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News for 18 December 2020

All the news for Friday 18 December 2020

Netherlands defeat of Las Leonas voted 2nd Best Match of FIH Hockey Pro League in 2020

Image Copyright: Confederacion Argentina de Hockey / Rodrigo Jaramillo / World Sport Pics

Fans using the Watch.Hockey App have made their choice for the second-best match of the FIH Hockey Pro League in 2020, with the Netherlands 3-1 win over Argentina, which was played in Buenos Aires on 16 February, getting the nod.

We spoke to Netherlands defender Caia van Maasakker about her memories of that fascinating clash, as well as her thoughts on what promises to be an exciting 12 months ahead for the reigning World, European and FIH Hockey Pro League champions.

FIH: Thanks for talking to us Caia! We can tell you that the Netherlands 3-1 victory over Argentina in Buenos Aires at the start of the year has been voted by the fans as the second-best match of the FIH Hockey Pro League in 2020. What is your reaction to that news?

Caia van Maasakker: It’s really great news, of course! It is really cool that the fans voted for us, and that we came second. It was an awesome game to play.”

FIH: It’s always nice when the fans react positively. They clearly enjoyed it – did you guys enjoy it on the pitch?

Caia van Maasakker: Yes, we definitely enjoyed the game. It’s always [great] to play in Argentina; they are always good games.”

FIH: The match was the second game in your double header against Argentina, with Las Leonas claiming a 2-0 victory in the first game, but you responded brilliantly in Match 2. What was different about the second game for the Netherlands?

Caia van Maasakker: “We came into the second game having lost [the first], and I think everybody was really focussed. It was the end of a long campaign for us in Argentina, so everybody wanted it to have a positive ending. We wanted to go ‘full out’, and I think we played a good game.”  

FIH: You were 1-0 down for a while in the game, but Frederique Matla levelled the scores on the stroke of half time with Yibbi Jansen and Kyra Fortuin scoring third and fourth quarter goals to seal victory. Was anything said at half time that might have inspired you and your team to push on and take that win?

Caia van Maasakker: “Well, I don’t remember the exact words, but I know that we scored just before half time, to make it 1-1 and I think that gave us a boost. It was ‘okay guys, let’s make that fist now and just go – we know we can take them on and score the goals to make the difference’. I think we had played well but just hadn’t scored [enough], but it resulted in a victory in the second half.”

FIH: What is like playing in Argentina in front of those passionate fans? Can you remember about the atmosphere in Buenos Aires on that day?

Caia van Maasakker: “I remember that it was pretty full, and I always love playing in Argentina because they make a lot of noise, they are there, and there is a lot of passion. In that game there was a storm in the first quarter, and the match was stopped for quite some time. We were all wondering if the match would continue or not! In the end, we did [continue playing] and we were really happy about it, of course. There were still a lot of fans who stayed there, enduring the storm to watch the match.”

FIH: It was a terrific game, even with the delay. Looking ahead to 2021 when hockey resumes, whether it’s the FIH Hockey Pro League or the Olympics later in the year. Can you tell us how the team preparations are going?

Caia van Maasakker: “They are going, but it is different than you would expect at the beginning, of course. There are a lot of scheduling changes and we normally have [both] the national team and club hockey, but club hockey was postponed because of the pandemic. But we were lucky enough to be able to train with the national team, so we have been doing that for the past few months, playing some games against each other every Sunday. We tried to create a match to improve and get better, and I think we are doing that. At the moment we have a few weeks off, so we are just training individually. That involves a lot of running outside and doing some strength training. That is going well and is, of course, very important to be able to do.”

You have now been part of the Netherlands set-up for nearly ten years, having played 196 matches during that time. What is it like being part of this particular group? You clearly seem as motivated as ever to keep pushing on, but it seems like a very special group of players that you are working with currently.  

Caia van Maasakker: “It definitely is, but it has always been the case with the Netherlands. We always have a great group of people who want to go to the max every time, putting the bar even higher for the next game to improve. That hunger, that motivation to improve is there, and it is also a must, I think. I really love that about this sport and this team, that we have got this together. Everybody wants to play their best, to play their heart out in the games, and we are really looking forward to being able to do that again.”

FIH: Well, thank you so much for joining us today. Very best of luck for everything in 2021, and congratulations on finished second in the Best Match fan vote.

Caia van Maasakker: “Thank you very much!”

We will reveal who the fans have selected as the best FIH Hockey Pro League match of 2020 on Friday 18thDecember.

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

End of an era for three experienced Black Sticks Men

Three teammates from the 2018 Commonwealth Games silver medal-winning Vantage Black Sticks Men’s team have decided that the time is right to retire from international hockey.

Longtime teammates for Auckland and Southern Districts Arun Panchia and Marcus Child will move onto the next phase of their lives alongside North Harbour and East Coast Bays defender Cory Bennett.

Black Sticks Head Coach Darren Smith said the trio would be sorely missed.

“While the retirement of quality internationals is always felt by the group, what is fantastic is watching their lives and careers take shape. We have no doubt that successful lives after international hockey await.”

Former Black Sticks Captain Dean Couzins played with the trio and has worked alongside them as a selector and coach.

“Congratulations Cory, Arun and Marcus. All of you have given service and longevity to the jersey that you and your family can be proud of”.

“Arun and Marcus are friends that I have a long history playing with for Southern, Auckland, and the Black Sticks. You enhance the teams that you play for and will be missed in the black jersey”.

Arun Panchia 2009-2020   Caps: 287  Commonwealth Games: silver 2018, bronze 2010 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup: gold 2015 2016 Rio Olympian

A former Vantage Black Sticks captain, Panchia retires as the fifth most capped Black Stick of all time.

