News for 01 March 2013

All the news for Friday 1 March 2013


Trio maintain winning run in Rio

Two wins from two for Argentina, South Africa & Chile in WLR2

Jonathan Cook



Argentina men have scored 19 goals and conceded just twice in their opening two matches of the tournament.

It was another day of heavy scoring at the Hockey World League Round 2 event in Rio de Janeiro, with Argentina, South Africa and Chile maintaining their 100 % win records in the competition. Argentina beat Brazil 10-0, South Africa outlasted the USA 6-1 and Chile beat Trinidad and Tobago 4-0 on the second day of competition at the Deodoro Field Hockey Stadium.

Argentina vs Brazil

World number 10 Argentina beat Brazil 10-0 in the early Test match after leading 6-0 at half-time and looked very good in the process.

The World League Round 2 favourites here in Rio are not ranked 10th in the world for nothing and it is the prowess of this Argentine side in all facets of play that marks them as the team to beat.

Guillermo Schickendantz netted hat-trick (one from field play and two after penalty corners) with his goals coming in the 29th, 33rd and 64th minutes.

Gonzalo Peillat’s metronomic success at corner time continued with a strike of his own in the second minute to back Schickendantz’s efforts.

Some of the Argentine plays were quite breathtaking, not only or necessarily in their finish but rather in the conception and execution through a number of sticks, with the full width and length of the park being utilised to the utmost.

The irrepressible Vila trio of Matias, Rodrigo and Lucas can never be ignored and this time it was a hat-trick by the superb Lucas Vila with strikes in the 17th, 35th and 57th minutes that caught the eye. Further field goals went to a brace by Enrique Paredes (43rd and 51st minutes) and one strike from the stick of Nahuel Salis (13th minute).

South Africa vs USA

This was a hard-fought encounter with the Americans giving as good as they got but South Africa prevailed 6-1.

South Africa led 1-0 at half-time and were left to reflect on two efforts that hit the woodwork – both from the stick of Austin Smith - one from a penalty corner, the other via field play.

That is not to say that Rassie Pieterse in the SA goal was a mere onlooker, as USA dynamo and captain Pat Harris led by example and there were moments of magic from the frontrunners.

However, the South Africans under head coach Charlie Pereira and captain Rhett Halkett did not panic – and the goals duly came post the changeover.

After Clint Panther’s early strike in the third minute it took another 36 minutes before SA doubled their score, the last five SA goals coming in 22 minutes of great play.

SA scored the other five goals through Tim Drummond (39th minute), Lloyd Norris-Jones (42nd and 60th minutes) and Smith (54th) and Julian Hykes (56th) while the USA were rewarded for their endeavours when Manuel Martinez pulled one back in the 63rd minute.

Chile vs Trinidad & Tobago

Chile beat T&T 4-0 after leading 2-0 at half-time but it was not without considerable effort.

As early as the third minute Chile’s Jaime Zarhi scored a great rebound goal, batting the ball into the net on the volley after T&T goalkeeper Andrey Rocke had made a great save from the first penalty corner of the match.

Then Rocke made a superb diving save low to his right as Chile continued to apply the pressure and T&T struggled to break out of the stifling confines of their defensive 23-metre area.

A stunning glove save by Rocke from Martin Rodriguez’s backhand blast in the 22nd minute did more than just hint as to the immense pressure being placed on the keeper.

In the 29th minute Chile tried a slip-left at yet another PC and it worked a treat – the slap for the far post finding the angled stick of Fernando Binder who directed the ball into the roof of the net (2-0).

T&T head coach Glen Francis and captain Darren Cowie were vocal in urging their charges on to greater efforts, while the Chile bench was also vociferous in demanding accuracy.

After 2-0 at half-time, the second half was a rousing affair with both circles peppered with activity, but Alexis Berczely made it 3-0 in the 44th minute via a penalty corner and the last goal in the match came from Sven Richter in the 60th.

Friday is a rest day before the action resumes Saturday.

FIH site



Coach Pereira pleased SA kept their heads after frustrating first half

JONATHAN COOK in Rio de Janeiro



Clint Panther in control. Photo: LU VALLIATI

The South Africa men's hockey team withstood a determined USA before coming away with a 6-1 win after the score was 1-0 at half-time in the World League Round 2 match at the Deodoro in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Thursday.

SA's goals came from Clint Panther (third minute), Tim Drummond (seventh minute), a brace from Lloyd Norris-Jones (42nd and 60th minutes), a penalty corner by Austin Smith (54th minute), and a further field goal from Julian Hykes (56th minute) while the USA scored through Manuel Martinez in the 63rd minute.

SA head coach Charlie Pereira was pleased with the way his players kept their heads despite the frustrations of the first half.

"Yes, we could have got frustrated being only 1-0 up, we had a few chances that should have gone in, Austin Smith hit the post twice, one coming in on the left and the other from a penalty corner, so we could easily have been 3-0 up," Pereira said.

"I told the lads at half-time that we must keep doing what we do, playing to our plan with a good structure, and it paid off with five very good goals in the second half, so the key for me was in our guys not getting frustrated."

Pereira, however, is still not satisfied with the amount of ball being given away.

"Yes, in the attacking third of the field we were wasteful again, trying to hit those big balls [into the strike zone], that glory pass, and I just told the guys that we need to make one more pass, and if it's not on, let's wait for support and set it up, otherwise we are just hitting good ball away and not capitalising on quality turnover possession where we can punish the opposition."

The win makes it two from two for SA, who beat Brazil 9-0 in the opening match on Wednesday.

Next up, SA face Trinidad and Tobago at 4 pm Saturday before taking on favourites and world number 10 Argentina at the same time on Sunday.

Argentina beat Brazil 10-0 Thursday and demolished Trinidad and Tobago 9-2 on Wednesday.

SA Hockey Association media release



U.S. Men suffer 6-1 loss to No. 12 South Africa at World League Round 2

Rookie Manny Martinez scores Team USA's lone goal in the second match of World League Round 2


RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The U.S. faced a tough 6-1 loss against South Africa today after a strong first half performance in the second match of World League Round 2 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Team USA held the No. 12 world ranked team to only one goal in the first half and had several chances to equalize the match with four penalty corners. Manny Martinez (San Diego, Cali.), playing in his second international tournament with the U.S. Men’s National Team, recorded the lone goal of the match and chronicled the second goal of his career with the national team.

“We had an amazing first half against the No. 12 world ranked team today,” said Chris Clements, U.S. Men's National Team head coach. “We made one error early in the game which resulted in a goal for South Africa. We had four good penalty corner opportunities, which is one of our strengths, but unfortunately they did not work in our favor. There was a five minute stint in the second half where South Africa was able to score three goals. While we are playing well for longer periods, we must play for the entire 70 minutes against a quality opponent like South Africa."

South Africa came out in the second half with more energy and power, scoring two quick field goals in the 39th and 41st minute. They capitalized on two penalty corner opportunities and found the back of the net once more for a field goal before locking in the 6-1 victory.

Martinez sent a reverse shot to the far corner of the cage to tally Team USA’s only goal in the 63rd minute. Martinez made his debut with the National Team at World League Round 1 in Chula Vista, Cali. and recorded the first goal of his career in a match against Guatemala.

“It was great to get on the board and see Manny score. It shows that we are creating chances, we now just need to benefit from them,” Clements said.

“I think we played well at times and were able to match South Africa’s play but we couldn’t maintain the pace of the game,” said U.S. National Team veteran Ian Scally. “We got excited and lost composure. We started running when we needed to control the ball and they were able to score some goals. Those moments hurt us.”

The U.S. will look to improve their World League Round 2 record against host nation Brazil on Saturday, March 2 at 9:00 a.m. local time. In spite of the two early losses, Scally is optimistic and says he believes the team can secure wins in the remaining matches.

USFHA media release



Chile breaks Calypso Stickmen 4-0

Nigel Simon


T&T’s men hockey squad was beaten 4-0 by rivals Chile for a second straight loss in their six-team Second Round of FIH World Hockey League qualifiers at the Deodoro Field Hockey Centre, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, yesterday.

Following Wednesday’s 9-2 hammering by recently crowned South American champions and world tenth-ranked Argentina in their opener, T&T captain Darren Cowie and his world 34th-ranked squad were hoping for a repeat of their 2-1 win on home soil over the Chileans when T&T hosted the Round One qualifiers last November at the National Hockey Centre, Tacarigua.

