Monday, June 27, 2022

Hockey 5s, anyone? Don’t play under your flag, Euro nations told

Top European nations were told not to participate under national flags once plans were unveiled for the first senior Hockey 5s event to be held in Lausanne this week, The Hockey Paper can reveal.

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) is set to host its first top-level international Hockey5s event in Switzerland on June 4-5 at the Place de la Navigation on the shores of Lake Geneva – while the format has received short shrift from several top associations, including Spain and Germany.

The Lausanne event is intended to market and promote Hockey 5s, which was launched in 2013 and has been showcased at youth Olympic level. That is until the FIH began to be more vocal in Hockey 5s, starting in 2019 when it set about creating a World Cup, which has been awarded to Oman in early 2024.

England and Germany were due to participate in the first Lausanne event after taking up invites for the promotional event, scheduled for last September, before being cancelled after the FIH cited Covid concerns.

The FIH event this weekend is now set to field 10 invited teams across four continents, with only one European team, Poland, slated to take part.

MEN: Switzerland, India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Poland (Men)
WOMEN: Switzerland, India, Poland, South Africa and Uruguay 

The event received little interest from the top European nations. The German Hockey Federation was considering sending a group of former playing greats. Belgium Hockey was planning the same, while it reportedly has a budget of 5,000 Euros for the shortened format – a team will compete with the Netherlands in the EuroHockey 5s Championships in Poland this summer – while top Spanish clubs who hold sway within the national federation board have opposed the format.

“No matter who you send, don’t send players under your national flag,” was the message issued by the European Association of Hockey Clubs (EHCO), when news filtered through of a rescheduled date.

EHCO launched last year, with several top clubs signing up to form an international alliance to protect its continental domestic league structure.

“It was wrong to send European teams to the Lausanne tournament as it could spell the end of 11-a-side at some point,” said EHCO founder Leandro Martínez Zurita.

“If they had sent teams under flags then the FIH would use it to promote Hockey 5s and market it as a big success.”

The Lausanne event will likely be used to film matches as a way of promoting the sport at elite level. It remains to be seen how top federations will filter the sport into national programmes given the already cluttered schedule. 

Early indications are that older or retired internationals could form a part, with younger players. It is also unclear at this stage whether the FIH could press for Hockey 5s at the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games. But this could spell disaster for the sport, given that the shortened format has not even held a first World Championship, as well as national associations opposing the sport.

Continental Hockey 5s tournaments will be organised and act as qualifiers for the Oman World Cup. Sixteen teams per gender will take part in the first Hockey5s World Cup, which is set for January 2024.

Martínez Zurita added: “We believe Hockey 5s can be a tool in areas where hockey infrastructure is low or non-existent, but by no means should it be in developed nations. We only see indoor hockey as an alternative.”

6 COMMENTS

  1. The strategy by EHCO to send older players or not send teams at all to world qualification events could fail spectacularly.

    Let me explain. If the European teams are weak then it is very likely Asian teams particularly India would do very well at the world event. Supposing India reaches the final or even wins the Hockey5s World Cup. The event will receive tremendous print and media coverage, since any sporting event in which India does well always gets a lot of coverage. In addition Hockey5s has some advantages over other forms of hockey like faster play, lower cost, is easier to understand and a more TV friendly format. All this could lead to an explosive growth in Hockey5s in India after the World Cup. Large sums of money could flow in through TV contracts or new leagues.

    All this will impact Europe too. As money starts flowing in, everyone will follow. Even those in EHCO who vigorously oppose this format.

    • Lower cost? You have the same pitch costs and less than half the players to pay for it. In the U.K. it’s a complete non-starter, no one could afford to play

      • While I agree that individual games in isolation don’t make sense, what you’ve said isn’t necessarily true – you could fairly easily fit three Hockey5s pitches (in theory four, but that’d be a bit tight) on a normal pitch and have several games running concurrently. By that rationale you could actually end up *improving* your overall revenue from a tournament, or from an hour’s booking if you organise the games to take place at the same time, although you’d need the support structure in place to enable it to happen (laying out the boundaries, getting umps, etc).

        All that said, I’m afraid I don’t support Hockey5s in the UK; I can see what they’re trying to do, but feels like a backward step rather than something new and innovative and, for me, not sufficiently in the spirit of the game. If it was just for youth players, maybe…?

  2. William, thanks for responding. By cost I meant the following costs would be reduced-
    1 Pitch size in hockey5s is 40mX23.7m compared to 91mX55m. Hence pitch size of Hockey5s is 19% of regular size.
    2 Hockey5s has half the personnel cost of regular hockey

    Of course cost is not everything. Hockey5s will have to prove that it still has the essential hockey flavor. That we will know starting tomorrow at the Hockey5s event at Lausanne.

  3. I just watched Hockey, this is following the same path as Cricket T20, more TV friendly and thus will get lot more sponsorship, they can co exist. I loved it.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest News

Win £400 of Mercian goalkeeper foam for your school or hockey club

The Hockey Paper is leading a campaign to find a worthy recipient of a set of junior goalkeeping foam...

More Articles Like This