News for 26 January 2012

All the news for Thursday 26 January 2012


SA hockey women edged 2-1 by Ireland

JONATHAN COOK in Randburg



Ireland's Chloe Watkins (left) and Lisa Deetlefs of South Africa in the thick of the action during the one-off Test match at Randburg Hockey Stadium Wednesday night. Photo: DUIF DU TOIT (GALLO IMAGES)


The Investec South Africa women’s hockey team went down 2-1 to Ireland after the scores were 1-1 at half-time in the one-off Test match at Randburg Astro Wednesday night.

The hard-hitting Cliodhna Sargent nailed penalty-corner goals in the 19th and 70th minutes for Ireland’s first win over SA in four matches, while Jade Mayne scored following South Africa’s first corner in the 21st minute.

For South Africa, who will face Belgium in a one-off international at 7 pm at Randburg Thursday, it was their first defeat in four matches.

SA captain Marsha Marescia’s girls in green and gold open their Investec Tri-Nations campaign against Ireland at 2 pm on Saturday.

After just 20 seconds a Dirkie Chamberlain deflection off Marescia’s accurate free-hit brought a sharp save from goalkeeper Pamela Smithwick.  In the 11th minute Ireland missed a great chance after a lapse in the SA defence.

Intelligent running into space and pinpoint passing saw Aine Connery, captain Alexandra Speers and Lisa Jacob combine beautifully at times and Ireland’s industry was eventually rewarded with Sargent’s goal from the match’s second penalty corner, which was only awarded after SA umpire Annelize Rostron and Irish colleague Liz Clifford had consulted (1-0).

SA hit back immediately when the pressured Irish defence conceded a PC and Kim Hubach’s  accurate flick was popped in off the keeper’s pads by Mayne. SA tried the same slip-pass left of the castle with their second PC but this time it didn’t work.

Three minutes after the break Connery got in a crisp shot on the turn and four minutes later Audrey O’Flynn induced a stunning stick save from SA keeper Sanani Mangisa low to her right from Ireland’s third PC. Soon after, a marvellous run by Marescia set up Celia Evans but  her shot was blocked by Smithwick.

The action was intensely competitive with play transferring from one end of the pitch to the other in an instant and midway through the second half Kathleen Taylor worked some magic  up the right flank to earn  SA’s third PC, Smithwick blocking a Lisa Deetlefs effort.

Ireland were forced to defend desperately at times as SA went in search of the lead but it was much the same at the other end with the odd goalmouth melee requiring scrambled defence, but with 43 seconds left Ireland’s industry paid off when Sargent smashed home her team’s fourth PC for the 2-1 victory.

SA Hockey Association media release



Ireland 2-1 South Africa

Ireland, sponsored by Electric Ireland, played South Africa today in the first of two training matches in Johannesburg as part of their warm weather training in the build up to their FIH Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

The early moments of this game presented both sides with goal scoring opportunities but it was Ireland who had the first break through when Cliodhna Sargent hammered home from a penalty corner to take the lead in the 18th minute. The home side immediately countered securing a penalty corner and despite Pamela Smithwick saving Kim Hubach's drag flick she could do little to stop Jade Mayne's rebound effort which levelled the sides.

Ireland's defence got to show their composure coping very well as the South African's gained attacking momentum but some great defensive play ensured the sides were 1-1 at the break.

Ireland were first out of the traps, mounting the first attack of the second half putting the home side under some serious pressure with shots on goal and penalty corner routines in the early stages. South Africa showed composure before finding a way through themselves forcing Pamela Smithwick in goals into action.

Ireland were forced to ten men with just seven minutes to go when Emma Smyth was shown yellow but despite the pressure Ireland showed flair and determination creating goal scoring opportunities, which eventually paid dividends when a resulting penalty corner set up Cliodhna Sargent for her brace as she fired home her trade mark shot rattling the back board with just two minutes left on the clock.

Commenting after the match Coach Gene Muller said "This was a good start to our South African tour we preformed well and stuck to the task especially in defence. We have had many close matches against South Africa in the past so this win was very satisfying for the team."

Final score Ireland 2-1 South Africa

Ireland 2 (1) Cliodhna Sargent x 2 (penalty corners)
South Africa 1 (1) Jade Mayne (penalty corner)


Next match Friday 5pm (Irish) v Belgium

Starting XI: Pamela Smithwick (GK); Michelle Harvey; Cliodhna Sargent; Sinead McCarthy; Audrey OFlynn; Emma Smyth; Emma Clarke; Shirley McCay; Lisa Jacob; Alex Speers; Sinead Connery

Reserves: Louisa Healy (GK); Miriam Crowley; Megan Frazer; Chloe Watkins; Lizzie Colvin

Irish Hockey Association media release



Hockeyroos Blast Past World Number Three Germany

The Hockeyroos have further enhanced their reputation in this Olympic year with a 3-1 victory over world number 3, Germany. Hockeyroos Coach Adam Commens said "it was an encouraging performance against the world number 3 and confirms the progress we have made".

The Hockeyroos opened the match with a fantastic field goal to Emily Hurtz in the opening minute. The Hockeyroos continued to pressue the German defense in the opening 20 minutes with a number of circle penetrations and shots on goal. The Germans caught a break in the 23rd minute of the match, scoring a goal from a penalty corner. With scores tied at half time, the Hockeyroos could feel a little unlucky to not hold a slender lead after producing 5 shots from 12 circle penetrations against 2 shots from 3 circle penetrations from the German team.

The Hockeyroos came out firing in the second half putting on a dominant display of hockey, attaining 10 shots on goal from 12 circle penetrations. The breakthrough came when Casey Eastham gave the Hockeyroos the lead with a penalty corner goal in the 58th minute. The pressue continued to mount for the Germans when youngster Kellie White scored an outstanding field goal only 2 minutes later.

