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News for 11 December 2020

All the news for Friday 11 December 2020

Field Hockey Canada Appoints Pasha Gademan to lead Men’s National Team

Gademan joins Henning and brings experience to coaching staff as the Men’s National Team prepares for Olympic Games

Photo: Willem Vernes Photography

Field Hockey Canada is excited to announce the appointment of Pasha Gademan to the Men’s National Team Coaching staff. Working alongside Andre Henning and the rest of the team staff, Gademan will take the lead in preparing the team as they look forward to taking on the world’s best at the rescheduled Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Gademan is a rising star of the international coaching scene and a successful coach in the Dutch Hoofdklasse, German Bundesliga and in the KNHB. Due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and other barriers, Henning has been unable to travel and work with the athletes as much as he had hoped.

As such, the organization is introducing Gademan as the team’s new head coach and will work in tandem in delivering the training and competition platform in 2021. With the global pandemic continuing to provide challenges and demand a flexible approach to the Olympic preparation, it was important to ensure the leadership is flexible in its approach to providing the optimal preparation for next year’s Olympic Games. According to Henning, the shift in leadership will offer the best possible coaching experience for the athletes.

“Our joint responsibility is to provide the team with the best possible preparation for the Olympic Games completely independent of roles and egos. It was therefore important to me that we put together the best possible people into the staff,” Henning said. “I alone cannot currently offer the fully commitment the [team] deserves on their way to Tokyo. This is mainly due to the fact that the travel situation has massively worsened, and my flexibility is not high enough. When I lead, I feel I have to be a role model.

“I know Pasha as a person and as a coach well enough. He has proven outstanding qualities and I am fully convinced that he will lead the team in the best possible way. I will support the team and the staff as best I can. We can’t wait to start working together as a team.”

According to Adam Janssen, Field Hockey Canada’s High-Performance Director, Gademan’s addition builds out the MNT’s coaching staff and adds a layer of professional support heading into a big year ahead.

“I am pleased to have Pasha join the MNT staff. He will add another dimension to the preparation for Tokyo 2021 and will be a vital part of the team. His flexibility during these difficult times will allow for continuity in preparation with the team.”

Gademan, who has built an impressive resume coaching elite hockey over the past decade, is looking forward to joining the Field Hockey Canada team.

“I am absolutely delighted with the opportunity that Field Hockey Canada has presented and can’t wait to stand on the pitch with the National Team,” Gademan said. “I realize that we are living in uncertain times, which complicates the road towards Tokyo 2021. But I am confident that we are able to set up a strong program and work closely together with the staff, team and organization to represent the colours with pride in Tokyo.”

With COVID-19 still causing travel and competition uncertainties in the coming months, the staff team and Field Hockey Canada administrators are working on setting up the best possible national team training schedule for 2021. Field Hockey Canada CEO, Susan Ahrens said the environment is constantly shifting and that the organization is adapting as able. She looks forward to 2021 with optimism. The appointment of Gademan is another step in building out the best possible support team.

“The pandemic continues to demand flexibility in order to ensure a safe and top preparation for the men’s team through to Tokyo. I am delighted that Andre has added to the coaching and technical leadership for our men,” Ahrens said. “Pasha is a perfect fit for the men and great addition to the FHC coaching team. Welcome to Pasha and thanks to Andre for his outstanding and selfless leadership.”

Field Hockey Canada media release

Hockey Australia launches independent inquiry

An independent inquiry into the Hockeyroos program has commenced following recent public statements regarding the management, culture and leadership within the program.

Hockey Australia (HA) launched the inquiry in order to address the claims against the organisation’s culture and bullying that has been suggested is occurring.

“Athlete and staff wellbeing and welfare is at the forefront of Hockey Australia and the Board’s priorities,” said HA CEO Matt Favier.

“New allegations have surfaced in the last week regarding claims of bullying between players within the Hockey Australia program which are extremely concerning.

“Hockey Australia is unwavering in our commitment to ensure that athletes must not be exposed to a climate of fear and intimidation, particularly by their peers, including past and present players.”

Current and former Hockeyroos players and staff since the 2016 Rio Olympics have been invited to take part and share their experience. Initially current athletes and staff have the opportunity to be interviewed, followed by former athletes and staff post Rio.