Smith described Panchia as a leader on and off the turf.

“Being capped nearly 300 times for your country is a wonderful honour but what is also valued is the quality that a person brings to the team, and Arun is out of the top drawer”.

“Arun felt that now was the time to step away from the Vantage Black Sticks with increased responsibility at his supportive employer AMP where he has worked for a number of years”.

Panchia, who was joined in the Black Sticks by his younger brother Jared in 2013, says playing for the Black Sticks was a dream from a young age.

“Representing New Zealand has been a huge honour and is something I’ll value for the rest of my life. I’ve been fortunate to have had so many amazing experiences with the Black Sticks and I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish over the years”.  

“I’ve been so fortunate to have had some amazing experiences which I’ll value for the rest of my life. The Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast was the standout as we played well, had a lot of supporters there, and coming away with a medal is always nice.”

Marcus Child 2010-2020 Caps: 172 Commonwealth Games: silver 2018

Growing up in a hockey family in South Auckland, Child followed in the footsteps of his mother Sheryl Law and older brother Simon Child in donning the New Zealand shirt.

Smith said Child was another fantastic player to come out of Auckland’s Southern Hockey Club.

“Marcus is fast, athletic, has quick skills and a tactical appreciation for the game. He was a key contributor to the Gold Coast silver medal-winning team.”

“Marcus is a man that contributes not only on the field but also how he operates off the pitch where he always was a protector of the group. We often had conversations about not only hockey and how we can play even better but also our team dynamics, behaviours and to strive for enjoyment of our time playing for the Vantage Black Sticks”.

Child said it was a privilege to play hockey all over the world.

“The highlights have been the people that I have met as well as being able to live out my dreams of playing at the Hockey World Cup in the Hague as well as winning a silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games”.

“I am looking forward to moving into a new role at work and beginning a new chapter of my life”.

Cory Bennett 2013-2020 Caps: 110 Commonwealth Games: silver 2018

Bennett formed a formidable defensive combination and played a critical role in helping the Black Sticks qualify for Tokyo.

Smith described Bennett as a very consistent player.

“He is intensely competitive, is always in for the battle, and is a highly skilled player. You add to that his penalty corner prowess and there were multiple ways he could make an impact.”

Bennett said the black shirt meant so much to him growing up and still does.

“I always felt that if I couldn’t put everything into the shirt, it is time to call it quits”.

“Something I will always miss is the brotherhood you have within this special team. I have many great on-field memories – with the standout being a Silver medal at the Commonwealth Games. I have numerous off-field memories that I will cherish for years to come. Travelling the world with a bunch of mates all trying their best to make their country proud – what more could you ask for”.

“I have given eight years of my life to, this team with the goal of leaving the shirt in a better place”.

Hockey New Zealand Media release

Black Sticks men to head to Tokyo Olympics minus 569 caps of experience due to trio of retirements

Arun Panchia retires as the fifth most capped Black Stick of all time. Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

New Zealand’s Black Sticks men have lost more than 550 caps of international experience leading into next year’s rescheduled Tokyo Olympics.

Arun Panchia, Marcus Child and Cory Bennett have announced their retirements from international hockey on Friday.

The trio was part of New Zealand's silver medal side from the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast and have 569 international caps between them.

Marcus Child has announced his retirement from international hockey due to a new role at work. Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Panchia, who retires as the fifth most capped Black Stick of all time, is a former captain who made his international debut back in 2009.

He was also part of the 2016 squad who competed at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Stepping away from the international game due to increased responsibility with his employer, Panchia said it was a dream to have worn the black shirt.

"Representing New Zealand has been a huge honour and is something I'll value for the rest of my life. I've been fortunate to have had so many amazing experiences with the Black Sticks and I'm proud of what we've been able to accomplish over the years.

"The Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast was the standout as we played well, had a lot of supporters there, and coming away with a medal is always nice,” Panchia said.

Child, who retires with 172 caps for the Black Sticks, is also stepping away due to work commitments.

He has taken on a new role with his current employer.

Cory Bennett steps away from the Black Sticks set up with 112 caps. Alex Davidson/Getty Images

“The highlights have been the people that I have met as well as being able to live out my dreams of playing at the Hockey World Cup in the Hague as well as winning a silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games,” Child said.

Bennett, who finishes his international career with 110 caps after debuting alongside Child in 2013, said the black shirt meant so much to him growing up and still does but the time is right to step away.

“I always felt that if I couldn't put everything into the shirt, it is time to call it quits,” he said.

"Something I will always miss is the brotherhood you have within this special team. I have many great on-field memories – with the standout being a Silver medal at the Commonwealth Games.

“I have numerous off-field memories that I will cherish for years to come. Travelling the world with a bunch of mates all trying their best to make their country proud - what more could you ask for.

"I have given eight years of my life to, this team with the goal of leaving the shirt in a better place,” Child said.

Black Sticks head coach Darren Smith said the trio will be sorely missed.

“While the retirement of quality internationals is always felt by the group, what is fantastic is watching their lives and careers take shape. We have no doubt that successful lives after international hockey await.”


Hockey Ireland Announce Women’s 2021 Panel

2019 FIH Women's Series Finals Banbridge 2019 Ireland v Singapore. Photo by Jonathan Porter / Press Eye

Irish Women’s Head Coach, Sean Dancer, has announced a reduced panel of 23 players for 2021. The team has been training both regionally and nationally throughout the past number of months, playing a series of inter-squad matches in order to remain in top shape despite restrictions preventing them taking on other international squads.

