News for 19 March 2013

All the news for Tuesday 19 March 2013

Malaysia's future looks rosy

By Jugjet Singh

Australian players celebrate their Azlan Shah Cup win while the Malaysians ponder their defeat on Sunday. Pic by Muhaizan Yahya

IF the Azlan Shah Cup was a hint of Malaysia's hockey future, then the players will not disappoint the fans in the World League semi-finals and the Asia Cup.

Both  tournaments offer tickets to the 2014 World Cup in the Netherlands, and Malaysia look poised to snatch one --  either from the World League semi-finals in Johor Baru on June 29-July 7, or the Asia Cup in Ipoh on Aug 24-Sept 1.

The fourth Azlan Shah Cup silver medal was special for the hosts who  first held 2010 World Cup champions Australia to a 1-1 draw in the pool stages and then lost   3-2 in a closely fought final on Sunday.

For the record, Malaysia only lost one of their six matches in Ipoh but that was enough to deny the hosts the title which they have been waiting to clinch now for 30 years, and 22 editions.

And nobody criticised  them when they fell because it was Australia, and not the Asian teams which Malaysia will battle against in the World League and Asia Cup.

Malaysia beat South Korea 3-2, New Zealand 2-1, held Pakistan 2-2 and then drew 2-2 with India.

This can be seen as the  turning point for  Malaysian hockey as these were the teams who had denied them the spot to the World Cup when they lost to New Zealand in the Invercargill Qualifier, and Olympics when they lost to South Korea in the Dublin Qualifier.

Some might argue that the other teams were blooding many new players, and would be more dangerous when they re-group.  But based on what was seen the last week,  the rejuvenated Malaysian side look capable of taking on the best with this bunch of players.

After the final whistle against Australia on Sunday, the most disappointed person was coach Paul Revington.

Looking dejected, the coach laid down the law for his men.

"The tournament was wonderful but the defeat was hard to swallow. I had expected a golden finish, but looking back, we will carry some valuable lessons from here into the next two important assignments this year," said the South African.

For now, he will release his charges to their respective Malaysia Hockey League clubs as the senior league starts on Friday.

However players who gave their all must now give their best in the MHL to be in Revington's plans for the future.

"I will be scouting for more players from the MHL and that means even the present players need to produce their best for their clubs if they want to continue representing the country," warned Revington.

New Straits Times

Losing final in Ipoh means Malaysia still cannot match the elite


The Malaysian team posing with Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir (fifth from right) after the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup prize presentation on Sunday. —RONNIE CHIN/The Star

IPOH: So near and yet so far. Malaysia had one of the best chance to lift the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup but for the fourth time they ended up second best.

It basically means that we are still not up there among the elite teams.

Reigning world champions Australia came with a relatively young team and they proved that their enough depth in their reserves to keep ahead of the teams who played in the tournament held in Ipoh.

In fact, almost all teams came with young players and that sort of made it a level playing field for all.

It was not the best Aussie side seen at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup but psychologically they always seemed to have an edge against team ranked lower than them. Nothing else can explain their ability to win the title seven times and on Sunday with just seconds to go they snatched victory.

They were worthy winners. But then again Malaysia too would have been worthy winners had they won.

The Malaysians played one of their best tournament in the series and their performance was also one of the best in recent years.

But lets us not kid ourselves, the team still have a long way to go. There is no doubt that they have the potential, commitment and the skills.

National coach Paul Revington summed it up: “There is some way to go before the players master the structure and moving forward tactics. But we are heading in the right direction.”

Going by the second place finish in the tournament, the players are definitely heading in the right direction.

There was speed in their play. The seniors provide guidance to the youngsters and they have the ability to score from field and penalty corners and more importantly they do not give up.

This was apparent as they scored last-minute goals in matches against New Zealand, Australia and Pakistan in the preliminary round. And they proved they can stay in the mix for 70 minutes.

Then it was not enough in the final. They still lack the winning mentality and that is an aspect Revington will have to work on. But for starters it is good to know the players believe in themselves, a fact previously lacking.

They still need to improve on their penalty corners and the ability to keep possession when leading. They must stop giving away the ball during crucial moments and making mistakes in the D.

Revington said that he will now look at reviewing the players in the training squad as for the two major assignments in June and August – the World League semi-finals in Johor Baru and the Asia Cup in Ipoh. Both are qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup.

