LAHORE, June 12 (APP): Pakistan has been confirmed among the nine
national teams for the International Hockey Federation’s revolutionary
new event ‘Hockey Pro-League’, scheduled to start from January 2019.
The FIH said that Pakistan, ranked 13th in the world, is included
among the final nine selected teams. However, Pakistan’s ‘Home Matches’ will be played in Scotland.
Pakistan Hockey Federation is greatly indebted to the Scottish
Hockey Union, who readily agreed to host Pakistan’s home matches in Glasgow, said a spokesman for the PHF while talking to APP, here on Monday.
The new league, which is due to launch in January 2019, will see the
nine best men’s and women’s teams from around the world and play each
other both at home and away every year, across a total of 144 games. The fixtures will take place in national stadiums, week in, week out, from January to June, he said.
“Pakistan, one of the world’s best men’s teams, will face Argentina,
Australia, Belgium, England/ Great Britain, Germany, India, Netherlands
and New Zealand,” he said.
They have agreed to co-host partnership with Scottish Hockey which means
that Pakistan will play all of their ‘home’ matches in Glasgow, Scotland in order to avoid any complications other nations could face in travelling to play in Pakistan.
“With a large Pakistani community in Scotland, the stadium is expected
to be packed with passionate supporters whenever the Green Sticks are in Hockey Pro-League action,” he added.
The Green Sticks have enjoyed something of a resurgence in the past few
months. As World Cup winners on four occasions — including the first ever World Cup in 1971 — and Olympic gold medalists three times (1960, 1968 and 1984), Pakistan has always been admired as leading exponents of skillful and attacking hockey.
The most successful era for Pakistan hockey was a 15-year period from
1975 to 1990. In 1978, they became the first national hockey team to win three major titles in one year: the Hockey World Cup, the Asian Games and the first ever Champions Trophy.
After a spell where the team failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup or
the 2016 Olympic Games, the national team has been rebuilding and has high hopes of returning to former glories.
The announcement of the teams involved follows an extremely competitive
candidate evaluation process which saw 13 men’s and 12 women’s applications submitted by National Associations.
The confirmation of teams follows approval from the FIH Executive Board.
Their decision was based on recommendations from the FIH Event Portfolio
Implementation Panel (EPIP) who were tasked with assessing each of the candidate applications against defined participation criteria.
Meanwhile, speaking about this news, FIH CEO Jason McCracken
said: “We strongly believe that this new competition will fuel the growth of our sport for many years to come, significantly increasing revenues for hockey. As a result it will make hockey a career choice for athletes who will regularly be given the opportunity to perform in big, bold, packed and loud venues both in their homeland and overseas.
“It will also allow fans to engage with more world-class hockey more
often, whether on TV or live at their national venue. We now look forward to working on delivering a truly exceptional League whilst also ensuring we raise the standard and profile of our other international competitions across all levels of the sport.”
FIH President Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra added: “The Hockey Pro League
represents the first major milestone for the Hockey Revolution. It embodies everything our 10-year strategy aims to achieve, making hockey a global game that inspires the next generation.
“Whilst only nine teams have been selected for each League, the quality
of information and enthusiasm shown by those who missed out indicate that our sport is developing in an extremely positive way, which clearly shows that hockey has an exciting future ahead.”