News for 20 September 2013

All the news for Friday 20 September 2013


Mendocino Hockey Stadium Inauguration

Rebecca Kanter




On September 18th 2013, right before the start of the 2013 Women’s Pan American Cup in Mendoza an inauguration ceremony took place for the Mendocino Hockey Stadium. The Mendocino Hockey Stadium is centrally located right outside the Mendoza city center within the sports complex sponsored by the Mendoza government. Thus, both officials from the Mendoza government and the Argentine Hockey Confederation (CAH) were on hand for the celebratory ribbon-cutting. In just six months, in what was proclaimed at today’s event could not be accomplished, was accomplished.

The Mendocino Hockey Stadium is beautiful and its stands were also warmly inaugurated with many children. Children representing hockey clubs from Mendoza’s 18 counties were all on hand to watch the spectacular inauguration event. Dance competitions for the different sections of the stands were held and the event mascot, a wolf, was presented. Representatives from both the CAH and the Mendoza government spoke, especially reiterating the importance of sport for youth and the life lessons hockey brings.

In addition to the Stadium, the Mendoza government demonstrated its commitment to youth hockey development on a grand scale by awarded packets of sticks, balls, and cones to club teams in attendance. Under the name “Hockey for All” this government-sponsored equipment program is designed to grow the sport and is a model for not just the region, but the world. The event finale was a dance performance by a local Mendoza dance troop. And in conclusion, the event ended in proper fashion: with children playing hockey on the pitch.

Meanwhile, the 2013 Women’s Pan American Cup formally starts Saturday September 21st. Please stay tuned to www.panamhockey.org for live score updates, match reports, photos, videos, and more!

Pan American Hockey Federation



US Women face off against Mexico in their first match at the 2013 Pan American Cup

MENDOZA, Argentina - The U.S. Women’s National Team defeated Canada this afternoon during a friendly match held in Mendoza's brand-new hockey stadium in final preparation for the 2013 Pan American Cup. The tournament will be the first major international competition held in the new facility. Team USA is ready to compete and is going into this the tournament with confidence.

"I think we have prepared well going into this tournament both tactically and technically," said U.S Midfielder, Melissa Gonzalez. “We have been working really hard as a group and we are all excited to be here."

"It was a good opportunity to play today," said U.S. Head Coach, Craig Parnham. "It's a new pitch and so it was important to get some touches on the ball.  We are looking forward to the start of the tournament and the players are eager to begin."

The Pan American Cup will commence on Saturday, September 21 and will run through Saturday, September 28 in Mendoza’s cutting-edge hockey facility. The U.S. Women’s National Team will begin their Pan American Cup journey with the first match of the tournament against Mexico this Saturday at 12:30 p.m. ET.    

The event is divided into two pools each consisting of four teams. The U.S. has been placed in Pool B, along with Chile, Mexico and Uruguay. Following Saturday’s match against Mexico, the team faces Chile on Sunday, September 22, 12:30 p.m. ET and then Uruguay on Tuesday, September 24, 3 p.m. ET. The semi-finals are scheduled for Thursday, September 26 and the finals on Saturday, September 28.

In its fifth edition, the Pan American Cup has had the same champion and silver medalists at the 2001, 2004 and 2009 respected Cups. Team USA has been second each of those years falling to the No. 2 Team in the world and this year’s Pam Am host, Argentina. The U.S. overcame the curse at the 2011 Pan American Cup by defeating Argentina in the finals. The win earned them a gold medal and a ticket to the 2012 Olympic games.

Team USA is vying for the coveted spot in the 2014 World Cup held in The Hague, Netherlands. The Pan American winner will receive the continent's automatic berth to the 2014 World Cup. In addition, the top six teams qualify for the 2017 Women's Pan American Cup and the teams placed 7th and 8th will play in the 2015 Women's Pan American Challenge.

USFHA media release



Semi-final target for women's squad

By Ajitpal Singh


MALAYSIA may have set themselves a semi-final target for the Women's Asia Cup, which starts tomorrow, but in reality they do not stand a chance against the continent's top four teams -- China, South Korea, Japan and India.

The tournament is a qualifier for next year's World Cup in the Netherlands.

Malaysia's 18-member team are in Group A with former Olympic silver medallists China, India and minnows Hong Kong while Korea, Japan, Kazakhstan and Taiwan make up Group B.

China and Korea have qualified for the World Cup through the recent World League while Japan's fate will depend on the Oceania qualifier.

