Posted in Argentine Hockey on April 28th, 2011 by John Coxon

The Confederación Argentina De Hockey (CAH) has announced the welcome return of Luciana Aymar to national squad duties  in  preparation for the World Champions Trophy in Holland at the end of June in Amsterdam.  Last week Luciana , voted world player of the year a record  seven times, re-joined the national squad  under  the direction of coach Carlos “Chapa” Retegui, after their holiday break, meeting at CENARD, Buenos Aires. The full squad are due to travel for further training to Salta, at the Club Popeye, between 1st and 6th of May.

 Luciana,  ( a.k.a.  Lucha –fighter & La Maga – the magician ) drained by a decade of total dedication and personal  sacrifice for the team , took an officially sanctioned  long complete break from playing straight after Las Leonas’s  world cup victory in Rosario last year with the full blessing of the coaching staff and Federation. During that time she could not resist making  various appearances at hockey clubs around the country  to inspire and motivate grass roots players but also has played for her club CEBA , Buenos Aires this season. It seems unlikely that any other player could be seen as so naturally  gifted and such an inspiration that they would be granted a long  well-earned rest by the coaching staff in complete confidence that she would  dovetail readily back into the squad with ease after such a long break from the squad.

Las Leonas coach Carlos “Chapa” Retegui


Luciana, a natural ambassador for the game, has always been modest about her own importance to the national squad and emphasised that its strength is the team spirit where no individual has greater importance. We have heard Carlo Retegui speaking about  Luciana only recently as a player he believes is going to come back more relaxed , after her sabbatical ,stronger and even more effective. But it does seem most likely that she will finally retire from international duties after the 2012 Olympics in London. Right now, the total focus for the entire squad is dedicated hard work and detailed preparation for the defence of their World Champions Trophy 2010  title won in Nottingham last year , beating the mighty Dutch convincingly in the final. I recall coach  Carlos”Chapa” Retegui’s team talk at the first squad training session after the world cup win last year where he declared the team could not be complacent  or rest on their  laurels but would have to work even harder to become an even more effective team force to retain their entitlement to be called the best in the world.

Argentina after their victory at Nottingham World Chmapions Trophy 2010

Under the orders of  Retegui and Alejandro Labonia the dynamic new fitness trainer, Luciana  joined the first practice last Wednesday, but could not actually play due to a facial injury she had picked up  during a recent club game. However ,without any difficulty, she  trained full on , and was on a par with her  peers in the field workouts  at CENARD. “For a month we are monitoring  their physical fitness so that it  is optimal, and Luciana  must quickly  adapt to the pace but also the new way of working we have, ” said Labonia. ” This year we working  differently from previous seasons, and we must be prepared differently. We aim to work hard on  anaerobic, lactic and alactic training exercise without losing ability, ” said Labonia .He formerly also worked as a fitness trainer in the game of grass roots and international rugby as well as  hockey, training, for example, amateur rugby players who wanted to turn professional . Even at his first session by Carlos Retegui’s side last year ,  he had made his own observations and assessments about individual players noting their strengths and skills but also noting key areas which could be worked on to improve  performance and effectiveness even more through work on specific muscle groups, for example , to improve explosive acceleration from a standing start.   It is worth noting that, led by coach, Carlos Retegui, last week also saw  the  setting up for the Champions League, with co-operative  planning between the coaches, nutritionists and doctors.

Luciana "Lucha" "La Maga" Aymar

The world’s champions will be  working between 1st and 6th May in Salta at Club Popeye, one of the top twelve league clubs in the nation with a huge catchment area in the province which also bears the same name.  The club is part of ASH , (Asociación Salteña de Hockey) and ASH has an impressive internet presence, maintains a vibrant Facebook group and regularly publishes professional quality video highlights of top league games through Salta TV on Facebook.  Salta Hockey TV Facebook The Association’s tireless president, Sandra Isola, is also the current Mayor of Salta and treasurer of the CAH and fully understands and endorses the social and other benefits involvement for all ages in hockey brings to the community as a whole. Argentina is a big country of course which has funding implications with teams often  having to travel long distances to compete. The hockey community in Argentina is family based and largely self-funding but is thriving. It has a formidable national development strategy embracing a vibrant youth development system and national initiatives with regard to, for example, high quality training of coaches  and the cascading of knowledge and experience  from the national squad’s technical staff. The CAH has also implemented university degree courses to enhance the quality of national coaching. It appears that having Salta as base away from the capital for the national squad is a part of that national strategy to inspire and encourage  grass roots players  and coach Retegui is passionate about this aspect of his role and the part that he and the squad have to play in this regard.


