All the news for Thursday 27 April 2017
Aussies still a handful without skipper, says manager
by S. Ramaguru
KUALA LUMPUR: Defending champions Australia have been forced to make a change to their final squad for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, which starts on Saturday.
Skipper Mark Knowles sustained a foot injury in training and will be replaced by Ben Craig.
Despite the change, Australian team manager Peter Bowen believes that they still have a strong squad for the hockey tournament in Ipoh.
The Aussies arrived in Ipoh on Tuesday and played a friendly against Malaysia last night. They have another practice game against Japan today.
“Unfortunately, we’ve had to rule Mark out of the Azlan Shah Cup. But it does give Ben an opportunity to further prove his ability. He is relatively new and has only 12 caps to his name,” said Bowen.
Australia have been champions nine times – in 1983, 1996, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2016.
Since 2011, the winners of the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup have come from the Oceania region, with New Zealand emerging triumphant in 2012 and 2015.
“We still have a highly capable team. There are some very experienced players in the team and we look forward to the competition,” Bowen said.
The Australians, who will be gunning for their 10th title, will start their campaign against New Zealand on Saturday.
They will play Malaysia the next day.
Colin Batch, who has been the chief coach of the New Zealand team over the last four years, is now heading the Australian challenge.
Bowen said that Batch, who took over the team after the Rio Olympics last year, will be in charge for four years.
But Batch has been a familiar figure at the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup since 2012.
As the chief coach of New Zealand, he led them to their maiden Sultan Azlan Shah Cup win in 2012. He also helped them to the 2015 crown.
The other teams in the fray are India, Britain and Japan.
The Star of Malaysia
Iranian indoor field hockey team thrashes Qatar in Asian Cup
The Iranian men’s national indoor field hockey team (file photo)
The Iranian men’s national indoor field hockey team has maintained its winning streak at the 7th edition of the Asian Cup, and recorded a resounding victory against the host country Qatar.
On Tuesday evening, the Iranian indoor hockey players trounced the Qatari team 9-3 in a match held at the world's largest indoor multi-purpose dome – Aspire Dome – in the Qatari capital city of Doha.
The Iranian indoor field hockey players had edged past Malaysia’s national squad 11-0 in its opening game the previous day.
The Iranian outfit is going to play against the national Omani team on Wednesday.
The 7th edition of Indoor Hockey Asia Cup kicked off in Qatar on April 24, and will run through April 28, 2017.
The men's event comprises of eight teams drawn into two pools. Iran has been drawn in Group A along with Qatar, Malaysia and Oman. Kazakhstan is in Pool B with Uzbekistan, Taiwan and Thailand.
The top two teams from each group will play in the cross-over semi-finals, while the finalists will automatically qualify for the 2018 Hockey Indoor World Cup, which is scheduled to be held between February 7 and 11 next year in the German capital city of Berlin.
The Iranian squad comprises Yaghoub Bahrami, Amir Aruei, Nima Heydari, Behnam Sa’di, Hamid Nouraniyan, Abbas Aruei, Mohsen Bohlouli, Seyed Mohammad Ghorayshi, Navid Taherirad, Alireza Chezani Sharahi, Behdad Biranvand and Behdad Biranvand.
The team is led by Esfandiar Safaei as the head couch. Masoud Bohlouli and Abolfazl Yousefi assist Safaei as coaches.
Iran is the most decorated Asian team, winning six previous editions.
Meanwhile, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Thailand, Uzbekistan, China and North Korea are competing in the women's category of the Indoor Hockey Asia Cup. They are meeting each other in a round-robin format, with the top two teams meeting in the final.
