All the news for Saturday 12 May 1012
Kookaburras Secure Second Win Over Belgium
Australian Men's coach Ric Charlesworth. Image by Ady Kerry
THE Kookaburras completed what coach Ric Charlesworth called their “refuelling stop” in Belgium overnight with a 5-1 victory over the host nation in the second of two test matches.
Following on from their 8-2 win on Wednesday night, the Australians mixed and matched through the lines, converting three corners and adding two field goals.
The result enables them to move onto the rather sterner challenge ahead in Germany next week with renewed confidence.
“It was a tough game but it was a good refuelling stop to go on to Germany,” said Charlesworth. “We were solid and our corners were pleasing but we weren’t emphatic.”
Mark Knowles opened the scoring after 10 minutes with a field goal, Australia’s only reward during a tight first half.
However two goals just after the interval put the Kookaburras in the driving seat, Russell Ford following up from a corner for the first and Kieran Govers converting Australia’s fourth penalty corner for the second.
Des Abbott made it 4-0 from open play in the 50th minute before Belgium’s corner master Tom Boon grabbed a consolation for an under-strength home side two minutes later. A Chris Ciriello corner wrapped up the result for the Kookaburras on the hour.
The Australians have not had an easy time over the last three weeks, losing Graeme Begbie and Rob Hammond to injury and yesterday assistant coach Graham Reid flew home following the death of his father.
For the remaining players and staff, selection pressures are rising with the Olympics only seven weeks away.
“Selection is hard but we just have to deal with it, every other team is affected by it as well. Germany, Great Britain are dealing with it too, not just us," Charlesworth said.
"Some teams may have decided already but I’m not sure that would be healthy, so I’d prefer to be in this situation where we are testing things out, for example, we have used our entire corner hierarchy.
“Of course it means that the players can wax and wane but the reality is that it is going to be that way over the next couple of months.”
The Kookaburras now head over the border to Mannheim for two days of training and then two tests against Germany next week.
They will be hoping for revenge after successive defeats to the World’s No 2 nation at the Olympic Test Event in London.
Mark Knowles(AUS) FG 10m, Russell Ford(AUS) PC 37m, Kieran Govers(AUS) PC 40m, Des Abbott(AUS) FG 50m, Boon(BEL) PC 50m, Chris Ciriello (AUS) PC 60m.
Hockey Australia media release
International Hockey Round-Up
Australia's injury woes: Junior Asia World Cup final
Jade Warrender is the latest Aussie to suffer a major injury (Photo: Ben Campbell)
The Belgium and Australian men are playing a two game test series as the Aussies continue their European tour after last week’s Test Event in London. Australia easily handled Belgium in the first meeting with an 8-2 win. The second game between the teams will e played on Friday evening. The bad news for Australia from the Euro tour is that Rob Hammond was sent home with a wrist injury. The severity of the injury will be assessed upon his return home.
News of Hammond’s injury joins a string of injuries for the Australian national teams. Defender Graeme Begbie went down with an injury at the Test Event and is out for the Olympics, while women’s defender Jade Warrender will also miss the Games with a torn ACL.
The German and Korean women also met in a two-game series. The first match ended in a 2-2 draw, and the second meeting was dominated by Germany in a clear 5-0 victory. After the two games, Germany’s Olympic Training group had its first major cut with the group getting trimmed from 27 players to 22. In other Germany news, congratulations to men's national team player Mattias Witthaus, who earned his 351st cap last week, a new German record.
There’s good news for Olympic host Great Britain. The national team lost two players, Crista Cullen and Alex Danson, to injury at the London Test Event, but it was announced that both should recover in time for the Olympics. The duo are likely going to miss the Investec Cup, which runs from June 5-10 and features the women’s national teams of Australia, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Netherlands and South Africa.
The Azlan Shah Cup is on the horizon and the eight participating men’s national teams, Argentina, Great Britain, India, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand and Pakistan are busy making their final preparations for the annual tournament, which begins on May 24th. The most recent news from the event is that Argentina and New Zealand have named their squads.
Rounding out major hockey news this week: The final of the Junior Asia Cup in Melaka, Malaysia will be held this weekend. Pakistan and host Malaysia will meet for gold. The bronze medal game will feature India vs. Korea. Both games are on Sunday, May 13.
