News for 25 July 2013

All the news for Thursday 25 July 2013

Abbasi expelled for not following orders

Shakeel Abbasi needs to change his stance during the training camp in order to be called back, said the team manager. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: The current Pakistan Hockey Federation’s (PHF) already dented portfolio was jolted by another notable controversy when key player Shakeel Abbasi was expelled from the ongoing training camp.

Team manager Akhtar Rasool ordered the players to abstain from fasting till the camp concluded, as he needed them to give their 100% during the crucial training session ahead of the Asia Cup. The tournament is the Greenshirts’ last chance to qualify for next year’s World Cup.

However, reports emerged that Rasool was furious with Abbasi for going against his orders, and those present at the scene revealed that the manager had warned off the player to either take his words seriously or stay back home.

“I’m a religious person and I understand the importance of fasting in Ramazan, but at the moment, Pakistan’s prestige is at stake,” Rasool told The Express Tribune.

“The Asia Cup is very important for us and we want everybody to give their 100% during the camp.

“It’s obvious that when you’re fasting it becomes impossible to give your best. All the players had agreed that they would offer fasts after Ramazan. Yet, Abbasi broke his word which is why I was left with no option but to ask him to leave.”

Rasool further stated that Abbasi would be recalled for training and his misdemeanour would be overlooked if he changed his stance.

However, a PHF official close to the top brass said the problem would be solved good-naturedly to avoid issues between either party.

“PHF Secretary Asif Bajwa is aware of the incident and he is keen to find an amicable solution,” said the PHF official.

Wasim slams Abbasi’s ouster

Former Olympian Wasim Feroze, who has one of the highest appearances for Pakistan, rebuked the team manager’s orders, stating that former players had performed and triumphed in international matches even while fasting.

According to Feroze, during international tournaments, there had been instances when four to five players would be fasting, but it had not affected their performances.

“It’s ridiculous to expel one of your best players from camp because he is fasting,” said Feroze. “Abbasi has worn the green kit for so many years and served his country well — he deserves to be treated better.”

PHF recalls goalie Salman Akbar

The federation has also decided to recall goal-keeper Salman Akbar for the training camp after the player made known his availability. However, his selection for the Asia Cup would depend on his fitness and form.

“It’s renewed hope for me that the PHF has called me for the camp after I showed my availability,” stated Salman. “I will try to give my best during training so that I can prove my fitness and form to get selected for the Asia Cup.

“I feel I can still represent Pakistan for another two years after which I will call on retirement in order to start coaching. I’ve already started coaching the goal-keeper of my club back in the Netherlands.”

The Express Tribune

Abbasi thrown out of national camp for fasting

Shakeel Abbasi. File Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

Pakistan hockey coach Akhtar Rasool on Wednesday created a big controversy when he kicked out experienced forward Shakeel Abbasi from the national training camp for fasting.

The development is likely to ignite discussion on whether sportsmen should fast during matches or training camps.

Rasool said he had taken disciplinary action against Abbasi for violating instructions and policy.

“It was decided very clearly before the camp began that no player will fast because during fasting it is not possible to focus on your training and drills,” Rasool said.

“If Abbasi wants to fast he should do it at home. This is a national camp and all players are required to focus on their training. The forthcoming Asia Cup is a do or die situation for us if we don’t win it we can qualify for the World Cup,” he said.

Abbasi confirmed he had defied the orders of the chief coach but insisted that he could focus on his training even when he is keeping a fast.

“I believe I can do both things and I believe keeping fast or not should be an individual’s personal decision,” he added.

The secretary of the Pakistan Hockey Federation, Asif Bajwa, told PTI the matter was being looked into but it was a fact that before the camp began the players and management had sat together and decided no one will fast in the camp.

“It was a policy decision taken after consensus but we will now look into this matter as it is a sensitive one and see what is to be done,” Bajwa said.

The camp has been set up for the Asia Cup, to be held in Malaysia. The PHF has replaced coach Hanif Khan with Tahir Zaman.

Zaman also recalled seasoned goalkeeper Salman Akbar to the camp on Wednesday although the player last played in 2010 for the national team.

“We have problems in the goalkeeping area and Akbar is keen to play. We will test his fitness and form in the camp. If he is up there 100 per cent he will be considered for selection,” Zaman said.

