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News for 26 August 2015

All the news for Wednesday 26 August 2015

Green Machine stun Red Lions to reach final four

Ireland produced a dazzling display to secure a stunning draw against Belgium’s Red Lions on Tuesday (25 August), a result that not only upset the FIH World Rankings but also saw the Green Machine reach the men's semi-finals of the Unibet EuroHockey Championships ahead of their illustrious opponents.

The world number 14, coached by former South Africa international Craig Fulton, fully deserved their point against the fourth best team on the planet, ensuring that they finished second in Pool B behind Olympic champions Germany, who cruised to victory against France earlier in the day. The Irish will now focus their minds on the possibility of another giant killing when they meet Pool A winners the Netherlands in Thursday’s semi-finals, with Pool B winners Germany going head-to-head against an England team that claimed a crucial victory over Spain to secure their place in the final four.


Germany 7-2 France

Germany displayed confidence and class to ease past France in 7-2 win to top Pool B and progress to the semi-finals. Braces from Moritz Fürste and Florian Fuchs helped Germany on their way to victory and by finishing first in the group ensured a meeting with the team that finishes second in Pool A. 

Speaking on his side’s performance and progression to the semi-finals, Fuchs said: “I don’t think we played our best hockey, but in the end we won 7-2. France fought really hard, especially in the first half. In the end we showed our quality and we are now ready for the semi-finals. It’s always important to finish first. To win all the games is important for our confidence.”

Belgium 2-2 Ireland

Ireland’s Green Machine came through a pulsating 2-2 draw with Belgium to make history by reaching the semi-finals of the European Championships for the first time.

Going into the final Pool B game level on points with Belgium but with a better goal difference, Ireland’s qualification fate was very much in the balance. Ireland lead twice in the match thanks to strikes from Peter Caruth and John Jackson, with Sebastien Dockier and Florent van Aubel restoring parity on each occasion. Craig Fulton’s side survived a cagey final quarter to seal their place in the competition semi-finals ahead of a team that sits ten places above them in the FIH World Rankings.

Speaking about reaching the last four, Ireland’s Alan Sothern said: “I’m absolutely delighted. We set our objectives at the start of the tournament and that was to get to the semi-finals. Now we are in the semi-finals we want to get to the final.”


Russia 0-8 Netherlands

The unbeaten Netherlands cruised through to the semi-finals of the Unibet European Championships, after beating event debutants Russia 8-0 in their final group match.

Live-wire attacker Jeroen Hertzberger bagged a hat-trick while penalty corner ace Mink van der Weerden netted twice, with Robbert Kemperman, Constantijn Jonker and Billy Bakker also chipping in as Oranje ran riot to set up a semi-final meeting against Ireland.

Talking after the game, Hertzberger said: “This sort of game actually makes it harder because a couple of times there was laziness slipping into our game, but we still won 8-0 so that’s fine. Pirmin (Blaak, the goalkeeper) didn’t concede a goal so we don’t have any goals against us in this series so that’s great.”

England 4-0 Spain

Home favourites England were in sparkling form in the final match of the day, cruising to a 4-0 victory over Spain with star midfielder Ashley Jackson scoring twice as the hosts dominated from start to finish.

A ripping penalty corner drag-flick from Jackson in the second quarter gave the home fans plenty to cheer about before the advantage was doubled four minutes later thanks to the lightning fast reactions of team captain Barry Middleton. Chris Griffiths added a third in the third quarter to put the result beyond all doubt, with man-of-the-match Jackson adding a fourth late in the game to set up a semi-final against Pool B winners Germany.

“It was a fantastic team performance”, said two goal hero Ashley Jackson after the match. “We were a little bit frustrated with the performance we put out there against the Dutch and felt that we should have got something out of the game and didn’t play well enough, so to come back against a very very tough team, a team I have not beaten that often in competition hockey, to have a safe scoreline in the end was very relieving.”

FIH site

Ireland book Eurohockey Championship Semi Spot For 1st Time Ever  

Photo Credit: Eleni Henry

Ireland has progressed to the semi-final of the Eurohockey Championships for the first time ever! In torrential rain and under the spot lights, Ireland took their chances and defended stoically to earn a draw with the world number 4 and current European silver medallists.  In doing so, Ireland pipped Belgium to second place in Pool B on goal difference and will take on either Netherlands or England in the semi-final on Thursday.

Belgium was the team on top for the opening phases of the match; enjoying 67% possession, shooting wide and drawing a save from Harte. But the Green Machine settled into the game and quickly adapted to the Irish-like conditions. Shane O’Donoghue created the opening goal as he skilfully dragged the ball around his marker and dispatched across the circle to the awaiting Peter Caruth. Caruth fired the ball on goal to make it 1-0 to Ireland 3 minutes before half time.

