Hockey20 Oct 2021
Sports Reporter LAHORE (October 20, 2021):-Wapda women hockey team outplayed Punjab Colours 4-0 to clinch inaugural First Chief Minister Punjab 5-a-Side National Women Hockey Championship at the National Hockey Stadium on Wednesday. In the 3rd/4th position match, Railways women hockey team trounced Army 2-1. Federal Minister for Inter-Provincial Coordination (IPC) Fahmida Mirza and her husband Zulfiqar Mirza were the guests of honour at the grand concluding ceremony. They were also introduced with the finalist teams prior to the title clash. Federal Minister for IPC Fahmida Mirza awarded the winners' trophy and a cash prize of Rs 500 thousands to the Wapda team. Secretary Sports and Youth Affairs Punjab Fuad Hashim Rabbani distributed medals among runners up and 3rd position holder teams of the event. DG Pakistan Sports Board Asif Zaman, Secretary Sports and Youth Affairs Punjab Fuad Hashim Rabbani, Director General Sports Punjab Adnan Arshad Aulakh, PHF Women Hockey Wing General Manager Tanzeela Amir Cheema, Director Admin Javed Chohan, Director Sports Hafeez Bhatti, head coach of national hockey team Olympian Khawaja Junaid, Col (retd) Asif Naz Khokhar, Olympian Mohammad Usman and a large number of hockey players and enthusiasts were also present on this occasion.
Hockey20 Oct 2021
Ali Ahmed LAHORE (October 20, 2021):-International Hockey Federation (FIH) on Wednesday announced the complete schedule of the upcoming FIH Hockey Junior World Cups, Men’s and Women’s, which will be played Bhubaneswar, India. According to media department of Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF), the opening match of the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup Bhubaneswar 2021 will be played between Belgium and South Africa on November 24 at the Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar, India. Pakistan will play first match against Germany on November 24, as Egypt and Argentina are also in the in Pakistan’s Pool. As many as 16 teams from all over the world compete for the top honour. Besides, hosts India, Pakistan, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Malaysia, South Africa, Chile, Canada, France, Poland and United States of America (USA) will be in action in the World Cup Juniors’ Hockey. Following England’s withdrawal, Poland will join the event and play in Pool B alongside the hosts and title holders, India, as well as Canada and France.
Hockey19 Oct 2021
Sports Reporter LAHORE (October 19, 2021):-The women hockey teams of Punjab (C) and WAPDA stormed into the final of First Chief Minister Punjab 5-a-Side National Women Hockey Championship after winning their thrilling semifinals at National Hockey Stadium on Tuesday. Wapda edged out Railways by 2-1 in the first semifinal while Punjab (C) thrashed strong Army team by 4-1 in the second semifinal clash. The final match of First Chief Minister Punjab 5-a-Side National Women Hockey Championship will be played between Punjab (C) and Wapda women hockey teams at 7.00pm on Wednesday at National Hockey Stadium whereas Railways and Army teams will clash in 3rd/4th position match at 6.00pm at the same venue. Director General Sports Punjab Adnan Arshad Aulakh and his wife Zakia Adnan were the guests of honour at the semifinals. Director Admin Javed Chohan, Director Sports Hafeez Bhatti, PHF Women Hockey Wing General Manager Tanzeela Amir Cheema, head coach of national hockey team Olympian Khawaja Junaid, Deputy Director RaufBajwa, Deputy Director Chand Perveen and a large number of hockey fans were also present on this occasion. Punjab Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs RaiTaimoor Khan Bhatti and Director General Sports Punjab Adnan Arshad Aulakh congratulated Punjab (C) and Wapda women hockey teams on reaching in final of First Chief Minister Punjab 5-a-Side National Women Hockey Championship. Director General Sports