All the news for Wednesday 22 April 2015
The next few months pits Argentina against Team USA in two Olympic qualifier events. Recent performances by both teams suggest epic encounters ahead.
Carla Rebecchi and Jamie Montgomery are at either ends of the international hockey spectrum. Although both players are 30 years old, Rebecchi has been a part of Las Leonas senior squad since 2005 and has more than 225 caps for Argentina, while Montgomery joined the national squad in 2013 and currently has 11 caps to her name.
And both players represent where their respective squads are placed currently. Argentina is an established, top-ranking team that is looking a little nervously over its shoulder as the new kids on the block start to challenge the old order. It has been overtaken in the world rankings by a new-look Australian team and, just two ranking places away in fifth place, are the challengers from its own continent – the resurgent USA.
And if Argentina’s coach Santi Capurro and his players need any further evidence that the USA are on their case, then they were given it last weekend at the Hawkes Bay Eight Nations Hockey Tournament in New Zealand, when USA beat Argentina 3-0. Neither team played their best at this tournament – they were playing for the fifth/sixth place – but when it comes to continental bragging rights, this was a seminal moment.
For Carla, and Argentina, the next few months are all about integrating, quickly, the new players who have been called up to replace the retiring old guard, most notably Luciana Aymar. “It's not the same without her, both on the pitch and off the pitch,” says Rebecchi sadly. “She was such a huge part of our team, and she played so many years. It is difficult to play without her.”
Argentina and USA have two chances to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games, the Hockey World League Semi-Final in Valencia and then the Pan-Am Games in Toronto. On both occasions, they are each other’s biggest threat.
For Jamie Montgomery the next few months offers a chance for her to cement a place in the full USA squad. While not part of the team that has just contested the Hawkes Bay Eight Nation tournament in New Zealand, she remains very much in coach Craig Parnham’s thoughts as he prepares for Valencia and Toronto.
Montgomery, who has a Masters in Education, is positively bubbling with enthusiasm as she says: “I have learned a lot over the past couple of years under Coach Parnham; we are really developing our own style as a group and take pride in the work that we are doing. Our team fitness is a real strength and the group's commitment to hard work and competitiveness creates a dynamic and fun training environment.”
Certainly the matches between the two teams in recent months have been a showcase for the values that each team holds dear. Team USA won friends and plaudits for their attacking, innovative play and incredible team spirit at both the Champions Challenge 1 in Glasgow in 2014 and then a few months later at the Hockey World Cup.
Argentina won bronze at that World Cup, beating USA to a medal position. But for the USA, the result signified a huge jump forwards – the team had entered the competition ranked 11th in the world – while Argentina would have liked to have been contesting the gold medal.
Things got better for Argentina as they regained the Champions Trophy in December 2014, and once again the world was treated to a display of attacking wizardry and goal-scoring magic.
As mentioned, both Team USA and Argentina stuttered at the Hawkes Bay tournament. The USA were surprisingly knocked out of contention for a semi-final place by Korea, while Argentina lost to Australia in a close encounter, leaving the two Pan-American teams fighting for fifth place. Rebecchi was sanguine as she explained the loss: “I think it came down to luck, we had plenty of chances, but also our players are learning. As we move forwards, the experienced players in the squad will be very important, but also those players who are more ‘intermediate’, they have to step up and be the base of the team. But the young players, they are the future, we need to build and develop.”
For Montgomery, and one suspects this is the message being drilled into the whole USA squad, it is not about individual nations. When pressed on whether they were now on a par with Argentina, she replied: “Our goal is simply to be the best team that we can be. This is a busy year with lots of great international hockey happening. The team is working hard to be the best that we can headed into a summer of exciting and competitive tournaments.”
And Rebecchi in turn is fulsome in her praise of her rivals. “I think that USA is a very good team that has improved a lot in the past few years and it's not going to be easy to win, it's always going to be a very tough game against them.”
With so much at stake, both teams are throwing everything they can at their preparation for the next few months. The teams are in different pools in Valencia, but at some point over the course of the competition the world will discover who holds the upper hand – the new pretenders or the old guard.
‘Need to improve game in final stages’
Harpreet Kaur Lamba
India hockey coach Paul van Ass says the players will have to learn to work as a team.
India’s third-place finish at the recent Azlan Shah tournament brought plenty of positives for chief coach Paul van Ass, who was pleasantly surprised by the squad’s high energy levels and recovery skills. But the Dutchman knows there are harder battles to be fought ahead.