4 minutes into the second half Harte was called into action to make a terrific save but Dockier was lurking in the circle and scored a diving goal to level the match. John Jackson, a constant threat throughout, made it 2-1 to the men in green 5 minutes later. A well worked PC routine saw Sothern slip the ball to O’Donoghue who dragged goal-ward before Jackson skilfully slapped home the deflected ball.

A minute later the Belgians took advantage of a loose aerial ball and broke into the circle, slight confusion amongst the defence saw the ball roll over the line. An Irish video referral didn’t affect the decision and it was 2-2 with 20 minutes to go. The Irish cause was aided by a 10 minute yellow card for Boccard that perhaps looked a bit harsh in the replays. The final few minutes saw the Belgians take off their goalie and put the Irish defence under constant pressure. But discipline and structure again came to the forefront and a last minute penalty corner was run down terrifically by Man of the Match Caruth. 

The draw means Ireland have achieved something never done before and have qualified for the Eurohockey Championship semis, in doing so they have also guaranteed their position in the top flight of European hockey. Peter Caruth spoke after the match “We knew it would come down to the wire today and we’ve practised for these situations. The EY Hockey League starting in Ireland is a big step up… and there’s a lot more people playing hockey in Ireland”. 

Coach Craig Fulton hailed his team’s performance “There is a very small difference between success and failure , and today in difficult conditions we put in enough detail to get a big result in a major competition when it counted. A fantastic team performance, now onto the semis!”

Unibet Eurohockey Championships

Ireland 2 (Caruth, Jackson)
Belgium 2 (Dockier, van Aubel)

Team: Harte (Captain), Jackson, Gormley, Magee, Shimmins, O’Donoghue, Darling, Good, Burton, Gleghorne, Harte.
Bench: Cargo, Sothern, Caruth, Robson, Watt, Fitzgerald.

Irish Hockey Association media release

Ireland rip up ranking list to reach Euro semis

Ireland ripped up the world ranking lists to advance to their first ever European Championships semi-final as they got the draw they needed against Belgium in London to advance, undoing a side rated 10 places higher.

They led twice with Monkstown’s Peter Caruth poking home from Belgium-based Shane O’Donoghue’s cross at half-time for 1-0. Sebastian Dockier equalised but Readin man John Jackson volleyed in the Irish second.

A Florent van Aubel goal made for a close final quarter but Ireland held on until the final minute quite comfortably before surviving two late corners to record the famous result.

Monkstown man Caruth was later named man of the match and he was breathless after the tie in hailing the performance.

“What a game! We knew we had to come out and play, not defend for a draw. Some decisions back and forth didn’t go our way but we stuck with it and fought our way to the result.

“The late corners did add to the tension but we practice for those situations for when it comes down to the wire. It was a dogfight and we did what we had to do.”

It means Craig Fulton’s side will play the Netherlands in the semi-final on Thursday at 1.15pm (GMT). The Dutch beat Russia 8-0 with the minimum of fuss.

Jeroen Hertzberger of the Netherlands said: “It’s going to be tough against the Irish. They really play as a team and with their hearts so it will be a really tough match.”

Germany eased to a 7-2 win over France to complete the group with a perfect record. It was an outcome which Racing Club de France’s Simon Martin-Brisac drew some solace from, saying: “We played good hockey and we scored two goals, which is good against Germany because they have a very good defence and these are the first goals they have conceded. Now our target is to stay at this level, so the two most important games are coming and we have to stay focused.”

Hosts England will be their opposition on Thursday at 7.30pm as they turned on the style against Spain, winning 4-0 with two goals from Ashley Jackson and one each from Barry Middleton and Chris Griffiths.

Henry Weir said that the difference between this game and England’s earlier encounter with Netherlands was the “execution of play. We got the ball, kept it and played with aggression, that is how we wanted to play and it paid off.”

In the fifth to eight play-offs, Spain will play the ever-improving French side, while Belgium will need to overcome their disappointment to beat a Russian team seeking a barn-storming end to their tournament.

Euro Hockey League media release

Ireland's hockey heroes through to first ever European semi-final

The team drew with Belgium to advance

Raf Diallo

Ireland's Peter Caruth ©INPHO/Koen Suyk

The Ireland men's hockey team continue to punch above their weight after advancing to the semi-finals of the European Championships for the first time.

Craig Fulton's side claimed a 2-2 draw against Belgium in London today to secure their place in the last four.

The goals from Peter Caruth and John Jackson helped Ireland to claim a deserved draw against the world's fourth-ranked side and sees them progress to the semi-finals where they will likely face three time champions Netherlands.