The inquiry is being led by Richard Redman, a lawyer and manager of the AIS Conduct & Professionalism team, together with Adam Carrel from Ernst & Young.

The inquiry will run through to Friday 18 December.

Hockey Australia expects to be able to pubicly provide the summary findings and recommendations by ealy February 2021.

Hockey Australia media release

Hockey Australia announces investigation into ‘toxic’ bullying claims

Hockey Australia has announced an inquiry into allegations of a “toxic culture” following crisis talks surrounding dirty laundry claims.

Tyson Otto

The Hockeyroos earlier this year. Source:AAP

Hockey Australia has launched an independent inquiry following accusations of a “toxic” and “bullying” culture within the women’s national program.

Hockey Australia confirmed on Thursday the review will include input from current and former players dating back to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro after a tumultuous fortnight of accusations from disgruntled former and current players.

Reports of player discontent towards Hockeyroos coach Paul Gaudoin and high-performance director Toni Cumpston follows the team’s Tokyo 2021 Olympics squad selection announcement.

While the Hockeyroos program appears to be burning down around them, the Kookaburras remain one of Australia’s best gold medal chances for next year’s Games and are the No. 2 ranked team in the world.

The culture of the Kookaburras program has never been questioned under high performance director Cumpston.

Hockey Australia chief executive Matt Favier has also repeatedly and publicly declared his support for the senior figures at the top of the Hockeyroos system.

It comes despite reports of a player strike threat in the wake of reported player anger surrounding the selection snubs of Georgie Morgan and Rachel Lynch, previously considered the best goalkeeper in the world in 2019.

Morgan and Lynch are reportedly considering appealing their omissions from the squad after being overlooked by the selection panel.

The Hockeyroos crisis took another turn this week with Hockey Australia president Melanie Woosnam flying into Perth for a meeting between players and Hockey Australia board members.

The Hockeyroos are being torn to pieces. Source:AAP

The crisis talks have done little to mend the rift.

Hockey Australia has showed it is treating the ugly accusations — made by the Australian Hockey Players’ Association — of a “toxic” Hockeyroos culture seriously by announcing the inquiry.

The inquiry is being led by Richard Redman, manager of the AIS Conduct & Professionalism team, together with Adam Carrel from Ernst & Young.

The review, to be concluded on December 18, will include interviews with current and former players and will be made public in February — just five months before the start of the Tokyo Games.

The Hockeyroos players warm-up before the Women's FIH Pro League in Perth. Source:AAP

Woosnam earlier this week said she feels “quite optimistic and positive” that the accusations of a bullying culture will be resolved.

Meanwhile, the players’ union has also said it supports the decision to investigate the claims.

“Hockey Australia has informed the Australian Hockey Players’ Association (AHPA) that its proposed inquiry into claims of a toxic culture and bullying in the national women’s hockey program is set to commence on Thursday 10 December 2020,” the AHPA said in a statement on Thursday.

“The AHPA is supportive of a thorough and transparent inquiry which is independent, adheres to due process and which will ultimately make findings and appropriate recommendations which reflect the true state of affairs within the national women’s hockey program.

“Subject to the inquiry’s satisfaction of these criteria, the AHPA encourages its members and stakeholders to engage with the inquiry and to allow proper process to take place.”


Hockey Australia reportedly aware of player concerns in 2017 as inquiry begins

By Michael Pavitt

An inquiry is underway after allegations of a toxic culture within the sport ©Getty Images

Hockey Australia were aware of concerns from members of their women's squad regarding the leadership of the team as far back as 2017, it has been reported.

An independent inquiry into allegations of a "toxic" culture within the sport in the country was launched last month by the governing body.

Interviews began today on a voluntary basis, with athletes and staff from the Rio 2016 Olympics onwards due to participate.

Richard Redman, the manager of the Australian Institute of Sport's conduct and professionalism team, will lead the inquiry with Adam Carrel, a partner at Ernst & Young.

Findings and recommendations are reportedly expected by early February.