The Hindu

Forward Abbasi thrown out of national camp for fasting

Goalkeeper Salman Akbar recalled

LAHORE: Pakistan hockey coach Akhtar Rasool on Wednesday created a big controversy when he kicked out experienced forward Shakeel Abbasi from the national training camp for fasting. The development is likely to ignite discussion on whether sportsmen should fast during matches or training camps. Akhtar said he had taken disciplinary action against Abbasi for violating instructions and policy. “It was decided very clearly before the camp began that no player will fast because during fasting it is not possible to focus on your training and drills,” Akhtar said. “If Abbasi wants to fast he should do it at home. This is a national camp and all players are required to focus on their training. The forthcoming Asia Cup is a do or die situation for us if we don’t win it we can not qualify for the World Cup,” he said.

Abbasi confirmed he had defied the orders of the chief coach but insisted that he could focus on his training even when he was keeping a fast. “I believe I can do both things and I believe keeping fast or not should be an individual’s personal decision,” he added.

A spokesman for the Pakistan Hockey Federation was quoted as saying yesterday that the matter was being looked into but it was a fact that before the camp began the players and management had sat together and decided no one would fast in the camp. “It was a policy decision taken after consensus but we will now look into this matter as it is a sensitive one and see what is to be done,” he said.

The camp has been set up for the Asia Cup to held in Malaysia. The PHF has replaced coach Hanif Khan with Tahir Zaman. Zaman also recalled seasoned goalkeeper Salman Akbar to the camp on Wednesday although the player last played in 2010 for the national team. “We have problems in the goalkeeping area and Akbar is keen to play and we will test our his fitness and form in the camp. If he is up there 100 percent he will be considered for selection,” Zaman said.

The Daily Times

‘PHF should avoid taking confused decisions’

KARACHI: Former legendary Olympian Samiullah on Wednesday said the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) was now taking too much pressure after the World Hockey League (WHL) disaster and as a consequence was now taking incoherent decisions.

“The PHF is now taking too much pressure on itself in order to enable the team to perform in next month’s Asia Cup in Malaysia. I fear the team will not be able to perform due to the atmosphere surrounding the team and the management in the important event,” Samiullah underlined.

The federation was out of its wits and in order to make a comeback in the Asia Cup, it was now taking confused decisions, he insisted.

“I don’t think recalling goal-keeper Salman Akbar to the training camp is a prudent decision. He is now 34 and has been out of touch from international hockey for around two years. Either the decision to drop him from national ranks was a wrong decision or if it was correct two years back then calling him back after two years has to be wrong surely,” Samiullah explained.

However, Samiullah praised Salman for being an impressive goal-keeper acknowledging he did a good job during his prime days.

Samiullah also criticised the coaches for not allowing Shakeel Abbasi to feature in the camp only because the player has been fasting in the holy month of Ramazan.


Forgotten goalie Salman to be recalled for Asia Cup camp

Mohammad Yaqoob

Salman Akbar. -File photo

LAHORE: Pakistan head coach Akhtar Rasool, in a surprise move, has requested the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) to call up international goalkeeper Salman Akbar — who has been out of international hockey for almost two years now — in the ongoing training camp for next month’s Asia Cup.

Expressing his dissatisfaction over the performance of regular goalkeepers Imran Shah and Imran Butt, Akhtar said: “We are conceding so many goals, it is a concern for any team and also to me as a coach, so we have decided to recall Salman Akbar to test his fitness, form and conduct in the training camp before taking a final decision.”

The camp at the National Hockey Stadium has been set up to select and groom a strong team for the Asia Cup where title win is mandatory for Pakistan to qualify for the next year’s World Cup.

“We try and take decisions with an open heart, preferring the national interest and merit over everything else and Salman’s call-up is one such decision,” said Akhtar prior to the start of the afternoon session of the camp.

However, the timing of the decision is, indeed, surprising because when the camp started just a couple of days ago, both Imran Shah and Imran Butt were included in the list of 25 probables invited for it. What suddenly happened in the last two days that compelled Akhtar to recall Salman remains a mystery.

When asked why he made a request when he could have simply asked the PHF to invite the veteran goalie, Akhtar said: “Yes, I could have done that but I want to take everyone on board and don’t want to bypass the PHF.

