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Ken Borland



The World Cup beckons for both the SA men’s & women’s hockey sides 0

Posted on November 06, 2017 by Ken

 

The World Cup beckons for both the South African women’s and men’s hockey teams after coach Sheldon Rostron pulled off the remarkable feat of steering both sides to the African Cup of Nations title in Ismailia, Egypt, at the weekend.

While the women, who went through the Africa Cup tournament without conceding a goal, had already qualified for the 2018 World Cup in London thanks to their fifth-place finish in the World League Semifinals, the men were under severe pressure, in the last-chance saloon, to beat hosts Egypt and win the continental crown which also gets them to the World Cup, the men’s event being held in India.

With just two minutes remaining in the final, Jethro Eustice scored from a penalty corner to give South Africa the 2-1 victory.

“It was quite a daunting task in the beginning, but with the right preparation and planning it became a lot simpler. I was lucky to have really good support staff and I was really proud of both sets of players,” Rostron told The Citizen on Tuesday when asked how tough it was to coach two teams at the same tournament.

“The specific objective of the women’s side was to not have any goals scored against us, we were using a different structure, and I’m really pleased that worked out and that the ranking points we gained should lift us back to the 11th spot in the world.

“The men’s side had qualification for the World Cup hanging over us, but we implemented a very good process which the players bought into and it was very good to see it come to fruition. In the final though, our plans didn’t work out so well, we were 1-0 down after the first quarter and we had to be more aggressive,” Rostron said.

Competing in Africa, where there is a wide range of strengths when it comes to the opposition, also meant the teams had to at times rein themselves in so as not to become too loose. For the men, this was especially important as a daunting final against Egypt, who beat them in the World League in July, was always going to be lying ahead.

“We had to be very specific, it couldn’t just be about scoring goals and going crazy, every match we played was about using the tactics we were going to use in the final. African teams are so unconventional and forever changing. But now there is a lot of positivity going forward in South African hockey,” Rostron said.

https://citizen.co.za/sport/sport-other-sport/1711538/smart-planning-key-in-sas-brilliant-hockey-double/

Rostron to double up as coach of both women’s & men’s teams 0

Posted on August 31, 2017 by Ken

 

In a first for South African hockey, Sheldon Rostron will double up as the head coach of both the women’s and men’s teams at the African Cup of Nations in Egypt in October, the South African Hockey Association (Saha) announced on their website on Friday.

Rostron has enjoyed success as the head coach of the women’s national team since 2014 and has already qualified them for the next World Cup, thanks to their fifth-place finish in the recent Hockey World League Semifinals. But the underperforming men are under pressure to qualify and only the winners of the Africa Cup tournament go through to the World Cup.

“Obviously the double role brings with it some logistical issues like making sure both teams are together so we can prepare and alternating training sessions, but I really just wanted to assist the process of finding a new permanent head coach for the men and make sure they qualify for the World Cup,” Rostron told Saturday Citizen on Friday.

“There will be a sharing of resources, with a joint management team, and obviously the assistant coaches will have to step up. But it’s a good opportunity for them to grow and some of them are in the running for the head coach position.”

It is a move not without precedent in the world of hockey, as Carlos Retegui steered both the Argentina men’s and women’s teams to bronze medals at the 2014 World Cup.

“It’s difficult to apply the same processes that have been successful with the women, but as someone who works with men as well it’s not a major concern. We can adapt one or two things, there don’t need to be massive changes, and some of the philosophies we can take across. Because women’s hockey usually goes the same way as the men’s game, I study men’s hockey as well and I know the trends. But the main thing is to make sure that we are all focused towards qualifying our men’s side for the World Cup,” Rostron said.

Saha are hoping to appoint someone as a permanent new men’s head coach by the end of the year, the Africa Cup being the team’s last engagement of 2017.

 

 

Provided with decent support, our sportswomen flourish 0

Posted on August 01, 2017 by Ken

 

Women’s sport has always taken the back seat in this macho country of ours, but the last 10 days have shown just how much can be achieved, and how much joy our female sports stars can bring us when they are provided with decent support.

The Proteas women’s cricket team are the obvious example and one could only salute a magnificent effort when they were pipped by eventual champions England in their World Cup semi-final, which was one of the classic games of the tournament as the hosts and favourites were so nearly undone by the tenacious underdogs.

Our national women’s cricket team have become the most-improved team in the game thanks to the wonderful support they have been given by Momentum and Cricket South Africa. Many young girls will have been inspired by their efforts and it is vital that the momentum created by their exploits is not lost.

The national women’s hockey team have just finished a global tournament of their own in the Hockey World League, which will go down as yet another international showpiece sporting event that we have hosted with aplomb.

Unfortunately, South African hockey does not have the same sort of backing as our cricketers, and it still sticks in the craw to see Investec, founded in Johannesburg in 1974, emblazoned all over the England team. But they have arguably more female talent than even the cricketers do simply because it has been ‘acceptable’ in our misogynistic society for women to play hockey for far longer than it has for cricket.

They showed that they have the ability to consistently be in the top-10 in the world rankings by finishing fifth in the Hockey World League Semifinals, pulling off a memorable win over eventual champions, the United States, as well as beating Ireland and Japan and finishing above India in the final standings. They also qualified automatically for the World Cup.

The obvious enjoyment they get from playing alongside each other, their tremendous team spirit, is one of their greatest assets, but sadly, it was obviously lacking from the men’s team, who managed to avoid relegation but did not win any other games.

