All the news for Saturday 5 March 2016
SA's inexperience shows against Germany
Despite a solid first half the South African national women's hockey team lost the first of two test matches against Germany 1-5.
The penultimate test in the Private Property Summer Series were played at Bishops on Friday. The second and last test is tomorrow at 16:00 in Stellenbosch at the Maties Astro.
Tanya Britz scored South Africa's only goal of the match. The score at halftime was 2-1 for the visitors and the local team was still very much in the game. According to the coach Sheldon Rostron his team played well to start with. "In general we played with lots of energy, but did not reward ourselves for the effort."
He added that the inexperienced and very young midfield struggled to keep the tempo in the second 30 minutes of the match. "I thought we played well in the first half, but in the second half the wheels came off so to speak. We did not play according to our structures."
The turnaround to the second match is limited, but Rostron believes that why his team lost is no mystery. "We know what we did wrong and we know what we must do to make it right. We will work on the discipline and structure - especially when the Germans launch a counterattack - in the limited time that we have."
He added: "We showed in the first 30 and in the previous meeting during the World League that we can play with them. It will take some more training and playing together to make sure we can do it for a full match though."
SA Hockey Association media release
New Zealand women and Germany men pick up series wins on Road to Rio
New Zealand defeated Argentina to win the Mar del Plata Sport Cup Photo: (FIH / Getty Images)
New Zealand women get revenge on Hockey World League Final opponents Argentina while Germany men shine in South Africa as Olympic preparations begin
New Zealand women and Germany men have shown that they are warming up nicely for this year’s Olympic Games by claiming solid test series wins on their travels.
New Zealand's Black Sticks women (FIH World Ranking: 4) were in action in Argentina and came away with a memorable series victory against reigning Hockey World League holders Argentina (ranked 2) in Mar del Plata.
The six-match test series was actually tied with both sides finishing with two wins each along with two draws, but New Zealand’s superior goal difference was enough for them to take home the Mar del Plata Sport Cup.
The most impressive performance in the series came in match four as the Black Sticks powered to a 4-1 win over the hosts, with Stacey Michelsen, Brooke Neal, Petrea Webster and Gemma Flynn all hitting the target.
Remarkably, New Zealand’s impressive series win was achieved without the energy and industry of absent team captain Anita Punt, although the side was bolstered by the return to action of two of their most experienced campaigners, Kayla Whitelock and Emily Naylor.
Both players took a break from the sport following the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, with Whitelock giving birth to baby daughter Addison in April 2015 while Naylor needed time to recover from a hamstring injury sustained in her international comeback match in October 2015.
“This trip has been a good adventure for us against a very good opponent and to be able to come away with a series win is a real positive”, said Black Sticks Head Coach Mark Hager. “We have identified some strengths and weaknesses from these six games. We came here with some questions and feel like those have been answered.”
Germany’s men (ranked 3) travelled to Cape Town, South Africa (ranked 15) and recorded three wins from three matches against the hosts. These results will give reassurance to Head Coach Valentin Altenburg that his side are moving in the right direction following what was, by their own high standards, a fairly disappointing 2015.
Germany's Die Honamas triumphed emphatically in all three of their meetings against South Africa, registering scores of 6-2, 6-1 and 6-2. Jonas Gomoll (4) and ace striker Florian Fuchs (3) top scored for the European giants in the series.
2016 is a huge year for Germany as they will be hoping to become the first nation for 60 years to win the Olympic gold medal in hockey three times in succession. The last nation to achieve such a feat was India, who won gold six times in a row between 1928 and 1956.
TEST MATCH RESULTS
Argentina v New Zealand (Women)
Mar del Plata, Argentina. 23 February – 3March 2016
Match 1: Argentina 2, New Zealand 2
Match 2: Argentina 1, New Zealand 0
Match 3: Argentina 2, New Zealand 3
Match 4: Argentina 1, New Zealand 4
Match 5: Argentina 2, New Zealand 1
Match 6: Argentina 2, New Zealand 2
New Zealand win series due to superior goal difference
South Africa v Germany (Men)
Cape Town, South Africa. 26-29 February 2016
Match 1: South Africa 2, Germany 6
Match 2: South Africa 1, Germany 6
Match 3: South Africa 2, Germany 6
Germany win series 3-0
Coughlan relishes Malaysia and Korea series
By David Leggat
James Coughlan likens it to the start of a marathon. Photo / Brett Phibbs
James Coughlan likens it to the start of a marathon; New Zealand's men's hockey team begin a five-month buildup to the Rio Olympics in Tauranga tomorrow.
