All the news for Friday 21 August 2015
Europe's best set to do battle at the Unibet EuroHockey Championships
The stage is set as the finest players Europe has to offer descend on London to compete in the Unibet EuroHockey Championships at the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
The top eight men’s and top eight women’s teams will take to the field from 21-30 August to see who is crowned the best team in Europe, with reigning men’s champions Germany aiming to add to their record haul of eight titles and their female counterparts also hoping to defend the title they won in 2013. It promises to be a spectacular festival of hockey.
The tournament will be the biggest standalone hockey event the country has ever hosted. The BBC will be televising the matches for England, Ireland and Scotland live on the Red Button and online via the BBC Sport website.
Tournament information can be found on the event website. Tickets are still available, but one England session has sold out and others are close to sell-out, including both Finals.
Germany have won the most European titles in the men’s competition, scooping the first of their eight titles in the inaugural event in 1971. Their last title was the 2013 competition where they defeated hosts Belgium in the final. The reigning champions have fond memories of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park; it was here they picked up an Olympic gold medal in 2012.
Captain Tobias Hauke:
“It’s always special to come to a tournament as defending champions; we are hoping to win it for a third time in a row. We have Belgium first up which will be tough but we are looking forward to it. It’s really fantastic to come back to Olympic Park. We did well last time we were here, so we hope to repeat that success again.”
In the women’s competition it is the Netherlands who have won the most titles, taking home the gold on eight occasions. They had to settle for bronze in 2013, however as they were defeated by England in the semi finals. England then went on to lose the final to Germany on shootout after an entertaining 4-4 draw in normal time.
“We are excited to have the chance to defend the title. The team has changed quite a lot but we will try to progress and hopefully we will be successful. We have lost some players to injury but we are confident. Sometimes that sort of adversity can make you stronger which we hope is the case.”
Both England sides will come into the tournament with high hopes. After securing qualification for the Rio Olympics as Great Britain just months ago, Danny Kerry’s team now turn their attention to a tournament in front of a home crowd. The England women suffered heartbreak last time out, finishing second to the Germans after a dramatic shootout. However, with the side in good form and with the home crowd behind them, they will hope to go one better and pick up the gold.
Kate Richardson-Walsh, England Captain:
“Everyone is feeling really positive and excited to be able to come here and play in front of a home crowd. It’s not often that happens and I think it will be brilliant. European hockey is so strong. The tournament will be of a really high standard, I think it’s just a case of consistency and who can put it on the line when it matters.”
England’s men finished in the place no one wants to finish in the 2013 tournament, with the Netherlands’ Jeroen Hertzberger scoring and condemning them to fourth place. With the likes of Ashley Jackson, Barry Middleton and Iain Lewers in scintillating form, they will be aiming to get on the podium just like they did in 2009 when they won the gold medal.
Barry Middleton, England Captain:
“I’m really excited for the whole tournament – seeing the stadium as it is and with a big crowd behind us it will be great. The Euros are always fun and we just want to get out there and show everyone how good we are. This is one of the hardest competitions to win. There are a lot of great teams out there and it’s going to be tough for everyone.”
The tournament is to be held at Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The unique £30 million venue has two of the best hockey pitches in the country as well as four indoor and six outdoor tennis courts and hosts a range of community, club and elite events. As the new home of English Hockey, the Unibet EuroHockey Championships is the first of a number of major events England Hockey will host at the venue with the Women’s Champions Trophy Event in 2016, the Men’s World League Semi-Final in 2017 and the Women’s Hockey World Cup in 2018.
England Hockey Board Media release
England eager for some 2012 spirit as excitement builds for the start of the European Hockey Championships
Barry Middleton and Kate Richardson-Walsh hope that a return to the Olympic Park will inspire a level of support akin to that of London 2012
By Luke Brown, at the Olympic Park
Skipper Barry Middleton has 97 international goals to his name. Photo: PA
After a rather underwhelming 2014 World Cup performance, in which the women’s team finished in a disappointing eleventh place, England Hockey has enjoyed an upturn in fortune, and a palpable buzz of excitement has returned to the national team set-up.
In recent weeks, both English teams have safely qualified for Rio 2016. Last month, the Great Britain women’s team—which is comprised almost solely of English representatives—won the World League semi-final event in Valencia. And the EuroHockey Championships, which return to London for the first time since 1987, are due to begin on Friday 21 August.
There is a feel-good factor, which also extends to matters off the pitch. This is reflected in the exceptionally strong ticket sales for the tournament, which will witness the return of world class international hockey at the Olympic Park.
And, crucially, both English captains have made clear their belief that the fans eagerly purchasing these tickets belong to a new breed of British hockey fan. A louder type of fan; boisterous and more encouraging.
Team GB enjoyed an unprecedented level of support during London 2012.
“The mentality of British hockey has changed and we are seeing a lot of different people coming to the games to watch, and not just the traditional hockey crowd,” commented men’s captain Barry Middleton, speaking ahead of England’s Pool A game against Russia, on the 21st of August.
“Previously, playing in front of a home crowd has not always worked in our favour, because our fans have not been as loud as those in other countries. The British fans traditionally came simply to watch good hockey, and they were very appreciative and would applaud if the Dutch did something nice.
“That is nice, but it is better for us when the crowd get on their back a bit, as that pushes us on. Fortunately, the atmosphere has changed, especially at this venue since the Olympics. I remember when Australia were here recently and it was more like a cricket crowd, with the fans getting on their backs and making it difficult for them. It gives us energy and makes things more exciting.”
Kate Richardson-Walsh, Middleton’s opposite number and the captain of the English women’s team since 2003, unsurprisingly agrees.
Kate Richardson-Walsh played through the 2012 Olympics with a broken jaw.
“It used to be so quiet!” she remembers of international fixtures in the UK before the 2012 games.
“Something would happen, and there would be this very polite, and very small, ripple of applause. But now there is more atmosphere and at some of our games we have even had a trumpeter come down, which helps so much in creating the kind of atmosphere you want to play in.”
One particular game that promises an altogether different kind of atmosphere is the women’s team Pool B group fixture against Scotland, which will pit Richard-Walsh’s girls against a number of familiar faces, whether from the various Team GB set-ups, or from club hockey.
“Playing against Scotland is strange,” she conceded, “because we play against them all the time in training. We came through the junior set-up with a lot of them, too, so it is a bit like playing against your team-mates.”
Team GB teammates will find themselves on opposing teams for Eng v Sco.
“But it is really important for us not to change our mentality for this game, although I know that sounds really boring. If you focus on that one game too much, and if you actually focus in on who we are playing, then you can take your eyes off the ball, I think.”