The panel sees a mix of internationally experienced players, with several World Cup medallists included, while also incorporating some young and upcoming talent with the inclusion of two uncapped players. The panel is as follows:

PLAYER                                 Region               Position               CAPS

BARR, Beth                               Ulster                    Defender                30

CAREY, Michelle                      Leinster                Midfielder             Uncapped

CARROLL, Naomi                   Munster               Striker                     111

COLVIN, Elizabeth                  Ulster                    Midfielder             196

DALY, Nicola                            Leinster                Midfielder             189

DUKE, Deirdre                         Leinster                Midfielder             141

EVANS, Nicola                         Leinster                Striker                     198

FRAZER, Megan                      Ulster                    Defender               136

HAWKSHAW, Sarah               Leinster                Midfielder             33

MALSEED, Zara                       Ulster                    Striker                   Uncapped

MATTHEWS, Hannah            Leinster                Defender               147

McCAY, Shirley                         Ulster                    Defender              306

McFERRAN, Ayeisha              Ulster                    Goal Keeper         100

McLOUGHLIN, Hannah        Leinster                Defender               14

MULLAN, Kathryn (C)           Ulster                    Midfielder             193

MURPHY, Elizabeth               Leinster                Goal Keeper          13

O’FLANAGAN, Anna              Leinster                Striker                    207

O’FLANAGAN, Grace             Leinster                Goal Keeper          36

TICE, Elena                              Leinster                Defender                109

TORRANS, Sarah                   Leinster                Striker                     26

UPTON, Roisin                       Munster               Defender                 76

WATKINS, Chloe                   Leinster                Midfielder              226

WILSON, Zoe                         Ulster                    Defender                103

Speaking on the selection, Head Coach Sean Dancer said “This has been a tough process, reducing the number of athletes on the panel. We’ve seen some new talent come in and make an impression, which is a great sign for the longer term vision of the sport here in Ireland.

I’m confident we have a really good mix of experience and talent in this panel. They’ve all been working incredibly hard and it’s been quite challenging over the past number of months with restrictions.

I’m looking forward to the next few months and excited that we’re getting closer to Tokyo 2021.”

Irish Women’s Captain Katie Mullan said “2020 has been a challenging year for everyone but over the past couple of months we have trained incredibly hard. With a very competitive cohort we have made some great progress, despite all the challenges COVID has presented. All our training has been in a safe environment which is credit to our staff and the players for adhering to all rules put in place.

We are very excited for 2021 with 2 major international competitions on the calendar, Europeans and the Olympic Games. However, first and foremost we just cannot wait to play some international test matches again in the New Year.”

Irish Hockey Association media release

Uncapped duo given chance to make Ireland's Olympic hockey squad

They were included in his reduced panel of 23 from which 16 players and two reserves will be selected for Tokyo 2021

Stephen Findlater

Uncapped Michelle Carey and Zara Malseed have been given a late chance to stake a claim for an Olympic spot following Irish women’s head coach Sean Dancer’s decision to reduce his panel.

They were included in his reduced panel of 23 from which 16 players and two reserves will be selected for Tokyo 2021.

It features 16 of the 18 who helped Ireland qualify last year with Serena Barr missing out due to an ACL injury while Gillian Pinder withdrawing from the panel for personal reasons.

Both were also part of Ireland’s last outing back in January on tour to South Africa before lockdown came with the squad training locally ever since.

In that time, UCD flyer Carey – a former youth international cross country runner and Dublin ladies Gaelic footballer – impressed in the Irish Senior Cup success in September. Malseed, meanwhile, was first called into the wider Irish panel last February following an outstanding scoring return of more than a goal a game for Ards.

On the goalkeeping front, Railway Union’s Grace O’Flanagan has returned to the squad in recent months after an extended break, combining training with her work on the frontlines as a doctor.

She will likely be dicing with Liz Murphy for the reserve goalkeeper spot with Ayeisha McFerran the recognised first choice of the three netminders included.

Ireland’s Olympic campaign starts on July 24 against South Africa with world number one side the Netherlands, Germany, India and Great Britain waiting in the wings in the six-team preliminary group.

Katie Mullan will continue to captain the team and she said of the year ahead: “2020 has been a challenging year for everyone but over the past couple of months we have trained incredibly hard.

“With a very competitive cohort we have made some great progress, despite all the challenges COVID has presented. All our training has been in a safe environment which is credit to our staff and the players for adhering to all rules put in place.”

Irish women's senior squad for 2021: Beth Barr (Belfast Harlequins), Michelle Carey (UCD), Naomi Carroll (Catholic Institute), Lizzie Colvin (Belfast Harlequins), Nicci Daly (Loreto), Deirdre Duke (Old Alex), Nikki Evans (Old Alex), Megan Frazer (Belfast Harlequins), Sarah Hawkshaw (Railway Union), Zara Malseed (Ards), Hannah Matthews (Loreto), Shirley McCay (Pegasus), Ayeisha McFerran (SV Kampong), Hannah McLoughlin (UCD), Katie Mullan (Ballymoney, captain), Anna O'Flanagan (Muckross), Grace O'Flanagan (Railway Union), Lena Tice (Old Alex), Sarah Torrans (Loreto), Roisin Upton (Catholic Institute), Chloe Watkins (Monkstown), Zoe Wilson (Randalstown)

The Irish Examiner

Uncapped Zara Malseed among eight Ulster players named in Ireland hockey squad for 2021

Katie Mullan and Ayeisha McFerran are two of eight Ulster players selected

Eight Ulster players have been named in the panel of 23 from which the Ireland women's hockey squad for next summer's Olympics will be selected.

Ards' uncapped Zara Malseed and Beth Barr, who was part of the squad that beat Canada to clinch qualification for the Games in Tokyo, are included.

