All the news for Friday 22 June 2012
Black Sticks enter final phase of Olympics prep
Coach Shane McLeod hopes the New Zealand men's hockey team can take its Olympic Games preparation to the next level without the cloud of selection hanging over the players.
The Black Sticks tonight (8pm NZT) play the first of three tests against Australia in Cairns, with the second and third matches against the world champions tomorrow and Monday.
The 18-strong Kiwi team has been training in Cairns for the past week and is using the tests against Australia as part of their build up for the London Olympics, with the squad having been named last week.
''It is the first time that the team has been together without the distraction of selection,'' McLeod said.
''We know who will play in each position now, so this week we have been able to go into much more detail with each player about exactly what their role is and the style we are wanting to play.''
With Australia announcing their Olympic side just two days ago, McLeod is under no illusion that this series will be a tough contest with both teams likely to play a fast, physical game.
''They will test us and play at a pace that requires the guys to think and problem solve under pressure. Both are newly named teams that have a high work rate and have the ability to score goals often, so it should be a tightly fought series.''
McLeod said playing against their higher-ranked trans-Tasman rivals would give the Black Sticks another opportunity to identify what needs to be improved before they start their Olympic campaign on July 30.
Seventh ranked New Zealand does not meet Australia in pool play in London. They're in a pool which also consists of Germany, Netherlands, Korea, India and Belgium.
Phil Burrows the Black Sticks' Mr Stick-ability
HERE'S LOOKING AT YOU: A goalkeeper's view of a strike by New Zealand Black Sticks veteran Phil Burrows. Getty Images
Phil Burrows has adapted to his new role in the Black Sticks and believes New Zealand will be a medal chance at London.
Phil Burrows has played for New Zealand 277 times, but swears he's as fresh as a daisy.
In fact, such is his physical fitness and competitive streak, the 32-year-old Wellingtonian fancies Rio de Janeiro, not London, to be his Olympic Games swansong.
"I hope it's not my final Olympics, I wouldn't mind going through to another one," said Burrows from Cairns, where the Black Sticks are preparing for a series against Australia.
"The body is feeling good and I'm enjoying it so why not keep doing it?"
Seven months ago Burrows was stripped of the New Zealand captaincy by coach Shane McLeod and replaced by his friend, Dean Couzins.
But after the initial shock, Burrows has simply got on with business.
There can be no doubting his dedication to the cause, having quit his Auckland-based IT job to spend more time on his hockey.
"I was getting a bit behind in my training so I didn't want anything to jeopardise it. I gave that [job] away and am totally focused on hockey."
As well as losing the captain's armband, Burrows has had to adjust to a new playing role over the last 12 months.
Regarded as one of the world's premier strikers, Burrows is now playing in midfield.
The switch allows the young legs of Simon Child and Nick Wilson to wreak havoc up front while hard heads Burrows, Ryan Archibald and Shea McAleese control the middle.
"It's been pretty easy. I played as quite a deep striker so I was often involved in midfield work anyway. Also, I'm one of the fitter guys in the team and the midfield guys have to do a lot of work so it suits my game pretty well. I can attack but I can also get back and help out defensively. Having the likes of myself, Archibald and McAleese behind the ball, sussing stuff out, we're always in the game and have got a connection from back to front."
London will be Burrows' third Olympics.
He debuted in 2000, but New Zealand failed to qualify for Sydney before finishing sixth in Athens and seventh in Beijing.
But the general consensus is the men's side is a genuine medal chance in London after winning the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia for the first time earlier this month.
"We're travelling pretty well and we certainly do have a lot of experience in the side," Burrows said.
"But the talented youngsters are also pretty experienced for the age they are so it's a really good mix we've got going.
"We're just peaking at the right time as well. It's definitely not easy but I give ourselves a chance of a medal this time."
Burrows said the atmosphere in the squad was more inclusive than it had been in the past, with the younger players not afraid to "pipe up" in team meetings.
New Zealand open their three-test series tonight against hot Olympic gold medal favourites Australia with games following tomorrow and Monday.
Burrows' intel suggested Aussie superstar Jamie Dwyer will miss tonight's game with a minor hamstring injury. He said it was crucial the Kiwis fronted up all three times.
"We just want to get three solid performances out there. We often have a couple against Australia but the third game or whatever, one of the games, they really tend to stitch us up.
