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News for 05 April 2020

All the news for Sunday 5 April 2020

Azlan Shah Cup in September?

By Jugjet Singh

File Photo: The tournament was initially set for April 11-18 before it was called off due to the Covid-19 pandemic. - NSTP/EFFENDY RASHID

THE Perak HA (PHA) are planning to host the Azlan Shah Cup in September, but it is subject to the approval of the International Hockey Federation (FIH).

The tournament was initially set for April 11-18 before it was called off due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The then confirmed teams were Australia, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Pakistan and Malaysia.

PHA president Ahmad Sayuti and his council have proposed Sept 12-19 for FIH’s approval.

A reliable source said PHA hope the FIH will consider their proposal to host the tournament in September as there is expected to be a scramble for year-end dates as many events were earlier postponed.

"We have sent the new dates to FIH and are awaiting their approval. Once it is approved, we will start inviting teams.

"Some of the earlier teams might not be able to make it in September. However, if they can commit, then it would be better.

"With so many hockey tournaments worldwide called off due to the pandemic, PHA have submitted their dates early so that the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) and FIH can start re-planning their international calendar," said the official.

The new dates could see new teams, even those who have qualified for the Olympics, playing in the tournament.

The Sultan of Johor Cup and Under-21 Invitational are likely to be held in October.

AHF have also shelved the boys and girls’ Junior Asia Cup in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The boys’ Junior Asia Cup was supposed to be held in Dhaka, Bangladesh, on June 4-12 while the girls' tournament was initially scheduled on April 6-12 in Kakamigahara, Japan.

The Asian body had also postponed the Women’s Asian Champions Trophy in Donghae, South Korea (June 14-21).

The men’s Asian Champions Trophy in Dhaka will remain on Nov 17-27.

Malaysia are playing in all four tournaments, and it would be a mad scramble for FIH and AHF to get their year-end calendar organised.

New Straits Times

Belgium formally end season with European places confirmed

Royal Leopold, La Gantoise and KHC Dragons will take up the Belgian men’s European places while La Gantoise and Braxgata will be their women’s representatives for the 2020/21 season.

It follows the ARBH’s decision to formally end the season this week. Due to the exceptional circumstances created by the coronavirus pandemic, the Belgian governing body has decided not to award formal champions this season for their Honor Divisions.

The ARBH decided to award the European places based on who won the most points in the first half of the season across the two groups.

The announcement also sees no sides relegated with the best two placed sides from the second divisions being promoted with the Honor Division increased to 14 teams with the aim of returning to 12 for the following season.

In the Netherlands, the KNHB’s Eric Gerritsen said to NOS this week he still hopes that the Hoofdklasse can be settled on the pitch.

“We are realistic and well aware that it is not a given that everything will immediately open again in May,” says Gerritsen.

“But the central point is that we want to bring club life back to the clubs. That is why we want to wait as long as possible to see if we can return to hockey again at some point.

“If it goes on longer then there are also alternative scenarios, for example, splitting the competition into two or three groups.”

Euro Hockey League media release

Coach Shiv's Haiti challenge

In these very uncertain times it is sometimes good to take stock and reflect upon what is good and positive in the world. The United Nations inspired International Day of Sport for Peace and Development takes place on 6 April and as part of the celebrations day, FIH is highlighting projects and initiatives from around the world that are showcasing the power of hockey to change society for the better.

Shiv Jagday is a coach of many years experience. He has been national coach to both Canadian and USA national teams and now runs coaching courses and creates coaching videos and manuals.

Since 2015, as part of a PAHF initiative to develop hockey in underprivileged areas of the continent, Jagday has been regularly visiting Haiti to deliver coaching and playing programmes

Haiti itself was hit with devastating force by an earthquake back in 2010, with many, many lives lost and the destruction of an enormous amount of buildings and facilities. Hockey has been one of the sports that have been used to help rebuild society - and Jagday’s work continues that trend.

The first two visits in 2015 and 2018 were primarily focused on introducing hockey to would-be coaches and teaching them how to deliver coaching sessions. The third visit, earlier this year, was carried out again on behalf of PAHF but also as part of the Olympic Solidarity programme – which aims to support national associations, particularly those with the greatest needs.

The most recent visit saw Jagday coaching 25 junior players as well as providing coaching support. In total, the veteran coach has seen more than 100 male and female coaches go through his education programme.