Record eight-time winners and reigning champions Germany are one of the other semi-finalist after topping Ireland's group and will face either England or Spain who play each other tonight and have also both won the tournament previously.

Newstalk 106-108 FM

England storm into Semi Finals with win against Spain

Chris Griffiths celebrates

A double from Ashley Jackson as well as goals from Barry Middleton and Chris Griffiths booked England’s place in the semi-finals of the Unibet EuroHockey Championships. In a fast-paced and physical encounter against Spain, England’s ability to convert their chances made the difference and set up a mouth-watering semi-final clash with old foes Germany.

England made a bright start and almost had the lead early on. Alastair Brogdon’s snap shot took a deflection and hit the side netting with most of the crowd thinking the ball had gone in. In the 11th minute, Henry Weir played a raking pass towards the circle which was touched on by Mark Gleghorne for a diving Barry Middleton to divert goalwards only for the goalkeeper Quico Cortes to stretch out a right glove to keep it out. Spain forced a penalty corner two minutes later. Pau Quemada shot low but George Pinner got down well to make the save. England swept forward on the counter attack and Nick Catlin was unlucky to see his shot fly wide, meaning it was level at the break.

With five minutes gone in the second quarter England won their first penalty corner. Jackson stepped up to find the top corner with a superb finish giving Cortes no chance.

England almost made it 2-0 with eight minutes to go to the second period. Mark Gleghorne spun and shot but Cortes was there again to deny him. The second arrived shortly after. Chris Griffiths’ snap shot was saved by Cortes but Middleton reacted first to slot home the rebound to the delight of the home fans. England’s tempo and movement off the ball caused Spain more and more problems and Weir drew another fine save from Cortes as the half drew to a close.

Jackson tested Cortes’ reflexes in the opening salvos of the second half, but the No1 made another fine stop to keep him out. Spain hit back, winning a penalty corner. They worked a slick routine but Pinner made an excellent save from Vincenc Ruiz. From the next two phases of play the giant goalkeeper excelled once more, blocking and clearing twice in quick succession. Spain won a series of penalty corners with under two minutes left in the quarter but England’s defence stood firm, and then set up a chance on the break for Condon. Once again Cortes came up with a splendid save. The goalkeeper’s resistance was broken from the next attack, however. Jackson’s penalty corner was saved but Griffiths reacted first to fire home through the goalkeeper’s legs.

Condon had a gilt-edged opportunity to make it 4-0 in the final quarter but with the goal at his mercy he was unable to control the ball and the chance went begging. England didn’t live to rue that miss, however. Jackson’s long run cut the defence apart and although Ward’s shot was saved, Middleton’s bouncing ball back in found its way to the No7 to prod home his second of the match to seal the win.

England’s next match of the competition is against Germany and takes place on Thursday 27 August at 19:30. Coverage is on the BBC Red button and BBC Sport website.

Quotes – Ashley Jackson

“We’ve played well tonight but it still feels like a little bit of a missed opportunity because we play the Germans in the semi-final now. We’re confident going into the game but we have to avoid a repeat of the lack of performance like happened against the Dutch. That was really frustrating but it was nice to bounce back from that tonight.

It was very important to come out and play well today, but we need to do that in the next game, too. If we play like we did against the Netherlands we’ll be playing for third and fourth. We’re capable of bouncing back from that but that’s not the team we want to be. We want to be the team that plays well in the semi-final and is competing for gold medals.

I have 100% faith in our team. I know that a solid performance will give us a great chance of getting to the final. We are certainly good enough to win, it’s an exciting time.”

England 4 (2)
Ashley Jackson, 20, 57 (PC, FG)
Barry Middleton 24 (FG)
Chris Griffiths 45 (PC)

Spain 0 (0)

England Hockey Board Media release

Jackson brace helps England to Semis

By Mike Haymonds

THANKS to a double by Ashley Jackson and strikes by skipper Barry Middleton and Chris Griffiths England sealed their place in the semi-finals at the Unibet EuroHockey Championships in the Olympic Park.

Needing a draw to pip the Spaniards to a last-four place, England maintained a high tempo throughout and, once they got off the mark, they looked the likely winners.

Spain had the best chance in the first quarter when England goalkeeper George Pinner saved Pau Quemada’s low drag-flick at Spain’s first penalty corner.

Jackson opened the scoring in the 20th minute, firing home his side’s first corner, and four minutes later England were two up. Chris Griffiths’ shot was saved by the keeper but Middleton reacted quickest to tuck away the rebound.

The second quarter saw both goalkeepers – Pinner and Spain’s Quico Cortes  –  pulling off a series of saves to prevent further scores.

Spain won four corners in quick succession which were successfully defended before England scored a third. Jackson’s corner drag-flick was saved but Griffiths despatched the rebound.