A galant Germany couldn't contain the confident Hockeyroos who caused another giant killing effort to win 3-1. The Hockeyroos go into tomorrow's match against Japan beaming with confidence after producing 15 shots on goal from a massive 24 circle penetrations.

The best players for the Hockeyroos were Casey Eastham, Captain Madonna Blyth and Kobie McGurk. Already looking forward to the Japan match tomorrow morning, Commens said " the next match will be interesting, our players will meet a highly motivated Japanese team at the end of a long demanding tour. We are looking for an improved performance again tomorrow to finish the tour with another victory".

The Hockeyroos play Japan tomorrow morning (AEDST) in what will be their last tour game before returning to Australia for a huge Summer of Hockey.

Hockeyroos 3 def Germany 1 (1-1 Half Time)

USA and Argentina Tour Goal scorers tally


2 - Megan Rivers
2 - Claire Messent
2 - Kellie White
1 - Casey Eastham
1 - Georgia Nanscawen
1 - Emily Smith
1 - Jade Close
1 - Jodie Schulz
1 - Emily Hurtz

Hockey Australia media release



Black Sticks Men beat Japan 2-0 in practice match on blue turf at Westlake Girls

After their fourth place finish at Champions Trophy in December, the Black Sticks Men have started the year with a 2-0 win over Japan, in a practice match on the new blue turf at Westlake Girls High School tonight.

Black Sticks Men's coach Shane McLeod says, although there is still a lot of work to be done, the team was really keen to do well tonight.

"Tonight was the first time back since Champions Trophy. We were a bit rusty in parts and certainly had the ability to score more. I'm pleased in that we didn't give Japan many attacking opportunities and the team really played a higher level of hockey ," says McLeod.

Results:
Half time: 1-0 (NZ)
Full time: 2-0 (NZ)

Goal Scorers:
First half:
Ben Collier - FG
Second half:
Joel Baker - FG

Goalkeepers that played:
Steve Graham

Hockey New Zealand Media release



Zafar Iqbal gets Padamshree

s2h team


Hockey star Zafar Iqbal has been selected for this year’s top civilian honour, Padamshree award.

Zafar Iqbal, an alumini of Aligarh Muslim University, played for India in two Olympics.

He won the gold at Moscow Olympics under the captaincy of Vasudevan baskaran. He also led India at the next Olympics.

He was also captain of the Delhi Asian Games (Silver).

Zafar Iqbal is General Manager with Air India and is based in New Delhi.

He also won Champions Trophy Bronze in 1983. The celebrated left-winger of yore Zafar played for India for about 8 years from 1978 to 1986

Some hockey players who have got the same honour in the recent years.

Dilip Tirkey
Mukesh Kumar
Balbir Singh Bhullar

Stick2Hockey.com



Padma Shri is a recognition for Indian hockey: Zafar

NEW DELHI: Former India hockey captain and coach Zafar Iqbal on Wednesday reacted in his typical unassuming way to his getting Padma Shri in the Republic Day awards, saying that it was an honour to Indian hockey and the players.

Zafar, who captained the Indian team at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, was a member of the gold-medal winning team at the 1980 Moscow Games. An intrepid outside-left, he and Mohammad Shahid made an exciting pair of forwards.

"It is an honour for me personally, but I take it as a recognition of hockey in the country and its glorious history. I will be more happy if it can motivate many youngsters to take to the sport," Zafar said.

Zafar, a qualified engineer from Aligarh and a senior executive with Air India, thanked all those who played with him at all levels and all others connected with the game.

He said he is grateful to his mother who had been a source inspiration for his playing hockey.

"I would not have been a hockey player but for my mother's constant prodding and encouragement when my father was keen that I should concentrate more on my studies. When I look back, both my parents pushed me to do well on both fronts."

The Times of India



Zafar calls for promotion of hockey at grassroot level

NEW DELHI: Zafar Iqbal is honoured to be a proud recipient of the Padma Shri award, but the former India hockey captain has urged all the stakeholders to be more proactive in promoting the national game at the grassroot level to help the sport reclaim its past glory.

"I only knew about the award two hours before the government released the names. But it's a great honour for me. I am very pleased to see hockey getting recognition. It's a big thing for my family and hockey fraternity as a whole," Zafar said.

"But I am little worried about the future of the game. We need to work very hard at the grassroot level to revive hockey. Hockey needs monetary help from the corporate sector to survive.

"Though the government is doing its bid, there is hardly any incentive for the grassroot level players. So, I feel sport should be included as a subject in schools rather than just being a part of extra curricular activities," he added.

Zafar, a qualified engineer from Aligarh and a senior executive with Air India, said he is grateful to his mother who inspired him to take to sports.

"My mother was very keen (for the award). She never stopped me from playing hockey. So I dedicate this award to her," said the nippy winger who was a member of the 1980 team that won the eighth and the last Olympic gold medal for India in Moscow.

Zafar along with Indian women's cricket team captain Jhulan Goswami and former champion archer Limba Ram were among the sportspersons chosen for the prestigious Padma Shri awards announced on the eve of the Republic Day on Wednesday.

The Times of India



No Bharat Ratna, just six Padma Shris for sportspersons

Contrary to expectations, no Bharat Ratna, Padma Vibhushan or Padma Bhushan were awarded to Indian sportspersons and all they had to be content with were six Padma Shris in the Republic Day honours announced in New Delhi on Wednesday.

