All the news for Wednesday 14 January 2015
Faizal vows to keep his temper in check
by Aftar Singh
Faizal Saari (left) was suspended for two matches for using foul language against an umpire in a Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) match last month.
KUALA LUMPUR: Faizal Saari has promised to keep his temper in check in the World Hockey League Round Two tournament in Singapore.
The diminutive forward was suspended for two matches for using foul language against an umpire in a Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) match last month.
Faizal, who turned 23 yesterday, says “I am a changed person” before leaving for Singapore with the national team.
The tournament begins on Saturday.
“I promise I won’t lose my cool. I will do my best to help Malaysia qualify for the World League Semi-Finals (to be held in Belgium and Argentina in June).
“I thank the national team management and coaches for having faith in me. I’ll go all out to score in every match,” said Faizal, who was dropped from the Glasgow Commonwealth Games last July and the Incheon Asian Games last September after failing to score a single goal in in the World Cup in The Hague last June.
Faizal also promised not to let the flood problem in his hometown of Kuala Terengganu distract him from his mission in Singapore.
His car, a 1996 model Honda Civic was submerged in the flood two weeks ago.
“I had to spend RM2,000 to repair my car. But I won’t let it affect my performance ... I’m all ready for the tournament,” said Faizal.
World No. 13 Malaysia are the top seeds in Singapore and will open their Group A campaign against Ukraine on Saturday, followed by Oman (Monday) and Singapore (Tuesday).
Japan, Poland, Bangladesh and Mexico are in Group B.
The top three teams will qualify for the World League Semi-Finals. The World League is the qualifying tournament for next year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics.
The Star of Malaysia
Recovering Shahrun raring to go in Singapore
by Joash Ee De Silva
KUALA LUMPUR: He may not be fully fit but former captain Mohd Shahrun Nabil’s experience is invaluable for Malaysian hockey team.
The 30-year-old Terengganu midfielder sustained a hamstring injury a month ago in the final of the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL) against Kuala Lumpur Hockey Club and could not play in both of the friendlies against Poland recently. (In the MHL final, the teams drew 3-3 in regulation time and Terengganu won 2-1 on penalties.)
With 268 caps to his name, his experience will come in handy when top seeds Malaysia compete in the World Hockey League Round Two, which begins in Singapore on Saturday.
Though not fully fit, Shahrun feels he will be ready when they open their Group A campaign against Ukraine on Saturday. The other teams in the group are Oman and Singapore. Group B comprises Japan, Poland, Bangladesh and Mexico.
“I’m 90% recovered now. I have resumed training and have no problems,” said Shahrun, who captained the national team from November 2012 to February 2014.
“I even had PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) injections to help quicken my recovery.
“I have yet to push myself 100% in training ... but I should be fine for Saturday.”
Shahrun has warned his team-mates not to take any team for granted in Singapore.
“We must not look down on any of the teams. If we do that, things will go wrong. This tournament is extremely important for us because it is a qualifier for the Rio Olympics (in 2016),” said Shahrun, who is from Kuala Terengganu.
The Star of Malaysia
Canada mounts serious challenge in Leipzig
The Canadian men's team have been to every Indoor Hockey World Cup, could this be their year?
The Canadian men’s team has been at every edition of the Indoor Hockey World Cup, a record that the North American side shares with Germany, and this year, they are joined by their women’s team after both teams won their respective Pan-American Indoor Hockey Cup to qualify.
Head coach to the men's team is Louis Mendoca, a driving force behind indoor hockey and the man in charge of Canada at two previous World Cups – 2003 and 2007. He says: “The non-European countries arrive at a disadvantage because of the lack of regular high level competition, but we are ranked seventh in the world, and we are certainly looking to make the quarter-finals.”
To fulfil this ambition the team has been travelling to Europe as often as finances allow, but as Mendoca says: “Canada is quite isolated, so any international exposure involves lengthy travels. Of course this is also a disadvantage shared by other qualifying nations such as Australia and South Africa."
