Hockey: Britain looks to up its game after Olympic success

 

The governing body of British hockey is making an ambitious push to capitalize on one of the surprise hits of the Olympics, with a recruitment drive under way which focuses substantially on the nation’s women.

The national team, coached by Danny Kerry, is seeking tonight to reach its first final, with the Argentine side which has been inspired by Luciana Aymar the impediment to the side progressing beyond the previous best bronze attained in Barcelona, 20 years ago. A huge amount rests on either Jason Lee’s men or Kerry’s women achieving at least a bronze – because the target set in the new round of four-year funding which replaces the £15m allocated after the Beijing Olympics was one to two medals for the GB teams. 

But GB Hockey is acutely aware of how the sport was not ready to seize the opportunity presented when Sean Kerly inspired the men to gold in Seoul, back in 1988, so has already thrown itself into a recruitment campaign.

The Hockey Nation Give-it-a-go campaign has increased the number of people playing hockey from 27,000 to 106,000 and the introduction of Rush Hockey, a five-a side version of the game, has been critical. A major boost to the sport’s attempts to be ready for an uplift from the Olympics was the securing 12 months ago of a sponsor for the women’s game, Investec, whose seven-figure sum has enabled the governing body to split the costs of the televising of the sport on Sky Sports.

Victory for one of the two Olympic sides – with Lee’s men facing the Netherlands today – would provide an even bigger step, forward, though. The UK Sport funding deal secured after Beijing, has funded talent coach development and sports science and medicine investment – with a level of video analysis which is equal even to that in the fabulously wealthy football.

That analysis means that if today’s game goes to the same penalty shoot-out which saw the Dutch women beat New Zealand in yesterday’s women’s semi-final, Lee will have had a break-down on precisely how the Dutch men take theirs. That level of knowledge was clearly lacking in the Kiwis, whose coach Mark Hager admitted last night that he had failed to prepare adequately. “We didn’t practise enough and that’s probably my fault,” Hager said, after a 3-1 defeat on penalties followed a 2-2 scoreline after normal time, plus 15 minutes of golden goal time. Whether Great Britain or Argentina progressed, it will be a disgruntled, dissatisfied Netherlands they faced in the final – with the concern for the nation that would face them being that the team, the source of substantial expectation back home, will want to get it out of their system.

The Dutch’s stuttering performance against a New Zealand six places below them in the world rankings, reflected their sentiment in the tournament as a whole and one of the few consolation for ebullient coach Max Caldas was that his captain, Maartje Paumen, finally found her goalscoring touch having surprisingly failed to net once in the tournament. She scored 11 goals in Beijiing, where the Dutch side took Olympic gold, but her corner flicks have been curiously absent in this competition.

Hager could perhaps be forgiven for his planning oversight, given that his side’s was the Olympics' first ever hockey shoot-out – a contest which involves the players being given eight seconds to dribble the ball from the edge of the ‘D’ and seek to put it past the goalkeeper. The Dutch had experienced shoot-outs in international competition and their goalkeeper Joyce Sombroek proved to be a vital asset in their progress. "She read us well and anticipated our actions. But perhaps we were guilty. All our players basically did the same thing,” Kate Sharland, captain of a New Zealand side known as the Black Sticks, said of Sombroek.

New Zealand were given a seventh-minute lead by their captain Kate Sharland from a penalty corner.

Paumen replied in similar fashion. Krystal Forgesson restored the Kiwi lead but Paumen produced a near-perfect corner flick into the roof of the net to make the score 2-2.

The Dutch were awarded a penalty corner in the second seven-and-a-half-minute period of extra time, which they tried unsuccessfully to have upgraded to a penalty stroke with a video referral. When Paumen took the corner, she shot wide. But the Netherlands didn't flinch in the deciding shoot-out.

The other finalists would face an inscrutable opponent in Caldas, who has a difficult relationship with the Dutch media who have produced volumes of material on the nation’s campaign. He was indignant yesterday about refereeing decisions, including video referrals, though he admitted that his players own below-par performance was to blame for their struggle against New Zealand. He could not put his finger on why they have been below par, though five straight wins in the group stage reveals that they are not entirely struggling.

Arts & Entertainment
The Honesty Policy is a group of anonymous Muslims who believe that the community needs a space to express itself without shame or judgement
music
News
Waitrose will be bringing in more manned tills
newsOverheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
Life & Style
life
Arts & Entertainment
Back in the suit: There are only so many variations you can spin on the lives or adventures of Peter Parker
filmReview: Almost every sequence and set-up in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 seems familiar from some earlier superhero film
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Arts & Entertainment
Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon in Game of Thrones
tv
Life & Style
Father and son: Michael Williams with son Edmund
lifeAs his son’s bar mitzvah approaches, CofE-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys he’s experienced in learning about his family’s other faith
Arts & Entertainment
Ian Anderson, the leader of British rock band Jethro Tull, (right) and British guitar player Martin Barre (left) perform on stage
musicJethro Tull frontman leads ‘prog rock’ revival
Sport
Gareth Bale dribbled from inside his own half and finished calmly late in the final to hand Real a 2-1 win at the Mestalla in Valencia
sport
Arts & Entertainment
Who laughs lass: Jenny Collier on stage
comedy... writes Jenny Collier, the comedian whose recent show was cancelled because there were 'too many women' on the bill
News
House proud: keeping up with the Joneses now extends to children's playhouses
newsLuxury playhouses now on the market for as much as £800
News
news
Life & Style
Stir it up: the writer gets a lichen masterclass from executive chef Vivek Singh of the Cinnamon restaurants
food + drinkLichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines
Extras
indybest
Arts & Entertainment
Ken Loach (left) and Mike Leigh who will be going head to head for one of cinema's most coveted prizes at this year's Cannes Film Festival
filmKen Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
News
The academic, Annamaria Testa, has set out on her website a list of 300 English words that she says Italians ought to stop using
newsAcademic speaks out against 'Italianglo' - the use of English words in Italian language
Caption competition
Caption competition
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit