Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Does the Pro League have a future?

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    The third edition of the Pro League sees a run of games this month. But is the current format doomed in the pandemic-fuelled world? Has the time come to reassess the format to boost the concept? South Africa is hosting several nations over 2 weeks which is much like the Champions Trophy. Wouldn’t this be a better way to deliver coverage and narrative, rather than over nine months?

    Bhav Virdi

    1. Location of the Tournament
    Let’s look at the history of Men’s Champions Trophy and the locations where it was organised; in Pakistan 11 time, Europe 14 times, 6 times in Australia & NZ; twice in India & once in Malaysia. Never ever in Argentina.

    Women’s Champions trophy; Europe – 9 times, Argentina – 4 times, Australia – 4 times & China – twice.

    2. World level Stadium Hockey in India
    Growing up in India, the hockey fans were thirsty for live hockey in the stadiums. I do remember discussing this with fellow players in 1980s and 1990s “When will we ever watch a hockey match in a stadium?”. Champions Trophy didn’t provide the stadium fan base to Indian audiences. May be even to those

    Moving the England in late 2000s, I saw how easy it was for anyone to travel across Europe to watch live world class hockey. Watching young kids getting inspired by world class players, would enable the game to spread in many European countries & the standard of European style of hockey became the “Gold Standard”.

    Now, does that mean scrap Champions Trophy and start a new Pro League just for the world’s biggest fan base? ABSOLUTELY NOT!

    3. More Opportunity to see their heroes
    Pro League provides many fans & youngsters across the world (Top 10 ranked countries) to see their heroes play hockey. However, it’s not a sustainable format with the Dutch women travelling from The Netherlands to Australia & NZ for 4 matches over 2 weekends and then fly back home. Carbon footprint would bring angry tears to Greta’s eyes.

    4. My Proposal,
    Keep the Pro League format but organise it over 4 weeks in 4 locations :: 10 teams (Men) & 10 teams (Women)
    {{unsure why do we have 9 teams? 9 is such an odd number :-)}}

    Mini Tournaments in 4 locations
    Location 1 (Argentina) – Home country hosts 4 mens & 4 women’s teams. Teams play matches over the next 2 weeks or so. (February)
    Location 2 (Australia) – Home country hosts 4 mens & 4 women’s teams. Teams play matches over the next 2 weeks or so. (April)
    Location 3 (Europe) – Home country hosts 4 mens & 4 women’s teams. Teams play matches over the next 2 weeks or so. (July)
    Location 4 (India) – Home country hosts 4 mens & 4 women’s teams. Teams play matches over the next 2 weeks or so. (October)

    There is no need for Semifinals or Finals, max points is the winner.

    During Asian Games, Asia Cup, European Championships or Pan American Championships, these dates can move; however the Mini Tournaments format in 4 locations provides opportunity for game to spread and watched by fans in stadiums.

    Rob McGregor

    Feel like the timing of some matches could be improved – the Spain versus England (men) game on Friday did not seem optimally scheduled for a live audience, or a TV one, given it was a Friday day time (when most adults would be working, and kids at school, in both Spain and England).

    Saturday’s game seems to work much more smoothly, with a lunch time push back far more conducive to actually getting eye balls on the game, either in person or on TV (my local club is showing it on the big screen for example, before then showing the Six Nations rugby).

    Oliver Morgan

    Great response Bhav, interesting ideas.

    Completely agree with Rob here. How many adults would watch the Six Nations if it was on a Friday afternoon?!! They’d love 50% at least

    Manpreet Kochar

    Bin it totally.

    Northern hempisphere internationals in November
    Southern hempisphere matches in June.

    Bring in the Dolla!

    Oliver Morgan

    What happened to Big Hockey? Thought that was a great initiative.


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