That said, indoor hockey is playing its part in developing both versions of the game in Canada. While most of the Canadian indoor team hail from Ontario, where the weather forces the players inside for six to eight months of the year, a number of international outdoor players from the Toronto area were also training indoor during the winter months. As Mendoca points out, “This means the national indoor team was immediately competitive when official international competitions were organised.”
Mendoca believes the two games complement each other, and the specific indoor skills could certainly benefit players when they move to the larger outdoor pitch. He says: “There are a lot of transferable skills. Plus Canadian players have limited opportunities of playing high level competitions, so indoor could add to their international experience.”
The head coach to the women’s team is John de Souza, an experienced coach who has played for Canada outdoors and indoors and was coach to the men’s team at the Indoor Hockey World Cup alongside Mendoca in 2007. He agrees with his colleague that experience in one version of the sport can only be good for the other. “I believe you must have good elimination skills with good vision and passing skills. I really don't see much of a difference between the two. In the outdoor game, so many teams are playing the half court to defend and stay compact so the game really isn't so different in that way. I believe the best players have great dribbling skills and are able to beat defenders in both directions.”
For John, one of the best things about the build-up to this World Cup has been the four-nation event that was hosted by Canada: “We played South Africa, Argentina and the USA because we need to get international experience for our athletes. The fact that we had a second team in the event exposed 12 more athletes to international hockey and we can't forget the impact on the people that came to watch, and the fact that we had two umpires and a technical table of four new judges. The benefits from this event far outweighs going to Europe because so many people benefited, not just the players.”
Like many teams, Canada’s players will be raising a lot of the funds for the event themselves. One player who knows just what it takes to combine the high level of training with fund-raising is Shankar Premakanthan. The goalkeeper first played in 2003, as the reserve ‘keeper, and has been a regular in the side ever since, moving as he says from ‘being one of the young guys to one of its leaders.”
“For the past 14 years, fundraising has been a part of the programme. For as much as we train and practice, we fundraise as well, it is always part of our indoor programme. In preparation for this World Cup, we have tried many different fundraising activities: selling t-shirts, running clinics, umpiring games in local tournaments and leagues, various dinner/dances, a charity golf tournament, to name just a few. The beauty of these events is how much they raise the profile of the sport.”
Shankar, who will be one of the few players in the world to have appeared at all four World Cups, adds: “Having participated in the previous World Cups I have seen a fair bit of change. I feel teams are getting stronger and the competition is getting more fierce, so for the fans and hockey lovers alike, this is something to be enjoyed.”
Despite the challenges faced by the Canadian teams, there is a dedication to the game among its coaches and players that overrides the financial and logistical challenges. Premakantha says: “What motivates me? I think I can most simply state that is it the love for the game, and the love of competition. I enjoy every minute that I am out there, and I love competing against the best, no matter the level. I can't wait to see what will be in store for this World Cup.”
And de Souza adds: “I'm not sure there is a better place to play Indoor Hockey than in Germany and to be competing in Leipzig again is just awesome.”
HTHC's dozen confirms quarter-final spot
Harvestehuder THC's 12-1 win over Klipper THC confirmed their place in the German national indoor quarter-finals with their eighth successive win in the northern region of the competition.
Speaking about the win, Tobias Hauke said that is a fine performance against an often times awkward opponent, saying: "Klipper has regularly shown that they are uncomfortable to play against, therefore, it was clear that it was not going to be easy."
A 5-0 half-time lead, though, meant they were never under too much pressure and Hauke added: "We are glad that we have won but we have tougher games to come.”
HTHC face Großflottbek and Klipper once again in their final group games before going to the national competition. Club an der Alster and UHC Hamburg will battle for the second quarter-final spot from this group.
The East region is the most open, though, with four teams technically in the running for a place in the magic eight. Berliner and Lichterfelde share top spot on 19 points while Zehlendorfer Wespen could cause some problems if they beat Berliner and BW Berlin. They sit on 15 points
Blau Weiss would need two wins to have any hope of making it to the playoffs as they rest on 15 points.
In the West, the race is already confirmed with HTC Uhlenhorst with Rot Weiss Koln going through with Marco Miltkau, for Rot Weiss, the nation’s top scorer with 28 goals to date.
The same is true for the South region with Mannheim HC and TSV Mannheim advancing with two games to spare.
