By Richard Bright
Indoor hockey in England has been cancelled for the 2020/21 winter season after the decision was taken to shelve its Super 6s league and finals, as well as schools and junior club championships due to the ongoing pandemic.
England Hockey said the decision had not been “taken lightly”, with government rules on indoor sport unlikely to be relaxed in time, venues not currently available and indoor tournaments making for a “far greater challenge” with an abundance of teams attending venues at the same time.
With the English indoor season unfortunately curtailed, it means that clubs challenging in Europe will face stern tests without elite competition.
Further, the European Hockey Federation recently announced a new Hockey5s outdoor tournament across the continent, set for next summer, which will see English men and women involvement in July. It is not yet known how the teams will be made up.
The EHF events follow world hockey’s decision to create a Hockey5s World Cup, with the inaugural edition slated for 2023.
Continents have been asked to organise Hockey5s qualifiers to determine a senior ranking. The EHF says it plans to host the EuroHockey5s Championships in 2022 where countries can qualify for the Hockey5s World Cups.
England Hockey said earlier this year that there is value in the smaller format of the sport, but admitted it had yet to fully invest in the Hockey 5s concept – despite the FIH making strides to bring the sport to a wider audience.
Ed Barney, England Hockey’s performance director, told THP in January: “We recognise that the FIH have introduced it with a primary focus on providing a route to ‘top level’ competition for more nations.
“Given there are over 60 nations that now have Hockey5s competitions (some of whom do not have any 11 aside hockey), we can see the value of a small format of the game.
“From our perspective, there is clearly a big role for a small format of the game and that is something we think the sport should be excited about. Whether Hockey5s and the associated rules is the best format is another question.”
The 2021 EuroHockey5s Men and Women
EuroHockey Men’s Tournament A
Teams: BLR, BUL, DEN, ESP, NED, POL, SUI, TUR, UKR
Venue: Vinnitsa (UKR)
Dates: 8-10 July 2021
EuroHockey Men’s Tournament B
Teams: AUT, BEL, CRO, CYP, ENG, RUS, SCO, SLO
Venue: Lipovci (SLO)
Dates: 8-10 July 2021
EuroHockey Women’s Tournament
Teams: AUT, BEL, BLR, CRO, ENG, ESP, NED, POL, POR, RUS, SCO, SUI, TUR, UKR, WAL
Venue: Walcz (POL)
Dates: 7-10 July 2021