Amongst the squad are  eleven players who were in the team that took the World Cup in Rosario. Retegui is highly positive about the advances that have been made by the revised of Luciana Aymar squad, with many new young players who quickly been assimilated into the team and  given such a great account of themselves in what has been a punishing series of friendly internationals first in South Africa at the end of last year, then , the two Four Nations friendlies at Mendoza and Rosario  and more recently in New Zealand and Australia The squad will train a full three days and all fly out for Salta  on Sunday May 1st  and will then return to Buenos Aires on Friday, 6th

Las Leonas legendary team spirit

 The full squad is as follows :-

Aymar, Luciana
Barrionuevo, Noel
Rodríguez, Macarena
Sruoga, Daniela
Luchetti, Rosario
Scarone, Mariela
Succi, Belén
Aladro, Laura
D´Elía, Silvina
Kañevsky, Giselle
Merino, Delfina
Carla Dupuy
Martina Cavallero
Natalia Del Frari
Armani, Carolina
Rocío Sánchez Moccia
Sruoga, Josefina
Zuloaga, Victoria
Maccari, Sofía
Werthein, Roberta
Simonassi, Julia
Habif, Florencia
Socino, Mercedes

Technical Staff : Carlos Retegui (coach), William Laudani (Assistant), Santiago Capurro (Assistant), Alejandro Doherty (Assistant), Pablo Fernández (Assistant), Alejandro Labonia (fitness trainer), Lucia Caride (team leader), Claudio Bosco (physiotherapist) Federico Moscariello (medical)

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Amsterdam Breaks: Rachel Taekema (nee) Walsh latest victim.

Posted in Dutch Hockey on April 21st, 2011 by John Coxon

Amsterdam defend a short corner, Bowdon 2009


Wednesday morning it was officially announced that  another Amsterdam Dames player had fallen victim to a freak accident, breaking a bone. This time it was the turn of Rachel Taekema who broke her hand during training on Tuesday  . “A teammate hit her on the hand . It was on her glove, so she didn’t feel it , “said  coach Peter Bolhuis.
The break proved to be so awkward  that Rachel, wife of international Taeke Taekema, had to undergo surgery on Wednesday afternoon . “It was a spiral fracture to her right hand which means that the fracture was oblique. In addition, her bone is also out of position. She could not avoid an operation because as her bone  started to grow her little finger  would have grown  crooked her little finger, “explained Bolhuis.

Amsterdam hockey player Rachel Taekema

Rachel Taekema may be out of action for up to six weeks.

The English defender may well have to sit it out in the stands for up to six weeks alongside  the injured Sophie Polcamp (knee problem)  , Ellen Hoog (ankle bone fracture ) . Unable to play she will miss the Hoofdklasse Rabo League  playoffs . For the already battered Amsterdam “ it’s a a bitter pill and this is again  a drain on us. Rachel is an experienced power back and has the  English mentality, always giving 100%” said Bolhuis .  Hopefully Sophie will be able to take over her role in  three weeks time. ”

Ellen Hoog also out injured.


“Sometimes it feels so unjust, ” Bolhuis continued. “We have already endured so many injuries and it just keeps coming. I must say that I really think we are still strong , despite the plague of injuries , shown by us having qualified for the playoffs. That is a great accomplishment in the circumstances, “said the proud Bolhuis.

Sophie Polkamp recovering from knee surgery

Teamate Ellen Hoog  broke her ankle recently  in Amsterdam’s evening Hoofdklasse game against Rotterdam at the Wegener when it was caught in the hook of an opponent’s stick.  Sophie Polkamp recently  underwent an exploratory operation on her knee, as the defender of Amsterdam has been struggling for some time with pain in her knee and hamstring.  An irritant ‘ball’ scar tissue was  removed. The  Amsterdam captain has been on crutches but had been training with the physio and seems  on track for taking part in the playoffs if all goes well.  Leonoor Voskamp is also out injured.(Ex Amsterdam captain ,Miek van Geenhuisen, ex Netherlands international , now player coach at HDM,  suffered a similar injury as Rachel  which also required corrective surgery following an accident  in a Hoofdklasse game, spookily , that was also  versus Rotterdam,  last month. fingers crossed Sophie and Ellen will be fit for duty by 25th June when they will be part of the Netherlands squad to take part in the  Women’s Champions Trophy on their home turf at thee Wegener stadium, under newly appointed national coach Max Caldas, former head coach at Amsterdam.

