The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has confirmed that both the Vantage Black Sticks Men and Women will be part of the ‘game-changing’ Hockey Pro 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.
The Black Sticks Men have performed consistently over the past few years to maintain a place in the top 10 nations in the world. A silver medal in the first edition of the Hockey World League and gold and bronze medals in the 2015 and 2016 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup demonstrate the New Zealand men are a side that often challenge for podium positions.
The same can be said for the Black Sticks Women, a silver medal in the Hockey World League Final in 2015, plus a bronze medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games are reward for consistently high performances. Fourth place finishes at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, plus a fourth place at the Hockey Champions Trophy in 2014 are all signs that the Kiwis are a side always pushing for top honours.
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.
“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,” FIH CEO Jason McCracken said.
“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 shared the excitement.
“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.