Ajeet Bajaj (skiing), Jhulan Goswami (women's cricket), Zafar Iqbal (hockey), Devendra Jhajrija (athletics-paralympics), Limba Ram (sports-archery), Syed Mohammed Arif (badminton) are the six sportspersons who will get the Padma Shri. Ravi Chaturvedi (commentary) and Prabhakar Vaidya (physical education) also have been named for Padma Shri in the sports category.

Last year, the government expanded the criteria for Bharat Ratna, making sportspersons eligible for the highest civilian award.

Hockey legend Dhyan Chand, shooter Abhinav Bindra, India's first individual Olympic champion, and Tenzing Norgay, the first Indian to scle the Mount Everest, were recommended by their federations for the prestigious award.

Chess great Vishwanathan Anand reportedly was also recommended for the award while India's cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar was recommended by various individuals but not by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

BCCI vice-president Rajiv Shukla, also a Congress MP, said the board recommends cricketers only for Arjuna and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna and not for Padma awards or the Bharat Ratna.

"Names are generally recommended by individuals and government panel makes the final decision. Even when Sachin got a Padma Shri and the Padma Vibushan, he was never recommended by the BCCI. We don't give any names for this, BCCI just writes in for the Arjuna Award," said Rajeev Shukla.

DNA



Hockey India welcomes Ministry’s recommendation

Says Dhyan Chand most deserving for Bharat Ratna


Hockey India has welcomed the decision of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to recommend the name of hockey legend Dhyan Chand for the Bharat Ratna award. In an earlier letter addressed to Sports Minister Ajay Maken, Hockey India, while welcoming the modification of rules for paving the way for eligibility of sportspersons for Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award of the country, had strongly recommended that Major Dhyan Chand be conferred this coveted award.

The late Dhyan Chand was acknowledged as the all-time great hockey player in the world, and he had generated many myths about his ability as a hockey player. “In view of his rarest of rare achievements, there is no better deserving sporting icon other than Major Dhyan Chand to be considered for the Bharat Ratna,” Hockey India said here Wednesday.

He won three successive gold medals in the Olympic Games at Amsterdam (1928), Los Angles (1932) and Berlin (1936), and was the first Indian sportsman to be conferred the honour of his birthday, August 29, as the National Sports Day, when the President of India gives away the national sports awards such as the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, Arjuna, Dronacharya and Dhyan Chand Lifetime Achievement Awards to eminent present and past sports persons.

As a tribute to Dhyan Chand, the National Stadium was re-named after his name in 2002. Even today, Major Dhyan Chand remains legendary in India and in the world, and is credited with scoring over 1000 international goals. His international playing career started in 1926 and he went on to play till 1948 when he was 42. In 1926, on his first International tour, India played 21 Matches in New Zealand scoring 192 Goals, with Dhyan Chand alone accounting for 100 goals.

Under Dhyan Chand’s captaincy at the Berlin Olympics, his magical stick-work drew the crowds from other venues to the hockey stadium. Posters sprung up all over the city saying “Visit the Hockey Stadium to watch the Indian Magician Major Dhyan Chand in action”.

He was even offered German citizenship and the rank of Colonel in the German Army by Hitler, which he declined. The German Authorities also broke his stick to check if there was a magnet inside. Hockey India is hopeful that the Government will award Bharat Ratna to the hockey legend.

The Tribune



Clear View: Something is wrong as we repeat same mistakes

Shashank Gupta


Bangalore, India: Few years back, I heard from a Hockey aficionado, “If our Hockey is in shambles to such an extent, there must be something wrong right from the grass-root level and in each and everything thing we do.”

It’s a strong statement but not a wrong one. Examine the same argument along the following three dimensions.

1.POOR EFFORTS TO IMPROVE VISIBILITY OF COMPETITIVE HOCKEY:

“Lack of tournaments has reduced the visibility of the game,” is what I hear often.

Fine, that’s the basic. Broadly speaking, there is no dearth of Hockey tournaments in this country. But still Hockey’s popularity in the young generation is declining, alarmingly.

To substantiate this point, check out the recently concluded India South Africa Test Series. Leave aside the technical side of the game, one of the lessons from the series is conducting tournaments and international matches don’t popularize Hockey. It merely keeps the sport alive. Empty stands and poor visibility of the sport in the city where it is being hosted is only a reflection of the tunnel vision of people at its helm.

This is not only about International matches; it stands true at all levels. Barring one or two exceptions – in World Cup die-hard Hockey fans thronged the stadium only for their passion; for the commoners, the publicity was pathetically poor - there aren’t many stadiums that are even a quarter-full during a Hockey match.

Even when such stars as Dhanraj Pillay, Sardara Singh and others play on the turf, the stand position is same: near empty.

Administrators fail to take an innovative approach to fill the stand with spectators. They have their usual answers:

“We have invited a few schools to watch the finals.”

“We have kept the entry free for spectators.”

“We have kept a few games under floodlights.”

Public Announcement System, Jazzy display Screens in the stadium, Loud Music, good facilities for viewers, banners around the city, ads in the newspapers, proper television coverage with prior advertisement, it’s all absent in almost all the tournament that we host.

Then, even if public shows up at a stadium, there are hardly any facilities – drinking water, clean toilets, refreshments, cleanliness of the stands, seats, etc.

Our officials hardly do anything to make Hockey lively from being alive.

It’s time we move on from the thought: More and more tournaments will broaden the base of Hockey.

2.“OUR DEFENCE IS WEAK”:

That’s the most effervescent statement from anyone who watches Hockey.

Ask another question to Hockey lovers: Name a few quality defenders India has produced? If you are able to name only Dilip Tirkey, then you know where the problem is: Indian Hockey hardly produces or grooms potential defenders.

Unfortunately, we don’t address the basic problem in our defense line-up – lack of seasoned defenders and drag flickers as defenders.

