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News for 06 July 2017

All the news for Thursday 6 July 2017

World Class Hockey on Show in Joburg this Weekend

The First Push Back of Hockey World League Semi-Finals Johannesburg happens this weekend!

The World League Semi-Finals in Johannesburg gets underway this weekend 8 July 2017 at Wits Hockey Astro.

20 of the world’s best men’s and women’s national teams will take part in these Hockey World Cup 2018 qualifiers between 8-23 July. With 16 days of non-stop world class hockey, there’s a number of hugely exciting matches for fans to take in.

Fixtures for the Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th  July.

We need the support of the schools and the hockey community to make this event BIG, BOLD, PACKED AND LOUD. Apart from top quality hockey being played, the event will deliver artisanal food and snacks, a wide range of beverages for the kids and the parents, retail and live music. We want to host an event that is fan-focused, youth-centric, fresh and an all round fantastic experience.

Tickets for the event can be purchased online by following http://hockeyworldleague.nutickets.co.za/

The top teams from Johannesburg will qualify for two of hockey’s showpiece events – the 2017 Hockey World League Finals and the 2018 Hockey World Cups. Teams will also be awarded FIH Hero World Ranking points, which could prove crucial in relation to qualification for future events.

With so much on the line, fans will no doubt witness some action-packed matches full of excitement and drama this July. Make sure you follow the FIH and South African Hockey accounts on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for updates, behind the scenes footage and other information.

The Pundits

Much at stake as Ireland women’s hockey team enters semi-finals

Triumph over Japan in Johannesburg would keep their World Cup 2018 dream alive

Mary Hannigan

Ireland’s Hannah Matthews in action against Spain last year. Player will earn her 81st international cap on Saturday. Photograph: Rowland White/Inpho

Kuala Lumpur, Berkshire, Dusseldorf, Pennsylvania, Berlin, and now Johannesburg. Too many air miles to count. And that’s just been the Irish hockey squad’s travel since the start of the year. If they upset the odds in South Africa over the next fortnight they’ll be off to Auckland in November, but not before an August trip to Amsterdam for the European Championships.

You wouldn’t want to have a fear of flying, then, if you’re a member of Graham Shaw’s squad, although the travelling has gone smoothly enough – apart from their coach breaking down on the way to training in Johannesburg last Saturday. That wouldn’t have been any great problem if the players hadn’t been hoping to get to a television in time to see the second half of the Lions’ efforts in Wellington. 

“We’d seen the first half, but when the bus broke down we had to follow the second on Twitter, so we missed all the excitement,” says Hannah Matthews. And while hockey might be the 26-year-old Dubliner’s first love, coming from a family steeped in rugby she could hardly escape an interest in the sport – her father Phillip captained Ireland in close to half of his 38 caps and her grandfather Kevin Flynn made 22 appearances for his country, the bulk of them in the 1960s.

It’ll be a busy Saturday morning for the clan, then, all eyes at first on Auckland for the decider against the All Blacks, and then a switch over to BT Sport for live coverage of Ireland’s opening game of the World League semi-finals against Japan (11am Irish time), in which Matthews will earn her 81st international cap.


The tournament acts as a qualifier for two events: the World League final in New Zealand in November and, the bigger prize, the 2018 World Cup in London. Matthews was 11 the last time Ireland qualified for a World Cup, but with the tournament now expanded to 16 teams, from 12 in 2014, bridging that gap seems attainable.

With seven of the 10 nations competing in Johannesburg ranked above Ireland in the world list, a top-five finish, which would guarantee a place in the World Cup, is hardly assured, but depending on the outcome of the five continental championships, as low as eighth could yet suffice.

Pool A, with world rankings in brackets, is made of England (2), Germany (7), Japan (11), Ireland (15) and Poland (18), with Argentina (3), the United States (6), South Africa (13), India (12) and Chile (20) making up pool B.

Only a top-four placing would ensure qualification for the World League final, but Shaw has made it clear that making it to the World Cup is “our number one goal”.

“And we have confidence in ourselves that we can do it,” says Matthews, who plays her club hockey with Loreto. “We’ve shown in the build-up that when we’re at the top of our game we can compete with anyone.”

Friendly run-outs they might have been, but out of the five top 10 ranked nations they played during that build-up, Ireland picked up a draw against the United States and rare wins over Germany and Korea.