However, Chile, coming off a hard fought 1-0 win over USA in its opener, which preceded a runner-up finish at the South American Championship in early February, was in no mood to suffer a second straight loss to the “Calypso Stickmen” and used goals from four different players to keep pace with Argentina and South Africa at the top of the table with six points each.

For the 25th-ranked Chile, Jamie Zarhi banged the opener as early as the third minute past T&T goalkeeper Andrey Rocke before Fernando Fernandes made it 2-0 just before the half.

On the resumption, Alexis Berczely with a 44th-minute penalty corner and Sven Richter, ten minutes from full-time, added one each for Chile, which now sits third on the table based on goal difference behind Argentina and South Africa.

The Argentinians continued their free scoring by blasting host Brazil 10-0 led by hat-tricks from Lucas Vila (17th, 35th, 57th) and Guillermo Schickendantz (29th, 33rd, 64th) while Matias Paredes added a double (43rd, 51st), all after Gonzalo Peillat and Nahuel Salis made it 2-0 with items in the eighth and 13th minute, respectively.

South Africa also continued its goal onslaught by hammering USA 6-1 to add to its 9-2 thrashing of Brazil. For the Proteas, Lloyd Norris-Jones helped himself to a second-half brace (42nd, 60th) while Clinton Panther, Timothy Drummond, Austin Smith and Julian Hykes chipped in with the others. USA got its lone reply via Manuel Alan Martinez in the 63rd.

Today is a rest day for all teams, while tomorrow the T&T squad, without the services of England-based Kwandwane Browne due to club commitments and the quartet of Shaquille Daniel, Fire Service recruit Kiel Murray, Alan Henderson and Andrew Vieira due to work and school duties, will go after its first win when it faces South Africa from 10 am, while USA and Brazil flick off the day’s action two hours earlier. Argentina and Chile then close out the day’s action in a repeat of the South American final, which ended 4-3.

World Hockey League men’s results

Yesterday:

Argentina 10 (Lucas Vila 17th, 35th, 57th, Guillermo Schickendantz 29th, 33rd, 64th, Matias Paredes 43rd, 51st, Gonzalo Peillat 8th, Nahuel Salis 13th) vs Brazil 0
South Africa 6 (Lloyd Norris-Jones 42nd, 60th, Clinton Panther 3rd, Timothy Drummond 39th, Austin Smith 54th, Julian Hykes 56th) vs USA 1 (Manuel Alan Martinez 63rd)
Chile 4 (Jaime Zarhi 3rd, Fernando Fernandes 27th, Alexis Berczely 44th, Sven Richter 60th) vs T&T 0

Remaining schedule:
Tomorrow:

USA vs Brazil, 8 am
T&T vs South Africa, 10 am
Chile vs Argentina, 2.30 pm

Sunday:
USA vs T&T, 8 am
South Africa vs Argentina, 10 am
Brazil vs Chile, 12.30 pm

Tuesday:
Chile vs South Africa, 8 am
Argentina vs USA, 10 am
Brazil vs T&T, 2.30 pm

The Trinidad Guardian



T&T hockey women off to Rio

Nigel Simon



Members of the T&T women’s hockey team and technical staff pose for a team photo at the Piarco International Aiport yesterday prior to their departure for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where they will compete in the Second Round qualification of the FIH World Hockey League from Monday until Sunday March 10. Photo: Courtesy Sean Olton

The local women’s hockey team departed yesterday for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where they will also compete in second round qualification of the FIH World Hockey League, part of the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) quest to make the qualification process for the World Cup and the Olympics as inclusive as possible.

The League has four rounds running from August 2012 to February 2014. This competition is T&T’s second step toward qualification for the 2014 World Cup.

The Alanna Lewis-skippered T&T women’s team, ranked 27th in the world, advanced to the second round of qualification after ending third in the six-team first round qualification series at the National Hockey Centre, Tacarigua, last November behind fellow qualifiers Canada and Uruguay.

In Rio, T&T will once again face Uruguay along with USA, Scotland, Chile and Brazil from Monday until Sunday March 10 at the Deodoro Field Hockey Centre.

Included in the T&T squad, coached by Ian Harris, are several under-21 players who are set to debut after receiving their first call-up.

They include 15-year-old Brianna Govia, 18-year-olds Elise Olton and Kayla Braithwaite, Arielle Cowie, 20-year-old Brittney Hingh and the experienced Oire Trotman make their return.

Among the notable absentees are Kristin Thompson, 2011 T&T Hockey Board “Player of the Year,” and former vice captain Patricia Alexis.

Prior to their departure, manager of the women’s team Jameel Beharry said the team may rue the unavailability of several key players, but the introduction of the younger players is an indication of the plans by management to integrate its young, energetic players with the more seasoned campaigners.

The American women enter as the highest-ranked team at tenth followed by Chile (18th), Scotland (19th), T&T, Uruguay (50th) and host nation Brazil at 51.

The two highest finishers in this tournament are guaranteed a place in Round 3.

Team
Alanna Lewis (captain), Stephanie Whiteman, Kayla Brathwaite, Brianna Govia, Elise Olton, Brittney Hingh, Oire Trotman, Arielle Cowie, Teresa Lezama, Zene Henry, Avion Ashton, Petal Derry (GK), Blair Wynne, Sekayi Liburd, Kwylan Jaggassar, Arielle Williams, Jenielle Carrington (GK), Krizia Layne.
Technical staff: Ian Harris (coach), Jameel Beharry (manager), Abigail Agard (massage therapist), Cindy Martin-Faustin (head of delegation/chaperone), Dr Zynul Khan (Doctor), Karielle de Bique (physiotherapist), Kamasha Robinson (psychologist), Nicholas Baldeosingh (videographer) and Chad Pedro (analyst/IT support).

T&T fixtures
Monday     vs Scotland
Tuesday    vs Chile
Thursday    vs Uruguay
Saturday    vs Brazil
Sunday   vs USA

The Trinidad Guardian



Rain halts play in Valencia World League action

Games rescheduled for tomorrow


The rain in Spain fell not so gently on the plains creating a rain delay at the Hockey World League Round 2 tournament in Valencia. Because of a steady downpour, the game between Belarus and the Czech Republic had to be suspended with 11 minutes left in the first half. When the game was halted, Belarus held a 1-0 lead thanks to a goal from Ryta Batura.

Assuming the skies clear tomorrow, the new playing schedule will be:

Friday, March 1 – Belarus vs. Czech Republic (remainder of game) 10:00

Friday, March 1 – Spain vs. Italy 12:00

All of the other games on the schedule will proceed as previously planned with two games each on both Saturday and Sunday.

FIH site



Black Sticks Women have chance for historic series win


Katie Glynn gets challenged

The Black Sticks Women are once again punching above their weight, drawing today’s match 3-3 against a full strength Argentina side and keeping the five test series alive.

A win in tomorrow’s final game would give the young Black Sticks side a series win against the Olympic silver medallists. The Black Sticks have only ever won two series against Argentina.

Senior players Katie Glynn, Anita Punt and Gemma Flynn were the goal scorers today and there could have been a fourth scorer had a penalty corner right on full time gone the Kiwi’s way. The corner was awarded, but it was saved by the Argentina goal keeper.

“The first half was poor – we lacked structure, didn’t have flow and our basic skills weren’t good. It was a lucky half time score,” says head coach Mark Hager.

“The second half was pretty solid – we really controlled the game, got our structure on attack and defence back. It was very much a game of two halves today,” says Hager.

Black Stick Katie Glynn opened the scoring in the first five minutes when she scored from a goalmouth scramble. Argentina controlled the next twenty minutes with goals from Noel Barrionuevo, Martina Cavallero and Carla Rebechhi. Just before half time, Anita Punt clawed one back after taking a cracking reverse stick shot which took the score to 2-3.

New Zealand’s performance in the second half was much improved. Gemma Flynn scored the only goal of the half after she received a cross from the right hand side, scrambled and tapped it in.

“Argentina played with a lot of energy and aggression today – more than we have seen in the other games. It has been a pretty quick pace for the younger players, they are doing well, but they need to come out and perform again tomorrow,” says Hager.

Stand out players were Anita Punt and Pippa Hayward.

Argentina, along with Korea and the United States, will be coming to New Zealand in April to play in the Four Nations Tournament being held in Whangarei, Hamilton and Tauranga.

