News for 27 April 2013

All the news for Saturday 27 April 2013


Blyth brilliance signs off six goal thriller  

Captain saves best for last with looping effort late on


Australia’s Hockeyroos turned on the style in a devastating second half performance as they bounced back from Thursday’s defeat at the hand of Korea to win 6-0 on Saturday. Emily Smith (NSW) netted the crucial opener with just four seconds of the first half remaining but it was the five goals in the second half that truly caught the eye with captain Madonna Blyth’s (QLD) incredible cheeky chip the highlight.

Western Australian Ashleigh Nelson made it 2-0 five minutes after half time as she converted from close range at the second attempt – the Korean goalkeeper Lee initially blocking Nelson after a well-placed cross from Karri McMahon.  The visitors failed to capitalise on a number of opportunities to pull a goal back before Smith netted her second to make it 3-0. After beating two defenders down the right hand side, Georgia Nanscawen found Smith perfectly placed at the back post and the forward converted clinically.

Then began the goal rush. Blyth swept home to make it 4-0 at a penalty corner two minutes later, followed quickly by Claire Messent’s (VIC) strike for 5-0. But it was Blyth’s second goal that had the fans on their feet. Lying on the floor, she contorted to release a looping shot that dipped over the goalkeeper into the far corner of the net to complete Australia’s afternoon.

Head Coach Adam Commens called it “a really pleasing performance.” Adding, “It was good that the team addressed the issues that we’ve discussed in the two days since the disappointing loss on Thursday. We learnt a lot but the challenge will be to improve on today in game four tomorrow.”

New South Wales youngster Mariah Williams became the fourth Hockeyroo to debut in the series. Williams, 17, came off the bench and after good interplay with Georgie Parker, was involved in the award of Australia’s first penalty corner.

It was far from one way traffic, however, and the Hockeyroos were grateful to the goalkeeping of Toni Cronk in the first half. The experienced double Olympian did well to force Park Mi Hyun wide after the Korean captain broke through and performed her duties well to save from Cho Yun Kyoung soon after. On the one occasion it looked as though Cronk would be beaten by Park, a late intervention from Teneal Attard put the Korean forward off her shot.

Prior to Smith’s well-timed opener, Kellie White saw her early effort flash across goal while Ashleigh Nelson was thwarted by goalkeeper Lee Sin Hye at close range after turning a pass towards goal at the near post.

The two sides meet again in the fourth and final match of the series at 2pm on Sunday. The match will take place at Perth Hockey Stadium and will be live streamed on the Hockey Australia website at www.hockey.org.au.

AUSTRALIA (WOMEN) v KOREA SERIES

HOCKEYROOS   6 (1)


Emily Smith 35,58 (F,F)
Ashleigh Nelson 40 (F)
Madonna Blyth 60,67 (PC,F)
Claire Messent 62 (F)

KOREA   0 (0)

-

Hockeyroos Squad v Korea, 27 April
(Listed alphabetically by surname)

Started

Teneal Attard (Mackay, QLD), Madonna Blyth (Brisbane, QLD), Jane Claxton (Adelaide, SA), Toni Cronk (GK) (Sydney, NSW), Anna Flanagan (Canberra, ACT), Kate Jenner (Tamworth, NSW), Karri McMahon (Townsvillle, SA), Claire Messent (Berwick, VIC), Georgia Nanscawen (Melbourne, VIC), Emily Smith (Crookwell, NSW), Kellie White (Crookwell, NSW),

Used Sub

Jade Close (Wagga Wagga, NSW), Kirstin Johnson (Mackay, QLD), Bianca Joyce (nee Greenshields) (Balaklava, SA), Ashleigh Nelson (Wagin, WA), Georgie Parker (Adelaide, SA),

Mariah Williams (Parkes, NSW)

Used Sub

Ashlee Wells (GK) (Moe, VIC),

Did Not Play

Edwina Bone (Evatt, ACT), Rachael Lynch (GK) (Melbourne, VIC), Brooke Peris (Darwin, NT),

Hockey Australia media release



Black Sticks coach opts for experience

By Kris Shannon



Black Stick Anita Punt in action. Photo / Christine Cornege

It is their first experience at a new tournament, but New Zealand women's hockey coach Mark Hager opted for the tried and true in his team selection yesterday.

The Black Sticks will get their first taste of the new World League when they travel to the Netherlands for an eight-team tournament in June, with spots on the line for both the final round of the World League and next year's World Cup.

With those sorts of stakes, it is perhaps of little surprise that Hager has largely gone for players he knows and trusts in his 18-strong squad. Eight members have more than 100 international caps, while no one has played fewer than 10 matches.

That's not to suggest the side is light on youthful exuberance, however. With as many teenagers (two) as players who have had their 30th birthday, the average age of the group heading to Rotterdam is just 23.

That blend of battle-hardened players still in their early 20s is desirable for any coach, and Hager was confident the diversity within the group was a major strength.

"We have a nice mix of youth and experience in this side," he said. "The younger players complement those with more experience and they all work together really well."

If they continue to do so, the Black Sticks will be confident of qualifying for a couple of major tournaments. With the inaugural World League split into stages and the heavyweights entering only at round three, play in Rotterdam - with another competition taking place in London - will be a virtual semifinal scenario.

Joining New Zealand in the Netherlands will be the hosts, as well as fellow hockey heavyweights Germany. With the top four qualifying for the fourth round and the first three making the World Cup, the Black Sticks will be aiming to edge Korea, Japan, India, Belgium and Chile for the latter goal.

"Obviously we will be looking for a strong finish at the tournament to make sure we qualify for the 2014 World Cup and World League round four," Hager said. "We certainly have the talent in this team to come away with a positive result."

