Monday, June 24, 2024

Hockey 5s and 11-a-side at the Olympics? It will be one or the other

The Hockey 5’s format is not well thought out, is potentially dangerous and it also eliminates lots of the elements why hockey is such a great game – transitional from defence to attack, writes Martyn Webb

The problem with Hockey 5’s? We already have a 6-a-side indoor game which should be promoted more and brings the basic skills in to use – it is fast has lots of goals and is a great spectator sport.

Hockey 5’s is a threat to the 11-a-side game especially at Olympic level if we are not careful  and it seems to be promoted by an FIH who obviously have not thought this through.

Currently we have an excellent sport that for the most part goes under the radar of the general public in this country.

We do not promote, market or expose 11-a-side hockey strongly enough. We even struggle to get sponsorship at the highest level. We only have basic TV coverage thanks to BT Sport and none of the big broadcasters even broadcast the results.

We would be better advised in my opinion to provide promotional and exhibition games of the current formats rather than Hockey 5’s.

My fear? I don’t believe Hockey 5’s can co-exist with 11-a-side at the Olympics. I believe it will be one or the other not both.

What do you think? Join our forum for free and keep the discussion going

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  1. I love both hockey and hockey5s, so I need to make a few points-
    1 Hockey5s is less dangerous than regular hockey in penalty corner situations. If a defender is rushing towards an attacker who aims to hit the ball in his direction with all his strength, obviously it is more dangerous than any situation in hockey5s.
    2 Indoor hockey has not been successful in catching the attention of the people. Even after 5 indoor world cups, it has not managed to break the top 10 sports chart in any European country. The reasons are obvious- Indoor hockey is still too complicated and has a more chess like quality than the free flowing style of regular hockey or hockey5s.
    3 Regular hockey has been marketed numerous times. In India 2 separate high profile attempts were made to market hockey in the same fashion as cricket i.e Premier Hockey League and Hockey India League. In the end, despite the presence of movie stars to launch the leagues, they failed to get enough TV audience to justify their existence.
    In my decades long fanatic following of hockey I still don’t understand why people don’t like to watch hockey on TV- maybe there are too many interruptions, or the ball is too small or there is insufficient excitement etc.
    4 Hockey5s has many advantages- it costs 5 times less to install a hockey5s pitch than a regular pitch, you don’t need a water based pitch for hockey5s or a specialized indoor facilities, big cost savings due to half the number of players. Hockey5s is significantly faster with more goals and fewer interruptions than regular hockey. It is much easier to understand than regular hockey or indoor hockey.

    Having given all these advantages of hockey5s, I still love regular hockey. The reason is hockey5s and regular hockey are totally different. I love to watch complex passing and movement in regular hockey which is not possible in hockey5s or indoor hockey.

    Hockey5s and regular hockey can easily co-exist at the Olympics without much extra cost. The warmup pitch for regular hockey can be used for hockey5s with temporary stands. As for players, the regular hockey 11’s competition can be reduced from 12 teams to 8 teams. That will enable almost all good teams in regular hockey to qualify for the Olympics. The numbers freed in regular hockey 11’s can then be used to organize an 8 team hockey5s tournament. So hockey will be able to give 2 extra gold medals for it’s 400 or so athletes instead of just 2.

    Whether we like it or not, in the post covid and Ukraine war world, questions of cost will be asked in every Olympics. We can voluntarily provide answers or the IOC will devise it’s own answers to cut costs.

    • You make a good argument for Hockey 5s, I respect that, and that there are reasons for 5s existence. My issue is that it’s a third format where I don’t think there should be one; plus I am also concerned it’s a threat to the 11-a-side game at the Olympics – I can see an argument being made that 5s should replace 11-a-side because it is cheaper for host cities, but that would be a backward step for the sport IMHO.

      Personally, I think a rethink of indoor would have been a better solution – revitalise what we currently call indoor to be something that could be played inside or out, with smaller sided teams, and something that could be accessible to smaller hockey nations with limited facilities currently.

  2. Thank you Rob for your reply. I am sorry I could not respond earlier.

    I love to watch indoor hockey but I don’t see how it is ever going to become popular. It is as complicated in it’s rules as regular hockey and the restrictions on hitting and the 1 extra player in indoor hockey means that it is not as free flowing as regular hockey or hockey 5s. But more importantly, indoor hockey does not solve the cost problem. It is costly to build and use such facilities especially for developing countries. I don’s see any simple solution to this problem. A pitch in open air will always be cheaper than a pitch inside a building.

    For the Olympics, we need to offer regular hockey and hockey5s as a packaged deal, take both or none. Replacement of regular hockey by hockey5s should be resisted by the FIH. In any case for hockey5s, the focus should not be the Olympics but the growth of the sport.

    Hockey5s can grow the sport tremendously in schools and colleges. Since hockey5s has similar pitch dimensions to futsal and handball, a school or college administrator can be persuaded to think of hockey too when he spends money on a new multi-sport facility. This will help both hockey5s and regular hockey.

  3. Would not mixed hockey be a better option for another olympic medal stream? Good to promote equality, diversification, and would be a great spectacle where many other sports can’t go


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