The World League semi-finals in June — also a qualifying tournament for the World Cup — is one of the biggest events of the year and van Ass has charted out a detailed plan as the 25-strong core group gathers in the capital on Wednesday, for a preparatory camp.
Among the things that van Ass has on his agenda are “improving the game in the final stages, bolstering up the defence and penalty corner conversions”.
“From this camp on, we will work on new team combinations and strategies,” said van Ass.
“I was pleased with what I saw during the Azlan Shah tournament, but we have to improve in tactical play and positioning.
“I think we should not blame the defence only, it’s a team game at the end of the day. For me, it is very important to see what a player is doing when he doesn’t have the ball, the positioning while building an attack or falling back to save goals. They have to learn to work as a team.”
India’s success rate in penalty corners at the Azlan Shah was poor, while inconsistency was another problem. The team lost to 12th-ranked Malaysia, before coming up with their best performance to stun world number 1 Australia.
“We need to improve our game in the final stages of the match, not giving the ball away easily in the dying moments. Also, I think we need to start every game in a better way and prepare to win from the very first minute,” the coach said.
For the upcoming camp, the focus is on defence and the inclusion of young drag-flickers Harmanpreet Singh and Gurjinder Singh is a clear indication.
“We are working on penalty corner conversions and not conceding goals under pressure. I believe that the team will overcome from these drawbacks,” says van Ass.
Reflecting on his one month with the squad, the former Holland coach said, “The boys recovered very well after the initial bad results and they played brilliantly against Australia. They are professional and have strong mental strength. There are weaknesses, on which we are working. “Overall, it has been a good start... but it is definitely not the end,” he added.
The Asian Age
Drew positives from Hawke's Bay Cup: Ritu Rani
NEW DELHI: Indian women's team captain Ritu Rani on Tuesday said that her squad drew a lot of positives from the recently concluded Hawke's Bay Cup and are already looking forward to the Hockey World League semifinal slated in June.
India finished seventh out of eight teams in Hastings, New Zealand. Though the team did not live up to its potential, they delivered some notable performances. They held World No.2 Australia to a 0-0 draw and also managed to beat higher seeded Japan 3-2 in the 7-8th position match.
"We have come back with many positives along with loopholes and weaknesses. We will go back to the drawing board and chalk out a plan on how to build on our strengths which will help take care of the weak areas. We need to work on converting those half chances through better ball possession," said Ritu.
Hockey India (HI) Director High Performance Roelant Oltmans, who was accompanying the team said: "While the team had to settle for the seventh, we have drawn some very encouraging moments which are the strengths of the girls as a team and which we have to work upon before the Hockey World League in June. They played against the top ranked teams and the way they countered the opponents left many astonished."
The Times of India
Hawke’s Bay Cup offers opportunities for officials
The unsung sports heroes – the officials, umpires and volunteers went above and beyond over the last fortnight to make the Hawke’s Bay Festival of Hockey a success.
Over the last two weeks, there were 25 teams competing in either the Hawke’s Bay Cup, Affiliates Tournament or the Furnware Cup and a dedicated team of approximately 30 people helped make the event run smoothly.
“We were fortunate to have a wonderful group of officials and volunteers assisting us with the running of the 2015 Festival. Without their collective expertise we simply would not be able to run the event and their support needs to be acknowledged,” said event director David Nancarrow.
Our Hawke’s Bay Cup officials, appointed by FIH and led by Lilian Chee the Tournament Director from Singapore, were from all over the globe and were just fantastic to work with whilst also offering welcome insight and suggestions as to how we may grow and improve the event.”
The event has also provided an opportunity for New Zealand officials and umpires to further develop their skills.
Jo Cumming from Gisborne, was selected as New Zealand’s umpire for the Hawke’s Bay Cup, giving her the chance to get some more international tests under her belt.
“It was really exciting to be involved, we had eight of the best teams in the world here so there’s some really good hockey to umpire. The other countries brought across some really experienced umpires, so there’s lots to learn,” said Cumming, who received her FIH International Badge last year.
For the Hawke’s Bay Cup each country brought their own umpire with an additional two neutral umpires appointed.
“Meeting people at tournaments like this is awesome - you meet people from all over the country plus you get the best view on the pitch of some world class hockey.”
New Zealand’s umpires and officials are well respected by the FIH and Hockey New Zealand’s umpire and technical manager Craig Gribble works closely with them to ensure they are constantly improving and moving up the umpire pathway.