Although considered outsiders, Malaysia are rapidly closing the gap on the other teams and will be looking to perform above themselves at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.

Former champions India are also hoping to emulate their men's team by qualifying for the World Cup. They have included youth players from last year's Junior World Cup bronze medal team.

National coach Nasihin Nubli said his players are working hard and progressing well in training.

"Our aim is to break into the top four for the first time since 1985. China, Japan, Korea and India are the top four teams in Asia but I believe we can upset the form book," said Nasihin on Wednesday.

Malaysia play China tomorrow before facing Hong Kong the next day and India on Tuesday.

"China are Asia's highest ranked team and we lost 6-0 to them in the 2010 Asian Games. We have to be realistic here as the only chance of reaching the semi-finals is by beating Hong Kong and India.

"Although we lost 3-0 to India in the World League in February, we managed to match them in all aspects but conceded silly goals," Nasihin added.

Fatin Shafika Mohd Shukri, 18, and Nor Azlin Sumantri, 20, are the only juniors in Nasihin's squad, captained by Nadia Abdul Rahman, who has 100 caps.

THE SQUAD -- Goalkeepers: Farah Ayuni Yahya, Siti Noor Hafiza Zainordin.

Defenders: Julaini Mohd Din, Siti Shahidah Saad, Raja Noorsharina Raja Shabuddin, Nuraini Abdul Rashid, Norhashikin Halim, Siti Nor Amarina Ruhani.

Midfielders: Nadia Abdul Rahman, Rabiatul Adawiyah Mohd, Noor Hasliza Md Ali, Fatin Shakira Mohd Shukri, Nor Izaidah Ibrahim.

Forwards: Norbaini Hashim, Siti Rahmah Othman, Fazilla Sylvester Silin, Nurul Nabihan Mansor, Nor Azlin Sumantri.

New Straits Times



Seniors to the fore

The 3rd edition of the Sultan Johor Cup will showcase teams in their final stages of preparation for the Junior World Cup to be held in New Delhi this December.

The six team tournament comprises of India, Pakistan, South Korea, Malaysia and debutants Argentina and England.

While it may be a junior affair, teams like Malaysia, India, Pakistan and England will feature players who have made the senior teams in their respective countries.

Malaysia will be boosted by the presence of Fitri Saari, Faiz Helmi, Mohd Syamim Yusof, Mohd Firhan Ashaari,Meor Muhammad Azuan, Rashid Baharom and Izad Hakimi Jamaluddin whom have represented the senior squad at one time or another.

But it is India that will start off as favouries as they have roped in the likes of playmaker Manpreet Singh, midfielder Kothajit Singh, defender and penalty corner specialist Amit Rohidas, striker Mandeep Singh and defender Ramandeep Singh.

India, however, have rested three senior squad players, who featured in the Asia Cup in Ipoh last month – Malak Singh, S.K. Uthappa and Gurmail Singh.

As for Pakistan, besides Umar Bhutta who will skipper the team, they are strengthened with the inclusion of Rizwan Junior, Syed Kashif Shah, Khalid Bhatti and Mohammad Tousiq

England will be strengthened by the inclusion of three players who trained with the national senior side – Phil Roper, Andy Bull and Ross Gilham Ross..

England team manager Steve Floyd believes that participating in the SOJC will assist his team prepare better for the challenges that they will face from both Pakistan and Malaysia who are in their group for the JWC this December.

“We have played Malaysia last year and again last month and I must say I am impressed with their ability and the matches were close,” said Steve.

“Malaysia has been very impressive and cannot be taken lightly by anyone and all teams should be wary of their ability.

“With both Pakistan and Malaysia in our pool for the JWC, we will of course try out certain tactics against them and at the same time expect them not to reveal everything at this tournament.

“That is to be expected when teams are placed in the same pool in the JWC but trust me that we aim to do well in the tournament despite not setting any targets for the team here in Johor Baru.”

Official Sultan of Johor Cup site



Colts leave for Sultan of Johor Cup in Malaysia

KARACHI: The Pakistan junior hockey team left for Malaysia last night aiming to win the third edition of the Sultan of Johor Cup that begins this weekend in Johor Bahru.

The tournament that will be held from September 22 to 29 also includes India, South Korea, Great Britain and Argentina while the hosts will defend their title.

Former Olympian Manzoorul Hasan, who replaced Rana Mujahid as the team’s head coach and manager, said the team has its eyes on the title.

