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News for 07 July 2017

All the news for Friday 7 July 2017

Mullan taking the long and winding road to Green Army captaincy

Katie Mullan in action against Chile in 2016. Pic: Adrian Boehm

New captain Katie Mullan talks about her dual passion for hockey and camogie, the long distances on the road, playing multiple positions and learning lessons from Valencia 2015 to propel Ireland to the 2018 World Cup

“Somehow, I have found myself in every position except for goalkeeper,” she jokes. “I don’t think that is ever going to change.”

Speaking ahead of the Irish women’s departure for South Africa, Katie Mullan is buzzing to get under way at the World League Semi-Finals in Johannesburg. It’s another long journey to add to many thousands of miles for the 23-year-old.

She burst onto the international scene in 2012 as a striker, ravenous for an opening in front of goal. At times, that hunger was deployed as a full-back under Darren Smith and in a couple of different midfield roles under Graham Shaw.

Similarly at club level, UCD had her in defence two seasons ago but, with the arrival of Lena Tice, were able to unleash Mullan further up the pitch in their all-conquering run to the Irish Senior Cup and the EY Hockey League victories.

“I know it’s cliché but, honestly, I am just delighted to be on the pitch. Attacking midfield or up front are probably were my current skillset is best suited, the further I am from our defensive circle the better!”

Coach Graham Shaw said earlier this week he will employ Mullan in an advanced role with her “aggression” an element he says “sets the tone from the front” and her recent winning goals Germany and Korea bear that out.

“We like to press aggressively and quite high up the pitch,” Shaw said. “She’s the ideal person to do it. She’s played in many different lines and her defensive side of the game is normal to her. And she knows where the goal is so, for the immediate future, you will see her in the forward line.”

Mullan attributes some of that aggression to her sporting beginnings in camogie with the Eoghan Rua club in Coleraine at the age of eight.

“My older brothers both played hurling and I certainly wasn’t going to be left out in the back garden. As the hockey season would finish the camogie season would get going, it used to work out perfectly for me.

“The sports complement one another superbly with a crossover of hand to eye coordination, 3D skills and physical demands. However, on rare occasions, I have unintentionally made tackles on the hockey pitch with my camogie physicality!”

Hockey came a couple of years later with Coleraine hockey club for an hour on Saturday mornings and ramped up a notch at secondary school in Dalriada with former Irish captain Bridget Cleland (nee McKeever) her an inspirational PE teacher.

She remains a mentor and was a main reason for moving to Ballymoney when she was 14. Another Irish legend, Lynsey McVicker, was player-coach, another strong influence.

From there, hockey and camogie jockeyed for position as her main sport. When she missed out on the Ulster Under-16s first time around, Mullan threw herself fully into camogie and “started seriously to think about moving school to play more camogie”.

But, thankfully for Irish hockey, she kept with it long enough to get a call-up the next season and she has been in representative squads ever since.

While it has taken a central role, she does try to line out for Eoghan Rua as much as physically possible and won an All-Ireland intermediate title in 2011.

“I have managed to play camogie almost every season since then. During the summer, I get to play the occasional game but it seems to become less each year.

“With our international calendar the windows of opportunity are becoming shorter and the injury risk is too high. When I play camogie, there is no pressure or expectation which is the beauty of it but what I miss most is pulling on the local colours alongside my friends and family, the girls I grew up playing with.”

Indeed, that has become even tougher in recent times as a work placement as part of her masters degree in biomedical engineering has seen her working with Stryker Orthopaedics – who she is keen to thank for their support – in Cork since January.

Mullan has been employed in multiple positions for both UCD and Ireland. Pic: Adrian Boehm

She has trained with Harlequins during the club season before traveling up to Dublin for games and national training camps.

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you the number of miles on my car. Even when I used to play in the Ulster league, it was never just a 15-minute journey down the road.

“Travelling really does take its toll on the body, which is why moving to Dublin for College was a no brainer for me. I love my home place but, with our schedule, it can be up to four months before I get the time to travel. Last week [before flying out] I spent 12 hours in the car from Cork but it was totally worth it to get home.”

For the World League Semi-Final, Mullan will wear the armband for the tournament in the stead of Megan Frazer – another with north-coast roots – who she draws her inspiration from in terms of leadership style.

