News for 26 July 2013

All the news for Friday 26 July 2013


England come up short against in-form Netherlands


Darren Cheeseman v Malaysia, World League

England’s tournament did not get off to the best of starts as the world number three side, the Netherlands, scored six times, with a solitary consolation goal from England’s Darren Cheesman. Constantijn Jonker was the star of the show as he scored three times in a dominant Dutch display.

Speaking after the match England Head Coach Bobby Crutchley said, “We were punished by a far better team today who capitalised on some basic errors in our defending. I was disappointed with some of the individual performances and we have left ourselves with much to prove in our remaining games against Germany and Ireland at the weekend.”

After being sidelined with niggling injuries since the start of the year, Alastair Brogdon was back in action for England, making his 50th international appearance. Another career milestone was achieved by Cannock’s Patrick Smith as he made his international debut in England’s goal. In defence England welcomed back the experience of London 2012 Olympian Iain Lewers.

Despite it not being the ideal way for Patrick Smith to make his debut he kept England on even terms in the opening period. Both Seve Van Ass and Jeroen Hertzberger were kept at bay by Smith, but after the English defence were slow to react to a loose ball in the circle it was Jonker who dealt the first blow in the 18th minute. The dutch player found himself with space to flick the ball past Smith, who had little chance to react, to make it 1-0.

Eight minutes later Robbert Kemperman added a second goal for the Dutch and this was followed by another for Jonker just before half-time. With three minutes to go before the break Hofman’s pass found Jonker who drilled the ball home from five yards out to put England three goals down.

The second half started with another Dutch goal, this time from Van Ass in the 41st minute. England were on the back foot as the Netherlands pushed forward and in the 49th minute Jonker scored again, securing his hat-trick, and taking the score to 5-0.

England did find some form in the second half and forced two penalty corners and a stroke. However, the game wasn’t going England’s way and Richard Smith saw his penalty stroke saved by Jaap Stockmann in the Netherland’s goal.

The final blow for England came from Rogier Hofman who made it 6-0 with a reverse stick effort from the top left of the circle on the 55th minute.

It was little consolation for England but they did pull one back just before full time. Reading’s Simon Mantell made a good run down the right hand side and found his club teammate Darren Cheesman who flicked home from close range to beat Pirmin Blaaak who had subbed on for Stockmann.

After a disappointing result today, England will be looking to turn the tables on the Netherlands next week at the NOW: Pensions Nations Cup. Tickets are available now for the three-match test series, click here for more information.

England’s next game at the ERGO Hamburg Masters sees them take on hosts Germany at 15:30 on Saturday afternoon.

NETHERLANDS 6 (3)
Constantijn Jonker 18, 32, 49 (FG, FG, FG)
Robbert Kemperman 26 (FG)
Seve Van Ass 41 (FG)
Rogier Hofman 55 (FG)

ENGLAND 1 (0)
Darren Cheesman 67 (FG)

England Hockey Board Media release



Olympic Champions beat Ireland 6-0

Andrew Meredith's Green Machine have been beaten 6-0 by reigning Olympic Champions Germany at the Hamburg Masters this afternoon.

Ireland suffered at the hands of an in form Germany in the sweltering heat of Hamburg. Despite losing 6-0, Ireland showed periods of  control and were unlucky on a number of occasions not to find net with shots from, Lorimer & Watt

All of Germany's goals bar one came from close range past an inspired David Harte who repeated outstanding saves and which recevied warm applause from players and spectators.

Ireand were 2-0 down at half time with both goals coming from Marco Miltkau on 24 & 30 mins.

They resumed their scoring tally early in the second half when Oskar Deeke found goal on 36 mins. Florien Fuchs hit  superb reverse stick shot past Harte on 46 minutes with Thilo Strawolski getting the pick of the bunch in the 48 min.

Mats Grambuch hit home in the 70 min to seal a comfortable victory.

Congratulations to Matthew Bell and Kirk Shimmins on gaining their first Senior International Cap.

Hamburg Masters, Germany

Germany 6 (M Miltkau 2, O Deecke, T Stralkowski, M Grambusch, F Fuchs)

Ireland 0

Ireland Starting XI: D. Harte (GK), C. Harte, McCandless, Jackson (Capt), Lorimer, Cargo, Brown, Maguire, Watt, Darling, O'Donoghue

Subs:  D. Fitzgerald, J. Bell, S. Cole, K. Shimmins, A. Sothern, K. Good, M. Bell

Hamburg Masters Fixtures

25th July 2013 Ireland 0-6 Germany
27th July 2013 Ireland v The Netherlands (14:00 local time)
28th July 2013 Ireland v England (12:00 local time)

Irish Hockey Association media release



Netherlands defeat Australia 5-0 ahead of ERGO Hockey Junior World Cup

Current Junior World champions celebrate a big win


The Netherlands celebrated a massive 5-0 win over Australia in preparation for Women’s ERGO Hockey Junior World Cup Mönchengladbach 2013. The Dutch goals were scored by Maria Verschoor, Xan de Waard (2), Marloes Keetels and Sarah Jaspers.

Verschoor, de Waard and Keetels have also been part of the Dutch senior team which finished second at the Rabobank Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Rotterdam.

In Mönchengladbach the Netherlands have been drawn in Pool A with Korea, USA and Ghana. Australia will be playing in Pool C including New Zealand, India and Russia.

Hockey.nl



U.S. Women's U-21 Team Heads to Junior World Cup with Confidence

MONCHENGLADBACH, Germany - The U.S. Women’s Under-21 National Team will be joining 15 countries under the international spotlight at the Junior World Cup in Mönchengladbach, Germany. Junior World Cup games commence on Saturday, July 27 and run through Sunday, August 4 in Mönchengladbach’s Hockeypark Stadium where the Men’s 2006 World Cup was held. Team USA is heading to the pitch with composure and confidence after two preparation matches against the Netherlands who they will face during their second pool play match-up.

The event is divided into four pools each composed of four teams. The U.S. has been placed in Pool A, which also features the Netherlands, Korea and Ghana. Pool B includes Argentina, China, South Africa and Canada. Pool C is made up of New Zealand, Australia, India and Russia and Pool D features England, Germany, Belgium and Spain. At the conclusion of pool play, teams will either move into a placement round for the bottom eight finishers or advance to the quarterfinal, semi-final and final round.

Team USA opens the tournament against Korea on Saturday, July 27, followed by the Netherlands on July 28. The U.S. will close out pool play against Ghana on July 30. The quarterfinals will be played on Thursday, August 1, the semi-finals on August 2 and the gold and bronze medal match on August 4.

