News for 14 February 2013

All the news for Thursday 14 February 2013


Hockey remains in Olympics, only just

Hockey was just three votes away from being thrown out from the 2020 Olympics and this raises concern as the International Hockey Federation continues to just put their focus on India and let the sport rot.

The voting trend, as listed below is a seriously worrying factor and unless changes are made to the sport, things are going to get more difficult for hockey to survive. And there is serious concern that things will get tougher for hockey to remain an Olympic sport.

Not that it is a major concern to Malaysia as we have failed to qualify for the Olympics since Sydney 2000 where a Malaysian coach Stephen van Huizen was given the task to train the team via the qualifying rounds.

Realistically Rio could well be Malaysia's last chance at Olympic participation, had hockey not survived the cut.

Back to hockey the sport. At times its baffling how the IOC members think given the fact that tickets for hockey at the 2012 London Olympics were sold out weeks before the event got underway. So how is it a sport that brings revenue joins others on the chopping block?

Let us look at the other aspects, like the sheer number of players/officials in the sport. A team will comprise of 16 players and 4 officials and with a total of 24 teams ( 12 each for men and women ) the numbers grow to 480 players/officials. And that is not taking into account the various technical officials/umpires and it swells up by another 100.

Compare that to say for instance squash which will allow a draw of 32, meaning 63 players for men and women and officials not more then 30 or so. Less then 100 and IOC could look at icreasing the numbers by FIVE sports as opposed to hockey.

The answers are simple - hockey needs a change and in the words of Australia's Ric Charlesworth it needs to re-invent itself.

Changing the rules frequently is not helping but more confusing as evident by the own goal rule which has created unpleasant incidents of late. Video referrals used in hockey should be done away as its not only time consuming but also irks the spectators and costly to say the least.

Then there is the question of numbers on the field. Perhaps Charlesworth's suggestion years ago to reduce the players to 9 should be given a serious consideration as well as it helps cut down numbers, not to mention that there is hardly space available for individual skills left with 22 players on the pitch.

To start with perhaps the MHC could try out 9 players on the pitch in the forthcoming Malaysian Hockey League, and submit findings to the FIH. But then again who really cares about the sport in the country, and even in the world stage.

Here’s how the IOC reports the voting went, as the 14 executive board members were asked which sport they would like to see eliminated from the core of the Olympic program.

Round 1
Wrestling: 5
Modern Pentathlon: 5
Field hockey: 2
Canoeing: 1
Taekwondo: 1

Round 2
Wrestling: 7
Modern Pentathlon: 4
Canoeing: 1
Field hockey: 1
Taekwondo: 1

Round 2
(Tie-break for the three third-place sports, with the lowest vote tally guaranteeing survival)

Field hockey: 6
Taekwondo: 5
Canoeing: 3

Round 3
Wrestling: 6
Modern Pentathlon: 5
Field hockey: 3
Taekwondo: 0

Round 4
Wrestling: 8
Field hockey: 3
Modern Pentathlon: 3

Malaysian Hockey blogspot



Hockey just about managed to escape Olympics exit

New Delhi: Officials and former players associated with the game of hockey expressed shock on learning that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) mulled to remove hockey from the Olympic programme in 2020 but eventually put wrestling in the group of 8 sports fighting for one spot.

TV ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping and global popularity were the factors assessed by IOC's programme commission before deciding to put baseball/softball, karate, roller sports, sport climbing, squash, wakeboarding, wrestling and wushu on the slicing table.

"It's the pinnacle of our game and if we were no longer an Olympic sport, it would be crushing for our players," England Hockey chief executive Sally Munday told BBC.

According to BBC, hockey was one of the five sports facing the heat at the meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Tuesday, and was still under threat after early round of voting in which canoeing and taekwondo survived. Hockey survived a close shave in the penultimate round of three sports, where it contested with wrestling and modern pentathlon.

"Hockey is one of the core sports of the Olympic Games and has been for a very long time, and following the huge success of hockey at last summer's Olympics in London, it was a bit of a shock to hear that hockey was in the bottom five," a surprised Munday told BBC. "As far as hockey is concerned, the success at London was massive and it was the third biggest sport in terms of ticket numbers. Over 630,000 were sold for the Games," she added.

Former India Olympian Jagbir Singh also seemed annoyed hearing the news. "Just have a look at the viewership of the Hockey India League (HIL) and you will know how popular this game is," he told Times of India. "If they were thinking of removing hockey as an Olympic sport, they better forget it."

IBNLive



Experts aghast to find hockey in elimination zone

NEW DELHI: While the vote against wrestling at the IOC executive board meeting caused a furore, hockey aficionados also had reasons to feel concerned after it was revealed that the sport was also in the Olympic 'relegation zone.' Some Indian hockey experts felt that the IOC was not aware of the popularity of the game.

"Just have a look at the viewership of the Hockey India League (HIL) and you will know how popular this game is, at least in India," said Jagbir Singh, former international and assistant coach of HIL side Punjab Warriors. "If they were thinking of removing hockey as an Olympic sport, they better forget it."

Delhi Waveriders coach Ajay Bansal was also saddened. "This is surprising as well as sad. There was an attempt in the past too to remove the game from the Olympics," he said.

The Times of India



Comeback seals third win

MALAYSIA completed a hat-trick of wins when they beat Ireland 3-1 in the Third Test at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil last night.

The national team had already sealed the three-Test series before entering the pitch yesterday as they had beaten the Irish 4-2 in the First Test on Sunday, and 3-0 in the Second Test on Monday.

Shane O'Donoghue had given Ireland an early lead, but it was cancelled by Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin off a field attempt in the 18th minute and the score remained until half-time.

Razie Rahim gave Malaysia the lead in the 42nd minute while Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin made it 3-1 in the 66th minute.

The players are being primed for the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh on March 9-17 where they will play India, Pakistan, South Korea, Australia and last year's champions New Zealand.

The Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) is still waiting for a reply from another team to make it a seven-team tournament.

New Zealand, who beat Argentina 1-0 in the final last year, have selected a youthful side for this edition while Malaysia will use the Irish Tests to select their best.

After that, they will be involved in two World Cup Qualifiers in the Hockey World League semi-finals in Johor Baru on June 29-July 7, as well as the Asia Cup in Ipoh on Aug 24-Sept 1.

New Straits Times



Clean sweep by Malaysia

By S. RAMAGURU



Job well done: Malaysian players celebrate after beating Ireland 3-1 in their Test match at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil Wednesday.- M.Azhar Arif/The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia wrapped up their three Test series against Ireland with yet another win at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

This time, however, they had to come back from a goal down to beat the New Delhi-bound Irish team 3-1 in a fast-paced match.

Ireland went ahead after just four minutes through a Shane O’Donaghue penalty corner goal.

But two field goals by Tengku Ahmad Tajuddin (18th and 66th), and a Mohd Razie Rahim penalty corner goal in the 42nd minute proved enough for Malaysia to end the Test series unbeaten.

The Malaysians had won the first two Tests matches with ease – 4-2 and 3-0 respectively. But that could have been due to the Irish having to play two matches on consecutive days after just arriving a day earlier.

This time, though, they had ample rest. And it showed in their game, which was much more spirited and mobile.

Malaysian coach Paul Revington was disappointed with his players’ slow start, although he was happy that they showed character to come back and win the match.

“It’s always pleasing when you win a series and improve with each match. There are still some areas we can work on ... the offensive penalty corners is one such area,” he said.

“But to score 10 goals in the three matches, and concede just three, is also a good track record and we’re certainly getting to where we want to be.”

The third Test finally saw Khairulnizam Ibrahim being given the chance to play in goal – replacing Roslan Jamaluddin.

The well-rest Irish team had the Malaysians against the ropes in the early stages.

And it took Ireland just four minutes to draw first blood as O’Donaghue scored with a direct flick off their first penalty corner.

The Malaysian equaliser, which came in the 18th minute, was practically handed to them on a silver platter when Tengku Ahmad intercepted defender Ronan Gormley’s poor square pass to slam it past goalkeeper David Harte.

Malaysia began the second half strongly and took the lead off their second penalty corner in the 42nd minute, thanks to Razie’s drag flick.

Malaysia then sealed victory in the 66th minute with another Tengku Ahmad field goal.

The Star of Malaysia



Ireland head to India folowing defeat to Malaysia

Ireland wrapped up their initial World League 2 preparations with a 3-1 defeat vs. Malaysia in warm conditions in Kuala Lumpur today.

Coach Andrew Meredith made two changes to his starting line-up for the 3rd and final game in Malaysia with Goalkeeper David Harte and defender Paul Gleghorne returning to the side. Ireland started the game brightly today and raced into an early lead winning a penalty corner in the 3rd minute which was converted by in-form UCD forward Shane O'Donohue to give Ireland an early 1-0 lead.

The hosts, well adept in playing in 82% humidity, naturally came back strongly and levelled the game up at 1-1 through an Amhad penalty corner in the 18th minute and forced another before the halftime interval which the Green Machine defended well. The two sides headed for the break locked at 1-1.

Malaysia started quickly out of the blocks in the second half and took the lead for the first time through their 3rd penalty corner of the game, converted on this occasion by Muhammad Razi. The hosts continued to press the Green Machine and were rewarded with 2 more penalty corners in quick succession which again were defended resolutely by the Irish side. Malaysia finally broke through the Irish side for the 3rd time with only 4 minutes remaining with Ahmad grabbing his second goal of the game to wrap up a 3-1 victory.

Speaking following the game today, Irish coach Andrew Meredith said ‘While of course I'm not satisfied with today's result, conceding two unnecessary goals in the manner that we did, I am very pleased with the intensive work we have done in the last four days. It's been an extremely intensive preparation program for India and we have taken some major steps forward in the group processes.'

Ireland will now pack up in Malaysia and head to India where preparations for World League 2 can recommence. Ireland will kick-off their campaign on Monday 18th February vs. Bangladesh in New Delhi.

Starting XI - D.Harte, J.Jackson, R.Gormley, C.Harte, B.McCandless, C.Cargo, E.Magee, P.Gleghorne, M.Watt, S.O'Donoghue, M.Darling

Malaysia 3-1 Ireland

Irish Hockey Association media release



Ireland confident of success despite Test defeats


Confident: Irish coach Meredith

KUALA LUMPUR: Ireland believe they stand a good chance of making the World League semi-finals when they play in Round Two in India next week.

Six teams will vie for two places in the World League Round Two in New Delhi from Feb 18-23 but world No. 11 India and world No. 15 Ireland will start as favourites.

The others in the line-up are China (world No. 18), Oman (No. 36), Bangladesh (No. 40) and Fiji (No. 73).

Ireland coach Andrew Meredith is confident of them being in the top two in the tournament, though he conceded that “India will be the team to beat. “But we have a reasonably good team with young players and I believe we have the potential to be among the top two. We’ve been told that the top two will advance to the semi-finals,” he said.

Ireland are in Kuala Lumpur for a three Test series against Malaysia as part of their final preparations for the tournament in India.

They lost the first two matches 4-2 on Sunday and 3-0 on Monday.

But Andrew’s not too bothered about the defeats.

“We want to acclimatise to the conditions in this region and get in some useful practice matches before playing in New Delhi. Malaysia offerred us that chance and we’re grateful to get some quality matches,” he said.

Andrew took over the Irish team from South African Paul Revington after the Olympic qualifiers last year. Revington is now the coach of the Malaysian team.

“Matches between Malaysia and Ireland have always been close and I believe that we can learn from them. Of course, our focus is the World League. Looking at the teams in the pool, I believe we can make the top two,” said Andrew, who thinks that China coul also pose problems.

The Irish team will leave for India today and kick off their Round Two campaign against Bangladesh on Monday. This will be followed by matches against Fiji, India, Oman and China.

It’s likely that Ireland may play against Malaysia in June if they make the cut for the semi-finals. Malaysia are hosting the second semi-finals in Johor Baru from June 29-July 9.

The other semi-final is slated to be held in Holland in early June.

The Star of Malaysia



India men face Fiji in opener; women to play Kazakhstan


NEW DELHI: Hosts India will open its campaign against minnows Fiji in the men's competition of the Hockey World League Round 2 to be held at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium here from February 18 to 24.

The other participating teams in the men's event are China, Ireland, Bangladesh, and Oman.

After their opener against Fiji on February 18, the Indian team will play Oman (February 20), Ireland (February 21), China (February 23) and Bangladesh (February 24).

The women's team, meanwhile, kickstart their campaign against Kazakhstan on February 18 followed by Malaysia (February 19), Fiji (February 21), Japan (February 22) and Russia (February 24).

The Hockey World League Round 2 is a qualifying event for the 2014 FIH World Cup to be held in Hague in The Netherlands.

In the men's competition, 54 countries are participating, while a total of 45 teams from five continents are participating in the women's tournament.

In the men's Hockey World League Round 1, which were held from August 17 to December 15 last year, 34 teams participated and played matches in a round-robin format in nine venues.

Thirteen teams qualified from Round 1 and will join 10 higher-ranked teams in Round 2.

The 23 teams in the Hockey World League Round 2 will compete against each other at four venues -- New Delhi, Rio de Janeiro, Saint-Germain-en-Laye (France) and Elektrostal (Russia) from February 18 to June 2.

Seven teams will qualify from Round 2 and will join nine highest-ranked teams in the Hockey World League Round 3 (semi-final league) to be held in The Netherlands and Malaysia from June 13 to July 7 this year.

Seven teams will qualify from the Hockey World League Round 3 and will join a host nation for the final league of the tournament to be played in February next year.

In the women's Hockey World League Round 1, which were held from August 14 to December 15 last year, 28 teams participated and played matches in a round-robin format in six venues.

Fifteen teams qualified from Round 1 and have joined 10 higher-ranked teams in Round 2. Ukraine and Canada withdrew from the participation in Round 2 at the last moment.

The 23 teams in women's Hockey World League Round 2 are competing against each other at four venues -- Cape Town, New Delhi, Valencia and Rio de Janeiro -- from January 21 to March 10.

Eight teams will move from Round 2 and will join eight highest-ranked teams in the Hockey World League Round 3 (semi-final league) from June 13 to July 7.

South Africa and Belgium are the first two teams to qualify for the Hockey World League Round 3 as they topped the points table of Round 2 matches in Cape Town, held from January 21 to 27.

Seven teams will be qualify from the semi-final league and will join host nation Argentina for the final round of the Hockey World League, to be played in San Miguel de Tucuman from November 30 to December 8 later this year.

The Times of India



Fiji hockey out to impress at world league

Rashneel Kumar



The Fiji Men's hockey team during their farewell church service at the Yarawa Wesley Church in Nabua last night. Picture: ELIKI NUKUTABU

THE Fiji men's and women's hockey teams were scheduled to fly out of the country this morning with high hopes for Round 2 of the International Hockey Federation World League in India.

The national side presented their i-tatau to the Minister for Youth and Sports, Commander Viliame Naupoto yesterday followed by the men's team church service in Nabua last night.

Fiji men's team coach Hector Smith Sr said they were carrying the hopes of the nation and would do their best not to let their supporters down.

He said they had finished the necessary preparations and were looking forward to their games from next week.

"Few months ago, it seemed impossible for the team to travel to India and participate in the competition," Smith Sr said.

"I thank everyone who have supported the team and helped us in making this trip possible."

Smith Sr said playing against the top hockey playing nations would be a tough challenge for them. He said it was also a good learning experience for the national players.

Smith Sr said adapting to the conditions in India and fighting off the jetlag after long travel would be a challenge for the team.

He said while other teams in their pool were familiar with the Indian time, they would not let this deter their spirit to create history in the week-long meet.

The men's side, ranked 71 in the world, is pooled with hosts India (11th), China (18th), Ireland (15th), Bangladesh (40th) and Azerbaijan (38th).

The Shaun Corrie-coached women's side ranked 59th in the world, has been pooled with Japan (9th), India (12th), Russia (20th), Malaysia (22nd) and Kazakhstan (33rd).

The Fiji Times



This team is much fitter, says coach Hawgood

By Ritu Sejwal


NEW DELHI: After hosting several Hockey India League matches recently, the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium will come to life again with the Hero Hockey World League Round 2 (men & women) scheduled from February 18 to 24 in New Delhi.

The Indian women start their campaign against Kazakhstan on February 18 and play a higher-ranked Japan on February 22. The host team, which is seeded second in the tournament, has undergone a number of changes with junior players replacing the seniors.

India's chief coach Neil Hawgood, who has been working with the women's team for over six months, feels the girls are a fitter lot. "The team is a lot fitter, which allows them to concentrate a bit longer. In Ireland during Champions Challenge (four months back), our inability to concentrate for full 70 minutes let us down," chief coach Neil Hawgood told TOI on Wednesday.

"Change is always good. It keeps everybody honest. We are at a point where we have a lot of junior players in the squad and with this we are letting the senior players know that they need to be better."

On his expectations from the tournament, Hawgood said he will be looking to win all the matches and showcase some good hockey. "I am expecting the girls to play their best hockey in six months. In this event, we can't take any team lightly because we have to win every game. It's not about who we play, we can't afford to lose any match," he stressed.

Meanwhile, Japan are wary of the hosts' ability but are confident of putting up a good show. "Ours is a young team which was put together at the end of last year. But we are a higher-ranked team. Of course we want to qualify for the world league," Japan's coach Yoo Seung Jin said. "Our oldest player is 35, youngest player just 20, so it's a blend of experience and youth," Jin added.

While saying that this event was important, Jin said his team's focus was the 2014 Asian Games.

In the men's category, China, Ireland, Bangladesh, Oman, Fiji and India are participating, whereas Japan, Russia, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Fiji and India will be competing in the women's category.

FIH, HI to conduct high performance coaching course

As part of the Hockey World League in New Delhi, the FIH and Hockey India will hold a joint high performance coaching course from February 16 to 22.

The course is the second part of a coaching education program for elite coaches who aspire to be high performance coaches. It aims to identify coaches from all areas of India and provide them with advanced coaching tools. Thirty coaches across India will be participating in the course. The first course was held in Lucknow in September 2012.

