The FIH has tinkered with the format for the 2022/23 Pro League season, outlining a set of dates akin to mini Champions Trophy-style tournaments.
The Pro League, currently in its third season, has endured a tough start as fans get to grips with the nine-month global competition and the FIH changing its schedule to avoid long travel times, coupled with the pandemic.
Indeed, the FIH said that the revised format would have a “major positive impact” on players’ welfare, reduce travel times and, importantly, have less of a clash with domestic league and club competition.
The season will run from late October to early July 2023 and will be divided into a series of date blocks, with a set of “mini-tournaments” where several teams will gather in one venue to play two matches against each other.
For example, Great Britain men and women will play four mini tournaments over the course of Season 4, rather than matches spread out over the competition. GB will will play in Argentina in December before an Australia event in April 2023 and two home ‘mini tournaments’ next May and June.
FIH chief Thierry Weil said: “The FIH Hockey Pro League is still a relatively ‘young’ competition. Therefore, it is our duty, together with the participating nations, to proceed to a regular review and make adjustments as appropriate for the enhancement of the experience.
“This new schedule will be better for athletes, better for hosts, better for fans and better for the environment.”
For the first season with this new schedule, matches will be hosted in the following seven nations: Australia, Argentina, Belgium, England, India, the Netherlands and New Zealand.
The Pro League set up hinted at change when South Africa hosted several nations last month.
Spain will host the inaugural FIH Hockey Women’s Nations Cup in December 2022, a competition which will see teams aim to be promoted to the FIH Pro League for the first time.
The Nations Cup will take place in Valencia in December and will feature eight teams based on world rankings: Spain, Canada, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea and South Africa.
The winner will be promoted to the 2023/24 FIH Hockey Pro League, although the FIH said that each nation would have to “meet the necessary requirements for it”.
The men’s format has yet to be announced.