Their third-place finish at the 2012 Pan American Junior Championships in Guadalajara, Mexico guaranteed USA’s attendance at the 2013 Junior World Cup. With four years of training and additional experience, the squad now looks to surpass their eighth-place finish at the 2009 Junior World Cup, held at Harvard University in Boston, Mass.

The following athletes have been selected to the 2013 Junior World Cup:

Teresa Benvenuti (Morristown, N.J.), Lauren Blazing (Chapel Hill, N.C.), Marie-Elena Bolles (Phoenixville, Pa.), Emma Bozek (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.), Samantha Carlino (Kennett Square, Pa.), Anna Dessoye (Mountain Top, Pa.), Maxine Fluharty (Millsboro, Del.), Laura Gebhart (Mount Joy, Pa.), Katie Gerzabek (Springfield, Pa.), Kelsey Harbin (Escondido, Cali.), Georgia Holland (Stony Brook, N.Y.),Aileen Johnson (Oceanport, N.J.), Ainsley McCallister (Ann Arbor, Mich.), Nikki Parsley (Milford, Del.),Hannah Prince (Gorham, Maine), Kelsey Smither (Suffolk, Va.), Tara Vittese (Cherry Hill, N.J.), Emily Wold (Freehold, N.J.)

To support and track Team USA’s progress at the Junior World Cup follow our Twitter handle @USAFieldHockey for regular and live updates.

USFHA media release



Canadian Junior Women Confident Ahead of Junior World Cup

Historic tournament a key component for athlete development.

Connor Meakin


In two days time, our Women's Junior National Team (WJNT) takes on Pan Am rival Argentina to open their Junior World Cup campaign.

The Junior World Cup plays a pivotal role in developing this group of athletes who will eventually make up the core of the Senior Women’s Team for years to come.

Coach Ian Rutledge sees the JWC as a critical stepping stone to the Senior National Team: “It is an excellent opportunity to benchmark our best young players against their international peers, both individually and in terms of National Program and athlete development.”

Confidence gained from a busy summer

The girls are coming off a productive summer of preparations – balancing focused training blocks with high level domestic and international competition. In late May, the WJNT played a tightly contested 4 match test series vs. Argentina.

They followed this up with an inspiring performance at Canada’s Senior National Championships where they defeated an experienced BC team in the final. Post Senior Nationals, the team centralised in Vancouver for a final training camp in August before departing for Germany.

The domestic training allowed for a prioritization on physiology through the summer. The hard work should pay off as Rutledge is confident they’ll be one of the fittest teams in the tournament. 

There's a nice mix of experience and youth, with 10 players coming off the successful Senior tour of Ireland. Led by Senior veterans Hannah Haughn, Natalie Sourisseau, and Sara McManus with a combined total of 124 caps, the team is in good hands.

Match #1 vs. Argentina goes July 27 12 am PST (midnight).

For tournament coverage, schedules, and results, visit the FHC JWC Tournament Page and get the latest updates by following @FieldHockeyCan.

Field Hockey Canada media release



Q&A with the Jillaroos

Anna Flanagan, Jane Claxton, Georgia Nanscawen & Amelia Spence answer our questions


On the eve of the Junior World Cup, we bring you an insight into life as a Jillaroo from four of the athletes hoping to bring home the biggest prize in junior hockey.

What have you been doing to prepare for the Junior World Cup?

Anna Flanagan: We have had a number of tours and training camps to come together and practice as a team. We have worked really hard on technical skills in our home states, tactical structures when together, and building a winning culture.

Jane Claxton: We’ve also been trying to get a good nutrition plan going. Being in the Perth environment and training with the senior Hockeyroos squad has also helped with our more hockey-specific areas such as skill, conditioning and strength development.

Georgia Nanscawen: It’s been a pretty busy few weeks for us. As a member of the Hockeyroos team that competed at World League in London, it felt like I had only just returned from a month away and I was back on the flight to Europe. As soon as we stepped off the plane in Australia following World League we were placed on a strict recovery/training schedule to get us best prepared to travel again for JWC.

What has the support of your family been like while you’ve been preparing for the JWC?

Amelia Spence: The support from my family is amazing and always has been, no matter what aspect of my life. They have been really supportive and helpful with my move to Perth and are always there when I need them through the ups and downs of my prep for JWC.

JC: Their support is always unwavering through all aspects of my life, so it has certainly not changed but JWC may have given them extra incentive since they get to travel internationally now to watch me, haha!

AF: My family are a huge support and will be there cheering us on in Germany. I am fortunate they come watch a lot of my hockey and saw me play in the last Junior World Cup in Boston.

GN: My family have always been very supportive of me throughout my hockey career. I know I certainly wouldn't be in the position I am now if it wasn't for them. Although my family still lives in Melbourne and I am in Perth they are still only a phone call away whenever I need anything, even if it is just for a chat.

Sum up your feelings ahead of the Junior World Cup in three words

AF: Excited, Confident, Prepared

JC: "We always score"- Jillas moto

GN: Prepared, excited, nervous

AS: Excited, nervous, pumped

What are your top five ‘must have’ things you can’t do without when on tour with the team? (other than your hockey stick and hockey kit)

AF: iPhone, I'm addicted! iPod speakers for the change rooms; Hair straightener and yellow ribbon; a hard drive with good TV series and movies, and my laptop so I can write [Anna’s blogging for us during the competition, too, so don’t miss that].

JC: Ugg boots; 1000 bobby pins; 1000 hair ties

GN: iPhone, Macbook, Passport (wouldn't get very far without that), book to write team notes etc in, air freshener [Presumably in case she ends up rooming with a goalkeeper].

AS: Phone, laptop, diet coke, headphones and emergency coffee

Give us the inside scoop on Craig Victory (pictured), what’s he like as coach?

JC: Who's Craig??? Jig (Jiggles) is not a huge fan of being referred to as "Craig". He built and lives our hills culture, serving as a great role model for all of the team.

AS: He’s a great coach, very passionate, who loves to get involved in trainings often a little too much resulting in him stacking it!

GN: Yeah, he likes to have a laugh with us, but is also able to give a hard message when he needs to. I think secretly (or maybe not so secretly) he loves it when we are a player short when we play games because it means he gets to join in, which is always a bit of fun. He also has pretty good dress sense, which is very important in a head coach.

AF: He has an outrageous collection of shoes and will be seen at training in everything from fluorescent yellow runners to black high tops.


We had no idea that a key condition of employment as Jillaroos coach was fashion sense.

What’s the most embarrassing moment you’ve had in hockey?

AF: Too many... recently at training I stacked it in the dugout and split open my knee. I have taken my shin pads off at half time thinking the game was over and when I scored the winning goal against Germany at London Cup last year I thought it was the equaliser.

GN: I always seem to have a habit of wearing a white t-shirt to training when it is raining. One particular session in absolutely bucketed down and my t-shirt went very see through. Everyone had a bit of a laugh at my expense.