The partnership between the Haiti Hockey Federation – which was formed in 2015 – and Jagday, was initiated by the PAHF President Alberto ‘Coco’ Budeisky and supported by the Executive Board. Once Haiti had joined the hockey community, PAHF’s aim was to give the Caribbean island a “jump start” and develop the game rapidly.

Jagday’s work has created a sustainable coaching structure on the island. There are five experienced coaches who have attended all the coaching courses and now run programmes across the country, as well as mentoring other aspiring coaches. Jagday leaves coaching resources, including manuals and coaching and playing video clips for the coaches to use between visits.

And the project is yielding results. There has been a sharp increase in the number of people who play hockey in Haiti and the number of clubs has quickly grown from virtually none to 10 in total.

It hasn’t been plain sailing to get hockey in Haiti to this point. Jagday points to a lack of funding from local authorities to support the programmes; a lack of locally-provided administration and programme management; and a poor infrastructure or system for actually playing the game.

This has had a detrimental impact on all elements of the game, from the grass roots development programmes through to the national teams. 

Jagday says: “There’s no question there has been an improvement, since my first visit, in Jan 2015, but not to the degree that was anticipated. Looking at the current standard [of players and coaches] they have a long way to go before they can be competitive at international level, such as the Central American and Caribbean Games or the Junior Pan American championships.

“In a way, they have come out of the 2010 earthquake, but not its devastating long-term effects. Their main challenges are political turmoil, job opportunities and poverty. For example, during my last visit in February, the whole country was shut down for a couple of days because of political upheaval.”

But Jagday and PAHF know that by pushing forwards with programmes such as this one they can make a difference to both the standard of hockey and the wider social and health standards in this community. Every visit by Jagday has been enthusiastically received and the retention among the coaches is high. He says there is a “real thirst to learn and excel”.

Reflecting on his time in Haiti, Jagday says: “It is always rewarding to serve the hockey cause, especially in developing countries. Coaches and players are very supportive. The reality and sad part is that it is an uphill battle, despite all the support provided by PAHF, FIH and Olympic Solidarity Programmes. But, no question, there is tremendous talent in Haiti, waiting to emerge onto the international stage.”


FIH site

SAI holds video conference with Hockey India officials

The Hockey India officials and national team coaches attended the meeting to discuss the road map for the next 16 months leading up to the Tokyo Olympics.

The Sports Authority of India on Saturday held a meeting with Hockey India officials and national team coaches via a video conference and drew a roadmap for the next 16 months leading up to the Tokyo Olympics.

Among other things, the COVID-19 pandemic has also led to the postponement of the Tokyo Games to next year.

And, even as the country battles the unprecedented global health crisis, the SAI plans to hold meetings with presidents, secretary generals, high performance directors, head coaches and chief executives of all National Sports Federations (NSFs) to reassess their long-term plans, qualification scenarios and strategies to align with the Olympics.

In that direction, SAI director general Sandip Pradhan and other officials held a meeting with Hockey India representatives, which included its chief executive officer Elena Norman, executive director R. K. Srivastava, high performance director David John and the men’s and women’s teams’ chief coaches, Graham Reid and Sjoerd Marijne, respectively.

Various modalities pertaining to the sport, including the teams’ training, domestic competition structure and foreign exposure, were discussed.

According to a statement from the SAI, a number of viable solutions and alternatives to the earlier planned strategy were deliberated upon in view of the ongoing lockdown.

Also discussed were options such as training under quarantine (physical and psychological aspects) and possible restricted cross-border movement once the lockdown is lifted.

The DG also reviewed the various measures adopted to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus at SAI Centre in Bangalore where both the Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams core probables are accommodated.

The men’s team chief coach Reid expressed confidence about their Olympic preparations.

“We had a very productive meeting and discussed the planning process for the next 16 months. We informed SAI that the team and staff are being well cared for, while in strict quarantine,” Reid said.

“We discussed various scenarios and await decisions as to when we can re-start full training. We also agreed to remain as flexible as possible with the aim of being ready to go as soon as international competition recommences.”

National women’s team chief coach Marijne agreed with Reid and said the meeting was a very productive one.

“We had a positive discussion about the state of affairs and we indicated our preferences once the situation improves and as soon as more is known about the possibilities in the future.

“We also mentioned about our preference about players staying in national camps during domestic tournaments in order to avoid injuries in the lead up to the Olympics next year,” the Spanish coach said.

“I particularly liked the pro-activeness of SAI and Hockey India and I am very optimistic about our preparations for the Tokyo Olympics. I think it is good that we are thinking about the positives and way forward.”


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