"Every guy is going to have to play because you've only got 16 at the Olympics."
AT A GLANCE
Name: Phil Burrows Position: Midfielder/striker Born: April 25, 1980, in Wellington Education: Newlands College Caps: 277 Resides: North Shore Most admired sportspeople: Sachin Tendulkar and Hazem El Masri Dislikes: Losing, injuries, olives
Hockey 'super-coach' Ric Charlesworth a consummate professional
Tough choice: In reducing the Kookaburras' squad of 28 to 16 for the London Olympics, coach Ric Charlesworth cut his own son, Jonathon. Picture: MARIE NIRME.
RIC Charlesworth has kept some of the best hockey players in the world on the edge of their seats for almost four years now.
Any Kookaburra questioned about the make-up of the final squad for the London Games has been sure to include a disclaimer in their answer.
"If I get picked, it'd be great I've been playing well, but we all have." Etc, etc.
Some of them made last year's World All Stars team. But don't go telling them they are assured a spot.
You just had to see the results of Monday's Olympic selection to see that Charlesworth means business.
In reducing the Kookaburras' squad of 28 to 16, he cut his own son Jonathon and left long-time members Rob Hammond and Luke Doerner relying on injuries to earn their London spot.
Nothing is taken for granted under Charlesworth.
And nor should it because after all, winning a gold medal is not easy.
The man who made terry towelling famous was selected to play in five Games - although they didn't compete at the
Moscow boycott in 1980 - and his return was a single silver medal.
The West Australian did win two as coach of the Hockeyroos though, and this will be his first Olympics in charge of the men.
"You can tell he really wants to win this one," Kookaburra Mark Knowles said.
"You can just see it, how determined he is.
A gold medal would really consolidate his standing in the sport."
Not that the man is worried about that right now.
He's too busy making sure he has turned every stone, ticked every box, crossed every t' and dotted every, well, you get the picture.
"You try to cover all the bases, but even up until the day before the Games I'll be saying I wish we could have done this or that," he said.
Their lead-up form has been promising and the side has won every major tournament in the last three years, since their bronze in Beijing.
Charlesworth typically finds a way to turn that into a further challenge, though.
"I'm aware that results aren't everything. You can hide your failures and sometimes the most dangerous thing is success," he said.
That all changes when they start their London campaign though. They'll take every win they get, no matter how it comes.
"The Olympics tends to dominate the sport, it tends to go in cycles like that; it's a big deal," he said.
"I've been around for 40 years and the excitement and the build up is always very special."
In an amazing career, Charlesworth has also played cricket for Western Australia, has a medical degree, was on the coaching staff of New Zealand cricket, spent time in the AFL as a freelance consultant and had 10 years in federal politics.
Not to draw on all that knowledge when plotting the Kookaburras' charge would be a crime.
"Every experience that I have had adds something to the current one," he said.
"The fundamentals of hockey are still important and even in other sports (like cricket) and other environments (politics and medicine) can help you. Sport is just a microcosm of life."
If he pilots the Kookaburras' to a gold medal he may just be able to add another achievement to that ridiculous list.
"My biggest frustration is that it doesn't get the coverage that it should," he said.
Charlesworth, who pioneered a nine-a-side international tournament with great success last year, is convinced the product is good enough if given the chance.
"I will say without a doubt that the athletes in this team are first class, as good as it gets.
"Maybe the sport needs to do better at promoting it, because the game is already good, it's very attractive and requires speed and skill, not brute strength.
"It's how you get traction in a one dimensional media (that's the challenge). In my time at Fremantle I had journalists knocking down my door looking for stories. There are more AFL journos than there are players, and that's no lie."
There were plenty of journalists at Monday's team announcement, though, perhaps that's something to be said for the Australian public's thirst for gold.
If that's the case, all Charlesworth's men need to do is keep winning.
"We want to play a relentless game and be able to sustain that," he said.
"When I went to my first Olympics in 1972 I had played three games for Australia. While young, these guys have all played at least 50 games for their country. As a group we are flexible, resilient and competition for spots has been as open as I've ever seen it."
That competition caused a bit of heartbreak earlier this week when the squad was cut to 16.
But the players knew it was coming; knew it was necessary to give them their best chance at Olympic gold. They had been taking nothing for granted.
