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News for 15 September 2020

All the news for Tuesday 15 September 2020

FIH to launch app to coincide with return of the Hockey Pro League

By Michael Houston

Hockey will be streamed on the FIH's Watch.Hockey app ©Getty Images

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) is set to launch its own app, allowing fans globally to watch live matches, highlights, and get the latest news on the sport.

Watch.Hockey is scheduled to launch on September 17, with the app being developed by NAGRA, a provider of content protection and multi-screen video solutions.

Due to some issues with getting the new software onto Apple's operating system, the launch was pushed back two days, initially being expected tomorrow.

The app will also be available on other operating systems including Android.

The two organisations signed a ten-year deal in May to work together on content in the future, with many suggesting that the agreement was signed for too long a period of time.

"The length of a contract you can look at it in a different perspective," FIH chief executive Thierry Weil told insidethegames.

"There was criticism when we announced a ten-year deal.

"Technology is moving fast, but if this was on a short-term deal we would not be able to work together in a proper way and then we would have to renegotiate.

"Then that leads to a standstill during negotiations which could take months and could put you behind the technology.

"Now, we are then able to develop and move forward with the technology."

The new app will launch on September 17, having been moved back from September 15 ©FIH

On a video conference call, Weil was joined by senior vice-president of sales development for NAGRA, Jean-Luc Jezouin who showed off some of the features for the new app.

On its front page, there is an immediate scroll tab that will feature some of the most important features and news - and when a live game is expected, it will feature prominently at the top.

Jezouin showed the live and upcoming games strip too, which is chronologically put in order.

The first of these matches was the return to the FIH Hockey Pro League, which is scheduled to start on September 22 and 23 with back-to-back women's matches between Germany and Belgium.

For these matches, it is also possible to leave a reminder so you receive a notification when a match is about to start, while statistics will also be shown on previews and on previous matches too when watching highlights.

At the bottom of the app will be a home button, one dedicated to matches, one called "explore", one for news and one for settings.

It is possible to see information such as squads from previous matches and live reports which will be included in live matches.

Live matches from the FIH Hockey Pro League will be available to watch ©Getty Images

Explore allows users to search by video, replay matches or live matches as well as browse using tags suggested at the top of the screen including athlete profiles, Olympics and matches.

It also allows users to browse competitions, with the FIH Hockey Pro League and the Olympic qualifiers currently featured on the app to be able to watch, while there are plans to add historical content and eventually, a chat function to allow more interaction during matches.

However, there will be geoblocking for regions where a broadcasting deal is already in place, while an audio-only version of coverage is being explored too.

Jezouin mentioned that the development of the app comes from looking at who is interacting with the app and making changes when concerns are raised.

He also stated that he hopes to keep people on the platform by providing new content daily.

Weil and Jezouin asked for feedback on the app from the public too on its release.

Elsewhere, there was some ambiguity of its use for those with visual impairments who may need audio description, but Jezouin has stated there will be accessibility for those with hearing impairments.

"We have already implemented closed captions and we will look to have something else on the radar," said Jezouin to insidethegames.

There are potentially plans of creating a paywall in the future, but the FIH and NAGRA have committed to keeping the app free for use and have said they are looking into tiered systems in the future.

Inside the Games

New Zealand hockey exodus continues as high-performance director leaves

By: Alex Chapman

The Black Sticks stand for the anthems ahead of an FIH Pro League game. Photosport

Hockey New Zealand high-performance director Paul MacKinnon has left his role after a turbulent and controversial three years.

Hockey NZ has confirmed MacKinnon has resigned, the latest in a long line of departures since the Herald reported on continuing problems in the women's Black Sticks programme.

A spate of high-profile defections in recent months include the retirements of Brooke Neal and Gemma McCaw 12 months out from the Olympics.

Assistant coach Katie Glynn also left the programme, joining up with former coach Mark Hager in England.

There have also been reports of a fractured squad struggling to deal with the fallout associated with the departure of Mark Hager.

Chief executive Ian Francis also resigned in July.

Hockey NZ has denied the player departures were linked to any issues highlighted in these reports, but High Performance Sport New Zealand confirmed to the Herald in May there were "ongoing issues within the [women's] high-performance set-up".

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

It is understood MacKinnon was resistant to suggestions the programme needed to change.

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.

The same sources also signalled that well-known players were considering retirement because of concerns with the environment, a warning that turned out to be prescient.

The New Zealand Herald

Tony Hanks appointed to interim role at Hockey New Zealand

Former Blues High Performance Manager Tony Hanks has been appointed as Interim High Performance Director at Hockey New Zealand.

Hanks has worked extensively in the player development area and has a long association with Auckland Rugby. In 2014 he was appointed High Performance Manager at the Blues and was instrumental in identifying and developing young rugby talent.

Since early this year he has been Canoe Slalom New Zealand’s High Performance Manager.

While Hockey New Zealand recruits for a new Chief Executive, it was decided to only make an interim High Performance Director appointment.

Former Hockey New Zealand High Performance Director Paul MacKinnon left the role in early August, deciding that the current COVID-enforced break in the international programme was the appropriate time to move on from a position he had held for over three years.

Hockey New Zealand Media release

Lailin to use Women's ACT for exposure ahead of Junior World Cup qualifier

By Jugjet Singh

National women's coach Lailin Abu Hassan. NSTP FILE PIC

KUALA LUMPUR: National women's coach Lailin Abu Hassan is delighted that 70 per cent of his charges will be able to travel out of the country for the first time and play against the best in Asia.

The Asian Hockey Confederation (AHF) have re-scheduled their Women's Asian Champions Trophy (ACT) to Match 31-April 7 in Donghae City, South Korea.