Keeping Umar at bay is key to M'sia beating Pakistan in final
By S. RAMAGURU
Dangerman: Pakistan captain Mohamed Umar Buttha is the mainstay of the team.
MALACCA: Pakistan skipper Mohamed Umar Buttha is the livewire of his team and the man Malaysia will have to contain in the Junior Asia Cup final tomorrow.
The three-time champions are gunning for a record fourth title while the hosts are eyeing their first in what promises to be a compelling showdown at the Bukit Serendit Hockey Stadium.
Malaysia coach K. Dharmaraj said Pakistan showed their full potential when they thrashed South Korea 6-1 in the semi-final on Thursday. He singled out Mohamed Umar as the team’s mainstay as his experience at the senior level makes all the difference.
“Umar can’t be allowed to roam freely or given the space to set up the attacks. But Pakistan can also get the goals through players like Mohamed Dilber and Mohamed Suleiman,” said Dharmaraj.
“Pakistan have played us a few times but they fielded different players each time. So we can’t judge by past results.
“What’s important is that we focus on our game and keep a close eye on their dangerous players.
Dharmaraj has built a strong team based on good team work but he has one major concern – whether the players can all hit form at the same time.
“For once, I want to see all the players hitting form at the same time. Then I can confidently say that we will win.
“But in each match, some players have shone while some have been just average.
“I know their abilities and believe they can all play much better. And the final is the time for them to prove it.”
As yesterday was a rest day, the players will have two training sessions today.
“I want to keep the team’s momentum going and the players to keep working at their game,” added Dharmaraj.
He said the players are injury-free and are raring for action.
Pakistan team manager Anjum Saeed said they will be prepared to face Malaysia.
“We have played them a few times and know what Malaysia are capable of. We respect them but we don’t fear them.
“It’s going to be a close game. My players are playing well and scoring goals.
“But they are not going to find it easy in the final.”
The Star of Malaysia
Overseas stints eyed
BLUEPRINT: Juniors to get exposure in Europe or Australia
By JUGJET SINGH
Faizal Saari (left) and his teammates have been earmarked to hone their skills in top European and Australian leagues.
THE Project 2013 team achieved one, and will be going for their second target against Pakistan in the final of the Junior Asia Cup at the MBM Stadium in Malacca tomorrow.
Malaysia have never won gold in this tournament since its inception in 1987, with the best being a silver won in the 1992 edition in Ipoh.
The excitement is overpowering, and the wheels have started to grind even faster as plans are afoot to send several promising players to play in overseas leagues.
"It is still at a blueprint stage, as the National Sports Council (NSC) is trying to secure top clubs in Europe or Australia to take players from this team to a higher level," said team manager Mirnawan Nawawi.
Mirnawan, who was in the 1992 silver winning side, feels there is tremendous potential in this team and they need to hone their skills by playing in tougher leagues.
"There is no point in sending the players to mediocre leagues, as they need to play competitive hockey in Europe, where I expect the challenge to come from during the Junior World Cup (in New Delhi next year)," said Mirnawan.
NSC director general Datuk Zolkples Embong confirmed that talks are being initiated with several countries.
"We are in the process of negotiating with several clubs from three countries and hopefully are able to settle this by the end of June.
"We realise that our players need to be exposed in foreign leagues in order to become complete players and hence the NSC, with the go ahead from the Malaysian Hockey Confederation, has started working on this plan.
"We are looking at 12 to 18 players, from both the senior and junior squads, to be placed overseas," said Zolkples.
NSC took a lead role in seeking clubs for hockey players in 1997 and R. Shanker, Chairil Anwar, Nor Azlan Bakar, S. Kuhan and Kerpal Singh went on three-month stints with clubs in Germany.
As a result, Malaysia qualified for the 1998 Utrecht World Cup after being in the cold for 16 years.
Clips and bio-data of potential players for consideration of clubs are being compiled to make them more marketable and to secure top-flight clubs.
TODAY -- Seventh-Eighth: Iran v Sri Lanka (6pm); Fifth-Sixth: Japan v South Korea (8pm).
TOMORROW -- Final: Malaysia v Pakistan (8pm); Third-Fourth: India v South Korea (5pm).
New Straits Times
Baljit Singh defends his strategy that misfired in the semis
India played somewhat a soft hockey against Malaysia much against the characteristic aggressive brand for which they are known for all along, with disastrous consequence.
