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Bleby, Keegan, Ralph named assistant coaches of England men’s and women’s hockey teams

In a significant announcement aimed at improving the performance of Great Britain’s men’s and women’s hockey teams, England Hockey has named Jon Bleby, Craig Keegan and David Ralph as assistant coaches of both the England men’s and women’s squads.

The trio of Blebly, Keegan and Ralph will link up with another assistant coach Karen Brown for the 2013-2016 period. They will lend their support hand to England men’s team head coach Bobby Crutchley and women’s team head coach Jason Lee.

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - FEBRUARY 07:   a general view of England team during the Investec Women's International Hockey Challenge match between England and Australia from Hartleyvale Hockey Stadium on February 07, 2013 in Cape Town, South Africa.  (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA – FEBRUARY 07: a general view of England team during the Investec Women’s International Hockey Challenge match against Australia from Hartleyvale Hockey Stadium. (Photo by Ashley Vlotman/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Crutchley took over the reins of the men’s team from Jason Lee, who was then appointed as the head coach of the women’s team. He was also part of the national team’s coaching staff at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2012 London Olympics.

For Blebly, Keegan, Ralph, Brown and head coach Crutchley, their first major challenge would be the FIH Hockey World League semifinals, which is slated to be held in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, from 29 June –7 July.

At the FIH Hockey World League semifinals, England would be pitted against Olympic champions Germany, Korea, Pakistan and hosts Malaysia and would be joined by three other teams from the Round 2 events – two of which are still to be played.

Besides the FIH Hockey World League semifinals, other major assignments for Crutchley and his support staff would be the 2013 European Hockey Championship, which is scheduled to be held in Antwerpt, Belgium later this year.

The 2014 World Cup (to be held in The Hague, Netherlands), 2015 European Hockey Championships (to be held in London, United Kingdom), 2014 Commonwealth Games (to be held in Glassgow, Scotland) and the 2016 Olympic Games (to be held in Rio di Janeiro, Brazil).

The assistant coaches will start their new roles with England Hockey when the international squads return to training in April.

Great Britain men’s team reached the Olympic semifinals since 1988 where they went down 2-9 to Netherlands. They lost the bronze medal play-off match 1-3 to Australia to settle for the fourth spot.

For the England’s women’s team coach Jason Lee, the first major assignment would be the Hockey World League semifinals, which would be held in London from June 22-30. Great Britain would be pitted against Argentina, Australia, China, USA, South Africa, Spain and Italy.

The Great Britain women’s hockey team picked up its first Olympic hockey medal in twenty years (since the 1992 Barcelona Olympics) – settling for a bronze pipping New Zealand 3-1 in the play-off match.

Great Britain earlier lost in the semifinals to world champions Argentina 1-2, leaking two first half goals before producing a margin reducer in the dying moments, which was not enough to help them emerge winners.

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