🇦🇺 Hockey Australia : Indoor Hockey European tour and training camp cancelled
Photo Credit : Hockey Australia

Following the withdrawal of Australia’s men’s and women’s teams from the upcoming FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup (IHWC) in February, Hockey Australia (HA) advises the cancellation of the Under 21 Men’s & Women’s Indoor tour of Europe in November 2021 and the Under 18 Indoor training camps scheduled for this month.

Due to COVID and the strict government restrictions on international travel to and from Australia, this will be the first Indoor World Cup that Australia has not sent a men’s and women’s side to.

It is another blow for the growing format of hockey in Australia. The Australian men’s team were a serious medal prospect at the upcoming tournament in Belgium after a narrow fourth place finish at the last IHWC in 2018.

The women were equally optimistic of finishing on the podium with the recent challenges only proving to unify the squad further ahead of the event.

Additionally, the opportunity for Australia’s Under 21 teams to tour Europe and Under 18 squads to attend training camps has been disappointing for many who aspire to reach Indoor World Cup selection.

“Our indoor national teams have shown incredible resilience over the past two years and we share their disappointment at being unable to compete,” said Hockey Australian Acting CEO Michael Johnston.

“We will continue to explore opportunities to provide international competition at the earliest opportunity and support our players to be at the next Indoor Hockey World Cup.”

Australian Women’s Indoor Head Coach, Mark Sandhu said whilst he fully supports the process and decision made by HA, the reality is one of mixed emotions as players and support staff come to terms with the decision.

HA understands the hard work, time and energy that the Head Coaches and support staff have put into the program.

One positive outcome is that Sandhu and Australian Men’s Head Coach Steve Willer have agreed to lead their respective programs through to the next IHWC, expected to be held in 2024 or 2025.

Willer believes that the current situation will provide an opportunity for the Australian Indoor Hockey program to use the coming years to restart, rebuild and reinvigorate after almost two years of cancellations due to the pandemic.

Chair of the HA Indoor Advisory Group, Lyn Hill expressed her gratitude to everyone involved in the Australian Indoor Hockey program considering the uncertainty of the past 18 months that is ongoing.

“On behalf of the Indoor Hockey community, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all of the off-field staff, particularly Steve (Willer) and Mark (Sandhu) as head coaches of the Indoor program, and to all of the members in the Indoor World Cup Squads,” said Hill.

“The national squads were originally selected from the National Indoor Tournament in January 2020 and have continued to prepare and commit with hope of representing Australia at the world’s pinnacle Indoor Hockey event.”

“The personal investment of both Head Coaches and their World Cup squads, both in their fitness preparation and online review sessions is commendable.”

As a result of the withdrawal of teams from Australia and New Zealand from the IHWC, Operations Manager Liam Dixon said the two countries were in discussions to provide a Trans-Tasman event. Further details will be provided in the coming months.

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