“But let me assure all of you that Salman will have to prove his credentials, otherwise he will not make the playing side.”

PHF secretary Asif Bajwa, when contacted to comment over Salman’s recall, said nothing had been finalised as yet but a decision in this regard would be taken in the next couple of days. However, sources said that stage has been set to adjust Salman Akbar and the decision to this effect would just be a formality.

It must be mentioned here that Akhtar had also surprised many critics when he had brought back Waseem Ahmed into the team barely a day after the London Olympics.

Meanwhile, a former member of the selection committee, Olympian Arshad Chaudhry has criticised the decision of recalling Salman.

“I still remember well that two years back Salman was not fit enough to even lift his legs properly, so anybody can guess about his current position,” Arshad said.

Earlier, newly appointed coach Tahir Zaman said more emphasis would be laid on the improvement of mental and physical strength of the players so that they can cope with the pressure.

“By pressure I mean coping up with the must-win situation that our players will be faced with in the Asia Cup,” said Tahir who replaced Olympian Hanif Khan for the Asia Cup. “In the next three, four weeks training, we will Insha Allah make the players mentally stronger beside giving them a good workout in the field.”

When asked what new techniques he would be introducing as coach which Hanif could not, Tahir said the method could be the difference while the rest will be the same.

“For me our players lack in the mid-field area as they do not receive the ball or passes with dynamism. And because of that we come under more pressure and concede more attacks and goals,” remarked Tahir. “We need to show a lot of improvement in this area to blunt the opponent’s attacks and furthermore it could create more opportunities for us to go for onslaught,” he pointed out.

Tahir also elaborated that he will be focussing also on improving the skills of the players in automation. “When we get the ball on left or right side, then other players should show automation in order to come on the right places to take the ball and the wingers should also know where they have to feed the pass,” he said.

“Similarly in the circle, the strikers must have three passing opportunities to effectively end the move.”

He also raised his concern over the shortcomings of the goalkeepers but said time was too short to correct their techniques before the Asia Cup.

“For the last many years this department of goalkeeping has been lacking in quality players. Now the team management with the coordination of the PHF is trying to bring improvement in this department but it will not happen overnight,” said Tahir.


Malaysian Juniors go down to Polish seniors

By Jugjet Singh

THE National juniors hockey team lost 3-0 to the Poland senior side in their second match in Warsaw on Tuesday.

The juniors are on a tour of Europe for nine matches, and they whipped the Polish juniors 7-0 in their first match, but found the senior side difficult to crack.

They play Poland juniors again today before heading to Belgium for three matches, and complete their tour in England with another three matches.

The Poland senior side are in their final phase of training for the European Championships in three weeks' time, which also serves as a World Cup Qualifier for Europe.

"They scored the first goal when a penalty corner was turned into a penalty stroke after the ball hit Kavin Kartik's body, and it remained until the half-time breather.

"In the second half, we paid the price for missing sitters and also penalty corner attempts which hit the bar, and were also well saved by their goalkeeper. The Polish scored two more late counter-attack goals when the players pushed forward in numbers," said team manager Mirnawan Nawawi.

Overall, Mirnawan said his charges managed to compete with the Polish senior side on skill and tactics, but lost out to a more experienced set of players.

The Malaysian juniors, an under-21 side, are preparing for the New Delhi Junior World Cup in December.

New Straits Times

Battling display not good enough

A battling display from England Under-18 Boys was not enough as they lost out 2-1 to hosts Austria in their second match of the EuroHockey Youth Championships in Vienna on Wednesday afternoon.

Austria defended superbly and sat deep, giving England plenty of possession but making it difficult to break through.

Having won their first match on Monday, England can still make the semi-finals, but need to beat Holland tomorrow and hope the Austria v Belgium match goes in their favour too.

The first half proved frustrating for England as Austria were solid in defence and always looking to counter attack quickly and create penalty corner opportunities, having scored twice from penalty corners in their first game.

The first goal of the game came from a midfield turnover in the England half. Austria forward Leon Thoernblom carried the ball strongly into the top left of the circle and hit a reverse stick shot past Dan Darby who was coming to close him down.