Indian porous defense has been a problem for donkey years now. In the last 6 years or so, Carvalho, Harendra, Brasa, and now Nobbs, have all sung the same tune. Brasa was valiant enough to try out Sardara, Chikara, otherwise midfielder and forward respectively, in the defense line. It did show some signs of improvement.

But the point to remember is, Brasa knew he hardly had any options for the defense line-up. He did what he could do with the available lot.

We lack specialist defenders, for sure.

If one may take technical cue from Cricket – traditionally speaking, the sport which one has to hate if you love Hockey - at one time, the technical think-tanks of Cricket came up with a concept that a wicket-keeper can’t be a wicket-keeper alone; he has to be a front-line batsman too. They pioneered the idea with Rahul Dravid and the rest is history now.

Our drag-flickers occupy an expensive slot in the team and are often placed in deep defense because mid-field and forward line has no dearth of talent at any given time. The drag flickers have worked hard to improve their defense skills, but it should be reverse. Good potential players should be groomed as a drag flickers.

Hockey experts have often argued with facts and figures that top-ranked teams lay less emphasis on penalty corner goals and rely more on Field Goals. That’s more efficient and effective. World Hockey is about Field Goals, Forwards and Mid-fielders working as defenders whenever required and a strong defense line-up.

So, it’s high time we think forward; beyond appointing our former Olympians as national coaches for Defense, Goal-keeping, drag-flicking, etc. It’s time to address the recurring problem with a more generic and sustainable solution.

There should be a special hunt for potential Defenders and the Blue Jersey should be given to a player keeping an eye on his drag flicking capabilities, not the other way around.

3. OUR POOR INCENTIVE SYSTEM:

Leave aside the argument of who should give the incentives. Whereas the intentions of the MP Chief Minister are noble and beyond doubt, considering the fact he has kept up with word (of rewarding Hockey players) that many other State Govt. didn’t bother to do, I beg to differ on one perspective, i.e. Incentive system to the former players.

It’s sheer wastage of money, a wrong precedent and a poor message to younger generation as we seek to establish a wrong legacy.

Unfortunately, honoring former players is impact less when you think of budding (or current) players.

Helping needy former players, who were never given their due, is fine. But cash-awards to former players (in herds) with decent public sector jobs and a decent life, is mindless.

Taking forward his initiatives of honoring the current Hockey team, why not hunt various academies working at grassroot level to nurture Hockey in the country and honor them? It will definitely take forward the game the Chief Minister clearly loves.

It’s not about one particular State Govt. Check out other felicitation functions; the former players always outnumber the current players.

There are many things wrong in our system. One can’t correct everything in one go. But when the same mistakes recur, it’s a time we get our act together, take a broad view of the situation and question each and every thing that we do; why we do it in a particular way and if at all its current impact is the same as the one for which it was conceived at the first place?

The author is a Bangalore based hockey volunteer

Stick2Hockey.com



Maxifuel Super Sixes Finals Preview 1: Katie Long

by Kerry Stewart



Katie Long in action for Leicester at the Maxifuel Super Sixes Championships, January 2012

In the first of our series of interviews with the key protagonists ahead of the Maxifuel Super Sixes Finals on Sunday, Leicester's Katie Long explains why she loves the indoor format and what she makes of Leicester's chances.

“Wembley offers a chance to change people’s perception of hockey so they can see it’s a fast and furious indoor game”

Katie Long talks about hockey in the same way as she plays the sport, straightforwardly. The 23 year old is not arrogant when analyzing Leicester’s chances of glory in the Maxifuel Super Sixes Finals but she is confident that they have a strong squad with nothing to fear.

Long believes that the game against Reading will not only provide the Wembley crowd with 2012 champions but will go further to cement the sport as a professional, exciting, dynamic game that more people should be interested in,

“(Leicester can) showcase our sport and show people that our game has moved on from the stereotype of when people were at school and it was on grass. The indoor game is a faster style where great skill is shown by all the team”.


Katie Long in action for England women at the EuroHockey Indoor Nations Championships, January 2012

An additional incentive for the winner is representing England in Europe next season but motivation to perform won’t be a problem in a game between these two sides. Sitting first and second in the outdoor Investec Women’s Hockey League, Leicester is the only team to have found a way past the reigning outdoor Premier Division champions that include high profile names such as Alex Danson, Kate Walsh, Helen Richardson and Sam Quek.  The first three will be missing on Sunday, on duty with Great Britain at the Champions Trophy, but Long knows how much of a challenge Reading will pose her and her colleagues.

“They’ve got a lot of quality in their side and they had four players away with the England indoor side. They are going to be a difficult side to break down but I think we’re a really strong unit. We’ll have our game plan and our coaches will be looking at ways where we can break them down. We have a plan but I’m not going to share it with you!”

To the layman there aren’t huge differences in the indoor and outdoor game aside from the obvious, fewer players in a smaller area. Step on to the pitch though and you soon realise that the indoor version is like hockey on fast-forward. The tight skills and level of concentration takes training to get up to speed, Long describes the approach taken by Leicester,

“We have a separate coach for our indoor …..….we’ve really started to take it more seriously over the last few years and with it we’ve had some great success; we’ve been challenging. It really does help develop your skills for outdoor hockey

“It’s an incredibly exciting game to play, you’ve got to be switched on as soon as you step on the pitch, then you’re not off for very long because as soon as you sit down, you’ve got to come on again!”