The North Harbour attacker, having had hip surgery after the Oceania Cup series defeat to Australia last October, is relishing the four-game series against Malaysia.
As the 25-year-old put it, there's only so much training you can do, before you start itching for matchplay.
"It was definitely nice to have time away from hockey in December-January. The operation went well and I'm really looking forward to getting back on the park," the North Harbour player said. He puts his playing fitness around 80 per cent but the Malaysian series, and the four-game contest against Korea to follow in Auckland, is his chance to push that number up and put his best foot forward for Olympic selection.
After the double series at home, world No 8 New Zealand are off to defend the Azlan Shah title they won in Malaysia last year, with the prospect of a European tour to follow.
That is yet to be confirmed but it is expected to include internationals against leading nations the Netherlands, Germany and Spain.
It shapes as a quality build-up, but Massey University student Coughlan pointed out that while the Malaysian and Korean series are important, "you want to peak in August [Olympic time]; you don't want to be peaking in April. "We have to realise there are so many tests before Rio and we've got to make the most of these matches to build into it."
Neither No 13 Malaysia nor No 9 Korea have qualified for the Olympics but they are sure to ask serious questions of the Black Sticks, who have put behind them their rocky qualification for Rio - they got a late reprieve when South African sports bosses opted not to back their team for the Games and New Zealand were given their place.
"They are fast and nippy. Malaysia are probably a little less structured but skill-wise they are quite similar, they're skilful on the ball and do a really good job when put under pressure," Coughlan said.
"The Koreans are a lot more structured and drilled. You know what's coming and it's a case of executing your game better than they do."
Tomorrow is expected to mark the 300th appearance for classy midfielder Ryan Archibald, putting him in an elite club alongside Phil Burrows (343 caps) and the retired Dean Couzing (318).
Coach Colin Batch is keen to get his players back into match action after four months of solid training.
"The time away from games has been good in a way as it has enabled us to assess players and improve their fitness during a tough training block," he said.
"We are looking forward to the opportunity for our first competitive matches of the year which will show where players are at for future selections in the lead up to Rio."
Another player happy to be back is Northland's Shay Neal, who last played at the Azlan Shah tournament almost a year ago. He was sidelined by a knee injury.
"It's such an exciting opportunity for us right now with our first hit-out of the year ahead of Rio. You can tell it's a different year for our group, there's determination and guys are notching up personal bests in testing so it's awesome to see."
• The women's Black Sticks grabbed two late goals to draw their sixth and final match against Argentina in Mar del Plata yesterday. Stacey Michelsen and Kayla Sharland scored in the last four minutes to peg back the world No 2. The series produced two wins, two losses and two draws, but fourth-ranked New Zealand took the honours on goal difference 12-10.
The New Zealand Herald
Battle for EYHL Places Hots Up
We’re edging ever closer to the end of the Irish EY Hockey League season, and the beginning of the EYHL Provisional Play-off’s for next season.
On the women’s side, there are 8 places across 4 provincial divisions available. In Leinster, Loreto are one point off winning the league and have guaranteed themselves a spot in the EYHL provisional play-offs. The other guaranteed spot is torn between 3 teams, Old Alexandra, Glenanne and Trinity College. The third place team in Leinster will play the third place team from Ulster’s Premier Division in a pre-play-off to qualify for the play-off finals. This match will take place on the weekend of the 9/10 of April at neutral venue to be confirmed once the two teams are known.
In Ulster, Belfast Harlequins are currently top of the division however Lurgan have 5 games in hand and could cause a stir. Randalstown, Ballymoney and Queens are also still in the running for the 2 guaranteed places and for the third place pre-play-off position. Catholic Institute in the top spot in Munster’s division 1 and they’re well clear of the pack. Bandon, Limerick and Ashton are within 2 points of each to get that second spot in Munster. Finally, in Connacht, Galway 1s and Galway 2s have tied up Connacht Division 1, guaranteeing that Galway Hockey Club will be at the provisional play-offs.