They join Ulster's six 2018 World Cup silver medallists - captain Katie Mullan, Ayeisha McFerran, Lizzie Colvin, Shirley McCay, Megan Fraser, Zoe Wilson - in being selected.

Fifteen of the 18 World Cup silver medal winners have been named, but Gillian Pinder, who scored the penalty run-in against Spain in the World Cup semi-final, has been left out.

Head coach Sean Dancer will pick a squad of 16 players and two reserves for the rescheduled Olympic Games from the panel that was named on Thursday.

It is a huge year for the Irish women who, before the Olympics, have the European Championships in Amsterdam in June.

That competition now doubles up as the only qualification event for the 2022 World Cup, which will be hosted jointly by the Netherlands and Spain, with the top six countries from the continental championship qualifying for the World Cup.

"This has been a tough process, reducing the number of athletes on the panel," said Dancer.

"We've seen some new talent come in and make an impression, which is a great sign for the longer-term vision of the sport in Ireland.

"I'm confident we have a really good mix of experience and talent in this panel. They've all been working incredibly hard and it's been quite challenging over the past number of months with restrictions.

"I'm looking forward to the next few months and excited that we're getting closer to Tokyo 2021."

Ireland squad:

Goalkeepers: Ayeisha McFerran, Elizabeth Murphy, Grace O'Flanagan.

Defenders: Beth Barr, Megan Frazer, Hannah Matthews, Shirley McCay, Hannah McLoughlin, Elena Tice, Roisin Upton, Zoe Wilson.

Midfielders: Michelle Carey, Elizabeth Colvin, Nicola Daly, Deirdre Duke, Sarah Hawkshaw, Katie Mullan, Chloe Watkins.

Forwards: Naomi Munster, Nicola Evans, Zara Malseed, Anna O'Flanagan, Sarah Torrans.

BBC Sport

Promotion and relegation to be introduced for FIH Pro League through new Nations Cup

By Dan Palmer

The Nations Cup will provide opportunities for more hockey nations ©Getty Images

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has launched the bidding process for the inaugural FIH Nations Cup, which will be played for the first time in 2022.

It is hoped the new annual event will offer high-level competition to the best-ranked teams which do not play in the flagship home and away FIH Hockey Pro League.

A promotion and relegation system will allow the winners to move up to the Pro League, with eight teams due to be involved in each of the men's and women's competitions.

The bidding process is only open to countries likely to compete in the Nations Cup, with the field for the inaugural edition set to be determined by the FIH world rankings on May 31 next year.

As the world rankings may change, the bidding dossier has been sent to 10 potential host countries for the men's tournament and another 10 for the women's.

"The FIH Nations Cup is a welcome addition to our events portfolio," said FIH chief executive Thierry Weil.

A system of promotion and relegation will feed into the FIH Pro League ©Getty Images

"It will enable us to apply the promotion-relegation principle to the FIH Hockey Pro League.

"Like for most other leagues, this will generate even more excitement to the competition.

"It will also give other nations who haven't yet had the opportunity to join the Pro League to do so and this is only fair.

"And it will help grow hockey in further countries."

The deadline for submitting bids is March 31.

Canada, Malaysia, France, Ireland, South Africa, Japan, South Korea, Pakistan, Austria and Egypt have been approached about holding the men's tournament.

Spain, Ireland, India, South Korea, Japan, Canada, South Africa, Italy, Chile and Russia are in the frame for the women's event.

Inside the Games

Azlan's men 'taken away' by Arul and Wallace

By Jugjet Singh

Pic courtesy of MHC

IT will be Christmas before Tenaga Nasional coach Nor Azlan Bakar can gather his players for the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).

For all his players are currently in the national or juniors training camps under coaches Arul Selvaraj and Wallace Tan respectively.

Azlan can only get to see them after Christmas and even though the MHL starts on Jan 14, he is not a worried man.

However, he will be short of five rising stars from last season, as Terengganu Hockey Team (THT) have poached them.

"Yes, THT have taken five of our budding players and we will miss them in January."

However, Azlan said he has another problem to deal with since the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC) will only allow a combination of six national and foreign players to be on the field at any one time during an MHL match.

"We have never had foreign players in TNB but we have 12 national players in our team for next season. I will have to find a solution.

"I will discuss with the TNB management... maybe I will send some national players to the TNB Thunderbolts team to balance the sheet," said Azlan who played at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

Tenaga Nasional, the main hockey sponsor in the country, has always relied on local players in its commitment to develop talent for the nation.

Nor Azlan will coach TNB while another Olympian, Nor Saiful Zaini, will be in charge at TNB Thunderbolts.

"I have yet to start training because all my TNB players are either with Arul or Wallace in national camps now.

"I will probably get my players after Christmas when they are expected to break camp."

It has been a long time since Tenaga won the league title, and Nor Azlan feels his team have a chance to pull it off.

"We are looking at winning at least one title this season, and since all teams are likely to play without foreign signings due to Covid-19, our chances are bright."

Tenaga last won the League title in 2003 and the last time they got a trophy was last year when they beat THT 2-1 for the Alagendra Cup title.

The competing men's teams in the MHL are Sabah, Terengganu HT, Universiti Kuala Lumpur, Tenaga Nasional, Maybank, TNB Thunderbolts, Universiti Teknologi Mara and Nur Insafi in action.

The women's teams will see Universiti Kuala Lumpur Ladies and Young Tigress making their debuts while the regulars are PKS Uniten, Police Blue Warriors, Mutiara Impian and Sabah.