Leicester hasn’t played at Wembley Arena but many of the squad has turned out at big occasions. Long herself is an England and GB international, but is quick to dismiss any personal achievements despite scoring four out of seven goals in the semi final victory over Sutton Coldfield. The Leicester squad is a unit that believe in their ability insisting that not having played at the venue before cannot be considered a disadvantage,

“I think it will be exciting for some players to play in front of a crowd. We’ve got some club players where this will be a fantastic event for them.  And likewise for the internationals amongst us who have played a few times in these big events, whether that be the indoor or outdoor stage, it’s going to be about turning round what you have learnt in the semis and bringing it to that one game in the final”.

It is as simple as that. Long leaves with the unassuming statement of intent from Leicester ladies,

“We’re not cocky; we are confident”.

England Hockey Board Media release



Maxifuel Super Sixes Finals Preview 2: Simon Egerton

By Kerry Stewart



Simon Egerton in action for Bowdon against Beeston at the Maxifuel Super Sixes Championships

In the second of our series of interviews with the key protagonists ahead of the Maxifuel Super Sixes Finals on Sunday, Bowdon's Simon Egerton (below) brushes off the plaudits for his goal scoring exploits and talks about playing abroad, Bowdon's form and the chances of causing an upset.

Despite making their debut in the final stages of the competition and lying in eighth position in the outdoor Men’s England Hockey League, Bowdon’s men have arrived at Wembley on merit.

They finished second in the Maxifuel Super Sixes Championships standings on 19 points, drawing plaudits for their strong performances and in particular, those of Simon Egerton, the competition’s top scorer.  The 27 year old brushes off the comments and describes his personal achievement as straight forward, crediting the teammates who have put it on a plate for him.  Egerton is honest enough to point out that the Cheshire club might have been fortunate with the draw, meeting bigger teams when they were missing some of their most influential international players.

The comment isn’t intended to knock the performances of the boys who did play, nor lessen the achievement of the red and blacks, but rather highlights the fact that whichever team Bowdon might face in the final, if indeed they get there, will have a different look to it.

Before all that, the atmosphere, excitement and Beeston have to be controlled and managed. Last year’s runners up have strength in their squad, a crucial part of the indoor game as substitutions are made at a heady pace. Household international names such as Adam Dixon, George Pinner, Alistair Wilson and Ben Hawes are likely to step out for the Bees; all will surely be out for revenge in 2012 having lost the 2011 final.


England's Simon Egerton shouts while playing indoors for England

Egerton has been fortunate to play hockey in several different countries, most recently venturing to the ‘Land of the Long White cloud’ to turn out for Central region in the New Zealand NHL. A fresh approach and the chance to challenge himself against different opponents has strengthened his play,

“It was great to be able to play with people from all over the world, good players improve your game. I’ve been able to pick up some skills from different players that hopefully I have added to my game.”

By his own admission Egerton insists Bowdon are not satisfied with their standing in the outdoor league, however he believes that upping their performance indoor and gaining confidence from the crowd has shown the team just what they are capable of. The focus for the second half of the season will be transferring this form outdoors,

“We have been disappointed that we haven’t managed to kick on with our outdoor season. The same group of players is involved indoor and outdoor so there shouldn’t be any reason why we can’t do that now. Our first priority is to secure our place in the league and stay up but we really want to be able to stamp our authority in the second half of the season.”

Bowdon men haven’t reached the finals before but the women’s team won the title in 2011, beating Reading in a memorable exchange that was decided on sudden death penalty strokes. Egerton was there assisting the ladies team and recalls just how exciting an occasion it was,

“I helped out last year with the girls so I’ve seen what a great experience it is. It isn’t every day you get to play in front of thousands of fans, the atmosphere was fantastic and they put on a really good show. It was good entertainment for everyone.”

This year the men are determined they can bring indoor success to the north,

“We fancy our chances, we want to cause an upset. We weren’t an established indoor side but we are confident going into Wembley. I’m really looking forward to it.”

When asked to describe Bowdon’s chances Maxifuel Super Sixes Finals glory, Egerton takes a diplomatic approach,

“Extremely hopeful of a good performance”, he says.

Judging from their form so far, it seems a given that supporters can expect a performance that’s better than good, and may even turn out to be the best. 

England Hockey Board Media release



Win or bust for Western

SCOTTISH SUBWAY INDOOR NATIONAL LEAGUE AT ROBERT GORDON`S IN ABERDEEN


It is win or bust for Milne Craig Western, they must beat Grove Menzieshill in the game of the day in the women`s Subway indoor national league, held for the first time at Robert Gordon`s in Aberdeen. 

Western are six points adrift of leaders VWS Dundee Wanderers and three behind second placed Grove, so anything other than a victory would prove fatal and leave the title chase exclusively to the Tayside duo.

"We will still approach the games left with the view that we can win the league," said Neil Menzies, Western`s coach.  "Obviously we need to win all our games and still hope for other things to do our way, so therefore nothing less than a win against Grove will suffice."

Grove took the first contest between the sides 3-1, Ali Bell and Linda Clement gave the Dundonians a 2-0 lead at the interval, and although Morag McLellan pulled one back, Bell again from a penalty corner sealed the points.

Menzies said:  "In the first game we gave away goals by not closing down properly in certain areas, clearly we can work on not doing that again and at least match the mental approach that Grove brought to the first game."

Western will have a stronger squad for this encounter, back are international defender Catriona Ralph and Eli Cockburn who is capable of finding the net from time to time.

But Grove also have to win or they are likely to fall six points behind their city rivals, and that could simply donate the title to Wanderers for the third time in a row.

In contrast, the champions have an easier day, they open against second bottom Clydesdale and then take on an improving Reid Kerr College Kelburne.  The Paisley side have virtually made fourth spot their own with a run of victories against sides in the lower part of the table, but earlier in the season they lost 6-2 to Wanderers.   The Buddies held on for 2-2 at the interval, but goals from Amy Rowan and Julie Bryce finally sealed their fate in the second half.

