Welsh hockey has set upon both a five-year project of qualifying both men and women for the 2026 World Cups and seeking commercial backers to take the sport to the next level.
In an open letter, Hockey Wales chief executive Ria Burrage-Male said that hosting the recent men’s World Cup qualifier was one of the best decisions the governing body has made after Wales won the event and significantly raised the profile of the sport.
Welsh players usually have to pay their way to compete at tournaments but the mood now is one of optimism as it aims to attract investment and the right partners who see value in the sport’s continued success story.
In the World Cup qualifiers, Wales women entered the tournament ranked seventh and finished in the top two, beating Italy and Scotland. They faced Ireland for a place in the 2022 World Cup, narrowly losing 2-1 to a team that had just competed in the Tokyo Olympics.
On the same weekend, Wales, ranked third for the event, topped the table with three victories against Italy, Ireland and France, and qualified for the 2023 World Cup in India.
“Hosting this event was one of the best decisions we’ve made,” said Burrage-Male. “Playing in front of a home crowd is magical; winning in front of a crowd is unexplainable.
“We must now utilise this opportunity to raise our profile, work collaboratively with partners and ensure our clubs and communities are thriving and viable.”
“Through increased visibility we can inspire children, young people, old and new members to pick up a stick, in turn supporting the growth of our domestic game.”
With Wales travelling to India for the first time in early 2023, Hockey Wales are already looking at ways to fund the trip.
“The aim is to break the glass ceiling and ensure our athletes continue this positive trajectory, paving the path for future generations and inspiring our nation,” she added.
“Investment in our sport will inevitably enhance the elite game but will equally help us to achieve our intent and ensure Hockey is in everyone’s communities, in everyone’s living room – be it through a stick, live streaming or live on television.”
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