain

Sardar Singh (Photo Credits: Getty Images)

Indian hockey great Sardar Singh will celebrate his 34th birthday today (July 15, 2020). In a career spanning close to 12 years, Singh established himself as one of the greatest hockey players India has ever seen. The Haryana-born star made more than 300 appearances for the national side and also captained them during the 2008 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup triumph. So as Sardar Singh turns a year older, we take a look at some lesser-known facts about him. Sardar Singh: Here’s a Look at Some Stats From Former Hockey Indian Captain's Career.

Born in Sant Nagar, Haryana, Sardar Singh made his debut for the Indian national team in 2006 against Pakistan. Singh has collected a number of accolades in the international stage, which includes gold medals at the Asian Games, Asia Cup and silver medals at the Champions Trophy and Commonwealth Games.

Sardar Singh was part of the Chandigarh Dynamos squad in the inaugural season of the Premier Hockey League them moved to Hyderabad Sultans a year later and captained them for three years. He was also a member of Delhi Waveriders and Punjab Warriors squads in the Hockey India League (HIL) tournament. Apart from domestic clubs, the Haryana star has played overseas as well, representing Belgian team KHC Leuven and Holland’s HC Bloemendaal.

Lesser-Known Facts About Sardar Singh

  • Sardar Singh Was Born on July 15, 1986, in Sirsa District of Haryana
  • Sardar Singh made his debut for India against Pakistan in 2006
  • He plays in the centre-half position and is a former captain of Indian national hockey team
  • As a 22-year-old, He led India to Sultan Azlan Shah Cup Glory in 2008
  • In 2015, Sardar Singh Was Awarded Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India
  • In 2017, He was honoured with Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award
  • Sardar Singh is a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) in Haryana Police
  • He was the highest-paid marquee player at the inaugural Hockey India League (HIL) auctions.

Happy Birthday Sardar Singh!!


Indian mid-fielder Sumit happy to start outdoor training before Nat’l Camp

NEW DELHI:  Indian men’s hockey team mid-fielder Sumit is happy to have started outdoor skills training in his hometown Sonipat and is confident of being in top physical condition as and when the national camp resumes.

The Indian men’s and women’s teams were forced to stay put at the SAI Bengaluru facility due to to the COVID-19 lockdown without a chance to train.

They were allowed to leave the facility for a break last month and the camp is due to start later this month.

“It has been a refreshing few weeks for me, getting to spend time with my family after such a long phase. When I arrived here, the happiness on my mother’s face was priceless,” Sumit was quoted as saying in a Hockey India release.

After some well-deserved family time, Sumit is back on the ground near his home and has started skills training.

“I am really happy to have been able to resume some sort of outdoor stick-work on the ground as well with some of my friends who come to play.

“It is nice to be able to try out some skills and practice stopping and tackling while taking all necessary precautions even on the field.

“I have also been trying to keep myself in top shape ahead of our next national camp, so I have been following my fitness training schedule through running and working out in my society,” the 23-year-old stated.

Sumit, a defensive midfielder, was a part of the 2016 Junior World Cup winning India team and made his senior debut in 2017 at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.

“The upcoming couple of years are really important for us and I want to make sure I am in the peak of my career and can help the team,” said the mid-fielder.

The year 2019 was a disappointing one for him as he missed the better part with an injured right wrist.

“It was difficult for me to have missed those 4-5 months with the injury, but I had some conversations with Chief Coach Graham Reid, and he had showed a lot of faith in me.

“So it was great to have returned to competition against The Netherlands in the first two matches of the FIH Hockey Pro League,” Sumit concluded.

Daily Excelsior

Devindar Walmiki returns to Dutch league

Nandakumar Marar

The Olympian is on a yearly contract with the Dutch club and will fly out on Wednesday, after a few weeks with family since June 2020 arrival.   -  Special arrangement

Devindar Walmiki knows what to expect in The Netherlands when he joins HOC Gazellen Combinatie club team mates for training.