The Times of India



FIH and Hockey India to host Coaching Course in Delhi

High Performance course to take place during WL Round 2


As part of the Hero Hockey World League Round 2 tournament in New Delhi, India, the FIH and Hockey India will hold a joint High Performance Coaching Course from February 16-22.

The course is the second part of a Coaching Education program for elite coaches who aspire to be high performance coaches. It aims to identify coaches from all areas of India and provide them with advanced coaching tools. Thirty coaches across India will be participating in the course this time. The first course was held in Lucknow in September 2012.

Tayyab Ikram, FIH Master Coach, and Siegfried Aikman, FIH Grade 1 Coach, will conduct the course, which will cover a variety of relevant topics for the participants, including:

 

  • Basic concepts of High Performance Coaching
  • Different aspect of advanced High Performance Hockey and its demand from Elite athletes
  • Focus of High Performance Coach
  • How high performance Structure can guide the Development process in a country and more specifically in Coaching
  • Coaching Process & Methodology – HP focus

In addition, there will be sessions on video analysis and the importance of technology in coaching. Naturally, there will also be practical sessions to go over efficient on-field training methods and tactics.

The group will attend seminars, create presentations, learn video techniques and naturally use the Hero Hockey World League Round 2 games as the basis for analysis and discussion.

"The FIH is proud to be a part of this initiative and is confident that all the participants will have a fruitful experience," said FIH CEO Kelly Fairweather. "I would especially like to thank Hockey India for their collaboration on the course."

Mr Tayyab Ikram appreciate Hockey India for taking such initiative of continuing this high performance coaching course for the coaches in India. I think this initiative will help to institutionalized hockey in India. “In the first part of this course conducted at Lucknow last year, we got very good response from all the participants and I am expecting much better response this year, as it will help in improving the level of sport in India” he said.

FIH site



FIH introduces Umpire Manager Marking System

A new Umpire Manager Marking System will come into operation for all tournaments at FIH and Continental levels with immediate effect. This new system has been developed by an Umpiring Committee Taskforce and has the approval of both the Umpiring and Competitions Committees.

“This was an important move for the FIH to bring the grading of umpires and umpire managers into a parallel system,” said FIH Officials Manager Richard Wilson.

The objectives and intended outcomes of the new umpire manager marking system are very similar to those of the umpire marking system with aim being to move to a career-based system of assessment. It also gives umpire managers a clear view of where they are in their career and what qualities they need to move onto the next level. The system also helps the Umpiring and Appointments Committees in appointing umpire managers to future tournaments.

There will be 4 grades of umpire managers, again closely aligned to the umpire grades:

1. Potential for FIH (to include the former Continental Section umpire managers)
2. FIH
3. FIH Grade 1
4. FIH World Panel

Each umpire manager on the FIH Umpire Managers List has been assigned to one of the above grades. In doing so, the FIH has erred on the side of caution, in that it is good career discipline to go through the stages of the marking system, which will help build the knowledge and skill levels of all umpire managers.

For the time being, TDs will continue to fill in and submit the current Umpire Manager Performance Feedback Form (UMPFF) as normal, but should also submit the Umpire Manager Marks spreadsheet. The ‘language’ used in the spreadsheet’s performance criteria and comments should be used to help fill in the UMPFF. The end result should be that the information contained in the Umpire Manager Marks spreadsheet and the UMPFF is entirely consistent.

As a consequence of the new marking system, TDs should now advise umpire managers of their overall mark at the end of each tournament. The intention is that this should suitably describe their tournament performance and, more importantly, give a clear indication of where they stand in terms of their ‘career’ development.

To view all the Umpire Manager Marking System resources, please click here

FIH site



DNA hockey feast begins

Pune: Amidst the several players from various schools and enthusiasts of the game, the fifth edition of DNA inter-school hockey tournament was inaugurated at St Vincent’s School ground, Camp, on Wednesday.

Former vice-president of Women’s Hockey Federation of India Arnavaz Damania and CEO of Bishop’s School Frank Freese inaugurated the event. Deepak Lokhande, deputy resident editor, DNA, Pune, and branch head and vice-president, corporate, Sanjay Pawar were present on the occasion,

The tournament, which is sponsored by Guardian Holidays, received a huge response from city schools in the under-12 & 14 boys and girls’ categories. The inauguration match was played between Anglo Urdu School and Genba Sopanrao Moze High School in the girls’ under-12 category. Ayesha Palwekar, a standard VII student of Anglo Urdu, stole the limelight with a hat-trick.

DNA



PHF invites nine new players to national camp

Staff Report


LAHORE: The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has invited nine more players for the ongoing training camp for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup to be played in Ipoh, Malaysia from March 9-17. “We have called new players in order to fill the gap caused by injuries to players and fitness problems some players are facing,” said chief coach and manager of the team Chaudhary Akhtar Rasool here on Wednesday after a training session of the players.

