THE INTERNATIONAL HOCKEY FEDERATION (FIH) has confirmed that India’s men’s and women’s national teams (FIH Hero World Ranking: 6 & 12 respectively) will participate in the Hockey Pro League, a unique global international team-sport league.
The new league, which is due to launch in January 2019, will see the nine best men’s and women’s teams from around the world play each other both at home and away every year, across a total of 144 games. The fixtures will take place in national stadiums, week in, week out, from January to June.
India, one of the world’s best men’s teams, will take on Argentina, Australia, Belgium, England/Great Britain, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand and Pakistan, the latter playing their home matches in Scotland.
India men’s hockey team has been rebuilding over the past few years and the results are beginning to show. A Silver medal at the Hockey Champions Trophy in London was followed by a Gold medal at the 2016 Asian Hockey Champions Trophy in the same year. And the future is in good hands – India won the 2016 Junior Hockey World Cup, beating Belgium in the Final.
FIH’s initiative was lauded by the Indian players. Manpreet Singh, who is currently leading the team at the Hockey World League Semi Final said,
“The Hockey Pro League will take the competition between top ranked teams to a whole new level. It will showcase healthy rivalries between teams and needless to say, quality matches will help generate a lot of interest among Indian fans across the globe.”
The women’s team also knows what it means to win. In 2002, the India women won hockey Gold at the Commonwealth Games, beating the higher ranked Australian and English sides in the process.
The women’s team has also enjoyed a resurgence of late, qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games, after a good performance at the Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Antwerp. They also won Gold at the 2016 Asia Hockey Champions Trophy.
India’s women’s team will be up against Argentina, Australia, China, England/Great Britain, Germany, The Netherlands, New Zealand and USA. Rani, Captain, Indian Women’s Team, stated,
“This initiative by the FIH will bring a lot of exposure for us and playing top teams at a higher level is always a great way to improve our own skills.”
The announcement of the teams involved follows an extremely competitive candidate evaluation process which saw 13 men’s and 12 women’s applications submitted by National Associations.
The confirmation of teams follows approval from the FIH Executive Board. Their decision was based on recommendations from the FIH Event Portfolio Implementation Panel (EPIP) who were tasked with assessing each of the candidate applications against defined participation criteria.
Speaking about this news, FIH CEO Jason McCracken said,
“We are delighted to announce the official name and teams who will participate in this game-changing new competition. Whilst world tours and single venue international leagues are played regularly, this is arguably the first of its kind, with national teams playing one-off matches both home and away in venues across the world over six months each year. The Hockey Pro League has been four years in the making and follows an excessive consultation and evaluation process.”
“We strongly believe that this new competition will fuel the growth of our sport for many years to come, significantly increasing revenues for hockey. As a result, it will make hockey a career choice for athletes who will regularly be given the opportunity to perform in big, bold, packed and loud venues both in their homeland and overseas. It will also allow fans to engage with more world-class hockey more often, whether on TV or live at their national venue. We now look forward to working on delivering a truly exceptional League whilst also ensuring we raise the standard and profile of our other international competitions across all levels of the sport.”
FIH President, Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra added,
“The Hockey Pro League represents the first major milestone for the Hockey Revolution. It embodies everything our 10-year strategy aims to achieve – making hockey a global game that inspires the next generation. Whilst only nine teams have been selected for each League, the quality of information and enthusiasm shown by those who missed out indicate that our sport is developing in an extremely positive way, which clearly shows that hockey has an exciting future ahead.”
You can also watch the video of the big announcement on YouTube.
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