All the news for Monday 23 November 2020
SA Hockey’s Mickey Gordon – a true servant of the game
Gordon steps down as Women's National Convenor of Selectors
Mickey Gordon is a name that has been associated with sport his whole life, none more than hockey. He has devoted his life to developing the sport of hockey with an involvement that incorporates many aspects including playing, coaching, umpiring, administration and more.
Mickey’s role at SA Hockey has seen him obtain umpiring colours, serve as the SA U21 B Coach as well as being a selector at age group levels of U16, U18 and U21 alongside being an USSA Selector. His biggest and most prized role though, was undoubtedly the 12 years that he has been Convenor of Selectors for the National Women’s side working alongside the likes of Jenny King, Giles Bonnet and Sheldon Rostron to name a few.
Gordon’s love for the game is second to none and in conversation with him you will immediately feel his passion for hockey. Long after he had stepped away from his role on the SA Hockey Board, Mickey continued to attract top teams to SA in the summer months offering them a training base during his tenure at North West University and the University of the Free State alike. On the back of Mickey moving off from the role of National Convenor of Selectors, SA Hockey CEO Marissa Langeni paid tribute to his wonderful service.
“Mickey Gordon is a wonderful ambassador and servant of the game of hockey in South Africa. He has recently settled into a new key role as part of the local organising committee of the 2021 Womens Junior World Cup. On behalf of the South African Hockey Association I want to thank Mickey Gordon for his service to the game over the last few decades.”
SA Hockey Association media release
The 1980 Moscow Olympics boycott was an opportunity to build resilience, says hockey player
As an Olympian who never played at an Olympics, 1980 NZ hockey goalie Sue Emerson found her rich Olympic experience elsewhere. Suzanne McFadden/Newsroom
Sue Emerson and Sue McLeish were team-mates in the New Zealand hockey side who never went to the Moscow Olympics 40 years ago. But their reactions to the boycott were quite different, Angela Walker discovers in part two of a series on the fate of the 1980 Olympians.
If things had gone according to plan, Sue Emerson would have had the full Olympic experience 40 years ago. But a boycott of the 1980 Moscow Games put paid to her Olympic dreams.
Remarkably, the New Zealand hockey player saw it as an opportunity to build resilience. And it’s something Emerson seems to have in spades.“I didn’t get a choice whether I went to the Olympics or not, but I did get a choice in how I responded,” she says. “Missing out is just a part of who I am. It’s not the defining factor, but the fact I didn’t go is just as much a part of me as if I did go.” The Olympic boycott wasn’t the first time Emerson’s mettle was tested. The previous year, the New Zealand goalkeeper wasn’t selected in the World Cup team going to Vancouver.
“We were all in the same room when the New Zealand team was named,” Emerson says. “I remember the strength of character that was required to go up to the other two keepers and say, ‘Congratulations’. Things like that have held me in good stead in life.”
Despite missing the World Cup, Emerson was selected for the 1980 Olympic team. “I could have gone sour having missed Vancouver, but I had the choice to keep trying,” she says. “I tell people: ‘You can get your moment, get dropped and then get back in. You just have to make it happen’.”
When Emerson heard the news, the first thing she did was phone her sports-mad parents who were “absolutely delighted that one of their children was going to the Olympics,” she says.
It was especially exciting as women's hockey was to be contested at the Olympics for the first time. And New Zealand, as one of only six qualifying teams, was considered a serious medal contender.
The women were also inspired by the New Zealand men’s team having won the gold medal at the previous Olympics in Montreal.
With Moscow in sight, Emerson trained in earnest. She would help her New Zealand captain, Jenny McDonald, push her milk delivery trolley through the streets of Outram in Dunedin. “That was our endurance training,” she says.
Emerson also fit her Games preparation around her job as a physical education teacher at Moreau (now Kavanagh) College.