Fighting injuries to keep Olympic dreams alive
By Tushar Dutt
The Olympic-bound Indian hockey team is sweating hard at the Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex in Balewadi ahead of the big event in London. It can be said that every player has worked hard to earn his place in the 16-member team. But there are two players who have not only worked hard on the field but also have fought injuriesto find themselves in the team.
Till last year, forwards Shivendra Kumar and SV Sunil didn’t think they’d be playing hockey again, leave alone dream of playing at the Olympics.
Shivendra, who severely injured his left collar bone during the senior national championship in Bhopal last year, is one of them. The striker, who faced a career-threatening injury in July last year, was told by doctors that a comeback would be anything but possible.
“It was a major blow to my career. The injury was severe and the worst happened when initially the doctors couldn’t detect the intensity of the injury. My collar bone was broken and initially, it didn’t get the right treatment,” recalled Shiva, as he is fondly called by his teammates.
After consulting doctors, Shivendra finally got the right treatment and his bone was corrected properly. “But it wasn’t easy even after the treatment. I lost strength and couldn’t hit the ball properly with my left hand. It was a difficult phase and it was only because of my love and passion for the sport that I returned to the team. I was told by my doctors that I wouldn’t be able to play hockey again, but my family was behind me and here I am,” said Shivendra.
If it was one big injury for Shiva, it was a series of injuries that kept Sunil away from the turf for almost 18 months.
“In 2009, my right knee got hurt while playing. It was a rare injury and the doctors couldn’t detect the root problem. I was doing well before the injury and was there in the FIH World Cup probables. But the injury kept me away from the trials and I couldn’t play the World Cup,” Sunil recalled.
After a few surgeries, he got back to the turf, but only to go away from it, as the injury recurred, forcing the Army Sports Institute player out of the Commonwealth Games. “It was very depressing for me to have missed out two major tournaments held in the country. I was frustrated, but my parents’ support and the dream to play for the country kept my hopes alive,” Sunil said.
“Today, apart from following the training schedule, I always have a prayer on my mind – not to get injured again,” he said.
Rehan, Shakeel, Waseem among Olympic probables
Earlier this year, the trio of Rehan, Shakeel and Waseem were sidelined for playing in the controversial World Series Hockey (WSH) in India. -File photo
LAHORE: Seniors namely Rehan Butt, Shakeel Abbasi, Waseem Ahmad and goalkeeper Salman Akbar were recalled as the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) on Thursday named 26 probables for the national training camp, in order to pick the best possible squad for the all-important Olympics.
The camp for the London Games will be held at the Army Sports and Physical Training School Tobe Camp in Abbottabad from June 26.
Earlier this year, the trio of Rehan, Shakeel and Waseem were sidelined for playing in the controversial World Series Hockey (WSH) in India whereas Salman was away from the national side as he was playing league hockey in Europe.
Though Rehan, Shakeel and Waseem were included in the national team for the recently-concluded tour to Europe, after they paid the fine imposed on them by the PHF, they could not accompany the team to Europe after failing to get visa for the same.
From among the probables a 16-member squad will be selected for the Olympics in the first week of July.
The selected team will leave for London in the mid of July to undergo a training camp in Birmingham. Before the start of the Olympics, Pakistan will play practice matches against Belgium and Holland on July 24 and 26.
Imran Shah, Mohammad Irfan, Sohail Abbas, Syed Kashif Shah, Mohammad Rizwan Junior, Fareed Ahmed, Rashid Mahmood, Mohammad Tousiq, Mohammad Waqas, Shafqat Rasool, Abdul Haseem Khan, Mohammad Rizwan Senior, Umar Bhutta, Mohammad Khalid Bhatti, Shakeel Abbasi, Ali Shan, Rehan Butt, Waseem Ahmad, Mohammad Imran, Salman Akbar, Tasawwar Abbas, Ammad Shakeel Butt, Dilber Hussain, Imran Butt, Mohammad Zubair, Aamir Shahzad.
Akhtar Rasool (manager/chief coach); Khawaja Mohammad Junaid, Ajmal Khan Lodhi, Shahid Ali Khan (coaches); Faiz-ur-Rehman (physiotherapist); Nadeem Khan Lodhi (video analyst).