South African Senior Inter-Provincial Tournament Men and Women 2017
Results and final pool standing from Day 3
Inter-Provincial Mens A
|SOUTHERN GAUTENG - EASTERN PROVINCE||Pool A||4 - 1|
|SPAR KZN - WITSIES||Pool B||5 - 0|
|WESTERN PROVINCE - FREE STATE||Pool A||5 - 3|
|NORTHERN BLUES - WP PENS||Pool B||1 - 4|
|12:00||NORTHERN BLUES - FREE STATE||Quarter Final|
|15:30||WESTERN PROVINCE - WP PENS||Quarter Final|
|15:30||SOUTHERN GAUTENG - WITSIES||Quarter Final|
|19:00||SPAR KZN - EASTERN PROVINCE||Quarter Final|
2017 Inter-Provincial Mens B
|KZN MYNAHS - BORDER||Pool A||4 - 1|
|SACD - NORTHERN DAISIES||Pool B||2 - 2|
|EASTERN GAUTENG - SG NUGGETS||Pool A||0 - 11|
|NORTHWEST - MPUMALANGA||Pool B||8 - 0|
|08:30||SG NUGGETS - MPUMALANGA||Quarter Final|
|08:30||KZN MYNAHS - NORTHERN DAISIES||Quarter Final|
|10:15||SACD - BORDER||Quarter Final|
|12:00||NORTHWEST - EASTERN GAUTENG||Quarter Final|
2017 Inter-Provincial Womens A
|SOUTHERN GAUTENG - SPAR KZN||Pool B||4 - 1|
|WITSIES - WP PENS||Pool B||0 - 1|
|NORTHERN BLUES - NORTHWEST||Pool A||2 - 0|
|FREE STATE - WESTERN PROVINCE||Pool A||1 - 3|
|Spar KZN Raiders||3||2||0||1||8||6|
|12:00||NORTHERN BLUES - WP PENS||Quarter Final|
|13:45||SPAR KZN - FREE STATE||Quarter Final|
|13:45||SOUTHERN GAUTENG - NORTHWEST||Quarter Final|
|17:15||WESTERN PROVINCE - WITSIES||Quarter Final|
2017 Inter-Provincial Womens B
|SACD A - EASTERN PROVINCE||Pool A||0 - 1|
|KZN MYNAHS - NORTHERN DASIES||Pool A||1 - 3|
|MPUMALANGA - BORDER||Pool B||2 - 1|
|SG NUGGETS - SACD B||Pool B||3 - 0|
|08:30||NORTHERN DASIES - SACD B||Quarter Final|
|10:15||MPUMALANGA - SACD A||Quarter Final|
|10:15||KZN MYNAHS - SG NUGGETS||Quarter Final|
|13:45||BORDER - EASTERN PROVINCE||Quarter Final|
Punjab eves face Railways in quarters
Chandigarh: Punjab will take on two-time defending champions Railways in the quarterfinals of the senior women’s hockey National Championship in Rohtak tomorrow.
The Punjab women will have a chance to avenge their 3-1 loss to Railways in the final last year. Punjab qualified for the quarterfinals after three wins in four matches, including the 11-0 hammering of Assam yesterday.
However, overcoming Railways will be a huge challenge for Punjab. The Railways team includes current and former India players. Deepika and Poonam Rani were part of the team that won the Hockey World League Round 2 recently. Railways are captained by former India striker Anuradha Devi Thokchom.
“We have topped our group. From here on, there is only one goal — to win the title,” Deepika said. “We have a strong team and we are confident.”
Meanwhile, former champions Haryana will play last year’s second runners-up Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy for a place in the semifinals. Haryana were held 2-2 by Maharashtra yesterday. In the other quarterfinals, Odisha will face Madhya Pradesh, while Jharkhand take on Association of Indian Universities.
Sub-Junior National Hockey: J&K ride high on spirit and hope
BENGALURU: When floods washed away most of Poonch, a remote district in Jammu and Kashmir close to the border, Saqib's home was among the thousands that bore the brunt. A few days after the 2014 calamity, when the family of six returned from the relief camp, there wasn't much left they could call their own. But to Saqib's delight lay his hockey stick amidst the ruins, in a corner of what used to be a room he shared with his siblings. It had survived the deluge.
Saqib feels it was an indicator that he was meant to be hockey player. The family has since rebuilt its home and life and the incident has added ambition and purpose to the 15-year-old's sporting dreams.
Like Saqib, most of the players from Jammu and Kashmir who are currently playing in the Hockey India Sub-Junior National Hockey championship here have a story to tell: of waking up to gunshots in the dead of night or missing practice for weeks at a stretch courtesy curfews, stone-throwing and protests.
Although the odds are stacked heavily against these youngsters, they have the burning desire to overcome them and wield sticks with the hope that the region, largely unattended to by the Sports Authority of India, will get support.