Jackson started and finished the move which brought England ‘s final goal in the 57th minute. His penetrating run was carried on by Sam Ward, whose shot was saved, but Middleton pushed the rebound towards goal for Jackson to steer the ball home.

England meet defending champions Germany in Thursday’s semi-final.

Jackson said: “It was very important to come out and play well but we need to do that in the next game against Germany too. We’re capable of bouncing back (from the earlier defeat by Netherlands).

“We want to be the team that plays well in the semi-final and is competing for gold medals.

“I have 100% faith in our team. I know that a solid performance will give us a great chance of getting to the final. We are certainly good enough to win”.

Daily Express

Action aplenty on day one of Women's IPT A Section

JONATHAN COOK in Potchefstroom

The opening game in the elite A Section of the SA Women’s Interprovincial Hockey Tournament Tuesday saw Western Province beat Spar KZN Raiders 4-2 after the Capetonians led 2-0 at half-time.

The second match on day one of A Section action featured defending champions Northern Blues against Border.

The outcome was a crushing 11-0 win for Blues, who led 3-0 at half-time, the Pretoria girls’ goals coming from Marguerite van Wyk, Dirkie Chamberlain (4) who is on 192 Test caps for South Africa, Jacinta Jubb, Sammy Prost, Anneke Beukman, a sizzling Kim Hubach penalty corner drag-flick, Anel Luus and a cracking shot from the edge of the strike zone by Northerns and SA captain Nicolene Terblanche.

In a hard-fought derby, Southern Gauteng withstood a determined SG Wits and their outstanding defender Luche Klaasen to win 3-0 after leading 1-0 at half-time, Lilian du Plessis bagging a brace from penalty corners with a field goal going to double Olympian Shelley Russell.

The best A Section match of the day was in the late game, the much cooler conditions and vociferous home crowd spurring hosts North West to a 2-1 half-time lead against Free State before the match ended 2-2.

North West’s goals came through a brilliant brace by Lori Hyde while Free State scored through Tanya Britz and Line Malan.

In the opening match, WP enjoyed an excellent first quarter, Megan Robertson’s neat deflection in the third minute affording last year’s finalists a 1-0 lead.

KZN Raiders had the odd ray of sunshine in the 15-minute first stanza but WP dominated territory and possession. The Durban girls did well in the second quarter, improved patience and assurance in their ball movement deserving reward.

Yet WP scored a somewhat soft goal in the 26th when WP striker Taryn Glasby finished clinically for the 2-0 lead at half-time.

The third quarter saw four goals scored in eight minutes of goalmouth mayhem.

Two minutes into the second half (32nd) WP carved acres of space for double Olympian Taryn Bright to surge unchecked into the strike zone before drilling the ball into the backboard (3-0).

WP’s fourth goal came just two minutes later (34th) when Illse Davids’ cross from the left was deftly flicked in by Farah Fredericks (4-0).

The two-goal double blow inside three minutes that took WP four goals clear was the signal for Raiders - led by the fine example of captain Kelly Madsen - to fight back.

Raiders reduced the deficit in the 37th when a variation to the left off a penalty corner - after Kara Stella’s dummy-hit - resulted in Cardeaux Nel slapping the ball firmly into the WP goals (4-1).

Two minutes later (the 39th) the crowd pondered a remarkable turnaround when it was Nel once again who made the strike to narrow the margin further (4-2).

Raiders were gaining in confidence all the time but the rest of the third quarter, as well as a fiercely contested final quarter, yielded no change to the scoreline.

In an entertaining B Section clash on Pitch 2, KZN Inland beat Eastern Province 4-2 after leading 3-1 at half-time.

It was Inland’s Tiffany Jones who stood out amongst a number of in-form players, the striker netting a hat-trick. Her first two goals, superbly taken in the eighth and 12th minutes, resulted in the Pietermaritzburg girls establishing what a match-winning 2-0 lead.

Jones combined with Amy Greaves for her opening strike while right-side defender Jade Macphail set up the second.

Outstanding Inland midfielder Greaves made it 3-0 in the 22nd minute via another field goal before the hardworking Yasmeen Jogie pulled one back two minutes from half-time (28th).

The second half saw play continue to swing from end to end and Jones re-established Inland’s three-goal cushion when she nailed her hat-trick goal with another well-taken strike 12 minutes from full-time (38th).

EP closed the gap three minutes from the end (57th) when captain Nicole Kemp banged in a penalty corner but it was Inland who emerged with the three log points while the Port Elizabeth girls had nothing tangible to show despite a high-energy performance.

The 4-1 scoreline did not reflect the true nature of this hotly contested match.

In the round robin B Section, where there are no playoffs, Namibia and Western Province Peninsula both have a 100% win record after three matches.