The final game will be broadcast on Sky Sport 1 on Saturday 2nd March at 2pm (delayed).

RESULTS
New Zealand 3 (Katie Glynn, Anita Punt, Gemma Flynn), Argentina 3 (Noel Barrionuevo, Martina Cavallero, Carla Rebecchi). HT: 2-3

Previous results from series
First game: 4-1 (Argentina win)
Second game: 1-1
Third game: 4-1 (New Zealand win)

Hockey New Zealand Media release



Black Sticks earn draw with Argentina

By David Leggat


The Black Sticks have a chance to win their five-game test series against Argentina after drawing the fourth international 3-3 in Rosario today.

Goals to striker Katie Glynn and midfielders Anita Punt and Gemma Flynn ensured the game against the Olympic silver medallists would continue New Zealand's improvement as the series has advanced.

New Zealand lost the first international 4-1, drew the second 1-1 and bagged a 4-1 win on Wednesday.

That suggests steady progress, and captain for the day Punt admitted as much.

"There is definitely more understanding of our structure and we're working together," she said.

"You can tell came by game we are building as a team."

Argentina led New Zealand, who are ranked No 3 in the world, one spot behind their hosts, 3-2 at halftime.

However Flynn's goal early in the second half tied things up and New Zealand had one final opportunity with a penalty corner in the closing seconds, which was blocked.

World No 2 Argentina brought on their star player, Luciana Aymar in the second half as they sought to put the game to bed. But it's a sign of growing self-belief that the third-ranked Black Sticks, using a different structure, were good enough to share the points.

There was less space in the midfield than in Wednesday's game, as Argentina adjusted to New Zealand's approach.

However Punt believed a win had been achievable.

"It felt a little flat today and took us a while to fire. We're happy to come away with a draw, but disappointed we didn't get a win.

"There were a few disappointing calls from the refs but we have to roll with that."

The series decider is in Rosario tomorrow. Wednesday's win was just New Zealand's eighth in 49 internationals against Argentina. They've always been difficult opponents for the Black Sticks, and a small slice of history beckons coach Mark Hager and his team tomorrow.

The New Zealand Herald



Black Sticks draw 3-3 with Argentina

New Zealand and Argentina will play a series decider tomorrow after drawing the fourth women's hockey test 3-3 in Rosario.

The youthful women's Black Sticks trailed 3-2 after an end-to-end first half but they tightened up defensively in the second half and found an equaliser through Gemma Flynn against an Argentina side strengthened by the return of star player Luciana Aymar.

It was the second draw of the series and with each team having claimed a 4-1 win, the series will be decided in the fifth and final test tomorrow morning (10.30am NZT).

"First half was poor, lacked structure and didn't have flow," New Zealand coach Mark Hager said.

"A lot of our basic skills weren't good in the first half, I think it was a lucky half time score. However, second half was pretty solid.

"We really controlled the game, got our structure on attack and defence back. Very much a game of two halves."

The Olympic silver medallists and world No 2-ranked hosts scored three times in the first half, through Noel Barrionuevo, Martina Cavallero and Carla Rebecchi, with Anita Punt and Katie Glynn able to answer them.

Flynn grabbed New Zealand's third goal and the Kiwis almost pinched the match on fulltime from a penalty corner but they were thwarted by the home keeper.

Stuff



Junior Men drop game against Australia

A strong start and finish by the Junior Black Sticks Men was not enough to clinch a win against Australia, going down 2-4 at the Junior World Cup Qualifiers on the Gold Coast.

It was a much different game from the 15-0 win yesterday against Papua New Guinea, and despite goals from Auckland’s Jared Panchia and Southern’s Jeremy Morris, it was not enough to give the Kiwis the win they were after.

“We started pretty well and created some good chances in the first 15 minutes, but then Australia scored two quick goals and that put us on the back foot,” said head coach Grant Edwards.    

Panchia scored in the first half when he received the ball and took a quick shot from the top of the circle, taking the score to 2-1. Australia then stretched their lead to 3-1 before half time. Australia held the majority of the possession in the second half scoring early on. With less than 10 minutes on the clock, Morris scored from a follow up at a penalty corner and although it kicked the Kiwis into action, it was too little too late.

Stand out players in today’s game were Auckland’s Kim Kingstone and Panchia.

Edwards said the focus for their next game (against Vanuatu this Saturday at 3pm NZ time) is to keep a consistent level of performance throughout and not let the opposition take control of the game.

The Junior Black Sticks Women are also in the Gold Coast playing three tests against Australia, while the men are playing games against Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Australia with the top two qualifying for the 2013 Junior World Cups. Assuming the men qualify, both coaches will be using the National Under-21 Tournament in May as a final opportunity to select their team.

RESULTS
Australia 4, New Zealand 2 (Jared Panchia, Jeremy Morris). HT: 3-1.

Match Schedule, Junior World Cup Qualifier (Gold Coast), NZ Time

Women’s schedule

Wednesday 27 Feb – Australia (3-1 Australia win)
7pm, Friday 1 March – Australia
3pm, Sunday 3 March – Play-offs

Men’s schedule
Wednesday 27 Feb – Papua New Guinea (15-0 NZ win)
Thursday 28 Feb - Australia (4-2 Australia win)
3pm, Saturday 2 March – Vanuatu
From 1pm, Sunday 3 March – Play-offs

Hockey New Zealand Media release



Hockey 5s format to be trialed in Hong Kong

World Hockey Challenge players to test new format


HONG KONG -- As the birthplace of the famed Hong Kong Rugby Sevens, it should be no surprise that the Hong Kong Football Club is continuing to break barriers in the short format of major sports. The latest sports innovation from the Club is on the hockey field at the 2013 Hong Kong Football Club Hockey 6s March 28-30.

Already playing host to the first ever World Hockey Challenge featuring 25 of the world’s premier hockey stars, the HKFC Hockey 6s has now been tapped by hockey’s world governing body, the FIH to trial the first international 5s competition.

In 2012, the FIH proposed the 5s format for the next Youth Olympics to be hosted in Nanjing, China in 2014.  The Hong Kong Football Club Hockey 6s presents FIH with a unique opportunity to trial the format using some of the world’s premier players appearing at the HKFC Hockey 6s.

Due to the greater accessibility of short-form hockey for youth and the ability to play it on non-regulation hockey pitches, the hockey 5s format is seen as a key element for the future development and growth of the sport worldwide.

Making use of the star players appearing in the HKFC Hockey 6s and the World Hockey Challenge Hong Kong, a special mini-series of Hockey 5s will be trialed for the first time at the Hockey 6s.

Players from the four international teams (Australia, Great Britain, Holland and the Asian Barbarians) participating in the HKFC Hockey 6s will be split into four five-aside teams, taking on unique team names representing the four traditional Chinese elements: Earth, Wind, Fire and Water, to compete in the 5s exhibition.

“The HKFC Hockey 6s is a great setting to give the Hockey 5s format a trial run,” said FIH Sport Director David Luckes. “With the calibre of players at the Hong Kong tournament combined with the timing of the event, we felt this was the perfect opportunity to get meaningful feedback on the format before the 2014 Youth Olympic Games.”

Mr Patrick Watts, Chairman of the HKFC Hockey 6s organizing committee, said:

“2013 is shaping up to be a milestone year for the HKFC Hockey 6s. Our long-running social tournament will still feature the 6s format launched by Hong Kong Football Club, which has proven extremely popular, but we are also extremely excited to be the first international event to officially trial the 5s format.

“It is a great opportunity for us to introduce the format to the hockey community in Hong Kong and Asia, particularly ahead of the Youth Games next year in Nanjing. We are honoured to have been asked to trial the format for FIH and we look forward to audience and player feedback.

“From a player’s perspective, the two formats are similar in many respects and we are confident that the 5s exhibition series will provide even more excitement in what is already a jam-packed event,” said Mr Watts.

The international 5s mini-series will be played within the Hong Kong Football Club Hockey 6s from March 28 -30. The Mini 5s matches will feature three, ten-minute periods and will be played on the following schedule.

Friday 29th March 7:00- 8:30pm
Saturday 30th March 1:30-3:00pm and 6:30-8:00pm

FIH site



Baljit, Ismail and Amin dropped

Baljit Singh, Ismail Abu and Mohd Amin Rahim were the surprise exclusions when the squad for the Azlan Shah Cup was named today by Paul Revington.