New Straits Times

2020 in Review: National hockey teams flatter to deceive and clubs skip tourneys as virus bites

By Agnes Makhandia

Telkom's Elinah Chebet (left) vies for the ball with Pauline Ayieko USIU-A during their Kenya Hockey Union women's Premier League match at City Park Stadium in Nairobi on June 8, 2019. File | Nation Media Group

Change is inevitable, and is the only constant thing in the world.

There was fresh breath of air when Kenya Hockey Union (KHU) early this year overhauled the men and women's national teams technical bench in hope that new faces would bring good tidings.

KHU appointed Wazalendo Hockey club coach Fidelis Kimanzi the national men's team coach, taking over from Meshack Senge, the Strathmore University men and women’s coach who had held the job for a decade. Western Jaguars coach Michael Malungu was named his assistant.

An all-female technical bench led by former Kenyan international Jacqueline Mwangi took charge of the national women's team. Mwangi’s assistants are Barbara Simiyu and Glennis Namasake. Before taking over, Mwangi had served as Tom Olal’s assistant.

The performance of Kenya’s national teams has nosedived, and it was evident in  the qualifiers of 2020 Olympic Games.

Women's team failed to sparkle at the African qualifiers for the Olympic Games held in South Africa last year. Kenya finished fourth out of five participating nations, while men's team finished fifth in the six-nations event.

Perhaps that performance prompted long-serving Kenya women's team hockey goalkeeper Josephine Ataro to criticise the current crop of national team players for lacking commitment, passion and winning mentality.

Ataro, with two decades of service to the sport, is of the view that the current crop of players is not result-oriented and only value the prestige that comes with wearing the national team jersey.

“I'm not happy that every time we participate in the African Club Championship and my club Blazers (formerly Telkom) performs well, players from other countries question why we don’t do well as a country.  It really bothers me. But when I attend some of their training sessions at City Park Stadium before major events, I see nothing really special. There is no seriousness at all. It is like they are just there to pass time. They don’t know that putting on the national team jersey is an honour and they should accord it the respect it deserves,” Ataro observes.

Josephine Ataro of the national women hockey team training at City Park Hockey Stadium in this undated file photo. File | Nation Media Group

KHU and fans will have to wait a little longer to see the performance of the teams under the new coaches following the postponement of North and East Africa regional qualifiers for 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, which had been pencilled for May. The qualifiers were postponed to January 18 -24 at Simba Union Club in Nairobi next year due to coronavirus pandemic.

Kenyan men will face off with opponents from Burundi, Libya, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Seychelles for two slots up for grabs for 2021 Africa Cup of Nations tournament. Their female counterparts will line up against Egypt, Burundi, Libya, Seychelles, Sudan, neighbours Tanzania and Uganda for two tickets to 2021 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.

KHU Secretary-General Wycliffe Ongori is on record as saying that the performance of national team coaches will be reviewed every two years to gauge if they were on the right track.

"We have given them a two-year window. We will review and extend their terms for another two years if we are satisfied with their performance. But from the union, we are quite confident that they will meet the agreed goals and expectations. While the performance of the teams is not where we would have loved it to be, all is not lost. We can start afresh and return to the good old days when Kenya regularly participated in the World Cup and Olympic Games,” said Ongori.

At the club level, back- to-back KHU women’s  Premier League champions Blazers (formerly Telkom) and United States International University - Africa (USIU-A) were scheduled  to represent Kenya in 2020 Africa Clubs Championship in December in Malawi but the championship was postponed due to coronavirus.

Butali Sugar Warriors, Wazalendo and Kenya Police were programmed to represent the country in the men's competition but that, too, was postponed.

The cancellation of the African Clubs championship however proved a blessing in disguise for local clubs. Cash-strapped Kenyan teams have in the past failed to honour the annual tournament, and this year would not have been any different.

Telkom's Elinah Chebet (left) vies for the ball with Pauline Ayieko USIU-A during their Kenya Hockey Union women's Premier League match at City Park Stadium in Nairobi on June 8, 2019. File | Nation Media Group

Men's Premier League champions Butali, Kenya Police and Strathmore University all skipped last year’s championship held in Egypt due to lack of adequate funds. Prior to the event, USIU-A had already pulled out, leaving only Wazalendo as the only interested team.

Kennedy Munialo (left) of Wazalendo leaves Butali Sugar Warriors’ Moses Ademba for dead during their Kenya Hockey Union Premier League match at City Park, Nairobi on June 15, 2019. File | Nation Media Group

USIU-A coach Willis ‘Awilo’ Okeyo has bemoaned the trend, saying the team had worked hard to qualify for the event and failure to compete is a slap on the faces of the players.

"We were excited about our return to the competition, having competed in it for the first time in 2018 in Abuja. Although we finished fourth, we were ready to go and make amends and at the same time expose the players . But now we will have to wait for another time," Okeyo, a Police Constable, observed in a past interview.

Wazalendo coach Fidelis Kimanzi is of the opinion that although the team was returning to the event for the first time since 2007, he will not set the bar too high.

"We will be out to give our players exposure. We have a formidable but relatively young side. We will not put pressure on them to perform but if they can play while adhering to our system of play and try to match their opponents, then it will be good enough,” Kimanzi observed.

“But that does not mean we will be comfortable being the punching bag of the competition. We are, however, glad we will participate in the event. We can’t wait to see what is in store for us," he added.

Butali Sugar Warriors also named former Kenyan international Zack Aura as head coach, taking over from Dennis Owoka who resigned last December. The sugar millers also promoted veteran goalkeeper Joseph Osino, Brian Musasia and Maxwell Fuchaka to the posts of assistant coaches.

"I have played for Butali for many years and I’m familiar with the mission, vision, and objectives of the club, which makes it easy for me to work. However, it is a much bigger responsibility," Aura, also known as ‘Maestro’ by his peers due to his hockey prowess, said.