AS: I lost one of my fake teeth on tour…I’m not THAT old! I just happened to have lost the real one thanks to a hockey stick to the mouth.

Who is your sporting idol and why?

JC: Steven Bradbury or Anna Meares , both athletes who may not have been naturally skilled in their field and went to hell and back to prove that hard work and determination to succeed supersedes anything and anyone.

AS: Anderson Silva, a fighter in the UFC. I believe they train and work harder than any other sport. They have to be so mentally resilient to have cut weight and push the physical and mental boundaries. I respect the huge amount of preparation that is done to prepare for their next fight.

AF: Roger Federer for getting and staying at the top of his game for so long.

GN: Roger Federer. Do I really need a reason why?

Finally, the question everyone wants to know the answer to. If you were on the Great Australian Bake Off, what would be your signature dish and why?

AF: If I was on that show I would definitely be a judge because I can't bake... Eating on the other hand comes much more naturally!

JC: Nutella ganache cake or Oreo cheese cake slice

GN: Paleo choc-orange cheesecake. It is pretty yum, and you don't feel that guilty about eating it.

AS: Cookies, I make a good batch of cookies!

The Jillaroos' first Junior World Cup clash comes against India on Saturday evening (10:30pm AEST). There's no streaming or broadcast coverage available from the tournament but we'll be bringing reports and insight from the Junior World Cup here on the Hockey Australia website and through our social media channels.

Hockey Australia media release



Ghana's Junior Black Sticks poised for action

Ghana’s U-21 national female hockey team, Junior Black Sticks, have vowed to carve a place among the gathering of hockey great nations despite arriving in Monchengladbach, Germany, last Tuesday, for the 7th Junior World Cup without money. Under rather frustrating circumstances, the team jetted into the quiet town via Dubai on Emirates Airlines on credit while the vice-president of the Ghana Hockey Association (GHA), Richard Akpokavi, stayed behind to chase funds from the Ministry of Youth and Sports.

The association had pleaded with the ministry to guarantee a loan just as it did for the national U-20 football team, which participated in the recent World Youth Cup in Turkey, to enable the Junior Black Sticks make the trip, since they appeared to be racing against time.

Ghana has been allocated the Holiday Inn Hotel, but officials are yet to make any deposit and they risk being thrown out if no financial commitment is made before the tournament pushes off on Saturday.

Most of the 16 countries billed for the tournament including defending champions, the Netherlands, and runners-up Argentina, are already in and are fine-tuning for the great push off.

The Black Sticks, which share the same nickname with the New Zealand national team, began training yesterday at 8:30 pm, after a long flight to Monchengladbach. The team was escorted by German security from Dusseldolf Airport by road to Monchengladbach after making a transit in Dubai.

Even before the tournament starts, the leader of delegation, Vivian Dougblor, who also doubles as the Secretary General of the GHA, is burdened by demands by custom officials for visas of the players and officials to be extended by one more day due to change in original travel plans.

Originally, the team’s visas are expected to expire on August 5, a day after the tournament but due to changes in flight arrangements, the team would have to spend one more day due to a shift from Lufthansa to Emirates Airlines as a result of financial constraints.

Ms Dougblor is already in touch with the appropriate authorities in Germany for the extension, while Ghana’s Foreign Affairs ministry has been informed appropriately for action to be taken.

Coach Edmund Odametey and the rest of the technical handlers have urged the players not to be worried about the problems but to focus on the tournament. and leave a solution to the problems to the officials.

GhanaWeb



Junior Black Sticks poised for action against Netherlands on Saturday


Junior Black Sticks poised for action against Netherlands on Saturday

Ghana will open her account at the 2013 FIH junior women's hockey world cup against Netherlands at the Warsteiner Hockey Park in Monchengladbach, Germany on Saturday.

Netherlands are defending the trophy they won in the last edition of the tournament and Ghana who were second at the African championships are coming in as underdogs. Ghana's opponents have already been tagged as the tournament favorites but that doesn't in anyway worry head coach Eddy Odamettey.



MyJoyOnline



Juniors bounce back in style

By Jugjet Singh


THE Malaysian juniors romped to a fantastic 8-2 win over their Poland counterparts in their preparation for the Junior World Cup in New Delhi at the end of the year.

Coach K. Dharmaraj's boys are on a nine-match Tour of Europe, and had beaten the Polish juniors 7-0 in the first match.

They lost the second match 3-0 to the Polish senior side, who are in training for the European Championships, but bounced back in style in Poznan yesterday.

Haziq Syamsol gave Malaysia the lead but Poland equalised a minute before the breather.

After the break, Azwar Rahman scored two field goals a minute apart (40th, 41st) to give Malaysia some breathing space, but the Poles hit back to make it 3-2 in the 43rd minute.

The Malaysian players kept up the pressure, and more goals came off Syamin Yusof (45th), Nor Aqmal Ghaffar (58th, 63rd) and Dangerous Lee (61st, 65th).

"Poland fielded their full squad, as they brought in five Under-21 players from their senior squad and it did make a difference in the first half.

"It was our best performance in the three matches here, as we scored seven field goals and only one off a penalty corner," said team manager Mirnawan Nawawi.

However, even in the euphoria, Mirnawan lamented: "The dark side was that we won seven penalty corners, and only converted one."

Malaysia will now move to Belgium where they will play three more matches in Antwerp from tomorrow, and wrap up their fixtures with three matches against England.

New Straits Times



Scots lose out to Spain in Vienna

Scotland U18 Boys lost out 5-1 to Spain in the EuroHockey U18 Championship in Vienna earlier today, meaning that the squad will compete in the relegation pool matches on Saturday and Sunday.

The Scots were on top for much of the first half and were unlucky to find themselves 2-1 down at half time. Gonzalo Coll Mencos broke the deadlock in the 28th minute with a penalty corner strike for the Spaniards.

However, Scotland were soon back on level terms when Danny Cain's drag-flick found the back of the net in the final of three consecutive penalty corners two minutes from the interval.

Nevertheless, Spain stole back in front right on the hooter when Mencos netted his second penalty corner of the game to make it 2-1.

The young Scots' task of getting back into the match became even more difficult when Spain struck only  minute after half-time through a Guillermo Puente Vieco goal to go 3-1 up.

In the 43rd minute, Lucas García Alcalde made it 4-1 before Puente Vieco doubled his own personal goal tally from the penalty spot in the 54th minute to leave the Scots trailing at 5-1.

Following the match, Scotland Team Manager Elanor Cormack commented, "We competed well in the first half and created lots of chances. We were unlucky to go into the half-time interval behind as the players had played very well. Unfortunately, the match was lost between the start and middle of the second half when Spain were clinical in their finishing."