“The timing of this tournament is ideal as now the players go back to play in the Malaysia Hockey League which will provide me the opportunity to re-assess them and also pick new players for the training squad. After that we will enter the final phase of training for the two tournaments.

“We will look at the shortcomings here in Ipoh and work on ratifying them. There are a lot of positives we can take from the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament.

“We played against top ranked sides and the team did well overall. But unless we continue to improve the effort will be wasted,” said Revington.

In Ipoh, Malaysia had 12,000 vociferous fans cheering them on in all their matches and it was a telling factor in their performance.

This year the crowd support was the best in the series. The organisers have done well to renovate the stadium and ensure the stands are all fully covered. The final itself was a class show.

This year’s meet was a resounding success and after 22 editions the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup is set to stay as one of the premier invitational tournaments in the world.

The Star of Malaysia

Black Sticks' showing gives coach nice headache


BLACK STICKS MISS OUT: The New Zealand men's hockey team has been shunted into fourth place at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. Getty Images

Black Sticks coach Colin Batch admits he faces difficult selection decisions for the national men's hockey team's next assignment, a six-test home series against South Korea in May.

That assessment comes on the back of a mildly successful showing at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia, where Batch's bunch of mostly inexperienced players - only three of the 18-man squad were over 23 and 10 had played fewer than 10 tests - acquitted themselves well.

There were wins against Korea and India and losses to winners Australia, Pakistan, Malaysia and Korea, but New Zealand were competitive in all six matches.

Batch saw enough from a development perspective to label the week-long tournament a success despite finishing fourth of six teams, having lost yesterday's bronze medal playoff 2-1 to Korea.

"I'm very pleased with the progress the group has made," he said before boarding a flight to Auckland yesterday.

"In the first match we were 3-0 down against Pakistan and as a young team we could have been exposed, but we fought back to 3-3 in that match [eventually losing 4-3] and from there we improved throughout the tournament.

"We were focusing more on processes and development than results and tactically we kept improving, and our set pieces were particularly good. From a development point of view it was very successful."

Several more experienced players were either rested or involved with European clubs, such as Simon Child, Nick Wilson, Phil Burrows, Shea McAleese and Brad Shaw, but they will all be available for the Korean series.

That series will be the final selection trial ahead of round three of the World League in the Netherlands in June, a World Cup qualifying tournament, and Batch said some individual performances in Malaysia had given him food for thought.

He was impressed with the three debutants, North Harbour defender Cory Bennett, Midlands midfielder Nick Ross and Auckland midfielder Jared Panchia, a member of the Junior Black Sticks.

"Those three guys all looked good, and Cory scored three penalty corner goals," Batch said. "Some of the other less experienced players like Kane Russell, another Junior Black Sticks player, also stepped up and were a handful.

"They've all been exposed here and will be hugely motivated after having a chance. It's going to make selection for the Korea series very interesting."


Azlan Shah Cup debacle: Olympians fear further decline

By Fawad Hussain

After an impressive run-up to the Azlan Shah Cup, followers were shocked to see the Greenshirts finish last in the six-team event. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: Olympians have expressed grave concerns over the hockey team’s lack of progress after Pakistan finished last at the six-nation Azlan Shah Cup that concluded in Ipoh, Malaysia on Sunday.

The Greenshirts, who clinched gold medal at the Asian Champions Trophy, recorded just one win, while losing two matches besides registering a couple of draw to play the fifth-place playoff where they lost to India.

The Pakistan team management never adopted a serious attitude towards the final standings and termed the event as mere preparation for next year’s World Cup.

The attitude has, however, irked Olympians who feel that with a year remaining remaining in the prestigious event, the team’s performance looked far from satisfactory.

“The failure in Ipoh reflects our poor progress,” legendary Olympian Samiullah Khan told The Express Tribune. “Our hockey management is just repeating the mantra of World Cup preparations since failure at the London Olympics last year.

“But they haven’t done anything to bring amends as we are standing where we were after London.  I am not optimistic about our preparations for the World Cup. We even struggled against Asian counterparts despite being the continental champions.

“Right now we are hovering around the eighth and tenth position.”

Khan, famous as ‘The Flying Horse’, warned that there was little time left now and the management needed to take things seriously.

“On the face of it, there’s a year left in the World Cup but this period is not enough considering our weaknesses. We need to improve in all areas especially in attack and defence.