The invited players are Mazhar Abbas, Fahad Afridi, Aamir Shahzad, Sabtain Raza, Rana Umair, Muzammal Bhatti, Arslan Qadir, Muhammad Suleman and Mohammad Imran Junior. He said with the induction of new players the overall strength of the players would increase to 30 from 21. “We want to ensure every measure to select a balanced combination for producing desired results in the Sultan Azlan Cup. And we are confident the new players will give a good account of themselves by showing promise during the camp training.” He said only fully fit players would be selected in the final squad and no compromise wouldbe made on fitness and form. “Every player, no matter how much useful he is for the team, has to meet the laid down criteria of selection and our long duration camp will help in picking up the most outstanding players for the team,” he concluded.

The Daily Times



Top teams face crucial weekend


Canterbury v Leicester 2012


WITH four of the top five teams in the Investec Women’s Premier Division facing a double-header weekend, the race for a spot in the end of season play-offs is hotting up.

Two matches that were postponed before Christmas have been rescheduled for Sunday, in addition to the regular league programme on Saturday.

Leaders Canterbury face bottom of the table Slough on Saturday, and then take on second-placed Leicester on Sunday.

The East Midlands side will need to be on top form for the Canterbury clash, but also have a tough proposition against Bowdon Hightown 24 hours earlier.

“It’s a very important weekend for us, but we’re as confident as we can be,” said Leicester manager Sue Holwell. “We are at full strength for this weekend.”

Leicester had three players on England duty at the Investec Challenge in South Africa last week – Maddie Hinch, Nic White and Jo Hunter – and they are all in contention for this weekend, along with Irish international Emma Clarke who missed last Saturday’s match through illness.

Leicester will be aiming to keep their run of seven consecutive league wins going, but Holwell added: “It’s going to be a tough weekend. When you play Canterbury you never know what sort of team they will have or how they will play.”

For Bowdon Hightown, their double-header weekend sees them take on fourth-placed Surbiton on Sunday as well as Saturday’s Leicester clash, and two wins could see them move up to third.

Elsewhere, Reading will be aiming to preserve third spot when they travel to the University of Birmingham on Saturday, while on the same day Surbiton entertain Sutton Coldfield.

In the Investec Conference North, University of Durham will be aiming to bounce back from last weekend’s 2-0 defeat at table-topping Beeston with a home match against Doncaster. Meanwhile, Beeston travel to Brooklands Poynton in search of their 12th league win in 13 matches.

Sevenoaks dropped off the top of the table in the Investec Conference East when they were beaten 4-2 by Oxford Hawks last weekend, and will want to go back to first spot with a win at Wimbledon this Saturday.

And in the Investec Conference West, runaway leaders Buckingham realistically only need another two victories to ensure they finish top, and they will be aiming to continue their cracking form with a home match against Barnes Hounslow Ealing.

Tickets for the end of season playoffs, Investec Women’s Finals Weekend, on 20-21 April are on sale now. Find out more and book via www.englandhockey.co.uk/leaguefinals

Investec Women’s Hockey League (Saturday, February 16 2013)

Investec Premier Division

Bowdon Hightown v Leicester 11:45
Olton & West Warwicks v Clifton 12:00
Slough v Canterbury 12:30
Univ of Birmingham v Reading 12:30
Surbiton v Sutton Coldfield 14:00

Investec Conference East
Oxford Hawks v Chelmsford 12:00
Bromley and Beckenham v Horsham 14:00
Ipswich v Harleston Magpies 14:00
Wimbledon v Sevenoaks 14:00
St Albans v Old Loughtonians 15:00

Investec Conference North
Brooklands Poynton v Beeston 12:00
Univ of Durham v Doncaster 12:00
Whitley Bay and Tynemouth v Liverpool Sefton 12:30
Cannock v Ben Rhydding 13:30
Wakefield Bradford v Loughborough Students 13:30

Investec Conference West
Buckingham v Barnes Hounslow Ealing 12:00
Gloucester City v Swansea City 12:00
Stourport v Taunton Vale 12:00
Trojans v Staines 12:00
Isca v Bristol Firebrands 12:30

Investec Women’s Hockey League (Sunday, February 17 2013)

Investec Premier Division

Bowdon Hightown v Surbiton 12:30
Leicester v Canterbury 12:30

England Hockey Board Media release



Surbiton face Canterbury as play-off hopes continue


Chris Grassick Surbiton 2011-12

A FULL strength Surbiton side are preparing to take on Canterbury on Sunday as the race for a place in the end of season play-offs continues to gather pace.