The depending champions could not put on board even a token goal and thus crashed out of the final, losing the semis 0-2 on Thursday.
India’s cautious approach even surprised Dharmaraj, the rival coach, who said that he has never seen an Indian team was so defensive as was the case yesterday in the semis.
However, Indian chief coach Baljit Singh defended his approach and blamed under-preparedness and inexperience for the team’s failure to click in the semis.
Baljit Singh Saini, double Olympian, claims nothing wrong with this kind of approach.
“We normally are a aggressive side. It is entertaining, the crowd enjoy. But, what is the use pressing all the seventy minutes and then ending up exhausted and without scoring. It is essential to play different styles, say if Plan A doesn’t work, we resort to Plan B".
“We wanted to go cautious against Malaysia because that was our considered plan”, he said.
“You see its all about scoring goals. We had our opportunities but did not capitalize and they had theirs, and utilized. This has nothing to do with us not having attacking style. We cannot play 70 minutes attacking hockey in every game”, he reasoned.
On queried whether this change of strategy is the outcome of lack confidence, he retorted, “Not at all. The fact is we haven’t scored and that’s it”.
He lamented the fact that his forwards failed to strike goals, and conceded this is one area he would devote to rectify the mistakes.
He further felt forwards inability bring enough penalty corners, thus denying adequate chances to flickers in Amit Rohidas and Sukhmanjit Singh.
“Yes, we did not get as many penalty corners as we would have liked to. I cannot blame our flickers who haven’t scored out of the three PC we got, but blame the forwards, for, they simply did not earn enough of penalty corners. The way we played we could have got more of them”, he went on.
“This is a raw team. These boys are playing together in an international outing for the first time. They need time to mature and show results. That way I can only say that I am not satisfied with the results we got here, but one cannot produce results within less than months from taking the coaching which is my case.
“I took over the team March 15, and I need more to produce a working and deliverable combination”.
Malaysians are producing results because they have the continuity in the last four or more years, with same set of players, coaches and support staff. That is what is required in order to bring desired results on the international forums,” the double Olympian asserted.
However it is fair to say that India played their best game today in Malacca, though boring and unyielding. Fitness and international experience are the areas Indians would like to concentrate in future.
2012 Junior Black Sticks Squads named at Under-21 Tournament
New Zealand’s best junior hockey players have been at the National Under-21 Tournament in Hamilton this week, battling it out for regional supremacy as well as trying to claim a spot in the 2012 Junior Black Sticks Squad.
The squad was announced following the men’s and women’s final today, which was won by North Harbour and Auckland respectively.
“Throughout the week there has been a good standard of play across the teams. I was impressed with the players’ tactical appreciation of the game and overall the players were fit and had good athletic ability,” said Junior Black Sticks Men’s coach Grant Edwards.
Junior Black Sticks Women’s coach Chris Leslie agreed, adding that the selectors were looking for players who showed consistency throughout the week.
“We have selected players that demonstrated good core skills, especially when they were in pressure situations. Plus, with the change in tournament format to six games in six consecutive days, players needed to maintain a good level of play throughout the week,” said Leslie.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) is yet to announce the dates and venue of the 2013 Junior Men’s and Women’s World Cup, but both Edwards and Leslie are planning to have a training camp at the end of the year with their respective squads. From these camps, teams will be named for international competition.
Both coaches noted that there is healthy competition between players to be selected in the national squads and the juniors really value the opportunity to be part of the programme, which was run for the first time last year by Hockey New Zealand.
“It is so important to have a strong junior programme as these players are our future Black Sticks, so we need to develop their talent and give them that international experience,” says Edwards.
All players selected are eligible (based on their age) to play in the 2013 Junior World Cup.
