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News for 03 December 2020

All the news for Thursday 3 December 2020

Past inspires the present at New Zealand's PHL

Hockey athletes and supporters in New Zealand have welcomed the return to top level hockey in the form of the inaugural Premier Hockey League, which burst into action in November.

Held over four extended weekends, the Premier Hockey League (PHL) sees the nation's top players participating in an eight-team (four men and four women) round robin format competition.

The teams represent the entire country, with Northern Tridents representing Northland to Auckland, the Hauraki Mavericks from Auckland to Taupo, central Falcons representing Taupo to Wellington and the Southern Alpiners from the South Island.

In a move that has really engaged with the hockey community, the New Zealand Hockey Association asked hockey fans to choose the names for the two Most Valuable Player trophies. The fans turned to their hockey heritage as inspiration with a resounding vote for three athletes who are Black Sticks legends.

For the men’s trophy, father and son duo Jeff and Ryan are the source of inspiration for the Archibald trophy. Jeff Archibald was a member of the 1976 gold medal-winning team which beat Australia 1-0 in the finals of the Montreal Olympics. In a career that spanned 16 years (1970-1986) and four Olympic Games Jeff Archibald won 101 caps for his country. He captained the team for the last two years of his international career.

Ryan Archibald followed in Jeff’s footsteps, playing for New Zealand 327 times in total. He made his international debut in 1997 and retired just after the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. He would have emulated his father and played at four Olympics but injury forced him to miss the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.

The women’s trophy is named for the midfielder and former Black Sticks captain Suzie Muirhead. Voted New Zealand Hockey Player of the Year in 2002 and 2006, Moorhead represented the Blacksticks on 238 occasions, winning bronze at the 1998 Commonwealth Games and gold at the 2005 Champions Challenge. Although better known as someone who set the forwards up to score, Muirhead also scored 41 goals for New Zealand. Her career spanned 1993 to 2006 and, like Archibald, she was captain for the last two years of her international career.

On learning that the MVP was to be named in her honour, Muirhead said: “I am honoured to think that a country kid with humble beginnings like me might inspire the next generation. The Premier Hockey League is an exciting new competition that will become pivotal in developing depth in New Zealand.”

You can watch all matches of the New Zealand's Premier Hockey League on-demand on the Watch.Hockey app, which can be downloaded for free on Apple and Android devices.

FIH site

How East Grinstead Are Overcoming Lockdown Challenges

Like other clubs across the country, East Grinstead Hockey Club has had to find new ways of doing things in light of the Covid pandemic. We caught up with officials there to see how they had overcome challenges being faced by clubs across England.

As part of the wider East Grinstead Sports Club, the hockey club used the services of agency staff to deal with much of the running of the club. As Covid-19 struck, these staff members were furloughed and the hockey committee had to solve the logistics of pitch watering, lighting, bookings and all the other day-to-day tasks associated with running a hockey club.

One of the people who has taken a leading role in meeting the Covid-19 challenges is Wes Jackson, the men’s Club Captain at East Grinstead Hockey Club. It is fair to say, in that role, he has had his work cut out as part of the team that is juggling running the club under the restrictions imposed under Covid-19 lockdown.

The work being done by Jackson and the rest of the administrative team has earned the praise of club members. Mary Booth, the East Grinstead Women’s head coach, is full of praise for the work being done behind the scenes to keep the club on an even keel during these challenging times.

“We had some very positive drivers within the club who put strategies in place to enable us to use the pitch,” says Booth. “For example, Wes Jackson – the men’s Club Captain – has worked tirelessly with others in the club to get us to where we are currently.”

Jackson first joined East Grinstead when he was 14, after beginning his hockey career alongside brother Ashley at Tunbridge Wells Hockey Club. A move west to attend university saw Jackson leave the club for a while, but he returned in 2011 and has been a permanent fixture on both the playing and club administration side ever since.

England Hockey caught up with Jackson to find out how East Grinstead Hockey Club has been dealing with the pandemic from an administrative standpoint.

“Our priority has been to create a safe environment for members, both adult and junior, who have a larger appetite than ever before to get back on the pitch,” says Jackson. “Our club Open Day was so popular it was a case of making sure everyone was safe, felt safe and all the policies and procedures were in place and Covid-19 rules were followed.”

To ensure members stayed safe, Jackson says a lot of extra administrative tasks have been necessary. This includes check-in procedures and Covid Officer administration. The club has also had to invest in safe products and systems for match days and training sessions. This extra expense all comes at a time when the clubhouse bar – a major source of income – has remained shut.