The tournament was supposed to be held this year, but Covid-19 shattered many dreams.

The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) have combined both the women's seniors and juniors into one outfit. Lailin has 21 under-21 players and seven seniors to select from for the ACT.

"In my combined team, 70 per cent of the players have yet to compete overseas, so the ACT will play an important role in preparing them for the Junior Asia Cup (JAC).

"The AHF have yet to announce the women's JAC dates. I believe, however, it would be held after the ACT," said Lailin.

In the ACT, Malaysia will be up against China, India, Japan, Korea and Thailand.

And minus Thailand, Malaysia will have to beat some of the other ACT teams to qualify for their first Junior World Cup.

"The ACT will be good exposure for my juniors. We need to finish top three in the JAC and that means beating some of our traditional rivals to achieve the dream.

"Malaysia have always been fifth in Asia, and the big boost would be to make the semi-finals of the ACT in Donghae," said Lailin.

Korea are the reigning ACT champions after they beat India in the 2018 final, also in Donghae.

"We are thankful to all the competing teams for their readiness in preparation for the Women's ACT especially under these challenging circumstances," said AHF in a release.

New Straits Times

Beeston call for Euro hockey places for English cup winners

By Richard Bright

The EH Championships was held at Beeston PIC: England Hockey

Beeston chiefs believe that a European place being offered for top tier domestic cup winners would make the Championships “the best, most exciting and most well supported competition in England.”

Beeston completed an England Hockey Championship T1 double for the first time at the weekend as the men overcame Fareham 9-1, following up the women’s victory over Clifton Robinsons the previous week.

Beeston Chairman and men’s first team manager, Graham Griffiths, said: “It’s remarkable that both our men’s and ladies teams are leading the way when it comes to the cup.

“I’m in no doubt that the cup has still not lost its magic and Fareham put on an exemplary display of competitiveness and good sportsmanship. I believe that if the prize for a cup win was a place in the Euro Hockey League, it would be the best, most exciting and most well supported competition in England.”

The England Hockey Championships held at Nottingham Hockey Centre was the first top level competitive matches to be played following the pandemic.

Midlands hockey enjoyed several successes with Uni of Nottingham and Repton winning tiered finals.

In the T1 final, Sam Apoola scored four times and Gareth Griffiths bagged a hat-trick as Beeston cantered to domestic success.

They led 4-1 at half-time with captain Adam Dixon opening the scoring before Apoola, Griffiths and Lucas Alcalde found the target.

Fareham gave themselves hope just before the break through Alex Boxall before Beeston kept up the scoring.

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The Hockey Paper

PR Sreejesh keen on pursuing the Hockey India Coaches Education Pathway after international career

By Avinash Sharma

During the nationwide lockdown earlier this year, Hockey India engaged the National Men and Women's Hockey Team with the entrance level for the Hockey India Coaches Education Pathway programme - Level Basic.

A simplified education structure, the Hockey India Coaching Education Pathway consists of a combination of web-based modules and face-to-face interactive courses underpinned by a competency-based assessment process which helps the Coaches in progressing to higher levels.

The Pathway is divided into 7 levels:
Hockey India Level Basic,
Hockey India Level 1,
Hockey India Level 2,
FIH Level 1,
FIH Level 2,
FIH Level 3 and
FIH High Performance.

Once a candidate progresses from the Hockey India Levels, they are then eligible to enrol for the FIH Academy Level 1 Course and upgrade further.

"Personally, I thought this was a good initiative by Hockey India to make players attend this course during the lockdown. It gave us insights into basics of coaching. Myself and SV Sunil have expressed our interest to Hockey India that we want to attend the course physically whenever it is held and get certified for the next level. We want to go through the right channel like everyone else to get certified," stated PR Sreejesh.

The experienced Indian Hockey Star said this course provides current players an opportunity to consider coaching as an option after they retire from competitive hockey. He said, "As a player with over a decade of experience, I know my stuff about hockey however looking at it from a Coach's place it brings a different perspective altogether. If I wish to pursue coaching in the future I would need to learn, understand how a Coach thinks, manages and imparts the right knowledge to his players. I believe these courses will help make that transition from being a player to a coach. I have given this a lot of thought and I certainly enjoy grooming youngsters. I have done this during the Junior World Cup in 2016 too and it was experience I enjoyed very much.

"He further said with Hockey India making this course accessible and hold the certification program round-the-year in different zones, it has become easier than ever to get certified. "Earlier, I think coaches had to travel abroad to get certified by FIH. It was cost-heavy as they would have to spend from their own pocket for travel and accommodation etc. But with Hockey India launching this program and subsequently organizing FIH Level 1, FIH Level 2 and higher levels here in India and FIH Educators coming to impart their knowledge, it has become so much easier to get certified. I have also spoken to some of the former players who have attended these courses to understand better and they have all given me positive responses," stated the Padma Shri Awardee.

Sreejesh further explained how Hockey India Coaches Education Pathway could change the standard of hockey in India. "The methods used to teach hockey at the grassroots level in India needs consistency across all regions and some places still use the old school methods of coaching. Many a times when players get selected for the national programme, they find it difficult to adapt. Right from warm-up, recovery to certain techniques, our playing structure and activation prior to a match, the national program is very different from what's followed at the grassroots. I believe this course will bridge that gap with coaches at the domestic level being upgraded with modern and scientific methodology of coaching which is on the same lines as top hockey-playing nations. This will help create a uniform playing structure right from the basic level," expressed Sreejesh who is currently part of the on-going National Coaching Camp in SAI, Bengaluru.

Source: HI


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