Hockey New Zealand have revealed the full game schedule and venues for the FIH Pro League which begins in the summer of 2019.
New Zealand is set to host 16 games in the new international format.
With eight dates lined up, the Vantage Black Sticks men and women will play double headers in two cities – Auckland and Christchurch – between January 27 and Anzac Day.
The home-games will start with a bang when womens reigning World Cup and World League champions and reigning mens European Champions the Netherlands take to the turf on January 27 at Harbour Hockey Stadium in Auckland.
The North Shore will also see both mens and womens teams from Belgium – Olympic silver medallists – on February 1.
Argentina – mens Olympic Champions and womens Pan American Champions – on March 10 and our friends across the ditch, Australia, on Anzac Day (April 25).
For the men, thats the top-3 ranked teams in the world. Additionally, the Spanish men and the USA women will also take on the Black Sticks on March 8 in Auckland.
“Auckland is delighted to be working in partnership with Christchurch and Hockey New Zealand to give Kiwis and visitors the chance to see the best teams in the world.
Including our own top-ranked national teams, play world-class international hockey here,” said Stuart Turner, Head of Major Events at Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED).
“We look forward to welcoming the international teams, supporters and tournament viewers and showing them everything Auckland has to offer.”
In February, the new Nga Puna Wai sports hub in Christchurch will see 6 games played.
To kick-off the back-to-back-to-back double headers, the Great Britain men and Rio 2016 Olympic Champion women will go up against the Vantage Black Sticks on February 8th.
On February 15th, the German men and women will square off with New Zealand, closely followed by the Pakistan Men and the Chinese women on February 17th.
ChristchurchNZ General Manager – Destination and Attraction Loren Heaphy says the city is excited to be named as one of only two New Zealand venues to host the FIH Pro League games.
“Its a fantastic opportunity to showcase Christchurch to hockey fans nationally and internationally.
These games will be broadcast into some of our citys most important global visitor markets – China, the United Kingdom and Germany – which will have significant flow on effects for visitor numbers coming here.
Thats good news for our economy.”
With the Christchurch games being played at newly opened Nga Puna Wai sports hub, Loren says this shows the importance of having world-class venues when bidding to host significant events in the city.
“The brand new Polytan hockey turfs will be amazing to play on and Christchurch hockey fans are in for a treat when they come down to watch these elite athletes at the top of their game play.”
The Vantage Black Sticks will then follow the summer by returning to the northern hemisphere with an exciting end to the League.
Each team will be fighting for the top-four positions to qualify for the Grand Final of the FIH Pro League.
The new league features 152 matches between January and June across the world, all broadcast for an experience that hockey fans have never seen before.
Hockey New Zealand CEO, Ian Francis says the new format and global reach of the FIH Pro League was a massive game changer for the sport
“Were extremely excited about the prospect of hosting the worlds best mens and womens international hockey teams in New Zealand in the FIH Pro League, every summer for the next four years. Its transformational for the sport.
“The high level of consistent competition will lift our national teams performance over time, but more than that, we hope New Zealanders will fall in love with hockey as a fantastic family sport and see our participation levels grow.
Tickets for the FIH Pro League games go on sale from midday, Tuesday, September 25th.