Early starts to blame for hard to see hockey

TIM BARROW
Last updated 13:17 01/08/2012
Gemma Flynn
IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ
HOCKEY STAR: Gemma Flynn.

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As the backlash continues from television audiences watching Olympic hockey on the bright blue synthetic field, Australian coach Ric Charlesworth claims the situation should have been avoided.

Charlesworth, who won gold with the Australian women's team in Atlanta and Sydney, took aim at Olympic organisers and the host broadcasters over early scheduling and even the humble cameraman.

He believes the problem isn't the pitch at all, but the early morning sun rising over the eastern stand at Riverbank Arena.

The Kookaburras and Hockeyroos have both played early games during the London tournament, with daily scheduling starting at 8.30am.

Charlesworth said the way the low morning light shines on the pitch and back towards the broadcast cameras, as well as the yellow ball on the blue pitch, has made life hard for hockey fans to follow games in their lounge rooms in Australia.

"It's not a problem out on the field," Charlesworth said.

"The problem is because of the television viewers or the television channels wanted early matches, you get the sun in the position it is, that's the problem.

"Once or twice I think it's the quality of the camera work, hockey is very fast and so it takes a while for the camera crew to get up to speed to.

"But the problem is you play an early match, the sun's low, that's the difficulty in seeing the ball.

"This could have been predicted, but that's the sort of things that happens."

The Hockeyroos played their tournament opener against New Zealand at 8.30am, but backed up Wednesday night against Germany at 9.15pm (London time), while the Kookaburras took on South Africa at 10.45am.

Before the competition started, Charlesworth and the Australian Olympic Committee lodged an appeal over scheduling.

The world No 1 men's hockey team was fuming after being drawn to play three games at 8.30am during the Games competition in July and August, meaning they would be forced to start the day at 5am to prepare.

Claiming it was a disadvantage, the Australians complained and have had their clash with Pakistan on August 7 swapped to 10.45am, with the Korea-Netherlands game moved to the earlier time.

Hockeyroos coach Adam Commens said the women's team had adjusted well to having to play early in the morning.

"The early ones are OK for us, because we train at 6am in Perth," he said.

"It's difficult when you have to go early, late, early (game times), it limits the recovery time in between matches.

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"We have a recovery plan that we stick to and we've learned how to slide (between) the days, from other tournament experiences.

"We're used to sleeping at different times and making sure you have to go to bed when you need to and go to bed a bit later like we did (Monday night) in preparation (to play Germany)."

- FFX Aus

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