The mid-table clash between Kelburne and CALA Edinburgh could be a close affair, the Paisley side will need to look out for the scoring expertise of internationalist Amy Brodie, although they did win the first encounter 3-1 with two strikes by Amy Hislop and the other from Amanda Maxwell.

Scottish Hockey Union media release



Tough day out for Inverleith

SCOTTISH SUBWAY INDOOR NATIONAL LEAGUE - BELLS SPORTS CENTRE IN PERTH


Champions Inverleith are under a degree of pressure, they are currently six points adrift of Menzieshill with a game in hand, and have a gruelling three game schedule against Glynhill Kelburne, VWS Dundee Wanderers, and finally Greaves Clydesdale.

"It is always difficult when you play three games in one day, " said Stuart Neave, Inverleith`s coach.  "However, we are looking forward to the challenge as all three teams have shown their ability to make it difficult for their opposition this season."

Neave is all too aware that any slip-up in these three encounters would almost certainly be fatal to his endeavour of retaining the title, and it is unlikely he can rely on Menzieshill losing their unbeaten record to either CALA Edinburgh or Western Wildcats.

Perhaps the biggest banana skill is Kelburne, with the likes of Willie Marshall, Alan Forsyth and Gareth Hall in the ranks, the Paisley outfit are certainly capable of rattling in the goals in their mercurial style of play.  In the past the outdoor champions have proved more than capable of causing an upset or two to would-be title aspirants, although earlier in the season Kelburne succumbed rather meekly 10-2 to Inverleith.

In reality, Wanderers proved more of a challenge by taking a 2-1 lead after only six minutes, although the champions rallied to finish 4-2 winners in the end.  Earlier Clydesdale fell victim to a nap hand from Adam MacKenzie in a 10-5 victory in favour of Inverleith.

Goal difference could eventually come into play if Inverleith succeed in beating Menzieshill in the final outing of the season, leaving the sides level on points at the denousment.  At the moment the Taysiders are ten goals in front, but that is not an immediate issue for Stuart Neave.

"We will focus on trying to win each game rather than how many goals we may score.  At present the initiative is certainly with Menzieshill, they have the points on the board.  However, we will continue to take each game as it comes, as I`m sure Menzieshill will too, "  said Neave.

With wins over CALA and Wildcats last weekend, Grange have consolidated their third place in the table which could be almost secured if they see off Dundee Wanderers and Kelburne.

If CALA are not to make an immediate return to the second division, they must take full points from their encounters with Clydesdale and Wanderers, it would be a miracle if they took anything from their clash with Menzieshill.  Their sole point came from a 5-5 draw with the Titwood outfit, but even that would not be of any use as the Glasgow side are six points ahead.

Scottish Hockey Union media release



Craig Cathie


Craig Cathie

Scottish Hockey was today saddened to hear of the tragic death of Craig Cathie, 19, on Tuesday 24 January.

Craig passed away in Raigmore hospital following an accidental fall and sustained head injuries whilst out walking with a group in the Gairloch area.

Craig was a much loved member of Stepps Hockey Club and was actively involved in playing and umpiring on a regular basis.

Gordon McCall, Stepps Hockey Club President, expressed his sadness on behalf of the club:

"Craig touched the lives of so many people and you only need to read his Facebook page to see how much he meant to the people he knew. He was a much loved character here at Stepps, displaying an abundant amount of enthusiasm, always with a smile on his face, and giving 100% effort."

"Craig was always happy to pitch in and help out wherever the club needed his support, whether it was playing as often as he could for Stepps, umpiring matches or giving people a lift to training; the list is endless. He connected with both team-mates and opponents on the pitch in the West District and Regional Leagues, and off the pitch too."

"Many messages of condolence have been flooding into the club. Craig will be sadly missed and the thoughts of all current and former members of Stepps Hockey Club, and the wider Scottish Hockey community, are with the Cathie family at this very sad time."

Craig Leggatt, Stepps 2nd XI Team Captain, also added:


"Craig came to hockey later than most but even in what now seems a very short period of time, he has made a bigger impression on the vast majority of our members more than anyone else I can think of.  It's been nothing but a pleasure to spend time with him these last four years and it's no coincidence that this has been the most enjoyable four years I've had playing the game."

Robert Heatly, Scottish Hockey Chief Executive, said:

"We are truly saddened to hear of Craig Cathie's passing and we extend our deep condolences to Craig's family and friends. Craig was an active player and member of Stepps HC, where he was regarded highly by all those at the club as someone who enjoyed his hockey immensely. I'm sure he will be sorely missed throughout the game in Scotland."

A minute's silence will be observed before the 2pm pushback at Stepps' 3rd XI match on Saturday 28 January at Millerston, Glasgow. The club will also remember Craig in forthcoming matches for their remaining teams.

Scottish Hockey Union media release



D Force, Dames take hockey season openers


Blair Wynne

Marcus James of Defence Force and Belgium-based Blair Wynne of Notre Dame were the stars for their respective clubs enroute to claiming the opening day titles when the 2012 season of the T&T Hockey Board at the National Hockey Centre, Tacarigua, on Sunday. In the men’s decider, James registered a hat-trick to lead Defence Force to a convincing 6-1 thrashing of Queen’s Park. James got his goals in the third, tenth and 13th while Mickel Pierre got two (11th & 15th) and Shane Legerton, the other.