Hager's team boasts four under-21 representatives, including Sian Fremaux, who was recently top scorer at the first four nations tournament in Whangarei.

Fremaux, 20, said she was excited to be named in the team and was looking forward to trying to cement her spot.

"I'm so excited to be given the opportunity to take part in the competition," she said. "Being in the environment is a great learning experience and every day I learn something new, especially from the older girls who are a wealth of knowledge."

The Black Sticks leave New Zealand on June 1 and will play three tests against England before heading to the Netherlands.

NZ squad: Bridget Blackwood, Sam Charlton, Gemma Flynn, Krystal Forgesson, Sian Fremaux, Katie Glynn, Charlotte Harrison, Pippa Hayward, Rose Keddell, Julia King, Stacey Michelsen, Emily Naylor, Anita Punt, Cassandra Reid, Bianca Russell, Sally Rutherford, Kayla Sharland, Petrea Webster.

The New Zealand Herald



Sandeep Singh recalled for Holland tour.

Penalty corner expert and defender Sandeep Singh, who has been sidelined on form after the last Olympics, has been recalled for the forthcoming Indian tour of Netherlands.

India will tour Netherlands from 27 April – 9 May 2013. This tour is in preparations for the Senior Men team for FIH Men’s Hockey World League Round- 3(Semi-finals) to be played at Rotterdam, Netherlands from 13-23 June 2013.

Hockey India selector Col. Balbir Singh, Mr. BP Govinda, Mr. Michael Nobbs (Chief Coach) and Mr. Roelant Oltmans (Director-High Performance) alongwith Government Observer Harbinder Singh selected the list of 18 players during the selection trials conducted at SAI Centre, Bangalore on 16 April 2013.

The 18 member squad will be captained by Sardar Singh while VR Raghunath will be the Vice-Captain.

Indian team will be playing seven matches during its Netherlands tour from 27 April – 9 May 2013, including two matches against the National Dutch team and five against Dutch Club teams.

Indian team has already qualified for the FIH World League Round-3(Semi-finals) in February this year. FIH World League is also qualifier for the World Cup 2014 to be played in Hague, Netherlands.

List of the players is as under-

GOAL KEEPERS
1. PT Rao
2. Nanak Singh

DEFENDER

3. VR Raghunath (Vice-Captain)
4. Rupinder Pal Singh
5. Harbir Singh Sandhu
6. Kothajit Singh
7. Gurmail Singh
8. Sandeep Singh

MIDFIELDER
9. Sardar Singh (Captain)
10. Manpreet Singh
11. Dharamvir Singh
12. Danish Mujtaba
13. SK Uthappa

FORWARDS
14. SV Sunil
15. Chinglensana Singh
16. Nithin Thimmaiah
17. Akashdeep Singh
18. Yuvraj Walmiki

Stick2Hockey.com



Sardar Singh to lead Indian hockey team for Netherlands tour

NEW DELHI: Ace mid-fielder Sardar Singh will lead an 18-member senior Indian men's hockey team for the tour of the Netherlands from April 27 to May 9.

The tour is seen as a preparation for the FIH men's Hockey World League Round- 3(Semi-finals) to be played at Rotterdam, Netherlands from 13-23 in June this year.

Drag-flicker VR Ragunath has been named as the Sardar's deputy for the tour.

Ace drag-flicker Sandeep Singh, who was left out of the Indian squad for the FIH Hockey World League Round 2 held here earlier this year, has made a comeback to the national side along with young striker Yuvraj Walmiki who has made the squad in place of injured Gurwinder Singh Chandi.

Notable absentees from the squad are midfielder Birendra Lakra, who has opted out of the tour because of his college examination and India's first choice goalkeeper P R Sreejesh, who is getting married during that time.

According to a statement from Hockey India, the squad was selected by HI selectors Balbir Singh, BP Govinda, chief coach Michael Nobbs, Roelant Oltmans (Director-High Performance) alongwith government observer Harbinder Singh after a selection trials conducted at SAI Centre, Bangalore on April 16.

During the tour, India will play seven games -- two against the Netherlands national team and five versus Dutch club sides.

India has already qualified for the FIH World League Round-3(Semi-finals) in February this year. The FIH World League is also qualifier for the World Cup 2014 to be played in Hague, the Netherlands.

Squad:

Goalkeepers: PT Rao, Nanak Singh Defender: VR Raghunath (vice-captain), Rupinder Pal Singh, Harbir Singh Sandhu, Kothajit Singh, Gurmail Singh, Sandeep Singh

Midfielder: Sardar Singh (captain), Manpreet Singh, Dharamvir Singh, Danish Mujtaba, SK Uthappa

Forwards: S V Sunil, Chinglensana Singh, Nithin Thimmaiah, Akashdeep Singh, Yuvraj Walmiki.

The Times of India



It's a four!

Rutvick Mehta


Walmiki puts on some weight, prompts Nobbs to pick him for Netherlands tour.

Four kilos — that’s what made the difference for Yuvraj Walmiki.

A few months after getting dropped from the national squad, the 20-year-old Mumbaikar has been selected for the preparatory tour to The Netherlands. So what did the young lad do after he was dropped for the Asian Champions Trophy and the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup? Well, he put on some weight — four kilos to be precise.

Walmiki now weighs 62 kg and that was enough for head coach Michael Nobbs to draft him back into the team after the selection trials were held in Bangalore on April 16. “I was put under a special programme by Nobbs and our trainer (Jason Conrath). I worked hard in the gym besides giving special attention to fitness and diet,” Yuvraj told dna.  “Nobbs was impressed when he saw me in Bangalore.”