Punjab Adnan Arshad Aulakh announced a cash prize of Rs 50,000 for Punjab Colours team for winning semifinal against a strong team. PHF Women Hockey Wing General Manager Tanzeela Amir Cheema also announced a cash prize of Rs 40,000 for Punjab Colours team and Rs 10,000 for captain of Punjab (C) team. While talking to media Director General Sports Punjab Adnan Arshad Aulakh appreciated the fighting game of all semifinalist teams. “It is a new and speedy format of hockey just like T20 format in cricket. Players need to show better stamina and playing techniques in this format”. Director General Sports Punjab Adnan Arshad Aulakh said that Sports Board Punjab has organised the First Chief Minister Punjab 5-a-Side National Women Hockey Championship for the preparation of inaugural FIH Hockey 5s World Cup scheduled to be staged in Oman’s capital city, Muscat in 2024. Director General Sports Punjab Adnan Arshad Aulakh said it’s Sports Board Punjab’s initiative to organise 5-a-Side hockey at such a big level with the collaboration of Pakistan Hockey Federation. “We are quite confident to formulate a strong women hockey team for the qualifiers of FIH Hockey 5s World Cup,” he added. In the first semifinal, Wapda women hockey team defeated Railways by a narrow margin of 2-1. Both the teams played aggressive hockey in the initial stages of the match. Wapda scored first goal in 7th minute through HamraLatif’s field effort. However, Railways bounced back in the very next minute when SarikaSarwar converted a penalty stroke to level the score. Wapda’sNida Asghar scored the decisive goal through her beautiful field move in the 9th minute of the match. Both the teams tried their best to score more goals in the second half but in vain. The second semifinal was played between Punjab Colours and Army at the same venue. Punjab (C) dominated the proceedings right from the beginning against strong Army team and took 2-0 lead at the half time. Sidra Hakim struck two beautiful goals while MahakRasheed and Mariam Hussain contributed one goal each in their team’s 4-1 victory. Army’s Asma scored the only goal for her team through her field move in the 19th minute.
Hockey19 Oct 2021
SPORTS BULLETIN REPORT Lausanne, Switzerland (October 19, 2021):-It all comes down to one prized qualification place for the winning women’s and two qualification places for the men’s teams at the FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup 2022 – European Qualifier 2021 and the FIH Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 - European Qualifier 2021. Taking place from 21-24 October in Pisa, Italy and Cardiff, Wales respectively, the teams that triumph will be taking part in the respective women and men’s World Cups in Spain/Netherlands (2022) and India (2023). For the women, there is one place up for grabs, while the two finalists in the men’s competition will earn the right to compete at Bhubaneswar in 2023. Participating in the all-important event are the women’s and men’s teams that finished in six to eighth place at the EuroHockey Championships in Amsterdam in June 2021, as well the teams finishing in the top five places at the EuroHockey Championship II in Prague and Gniezno in August. For the women’s competition Ireland, Italy, Scotland, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Wales and France will be vying for top spot. In the men’s event, France, Wales, Russia, Ireland, Scotland, Austria, Italy and Poland will be doing battle. Adding to the tension of two events that have so much at stake, is the fact that every round is a knock-out. This makes the seedings in the event highly important. The seedings will be based on the FIH World Rankings. This means Ireland are the top ranked women’s team, with hosts Italy in second place and Scotland third, while in the men’s competition, France are the top ranked side, followed by Ireland and Wales.