Please visit the EuroHockey website for all fixtures, results, and pool standings.

Scottish Hockey Union media release



US Womens Indoor Squad named for upcoming Can Am series

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – U.S. Women’s Indoor Team head coach Denise Zelenak has announced the squad that will compete in a series of three test matches against Canada. The matches will take place at the Sportsplex in Feasterville, Pa. on Saturday, August 3 at 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and the final match on Sunday, August 4 at 10:00 a.m.

“With the Pan Am qualifier only nine months away we feel very fortunate to have this early opportunity to compete utilizing the new fives format,” said Zelenak. “The timing of the rule change has definitely increased the importance of this event for the team. We are not only honing our squad for the upcoming Pan American Cup, but now we must adjust quickly, while experimenting with new systems and strategies.”

The pool of selected players is comprised of 19 athletes including four goalkeepers. Zelenak will activate up to 12 athletes for each match. Of the 19 athletes named, 14 have competed for a U.S. Indoor team internationally.

Notable on the list are veterans Ali McEvoy who was named to the U.S. Women’s National Team in May 2013, Rachael Milne, Kim Tunell and Amanda Fleischut. Fleischut was a member of the U.S. Developmental Squad in 2012. All four players were on the team that won the RohrMax Cup in Vienna, Austria in January 2013. Senior squad newcomers Margaux Paolino and Erin Matson who led the March 2013 Argentina series with seven goals each will also compete for the U.S.

The month-long selection process for the test series concluded in a training weekend July 20 in Feasterville that featured a tournament style competition. Teams competed using the new International Hockey Federation’s rules including the much debated reduction in players from six to five.

“The new style of play will really be an equalizer on the international stage,” said Tunell after Sunday’s training weekend. “Not only will teams need great technical skills but also more stamina to cover extra ground. Ultimately, it is going to make the game more exciting because we are all starting fresh.”

At the conclusion of the series with Canada, Zelenak will announce the squad which will travel to Leipzig, Germany in January 2014. That tour may prove to be the final preparation for the next Pan American Indoor Cup in April 2014 in Montevideo, Uruguay which serves as a qualifier for the Indoor World Cup.

The August series with Canada is sponsored in part by the Mystx Field Hockey club.

Admission to all matches is free. A player clinic is planned for Saturday afternoon, August 3 from 11am to 1pm, between matches.  Click here to register for the clinic.

The following players have been named to the Can Am series: Megan Bozek (Cortlandt Manor, N.Y.), Susan Ciufo (Bangor, Pa.), Ashley Dalisera (Millersville, Md.), Amy Daniel (Mountain Top, Pa.), Kelly Driscoll (Philadelphia, Pa.), Katherine Ferrara (Spring City, Pa.), Amanda Fleischut (Doylestown, Pa.), Lauren Hibshman (Allentown, Pa.), Maria Keesling (Downingtown, Pa.), Meredith Long (Ocean City, N.J.), Erin Matson (Landenberg, Pa.), Lindsay McArdle (Upper Darby, Pa.), Jessica McCarthy (Havertown, Pa.), Ali McEvoy (Gilbertsville, Pa.), Rachael Bloemker Milne (Hatfield, Pa.), Margaux Paolino (Villanova, Pa.), Maddy Sposito (Ridgefield, Conn.), Kim Tunell (Wilmington, Del.), Mallory Weisen (Lock Haven, Pa.)

USFHA media release



I never stopped players from fasting

LAHORE - Chief manager and coach of Pakistan hockey team Akhtar Rasool Chaudhary has denied restricting players from fasting while attending a training camp to prepare for Asia Cup being played in Malaysia next month.

“I have never asked any player particularly forward Shakeel Abbasi to skip fasting and Abbasi has been withdrawn from the training camp owing to code of conduct and violation of discipline,” he told reporters at a news conference to highlight his stance on fasting of players during the training camp.

He said the team management along with the players took a unanimous decision that players knowing the extreme hot and humid conditions would not be fasting during the training camp and they would complete this religious obligation after their participation in the Asia Cup.

“As a true Muslim, I cannot even think of restricting any player from fasting as doing so is against the principles of Islam and my views in this regard were twisted and mixed up with the disciplinary action against Abbasi,” he added.

He said Pakistan hockey probables were undergoing almost six hours training in three daily sessions and in such a tough programme, it became very difficult to fast and that was why the team management in consultation with the players decided that the players would observe fasts after their participation in the Asia Cup.

The team official said Asia Cup was the last chance for Pakistan team to qualify for the next year’s World Cup and it was last ditch effort on part of green shirts to help their side to win the right to play in the mega event in Holland. “It is very lucky for us that we are preparing for Asia Cup in the holy month of Ramazan which is full of blessings of Allah Almighty and we are confident that Allah Almighty will reward our hard work by helping us in our qualification for the World Cup,” the head coach said.

“If we don’t win the Asia Cup then it will be for the first time in Pakistan’s 64 years hockey history that we will be out of the grand event and that is why we are taking every measures to train the players according to the need of our training programme as Asia’s top teams including India, Malaysia and South Korea will be there to pose a serious threat to our efforts for defending the title,” he said.  He clarified that axing Shakeel Abbasi from the training camp was purely a disciplinary issue as the player was involved in breach of code of conduct so fasting was not the issue behind this move. “Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has not closed the doors of selection for any player and even if Abbasi proves his fitness after Eid he will be considered for the selection and so is the case of re-called goalkeeper Salman Akbar who has been invited after a gap of two years,” he concluded.

The Nation



‘Shakeel paid the penalty for defying instructions’

Mohammad Yaqoob



According to coach Akhtar Rasool Shakeel Abbasi may be recalled to the camp after Ramazan. -Photo by AFP

LAHORE: Experienced hockey striker Shakeel Abbasi who was expelled from the ongoing national training camp on Wednesday for defying team management’s instructions can stage a comeback after Eid.

This was announced by head coach Akhtar Rasool during a news conference here on Thursday.

“Before the start of the camp (which started in Lahore last Monday), it was mutually decided in a meeting that the players won’t fast during the camp due to the tough nature of the training sessions which are being held in hot and humid weather here,” said the head coach.

“The meeting was also attended by the players including Shakeel who went against the instructions on Wednesday to observe fast which prompted the management to ask him to quit the training camp,” said Akhtar.

Elaborating on the training sessions, the head coach said players had a tough schedule which included a session in the morning, gym training in the afternoon and again a session on the field in the afternoon.

“After completing the ground training, players have to attend a video session late in evening to analyse their game which makes it quite a tough regimen for them,” said Akhtar.

“I am a Muslim and fast regularly, but it may be quite risky for the players’ health to work out in these hot and humid conditions.”