Rachel Taekema  taking a short, bowdon 2009

Rachel Taekema was part of the Amsterdam team, victors in 2009 Euro Club Cup Winners Cup.

Amsterdam are not in action this weekend . Their next league game is on May 1 at  Laren. On May 21  the 2009 champions are in the league playoffs. Rachel is currently on holiday in the Manchester area with her husband and enjoyed premiership football at Old Trafford over the Easter weekend and both were thrilled  with the United win and seeing their hockey loving compatriot, Edwin van de Sar, doing a sterling job in goal for the home team.

Ex Amsterdam, now HDM player coach Miek Van Geenhuesen also broke her hand recently.


Rachel, even back in 2009 at the Euro Club Cup Winners Championships, Bowdon, showed herself to be competently , comfortably bi-lingual, chatting with team mates in Dutch and said she had found it easy to learn. For those off us who don’t know much Dutch, two websites are a must for regular news on the hockey scene in the Netherlands, to which I am a regular visitor.  I have been a long term fan (and occasional contributor ) to the excellent, independent Dutch hockey news /information website The huge and comprehensive site  was founded and run by Sascha Tamirinof and  his wife in the days before the national federation had developed it’s own comprehensive and effective website. More recently the KNHB did launch its own official comprehensive website I use both sites regularly, but mainly as they often feature items from the official KNHB  site as well as broader news items from around the country.

To overcome the language barrier I find   GOOGLE TRANSLATE very quick and easy to use and surprisngly accurate. You simply open it in a new window, cut and paste the text from a news report (including the headline)  ,into the dialogue box. Chose the language from the menu and select the target lanaguage you want it translated to. This will give you the gist of the news item though you may have to do some tweaking if you want  to do more  than simply read and understand the report.


John Coxon, a huge fan of Dutch, Dutch Hockey and Holland

I hold substantial numbers of stock images  from Hoofdklasse and international games of top Dutch players. ( Contact me any time for rights managed images for editorial and commercial use. )I also write authoritative reports on international and top Dutch Hoofdklasse league games for Women Sport Report.Com , the most comprehensive global website for news from a huge variety of sports involving women and am voluntary co-editor of the site.  Here is a sample of one of my many hockey reports there I supply for the site both orginal content based on my own journalism and photography plus edited press releases we recieve, many of which I illustrate from my  own archives to help promote those sports which do not have the resources to supply media quality images wiith press releases.

As a fan of field hockey I am able to help the sport enjoy a bigger presence there than it would otherwise on the site. To keep up to speed I have a range of media and organisation contacts as well as being an avid reader of , for example, Dutch and Argentine on line news and other media sources. I also contribute news and comments, on a voluntary basis  to a range of hockey based Facebooks providing content, comments and showing my genuine support for the game and players at all levels.  I also make use of Twitter supporting hockey related individuals and businesses.  I also have a Flick with over  6000 images on line , many of which are of field hockey games I have covered at all levels here  MY FLICKR

My own Facebook can be accessed here  John’s Facebook which has links to other platforms where I help serve the game around the world. It has become increasingly difficult to fund this support out of my own pocket  as an independent  freelance photographer and journalist. This is because  most major events now covered by global picture agencies which syndicate pictures to the relatively small market of those parts of the media who show an interest in the game  and “official”  photographers who have a  virtual monopoly of picture sales for personal use. All these factors create an ever diminishing market and generally very poor returns for professionals like myself. Maintaining professional digital camera equipment and a range of web based resources means that overheads are high. As a result I cover games now only when booked/ commissoned by clients. I am happy to work with sports organisations and retailers offering professional support for marketing and PR and try to offer a cost effective set of services not just with tailored top quality images.  Very few professional sport photographers in the world also have the years of experience I have as a writer and media specialist.  I am pretty sure  I am one of the most prolific in the world currently active all over the internet promoting the game. I offer outstanding service and value for money.

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