There were very few opportunities created in the first half. England had lots of energy and intent in the second half but still struggled to break down their rivals and create opportunities in the face of some very good defending.

Austria were awarded a controversial penalty corner in the 50th minute as the original decision was overturned on appeal, and after an initial low save by Darby the rebound was slapped in by Schmidt.

England pushed hard to create opportunities and had a couple of penalty corners themselves, but couldn’t get a good shot away. Finally they scored on 69 minutes when Simpson received the ball under pressure in the circle and hit it from behind him past the Austrian goalkeeper.

Austria (1) 2

Leon Thoernblom 22 (F)
Philip Schmidt 50 (PC)

England (0) 1

James Simpson 69 (F)

Boys EuroHockey U18 Championship Pools

Pool A: Belgium, Netherlands, England, Austria
Pool B: Spain, Germany, France, Scotland

Full match details available at




v Bel

v Aut

v Ned

Match 4

Match 5

James Albery

Leys School - Cambridge

Cambridge City



Jack Clee

Sir William Borlase Grammar School - Marlow




Dan Darby (GK)

Repton School - Derby




James Gall

Cranleigh School




Robbie Gleeson

Friary Art & Sports College - Lichfield




Jonty Griffiths

Whitgift School - Croydon




Mathew Ming

St Georges College - Addlestone




Oliver Nail

Itchen College - Bitterne




Isaac O'Connor

Chatham House Grammar School - Ramsgate




Peter Ellis-Philips (GK)

Whitgift School - Croydon




Tom Poustie

Exeter School




Chris Proctor

Trent College - Nottingham




Matthew Richards

Kings College - Taunton

Taunton Vale



Jonny Ruiz

Kingston Grammar School




Liam Samford

Henley College - Henley On Thames




James Simpson

Princethorpe College - Rugby

Olton and W Warwicks



Elliott Smith

Culford School - Bury St Edmunds

Harleston Magpies



Charlie Stubbings

Churchers College - Petersfield




England Hockey Board Media release

Mumbai holds Karnataka

Principal Correspondent

Mumbai rode on Bikas Toppo’s brace to hold Karnataka to a 2-2 draw in a Pool ‘A’ match of the Alchemist Federation Cup at the Shivaji Stadium in New Delhi on Wednesday.

In other matches, Uttar Pradesh crushed Manipur 17-1, Punjab trounced Haryana 7-2 and Tamil Nadu outclassed Delhi 7-3.

Mohammad Naeemuddin and Deepak Beijawad scored a goal apiece as Karnataka twice took the lead.

However, Toppo struck back with a goal in each half as both teams shared points.

Led by a spirited Vinod Rayer, who scored two fine goals, Tamil Nadu comprehensively defeated Delhi to record its second consecutive victory.

Tamil Nadu made the most of Delhi’s defensive lapses in the middle phase and enjoyed a 7-1 lead at one point of time.

Delhi, which messed up a few chances, woke up late to pump in two goals in the last eight minutes and reduce the margin.

The results:

Pool A: Mumbai 2 (Bikas Toppo 2) drew with Karnataka 2 (Mohd. Naeemuddin, Deepak Beijawad).

Tamil Nadu 7 (Vinod Rayer 2, Stalin David, Rafeeq, Adam Sinclair, Albert, Sathya) bt Delhi 3 (Rahul Singh, Ashok Kumar, Faraz Khan).

Pool B: Uttar Pradesh 17 (Farooqh 5, Diwakar Ram 5, Jagwant Singh 4, Deepak Singh, Sarabjit Singh, Pramod Kumar) bt Manipur 1 (K. Debeshor).

Punjab 7 (Ajit Pandit 3, Ajay Kumar, Rajin Kandulna, Parvinder Singh, Gurjant Singh) bt Haryana 2 (Amrit Chatha, Pravesh).

The Hindu

Topo helps Mumbai draw against Karnataka

NEW DELHI: Bikas Topo struck twice to help Mumbai eke out a 2-2 draw against Karnataka in a in a pool A match of the Alchemist IHF Federation Cup at the Shivaji Stadium on Wednesday.

Karnataka took an early lead through a goal from Mohd. Naeemuddin in the sixteenth minute but Topo drew parity seven minutes later.

Deepak Beijawad scored in 35th minute as Mumbai led 2-1 at the half time.