But the trio have a chance to fight for two more spots available as Revs will name the players after the two friendlies next week.

The duo are however in the 22 strong squad named to face New Zealand in two friendlies in Malacca on March 4 and 5.

AZLAN SHAH CUP SQUAD

S.Kumar, Roslan Jamaluddin, Mohd Razie Rahim, Azlan Misron, Jivan Mohan, Faisal Saari, Faiz Helmi, Chua Boon Huat, Sukri Abdul Mutalib, Mohammad Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin,Mohd Fitri Saari, Shahrun Nabil Abdullah, Azammi Adabi, Marhan Mohd Jalil, Nabil Fiqri Mohd Noor, Tengku Ahmad Tajudin Abdul Jalil

Malaysian Hockey blogspot



Baljit must do it the hard way

By Jugjet Singh


NATIONAL chief coach Paul Revington named 16 players for the Azlan Shah Cup on March 9-17, and conspicuously missing was defender Baljit Singh.

However the defender, together with Amin Rahim and striker Ismail Abu will get a second chance to prove their worth when Revington pits his players against defending champions New Zealand on March 3 and 4 in Malacca.

"I have only picked 16 players while two more will be included after the New Zealand friendlies in Malacca. The battle for spots is so intense that some of the regulars like Baljit and Amin will have to fight for their positions," said Revington.

Malaysia will be up against India, Pakistan, South Korea, Australia and defending champions New Zealand in the Azlan Shah Cup.

Malaysia play South Korea in their opening match.

MALAYSIA: S. Kumar (gk), Roslan Jamaluddin (gk), Razie Rahim, Azlan Misron, Jivan Mohan, Faisal Saari, Faiz Helmi, Chua Boon Huat, Sukri Mutalib, Izad Hakimi, Fitri Saari, Shahrun Nabil, Azammi Adabi, Marhan Jalil, Nabil Fiqri, Tengku Ahmad Tajudin.

New Straits Times



Baljit, Amin and Ismail left out of Sultan Azlan Shah squad

KUALA LUMPUR: Experienced defenders Baljit Singh and Mohd Amin Rahim and forward Ismail Abu have been left out of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup squad.

However the trio, along with Amir Farid and Norhizzat Sumantri, can still vie for the two remaining spots which have been left vacant by coach Paul Revington, when he named the team for the March 9-17 Ipoh tournament.

These two slots will be filled after the two friendlies against New Zealand in Malacca on March 4 and 5.

Goalkeeper S. Kumar and forward Faizal Saari are back in the team after their playing stints in the Indian Hockey League.

Nabil Fiqri Mohd Nor, who has only just recovered from an injury, is also in the team.

Hosts Malaysia will be up against India, Pakistan, South Korea, Australia and defending champions New Zealand in the 22nd edition of the tournament.

The Ipoh meet will be the first big tournament for Revington on Malaysian soil.

For the record, Malaysia finished sixth out of seven teams last year after losing 3-2 to South Korea in the fifth-sixth placing match.

Malaysia will start this year’s campaign against South Korea on March 9.

The Star of Malaysia



Contrasting approaches

THE second leg semi-finals of the Junior Hockey League Milo Cup are a foregone conclusion, as UniKL Young Guns and Tengku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI) look forward to playing in their fourth consecutive final on Sunday.

UniKL Young Guns beat SSTMI Juniors 6-0 while SSTMI hit eight past Anderson to turn the return legs into mere warm-ups for the big clash.

UniKL won the first encounter in 2010, but lost the second and third to SSTMI.

"There is nothing to worry about the return leg tomorrow (today), as we gave it all in the first by scoring eight goals. UniKL were also impressive over our sister team, and I expect the final to be another cracker on Sunday," said SSTMI coach Wan Roslan Wan Rahman.

SSTMI travel to Ipoh for the return leg, which might just turn into another whipping exercise if Wan Roslan decides to avenge their 3-2 defeat to Anderson in the league.

As for UniKL coach K. Embaraj, there is no slowing down even with a six-goal cushion.

"I've had bad experiences in the past to learn from, and so, I will not break my players momentum by asking them to slow down in the second leg.

"We will continue with the same structure and speed which saw us win 13-0 (in aggregate) in the two leg quarter-finals and also the 6-0 score in the semis.

"I want my players to be psyched up for the final, as we don't want to end up as bridesmaids for the third time," said Embaraj.

Today -- Semi-finals, 2nd leg: Andersons (0) v Tengku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (8) (Azlan Shah Stadium, 5pm); SSTMI Juniors (0) v UniKL Young Guns (6) (Taman Daya, 5pm) -- first leg scores in parenthesis.

New Straits Times



Thunderbolt and UniKL players told to avoid picking up bookings

By S. RAMAGURU


KUALA LUMPUR: The MHC-Milo-NSC Junior Hockey League semi-final, second leg ties today are a foregone conclusion.

SSTMI-Thunderbolt and Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) have such huge first-leg leads that they are already thinking about the final.

And who can blame them?

Thunderbolt hold an 8-0 lead over MBI-Anderson while UniKL have a 6-0 advantage over SSTMI Juniors.

If there’s one thing that the two finalists-elect have to worry about today is that their players do not get cautioned and miss the final.

UniKL are lucky that Mohd Azrul Hasbullah, who was yellow carded in the first-leg on Wednesday, will only miss the second leg and be free to play in the final.

But their other key player, Norshafiq Sumantri, is treading on thin ice. He has six demerit points and can ill-afford another yellow card in the return leg.

Thunderbolt have no such worries, although things could change in the return leg.

UniKL coach K. Embaraj pointed out that there’s no reason for his players to risk getting yellow-carded or even injured at this stage.

“Yes, both teams have good advantages and all we need to do is get through our matches. But we’re not going to be complacent ... we’ll play to win and try out some new moves which we can use for the final,” he said.

The battle for supremacy between Thunderbolt and UniKL is not all about the overall title. There’s also another fight going on for the top scorer’s award.

UniKL’s Mohd Shafiq Zulzairin leads the way with 12 goals but he’s being hotly pursued by two Thunderbolt players — Mohd Shahril Saabah and Mohd Hafiz Saleman, who have both scored eight goals.

The Star of Malaysia



Loughborough face East Grinstead challenge


Loughborough Students Henry Weir

HAVING seen East Grinstead overtake them in the battle for a place in the end of season play-offs, Loughborough Students will be aiming to return the favour when they play host to the Sussex side in the Men’s Premier Division on Sunday.

Loughborough dropped to seventh after they lost to leaders Beeston, while East Grinstead scraped a 1-0 win over Hampstead and Westminster.

But with the race for a top four finish being one of the closest for several seasons, the Students will be aiming to climb into contention with a repeat of the 5-4 win they secured over East Grinstead in October.

“It’s always going to give you a bit of confidence knowing you’ve beaten them before,” said Loughborough Team Manager Michael Lloyd. “But they are an excellent team and will have taken confidence from how well they played in Europe.”

Loughborough face Brooklands MU, Reading and Hampstead and Westminster in the final three matches, and Lloyd added: “We’ve already got a result against Reading this season, so we don’t really fear any of the teams we’ve got left.”

Elsewhere in the Premier Division, fifth-placed Surbiton face a tough match at home against runaway leaders Beeston, while Reading host bottom of the table Brooklands. Both Surbiton and Reading are hosting showpiece events for fans this weekend with Reading’s Super Sunday also featuring its women’s clash with Leicester and Surbiton bringing in extra seating and a Fun Zone for young supporters.

Canterbury go to Hampstead and Westminster, while Southgate must beat visitors Cannock if they are to maintain their push to avoid the drop.

In the Conference East, it is crunch time for third-placed Oxted, who must beat leaders Wimbledon if their hopes of topping the table to reach the promotion play-offs are to continue. Second-placed Holcombe entertain Bromley and Beckenham.

Leaders Bowdon will be aiming to beat Leek on Sunday in the Conference North, and will be aiming to do it more comfortably than the 2-1 win they scraped back in October.

Meanwhile former leaders Sheffield Hallam – who beat Leek 4-1 last weekend – travel to Olton and West Warwickshire this Sunday.

Guildford, who have not lost a league match since October, will be aiming to preserve their leadership in the Conference West when they go to second-placed University of Exeter for a match that is crucial to both sides’ hopes of making it to the promotion play-offs.