Not being part of the young squad that represented India at the Azlan Shah tourney must have been tough for the striker. “Yes, it’s always hard to sit out. But that’s how you learn. You end up putting in more effort to get back into the team,” he said.

The 18-member squad will play seven matches — two against the Dutchmen and five against club teams — as they prepare for the FIH Men’s Hockey World League Round 3 (semis) to be held in June.

DNA



Punjab, Haryana in Women's National Hockey quarters

NEW DELHI: Punjab, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy reached the quarterfinals with emphatic victories in their concluding league matches of the 3rd Hockey India Senior Women National Championship on Friday.

Punjab easily defeated Delhi 7-0 in their concluding league match with goals from Sadhna Singh (2, 18, 39 min), Monika (5 min), Gurwant (54 min), Sukhjeet (56 min) and Lalremruati (66 min).

Four goals by Narinder helped star-studded Haryana enter the quarterfinals as they blanked Mumbai Hockey Association Limited 10-0 in their Pool B league match, at the Major Dhyan Chand Stadium in the Guru Govind Singh Sports College.

Goal scorers for Haryana were Narinder (11, 23, 55, 64 min), Harpreet Kaur (1, 34 min), Udita (19, 35 min) and Bharti (41, 51 min).

Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy (MPHA) also booked their berth in last eight, defeating Bihar 8-0 in a Pool D tie.

Scorers for MPHA were Shivani (33, 34, 42 minutes), Preeti (24, 41 min), Reena Khokhar (6 min), Neha (35 min) and Rakhi (52 min). In Pool F, Chandigarh beat Gujarat 18-0.

Meanwhile, in the Junior Women National Championship, Hockey Maharashtra hammered Andhra Pradesh 7-1 in their Pool D League match played at the Astroturf Hockey Stadium in Ranchi on Friday.

Earlier, Delhi breezed past Kerala 8-0 in their Pool H league match to book their berth for the quarterfinals.

The Times of India



Maybank blow opportunity

Maybank blew their chance to claim second spot in the TNB Malaysian Hockey League when they were beaten 4-3 by Terengganu HT at the National Hockey Stadium.

And on the adjacent pitch TNB Thunderbolts defeated Bukit Jalil Sports School 5-0 to set up a title showdown against Uitm for the Division One League title on Saturday.

A win would have given the Tigers the runner up spot but now they will have to overcome Sapura on Suday to edge Tenaga Nasional berhad to the runner up spot, which will give them a bye into the semis.

Maybank did not play well at all and were loose in defence and paid the price for their defensive frailaties while Terengganu ought to given credit for their clinical finishing via quick counter attacks.

It was the East Coast side that took the lead in the 12th minute through M. Amerullah Abdul aziz. But Maybank were on level terms in the 27th minute when Shakeel Abbasi scored. Two minutes later Maybank surged ahead through Muhammad Waqas.

But Terengganu were unperturbed as they and scored two quick goals through Azlan Misron in the 33rd and 37th minutes to take a 3-3 laed. But Maybank were all square through Muhammad Irfan in the 54th minute.

M.Sufi Ismat M.Rohul Amin scored the winner in the 57th minute to make life diffult for Maybank.

Official MHL site



Nur Insafi shock Sapura



KL Hockey Club were in no mood to let Tenaga Nasional Berhad roll over them as they came back from 2-0 down to defeat then 5-3 at the National Hockey Stadium this evening.

The defeat made things more difficult for TNB to finish as league runner-up as all Maybank needs to do is defeat Terengganu HT in a later game to take the second spot.

And on the adjacent pitch, Nur Insafi Warriors registered their first win of the TNBMHL by defeating Sapura 4-3, coming back from a two goal deficit as well.

"We never had the intention of resting players and our focus is to finish the league as strongly as we can, and that means winning the matches. But we picked up several cards today and the players will be suspended for the match against UniKL tomorrow," said KLHC manager George Koshy.

"Even though we were 2-0 down at one stage, I was confident the players will bounce back and defeating TNB is by no means an easy feat. Thus we are satisfied with both the performance and the win.

"We area lso trying some positional changes given the fact that we may have to make changes to the line=up in the match against UniKL tomorrow. To sum it up, we are happy that the players adapted well."

Wassem Ahmad, who received a yellow and Timothy Deavin are both suspended for the match against UniKL while TB will have to do without Mohd Sallehin Ghani against Maybank on Sunday.

TNB took the lead in the 5th minute through Muhammad Shahril Saabah before Faisal saari converted a penalty corner in the 20th minute to make it 2-0 in favour of TNB. It was Faisal's 12th goal of the season as he trails Khasif Ali of Sapura by one goal.

Two goals within a minute, by Muhammad Umar Bhutta (34th minute) and Muhammad Imran (35th minute) started the KLHC fightback as the two teams went of for the breather level.

Mohd Razie Rahim scored off a penalty corner in the 47th minute to give the league champions the lead. Two goals by Nabil Fiqrir Mohd Noor ( 50th and 63rd minutes) gave KLHC the win although at one stage Shahril almost spolied the party by pulling a goal back for TNB off a penalty corner in the 61st minute.

While KLHC will be overjoyed with their unbeaten run, having only drawn one match, ironically against TNB, they need to ensure that their players remain cool when provoke, especially the likes of Mohd Syamim Yusof who should start playing hockey instead of lazying on the pitch and picking up fights against the opponents.

Meanwhile Sapura have only themselves to blame for the defeat against lowly Nur Insafi as they had taken a 3-1 lead at one stage.

Nur Insafi took the lead in the 1st minute through Abdul Asim Khan. But Sapura stepped up a gear and scored three goals through Muhammad Zubair ( 4th and 38th minute) with the other scored by Dangerous Lee in the 19th minute.

