Field hockey advances format 5 towards the Olympic goal

As Olympic sports target new and more dynamic youth-oriented formats, field hockey is moving towards the world’s first …

As Olympic sports focus on new and more dynamic youth-oriented formats, field hockey is stepping up to the first world championship in version five on the side and one day joining the Summer Games.

Hockey5s this weekend in the hometown of the International Olympic Committee Lausanne (Switzerland) will open men’s and women’s tournaments in a short format.

The Hockey5s are already playing in the Youth Olympics, but some countries that dominate the traditional 11-a-side format are afraid of being replaced by the IOC or even abandoning it altogether, opposing it.

“It was the biggest threat to them,” said Thierry Weil, executive director of the International Ice Hockey Federation (FIH), who sees the future as an addition rather than a subtraction to the Olympic program.

“If we’re smart, we can increase the number of medals” with both formats included, Weil told the Associated Press in a recent interview.

Basketball is a model for the Olympic path that field hockey wants to go through. At last year’s Tokyo Olympics, the street version of 3-on-3 basketball debuted when the IOC promoted city events.

While the United States won gold medals in traditional men’s and women’s basketball, their men failed to qualify for the 3-on-3 tournament won by Latvia. Mongolia took part in the women’s 3-on-3 competition, which was won by the United States.

In field hockey, men’s and women’s Olympic tournaments from 12 countries typically include the same set of established teams, Weil noted.

He named Austria and Chile among the 141 FIH members who can thrive in Hockey5s. Its designed easier and cheaper to develop than the 11-a-side game, which must be played on a high-quality lawn and grass fields.

“It’s a really good sport,” Weil said of hockey 11, “it’s a sport with good rules, but it’s an elite sport. The investment you need makes it impossible (for many countries). ”

Hockey5s are designed to be played in schoolyards, tennis courts and car parks. 20-minute games instead of 60 and boards around the perimeter to keep the ball in play aimed at creating faster games with higher scores. The two-day event in Lausanne will feature music as a backdrop for the games.

“We need to make this cool for the younger generation,” said Weil, FIFA’s former director of marketing.

India has sent parties to five teams in each of the men’s and women’s competitions in Lausanne.

India, a traditional hockey state, is expected to qualify for the 2036 Olympics and is a potential supporter of adding Hockey5s.

The 2032 Olympics are held in Brisbane, and Australia won silver in men’s hockey in Tokyo, where more than 400 athletes competed in men’s and women’s tournaments over 14 days.

Having fewer teams out of 11 to play in the shorter Olympic tournament will create a place for Hockey5s in the quota of FIH athletes and time on the ground at the games, Weil suggested.

After IOC officials saw the short format this weekend, a future test for Hockey5s will take place in January 2024, when Oman hosts its first World Cup.

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