Euro Hockey League media release
Egara aiming to make big impact on return to EHL
Club Egara coach Patricio Keenan and captain Guillem Fustagueras have laid out their manifesto for 2015 with a strong showing in the Euro Hockey League – on their return after a four year absence – among their priorities.
Egara has a proud history in the EHL, becoming the first Spanish side to host the competition in 2007 and they also were the first Spanish representative to reach the FINAL4.
As such, their return to this level makes for an exciting time for the club and Keenan is looking forward to the challenge, saying: “the feeling for 2015 is promising”.
“We are facing a number of different competitions for the first time in years and we are thrilled to go for it. In the EHL, we want to get through to the next round; in the Spanish Cup, the goal is to improve on our fourth position from last season.
“Regarding the league, the Final Four is a lottery, but we will fight as we did last year. We are excited but we have to play with humility. We know we are maybe not as competitive as some other teams, but we will try to reach the final and once there, to do it as best as we can.”
Egara captain Fustagueras, added that the team wants to “compete for a title and to do well in the EHL. We have to win that first game against St Germain and go as far as we can in Europe.”
For Fustagueras, the only way to achieve these goals is to work every day and to improve individually and also as a group. He also wants to “see the fans enthralled, to make them feel proud of the team they are supporting”.
Euro Hockey League media release
Ireland Men's Squad Announced Ahead of South African Trip
Ireland’s National Men’s Coach Craig Fulton has selected a squad of 22 for the South African Training Camp as they fine tune preparation for World League 2 in San Diego which starts on February 28th. In South Africa they will play 6 tests against South Africa, Netherlands & Belgium.
Coach Fulton said "this is a really important training and match phase for us in our preparations. Selection again was really tight and this camp will form the basis for the final selection for World League 2. We are all very excited and can’t wait to get training and playing together". The team leave Ireland January 21st and return on February 2nd
The Harte brothers, David & Conor, were not available for selection for the training camp in South Africa as they will be playing at the Hockey India League for Dabang Mumbai which starts on January 22nd
IRELAND TEAM – South Africa Training Camp
January 21st – February 2nd
Jonny Bell (Lisnagarvey)
Jonny Bruton (Three Rock Rovers)
Drew Carlisle (Banbridge)
Peter Caruth (Monkstown)
Chris Cargo (Racing)
Mitch Darling (Three Rock Rovers)
Stephen Dowds (Banbridge)
David Fitzgerald (Monkstown)
Neal Glassey (Mossley)
Paul Gleghorne (Instonians)
Kyle Good (Dragons)
Ronan Gormley (Krefeld)
Mark Ingram (Pembroke Wanderers)
John Jackson (Reading)
James Lorimer (Lisnagarvey)
Eugene Magee (Banbridge)
Bruce McCandless (Banbridge)
Shane O Donoghue (Dragons)
Michael Robson (Annadale)
Kirk Shimmins (UCD)
Alan Sothern (Racing)
Michael Watt (Surbiton)
MATCH SCHEDULE (all local times)
25 Jan IRELAND V South Africa – Hartleyvale, Capetown – Time to be confirmed
26 Jan IRELAND V South Africa - Hartleyvale, Capetown – 19.00
28 Jan IRELAND V Netherlands – Stellenbosch 15.00
29 Jan IRELAND V Netherlands - Stellenbosch 18.00
Jan 31 IRELAND v Belgium - Hartleyvale, Capetown 15.00
Feb 1 IRELAND v Belgium - Hartleyvale, Capetown 14.00
Irish Hockey Association media release
Another setback: Pakistan’s plans for China tour fizzle out
By Nabil Tahir
PHF President Akhtar Rasool confirmed that they cannot organise any tours unless they get funds. PHOTO: REUTERS
KARACHI: The Pakistan hockey team’s tour to China for a five-match series has been cancelled as the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) failed to gather funds to sponsor the tour, according to a PHF official.
The series was set to be held in the first week of February, which was also a part of the plan proposed by the team management in the preparation for the World Hockey League – the Olympic qualification round – that will run from June 20 to July 5 in Antwerp, Belgium.