“It’s a balanced squad that also has players with international experience at the senior level,” the former Olympian said ahead of the departure. “It’s a competitive tournament with tough sides.”

Pakistan will open their campaign with a game against South Korea on September 22 and then meet England the following day.

After a day’s break, the colts will take on traditional arch-rivals India and hosts Malaysia on September 25 and 26 respectively before playing Argentina on September 28.

Captain Umar Bhutta said his team has worked on their flaws exposed during the tour of Europe. “Every team is tough and we will play every game like a final,” he said.

The Express Tribune



SA U21 men’s hockey team named for Junior World Cup

The South Africa Under-21 men’s hockey team was released by the SA Hockey Association Thursday for the 2013 Men’s Junior World Cup tournament in Delhi, India in December.

Head coach Darryn Gallagher’s side will be captained by Dylan Swanepoel of Western Province with Mohamed Mea of KZN Coastal his deputy.

SA U21 team: Adrian Abrahams (WP), Daniel Bell (WP), Matt Brown (Southern Gauteng), Chad Cairncross (EP), Richard Curtis (KZN Coastal), Taylor Dart (SG), René de la Peyre (Northern Blues), James Drummond (WP), Marc Fourie (WP), Grant Glutz (NB), Ross Gonsalves (NB), Keenan Horne (WP), Damian Kimfley (KZN Inland), Ignatius Malgraff (North West), Andrew Manson (KZNC), Mohamed Mea (vice-capt, KZNC), Daniel Sibbald (KZNC), Dylan Swanepoel (capt, WP).

Non-travelling reserves: Marc Turner, Bernard Greybe, Michael Watson, Niel Roode, Michael Mulder (all WP), Ross Hetem, Matt de Souza (both KZNC), Brynn Cleak (SG).

SA Hockey Association media release



PNB, BPCL complete semifinal line-up

S. Thyagarajan



ECSTASY AND AGONY: BPCL's Pundalik Bellary celebrates (left) after scoring against Air India as a crestfallen goalkeeper watches in the all-India MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup in Chennai on Thursday. Photo: M. Vedhan

Punjab National Bank and BPCL completed the semifinal line-up from Pool B in the MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup hockey tournament on Thursday.

The convincing 3-1 victory over Air India in a key Pool B contest brought BPCL on par with PNB at nine points each. With a goal difference of plus nine, PNB toppe of the pool against the plus eight by BPCL.

The failure of Air India, last year’s joint winner with IOC, to be in the last four came as rude shock to its supporters. Composed of players past their prime in international competitions, the Air India outfit struggled to display its wonted authority.

Even a draw would have put Air India into contention for the semifinal berth.

Building up pressure

BPCL clung on to the early goal by Pundalik Bellary. Air India did build up pressure on the rival defenders but they stood their ground.

Vikram Pillay, supported well by Arjun Halappa, provided quite a few openings but the forwards, notably Shivendra and Lalit Upadhyaya, fumbled.

In the BPCL defence line Ajay Saroha and Birendra Lakra were notable in their in interceptions as was the gangling Prabhdeep Singh.

BPCL played with renewed vigour in the second half forcing the Air India defenders to make errors.

Gurpreet Singh converted a fluent penalty corner followed by a goal by Bellary.

A self goal by BPCL was hardly a consolation for Air India.

Friday is a rest day.

The semifinal line-up: IOC vs BPCL; IOB vs PNB.

The results:

Pool A: CAG 5 (Navneet Swarankar, Nithin Thimmiah, Md. Naemuddin 2, S.S. Bundela) bt SCR 2 (Mayank James, Dhamu).

Pool B: BPCL 3 (Pundalik Bellary 2, Gurpreet Singh) bt Air India 1 (own goal).

Points table (read as played, won, drawn, lost, goals for, goals against, points):

Pool A: 1. IOC 4-4-0-0-22-7-12; 2. IOB 4-3-0-1-16-8-9; 3. Army XI 4-2-0-2-18-11-6; 4. CAG 4-1-0-3-8-26-3; 5. SCR 4-0-0-4-8-20-0.

Pool B: 1. PNB 4-3-0-1-13-4-9; 2. BPCL 4-3-0-1-14-6-9; 3. Air India 4-2-0-2-15-11-6; 4. SAIL 4-1-0-3-12-15-3; 5. Indian Bank 4-1-0-3-12-30-3.