A Section (Day 1): WP 4 Spar KZN Raiders 2; Northern Blues 11 Border 0; Southern Gauteng 3 SG Wits 0; North West 2 Free State 2.
B Section (3 Days):
Day 3: Namibia 4 South Gauteng Nuggets 2; KZN Inland 4 SA Country Districts B 1; KZN Mynahs 5 Mpumalanga 0; WP Peninsula 4 SA Country Districts A 1; KZN Inland 4 Eastern Province 2.
Day 2: EP 4 Mpumalanga 1; KZN Inland 6 SG Nuggets 0; WP Pens 7 SACD B 1; Namibia 4 KZN Mynahs 1; SACD A 2 Mpumalanga 1.
Day 1: Mpumalanga 2 SG Nuggets 1; KZN Mynahs 3 SACD A 0; Namibia 5 KZN Inland 2; EP 3 SACD B 0; WP Pens 5 KZN Mynahs 0.
A Section: Border vs Free State (12h00); Spar KZN Raiders vs SG Wits (14h00); WP vs Southern Gauteng (16h00); Northern Blues vs North West (18h00).
B Section: SACD B v Namibia (9h00); EP vs SACD A (10h45); KZN Inland vs Mpumalanga (12h30); KZN Mynahs vs SG Nuggets (14h15); WP Pens vs Namibia (16h00).

SA Hockey Association media release

Fit and fresh Bennett ready for Ford NHL

Photo: www.photosport.co.nz

North Harbour defender Cory Bennett is fully fit and ready to do battle at the Ford National Hockey League.

The 24-year-old missed a large chunk of hockey this year after a severe ankle sprain playing for the Black Sticks in December’s South Island series against Canada, before picking up a painful knee injury which required surgery to put right.

“My knee is more of an injury that’s seen in long distance runners, an overuse kind of thing. I had been doing extra fitness and running on top of trainings and I think it was a bit much,” he said.

“My IT band had become so tight it began rubbing on the knee and it was at the point it couldn’t be released, so I had to have surgery to cut into the knee and through the band to extend it.”

Following a long period of rehabilitation, Bennett returned for his club East Coast Bays for the last two games of the season, culminating in an emphatic win over Takapuna to secure the championship.

“It was good to get back out there, it’s been a long time watching it on the sideline. It was nerve wracking in terms of how the legs would react after six months of not being able to do much.

“Other than being tight and sore afterwards, the knee felt good which is a big confidence boost going into NHL.”

North Harbour open their Ford NHL campaign this Saturday with a Round 1 home game against Northland at 2:00pm.

The side, coached by Mike Delaney, features four current Black Sticks in Steve Edwards, James Coughlan, Joe Bartholomew and George Muir along with Development Squad players Bennett and Richard Joyce.

Also in action will be Japanese guest player Mitani Genki who is hoped to inject some scoring firepower to the forward line.

“We’ve got the New Zealand guys which is awesome, but the players behind them are very high quality also. We definitely have a lot of depth and experience so everyone is confident in the team we have.

“Everyone’s excited and sensing something special could happen, but there’s a lot of hard work that needs to be done to get there.”

Following this weekend, Round 2 will be played the following Sunday at various venues around the country before all teams head to the ITM Hockey Centre in Whangarei for finals week from 12-20 September.

Earlybird tournament passes are still available online and are cheaper than purchasing at the gate. Daily passes will be available at the gate only.

The 2015 Ford National Hockey League is proudly supported by the Whangarei District Council and Trillian Trust.