“We have been training for the tours, goalkeeper Imran Butt told The Express Tribune. “We were hoping that the new year will begin some good days for hockey, for which we performed well in the national championship, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
PHF President Akhtar Rasool confirmed that they cannot organise tours unless they get funds. “There’s some chance of a grant to be released by the government in the coming month as I have written an urgent letter to the concerned authorities regarding the matter,” he said.
He urged the private sector and multinational companies to support the national game for its revival. “We are unable to do anything without funds,” said Rasool.
Meanwhile, head coach Shahnaz Sheikh expresses disappointment on the cancellation of the tour. “My proposed plan for the revival of the game will be ruined and I’m afraid that we may lose the chance to qualify for the Olympics,” he said. “We have already made history by missing the World Cup and Commonwealth Games, we can’t afford any more upsets.”
The Express Tribune
Another series cancellation frustrates hockey coach
RAWALPINDI - Pakistan hockey team head coach and manager Shahnaz Sheikh expressed his utter disappointment over cancellation of another series against China, which was supposed to be held next month. It is the fifth international series or event, which was cancelled during the last year.
Shahnaz while talking to The Nation Tuesday said he was handed over the reins of the team in April last year when the team was totally in disarray and was on 11th in the international rankings but after back-to-back steady performances team would reach 9th in the rankings issued in September.
“My record with the team speaks itself. I had put everything in the team and managed to take best performances from almost same players who previously failed to excel. I have helped players to regain confidence. A lot of promises were made at different levels to promote the national game but nothing in practical has been done so far and that have sent and spread a very negative environment in the camp. The players are completely demoralized and heartbroken. I am quite surprised what is the reason behind PM Nawaz Sharif is not ready to meet with federation and players. The PM is also the patron of the PHF and despite several promises and changes in meeting schedules, I don't know why the meeting is not taking place after the lapse of several months.”
When this scribe asked Shahnaz about the reports of sheer rift within the federation behind the reason the PM was unwilling to meet with federation and players Shahnaz denied these reports and termed them completely rubbish. “I don't see and feel any differences within the federation. What I do know is sheer disappointment among the federation and players. If the PM thinks the current management is the continuation of the previous regime even then he should have at least met with the federation top brass along with players and management committee. It would have cleared the air and things would have been sorted out. If this policy of negligence continues, I fear for the players. They are already very demoralized.”
Pakistan have already failed to participate in the 2014 Azlan Shah Hockey event and then had to scrambled tour of Spain for the bilateral series. Pakistan also did not make to Korea tour and also remained absent from Commonwealth Games.
SHahnaz said in addition to the cancellation of tour to China for six-match series, they was not much had hope that they could participate in Sultan Azlan Shah tournament or make it to Super Series in Australia and European tour. “We have to play in the Olympic qualifiers in Belgium starting from June 20th to July 5th. I had clearly mentioned in my detailed report submit with the federation soon after the Champions Trophy final that we need to play at least 30 to 35 international matches before the all-important Olympic qualifiers but now all my future plans look all but over due to non-availability of sufficient amount of international matches. How is it possible for me to lift the morals of the players, who felt betrayed as neither any promise made to them been fulfilled nor they have get any central contract for the last 1 and half year.”
Shahnaz said Indian Hockey Federation had announced Indian rupees 10 million each for hockey players if they managed to beat green shirts in the Champions Trophy semifinal. “I also had a prep talk with the players before the semifinal and also final and assured them of bag full of incentives .Now after doing wonders in the Champions Trophy, boys are demanding their due right. I have to face them. Federation must satisfy players as sheer frustration has already reached its peak.”
He said management including coaches had not received a single penny from the federation for the last one year. He demanded federation to ensure the release of funds according to government policy for the team and officials for winning silver medals in Asian Games and Champions Trophy. “We are not demanding anything out of the books. We just want what is in the sports policy dully approved by the government and secondly immediate handing over of incentives announced by Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif, Sindh Governor Ishratul Ibad and Bahria Town owner Malik Riaz for beating India in the semifinals. At least those incentives could put a new lease of life into players and they would take some heart or else I have no magic lamp to lift the morals of the players.”