The Hindu



UBI cash in on Rehman symphony

Sudheendra Tripathi


MUMBAI: Union Bank of India player JP Kusha walked away with the man of the match award for scoring a hat-trick and helping his team defeat a fancied Central Railway in the Mumbai Magicians-Mumbai Hockey Association Ltd-conducted Super League hockey match at Churchgate's Mahindra Stadium on Thursday. However, it was playmaker Usaf-ur-Rehman, who was instrumental in UBI defeating Central 5-4 in a nine-goal thriller.

Rehman not only scored for UBI in the first session, he set up Kusha on a couple of occasions too. Teammate Deepak Joshi describes him as "An influential player who takes a considerable amount of workload away from his young strikers like Kusha."

Rehman is a seasoned campaigner. He has played for some of the top teams such as Indian Airlines in the past and after attending a few India camps was close to getting into the national team for India's tour to Argentina in 2010. But a freak accident in his hometown, Bhopal, ensured that his dream remained just that. "I had seriously injured my leg and had to undergo surgery," he said, recalling that horror. For Rehman, who is employed with Western Railway, the injury was nothing less than a tragedy. Incidentally, he doesn't even represent his employers.

"They don't play me anymore," was all he would say, when asked to explain why he is not turning out for his employers. But UBI are not complaining. Speaking about the overall performance of his teammates on the day, Joshi said: "It was a splendid performance by the boys. We have performed consistently so far and I am proud of the fact that a promoted side is holding its own in a league where top class players are plying their trade."

The win against Central Railway has more or less confirmed UBI's participation in the Bombay Gold Cup to be played in October later this year. If they finish in the top four, which they probably would, they will gain a direct entry for the tournament.

UBI have two games left. One against Maharashtra State Police and Sports Authority of India. Joshi, though, chose to downplay his team's position. "We still have two matches to play and we would like to take each match as is comes."

Results: Union Bank of India 5 (Thokchom Kiran Kumar 10th, Usaf-ur-Rehman 25th, JP Kusha 39th, 50th, 60th) beat Central Railway 4 (Narad Bahadur 20th, 28th, 66th, Davinder Walmiki 64th); Indian Navy 11 (Sajit Lakra 15th, own goal 16th, Faheen Khan 25th, 53rd, 58th, Heera Singh 30th, Ved Prakash 32nd, 34th, Amit Goswamy 34th, 47th, Pawan Kumar 60th) beat Sea View SC 1 (Anirudh More 40th).

The Times of India



Black Sticks to miss Northland sisters' 276-game input

By David Leggat



Black Sticks veteran Charlotte Harrison has been left out of the international team. Photo / Brett Phibbs

For the first time in a long period, there's no one called Harrison in the Black Sticks women's squad for the next year.

Northland sisters Charlotte and Samantha Harrison have racked up 183 and 93 caps respectively. However, 22-year-old Samantha made herself unavailable for the squad, and is playing in Belgium at present.

Charlotte, two years older, an eight-year veteran of the team and with 50 goals among the alltime scoring leaders for New Zealand, has been omitted on form.

"Over the last 12 months we've felt the younger players have caught up and started to move in the right direction for us," New Zealand women's coach Mark Hager said yesterday. "Charlotte has plateaued a little and we believe it's time to give an opportunity to some of the other players."

Hager said she remains in the national development group and conceded she took the news hard, "as you'd expect. But you'd be disappointed if it didn't mean anything to them".

The men's and women's squads named yesterday will go through to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Two key figures in the women's team, striker Katie Glynn and Stacey Michelsen, will be missing from the Oceania Cup in Stratford at the end of next month and the World League finals in Argentina in December, as they recover from long-term knee injuries. Michelsen hopes to be running by late next month and back playing early next year; the prolific goalscorer Glynn is expected back in April.

Experienced defender Emily Naylor will also be missing for the Argentine trip for personal reasons. The upside is the chance to deepen the pool of experience.

Two 19-year-olds, Auckland defender Elizabeth Thompson and Canterbury striker Sophie Cocks, get their chance in the squad of 26, while North Harbour defender Rhiannon Dennison, 20, is recalled.

National men's coach Colin Batch welcomes back classy attackers Simon Child and Nick Wilson, along with seasoned midfielder Steve Edwards, while North Harbour defender Joseph Bartholomew is promoted after a fine national league.

The New Zealand Herald



English hockey leagues now in full swing

After all the build-up and all the anticipation leading in to the new season, last weekend saw the return of England Hockey’s Premier Leagues and they didn’t disappoint, with plenty of goals and exciting attacking hockey which bodes well for a very entertaining season as league hockey in England continues to go from strength to strength. This weekend sees the second round of league fixtures and some exciting match-ups.

