The creation of this home and away series is ultimately creating a seasonal league which is a huge step forward for hockey. The excitement of the games and fans that will follow the league will be great for both the countries competing and hockey as a global sport! I’m very excited to be a part of the future of hockey!”
-Kat Slattery, Hockeyroo and an FIH Rising Star of the Year
On June 11th, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) confirmed publicly that nine men’s and women’s teams from across the world will compete in an unprecedented international league – the HPL, or Hockey Pro League.
What does the HPL entail? Jason McCracken, CEO of FIH, stated that “Whilst World Tours and single venue International Leagues are played regularly, this is arguably the first of its kind, with national teams playing one-off matches both home and away in venues across the world over six months each year.” Week in and week out, the best teams in the hockey world, as determined by an extremely competitive and rigorous evaluation process, will either host games at home or travel to one another’s national stadiums from January to June. This includes a grand total of 144 exciting match ups.
The confirmation process was carried out by the FIH Executive Board, which based decisions off of the recommendations of the FIH Event Portfolio Implementation Panel (EPIP). The EPIP was responsible for assessing each of the team-candidate applications in regard to set criteria for participation. A big congratulation on selection goes to the men of Argentina, Australia, Belgium, England, Germany, India, Netherlands, New Zealand and Pakistan, and to the women of Argentina, Australia, China, England, Germany, India, Netherlands, New Zealand, and the USA.
LEAP Worldwide wanted to hear from soon-to-be participants about their thoughts on the League and excitingly we got the chance to chat with Kat Slattery and Jacqui Day, two members of Australia’s Women’s National Team and the Gryphon hockey G-team.
Check out the answers from our Q&A with these two Hockeyroos!
What about the HPL are you most excited for?
J: The exciting part is that for 6 months out of the year we will be playing the top teams in the world, in venues all over the world. There will be bigger crowds, televised games, and in general a better vibe around the games, which is the perfect breeding ground for some tough competition!
K: Having access to such high-quality opponents while being able to travel extensively is an exciting factor in the new structure!
How do you think the HPL will impact the international community?
J: I definitely think the HPL will change the international landscape. It will create somewhat of an international season, so it will be awesome to participate in.
K: This push will continue to professionalize the sport and build the fan base. This is a positive step forward for hockey as sport. I think it will allow fans to stay connected and engaged and definitely pull the hockey community closer together. Although it is a bold move that is vulnerable in the early stages it will be fantastic for fans and the players.
With this ahead, what do you think the future of world hockey will look like in 5-10 years?
J: Definitely better and more accessible. There is a futuristic view towards popularising hockey on the global stage and I agree the HPL is a step in the right directions for this.
K: I think in 5-10 years a strong and stable worldwide series will
be established. These types of big initiatives always take time to get settled, so once a few of the teething issues are worked though it will be a very competitive and quality series.
What team do you predict will be the next national selected to participate in the HPL?
J: It would be awesome to see a team like Japan come into the HPL.
K: I think Spain is a quality team that will be competitive in this environment. It’s early days within the structure so countries like Spain and also Belgium can continue to push for entry. They would only improve the competition in the future
A huge THANK YOU to Kat and Jacqui for taking the time to answer our questions!
Looking to the HPL in 2019, the FIH is excited to implement, the players are excited to compete, and the fans are excited to cheer on their teams. As Kat said, though there may be some bumps in the first stages, the HPL is a huge step forward for those in the hockey world, no matter where you fall into it.
FIH President Dr. Narinder Dhruv Batra said, “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.” From these statements, along with the massive buzz that the HPL confirmation created, there’s no denying that this development is cause for some major celebration and excitement!
What are YOU most excited for with the coming HPL? Let us know by connecting with us on social media @LeapWorldwide! And of course, if you’re looking to streamline playing and recruiting opportunities and learn all about the international sports community, sign up with us below. Click the button!