“Each tournament you go to you get a report which includes feedback on how you have gone and the things you need to work on. It’s great, because it provides you with a real focus for the next tournament,” said Cumming.
But it’s not all about studying the rules, the umpires are expected to work on their fitness in the build-up to each tournament.
“We have been working on our general strength and conditioning as well as doing some specific sprint training. Just like the players, we have to keep fit.”
The mother of two says juggling her hockey commitments with being a mother can be tricky, but it’s well worth it.
“There are quite a few umpires that have children as well, so we are often all in the same boat and know how each other is feeling. Fortunately, I have a really supportive husband and family at home so they make going away easy. You know the kids are under control, so you can come to the tournament and all you need to focus is on is what you need to do at the turf.”
Hockey New Zealand Media release
Guise-Brown buries Inland hopes
JONATHAN COOK at the AB Jackson
It's Maritzburg College versus Maritzburg College as Peabo Lembethe of KZN Inland chases Northern Blues skipper Tim Guise-Brown on day two of the Greenfields SA U21 Interprovincial in Pietyermaritzburg Tuesday. Both represented College and SA U18 during their schooldays.
FORMER Maritzburg College captain Tim Guise-Brown, now leading Northern Blues Under-21, nailed down a hat-trick of penalty corner drag-flicks as host province KZN Inland were beaten 4-0 on day two of the Greenfields SA U21 Interprovincial Hockey Tournament at the AB Jackson Greenfields Turf Tuesday.
Defending champions Western Province put together another superb performance to underline their intention of retaining the title.
WP, possessing strike power across the board, enjoyed an electrifying first half to go 8-0 up against a workmanlike but outplayed North West before running out 11-0 victors. A Jordan Turnbull hat-trick, matched by James Drummond, was complemented further by strikes from Ryan Crowe (2), captain Dan Bell, Chris Hawkridge and Nqobile Ntuli.
As in the 2-1 defeat to Western Province Peninsula on Monday, Inland were again disappointing in not finishing the chances they created. In essence, Blues were clinical from set-pieces while Inland frittered away their opportunities. Apart from Guise-Brown’s PC hat-trick, Khumo Mokhale of Blues also netted smartly.
Including the unprecedented 5-0 drubbing of Southern Gauteng on day one, WP have now scored 13 field goals between seven players in the two matches, plus three PCs from three different players. There appears little chance that anyone can stop them.
Inland won a penalty corner in the third minute but Blues keeper Hendrik Kriek was up to the challenge. Blues earned a PC soon after and Guise-Brown opened the scoring.
Blues got in another shot following the re-start in and keeper Tim Kirkman saved comfortably. In the 10th, umpire Olu Ncukana had no hesitation in awarding a PC after an Inland attacker was interfered with. Another followed, but the chance was lost.
A misunderstanding early in the second chukka cost Inland a gilt-edged goal chance, and Guise-Brown’s low PC drag-flick goal served to emphasise how the host province’s inability to finish was costing them.
After the changeover, Blues’ forward Mokale made the most of a counter-attack and Inland were trailing 3-0 with 25 minutes left. An Inland PC again delivered nil through poor execution, and in the 37th minute Guise-Brown’s low PC flick made it 4-0 to the Pretoria lads.
Replacement keeper Inland Kyle Pillay made some good saves as the clock ticked down, but the damage had already been done, the home side left to rue missed PC opportunities. Inland have a bye Wednesday, before the KZN derby against Coastal at 3pm Thursday.
Southerns and Free State were locked in a fierce, hugely entertaining battle mid-morning. The Johannesburg lads were forced to come back from a goal down on two occasions. This ding-dong affair witnessed some fine goals with Southerns scoring through Walter Pfaff, Chad Burke and Kyle Lion-Cachet while Free State’s goals came from Cheslyn Neethling, Tiaan Weldhagen and Melrick Maddocks.
First up Tuesday, Durban’s KZN Coastal Raiders beat a determined Eastern Province 4-2 after leading 3-2 at half-time in an entertaining affair. Dale van der Merwe’s PC in the 33rd minute, followed by a penalty stroke a minute later, proved decisive, while the other Raiders goals went to Steven McManus and Keegan Hezlett. EP’s goals came from PC set-pieces by Michael Hansen and Wade Witbooi.
Meanwhile on day one of the women’s event in Bloemfontein, Northern Blues beat Free State B 10-0 after leading 7-0 at half-time; Eastern Province beat Namibia 2-0 after the score was 0-0 at the break; Western Province beat WP Peninsula 8-0 after leading 5-0 at half-time; North West edged KZN Coastal Raiders 1-0 after the score was 0-0 at half-time; Southern Gauteng beat Wits 3-0 after leading 2-0 at the break; and Free State beat KZN Inland 5-0 after leading 2-0 at half-time.