The Olympian is on a yearly contract with the Dutch club and will fly out on Wednesday, after a few weeks with family since June 2020 arrival. He was in quarantine in a hotel close to Mumbai airport for a week, followed by seven days of home quarantine.

"Restrictions rather than lockdown is the Dutch way of flattening the virus curve. They expect you to understand the severity of the crisis worldwide, instructions are obeyed. People avoid visiting places where public gather in numbers and distancing plays a very important role in a country smaller and less populated than ours,” said the midfielder-turned-defender, whose next league break will be in December.

When asked about the don’ts for hockey professionals, mandated by the club or the league, he explained: “The federation told us that training in smaller groups of five players was okay. Before entering the ground, sanitizing ourselves was mandatory, use of the club house, the changing room was barred. Players were asked to report for training in full kit, return wearing the same kit. We were told to use a different gate for entry and exit.”

Devindar added: “No contact physically between players, like one-on-one dodging, was permitted. When the numbers of cases came down, restrictions were relaxed and in June, kids in the eight to 10 age group were allowed to train, 12-16 year olds played contact hockey, 18-year-olds and older were allowed to involve in body contact during training.”

The Indian plays for HGC in the Hoofdklasse (Dutch top division), trains the club’s U-12 kids, assists the U-16 coach. Paul van Ass, the first team’s head coach, and Devindar hit it off from 2015 when the former was in charge of the Indian team at Hockey World League in Belgium. “From my goal for the senior team on HWL debut (India beat France), we have developed an understanding. When he went back, I remained in touch. This is my second season with the club and play in the right defence position. The coach feels my ability to play box-to-box is useful. I worked on my fitness and proud to involved in play for long stretches.”

Goals from him in the Hoofdklasse and European Hockey League increase the utility value. “When the situation demands, I am the right-half also, goals happened when I moved up to link up with the offence. You need to be super-fit and fast to get accepted there. Getting to play the EHL and scoring (against French club CA Montrouge) is a boost for any hockey pro,” quipped Devindar. “The level of play by leading Dutch club is so high that I can say with confidence about HGC holding our own against Asian sides, based on performance in practise games against Asian teams. Speed in play, systems and structure there is way ahead.”

Asked about training and preparation at the Wassenaar-based club, he said: “Paul van Ass comes from a teaching background and is a speaker, so team meetings at each session is different. Pace is priority, players are judged on 10m t0 30m sprints and individual fitness is planned by the trainer. Substitution can happen after five speedy bursts in a match, I last longer using Indian skills and improved fitness. The coach is happy with my street-fighter instincts, I try to adapt each day.” Teammates at the Dutch club include Maico Casella (Argentina), Seve van Ass (both Netherlands), Kenta Tanaka (Japan).

The HGC head coach is happy at the current Indian men team’s potential. “He has spoken openly at India’s potential to win an Olympic medal and making a comeback is my ambition,” said a fighting fit Devindar, awaiting a national call-up since donning India colours at the Rio Olympics.

Walmiki plays for HGC in the Hoofdklasse (Dutch top division), trains the club’s U-12 kids and assists the U-16 coach.   -  Special arrangement
Indian pros in Dutch league

Dilip Tirkey and Gagan Ajit Singh, ace defender and goal-scoring sensation for India respectively, remain popular with fans at HC Klein Zwitserland club, observed Devindar. “There are many Indian families here, who support hockey and come for our matches. Klein Zwitserland club is close by and I have met families who remember these two big names from Indian hockey and talk about their performances. One Indian family I met spoke about the kheer prepared for them by Tirkey’s wife during his pro days there (2005-2006 season).”

The Mumbai player’s chicken curry is popular. “Coach van Ass asked me to cook my favourite dish for the whole team, a way to bond with teammates.”