“I love having the opportunity to walk the team out before an international game. For me the best captains have always been those who lead by example on the pitch, Megan is a prime example of that. That’s the ethos I’m trying to go with.”

The hope is that she can lead Ireland to a World Cup for the first time since 2002. The build-up has been good, sweeping everyone aside at World League Round 2 in January before putting in some fine performances against top ranked nations.

She is well aware of the pitfalls of the tournament structure from 2015’s Olympic qualifiers in Valencia where a brilliant group performance came up agonisingly short against China in the quarter-final.

With the Sky cameras rolling and the sport enjoying an extremely rare moment at the head of the RTE sports bulletins, it was the biggest stage. Ireland pressed and pressed, won 15 corners, but could not break through the Chinese defence, eventually missing out on Rio when Frazer’s shoot-out hit a post and sudden death proved the final undoing of a monumental effort.

Mullan has taken over the captaincy in 2017 in the absence of Megan Frazer. Pic: Adrian Boehm

The emotional toll was too much and Ireland did not bounce back for their classification matches against USA and South Africa.

“2015 was heart-breaking. I struggled following Valencia. We all did; I think part of the disappointment will never go away.

“I was only 21 at the time so I promised myself that I was going to be better equipped physically and technically if I was lucky enough to be at another qualifier.

“I think the biggest thing we can take from the 2015 World League is a realisation of how different we are now as a squad. Heading to Johannesburg we are fitter, technically better, tactically better and much more experienced players.

“The 2016 Hawkes Bay Cup in New Zealand was an awesome tournament for us. There was no pressure and it came at a perfect time. We grew in confidence by beating teams that were Rio bound. We gelled, integrating new squad members and found our hunger for major tournaments again.

“Now, I think we are in a fantastic place. Our preparation schedule has been excellent; since World League 2 we have had test matches in London, Dusseldorf, USA and Berlin.

“On top of some pleasing results, the time together has helped us become a more cohesive unit. The task of qualification is not an easy one. We understand that we have a job to do in South Africa but we are confident that, if we perform, we can secure qualification.”

** All matches will be broadcast on BT Sport; you can see the exact channels here: http://sport.bt.com/tv-guide-01363810618853

Ireland squad for Hockey World League semi-final (Johannesburg, July 8-23): G O’Flanagan (Railway Union), H Matthews (Loreto), Z Wilson (Harvestehuder THC), S McCay (Ulster Elks), L Colvin (Loreto), L Tice (UCD), C Watkins (Hermes-Monkstown), K Mullan (UCD), G Pinder (UCD), A O’Flanagan (Hermes-Monkstown), S Loughran (Hermes-Monkstown), N Evans (Hermes-Monkstown), N Daly (Muckross), D Duke (UCD), E Beatty (KHC Dragons), R Upton (Cork Harlequins), Y O’Byrne (Cork Harlequins), A McFerran (University of Louisville)

Hockey World League
Pool A: England, Germany, Japan, Ireland, Poland
Pool B: Argentina, USA, South Africa, India, Chile

Schedule (times local)
July 8: Ireland v Japan, 12pm
July 10: Ireland v Germany, 2pm
July 12: Ireland v Poland, 2pm
July 16: Ireland v England, 2pm
July 18-23: Classification matches

The Hook

Two-Time Olympian Michelle Kasold Retires from USWNT

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Following a decorated playing career with the U.S. Women’s National Team, midfielder Michelle Kasold (Chapel Hill, N.C.) has announced her retirement from the program. Achieving a total of 227 international caps wearing the red, white and blue, Kasold has received impressive hardware during her ten years. Those accomplishments feature four golds, one silver and one bronze medal to accompany the team’s highlight performances with a fourth-place finish at the 2014 Rabobank Hockey World Cup in The Hague, The Netherlands and fifth place finish at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

“Michelle was a very versatile player, who could play in different positions and would do what the team needed her to do,” said Janneke Schopman, USWNT Head Coach. “As a player, she was always busy with how to improve herself both on and off the field, taking care of her body as well as working extra on skills like penalty corners. She was able to master certain skills relatively quickly being very deliberate in training, learning and getting it done. An example of that is her scoring in the opening game of the Olympic Games against Argentina of a penalty corner from the inserter, a position she only took months prior to the tournament.”