Women Hockey: WAPDA, Railways, Punjab (c) and Army teams reach into semifinals
Sports Reporter LAHORE (October 18, 2021):-The women hockey teams of Punjab (C), Wapda, Army and Railways toppled their respective opponent teams in the quarterfinals to book a place in the semifinals of First Chief Minister Punjab 5-a-Side National Women Hockey Championship at National Hockey Stadium on Monday. The first semifinal of First Chief Minister Punjab 5-a-Side National Women Hockey Championship will be played between Wapda and Railways women hockey teams at 6.00pm while Punjab (C) and Army will lock horns in the second semifinal at 7.00pm at the same venue. Director General Sports Punjab Adnan Arshad Aulakh who was the chief guest at the quarterfinals, watched the thrilling quarterfinal encounters at National Hockey Stadium. Director Sports Hafeez Bhatti, PHF Women Hockey Wing General Manager Ms Tanzeela Amir Cheema, Deputy Director Rauf Bajwa and Deputy Director Chand Perveen were also present on this occasion. It is worth-mentioning that Sports Board Punjab is organising the First Chief Minister Punjab 5-a-Side National Women Hockey Championship for the preparation of inaugural FIH Hockey 5s World Cup scheduled to be staged in Oman’s capital city, Muscat. Wapda female players edged out strong HEC team by a narrow margin of 3-2 in the first quarterfinal after a close competition. Wapda’s Hamra Latif exhibited a glorious game and scored two goals through her field effort in the first and 12th minute of the match. Maira Sabir netted the third goal for the winning team. Kalsoom scored two goals for HEC to reduce the deficit. She leveled the score twice in 2nd and 11th minute but failed to do so third time and lost the match by 3-2. The second quarterfinal match was played between Islamabad and Railways women hockey teams. Railways women hockey team showing great resolve toppled Islamabad by 4-1 without much trouble. Arzoo Mansoor struck two goals while skipper Mariyam Hanif and Sarika Sarwar shared the remaining two goals. Islamabad’s only goal was netted by Fozia Talib in the 6th minute through a beautiful field move. Punjab (C) defeated Punjab (W) by a big difference of 7-1 in the third quarterfinal match of the day. Until half-time, they had a 5-0 lead. Sidra Hakim did the major damage scoring three beautiful goals for the winning team. The remaining four goals were scored by Mariam Hussain, Aqsa Ajaz, Saira Murad and Mahak Rasheed. Punjab (W)’s only goal was made by Amara Murad in the 19th minute of the match. The 4th and last quarterfinal of the day was competed between Army and Sindh (W) female hockey teams. The Army team proved too strong for Sindh (W) and won their match quite comfortably by 3-0 margin. Adeeba Afzal, Asma and Iqra Iqbal struck the goals for the victorious team.
FIH and Sport Group announce partnership extension
SPORTS BULLETIN REPORT Lausanne, Switzerland (October 18, 2021):-The International Hockey Federation (FIH) and Polytan, a member of Sport Group, today announced an extension to their long-standing worldwide hockey partnership through to 2024. In response to the partnership’s recent success delivering climate positive turfs for Tokyo 2020 (made from 60% sugar cane), the extension is designed to ensure hockey becomes a leader in the development of sustainable sports facilities. In line with FIH’s Sustainability Framework for Hockey and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the partnership will focus on the following: People Fundamental for healthy communities, sport needs to be accessible to all. Polytan will support FIH’s drive to make a positive impact on all those involved in hockey by continuing to promote high quality, durable hockey facilities that maximise precious space by withstanding thousands of players on a weekly basis. Alongside the growth of traditional facilities, the partnership will tackle the development of Hockey5s. Hockey5s courts that require less space and appeal to changing recreational habits will allow many more people to enjoy hockey. Additionally, Polytan’s portable turf technology will bring the first-ever FIH Hockey5s World Cup to downtown Oman in 2024, giving local children and adults the opportunity to be thrilled by world-class competition. Planet Protecting the planet so it can support the needs of present and future generations should be a fundamental commitment for all organisations. Polytan is dedicated to working with FIH to ensure hockey activities leave as small a footprint on the planet as possible. The Poligras turfs developed for Tokyo 2020 were created using bio-based materials (60% sugar cane), and were manufactured to strict ISO 14001 environmental management and ISO 9001 management standards. Also, the overall system used at the Tokyo Olympic venue required a third less water than the Rio 2016 venue. The partnership will focus on innovations that deliver CO2 reduction, bio-based green technology, dry elite level turf and end-of-life recycling as well as turf longevity through good maintenance practices. Prosperity FIH’s final sustainability