“We know you can’t take much from results in games like that, and they will mean nothing if we don’t qualify for the World Cup, but you can take confidence from them and a belief that we’re capable of taking on the likes of Germany if we’re on top of our game.

“The best thing about the build-up was the quality of teams we played, none of them outside the top 10, so playing at that standard can only bring you on as a team. And getting to play Korea and China was especially valuable when we have Japan in our pool, we don’t often get to play Asian sides so that was good preparation for us.”

Packed with experience

What Ireland won’t lack in South Africa is experience, Shaw’s 18-strong squad is packed with it. Eight of the players have well over 100 caps, including captain Katie Mullan, an all-rounder who has played camogie for Derry, and Shirley McCay who is on 239, making her the most capped Irish woman in team sport.

Another five players have passed the 50-cap mark, Limerick’s Roisin Upton the least experienced of the group – but even she has played for her country on 15 occasions. And close to half of the squad have played club hockey abroad, in the United States, Spain, Germany and Belgium, so they have experience too of competing in top-class leagues.

Matthews only made her senior debut three years ago, but that 80-cap haul is an indication of just how many games the team packs in. “When you say three years it sounds so little,” she laughs, “but yeah, we play a lot of hockey. It’s always a challenge organising your life around it, especially for the people who have to hold down a full-time job while playing internationally, but luckily there are some bosses who are really understanding of our situation.”

“I’m a primary school teacher so I was able to just sub this year, taking so much time out wasn’t really an option, so that gave me the time to commit to Ireland. It is a real challenge, you have to be very organised and let your employers know your schedule well in advance, but even though it can be hard I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. It’s a lot of matches, but that’s what it’s going to take to get us to the next level – that and some extra funding, which would be great.”

Less taxing

With Johannesburg also hosting the men’s World League semi-finals, Ireland in the line-up for that tournament too, the format this time around is less taxing with at least one rest day between each of the games. After playing Japan on Saturday, Ireland take on Germany on Monday (1.0), Poland on Wednesday (1.0) and England on Sunday week (1.0), before the start of the classification matches the following Tuesday. All of the games will be broadcast live by BT Sport.

And the team will hardly be home when they’ll be preparing for the European Championships where they will compete in the A division of the event for the first time since 2013.

“No time to catch your breath,” says Matthews, “but it’s really exciting, we wouldn’t have it any other way. You find when you stop it’s hard to get going again, so it’s better that we’re on this roll. If South Africa goes well we can take that momentum into the Europeans, but for now our only focus is Japan on Saturday.” With, maybe, one eye on the 2018 World Cup.

Schedule (Irish times):

July 8: Ireland v Japan, 11.0
July 10: Ireland v Germany, 1.0
July 12: Ireland v Poland, 1.0
July 16: Ireland v England, 1.0
July 18-23: Classification matches

Squad: K Mullan (capt), L Tice, G Pinder, D Duke (all UCD), A O’Flanagan, S Loughran, N Evans, C Watkins (all Hermes-Monkstown), H Matthews, L Colvin (both Loreto), R Upton, Y O’Byrne (both Cork Harlequins), G O’Flanagan (Railway Union), Z Wilson (Harvestehuder, Germany), S McCay (Ulster Elks), N Daly (Muckross), E Beatty (KHC Dragons, Belgium), A McFerran (University of Louisville).

The Irish Times

Scotland U21 Women earn second victory against Wales U23 Development

Scotland U21 women made it two wins from two in their three-match series against Wales Development with an impressive 3-1 victory. The matches are in preparation for the upcoming U21 women’s European Championships in Czech Republic.

The game started with Scotland pressing high up the pitch in attempt to force Wales into making mistakes, but the Welsh for the most part managed to absorb the pressure. As Scotland pressed, a Wales break forward led by Rosie Bailey was stopped by a wall of white shirts at the edge of the Scots’ D.

It was Wales who got the first Penalty Corner of the day after an obvious obstruction. But the shot was chased down well by the Scotland runners.

A Scotland penetration from the left saw Mille Steiger open in the middle but no pass came her way, and the danger was cleared.

The first quarter ended as the Welsh started to gain the upper hand but still couldn’t find a way through the stubborn Scotland defence.

Kerry Anne Hastings

Into the second quarter and the first shot of the game came as the Welsh broke into the Scotland D from the left, but could only send a weak effort at the keeper. Bailey again was the main threat for Wales as she forced the Scotland keeper to kick away after a long run in from the left.