“They were proud to have an Olympian at their school, but there was a lot of talk about Russia invading Afghanistan and the Olympics being in doubt,” she says. “I never doubted we would go. I was a typical sportsperson, not a political animal, and I thought it’d all be fine.”
However, pressure from the government to join the US-led boycott resulted in a wave of national sporting associations withdrawing their athletes - though hockey initially hung on. Amid the uncertainty, a group of Kiwis implored the team not to go.
“We received letters about political prisoners that said, ‘how can you think of going when their lives are so terrible?’,” Emerson says. “There were even threatening letters saying our lives would be in danger if we stepped on the plane.”
New Zealand Hockey eventually joined the exodus, withdrawing both the women’s and reigning Olympic champion men’s teams just weeks before their scheduled departure.
The team photo for the 1980 NZ women's hockey team who went to the US instead of Moscow. SUPPLIED/NEWSROOM
Emerson’s teammate Sue McLeish well remembers her shock.
“I was totally unaware of the political climate and was happily going along until our manager Gladys O’Brien came to Fairfield Intermediate School where I was teaching. It was horrendous,” McLeish says.
“I got dragged out of the classroom and told we wouldn’t be going. I had a gazillion questions – like can I pay for myself? I was angry, seriously angry.”
Emerson remembers thinking she’d just go to the next Olympics instead. “Of course I was disappointed, but the Americans were clever: they offered us a five city alternative tour. I’d only ever been to Australia and now I was suddenly going to five cities across the States. I felt lucky,” she says.
But McLeish was less impressed. “It was such a let-down compared to going to the Olympics and playing the world’s best teams. But at least the players who retired that year got to wear the silver fern,” she says, recalling the Olympic blazers they’d already received.
Several of the team continued playing for New Zealand, setting their sights on the next Olympics, although they knew selection was far from guaranteed.
“I was 30 and getting towards the end of my career, but I was damn determined to stay on,” McLeish says.
Her tenacity paid off and she was named in the Los Angeles Olympic team four years later.
For Emerson however, life had changed immeasurably by then. With her firstborn baby nestled in her arms, she cheered the team on watching the LA Games on television.
“I was disappointed I couldn’t go in ‘84, but I was a mother. I got a great kick out of seeing the girls there, but that doesn’t take away from the fact I’d have loved to have gone,” she says.
McLeish says contesting the Los Angeles Olympics didn’t compensate for missing a shot at an Olympic medal in Moscow. “It was bittersweet. I was really happy to be at the 1984 Olympics, but I would have loved to be there with the entire 1980 team,” she says.
“Plus we’d gone to the country that had asked our government to boycott four years earlier. I still see 1980 as a missed opportunity for New Zealand hockey.”
McLeish went on to become a coach, including a stint as the Black Sticks assistant coach; the 2006 Commonwealth Games a career highlight.
It was during her time coaching the Black Sticks that she told the players about her 10 teammates from 1980 who never got to an Olympics, coining the phrase: ‘Gatekeepers of the shirt’.
“I told them I’d worn my shirt at the Olympics for those who had gone before me and said they should wear their shirt with pride, knowing people before them had worn a similar shirt,” McLeish says, adding that the team went straight out and beat Canada 6-0 after the pep talk.
The highs and lows of McLeish’s hockey career often informed her approach. When one athlete she coached missed selection, she took him aside and said: “I absolutely understand your level of anger, and I know it’s hard to pinpoint where to throw it. But throw yourself into your training and be so physically knackered each night that you won’t take it out on others.
“I’ve always thought you have to go through some bad stuff to get to the good stuff. My nephew is in the Ice Blacks and I say to him, ‘It’s not going to be the measure of you when things go swimmingly. It’s whether you can pick yourself up from an injury or non- selection. Then you’ll find out what sort of a person you are’.”
Emerson, too, has poured herself into developing others. A sport leadership specialist and educator for over three decades, she is passionate about the ability of sport and education to catalyse change in people’s lives.
