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News for 16 September 2020

All the news for Wednesday 16 September 2020

Spotlight shines on Düsseldorfer HC

Photo credit: Düsseldorfer Hockey Club

The opening matches of the resumed FIH Hockey Pro League will take place between Germany and Belgium men and women in the beautiful city of Düsseldorf.

Düsseldorf is the seventh largest city in Germany, and the capital of the North Rhine-Westphalia. It sits at the confluence of the mighty Rhine and its tributary, the Düssel. Most of the city sits on the right bank of the Rhine.

The city, which is to the west of Germany, is renowned for its fashion industry and art scene. It is also the home-town of avant-garde electronic band Kraftwerk. However, for two nights in September, for hockey and general sport fans, the hub of the city will not be found at the annual international fashion show or the Akademie-Galerie, which houses the internationally recognised Art Academy exhibition, but rather at the sports club at Am Seestern.

For three of the athletes who will be part of the German women’s FIH Hockey Pro League campaign, the turf at the stadium will have a familiar feel to it. Selin Oruz, Eli Gräve and Nathalie Kubalski are all members of the Düsseldorfer Hockey Club 1905, which plays in the first division of the German domestic league, the Bundesliga. All three will be both nervous and excited ahead of their return to international action.

“Finally, another international hockey competition,” says Oruz, who also captains Düsseldorfer HC. “The fact that the games are not only being played in Germany but also in Düsseldorf is a very special situation for Nathi, Eli and me. We will not underestimate the team from Belgium and will try to get back to our form as quickly as possible after the Corona virus break.”

Of course, with current restrictions in place, the stadium will not be filled with spectators. Under national association guidelines no spectators can be admitted to the ground and the players and officials will all follow strict protocols to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the matches.

While the players lament the chance to play hockey in front of family, friends and supporters, the overwhelming feeling is one of relief that competitive hockey can again take place. As Germany’s forward Christopher Rühr says: “We want to get back out on the pitch and we hope to perform at a high intensity. We will leave everything out there on the pitch and we just want to be able to have good games against Belgium.”

Although the fans will not be able to enjoy the famous German hospitality, particularly the Altbier, they will be able to follow every second of the action, either on television via DAZN, via the live reporting on the FIH website or through the soon to be launched FIH Watch.Hockey app.

FIH site

COVID-19 recovery process has made me mentally stronger, says Manpreet Singh

Manpreet Singh in action during a hockey World Cup 2018 match against Netherlands at Kalinga stadium in Bhubaneswar.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

India hockey skipper Manpreet Singh says going through a stressful isolation period while recovery from coronavirus has made him a mentally strong player who is now equipped to tackle any situation on the field.

Manpreet was one of the six hockey players to test positive for COVID-19 at the team’s training base in Bengaluru last month after they arrived for the national camp.

Having started their individual sessions after recovering, Manpreet said they still miss being part of the rest of the squad, even though Hockey India, Sports Authority of India and support staffs are doing their best to keep them upbeat.

“Hockey India officials would check on us almost every day if the food being provided is good, if our tele-treatment was done regularly, if we are monitoring our oxygen levels regularly and so on.

“Coaching staff and teammates too would check on us through video calls. These things really helped us remain upbeat. Though it did sting a little to know all our teammates were back on the pitch while we were still in isolation, I feel this experience has made me mentally tougher to face any situation,” the skipper said.

Recollecting the time spent at the hospital, the star midfielder said it was mentally tough for him and rest of the infected players to remain in isolation.

“It was not easy, especially mentally. I have not done anything for a month and that’s a long time in a sportsperson’s career especially when every day is about improving and being the best,” Manpreet said.

“To be honest, initially when the results came out, we were slightly stressed. (But) we received best facilities in the hospital with SAI constantly checking with the medical team there of our well-being.”

“While SAI is putting together a post-recovery action plan to ensure smooth return to sports activities, chief coach (Graham Reid) engages in one-on-one pep talk with us that gives us confidence of returning to old form soon,” he said.

“Moreover, our scientific advisor Robin Arkel has been a great support too since the COVID-19 pandemic began.”


Hawkes recalls nerves of Olympic oath two decades on from Sydney 2000

By Philip Barker

Rechelle Hawkes has recalled reading the Olympic oath at Sydney 2000 ©Getty Images

The only athlete with a speaking part at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Opening Ceremony has revealed how she was more concerned about her team-mates in the crowd than the television audience of billions.