Topo scored again in the 57th minute to help Mumbai tie the game.

In another pool A game, Tamil Nadu beat Delhi 7-3 to register their second victory in the tournament. At half time TN lead 4-1 and continued its domination to finish 7-3.

Delhi: Rahul Singh (30'); Ashok Kumar (62'); Faraz Khan (65') Tamil Nadu - Stalin David (17'); Vinod Rayer (19', 32'); Rafeeq (34'); Adam Sinclair (37'); Albert (43'), Sathya (58')

Uttar Pradesh mauled Manipur 17-1 in a pool B game. For UP Farooqh and Diwakar Ram netted five goals apiece.

Uttar Pradesh: Farooqh (4', 14', 48' 56', 70'); Jagwant Singh (7', 9', 50', 69'); Deepak Singh (7'); Diwakar Ram (28', 30', 39', 59', 61'); Sarabjit Singh(37'); Pramod Kumar (60') Manipur - K Debeshor (64')

Ajit Pandit's hattrick helped Punjab beat Haryana 7-2 in a pool B game. Punjab took a 3-1 lead at half time and continued its domination in the second half to complete a comprehensive win.

Punjab: Ajit Pandit (6', 23', 59'), Ajay Kumar (13'), Rajin Kaldulna (44'), Parvinder Singh (61'), Gurjant Singh (63')

Haryana: Amrit Chatha (28'), Pravesh (42').

The Times of India

Top Dutch players likely to miss Hockey India League

Biswajyoti Brahma

NEW DELHI: Some Hockey India League (HIL) teams are worried about missing the services of their top Dutch stars in the second edition as their national commitments could force the players to skip the league starting on January 23 next year.

A team official said they have received letters from some of their players saying they have been told by the Netherlands chief coach to skip the tournament and concentrate on the preparations for the World Cup which is to be held four months after the HIL.

Another team's official said he was told by the HIL organizers that the Dutch players would not be available for the HIL. "The HIL organizers informed us that our players from the Netherlands will not be a part of the next edition because of the World Cup," a Delhi Waveriders source told TOI. "But since we have only two Dutch players in the pool of 24, it's not going to hurt us much."

However, one team which would be badly hurt if the pullout happens is the Uttar Pradesh Wizards. They have five Dutch players in their ranks and four of them are likely to be a part of the Dutch team in the World Cup.

Wizards' Dutch stars are their marquee player Teun de Nooijer, Jeroen Hertzberger, Sander Baart, Marcel Balkestein and Joilie Wouter. De Nooijer has already announced retirement from international hockey.

"It will be very difficult to find replacements if they don't make it to the HIL. We are optimistic that HIL will be able to resolve the issue. HIL is an event supported by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) and the world body should see to it that it does not end up in a crisis," UP Wizards' Abhijit Sarkar said.

HIL chairman and Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra denied that the league had informed the franchises about the unavailability of Dutch players. He said the organizers have already started getting no-objection certificates from different countries regarding participation of their players in the next year's HIL.

"We have received NOCs from almost all the countries, be it Germany, Australia, Spain, the Netherlands, England, New Zealand or Malaysia. We have received NOCs for almost 80 per cent of the players. The deadline for giving NOCs is October and we are sure we will be getting the rest soon," Batra said.

He tried to allay apprehensions that the Dutch players could give the tournament a miss. "It's unlikely to happen as we already have the NOC of Dutch player Jaap Stockmann of Punjab," he added.

A total of 10 Dutch players turned out for four of five teams in the first HIL. While the Wizards had five in their ranks, Delhi played two and Punjab Warriors and Ranchi Rhinos fielded one each.

The Times of India

Final European preparations for Scotland against Spain

Scotland striker Alan Forsyth returns to the squad after an injury lay-off. Credit: Duncan Gray

Scotland Senior Men will play two international matches against Spain in Terrassa from 26-28 July before they fly out to Vienna to compete for promotion in the EuroHockey Nations Championship II.

The Scots travel in good form having beaten the Czech Republic over two games in Prague earlier this month to extend their current winning run to seven games.

However, Spain, who are currently ranked seventh in the FIH World Rankings, will present a tough assignment for Scotland Head Coach Derek Forsyth and his players in the heat of the Iberian summer. The Spaniards are preparing for the EuroHockey Nations Championship in Boom, where they face the hosts Belgium, Czech Republic and Germany.