The Covid Officer and committee members have had regular online meetings. Policies and risk assessments have been re-written and there has been an ongoing education process on Covid safety for all members.

“Communication has been key,” says Jackson. “Our junior managers have been excellent in relaying information to all of our juniors and parents.”

To provide as welcoming an environment as possible under the circumstances, East Grinstead has created designated areas for players, spectators and officials. Parents and spectators have been asked to remain on one side of the pitch and a one-way system has been put in place. The club has also invested in live streaming the first team matches so members and the general public can continue to watch hockey.

Jackson says there have been several learning points from the two lockdown periods. He says the enthusiasm among members and the continued growth of the club, despite restrictions, has been “amazing”. At the same time, the pandemic has brought home the need for club policies to be reviewed regularly and maintained at a very high standard.

Taking some learning points from the situation, Jackson says the team managers have been using a number of ways of providing information and this is something that will continue as things return to normal. Live streaming matches is also something that will continue long after the pandemic has passed.

And he adds: “We would like to thank all our members, both junior and adult, all our parents and all our managers and coaching staff from junior to first team, for all their hard work in maintaining our high standards and bringing a huge buzz back to the club.

“Many people work tirelessly to create an environment, which we all want to be a part of and continue the rich history the club holds dear. We send our best wishes to everyone in the hockey world and hope we can be back better than ever in 2021.”

England Hockey Board Media release

Impact of Local Restriction Tiers on return of hockey from 2 December

England Hockey Championships - Indian Gymkhana vs Stourport

Following on from the government update for sport issued on the evening of 1 December, England Hockey can now confirm details for clubs, players, officials and associations.

In general terms the news is positive that clubs will be able to train and play matches, however there are now significant challenges related to travel that are likely to interrupt adult league activity.

The revised Tiers set out by government are more restrictive than the ones introduced in October. A key change announced relates to travel arrangements in Tier 2, where car sharing is now not allowed outside of your household or bubble and will apply to adult teams travelling for hockey.

For clubs in Tier 3, training and matches can take place but only for players and teams within the same Tier 3 Area. The same restrictions on car sharing apply as in Tier 2. Clubs are encouraged to welcome players that cannot access their usual club due to the restrictions.

The key changes are as follows:

Junior (under 18) and disability hockey has exemption and can continue across all Tiers. Cars can be shared if necessary as long as safer travel guidance is followed. Volunteers supporting junior hockey can travel.

Adult hockey is more restricted, as below:

Adult hockey in Tier 3:

    Players can only travel within their Tier 3 area to reach their club or to play matches within the same Tier 3 Area.
    Players that are members of Tier 1 or 2 clubs cannot leave the Tier 3 area to get to their club.

Adult hockey in Tier 2:

    Training and matches can take place.
    Car sharing is not permitted, meaning that teams must travel individually or in households/bubbles to matches.

Adult hockey in Tier 1:

    Training and matches can take place.
    Car sharing is allowed if following government safer travel guidance.

For more detail on what is allowed in each of the different Local Restriction Tier areas please click on the updated infographic below. Our Step 4 & 5 guidance in full is being updated to reflect the latest government guidance and will be published shortly.

Covid infographic December 2020 (click on the graphic for a full sized version)

We have also published a list of some of the most anticipated frequently asked questions here.

Importance of adhering to government advice

Outdoor team sport has been given dispensation to return but must demonstrate that it can continue to be done safely with people complying with the necessary expectations. Government has stated more strongly to all team sports’ National Governing Bodies that there are significant expectations that all sports adhere to the necessary social distancing and compliance with the government advice. Failure to adhere to these could lead to the removal of the current dispensation to play if breaches are reported, something that could be a local or national decision.

Therefore, we must stress the importance that all participants are compliant with Government rules and the supporting England Hockey Return to Play guidance. We all have a responsibility to play our part in returning safely. Adherence to measures will be monitored and any poor practice will reflect badly on the sport and may impact our longer-term return. Where guidance is clearly not being adhered to England Hockey will follow up with clubs accordingly through its disciplinary procedures.

Implications on Competitive Activity:

The travel restrictions included in the latest measures have a significant impact on the England Hockey League and  Regional Leagues and England Hockey has been in contact with leagues and participating EHL clubs.

In the wider game we welcome leagues facilitating matches where clubs are happy to return to play but not obligating fixtures to be fulfilled where clubs are not comfortable with the circumstances. In light of the Tier 2 car sharing restrictions this is likely to be more problematic.