Triple hockey gold medallist Rechelle Hawkes took the athletes' oath exactly 20-years-ago and described the experience as "humbling".

COVID-19 travel restrictions meant Hawkes was unable to travel from her home in Perth to attend the 20th anniversary re-lighting ceremony in the Sydney Olympic Park.

In 2000, as the captain of the women’s team in Sydney, she became the fourth woman to take the oath at a Summer Games before capturing her third gold with her side.

Her part was revealed a few days before at the Australian flag raising ceremony in the Olympic Village.

She was handed a "palm" card with the wording of the oath, which for the first time included "committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs".

"There was a mention of doping and drugs in there," Hawkes said.

"I personally believe that it was a really good addition to the oath because that's what we should aspire to as Olympic athletes.

"We should be competing at our very best and on a level playing field.

"Those particular words should resonate with athletes and should be part of the Olympics and I was more than happy for those words to be included in the oath.

"The pressure was already beginning to mount because the media were saying 'do you know there are billions of people all around the world watching, so don't stuff it up?'

"Athletes were coming up to me and saying 'that's a great honour'.

"I not only had to focus on starting to perform at the Olympics Games once our first game started, but also read this oath and not embarrass myself.

Rechelle Hawkes won her third Olympic gold medal in Sydney ©Getty Images

"So I was going back to my room after training sessions rehearsing the oath with my room-mate.

"It was only about 20 words but gee, they were pretty tough to get out."

Hockey coach Ric Charlesworth, the flag bearer when Hawkes made her Olympic debut in 1988, insisted on an audition before the big night.

"It was hopeless," Hawkes added.

"I said 'I think I can do it in front of the worldwide audience, I don't want to do it in front of you anymore', and sent him on his way."

On the night itself, Hawkes was given a massage before entering the stadium.

The oath was taken after the raising of the Olympic flag and shortly before the arrival of the Flame.

"I remember seeing the hockey team down the very front looking at me," Hawkes said.

"I just couldn't look at them, they would have distracted me no end.

"I had to find a point in the crowd above them.

"I still remember people said 'just read the thing because if you try and remember it, it might not work out'.

"Because Edwin Moses had done that in 1984 and forgot his lines, so I read it."

Inside the Games

Irish Senior Cup to be Live Streamed on Pundit Arena

Hockey Ireland is excited to finally see the Irish Senior Cup take place in Lisnagarvey Hockey Club, Hillsborough Co. Down, this Saturday 19th of September.

The Irish Senior Cup Women’s match will take place at 13:00, with Pegasus taking on UCD, while the Men’s match gets underway at 16:30 with Lisnagarvey also taking on UCD.

The prestigious Irish Senior Cup is the oldest Hockey Cup in the world, dating back to 1894 when it was first won by Dundrum. Last year’s runners-up, Lisnagarvey, have had their name engraved on the Cup a total of 23 times, although 2005 was the last time they did so. UCD Men’s team on the other hand will be aiming to get their names engraved on the Cup for the first time in their history.

The Women’s Irish Senior Cup dates back to 1903 with Merton Hockey as the inaugural winners. Since then, Pegasus have won the Cup 14 times, most recently in 2011, while UCD Women’s team have won the Cup 6 times, with four of those wins in the past decade.

Hockey Ireland are also excited to announce the Irish Senior Cup matches will be lived streamed on Saturday. Hockey Ireland CEO, Jerome Pels, said “After an unprecedented year, this is a unique and exciting start to the Hockey calendar. Although restrictions are still in place across the country and within sport, Hockey Ireland is delighted to announce we will be streaming the Irish Senior Cup matches live with Pundit Arena. We hope this will give the whole Hockey Community a chance to watch these matches after a long period of restrictions.”

Irish Hockey Association media release

Holt Elected to USA Field Hockey Board of Directors as Athlete Director

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.– USA Field Hockey is pleased to announce and welcome Will Holt to the Board of Directors. Holt’s role will be Athlete Director and he will serve on the board through 2022.

“We are glad to welcome Will to the Board of Directors,” said Bree Gillespie, USA Field Hockey’s Board of Directors Chair. “Athlete representation and the athletes voice is a critical part of our governance structure and continues to be an important part of the Board.”

