The England men’s squad will play hockey legends Pakistan and India during text series this summer. Pakistan will come to England from 30 June-3 July 2009, while India will visit England from 29 July-2 August 2009.
Pakistan lined up to play England
England Hockey is delighted to announce a three match test series against Pakistan to be staged with support from Staffordshire County Council at Chase Park, the home of Cannock Hockey Club, from 30 June – 3 July 2009.
Jason Lee’s team will take on the three times Olympic champions as they continue their preparations ahead of this summer’s EuroHockey Nations Championships in Amsterdam.
“The clash between Pakistan’s Asian style of hockey and England’s European style should be very interesting for the spectators,” says Head Coach Lee. “These matches will form an important part of England’s build up to this summer’s European Nations Championships.”
The matches should certainly prove to be close encounters with Pakistan having recently leapfrogged England into sixth in world rankings as a result of their second place finish at the Asia Cup. England is ranked seventh.
Continuing, Lee says, “I am sure Pakistan will be warmly welcomed and well supported, which should make the games very special occasions. I’d like to thank Pakistan for coming and Staffordshire County Council and Cannock Hockey Club for their support in what I am sure will be an entertaining set of matches.”
England’s last competitive clash with Pakistan came in the fifth place playoff at the 2006 BDO World Cup in Mönchengladbach, Germany, when a 67th minute goal from Martin Jones proved decisive, netting England fifth place.
The Pakistan matches mark a welcome return for international hockey to Cannock and England Hockey is delighted to be able to stage these matches at Chase Park, one of the top hockey grounds in the country. The club has continued to develop its facilities with the recent installation of 400 seats, which will be on show for the Pakistan series, and their support with the test series is greatly appreciated. Cannock most recently hosted international fixtures against Germany women and Netherlands men in August 2006.
David Linford, president of Cannock Hockey Club said: “We are delighted to have been chosen to host this important international test series. Over the last few years we have invested heavily in our facilities which now include a second international standard hockey pitch which will host its first international game when England meet Pakistan for this series.”
England Hockey is also grateful for the considerable backing of Staffordshire County Council in staging these matches.
Ron Hilton, Chief Executive of Staffordshire County Council said: “We are delighted to welcome the England and Pakistan hockey teams to Staffordshire. We are proud of our county and its hockey facility. These games will provide an ideal opportunity for our local communities to enjoy international hockey on home turf once again.”
Tickets for the matches are on sale from the England Hockey website at: www.englandhockey.co.uk/pakistan.
England to play India
England Hockey is delighted to confirm that England’s men will take on India in a three match test series from 29 July – 2 August 2009. The series is organized by England Hockey in partnership with Birmingham City Council and the University of Birmingham, with the matches being staged at the University’s ground where their pitches are currently being resurfaced.
Thanks to the very welcome support of the Council and the University spectators will be able to enjoy the matches from seating and terracing, which will be installed for the matches along with other visitor facilities. The Indian team will be hosted at the University for the duration of their stay.
England’s opponents are currently ranked 12th in the World after missing out on qualification to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games at the hands of Great Britain. They have recently competed in the Asian Cup, where they finished fifth.
Speaking as the fixtures were announced, England Head Coach Jason Lee described his affection for the opposition. “It is a great pleasure to host a country with such a golden history in our sport as India,” he said. “I know they will be warmly welcomed and will have a lot of support at the matches. Without doubt the impact on both countries of Great Britain’s victory over India in last year’s Olympic Qualifier was significant. I had a real sense of sympathy for India on their failure to qualify for the Beijing Olympics. World hockey would be much stronger if India was to regain some of its former glory. I believe we all hope that they will become strong again.
“I would like to thank India for agreeing to this series of fixtures and to extend my gratitude to Birmingham City Council and the University for their support in what I am sure will be an entertaining set of matches.”
Lee’s men, who are currently ranked seventh in the World, last met India in a competitive game during the 2007 BDO Champions Challenge in Boom, Belgium. On that occasion India emerged victorious, winning the match 4-3 and with it the bronze medal.
Birmingham City Council has been a great supporter of hockey at all levels of the game from grass roots through to the elite and their support was instrumental in the move to the National Indoor Arena of hockey’s Indoor Finals in 2006.
Cabinet Member for Leisure, Sport and Culture, Councilor Martin Mullaney, said: “Birmingham City Council is delighted to be supporting the hockey test series between England and India. These matches will provide a great opportunity for local people to see international hockey on their doorsteps and also provide us with an excellent chance to profile the city and its superb facilities to the Indian hockey team ahead of the London 2012 Olympics.”
On the pitch, the University of Birmingham has a proud hockey tradition stretching back to the early 1990s when they hosted the Men’s and Women’s European Cup Winners Cup in 1993 followed by a season of Men’s National League games televised on Sky Sports.
Among the players hoping to be part of the squad to face India is University of Birmingham alumnus and Beijing Olympian Simon Mantell, who, if selected, will be returning to play at the campus for the first time since graduating in 2007.
In recent years the University has hosted a number of domestic finals and has recently enjoyed success with their women’s team earning promotion to the England Hockey League Premier Division for 2009-10. The University is also part of the consortium of universities that makes up England Hockey’s West Midlands National Performance Centre, providing top quality coaching and support to some of the country’s top hockey players aged 18-23 as an integral component in England Hockey’s Single System.
Zena Wooldridge, Director of Sport at University of Birmingham, believes the test series fits nicely into the University’s wider strategy: “The University is delighted to be hosting India and the test series with England, in partnership with England Hockey and Birmingham City Council. Hockey is one of the University’s priority sports and India is an important and growing market for international recruitment to the University. This event is a perfect combination of factors for the University and we look forward to welcoming the India and England teams and their supporters from across the City and Region.”
Tickets for the three matches are on sale from the England Hockey website at www.englandhockey.co.uk/india.
Source: England Hockey
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