“The team is relying heavily on individuals when it comes to attack but this strategy has failed. There is a need to enhance the team’s ability to attack in groups like Australia.

“Our strategy in defence is also flawed as we have stopped relying on the middle defence.

“The coaches cannot blame the goal-keeper for conceding goals as he is helpless when there is a flaw in defence.

“The team will have to work very hard to improve in these areas in order to match the world class teams.”

However, the former manager and coach advised the team management to persist with the new players who were introduced in Malaysia.

‘Coaching exposed in Azlan Shah Cup’

Meanwhile, former captain Islahuddin Siddiqui was disappointed and termed the result ‘unexpected’.

“The weaknesses of our coaches in various departments were also exposed during the tournament,” said Siddiqui.

Another former Olympian Qamar Zia said team work was lacking during the tournament, adding that every player was ‘just focusing on his individual game’.

The Express Tribune

Sreejesh: Unlearning process is now over

Ipoh - The first-choice Indian goalkeeper and vice-captain of the team PR Sreejesh was happy with the Sultan Azlan Shah outing as he came up with high-class performance in all the matches apart from guiding the young team to develop as key players.

“We have set certain objectives before we started on the tour. This tournament was important for the juniors and the team is virtually a junior team except for four or five seniors. Apart from providing valuable exposure to the juniors, our coaching staff also wanted to create a pool of players who can develop into good players and be ready to graduate into the senior team,’’ Sreejesh said.

Sreejesh who toiled as a junior for many number of years, knows the importance of grooming youngsters into mature players and stressed that experience against tough teams is invaluable. “I have played so many matches against Pakistan and I know them as giants. But for many of these youngsters they never played our arch rivals and more importantly they never lost to them. But it is a high-class learning as the pressure is high and playing under such pressure-cooker situations makes the players and develops them into class players,’’ he felt.

“Before we came here, we did not even play one game as a team. So I think the team has really jelled well and we played all the matches well. But the inexperience cost us as we could not come up with wins in the matches we played well. This is a learning and the boys will learn how to turn good matches into winners,’’ he added.

“This year is important for the team. We have the World Cup qualifier in Rotterdam, the Asia Cup and then the Junior World Cup for the juniors. So we have to make sure that the key players are not injured and not stressed out. It is critical to provide enough rest for them between tournaments and in one way bringing juniors here has helped our key stars like Sardar Singh, Birendra Lakra and Gurwinder Chandi to rest and recover from their injuries,’’ he said.

“I think in the last one and a half year, the coaching has really helped. It is not just tactics and physical fitness but psychologically, we have gained a lot. As a team we are playing better and the players are tuned to the new tactics and the unlearning process is now over as we try to mix modern play and less of Indian traits like holding the ball too much, individual focus, mis-passes etc.,’’ he added.

“So the team is getting used to the new coaching style and I am sure we are on our way back to achieve better results. At this time, we are not looking for quick results. We have long term plans and everyone is working on it and we hope to change the scenario in the coming years,’’ he said.

“We will go back and take some rest before the camp starts. But I am happy that we won against Pakistan both the times and finished the engagements on a winning note. The tournament has really helped players like Dharamvir Singh, Manpreet Singh and Mandeep to develop and gain experience with tough teams,’’ he said. They have played for long under different junior coaches. So it will take some time for them to adjust to the tactics and strategies of the senior team but they are doing well and it is good for Indian hockey,’’ he concluded.

In-form Faizal confident of topping the charts in MHL


KUALA LUMPUR: Diminutive forward Faizal Saari was thrilled to be joint top scorer with India’s Rupinder Pal Singh in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament which ended in Ipoh on Sunday.

The 23-year-old Terengganu player, who scored six goals – five from penalty corners and one penalty stroke in Ipoh – said he wants to continue his scoring form in the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) which begins on Friday.

Faizal, who has good dribbling skills, will be gunning for his third consecutive top scorer’s award in the MHL.

The versatile striker, who has the ability to score field and penalty corners goals, joined Tenaga Nasional in 2010. And a year later he was the top scorer with 18 goals and last year he scored 20 to win the award again.

Faizal, who has 105 international caps to his credit, said that he was more than pleased with his scoring prowess in the tournament although they failed to win the elusive Sultan Azlan Shah Cup. Faizal gave Malaysia the lead in the fourth minute but Australia, ranked second in the world, fought back to take a 2-1 lead.