From Chapel Hill, N.C., Kasold was a four-year letter winner as a member of the East Chapel Hill High School field hockey team. She led the Wildcats to four state championships and was a three-time NFHCA All American, three-time All-South region and four-time First Team All Eastern North Carolina Selection. She was also named the North Carolina Player of the Year in both 2003 and 2004. She played for the club team TarDevils.

“I got my start playing field hockey when I was a rising sixth grader,” commented Kasold. “I grew up playing just about every sport I could get my hands on. My mom played in high school, so when she saw a local summer recreation camp, she wanted me to try it too. It didn’t take long to fall in love with the game!”

Kasold went on to play collegiately just down the road at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, N.C. A threat the second she stepped on the pitch, she was an ultimate game-changer. As a Demon Deacon, she earned a handful of personal accomplishments that included NFHCA All-South Region Team, First Team All- ACC, All-ACC Tournament Team, NCAA All-Tournament Team and First Team All-American. She also set new records in single season assists and career assists as well as tallying many game-winning goals.

When she was in high school and during her freshman year of college, Kasold was a member of the U.S. U-16, U-19 and U-21 Women’s National Teams. In 2005, she was part of Team USA that competed in the women’s Junior World Cup in Santiago, Chile and just a year later she became a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team.

“Being a part of Team USA was something that I dreamed about as a little girl,” recalled Kasold. “I grew up watching the Olympic [Games] and dreaming that one day, that would be me. Being able to wear the red, white and blue and represent the United States on the biggest stage is a feeling I can’t put into words. Every time, I stood shoulder to shoulder with my teammates, one hand over my heart and one around my teammates shoulder, I would get goosebumps.”

Kasold participated in various test series, world championship experiences and two Olympic Games while donning USA across her chest. Her 227 international caps have accredited to four gold medals including the 2011 and 2015 Pan American Games, where Team USA captured Olympic Games qualifying tickets, 2013 FIH Hockey World League Round 2 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and 2014 Champions Challenge in Glasgow, Scotland. Adding to the hardware was a silver at the 2007 Pan American Games and 2012 Champions Challenge in Dublin, Ireland and a bronze at the 2016 Champions Trophy in London, England.

While reflecting on her career, Kasold mentioned the many amazing moments that she will cherish and remember with her time with USA Field Hockey. She would reminisce the times of winning the 2011 Pan American Games, walking out in the London 2012 Olympic Games, playing in a medal round at the 2014 Rabobank World Cup and scoring a goal in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games as a few of her personal favorite highlights in her career.

“As much as the big matches and goals will stand out as highlights of my hockey career, my favorite memories of being on the team will always be ones surrounded by teammates and friends,” noted Kasold.

Fulfilling the dream she had as a little girl, Kasold is a two-time Olympian, having competed in both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games. She mentions the Olympic Games as such a special event. Even though Team USA frequently plays the attending teams throughout the year, she adds that there is something different about when you step on the field in the Olympic Stadium.

“There is always a feeling of pride when you wear USA on your chest, but when you are competing with all of Team USA in one place, it just takes it to a whole other level,” said Kasold. "We are all on the same team and we are all invested in each and every race, game and competition. It is cool to be at the pinnacle of your sport and being able to share that with so many other athletes.”

“From the first game in a USA uniform to my last, every single one was so special,” added Kasold. “The feelings never changed and I always knew that I had to give my best for my teammates and as I represented this country. It made me better on and off the field.”

Kasold is currently residing in North Carolina where she plans to stay involved with field hockey through coaching. She wants to help grow the game in her home state and hopes to show the younger generation that anything is possible if you are willing to work for it.

“I want to thank my parents more than anymore,” commented Kasold. “They pushed me, picked me up and encouraged me through every up and down in my career. They wouldn’t miss a single game for anything.”

She also goes on to thank the coaches who believe in her and challenged her potential. And finally, she wants to thank her teammates. She notes, the journey would not have been worth it if she didn’t have an amazing group of women by her side.

“Michelle was a great player and I want to thank her for all her years dedicated to the U.S. Women’s National Team,” added Schopman.