goal is about ensuring hockey continues to grow and prosper. With 46 years working with hockey, the Polytan team is fully behind this goal. As the sole supplier of hockey turf for the Olympic Games Paris 2024 and the FIH Hockey World Cups (2022/2023), Polytan will deliver the finest turfs, ensuring that players perform to their best and that hockey looks bright and vibrant. Additionally, Polytan and FIH have successfully created a new category for hockey turf - Temporary Overlay Pitches (TOP) - which provides a cost-effective means of hosting top-level hockey in existing sports stadia and other venues. These Big Stadium hockey events have been successfully delivered for both the FIH Hockey Pro League and Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualifiers allowing hockey to break free from the limitations of existing venues to attract record crowds. As hockey fans return to big events, the TOP systems will bring the sport to new locations and audiences, creating thrilling experiences for the players and further growing the game. Thierry Weil, CEO, FIH: “We are delighted that our trusted partner Polytan, which continues to innovate and invest in hockey, has extended its partnership with FIH. Over the years Polytan has repeatedly delivered world-class facilities for the Olympics and Hockey World Cups. They are leaders in sustainable sports surfaces and construction, so we are very happy to have their support in hockey’s sustainable future, in particular for producing water-free elite pitches in the years to come.” Frank Dittrich, CEO, Sport Group: “Sustainability is key in the development of all our products. Sport Group, with our investment in green technology, is transforming the future of sports surfaces. Our long-term partnership with the FIH allows us to invest in hockey turf innovations that will help the game be a leader in sustainable sport.” Stephen Niven, CEO Polytan Asia Pacific: “Our relationship with hockey began in 1976 with the first turf at the Montreal Olympics. Since then, Sport Group, through Polytan and AstroTurf, has remained committed to the global game. It is a pleasure to be part of the sport; hockey is exciting, welcoming and is equally amazing for men and women, girls and boys. Shifting our partnership focus to sustainability will further progress the sport and our Poligras hockey turfs will continue to be the leader in player and environmental performance.”
Brilliant Belgians double up against Germany
SPORTS BULLETIN REPORT Brussels (October 18, 2021):-Belgium's women's and men's teams made it a weekend to remember for their home supporters, with both teams claiming second FIH Hockey Pro League victories over Germany in two pulsating matches on Sunday in Brussels. It was the women's teams who were in action first, with Belgium's Red Panthers claiming their second win in two days over Die Danas. Stephanie Vanden Borre earned her second Player of the Match award of the weekend thanks to a superb penalty corner double that sent Belgium on their way to victory, finding the bottom left corner with two near identical strikes in the 10th and 21st minutes respectively. The home favourites were guilty of wastefulness in front of goal and could easily have been out of sight had they taken their numerous chances, with Germany pulling themselves back into the contest thanks to a goal on debut from Stine Kurz, who found the back of the Belgian net with a penalty corner drag-flick five minutes before the end of the third quarter. Germany went for broke in the final minutes of the match, replacing their goalkeeper with an outfield player in a bid to find an equaliser. However, it was Belgium who benefitted the always risky tactic, with France De Mot showing fine skills to evade numerous German tackles before flicking into an unguarded goal from a narrow angle to delight the home fans. "It is not every year you get six points against Germany, so we are very happy", said Vanden Borre in the post-match interview for broadcast. "[Wednesday's defeat against the Netherlands] was a game that we learned a lot from, and today we proved that we can do it against a really good team so we are happy with our six points." Belgium's men came into Sunday's match on the back of a 6-1 victory over Germany, a score-line that perhaps did not reflect the true nature of an excellent contest. The second game was another thriller, with Germany striking early thanks to Niklas Wellen's superb close range penalty corner deflection before Belgium turned the match on its head with three goals in just four minutes either side of the quarter-time break. Sebastien Dockier scored two wonderful team goals, with Tanguy Cosyns also on target as the reigning Olympic, World and FIH Hockey Pro League champions showed exactly why they are currently the best men's team on the planet. Lucas Windfeder's penalty corner drag-flick ahead of half-time kept Germany within touching distance, although Thibeau Stockbroekx put the Belgians into a 4-2 lead after fine work from the exceptional Victor Wegnez. Again Die Honamas hit back, with