The NOW: Pensions Mens Premier League saw twenty-one goals across five games, some interesting results and a return to form for some of the traditional big hitters, giving us plenty to think about in what promises to be a very open season.

While in the Investec Women’s Premier League, the wedding of Great Britain’s Kate Walsh and Helen Richardson wasn’t the only big event last weekend, as a total of twenty three goals bettered last year’s opening day by seven goals – domestic hockey came back with a bang.

In the men’s league, last year’s runners-up Surbiton produced arguably the most eye-catching result of the opening weekend with a second half blitz to defeat Hampstead and Westminster 5-1. Coach Todd Williams told England Hockey: “We were happy with the result given it was the first game of the season. To turn the game around fairly convincingly in the second half was very pleasing.” The Sugden Road side travel to new boys Sheffield Hallam this weekend, who were beaten 3-0 by East Grinstead last week.

In arguably the pick of the men’s games this weekend, Beeston host Reading, fresh from a 3-1 win of their own over Canterbury. Charlie Seccombe, the Reading coach accepted his side were not at their best in their opening fixture, but is looking forward to their clash with the Bees: “By Sunday we’ll have had a bit more corner preparation and another week together so after a couple of training sessions we’ll be ready to go up against Beeston. It’s always a tough game against them, especially away from home but I’m confident we can go there and come away with three points.”

In the women’s leagues, the standout result of the opening day was unquestionably that at Highfields: Newly-promoted Beeston smashed seven goals past Sutton Coldfield, including a hat-trick from Hannah Wraith. The Bees are now off to the Westcountry next to face Clifton, who took a point from their visit to Surbiton last weekend.

Canterbury got their season off and running with a hard-fought 2-1 win away at reigning champions Reading. Jen Wilson, Canterbury’s player-coach told England Hockey: “We said we were coming here to get whatever we could out of the game. We’re ecstatic with the result.”  The winning goal came from Scotland star Nikki Kidd; a player Wilson expects great things from this season: “Her goals will be massive for us and she’ll be a wonderful asset to our team.” Canterbury host University of Birmingham who will be keen to bounce back from a 3-1 home loss at the hands of Leicester.

Leicester have their first home fixture of the season against an in-form Bowdon Hightown. Bowdon found the net five times in their game with Olton and West Warwicks. Both of the teams come into the weekend’s game with new goalkeepers between the posts, as England duo Maddie Hinch and Kirsty Mackay have headed south to Holcombe and East Grinstead respectively.

NOW: Pensions Men’s Premier League fixtures for 22 September:

Canterbury vs. East Grinstead 12.45 PFW

Sheffield Hallam vs. Surbiton 13.30 DALE

Beeston vs. Reading 14.00 BeeW

Cannock vs. Wimbledon 14.00 Chse

Hampstead and Westminster vs. Loughborough Students 14.00 PRW

Investec Women’s Premier League Fixtures for 21 September:

Canterbury vs. University of Birmingham. 17.00 PFW

Clifton vs. Beeston 13.00 CL

Leicester vs. Bowdon Hightown. 14.00 LGS

Olton and West Warwicks vs. Reading 12.00 WWSC

Sutton Coldfield vs. Surbiton 14.00 CR

England Hockey Board Media release



NOW: Pensions Men’s Premier League: Week Two Preview

Words and pictures by Ross Bone



Hampstead v Beeston

After all the build-up and all the anticipation leading in to the new season, last weekend saw the return of the NOW: Pensions Men’s Premier League and it did not disappoint. Twenty-one goals across five games, some interesting results and a return to form for some of the traditional big hitters gave us plenty to think about in what promises to be a very open season in the Premier League.

Last year’s runners-up, Surbiton produced arguably the most eye-catching result with a second half blitz to defeat Hampstead and Westminster 5-1. Coach Todd Williams told England Hockey: “We were happy with the result given it was the first game of the season and how slow we were to get up to top speed before half time. That said, Hampstead played well in the first half and deserved their lead. To turn the game around fairly convincingly in the second half was very pleasing.”

The Sugden Road side travel to new boys Sheffield Hallam this weekend. Hallam were beaten 3-0 by East Grinstead, with two goals coming in the last four minutes. Williams is under no illusions about the task they face against Vicky Joel’s team: “As Canterbury proved last year, the quality you need to produce over a season to achieve promotion via the Conference play-offs could well be enough to get you into the top half of the Premier League. I’m sure Sheffield have identified their home fixtures as a priority and so that will mean that both literally and mentally, this will be a long way away from last week's match at home.”