National hockey training camp from 26th in Abbottabad
ISLAMABAD: The final phase of national hockey training camp of senior players for preparations for the London Olympic Games will commence at Army Sports and Physical Training School Tobe Camp, Abbottabad from June 26. “The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has directed 26 players to report to Akhtar Rasool Chaudhary, camp commandant at Tobe camp,” said a spokesman for the PHF on Thursday.
Imran Shah, Muhammad Irfan, Sohail Abbas, Syed Kashif Shah, Mohammad Rizwan Junior, Fareed Ahmed, Rashid Mahmood, Muhammad Tousiq, Muhammad Waqas, Shafqat Rasool, Abdul Haseem Khan, Mohammad Rizwan Senior, Mohammad Umar Bhutta, Mohammad Khalid Bhatti, Shakeel Abbasi, Ali Shan, Rehan Butt, Waseem Ahmed, Muhammad Imran, Salman Akbar, Tasawar Abbas, Ammad Shakeel Butt, Dilber Hussain, Imran Butt, Muhamamd Zubair and Aamir Shahzad.
Officials: Akhtar Rasool Chaudhary (manager-chief coach), Khawaja Muhammad Junaid, Ajmal Khan Lodhi and Shahid Ali Khan (coaches), Faiz-ur-Rahman (physiotherapist) and Nadeem Khan Lodhi (video analyst).
The Daily Times
Delighted Akbar vows strong comeback
By Fawad Hussain
Akbar admitted he was not confident of making a comeback but refused to give up his training. PHOTO: AFP
KARACHI: Although his ticket to London is not confirmed yet, Salman Akbar remains optimistic about representing Pakistan at the Olympics after being invited to the training camp ahead of the team’s departure.
Akbar’s call-up to the probables camp by the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) was made possible after unimpressive shows by Imran Butt and Imran Shah in goal. The 30-year old last played for Pakistan in the home series against China last December while the National Championship earlier this year was his last domestic stint.
“I was never confident about a comeback but I never lost hope,” Akbar, who is currently in the Netherlands, told The Express Tribune. “This hope kept me going and I never stopped training and was delighted to have been asked by the PHF to join the camp.”
A member of Asian Games gold medal winning team, Akbar said that although the Dutch season was over, he continued to attend a camp there in order to keep himself fit.
“I will be returning to Pakistan on Saturday and will join the camp as soon as possible. Whenever a player gets a recall, he comes back with more motivation. There’s no bigger honour for a player than to represent his country. I am fit and playing regularly. Although the results are not in our hands, one thing I can promise is that I will give my all-out efforts for the team.”
PHF announces probables
Apart from Akbar, the PHF also recalled Shakeel Abbasi, Rehan Butt, Waseem Ahmed and Mohammad Imran to the camp.
The former captains were back in demand after Pakistan finished at the bottom in the Azlan Shah Cup. Goal-keeper Imran Shah, who was not in good touch in the Azlan Shah Cup, has also been included in the preliminary squad. The camp will start on June 26 at the at Army Sports & Physical Training School Tobe Camp, Abbottabad while the final Olympics squad is expected to be named in first week of July.
The Express Tribune
Two Classic Goals in Dar Hockey Academy’s Hard Earned Victory against the Bundesliga Side Krefeld
By Ijaz Chaudhry
For their third tie in Germany, Dar HA travelled to Krefeld near the West of river Rhine. Set in a picturesque setting surrounded with beautiful fields, the Bundesliga club carries a great legacy. Established in 1890, it is one of the oldest hockey clubs in the country. It finished 7th in the top tier of the Bundesliga this season. As recently as 2007, it won the EuroHockey Club Champions Cup.
The match was befitting the environment. A beautiful game was witnessed though there were not many goals. After a goal less but an eventful first half, two spectacular goals in the 20th and the 30th minutes of the second period, by Dar HA’s two best performers during this year’s European tour, , made it memorable for all those present.