On the men’s side there are 8 places across 3 provincial divisions up for grabs. In Leinster the league has been shaken up and 5 teams started on equal footing after December. Corinthians, Clontarf, YMCA, UCD and Avoca all started on zero points in January, so their 2016 performances are all that can help them get those three Leinster places in the playoffs. The two spots from Munster have nearly almost been secured by UCC and Bandon. In Ulster, there are three places available. Instonians and Kilkeel are nearly guaranteed the top two places, but Belfast Harlequins, Portadown and Raphoe are within three points of each other to secure that third and final place.
Once the 16 teams are known, 8 from the men and 8 from the women’s side, they will play, round robin in 2 pools of 4 on the weekend of 15-17 April in either Lisnagarvey or Monkstown. The top two sides from each pool will progress to the Play-off knockout finals in Three Rock Rovers on the 23th and 24th of April. The knockout finals change the format from a round robin to a straight knockout competition with 4 semi-finals (men’s and women’s) taking place on Saturday 23 April and the finals taking place on Sunday 24 April.
The winner will be declared the EYHL Provincials Playoff Champions and will have an automatic place in the EYHL next season.
Awaiting the runner up will be a final playoff with the 9th place finisher in EYHL from this season. The winner of this play-off will receive a place in the EYHL for the following season.
In the women’s EYHL there is a battle to avoid finishing in 9th place between Ards and UCC.
While in the men’s EYHL, there’s 7 points between the 5 bottom teams of with only 6 games left in the season.
Irish Hockey Association media release
Butali Sugar Warriors face Strathmore test
By BRIAN YONGA
Maxwell Fuchaka of Butali Sugar Warriors (right) dribbles past Victor Chidi of Western Jaguars on May 3, 2015 during their Kenya Hockey Union Premier League match at City Park Stadium. PHOTO | CHRIS OMOLLO | NATION MEDIA GROUP
Champions Butali Sugar Warriors take on two-time champions Strathmore University Gladiators in a tricky Kenya Hockey Union men’s Premier League match at City Park Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
Victory for the lakeside team will see them move to the top of the league standings, for at least 24 hours, before leaders Kenya Police play 2012 champions Sikh Union Nairobi on Sunday.
Butali earned six free points last weekend after their opponents Mombasa Sports Club and Mvita XI failed to show up for their fixtures.
As a result, Butali’s points tally increased to 52 points, two behind Police who have 54 points. Butali have, however, played 19 matches as compared to Police’s 21.
Butali coach Cliffe Okello is wary of Gladiators, who “are capable of wrecking his team’s campaign to defend the title”.
“After having not played last week, we are eager to get back to action. This match (against Strathmore) would be an interesting one. We expect tough competition but look forward to topping the league standings,” Okello told Saturday Nation Sport.
Butali won the first leg fixture 3-1 with goals from captain Kenneth Nyongesa, Joerem Stoel and Maxwell Fuchaka.
Gladiators, who lie sixth on the log, will be looking for an upset as they seek to rise to fourth.
Gladiators’ coach Meshack Senge wants his charges to give the champions a run for their money and derail their title bid.
“We want to have a say in who wins the title. We will, therefore, go to the match with three points in mind,” he said.
Later in the evening, third-placed Wazalendo take on Greensharks, who are fourth in the standings, in what is expected to be cracking tie at City Park.
The race for third spot is a battle between six teams separated by five points.
On Sunday, Police will be looking to complete a double against Sikh Union as they seek to reclaim the title from bitter rivals Butali.
The law enforcers beat Sikh 2-0 in their first leg and they are favourites to win today’s match. Sikh has not beaten Police in four years.
In other men’s league matches, Nakuru welcome Parklands this afternoon while Kenyatta University (KU) Vultures face USIU men’s team. In the women’s national league, Strathmore Scorpions face Mount Kenya University while on Sunday Vikings tackle KU Titans.
Massive wins for SSGC, NBP and Wapda
LAHORE: Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Whites, Wapda and National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) won their respective matches in the 35th National Junior Hockey Championship at the National Hockey Stadium here on Friday.