"We lost everything in the 2014 floods. The recent flooding too affected us. We often miss out on practice because of the unrest in the region. There are times when we can't go to the ground for weeks, so we make the best use of the time we get," explained Saqib, whose father makes a living out of repairing home appliances.
Apart from Saqib, midfielder Agrim Raina and defender Amandeep Singh too hail from Poonch and make a 240km trip to the KK Hakhu stadium in Gujarbasti, Jammu, for selection trials and camps and stay at Vaishnavi Dham, where Hockey Jammu and Kashmir gets accommodation at Rs 100 per bed for its players. A majority of the players in the team come from Akhnoor and Simbal Camp, a former refugee camp near Jammu.
Agrim, a 16-year-old from Purani Poonch, says, "We can play well if we get a ground to train regularly. We play in a school ground which is shut for sports activities for weeks together during public rallies, Independence Day and Republic Day. Also, it is very disturbing to hear gunshots through the night and wake up to thick clouds of smoke from exchange of gunfire."
Speaking about the team, coach Jaspreet Singh said, "I train a bunch of boys in Simbal of whom nine are in the team. In the build-up to the event the team missed a lot of training due to unrest and protests. Also, since we don't have proper infrastructure or job opportunities through sports, it is difficult for us to convince parents, most of whom struggle to make ends meet, to allow their children to play."
In the run-up to the championship, the team came together for a three-week camp on the wornout pitch at the KK Hakhu stadium. "The players haven't seen a blue turf before. They are struggling to adjust to the pace. There is only one SAI coach who doesn't help much. So theoretically, coaching for the boys involves watching videos and we learn together as a team. All these boys need is a good turf in Jammu and some encouragement from SAI and the results will show in quick time," added a confident Jaspreet who works in the police department.
The Times of India
Pakistan Jrs down Western Australia 2-0; enter Final
Hobart, Tasmania: In the last playoff match, Pakistan defeated Western Australia 2-0 to enter the final of Australia's National Junior Hockey Championships.
It was a well contested game but Pakistan held the upper hand most of the time.
Handsome boy Ali Aziz opened the scoring in the 20th minute.
The score remained 1-0 when the team changed the sides.
The second goal came in the 43rd minute through Shahzaib Khan.
Now Pakistan face New South Wales State team in the final of this 10 team competition on Saturday.
PHF Media release
Canadian men “more mature” and confident post-Olympics, pre-World League Semi-Final
Canada’s Men’s National Team faces celebrate a goal vs Germany on August 6, 2016 at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (By: Yan Huckendubler)
For the second time in as many tries, Canada’s men’s field hockey team has advanced through World League Round 2 and into the World League Semi-Finals.
With the second place finish in Trinidad and Tobago earlier in April, Canada moves on to Round 3 in London, England from June 15-25 and guarantees itself two shots to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
“Considering the lead-in we had was a bit disjointed – no games since the Olympics – I think it was really good,” Men’s National Team head coach Anthony Farry says of Canada’s performance at World League 2 in Tacarigua.
“In the match that really mattered, the semi-final against Russia, we showed the composure and understanding of what’s needed to win those games and I think we really took control of it. And that was really pleasing.”
A top eight finish in London would mean Canada qualifies for the 2018 Men’s Hockey World Cup after missing out on the 2014 tournament in the Hague.
And after qualifying for the 2016 Olympics (after missing out on the 2012 Games in London) through the World League circuit in 2015, it would mean Canada has seized the opportunity to qualify for a major tournament twice in a row.
It’s a testament to how far the Canadian men have come in recent years under Farry’s leadership.
“Out of the Olympics, we’re seeing a bit of a different side, a more mature side at times,” Farry adds. “We’ve got guys who are starting to grow up in terms of hockey ability, and that showed through in our semi-final against Russia for sure.
“It is a disappointment not to win it (World League 2), and it is good that the guys were disappointed. The staff was equally disappointed. But we move ahead and look to the next one now.”
With recent history in mind, the team is confident at its chances to get the job done and qualify for the World Cup by putting in a good showing at the World League Semi-Final in London.
But Farry and Canada know they would be wise not to put a whole lot of stock on past results.
“Our ability to perform in the big games and the games that count, it’s been good,” he says. “It’s something that gives the group that confidence and that belief.”
“But on the day, that doesn’t count for too much. You’ve got to go out there, you’ve got to perform, you’ve got to beat the side that’s in front of you.”