With most teams still in the hunt for a top four place in what looks set to be the closest finish to the Men’s Premier Division for several seasons, every match could prove crucial.

Surbiton manager James Lloyd said his team were relishing the prospect of each and every game from now to the end of the season: “There’s no such thing as an easy game now. Everybody is fighting for their lives to make it to the top four.

“We take each game as it comes. We’ve been training hard and playing well, and the second half of the season started well for us with a good win.

“We played Canterbury at our place earlier in the season and it was a very tight game, so we’re looking forward to the rematch.”

Elsewhere, Loughborough Students could overtake Canterbury into second spot if they beat fourth-placed Cannock, while Reading travel to bottom of the table Southgate in search of a win which could lift them into a top four spot.

Hampstead and Westminster face a double-header weekend with home games against Southgate on Saturday and Brooklands Manchester University on Sunday.

Beeston and East Grinstead have a weekend off domestic hockey with the latter side in European action in Vienna at the EuroHockey Indoor Club Trophy.

The top two meet in the Conference East, with second-placed Wimbledon playing host to leaders Holcombe in a crucial match to the promotion ambitions of both sides.

Conference North leaders Bowdon travel to Preston on Sunday, while Sheffield Hallam – who are just two points behind – host South Yorkshire rivals Doncaster.

And in the Conference West any one of four teams could be top of the table after this Sunday’s matches, with just two points separating first to fourth.

Leaders Guildford go to Fareham on Sunday, third-placed University of Exeter travel to Cheltenham, and fourth-placed Team Bath Buccaneers go to Bristol Firebrands.

Tickets for the end of season playoffs on 13-14 April are on sale now. Find out more and book via www.englandhockey.co.uk/mensfinals

Men’s Hockey League (Saturday, February 16 2013)

Premier Division

Hampstead and Westminster v Southgate 14:00

Conference East
Wimbledon v Holcombe 17:00

Men’s Hockey League (Sunday, February 17 2013)

Premier Division

Canterbury v Surbiton 12:45
Hampstead and Westminster v Brooklands MU 14:00
Southgate v Reading 14:00
Cannock v Loughborough Students 14:30

Conference East
Cambridge City v Indian Gymkhana 12:30
Oxted v Richmond 12:45
Bromley and Beckenham v City of Peterborough 13:00
Old Loughtonians v Teddington 14:00

Conference North
Sheffield Hallam v Doncaster 13:30
Univ of Durham v Khalsa (Warks) 13:30
Belper v Olton and West Warwicks 14:00
Preston v Bowdon 14:00
Wakefield v Leek 14:00

Conference West
Cheltenham v Univ of Exeter 13:00
Fareham v Guildford 13:30
Bristol Firebrands v Team Bath Buccaneers 14:00
Havant v Univ of Birmingham 14:00

England Hockey Board Media release



Jackson returns for East Grinstead Euro campaign


Ashley Jackson at Maxifuel Super Sixes championships at St George's Park 2012

East Grinstead Manager Matt Jones says his side is in good spirits ahead of this weekend’s EuroHockey Indoor Nations Trophy in Vienna.

The Maxifuel Super Sixes champions are bolstered by the return of talisman Ashley Jackson, now a champion of the Hockey India League which his Ranchi Rhinos side won last weekend.

Speaking to the England Hockey website ahead of the team’s departure today, Jones said: “Our preparation has been fabulous. We’re buoyed by Ashley’s return and the club’s success from Wembley Arena, which is still being celebrated.

“We’ve taken the momentum of the indoor season into the outdoor season and we’re looking to continue our rich vein of positivity to Vienna.” “The last time we were there we gained promotion to the top flight and we want to repeat that this weekend, albeit in a new venue.”

For East Grinstead to achieve promotion again they will need to finish inside the top two of the eight team tournament and Jones admitted while his side is confident in its abilities, it faces a tough task.

“We’ve got a nice early start on Friday morning against Lousada of Portugal [East Grinstead’s match is at 10:30am] and we’re first up on Saturday too at 9:00am but looking at our opposition and our history against most of the sides there we can be confident we’re in with a shout. We have great strength in depth.”

Following their opener against the Portuguese, East Grinstead will square up to Scottish side Grove Menzieshill on Friday afternoon in a match that throws up an intriguing sibling rivalry. While Niall Stott will line up for EG, his younger brother Ross will be on the pitch for the Dundee pair’s hometown club. Adding an extra dimension, in facing East Grinstead Stott junior will be lining up against the side he played for last season. HC Minsk round off the Pool opponents for the English indoor champions.