Reigning champions Beeston flexed their muscles with an impressive 3-1 win over a strong Wimbledon side. Matt Taylor, in his first game in charge was understandably satisfied: “It took us a while to get going, but thankfully in the second half we picked our performance up. It was great to see Sam Ward score a brace on his return to the club. Generally it was a very hard fought game but one I felt we deserved to win.”

In arguably the pick of the games, Beeston host Reading, fresh from a 3-1 win of their own over Canterbury. Charlie Seccombe, the Reading coach accepted his side were not at their best in their opening fixture, but is looking forward to their clash with the Bees: “At the moment it’s about picking up the three points and improving gradually so that eventually we’re firing on all cylinders. By Sunday we’ll have had a bit more corner preparation and another week together so after a couple of training sessions we’ll be ready to go up against Beeston. It’s always a tough game against them, especially away from home but I’m confident we can go there and come away with three points.”

Wimbledon will be aiming to bounce back from their opening day disappointment by securing their first win in the top flight as they visit Chase Park to line up against Cannock. The Nockers were also victims of an opening 3-1 loss, at the hands of Loughborough Students. The Students, having made the perfect start with a James Spain goal in the first minute of the season, make the journey south to Hampstead and Westminster. Hampstead coach Tom Kavanagh will be keen to see his side put last week’s troubles behind them and give a good show in front of the home crowd: “We welcome our first challenger to 'The Cage' this year in Loughborough. We’re looking forward to an open, free-flowing game and we aim to improve on last week’s performance.”

That just leaves the Kent-Sussex clash at Polo Farm between Canterbury and East Grinstead. Although Canterbury were beaten by Reading first up, their captain Michael Farrer praised the efforts of his team which contained five debutants. Even though East Grinstead made a good start, Farrer sees no reason for his side to fear anyone:

“We made Polo Farm a bit of a fortress last year, so we’re happy taking on anyone at home. Obviously EG have some quality players but we had a great game with them last season, where we won 3-2, so I’m hoping for more of the same.”

Mark Pearn, East Grinstead coach is equally upbeat about his team’s chances this weekend: “We are looking forward to seeing David Condon make his league debut after his successful international summer and we also welcome back from injury Iain Lewers, who will make his first appearance for the club since the Olympic Games.” He added: “We have been working hard this week to make sure we are able to take a few more of the goal scoring opportunities we create. Our matches against Canterbury are usually very exciting affairs with plenty of attacking hockey and goalmouth action, so it should be a good game.”

With a number of big games this Sunday it is shaping up to be another exciting and action-packed matchday in the NOW: Pensions Men’s Premier League. Keep an eye on the results section of the England Hockey website for all the results and scorers from all the games.

Fixtures for 22 September:

Canterbury vs. East Grinstead 12.45 PFW

Sheffield Hallam vs. Surbiton 13.30 DALE

Beeston vs. Reading 14.00 BeeW

Cannock vs. Wimbledon 14.00 Chse

Hampstead and Westminster vs. Loughborough Students 14.00 PRW

To read more from Ross Bone, head over to thetopofthed.com for a mixture of interviews, features and analysis of all things hockey.

England Hockey Board Media release



Investec Women’s Premier League: Week Two Preview

Words and pictures by Ross Bone



Clifton HC Women

The wedding of Great Britain’s Kate Walsh and Helen Richardson wasn’t the only big event last weekend, as all ten teams took to the field for the first game of the new Investec Women’s Premier League season. A total of twenty three goals were scored across the five games, bettering last year’s opening day by seven goals. Domestic hockey came back with a bang.

The standout result of the opening day was unquestionably the one at Highfields: Newly-promoted Beeston smashed seven goals past Sutton Coldfield, including a hat-trick from Hannah Wraith. The Bees are off to the West country next to face Clifton, who took a point from their visit to Surbiton last weekend.

Canterbury got their season off and running with a hard-fought 2-1 win away at reigning champions Reading. Jen Wilson, Canterbury’s player-coach told England Hockey: “We said we were coming here to get whatever we could out of the game. We’re playing the defending champions and we know the quality they have in their squad, so we wanted to work hard as a unit and see what we could come out with. We’re ecstatic with the result.”