Malaysia levelled the score in the second-half but Australian scored the winning goal in the dying second for a 3-2 victory in the final on Sunday.

Faizal said being the joint top scorer in the tournament has boosted his confidence for another good outing in the MHL and he will go all out to help Tenage win at least one title.

Tenaga finished runners-up in the league and the overall tournament after losing to KL Hockey Club, who clinched the double last year.

Faizal said that this season they would be able to match all the other seven teams in the Premier Division because they have the services of seven national players.

Besides Faizal, the other internationals in the Tenaga team are goalkeeper S. Kumar, defenders Mohd Faiz Helmi, Mohd Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin, Mohd Amin Rahim and Mohd Sallehin Ghani, midfielders Norhizzat Sumantri and Mohd Marhan Mohd Jalil.

The Tampin-born Kumar, who was named the Best Goalkeeper in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, will be a hard man to beat during the league.Marhan, who played for Sapura last season, joined Tenaga this year.

Tenaga also have the services of former national forward Mohd Firhan Ashaari and striker Amir Farid Ahmad Fuzi, who is also in the national training squad.

Project 2013 squad’s forward Mohd Ramadhan Rosli has also joined Tenaga.

Besides Tenaga and KLHC the other teams in the Premier Division are Sapura, Maybank, Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL), Nur Insafi and debutants Terengganu.

Tenaga will play the charity shield match against KLHC at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil on Pitch 2 at 8pm on Sunday.

The Star of Malaysia

Garrard's wild ride on last lap

By Graham Wilson

Brett Garrard hopes to lead Surbiton to a top-four play-off place in the Investec Premier Division

BRETT GARRARD, double Olympian and former GB captain, calls this season the biggest roller-coaster ride the national league clubs have faced.

His club Surbiton, where he is director of performance and women’s coach, will be right in the thick of it when the final round of league matches takes place this weekend.

The women have a chance of earning a top-four play-off place in their first season in the Investec Premier Division, but face leaders Canterbury on Saturday.

With a European place at stake, Canterbury are one point up on reigning champions Leicester, who have the easier task against Slough, with, sadly, England’s most successful club now relegated.

Bowdon Hightown, who meet Clifton, remain a threat to Surbiton’s hopes a point behind them in fifth place.

“I’ve never seen an end of season like this,” said Garrard. “It has been a complete roller-coaster ride after the Olympics.”

The second-placed men have also had a great run and need a point at bottom side Brooklands on Saturday to make sure of a top-four place.

Daily Express

Netherlands men announce World League training squad

Van Ass reveals 27 strong group containing many new faces

2012 Olympic Games (men), London (Photo: Frank Uijlenbroek)

Netherlands men’s coach Paul van Ass has announced his 27 strong training group ahead of the key tournaments that the team will take part in this year.

Van Ass has named 24 outfield players and three goalkeepers in the group as The Netherlands begin their preparations for the Rabobank Hockey World League (Rotterdam, NED, 13-23 June 2013) and the EuroHockey Nations Championships (Antwerp, BEL, 17-25 August 2013).

There are a number of new faces in the group, including Jan Willem Buissant (Amsterdam H&BC), Sam van der Ven (HGC), Goof van der Kamp (HGC), Roel Bovendeert (HC Bloemendaal), Jelle Galema (Oranje Zwart) and Diede van Puffelen (HC Bloemendaal). Sam van der Ven and Jan Willem Buissant have previously trained with the Dutch team but have no caps to their name.  Goof van der Kamp, Roel Bovendeert, Jelle Galema and Diede van Puffelen (HC Bloemendaal) move up from the junior set up, with all four players having competed at the U-21 European Championships last summer.  Constantijn Jonker of SV Kampong is welcomed back into the fold following an absence of almost three years, having picked up the last of his 22 caps in July 2010.

The full list of players can be found below.