The Nur Insafi fightback started with Nur Hrsikesa Thaitchana Murthi reducing the deficit in the 45th minute. Imran Muhammad made it all square seven minutes later before Mohd shahrul Amran scored the winner two minutes from time.

Official MHL Site



MHL: KLHC a class act, Maybank suffer defeat

By Fadhli Ishak


PREMIER Division champions Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) proved their pedigree with a rousing come from behind 5-3 win over Tenaga Nasional in the Malaysian Hockey League yesterday.

Chasing a second-placed finish in the division, Tenaga started the match aggressively and were soon ahead at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil thanks to a Muhammad Shahril Saabah effort in the fifth minute.

Tenaga then added to their tally in the 20th minute when national player Faisal Saari scored his 12th goal of the season through a penalty corner.

KLHC, however, were not to be outdone and pulled level through two penalty corners scored by Pakistani imports Muhammad Umar Bhutta and Muhammad Imran in the 34th and 35th minutes.

KLHC found an extra gear after the restart and took the lead for the first time through a Mohd Razie Rahim penalty corner in the 47th minute.

Nabil Fiqri Mohd Noor showed no signs of the shoulder injury which had been troubling him for the past few weeks when he smashed the ball home for KLHC in the 50th minute to further stretch their lead.

Tenaga threatened a comeback when Muhammad Shahril pulled one back for his side with a penalty corner in the 61st minute but it was not to be as Nabil Fiqri notched his second of the game to seal a 5-3 win for KLHC.

The win, however, came at a price for KLHC as Australian Timothy Deavin and Pakistani Waseem Ahmad will be suspended for their match against UniKL today.

Tenaga were, however, let off the hook as second-placed Maybank also suffered defeat as they were beaten 4-3 by Terengganu on the adjacent pitch.

Results -- Premier Division: KLHC 5 TNB 3, Nur Insafi 4 Sapura 3, Maybank 3 Terengganu 4.

Division One: TNB Thunderbolts 5 BJSS 0.

Today -- Premier Division: UniKL v KLHC (National Stadium II, 6pm); Division One: Sunday 2030 v MBI (National Stadium, II 8pm), TNB Thunderbolts v UiTM (National Stadium I, 6pm), Uniten v SSTMI (National Stadium I, 8pm).

New Straits Times



KLHC one match away from being unbeaten this season


Away from danger: Tenaga skipper Mohd Amin Rahim (centre) clears the ball from KLHC’s Mohd Umar Bhutta (left) and Mohd Sukri Abdul Mutalib during their MHL Premier Division match at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil yesterday. KLHC won 5- 3. — S.S.KANESAN / The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) are just one match away from completing their Premier Division fixtures unbeaten after seeing off Tenaga Nasional 5-3 in their penultimate Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) match at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

While KLHC, who had already wrapped up the Premier Division title last week, viewed yesterday’s match as only of academic interest, Tenaga needed to win to stay in the hunt for the runners-up spot.

Tenaga got off to a great start, opening accounts through Shahril Saabah in the third minute and doubling their lead through Faizal Saari in the 19th.

But the champions are made of sterner stuff, reducing the deficit through Mohd Umar Bhutta’s field goal in the 34th minute and drawing level through Mohamed Imran’s penalty corner a minute later.

KLHC then pulled ahead in the second half as Mohd Razie Rahim (50th) and Harvinder Singh (52nd) made it 4-2. Although Tenaga pulled one back in the 65th minute through Shahril, KLHA had the last say when Nabil Fiqri Mohamed Nor scored the fifth goal two minutes later.

KLHC have 31 points from 11 matches while Tenaga stay third with 18. KLHC will wrap up their fixtures against UniKL today.

Maybank remained second with 19 points after suffering a 4-3 loss to Terengganu.

The Tigers could have sealed the runners-up spot if they had won because of Tenaga defeat by KLHC.

Maybank can confirm second place by beating Sapura in their last match tomorrow.

Sapura’s hopes of pipping Tenaga to third ended in humiliation when they lost 4-3 to Nur Insafi yesterday. It was Nur Insafi’s first win in the Premier Division.

The Star of Malaysia



A draw enough for UiTM to bag Division One title

KUALA LUMPUR: The fight for the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) Division One title will reach its climax today when the top two teams – Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) and TNB Thunderbolt – slug it out at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil this evening.

UiTM lead the standings with 28 points – two more than second-placed TNB Thunderbolt. UiTM won the Division One title in 2009 and played one year in the Premier Division.

They have been consistent this season, having won nine times, drawing once and losing once.

Team manager Ahmad Tarmizy Mohamed said yesterday that they would like to win the Division One title a second time and “try our luck among the elite teams again next season”.

“Our players are mostly from the SSTMI and BJSS teams. We are basically grooming the players ... we’re not a big team.

“We feel that winning the Division One is a way of showing we have talented players in the side. A number of our players are available for the Project 2017 squad,” he said.

“When we play in the Premier Division, we aim to give our players a chance to gain valuable experience. I can’t see the team making any great headway in the higher division.”

UiTM need just a draw to clinch the crown while TNB Thunderbolt, who have also linked up with SSTMI since last season, need to win.

TNB Thunderbolt’s tie-up with SSTMI in the Junior Hockey League has certainly paid dividends, with the team winning the double the last two years.

Team manager Adam Zamry said that “the side this year is a little different in that there are just six players from SSTMI while the rest are from TNB”.

“Last year, we had six players from TNB and the rest for the sports school. So, there are more experienced players this year. We are determined to win the title this year,” he said.

The last time the two teams met, UiTM trooped off 3-2 winers.