Talking about the opponents East Grinstead are set to face, Jones added: “Going to a European competition is very different to playing indoors domestically because you come up against varying styles of play. The Belarusians and Ukrainians have a very different attitude to playing than say the Austrians and Scots who play what you might consider a definitively indoor style, more akin to the likes of Germany.

“It’s going to be tough. Grove and AHTC [from Austria] will be in the running and there’s always an outsider but I would see EG in the hunt, though we’ll need to hit the ground running. Friday is very important to the club.”

East Grinstead has made just one change to the team that won the Maxifuel Super Sixes at the end of January with Jackson returning for Adam Harper, who misses the tournament due to work commitments. Czech international goalkeeper Filip Neusser will bring his vast indoor experience to the campaign with GB internationals Glenn Kirkham, Niall Stott, Mark Pearn and Richard Smith also involved. It will be Smith’s last appearance in an EG shirt before he returns to Belgium for the outdoor season with Royal Racing Club de Bruxelles.

East Grinstead Fixtures
Friday 15 February

10:30hrs local (09:30hrs GMT) – v AD Lousada (POR)
16: 40hrs local (15:40hrs GMT) – v Grove Menzieshill (SCO)

Saturday 16 February
09:00hrs local (08:00hrs GMT) – v HC Minsk
tbc – Classfication Match

Sunday 17 February
Classification Match

Teams are awarded five points for a victory, two points for a draw and one point for a loss of less than one goal.

England Hockey Board Media release



National sport stars tell it straight – Play by the Rules

While sport has dominated the news for all the wrong reasons lately, it’s time to share some positive messages from one of our current Test Cricket greats, an Olympic Cycling Gold Medallist, a Socceroo, and one of our Hockeyroos.

Four of Australia’s best known sport stars have each recorded a 30-second Community Service Announcement for the national Play by the Rules initiative to promote safe, fair and inclusive sport. The big four are:
•    Anna Flanagan  (Hockeyroos)
•    Peter Siddle  (Australian Cricket Team) 
•    Anna Meares  (Cycling Gold Medallist, 2012 Olympics)
•    Archie Thompson  (Socceroos and Melbourne Victory)

The messages capture the best of our sporting spirit: that it's fine to be competitive, but everyone deserves respect and a fair go, fellow competitors and officials alike, and regardless of their race, gender, religion, or sexual preference.

The four messages are also very timely: with the Australian Cricket Team overseas taking on India; the A-League season building up to the crescendo of the finals series; the Cycling World Championships are rapidly approaching; and the Hockey World Cup is also on the horizon. The CSAs will be broadcast between 14 February and 14 April 2013.

Following are the four links. Simply press Ctrl+Click on each one to open and download the audio.
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE CSA FROM ANNA FLANAGAN
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO RIC CHARLESWORTH'S MESSAGES


Play by the Rules is a unique partnership of 20 government agencies around Australia, including the Australian Sports Commission, each state/territory sport and recreation department, each state/territory anti-discrimination agency, the Australian and New Zealand Sports Law Association (ANZSLA) and the NSW Commission for Children and Young People. See www.playbytherules.net.au for details.

Hockey Australia media release



Greek warm-up for Uddingston outdoor preparations


Uddingston Goal Celebration [source: Uddingston Facebook page]

Uddingston Hockey Club travel to Greece this week to compete in an invitational tournament hosted by Ethnikos Hockey Club in Athens.

As part of their preparations for the resumption of the Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 2 season, the club will play Russian side St. Petersburg HC and French side Le Touquet HC during the tournament, which will be played at the Olympic Hockey Centre created for the 2004 Games.

Club coach Steven Percy has two main reasons for the training camp in Athens,

“The first is an opportunity to get some guaranteed warm weather and purposeful training done before we start the second half of the season, “ said Percy. “In Scotland there are no guarantees of pitches being playable at this time of year and the tournament gives us three games against good opposition that will be challenging.

"Secondly, it's a great development opportunity for our players to experience hockey abroad and continue in our drive towards promotion to Division 1.”

Club captain Nairn Scobie added, “Our main ambition is to travel there and play to the high standard of hockey we know we are capable of.  Little is known of the opposition, but if we perform to our potential then I am confident of victories in the matches.

The tournament will take place from 15-17 February.

Uddingston squad: Craig Wallace(GK), Nairn Scobie (C), Alan Hamilton, Laurie McKelvie, David Goodfellow, Daniel Stirling, Andrew Baxter, Martin Lorimer, Thomas Hyndman, Martin McIntosh, Martyn Connor, Jonjo Lavin, Andrew Fleming, Brian Stirling, Andrew McArthur.

Coach: Steven Percy

Scottish Hockey Union media release