Hockey New Zealand Media release

Wollongong to host festival of indoor hockey

Indoor Australian Championships to be held in Wollongong in 2016 & 2017

Hockey Australia has announced its Indoor Australian Championships will be held in Wollongong in 2016 and 2017 thanks to a two-year partnership with Destination Wollongong.
The three-week festival of indoor hockey will be played at the Illawarra Hockey Centre and will see more than 1000 participants, officials and supporters descend on the New South Wales seaside city between 4 and 26 January. 
Championships will be played in Open, Under 21, Under 18 and Under 15 categories, and a new Under 13 event, over the 23 days.
“This is the first time that we have consolidated our Indoor Australian Championships into one venue to create a festival of indoor hockey and we’re looking forward to working with our partner, Destination Wollongong to make it a success,” said Ben Hartung, General Manager of Hockey at Hockey Australia.
“The family-friendly nature of hockey will work perfectly with Wollongong and with more than 1000 people descending on the city for the Championships we’re looking forward to the buzz that will be generated in January for the indoor festival.
“I expect we’ll see plenty of beach recovery sessions!” he added.
“The addition of a new Under 13 Indoor Australian Championships brings our indoor competitions in line with our outdoor events and provides some of our youngest participants with a valuable opportunity to represent their state or territory and experience a national competition.”
Destination Wollongong General Manager Mark Sleigh said the Indoor Australian Championships was a perfect fit for the city.
“Wollongong has impressive hockey infrastructure, led by the international-standard facilities at the Illawarra Hockey Centre, and the sport enjoys a strong following regionally,” said Mr Sleigh.
“It’s a great fit when you consider our proximity to Sydney airport, the fact we’re a coastal destination with 17 patrolled beaches and family-friendly attractions such as Jamberoo Action Park and Sunset Cinema, and boast a diverse range of accommodation, including a plethora of options at the University of Wollongong throughout January.
“The city will be buzzing over summer and we’ve been delighted to work with Hockey Australia in bringing to fruition their progressive step of consolidating their indoor championships. It’s a boon for Wollongong and is set to add $1 million to our visitor economy.”             
The University of Wollongong, Illawarra South Coast Hockey Association and Hockey New South Wales will support Hockey Australia and Destination Wollongong in the successful delivery of the new festival of indoor hockey.

The Illawarra Hockey Centre recently hosted the Country Australian Championships in the outdoor version of the game, which saw NSW men and VIC women crowned 2015 champions.
The Indoor Australian Championships are the first to be awarded to a host under Hockey Australia’s new tender-based bidding process, which concluded last month. An announcement of the venues and dates for next year’s outdoor Australian Championships will be made in early October.

Championship Dates - 2016
Open Men & Women:  Monday 4 - Thursday 7 January (Training Day - Sun 3 Jan)
U21 Men & Women:  Saturday 9 - Tuesday 12 January (Training Day - Fri 8 Jan)
U18 Men & Women:   Thursday 14 - Sunday 17 January (Training Day - Wed 13 Jan)
U15 Boys & Girls:  Tuesday 19 - Friday 22 January (Training Day - Mon 18 Jan)
U13 Boys & Girls:  Sunday 24 - Tuesday 26 January (Training Day - Sat 23 Jan)

On social media: #AusChampsHockey

Hockey Australia media release

The Kookaburras’ tale of brotherly love

Tim Doutré

The Govers brothers, Kieran (left) and Blake. Photo: Grant Treeby

Blake and Kieran Govers are two of Australia’s best hockey players, and they’ve taken their sibling rivalry to the highest level of the sport.

Every now and then when I’m watching a hockey game I wonder what drives people to take the field.

To wake up every week, change into a uniform and run around after a ball, often in the freezing cold.

They’re a funny lot, hockey players.

But in the end, the answer is pretty simple: it’s just nice to be part of a team.

Every week I get to run out alongside my younger brother.

It’s one of the things that makes being part of a team that much more special.

We aren’t playing for money. We aren’t playing for glory. We’re just playing.

Two brothers who have a bit more on the line than the Doutrés are Blake and Kieran Govers.

They pulled on the green and gold together for the first time this year.

But it wasn’t exactly the typical family reunion, as Blake explained:

“Growing up I didn’t play much hockey with Kieran because he was in the older age groups and he was in Perth while I was coming though the club ranks, so it was not what some people may think,” Blake said.

“I had played more games with Australia than him at that point.”

The Kookaburras didn’t win that match, which also happened to be Kieran’s 100th Aussie cap, and the fact the Govers brothers had just represented their country for the first time together did not really dawn on the youngest of the two.

“You are just in the zone and just playing so you don’t think about that as such,” Blake said.

“You think about it but you don’t let it overwhelm you. It probably hit home most when Kieran had his presentation before the game.

“He got his 100th game plaque and that was our first game together and that was the biggest thing from my point of view.”

Blake has gone from strength to strength since his debut in Hobart earlier this year. It culminated in a successful World League tournament in which he snared the most goals and best young player award.

“I just went out there with a bit of an attitude that they don’t know me and not to be scared or shy away from it,” Blake says about the tournament, which the Kookaburras won.

“It was probably good that no one really knew me. I could do my own thing.”

After the tournament finished he hopped on a plane with his brother, but it wasn’t until they were both lounging on the couch in their family home at Wollongong that they allowed themselves a debrief.

“We didn’t speak about the games [during the tournament] but when we got home, because we didn’t really get to watch it from a tv perspective, we watched it together.”

But as it is for all professionals, it wasn’t easy to switch off.

“We were still in tournament mode. We just discussed the game more than anything, rather than sit back and embrace the win, probably because it was so tough. We didn’t really win that game convincingly.”

There may be an eight-year difference between the two, and there’s been a lot of time since they started out with Albion Park Hockey Club, but like all younger brothers, Blake remembers hoping to walk in the shoes of his big brother.