Malte Hellwig netting at the end of the third quarter to set up a thrilling final 15 minutes. Eventually though, it was the home favourites who prevailed, with Nicolas de Kerpel completing a 5-3 score-line from close range after another wonderful exchange of passes from the Tokyo 2020 gold medallists. "If you look at the game yesterday, it was 6-1 of course, but our goalie had an amazing game and it could have been 6-4 or 6-5", said Belgium midfielder Victor Wegnez, who created two goals in the second game to be named Player of the Match. "Today I think they were more efficient in front of goal. We struggled a little bit to enter the game, but then we started to put our game in place and deserved the win." Outgoing Germany head coach Kais Al Saadi, taking charge of the team for the very last time, said: "It was much better than yesterday. We were much more competitive. The boys tried everything they could to get a good result against the Olympic champions. I'm very proud of the team and the two years, what we have accomplished together. It was always good fun, and I'm very disappointed to not see them in the future, but they have a bright one, so [I have] no worries about it." The FIH Hockey Pro League Season 3 action resumes on Wednesday 10 November with the Netherlands women taking on Belgium in Amsterdam for the second time, with the Dutch running out 2-0 winners in the first encounter on Wednesday 13 October. To see the complete FIH Hockey Pro League match schedule, please click here. Keep up to date with all the latest news on the FIH Hockey Pro League via the Watch.Hockey app, event website and through FIH social media channels - Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. FIH Hockey Pro League Sunday 17 October 2021 – Brussels (BEL) Women Belgium 3, Germany 1 [Match 2 of 2] Player of the Match: Stephanie Vanden Borre (BEL) Umpires: Hannah Harrison (ENG), Alison Keogh (IRL) and Jonas van 't Hek (NED – Video) Men Belgium 5, Germany 3 [Match 2 of 2] Player of the Match: Victor Wegnez (BEL) Umpires: Jonas van 't Hek (NED), Dan Barstow (ENG) and Alison Keogh (IRL – Video)
Hockey17 Oct 2021
Sports Reporter LAHORE (October 17, 2021): Punjab Colours outplayed Sindh Whites 5-0 in a league round match of the First Chief Minister Punjab 5-a-Side National Women’s Hockey Championship at National Hockey Stadium on Sunday. Punjab Colours’ Sidra Hakeem, who scored three goals, was the main goal-scorer for the triumphant team. The remaining two goals were scored by Humera Rafi and Mahak Rasheed. Director General Sports Punjab Adnan Arshad Aulakh along with Director Sports Hafeez Bhatti, PHF Women Hockey Wing General Manager Tanzeela Amir Cheema and Deputy Director Chand Perveen also witnessed the exciting matches at National Hockey Stadium. Director General Sports Punjab Adnan Arshad Aulakh was warmly received by hockey officials upon reaching the National Hockey Stadium. He was also introduced with the women hockey players and team officials and also had group photographs with them on this occasion. It is worth-mentioning that Sports Board Punjab is organising the First Chief Minister Punjab 5-a-Side National Women Hockey Championship for the preparation of inaugural FIH Hockey 5s World Cup scheduled to be staged in Oman’s capital city, Muscat. In the next thrilling encounter, Gilgit Baltistan (GB) women hockey team scripted an upset victory against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (W) when they shocked their opponents by a thin margin of 3-2. Gilgit Baltistan women hockey team began their match in aggressive style and took 3-0 lead till the half time. Abida showed wonderful ball control and scored two beautiful field goals for the winning team while the third goal was scored by Kalsoom through her field effort. In the second half, KPK (W) team bounced back and scored two goals through Reshma in 11th and 18th minute of the game but they could not change the fate of the match. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (C) defeated Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) by 7-1 in the next match. Areeba Yaqoob of KPK (C) was in superb form in the match and struck all the seven goals for the victorious team. Aksha scored the only goal for the losing AJK team. The next match of the day was proved to be a one-sided affair in which Wapda rout Sindh (C) by a huge difference of 13-0. Afsheen Noreen netted five goals, Sana Allah Ditta three and Maira Sabir struck two goals while Rimsha Illyas, Kalsoom and Hamra Latif contributed one goal each for the winning team. Army women hockey team thrashed Punjab (W) by 5-1 in the 5th match of the day. Iqra Iqbal, Fozia Naz, Sana Naz, Adeeba Afzal and Asma scored one goal each for Army team. Punjab (W)’s solitary goal was netted by Fatima Ghaffar through a field effort. The last match of the day was played between Railways and HEC. Both the teams scored two goals each. HEC’s Nisha struck both goals of her team demonstrating excellent goal-scoring prowess. Sarika Sarwar and Arzoo Mansoor were goal-scorers of Railways women hockey team.
