Spain men to host opening match
152 matches scheduled for opening season
Six months of non-stop action set to thrill hockey fans
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has revealed the full schedule for the inaugural season of the Hockey Pro League which begins on 19 January 2019.
152 matches have been scheduled between January and June across the world as part of this new game-changing competition.
Nine women’s and nine men’s teams will be competing for the Hockey Pro League title, playing eight home and eight away matches throughout the first six months of every year. The top four teams will then compete to determine the winner in a Grand Final later in June.
Spain men will get things underway as they host Rio 2016 and EuroHockey Championship silver medallists Belgium in the opening match of the Hockey Pro League.
A busy schedule then follows, with the majority of early matches played in the southern hemisphere.
As one of the early season highlights, Argentina women will be eagerly anticipating the arrival of reigning Hockey World Cup and World League champions Netherlands as the EuroHockey title winners head south to take on Las Leonas on 24 February.
Shortly afterwards the spotlight turns to Australia as their men and women challenge Oceania rivals New Zealand for continental bragging rights over the Saint Patrick’s Day weekend – 17 March. The teams return matches then take place in New Zealand on Anzac Day – 25 April.
Another continental duel sure to get fans buzzing will be Argentina women’s visit to the USA. The Pan American rivals, who have taken wins against each other in recent months, go head to head on 12 May.
The teams then follow the summer by returning to the northern hemisphere. An exciting end to the League awaits as nations compete to finish in the top four to guarantee qualification for the Grand Final.
With Pakistan men playing in Glasgow, Scotland, their match against Great Britain on 25 May is bound capture the imagination of fans. A large local Pakistani crowd will be looking forward to the friendly rivalry with their British opponents as they aim to defend their home turf in one of Great Britain’s most multi-cultured cities.
European neighbours Germany and Netherlands men always provide lots of goals and drama, and in the Hockey Pro League nothing less can be expected. Whilst Netherlands fans will be looking forward to backing their team in their homeland on 5 March, Germany will be aiming for victory against the European champions on their turf on 26 April.
In what will be a unique, double-header weekend, due to their proximity – Belgium men and women will play at home to Netherlands on the Saturday before replaying the match the following day in the Netherlands over the weekend of 8 and 9 June.
Another highlight in the women’s competition will be the game between continental rivals Great Britain and Netherlands in what will be a rematch of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games final. As the world’s number one ranked team, the Dutch will look to gain psychological advantage from their first encounter against the Olympic champions at their home turf on 1 June, before heading to Great Britain on 15 June.
Similarly, Argentina and Belgium men also have an ongoing rivalry following their Rio 2016 Olympic Games gold medal match. On that occasion Argentina men emerged victorious therefore Belgium will be wanting to turn the tables in what will be a dramatic end to their season on 23 June – the very last day of League competition.
Speaking about this announcement, FIH President Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra said: “We’re delighted to publish this schedule as the world can now visualise the scale of this new global home and away league. Organising such a complex timetable involving a number of stakeholders took some time but it was refreshing to witness to amount of collaborative working throughout the process by both participating teams and broadcasters.”
He continued: “This announcement means that fans can now lock dates into their diary to ensure they don’t miss any of the world’s top nations visiting their home turf. It also allows both our participating nations and FIH to really push on with the development of this competition as we look to finalise broadcast and commercial partnerships across the world over the coming months ahead of next January’s launch.”