Talking about Shakeel’s return, the head coach said: “The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has no such policy to abruptly close doors on any player. Shakeel may be recalled after Ramazan but he has to prove his fitness and form to claim a place in the team.

“The Asia Cup is a do-or-die event for Pakistan who needs to win it to qualify for the upcoming World Cup,” Akhtar said. “We need to prepare hard for it and field our best team for the event.”

The Asia Cup is scheduled to be held in Ipoh, Malaysia from Aug 24 with Pakistan, India, Malaysia and South Korea competing in it.

Akhtar also informed goalkeeper Salman Akbar had joined the camp but he too required to prove his fitness before getting a place in the training camp.

Dawn



Avoid major tournaments near Ramadan: Abbasi requests FIH

NEW DELHI: Ace Pakistani forward Shakeel Abbasi, who was kicked out of the national training camp for fasting, has requested International Hockey Federation (FIH) to avoid organising major tournaments around the holy month of Ramadan.

"I want to request FIH not to organise any major tournament during and around the month of Ramadan. Asia Cup is an important tournament and it is going to be held just after Ramadan where Muslim majority countries like Pakistan, Malaysia and Bangladesh are playing," Abbasi said.

"There are no major hockey or cricket tournaments during Christmas, similarly they should keep Ramadan in mind while finalising the annual calendar. It is my personal suggestion and I was going to write the FIH about this. I think all national federations should urge them," said the former captain.

Pakistan coach Akhtar Rasool on Wednesday created a big controversy when he expelled Abbasi from the Asia Cup preparatory camp for fasting. Rasool said he had taken disciplinary action against Abbasi for violating instructions and policy because it affects training and drills.

Abbasi however said that he is confident that PHF will find a solution to this issue.

"I have been keeping fast during last 12 years of my career. I kept fast when we had foreign coaches. I can keep focus on training while keeping a fast. I will not break my fast but I hope that PHF will find a solution. I have no regrets and I am very positive about it," he said.

Pakistan have to win the Asia cup, to be held in Malaysia from August 24 to September 1, to qualify for the World Cup 2014. Abbasi conceded that competition will be tougher this time as it is the last chance for all the participating nations.

"Earlier WC qualifiers were held after Asia cup but situation is opposite this time and it is the last chance for all the participating teams. There is a lot on stake for India and Pakistan hence the competition will be tougher and any team can win," Abbasi said.

The Times of India



Forward line needs to focus: Hanif Khan

LAHORE - Former coach of Pakistan hockey team Hanif Khan has underscored the need of benefitting from the chances by the forward line to brighten Pakistan's chances for winning the Asia Cup being played next month in Malaysia.

“If the team continues to exhibit its old tendency of missing the goals in demanding situations then its chances to win the Asia Cup are very bleak," said the former Olympian here on Thursday.

Hanif, who was fired in the back drop of Pakistan's shameful seventh position finish in the eight team Hockey league semi-finals in Malaysia, urged the team management to improve the working of the forward especially working on forwards fumbling chances in the striking circle. "We lack in many areas and there is a dire need to pay full attention to rekindle hopes for winning the Cup which is only possible when forwards are at their best and are availing all the chances which scoring the goals," he added.

Hanif attributed team's dismal performance in the hockey league to slack performance of forwards for wasting ideal scoring sitters one after another. “It was just unfortunate that our team badly flopped in the league despite the fact that players were quite capable of producing desired results but the alarming factor of missing the chances in the circle let our team down," he said.

The former Olympian was of the view that penalty corner shooter M Imran's performance was at lowest ebb and the team management needed to work a lot on this aspect to get maximum benefit from the penalty corners.

He defended the performance of goalkeeper Imran Shah and Imran Butt saying both did fairly well under the bar but forwards mistakes mounted extra pressure on them during the league matches.

To a query regarding re-calling of goalkeeper Salman Akbar who was out-of-action for almost two years, the former coach said: “The team management can answer this question knowing his utility at this stage. If he is fit then in my opinion he is better than rest of the others.”

He extended his best wishes to the team for its campaign in the Asia Cup and said it was his heart felt desire like millions of other Pakistanis that the team should win the Asia Cup to qualify for the World Cup to be held in Holland next year.

The Nation



Karnataka, Delhi post spirited wins in IHF Federation Cup

NEW DELHI: Both Karnataka and Delhi came from two-goal deficit to overcome Tamil Nadu and Mumbai in their respective league matches of the IHF Federation Cup, on Thursday.

While Karnataka beat Tamil Nadu 4-3, Delhi pipped Mumbai 4-2, at the Shivaji Stadium here.

In the other matches, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh registered comfortable victories against Manipur and Haryana, respectively.

Tamil Nadu took an early lead with Vinod Rayer striking in the third minute of the game. Adam Sinclair doubled the lead in the 16th minute.

But Karnataka came back strongly and scored four goals through Cariappa AD, Changappa PS and two by skipper Deepak Beijawad to take 4-2 lead.

A second goal from Vinod Rayer in the 65th minute wasn't enough for Tamil Nadu to save the day as they lost their first game of the tournament.

Meanwhile, Ashok Kumar's two goals helped Delhi beat Mumbai 4-2 in their group match.

Mumbai took the lead in the 29th minute with a goal from Osafa Ur Rehman and their lead was doubled in the 47th minute with a goal from Vikas Topo.

However, Delhi made a quick comeback as Rajbir Yadav and Ravi scored two goals.

Punjab routed Manipur 22-1 to hand them another huge defeat in two days.

Parvinder Singh made the most of the lacklustre Manipuri side and netted eight goals. Rajin Khandulna netted five, while Gurdeep Singh scored four.

O Boniyam hit the lone goal for Manipur. Uttar Pradesh had an easy outing against Haryana as they won the match 5-2.

UP were leading 3-0 at halftime with goals from Pramod Kumar, Sunny Sonkar and Sarabjit Singh. Farooqh and Pratiner Singh added a goal each in the second half.

For Haryana, Samsher and Pravesh found the net.

The Times of India



Another victim of administrative cover up

By S. Thyagarajan.



Michael Nobbs. Photo: K. MURALIKUMAR

Should the coaches, local or foreign, pay for the sins of the administrators? An avid chronicler of India’s hockey history can show umpteen instances of that.

Quite predictably, the exit of Michael Nobbs has evoked a torrent of reaction across the hockey world. The essence of the messages conveys a veneer of anguish over why the Aussie has failed to deliver. The entire episode assumes the contours of a Greek tragedy enacted for a little over two years.

Nobbs belonged to a breed of coaches who were enormously fascinated by the aesthetics of the Indian ethos. Coaches like Nobbs were passionate to give India a helping hand to bring back its hockey to the stage where it was till the Sixties.