USA Field Hockey wishes the best of luck to Kasold in her future endeavors.

USFHA media release

Scotland U21 Women lose final match of series to Wales U23 Development

Laura Swanson scores Scotland U21 goal

Scotland U21 Women lost their final match of a three-match series against Wales U23 Development 3-1 at the Glasgow National Hockey Centre. The Scots won the series overall after 4-1 and 3-1 victories respectively, as part of their preparation for the European Championships in the Czech Republic later this month.

A bright start by Wales saw them enjoy some good possession in the early stages of the match. They forged their first opportunity when Becks Treharne broke into the Scots’ D, but the effort was well saved by Megan Inch who was out quick to block.

As Wales continued to press, Jodie Beddow was only denied a clean shot at goal by a last gasp challenge from Shona McNabb to deny an effort.

The first quarter progressed and Scotland grew into the contest with Emma McDiarmid imposing herself on the middle of the pitch. A close first quarter ended 0-0 without any clear opportunities for either side to open the scoring.

Wales had a chance from a penalty corner right at the start of the second quarter to open the scoring but Inch was down well to her right to save.

Emma McDiarmid

Lorna Cruickshank looked menacing in attack for Scotland, the forward was doing a lot of running and not giving the Welsh defence any respite, but still Scotland couldn’t create any real chances for a strike at goal.

Wales then took the lead through an Eloise Laity tap in. From a penalty corner scramble the ball fell kindly to Laity who was on hand to knock the ball over the line and give Wales a 1-0 lead.

The lead was doubled as half time approached. A great block on the line by Kerry-Anne Hastings initially kept the ball out, but Emily Rowlands blasted home from close range to make it 2-0.

The teams emerged for the second half and Wales scored a third through Olivia Strickland right at the restart. The ball was slid across goal for Strickland to pop it in the left corner and make it 3-0.

The goal sparked the Scots into life. A Scotland penalty corner routine saw Laura Swanson’s deflection well blocked as Scotland looked to battle back into the match.

Then Hastings, Cruickshank and Swanson combined to win another penalty corner. This time an elaborate routine was well defended and Wales came away with the ball.

Mairi Fletcher took up position in goal for the second half and made a great save as Wales looked likely to add a fourth on the break.

As the game came to a close Scotland was battling hard to get on the scoresheet. They thought they had when Lexi Sabatelli put the ball in the back of the net. The ball however hit a foot on the way into the D, and a penalty corner was awarded instead.

Millie Steiger came close from the penalty corner, striking across goal, but still the Scots were left without a goal.

More pressure led to another penalty corner for Scotland and this time Emily Dark had her drag flick saved at the right post.

With minutes remaining Scotland got their goal. Swanson finished off a penalty corner routine, slamming the ball low against the backboard to pull a goal back for Scotland.

Photos by Duncan Gray

Scottish Hockey Union media release

Women’s National Team named for 2017 Pan American Cup in Lancaster, USA

Kori Sidaway

Brienne Stairs and her Canadian teammates celebrates a goal in their win 12-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago at the 2017 Women’s World League Round 2 in West Vancouver on April 4th (By Yan Huckendubler)

Field Hockey Canada’s Women’s National Program has named the team that will represent Canada at the 2017 Pan American Cup in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, from August 5-13 this year.

Seventeen women have been named to the touring roster, with an 18th to be added in the coming weeks after further evaluation in training and the Women’s National Team Super Series (July 11, 13, 19 at 7pm at UBC’s Wright Field).

Canada will compete with seven other nations at the 2017 Pan American Cup, where the continental champion will qualify for the 2018 FIH Women’s World Cup, and the top six teams qualify for the 2021 Pan American Cup.

The Women’s National Program heads into the Pan American Cup with a roster of core athletes who have had lots of play together as a unit.

Sixteen of the athletes named to the team are those who played together in Canada’s last international tournament, the 2017 Hockey World League Round 2 in West Vancouver, with five veterans sitting at over 100 matches played for Canada.

Team captain Kate Wright (Gillis) is poised to break Field Hockey Canada’s all-time games played record for the Women’s National Team. Wright currently sits at 168 international games played, and is anticipated to break the organization’s all-time record in the first game of the Pan American Cup versus the Dominican Republic on August 5th.