The Star of Malaysia



Dundee Wanderers targeting title success

Dundee Wanderers could wrap up the Men’s Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 2 title, and promotion to Division 1, this weekend.

If they can secure three points from their matches against Aberdeen GSFP (Sat, 14.30, Mayfield Park) and Dundee University (Sun, 13.30, Riverside Park) the Dundonians will return to Division 1.

Falkirk GHG remain in second position and a win away to relegation candidates Alpha Data Carnegie (Sat, 14.30, HMS Caledonia) would strengthen their case for securing the play-off spot.

However, third place McWhinney Uddingston have two games in hand on their promotion and can maintain their pursuit of the play-off spot if they can record wins against St. Andrew’s University (Sat, St.Andrew’s University, 12.00) and Aberdeen GSFP (Sun, Bellahouston, 12.00).

Elsewhere, Highland are away to Granite City Wanderers (Sat, Aberdeen Sports Village, 15.00) and at home to St. Andrew’s University (Sun, Bught Park, 13.30).

The top two clash in Men’s Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 3 tomorrow as leaders Erskine Stewart’s Melville host Harris Academy FP (Sat, Inverleith, 12.00).

A win for the home side would guarantee promotion to Division 2 and put them in a strong position to win the title.

FMGM Monarchs are still very much in the promotion hunt. The Taysiders face a tricky tie against Aberdeen University but will be confident of a win having defeated the students 2-1 earlier in the season.

Ayr can also stay within touching distance of the promotion spots if they can defeat Perthshire at home (Sat, Cambusdoon, 15.00).

Meanwhile, Stirling University travel to Chapman Motherwell (Sat, 14.00) and Strathclyde University are at home to 2020 Renewables Greenock.

Please visit the Men's Aberdeen Asset Management National Leagues for all the weekend's fixtures.

Scottish Hockey Union media release



Watsonians and GHK Ladies in title shoot-out

The match of the day in Women’s Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 2 is clearly the title decider between leaders Watsonians and GHK Ladies (Sat, Mary Esrkine School, 14.30).

A win for either side would determine the destination of the league trophy and automatic promotion to Division 1.

The losing side will have to be content with a place in the Division 1/2 play-off on 12 May.

A draw would leave GHK Ladies with a second bite at the cherry when they play Granite City Wanderers on Sunday (Anniesland, 15.00).

With Waverley Inveresk Trinity and Highland’s relegation to Division 3 confirmed, both sides will be playing for pride this weekend. Erskine Stewart’s Melville are the visitors to Bangholm (Sat, 12.30) while Hillhead welcome Highland to Jordanhill School (Sat, 14.10).

Borders Fjordhus host Granite City Wanderers Ladies (Sat, Tweedbank Sports Complex, 14.00).

With the title and promotion issues long settled in Women’s Aberdeen Asset Management National League Division 3, the teams below are now vying for league position as the league winds down.

Ayr welcome Bon Accord MBC (Sat, Cambusdoon, 13.00), Aberdeen Ladies travel to Stirling University (Sat, Gannochy Sports Centre, 12.30) and Strathclyde University have two fixtures against Stirling Wanderers (Sat, Millerston, 12.30) and Aberdeen University (Sun, Millerston, 12.30).

Please visit the Women's Aberdeen Asset Management National Leagues for all fixtures.

Scottish Hockey Union media release



U16 National League Play-Off finals at Peffermill

The Scottish Hockey U16 National League play-off semi-finals and finals take place on Saturday 27 April at Peffermill, Edinburgh.

In the U16 girls’ semi-final match-ups, CALA Edinburgh are up against Clydesdale (Pitch 1, 10.30), with Watsonians going head-to-head with Inverleith (Pitch 2, 10.30)

Meanwhile, in the U16 boys’ draw, capital city rivals Watsonians take on Inverleith (Pitch 1, 11.50) while Grange face up to the challenge of Clydesdale (Pitch 2, 11.50).

The winners of the semi-finals in the girls’ competition will play in the final at 13.10, while the boys’ final starts at 14.35.

For more information please download the U16 National League Play-offs schedule.

Scottish Hockey Union media release



2013/14 NOW: Pensions Men's Hockey League line-up


Reading's Darren Cheesman runs at the Beeston defence during their NOW: Pensions Men's Hockey League Championship Semi-Final

Following the conclusion of the Promotion and Relegation Play-Offs in April, the NOW: Pensions Men’s Hockey League divisions for the forthcoming 2013/14 season have been announced.

Wimbledon and Sheffield Hallam who were successful in the Play-Offs at Reading are both promoted to the top flight for the first time. They replace Brooklands MU and Southgate who are relegated to the NOW: Pensions Conference North and Conference East respectively.

In the NOW: Pensions Conference North Deeside Ramblers return after a season’s exile in the North League and are joined by newcomers at this level, West Bridgford who took the Midlands title. Preston who finished at the foot of the table are relegated to the North League along with Doncaster who were unsuccessful in the Relegation Play-Offs. Doncaster lose their national league status for the first time having been founder members of the league in 1988.

St Albans return after two seasons’ absence and they line up in NOW: Pensions Conference East after clinching the East league title. Brighton & Hove are promoted from the South League whilst Cambridge City retain their place thanks to a successful Relegation Play-Off tournament. City of Peterborough were relegated but with Southgate also joining the East Conference from the NOW: Pensions Premier Division Indian Gymkhana move to the West Conference.

In Conference West Isca celebrate their centenary with a return to the league for the first time since relegation back in 2000 after promotion from the West & South Wales League. 2012-13 champions Cardiff & UWIC stay at this level after an unsuccessful Play-Off campaign. Fellow Welsh side Whitchurch are relegated along with Bristol Firebrands

Structure of the NOW: Pensions Men’s Hockey League for season 2013/14 and the divisions’ constituent teams.