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 (Sunday, March 3 2013)

Premier Division

Hampstead & Westminster v Canterbury 14:00
Loughborough Students v East Grinstead 14:00
Southgate v Cannock 14:00
Surbiton v Beeston 14:00
Reading v Brooklands MU 14:30

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

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

Conference West
Univ of Birmingham v Team Bath Buccaneers 12:30
Univ of Exeter v Guildford 12:30
Whitchurch v Cheltenham 13:00
Bristol Firebrands v Fareham 14:00
Havant v Cardiff & UWIC 14:00

England Hockey Board Media release



Reading face Leicester in Super Sunday clash


Reading Becky Halle

READING play host to Leicester in the Investec Women’s Hockey League Premier Division as part of the club’s Super Sunday, as the battle to top the table and secure a spot in Europe continues.

Currently third, Reading will be looking to replicate last weekend’s 2-0 victory over leaders Canterbury, while Leicester – who could only draw with Canterbury a fortnight ago – will want to maintain their run of nine league matches without a loss.

“It’s a really big game for us,” said Reading coach Steve Bayer. “It’s a great opportunity to see where we’re at in the outdoor league.

“We’re looking forward to the challenge and are carrying a lot of positive momentum having beaten Canterbury last week. We’ve got a full strength squad for the match and a lot of depth in there, so we’re confident.”

Elsewhere, Canterbury face a trip to Clifton on Saturday while Surbiton, who currently occupy the crucial fourth play-off spot, entertain University of Birmingham. Surbiton’s Big Weekend will see the club bring in temporary seating and set up a Fun Zone for younger fans.

Bowdon Hightown will be aiming to climb into the top four with a win over bottom of the league Slough, while Olton and West Warwicks, who are also in danger of being in a relegation fight, go to Sutton Coldfield.

In the Investec Conference East, leaders Harleston Magpies entertain Chelmsford, while second-placed Sevenoaks are hot on their heels and go to Old Loughtonians.

University of Durham play host to Brooklands Poynton in the Investec Conference North, with both sides in desperate need of points to maintain their hopes of making the promotion play-offs.

Meanwhile, leaders Beeston go to Liverpool Sefton, who need the win to boost their battle against relegation.

And in the Investec Conference West, it is Swansea City’s turn to play host to runaway leaders Buckingham, who have won all 14 of their league matches so far and have already qualified for Investec Women’s Finals Weekend.

At the other end of the table, bottom club Taunton Vale host Trojans, while ninth-placed Stained entertain Stourport, who are eighth.

Tickets for the end of season play-offs, 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, March 2 2013)

Investec Premier Division

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

Investec Conference East
Oxford Hawks v St Albans 12:00
Harleston Magpies v Chelmsford 12:30
Old Loughtonians v Sevenoaks 13:00
Horsham v Wimbledon 13:30
Ipswich v Bromley & Beckenham 14:00

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

Investec Conference West
Barnes Hounslow Ealing v Bristol Firebrands 12:00
Gloucester City v Isca University 12:00
Swansea City v Buckingham 12:00
Staines v Stourport 13:30
Taunton Vale v Trojans 13:30

Investec Women’s Hockey League (Sunday, March 3 2013)

Investec Premier Division

Reading v Leicester 12:30

England Hockey Board Media release



Title challengers Grange up against rivals Grove Menzieshill


Grange (MEN)

In the Men’s Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 1, a win for second place Grange can put some light between themselves and fellow title challengers Grove Menzieshill when the two sides meet at Forthbank on Saturday (11.30).

The Edinburgh side recovered from two goals down against leaders Glynhill Hotel Kelburne last weekend to secure a confidence boosting 3-3 draw and keep pace with the Buddies at the top of the division.

However, Chris Anderson’s side are vastly improved this season, with the likes of Scotland international Gavin Byers providing firepower to their attack, and the two teams were separated by only a single goal when Grange ran out narrow 5-4 winners earlier in the season. Expect a close contest.

Meanwhile, Western Wildcats can confirm their place in the top five of Division 1 with a win over Watsonians at Forrester High School (13.00).

Wildcats are three points clear of city rivals PSL Team Sport Clydesdale, having played a game fewer than the Titwood outfit, and Vishal Marwaha’s side will be confident of confirming their place in the top half of the table for the post-split fixtures.

John McKnight’s Clydesdale play Edinburgh University at Peffermill on Sunday (15.45) and will be hoping that Watsonians can spring an upset to keep their slim top five hopes alive.

Finally, defending champions Glynhill Hotel Kelburne are hosts to Inverleith at Bellahouston (13.30) and will be confident of maintaining their position at the top of the table with a win against the Purple Robes.

Glasgow University could move into second place in Men’s Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 2 if they can overcome both Falkirk GHG (13.45, Falkirk High School) and St. Andrews University (Sunday, 13.00, Garscube) in a weekend double header.

However, the Glasgow students will not find it easy away to a second place Falkirk side on Saturday, particularly as they suffered a recent 2-1 home defeat to the same opposition.

St.Andrew’s will also play Granite City Wanderers on Saturday (12.00, St. Andrew’s University).

McWhinney Uddingston host runaway league leaders Dundee Wanderers at Holy Cross School (13.45) and will be looking to avenge a 6-1 defeat at the hands of the Dundonians earlier in the season.

At the foot of the table, Dundee University also face a double header this weekend with a home tie against Alpha Data Carnegie on Saturday (13.30, Riverside Park) before travelling to Aberdeen to face Granite City Wanderers on Sunday (13.20, Aberdeen Sports Village).

Relegation rivals Highland are in need of a result at home to Stepps (13.30, Bught Park), while CALA Edinburgh face a trip to Aberdeen GSFP (13.30, Rubislaw).

There are also three Men’s Arthur McKay Scottish Cup fixtures on Sunday. Defending champions Glyhill Hotel Kelburne play Division 2 outfit Alpha Data Carnegie (13.30, Bellahoustan), while there is an all Division 1 clash between Grove Menzieshill and AMN Hillhead (13.00, DISC). McWhinney Uddingston have a home tie against Aberdeen GSFP (11.45, Bellahouston).

Scottish Hockey Union media release



Inverleith aiming to steal a march on rivals Western Wildcats


Inverleith Women

The only match in the Women’s Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 1 on Saturday has significant implications for the relegation battle at the foot of the table.

Inverleith Ladies take on Western Wildcats at Edinburgh Academy (15.30), where a win for the Edinburgh side over their Glasgow rivals would boost their chances of avoiding the drop and bring both Glynhill Hotel Kelburne and Grange EL into the relegation scrap. However, the Wildcats will be keen to keep pace with the teams near the bottom with an away win.

With the remaining sides in the top division on a break due to Scotland Women’s participation in the FIH World League 2 in Brazil, attention turns to the crucial matches being played in both Divisions 2 & 3 of the Women’s Aberdeen Asset Management National League.

GHK Ladies will be aiming to keep setting the pace at the top of Division 2 when they play city rivals Glasgow University on Saturday (15.00, Anniesland). The home side comfortably defeated the students 6-0 earlier in the season and a similar result will ensure they retain their place at the top of the division.

Meanwhile, second place Watsonians face a tricky encounter at home to Erskine Stewart’s Melville FP (14.30, Mary Erskine School), where a win for either side will keep them right in the title and promotion hunt.

Granite City Wanderers can also stay in touch with the close bunch of teams at the top of the league with an away win over Hillhead Ladies (14.10, Jordanhill School).

At the bottom of the league, Waverley Inveresk Trinity will need a win against Highland (12.30, Bangholm) to help their chances of trying to stay in the division, although Haddington Ladies will be aiming to keep the points difference in tact when they play away to Borders Fjordhus Rievers (14.00, Tweedbank)

In Division 3, AAM Merlins Gordonians still lead the way by ten points from second place Stirling University and will be confident of beating city rivals Aberdeen University at home on Saturday (12.30, Countesswells).

Dundee University could leapfrog Stirling University into second place if they can win their matches against Bon Accord MBC (Saturday, 13.30, Cults Academy) and St. Andrew’s University (Sunday).

Ayr will need to take maximum points from their home match against Aberdeen Ladies (15.00, Cambusdoon) if they are to catch up with the pack near the bottom of the table. Strathclyde University will have similar objective in mind when they play St.Andrew’s University at home (12.30, Millerston)

Scottish Hockey Union media release



Pakistan need back-up for World Cup: Imran

By Fawad Hussain



Motivated by bringing home three medals last year, Pakistan hockey team is upbeat about performing well this year to improve its rankings. PHOTO: EXPRESS/MEHMOOD QURESHI

KARACHI: Pakistan captain Mohammad Imran stressed that the national hockey team needed to form a good back-up of players in time for the 2014 World Cup that will be held in the Netherlands.