A number of National Team veterans – all with more than 100 international matches for Canada under their belt – join Wright on the competition roster, including Danielle Hennig (Kelowna, BC; 132 caps), Hannah Haughn (North Vancouver, BC; 127), Sara McManus (Tsawwassen, BC; 120), and Brienne Stairs (Kitchener, ON; 113).

Making her Senior International debut on the 2017 Pan Am Cup roster is Hannah Eborall (Beamsville, ON). Eborall also made her first Women’s Junior  appearance in Lancaster in 2015, when Canada faced the United States.

Canada’s Women open the 2017 Pan American Cup against the Dominican Republic August 5th at 2pm PT/5pm ET.



Head Coach – Ian Rutledge
Assistant Coach – Steph Andrews
Team Manager – Nancy Mollenhauer
Athletic Therapist – Ashely Ellett
Athletic Therapist – Michelle Meckling
Video Analyst – Paul Mounter

Field Hockey Canada media release

'Ill-timed' Sardar Singh interrogation destabilised the team, says Hockey India in official complaint to FIH

File photo of Sardar Singh. Reuters

New Delhi: Hockey India (HI) has lodged an official complaint to International Hockey Federation (FIH) about the ill-timing of former captain Sardar Singh's interrogation by Yorkshire police during the Hockey World League in London in relation to a year-old sexual assault case filed by an England international hockey player of Indian-origin.

In the letter sent to International Hockey Federation (FIH) CEO Jason McCracken on Wednesday, HI president Mariamma Koshy referred to a 19 June incident where acting on a complaint filed by an England junior-level hockey player on 17 June relating to a year-old sexual assault case, Sardar was summoned to Leeds for questioning.

As it was on the eve of India's high-voltage Pool B match against arch-rivals Pakistan, which India won 7-1, the hearing was postponed to 20 June.

"I am writing to formally make a complaint before FIH of the recent incident that happened during Hero Hockey World League Semi Finals that took place in London in June 2017, the incident being referred to by Hockey India related to a frivolous complaint filed by a lady in June 2017 in Leeds for incidents which took place in 2013," the letter addressed to McCracken read.

"We request that complaint is shared/forwarded with/to relevant concerned in FIH for proper enquiry and request that our complaint also be shared with the Executive Board of FIH," the letter further read.

Enclosed were incident reports from team manager Jugraj Singh and Sardar.

In Jugraj's version, he said that Sardar was impacted heavily by the questioning and that after the incident India lost three back-to-back matches.

"The effect of the same can be very well seen on Sardar Singh by sitting in cramped position for 11 hours both ways in a car and 4 hours of sitting on a chair for questioning. We had to make Sardar not play in match against Holland for almost 70 percent of the time due to stiffness of body. It may be noted here that Sardar Singh is the main playmaker of the Indian team," Jugraj said.

"The incident affected the morale of the Indian team and the team lost focus & purpose and the performance of the team can be seen in matches which happened after the incident of Sardar Singh. The team lost against Holland the next day and also lost against Malaysia & Canada (both lower ranked than India) and before the incident, Indian team had won all 3 pool matches," he added.

This was the second time Sardar has been questioned by the police in the middle of a tournament regarding the same case.

During the Hockey World League Semifinal in Antwerp in June 2015, the complainant accused Sardar of physically assaulting her.

Sardar, in his defence, cited ten alleged complaints filed by the complainant, a resident of Leeds. In those listed accusations, most were closed due to lack of evidence, Sardar wrote.

"I want to play for my country peacefully and I am being harassed by this lady," Sardar wrote.


Will ask England to probe India's fixing attempt charge: FIH

NEW DELHI: The International Hockey Federation (FIH) will ask hosts England to investigate India's allegation that attempts were made to "fix" their Hockey World League Semi-Final clash against Pakistan last month.

FIH's decision came after Hockey India (HI) lodged an official complaint to the world body about the timing of former captain Sardar Singh's interrogation by Yorkshire police during the HWL Semi-Final in London last month.

The interrogation was in relation to a year-old sexual assault case filed by an England international hockey player of Indian origin.