Again, South Africa has the male talent to push for a top-10 place, with several of our players sought-after members of overseas clubs, which enables them to escape the poor economic prospects of an amateur sport in this country.

But it is this split-nature of the team – made up of locally-based and overseas-based players – that is causing problems, just as it did with Springbok rugby. According to players who are part of the expanded national squad, the environment in the camp is “hostile” and this threatens to scupper any hopes of our men’s team recouping the losses they have suffered over the last few years of neglect.

Sure, hockey overseas is more professional and better, but the returning players need to realise their job is to lift up their team-mates who are still slogging it out back at home, not belittle them. The team culture is non-existent, with some stars apparently staying in their own hotels, and it is up to the senior players to set an example.

Apart from results, there has been one casualty already with coach Fabian Gregory resigning to take up a position overseas. He says he battled to get his ideas through to the team, that he had a hard time dealing with certain “know-it-all” players.

The senior players, apparently, found it hard to take Gregory seriously as a coach, especially those who are based overseas.

So a new coach will have to be found before the Africa Cup in October – which will be crucial for World Cup qualification – and, hard as it will be for some absolute stalwarts of South African hockey, the time seems right to make a new start with the men’s team, who are really rather old in global terms.

My new broom would be Garreth Ewing, who was one of Gregory’s assistants at the Hockey World League, and I have been highly-impressed by the work he has done with both the SA U21 and University of Johannesburg sides, both in terms of the brand of hockey they play and the team culture he has grown.

Germany lose both the men’s & women’s finals 0

Posted on July 23, 2017 by Ken

 

The Germans had the chance to be uber alles on the last day of the Hockey World League at Wits Astro on Sunday, but unfortunately lost in both the men’s and women’s finals.

The loss in the women’s final, against the United States, was particularly heartbreaking as it came in a shootout, after Germany had scored the opening goal, only for the Americans to snatch the equaliser with just two minutes left.

The men’s final was nowhere near as thrilling, as Belgium produced hockey of the highest standard to storm to a 6-1 victory, firmly laying to rest the 3-2 defeat they had suffered at the hands of the Germans in the pool stages.

Belgium’s pace, skill, use of space and understanding of the angles on a hockey field were all outstanding, especially in the second quarter, when they scored three goals to go into halftime 4-1 up and leaving Germany with a near-insurmountable task to catch them.

Highlights for Belgium were Arthur van Doren, who rescued a short-corner that had gone wrong for the first goal, providing a superb ball into the circle for Amaury Keusters to one-time into goal with a great deflection; Cedric Charlier’s dazzling run that brought the fourth goal and his deftest of touches to deflect a super long ball from Gauthier Boccard into goal after Germany had replaced their ‘keeper with a kicking back.

The USA women had been chasing the game against a dominant German side, and had goalkeeper Jackie Briggs to thank for being only 1-0 down, Camille Nobis steering home the opening goal from Marie Mavers’ cross after she had picked up a deflected slap by Nina Notman.

It was only in the final quarter that the USA managed to impose themselves on a German defence expertly led by Janne Muller-Wieland, with Kathleen Sharkey causing problems with some great runs up front.

Then, with two minutes to go, Sharkey was off on another sortie and defender Nike Lorenz stick-hacked her and leaned into her with the shoulder, causing the 27-year-old Olympian to lose the ball. According to the laws of the game, umpire Carolina de la Fuente of Argentina had no option but to award a penalty stroke.

Germany employed the surprise tactic of replacing their goalkeeper just before the stroke, but Taylor West found the top corner of the goal with ease.

The drama of a shootout then decided the final, with the USA obviously enjoying a big advantage thanks to the brilliance and experience of goalkeeper Briggs. She saved Lorenz’s shot and superbly channelled German captain Jana Teschke away from goal, before Franzisca Hauke beat her but only managed to get the ball into the goal just 0.4 seconds after the hooter.

The responsibility of deciding the shootout then fell to 17-year-old Erin Matson, and she was as cool as a veteran as she calmly finished and claimed the first title for a young American team going through a time of rebuilding.

It was an amazing turnaround in fortunes for the USA, who lost two games in the pool stages.

One of the teams that beat them were South Africa, and they completed a fine end to the tournament on Saturday by beating Japan 2-1 to claim fifth place.

Results: Men’s 3rd/4th – Australia 8 (Jake Whetton, Jeremy Hayward 2, Aaron Kleinschmidt 2, Tom Craig, Trent Mitton, Tom Wickham) Spain 1 (Pau Quemada); Women’s 3rd/4th – England 5 (Sophie Bray, Susannah Townsend, Laura Unsworth, Giselle Ansley 2) Argentina 2 (Lucina von der Heyde, Delfina Merino); Women’s final – United States 1 (Taylor West) Germany 1 (Camille Nobis), USA beat Germany 3-2 in shootout (Erin Matson, Melissa Gonzalez, Michelle Vittese vs Janne Muller-Wieland, Marie Mavers); Men’s final – Belgium 6 (Arthur van Doren, Tim Boon, Amaury Keusters, Cedric Charlier 2, Augustin Meurmans) Germany 1 (Tom Grambusch).

Final standings

Women: 1 USA; 2 Germany; 3 England; 4 Argentina; 5 South Africa; 6 Japan; 7 Ireland; 8 India; 9 Chile; 10 Poland.

Men: 1 Belgium; 2 Germany; 3 Australia; 4 Spain; 5 Ireland; 6 New Zealand; 7 France; 8 Egypt; 9 South Africa; 10 Japan.

 

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