Scotland then immediately broke down the opposite side but Lexi Sabatelli could only scuff her shot wide.

Wales started the second half with a solid attack down the left forcing Megan Inch in goal for Scotland to clear the danger.

Scotland opened the scoring six minutes into the second half through the impressive Lexi Sabatelli. Gemma Pryce in the Welsh goal initially made a spectacular save batting the ball away to the left. She then chased the ball, trying to clear, but lost the ball leaving Sabatelli to slot the ball into the open goal.

The second goal for Scotland came a short while later. From their first penalty corner, Emily Dark fired a shot which Laura Swanson deflected up past the keeper high into the net to make it 2-0 to Scotland. It was a great moment for Swanson who has recently returned from a long-term injury.

Emily Newlands

Wales had a chance to get one back with eight minutes left in the quarter from a penalty corner. But the shot was blocked and Scotland immediately broke down the left with Sabatelli again leading the charge, but the counter attack fizzled out and Wales recovered. Wales got another penalty corner with two minutes left in the third quarter. The shot came in and was superbly deflected wide by Kerry-Anne Hastings.

Scotland would make it 3-0 five minutes into the fourth quarter after a ball into the D was deflected towards to the unmarked Emily dark, who smashed home to take the match out of reach. It was yet another example of deadly finishing by a young striker who seems to score goals every time she steps onto the pitch for her country.

Wales should have made it 3-1 after a loose ball into the left of the D was smacked goal-wards but Megan Inch pulled off a superb save to get down low to her left.

With five minutes to go the Welsh surged forward looking for a goal and were unlucky not to get one after Eloise Jordan shot wide from a central position. Wales would eventually get their consolation goal after a goalmouth scramble was bundled over the line by Eloise Laity. With that goal the welsh intensity surged but the well-drilled Scotland defence was able to see out the rest of the Match.

Photos by Duncan Gray

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Saqlain vows he can change hockey fortunes if given chance

Mohsin Ali

ISLAMABAD -  Former Pakistan hockey team captain M Saqlian challenged Pakistan Hockey Federation to hand over the reins of national team to him and within 18 months, he will completely transformed the team and they would be able to fight for World Cup and Olympics gold medal.

Saqlain, who played 301 matches for Pakistan, expressed these views while talking exclusively to The Nation on Wednesday. He said and was the captain of green shirts.

Saqlain, who had played modern day hockey from 1998 to 2009, said Pakistan’s heavy defeats in the World Hockey League against those sides who are not champions but are in rebuilding process were hard to digest.

“Teams like Canada, India scored heavily against green shirts. Despite goalkeeper saved a lot of moves even then the goal conversion ratio of these sides was alarming. We don’t have any sort of planning while playing against teams like Ireland. Even we did manage to beat likes of China and Scotland unconvincingly. We just played old styled hockey and never took advantage of the new rules introduced by the FIH,” said Saqlain who also captained green shirts from 2004 to 2007.

He said off side rule had been long abolished but our players never took advantage like other teams who had a clear planning and they took full advantage of new rules.

“We conceded too many goals on penalty corners and never been able to prepare a single penalty corner expert while our strikers skipper Abdul Haseem Khan and Dilber failed to score goals. These signs are not good for national game, but no one bothered to seek explanation from head coach and team management,” said the former Olympian.

He said qualifying for next year world cup was not a big deal as last time 12 teams were involved in Hockey World Cups but now the number had been raised to 16.

He said Pakistan’s right and left half don’t know the placement and where they should positioned, while our defence also kept sleeping, which was badly exposed by other teams and no game plan was evident how Pakistani players fared in the field.

He emphasised on the need of adopting modern hockey techniques and playing a fearless game.

He said if the federation just provided him a top class physical trainer, he could transform these players into world beaters as there is a lot of talent there but the players lacked in physical fitness and stamina.

The Nation

India's sports policy defective: Pargat Singh

GHAZIABAD: India's sports policy is defective, former Indian hockey captain Pargat Singh said on Wednesday, and urged New Delhi to emulate China.

The Indian policy was not realistic at the ground level and players and athletes should come from the school level, said Pargat, a Congress MLA in Punjab.

Pargat, a Padma Shri and Arjuna Award winner, told the media that India should follow China's policy on promoting sports.