The hosts were first to enter the circle, without attempting the goal. Dar HA had its first penalty corner in the third minute but Salman’s hit went out. It proceeded to dominate the proceedings until the 15th minute. Three penalty corners (one hitting the post) and an equal number of open play opportunities could not be availed. The next five minutes witnessed an even game with up and down stuff with both the sides getting only what could be termed as half chances. In the 23rd minute, Krefeld had a wonderful attempt but Waqas Butt, the goal keeper of the Lahore based academy made a good save from the handshake distance. Dar HA was again in ascendency during the last 10 minutes and tested the rival custodian at least thrice: Defender Asad, off a beautiful Bilal Qadir pass, ran into the striking zone but an effective try couldn’t be carried out as the angle had gone quite narrow. After a typical surge, Salman shot at the goal himself but the Krefeld net minder was well positioned. He soon had another attempt which resulted in a PC. The ball was returned to the pusher Salman who struck the side post. Then after weaving run, Awais made a forceful try only to be thwarted by the opponents’ net minder. The Pakistani lads also appeared surprised by the physical play- so characteristic of German hockey.
The next half also thrilled the onlookers. Pole to pole stuff was seen during the first 15 minutes with good attacking game and an equally resolute deep defence by the two teams. Then the hosts, with Oruz as their main schemer, enjoyed a good spell. Three penalty corners came their way one after another but the visitors’ goal keeper and full backs stood firm. A field goal attempt was also seen of. In the 19th minute, first a fine cross by Bilal Mahmood wasn’t trapped by Aamir Ali and soon Bilal himself was guilty when he didn’t take advantage of a Rizwan hit from outside the circle. But the highly promising striker immediately made amends scoring a goal right out of the top drawer. He controlled a long ball, sprinted into the striking zone, beautifully rounded up the goal keeper before pushing the ball into the goal. The very next minute, on Dar HA’s fourth PC, a strong Abid Bhatti hit was checked by the Krefeld goalie’s stick. The hosts had a fine opportunity in the 28th minute when after a good combined move, the close range effort found the net minder Waqas Butt equal to the task. The score was doubled in the 30th minute with another excellent effort. During a counter attack, Salman in a superb display of speed and ball control covered about 40 metres to enter the circle and beat the onrushing net minder with a deft reverse push. Three minutes later, the Germans were finally able to reduce the margin when a strong high flick off their fourth penalty corner struck the top of the net. Last couple of minutes saw them desperately looking for the equalizer but they were well held by the Dar HA defence.
Tanvir Dar academy, Pakistan: 2
Krefeld, Germany: 1
Ijaz Cahudhry writes on hockey and other sports. For more about him and his work, visit: http://www.sportscorrespondent.info/
Dar HA beat Essen Club 5-2
LAHORE - Dar Hockey Academy beat HC Essen 99 5-2 in the second game in Germany.
The Pakistani lads played well and finished the first half with 3-0 lead. HC Essen converted two penalty corners in the first 12 minutes of the second half to reduce the lead to 3-2. However, the Dar HA immediately regained the supremacy and scored two more goals to emerge 5-2 winners when the final hooter sounded. Bilal Mahmood slammed four and Salman one for the winners while Spaeker scored two for the losers.
The Field Hockey Chronicles: Strength in Numbers
By MICHELLE KASOLD
Michelle Kasold of the U.S. field hockey team in the game against Argentina in October.
Michelle Kasold, a striker, has been a member of the U.S. field hockey team since 2006 and will compete in her first Olympics in London this summer. She will be writing regularly for the 2012 London Olympics blog. This is her first post.
The 2012 Olympic Field Hockey Team by the Numbers
35. Thirty-five days until the opening ceremonies in London. The Games are approaching fast. Although the Olympics are every four years, for us, they are every day. We train day in and day out, and as the Games get nearer, we know that each day is extremely important to our final preparations.
16. Sixteen players that will compete for USA Field Hockey. A training squad of 24 players was cut down to 16 last week, and by no means was that an easy process. With so many skilled players, it is a huge honor to be selected to the team. Meanwhile, some of your best friends, roommates and teammates, who you’ve trained with to the point of blood, sweat, and tears, have just fallen short. However, we understand the process and are excited about the strength we have within this team.
9. Nine players will compete in their first Olympics this summer. There are a lot of young, exciting and extremely talented players on this team who are looking to change the face of U.S. field hockey. These players are excited for their first experience at the Games and along with that, and they will bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the team.
7. Seven players return from the 2008 Beijing Olympic roster. These seven players bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the team. They are leaders on and off the field. They want things to be different this time around. After an eighth place finish in Beijing, these seven know how important the details are in order bring home the gold this time around.