The inquiry was launched amid claims that around half of the Australian women's hockey squad were considering a strike, just months before the rearranged Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

The axing of 2019 International Hockey Federation goalkeeper of the year Rachael Lynch and former captain Georgina Morgan from the 2021 squad was cited as a key reason.

It has been reported the Australian side, ranked second in the world, have grown increasingly frustrated and angry at officials including high-performance director Toni Cumpston.

Both players have reportedly appealed their non-selection.

According to The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald, letters from 2017 and 2018 were sent by the squad to Hockey Australia.

A 2018 letter outlined "serious concerns regarding the direction of the Hockey Australia women's programme".

"As a playing group, we have a number of concerns, which has led to us losing confidence in the ability of the coaching staff and administration to make decisions that promote a culture of excellence and result in future and continued success," the letter reportedly read.

Former and current players are likely to participate in the inquiry ©Getty Images

The squad reportedly cited concerns over the number of players who had left the team in the past year, an unusually high staff turnover and a "lack of understanding and respect for the players' perspective, and an unwillingness to address issues raised by the playing group".

Disconnects between players and the coaching and administrative staff were also cited.

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald said that 12 of the 25 players who signed the letter remain in the current squad.

Hockey Australia President Melanie Woosnam reportedly responded to the letter, saying the national governing body would work to improve the environment.

Former player Madeleine Ratcliffe, who signed the May 2018 letter as a player, told the newspapers no meaningful change has occurred.

Hockey Australia chief executive Matt Favier has claimed the inquiry will investigate claims about the alleged poor culture in the programme.

Favier reportedly did not address concerns raised by players about the coaching and support staff, or if Hockey Australia had failed to act on concerns.

Australia has won three Olympic gold medals in women's hockey, the last coming on home soil at Sydney 2000.

The Hockeyroos also finished second in the inaugural edition of the FIH Hockey Pro League in 2019.

Australia booked a place at Tokyo 2020, postponed to next year because of the coronavirus pandemic, through the Olympic qualifiers.

Inside the Games

Hockey World Cup 2023: Efforts on to make Rourkela match-ready  

Earlier on the day, a separate HI team inspected the Biju Patnaik hockey stadium of Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) which is the lone venue in Sundargarh to host matches.

A file photo of hockey match at Biju Patnaik Hockey Stadium in Rourkela | EXPRESS

ROURKELA: Ahead of the Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023, preparations have begun at Rourkela to host the mega event. International Hockey Federation (FIH) president and sports administrator Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra, Hockey India (HI) chief executive officer (CEO) Elena Norman, Sports and Youth Services Secretary Vishal Dev and IDCO MD officer Sanjay Singh reached Rourkela on Thursday to assess infrastructure and logistic needs.

Earlier on the day, a separate HI team inspected the Biju Patnaik hockey stadium of Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) which is the lone venue in Sundargarh to host matches. The stadium’s expansion for the World Cup has been delayed by several months in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.   

A high-level team of Odisha Government comprising Sports Minister Tusharkanti Behera, Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy and 5T Secretary V Karthikeya Pandian is expected to arrive here on Friday. The top government and HI officials are likely to review the city’s sports and other infrastructure.     

SAIL sources informed that among other things, the Biju Patnaik hockey stadium would get an astro-turf practice ground, floodlights, upgradation of changing rooms for players and match officials and extra parking space while seating capacity is likely to be doubled from the existing 15,000. Enough vacant space is available for necessary expansion of the stadium.   

Earlier, a joint team of HI and Sports department had insisted on air connectivity, advanced healthcare facility, at least 250 luxurious hotel rooms, high quality stadium, practice ground and beautification of the city as prerequisites for hosting matches of the World Cup.

Commissioner of Rourkela Municipal Corporation Dibyajyoti Parida exuded confidence that all Smart City and beautification projects would be completed much before the world cup. Sources informed that restoration of commercial flight and upgradation of the Ispat General Hospital into super-speciality hospital will be done in a few months while luxury additions of existing hotels would also be carried out.

After hosting the World Cup in 2018, Bhubaneswar would again hold the prestigious event scheduled from January 13 to 29 next year. While the State Capital would be the principal venue, Rourkela for the first time has been chosen as the second venue.