Her team are also contending with an almost unprecedented level of interest in the women’s game. For the first time in the history of the competition, it is the women’s final, rather than the men’s, which will serve as the marquee conclusion to proceedings, and Richard-Walsh hopes to follow in the lead of the recent successes of English women’s teams.
“The fact that so many of our teams have been doing so well—the rugby team last year and then the football team at the Canadian World Cup and the women’s cricket team as well—is really inspiring, and it is great for girls growing up in this country to see,” she added.
“It is also great that these are all team sports, because there is such a variety of heights, shapes, sizes and ages. And yet these individuals all come together to play for a team. When you are growing up, that is so important to see.”
England's Alex Danson ready to showcase school of hard knocks
After falling short in 2013, England women's star forward is eager for gold in yet another Unibet European Hockey Championship campaign
By Rod Gilmour
In the wars: England forward Alex Danson has thrown herself into the cause over 15-year international career Photo: FIH
When 30-year-old Alex Danson resumes autumn training in September with the Great Britain squad, following the European Championships, which start on Friday at the Olympic Park, she will enter a 15th year as a fully-fledged hockey international.
Yet for all the successes yielded by this outstanding forward within that time, it is her “open goal miss” at the 2006 World Cup - as England missed out on the semi-finals - that she continues to instill upon the next generation.
“The reason I often tell that story is because I was, bizarrely, sent a picture afterwards by someone and remember thinking ‘why on earth did they send me that?’” she says.
Stick skills: Alex Danson made her debut in 2001
“Actually, it was very clever. It’s just a picture of me after the game on the floor, stick on floor, head in hands looking devastated. It’s that moment in time which you don’t want to happen again. It was a mind set of change for me after that.”
Danson is referring to her mentoring work for the Youth Sport Trust and a Sky Sports initiative she started seven years ago. Back then she was one of 12 athletes. Now there are over 100 who have visited 3,000 schools.
Her Olympic bronze medal – garnered less than a mile up the road from the Lee Valley Centre (England Hockey’s new playing headquarters) – is a trusty, if slightly battered, companion.
“There are many things that make me extremely proud to play my sport and that [London 2012 medal] is certainly one of them.
“It is probably one memory that so many people hold dear or have a memory from the Games, that they were involved in something or watched it. I am always amazed at the emotions it provokes when you share it with somebody.”
Danson has had much to share throughout a fine career to date. However, there remains an elusive gold to be gleaned at a major championship. As far as Europe’s premier trophy goes, she is hoping to go one better than four bronze and one silver, the latter culminated from an agonising shoot out defeat to Germany.
England women, though, head into the Euros as a force to be reckoned with after their Copacabana jigs - they secured a Rio 2016 berth with their trophy - at the World League in June. Victory in Valencia left England unbeaten in 10.
Despite these successes, the 30-year-old is quick to admonish school audiences that “they don’t learn all the good things”.
“I remember as a young athlete that anyone who was successful in any walk of like, who came from somewhere else, or did something different, never failed,” she says.
“Actually, every single one of our stories as athletes has failure. We miss opportunities, we don’t make teams or finals.
Rio bound: GB women confirmed Olympic place after win over Germany in Valencia Photo: STANISLAS BROCHIER
“Sharing these stories is vital for a young person’s development. We are in a privileged position so you have to be certain on the messages that you are delivering. They are real stories: the times when they are the best thing in the world, the times you wanted to give up, injured or isolated.”
Yet, there is reconciliation with her Olympic bronze medal. “It has been dropped on a number of occasions. It did go missing once.”
It is a scenario that has yet to befall upon Danson when it comes to international tournaments. So much so that she has cut down on her appearances for her beloved Reading Hockey Club, with qualification for Rio 2016 already assured.
She has racked up an array of injuries thanks to a brand of no-holds-barred hockey over 60 minutes.
She suffered a broken thumb at the Beijing Olympics, has endured two shoulder dislocations and had to be airlifted off the field at Bisham Abbey after dislocating her collarbone.
The latest incident came at the Champions Trophy in Argentina last December, when a circle tackle saw her taken to hospital with concussion.
“I’m not going to lie, any injury is isolating and concerning. I remember feeling desperately upset but there’s nothing you can do. It did knock me for six for a couple of weeks.”
If this had been Oct 23, 2001 – Danson’s international debut – she would no doubt have got up and carried on. “But we have the best medical staff and rules are in there for a reason and you have to go on their advice.”
Danson’s omission from the rest of the tournament saw the likes of Lily Owsley, Shona McCallin and Joie Leigh show their potential up front.
“The best thing about our squad is that there are 31 of us," she adds. "And you see that squads are changing for every tournament. There is no assurance for anybody. I have never had expectation on selection and every single one of us has to earn our stripes.
“I am delighted there are so many talented youngsters coming through. I will be so proud when I retire and watch the next generation of players.”
England women v Scotland, Saturday 6.15pm
England captain Richardson-Walsh to step-up Rio preparation in European Championship
Kate Richardson-Walsh is hoping England can go one better than 2013 and win the tournament
KATE RICHARDSON-WALSH is confident England can go one better than 2013 and win the European Championship.
Having already secured their spot for the Rio Olympics, England's women will turn their attentions to bettering their silver medal of two years ago.
Germany, who are once again among the favourites, won a dramatic shootout to pip England.
But with the eight-nation tournament on home soil, England captain Richardson-Walsh said: "We are feeling positive.
"It's just a case of consistency and who can put it on the line when it matters."
England's men, who last won in 2009, begin against Pool A rivals Russia at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park tonight.
Captain Barry Middleton said: "This is one of the hardest competitions to win."
Netherlands ready to paint London Oranje
When the stadium turns orange, you just know you are in for a hockey treat. Stylish, fast, exciting, passionate – the attributes that have earned the Netherlands a host of titles in recent years.
Both their men and women’s teams have already qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympics through the Hockey World League Semi-Finals, but that won’t stop them going for the European title in London.
On their motivation for this event, women’s star Lidewij Welten said: “We always want to perform to our best and win. We are extra motivated to win here, because last time we didn’t win it. (Netherlands were beaten by England in the semi-final).”
Right now, the Dutch women are enjoying a remarkable run of success on the world stage. They are ranked number one in the world and their win at the Hockey World League Semi-Final in Antwerp, Belgium, was just the latest title to add to the 2012 Olympics and the 2014 World Cup. But the Champions Trophy that took place in December 2014 did reveal some flaws as they finished third behind Argentina and Australia.
The Netherlands men have been trying to keep up with their female counterparts over the past few years. They finished second in both the 2012 Olympics and the 2014 World Cup and are the current number two team behind Australia.
Netherlands men’s Head Coach Max Caldas announced the squad to compete in the Unibet EuroHockey Championships 2015 in London recently.