He said Pakistan had a very rich tradition of winning medals in mega events since 1948 till 2000 as Pakistan team managed to win 40 medals during that golden era which included 20 gold's, 14 silvers and 6 bronze medals but they could win only 2 gold's 5 silvers and 6 bronze medals from 2000 to 2014.
“There was a sharp decline in winning medals from 2000 onwards but now team is once again on the right track. I request PM, IPC Minister, PSB DG and PHF not to derail the efforts and amount of passion I had put in the team. The PM as the head of the state must understand the importance of the national game hockey. His few minutes time would mean lot for the management, players and federation,” Shahnaz concluded.
CT silver big motivation for Olympic qualifiers: Sameer
KARACHI: Winning silver medal at the recent Champions Trophy hockey tournament provides great motivation for the Pakistan team to qualify for next year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics, forward-line coach Syed Sameer Hussain said here on Tuesday.
“Despite the financial constraints and other problems, Pakistan team’s achievement deserves all the credit and support,” ex-Olympian Sameer said in an exclusive interview here.
He said it was disappointing to see that despite achieving good results in a major international event, the national team was not given the honour and treatment it deserved.
“The silver medal against heavy odds in India was a huge boost for the players and enough motivation for entering the 2016 Olympic Games,” commented Sameer who has been assisting head coach Shahnaz Sheikh during the past few months.
“Beating powerful teams like the Netherlands and India in front of a hostile crowd was a big accomplishment indeed. They way our forwards performed and showed their scoring power is a good sign for the future,” said Sameer who was part of Pakistan team that competed at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
He added that the Pakistan forwards are showing improved scoring skills in recent months which was evident at the Incheon Asian Games as well as in the Champions Trophy.
Praising the young players in the team, Sameer said Pakistan’s emerging star forward Arsalan Qadir, who netted five goals in Champions Trophy, and junior player Ali Shan are good future prospects besides a few other players.
It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan staged an incredible comeback in the Champions Trophy after losing all their three league games to Belgium, England and Australia respectively. They not only beat the Netherlands in the quarterfinal but put up a fantastic show to beat arch-rivals India in a tension-filled semi-final.
Determined to start HIL 2015 on a positive note: Raghunath
LUCKNOW: Uttar Pradesh Wizards are determined to make a positive start to their campaign in the third season of the Hero Hockey India League which begins on January 22 in Bhubaneswar.
Uttar Pradesh Wizards' best result in the franchise-based league so far was the third place finish in the inaugural edition in 2013.
"We are determined to start the tournament on a positive note and put up a good show this season," UP Wizards skipper VR Raghunath said after the team's first practice session at the 32 Battalion PAC Ground here ahead of the tournament's new season.
"As all of us know each other and get along pretty well, the first practice session today concluded on a comfortable note. Though, it was only half of the team that practiced today, we are excited that the foreign players will be joining us soon," he added.
UP Wizards will open their HHIL 2015 campaign at their home ground against Delhi Waveriders on January 23.
The Times of India
Waveriders Schools Cup: catching rhythm
They started with 32 teams last year. Now, increased to 40 plus teams. The Hockey India Legue's local outfit Delhi Waveriders' tryst with schools hockey grows.
The second edition, which is underway, is fast becoming a name to reckon with among Delhi school kids.
This year, the event is so perfectly timed that it has struck a responsive chord among both private and public schools
Simply because Delhi schools are now on winter break, and what better way than to warm up in a multi-school hockey event, like the one going on on both the turfs, to relish.
The tournament now is on sixth day, and witnessed as usual some intense matches and not-so-good matches, which is a trend in any competition-starved sporting discipline which Indian schools hockey definitely is.
Today, the 13th Jan, which is sixth day of the event, Ashok Vihar came cropper against ever-improving Saket J block team to whom it lost 0-6. Incidentally, both teams are from the known stable of Delhi Schools hockey, One Thousand Hockey Legs.
Govt Boys School, Bagner, defeated Janakpur 2 with a tennis like score, while Mota Singh mauled Mandir Marg DTEA with 8-0 drubbing.