In the letter sent to FIH CEO Jason McCracken on July 5, HI president Mariamma Koshy referred to a June 19 incident where, acting on a complaint filed by an England junior-level hockey player on June 17, Sardar was summoned to Leeds for questioning.

The FIH said it expects the report of the investigation to be out in the next two to three months.

"The FIH is seriously looking into India's complaint. We will follow the standard protocol and ask the host nation - England Hockey - to probe the case with the help of the local law enforcement agencies," an FIH official said.

"We expect the report of the investigation to be out in next 2-3 months."

The complaint was lodged with the FIH after Indian team manager Jugraj Singh asked HI to take up the matter seriously with the FIH in his post-tournament report.

An HI official said the Leeds police did not follow any protocol while summoning Sardar for questioning, that too in the middle of a tournament.

"Sardar was not there as a tourist. He was representing India as an athlete. The protocol says if you have to investigate any complaint you need to wait till the event is over. How can a player be asked to report to a police station that too 5-6 hours from London in the middle of a tournament?" the HI official said.

"As per protocol, the Indian High Commission should have been informed first but this was not followed. In 2015 this lady had filed a similar complaint in London. She now again filed the same complaint in Leeds. How can one file the same complaint in two different places," he questioned.

Jugraj, in his report to HI, had stated that Sardar was disturbed by the questioning and after the incident, India lost three back-to-back matches.

"The effect of the same can be very well seen on Sardar Singh by sitting in cramped position for 11 hours both ways in a car and 4 hours of sitting on chair for questioning.

"We had to drop Sardar in the match against Holland for almost 70 per cent of the time due to stiffness of body. It may be noted here that Sardar Singh is the main playmaker of the Indian team," Jugraj had written in his report.

"The incident affected the morale of the Indian team and the team lost focus and purpose and the performance of the team can be seen in matches which happened after the incident of Sardar Singh.

"The team lost against Holland the next day and also lost against Malaysia and Canada (both lower ranked than India) and before the incident, Indian team had won all 3 pool matches," he added.

In his report, Jugraj has alleged that a Pakistani-origin Member of Parliament in England instigated the lady in question to file the complaint on the eve of the India- Pakistan match, which India eventually won 7-1.

The Times of India

Singapore men’s hockey team to play nine friendlies here

by S. Ramaguru

KUALA LUMPUR: The Singapore men’s national hockey team will play nine friendly matches here as part of their SEA Games preparation.

Former Malaysian international K. Rajan, who is now the Singapore chief coach, said that they decided to travel to Kuala Lumpur for the friendly matches “due to the lack of solid opposition back home”.

“We will travel here for the next three weeks and play three matches each weekend. Our players are unable to take leave during weekdays due to studies and work.

“I have already made arrangements for us to play against the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) club sides,” he said.

Rajan said that Singapore’s men and women’s teams have been set the same target – qualify for the final.

“Taking on Malaysia, who are ranked way above us, is an impossible task. They recently qualified for the World Cup and have a very strong team.

“I don’t think any of the SEA countries are in the same bracket as them,” he said.

The Kuala Lumpur Games will be held from Aug 19-30 and Malaysia are favourites to bag both the men and women’s field hockey gold medals.

This is the first time that hockey will be offering four gold medals – two each for field hockey and indoor hockey.

A total of five teams will compete in both categories of field hockey while six have entered for the indoor game.

Singapore, Myanmar, Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia will compete in field hockey for both men and women. For the indoor game, the teams are Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and Malaysia.

Only Vietnam are not fielding a team in women’s indoor hockey.

Rajan expects the race for indoor hockey gold to be an open affair “as it’s a new event”.

“Malaysia won’t have that big advantage in the indoor game as they are not well-known for it. So, all the other teams stand a chance to aim for gold as well,” he said.

The Star of Malaysia

Mannheim make huge signing as Vila moves to Germany

© Frank Uijlenbroek

Olympic gold medallist Lucas Vila will play for German champions Mannheimer HC for the next two seasons.

The 30-year-old Argentinian comes from the Real Club de Polo de Barcelona, linking up with the club to add extra firepower to their forward line.

The 192-time national player for Argentina won gold in Rio de Janeiro in 2016 in a highly decorated career. He has also won three medals at the Pan American Games (2007 silver, 2011 and 2015 gold) and the bronze at the 2014 World Cup in The Hague.