From the training group Martijn Havenga, Pepin Luijkx, Diede van Puffelen and goalkeeper Sam van der Ven were not selected whilst Jelle Galema and Floris van der Linden have been named as reserves and will continue to train with the squad right up until the tournament begins.
Head Coach, Sjoerd Marijne, also confirmed the women’s team, which saw training squad members Frederique Derkx (injured), Sarah Jaspers, Laura Nunnink, Larissa Meijer, Michelle van der Pols, Sabine Silfhout and Charlotte Vega miss out on selection.
Netherlands men: Seve van Ass (H.C. Rotterdam); Sander Baart (M.H.C. Oranje-Zwart); Billy Bakker (Amsterdam H.& B.C); Pirmin Blaak (GK) (H.C. Rotterdam); Thierry Brinkman (S.V. Kampong); Jeroen Hertzberger (H.C. Rotterdam); Rogier Hofman (H.C. Bloemendaal); Robert van der Horst (M.H.C. Oranje-Zwart); Constantijn Jonker (S.V. Kampong); Robbert Kemperman (S.V. Kampong); Mirco Pruyser (Amsterdam H.& B.C); Glenn Schuurman (H.C. Bloemendaal); Jaap Stockmann (GK) (H.C. Bloemendaal); Hidde Turkstra (H.C. Rotterdam); Valentin Verga (Amsterdam H.& B.C); Bob de Voogd (M.H.C. Oranje-Zwart); Mink van der Weerden (M.H.C. Oranje-Zwart); Sander de Wijn (S.V. Kampong). Reserves: Jelle Galema (M.H.C. Oranje-Zwart); Floris van der Linden (H.G.C).
Netherlands women: Naomi van As (Larensche M.H.C.); Willemijn Bos (Larensche M.H.C.); Carlien Dirkse van den Heuvel (S.C.H.C.); Margot van Geffen (H.C. ‘s-Hertogenbosch); Eva de Goede (Amsterdamsche H. & B.C.); Ellen Hoog (Amsterdamsche H. & B.C.); Kelly Jonker (Amsterdamsche H. & B.C.); Marloes Keetels (H.C. ‘s-Hertogenbosch); Caia van Maasakker (S.C.H.C.); Valerie Magis (M.H.C. Oranje-Zwart); Maartje Paumen (H.C. ‘s-Hertogenbosch); Jacky Schoenaker (Amsterdamsche H. & B.C.); Joyce Sombroek (GK)(Larensche M.H.C.); Anne Veenendaal (GK) (Amsterdamsche H. & B.C.); Maria Verschoor (Amsterdamsche H. & B.C.); Xan de Waard (S.V. Kampong); Lidewij Welten (H.C. ‘s-Hertogenbosch); Ginella Zerbo (S.C.H.C.).
Italy women ready for EuroHockey Challenge
Italy women's coach Fernando Ferrara, has revealed the list of 18 players selected to play in the Unibet EuroHockey Championships 2015.
Italy will be looking to finish in the top six to secure a place in the next edition of this event. However, they are also aware that the winners of this year’s competition will also guarantee qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
In order to reach the semi-final stages, Italy’s Azzurri, ranked 16 in the International Hockey Federation (FIH) world rankings, must finish within the top two of their pool.
Standing in their way in Pool B lies reigning European champions Germany, ranked number five in the world, who they will face first. They then take on world number seven ranked England and 17th ranked Scotland.
Italy travel with sixteen of eighteen athletes who finished eighth at Round 3 of the World Hockey League Semi-Final in Antwerp, Belgium. Agata Wybieralska and goalkeeper Maria Emilia Donati miss out and are replaced by Natalia Schinoni and Maria Galli.
The Azzurri will have taken confidence by a 4-0 win over France in the pool stages in Antwerp. They will be looking draw upon the exciting talent of Valentina Braconi, who scored twice in the tournament, as they aim to finish as high as possible in this year’s Championship.
Italy women: Chiara TIDDI; Aldana LOVAGNINI; Giuliana RUGGIERI; Elisabetta PACELLA. (LIBERTAS SAN SABA) ; Martina LECCHINI; Marcela CASALE; Martina CHIRICO (CUS PISA) ; Florencia NOGUEIR (HOCKEY CERNUSCO) ; Dalila MIRABELLA; Mercedes SOCINO; Eleonora DI MAURO (HCU CATANIA); Celina TRAVERSO; Macarena RONSISVALLI (SG AMSICORA); Valentina BRACONI; Natalia Leonor SCHINONI (POL. FERRINI) ; Eugenia GARRAFFO (H.F. LORENZONI) ; Constanza AGUIRRE (HOCKEY FEMMINILE ROMA); Maria GALLI (KHC DRAGONS).
Tiddi looking to continue Italian ascent
Image Credit: Grant Treeby.
One of the teams to watch in the women’s game in recent years, Italy are becoming a regular threat to top 12 ranked sides in the world and captain Chiara Tiddi is hopeful her side can continue this at the EuroHockey Nations Championships this week.
Seventh is their previous best finish – in Manchester in 2007 – but they have shown more ability of late to pick off big results. In 2013, USA were beaten in in London while they drew with both Korea and Japan earlier this summer. Indeed, their Olympic hopes from the World League were only extinguished by India in a shoot-out in Antwerp.
And while the side took two weeks off in the wake of that tournament, Tiddi says they have been back in action with double training sessions from Mondays to Fridays in Cagliari.
There, they played challenge matches against SG Amsicora, the 2014-15 Italian national men’s champions, and Tiddi says that it has put her side in a position to grab some big results.
“Italy has shown that is a team able to compete with teams as Austalia, Korea and Japan which are on the top of the hockey world rankings,” she said.
“It's true that we lost our Olympic place just for a shoot-out but it's also true that we can't give up. So, we will face this Eurochampionship with the goal to obtain positive results that will contribute in the growth of this team.”
Their group phase pits them against reigning Euro champions Germany and an England side coming in off the back of seven successive wins in Valencia in their World League semi-final as well as a dangerous Scotland side.
“The experience of the World League will help the team to play with pride in this important tournament. We are conscious that to become a great and competitive team this things are part of a growing process.
“We aim to keep doing our best and to continue to play against the best European teams in the future.”
Euro Hockey League media release
Scotland's Merchant trading on unique Euro prep
Scotland’s women are in the unique position this week at the EuroHockey Nations Championships in London in that they are not coming to Lea Valley– barring Emily Maguire – off the back of an Olympic qualifying tournament earlier in the summer.
Defensive lynch-pin Becky Merchant, though, says that it is not something her team have “thought too much about”. The singular focus could be of huge benefit in terms of peaking for the competition but the lack of a top level tournament like the World League semi-finals could work against them.