And now, maybe more than ever, Canada’s men believe they can do that in any given match.
Canada opens the World League Semi-Final in London on June 16 vs Pakistan at 6:00pm local time.
For Canada’s full schedule, results, and game recaps, click here.
Canada’s men also have a second chance to qualify for the 2018 World Cup by winning the Pan American Cup, which will be held from Lancaster, Pennsylvania from August 4-13 this year.
Field Hockey Canada media release
Hectic hockey life just fine for UCD captain Deirdre Duke
Club remain on course for a treble while she faces a busy summer schedule with Ireland
Deirdre Duke in action for Ireland against Italy. Photograph: Rowland White/Presseye/Inpho
When she tweeted a photo of herself back in October recovering in hospital after surgery on her injured shoulder, Deirdre Duke might have had trouble imagining what lay ahead.
Within a few months she would be back captaining UCD to success in the Hockey League, scoring the winner in the Irish Senior Cup final and, now, preparing for next weekend’s Champions Trophy when the club could complete a remarkable treble.
Mind you, the 24-year-old is not unaccustomed in the past to misfortune that has relegated her to the sidelines for a spell.
A week before she was to play for Ireland in the under-16 European Championships she broke her toe. “And that was that,” she recalls.
And a week before she was due to play in the under-21 European Championships she broke her nose. That, too, was that.
“I’ve had a bit of bad luck alright,” she says, “but nothing ever too serious – so I’d actually been fortunate enough that way. I’d never had a long-term injury like this one before.
“The shoulder came out and went back in after a fitness test in the morning and later in the day, in a five v five game at Irish training, I just slipped with no one around me. I fell down on my elbow and out it came.”
The period of rest and, then, rehabilitation that followed surgery put Duke in to previously uncharted territory – she had time on her hands.
“And nothing to do with it,” she laughs.
“You’re so used to organising everything around your hockey, but suddenly I had all this time and it felt a bit weird. I went away to Paris for the weekend the girls were playing Harlequins down in Cork and even though it was a holiday I felt so sad, the only place I wanted to be was in Cork.”
I think we’ve just created this belief among the team that we’re never beaten, if we keep on playing our game then we’ll come through
“It was bizarre. My whole life has been centred around hockey, so it was a little bit isolating, suddenly you’re out on your own. I realised how much I missed it and how important it is to me. And you also realise how short your career is. You only get so many seasons when you’re feeling good and in great shape, so you just appreciate it a bit more.”
While she would struggle to view the experience as a blessing in disguise, Duke is at least facing in to an intensely busy summer with Ireland that bit fresher than her team-mates after her enforced break, missing January’s trip to Malaysia for the World League 2 along with 10 or so games with UCD.
“As well as that I’m stronger upper body wise from all the rehab, so I definitely feel in better shape now than I did before it happened. And I kind of timed it well coming back for the business end of the season.”
Deirdre Duke: scored the winner for UCD in the Irish Women’s Senior Cup final win over Cork Harlequins. Photograph: Paul Walsh/Inpho
Any frustration she might have felt during her lay-off was washed away when she won the Irish Senior Cup for her team in the dying moments of the final when she scored against Cork Harlequins.
“We were on cloud nine, but we only celebrated on the Sunday night and that was it, we had Hermes-Monkstown to play the following Saturday, so it was all eyes on the next one.”
Needing to beat Hermes to win the Hockey League, UCD went a goal down in the third quarter. But in what has become something of a habit this season, they dug deep and fought back, two goals from Lena Tice, the winner coming two minutes from time, clinching them the title after an 18-match unbeaten run.
“I think we’ve just created this belief among the team that we’re never beaten, if we keep on playing our game then we’ll come through. It was the same against Harlequins in the League, we were two goals down but kept our heads, winning 4-3 in the end. We just believe in ourselves.”
And now for the treble?
“It hasn’t even been mentioned! Loreto are all we’re thinking about,” she says of Saturday’s semi-final opponents, the winners of that game going through to Sunday’s Champions Trophy decider at Grange Road against the victors from the Hermes-Monkstown v Cork Harlequins semi-final.
“We drew with Loreto earlier in the season and were then lucky to beat them in February with a late goal, so there really was nothing between us. And that’s how I expect the semi-final will be too.”