6. Six teams in our pool at the Olympics. The other five: Argentina, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. All of these teams are very skilled, but we have played each one in the past year and know what to expect. It won’t be easy, but we are prepared.
2. Two test matches against Argentina are all that remain before we take the blue pitch in London. We will play at Old Dominion University on Thursday night and in Virginia Beach, Va., on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Saturday’s game will be shown on NBC so make sure you tune in if you can’t make it out to the field.
1. One team. We are one team. When we play together, we know we can beat anyone. We proved that at the Pan American Games in October when we defeated Argentina to secure our spot in London. Their world ranking at the time? No. 1.
Michelle Kasold also has her own blog, Behind the Uniform.
New York Times
EHL Ranking Table Published
Simon Mantell in action for Reading in the Euro Hockey League
Following completion of the 2011/12 Euro Hockey League in Amsterdam, the final EHL Ranking Table has been produced and is attached below.
The ranking table is calculated using results from the EuroHockey Club Champions Trophy (M) and the Euro Hockey League (M) over the last three years, with points awarded to each Nation and then divided by the number of clubs participating from that nation for comparison.
However, in order to reflect current performance, results from 2010 events are discounted to 25%, results from 2011 are discounted by 50% and results from 2012 are awarded 100% points. Details of points awarded can be found in the appropriate competition regulations on the EHF website.
Nations ranked 1-4 are entitled to 3 entries in the 2012/13 Euro Hockey League, those in 5-8 place are entitled to 2 entries, and those in 9-12 place have one entry.
The list of teams qualifying for the EuroHockey Club Champions Trophy and Challenge tournaments in 2013 will be available soon in a separate Bulletin.
England's representatives in the men's Euro Hockey League next season are Reading, East Grinstead and Beeston.
England Hockey Board Media release
U21 Scots in Celtic Cup action
Scotland's U21 hockey squads continue their preparations for European competition this summer when they travel to Wrexham for the U21 Celtic Cups from 23-24 June. Both sides will play a round-robin format against Ireland and Wales to determine the winners of the competitions.
Graham Moodie has now settled on his squad of eighteen players, following a couple of injury withdrawals, and will look to Glynhill Hotel Kelburne pair Alan Forsyth and Michael Bremner for inspiration following excellent seasons for their club. Forsyth in particular offers a real goal threat for the Scots having netted on forty-six occasions for club last season.
"This is our first set of competitive matches since the Great Britain Super League in April and we're keen to see how far we've developed as a squad since those matches. We lost both games against the Welsh side in GBSL so our match against them this weekend will provide a good indicator of progress", said Moodie.
"The players who have been picked for the U21 Celtic Cup have been rewarded for their efforts in recent training sessions but we have further warm-up matches in Spain, Germany and the Netherlands coming up, so the other players not playing this weekend will still have opportunities before we make our final selection for Europe."
Meanwhile, Scotland U21 Women Head Coach Dave Stott has the luxury of naming a settled side for this weekend's matches.
Sarah Robertson will look to continue where she left off against Ulster last week, when the Edinburgh University player bagged a brace in the final match, whilst Clydesdale Western pair Nicola Skrastin and Ali Howie will be aiming to make their mark in Wrexham before they join up with the senior squad for the Celtic Cup in Northern Ireland next week.
"We will look to use a number of systems in the Celtic Cup. Levels of fitness are good and we are now starting to play with more tempo, particularly as we have some very fast forwards, including Nicola Skrastin, Ali Howie, Sarah Robertson and Louise Campbell. These players can create opportunities and also take them", said Stott.
"If we look at all the games we've recently played, we are starting to create a lot more shots on goal, although I'd like to see more of these from outfield situations. That said, we offer a threat from penalty corners from the likes of Nicki Mollison."
"It's disappointing that Wales have pulled out the European competition. Therefore, the game against Ireland is our benchmark and a must win. Ultimately, we're in Wrexham to win the Celtic Cup."
Scotland U21 Men: Thomas O'Kelly, Stuart Allan (both Gordonians), Alan Forsyth, Michael Bremner, Ross McIntyre (all Glynhill Hotel Kelburne), Craig Wallace (Western Wildcats), Fraser Sands (Grange), Adam Walker, Duncan Riddell, Matthew Connor (all Grange), Michael McKenzie (Clydeside), Chris Duncan, Ross Jamieson (both Inverleith), Peter Baldwin, Ben Peterson, Scott Lindsay (all Clydesdale), Craig Falconer (Grove Menzieshill), George Scott (Durham University).