Butali Sugar Warriors players celebrate a goal during their Kenya Hockey Union men's league match against USIU-A at City Park Stadium on May 11, 2019. File | Nation Media Group

At the same time, Blazers are yet to secure a sponsor after Telkom pulled out last year. Blazers coach Jos Openda has said the team is still looking for a sponsor.

"We appeal to the corporates to show  a good gesture towards this historic club and offer financial support because hockey is expensive and we cannot do it on our own," said Openda.

National women’s team captain Gilly Okumu, speedy forward Maureen Okumu, and Lilian Aura’s plans to move to Germany for professional stints hit a snag due to coronavirus pandemic.

Plans by Willis Okeyo (Kenya Police) and Moses Ademba  (Butali) to play abroad also fell through. The league which had kicked off early in the year, was called off due to Covid-19. A new season will get underway next year.

Daily Nation

Two matches decided in Lahore Division Hockey (Women) Tournament

LAHORE = Two matches were played on the second day of three-day Lahore Division Hockey (Women) Tournament 2020 here at Pakistan's National Hockey Stadium on Thursday.

In the first match, Lahore Red beat Lahore Green by 3-0. Mahak netted her goal in the 9th minute, Nisha in 22nd and Hina Pervaiz scored a goal in the 25th minute for the victorious team. The second match between Lahore Blue and Lahore White remained a one-sided affair throughout the playing time. Lahore Blue won the match quite comfortably by a big margin of 6-0 due to excellent performance of Hamra Latif, who struck three beautiful goals.

Areeba Sarwar and Sidra contributed two and one goal respectively for the winning team. The Lahore Blue team dominated the proceedings right from the beginning. Their talented girls did not give their opponents any room to settle down. Lahore White players tried their best but they could not score a single goal.

The Nation

Complaints relating to women’s program to be handled by SIA

Hockey Australia, Sport Integrity Australia and the National Sports Tribunal have reached an agreement to manage any complaints arising from the independent inquiry into HA’s Women’s High-Performance Program.

This will ensure an independent, end to end complaint management process.

The agreement has been established to complement the current inquiry and add an additional layer of independence for any specific complaints relating to the program since December 2016.

Sport Integrity Australia will receive, assess and manage complaints related to the Australian Women’s hockey program, while the National Sports Tribunal will deal with any disputes that arise through that complaints process, through mediation, conciliation, or arbitration.

Individuals will be able to lodge formal complaints to Sport Integrity Australia through a dedicated reporting line and email address.  

Sport Integrity Australia will assess complaints under Hockey Australia’s Member Protection Policy and, applying the Hockey Australia Complaints and Disputes Policy, will identify the most appropriate mechanism for resolution.

This may include further investigation by Sport Integrity Australia and/or independent dispute resolution facilitated by the National Sports Tribunal.

All other integrity matters, including member protection issues outside this scope, will continue to be managed through Hockey Australia’s existing complaint handling processes.

Further details about the process are being finalised and will be made available in the coming weeks with the formal process to commence in January 2021.

Hockey Australia media release

Indian hockey skipper Manpreet weds Malaysian love Illi Najwa

By Adrian David

KUALA LUMPUR: After an eight-year courtship, Indian hockey skipper Manpreet Singh Pawar finally married his Malaysian sweetheart Illi Najwa Saddique, today.

The wedding ceremony and reception were held at Manpreet's hometown in Mithapur village in Jalandhar, Punjab.

Manpreet, 28, donned a ceremonial Punjabi wedding suit complete with a turban, while Illi Najwa was resplendent in a Punjabi bridal costume when they exchanged matrimonial vows.

The happy occasion was attended by family, relatives, national team players, officials, and invited guests.

Initially, the couple was scheduled to wed in April this year, with a grand reception in Ludhiana, but they had to postpone it owing to the outbreak of Covid-19.

Illi Najwa Saddique and Indian hockey skipper Manpreet Singh Pawar during an outing at a Kuala Lumpur nightspot. - Pic credit Instagram @illisaddique

The New Straits Times reliably learnt that Illi Najwa, 27, managed to secure a special permission from the Malaysian authorities and India's Home Affairs Ministry to fly to New Delhi, en route to Manpreet's hometown.

An International Hockey Federation official confirmed that Illi Najwa left via the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on Dec 2 to join her fiancé.

"With travel restrictions between India and Malaysia eased recently, she managed to secure a flight ticket to New Delhi after obtaining the necessary government clearance," said the official, adding that an estimated 18,000 stranded Indian nationals had since managed to leave Malaysia to return home to India.

They had initially planned their wedding for Dec 30 to coincide with Illi Najwa's birthday but picked Dec 2 instead as 02/12/20 added up to seven which is Manpreet's jersey number.

Illi Najwa works with a private University in Malaysia, overseeing the planning, business development and student recruitment activities in the South Asian market.

Her mother Masita used to play hockey for the Malaysian army.

Manpreet first met Illi Najwa, who was a spectator, when he skippered the Indian junior team during the Sultan of Johor Cup in 2012.

The official added that this followed a courtship when Manpreet returned thereafter as the Indian national team captain at the annual Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament in Ipoh.

"Manpreet had reportedly fallen for Illi Najwa's charm and courteous behaviour, including being served with hot chappati at her home on their second date."

The couple had gotten engaged on Feb 26, 2014.

"Since their engagement, they had to put their wedding plans on hold to facilitate Manpreet's heavy involvement in international hockey and the domestic Indian hockey league," said the official.

However, the official said Illi Najwa, who is of Pakistani descent, frequently flew to India to spend time with Manpreet.

Manpreet began his captaincy when he led the Indian side to the Asia Cup gold, ending a 10-year old drought for the tournament.