In China, 10-15 per cent of its budget was spent on three-tier sports promotion where nine lakh children aged between three and 13 years were selected for sports.

Of this, 90,000 were taken to the specialist level and from these 9,000 were picked for super specialist sports, he said.

In contrast, only .07 per cent of the budget was allocated in India on sports and even this was spent in an absurd manner, he said.

Recalling Indian hockey's glory days, Pargat said: "Unfortunately commercial input in sports has maligned the basic core of sports."

The Times of India

Star striker Plennevaux moves to Polo from Leopold

Max Plennevaux is the first addition to the Real Club de Polo side for the 2017/18 season, making the move from Royal Leopold.

The Belgian will combine his time playing with the club under Carlos Garcia Cuenca with his university studies, doing a communications course.

Speaking about the move to Polo, Plennevaux said, he is looking forward to the “professionalism of the team and the club. I was looking for a new challenge and getting out of my comfort zone.

“That is why I have decided to come to the most prestigious club in Spain and, possibly, in Europe.”

The striker scored 24 goals last season and will hope to bring some of his innovative skills to the Polo side.

"My initial goal will be to adapt to the team as soon as possible. It is an honour to play for this Club and in the Spanish league with so much competition and so many historic teams. Every game will be a challenge.”

The arrival of Plennevaux will serve, in part, to cover the loss of Xavi Lleonart who will play this next season in the Dutch league and Lucas Vila who the club decided not to exercise an option to extend his contract.

Sander Baart, meanwhile, will move to Braxgata in Belgium following his opportunistic move to Polo last season when a move to Antwerp last summer fell through over a registration issue.

Euro Hockey League media release

Goedegebuure set for move away from Amsterdam; Bouwens retires

©: Frank Uijlenbroek

AH&BC Amsterdam have confirmed that Laurens Goedegebuure, above left, will move on from the club following three seasons in the first team at the Wagener Stadium.

During his spell with Amsterdam, he became an indoor world champion with the Dutch national team in 2015, and helped the club reach the EHL final in 2016 among other achievements.

The club, however, have chosen to make Jan de Wijkerslooth as their first team goalkeeper for the upcoming campaign

Fons Fonteijn, a member of Amsterdam’s Top Hockey board, said of the situation: "Laurens is a very good keeper and absolutely too good to only be playing a small amount of minutes.

“Therefore, Laurens will leave AH&BC to become a first team goalkeeper elsewhere. We would like to thank him for all his efforts for AH&BC and wish him good luck with his further hockey career.”

Elsewhere, SV Kampong confirmed today that Erik Bouwens will stop playing top level hockey next season.

After a lengthy injury spell, he produced some spectacular performances on his return with his explosive celebrations a special feature en route to an EHL and a Dutch national title.

Euro Hockey League media release

Opro Become Official Mouthguard Of Hockey Ireland

Opro teams up with Hockey Ireland to ensure players receive the ultimate in oral protection

World-leading mouthguard manufacturer OPRO has teamed up with Hockey Ireland to ensure all players receive the highest levels of oral protection.

Trusted by professionals the world over, OPRO is also the Official Mouthguard of GB, England, Wales and Scotland Hockey, as well as the GAA and New Zealand Rugby, to name but a few. OPRO mouthguards are suitable for all ball, stick and combat sports.

Founded by dentist Dr Anthony Lovat in 1997, OPRO are pioneers in the design and production of mouthguards and dedicated to providing the highest levels of comfort, fit and retention, without compromising on protection levels. D30 is the latest OPRO innovation to support this quest, meaning OPRO can now offer the world’s thinnest mouthguard to professionals and amateurs alike.

Custom-Fit mouthguards can be purchased through the OPRO custom website http://mouthguards.opro.com/custom/order or by calling the custom team on 01442 430690.

Founder of the OPROGROUP Dr Anthony Lovat BDS commented, “At OPRO we are passionate about sport and supporting players by providing them with the highest levels of quality protection. We are delighted to be working with Hockey Ireland at this exciting time and we wish the teams the very best of luck in their up and coming tournaments”

Hockey Ireland CEO Jerome Pels added “We are very happy to be continuing our successful partnership with Opro. Our teams play at the highest level so it’s only fitting that they use the best mouthguard. We’d like to thank Opro for their support”.

Irish Hockey Association media release

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