SSGC humiliated Islamabad 14-0, KP Whites beat Punjab Colours, 4-2, Wapda blanked Balochistan 6-0 and NBP annihilated Punjab Whites 10-0.
Hat-tricks by Rana Sohail and Naved Alam guided SSGC to a resounding win in the day’s opening match. Sohail netted three beautiful goals in second, third and 10th minutes while Naved scored on field attempts in 18th, 23rd and 44th.
Hassan Anwar (11th, 42nd) converted two penalty corners; Asad Mahmood struck a penalty corner in the 53rd and then recorded a field goal in the 60th.
Ali Raza, Adeel Latif, Ghulam Mohiuddin and Usman Rafiq scored one goal each in the sixth, eighth, 14th and 20th minutes, respectively to complete the tally for SSGC.
Meanwhile, Punjab Colours lost their grip on their match aginst Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Whites after taking early lead (fifth minute) through Ali Raza, and then conceded two goals in the first quarter.
Shahbaz of KP Whites equalised through a field goal in the eighth minute. KP Whites forwards exerted pressure on their opponents with aggressive attacks on goal. They earned a penalty corner in the 12th minute which their captain Zahidullah converted to give his team a 2-1 lead.
Another goal on penalty corner in the 20th minute by Amjad consolidated KP Whites’ position.
Punjab Colours bounced back four minutes later when their forward Mudassar Ali netted a beautiful field goal to reduce the lead to 3-2. KP Whites’ fourth goal in the 40th minute through Khairullah gave them a well-deserved victory.
In another match, Wapda also earned a big win against Balochistan. Junaid Manzoor scored a brace in (15th, 27th). Sohail Anjum, Rana Abdul Waheed, Bilal Mahmood and Umar Hamidi struck one goal apiece in 25th, 29th, 33rd and 51st minutes, respectively.
NBP, meanwhile, experienced a cakewalk against Punjab Whites. Atif Mushtaq scored two field goals (12th, 22nd). Bilal Qadir, Azfar Yaqoob, Mohammad Atiq and Mohammad Naveed scored field goals in the second, 45th, 49th and 50th minutes, respectively.
Amad Shakeel, Abu Bakr Mahmood, Faizan and Mohammad Dilber converted penalty corners in the 15th, 21st, 28th and 29th minutes.
Police vs Pakistan Board, Army vs Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Colours vs Railways, Customs vs POF.
Punjab Colours face Pak Board in National Jr Women Hockey final
ISLAMABAD - Punjab Colours and Pak Board will vie for top honours in the 4th U-18 National Junior Women Hockey Championship 2016 final today (Saturday) here at Naseer Bunda Hockey Stadium.
Punjab Colour hammered Islamabad 8-1 in the first semi-final played here on Friday.
Thanks mainly to goal-scoring machines Rimsha Ilyas and Saba Riaz, who both scored fantastic hat-tricks to power Punjab C in the final.
In the second semifinal, Pak Board beat Punjab Whites in a thriller as the match was tied 2-2 and in penalty shootouts, Pakistan Board converted three as against two of Punjab Whites to register well-deserving victory.
Both the teams Pakistan Board and Punjab Whites played out their hearts and displayed quality stick work.
Punjab Whites took the lead through sensational solo effort goal from the player of the match Noor, who single-handedly beat six players before putting the ball into the net.
The first quarter of the match was goal-less, as both the teams failed to make any significant move in entire 15 minutes.
The match came into life in the second quarter, when Noor scored the arguably goal of the tournament in the 10th minute of the second quarter, but Kiran leveled the match in the dying moments of the second quarter.
The third quarter ended without any change in the scoreline while the fourth and last quarter was played on electrifying pace, as Noor was a constant threat, but she was well marked by three players of Pak Board.
It was Neelum who rose up to the occasion and scored the winning goal.
The things were looking highly grim for Pak Board, who despite playing superbly were almost at the brink, but Kinza broke Whites hearts and leveled the match in the last seconds of the match, as soon as she scored a goal, the umpire blew the whistle to signal the end of normal time.
Pak Board tails were up and it was Pak Board who took first shootout.
Despite missing a plenty, Pak Board came out eventual winners, as Punjab Whites missed two shootouts and it was Noor, who became from hero to zero, after missing the shootout.