Illi Najwa had made it known that an Olympic hockey medal at the deferred 2020 Tokyo Games in July next year would be the perfect start to their married life.

She admitted that hockey would remain Manpreet's priority even after their wedding, and she would be honoured to be by his side in Tokyo.

This would be Manpreet's third Olympic debut after London in 2012 and Rio in 2016.

Manpreet, born on June 26, 1992, has been India's captain since May 2017.

Playing halfback, he first played for India in 2011 at the age of 19 and was named Asia's "Junior Player of the Year" in 2014.

New Straits Times

Maryland field hockey announces Louisville transfer Margot Lawn will join program

Jacob Richman

Maryland field hockey coach Missy Meharg. (Gabby Baniqued/The Diamondback)

Maryland field hockey announced Thursday that forward Margot Lawn has transferred to the program. The Pasadena, Maryland, native comes to the Terps after two seasons at Louisville.

Lawn, who is on the U.S. Under-21 team, scored eight goals in 30 appearances with the Cardinals. During the 2020 fall season, she appeared in nine of the team’s 10 games, notching four goals.

Maryland will require a waiver from the NCAA for Lawn to play in the team’s upcoming spring season. No schedule has been announced yet for that campaign.

Lawn returns to her home state after attending Archbishop Spalding High School, where she played alongside current Terp Kyler Greenwalt. A two-time captain for the Cavaliers, she was named the field hockey player of the year in 2018 by the Capital Gazette and The Washington Post.

“The team is a fun and welcoming group who support each other and their school,” Lawn said in a statement. “I want to be the best student-athlete and teammate I can be. Maryland is that place. Maryland is home.”

The Diamondback

Big Stadium Hockey at The Stoop wins award for Sports Innovation

Great Britain Hockey at the Twickenham Stoop

The groundbreaking Big Stadium Hockey project which took international hockey to the Twickenham Stoop has won in the Sports Innovation category at the 2020 Sports Business Awards.

The partnership between England Hockey, Harlequins, FIH, Polytan, Polypipe, STRI Group, and Sport England saw the development of new technology that allowed an international-standard playing surface to be temporarily laid at the home of Quins, with Great Britain's men and women taking on New Zealand in June 2019. The matches were a huge success with a packed stadium creating the biggest hockey crowd on these shores since the London 2012 Olympics.

The technology was also used by Hockey Ireland to host their women's Olympic qualifiers in November 2019 in front of the largest crowds to watch any women’s team sport in Ireland. Also in late 2019, England Hockey and Quins announced a long-term partnership between the two organisations.

The turf used at the Stoop was Polytan’s Poligras Tokyo GT, which is the surface for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021. This turf is made from 60% renewable raw materials (derived from sugar cane) and requires up to 65% less water which was a critical consideration for a temporary installation without irrigation infrastructure. After the event, the turf was rolled up and re-installed at Great Britain's Bisham Abbey training base as their main pitch while preparing for the Tokyo Games.

England Hockey Chairman Royston Hoggarth said, "We are delighted to be the recipient of this award; which is fantastic recognition for the work put in by both England Hockey and its partners.

"Hockey has had many great moments in the past few years, and the day of fixtures at the Stoop was a fantastic milestone for the sport. To have the courage and imagination behind the technology is one thing, but it is another feat entirely to then ensure delivery to a world-class sustainable standard.

"Big Stadium Hockey has a very bright future and I look forward to seeing it implemented across the world again when the catastrophic effects of everything that's happened in 2020 are behind us."

Comments from the judging panel included: 'An excellent and sustainable solution addressing not only spectator numbers, but also flexibility to use different stadia around the world and reduce the need for much more expensive permanent infrastructure with a stadium or temporary installation and no legacy such as tribunes.

'An innovative way to bring hockey to life to a wider audience. Love the sustainability and longevity piece included here.

'An excellent innovation to enable hockey to hold events in big arena, extending spectator capacity. This innovation is one that can create new opportunities for the sport on a global scale.’

For more information, photos and videos please see www.bigstadiumhockey.com

Great Britain Hockey media release

Committee Lead To Covid Officer - A Volunteer's Story

Volunteers are the lifeblood of grassroots sport, with all hockey clubs relying on them to do jobs both big and small. In this feature, we focus on just one individual and tell the story of how she went from hockey mum to committee member.

Liselle Carey joined the hockey community at Surbiton Hockey Club as a ‘hockey mum’ in the first instance, transporting her two daughters to matches and offering the usual parental support. That soon developed into the role of ‘willing volunteer’ before she graduated to team manager and was then recruited as part of a group looking at a five year strategy for club development.

Her ‘can-do’ approach and genius for organisation made Liselle the perfect person to take on two of the club’s biggest challenges in recent years. Firstly, she led the committee that so successfully hosted the 2018 Euro Hockey Club Cup (EHCC) (women) and then she became the club’s Covid Officer, charged with keeping the club aligned to England Hockey and government regulations around the pandemic. They are both hugely challenging roles, albeit in very different ways.

Hosting an event such as the EHCC is a daunting task for any club. It is usually hosted by a huge club in the Netherlands, such as Den Bosch or Amsterdam (AH&BC), and is a spectacle of hockey, stalls and side events.

Faced with limited budget and limited space and facilities, Liselle and her organising committee – which initially consisted of just Liselle and another hockey parent, Jo Brown – decided to take a different approach, as Liselle explains.

“We were tasked with making our event a quintessentially English, Surbiton experience and wanted to create a fun and friendly family atmosphere that would entice not just die-hard hockey fans, but members of the community both locally and from further afield.