From Horst Wein down to Ric Charlesworth, Paul Lissek and Kim Sang Ryul, all dreamed of being part of the coaching system. But any introspection into the tryst with foreign coaches since 2004 illustrates that the experiment is nothing but a fiasco.

That none of the four hired amidst all hoopla completed the term speaks volumes of a flawed system, poor player-coach equations and pathetic administrative apathy. The four — Gerhard Rach, Ric Charlesworth, Jose Brasa and Michael Nobbs — were tormented by lack of support, understanding and co-operation.

There was genuine optimism when Nobbs took guard. The powers-that-be preferred him over the rest believing that an Aussie was better suited to train Indians than a European. The argument advanced that the successful Aussie teams projected in clear terms the efficacy of the 5-3-2 format with greater finesse and fluency than the Continental outfits wedded to direct hockey.

Basically, the reasoning seemed logical. Nobbs too enjoyed his assignment, which was to polish the Indian approach with appropriate inputs like enhancing the velocity of attack, strengthening defence formations with enormous emphasis on fitness.

The trophy triumph engineered by Nobbs at the first Asian Champions Trophy at Ordos proved as a splendid starting block. Understandably, the expectation was on the upsurge indicating that the Aussie was on the right track giving the national team and its fans something to celebrate.

A podium finish at the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament last year after a win over England in the bronze medal contest was taken as another indication of progress. All along, Nobbs was given the option to alter the squads and explain the reasoning to the selection committee of his choices.

Importantly, Nobbs kept repeating that a palpable improvement, in the area of goal-keeping and defence, was imperative to stay on course. That he could not pitch on the right material, or combination in these areas contributed to his unceremonious exit.

Encouraging results on tours to France, Spain and in the Champions Trophy at Melbourne nursed the hopes despite the persistent weaknesses in defence and goal-keeping plaguing the performances.

A lot of interest centred on the Olympic qualifier in Delhi where the Indians excelled against the none-too-tough opposition. But that was enough to create the euphoria across the nation generating a debate that India can even procure a medal in the London Games.

Nobbs assumed that India was definitely on the up curve before the Games and said so in media interactions. But what followed was an unimaginable disaster. Never before had India ended the Olympics at the cellar.

Defeated, dejected and dispirited, Nobbs nevertheless put up a brave face during the media inquisition. He began the build up again to use the Hockey World League (HWL) as the route for a spot in the 2014 World Cup. India won the first phase in Delhi with ease but the tougher battle in Rotterdam offered no cheers. A sixth place put India beyond the pale of a place to The Hague.

That reverse was the last straw. By now, Nobbs was exasperated by the sequence of failures. He could well have imagined whether to continue when the situation came to such a pass, leaving only one window open for India to go and qualify as Asian Champion from Ipoh next month.

For the beleaguered Hockey India, deluged by severe criticism from all quarters for the despicable showing in international competitions under Nobbs, the easy escape was to target the coach. And it joined the chorus as though it had no role in the national squad’s preparations, plans and programmes. Like his predecessors, Nobbs was sacrificed in an administrative cover up for inadequacies.

Strangely, no heads have rolled in the selection committee, an entity that shares equal responsibility to the present impasse. As for the administrative apparatus, the less said the better.

Should the coaches, local or foreign, pay for the sins of the administrators? An avid chronicler of India’s hockey history can show umpteen instances of that.

Sportstar



‘There is no substitute for experience’


Maharaj Kishan "MK" Kaushik. Photo: SUSHIL KUMAR VERMA

“The feeling was definitely a very good one. I was happy and excited because, to be honest, I had never really thought I would not coach again. I was always open to and always wanted to return to coaching the national team,” says Maharaj Kishan Kaushik in this interview with Uthra Ganesan.

It has not been easy being Maharaj Kishan Kaushik. A member of the victorious Indian hockey team at the 1980 Moscow Olympics, he has also been a coach par excellence with both the Indian men’s and women’s sides.

His track record as a coach looks very impressive — an Asia Cup gold (2005) and silver (2009), a Commonwealth Games silver (2006) and an Asian Games bronze (2006) with the women and the 1998 Asian Games gold with the men. But every time he produced results, he was rudely shown the door by the administration, the last time in 2010 on charges of sexual misconduct.

Now, three years later, a desperate Hockey India has decided to turn back to the man with maximum credentials to pull the Indian men’s hockey out of the slump.

Ahead of joining the team’s preparatory camp for the coming Asia Cup, Kaushik spoke at length about his new role and how things have changed in the time he has been away from the sport he loves.

Question: What was your first reaction when you were approached with this offer to join the men’s coaching staff by Hockey India?

Answer: The feeling was definitely a very good one. I was happy and excited because, to be honest, I had never really thought I would not coach again. I was always open to and always wanted to return to coaching the national team, because I felt that I could contribute to the development of Indian hockey. I am happier because the same people who sent me out of Indian hockey have now called me back. So the feeling is very good.

We all know the circumstances in which you had to quit. When Narinder Batra approached you with this offer this time, were there any lingering hints of what had happened three years ago?

Obviously yes. It is not something that can simply be forgotten. He had some feelings and I also had some feelings, and I think that is but natural. But we spoke at length about it and it has all been cleared now. There is no rancour or bad blood.

Have you moved on from what happened three years ago? And do you think the administration too has moved on, given that you have been recalled?

There was no truth in what had been alleged then and so there was nothing to think about getting over with. This is what I said then and this is what I have always maintained. Yes some foul play was done and that should not happen to anyone again, ever. For that, precautions have to be taken and especially the management has to be extra careful and take care of that.

As for the administration, I think if they have called me back, then they also have decided to leave it behind. If you have to work together, you have to get over and go beyond all this.

The original proposal for you was to assist the junior team but now you have to help the senior team.

My personal preference has always been with the senior team. It’s not that I consider the junior team below my dignity or anything but I feel I work better with the senior team. Also, the current junior team I think already has some good minds — the South African coach, Gregg Clark, is already in charge and he has Baljit Singh Saini assisting him, so that is taken care of. But my preference has always been to work with the senior team.

You are coming back to coaching after three years and to men’s hockey after almost 15 years. How much do you think the sport has changed in all these years?

A lot, a lot. There have been a lot of changes, the sport has changed completely. I admit that 15 years is a very long time in any field. I am coming back to be associated with men’s hockey which is always in the spotlight so there is pressure. But most of us — and especially me — keep watching and observing and following the changes that keep happening across the world. Whether in coaching or management, it is important because you cannot coach any team — not just the national team or the men’s team — if you don’t know the latest developments in technology. Also, you need to always know the calibre of both the opponents and the opposition coaches, so I have always been in touch with the latest developments, both in terms of the software used and in following the workings and system of other teams and their coaches — it is important else you cannot plan for your own team.