2012 Junior Black Sticks Squad – Women
Jenna Anderson, aged 19, Capital
Cass Reid, aged 18, Canterbury
Rhiannon Dennison, aged 19, North Harbour
Phillipa Symes, aged 19, Southern
Kelsey Smith, aged 18, Capital
Felicity Reidy, aged 19 Capital
Olivia Merry, aged 20, Canterbury
Julia King, aged 20, Auckland
Rachel McCann, aged 19, Canterbury
Sian Fremaux, aged 20, Canterbury
Su Arn Kwek, aged 16, Auckland
Alexandra Hunt, aged 19, Auckland
Kate Kernaghan, aged 20, Midlands
Rose Keddell, aged 18, Auckland
Courtney Ross, aged 19, Southern
Alex Tully, aged 20, Southern
Stephanie Mackie, aged 18, Auckland
Megan Hull, aged 16, Capital
Kayla Wilson, aged 19, Midlands
Brooke Neal, aged 20, Midlands
Danielle Sutherland, aged 18, Auckland
Elley Miller, aged 19, North Harbour
Jenny Storey, aged 20, Canterbury
Victoria Metheven, aged 19, Auckland
Gen Macilquham, aged 20, Capital
Kim Tanner, aged 20, Midlands
Sarah Matthews, aged 19, Auckland
Michaela Curtis, aged 19, Central
Georgia Barnett, aged 18, Central
Anita Hope, aged 19, Midlands
Head Coach: Chris Leslie
Assistant Coach: Angeline Waetford
Team Manager: Sarah Leberman
Performance Analyst: TBC
Physiotherapist: Helene Baron
Chairperson of Selectors: Chris Leslie
Selector 1: Jason Butcher
Selector 2: Greg Nicol
Selector 3: Ramesh Patel
2012 Junior Black Sticks Squad – Men
Brennan Alexander Parker, aged 20, North Harbour
James Bennett, aged 19, Southern
Ryan Cosgrove, aged 20, Capital
Robert Creffier, aged 20, Auckland
Nicholas Elder, aged 19, Southern
Nick Finlayson, aged 19, Capital
Sam Greaney, aged 20, Central
Angus Hazlett, aged 20, Canterbury
Richard Joyce, aged 20, North Harbour
Scott Kearney, aged 20, Capital
Gabe Kepes, aged 20, Capital
Kim Kingstone, aged 18, Auckland
Sean Laidlaw, aged 19, North Harbour
Sanjay Lala, aged 19, North Harbour
Trent Lett, aged 20, Capital
Troy MacDonald, aged 20, Southern
Jeremy Morris, aged 19, Southern
George Muir, aged 18, North Harbour
Jared Nixon, aged 19, North Harbour
Jared Panchia, aged 19, Auckland
Robert Paterson, aged 19, Southern
Ben Radovonich, aged 18, Auckland
Matthew Rees-Gibbs, aged 20, Midlands
Michael Ritchie, aged 19, Auckland
Kane Russell, aged 20, Southern
Ben Smith, aged 19, Southern
Trent Summers, aged 19, Canterbury
Matt Symonds, aged 18, Capital
Benedict van Woerkom, aged 20, Capital
Zac Woods, aged 20, Midlands
Head Coach: Grant Edwards
Assistant Coach: Dave Ross
Team Manager: TBC
Performance Analyst: Amrit John
Physiotherapist: Oliver Low
Chairperson of Selectors: Grant Edwards For more information:
Selector 1: Bryce Collins
Selector 2: Darren Smith
Selector 3: Jon Tanner
Hockey New Zealand Media release
London calling Jozi’s Blade
Hero speaks about moment that sealed Olympics spot
SHARP SHOOTER: South Africa’s goal-scoring hockey hero Thornton McDade is welcomed back to St Peter’s Prep School for Boys by (from left) Matthew Daniels, Jordan Twiss, Makomborero Magara and Murray Dittmar.
THE boys at St Peter’s Preparatory School in Johannesburg sat glued to their TV screens early last Sunday morning and witnessed a magical goal.
It was a never-to-be forgotten moment as the South African men’s hockey team’s goalscorer is their teacher, Thornton “Blade” McDade.
The occasion was the emotion-charged final of the Olympic Qualifier Tournament at Gifu Green Stadium in the sleepy country town of Kakamigahara in Japan and the opponents were none other than the Samurai, the Japanese national team.
That goal set the tone for SA’s agonisingly close 2-1 win and earned the men in green and gold the cherished last remaining ticket to the London 2012 Olympic Games men’s hockey event, which flicks off on July 30.
Wednesday was McDade’s first day back at school and he will cherish it forever.
“I saw all the boys and staff in green and gold, thought it was civvies day and could have kicked myself for arriving in a jacket and tie,” he said.