The Unitec academic programme manager occasionally references missing out on the Games in her lectures. “I say: ‘I’m an Olympian, but I’ve never competed at an Olympics.’ And people go: ‘Huh? How can that be?’”
But for Emerson, competing at the Olympics was never the final destination. “The endgame is being a great human being,” she says.
“As sportspeople we’re incredibly lucky because we’re given lessons that shape us into better human beings. There are lots of studies about this. I don’t think we market sport enough as building people, building transferable skills for life. It is about a rounded life. I’ve had a lucky life.”
Amongst Emerson’s good fortune was getting to attend the International Olympic Academy in Olympia, Greece, a few years ago. It was in association with her role as chair of the NZ Olympic Education Commission, which oversees an Olympic values programme in schools.
“It’s powerful because the Olympic values are absolutely congruent with the motto of most schools, the whakataukī of a school,” says Emerson, who wholeheartedly champions the Olympic ideals.
“The Olympics are the most outstanding of world stages. They are about people, excellence, friendship, respect, being with like-minded people who are trying to do their very best. The Olympics are a cauldron of humanity. Where else do you get together with the whole world, about something good?”
Emerson feels for today’s Olympic hopefuls disrupted by the pandemic.
“Covid-19 is teaching us lessons in resilience,” she says. “Being an athlete requires resilience. Being an athlete during Covid-19 requires superpower resilience. The other thing it sits on is a platform of hope. I dealt with Moscow on a platform of hope. Well this is a platform of hope: Tokyo will take place next year.”
Emerson may have missed out on contesting the Olympics in 1980, but her involvement with the Olympic movement has helped to make up for it.
“I ended up getting the Olympic experience,” she says. “I missed out in 1980 but now I’ve had it and seen the strength of it.”
New Zealand women’s hockey team selected for the boycotted 1980 Moscow Olympics: Pat Barwick, Christine Berry, Robyn Blackman, Sue Emerson, Marianne Gray, Shirley Haig, Allana Hiha, Harina Kohere, Jennifer McDonald, Sue McLeish, Janice Neil, Judith Phillips, Gail Rodbourn, Lesley Shankland, Karen Thomas, Edith Weber
Celebrating 30 years with Kookaburra
What does it take to stay married 30 years? Here’s the best relationship advice you’ll ever hear!
When two people fall in love and choose to spend their lives together, many choose to marry, many choose not to, but they say any relationship needs a few vital ingredients to stand the test of time, it’s not always a bed of roses after all.
When the overwhelming emotions of courtship wane, as they seem to so often, as the challenges and familiarity of everyday life begin to erode those passionate early years, people often look for a silver bullet solution to bring back those heady bygone days.
So, what does it take to keep a relationship together for 30 years! What pearls (pun intended) of wisdom are floating out there to help us all achieve such a meritorious milestone?
Let’s look at one relationship that has stood the test of time, overcome adversity, and still thrives today. August 2020 marks 30 years since the beginning of the Hockey New Zealand partnership with Kookaburra. There’s not many sports sponsorships in New Zealand sport still going since 1990!
Over the course of these three decades we’ve seen hockey grow as a community sport for both men and women, the birth of the Small Sticks brand and programme that’s see’s circa 70,000 kids experience hockey each year, and we’ve seen the Black Sticks men and women scale the international rankings and win Commonwealth Games medals and Oceania Cups.
Kookaburra too has expanded and deepened its commitment to the hockey and cricket markets in New Zealand, with increased product ranges, stronger market share and most recently setting up it’s own online retail presence on their newly released website.
But there have been significant challenges and setbacks along the way, like the falling off of world rankings and heart-breaking Olympic campaigns, changing leadership at Hockey NZ, the global financial crisis of 2008 and most recently the Coronavirus pandemic.
So, what has kept this 30-year relationship flourishing and successful?
“Both parties understanding the value of relationships and loyalty which is especially important during these testing times” said Kookaburra NZ, General Manager, Jason Mills.