Holt has been a member of the U.S. Men’s National Team since 2007 and accumulated a 146 international caps. Since his debut he has been an offensive scoring threat tallying an impressive 85 goals. He has traveled to many countries where he competed in various test series and international events including the World League Round 1 (2012, 2016), World League Round 2 (2013, 2015, 2017), Hockey Series Open (2018), Hockey Series Finals (2019), Pan American Games (2011, 2015) and Pan American Cup (2009, 2017). When he was a member of the Junior USMNT he played in the Junior Pan American Championships and men’s Junior World Cup.

He is an active coach and in January 2020 was named the assistant coach at Indiana University. Holt has served in many coaching capacities and got his start with USA Field Hockey as the assistant coach of the U-21 USMNT. He went on to serve as the associate head coach of the U-16 squad before being moved up to the U-18 team.

Holt also has experience coaching internationally and in 2010 was the head coach of the Royal Oreé T. H. B. U-16 Boys first time in Brussels, Belgium. He returned to coaching abroad in 2016 as the head coach of the Royal Pingouin Hockey Club U-16 Boys first team and assistant coach for the U-18 Boys first team. During the 2017 season, he went on to be the director of strength and conditioning with Hockey Club Ludwigsburg in Germany. Holt spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons in The Netherlands coaching for two club organizations. In 2018, he was the head coach of the U-16 Boys first team at V.M.H.C. Cartouche prior to becoming the head coach of the U-14 girls team with NMHC Nijmegen.

I feel honored to have been voted in by my fellow athletes. I’m very thankful for the opportunity and I will do my best to fully represent my constituents and make sure that the athletes’ voice is heard.”
Will Holt

Holt earned his bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Performance (Exercise Science) from the University of Louisville in 2014. He also earned his master’s degree from Louisville in Athletic Administration in 2015. While pursuing both degrees, he served as the volunteer assistant coach from 2012 to 2015, where he assisted in the development of team game plans and breakdown of film.

In addition to his playing and coaching, Holt serves on the USA Field Hockey Judicial Committee and previously was on the Athlete Advisory Council (AAC) for two terms.

Please join USA Field Hockey in welcoming Holt to the Board of Directors.

USFHA media release

Hockey helped Pretoria University star to find a balance in life

One of Tuks' hockey stars approaches her sport with the same purposeful attitude as she does towards her studies.

Carmen Smith in action on the hockey field. Photo: Reg Caldecott

Don’t go through life without goals. This is the motto Carmen Smith abides by when playing hockey and the same goes for when she studies.

“Just like you can’t win in hockey without goals, you can’t win in life without goals,” is how the former Proteas player and now Tuks hockey player explains things,” she explained the words during a recent interview.

For the final year Sports Science student it is, however, not really about scoring goals. On the Astroturf, her role is going all out to prevent the ball from being netted. Playing as a centre back, it sort of boils down to her goal is to stop those of the opponent.

It is no surprise with such passion that Smith was at first frustrated when the Covid-19 lockdown was implemented. She could not help but wonder why she should continue to train if there are no opportunities to play.

“After I thought things through, I realised taking a break from playing hockey is a kind of a blessing in disguise. It enabled me to appreciate what our Tuks head coach, Inky Zondi, is continuously emphasising. That is to have a balance in life. Our coach expects us to give 100% whether it is studying or playing. The lockdown also gave me time to rediscover the things in life that is important,” she commented.

Smith’s passion to be a better player after each training session is rekindled. She has even set her sights on trying to be reselected for the Proteas. To her, it is a realistic goal as she hopes to finish her sports science studies at the end of the year. With a degree in the bag, there ought to be slightly more time to play hockey. She has, however, applied to do her honours in biokinetics.

The Tuks player has always been sporty. It was watching her elder sister play that inspired her to also take up a stick to chase after a ball. It did not take long before her onfield heroics got noticed. From under-16 level she was selected to play for the different national junior sides.

She made her debut for the Proteas during the 2016 Summer Series in Cape Town. The moment she saw her name on the team list, knowing she is going to play for South Africa is something she will never forget.

“My first reaction was to take a deep breath to calm down. I then reminded myself, although I will be playing internationally, nothing has changed. Once I step onto the Astroturf, the only thing that will matter is to stick to the basics. The rules remain the same,” she said.

When asked as to what she considers the highlights of her playing career Smith surprises by saying it was part of the Tuks women’s team that won the USSA Tournament in 2018 and 2019.

“Many thought it could not be done. But as a team, we were out to prove nothing is impossible if everyone strives towards the same goal. Deciding to come to TuksHockey is possibly one of the best decisions I ever made,” she concluded.

Pretoria Rekord

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