Netherlands Training Squad
Seve van Ass - H.G.C.
Sander Baart - M.H.C. Oranje-Zwart
Billy Bakker - Amsterdamsche H. & B.C.
Marcel Balkestein - M.H.C. Oranje-Zwart
Pirmin Blaak (GK) - H.C. Rotterdam
Roel Bovendeert - H.C. Bloemendaal
Jan Willem Buissant - Amsterdamsche H. & B.C.
Quirijn Caspers - S.V. Kampong
Jelle Galema - M.H.C. Oranje-Zwart
Jeroen Hertzberger - H.C. Rotterdam
Rogier Hofman - H.C. Bloemendaal
Robert van der Horst - M.H.C. Oranje-Zwart
Tim Jenniskens - H.C. Bloemendaal
Wouter Jolie - H.C. Bloemendaal
Constantijn Jonker - S.V. Kampong
Goof van der Kamp - H.G.C.
Robbert Kemperman - S.V. Kampong
Floris van der Linden - H.G.C.
Diede van Puffelen - H.C. Bloemendaal
Glenn Schuurman - H.C. Bloemendaal
Jaap Stockmann (GK) - H.C. Bloemendaal
Sam van der Ven (GK) - H.G.C.
Valentin Verga - Amsterdamsche H. & B.C.
Klaas Vermeulen - Amsterdamsche H. & B.C.
Bob de Voogd - M.H.C. Oranje-Zwart
Mink van der Weerden - M.H.C. Oranje-Zwart
Sander de Wijn - S.V. Kampong

KNHB Media Release

Team USA is headed back to London.

The International Hockey Federation’s World League Semi-Final tournaments will be held in Rotterdam and London this summer and the U.S. Women’s Team was assigned to the host of the 2012 Olympic Games.

The U.S. Women’s Field Hockey Team qualified for the World League semi-final tournament in London after a successful World League Round 2 campaign in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil earlier this month. Team USA finished with a near-perfect record, defeating Brazil, Uruguay, Chile and Trinidad and Tobago and drawing Scotland in regulation. The teams joining Team USA in London this summer are: Argentina, England, Australia, China, South Africa, Spain and Italy.

Olympic silver medalists Argentina, Australia, China and England automatically qualified for the tournament based on their top eight world ranking. The Argentine women, ranked No. 2 in the world, are the highest-ranked team in the London semi-final. Italy, Spain, South Africa and Team USA all qualified through various World League Round 2 tournaments.

The World League semi-final event, held at the University of Westminster’s Quintin Hogg Memorial Sports Ground in Chiswick, London from June 22-30, will be Team USA’s first opportunity to qualify for the 2014 World Cup. The last time the U.S. Women’s Team competed at a World Cup event was in 2006 in Madrid, Spain.

The U.S. has been drawn into a pool made up of No. 2 Argentina, No. 7 China and No. 17 Italy. The second pool will consist of No. 4 England, No. 6 Australia, No. 11 South Africa and No. 15 Spain.

USFHA media release

Q&A with U.S. Women's Team head coach Craig Parnham

Craig Parnham recently made his debut with the U.S. Women’s Field Hockey Team in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the International Hockey Federation’s World League Round 2 tournament. Parnham was named Head Coach of the U.S. Women’s Team in January 2013 and relocated to San Diego with his wife, Emma, in early February. Back in the United States after a successful performance in Brazil, Parnham spoke with on his coaching philosophy, the new Home of Hockey, his thoughts about living in America and more.

What excites you most about working with Team USA?

Craig Parnham:
I think what excites me the most is the fact that there is a really strong group of young players and a nice blend of more experienced players in there; the balance to the team is nice. I have watched the USA for a number of years now, and I remember watching the Junior World Cup team and thinking then “this team really has a lot of potential and promise." There are a number of those girls now on the senior team and it is about finding the next group of junior players to come through and add more layers of depth and quality to the squads. I think that’s what excites me most because, with the system here, there is real opportunity to do that.

What do you think about field hockey in the United States?

I think what we have is a fantastic opportunity to do something quite special with hockey. The NCAA system is certainly different to a lot of other systems around the world but I think you could look at it and say it has the potential to be one of the best development systems in the world. The access the players have to coaching, strength and conditioning, facilities and pitch time through their colleges would be looked at from other countries around the world as quite enviable.

With the move to the new Home of Hockey in Lancaster County, Pa. later this year, what kind of impact will having a home base have for our sport?

The impact will be significant. I think the advantages of having a venue that you can call home is going to be really beneficial to the nation and for the sport in particular. It will give us more of an identity and it is certainly going to help shape our culture and create an environment of excellence. The facilities there will be world leading which means that the players will be able maximize the time we spend there, whether it be on the technical side on the pitch, or physical work in the gym. In addition, there will be a support network around them that will be second to none. It is going to be a fantastic set up. From my background in Great Britain, we had a venue we called home which was Bisham Abbey National Training Center – it allowed the team to be in the gym, just meters away from the pitch – so the squad can do the transferrable work, and be together more often. The Nook will be very similar to a lot countries around the world that have specific training venues, and I think it will be one of the best.