The winning goal came from Scotland star Nikki Kidd; a player Wilson expects great things from this season: “Her goals will be massive for us. She’s an absolute workhorse in midfield and the fact that she has the ability to score goals at crucial times is outstanding. She’ll be a wonderful asset to our team.”

Canterbury host University of Birmingham who will be keen to bounce back from a 3-1 home loss at the hands of Leicester. Phil Gooderham, the University of Birmingham coach was positive, despite the disappointment of the defeat: “I was happy with the team performance. It was the first time a number of our players had played together, so it will take a little while for them to gel. If we can improve our pass completion in the final third we will do better.” Gooderham continued: “Canterbury is always a tough but enjoyable game. A 5pm start in front of a big home crowd will be exciting for our girls, so I am looking forward to a good game."

Leicester, winners over the University of Birmingham have their first home fixture of the season against an in-form Bowdon Hightown. Bowdon found the net five times in their game with Olton and West Warwicks, unsurprisingly; Tina Cullen was amongst the scorers for Hightown, bagging a brace. Both of the teams come into the weekend’s game with new goalkeepers between the posts, as England duo Maddie Hinch and Kirsty Mackay have headed south to Holcombe and East Grinstead respectively.

Sutton Coldfield endured a nightmare opening day against Beeston and now face another tough test as they host Surbiton and their array of international stars.

That just leaves Reading’s trip to Olton and West Warwicks. Both sides come into the game off the back of an opening day defeat, but Reading Coach Steve Bayer was not too disheartened by his team’s display:

“I thought in the first half we played some really good hockey and we created quite a lot of chances. Unfortunately we didn’t take them. Obviously the players we were missing today make an impact, but we have a squad of 29 and we’re confident that is big enough to manage the international call ups and still give us a chance of winning silverware.”

He added: “We’ll be prepared for Olton. We’ve done our homework and I think we’ll put in a good display. One of the challenges we have early season because of the internationals we have, is getting the girls together as a group. Essentially our preseason is happening during the opening games. I think once we’ve played a few, you’ll see the real Reading.”

With the season still in such an early stage, every one of the games has its own significance as some sides try to build momentum and some sides try to get their season started after a disappointing first week. You can find out all the scores and scorers once Saturday’s games have been completed in the results section of our website.

Fixtures for 21 September:

Canterbury vs. University of Birmingham. 17.00 PFW

Clifton vs. Beeston 13.00 CL

Leicester vs. Bowdon Hightown. 14.00 LGS

Olton and West Warwicks vs. Reading 12.00 WWSC

Sutton Coldfield vs. Surbiton 14.00 CR

To read more from Ross Bone, head over to thetopofthed.com for a mixture of interviews, features and analysis of all things hockey.

England Hockey Board Media release



Eimear Cregan Honoured in UL Hall of Fame



Ireland's ex International and Captain Eimear Cregan has been honoured for her sporting excellence with an induction into University of Limericks inaugral Hall of Fame.

Eimear, who secured over 170 Irish caps, retired from international duty in 2010. We caught up with Eimear earlier today to ask her how she felt about such an honour "I am absolutely delighted to have been honoured by UL in this year's Sports Hall of fame. To even be mentioned in the same company as the other 15 inductees is quite special and something I am quite proud of. UL have always been extremely supportive of my hockey career across all levels and I would not have achieved any of this without their huge input."

Eimear along with fifteen other athletes will be unveiled officially at a ceremony on September 28th. The Sixteen athletes have been chosen from four decades of sporting excellence to be the inaugural inductees in the Hall of Fame. These individuals will forever be remembered for their achievements, their commitment to excellence and the inspiration they provide to UL's next generations of atheletes. They have reached the pinnacle of their sporting careers and have earned the highest esteem and gratitude for their contribution to UL Sport.

Our congratulations to:

Dr Sarahjane Belton - Rugby
Mr Brian Mullins - Gaelic Football
Ms Eimear Cregan - Hockey
Mr Seán O'Grady - Paralympic Athletics
Mr Jimmy Deenihan - Gaelic Football
Mr Eddie O'Sullivan - Rugby
Mr Gerard Hartmann - Triathlon
Ms Ciara Peelo - Sailing
Dr Liam Hennessy - Athletics
Mr Ray Silke - Gaelic Football
Dr Eddie Keher - Hurling
Mr Pat Spillane - Gaelic Football
Mr Seán McMahon - Hurling
Ms Carmel Vekins - Kayak & Canoe Polo
Ms Sinéad Millea - Camogie
Mr Tony Ward - Rugby

Irish Hockey Association media release



Pakistan Envoy Seeks Collaboration With Nigeria On Hockey, Football

By Dele Ogbodo


Abuja — The Pakistan High Commissioner to Nigeria, Lt. Gen. Muhammad Ashraf Saleem, has called for closer collaboration between his country and Nigeria specifically in the development of hockey in Nigeria and football in Pakistan.