Premier Division
Beeston
Cannock
Canterbury
East Grinstead
Hampstead & Westminster
Loughborough Students
Reading
Sheffield Hallam
Surbiton
Wimbledon
Conference East Conference North Conference West
Brighton & Hove Belper Cardiff UWIC
Bromley & Beckenham Bowdon Cheltenham
Cambridge City Booklands MU Exeter University
Holcombe Deeside Ramblers Fareham
Old Loughtonians Durham University Guildford
Oxted Khalsa Havant
Richmond Leek Indian Gymkhana
Southgate Olton & WW Isca
St Albans Wakefield Team Bath Buccs
Teddington West Bridgford Univ of Birmingham

England Hockey Board Media release



2013/14 Investec Women's League line-up



Reading's Alex Danson challenges with Leicester's Jo Hunter during the Investec Women's Hockey League Final

Following the conclusion of the Promotion and Relegation Play-Offs, the Investec Women’s Hockey League divisions for the forthcoming 2013/14 season have been announced.

Olton & West Warwicks retain their Investec Premier Division status following a successful campaign in the Play-Offs at the Investec Women’s Finals Weekend where they finished second. They will be joined by Beeston from Investec Women’s Conference North who finished in top spot.

Both of these teams pipped Buckingham from Investec Women’s Conference West on goal difference and they will play in the West again along with the relegated side from the Investec Premier Division, Slough. Exe return to the Conference West after one season’s absence after winning the West League with Taunton Vale going in the other direction. Staines are also relegated after losing out in the Relegation Play-Offs. Oxford Hawks transfer from the Investec Conference East and Stourport move to the North due to the regional spread of the thirty teams across the Conferences.

Harleston Magpies stay in Investec Conference East after losing out in the Play-Offs but Chelmsford retained their place in the league after winning the Relegation Play-Offs. East league winners Holcombe and South league champions East Grinstead are both promoted to the East Conference.

In Investec Conference North Nottingham-based Boots qualify from the Midlands league and Kendal do likewise to take national league hockey to Cumbria for the first time in its history. Cannock endured a second successive demotion, through the Relegation Play-offs to leave the North Conference along with Liverpool Sefton.

Structure of the Investec Women's Hockey League for season 2013/14 and the divisions’ constituent teams.

 


Investec Premier Division

Beeston

Bowdon Hightown

Canterbury

Clifton

Leicester

Olton & West Warwicks

Reading

Surbiton

Sutton Coldfield

University of Birmingham
Investec Conference East Investec Conference North Investec Conference West
Chelmsford Ben Rhydding Barnes Hounslow Ealing
East Grinstead Boots (Nottingham) Bristol Firebrands
Harleston Magpies Bradford Wakefield Buckingham
Holcombe Brooklands Poynton Exe
Horsham Doncaster Gloucester City
Ipswich Durham University Isca University
Old Loughtonians Kendal Oxford Hawks
Sevenoaks Loughborough Students Slough
St Albans Stourport Swansea City
Wimbledon Whitley Bay & Tynemouth Trojans

England Hockey Board Media release





Avtar Singh: Masterful player who called the tune in world hockey

By ROY GACHUHI


To sit down and talk about hockey with Avtar Singh is to leaf through the pages of a national encyclopaedia. One sitting is not enough owing to the size of the tome.

It is a long journey stretching from the 1940s to the present. It is a journey of discovery, the story of a country, and in walking it, there are some unexpected lucky surprises such as lunching on a delightful, mildly spicy vegetarian meal with him and Ripudaman Kaur, his wife of 45 years, in their kitchen.

She is his archivist and has diligently filed every newspaper cutting where Avtar has been mentioned since he first played for Kenya in 1957. She is an inseparable part of his story.

Avtar’s last international match was against Argentina during the 1972 Olympic Games but until 1985, he had the satisfaction of appearing in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s most capped hockey player with 167 appearances for the Kenya national team.

Archival newspaper material covering his 15-year international career turns out an embarrassment of praise. The ‘problem’ is that it is all based on hard facts. He represented Kenya in four Olympic Games – 1960, 1964, 1968 and 1972.

In all but the first one, he was the captain. He was head coach for the 1984 Olympic team. Avtar was also national coach in 1988 and was looking forward to a sixth consecutive Olympic appearance with Kenya when house politics knocked him out. But he still went to Seoul at the invitation of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) as a technical delegate.

Hockey honchos at the world body, themselves only too familiar with the kind of cloak and dagger shenanigans that take place in national sports associations, went over the heads of the Kenya Hockey Union and directly called him, motivated by their knowledge of his record.

These were the same people who, in 2000, would award him the FIH Diploma of Merit for outstanding services rendered to hockey for the previous 40 years. FIH President Juan Angel Calzado personally presented him this award in Belgium.

Distinguished Olympians

To this day, he remains a member of FIH’s development and coaching committee and is a FIH certified coach. It doesn’t always work out that services rendered translate into national recognition but in any sitting arrangements for Kenya’s most distinguished Olympians, Avtar’s place must meritoriously be at the high table.

“If you are talking about world hockey powers of the 1960s and 70s,” says Avtar, “you are talking about Kenya. We used to beat countries like India and Pakistan even when they were the reigning world champions. That’s unimaginable today, isn’t it?

Is Kenyan hockey dead? Yes it is,” he says. Avtar loves to remember the 1971 World Cup in Spain, where Kenya finished fourth out of 10 countries. “We stayed in the same hotel with European champions West Germany, as they were called then. Twice, they showed contempt for us and twice they paid dearly for that. In the pool match, we crushed them 3-0, and I scored one of the goals.