There is a feeling that, the younger you are, the more you are in touch with technology. Given that you are not exactly young or considered tech-savvy enough, do you think you will be under extra pressure in modern hockey?

Well, yes, that is true — I am not exactly young! But that is only in comparison to the younger coaches coming up at the world level today. It is good that youngsters are turning to coaching and becoming successful. There are a lot of young coaches in India also who are coming up well and doing a good job with the latest software. At the same time, there is no substitute for experience. If you look at any of the top teams in the world, whether Germany or Australia or Holland or any other team that is doing well, they all have young people in the coaching staff but also use their experienced people for guidance. It is the experienced minds that prepare their programmes and work as observers and consultants, which helps the teams.

During the Hockey World League Round 3 (in Rotterdam), I noticed that the Dutch team was having their previous coach sitting with the team and guiding them constantly — such things definitely help in planning. So age certainly is not a criterion to be a good coach.

If we talk about the coaching methodology itself, how much has it changed in the last few years?

Very much. In fact, it’s not just the methodology or technology but the rules themselves have changed a lot. Unfortunately, in terms of using the latest developments, we in Asia have lagged behind. I will not include Japan or Korea in this because they have always kept pace with the latest developments but in India, Pakistan and Malaysia, we have been left behind in our very approach to the way the sport has developed.

The hockey officials in our country should understand the value of things that are required and sought by the national coach. That should be provided on a priority basis. If that is available, which I believe has been happening for the past couple of years, I think it will help. But there is no doubt there have been vast changes in modern hockey and we are way behind.

Where exactly is your role in the present set-up?

I am very clear about my duties. I have to assist the chief coach and I will do all I can to help him in his job. I am part of the staff, one of the coaches assisting the chief coach — whosoever it may be — and whatever knowledge I have of the team, the players and the training from my experiences with the national team, I will share it with the coach.

The situation is less than ideal at the moment, given that Michael Nobbs has been sacked. Do you think it will have any impact on the team or your working?

I did not have a chance to interact with Michael Nobbs because he has been in Australia. It definitely is not the smoothest start one would expect but I have been in touch with Roelant Oltmans (the High Performance Director temporarily in charge of the team) and we have discussed certain ideas. I don’t think there will be any problems.

You have always been a proponent of aggressive Asian style of hockey while Oltmans is typically Dutch, with emphasis on defensive play. Do you think there will be a clash of ideas?

No I don’t think there will be any conflict. Difference of opinions will always remain between people but a conflict because of that never solves any problem. The main target for all the coaches would be, rather should be, that the team performs well. Whatever is the best for the team should be done.

Yes I admit the differences, as you said, will be there — the coaching styles are different, mentalities are different, thought processes are different. We don’t know who the new chief coach will be… as and when he comes… but instead of highlighting the differences, the similarities should be combined for the best of the team.

Do you think that being an Indian coach and having successfully managed players with vastly different and volatile personalities like Dhanraj Pillay and Ashish Ballal in the past, you have an advantage over the others?

Yes, being an Indian I do have that advantage. I know the psychology of the players and I also understand the thinking and working of officials and people who are dominating the sport. But I feel that could actually be very helpful when trying to co-ordinate and give the best possible results.

What immediate changes do you believe should be made to this team to get results?

Everyone knows how we have not been able to qualify for the World Cup from the last tournament. And so that should be the first priority. There are definitely some things that need to be corrected, I think it is possible and within our reach. The team work is there but if there have been problems in planning and we have lost games in the defence, then we have to work a lot on improving that.

Will you also be involved in team selection?

No. Nobody has consulted me on that and given that I am only assisting the chief coach, I think he will take care of that. Of course, I will give my inputs and suggestions to him and hopefully it will be followed for the benefit of the team and if our target is to be successful, then it would be good if they are accepted.

The last time you were in charge of the men’s team, we won the Asian Games after 32 years. Are you looking at starting this new innings as triumphantly, this time with the Asia Cup?

The Asian Games was not my individual victory. That was a result of complete team work and the title was won because of everyone in the team. From the top in the federation to the players, captain Dhanraj Pillay and every senior and junior player in the squad contributed to the victory, with a little contribution from me as well.

As for the present assignment, it depends — if we have the same kind of team work and the same single-minded approach to competition and the goal then it is very much possible.

No one can predict what the future holds or what will happen in any competition. But we can think of positive things in the camps and work as a single unit and try and win the Asia Cup. But we need to know the other teams’ preparations as well, analyse their strengths and weaknesses and prepare accordingly. As I said before, it is in our reach but it is a very tough task and we really have to work very hard.

Finally, are you open to coaching a women’s side again?

As a coach, my job is coaching and why should I say no to anything? At the same time, things that happened three years back should not happen to any coach ever again and the management has to ensure that, only then will I or any coach think of taking up such a responsibility. But, at the moment, I am attached to the men’s team so I wish to concentrate only on that. The question about women doesn’t arise.

Sportstar



Organisers hopeful of Pak players' participation in HIL 2

NEW DELHI: Forced to stay out of the inaugural Hockey India League (HIL) because of diplomatic tensions between the two countries, Pakistani players are likely to feature in the second edition of the franchise-based event to be held from January 23 to February 23 next year.

Unlike IPL, the Pakistani players, who have been signed by different franchises for a three-year tenure, are free to play in HIL 2, provided there are no diplomatic issues between the two neighbouring nations," a Hockey India source said.

"We have already asked all national federations, including Pakistan to sent us No Objection Certificates of their players by October 31. There is still three months left for the deadline to end," the source said.

"It was unfortunate not to allow them to play in HIL 1 but if the situation in the lead-up to next year's tournament is normal, we are expecting them to play in HIL 2," he added.

Nine players from across the border -- Mahmood Rashid, Fareed Ahmed, Mohammad Tousiq, Imran Butt (Mumbai Magicians), Mohammed Rizwan Sr. and Mohammad Rizwan Jr. (Delhi Waveriders), Kashif Shah (Jaypee Punjab Warriors) and Mohammed Irfan and Shafqat Rasool (Ranchi Rhinos) -- were supposed to play in the inaugural HIL earlier this year.

But the simmering tension on the Indo-Pak border over the killing of Indian soldiers and subsequent protests by right-wing organisations had forced Hockey India to send back the Pakistani players without playing a single match.

When contacted, Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra, who is also the chairman of HIL, said there is still plenty of time to take call on the matter. Batra sounded optimistic and said before the HIL 2, Pakistan players are scheduled to visit the country for the Junior World Cup to be held in the Capital from December 6-15.

"There is plenty of time for HIL 2 but before that Pakistan are supposed to play in the Junior World Cup which is a big tournament," Batra said.