Sunday will mark the end of the club season, making way for that busy international summer. Between May and August Ireland travel to the United States and Germany as part of their build-up to July’s World League semi-finals in South Africa, and then after a short break they’re off to Amsterdam for the European Championships.
Before then, Duke has the small matter of her final exams in Law to attend to. “And I can’t wait to get them out of the way so I can focus in on the hockey,” she laughs.
“It’s a manic summer, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Sure, what else would you want to be doing?”
The Irish Times
Dilip Tirkey gives back to game, lays hockey pitch in village
Former India hockey captain Dilip Tirkey, who is a Rajya Sabha MP, has taken an important step to improve infrastructure for the most popular game in his region
Former India hockey captain Dilip Tirkey is a Rajya Sabha MP, and wants to help in the upliftment of hockey in his home region.(HT Photo)
The tribal belt of Orissa, Bihar and Jharkhand has contributed a number of national and international level athletes down the decades. However, many of them have had to overcome primitive infrastructure as well as poverty and Maoist violence before shining for their states and country.
Now, former India hockey captain Dilip Tirkey, who is a Rajya Sabha MP, has taken an important step to improve infrastructure for the most popular game in his region.
The highly-regarded defender, who played in the 1996, 2000 and 2004 Olympics, is getting an artificial hockey pitch laid in his village, Saunamara, in Orissa’s backward Sundargarh district.
Tirkey said the hockey field will be sand-based, which required far less maintenance, especially when it came to watering the pitch. “The construction work has started and in a couple of weeks the pitch will be ready,” Tirkey said.
Tirkey says the pitch will attract youngsters from nearby villages. “If a student is good in sports there are lots of avenues these days. Perhaps a good job will change their lifestyle and at the same time discourage them from picking up guns as the region is a hotbed of Maoists,” he told HT on phone from Bhubaneswar.
Tirkey knows the value of quality infrastructure when a boy or girl takes up a sport, having begun his decade-long playing career on an uneven, muddy playground in his village, until he joined the Sports Authority of India training centre in Sundargarh. “Usually, kids dribble on any barren patch of earth, but that will be history now,” he said.
Funds a challenge
Acquiring land for the hockey turf wasn’t an issue, but funds were. He helped generate funds to the tune of Rs. 5 crore, the estimated cost of the project. He contributed Rs. 1 crore from his MPLAD (MP local area development scheme) fund and appealed to others, including corporate houses, for help.
“It was a challenging task, but the response was good. It wasn’t possible for one department to give the full amount. The best way forward was to pool in resources. Corporate houses like Steel Authority of India came forward for a common cause of developing sports infrastructure in the village,” he said.
Tirkey hoped his effort would push others to help raise infrastructure in the region. Besides the full hockey pitch, he has also initiated a proposal to have a sand-based six-a-side hockey turf and an artificial football ground.
The Olympian said football is a seasonal game in his village. While few play cricket, everyone is excited when it comes to hockey. “There is passion for hockey. We can proudly say it’s in our blood. That’s why it’s important to have one good playground in the village,” he added.
To infuse sports culture in youngsters in the region, the Dilip Tirkey Sports Research and Development Foundation has also started a hockey tournament for tribal youth from Odisha and Chattisgarh last year. As many as 1300 teams from over 700 villages took part. The final of the tournament will be held in August. “There were 32 venues and the matches are still on. Each venue had at least two teams,” he said.
Facilities still scarce
Tirkey said water and power are still scarce in the region. “That’s why we are having a sand-based artificial pitch, which doesn’t need much maintenance.”
There is also an annual talent hunt scheme initiated by SAI in the region. Players with potential get a chance for more exposure and can avail modern facilities, either at Sundargarh or Rourkela.
Tirkey has also started a six-a-side hockey tournament in his village last year. Though only six teams took part, he is confident it will grow.
The latest from his village to make the cut for the national team is Dipsan Tirkey, who was vice-captain of the junior World Cup-winning team at Lucknow last year.
“With good facilities we hope the village will be able to regularly contribute players to the national team,” he added.
KHA announces contracts for talented 24
By Nabil Tahir
KARACHI: Karachi Hockey Association (KHA), for the very first time, on Wednesday announced central contracts for 24 players — 12 each from junior and senior categories — for a period of six months.