After the greenshirts failed to win a medal in the London Olympics last year, Pakistan’s hockey authorities set sights on the World Cup and started planning for the mega tournament.

Imran felt the current year was crucial for preparations for the prime challenge, insisting the team needed to increase its bench strength for the purpose.

The team management added new players for next month’s Azlan Shah Cup tournament in Malaysia by resting senior players like leading striker Shakeel Abbasi and veteran Waseem Ahmed.

The captain, who led Pakistan to three consecutive medals in team’s previous assignments, termed it a timely decision by the team officials.

“It is the right decision to test new players in this tournament,” Imran told The Express Tribune. “After that we’ll play important tournaments like the Asia Cup which will be a qualifying event for the World Cup.”

“We cannot afford to experiment there and since we need to increase our bench strength this year, it’s the perfect time.

“We will give our best and all of us are working very hard in the training camp. But what we have planned for the Malaysia event is to test different strategies and combinations in this tournament. By doing that we’ll have an increased pool for forthcoming tournaments which is very important for us as the World Cup is our main target.”

He added that the senior players will be missed in the Malaysia event.

“Definitively, they are our main players but one has to lose to gain something.”

Imran claimed that by winning the bronze medal in the Champions Trophy, the team had showed it has the potential to do well against opponents from outside Asia as well.

Tauseeq out of Azlan Shah Cup after injury

Meanwhile, Pakistan suffered a blow as rising player Mohammad Tauseeq was ruled out of the Azlan Shah Cup after sustaining an injury during the training camp.

“I hurt my hip and right leg during the training session,” said Tauseeq. “The doctors have said it will take two to three weeks to recover and I will not be able to play the tournament.”

Tauseeq said he was disappointed but hoped to return to action soon.

The training camp of the Pakistan hockey team for the Azlan Shah Cup is in full swing at the National Hockey Stadium in Lahore.

The team management has arranged practice matches for the players who have been divided into two groups — Pakistan Colours and Pakistan Whites.

The Express Tribune



PHF names probables for U-16 Asia Cup

KARACHI: The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), after holding extensive trials, announced 45 probables for the Pakistan team for the upcoming second U-16 Asia Cup.

The U-16 team management, headed by chief coach Tahir Zaman, supervised the trails in various cities including Karachi and Lahore in order to scope out the best talent for the team. The probables have been asked to assemble in Sialkot to start training for the continental event from March 6. The tournament will be played from April 4-7 in Singapore.

Meanwhile, apart from Zaman, former captain Rehan Butt, Asif Ahmed and Zaheer Ahmed will also be accompanying the team as coaches.

The Express Tribune



2013 National Indoor Tournament kicks-off in Richmond, Va.

RICHMOND, VIRGINIA – From their heavily padded gloves to the squeaks from the quick sprints on the rubber pitch, the electricity ignited at the 2013 National Indoor Tournament is sure to be contagious.

The 2013 National Indoor Tournament presented by Yolo Sportswear will kick-off at the Greater Richmond Convention Center in Richmond, Va. on Friday, March 1 and run through March 3.  The first of two extended tournament weekends has pulled together standout Under-19 Girls and Boys competitors from across the nation for the opportunity to crowned champions. The boys and mens division will serve as a showcase to highlight some of the most up and coming contenders in the sport.

“We’re excited to have the USA Field Hockey National Indoor Tournament back in the Richmond region,” said Townley Goldsmith-Ray, Director of Event Development at Sports Backers. “This event brings in a significant number of visitors and kicks off the month of March, which is a huge sports tourism month for our community.  The USA Field Hockey staff, coaches, participants and spectators are a lot of fun to be around.  Anyone who has not yet seen an indoor field hockey match should come to the Greater Richmond Convention Center and check out the high level of competition that this event brings to town.”

The second weekend of National Indoor competition moves east to Virginia Beach, Va. where Under-14 and Under-16 girls will battle at the Virginia Beach Convention Center from March 8-10.

“USA Field Hockey is anticipating 1,300 athletes and families in attendance each weekend of the National Indoor Tournaments,” said Karen Collins, Director of Event Logistics at USA Field Hockey.  “We are gearing up for weekends of what surely will be top-notch field hockey.”

Visit usafieldhockey.com for all National Indoor Tournament news, results, photos and an up-to-date schedule of games.

USFHA media release



Sponsorship Hinders Hockey

By Mbonile Burton


LACK of sponsorship has been one of the major factors hindering the development of hockey in the country, Tanzania Hockey Association (THA) has claimed.

For the past two years, the hockey association has failed to organize the East African Club Championship, and there is little hope the tournament will be staged this year because of financial challenges. "You know we have not staged the East African Club Championship since 2010.

So far we have not decided on the date and venue for this year's championship, so the tournament is in dilemma," said THA secretary, Kaushik Doshi, The last time the tournament was held Simba from Nairobi, Kenya emerged the winner with hosts Moshi Khalsa finishing as runners-up.

"We wanted to stage the 2011 edition in Arusha but Uganda clubs withdrew, we had to cancel the tournament as it wasn't wise to have only a two-country event," noted Doshi. Doshi lamented that the main problem has been lack of sponsorship for both organizers and individual clubs.

He said for three years in a row the tournament had been organized in Tanzania, but with limited resources. "The problem we're facing is the same, it's difficult to secure sponsors in hockey," he observed. He appealed to company and individuals to come forward and support hockey as the association makes effort to motivate young players to embrace the sport.

The THA leader believes that support on hockey tournaments will inspire young talents to aim high. "We need to emulate other developed country if the sport is to develop to the highest level." He said that as Tanzania is a member of the Africa Hockey Federation, the local players face the challenge to match their continental counterparts.

"They can not improve if there are no rewards that motivate them to excel," he noted. Doshi expressed his concerns that failure to organize the East African Club tourney will have big impact in local teams' preparation for the Africa Club championship.

The Africa Hockey Club Championship has been scheduled to kick off on October at Cairo, Egypt according to Doshi. Two Tanzanian teams, including Mapinduzi Cup Champion Dar Khalsa and runners-up Tanzania People Defence Force (TPDF) are lining up for the continental meet.

AllAfrica.com



In a different league

The HIL was a cut above the previous Indian professional leagues such as the Premier Hockey League and the World Series Hockey in terms of quality, writes Y.B. Sarangi.


The FIH backing… Leandro Negre, the President of the International Hockey Federation, meets the players of Ranchi Rhinos before the start of their HIL match against Punjab Warriors. “The HIL is good for the future of not only Indian hockey, but also world hockey,” Negre said.

Teenaged rookies keeping pace with the superfast and seasoned European professionals for a breathless 70 minutes was the most heartening sight for the Indian hockey fans who have always wished to see the National game back in good health. This happened, again and again, for 34 matches over a period of four weeks in the inaugural Hockey India League (HIL).

Non-stop hard running, adapting quickly to changing situations, keeping one’s cool in tough situations and learning from one’s mistakes — these traits of modern-day hockey, normally not seen in India, were there aplenty in the HIL.

Hockey lovers were pleasantly surprised with the abilities of the young Indians who excelled in meeting the demands of the high-intensity games. The HIL, where game-plans were devised mostly by the best of brains from overseas, metaphorically showed the path that Indian hockey needed to tread in order to match the best in the business.

According to the London Olympics gold medallist, Oscar Deecke of Germany, Indian players are good as far as individual skills are concerned, but lack when it comes to the tactical aspect of the game. The introduction of the astro-turf had necessitated changes several decades ago, and after so many years, India sees the virtues of sailing with the flow.


HIL Hero... Sardar Singh of Delhi Waveriders, the Player of the Tournament, receives a cheque from the BJP leader, Arun Jaitley. MANOB CHOWDHURY

With a lot of conviction and hope, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) President, Leandro Negre, backed the HIL. “The HIL is good for the future of not only Indian hockey, but also world hockey... It is an FIH-sanctioned event and that is why we have allowed a window for it and all the best players of the world are playing here,” he said.