“In the early stages I was definitely trying to emulate him.

“Before I made my own sort of stamp I was trying emulate and do exactly what Kieran did.

“As it got closer and closer I was starting to build up my own portfolio.”

The Govers brothers will have to face the inevitable comparison about who is the better player but for now, Blake is continuing to make his mark.

As for my younger brother and I, we aren’t even lucky enough to be compared to each other.

Thanks to the unwavering wit of my team-mates, I’ll be forever known as ‘my dad’s son’ or ‘my sister’s brother’ – one of the curses of having infinitely more talented relatives out on the field.

There are a funny lot, hockey players. Hilarious.

Four things you didn’t know about the Govers brothers

1. Who got the first tattoo?

“Kieran got the southern cross with ‘Aus’ written on it. That was just after one of his under-21 tournaments at the Australian Youth Olympics Festival.

“He didn’t tell mum about it. I was the one that leaked it out. I said to mum I wanted to get the tattoo that Kieran had.”

2. What does mum say about the tattoos?

“I’ve got a tattoo saying ‘Jennifer’. I got that on my wrist. That’s her name, so she can’t complain.”

3. What have you learnt from Kieran?

“With all his injuries, just to keep going with what you want to do and you can succeed if you take long enough in doing it.”

4. What do you do better than your brother?

“I can drive the ‘green machine’ faster. I’m buying his old ute off him and they call it the ‘green machine’. It’s gone down the drags and… I can make it go faster.”

The New Daily

Singapore hockey coach leaving despite games success

South African Solomon Casoojee had plans to widen the talent pool, but the national men's hockey coach will leave in March next year, despite a contract that extends until 2017. Photo: The New Paper

National hockey coach to depart next March in spite of surprise silver at SEA Games

He masterminded one of the more surprising Team Singapore performances in June's SEA Games, but national men's hockey coach Solomon Casoojee is set to depart even before his contract is up.

Singapore Hockey Federation (SHF) general manager Geraldine Yan has confirmed that the South African will leave his post in March next year, a full year before his current contract ends in March 2017.

It is understood that Casoojee had wanted to leave immediately after the SEA Games - where he led the men's team to a silver, losing to regional powerhouses Malaysia only on penalties.

However, he will stay on to complete this year's international fixtures, with the Asian Challenge coming up in December. Casoojee declined to comment when contacted.

However, he is believed to be disappointed with team training sessions after the SEA Games, especially since his five-year tenure has already been plagued with irregular attendances.

The Straits Times understands that training attendance figures range between four and 10 players after the Games, out of the 22 players in the national team set-up.

Among them, veterans Saiful Nizam, Farhan Kamsani and Johnson Sivalingam have retired, while team captain Enrico Marican, Ashriq Ferdaus and Silas Razak have entered national service.

Defender Sabri Yuhari, 25, who is one of the regular faces at training, slammed the attitude of the team. He said: "It is disappointing to see so few people during training these days.

"We only have a small pool of players and players assume they will be selected. In the past, we were always competitive and fighting for a place, but we do not have the same attitude now."

Sabri, a hockey coach at Xishan Primary School and Nanyang Polytechnic, also said that a lack of junior development contributed to a limited talent base to choose from.

The Straits Times understands that Casoojee saw his plans to widen the talent pool shelved for the past four years.

These plans include academy models, youth development programs and coach developmental programs for the junior squads .

He was also concerned about the quality of hockey in the local league, with the focus on the declining number of local players among the clubs.

Among the six clubs in National Hockey League One, Hollandse Club do not have any local players, Tornados Hockey Club have 21 foreign players in their 22-man squad, and Singapore Cricket Club have 10 foreign players in their team.

Sabri, who has played for League One side Jansenites for nine years, feels that Casoojee's imminent departure is a blow to the Republic's hopes of eventually overcoming Malaysia for top regional honours.

He said: "It is very sad that we were so close to beating the Malaysians but (we will now be) taking two steps back when Solly (Casoojee) leaves.

"Hopefully we will get more support from the Singapore Sports Institute (SSI) and SHF for the development for Singapore hockey."

Asia One

Mathias Ahrens: Preparation Camp is yielding good results for the Junior Players

As the AHF Women’s Junior Asia Cup 2015 is approaching fast, the Indian Junior Women Team is working on their final game-plans at their ongoing preparation camp in New Delhi. The month-long camp has helped all the players to rectify their mistakes and improve their skills for the upcoming tournament. The 7th AHF Women’s Junior Asia Cup is also a qualification tournament for the FIH Junior Hockey World Cup (Women) 2016, which makes the tournament more important for the eves.

