Hockey New Zealand has agreed with the sport’s governing body, the International Hockey Federation (FIH), that it is unable to host or participate in FIH events scheduled between now and June 2022, including Season 3 of the Hockey Pro-League, the Junior World Cups (Nov-Dec 2021) and the Indoor Hockey World Cup (Feb 2022).
The FIH Hockey Junior (U21) World Cups are scheduled to be held in South Africa (Women, 5-16 December) and India (Men, 24 November – 5 December) this year, while the Indoor World Cup is scheduled for February 2022 in Belgium.
Season 3 of the Hockey Pro-League would have seen New Zealand play host to India, China and the Netherlands in February before both Blacks Sticks teams headed away to the Americas and Europe to play a number of top-ranked nations in April and May. However, it was agreed by all participating nations and the FIH that due to ongoing travel restrictions, it was simply not possible for teams to travel to and from New Zealand to participate.
While disappointed to forego an opportunity to showcase New Zealand’s hockey talent on the world stage, Hockey New Zealand CEO Anthony Crummy confirmed that “the current COVID-19 situation and the unlikelihood of any change to travel restrictions in the near future, combined with health and wellbeing considerations, mean it is just not possible to participate in these events”.
Looking ahead to the Women’s Hockey World Cup in Spain & The Netherlands in July 2022, and then the Commonwealth Games in late July – August 2022, Crummy is keenly aware of the need to prepare appropriately for these marquee events.
“We know how important high-level competition for our Vantage Black Sticks is going into pinnacle events such the World Cup and Commonwealth Games. We have been working closely with Hockey Australia (who has also withdrawn from these events) and there is certainly a strong intent from both parties to facilitate trans-Tasman opportunities alongside domestic programmes through the back half of 2021 and into 2022.”
With confirmation that future FIH Hockey Junior World Cups will take place in Santiago, Chile (Women) and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Men) in 2023, Crummy was also looking forward to developing the pathway for aspirational young players in this country.
“When circumstances permit, these age-group events are critical to laying foundations for the Vantage Black Sticks to compete against the world’s best for years to come”.
Hockey New Zealand is looking forward to hosting and participating in Season 4 of the Hockey Pro League which commences in November 2022.