The presence of the elite players definitely raised the bar and provided an experience of a lifetime to several up-and-coming Indians. Imagine talented players such as Manpreet Singh and Birendra Lakra, who have been part of the Indian team for nearly a year, stretching themselves to combine well with accomplished performers like Floris Evers, Moritz Fuerste and Austin Smith. The players formed the well-oiled and ruthless midfield of Ranchi Rhinos.

Baljit Singh Saini, who assisted the Rhinos’ chief coach, Gregg Clark, was thrilled by the way in which the young Indians struck a fine rapport with the fast-moving Europeans. “They did it in fairly quick time,” he said.

The high-quality action in the HIL impressed the Chief National Coach, Michael Nobbs, as much as it entertained an average fan. “It was as good as any European league, or even better,” Nobbs observed.


Delhi Waveriders goalkeeper Nicolas Jacobi blocks an attempt by UP Wizards striker Nitin Thimmaiya. "(During the HIL) we stayed together and prayed. This is an experience we do not have in Germany," said Jacobi. RAJEEV BHATT

Roelant Oltmans, who coached the Uttar Pradesh Wizards, was lavish in his praise of the HIL. “This is such a good initiative. It is good for the future of Indian hockey,” said the Dutch, who is the newly appointed High Performance Manager of Indian hockey.

It was a dream-come-true for some of the youngsters. “Jamie Dwyer is my idol. I was lucky to play with him,” said Ranjit Singh, 20, of Jaypee Punjab Warriors.

Delhi Waveriders’ drag-flicker Rupinderpal Singh said: “We were privileged to play alongside some of the top players and learn from them.”

As far as the players from Europe were concerned, apart from making some money, they also learnt lessons of spiritualism on the astro-turf. “We stayed together and prayed. This is an experience we do not have in Germany,” said the Waveriders goalkeeper, Nicolas Jacobi.

From the sporting angle, there could not have been a better script than what the HIL offered. The best two teams, Waveriders and Rhinos, made it to the summit clash and Rhinos held its nerve and midfield well to record a 2-1 win in front of a vociferous home crowd.

The battle for the third place was even more exciting. Uttar Pradesh Wizards, thanks to skipper V. R. Raghunath’s four consecutive goals, staged a stunning fightback to get the better of Punjab Warriors 4-3.


Mandeep Singh, who was adjudged the Most Promising Player of HIL, celebrates with the trophy. MANOB CHOWDHURY

The impeccable Sardar Singh, the captain of Waveriders, was adjudged the Player of the Tournament, while the 17-year-old Rhinos striker, Mandeep Singh, was named the Most Promising Player of the event.

The HIL did a world of good to the youngsters. Within weeks, it added years to their hockey acumen and enhanced their confidence immeasurably. It also fast-forwarded their entry into the Indian team, as the selectors were keen to test as many youngsters as possible to build a strong side for the Junior World Cup, to be held in Delhi in December.

The HIL had some forgettable moments too. The league started on a note of controversy as nine Pakistani players, signed by different franchises, were asked to go home due to the diplomatic tussle between India and Pakistan following a dispute along the Line of Control (LoC).

Dabur Mumbai Magicians’ coach Ric Charlesworth, who was peeved at the exit of four Pakistani players from his team, had to swallow one bitter pill after another. His team kept losing matches as the Australian questioned several umpiring decisions and expressed his unhappiness over the absence of a referral system in the round robin stage.

Notwithstanding its flaws, some of which might be rectified in the next edition, the HIL was a cut above the previous Indian professional leagues such as the Premier Hockey League (PHL) and the World Series Hockey (WSH) in terms of quality.

Sportstar



Yelps score over booming barks

The ability to work with diversity and use it as strength was what set the two finalists apart from the rest, writes Uthra Ganesan.


A tense scene from the final.

Experience is one thing you can’t get for nothing. — Oscar Wilde

Every year, hundreds of youngsters who hope to play big-time hockey in India turn up at the National Stadium in New Delhi for trials to get into the government-run academy there. Skill is the only criterion for selection, but the real work for Chief Coach Ajay Kumar Bansal starts after that. With trainees from the tribal hinterlands of Orissa who have hardly been to school to convent-educated Anglo-Indians of Mumbai, he knows what it takes to make them play as a team.

Gregg Clark has been in charge of the South African men’s hockey team for about six years now. He has a pool of players equal to a club side in numbers to choose from, and then there are the country’s rules for ‘racial inclusiveness’ since the end of apartheid which, in other words, means he doesn’t always have the best 11 or 15 in the country at his disposal. And yet, the South Africans are known as prickly customers in international hockey, to be taken lightly at your own risk.

On February 10, when Germany’s Moritz Fuerste shook hands with Sardar Singh before the final of the inaugural Hockey India League in front of a screaming 8000-plus fans squeezed into a stadium built for 5000, the two men on the sidelines would have nodded in agreement and pride at what Oscar Wilde had said long ago.

Bansal, coach of table-topper Delhi Waveriders, and Clark, in-charge of the home favourite Ranchi Rhinos, took their respective teams to the title clash of the richest professional hockey league in the world, and it all came down to experience.

“I am not a better coach or a bigger name than the others in the fray. I am only the man who simply did what he has always done — making the biggest and the smallest player in his team play as equals on the field,” says Bansal, satisfied and content despite his team finishing runner-up.


Ranchi Rhinos celebrates with the HIL Trophy.

That ability to work with diversity and use it as strength was what set the two finalists apart from the rest. In a coaching field dotted with names like Australians Richard Charlesworth and Barry Dancer and Dutchman Roelant Oltmans, the Indian Bansal and the South African Clark were nobodies. Their anonymity, however, was their strength.

“I don’t know if it was deliberate but I guess yes, it did contribute a lot and helped us to perform well,” admits Clark, though he isn’t too keen on talking about restrictions back home, many of which he has no say in. “We got complete support from the team owners here but we are used to working under constraints. We had a great team so it was easy, but handling players from nine different countries is no joke. So yes, subconsciously, coming from a diverse cultural background helped develop an understanding,” he says.

Bansal had the further motivation of proving his worth in an international field, being the only Indian coach. Not only that, his entire support staff was Indian — including former internationals Dhanajay Mahadik and Sabu Varkey as coaches, Ajitpal Singh as team manager and even the masseur, Ram Kishen.

“We did not have much time together before the league started. By January 5, everyone had assembled in Delhi and I observed them for a couple of days. The franchise owners had arranged the stay and breakfast for the players and decided to give everyone $50 per day as pocket allowance for lunch and dinner, which meant the players hardly spent time outside the field with each other. My only demand from the franchise was to make sure all the meals were taken together. A week later, I assure you, every player knew more personal details about others than they would have ever done otherwise,” Bansal says, explaining how breaking the ice like this was very important to build team spirit.

Clark did something similar. “My first team meeting was not about hockey at all. It was all about every player introducing himself and adding one personal detail that no one knew. I have not proved any point.

“Coaches like Charlesworth and Oltmans were and remain far superior, they have achieved a lot more than I have done. But it does feel satisfying to finish on top in a league with such renowned names.

“I only hope to take back from my experiences here and hope they help me with whatever team I associate in future,” Clark insists. The duo also proved that working without a streamlined system helps sometimes.

Sportstar



The ones for the future

Youngsters rubbing shoulders with the stars was one of the high points of the inaugural Hockey India League. Uthra Ganesan takes a look at some of the young guns who excelled in the competition.


Malak Singh… the joint top-scorer along with Australian Jamie Dwyer with four goals for Punjab Warriors.

The enduring image from the inaugural Hockey India League (HIL) will undoubtedly be that of two heavyset Europeans carrying a scrawny youngster around the ground on their shoulders. The fact that the two Europeans were Dutchman Floris Evers, twice silver medallist at the Olympics, and Moritz Fuerste, twice Olympic champion, should lend enough evidence of the special talent the kid must be to deserve such an honour.

Having finished as the second highest goal-scorer of the tournament, Mandeep Singh, aged 17, has been universally hailed as one for the future. However, he is not the only one to impress, for there have been others who have left their mark on the competition.

Mandeep Singh: The boy from Jalandhar had already been making waves with the junior India team, but he came of age at the HIL. A product of the Surjit Hockey Academy, he made his junior international debut in the Sultan of Johor Cup, Malaysia, in 2011, as the youngest member of the squad. His two goals in two minutes against Germany in the 2012 edition of the same tournament made him a junior star.