How do you foresee the national team players continuing their key role to inspire participation and growing the game?

I think that is a huge part of the responsibility of the group of players on the national team -being at Lancaster and being visible to the local community and the hockey community. The number of people playing hockey in that region is huge and for the national team to be there and part of that community and for those young kids to be inspired by the senior group is really going to be beneficial in the years to come. I think that is what is needed. We need to increase the profile of the team, increase the profile of the sport and get the word out there that this is a good sport to play and there are a lot of people that can benefit from it.

What has been your favorite moment to date in your hockey playing or coaching career?

Certainly as a player, my first Olympic experience was unforgettable. I’ll never forget the moment we walked out into the opening ceremony at the Sydney Olympics. As a coach, I think some of the proudest moments are not necessarily when you are with the team and winning games, it is actually just seeing people develop both on and off the field. If you play a part in a player’s personal development and you see their character and personality change as a result of some of the things they are doing in and around the group, I see that as a really enjoyable win for me.

How big of a hockey fan is your wife Emma and what are her thoughts on living in America?

Emma is a huge hockey fan. She was a hockey player herself. She is a former Great Britain and Scottish international and has played hockey all her life. We met through hockey when we were both playing. As far as living in America, we both absolutely love the United States. We have spent many holidays here and always tried to come over once a year. We’ve both seen quite a lot of the country and so far everywhere that we have been, we have thoroughly enjoyed. San Diego is a beautiful place to live. We have just recently returned from five days in Lancaster to have a look around there and see if we can find somewhere that we are going to call home. We are pleased to be here and really looking forward to the move to Pennsylvania. 

Are you prepared for snowy winters in Lancaster County, Pa?

I think I am. My wife is more of a warm weather fan, but we are both used to the cold weather in the UK. I quite enjoy the snow but one of the pitches in Lancaster will be covered by a dome so at least we will be able to carry on training throughout the winter.

Is there a place in the U.S. that you haven’t been to that you are excited to visit now that you live here? 

Oh there are lots of places. USA Field Hockey's national office is in Colorado Springs. I’ve been through Colorado, but we would love to go have a proper look around there. There are parts of New England and Maine that we have never been to that we’d love to visit. We have seen quite a bit and hopefully when we get the opportunity with some holiday we will continue to explore more of America.

What is your coaching philosophy?

My philosophy is to create independent learners. It is my job to open the minds of players and allow them to be creative and certainly be independent. Once the whistle goes, a coach’s ability to influence decision making is more limited. So, my main drive is to develop the players to be less coach dependent. This comes back to our culture. The players are involved in driving the program and as a coach, I am there to help guide, teach and facilitate. That takes a lot of work and it is going to take a lot of time to get there with this group but the ambition is to create independent learners and people that own what they do.

What do you say to a young athlete who is considering trying field hockey and pursing the Olympic dream?

One of the things that I think is fundamental in being successful in anything you choose to do is mastery of the basic skills. And until you have mastery of the basic skills it is difficult to progress. I think habit forming in younger life and trying to do the right thing more often than not in an environment of play is important. We know that people resort to their habits when the pressure is on at the highest level and if the habits are robust and strong then you’re generally going to be in a good position. If habit forming, deliberate practice and skill at younger ages is not correct, then it can come back and haunt you in years to come. I think what I am most interested in, and where my coaching has changed in the last few years, is that the practice environment is key. A lot can be learned in play as opposed to drills and practices and I try where possible to avoid drills and work a lot of what we do inside play and game play. After all, we get into the sport because we enjoy playing and playing is fun.

What changes led the Great Britain Women’s Team to moving up the world rankings and winning bronze in London?

I think access and time with the players is where we saw significant changes. Technically they moved on and improved just by having hours on the pitch. The group of players really understood their roles and what was required of them so as a team the expectations were very defined. It really is no mystery. It was just simple time on the pitch and time spent working hard in the gym and conditioning, getting everything right that I am sure everybody else is trying to do, but we just managed to get the time to do it and get access to the players. The players worked hard to get where they wanted. Like I said, there is no mystery to it; it is just time and hard work.

As we embark on the journey to Rio 2016 what are the key messages you wish to share with the pool of young elite athletes looking to make the Olympic squad?