To fill that gap, the Scots have had three months together as a group and recently had two high quality camps in the build-up to London, travelling to Hamburg and Madrid. Among the results, they did pick up an eye-catching 4-3 win over the Germans whom they line out against this week as well as Italy and hosts England.
Speaking about those preparations, Merchant is in upbeat form., saying: “The mood in the camp is really good and very positive at the moment. We had some good results in both Hamburg and Madrid and squad made some excellent progress.”
As for the different summer schedule to their rivals, she added: “Obviously, playing in a major tournament is always going to be a positive as you get a lot of competitive games and experience within a tournament situation.
“We have been full time for three months this summer and we have had a good balance of training and competitive matches. We had European selection before Hamburg so the squad felt settled and we were able to focus on developing our systems and linking within units there as well as playing a number of test matches against Germany and Spain.”
Scotland’s panel features a number of new faces with three newcomers. Looking at some of the young stars in her squad’s line-up, Merchant is excited about what they can bring to the table.
“Louise Campbell, known as ‘squidge', is our little pocket rocket, she's a really exciting young, fast forward with huge potential. Sarah Robertson, although she has played in a few major tournaments and is part of the GB squad, is still one of our youngest players and has really come into her own in midfield. A real threat for us.”
“This is a first major tournament for Amy Brodie, she is a skilful, fast forward with a real eye for goal.”
And their blend with more experienced heads like Vikki Bunce and Mannheimer’s Nikki Kidd can propel Scotland to some potentially big results.
“We know we have a tough group but we also know that we can be competitive with all of these teams.”
Euro Hockey League media release
Stapenhorst's English inside knowledge
Image Credit: Stanislas Brochier
Named young player of the tournament in Valencia at the World League semi-final, Charlotte Stapenhorst is hoping some insider knowledge will help her and Germany’s cause in London this week.
The 20-year-old spent 10 months in England at the Repton School, starting her AS level there, a spell that had a great impact both on her schooling and her hockey career.
The school is one of the country’s biggest producers of talent, winning 26 national titles, and was also the academy that helped develop England’s Susie Gilbert, Georgie Twigg, Shona McCallin and Joie Leigh.
Speaking about her time there, the German livewire said: “It was such a great experience and I learned a lot from it.
“I don't really know which part especially had an impact on my hockey but I think it definitely had one. Martin Jones head coach at Beeston, too was my coach at Repton and I could always ask him if I wanted an extra session to improve my hockey skills.”
Her performances in Valencia played their part in securing an Olympic place. They did it in almost typical German style, fighting back from a goal down to draw with Spain in their quarter-final and then win in a shoot-out.
They fell 1-0 to Euro group opponents in their Great Britain guise in the semi-final but produced another big show of resilience to snatch a late tie against Argentina and then win the Olympic place in a shoot-out.
Looking back on that competition, Stapenhorst said it was a dream debut
“Valencia was my first big tournament with the senior team – die Danas – and I was so excited to play. I am so happy to be a part of this team and love playing with all the girls. I enjoyed every second of the tournament. What we did in Valencia was great, winning to massively important games in the shoot out shows how strong we became as a team.”
And she is really looking forward to helping her side defend the European title in London.
“We are very happy to be already qualified for the Olympic next year. So there is no pressure on us anymore and we can totally focus on us and make the next step towards Rio. We definitely want to build up on our performance in Valencia and are very excited to play the Euros in London.”
Euro Hockey League media release
England Men support Hockey for Heroes at Unibet EuroHockey Championships
England Men's Captain Barry Middleton with the Hockey for Heroes shirt on Credit Chris Lee England Hockey
England Hockey is proud to announce that for the upcoming Unibet EuroHockey Championships, the men’s team will display the Hockey for Heroes logo on their shirts. The men’s team, led by Barry Middleton, will be playing five matches at the event starting with a pool match against Russia at 7.30pm tomorrow. All matches will be broadcast on the BBC.
Hockey for Heroes is the brain-child of two hockey players and ex-servicemen, Carl Woods and Gary Ryder. The group aims to raise money for the Help for Heroes charity, which was founded in 2007 to provide direct, practical support for wounded, injured and sick servicemen, women, veterans and their loved ones.
The Hockey for Heroes team raise funds through a mixture of exceptional physical exertion and hockey events.
Hockey for Heroes Founder Gary Ryder told England Hockey:
“To see where Hockey for Heroes has gone, from four years ago being an idea between a few friends to today, when the England team will compete with our logo on their shirts it is absolutely incredible. It’s great to have England Hockey’s support and it just doesn’t get any bigger than having you own national team behind you.”
Hockey for Heroes’ fundraising goes from strength to strength. In their latest challenge, in 2015, during only 10 days, between Thursday 21st May & Saturday 30th May 2015, the Hockey for Heroes Invitational Squad comprising 26 players from 20 different hockey clubs undertook 33 Games of Hockey and the 3 Peaks Challenge (Scafell Pike, Ben Nevis & Snowdon).
“We’re very lucky to have a hockey community that cares about each other and the success of our tour is testament to that. We really want to increase the awareness of Help for Heroes and to promote what we’re doing but we also want to promote our love of the game. What better way than with the support of the England team?”
Andy Halliday, the England Team Manager, himself a mentor on the Help for Heroes Pathfinder scheme and an active supporter of Hockey for Heroes said:
“It’s fantastic that we are able to provide such great support for both Hockey for Heroes and Help for Heroes. As a Help for Heroes mentor I witness first-hand the positive impact that the charity has on helping our service personnel. I am very proud to be part of the link that we are able to provide through the efforts of Hockey for Heroes. This opportunity will help broaden the awareness of both the sport and the charity.”
The Unibet EuroHockey Championships 2015 showcases the best eight men’s and women’s teams in Europe, including both England teams. England’s men narrowly missed out on a medal in 2013, finishing fourth after defeat to the Netherlands in the bronze medal match. Bobby Crutchley’s side will be aiming to get on the podium in front of a home crowd this time out. The event will offer entertainment both on and off the pitch with a large fan park, including a fun zone for children. The stadium capacity has been expanded to cater for demand for tickets, with some sessions on the verge of selling out again at the increased capacity. Visit www.eurohockey2015.co.uk.
About Hockey for Heroes and the Help for Heroes Charity
Help for Heroes raise money to help injured and fallen servicemen and women, running a series of recovery centres across the country. Read more about the centres and their activities here – http://www.helpforheroes.org.uk/how-we-help/recovery-centres/
Help for Heroes has been involved with Sports Recovery since 2008, and in the past year alone have put on 350 events across 50 different sports enabling over 2,100 wounded, injured and sick service personnel and veterans to take part in adaptive sports.