In the earlier semi-final, Punjab Colours easily beat Islamabad 8-1, with Rismha and Saba scoring three goals each, while Kinza Azam and Tabinda Safdar chipping in with one goal apiece.
Khansa scored the consolation goal for the losers.
The final will be played today (Saturday) here at 3pm.
Popular Group of Industries chairman Imam Ud Din Shokeen will grace the occasion as chief guest.
Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) president Brig (R) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar, along with his Mrs., secretary Shahbaz Senior, women wing secretary Tanzeela Aamir Cheema and others were also present on the occasion.
Hockey sticks were distributed among all the participating teams by the federation.
Talking to The Nation, Brig Sajjad said: “Female hockey is our top most priority and we will not only enhance the annual grant of the women wing but also try to conduct maximum national female championships at both senior and junior levels.
We are raising female hockey from the ashes and it will take some time before females will also get all the benefits like male players.”
He lauded Tanzeela Aamir and her team for conducting such a wonderful event and apologized for mismanagement and promise not to repeat such things in future.
“We are trying our level best to take Pakistan hockey back to old glory days.
We have chalked out vision 2020 plan and by the due course of time, we will achieve all the set goals.”
Rubbishing claims that the South Asian Games gold medal winning coaches were fired, the PHF chief said that the matter of the fact they were very much in the frame and would be given future tasks soon.
“We are working on different plans and they are bound to succeed.”
Punjab Colours, Pakistan Board reach U-18 girls hockey
ISLAMABAD: Punjab Colours and Pakistan Board teams battled their way to the final of S& I 4th U-18 Junior Girls National Hockey Championship at the Naseer Bunda Hockey Stadium on Friday.
In the first semi-final, Punjab Colours thrashed Islamabad 8-1 in their own backyard with Rimsha Ilyas and Saba Riaz scoring three goals each.
In the action-packed second semi-final between Pakistan Board’s hockey team and Punjab Whites, the former emerged victorious following a penalty shootout win when the match ended in a 2-2 tie.
In this fourth edition of the championship, which is an annual activity of Pakistan Hockey Federation Women’s Wing, a total of eight teams representing all four provinces and a few departments participated.
While emphasising the need to encourage women’s participation in hockey, S&I Sports Director Mustafa Humayun said: “We have a vision to harness the talent of country for both the men’s and women’s notional hockey teams. In partnership with Pakistan Hockey Federation, we are putting in concerted efforts to revive hockey in Pakistan.”
The championship’s final will be played on Saturday (today).
UniKL singing the Blues over blue pitch
By Jugjet Singh
THREE Thunderbolts virtually booked their semi-final slots in the TNB Cup when they went on a scoring spree in the first leg quarter-finals Friday.
League champions SSTMI Thunderbolts hammered Perlis Young Lions Juniors 7-1, SSP-MSP Thunderbolts whitewashed Sabah Sports School 8-1; while Bukit Jalil Sports School Thunderbolts beat BJSS Juniors 6-3.
The only quarter-finals still alive in the return leg is between Anderson Thunderbolts and UniKL Young Guns -- which ended with the Ipoh school winning 3-2.
UniKL took a 2-0 lead but Anderson, who rose from Division Two, gave a super fight to level the score and nailed a final minute penalty corner goal to keep alive a dream of seeing four Thunderbolts in the semi-finals.
However, UniKL is singing the blues as they will not be able to train at the Azlan Shah Stadium blue tournament pitch today.
UniKL have contacted Ipoh City Council, Perak HA and Malaysian Hockey Confederation officials on the matter but have hit a brick wall.
Coach I. Vickneswaran was fuming mad at the disadvantage: "How can they do this to us? It's an important return leg which Anderson will host us but we are not allowed to train at the Azlan Shah Stadium main blue pitch tomorrow (today)."
Vickneswaran said they have contacted all the relevant authorities, and are even willing to pay to train at the main pitch -- but the answer was a big NO.
"On the other hand, Anderson have been training and playing at the main stadium this whole season under the banner of Perak Malaysia Games team.
"Winning and losing is a part of the game, but let there be fairplay," said Vickneswaran.