The New Indian Express

Watch.Hockey fan vote: Gurjant’s rapid strike voted 2nd best of FIH Hockey Pro League 2020

Image: Gurjant Singh. Copyright: Hockey India.

On 18 January 2020, the second season of the FIH Hockey Pro League began, with India’s men hosting the Netherlands at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. India needed just 13 seconds to mark their FIH Hockey Pro League debut, with Gurjant Singh clinically firing home a breakaway goal to give the home favourites the perfect start in what proved to a superb 5-2 victory over the Oranje.

Following Wednesday’s announcement that Carla Rebecchi’s goal against USA had finished in third place, we can now reveal that Gurjant’s quick-fire strike has been voted as the second best FIH Hockey Pro League goal of 2020 by the fans on the Watch.Hockey app.

To mark the occasion, we spoke to Gurjant Singh and India captain Manpreet Singh, with Gurjant being the first to offer his thoughts on India’s perfect start to the competition.

Gurjant Singh: “Thanks to everyone, and thanks to you! That goal was a really, really good goal, because we were just starting the match. For me, the best part was after the match I went to speak to the journalists and one of the media guys told me that I created a record! He said that it was the fastest goal for India and that I had broken the record. To me, that moment was really good.”

FIH: Well, it was incredible. It certainly one of the fastest goals in international hockey history – they don’t get much faster than 13 seconds! To do it in Bhubaneswar, in the FIH Hockey Pro League, the first match, it must have been quite a special moment for you.

Gurjant Singh: “Yeah, it was the first match in 2020 for India, and for me it was the best match. Last year I was injured and out for all of the international tournaments, so I played after a long break, so I was very excited for the match.”

FIH: Did you enjoy competing in the FIH Hockey Pro League? I know that the season was cut short because of the COVID-19 global health pandemic, but did you enjoy competing in those matches in Bhubaneswar? Was it everything you wanted it to be?

Gurjant Singh: “Yes. It was great for every team. We were enjoying the Pro League, up until corona [hit], and we are still waiting now for our next matches.”

FIH: So Manpreet, it was obviously an incredible moment for India to have done so well in their first FIH Hockey Pro League game, to achieve such a great result against the Netherlands. What are your thoughts about that?

Manpreet Singh: “From my point of view, it was a great match and we started very well, scoring in 13 seconds. It was an outstanding goal, and when I got to know that it was the fastest goal, it was such a proud moment for me and for the team as well. We really enjoyed that moment, and I was so happy for Gurjant that he scored that goal.”

FIH: Absolutely. It was a good 5-2 win against the Netherlands. It is fantastic to get results like that against the best teams in the world, something which must do a lot for the confidence of the India team.

Manpreet Singh: “That is true. It was our first match of the 2020 [FIH Hockey] Pro League and it gave us much confidence. After that we played a couple of good matches against Belgium and Australia. It was a really good start. Starting with the Netherlands, it gave us more confidence, boosting the team. It was so amazing, starting that match.”

FIH: Fantastic. Thank you both for joining us today and the best of luck for 2021.  
Gurjant Singh & Manpreet Singh: “Thank you so much!”

We will reveal the best goal of the 2020 FIH Hockey Pro League, as voted for by the fans on the Watch.Hockey app, on Friday 10 December. The outcome of the fan vote for the Best Matches of the 2020 FIH Hockey Pro League will be revealed between Wednesday 16 and Friday 18 December.

Don’t forget to download the Watch.Hockey app, where you can find the latest news and interviews as well as action replays and highlights. Simply search Watch.Hockey in the App Store or on Google Play. A desktop version of the app is available at www.watch.hockey.


FIH site

Your Chance To Say Thank You To Alex Danson-Bennett

Alex Danson

Alex Danson-Bennett’s illustrious career will be recognised when Great Britain take on Argentina in the FIH Hockey Pro League next year – and you can be there to celebrate her special day!

The matches against Argentina on Saturday 15 May 2021 will be dedicated to formally marking her retirement, celebrating an incredible 18 years in which she won Olympic and European gold medals, captained her country and finished as the joint-highest women’s goalscorer for England and GB.