Women Team Chief Coach, Mathias Ahrens stated,“The Junior Team performed well at the recently concluded Volvo Invitational U-21 Tournament where they played against the top European teams. It was an exceptional experience, which we can use for the upcoming 7th Junior Asia Cup. Few players, who had some injury issues, have recovered well and are ready to go for the tournament. The young players are ready to learn new strategies and perform well at the international-level tournaments. There are some grey patches, which we have marked during the practice. We are working hard to rectify these short comings. We need more matches with some top class teams to help us improve our game.”

Junior Women Team Vice-Captain Navjot Kaur added, “Currently we are working on our physical fitness and stamina. There is a huge gap between us and the European players fitness, we are putting efforts to fill that gap. The 15-minute format requires more speed and fitness, and we are working harder to take our level up in this format. For the last few weeks, we have been practicing with the Senior core probables and their Coaching Staff. It’s been a pleasure to train alongside senior players like Ritu Rani and Rani Rampal. Players have improved a lot during this Preparatory Camp and we are confident for the upcoming 7th Junior Asia Cup.”

The 7th AHF Women’s Junior Asia Cup will be played from 5th September to 13th September 2015 in Changzhou, China. A total of nine Junior Asian teams will participate in this prominent tournament.


SAI and SSPF chart out road-map for grassroots National Talent Search and Nurture

New Delhi: In an attempt to explore possible solutions in identification of talent in the early years and nurturing it through the teen years , The Gurukul Trust, a non-profit philanthropic trust, in association with Sports Authority of India, today announced the launch of the School Sports Promotion Foundation (SSPF). The Foundation will organize sports tournaments across the country to identify talent and arrange to nurture it and take them through the city, district, state, zonal and national level of competitive sport. At the next level, it will arrange to provide sports coaching to those talented youth who are identified through these tournaments at all levels.

SSPF will roll out Football and Cricket, to start with in the first year of its operations and other sports like Tennis, Basketball and Athletics will be introduced from the second year onwards, with new games being added every year. SSPF hopes to reach out to around 1,00,000 secondary and senior secondary schools irrespective of their ownership, economic or social strata they operate in or the board they are affiliated to. In the next phase, rural, sub-urban elementary schools with a strong focus on rural sports would be included in the programme.

* School Sports Promotion Foundation (SSPF) aims to identify and nurture young talented sportspersons across districts, States and National level, reaching over 5,000 schools in its inaugural year.

*SSPF aims to cover every nook and corner of the country, reaching out to 1,00,000 schools or more over the next few years.

* The league to start off with cricket and football in the first year; more sports disciplines to be added in subsequent years.

Commenting on the launch of SSPF, Shri Injeti Srinivas, Director General, Sports Authority of India said, “SSPF is indeed a welcome step forward, through which we hope to identify potential sport stars of tomorrow at an early age. The scale of the initiative is colossal and potentially offers a long-term grassroots development programme.”

“While SAI has the coaching expertise and the knowledge base required to produce champions, the partnership with SSPF will allow us to penetrate through the huge schools network and identify talent early,” he added.

Sh. Ajit Sharan, Secretary Sports said, “School sports is the most important cog in nurturing the culture of sports in the country. Only if majority of children are exposed to right training methods and coaching, India can dream to be a powerhouse in sports," he added.

Speaking about the initiative, Sh. Om Pathak , Chairman, SSPF said, “Most of our future champions are in schools today and it is here we need to proactively scout for talent, nourish and prepare them to participate and win and give India its due glory in sports as well. SSPF is aimed towards bridging the existing need gap through a structured system wherein we hope to eventually reach each and every district in the country to unearth talent and empower them to realize their potential.”

SSPF aims to create enough interest and engagement with sports through use of infrastructure and training resources, including training coaches and incentivizing achievement in sports, generating interest, spotting and rewarding talent wherever that be and go on to nurture them by putting them in sport specific coaching centers without having to sacrifice their academic program. The programme entails the following:

1. Launch a number of sports tournaments to scout for talent at all levels
2. Identify resources, support and coaches in each sport
3. Identify, leverage and coordinate usage of existing sports infrastructure
4. Arrange to provide coaching at district, state and national level
5. Create and build teams at all levels, going up to the national or International level
6. Forge alliances and partnerships with individuals, sports bodies worldwide, governments, educational institutions and just about anybody else who can support and sustain the cause of sports and sports persons

SSPF will be supported by sports-specific Councils, each headed by an eminent sportsperson and proven managers. The councils shall be responsible, on behalf of the SSPF, for conduct of tournaments, selection of probable and building teams at the District, State & National Levels.

In addition, physical conditioning and sports medicine support shall be provided at all levels of camps in addition to the appropriate diet for the game. Students of exceptional merit in sports will be provided scholarship to be able to fund their schooling, advanced level preparations, personal kits, travel etc.


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