Scotland Men Team Manager said, “Spain will provide us with high quality opposition this weekend and it is exactly what the players need before we head out to Vienna for the Europeans. This is a different level and standard of opponent, but we need to maintain the confidence and performances the team has shown in going on a winning run against Wales, England A and the Czech Republic.

“It will be hot in Barcelona, but funnily enough the players have had the opportunity to acclimatise in Glasgow with the weather being so hot in Scotland recently. The mood in the camp is good and the players are looking forward to the challenge.”

Surbiton-bound striker Alan Forsyth, midfielder Gordon McIntyre and the vastly experienced Chris Nelson return to the fold following injury lay-offs, adding strength to the national side as they enter their final preparations for the important European competition in August.

Chris Nelson is back in the squad for Spain. Credit: Duncan Gray

“Forsyth, McIntyre and Nelson have all returned from long term injuries so the test for them this weekend is to get through the two games and prove their fitness,” said Connolly. “This is the squad we’d most likely take to the Europeans, but recent weeks have shown that we have strength in depth to bring in other players should we fall victim to injury lay-offs.”

Scotland Men: Jamie Cachia (Sheffield Hallam), Allan Dick (Holcolme), Wei Adams (Royal Penguins), Graham Moodie (Edinburgh University), Callum Duke (Edinburgh University), William Marshall (Kelburne), David Forsyth (Kelburne), Chris Nelson (Kelburne), Iain Scholefield (Qui Vive), Alan Forsyth (Surbiton), Chris Grassick (Surbiton), Nick Parkes (Surbiton), Gordon McIntyre (Beeston), Ross Stott (Grove Menzieshill), Gavin Byers (Grove Menzieshill), Kenny Bain (THC Hurley), Ian Moodie (Western Wildcats), Russell Anderson (Brooklands).

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Shimmins replaces Carson in Ireland Hamburg Masters Squad

Monkstown's David Carson has had to withdraw through injury from the Ireland Senior Men's squad for the Hamburg Masters taking place this week. He will be replaced in the squad by Pembroke Wanderers' Kirk Shimmins

Carson is currently suffering with a back injury that will likely keep him out of action for 1 week before he can return to training.

Everyone at Irish Hockey wishes David a speedy return to action.

Irish Senior Men's team

1. David HARTE (Kampong)
2. David FITZGERALD (Monkstown)
3. Jonny BELL (Lisnagarvey)
4. Matthew BELL (Banbridge)
5. Conor HARTE (SCHC)
6. John JACKSON (Braxgata)
7. James LORIMER (Lisnagarvey)
8. Peter BROWN (Banbridge)
9. Chris CARGO (Reading Hockey Club)
10. Stephen COLE (Monkstown)
11. Bruce McCANDLESS (Banbridge)
12. Shane O'DONOGHUE (UCD)
13. Mitch DARLING (Three Rock Rovers)
14. Kyle GOOD (Monkstown)
15. Alan SOTHERN (Pembroke Wanderers)
16. Michael WATT (SCHC)
17. Kirk SHIMMINS (Pembroke Wanderers)
18. Phelie MAGUIRE (THC Hurley)

Hamburg Masters Fixtures

25th July 2013              Ireland v Germany (15:00 local time)
27th July 2013              Ireland v The Netherlands (14:00 local time)
28th July 2013              Ireland v England (12:00 local time)

Irish Hockey Association media release

Collier retires from international hockey

Long-serving Black Sticks midfielder Ben Collier has announced his retirement from international hockey.

The 29-year-old played 137 tests for New Zealand from 2005-2012 with what will now serve as his final game coming at last year’s Sultan Azlan Shah Cup final, which the Black Sticks won.

Collier said the decision to withdraw from contention for the New Zealand National Squad was a tough decision to make, but one he’s comfortable with.

“I’ve had a year away after the London campaign and now with my career and other things I decided I couldn’t commit the time necessary to compete at international level,” he said.

“It wasn’t an easy decision to make but it’s always good to get on the front foot and make a call. I’ll be looking forward to having a bit more free time and a bit more focus on life after sport.”