“But it was all for me, posters and well-wisher cards … not expecting anything but a normal day back at work, it was an incredibly emotional moment. I was absolutely blown away and it made me realise how impressionable young children are and what a massive difference my example can make.”
McDade has every faith in his team-mates for Project London.
“This special SA team will give a performance at London 2012 that will inspire South Africans, young and old, to be proud of us.
“They were so amazing in their support while we were in Japan. You could almost feel it although we were thousands of kilometres away.
“It meant an incredible amount to us and spurred us on in difficult moments, knowing we were playing with the whole country right behind us.”
McDade approaches every South Africa match as if it might be the final curtain.
“I play every game as if it could be my last – I don’t want to leave any ‘if onlys’ out there.
“I want to finish every game knowing that I could not have given anything more and come off without any regrets,” says the striker, who might find the time to fulfil a long-held desire to learn how to play a musical instrument when he finally hangs up his stick.
Now 31, the ‘Blade’ is still running, and the oldest man in the team is convinced the 2012 squad is special.
“Our results have shown the SA public that we are doing something special and our process is working. The lads have a special vibe that makes us super-competitive.”
Motivation has never been a problem for the Southern Gauteng frontman.
“My Christian faith and the opportunity to always become better keep me working hard.
“Family has always been important. I have a very supportive wife in Lara; and my mom, who has also played for South Africa, has always been a super-keen follower.
“My brother Stuart is my biggest fan – and I am his – and a real source of encouragement and enthusiasm.”
What does London 2012 mean for the Beijing 2008 Olympian?
“The opportunity of putting the Beijing performances to bed and the chance to play for the best SA men’s hockey team of all time.
“It would be a chance to be part of a team that has a will and potential to achieve something greater than any other SA team. We have to show that dreams can be achieved despite all the odds.”
You can bet your life that the youngsters at St Peter’s will be huddled around the TV set willing “Sir” to even greater heights come July 30.
The Saturday Star
SA hockey thrives on pure dedication
By Kevin McCullum
When he was much, much younger, Wade Paton, vice-captain of the South African hockey team, would watch Gregg Clark play for the national side from up close. His father, Alan, was the coach of the squad and he and his brother Taine, also now a South African international, would be enthralled by South Africa’s most-capped player.
Now Clark, who earned 250 caps as a player, has coached Paton and his teammates to the Olympics, and perhaps more importantly, has lifted the sport to a new level of awareness in the South African sporting arena.
“Clarkie was a hero when we were growing up,” said Paton. “My dad used to coach the national team and we used to tour with him, and we’d see Gregg as this superstar. Now working under him, he is so focused and so determined, and has so much belief for us, and that’s the most important thing. He believes in us.”
Belief. It flowed from Clark as he spoke after the team arrived home from the FIH Olympic qualifying tournament in Japan on Tuesday. Their 2-1 victory in the crucial match against Japan had heart-stopping moments near the end, but Clark always believed this side could do it. When he says this team is the “golden generation” it’s not a throwaway line for him, not a cliché to keep his job – he lives what he preaches. Clark is not paid a monthly salary by the South African Hockey Association (Saha), which operates on a tight budget. Like his players, he has sacrificed a “normal” life because he believes.
“It’s difficult to put into words how much these guys have given up,” said Clark. “Without any assurances, people are flying back from Europe, not just once, but several times. It’s time away from work, people have quit jobs so that they can take lesser jobs so they can get around the whole leave issue. They really want this badly. I talk about the quality of these guys, but they really want it badly. They are hungry and ambitious, and they want this so much, and that is why they do what they do.”
Clark represented South Africa in Atlanta in 1996 and Athens in 2004. He was a part of the team denied a place in Sydney by Nocsa because of – depending on who you speak to – politics or that they weren’t good enough. In 2004 the South Africans came close to progressing further, but were undone by a dodgy umpiring decision against the Netherlands and then a loss when they were leading against India.
“Yeah, in 2004 we were a good side, we were coming towards the end of our life cycle as a team. Some people like myself were a little long in the tooth perhaps. Maybe the 2000 team, when we didn’t go to Sydney, was a little better. We had a few elements of that team missing in 2004. Maybe this team isn’t quite there yet, but they have more potential, I believe. What Dave (Carr, Saha president) said earlier about the number of games we have played in the last year (SA have only played 37 Tests in a year, while other international sides have played 37 Tests in six months), we are lacking game time and competition. If we had had a similar programme to the ladies, for example, where they will have played close to 100 games by the time they get to London… well, that’s what we’re lacking,” said Clark, whose experience of Olympic Games will be a great asset to South Africa.