Day two scores were unavailable at the time of publication
Tuesday’s PMB fixtures: 9am EP vs Pens;11am KZN Raiders vs Blues; 1pm Southerns vs Wits; 3pm WP vs Free State. KZN Inland, North West (Bye).
SA Hockey Association media release
Sarah Haycroft leads Surbiton to second successive Investec League title
By Graham Wilson
Sarah Haycroft led Surbiton to a second successive Investec League title. GETTY
SARAH HAYCROFT led Surbiton to a second successive Investec League title – success which she hopes can be carried on to the Great Britain stage.
The Surrey side have been unbeaten all season under coach Brett Garrard and the 2-1 victory at the Olympic Park, again at the expense of Canterbury, made them the first club to finish top of the league and then claim the championship since the play-off format was reintroduced in 2009.
Kiwi Julia King, who had helped see off Reading in a semi-final shootout the previous day, put away a penalty stroke in the 23rd minute.
Canterbury stalwart Mel Clewlow levelled with a trademark penalty corner five minutes later but Abi Robinson's shot on the turn in the 48th minute proved enough.
Haycroft will lead Surbiton's defence of the double in the cup against Clifton on Saturday before Britain's international against Japan on Sunday, which will be the first time GB have appeared at the Olympic Park since their bronze medal win in London 2012.
Haycroft said: "We are absolutely delighted to be crowned two years in a row and maintain our invincible streak.
"It wasn't pretty but we dug deep as we didn't want to lose that unbroken record.
"Some of the girls here are in the GB squad and we are really excited to be taking this success into the GB arena."
Point suffices as Racing land Euro spot
A point sufficed for Racing Club de France as they drew 1-1 with St Germain in their closing Top Six match to top the table, earning a win that sees them earn one of the two European spots from France.
They now look forward to a playoff semi-final against fourth place Le Touquet after they knocked out CA Montrouge with a 3-2 win last Sunday.
Jean-David Koch was the key man for Racing, giving them the lead from the first corner of the game.
St Germain equalised eight minutes from the end from a penalty stroke to ensure a tense finish but Racing held firm and ensure they will take one of the European berths.
The other will be decided via the playoffs series which begin next Saturday. St Germain will play Lille in their final four game after the north France side beat Wattignies 5-0.
Euro Hockey League media release
Three foreign teams to grace Vaisakhi tournament
By BRIAN YONGA
Strathmore's Laura Gichau (left) vies with Bridgit Omondi of Daystar University during their National Women Hockey League match at the City Park Stadium on April 18, 2015. PHOTO | MARTIN MUKANGU |
Three foreign teams will take part in this year’s edition of the Vaisakhi hockey tournament that gets underway Wednesday afternoon at the City Park Stadium in Nairobi, Kenya.
Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Uganda Simba and United Kingdom’s Veterans Club will be part of the 12 clubs that will take part in the men’s event.
The women’s tournament has attracted three teams, defending champions Telkom Orange, Strathmore Scorpions and the national junior women’s team Simbarettes.
GRA were the first to arrive in the country last Friday while Veterans jetted in on Monday evening and Uganda Simba are expected in the country on Wednesday.
The Ghanaians, who lost to Tanzanian outfit Moshi CSSL in the final last year, are in Pool A alongside local clubs Greensharks and Impala. Moshi CSSL have opted out of this year’s event.
Former champions Kenya Police, who missed last year's event, are in Pool B alongside Strathmore Gladiators and Uganda Simba. Police will count on their fine start to the league in their bid to reclaim the title they last won in 2013.
The law enforcers are joint top in the Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) men’s premier league with six points same as champions Butali Sugar Warriors.
“We will use the event to gauge our performance this season so far and also use it for gauging ourselves ahead of the African Club Championship which will be a tough event,” Police coach Peter Kaunda told Nation Sport on Tuesday.
Warriors have opted out of the event with their eyes trained on the African Club Championship set for December in Egypt.
Group C consists of Wazalendo, Chase Sailors and UK veterans while Nairobi Sikh Union, Parkroad and Karate Axiom are in pool D.
Orange, the women’s defending champions, will kick start their title defence campaign this afternoon against bitter rivals Strathmore Scorpions in what should be a cracker. It will be the first clash between the two giants this season who are targeting to win the league and continental events.