“Kookaburra, as a company, are invested in the game so want to support Hockey New Zealand in providing a quality delivery program. That’s why we’re involved. Hockey New Zealand know our objectives and keep them front of mind, so we are both successful, together”
Paul Scoringe, Hockey New Zealand’s Commercial and Marketing Consultant agrees, “we’re committed to delivering high levels of satisfaction for our partners, delivering on our agreements and always looking for opportunities to add value in ways that are important to them. That takes personal investment in building relationships of trust and mutual benefit”.
For both organisations, shared core values are critical. After undertaking a whole of sport brand review in 2018, hockey looked hard at the way the sport connected with communities and what it needed to do to be more accessible and easier to engage with. The core values of Integrity, Inclusivity, Enjoyment, Striving For Excellence and Hockey Whānau were born, embraced and now drive everything the organization does.
It means for long term partners like Kookaburra, they can rely on Hockey New Zealand to seek out what success look like for their people and their relationships.
Says Jason Mills, “Success to Kookaburra, is the sport of hockey thriving across the country and resonating from children through to adults while hoping our brand becomes the first choice of many of those involved”.
Aligning what success looks like and working collaboratively to achieve common goals, is the final ingredient that will keep the Kookaburra – Hockey New Zealand partnership alive for years to come.
So, there we have it. Reaching 30 years together is a milestone of significance, in life and in commerce. Valuing the relationship, building trust and showing loyalty, aligning goals and working collaboratively together to achieve them, establishing shared core values and striving for mutual success together are all vital.
And it will be these same beliefs and actions that will see this and any relationship thrive for the next 30 years.
Hockey New Zealand Media release
England Hockey ‘must listen’ to state school voice over accessibility
By Rod Gilmour
The Lee Valley hockey and tennis centre with its 'Union Jack' pitch
Many believe state school players are being denied opportunity to reach the top
Current and former internationals have resolutely backed young Izzy Gardiner’s stance on calling for more state school hockey provision in England.
Gardiner, 17, took to Twitter this month to highlight the plight of state school players during lockdown and was ‘overwhelmed’ to see her post go viral.
Her comments sparked a frenzy on social media which were comprehensively supported by some of our greatest players, while The Hockley Paper while this week publish a week-long series of pieces on the state v private debate.
“Opportunity and access must be for all,” wrote former GB captain Kate Richardson-Walsh, while wife Helen said that sporting authorities and England Hockey must listen to what Izzy has to say.
“She wants to be part of the solution, how fantastic is that,” wrote Helen. “This is the experience of thousands – Don’t listen to respond, listen to understand.”
Meanwhile, Rio Olympian Sam Quek used her newspaper column to succinctly underline how private school students have the edge over their state educated counterparts due to having more resource, facilities and pitch time.
Quek said how “sad” she was when she saw Izzy’s Tweet and wrote in her Daily Mirror column: “When hockey eventually resumes and the national youth selectors emerge, the different levels of sharpness and confidence between those who have been playing regularly and those who haven’t been could be stark.
Lack of club resource is holding back access for all
“When the lockdowns are eventually over, GB and England Hockey will need to work extra hard to make sure that state-educated boys and girls, like Izzy, aren’t overlooked due to circumstances beyond their control.”
State-school educated Michael Hoare, the GB men’s international, said that club hockey remains vitally important to development, but that the set-up is not geared towards inclusion.
It is one reason why he started his own coaching company to bridge the divide.
He said: “Club hockey is so important but if you aren’t at the right club what do you do? I’m hoping I can make a difference in the future with that.”
Current GB women’s player, Emily Defroand, also weighed into the debate, writing that Izzy’s concerns were “another reminder of why school sport matters to our younger generation, and how important it is to enable equal opportunities to access and excel in sport.”
Meanwhile, Scottish goalkeeper Tommy Alexander said that due to a lack of funds at clubs, there are many top players and coaches who are employed at private schools.
“School hockey should only be an intro. Not an advantageous route,” he wrote on Twitter.