The envoy made the disclosure in an interview with THISDAY over the weekend in Abuja. He stated that apart from economic ties in the real sector, both nations can render technical sports assistance to each other specifically in hockey and football. Saleem said that Pakistan as world champion in hockey can help Nigeria revive her hockey and cricket teams. He added that he was aware that Nigeria in the past used to have a good national hockey team, adding: "Now I don't see that anymore."

While commending Nigeria for being champion of African football, Saleem said there is however the need to diversify to sports like cricket and hockey for several reasons."The two countries can cooperate and collaborate in other sports. In Pakistan, a lot of people play football on every street, village and city, but unfortunately we do not have a good national football team like Nigeria. To this end we can get your coaches, to help us with some form of technical assistance in advancing our football, while Pakistan can also help Nigeria with technical assistance in hockey and cricket," stressed the envoy.

He advised also that Nigerian businessmen can also directly do business in sports equipment from Pakistan.

In Pakistan, he said: "I may not be wrong if I say that almost 90 percent of the surgical goods in the world are made in Pakistan and exported with different brands like the ones you find in Nigeria, although may carry a different brand. They are actually produced in Pakistan like Nike, Adidas get their equipment produced in Pakistan and they just put their brand on them. "Instead of Nigerian businessmen importing those things from outside, let them come to Pakistan and get these directly.

As world champions in both cricket and hockey, Saleem said: "Our team is presently playing test (cricket) matches in Zimbabwe. Incidentally the Pakistani team has won all the matches so far. In hockey, we are the Olympic champion because cricket is not an Olympic event, but in hockey we are world champion." He restated the interests of Pakistan in helping in training Nigerian coaches in both hockey and cricket.

"We can also collaborate in terms of support sports. Particularly we can help in the area of training of hockey and cricket so that cricket can be revived in Nigeria," he noted.

Apart from being champions in cricket and hockey, Pakistani players like Jehangir Khan and Jansher Khan were once world championships in squash. Also, we are large exporter of sports goods. Most of the World Cup finals were played with footballs made in Pakistan. Every day, Pakistan exports 50,000 footballs to the leagues of the world," concludes the Pakistani envoy in Nigeria.

All Africa



SporTT responds to Hockey Board claims

The Ministry of Sport and the Sport Company of T&T (SporTT) has refuted claims made by president of the T&T Hockey Board (TTHB) Douglas Camacho, published in the Express Newspaper yesterday in regard to the allocation of funds to the TTHB.

SporTT via a media release yesterday indicated the allocation of funds made by the sport company to the TTHB for 2012/2013 was $1.8 million and was disbursed based on a projection of expenditure on development programme and capacity building within hockey.

The release stated: “Not only did the TTHB exhaust and exceed this allocation, the organisation in fact spent more on high performance (competitions involving the national teams at home and abroad) than on raising the profile of the sport and increasing the critical mass, especially of young persons playing hockey in T&T.”

It added that with respect to the hosting of the FIH Qualifier for the World Hockey League in Trinidad, last year, Camacho misled the public by insinuating that the event was in keeping with the national sport tourism thrust.

“The reality is that the hemispheric tournament generated little to no income, had very few spectators and virtually no international media coverage. These are the fundamental indicators of a potentially successful event for the sport tourism industry, none of which were attained.”

The release added, “Further, the notion that the monies spent on the World Hockey League tournament would be separate and apart from the annual subvention could not have been agreed by the Ministry nor SporTT. The decision to host the tournament was made wholly by the TTHB and was supported by the Government as part of the annual subvention to the organisation. This is the Ministry’s and SporTT’s well-articulated policy with respect to National Governing Bodies (NGBs). It is unlikely therefore that Mr Camacho has any documentation from the Ministry or SporTT to substantiate his claim.”

In concluding, the release stated that the Ministry of Sport and SporTT wishes to reiterate that in its annual subventions to NGBs, the accepted ratio of funding allocated to development versus elite 60:40.

“NGBs are encouraged to be frugal and judicious in their spending of taxpayers’ dollars and to adopt an athlete-centred approach to sport.”

The Trinidad Guardian