Shapurjat, a good side, went down to Kulachi Hansraj 2-1
The tournament is organized in the memory of Pondy Chhada, the founder of Wave group of Instituions, one of which is Franchise of HHIL.
We hope other five Franchises too emulate Waveriders in their area whose label they sport in HHIL.
McCracken handed top job at Rio Olympics
Kiwi Jason McCracken has been appointed as tournament director by the International Hockey Federation for the men’s hockey competition at the 2016 Rio Olympics – the first time a New Zealander has been appointed to the prestigious role.
Appointing and leading a team of approximately 60 technical officials from all over the world and working with the 20 International Hockey Federation staff, McCracken has ultimate responsibility of the event.
The role includes competition management, communications and media, event management, hospitality, doping control and health and well-being of all the athletes and officials.
Originally from Masterton and now living in Auckland McCracken says it’s one of the biggest jobs in world hockey.
“It was a pretty exciting bit of news and I’m incredibly humbled to accept it,” McCracken, now one of the most experienced technical officials in world hockey was also appointed to the same position at last year’s FIH World Cup in The Hague.
A current Hockey New Zealand board member, McCracken brings a wealth of experience to his new role, including officiating at three previous Olympics (Sydney, Athens and London) as well as Champions Trophy and World Cup events around the world.
“New Zealand has strong pathways for umpires and officials and our people are being recognised around the world. At an Olympics there are 10,000 athletes and 6,000 officials – that number in itself highlights the opportunity - I started playing hockey for Kiwi Club in the Wairarapa and my career as an official started as an umpire at the Hatch Cup at the age of 16, I suppose it shows that from humble beginnings anything is possible.”
In a senior full time position at ANZ in Auckland, McCracken knows the next 18 months will be a busy time but he is hugely appreciative of the support he receives from ANZ as well as his wife and two teenage kids.
Although most of his work will be done via Skype, emails and conference calls, McCracken travels to Lausanne in May to finalise the appointment of umpires and officials, will be in Rio in November for a Four Nations test event at the Olympic venue and will spend two weeks before the Olympics briefing his team and doing final preparation before the Olympics kick off on August 5th 2016.
In Rio, he will be joined by Sheila Brown (South Africa) who will be the tournament director for the women’s competition.
Quick Fire Questions for Jason 569 days out
What can we as fans and spectators expect from the Rio Olympics?
It is the first ever Olympic Games in South America. I think we can expect to see a lot of colour, a high level of vibrancy and energy and I think it will be very diverse. The opening ceremony will be spectacular – you can be assured of that. And as viewers, like we did from the Football World Cup, I think the world will get an insight into life in Brazil.
Is it going to be a blue or green turf?
It will be a blue turf. The green one for last year’s World Cup was actually contracted before the 2012 London Olympics. They are doing a lot of work on getting the ball colour correct and trying to remove some of the reflection and brightness that we saw at the London Olympics. Like tennis, it is better for TV and live streaming broadcast if it is blue.
What are the skills required to be a world-class tournament director? Do you get paid?
Very good communication skills, leadership, strong values, diplomacy – coming up with the right and a fair solution, being completely unbiased – a trait that New Zealanders are well known for. No you don’t get paid, it is a voluntary role, but your costs are covered and a per diem while away are part of the deal. The Olympic experience is truly unique and that is payment enough.
How much do the Brazilians know about hockey?
There isn’t a lot of hockey knowledge – it’s new for Brazil. I’m really confident that with the support of the FIH, The team of experienced umpires and officials and the IOC, we will get there. We will bring in a lot of the ‘hockey specific’ and competition management knowledge that the Brazilians aren’t as familiar with.
The ANZ sponsor the NZOC – they must be the ideal employer for you?
Absolutely. They gave me time off last year for the World Cup which I was hugely appreciative of. They are very supportive not just of me, but of other Olympians and athletes who work for them.
What are the big issues for hockey ahead of Rio?