Scotland U21 Women: Siobhan Cowie (Granite City Wanderers), Nicki Cochrane, Kerry Hall, Hazel Hall, Louise Campbell (all Grove Menzieshill), Alex Wilson, Lucy Lanigan (both Giffnock), Fiona Bruce, Alison Howie, Nicola Skrastin, Nicola Lowrey (all Clydesdale Western), Kirsten McIntosh, Bethan Mann, Sarah Robertson (all Edinburgh University), Nikki Mollison (Haddington Ladies), Jenny Morris (GHK), Stephanie McInally (Glynhill Hotel Kelburne), Robyn Collins (Loughborough University).
Scottish Hockey Union media release
“You can always improve your game”
Azelia “Zee” Liu retires after 10 years
At the 2002 Commonwealth Games, goalkeeper Azelia “Zee” Liu made her first international appearance for Canada in a match against Scotland. For over ten years, she lived in the net - defending Canada’s goal in 106 international matches. Earlier this month, Zee decided it was time to begin a new chapter in her life. After a successful career with the Women’s National Team, the Scarborough native is now pursuing her dream of shaping the next generation by teaching and coaching youth.
“Zee brought a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience to Team Canada,” says Paul Bundy, Women’s National Team Coach. “During her time on the team, she truly evolved as a player and as a person. In the last year she took her game to a whole new level. She took responsibility for her position as our last line of defence. Through hard work, determination, sweat and tears – Zee was able to bring her style and technique to a world-class level in an effort to raise Canada’s game on the international stage. It is very difficult to change your game after playing for 9 years, but she did it.”
Beyond developing her own game, Zee has provided mentorship and leadership to many younger athletes on the Squad.
“Zee took the time to mentor Kaitlyn Williams as a goalkeeper and encourage her to think outside the box in her training,” says Bundy. “Her strengths as an educator definitely came out on the field. She was able to bring Kaitlyn out of her comfort zone and inspire her to give her all in the net. Zee retires knowing Canada’s goal is in good hands.”
But she will definitely still be missed. Her dry wit and calm demeanor were able to unite the ever-changing squad and ease nerves in tense situations. No doubt, these qualities will make Zee a great coach in the future.
“She is going to be a tremendous asset to our program in the future,” says Bundy. “It’s great to see her already coaching in Ontario at the club and provincial level – inspiring Canada’s future National Team athletes.”
Q & A with Zee
What did you enjoy most about your time on the National Team?
“I enjoyed hanging out with the team every day. While most of the other girls loved games, I have always loved practices. Training with the team, going to the field, working out and going hard were just great.”
What are your fondest memories with Team Canada?
“The Major Games definitely stand out the most – I loved being a part of that. 2003 was an especially memorable year for me. During a tour of New Zealand I received the news my mom had passed away. Through experiences like that, you find out how strong you can be as a person. That tour was definitely memorable for me.”
Who has had the most impact on your career?
“There have been so many people that have supported me through every stage of my career. Marina van der Merwe and Kathy Broderick helped me elevate my game during my time in university. When I made it onto the National Team, Sarah Forbes, Carla Somerville and Lisa (Faust) Roberts taught me how to carry myself as a National Team athlete. In the past year, Mike Mahood really helped improve my game. My family has also supported me throughout my career. Thank you!”
What will you take away from your experience?
“The most important lesson I’ve learned is that doesn’t matter how much experience you have – you can always learn more and improve. Whenever you reach goals, you should set new ones and never settle. I have learned to apply that attitude to all areas of my life.”
How did you know it was time to retire?
“I don’t like to think of it as retiring – I’m just turning a new chapter in my life. I’ve always been passionate about working with young kids and athletes – and it’s just time to start pursuing those dreams.”
So what’s next?
“I am pursuing a teaching career at the high school level, and volunteering in the meantime. I’m also participating in recreational sports – I’m still really competitive! I’ve been playing softball and field hockey, but not in the goal. I’ve been playing different positions, which has been fun. I’ve also been involved with coaching at some of the local clubs and at the provincial level. I definitely want to stay involved in the community and help bring up the next generation of field hockey athletes.”
Field Hockey Canada media release