Using Hockey as their sport to help, the Hockey for Heroes team work to raise funds for Help for Heroes, with their efforts dating back to 2012 and encompassing a mixture of exceptional physical exertion combined with playing hockey. You can find out more about Hockey for Heroes on their website: http://www.hockey4heroes.co.uk/.
England Hockey Board Media release
STADIUM DREAM: UniKL's finest hour
Asian Hockey Federation president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah at the ground breaking venue
UNIVERSITI Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) yesterday broke new ground when their Chancellor Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah officiated at a ground breaking ceremony to build a 500-seater hockey stadium in Bangi.
To be called the Tengku Abdullah Stadium, it will cost RM7.5 million and is expected to be completed by the end of 2016.
"Hockey has made Malaysia proud at the international level in the past, and I hope with this new UniKL stadium, we can reach that level again," said Tengku Abdullah who is the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) president.
UniKL Young Guns were formed in 2009, and in a short span have exposed 160 players in the Malaysia Hockey League as well as Junior League. In the last Junior World Cup where Malaysia finished fourth, UniKL contributed 12 players.
This year, in collaboration with the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC), UniKL started a free coaching clinic every Saturday for goalkeepers, and players below the age of 16.
When completed UniKL will utilise it for development, as well as home for the MHL and JHL matches.
Meanwhile, UniKL will face another challenge when they meet MHL double champions Terengganu Hockey Team (THT) again in Round Two of the Premier Division in Kuala Lumpur today.
In Round One, THT beat UniKL 4-2.
THT's only blemish was when they were hit 6-2 by Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (KLHC) in the Charity Shield, and being the first game of the Second Round, THT are expected to hit UniKL hard to keep sight of their League title.
UniKL are still winless after four matches and fifth on the standings, and still have not completed their First round rain abandoned match against bottom placed Maybank.
"Even tough UniKL have 12 youth from Project 2016, they have shown good fighting spirit and have only lost narrowly to all the teams. I expect it to be another tough match for us, but we need a win to keep the momentum going in the second round," said THT coach Sarjit Singh.
TODAY: Premier Division (Round Two): KLHC v Maybank (6pm), UniKL v THT (8pm, Pitch I), Tenaga v Sapura (8pm, Pitch II).
Division One Group A: BJSS v Thunderbolts (KPM, 5pm), MSP-YP-SSp v MBI (Kuantan, 5pm); Group B: PKS-KPM v SSTMI (4pm, Pitch I), UiTM v ATM Airod (6pm, Pitch I).
Women's Group A: MSNT-PHT v Penang Juniors (Batu Buruk, 4pm); Group B: manjung v SSTMI Thunderbolts (Azlan Shah, 5pm).
NOTE: National Hockey Stadium unless stated.
Jugjet's World of Field Hockey
Arul not worried over UniKL winless run
By S. Ramaguru
UniKL players will have a stadium to call their own next year when the Tengku Abdullah Hockey Stadium completes next year. - FAIHAN GHANI / The Star
KUALA LUMPUR: Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) are unperturbed over their winless run in the Premier League of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).
They have lost all four matches and are fifth in the sixth-team league ahead of Maybank, also without a win, because of a better goal difference.
UniKL lost to Sapura (1-2), Tenaga Nasional (2-3), Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club (0-1) and defending double champions Terengganu (2-4).
But UniKL coach A. Arulselvaraj has no complaints over their lowly position.
“We have yet to win and I’m not bitter about it. I feel happy as the 12 Project 2016 players are learning in every game and showing improvement.
“They have played exceptionally well and only lost by narrow margins,” said Arulselvaraj.
“All we need to do now is improve defensively, starting with Terengganu tomorrow (Friday) and Maybank on Sunday,” he added.
Against Terengganu at the Batu Buruk Stadium in Kuala Terengganu last Sunday, UniKL led 2-1 but were let down by their lack of experience.
“We are looking forward to the game against Terengganu again. I think we had a great outing last Sunday. We did very well in terms of possession, ball handling and managing the situations,” said Arulselvaraj.
The only drawback is that Nor Azrul Abdul Rahman hurt himself in Sunday’s encounter and is a doubtful starter.
“Nor Azrul has a slight hamstring problem, but we don’t know if it’s a tear or just a sprain,” Arulselvaraj said.
In another development, UniKL’s postponed match against Maybank on Aug 13 will now be played on Sept 2. The first-round clash was called off after seven minutes due to heavy rain.
The Star of Malaysia
Walsh is OK for Malaysian hockey
By S. Ramaguru
Tengku Abdullah (centre) looking at the model for the hockey stadium to be built by UniKL in Bangi. - FAIHAN GHANI / The Star
KUALA LUMPUR: Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) president Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah has welcomed the appointment of Australian Terry Walsh (inset) as the technical director for Malaysian hockey.
The former Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) president said the appointment was appropriate considering Walsh’s immense experience and knowledge of the game.
“It’s a move in the right direction. I don’t know him (Walsh) personally, but from my talk with him and the feedback that I have received the response has been good,” said Tengku Abdullah on Thursday after the ground-breaking ceremony for the new Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) hockey stadium in Bangi.
Tengku Abdullah, who is the chancellor of UniKL, said that the building of the stadium is in line with the university’s plan to develop sports especially hockey.
“It is very heartening to see this project get off the ground. I am sure that UniKL will put in greater efforts in their hockey endeavours,” he said.
The stadium will cost RM7.5mil and is expected to be ready next year. UniKL has decided to name the venue as Tengku Abdullah Hockey Stadium.
The AHF president added that he hoped more universities would follow suit and have a hockey stadium of their own.
“I see that there are some other university teams in the MHL (Malaysia Hockey League). So there is no reason why they should not look at building their own stadium. They can even do it as a joint venture with a few of them coming together to build one,” said Tengku Abdullah.
MHC president Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal, who also attended the ceremony, said UniKL’s move to have their own stadium would benefit hockey in the country.
“They are already a nursery for our national juniors and playing a major role in developing the game at grassroot level.
“It is my hope that other teams in the MHL will follow their example. Everybody must get behind our efforts to develop the game further,” added Subahan.
The Star of Malaysia
Unaccustomed ways of Customs
MUMBAI: While high-profile teams like Air India, Indian Oil and Bharat Petroleum are toiling in the ongoing Guru Tegh Bahadur Gold Cup hockey tournament in the city, it is ironic that a city-based team is unable to participate in this prestigious tournament Mumbai Customs, who ply their trade in the Super Division of the Mumbai Hockey Association league, haven't showed up because they don't have enough players to field a team. Reason: Customs have not recruited sportspersons despite having 20 vacancies. Senior players like Olympian Rahul Singh and Erro D'Silva who are in their 40s and Conroy Remedious and Stanley D'Souza, who are touching 40s, have to fill in on most occasions.