Having initially been scheduled to take place this summer, the occasion has been moved back a year to ensure the hockey family can give Danson-Bennett the send-off she deserves.

“That day will be very special, it will be very emotional I'm sure,” she said.

“I want my retirement to be a thank you. No athlete has a career without many people helping, and it will be a lovely opportunity for me to thank them.”

You can save up to 20% and also pick your seat for that day by securing your Hockey Family Window tickets NOW.

You’ll need to be quick to secure your spot though - this window closes in just one month’s time (10 January) and Red Tickets and Weekend Passes have already sold out for that weekend! Click here for more information.

England Hockey Board Media release

Helping The Game Continue - Umpires On Covid Changes

Janice Tasho and David Haynes are Premier Panel Umpire for the NPUA (National Programme Umpiring Association).

Just as players, coaches and club administrators have found lockdown a challenge when it comes to ensuring they maintain some form of momentum, the same is true for the ‘third team’. In this article, Janice and David give their personal perspectives on the past few, Covid-impacted months.

For Janice, who lives in the North of England where Covid-19 hit particularly hard in the Autumn, local restrictions meant she was unable to umpire on the national circuit from mid-October. However, the England Hockey League’s loss has been the local North West leagues’ gain. Faced with the tier system of restrictions, the local leagues were quick to restructure so, until the second lockdown, Janice was able to support her own club, Knutsford, and umpire locally.

David has been less sanguine about the disruption. This was to be his first full season on the Premier Panel since he was promoted in December 2019. With a good pre-season under his belt, David was raring to get going in the top flight of hockey. A year since his promotion and he has umpired only three games in the Premier Division.

When they have been able to umpire both Janice and David, along with every other umpire, have had to make some necessary changes to their pre and post-match rituals. They go to every match ready changed, as most clubs have closed changing facilities.

For David, who lives in Cumbria, this has caused some challenges.

“We are advised to travel changed for the game, but this has been very difficult to do, I live in Cumbria and it is normally a long drive to get to a game especially at Premier Division level, so driving those long distances wearing my game gear is uncomfortable at best. We get to a game one and a half hours before in order to prepare. However, during the autumn and winter months with the British weather, we don’t generally have somewhere nice to have a coffee and begin our preparations with the teams and our colleague.”

“This has made it a lot harder, but we still ensure we bring the same level of professionalism to every game. It has been really hard travelling home in our umpire gear, especially after a wet game, but we want to ensure that we service the game in the best way possible so that does mean sometimes driving home in a damp hoodie, or a swift change in the car park.”

Janice Tasho & David Haynes

The other changes to the umpiring role are mostly around match protocols: the umpires do the coin toss rather than the players, there is no hand-shaking, and social distancing is observed as much as possible. As Janice says: “I personally think everyone has done extremely well in keeping to the instructions.”

Like the players, umpires have needed to take extra steps to ensure they are physically and mentally ready to step back onto the pitch once action resumes.
“Physically I’ve kept myself fit and active,” says Janice. “I set myself a goal to try and do a minimum of 10,000 steps a day and I’ve been pretty successful with that. There have been just eight days when I’ve not hit that and four of those were because I got a nasty cold – thanks to my daughter going back to school.

“Obviously I had to pass my bleep test for NPUA which meant over the summer I was running regularly. Just the other week I tested myself and ran the Cooper test within the designated time.”

David has also been working hard to maintain his fitness. As well as completing two runs a week, he created a home gym in the garage. For mental stimulation he took part in the Charity BENs virtual British Grand Prix, doing 190 miles in 60 days to raise money for charity. Something he says was good for his mental well-being.

“Mentally I think everyone will have had ups and downs during this whole period,” says Janice. “We are social creatures and having had our activities limited has been very difficult at times. We’ve been lucky in terms of being an outdoor sport so we have received clear instructions. Of course, some habits are ingrained and “don’t touch the ball” has become a new catchphrase.”
Prior to the start of the 2020-21 season, as with any other year, umpires were able to get up to speed with the game via pre-season friendlies. Janice is hopeful that, despite the challenges posed by the different tier restrictions, there will be a chance to umpire some friendly matches before the leagues resume.

