LAUSANNE, Switzerland, June 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ --
- Australian men and women part of unique global league
- Competition officially named as the 'Hockey Pro League'
- Packed stadiums across the world ready to welcome hockey home
- New league designed to 'fuel the growth of hockey for years to come'
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has confirmed that Australia's men's and women's national teams (FIH Hero World Ranking: 2 & 4) 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.
Australia, one of the world's best men's teams, will face Argentina, Belgium, England/Great Britain, Germany, India, Netherlands, New Zealand and Pakistan in the new league, with the latter playing their home matches in Scotland.
The Oceania champions and current World Cup holders will be keen to reassert themselves as the premier hockey powerhouse in the world after they slipped from the top of the FIH Hero World Rankings in January this year for the first time since January 2014.
The Kookaburras have been one of the most successful teams in recent times, making an aggressive, high-tempo style of play very much their own. Over the period from 2004 to the present day, Australia's men's team have won one gold and two bronze Olympic medals; one silver and two gold Hockey World Cup medals; seven Hockey Champions Trophy gold medals and remain unbeaten in the Oceania Cup.
Australia's women's team are also Oceania Champions and have a long history of success on the international stage. The Hockeyroos team that won back-to-back Olympic titles in 1996 and 2000 were revered as the best women's hockey team of all time and remained as the number one ranked team in the world from the mid-1980s to 2000.
Since the Sydney Olympics, the Hockeyroos have not won an Olympic or Hockey World Cup gold, however, recent performances at the 2014 Hockey World Cup (silver); the 2014 Commonwealth Games (gold), and the Oceania Cup (gold) suggests that the latest batch of Hockeyroos are determined to reclaim their winning ways.
Australia's women's team will be up against Argentina, China, England/Great Britain, Germany, India, The Netherlands, New Zealand and USA.
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."
He continued: "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."
News about broadcast partners, schedules and other exciting news, plus further background information about the Hockey Pro League, will be published on FIH.ch over the coming months as well as via FIH Twitter, Facebook and Instagram .
For interviews with the FIH CEO, please contact:
About the International Hockey Federation (FIH)
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) is the world governing body for the sport of hockey, recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Founded in 1924, FIH today has 137 member National Associations. For more information on the Hockey Revolution, visit: fih.ch/inside-fih/our-strategy.
SOURCE International Hockey Federation (FIH)