Such is their plight that they don't even participate in five-a-side rink hockey games. Just recently they had to withdraw from a rink hockey tournament because they didn't have the numbers.
"In 2012 we had conducted trials to fill vacant positions for sports. Olympian Dhanraj Pillay offered his services as a selector. He shortlisted a few players and they went through all the required procedures but the shortlisted boys have not yet been appointed. To add to our woes some officers, who were looking into the recruitment process, have been transferred and we are back to square one," Rahul who manages and doubles up as player told ToI and added: "Three years is a long period. For example, a player like Joshua Vesaokar, who was selected during those trials, has not yet been appointed. He has been turning out for us in various tournaments in the hope of getting a permanent job. He is 27 now and not getting any younger. While he has persisted, there are a few others who have taken up jobs elsewhere." Incidentally, Customs last recruited four hockey players in 2008. The problem is not restricted to hockey alone. Other disciplines have also suffered because of a lack of fresh legs.
But if Joint Commissioner Sports, Pawan Kumar is to be believed, there is no delay. "Five to six recruitment are already in the pipeline. In the next 10 days, six officers will be recruited. We are planning to recruit another 13 in the next six months. I am certain things will be better in the days to come," he assured.
Pool A: ONGC 6 (Gurvinder Singh Chandi 16, 29, 38, Diwakar Ram 42, Preetinder Singh 49, Pramod Kumar 68) bt Army XI 2 (Robin HM 14, Bhushan Kujur 41). Pool B: Air India 3 (Sumit Topo 25, 59, Shivendra Singh 33) bt Central Railway 2 (Narad Bahadur 34, 55). Indian Oil 4 (Sunil Yadav 6, Hamza Mujtaba 33, Roshan Minz 53, Deepak Thakur 60) drew with South Central Railway 4 (Poonacha MG 9, 14, Sandeep Singh 63, Mayank James 65).
The Times of India
Macheiah 'tricks in ONGC win
MUMBAI: ONGC rode on PP Macheiah's fine hat-trick to register a thumping 8-1 victory over a jaded Western Railway, Mumbai in a Pool-A round-robin league match of the 11th PMC Bank-Guru Tegh Bahadur Gold Cup All India Hockey Tournament, being organised by the Mumbai Hockey Association Limited (MHAL) and played at the Mahindra Stadium, Churchgate on Wednesday.
Macheiah's teammates Mandeep Antil, Amit Malik, Diwakar Ram, Sumit Kumar and K.H. Jayanta chipped in with a goal each to complete the rout.
Earlier, former champions Indian Oil launched their campaign with an authoritative 6-1 win against Northern Railway in a Pool-B fixture. Indian Oil Full back Sunil Yadav and midfielder Pradhan Somanna, scored a brace each while Olympians Prabhjot Singh and Deepak Thakur, the skipper of the side, netted a goal each. Northern who were a disjointed lot managed to reduce the margin through Shamsher's late goal.
The Times of India
Captain Rani binds hockey team together: Jaspreet
NEW DELHI: Indian junior women's hockey team drag flicker Jaspreet Kaur on Thursday said that her captain Rani Rampal plays a major role in binding the team together.
"Our team played brilliantly during the Under-21 Volvo Invitational tournament and we have gained good amount of experience. We played as a unit and our captain Rani played a major role in binding us together. She has good leadership qualities and guides us, both on and off the field," said Jaspreet.
The team finished third in the recently concluded Under-21 Volvo Invitational in the Netherlands. They are currently preparing at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here for the Junior Asia Cup.
"Playing with Rani has helped every member in the team as we get to learn from her experience and her quality of giving that extra surprise to the opponents. The team is working on its penalty corners and our defence chain where closing the gaps is the focus," said defender Jaspreet.
The nine-team Junior Asia Cup will be played at Changzhou, China from September 5 to 13 and it affords an opportunity for direct entry into the 2017 Junior World Cup.
The Times of India
Nehru-Dhyan Chand Cup: Three semifinalists spotted
In a day of surprise and stunning results, three teams, all supported by the NGO One Thousand Hockey Legs, have entered the semifinals of the third Nehru-Dhyan Chand Cup being staged at the Shivaji Stadium, New Delhi.
The fourth semifinalist will be spotted after the pool B matches starts tomorrow
Govt Boys Sr Sec School Janakpuri have surprised everyone with a second consecutive victory and with that entering into the semis.
Captain Dharmendra struck three goals while Farhan the other in the 4-0 win over Guru Nanak Public School, Punjabi Bagh.
On the other hand, much expected tie between Govt Co-Ed Sarvodaya Bal Vidyalaya Shapurjat and Govt Boys Sr Sec School Mehrauli tie ended in the favour of the former. Four nil result was not expected, but it was a well contested one.
Vicky Kumar and Ram Kumar struck two goals each in decimating Maharauli 4-0
With a draw early, Shahpurjat thus had four points, one more than Mahrauli to make it to the Monday semifinals. Goalkeeper Saurav got the Man of the Match award
In the first match of the day, defending champions Govt Boys Sr Sec School J Block Saket easily overcame Govt Boys Sr Sec School Khanpur. With this, Saket school has two straight wins and are in the semifinals.
Dilip and Ram Singh posted a brace each, while Vikram Sharma, Gaurav and Ritik Maheswari added a goal apiece in a fluent 7-4 win.
Pawan, Kalwinder and Pankaj scored for Khanpur school.
Vikram Sharma was declared Man of the Match
AHL draws released
Eight men’s and women’s teams to compete over six days of play
The draws for this year’s Australian Hockey League in Darwin [men] and Sydney [women] have been announced. The annual eight day competition will run from Friday 25 September to Friday 2 October 2015.
Featuring eight state and territories in each of the men’s and women’s competitions, the country’s best players will go head-to-head in search of the prestigious national title.
At the men’s competition in Darwin, keep eyes on reigning champions, the Tassie Tigers, who knocked WA Thundersticks from the gold medal victory during the 2014 final. The Queensland Blades and Victoria Vikings are also a force to be reckoned with at the upcoming tournament after narrowly missing out on their spot in last year’s gold medal final.
Day one will showcase the battle of the territories, when hosts Northern Territory Stingers [6th in 2014] take on the RAMS Home Loans Canberra Lakers [7th in 2014] in the final pool match of the day.
Things will heat up on the field at Sydney Olympic Park for the women’s AHL when defending Champions, the NSW Arrows, take on the Canberra Labor Club Strikers on day one of the competition. Holding nine AHL titles and under new coach Trini Powell, hosts NSW Arrows will be looking to claim their tenth victory next month.
Women’s teams to also highlight will be the Queensland Scorchers, Victorian Vipers and WA Diamonds, who will have their eyes set on securing a spot in this year’s gold medal final.