With travel exemptions in place for Under 18s, we are planning for our Junior Championships to continue. We plan to resume our U14, U16 and U18 championships in January. We have revised the Adult and Masters’ Championships dates which we have rescheduled to resume in late February and extend into the early summer. We believe this gives us the best chance of running and concluding these Championships. England Hockey will communicate next week with all participants to update in more detail. Our Schools Championships have not yet started and we will review the feasibility of these commencing in the New Year shortly.

England Hockey Board Media release

Hockey was an essential part of Zafarullah Jamali`s life

By Ijaz Chaudhry

Pakistan`s former Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali passed away on December 02.

Jamali,who also served as the Chief Minister of his home province of Baluchistan, remained a great hockey lover throughout his life.

Quite a talented player, he played at the left full back position.

He was a member of the hockey team of the Aitchison College Lahore. He went on to captain very strong teams of  Government College Lahore and the Punjab University.

Both the sides included quite a few internationals of the time as well as those who later represented Pakistan.

He also appeared for the Lahore zone against the visiting Kenyan national side in 1962. In those days, Kenya was a strong hockey nation in the international arena.

Once his playing days were over, Jamali`s love for hockey continued along with his political commitments, in a number of roles.

He was the national selector quite a few times including stints as the Chairman Selection Committee.

When Pakistan`s hockey team last won the Olympic gold medal in 1984, Jamali was the chef de mission of the Pakistani contingent.

He also held the biggest office in Pakistan hockey, the President of the Pakistan Hockey Federation from 2006-2008.

Hockey remained an essential part of Mir Zafarullah Jamali`s life.


41st death anniversary of Dhyan Chand: The legend lives on


That Dhyan Chand was popular in his times and his game skills were universally appreciated are well known facts, well documented too. Recorded history proves those who were in awe of his persona and hence appreciated him for his extraordinary games cut across a wide canvas of personalities, not just his contemporaries but also fans who followed him their entire lives.

We all know how Dhyan Chand’s peer AIS Dara eulogized him in his writings, coaches like Cyril Walter worshipped  him or Jaipal Singh, despite his playmate, organized the Dhyan Chand Cup in his fond memory are well known. The particular area of Dhyan Chand’s career, it seems, is unending.

This writer used to provide a new piece of information on Dhyan Chand on his birth and death anniversary for at least two decades. In line with the obsession, I wish to present a hitherto unreported view of an ardent fan. How he, in 1932, felt offended that someone other than Dhyan Chand was called the ace in the team. The Letters to the Editor section in one of the leading USA newspaper expresses his anger.

Dhyan Chand lies in state 03.12.1979

Henry Kirk Greer, a New York City based fan, wrote the following to the editor:

“Knowing that your paper is interested in ensuring the accuracy of everything that it prints, I have one comment to make. A note underneath the photograph of the India vs Japan game states that Gurmit Singh Kullar is India’s ace player. I take this to mean that Gurmit Singh was the outstanding player of the Indian Olympic team. Although Gurmit Singh, who played inside-right, is an extremely capable player, I think I am not in any great danger of contradiction when I state that Dhyan Chand, centre-forward, was the Ace player of the team. He was and still is acknowledged to be the greatest field hockey forward in the world. Another member of the team who ranks about with Dhyan Chand is Eric Pinniger, the centre-half.”

Perusal of the write-up of the fan and reaction of the editor gives an impression that the latter is stumped. However, the editor went on to show his knowledge of the game in a collaborative manner, indirectly accepting the view of the fan.

Editor’s published reply: ‘Dhyan Chand, 27, a soldier in a Punjab Regiment, is called the world’s hockey wizard, so well-famed is his prowess that Germany calls her best player The German Dhyan Chand. Known in first class hockey since 1922, Dhyan Chand was a member of the Indian Army team that played in Australia and New Zealand in 1926. In the whole series he scored more than 100 goals.

He was centre-forward of India’s Olympic teams of 1928 and 1932. His brother Roop Singh, 24, an inner left forward is called the “the hockey juggler”. Brome Eric Pinniger, 31, captain of the 1928 Olympic team, is without an equal in the world at the centre-half position. His style is amazingly effortless, imperturbable. Gurmit Singh Kullar, 25, is especially popular with hockey crowds because he always sports a turban and beard.

The last line of the above explanation is a poor cover up of the whole issue!

And then both Dhyan Chand and Roop Singh photo was published along side the Editor’s note as if to make amends!!

Today is the 41st death anniversary of Major Dhyan Chand, who breathed his last in 1979.


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