For the Parkites, veteran player, Raphael Govia got their lone reply in the third minute to tie the match briefly at 1-1. Earlier in the semifinals, Defence Force blanked Corona Fatima 4-0 and Queen’s Park shut-out Petrotrin 2-0. Petrotrin got the vengeance when it hammered Fatima 4-1 for third spot. The women’s final was a much closer encounter as Wynne’d double led the Dames to their fourth title in a year, 3-2 over Shandy Carib Magnolias. Wynne banged in a quick double in the seventh and eight minutes for a 2-0 lead. However, teenager Elise Olton cut the advantage in half three minutes later.

Kyla Braithwaite restored the Dames two-goal cushion but once again Magnolias drew to within a goal when veteran campaigner Gayle-Ann Nieves scored in the 16th. In the end, the Dames managed to hold on to add to their 2011 Big Four, National and Super Indoor titles. The Dames reached the semis after a narrow 2-1 triumph over Malvern, while Magnolias eked out a 1-0 win over Maritime Harvard Checkers. The Malvernites then secured third spot with a 3-1 triumph against Checkers.

Men’s round-robin standings

Group A
Teams P W D L F A Pts

Petrotrin 5 4 1 0 13 2 13
Fatima 5 4 0 1 13 5 12
N/Dame 5 3 1 1 9 1 10
Paradise 5 1 0 4 5 12 3
Police 5 1 0 4 3 12 3
Carib 5 1 0 4 1 12 3

Group B
D/Force 4 3 0 1 13 0 9
QPCC 4 2 2 1 2 5 8
Paragon 4 2 1 1 8 3 7
Malvern 4 1 1 2 5 6 4
Shape 4 0 0 4 0 26 0

Women’s round-robin standings

Group A:

Magnolias 4 4 0 0 6 0 12
Malvern 4 2 1 1 8 2 7
Paradise 4 1 2 1 3 2 5
D/Force 4 0 2 2 3 7 2
Petrotrin 4 0 1 3 1 10 1

Group B
N/Dame 4 3 1 0 8 0 10
Checkers 4 2 2 0 4 0 8
Paragon 4 2 0 2 5 4 6
Ventures 4 1 1 2 3 3 4
Police 4 0 0 4 1 14 0

Results

Men’s round-robin:
Group A:

Fatima 1 bt Notre Dame 0; Petrotrin 0 vs Notre Dame 0; Notre Dame 4 vs Carib 0; Notre Dame 2 vs Police 0; Notre Dame 3 vs Paradise 0; Petrotrin 3 vs Fatima 2; Fatima 4 vs Carib 0; Fatima 3 vs Police 0; Fatima 3 vs Paradise 2; Petrotrin 3 vs Carib 0; Petrotrin 4 vs Police 0; Petrotrin 3 vs Paradise 0; Police 1 vs Carib 0; Carib 1 bt Paradise 0
Paradise 3 vs Police 2:

Group B:
QPCC 2 bt Defence Force 1; QPCC 6 bt Shape 0; QPCC 2 vs Malvern 2; QPCC 2 vs Paragon 2; Defence Force 9 bt Shape 0
Defence Force 2 bt Malvern 0; Defence Force 1 bt Paragon 0
Malvern 5 bt Shape 0; Paragon 6 bt Shape 0; Paragon 2 bt Malvern 0.

Women’s round-robin result:
Group A:

Magnolias 1 bt Malvern 0; Magnolias 3 bt Petrotrin 0; Magnolias 1 bt Paradise 0, Magnolias 1 bt Defence Force 0
Malvern 4 vs Petrotrin 0; Malvern 0 vs Paradise 0; Malvern 4 vs Defence Force 1; Paradise 2 bt Petrotrin 0; Petrotrin 1 vs Defence Force 1; Paradise 1 vs Defence Force 1:

Group B:
Checkers 0 vs Notre Dame 0; Checkers 1 vs Paragon 0; Checkers 3 vs Police 0; Checkers 0 vs Ventures 0; Notre Dame 3 vs Paragon 0; Notre Dame 4 vs Police 0; Notre Dame 1 vs Ventures 0; Paragon 4 bt Police 0; Paragon 1 bt Ventures 0; Ventures 3 bt Police 1.

Semifinals:
Men:

Queen’s Park 2 bt Petrotrin 0
Defence Force 4 bt Fatima 0

Women:
Notre Dame 2 vs Malvern 1
Magnolias 1 vs Checkers 0

Final:
Men:

Defence Force 6 (Marcus James 3, Mickel Pierre 2, Shane Legerton) vs Queen’s Park 1 (Raphael Govia)

Women:
Notre Dame 3 (Blair Wynne 2, Kayla Brathwaite) vs Magnolias 1 (Gayle-Ann Nieves)

The Trinidad Guardian



Hectic format to test players in National Championship: Rana Mujahid

Shazia Hasan


KARACHI: Habib Bank Limited (HBL) will take on Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) in the inaugural match of the 59th National Hockey Championship at the Hockey Club of Pakistan (HCP) on Thursday.

The championship features 10 departmental teams including defending champions Wapda, last year’s finalists PIA, National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), Navy, Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), HBL, Army, Port Qasim Authority (PQA), Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and PHF Academy with players from all over Pakistan.

Stressing the importance of regularly holding national championships and playing at the domestic level, head of the event’s organising committee MNA Khushbakht Shujaat said that the tournament would be good for boosting players’ ego.

“Such events also give the players from all over the country a chance to interact and bond as Pakistanis, which is good for the long-term betterment of the national sport,” she said.

Meanwhile, Olympian Rana Mujahid while explaining the championship format, said that the teams would play the matches on a single league basis with three or even four encounters taking place in a one day. He also mentioned that the hectic schedule of the event will test player resilience.

“Normally players are picked for the national squad after showing good performance in four or five domestic matches. But here each team gets to play as many as 11 matches. It will help us assess how much pressure a player can take during a competition,” he explained.