Click here to visit Hockey Australia’s 2015 Australian Hockey League webpage.
To download the women’s 2015 AHL draw in Sydney, click here.
To download the men’s 2015 AHL draw in Darwin, click here.
Hockey Australia media release
2015-2016 Men’s Junior Development Squad announced
After a busy summer which saw many Canadian junior men compete in camps and a test series against the United States, Field Hockey Canada has named the 2015-2016 Men’s Junior Development Squad.
Thirty-six athletes have been selected to be a part of the squad, which will begin its preparation for the 2016 Junior World Cup of Hockey, which will be held in India next year, by centralizing in Vancouver for training this fall.
In order to qualify for the 2016 Junior World Cup, Canada must finish in the top two at the upcoming Junior Pan American Championships – the regional qualifier – which will be held in Toronto next June.
The squad comprises of several athletes who are also a part of the Men's National Team Senior Development Squad, including Balrak Panesar, Brandon Pereira, and Vikram Sandhu.
In addition, many of these athletes including Amrit Sidhu, competed for Canada at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Hockey 5s, where the Canadian men won silver.
Training in Vancouver this fall and into 2016 will consist of a combination of on-field training, strength and conditioning, as well as a variety of competitions leading up to the World Cup qualifier in Brampton.
2015-2016 Canadian Men’s Junior Development Squad
Name, Position, Hometown
Amrit Sidhu, Forward, Abbotsford, BC
Balraj Panesar, Midfield, Surrey, BC
Braedon Muldoon, Defense, Ottawa, ON
Brandon Pereira, Defense, Surrey, BC
Cameron Bonney, Goalkeeper, Port Coquitlam, BC
David Loy, Forward, Toronto, ON
Fin Boothroyd, Forward, West Vancouver, BC
Floyd Mascarenhas, Defense, Mississauga, ON
Ganga Singh, Defense, Toronto, ON
Gavin Bains, Midfield, Ladner, BC
Gurtej Dhaliwal, Forward, Ottawa, ON
Harbir Sidhu, Midfield, Victoria, BC
Harkirat Ahluwalia, Defense, Surrey, BC
Iqwinder Gill, Goalkeeper, Surrey, BC
Jamie Wallace, Midfield, Vancouver, BC
Johnny Gill, Defender, Surrey, BC
Jasmeet Gill, Forward, Brampton, ON
Josh Brown, Midfield, Victoria, BC
Kabir Aujla, Forward, Surrey, BC
Liam Fannin, Defense, Vancouver, BC
Liam Manning, Goalkeeper, Ottawa, ON
Lydon Lemos, Goalkeeper, Toronto, ON
Lyle Fernandes, Forward, Mississauga, ON
Nicolas Howard, Midfield, Vancouver, BC
Parmeet Gill, Midfield, Brampton, ON
Rajan Khalon, Defense, Vancouver, BC
Ranjiger Sandhu, Midfield, Delta, BC
Rohan Chopra, Forward, Ottawa, ON
Sahib Suri, Forward, Surrey, BC
Satbir Brar, Defender, Surrey, BC
Shahbaaz Dhaliwal, Midfield, Surrey, BC
Tarnpreet Singh, Defense, Brampton, ON
Toby Owen, Goalkeeper, Shawnigan Lake, BC
Tom Fannin, Midfield, Vancouver, BC
Vikram Sandhu, Forward, Vancouver, BC
Zaiq Rana, Forward, Vancouver, BC
Field Hockey Canada media release
Pakistan Hockey Federation president Akhtar Rasool resigns
KARACHI: Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) president Akhtar Rasool stepped down from his post on Thursday, days after rejecting reports in the media that he was removed from office by the government following the hockey team's failure to qualify for the 2016 Olympics.
The former center-half Rasool, who represented Pakistan at two Olympics and four World Cups, was elected unopposed as the president of the hockey federation in 2013.
Former Olympians Islahuddin Siddiqui, Shahnaz Sheikh, Samiullah Khan along with others had termed the 2013PHF elections bogus but Rasool retained his position even as Pakistan's fortunes continued to dip.
Pakistan had secured eighth position in the qualifying event for the Olympics held in Belgium and as a result failed to qualify for the 2016 Games. It was the first time in the game's history that Pakistan missed out on a spot at the Olympics
After the debacle, the Inter-provincial ministry and the PHF had formed their separate committees to probe the performance.
Rasool's resignation came the same day as the PHF fact-finding committee submitted its report to the federation.
Khokhar new PHF chief as Akhtar Rasool resigns
ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) elected president Akhtar Rasool Chaudhry, melting down under Prime Minister’s pressure, finally tendered his resignation to IPC secretary Ejaz Chaudhry at a hurriedly-called press conference here at Pakistan Sports Complex Media Center Thursday.
Former Pakistan hockey team manager Brig (R) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar was designated as PHF president by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is also PHF patron. Now the designated president will seek vote of confidence from the PHF council meeting, which will be called within seven days as per constitution at Pakistan Sports Complex.
Addressing the press conference, IPC secretary Ejaz Ch, along with PSB Director General Dr Akhtar Nawaz Ganjera and Brig (R) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar, thanked Akhtar for tendering his resignation voluntarily and lauded his great service for Pakistan hockey both as a player and an administrator. Ejaz accepted a few mistakes were committed both by the federation and government but assured hockey would be back on right track. “We will provide all the facilities to the PHF.”
He said: “On the directives of the PM, IPC minister Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada immediately formed a committee to probe exact reasons behind Pakistan hockey team’s failure in the Olympic qualifying round in Belgium. After going through detailed meetings, we prepared our report and submitted to the PM. I am thankful to Col (R) Mudassar, Khawaja Junaid and Shahbaz Senior for their help and priceless contribution in preparing of report.
“I must advise other federations to follow Akhtar’s decision as role model. Now the main task is how to revive Pakistan hockey. We will start training camp for Junior Asia Cup at Abbottabad where 30 players will be invited and top 16 will be selected for the Asia Cup. We have chalked out two plans, one is three-year and second is five-year, to bring hockey back on track. We will invite five coaches and three will be short-listed and also hire a full-time manager. Shahnaz Sheikh failed to justify both his roles,” he added.
When asked about future of other officials, coaches and secretary, Ejaz replied: “The new president will decide about his team. We don’t want to take any unconstitutional step as we just want to work according to constitution.”
Akhtar Rasool thanked the PM, IPC secretary, Islahuddin, Rana Mujahid and Shahnaz Sheikh and said: “Hockey is in my blood and soul. I was engaged with the national team, since I started playing hockey in 1970. I request former Olympians not to criticize on media, rather come forward and help the PHF in reviving Pakistan hockey.”