Scorpions will be out for restore some pride having lost 7-0 to Orange in last year’s final and also finished second to their bitter rivals in the league.
“We have a good squad this year and I believe they have what it takes to win trophies. We are hungry for titles,” said Scorpions coach Meshack Senge. With three teams taking part in the women’s event, the top two teams will face off in the final on Sunday.
SSGC, Wapda enter U-20 Hockey semis
LAHORE - Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) and Wapda moved to the 34th U-20 National Hockey Championship semifinals to be played tomorrow (Thursday).
According to the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) spokesman, SSGC beat Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 1-0 and Wapda defeated Railways 3–0 in the last two quarterfinals played at the Hockey Club Pakistan Stadium Tuesday.
SSGC faced tough resistance from the KP lads in the third quarterfinal. After scoreless first three quarts, SSGC pressed very hard in the last quart and a fine move by their captain Zeeshan Bukhari and M Rizwan created a pass for M Zeeshan who netted a field goal in the 55th minute.
The KP lads, who lacked in experience and skill, conceded only goal of the match. Shahid Perviaz and Zahid supervised the match.
In another quarterfinal, Wapda overshadowed Railways from the beginning and continued their pressure throughout the match.
Particularly, they exerted more pressure in the third quart in which they scored two goals. Junaid Manzoor netted a field goal in the 32nd minute. Mateen converted a penalty corner in the 33rd minute.
Kamran MP and Munir were the field umpires.
Tomorrow (Thursday)’s semifinals: SSGC vs NBP and Punjab A vs Wapda.
FIH shortlisted in six categories in the SportBusiness Ultimate Sport Federation Awards
FIH have been shortlisted in six of the nine categories that make up the 2015 SportBusiness Ultimate Sport Federations Awards.
In a fantastic result for hockey, the categories in which FIH have been nominated are listed below:
Inclusivity , Legacy/Environment , Marketing & Communications , Branding, Global Popularity and Expansion and Commercial Branding.
This is proof for FIH and all of hockey that the new strategy launched last year, is being successfully put into effect and gaining momentum as we seek a hockey revolution.
Global popularity and expansion and inclusivity typify hockey – a game with a 50:50 gender balance and growing numbers at both ends of the spectrum across the world. Further proven by the success of the award winning Hockey World Cup in 2014 with the joint men and women’s event, parallel events including masters and beach hockey, and with record numbers of participants, spectators and online fans.
FIH had a record breaking year in 2014 in terms of their social media activity and following, which has been recognised by inclusion in the Marketing and Communications category. The signing of exciting new partnerships with media partner STAR sports and innovation partner Loughborough and what this will bring to the sport, ensured FIH being nominated in the Commercial category.
FIH CEO Kelly Fairweather is delighted by the nominations: “We are really pleased to have made the shortlist for six categories and also to be on the list of finalists for the overall Award. To be recognised by this panel of expert judges across these categories shows that we are on track with our strategy and achieving our ambition – a global game that inspires the next generation.”
The SportBusiness Ultimate Sports Federations Awards were launched following the success of the SportBusiness Ultimate Sports Cities Awards and Rankings that have been held every two years since 2006. The process involved analysing an initial cut of 30 international federations and associations and then asking them to complete a detailed survey across nine key categories. These surveys were then analysed by the panel.
Hockey NZ recognises stalwarts of the sport
Hockey New Zealand presented gold, silver and bronze service awards and inducted five new life members during the recent 27th Annual General Meeting in Napier.
Eight gold service awards were given to Carol Fitzsimmons, Deb Collins, Bev Johnson, Diana Morrissey, Jennifer Hair, Mark Beatson, Mike Treloar and David Brooks.
The three silver awardees were Heather Orchard, Sandy O’Connell and Rosie Lamain, while Sarah Peterson and Malcolm King were also recognised with bronze awards.
Theservice award is recognition for outstanding service to the sport of hockey for at least 15 years, with the bronze award for 15-19 years, silver for 20-24 years and gold for 25 years or more.
Five new Hockey New Zealand life members were also named with Northlanders Bill and Sue Shepherd and Crichton Christie, as well as Jeannette Harper (Canterbury) and John Williamson (North Harbour).
Crichton Christie (Northland)
Jeannette Harper (Canterbury)
Bill Shepherd (Northland)
Sue Shepherd (Northland)
John Williamson (North Harbour)
Photos courtesy Sue Shepherd
Hockey New Zealand Media release