A big issue facing the sport, which is not dissimilar to other sports, is gambling and match fixing. The FIH like other sports governing bodies are working to ensure this does not become a feature of hockey like it has with other sports. Doping is always a focus as well, but there are good systems and policies in place. The other topic is making the hockey event spectacular for a television and the growing online audience. Things like slow-motion replays, spider-cams, changing the game to four quarters, taking time out after a penalty corner to explain the game and replay the action. We have a chance to put our sport on a global platform every four years and so we need to put forward a strong package that people can easily understand and enjoy.
ockey New Zealand Media release
Kiwi Jason McCracken gets top Rio Olympics hockey gig
FLYING KIWI: New Zealander Jason McCracken has been appointed to run the men's hockey competition at the Rio Olympics. Lawrence Smith/Fairfax NZ
New Zealander Jason McCracken has been appointed by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) to run the men's hockey tournament at the Rio Olympics next year.
It's the first time that a New Zealander has taken on the high profile task will be charged with being across all aspects of the event, including appointing and leading a team of approximately 60 technical officials from all over the world and working with 20 FIH staff members.
McCracken, who is currently based in Auckland, will have to make sure the Olympic tournament goes off without a hitch. He will also be responsible for everything from hospitality, doping control and the well being of the competing athletes.
One of the most experienced technical officials in world hockey, McCracken was also appointed to the same position at last year's FIH World Cup in The Hague but he said that taking charge of the Olympic event was another step up.
He said the FIH is focused on putting on a "spectacular" hockey show, using all the tricks in the book for the fans at the event, as well as online and TV audiences
"Things like slow-motion replays, spider-cams, changing the game to four quarters, taking time out after a penalty corner to explain the game and replay the action. We have a chance to put our sport on a global platform every four years and so we need to put forward a strong package that people can easily understand and enjoy."
In a senior full time position at ANZ in Auckland, McCracken knows the next 18 months will be a busy time but he is hugely appreciative of the support he receives from his workplace as well as his wife and two teenage kids.
Although most of his work will be done over Skype, emails and conference calls, McCracken travels to Lausanne in May to finalise the appointment of umpires and officials. He will also be in Rio in November for a Four Nations test event at the Olympic venue.
He hopes to bring his wealth of hockey knowledge to Brazil and will arrive two weeks before the Olympics to make sure his team is fully prepared before the Games start on August 5, 2016.
"There isn't a lot of hockey knowledge – it's new for Brazil. I'm really confident that with the support of the FIH, The team of experienced umpires and officials and the IOC (International Olympic Committee), we will get there. We will bring in a lot of the 'hockey specific' and competition management knowledge that the Brazilians aren't as familiar with."
In Rio, he will be joined by South African Sheila Brown who will be the tournament director for the women's competition.
Women’s National Team adds Steph Andrews as assistant coach
The Canadian Women’s National Field Hockey Program has added Steph Andrews as the new assistant coach for the Women’s National Team.
Andrews, is a product of the Australian playing and coaching system and joins Field Hockey Canada after three years as head coach of Hockey Australia’s National Training Centre in Canberra, where she led the Australian Capital Territory’s Academy of Sport men’s and women’s programs.
“I feel very honored to join an exciting, emerging, and proud National program,” says Andrews, who will head directly to New Zealand in late January to begin her post with the Canadian Women’s National Team as they train for World League 2.
“The team has huge potential to progress moving forward into the future. I look forward to working with a program that is youthful and seeking success.”
Andrews represented Australia as a player at the Under-21 level before moving into coaching.
She has since coached in the Australian Hockey League, where she served as current Canadian Women’s National Team head coach Ian Rutledge’s assistant in 2012, and most recently as a head coach in 2014, when she coached Canadian captain Kate Gillis.
“Steph is an enthusiastic coach who can bring a lot to our program and who can bring a lot of current knowledge from a pretty renowned program,” says Rutledge. “It’s such a huge benefit to our program as it’s such a busy year. For the senior program it’s pretty much our make or break year with Olympic qualification coming up.”
In addition to her role as assistant coach of the Senior Women’s National Team, Andrews will assume future head coaching responsibilities for the Canadian Junior Women’s National Team as they prepare for the 2016 Junior World Cup.
Andrews has guided current Australian Women’s National Team members Anna Flanagan and Edwina Bone, and has also played and coached in Belgium.
She is currently completing her Masters of Coaching degree and was previously mentored by current Australian Men’s National Team head coach Graham Reid.