During his Black Sticks career he played at the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, 2008 Beijing Olympics and narrowly missed selection for the 2012 London Olympic side.

Collier built his reputation as a workhorse in the midfield, with a skill set based around sound fundamentals and working together with the players around him.

He’s had some injury setbacks over the years with the likes of a fractured sternum, head knocks and shoulder issues but has loved every minute in the black jersey.

Collier identifies his two biggest highlights as qualifying for the Beijing Olympics with a thrilling win over Argentina in front of a home crowd at North Harbour, as well as the Black Sticks’ come from behind win over Korea in their Beijing opener.

With the curtain drawn on his international career, Collier will remain close to the sport in both a playing and coaching capacity, and will be taking to the turf for the Central Mavericks in next month’s Ford National Hockey League.

“I’m playing NHL this year for Central and I’ll look to keep playing club hockey and do some coaching so I’ll certainly be staying within hockey circles and continue giving back to the sport from that point of view.

“I think the current Black Sticks squad have got a great opportunity with some of the young guys coming through mixed with the seniors as mentors - that’s a recipe for success. There’s an opportunity to create a team culture that’s uniquely theirs as they set their minds on Rio.”

Hockey New Zealand Media release

Young umpires enjoying rapid rise

Scott Embry and Zeke Newman have risen through the ranks this year

Jemma Caon brings us news of two high flying young umpires..

Too often those who play an essential role in the success of our sport go unheralded. Or worse, are criticised, abused or disrespected. We are talking about umpires, of course. However, over the last eight months two young umpires from opposite sides of the country have enjoyed an amazing journey – one that deserves to be documented.

In late 2012, Scott Embry (WA) and Zeke Newman (NSW) (pictured above) were appointed to the Under 15 Australian National Championship Umpire Panel after showing promise in their first national appearance at the Under 13 Championships in 2011. It was clear that both Scott and Zeke had put in the hard yards in pursuit of perfecting their craft because, once again, both boys ranked at the top of the panel with glowing reviews from their umpire manager.

Just six months later Zeke and Scott were unconventionally promoted from Under 15s straight to the second highest level of competition in the country, the Be The Influence Under 21 National Championship. While it might have caused a stir within the officiating community, selectors clearly saw something in these young umpires and gave them the opportunity to prove themselves.

Once again their drive to achieve placed them in the top rankings of yet another national panel. These achievements not only attracted the attention of their umpire managers and those they worked with but also the Hockey Australia selectors. It was a mere eight months after their Under 15 tournament in 2012 that Hockey Australia was able to reward their efforts with the opportunity to travel internationally with Australian teams.

Scott, 19, recently travelled with an Australian development team on a tour to China where he officiated a number of practice matches between their Australians and their hosts Liaoning in Dalian City.

Speaking about his trip to China, Scott admits, “China was a whole new experience umpiring players who don’t speak a word of English, in a foreign country, on a pink and blue London Olympic style turf. The Liaoning sports school facilities were excellent; two training turfs and then the playing stadium five minutes down the road, which contained two brand new playing turfs and a huge stadium. It was located right on the river and if the ball went over the netting behind the goals it floated away up the river into the ocean and off towards Korea. Touring with a young squad comprised mainly of WA based AIS athletes meant that I knew a fair few before I went and got along well with the guys who are all my age or a few years older.” 

At the same Zeke was also travelling the world having been given the opportunity to join the Burras, the Aussie U21 men’s team, on their Junior World Cup preparation tour of Europe, which took in seven matches in Dusseldorf, Belgium and Amsterdam.

Congratulations to both Scott and Zeke who have proved in this case that if you’re good enough, you’re old enough. We wish them all the best for their futures in the sport.

Hockey Australia media release

National Hockey Pitch Named After Prof. Mills

In commemoration of the first anniversary of the death of Ghana's late President, Prof John Evans Atta Mills, the Accra Ultra-Modern International Turf Hockey Pitch, the construction of which was spearheaded by the late President, has been named after him.

By a resolution passed by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) at a special meeting in Accra, yesterday, the National Hockey Pitch is now called the John Evans Atta Mills Hockey Stadium in recognition of the accomplishments of the late President in sports.