"As far as we are concerned we are hopeful of everyone playing in HIL 2," Batra said rejecting a report that top Dutch players may skip next year's league to concentrate on preparations for the World Cup to be held at The Hague four months after the HIL.

The Times of India



Argentina men join Las Leonas at Hockey 9s

Latin American flavour to 2013 tournament in Perth


Argentina's men's team has confirmed it will join Las Leonas at this year's International Super Series Hockey 9s in Perth, bringing a distinctively Latin flair to the event in October.

Coached by former international athlete Carlos Retegui, who was at the helm of the Argentinian women's team's success between 2009 and 2012, Argentina's men finished as runners-up to Olympic champs Germany at the World League semi-final tournament in Malaysia earlier this month. The outcome qualified Argentina for the World League Finals in India next January and the World Cup in the Netherlands next May. A series of impressive performances saw them draw their opener with Germany 1-1 and beat England 3-1 in the semi-finals, as well a securing wins over Japan, Korea and South Africa.

Late last year Argentina picked up the gold medal at the Champions Challenge in Quilmes following a tenth place finish at the Olympic Games and the gold medal at the 2011 Pan American Championships in Mexico.

Argentina's involvement brings the men's International Super Series Hockey 9s tournament to four teams, joining the Kookaburras, Pakistan and Malaysia. Argentina's women are confirmed opponents of the Hockeyroos with another team set to be confirmed in the coming weeks.

Hockey Australia media release



Small regret for Collier

By Nick Walker



Photo by Photosport

One last small nagging point for former Black Stick Ben Collier.

Collier is retiring after an eight year, 137 test career, and says ideally he would have known ahead of time it would be his last game.

"That would have been a really nice way to finish things off.

"I suppose from my point of view I can look back at our last game that we played, which was winning the Azlan Shah tournament last year.

"So that's not a bad thought."

He says it's a bit of a shame he can't farewell the game on the turf.

"That's always a bit of a tough thing. It's always nice to be able to actually identify that last game that you're going to play, and tell the boys perhaps at that game or beforehand that that's your last."

Collier will stay involved with hockey while continuing his career as a banker, playing for Central in the upcoming National Hockey League.

News Talk ZB



Champs qualify

Rashneel Kumar


DEFENDING boy's champions Swami Vivekananda College has qualified for the Tuckers Fiji Secondary Schools Hockey Association Super Eight National finals in Levuka next month.

The Nadi-based school which won the open grade category last year is the top contender in the under-19 boys and girls category this year.

In the boys and girls U19 division, SVC, Tilak and Natabua High have also qualified from the West.

From the Central Division, Marist Brothers High School and Gospel High School have qualified in the boys grade while in girls, the battle is still on for the final places with defending champions Saint Joseph's Secondary School leading the charge.

From Levuka, St John's College, Levuka Public and Delana Methodist will be represented in the boys competition.

Fiji Secondary Schools Hockey Association president Immanuel Prasad said the competition in the play-off was high.

"The intensity of competition in the play-off is quite strong," Prasad said.

"It will be interesting to see how teams fare in the finals in Levuka as games will be played on grass court."

This year's tournament will also have U16 grade competition.

The Fiji Times



Renaming of hockey stadium sparks anger


Hockey Stadium Mills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

GhanaWeb



Renaming of hockey stadium not right - Joe Aggrey


Former Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports,Joe Aggrey

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

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

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

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

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

“There is the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi, Robert Mensah Sports Stadium in Cape Coast, the Azumah Nelson Sports Complex in Kaneshie and several others.

“The decision by the AMA certainly demeans whatever role Mrs Okoh played for Ghana hockey and knowing the late President, I think he would not have approved of such an action,” Mr Aggrey, a former Group Sports Editor of the Graphic Communications Group Limited, added.

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

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

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

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

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

MyJoyOnline



Hockey Stadium reverts to Theodosia Okoh on President’s orders


The first female chairperson of the Ghana Hockey Association (GHA), Theodosia Okoh

The Chief of Staff, Mr Prosper Douglas Bani, on behalf of President John Dramani Mahama, has directed the Chief Executive of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) to reverse the decision to change the name of the National Hockey Pitch.

According to information released to journalists at the Flagstaff House yesterday, the Presidency was not aware of the decision to change the name from ‘Theodosia Okoh Hockey Stadium’ and had directed a reversal of the decision forthwith.

It said the AMA Chief Executive, Alfred Vanderpuije, had also been summoned to the Presidency over the decision, which was taken without recourse to the Presidency.

The AMA announced that it had renamed the National Hockey Pitch as part of the celebration of the first anniversary of the demise of President J.E.A. Mills in recognition of his prominent role in the development of hockey in the country.

The renaming of the pitch has attracted criticism from some quarters, with retired sports journalist and former Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Joe Aggrey, saying the renaming was not right, as the pitch had already been named after Mrs Okoh.

Hours before the presidency settled the matter, Mrs Okoh broke her silence and warned: “You either keep the honour by retaining my name on the national hockey stadium, or do your worst!”

The usually calm Mrs Okoh, the first female chairperson of the Ghana Hockey Association (GHA) and after whom the stadium had been named since 2004, did not hide her anger and disappointment over the decision by the AMA last Tuesday to rename the sporting facilitys.

She told the Graphic Sports yesterday: “It is sad the way and manner ordinary people who strive to achieve something for the country are treated. I’m proud of the role I played to bring Ghana hockey this far, but today I’m really sad about the way I’m being treated. I don’t think the late President, knowing him for who he was, would approve of this.”

Mrs Okoh, 91, who is also famed for designing the national flag, also advised that those in authority must take actions that would encourage many more ordinary people to be more patriotic and nationalist instead of doing things that would keep them holed-up in their small corners.

“I secured the present venue for hockey at a time when no one was ready to commit to the sport. When there were moves to convert the area into a lorry park, I almost single-handedly opposed it and fought hard to keep the place for the sport so that we could all have somewhere to play because the pitch at Achimota where the sport was played was no longer in good condition.”

“I believe I deserve the honour done me for the role I played in Ghana hockey but if they decide not to give me that honour, the least I deserve is respect.”

Mrs Okoh, a Patron of the Sports Writers Association of Ghana (SWAG) insisted her name be taken off the facility if it was only for the playing pitch and not the entire stadium as was explained by the Mayor of Accra Mayor, Dr Alfred Oko Vanderpuije, on Peace FM’s morning show Kokrokoo.

“The pitch has been named after her (Madam Theodosia), but the stadium is in the name of the late President. The facility in the stadium and the whole environment has been named after him (President Mills)…the hockey stadium is now going to be known as Prof John Evans Atta Mills Hockey Stadium but when you enter the stadium, the pitch is there and that will be in her name (Madam Theodosia Okoh Pitch). It has not changed,” explained the Mayor.

MyJoyOnline