Anderson team manager said Saiyuti Samat: "We came here (Bukit Jalil) to clain a draw or a win, as we know that we have the advantage in the return leg on Sunday at our own back-yard in front of our school fans. I believe we will be able to qualify for the semi-finals."
UniKL took the lead off Nurasyraf Rosli (17th) and Wan Haziq Hisyamuddin (26th) but Anderson equalised off Nur Syahmi Zulkifli (49th) and Azrai Aizad (52nd) before winning a final minute penalty corner and Najme Ahmad tucked the ball in for a slim lead going into the second leg.
RESULTS: TNB Cup q-finals First Leg: SSTMI Thunderbolts 7 Perlis Young Lions Juniors 1, SSP-MSP Thunderbolts 8 Sabah Sports School 1, UniKL Young Guns 2 Anderson Thunderbolts 3, BJSS Thunderbolts 6 BJSS Juniors 3.
SUNDAY: TNB Cup q-finals Second Leg: Perlis Young Lions Juniors v SSTMI Thunderbolts (SSTMI, 5pm), Sabah Sports School v SSP-MSP Thunderbolts (Pitch II, 7pm), Anderson Thunderbolts v UniKL Young Guns (Azlan Shah, 5pm), BJSS Juniors v BJSS Thunderbolts (Pitch I, 7pm).
Note: Matches at National Stadium Bukit Jalil unless stated
Jugjet's World of Field Hockey
Coach Vicknes left fuming after UniKL blew early lead
by K. Rajan
UniKL's Wan Haziq Hisyamuddin (second from left) fights for the ball with Anderson Thunderbolt's players during their Malaysian Junior Hockey League at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil. - GLENN GUAN/The Star
KUALA LUMPUR: Coach I. Vickneswaran was left fuming after Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL) fell to a shock 3-2 loss to Anderson-Thunderbolt in the Malaysian Junior Hockey League (MJHL) quarter-finals first leg at the National Hockey Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
Yesterday, UniKL got off to a perfect start with goals from Muhd Nurasyraf Rosli (17th) and Wan Haziq Hisyamuddin (26th) for a 2-0 lead. But they surprisingly fell apart in the second half.
Nur Syahmi Zulkifli (49th), Muhd Azrai Aizad (52nd) and Mohd Najme Ahmad Hayazi (70th) were on target for Anderson to take a slim lead for the return leg at the Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey Stadium in Ipoh tomorrow.
Vickneswaran said his players “pulled the handbrake after going two-up”.
“Anderson came here to get a draw here but they returned with a bonus by winning the match. We now have an uphill battle in our hands. But I believe we can still get the desired result in the second leg if the players’ mind-set is right,” said the former international.
Three teams are virtually in the semi-finals after big-margin wins. SSTMI-Thunderbolt whipped Perlis Young Lions Juniors 7-1 in Johor Baru and BJSS Thunderbolt outplayed BJSS Juniors 6-3.
The biggest win of the day was recorded by Pahang Sports School-Thunderbolt as they strolled to an 8-1 win over SSM Sabah.
The Star of Malaysia
Triple Olympic gold medalist visits Men’s National Team training
Earlier this week, the triple Olympic gold medalist in field hockey, Balbir Singh Sr., visited Men’s National Team training to wish Canada’s men good luck as they prepare for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
Singh, who played for India’s National Field Hockey Team and won gold medals in 1948, 1952, and 1956, has recently had a book published about his field hockey career and life.
The 92 year-old has been living in Canada since the 1980s and is now a Canadian citizen.
With the Canadian men’s field hockey team headed to the 2016 Olympics in August, Singh visited training on Tuesday and shared some of his wisdom.
Click here to watch CTV Sports’ feature story on this week’s meeting.
Field Hockey Canada media release
FIH promotes Napoleon Singh as international umpire
NEW DELHI: Hockey India national-level umpire Napoleon Singh has been promoted to the International Outdoor Umpire by the International Hockey Federation (FIH).
The FIH took the decision yesterday after seeing his performance in the recently-concluded 12th South Asian Games 2016, held at Guwahati from February 5 to 16.
Napoleon started his career as an umpire from Manipur in the third Hockey India Junior Women National Championship 2013 held at Ranchi, Jharkhand.