Moving the motion for the adoption of the resolution, Dr Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije, Metropolitan Chief Executive of Accra, noted that Prof. Mills had made immeasurable contributions towards the general development of sports in Accra and Ghana as a whole.

Dr Vanderpuije said the late President had promoted lesser-known sports and provided personal resources for the development of sports infrastructure in general.

He said as an advocate for recreation and a sports fan, the late President had supported the academic community and the nation at large through his contribution to the Ghana Hockey Association, National Sports Council of Ghana and the Accra Hearts of Oak Sporting Club, and also served as a member of the Black Stars Management Committee.

Furthermore, the AMA Chief Executive said, Prof. Mills was himself an active sportsman who played for the National Hockey Team, represented the University of Ghana in swimming competitions, played cricket for the Achimota School Team and was a member of the Veteran Hockey Team.

Hockey stadium named after Mills

Atta Mills

The Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) has renamed the National Hockey Stadium after the late President John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills.

According to the Accra Metropolitan Assembly Chief Executive, Mr Alfred Oko Vanderpujie, the facility will now be known as John Evans Atta Mills Hockey Stadium.

The decision to honour the late president was taken in recognition of his achievements in hockey, particularly for ensuring the construction of the modern stadium just months after assuming power in 2009.

Speaking at a special assembly meeting in Accra yesterday, the AMA boss said the renaming of the stadium was the assembly’s contribution to commemorate the first anniversary celebration of the death of the president.

Over 50 members of the assembly present at yesterday’s meeting moved for the renaming of the stadium after the late President under whose administration the old national hockey pitch was rebuilt into a modern stadium.

Mr Vanderpujie noted also that the late President was a prominent sports administrator who at various times held different influential positions in the Ghana Olympic Committee, National Sports Council, Accra Hearts of Oak and as a past chairman of the Black Stars Management Committee.



Renaming of hockey stadium sparks anger

Hockey Stadium Mills

A retired sports journalist and former Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports has described as illegal and dishonourable the unilateral decision by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) to rename the Theodosia Okoh Hockey Stadium after late President John Evans Atta Mills.

Reacting to the AMA’s announcement that it had renamed the hockey stadium as part of the celebration of the first anniversary of the death of the president, who played a prominent role in the development and progress of hockey in the country, Mr Joe Aggrey said it was not right as the stadium had already been named. He said changing the name was disrespectful to the illustrious woman who is still alive.

“While we all agree to honour the memory of the late President who was a great sportsman, the hockey facility has already been named after another legend, Mrs Theodosia Okoh, as part of a decision to rename all national sports edifices after illustrious former sportsmen and sportswomen. Therefore to change the name of an edifice which has already been named is not only disrespectful but dishonourable to Mrs Okoh who is alive,” Mr Aggrey said.

The former deputy minister explained that the decision to name the hockey facility after Mrs Okoh was taken in 2004 after careful deliberations and consultations by a competent group of people who formed a committee set up by the government.

“Her role in the development of Ghana hockey, where she was even nicknamed Joan d’Arc of Ghana hockey, is equally recognisable. She was not the only one who had a sports facility named after her.

“There is the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi, Robert Mensah Sports Stadium in Cape Coast, the Azumah Nelson Sports Complex in Kaneshie and several others. “The decision by the AMA certainly demeans whatever role Mrs Okoh played for Ghana hockey and knowing the late President, I think he would not have approved of such an action,” Mr Aggrey, a former Group?Sports Editor of the Graphic Communications Group Limited, added.

Also reacting to the change of name, a source at the National?Sports Authority (NSA) said it was surprised by the announcement from the AMA as the naming of national facilities was not for the assembly to make.

“All sports facilities in the country are under the National Sports Authority and it is the only body, acting on behalf of government, has the right or mandate to name or change names of such facilities.

“The facility does not belong to the AMA and, therefore, it has no legal right to change its name. So far as we are concerned, the facility had a name even before it was developed from the national pitch to the stadium,” the source stressed.

Meanwhile, Mrs Okoh, an octagenarian who lives at Kanda in Accra, declined to comment on the issue when the Daily Graphic contacted her yesterday.

Mrs Okoh was a national hockey star who went on to chair the National Hockey Association and was instrumental in securing the present site for the hockey stadium at a time the AMA tried to take over the land for an expanded lorry station.