Dragflicker Sandeep Singh (HC Laren), midfield maestro Sardara Singh (HC Bloemendaal) and midfielder Harjeet Singh (Devindar’s HGC teammate last season) were other internationals with first-hand Dutch league experience. Harjeet’s contract ended after one season, the Olympian is enjoying a second helping of Hoofdklasse stretching to June 2021.


PHF to resume hockey activities next month: Bajwa

LAHORE-Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) on Tuesday announced to resume hockey activities in the country by holding a series of events within next few months.

PHF Secretary Asif Bajwa said this in a video message and added: “International competitive hockey will be back with the start of FIH Pro League between Germany and Belgium in September. We have also received letters from International Hockey Federation (FIH) and Asian Hockey Federation (AHF). They also want us to restart our activities.

“We are trying to start Hockey5s League by the end of August, which will help us open the doors of our domestic hockey. We are also planning to hold the first round of national tray championship in September-October. Afterward, we will hold another national championship.”

He said that these events would be held while following Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). “I have talked to PHF President Brig (r) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar, national head coach Khawaja Junaid and junior team coach Danish Kaleem and discussed the plans to hold the events. The FIH is concentrating on Hockey5s as this format will be crucial for hockey’s future in Pakistan. If we want to revive the national game, we will have to focus on this format at school level as it can play a major role to achieve that target.”

Bajwa expressed the hope that like T20 cricket, the Hockey5s would provide a lot of entertainment to fans. This format will give a new direction to hockey. “The FIH has also announced Hockey5s World Cup in 2023, which might be pushed to 2024 due to COVID19 pandemic. But we have started our preparations for this event. The FIH has started coaching for Hockey5s format and we have also involved our coaches in these courses as we want to fully introduce this format in Pakistan.”

He said in order to mitigate the players’ financial problems during the prevailing situation, the PHF President had announced to give pandemic allowance to 30 hockey players on the recommendations of the coaches. “Both senior and junior players are included in the list for this allowance. Each player will get Rs 30,000 and the amount will be directly transferred to their accounts. Although the federation has been facing financial hardships, it will keep on working for the welfare of players.”

The Nation

PHF plans five-a-side tournament in August, National Championship set for Sept

Mohammad Yaqoob

A view of the match between Navy and Army (Juniors) at the Army Hockey Stadium on Saturday - Courtesy PHF

LAHORE: The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has planned to resume its activities with a five-a-side league hockey in the month of August and to hold the National Championship in Sept-October this year, besides announcing a financial grant for 30 players, including seniors and juniors, amounting to Rs. 30,000 each as pandemic allowance.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the PHF had suspended all its activities four months back and has now reopened its offices.

Secretary PHF Asif Bajwa told reports that youth hockey was the future of the game and five-a-side hockey would be the game-changer as the federation has decided to take it very seriously to introduce it at the school level too. Asif said the FIH also have a plan to host a five-a-side World Cup and PHF has already started preparations for raising a strong team for this new format of the game.

He said in this regard a good number of Pakistani coaches attended an online course conducted by the FIH this month. “The five-a-side tournament would provide great entertaining hockey like T20 cricket and hopefully it would set a new direction for the game of hockey,” said Asif Bajwa.

He added that after the five-a-side league, the PHF would also hold the National Championship in two rounds in September and October. He disclosed that PHF has written letters to all provincial associations and the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) to give PHF their input if they were ready to hold the hockey activities in their respective areas. He said all the competitions would be held while observing strict SOPs to avoid any coronavirus victims.

It may be mentioned that Asif was also affected by Covid-19 and resumed attending office only this week.

He said though the PHF was passing through a financial crisis, its president had decided to help out the players with a total funds of Rs 900,000 in these hard times. He said 30 players, both juniors and seniors, would get Rs. 30,000 each. The amount would be transferred to their respective bank accounts.

The PHF secretary said the list of the players was prepared by senior coach Khawaja Junaid and Junior team coach Danish Kaleem. It may be mentioned that recently the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) also issued a peanut annual grant of Rs 1.5 million to the PHF, despite being well aware of over its financial problems.