“They thought they just had a bad day and eyed us with benevolent contempt as they took copious quantities of wine the night before the game. I begged our coaches Hardev Singh and Alu Mendonca, and our team doctor, Inderjit Khosla, to let our players take just half a glass of wine each after dinner so as to ease up a bit.

“The team officials obliged. Then I took the team for a stroll on the beach at night. Man, I pumped them up. ‘We are going to defeat those guys! We are going to defeat them!’ I kept telling my team mates. Their morale soared. We beat Germany 2-1 in the play-off. This took us to the semi-finals against Spain.”

Hammered home

Wire reports of that feat glowed with praise for Kenya and its captain. The Standard reported: “Kenya are through to the semi-finals of the World Cup hockey tournament. The man who put them there was the captain and full-back, Avtar Singh, when he hammered home two superb penalty corners to give the African side a narrow 2-1 win over West Germany.”

Germany’s goal was scored by their centre-forward, a prolific marksman named Michael Peter. His destiny seemed intricately tied with Avtar’s; it is he who finally surpassed the Kenyan’s world record of most goals scored for his national team in the 1980s.

As it turned out, Kenya lost 1-0 to Spain. This was through a goal scored in the last second of the last minute of extra time. There wasn’t enough time to restart the game. By every account, the goal was suspicious and the umpiring even more so.

But that is the nature of the game. In the third place play-off, Kenya again lost 2-1 to India, again in extra time, to wind up fourth. They returned home as heroes as Pakistan, then the reigning Olympic champions, won the inaugural World Cup.

Kenya were waiting for them at home for a series of Test matches. In the first, the world and Olympic champions won 1-0, laboured though it was. In the second, Kenya turned the tables by the same score. An Alu Mendonca goal did it.

“Kenya Beat World Champions” blazed the following day’s banner headlines. “No excuses for defeat,” says Pakistan Manager. “Kenya played better hockey,” said Col AIS Dara, manager of the visitors. “They deserved their victory.”

In one dispatch, the reporter said Pakistan threw into attack everything they had to even the scores but “Kenya’s defence, in which Avtar Singh played the game of his life, broke up the Pakistani moves.”

Defeating the super powers had become something of a Kenyan pastime since the early 60s. Avtar remembers the seven, eight or nine nil scores that India used to rack up in the 1940s when he was a little boy. That is when India had first started touring Kenya. The margins progressively narrowed in the 1950s until, after independence, predicting the outcome became a coin toss.

For years, he especially cherished the fourth Test match between India and Kenya in the 1964 series. Kenya beat India 3-0 in Jabalpure on April 27, 1964. Six months later, the same Indian team won the gold medal in Tokyo during the Olympic Games. Kenya finished sixth in that Olympics.

A dispatch from that tour filed in Nagpur for the Daily Nation is the most fitting obituary for Kenya hockey as it is today. It is a bitter-sweet must-read. It said: “Kenya’s hockey tourists have played only five games in India – I write this a few hours before the fourth Test here tonight – yet a number of their players have already proved they are titans of the game.

High standards

“The high standard of skill of men like skipper Avtar Singh, centre-half Surgeet Singh, goalkeeper Saude George, centre-forward Egbert Fernandes and left winger Alu Mendonca has been a big shock and a stern lesson to everyone connected with the game in India. These men, more than any others, have proved that India and Pakistan do not hold a monopoly of the world’s most talented players.

“Take Avtar Singh – he has the skill and tenacity to walk into any international side in the world. Aziz Currimbhoy, hockey writer for The Current and one of the toughest critics, says this of Avtar: ‘He has all the makings of a great player, but he will have to learn to control his temper.’ Currimbhoy’s views are echoed by every Indian hockey writer. Avtar’s stick skill, speed and ability as a tactical planner, have been an eye opener for everyone.”

It goes on and on, exalting the glories of one player after the other; it would bring tears to the eyes of many Kenyan patriots. This then is the epitaph of the era of when we were kings of the world in hockey.

It is the era of Jack Simonian, the unusually talented goalkeeper and motor sportsman, Anthony Vas, Kirpal Singh, Silu Fernandes, Surjeet Parnesar, Edgar Fernandes, Leo Fernandes, Hilary Fernandes, Egbert Fernandes, Reynold D’Souza, Alu Mendonca, Jagjit Singh, Santok Madharu….the list goes on. And then in this long journey, you reach the point when, after the 1972 Olympics, the fateful slide into oblivion began.

How? “At independence,” says Avtar. “Most Kenyan Asians were British subjects. The new government gave them five years to make up their minds whether they wanted to remain so or become Kenyan citizens. There was no option of dual citizenship. At the expiry of that period, many left for the UK, Canada, New Zealand and other countries.

“There was a large number of young men, among the new emigrants who would have been our successors. They ended up playing for the new countries of their allegiance and did a first-class job of it. Tragically, we had not seriously begun introducing African players to the game. There was a massive slump as we tried to play catch up.

“African players eventually came in but by then we were beset with problems from every direction – changing rules, turf, technology, poor administration, no money, everything. We have never recovered.”

Today, Avtar Singh coaches children for free, mainly at Friends School, Kamusinga, valiantly trying to do his little bit in keeping with the example that his father Pyara Singh and coaches Surjit Singh and Mann Singh set for him more than 50 years ago, even as the slight stoop on his back and hesitant walk say to you that he is 75 years old.