I would say it is about hard work and committing to something. What is your vision and what is your goal? I think it was Carl Lewis who famously said, “You first need to know what your goal is, you then need to know what it is going to cost you to get there and then you’ve just got to get on and pay the price.” And that is ultimately what it is. We need to define what it is we are after and figure out how we want to get it.

What does it take for Team USA to podium finish in Rio?

I can’t answer that. What I can tell you is what we need to do and that is work as hard as we can every day we train. We need to train smart and need to identify and understand what our strengths are and play to those strengths. We need to develop a group of players that have a strong belief in what they are doing with a very clear vision. A situation we find ourselves in is that everyone else in the world is trying to do the same thing. So we can’t guarantee anything about medals and podiums. What we can guarantee is that we will get a system in place, hold a vision and goals where we have purpose for what we do and a group of players who are committed to working hard towards that vision.

USFHA media release


Six nations shortlisted for Hockey World Cups 2018

Hosts, venues and dates to be announced on 8 November 2013

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) is pleased to announce that in its meeting on Saturday, the FIH Executive Board confirmed the shortlist of applicants for the Hockey World Cups 2018 to include Australia, Belgium, England, India, Malaysia and New Zealand.

The expressions of interest received for the World Cups were part of the larger Event Assignment Process launched by FIH at the FIH Congress in November 2012 to assign the unallocated events for the period of 2014 to 2018 before the end of this year. Aside from excellent interest in the World Cups, there was also an enthusiastic response for a number of other events, like the Hockey Junior World Cups 2017 and a new type of “Champions Event”, but particularly for the Hockey World League Semi-Final events which will serve as the main Olympic qualifying event in 2015 and the main World Cup qualifying event in 2017.

Of the applicants shortlisted for the World Cup, Australia, England, India and Malaysia have previous experience hosting hockey's pinnacle event, with India having hosted the latest men's edition only three years ago. Belgium and New Zealand are new to bidding for the World Cup but have both successfully hosted international events in recent years, such as last year's Women's Olympic Qualifier and the Men's Champions Trophy 2011 respectively.

Both the Men's and Women's Hockey World Cups 2018 will feature an increased 16-nation field of participants confirming the growing interest and development of the sport. Next year's highly anticipated Rabobank Hockey World Cup, taking place in The Hague, Netherlands, during the first two weeks of June, will see twelve men's and twelve women's teams compete in a joint tournament.

FIH President Leandro Negre commented, "The high interest to host by our Member Associations, especially for the World Cup, is extremely encouraging and we are very happy with the positive reaction to the FIH's new event assignment process. This successful first phase reaffirms our efforts to develop and strengthen our event brands and confirms the FIH's choice to select hosts much further in advance than previously."

In the next step of the process, all Hockey World Cup applicants will receive detailed event and bidding documentation and participate in a one day workshop on 7 May in Lausanne to allow them to prepare their bids in advance of the 31 August 2013 submission deadline.

On 8 November 2013, the FIH will announce the hosts, venues and dates of the Hockey World Cups 2018.

The shortlist of applicants for the Hockey World Cups 2018 consists of the following National Associations:

Australia (Men and/or Women)
Belgium (Men and/or Women)
England (Women)
India (Men)
Malaysia (Men)
New Zealand (Men and/or Women)

FIH site

Hockey "Happy" With New Rio Venue

Hockey Closer to Rio 2016 Venue Approval

Hockey at the London Olympics. (Getty Images)

International Hockey Federation (FIH) CEO Kelly Fairweather tells Around the Rings the FIH board is in principle “happy” with new venue proposals presented by Rio 2016.

On Friday, Rio 2016 sport director Agberto Guimarães presented the new plan to re-house hockey at the Deodoro Zone to an FIH board meeting in Lausanne.

The plans call for a 10,0000-capacity venue that would be downsized after the Games and a temporary 5,000-seat stadium. Two training pitches are to be built at the federal university near the airport.

Despite concerns over Rio 2016’s plans to relocate hockey away from the main hub of the Games, Fairweather said the new concept is a “huge improvement” on previous proposals.

“In principle our board is happy with the proposals but there are some details to sort out before we accept,” he told ATR Monday.

Rio 2016’s ramped-up legacy plans for hockey have helped win over a previously skeptical FIH board; the training pitches at the university would benefit its 50,000 students and national team training.

Fairweather said the FIH will study the venue plans in greater detail before offering feedback to Rio 2016 next week. He hopes the hockey federation can sign off on the plans in early April.