As per KHA Secretary Haider Hussain, the contracts handed out are divided into A and B categories.
“Three of the seniors from A category will pocket Rs10,000 on a monthly basis, while nine others placed in B category will get Rs7,000 each,” said Hussain while informing that the contracts will be reviewed and renewed after six months, based on the performance and discipline of the candidates.
“Meanwhile, Junior A category’s four players will get Rs5,000 each, whereas the remaining eight in the Junior B category will net Rs3,000 apiece.”
Hussain further said that Karachi District Association (KDA), as a hockey department, has provided jobs to 20 players, as a result KHA has moved to rescind the contracts of 13 of them, perhaps to avoid double employment.
Meanwhile, KHA President Dr Junaid Ali Shah explained to The Express Tribune the reason for issuing the aforementioned contracts.
“The players who are passionate about our national sport should have the opportunity to practice and not face any restrictions such as coming to the club every day,” he said.
“Many parents had complained that they were not able to afford the training of their kids, who had talent but not the resources so we have taken this initiative according to the bases of their recent performance.”
Shah also said that the contracts will help the players hone their skills and go a long way in reviving the national sport. “If this goes smoothly, Karachi will once again become the hub of hockey and supply talent for the national team,” he added.
The Express Tribune
Women in Hockey: Five hockey stars leading the way
When it comes to equality in sport, hockey is leading the way and to celebrate the fact that our sport is ‘Equally Amazing’, we are highlighting the work of just a few women who are leading the way in hockey and inspiring other girls and women to get involved with our sport, be it as players, coaches, umpires, administrators or any of the other of the many opportunities.
Hazel Kennedy is deeply immersed in Zambian hockey. She serves on the Zambia National Olympic Committee and is a member of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Executive Board. One of her main tasks is to align the structure and workings of Zambia Hockey with the standards set by FIH. As she says, this is not always an easy or popular task, but it is one that the determined sports leader is setting to with relish.
Kennedy said: “Hockey administration and financial management in clubs is being re-learnt in Zambia and I am also having to mitigate the process. It will be a challenge for the clubs to see the positive side of my position at the FIH. The club’s needs are very immediate and current, while the FIH is about plans and possibilities.
“The main contribution I make to hockey in Zambia is that I am consistent and try not to lose my focus with the challenges of sports administration. It is all about working with the community and recognising the numbers and need for hockey within the communities.”
For Kennedy, the beauty of hockey is that it helps develop self-confidence among girls and women. She said: “It is a sport that continues to help deliver leadership qualities to our girls and allow them to show that they are as capable as the boys in coaching and umpiring as well as playing.
“I would like to see more women take on the management of clubs and get more involved in the technical aspects of the game and not always get caught up with playing,” adds Kennedy. “The players must realise the value of coaching, umpiring and management roles too.”
While Hazel Kennedy is balancing her commitments to her own National Association and the demands of FIH, Sarah Massey’s challenge is all FIH-focused. It is the task of the FIH Events and Marketing Director to oversee the delivery and operations at all FIH events.
Anyone who has listened to Massey speaking at an FIH Congress will appreciate the enormity of the task – persuading all the National Associations to buy into the principles of the Hockey Revolution - hockey's 10-year strategy aimed at making the sport a global game that inspires the next generation.
But Massey, who has previous experience working at Rugby and Cricket World Cups as well as several Olympic and Commonwealth Games, is a character whose competitiveness in a sporting sphere is matched by her determination to keep pushing hockey to become a big player among the major sports.
Here, Massey explains what she sees as the major component of her role. She said: "My main contribution has been to work with the internal team and our hosts to improve the standard and quality of the major international events including the Hockey World Cups. Through an open, transparent and professional bidding process we have awarded our events to hosts who we then work in partnership with to ensure that the events are delivered to world class standards in a consistent manner.
"Having successful, entertaining events are key to attracting TV coverage worldwide, promoting the sport, raising the profile of the athletes and ultimately growing the sport and its fans."
It has also been part of Massey's role to prepare a new event portfolio. This has been a two and a half year project which has looked at the restructuring of all FIH events. The new Home and Away league, which starts in 2019, is in Massey's words "a game changer for hockey".