“It definitely helps. Depending on the selection, obviously, but we could have four guys who went to Beijing. This will be my fourth Olympics. It’s such a unique experience and if you’re not prepared for it a lot comes as a surprise. In Beijing we talked it up, but the guys didn’t realise what it was like. In 2004 we came close, we came really close. Myself, (Craig) Jackson and (Greg) Nicol had been to 1996 and we knew what to expect. It just depends on the team’s focus and, in Beijing, with the greatest respect to the players who were there, I don’t think our focus was quite there. I don’t think we’ll have that problem with this bunch of guys.”
Watching South Africa play, you would never say they had only had four training camps in the last four years. In Japan there was a composure to their play that belied their lack of preparation, but Clark says the intelligence of his players to take on board tactics and game plans is what makes them a special outfit.
“It’s just about seeing that same movie over and over again and knowing what to do in the moment. This is a smart bunch of guys. We’re now relying on a handful of tough games where we’ve seen that movie before, and maybe the coach banging on about it and telling them to expect the moment, but they take it all on board and they can apply it.
“I can’t really describe how much Japan have improved since the Champs Challenge, which is five months ago. We beat them 3-2 at the Champs Challenge, which sounds close, but we were 3-0 up at halftime and we gave them two soft goals. Going into this tournament I wasn’t that concerned, but when we watched them they were a really slick outfit. They’d been in camp for 200 days and they were vastly improved. They were difficult in the pool game, but we were still dominating games. They were hitting us on the break, which they were good at. It was a great result for us.
“We move the ball around. We like to try to retain possession and get the ball into certain areas. We have quite skilful forwards, we’ve got attacking midfielders. We’re not playing a very direct game; we like to hold on to the ball and wait for the right moment.
“We may need to review that when we go to the Olympics and come up against the likes of Australia, who put a lot of pressure on you defensively and they won’t let us hang on to the ball for as long. In fact, the longer you hold on to it, the more likely you are to get mugged and concede a counter- attack goal. I don’t want to tinker too much, but we’ll see.”
Clark is hoping Sascoc and Saha will be able to source some more money. He wants to have a training camp at the end of May, and then send the team to Europe to play some of the major nations. The team has no major sponsor, save for Mr Price Sport, who supply their kit, and Virgin Active, who let them use their gyms, plus a few other suppliers. They need a corporate to drop some cash into their coffers to lift them to the next level. Clark and his team, though, will continue to make the sacrifices.
“I get paid from time to time. It’s not a regular cheque every month. Things have changed. I was a full-time coach with Saha until a few years ago, but now it’s more of a project-based thing because times are tough. What’s my job? This is it,” smiled Clark.
“My family and a lot of people think I’m crazy because of what I do as hockey is seen as such a Cinderella sport, but I’m an incredibly competitive person and I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think that there was quality on the table here, and there are bigger things down the line.”
Competition fierce for SA women's hockey team
The Pinoke Hockey Club in Amstelveen in the Netherlands has become a home away from home for the members of the South African Women's Hockey team.
With just 77 days before the start of the London Olympic Games, the group of 26 completed their second intense week long training camp as most of the players are based in the Netherlands.
With just 16 places up for grabs for the London Olympics, competition is fierce.
Some of the players ply their trade at the Pinoke Club, while the others travelled from all over the Netherlands, Belgium and even the UK to attend the camp.
The team has set its sights on a top six finish at the London Olympics, which will be a significant improvement on its 11th place finish in Beijing four years ago.
With most of the players heading for their third Olympic Games however, hopes are high.
"You’ve got an Olympic experience and there are certain aspects that you know what to prepare for,” said SA captain Marsha Marescia.
“But when you’ve been to two completely different countries you also know that there are certain focuses that you cannot pre-empt.”
The team will hold two more training camps before their international series against Great Britain and Scotland later this month.
Radical TV might be answer to hockey’s big problem
By John Robbie
DID you watch the men’s hockey decider against Japan? SuperSport deserve praise for screening the game and it seems many people tuned in for their first ever exposure to the sport.
