Europe

Women’s sport takes next step by joining Euro Hockey League

By The Hockey Paper

The Euro Hockey League was praised for taking club hockey “to the next level” on Sunday following the news that the 2019/20 season will see the introduction of EHL Women.

The new women’s event will join the men’s European showpiece for the first time after two standalone tournaments.

Eight women’s teams will battle it out at the knock out FINAL8 next Easter alongside the men, while there will be full television production, video referrals and equal prize money.

An EHL U14 Girls competition will also be run in tandem with an EHL U14 Boys tournament.

Teams will qualify for EHL Women in a similar manner to before with the top two nations on the EHL rankings table earning two places in the competition while the next six nations will receive one entry.

Holland and Germany currently hold the top two spots, with Spain, England, Belarus and Ireland ranked next in line.

German captain Janne Müller-Wieland said: “Full TV production, video referral, equal prize money, what’s not to like.

“Great job EHL for taking European club hockey to the next level.”

Kate Richardson-Walsh, who retired this season, said on Twitter: “Really pleased to hear there will finally be a Euro Hockey League for women starting in 2020.

“It’s taken 12 years to catch up with the men and finally we can show that we’re #EquallyAmazing Alas, I’m too old to play but I will definitely be supporting the best of European hockey.”

Official European club hockey events for women started in 1974 with the creation of the Club Champions Cup. The Cup Winners Cup was added in 1990.

Both events morphed into the EuroHockey Club Champions Cup in 2010 with five divisions and up to 40 clubs from around Europe competing before the arrival of the EHCC in 2014, with the best eight clubs in Europe battling it out in a knock-out competition and four divisions with promotion and relegation sitting under the top event.

With the popularity, as well as drive in competition, it seemed only a matter of time before the Euro Hockey League streamlined both events over an Easter extravganza of hockey, with ABN Amro continuing its support.

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