Looking at hockey's role in promoting equality, Massey points out that: "The presence of women in senior positions at the FIH leads the way, by a long way, amongst other International Federations. We have three female Directors out of seven people in the leadership team. It is something to be proud of and demonstrates that there are no barriers to what can be achieved."
Kelly Hudson is an umpire with two Olympic Games under her belt (London 2012 and Rio 2016) and is recognised as one of the top umpires in the world. This summer she will be a Video Umpire in Belgium for the Hockey World League Semi-Final, before flying to South Africa to umpire in the Hockey World League Semi-Final in Johannesburg.
For the past few years Kelly, like most other umpires of all levels, has performed all her hockey officiating duties for free but, in an innovative move to increase the professionalism of umpiring, she has been appointed Officiating Development Officer for her home Association back in New Zealand.
She said: “It’s a blank canvas as it is the first role of its kind, but I’m loving it already and going flat out getting ready for the new season.”
Rani Rampal is India’s hockey captain and the 22-year-old has just returned from Canada where she led her team to victory in the Hockey World League Round 2, meaning the Eves have qualified for the Hockey World League Semi-Finals.
Rani was India’s top scorer and has been the driving force behind her team’s march up the FIH Hero World Rankings – they are now 12th in the world and seeking a top 10 place.
For millions of Indian school girls, players such as Rani Rampal, previous captain Ritu Rani and star goalkeeper Savita, are sporting icons and their success and rising public profile will be a key factor in the push to get more girls and women in India playing hockey.
Head Coach to Team USA is Netherlands hockey star Janneke Schopman. The Dutch-woman, who has both Olympic and World Cup winners medals to her name, took over as Head Coach just over a year ago and will be seeking to continue USA's march up the FIH Hero World Rankings towards a major global medal.
Schopman is wonderfully direct in her approach to the gender balance within coaching. She said: "When I was a player, I sought knowledge from the coach. To me, it doesn't matter if it is a male or female coach, it is just who has the knowledge and who is best in the role."
With years of experience at the pinnacle of the game as a player, plus a coaching pedigree that goes back to her teens – "I always coached, from 18, I coached as well as played," – Schopman is a role model to anyone seeking to climb the coaching ladder.
The final woman in our fantastic five is Marijke Fleuren, President of the European Hockey Federation and member of the FIH Executive Board. Speaking shortly after a gruelling but rewarding weekend of overseeing the Euro Hockey League KO16, she explains how she sees her role in hockey.
Fleuren said: "The main contribution I give to hockey is, I think, offering a listening ear to the people around me. Combine this with a lifelong accumulation of professional experience in all kind of hockey matters, I think I am able to understand and convey the views of other people from other cultures.
"People always tell me how well organised Dutch clubs are and how beautiful Dutch venues are. I always answer, that everything is relative and other nations have different positives to offer.'
Talking of hockey's status as a sport that is moving ahead in providing gender equality, Fleuren is characteristically straightforward with her view. She said: "Hockey offers men and women the same opportunities. The women just have to grab them. Don't have any doubts if they can do it, just start!
"The HeforShe (United Nations) campaign is very important for me. Men and women must learn how to work best together, because together we are stronger."
Two FIH Executive Board members appointed to IOC commissions
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) yesterday announced the composition of its commissions for 2017. For the third consecutive year, FIH Executive Board members Marijke Fleuren and Tayyab Ikram will give hockey a voice in two commissions which provide assistance to the IOC.
Fleuren, also European Hockey Federation President, has been nominated to the Women in Sport Commission. This appointment reflects FIH's passion about advancing gender equality on and off the field, an area in which hockey has been making great strides for many years. Read more here.
Ikram, also CEO of the Asian Hockey Federation, has been appointed to the Sport and Active Society Commission. This is another area where hockey excels as a 'sport for all' - played from juniors to Masters, by families and people from all walks of life, a truly inclusive sport.
IOC President Thomas Bach has significantly increased the number of women appointed to a commission over the last few years, with 38 per cent of places now taken by women – a historic high. That is a 70 per cent increase since 2013.
The changes to the function and composition of the commissions also include increases in the number of members from America, Africa and Asia, thus guaranteeing a more global and diverse continental representation.
In addition, the new make-up of the IOC commissions is marked by the inclusion of young men and women who represent a new generation and will be the sports leaders of tomorrow.