Manpreet Singh... the 20-year-old Olympian underpinned his brilliance with a sterling performance in the HIL. MANOB CHOWDHURY

At the HIL, he was on target 10 times, of which nine were field goals. This made him a constant threat upfront. His burst of speed, control, positioning and ability to anticipate stood out, earning him a senior India debut at the World Hockey League Round 2 and the Azlan Shah Cup.

Malak Singh: Haryana’s Malak Singh, aged 19, may have been overshadowed by the exploits of Mandeep at the HIL, but his performance has been impressive enough to get him a senior team call-up. His HIL team, Punjab Warriors, was not too prominent on the scoring charts, but Malak was the joint top-scorer for his side with four goals against his name, the same as Jamie Dwyer and S. V. Sunil. The Sirsa youngster is a calm and composed player. His passing skills have been praised by the coaches in the HIL, including legends such as Roelant Oltmans and Barry Dancer. A right-winger, his precision inside the striking circle is impressive too.

Manpreet Singh: He is the ‘senior’ among the juniors who sparkled in the HIL. Already an Olympian, the 20-year-old only reinforced his brilliance with his performance in the League. He was one of the key men in the Ranchi Rhinos midfield. Hardworking and intelligent, Manpreet’s skills with the stick are second to none. His ability to find the gaps is awe-inspiring. A product of the Surjit Hockey Academy, he made his junior international debut under coach A. K. Bansal in the Junior Asia Championship in Myanmar. Manpreet is employed with the Indian Overseas Bank, Chennai.


Rupinder Pal Singh displayed his impressive defensive skills. RAJEEV BHATT

Rupinder Pal Singh: There was not much to choose between this defender from Delhi Waveriders and his counterpart from Ranchi Rhinos, Amit Rohidas, barring the fact that Rupinder is slightly more experienced. The 22-year-old drag-flicker, who has already played for India at the senior level, was considered a special talent yet to realise his full potential. In the HIL, Rupinder finally managed to break the shackles. Though he needs to improve his drag-flicks, his defensive skills were quite impressive in the 14 games that he played at the HIL. A lot of credit for Delhi not conceding too many goals should go to Rupinder’s defending.

Amit Rohidas: He could not have been anything but a defender. Hailing from Saunamara village in Orissa’s Sundergarh district, the 19-year-old player’s idol was Dilip Tirkey, also from the same village. As such, he did not need any special motivation to pick up the hockey stick. A product of the Pamposh Sports Hostel, his special talent first came to light when he made his junior India debut in the under-18 Asia Cup in 2009. Rohidas is everything a defender ought to be — strong, firm and technically clean in tackling.

Sportstar



A name Mary So-o cherished

By S. RAMAGURU



Mary Soo with 1983 SEA Games team manager Pakiam Lingam and K. Maheswari. Mary Soo with 1983 SEA Games team manager Pakiam Lingam and K. Maheswari.

MANY would do anything to make a name in sports. But would you change your name, for that matter?

Well, that’s exactly what Mary Lim, former national women’s hockey goalkeeper did back in the 60s and 70s.

You see, the problem then was that there were two Mary Lims – one the goalkeeper and the other a striker.

And both were famous in their own rights.

So, to end the confusion, Mary Lim the goalkeeper decided to take up the name of Mary Soo (after the surname of her husband Soo Poh Seong).

That’s quite a big sacrifice for someone who had just started making a name for herself in the sport.

“I didn’t see it that way, though. There was so much confusion about one scoring goals and another stopping others from scoring. So, I made the decision to change mine. I have no regrets,” said the 64-year-old at her house in Taman Gembira, OUG, recently.


Mary Soo taking the oath during the Inter-Continental tournament Mary Soo taking the oath during the Inter-Continental tournament

Mary Soo, for the uninitiated, has dedicated much of her life to the game since 1967 – when she was only 18.

She retired at the age of 37 in 1985 – that’s an amazing 18 years at the top of her game.

Mary Soo comes from a special breed of national athletes who took pride in representing the country. To them, personal glory and cash rewards were furthest from their minds.

“When you looked at the situation in the 60s, we took to sports for the love of it ... and to further our careers. At that time, money was the last thing on our minds. Playing for the country was supreme and we worked hard to get into the national team as it meant having the chance to do something for your country. Of course, the chances of joining the government service was uppermost in our minds too,” said Mary So, who joined the Police force and retired in 1992 with the rank of sub-inspector.

“At that time, the jobs were either with the Police, PKNS, NEB (Tenaga), waterworks and other similar agencies.

“I must thank former Selangor Police chief Tan Sri P. Alagendra for getting me into the force.”

Mary Soo played alongside some famous women hockey players of that time – like Daphne Boudeville, Rani Kaur, the only woman hockey player to have won the national sportswoman award (in 1972); K. Maheswari, Christina Chin and Mary Lim, of course.

Mary Soo remembers that when she first started playing hockey for her school – the Methodist Girls School of Malacca – she was a fullback.

“I didn’t know anything about being a goalkeeper. Then, I got selected for national training and that marked a change in position for me,” she said.

She was lucky in that she came under the guidance two of the most respected coaches of that era – the van Huizen brothers of Lawrence and Peter.

It was the late Peter, a former national goalkeeper himself, who got her to switch positions and from then on there was no looking back as she kept her place in the national team for 18 long years.


Mary Soo (left) at the 1983 Sportswoman Award. Mary Soo (left) at the 1983 Sportswoman Award.

She captained the national team in the 1983 SEA Games in Singapore and also played in the Inter-continental Cup in New Zealand.

A year earlier, the team won the bronze medal at the 1982 New Delhi Asian Games.

The game brought Mary Soo many joyous moments.

But there is one incident which has stayed with her all these years.

It happened in 1976. Then, she was playing in a tournament in Hong Kong and the ball hit her head. It didn’t trouble her then, except for a bit of pain now and then.

And she didn’t think too much about it, either.

In 2000, she suffered a mild stroke due to a blood clot in her head – at the same spot where the ball had hit her 24 years ago.

“It was a complete surprise to me that the old injury had caused the stroke. I have recovered a little but it’s been tough going through the motion now. My husband too is ill and has to have dialysis treatment three times a week,” she said.

“We’re retired now and spend most of our time at home. Our children (two boys) have grown up and have their own lives.”

After retiring from playing, Mary Soo was also the team manager of the national team for two years before finally calling it quits from the hockey scene.

“My advice to young players is to work hard at your game and learn to stay at the top of your game.

“Of course, if you are not willing to make sacrifices, then your game will go nowhere.

“The older players not only had the passion but also the drive and discipline to be the best.

“Nothing beats playing for your country at the international level. I really enjoyed my time with the national team.”

The Star of Malaysia



Hockey Community Sticks Together

Bundaberg Hockey Assocation struck by devasting floods


Hockey Queensland has issued a rallying call appealing for the Hockey community to stand together and assist struggling Bundaberg Hockey Association after the recent devastating floods.

Hockey Queensland has set up a Flood Relief Fund as an offer of support to Bundaberg Hockey after their Clubhouse, Hockey Centre and fields were destroyed by the Australia Day floods.

Hockey Queensland will facilitate fundraising activities at hockey events throughout the year to raise money for the cause, including the upcoming Under 21 Men’s Australian Championships on April 2-13 in Brisbane.  Brisbane Women’s Hockey Association was the first Association to respond to the call, pledging $5,000 to show its support.

The Bundaberg Hockey Flood Relief Fund will be a way to show Bundaberg that the Hockey community is behind them, and is there to help get them back on their feet, as reiterated in a statement by Hockey Queensland CEO, Kim Guerin.

“The Queensland Hockey Community has been substantially affected by several natural disasters over the last few years; however this devastating event in Bundaberg has shaken the Hockey Community to its core. We need to put our hand up and do something to help this Association,” she said

Hockey Australia Chief Executive, Mark Anderson also offered his support of the initiative saying, “The Australian hockey community is shocked by the destruction that has befallen Bundaberg, and we are only too happy to support the Flood Relief Fund. Hockey Australia have a Board Meeting next week where we will be discussing a range of ways we may be able to assist Bundaberg to get the facility, competition and hockey community back up and operating.”

Hockey Queensland will work with various Member Associations, State Associations and Hockey Australia to raise money throughout the year.

Details of how to support the Bundaberg Hockey Flood Relief Fund can be found on the Hockey Queensland website - www.hockeyqld.com.au.

Hockey Australia media release