Born in Buenos Aires, the graphic design student has played with many European top clubs including HC Tilburg, HGC, HC Den Bosch and Club de Campo.

This latest move is another major statement of intent for Mannheim who brought in Gonzalo Peillat last season.

"Lucas has a tremendous international experience from nearly 200 international matches which will help the young, hungry team,” MHC coach Michael McCann said of Vila.

“Lucas compliments an already established team and will be instrumental in assisting the team create more chances and positive outcomes inside the attacking Circle. In Germany, he gets the chance to compete against the best defenders in the world to recommend himself for the 2018 World Cup and the 2020 Olympics.

"It is a great decision to change from Spain to Germany, the league in Germany is much stronger - both in terms of the teams, as well as individually and physically,” Vila said. “I am looking forward to meeting the team and my time in Mannheim. I will train very hard to earn my spot in this strong team but I hope we will be even more successful in the next two years.”

On the flip-side, Tomas Prochazka and has left the club after a very successful, long-term spell with the club. The 33-year-old leaves the club due to his professional commitments in Prague.

He won the German indoor championship in 2010 and followed up with a European indoor crown in 2011. His greatest success with MHC was the recent victory outdoors in 2017 in Mannheim.

Euro Hockey League media release

Amat to head up new executive at Club Egara

© Frank Uijlenbroek

Pol Amat will take on the role of Club Egara’s club manager from next September as they make some key changes to the executive side of their organisational structure.

The EHF Hall of Famer and five-time Olympian takes on the role that was previously held by Joan Gabarró. He will work with sports director Roger Matalonga while Pau Quemada becomes the head of the School of Hockey, taking over the reins from Joan Comerma.

It brings things full circle at Pla del Bon Air with both Matalonga and Quemada having come through the School of Hockey at the famous Terrassa-based club.

Amat comes into the top job following an excellent career off the pitch as well as on it, working as a senior auditor with Pricewaterhouse Coopers and as a financial consultant and asset adviser to BBVA.

Matalonga has been the Club Tennis Manlleu sports manager and has accumulated nearly nine years as a sports coordinator in addition to his role as director of the School of Hockey at Junior FC.

Quemada, who last year was working with Joan Comerma at the Egara School of Hockey, previously held the same position at Leuven in Belgium.

In a statement about the changes, the club expressed their gratitude to Gabarró and Comerma for everything they contributed to the club.

Gabarró leaves office after 32 years at the head of the institution, leaving the club in good health: first class facilities and record membership numbers.

For his part, Comerma has been for nine years at the head of the School of Hockey, which has grown exponentially. Comerma began in 2008-2009 with 265 players (62% boys and 38% girls) and will leave with a record number of players, reaching 453 (52% boys and 48% girls).

Euro Hockey League media release

UJ men regain Ussa hockey title

Captain Taylor Dart led the University of Johannesburg’s men’s team to victory in the University Sport South Africa hockey tournament in Johannesburg last week. The women’s team picked up the silver medal. Photo: Saspa

The University of Johannesburg’s hockey teams confirmed their status as one of the top varsities in the country when they enjoyed considerable success in the University Sport South Africa tournament that finished on Sunday.

The men’s team regained the title they last won in 2014, while the women were shaded in the closing stages of their final against Pretoria University to finish runners-up.

UJ hockey manager Elize le Roux paid tribute to the players and the coaching staff for doing well in a tough tournament, which was jointly hosted by UJ and Wits.

“We must say massive congratulations to both teams for their performances and hard work,” she said, while also commending the staff’s role in the teams’ success.

She added that it had not been plain sailing during a well-contested week of student hockey.

“After a narrow 1-0 win over Varsity College by the men’s team, we had a tough match against Stellenbosch, which we lost 4-3 after conceding two yellow cards in the last seven minutes when we led 3-2.”

They then drew 1-1 with Wits in a massive showdown to secure a spot in the semifinals, where they defeated Pretoria 1-0.

“In the final against NMMU-Madibaz we were 2-0 down for a long time before we came back to level the match at 3-3,” she said. “We then scored the winner from a set piece to take the match 4-3.”

