Hockey Australia and Hockey India Sunday announced an agreement under which the Indian men’s field hockey team will tour Australia in each of the next three years.

In return, Hockey Australia will release its senior men’s national squad athletes for the Hockey India League for the next three seasons, including in 2016, six months before the Olympic Games in Rio.

The strategic initiative was announced by HockeyAustralia chief executive Cam Vale and his counterpart at Hockey India, Elena Norman, in New Delhi, during the Hockey India League finals series.

The agreement will pitch the world and Commonwealth champion Kookaburras against India, the Asian Games champions and Commonwealth Games silver medallists, in a six-match Test series in Australia in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

“This is a milestone moment for Australian hockey,” Vale said in a statement.

“This agreement is the first step in honouring our commitment to building a calendar of top class events for Australian hockey fans and raising the profile of the sport.

“We’re committed to showing our support for HockeyIndia, the Hockey India League and the InternationalHockey Federation in their endeavours to grow the sport globally.

“We believe that for the sport to grow the HockeyIndia League needs to be successful and the inclusion of Australian athletes can play a valuable role in achieving that success.”

Discussions around the timing of each tour are in progress, Hockey Australia said.

Last month former Netherlands coach Paul Van Ass was appointed India’s men’s field hockey coach, making him the sixth foreigner to hold the post over the last decade.

Van Ass, who coached the Netherlands to a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics, replaced Australian Terry Walsh, who resigned over a pay dispute in October. – Agence France-Presse

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