Meanwhile, Asif said that the PHF also received a good number of foreign correspondence regarding the international activities and he had a discussion with senior coach Khawaja Junaid and Danish Kaleem as well to create some international activities for both the junior and senior teams in the near future. He said Belgium and Germany had issued the schedule of their pro-league as hockey activities were near to start in the world, like other sports.


Esme Burge backs gender play gap campaign in women’s sport

By Richard Bright

Great Britain hockey international Esme Burge has backed a gender play gap campaign after admitting there continues to be under participation in global women’s sport.

Burge, 21, has joined Sportside’s campaign which aims to increase awareness of the under representation of women across many of the world’s most popular sports.

Research from Sport England shows that there are two million fewer women regularly playing sport than men, spanning almost every age range. Evidence also shows that there are around 300,000 boys who are more likely to be active than girls (1.5m vs 1.8m).

Burge, who made her GB debut in 2019 and currently studies at University of Nottingham, acknowledged that hockey is not as adversely impacted than other sports, but stressed that there must be a level playing field regardless of sex or gender.

She said: “Some of us play sport as a living, and we’re really privileged to do so. But for the majority of people across the world, sport is a vehicle for keeping healthy and active.

“By accepting that there are barriers to women’s participation in particular, we are accepting that there isn’t a level playing field. That’s not a sustainable position to be in.”

Backing Sportside’s Gender Play Gap campaign, she added: “Under participation in women’s sport is a global concern. There are plenty of factors that contribute to the problem – a lack of facilities, a lack of real and genuine opportunities, and a perception of being less valued than our male counterparts.”

Meanwhile sports tech company Sportside, which matches people to sports, points to the increase in participation in physical activity due to Covid-19 and lockdown measures and hopes to encourage all women who have begun exercising to use it as a catalyst to continue to do so.

Sportside’s Marisa Scullion said:“A lack of participation in women’s sport and women’s fitness generally is a great cause for concern. The figures don’t lie, and they show a long-term trend spanning across almost every age range, meaning if we don’t get a grip on the problem soon it could be impossible to do so in the future.

“All we want to see is equal opportunities, regardless of gender. With this campaign we are looking to empower women by giving them a voice and a platform to speak out in order to raise awareness of the barriers they face when it comes to participating in sports. It’s clear that we need change, and we need it soon.”

The Hockey Paper

Acknowledging Australia’s eldest hockey statesman

By John Sanders

Queenslander John Dwyer is the oldest living member of the Australian men’s hockey team that competed at the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne.

A talented goalkeeper, John won three Best and Fairest player awards throughout his career and was known for his style of playing as much as possible from the top of the Dee and for his long, accurate clearances with either foot.

He considers one of the highlights of his career winning the Noall Shield for national supremacy with Queensland in 1954 with victories over New Zealand (2-1), South Australia (1-0), Western Australia (2-1), Tasmania (4-0), and New South Wales (6-2). The only loss was a 1-0 defeat to Victoria.

John represented Queensland every year from 1951-1958.

For Australia he was selected for a test against New Zealand in Sydney in 1954, the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and a tour of New Zealand in 1958.

Unfortunately John broke one of his kneecaps in a club game in 1959 that ruled him out of contention for the 1960 Olympics.

Off the field, John worked as a journalist for most of his life – first at the Queensland Times, Ipswich and then at the Sydney Sun, where, with Pat Nilan and Heather McKay, he wrote a series of tips for playing hockey. He also covered Lawn Bowls and Australian Rules football for the paper and won an award for his coverage of the game.

After a stint as licensee of the Friendly Inn at Kangaroo Valley, NSW, he returned to Queensland and worked as a feature writer for the Gold Coast Bulletin before ‘retiring’ to Spicer's Gap and a cattle and small crop property. He moved to Bangalow, near Byron Bay, six years ago and lives there with his wife, Nancy.

John Dwyer received an Australian Sports Medal for services to hockey in 2000.

Hockey Australia media release

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