He added: “I will support Brig Khalid and his team and will work without any role. I don’t need certain post to help Pakistan hockey. It is quite unfortunate that the PHF president had to beg for funds, so it is my request to treat the president honorably and try to make funds available to him in respectable manner. I request the prime minister to chair the federation council meeting at least once in a year. I was riding a plane, the fuel which was long over but now I expect Brig Khaild will be provided with sufficient amount of funds, so that he may implement his plans in a befitting manner.”
New PHF president Brig (R) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar thanked the PM and IPC secretary for posing confidence in his abilities. “It is an honor for me, but at the same time, it is a uphill task to put hockey on right track and for this, combined efforts are needed. I will not further comment on issues related to hockey until I take over the charge officially. I will ensure transparency and media will be taken onboard for positive suggestions,” Khalid concluded.
PHF President Akhtar Rasool resigns
Brig (r) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar named new chief of national federation. PHF Secretary General Rana Mujahid Ali survives government’s first onslaught
By Muhammad Ali
LAHORE: Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) President Akhtar Rasool Chaudhary Thursday resigned from his post to fulfil the ‘common desire’ of Prime Minister Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, who is also the PHF Patron-in-Chief, the Inter Provincial Coordination (IPC) Ministry and the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB). Brigadier (r) Mohammad Khalid Sajjad Khokhar has been named as new chief of the national hockey federation. Khalid, a former manager of the Pakistan hockey team, is presently working as Managing Director at the Pakistan Mineral Development Corporation (PMDC). Sources told Daily Times yesterday that Khalid wanted to become the Pakistan Tennis Federation (PTF) President but when Salim Saifullah Khan took control of Pakistan tennis he turned his ‘interest’ towards Pakistan hockey. “Khalid, a close relative of Federal Minister Ahsan Iqbal, was ‘trying his level best’ to become the PHF President the day he came to know the crisis in the PHF, and his efforts bore fruit,” sources added. It is interesting to note that PHF Secretary General Rana Mujahid Ali has survived the first onslaught of the government. For how long he will survive, under the new President, is anybody’s guess. There are speculations that former Olympian Shahbaz Senior might take over his post.
The day the Pakistan hockey team failed to qualify for the Olympics 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, for the first time in history, Akhtar was a condemned man. The writing was on the wall. The Patron wanted him out. The IPC Ministry and the PSB wanted a sacrificial lamb. And Akhtar was a perfect choice. “A couple of officials at the IPC and the PSB, who had their own axe to grind, had told Akhtar in clear terms that the Prime Minister was ‘dead against him’ and ‘does not want him’ at the PHF,” sources said. The former centre-half Akhtar, who played for Pakistan in two Olympics and four World Cups, was elected unopposed in the PHF elections that took place in 2013. Akhtar, considered as one of the creative geniuses in centre-half recovery and ball distribution, had also served as PHF chief from 1997 to 1999. He served as the Chairman of the Selection Committee for a couple of years. Akhtar played in the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich and 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal and won silver and bronze medal respectively. In recognition of his contributions to Pakistan hockey, Akhtar was awarded Pride of Performance, the highest civil award by the Pakistan government.
Pakistan, who won Olympic gold three times and were world champions four times, finished eighth in the Olympic qualifying round at Antwerp in Belgium last month. “I have resigned from the post for the best interests of the country and for the sake of our national sport,” Akhtar, who led Pakistan to victory in the 1982 World Cup in India, told reporters at a press conference in Islamabad. Akhtar said that improving hockey had been his preference. “Whenever I am required I would be standing forward for hockey promotion.” Also present on the occasion was new PHF chief Khalid who said he would try to resurrect the sport in Pakistan. “It’s a great honour to lead Pakistan hockey and I will do my best to fulfil the task handed to me,” stated the retired brigadier.
Pakistan hockey has seen a serious slump since they won the 1994 world title in Australia. Pakistan finished last in the World Cup held in India in 2010, and also failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in the Netherlands.
After the Olympics debacle, the IPC Ministry and the PHF had formed their separate committees to probe the performance. Akhtar’s resignation came the day after the PHF fact-finding committee submitted its report to the national federation. The IPC committee, headed by former Olympian Col (r) Mudassar Asghar, in its report had put responsibility on the PHF officials and the team management. The PHF committee, headed by former Olympian Shahid Ali Khan, pointed out that preparation of the national team for such a big event was not perfect and the players also gave below par performance.
Now with the fulfilment of the Prime Minister’s desire, the PHF is all set to get the required budget and financial support which the government was not willing to provide for the last two years. No sporting federation is a bed of roses, especially one that carries the aspirations of the nation. In Pakistan hockey, whenever the greenshirts lose a tournament, an unwarranted overhaul takes place and merit runs poor second to personal whims. One is surprised to observe that the Government ignores the fact that the change of command in no way promises success, planning does. But we are not a nation of sage souls. Rather we indulge in thoughtless decisions. If changing federation officials after every defeat or bad performance had been the best remedy, Pakistan would have been champions. Unfortunately, the technical understanding of issues is always ignored, and it triggers a rot. Perhaps people of this land of the pure still not have realised by now that both in the national sphere and the sporting arena the root of our dilemma is the notorious system of patronage and imposed cronies, to the exclusion of merit and professionalism. Under the powerful Patron’s benevolent gaze, the pick and choose appointees can survive scandals and failures that would crush an ordinary mortal.
Despite limited resources, Pakistan, under Akhtar, were able to win silver medal at Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea and another silver at Champions Trophy in India. Pakistan hockey needs those persons at the helm of affairs who are thorough professionals with solution to the predicament. But with the game of musical chairs in the national federation, the future looks not that bright. And realistically speaking, one should not harbour any hopes of the national team doing any better or revive themselves to their former glory even in coming years.
The Daily Times
Pakistan hockey chief resigns after Olympic failure
Pakistan’s hockey chief Akhtar Rasool Thursday resigned following the national team’s failure to qualify for the Olympics for the first time ever.
Pakistan, which has won Olympic gold in the sport three times and the world championship four times, finished eighth in the Olympic qualifying rounds in Belgium in July, and will not now take part in the Rio Olympics in 2016.
“I have resigned from the post for the best interests of the country and for the sake of our national sport,” Rasool said in a press conference.
Rasool, who led Pakistan to victory in the 1982 World Cup held in India, is replaced by Khalid Khokhar, a former manager of the national team.
Khokhar said he will try to resurrect the sport in Pakistan.
“It’s a great honour to lead Pakistan hockey and I will do my best to fulfil the task handed to me,” said Khokar, regarded as an ally of the ruling party of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Pakistan’s hockey has seen a serious slump since they won the 1994 world title in Australia.
Pakistan finished last in the World Cup held in India in 2010, and have also failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in the Netherlands.
The Express Tribune