The Rio 2016 presentation also included details of transport routes from the Deodoro Zone to the Olympic Village and the second Games hub to the training center – both journey times are said to be around 30 minutes.

“We are quite comfortable with that. But it is contingent on the transport networks being delivered,” he said.

“There is a huge amount to be done in terms of delivering them.”

Around the Rings

England Hockey teams up with Gullivers Sports Travel

England Hockey has today announced a new partnership with leading tour operator Gullivers Sports Travel.

The agreement sees Gullivers Sports Travel become the Official Travel Supplier of England Hockey and, as a celebration of the new partnership, Gullivers has unveiled a selection of unique supporters and playing tours, the first of which are travel packages for the TriFinance EuroHockey Championships that will be taking place in Belgium this summer from 17-25 August.

The new travel packages on offer consist of a 3-night weekend, which centres around the final matches of the championships and a 5-night stay, allowing travellers to enjoy a few more games. Both can be booked through the new ‘England Hockey Travel’ online booking portal, which can be found by visiting Tours are also available incorporating the opportunity to play local matches.

Noel Magnay, Managing Director of Gullivers Sports Travel, said: “We are very proud to be the Official Travel Supplier of England Hockey. Hockey is fast becoming a popular sport and the TriFinance EuroHockey Championships is a fantastic first event to be supporting England Hockey with. These new travel packages will be a great way for hockey fans to get closer to the action this summer, where we’ll be providing fantastic match seats and also exclusive access to the players, and the coaching sessions. There’ll be lots of other goodies too, such as signed shirts, fabulous dinners, all making for a truly unbeatable tour, for an unbeatable price!”

Noel added: “This is the first time hockey fans will be able to book their travel and tickets together as a package, and our new online portal makes booking very easy. Plus, we’ve also included guaranteed exclusive perks to make sure fans have a fantastic experience!”

Jonathan Cockcroft, Commercial and Membership Director at England Hockey, said: “We are delighted to have teamed up with Gullivers Sports Travel. The popularity of hockey is increasing all the time and with participation having grown by 30,000 people over the past year and major events drawing bigger crowds and more television coverage it’s a great time for us to offer supporters new ways of following the England teams.  With over 40 years’ know-how in delivering exceptional sporting experiences, Gullivers Sports Travel are ideally placed to encourage new fans to the sport and to ensure a seamless travel service for our existing supporters and participants. We’re very much looking forward to working together.”

Beyond the 2013 TriFinance EuroHockey Championships, the relationship also covers England and Great Britain global team travel, as well as all international supporters and playing tours. It also includes logistical management of all major hockey events in England, including the Investec London Cup, EuroHockey Championships 2015, Investec World League and future international tournaments.

Noel concluded: “It really is proving to be one of our most successful years to date, having recently secured new contracts with the governing body of Rugby League, and the 2013 Badminton Grand Prix Gold International Event. This latest deal completes a perfect hat trick, and provides us with a tremendous opportunity to collaborate and utilise our global sports travel, player and supporter expertise with England Hockey. Following hockey’s fantastic medal success at the 2012 Olympics, and their improved funding there is no better time to be part of their future.”

Hockey packages will be available from 18th March 2013, and start from just £335 per person for the playing tours and £342 per person for the supporters tours. For further booking information visit or call 01684 878756.

For further enquiries please contact Richard Fynn, Business Development Manager on 01628 897507 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

About Gullivers Sport Travel, Official Supplier of the England Hockey Travel Club

Gullivers Sport Travel is part of TUI Travel Sport which is a unique collection of some of the most established sports travel & event brands in the world. Gullivers Sports Travel, part of the Specialist & Activity Sector of TUI Travel PLC. The division specialises in delivering exceptional services and logistics to major worldwide sporting events for fans, teams, clubs and sponsors. Appointments include official British & Irish Lions Tours, Ashes Series, ICC Cricket World Cup, ICC World Twenty20, ICC Official Tour Provider, Rugby World Cup Sevens, Hong Kong Sevens, Licensed Tour Official Overseas Travel Provider for englandfans, the Official Travel Partner for the NBA, The FA and Scottish FA official supporters club, Wimbledon Championship and The British Grand Prix.

Why Book with Gullivers:

Over 40 years of sports travel experience
Exceptional Personal Service
Passionate about great sport

England Hockey Board Media release