“With a combination of creative ideas, securing some sponsorship and all the hard work of more than 100 volunteers from within and outside our membership we were able to create a sort of English May Fair atmosphere.”

Liselle Carey

The look and feel of an English May Fair was further enhanced by marquees and gazebos set up around the venue to house officials, vendors and hospitality outlets. The weather gods were also looking on kindly as England bathed in gorgeous sunshine for the entirety of the four-day event.

While the initial plans and vision were the work of Liselle and Jo, by the time the event was ready to take place more than 100 volunteers had been enlisted. Guidance came in the form of a ‘play book’ issued by the European Hockey Federation (EHF), as well as support from the local council, Elmbridge, and England Hockey to ensure all the correct procedures were followed. All in all, the event took nine months to organise.

“The EHF provides organisers with a ‘play book’ that has to be followed to the letter, from organising the travel and accommodation of the visiting teams to how many pens and pencils should be on the Technical Delegate's table,” explains Liselle.

For other clubs who are planning on hosting an event, Liselle has this advice.

“Have a small team of like-minded individuals and try to make the event reflect the personality of your club and your members. Start preparing well in advance and set up good lines of communication with all stakeholders and consider their expectations.

“Engage with your local community, be it your immediate neighbours or, in our case, local school children and disability groups who attended the Flyerz tournament that we hosted in between the women’s matches. Don’t be afraid to think creatively and ‘outside the box’. You will hit obstacles along the way but nothing is insurmountable.”

The EHCC event at Surbiton HC was rightly hailed as a hugely successful event but Liselle’s current role – as Covid Officer – is equally important, albeit far more mundane.

As someone with a medical background who has worked in the NHS, she was the obvious person for the role.

“As Covid Officer you need an understanding and willingness to keep up to date with the government and England Hockey guidelines around the constantly changing Covid scenario,” she says.

“It’s important to have good communication skills and be available to club members, staff, coaches and players to help them navigate and understand the measures and procedures that need to be followed. My background in the NHS means I am familiar with the need to maintain risk assessments and adequate health and safety protocols.”

Among the many challenges that the pandemic has thrown up for a club such as Surbiton has been making sure any on- and off-pitch activities are Covid compliant while trying to mitigate any financial implications.

Throughout the pandemic the hockey club has tried to make sure it is ready to react to any situation. In May, for example, the club was operating 1:1 coaching as soon as measures allowed. As the government relaxed the rules, so the club was ready to open up more activities. As Liselle says, by staying current with the government and England Hockey guidelines, the club was able to gradually increase activity over several months until Stage 5 of England Hockey’s Return to Play was allowed in September.

“Because we started small, we had the time to work out how to navigate the new Covid world we were operating in,” says Liselle. “We are fortunate in that we have very good relationships with some of our neighbouring hockey clubs like Wimbledon HC and Guildford HC and I have been able to link up with my counterparts there to talk things through from time to time.”

Reflecting back over the past few months, Liselle says the pandemic has forced Surbiton Hockey Club to look at doing things a little differently. At the heart of this is a desire to place the club at the heart of the community.

“All through the summer and after the first full lock down, we have been offering some form of hockey to all our members and to many non-members, thus utilising our facilities to their fullest capacity. It is rare to see our pitches not being used now even in the off-season.”

As well as hockey activities, the club also offers its facilities for fitness classes, play group and baby and toddler art classes. Players can hire the pitch to have a hit around with friends and a cafe is open in the week for members and visitors.

“We are not just a hockey club anymore,” she added. “We are part of the local community in so many ways.”

While we have focused on one person at one club in this article, Liselle is one example of an army of volunteers who operate so selflessly at clubs across the country.

Whether it is pulling together to put on a spectacular event or taking up the mantle of responsibility to see a club through these challenging times, our hockey volunteers are the heart and soul of the club scene in this country.

England Hockey Board Media release

Jeffrey E. Grosvenor passes away

Jawwad Qamar

After a valiant battle for multiple ailments, Jeffrey Egbert Grosvenor passed away at 2:35 am on Saturday, December 12 at a long term acute care facility in Tampa, Florida. He had turned 75 on November 18.

Originally from Trinidad & Tobago, Jeff leaves a legacy of service to the sport of field hockey as a player, coach, umpire, administrator and an official at hockey tournaments in North America. This included being a Judge at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.  He was the President of the North East Field Hockey Association in New York during a time hockey saw a rise in popularity in the region.

Jeff was a constant and iconic presence as the Tournament Director at Big Apple Hockey Festival during the summer in New York and at the indoor version during winter in New York and later in Pennsylvania. After moving to Tampa with his job in IT for a major financial institute, Jeff founded the Tampa Bay Grasshoppers Field Hockey Club and yet still found time for Big Apple Hockey events.

“Uncle Jeff, as most people called him, did his part by showing his support by giving of his time, energy, voicing his opinion and suggestions that helped to shape the Big Apple Hockey events and making them the success they are today,” said Nigel Traverso, Director, Big Apple Hockey. “He was a strong, soft spoken and calming presence in his role as Tournament Director of our Indoor and outdoor events. He will be missed by all who crossed his path in our Field Hockey community, here and abroad. May he Rest In Peace!”

Jeff is survived by daughter Janae, sons Stefon, Jamal and Christopher, sister Junette, niece Cherrie and nephew Sean.

The family would like to express their thanks to everyone, near and far, for all of their prayers, emails, calls, text messages, during Jeff's challenging healthcare battle.  They ask for everyone’s continued prayers during this difficult time.

Jeff’s virtual funeral service will take place on December 29th at 10 am (US Eastern Standard Time) most likely on Zoom. Details shall be provided on Tampa Bay Grasshoppers Field Hockey Club Facebook page.


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