From there on he never stepped back and was a regular umpire to officiate in all the major tournaments conducted under the aegis of Hockey India.
His first major breakthrough was his appointment as umpire in the eighth Junior Men Asia Cup, held at Kuantan, Malaysia in 2015. Based on this performance he was appointed to 12th South Asian Games in 2016.
The 30 year-old Napoleon was a national level hockey player and completed a diploma in Sports Coaching from the National Institute of Sports, Patiala in 2011. He is presently working as a coach at Kokrajhar, Assam.
Speaking on the occasion, Napoleon stated, "It is a proud moment for me to achieve the landmark of international umpire and I am thankful to FIH and Hockey India for the recognition."
Napoleon is among those young umpires from India who have recently been upgraded to international-level outdoor umpire. With Napoleon added to the elite league of international umpires from India, a total of 14 Indian umpires (10 men, 4 women) are now in the category of international-level umpires and would be appointed to officiate in FIH tournaments around the world.
The Times of India
Russia joins the Hockey Revolution
Russian revolution sees hockey development growth across country Photo: Russian Hockey Federation
Anthony Thornton has been in post as the head coach for the Russia women’s team for just under a year but already he and his charges have their eyes on a big prize, qualification for the 2018 World Cup.
“Our key objective is to qualify for the next World Cup via the Hockey World League,” says Thornton. “Rumour has it that 16 teams will be at the next World Cup so that is a realistic objective. But it will be a challenge and a stretch to make it.”
Thornton’s involvement with Russia began when he ran a two week camp with the team in preparation for an EuroHockey Level Three event in Croatia last year. The former Black Stick and Olympian was impressed by what he saw and accepted the invitation to take on the role more permanently.
But, he says, while the support he has received from the Russian Federation has been good, he is acutely aware that resources are limited. “I do not place too many demands on the Federation. I asked for a goalkeeper coach for the first camp and I am very grateful they agreed and funded that request.”
Thornton’s coaching takes place via a series of camps lasting a number of days – the next one is an 11 day camp in March – and his immediate challenge is to modernise the way his team plays.
“When the Russian Hockey Federation chief executive officer asked what I thought of the hockey I had to think long and hard about that question,” he says. “The best one-word answer I could come up with was 'old fashioned'. To move this team to a more modern way of playing will take time and effort. Playing more games is important in that process but that requires finance. The Russian Federation does not have enough finance to play more games.”
Language is also a barrier that he and his players have to overcome. “The whole communication process for a coach is very important. Using an interpreter is good but can also be annoying. I have a series of ticks and crosses and a numbering system and smiley and sad faces to aid communication.”
Since retiring from international hockey, Thornton has developed an impressive coaching cv. Head coach to the New Zealand U18 and U21 boys teams, assistant coach to the senior Black Sticks men and, most recently, assistant coach to the Australia women’s senior side. His new role is very different to the hockey culture of the two Oceania hockey giants.
“Russia is a large and diverse country and hockey is not currently a big sport. But it is played in some schools and there are clubs in some towns. At senior level there is a national club competition. The men’s club competition has some foreign players play in it. Not so much the women.
“The winter weather is very cold, so outside sport is tricky. Indoor hockey could be encouraged and that could be a vehicle of improvement in skill level. Because of the size of the country, transport is costly and time consuming. For example, a train I took for St Petersberg to Kazan took 22 hours.”
But while the conditions are tricky, Thornton’s task is being made easier by the support he is getting from the Hockey Federation. A new pitch in Moscow – the CSP Krilatskoye pitch, which is a Global Certified Field under the International Hockey Federation's (FIH) Quality Programme for Hockey Turf – is a clear signal of intent to raise the level of professionalism within hockey – one of the four goals of the FIH 10-year strategy - the Hockey Revolution.
“The biggest surprise is the desire of the Russian Federation to improve hockey. That is not an easy task nor is it a quick one. But with the desire and a resolute approach to that task it can be done. I think a world ranking inside the top 14 is possible. But that requires a lot of effort, resource and time.
“Coach development is a key part of what I am doing in Russia. Getting lots of coaches with more information will aid the development of hockey players in Russia. We will look to the FIH for support in that area.”