Hockey17 Oct 2021
Sports Bulletin Report BRUSSELS (October 17, 2021):-A sell-out crowd witnessed Belgium’s women and men both claim FIH Hockey Pro League victories over the national teams of Germany on a jubilant day in Brussels, with fans flocking in their thousands to witness the teams in action for the first time since the Red Lions became Olympic champions at Tokyo 2020. It was an occasion that more than lived up to the hype, with Belgium’s men storming to a sensational 6-1 triumph over Die Honamas in a match played at a searing pace and packed with skill. The Red Lions win came shortly after the Red Panthers, Belgium’s national women’s team, claimed a narrow but deserved triumph over Die Danas. A wonderful penalty corner drag-flick from rising superstar Ambre Ballenghien late in the game settled the contest, helping the team to bounce back from Wednesday’s opening day defeat against the Netherlands in Amsterdam. Live-wire striker Ballenghien – who forced Germany goalkeeper Noelle Rother into a stunning stick save early in the contest – sent a glorious flick into the top left corner of the net with seven minutes of the match remaining, delighting a passion-fuelled sell-out crowd at Brussels’ Royal Uccle Sport stadium in a match that had been delayed by 90 minutes due to technical issues. While Germany had some good chances of their own, Belgium were well worth the three points and will be looking to repeat the trick when the two teams do battle again on Sunday. “I think we had a lot of occasions to score and to finally put it in, it was a delivery for all the team”, said Belgium’s match-winner Ballenghien, who was named Player of the Match. “I think we really deserved the win as today we were the better team on the field, so we are very happy with the win.” Germany head coach Xavier Reckinger – who represented Belgium’s men on the international stage on 326 occasions – said: “I think we had a few chances, and the girls did exactly what we wanted to do. We had good chances to put them away, but they dominated, especially on their counter. I’m quite pleased with the performance from all the players, but we do have to improve some stuff. There were some things which, for me, are not good enough at the international level, but we’ll work on those and be ready for tomorrow.” It was a special day for Belgium’s Louise Versavel, who played her 200th senior international match. The men’s match was an absolute thriller, with Germany’s inexperienced team very much taking the game to their illustrious opponents from the start. Die Honamas came closest to opening the scoring in the early stages when a wonderful deflection from Malte Hellwig clipped the outside of the Belgian post, with the teams going into the quarter-time break with the deadlock unbroken. Belgium stepped up their game in the second quarter, establishing a 2-0 lead thanks field goals from Sebastien Dockier and Cedric Charlier before William Ghislain got in on the act in the third period, finishing off a superb team move to put Belgium – the reigning Olympic, World and FIH Hockey Pro League champions – into a lead that they never looked likely to lose. Nicolas De Kerpel scored the goal of the game with a brilliant lob over Germany goalkeeper Alexander Stadler in the fourth quarter before Germany’s Mario Schachner reduced the deficit with six minutes remaining. However, a second for De Kerpel and a penalty corner deflection from ageless midfielder John-John Dohmen completed an emphatic score-line for the title holders, who were presented with the trophy for the 2020-21 season ahead of the contest. The tophy was received by retired attacker and former captain Thomas Briels, much to the delight of the home fans. “We are very happy to be back here in Belgium playing in front of our home crowd”, said Belgium’s Arthur De Sloover, who was named Player of the Match. “It was the first game after the Olympics and we really wanted to show them that we still want to win every game, so we are very happy with the performance