(Roy Gachuhi, a former Nation Media Group sports reporter, writes for The Content House)

Daily Nation



Charlene's Project goes from strength to strength

Ugandan hockey benefits from efforts of Ireland's brilliant Barr family



Natalie Barr with one of the many boxes of hockey equipment which will be sent to Uganda at the end of May. (Photo: FIH)

Last summer, Charlene’s Project travelled from Ireland with half a ton of hockey sticks, balls and kit to Uganda. A year on, the incredible Barr family looks set to make the same journey with double that amount as their efforts to promote the sport in a new area go from strength to strength, writes Stephen Findlater.

For the past couple of months, the Barrs have been travelling around the emerald isle picking up donations at events like the Irish Senior Cup final, the All-Ireland schoolgirls championships and the Irish Hockey League.

And the volume of the offerings has left Dickie Barr – the father of the family – with an “amazing” feeling.

“I couldn’t stress enough how fantastic it has been, going around the different grounds, people meeting us there and having kit bags, sticks and whatever,” he said. “You just experience a real oneness from everybody trying to make a difference.“

It’s another remarkable layer to a story that dates back to 1990. Born with cystic fibrosis, Charlene Barr was very ill in her first year of life and spent all her time in hospital, at times looking unlikely that she would survive.

After her first birthday, she was fostered by the Barr family, which subsequently led to adoption. Charlene passed away 20 years later from her condition but not before developing a deep love of Africa and a desire to put her altruistic side to use.

Nurturing this, the family travelled to Uganda in Easter 2008, a trip that transformed Charlene’s focus on life.

When Charlene had to drop out of school due to failing health she made the decision that she would raise money to build a school in Uganda so that children there would get a chance of an education.

She launched Charlene’s Project in September 2009 with the dream of building Hidden Treasure Primary School for children in Maya, Kampala.

The fact that Charlene suffered so much herself, yet still turned her attentions onto the needs of others separated this story like no other.

An initial fundraising, target of £70,000 for the building of a school to accommodate 250 children was reached within five months. A subsequent target of £120,000 to build a well for the local village and provide teacher accommodation for the school was also reached.

However, while Charlene was seeing the project grow her health was failing and she passed away in October 2010. Just one week before, two Trustees from Charlene’s Project went to Uganda to finalise the legalities and admin for the school building to begin.

The day after she was buried photos came through of the ground being cleared, the trees being removed and the workers beginning the physical task of starting the work.

Now, three years on the Hidden Treasure school educates over 250 students a year with a well now in situ for the whole village of Maya.

Since then, the project has started building work on a second primary school in Kahara, with a borehole drilled nearby to supply water for the local community, too.

As part of both schools’ curriculum, hockey looks set to feature heavily. Charlene’s sisters are steeped in the sport. Natalie captaining Lurgan High School to the All-Ireland Schoolgirl’s Championship two years ago while twins Serena and Bethany matched that feat in March.

And they have used that passion to help add an extra dimension to the project. Their father, Dickie, explains that they are quickly developing this sporting aspect to the schools in an area where precious little options were available before.

“Going back to 2009 when we first went to Hidden Treasure, they just had a wooden shack and the kids were kicking around a dried fig as a football.

“We had brought a few frisbees and even the teachers had never seen frisbees before. That’s the context. Hockey in Hidden Treasure and Kahara, it's brand new.”

Natalie, an Irish underage international, went out to provide coaching last year and will be bringing her team this summer from Liberty College, Virginia where she is now on a hockey scholarship, to help expand the coaching.

“Its in its infancy. Last time, we did sessions with the teachers because it was all new to them.

“Last year, we were teaching them the rules. A lot of the kids were in bare foot and getting whacked around a little but they are just so hardy and you scarcely saw tears from them.”

They have been receiving help on the ground from Youth Sports Uganda and their director Joshua Opolot who is also the Ugandan national team coach.

He will host initial coaching days for over 400 children from Hidden Treasure and Kahara as well as from a number of other schools. Catering for those newcomers, though, required plenty of equipment and that has where the Irish hockey public has come through.

“We have a couple of rooms here filled with boxes of sticks, kit and equipment which we are looking to get shipped over by the end of May. It’s just been fantastic,” Dickie adds.“I think we’ll have more this year, somewhere between half a ton and a ton. Sticks and balls are the heaviest and they are still coming in. Last year, it was two palettes that we sent but I can see it being four palettes this time.

“We got about 800 shirts from people in Irish hockey so every child we meet, we will be able to give a piece of kit to which will make for some fantastic photographs. Last time around, Natalie gave sticks and cones but to be able to give a full kit to schools will be amazing.”

He adds the programme is developing apace with improved facilities available.

“Last year, all the coaching was on stone and soil. They now have a grass surface they can use but four initial sessions will be on the astroturf in Kampala.

“There is now a mixture of standards now because some of the kids Joshua has had in the camps before. When he has time to get around the schools, he will be trying to bring those players.

“With the support from him trying to develop the sport in Uganda, there’s a double gain. The donations give him the resources to create a bigger impact.”

And the Irish hockey public has already been able to see the direct recipients of their donations.

“Through Facebook, you have some of the people who have donated kit seeing their gear in pictures. It makes that connection straightaway and the more photos we take, the more people are seeing their kit.

“It’s a powerful tool and shows the impact of everyone coming together and Irish hockey making a difference internationally. I love seeing that link developed.”

In future, Dickie hopes that more a couple of teams could travel out to Uganda to play some showcase games, perhaps in tandem with a voluntary building week. He says it is notional at the moment but his family’s ability to realise the incredible suggests it may closer to reality than he believes.

To learn more about Charlene's Project and Youth Sport Uganda, please click on the links below. 

Charlene’s Project: http://www.charlenesproject.org/index.php/latest-news/86-summer-trip-2012

Youth Sport Uganda: http://www.ysuganda.org/

Do you have an interesting European hockey story that you want to tell us about? If so, please contact Stephen Findlater on: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

FIH site