Aside from the ability to get some match play through friendly games, the umpiring fraternity also uses digital technology to keep in touch with both each other and the sport. David helped deliver an England Hockey online training session around Young Umpire Development which, he says, was a great experience.

For the umpires themselves the digital world, particularly WhatsApp, has been an invaluable source of support.

“We have our WhatsApp groups, which we use to share news, clips and get opinions,” says Janice. “It’s very supportive and non-judgemental so when things happen during a game it’s good to share to get other people’s input, advice and opinions.

“I think every game gives us the opportunity to learn. Either it went really well and I’ll use that again, or that wasn’t great so how can I improve that going forward?”

One big source of learning and development is the feedback umpires receive from coaches after matches. Janice says one of the best coaches in this respect was former Head Coach at Birmingham University, Phil Gooderham.

“I always want to improve my umpiring and coaches can help here. Getting constructive comments and criticism is important. Phil Gooderham from Birmingham University was always so helpful in this regard. He was very balanced and fair, so we all used to listen to him.

“I think the WhatsApp group is a good support when we aren’t at games. We are all supportive of each other on the pitch as well, probably because we’ve known each other for a long time and umpire together regularly.”

As the hockey community prepares itself to spring back into action, it is clear from talking to these two committed individuals that the third team are more than ready for the first whistle to sound.

England Hockey Board Media release

UNC to Host 2020 NCAA Field Hockey Tournament

By Avery Trendel

Photo: Dakota Moyer

The NCAA announced Wednesday that UNC’s Karen Shelton Stadium will be the host of the 2020 NCAA Field Hockey Tournament, which is set to take place in May of 2021.

Old Dominion University was the originally scheduled host of the event, but was unable to do so once the event was delayed from fall to spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tar Heels recently won the ACC Tournament title after posting a 10-1 record during the fall season. They will be seeking their third straight NCAA championship.

This will be the first time UNC and Chapel Hill have hosted the field hockey semifinals and finals since 1987.

“It’s another surprise in what’s been such an unusual year, but we’re thrilled to host the NCAA Championship,” UNC  head coach Karen Shelton said. “It was disappointing for everyone that the tournament had to be canceled this fall. I know we’re all excited to play in the spring and we’re honored to know that the season will end in Chapel Hill.”


FIH choose Horizm to help drive revenues on their digital journey

Horizm, the award-winning provider of digital inventory management in sport, and the International Hockey Federation (FIH) have confirmed an agreement that will see FIH using Horizm’s Artificial Intelligence powered platform to help hockey’s world governing body unlock new digital revenues.

The collaboration highlights the FIH’s growing commitment to digital as a key component of its commercial strategy and, through Horizm’s real-time solution, will enable FIH to establish accurate market valuations for its different digital assets. It will also provide FIH with the intelligence and the tools to create new digital content franchises that can be monetised directly, or in partnership with Horizm.

Commenting on the announcement and the challenges sports organisations face when trying to understand the value of their digital channels, FIH CEO Thierry Weil said: “We’re very happy to have engaged on this partnership with Horizm. They can deliver clear measurement as well as a valuation and evaluation of our digital assets. And then quantify this for us.  This is much needed data which we will use for our current and potential future commercial partners”.

FIH Sponsorship Sales Director Ricky Thussu added: “We’ve been on the journey with digital where data, content, social media, OTT  have played an integral part and Horizm is just the right layer to wrap around them so we can quantify the value delivered through these engagement and touchpoints we have created”.

Horizm, CEO, Pedro Mestriner said: “It is a pleasure to be working with such a progressive and forward-thinking sports federation whose commitment to unlocking digital value is an example to others in the industry”.  

The FIH engages hockey fans globally across Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, its OTT platform Watch.Hockey – available both as an app and a web version – and its official websites (www.FIH.ch and www.FIHProLeague.com) and is supported by a portfolio of seven official global partners and suppliers.

Horizm’s success in helping sports rights holders like the FIH unlock digital revenues was recently recognised at leading industry event, the World Football Summit Industry Awards, where they were chosen as Best Supplier presented by SportsTechX. Horizm also used World Football Summit to announce their collaboration with LaLiga Champions, Real Madrid CF.


FIH site

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