today.” Germany goalkeeper Alexander Stadler said: “We played with a mixed team, players who were at the Olympics and some new players. We gave it a great team effort and it was a great experience. In the first half we were a bit unlucky with the two goals. In the second half we made too many mistakes in dangerous areas and they took their counters, while we didn’t’ take our chances on the counters, which was the difference today.” The FIH Hockey Pro League Season 3 action continues on Sunday when the international teams of Belgium and Germany take to the field for their second meetings in Brussels. To see the complete FIH Hockey Pro League match schedule, please click here. Keep up to date with all the latest news on the FIH Hockey Pro League via the Watch.Hockey app, event website and through FIH social media channels - Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. FIH Hockey Pro League Saturday 16 October 2021 – Brussels (BEL) Women Belgium 1, Germany 0 [Match 1 of 2] Player of the Match: Ambre Ballenghien (BEL) Umpires: Hannah Harrison (ENG), Alison Keogh (IRL) and Dan Barstow (ENG – Video) Men Belgium 6, Germany 1 [Match 1 of 2] Player of the Match: Arthur de Sloover (BEL) Umpires: Dan Barstow (ENG), Jonas van ‘t Hek (NED) and Hannah Harrison (ENG – Video)
Hockey14 Oct 2021
Sports Desk ISLAMABAD (October 14, 2021):-Reigning women’s Olympic, World and European champions the Netherlands got their FIH Hockey Pro League title defence off to a solid start, defeating neighbouring Belgium 2-0 in the competition curtain raiser in front of a big crowd at Amsterdam’s magnificent Wagener Stadium. The Oranje – who were presented with their trophy for winning the 2020-21 FIH Hockey Pro League season ahead of the contest – made a sensational start to the new season when star attacker Lidewij Welten crashed home a fierce open play strike after just 17 seconds of the contest, thrilling the home fans who had flocked to see their national team for the first time since winning gold at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 in August. Belgium’s Red Panthers recovered well from that early blow and made life difficult for their illustrious opponents, with large spells of the game taking place in midfield as the two lowland nations battled for possession and superiority. It was certainly scrappy at times, with both sides guilty of unforced errors. While goal-scoring opportunities were few and far between, a 1-0 score-line meant that Belgium – coached by Dutchman Raoul Ehren, an individual with a near peerless club coaching record in the Netherlands and who had guided the Red Panthers to European bronze in this very stadium earlier this year – were always in with a chance of taking something away from this clash. However, that all changed nine minutes from time when Freeke Moes burst through the Belgian defensive line and past the goalkeeper before firing home from an acute angle, much to the delight of the home fans. It was a goal that wrapped up all three points for the home favourites, giving the double Pro League champions the start that they would have wanted as they bid to secure a hat-trick of titles. “It was amazing, the public here and playing with the Olympians in the team”, said Netherlands debutant Marente Barentsen, who was named Player of the Match. “I was a bit nervous, but after the first quarter it got a bit better and I forgot it was my debut, so tried to keep playing and keep enjoying it.” On whether she thought it was the start of a new era, Barentsen said: “I hope so. I wanted to make a good impression, which is what I am supposed to do. I hope I did it.” Reflecting on the result and conceding so early in the contest, Belgium’s Stephanie Vanden Borre said: “We were not as awake as we should have been. The first thing we thought was, now we have to wake up. We know they are the best in the world so we were ready to fight and do what we want to do. We want to play better every game. I think after the first 15 seconds, we had a good game.”