Le Roux said the women’s team had a mental breakthrough on the opening day when they drew 0-0 with Free State after having lost to them in the Varsity Hockey competition.

“We then beat North-West University 1-0, which was a must win for the pool standings, and followed that with a 4-0 victory over KwaZulu-Natal to end top of our section.

“In the semis, we drew with Wits in normal time, but beat them 3-0 in the shoot-out before losing to Tuks in the final.

“It was extremely close, with no score until two minutes before the end when they converted a penalty corner for the victory.”

While Le Roux said teamwork was the principal factor behind their success, she pointed out a number of players who had played key roles.

“In the women’s team, Kristen Paton held our midfield together, while goalkeeper Robyn Ormond was outstanding.

“Among the men, vice-captain Gareth Heyns and captain Taylor Dart were the seniors who provided the experience we needed to keep the team grounded.”

She added it was a satisfying outcome for both teams, which included some young players.

“Obviously we go through planning phases for performance and the Ussa week showed us we have the depth to pull off the results if we work hard.

“The matches didn’t always go our way as the pools are tough, but it was a relief and pure joy to have seen such great results from both teams in a gold and a silver.”

Le Roux said the final results would be an invaluable experience for the younger players in the squads.

“As we lose seniors through finishing their studies, the youngsters will have to take the reins and I am sure they have learnt that hard work is needed for performances like these.

“The youngsters are new but experienced enough to take UJ hockey further.”

UJ Hockey Media release

USSA hockey disappointment for Wits

Tshepiso Mametela

HARD DONE: Wits ladies hockey coach Pietie Coetzee-Turner is proud of her team despite the stumble against UJ in a USSA Hockey 2017 semi-final match at the Wits Astro in Parktown. Photo: Tshepiso Mametela

PARKTOWN – It was a bitter-sweet end for USSA Hockey 2017 hosts, Wits, after they crashed out of contention in the sem-finals of both the men’s and women’s hockey competitions.

The curtain fell on an exciting campaign for University Sport South Africa (USSA) 2017 hockey tournament hosts, Wits, who swept past the competition en route to booking semi-final berths in the A section of the men’s and women’s hockey competitions.

Both sides, however, succumbed to pressure on the day and came up short in their respective semi-final matches played at the Wits Astro in Parktown on 1 July.

Wits Ladies were first in line and pulled out all the stops in an effort to halt the charge of cross-town rivals, University of Johannesburg (UJ). A dominant display in the closing stages saw Wits ace Nicky Veto’s runs into the UJ 25-yard area cause massive problems for UJ, while an off-load to Toni Marks sailed agonisingly past the mouth of goal. The tie headed for a penalty shootout, which UJ took full advantage of with three unanswered strokes.

In the men’s semi-final, Wits took on Madibaz Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) and displayed strong intent after a sensational Brandon James field goal earned the side an early lead. However, Dan Cairncross equalised for NMMU from the penalty spot before Curtis Samboer scrambled a shot past goal for a 2–1 lead heading into the break. Wits threw everything at it in the dying minutes of the match but some resolute defending from Callan Dawar made the difference as NMMU booked a spot in the final.

“We’ve had an exceptional campaign; our main goal was to come in the top four and that we achieved. However, had we reached the final it would’ve been extraordinary,” said Wits Ladies head coach, Pietie Coetzee-Turner. “We were still the better team on the day. When you get to a penalty shootout, it’s very luck-based to an extent, but it was a good game and I’m very proud of the team.”

It was the first time that both the Wits men’s and women’s teams qualified for the A section semi-finals, following B section contention for the men in 2016 and the women’s side in 2015. As a result, Wits have made the semi-finals seven times at eight events in the past two years, including Varsity Men’s Hockey 2016, Varsity Women’s Hockey 2017 and the Southern Gauteng [men’s and women’s] League in 2016.

Wits women’s captain, Luche Klaasen said making the semi-finals after competing in the B section in 2015 and finishing 6th in the A section last year was a massive achievement. “We started building this team three years ago in the B section of the tournament,” she said. “So I don’t really think it that disappointing. I’m actually quite happy, we are champions and deserved to win the game, but [in the end] it’s just how it is.”

City Buzz

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