Since the win I have had calls, mails, tweets, posts and, can you believe, even a few conversations face to face, by the bucket load and, without exception, everyone loved it.
Just when it looked like we could relax at 2-0, back came the Japanese with a cracking goal and it took a last-second save from Rassie Pieterse to guarantee the win and our place at the Olympics. Thus we have both the men and women on their way to London and, remember, both had to qualify twice for the privilege.
Is that really fair? Surely Sascoc should be trying to get teams to the Games rather than putting obstacles in their way.
As a former sportsman, the fitness level was what first caught my eye. Imagine spending an hour doing shuttle runs at full pace, carrying a stick, getting the odd clatter and performing feats of juggling as you go.
That is what the hockey players endure in every game. The skill level is harder for the novice fan to appreciate.
Look again at Thomas McDade’s goal. In real time it looked like he hugged the goal line, got a bit of luck and managed to flick it in. Big deal. Watch it in slow motion and you really appreciate the brilliance of the score.
He ran audaciously at the defence and, with that feint and lift, managed to deceive the excellent Japanese ’keeper. Far from being lucky, it was a hockey equivalent of one of the many Lionel Messi wonder goals we have seen over the years. The trouble is that in soccer, and rugby for that matter, you appreciate it in real time. In hockey, often you don’t.
This is the single biggest reason hockey is still something of an acquired taste. If you haven’t played, it is hard to really get it.
Why don’t the hockey people and the TV people work together to radically alter how the game is presented?
I am not a technical guy but can you imagine the impact of regular and automatic HD slow-mo on the viewing experience? Why not start the coverage live but end the game late with this innovation? Watching on TV far from taking away from the enjoyment, it would enhance it beyond belief.
Why not show the game at its real speed but, after every piece of intricate skill, automatically show a super slow-mo. At the ground the game would be as normal but on television the effect would be spectacular. It would be like watching surfing where you see fast action but then can marvel at the artistic beauty of the sport in slow motion.
Imagine watching that game from Japan in this way. It would be fast, then in slow motion with close-ups and facial shots and the juggling side revealed in its magnificence. Then it would be fast again until the next real bit of intricate skill when automatically and immediately the action would be slowed again. The spectacle would combine speed and athleticism and movement with the skill and beauty that you miss when watching live. This would become the game on TV and make it one of the greatest
spectator sports in the world. Fast, fast, slow-mo. Fast slow-mo, fast, fast fast. Watching on TV, you wouldn’t care that the game had actually ended half-an-hour ago because you would still be enthralled and waiting to see which side won. Just a thought.
The men need a major sponsor. Surely some corporate czar can see the opportunity for major exposure and massive goodwill. It is staring everyone in the face.
This is needed now to afford the men the same opportunity to prepare as have their sisters and their opposition.
Both hockey sides are now underdogs, but with a leg-up in terms of preparation we can start winning titles, not just qualifying. We need to support hockey in the same way the country has got behind Banyana Banyana. In addition to our individuals, our teams doing well will make this an Olympiad to remember.
Why not call Hockey SA and start talking turkey. It could be the best marketing decision you’ll make.
John Robbie presents the morning drive show weekdays 6-9am on Talk Radio 702
The Saturday Star
‘Work underway to lay down blue turf’
The turf was to be laid down before the home series against China, which was held in December 2011. -Photo by AP
LAHORE: Contractor Usman Afridi of the company with which the Sports Board Punjab (SBP) has signed the contract for laying blue turf at the National Hockey Stadium has alleged that the SBP instead of extending cooperation is creating problems by issuing his company show-cause notices.
Addressing a news conference here, Usman said that he was well on the way to lay down the turf in the first week of June.
He claimed that the SBP signed the contract with his company on April 24, adding that the turf has reached Karachi.
Stating that there is no need for changing shock-pads, he pointed out that the work could be delayed if the SBP insists on fixing shock-pads as it usually takes long time, adding that the national team won’t be able to practise for even a single day if shock-pads are to be fixed.
The government of Punjab has sanctioned funds totalling Rs35million for a new blue turf to provide the national team practice opportunity before the upcoming London Olympics.
The turf was to be laid down before the home series against China, which was held in December 2011.