“Her enthusiasm, her ability, and her desire to make a difference will definitely add value to our program,” adds Rutledge. “To have the extra pair of hands – and a competent pair of hands at that – will not only aid the Senior team, but also to have that single point of accountability and that single driver for the Junior program will be pretty important for our future.”
After she finishes with the Senior women in New Zealand, to prepare for her future role with the Junior National Team, Andrews will join the Junior women in Lancaster, Pennsylvania as an observer at the Under-20 CanAm series at Spooky Nook.
Field Hockey Canada media release
Teams line up for the Scottish U18 Indoor Cup this weekend
Last years winner George Watsons take on Strathallan in the final. Picture by Duncan Gray.
This weekend we see the future stars battle it out in the U18 Indoor Cup at Bells in Perth.
In the girls competition on the Saturday 17th reigning champions George Watsons will be eager to retain their title.
2014 finalists Strathallan will be joined by Robert Gordon College, Craigholme, Galasheilds Academy and George Heriots at the first youth event of the year.
The boys competition takes place on Sunday 18th without the 2014 champions Kelburne, due to not qualifing in the West district tournament. This leaves last year’s finalists Clydesdale fancying their chances to come away winners this time around.
Clydesdale defending the ball off the line in last years final against Kelburne. Picture by Duncan Gray.
They are joined by fellow west side Western Wildcats as well as Watsonians, Aberdeen Grammar, Gordonians, Inverleith, Dundee Wanderers and Perthshire.
Best of luck to all teams competing.
Scottish Hockey Union media release
U15 Indoor AUS Champs
WA and VIC claim 2015 National Championship titles
Western Australia (girls) and Victoria (boys) claimed gold medals at the 2015 Indoor Australian Championships at Monash University, Victoria on Tuesday afternoon.
Throughout the three days of play, the indoor competition showcased strong talent amongst the seven States and Territories competing at this year’s event.
Featuring the top four placed teams from the pool in the finals, Queensland and Victoria went head-to-head in the U15 girls’ bronze medal match. In a closely fought encounter, Victoria defeated Queensland 2-1 on the final siren.
The U15 boys’ bronze medal final between New South Wales and Queensland proved to be a high scoring match, resulting in a 10-4 victory by New South Wales.
In the girls’ gold medal final, New South Wales went up against Western Australia, who were undefeated throughout the tournament. Despite Western Australia’s 100% record it wasn’t all smooth sailing. After a 2-1 win against Victoria in the semi-finals, Western Australia found themselves 3-1 down at half time in the final.
Western Australia showed great team spirit to bring themselves back into the game, and to overturn the two goal deficit. Two goals from Karri Somerville and Renee Rockliff in the final minute saw Western Australia clinch the 2015 national indoor title.
Western Australia’s Head Coach Erin Judd was ecstatic with the team’s performance, praising the efforts of the entire group throughout the championship.
“We’re absolutely stoked with the result, it was a fantastic effort. The team gelled together well and they had no problem knowing where each were on the field.
“The girls had a couple of goals to focus on from the start of the tournament. One of them was to be competitive in each game”, said Judd.
Later that afternoon, the U15 boys gold medal final pushed back featuring Victoria and Western Australia. In another close final, Victoria proved too strong for Western Australia during the second half with two goals from Nathan Ephraums, claiming the U15 boys’ national title with a 5-3 victory.
Western Australia’s Karri Somerville and Marshall Puzey picked up Player of the Tournament awards for the U15 girls and boys. The Australia Capital Territory (girls) and Tasmania (boys) teams were also awarded Play the Whistle awards at the conclusion of the tournament.
The U18 Australian Indoor Championships take place from January 15-18. You can access the results live online via Hockey Australia’s online portal.
U15 Girls & Boys Final Placings
Gold - Western Australia
Silver - New South Wales
Bronze – Victoria
4th – Queensland
5th - Australian Capital Territory
6th – Tasmania
7th - South Australia
Gold - Victoria
Silver - Western Australia
Bronze - New South Wales
4th - Queensland
5th - Australian Capital Territory
6th - South Australia
7th - Tasmania
Hockey Australia media release