Rana also informed that the event will be watched by Pakistan team coach Michel van den Heuvel. “We don’t know Michel’s schedule as yet but he will be here to watch most of the matches,” he said.

On the issue of allowing former Pakistan captain Rehan Butt to play in the event while disallowing other 30-plus age players like Zeeshan Ashraf, Shakeel Abbasi, Rana explained:

“Rehan will be a part of the Wapda team only because the Pakistan Hockey Federation wants to watch him play in order to determine his fitness level ahead of the Olympics.”

About the code of conduct at the championship which has often been an issue during domestic events, tournament director Olympian Ahmed Alam said that in case of any misbehavior from a player, both the player and his manager may be penalized.

Meanwhile, when MNA Khushbakht Shujaat was asked if she being such a well-known and respected politician would like to intervene to make peace between the two warring Olympian factions, she replied. “I think sports should be kept away from politics. The federation president Qasim Zia tried making peace with them earlier but what can be done?” she lamented.

The championship concludes on February 11.

Dawn



Olak fightback to secure win



Olak-PKT secured their second consecutive win in the Division Two B of MHC-MILO-NSC Junior Hockey League when they came back twice to defeat KL Sports School 3-2 at the KL Hockey Stadium this evening.

The match was called off five minutes from time but the result stood as per the tournament regulations governing rain affected matches.

The two teams were scheduled to play last Friday but a downpour meant that the game was re-scheduled and over the weekend the two teams had mixed fortunes.

While KL Sports School lost 2-1 to Batu Pahat Municipal Council, Olak registered a 3-1 win over Malacca High School.

But it was the youngsters of KLSS that provided the opening goal, one that they thoroughly deserved.

Jonathan Anil Bhatti put the finishing touches to a move in the 23rd minute that gave KLSS the lead. And the goal shocked Olak into action and they soon found their rhythm.

Olak were back on level terms in the 31st minute through Muhd Norikhwan Nor Rahman and the result stood till halftime.

KLSS took the lead in the 39th minute when Muhammad Zahir Mohd Zaki burst through on the left to score with a brilliant individual effort.

Olak were unperturbed and got their equaliser in the 50th minute when Mohammad Firdaus Khamis converted a penalty corner.

And in the 53rd minute Olak took the lead for the first time in the match when Mohammad Hakimi Azarha was the first to pounce onto the ball and steered it into goal from a goalmouth melee.

Though the skies opened up soon after, the match was deemed completed when stopped at the 65th minute, without any addition to the scoreline.

Unofficial MJHL site



Amir: UniKL must be more clinical

UNIVERSITI Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) may have former penalty corner specialist K. Embaraj as their coach but the team have a poor conversion rate in the ongoing Milo-Junior Hockey League.

The defending champions have only scored once out of 18 attempts from penalty corners and manager Amir Azhar Ibrahim is understandably concerned.

"We should have recorded huge wins in our opening two matches but the strikers and flickers wasted too many opportunities," said Amir yesterday.

"We cannot afford to be wasteful as goal difference could decide the league champions.

"As a unit, we are playing well-structured hockey but we need to look for solutions to solve our scoring woes."

The team's main flicker is Noor Akmal Ghaffar but the youngster has yet to find the net  while forwards Hafiz Zainal and Taufik Abd Hamid have been woeful.

UniKL started their campaign by edging Petaling Jaya City Council 2-1 before overcoming Tunku Besar Secondary School 4-0 last weekend.

They face Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School Juniors on Saturday.

"We need the goals as we cannot take our opponents lightly. They are a respectable side," added Amir.

Meanwhile, in a Division Two Group A match, Olak edged Kuala Lumpur Sports School (KLSS) 3-2 at the KLHA Stadium yesterday.

Olak's goals came from Muhd Norikhwan Nor Rahman (31st minute), Muhd Firdaus Khamis (50th) and Muhd Hakim Azarha (59th). KLSS replied through Johnathan Bhatti (23rd) and Muhd Zahir Md Zaki (39th).

The match was called off five minutes from time due to heavy rain but the result stood as per the tournament regulations governing rain affected matches.

New Straits Times



Crunch time for MBPJ in two important matches this week

By AFTAR SINGH


KUALA LUMPUR: Two crucial matches this week may well decide whether Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) finish in the top-three in Division One of the Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL) .

MBPJ face former double champions Bukit Jalil Sports School (BJSS) at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil tomorrow and defending overall champions Tunku Mahkota Ismail Sports School (SSTMI)-Thunderbolt at the Taman Daya Stadium in Johor Baru on Sunday.

MBPJ have three points from the first two matches after losing 2-1 to reigning league champions Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) and thrashing Tunku Besar School of Tampin 7-0.

MBPJ coach Paul Raj admitted that his team faced a daunting task “because we haven’t beaten BJSS and SSTMI-Thunderbolt in the last few years”.

“We haven’t had the better of BJSS since we last defeated them in the final for the overall title in 2006,” he said.

“We haven’t beaten SSTMI-Thunderbolt in the last four years either. So the pressure is on us.”

SSTMI-Thunderbolt lead the standings with six points, the same as UniKL but with a better goal difference.

BJSS, who have won the league and overall double five times, are fourth in the nine-team standings with one win and a loss.

Paul reckons they have a good chance of ending their losing streak against BJSS, who are coming off a bad week having been hammered 5-1 by SSTMI-Thunderbolt.

“We will take it one match at a time and, hopefully, a win over BJSS will boost our confidence for the tough match against SSTMI-Thunderbolt,” said Paul, who will be banking on Project 2013 squad player T. Ganeisha to deliver the goals from penalty corners.

The Star of Malaysia