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FIH Pro League Major Step in Growing the Game
It feels like just yesterday we watched the Argentinian men’s national team and Great Britain women’s squad take the Olympic stand to receive their Gold Medals in Rio.
Team STX athlete and GB captain Alex Danson celebrates winning gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The 2016 Olympics were a defining moment for the sport — a turning point for visibility and recognition on the world’s biggest stage with a record number of viewers tuning in to watch the finals.
Now, as we look ahead to Tokyo 2020, the inaugural season of the FIH Pro League promises to be another big moment for the sport.
A new era for elite-level field hockey
For the first time, the world’s top hockey teams will travel all over the globe for a six-month season, competing more frequently than we’ve ever seen at this level of the sport.
And the stakes are that much higher.
The FIH Pro League replaces the Champions’ Trophy, World League Semifinals, and World League Finals, serving as the qualifier for both the FIH World Cup and the Olympics. With the frequency of games and length of the season, hockey fans are eager to see an elevated level of play and a consistent platform to grow the profile of the sport.
The Women’s Pro League and Men’s Pro League each feature nine teams, following a home-and-away design. Teams will play eight home matches and eight away matches, giving fans the chance to cheer on their team on their home pitch. The games will be broadcast live for fans to follow along as their favorite team travels to different host countries.
Early victories and ones to watch
The season officially kicked off mid-January, with early victories for Great Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands on the men’s side, and Argentina and the Netherlands on the women’s side. The season continues through June with more than 140 matches, culminating in four teams advancing to the Grand Finals in Amsterdam, Holland to crown the FIH Pro League 2019 Champion.
Striker Jeroen Hertzberger will represent the Netherlands men’s national team in the Men’s Pro League.
Among the inaugural class of the Women’s Pro League is Team USA — the ladies are up to the challenge and eager to be a part of this major move for the sport.
“The FIH Pro League is an exciting unknown that we as a team are looking forward to,” said Head Coach Janneke Schopman, Team USA. “The opportunity to play high-level games on a consistent basis is something we’ve never had. I think it’s going to challenge all of us as coaches and players, and we’re going to see a quality of skill and strength we haven’t seen before.”
The intense travel schedule will add another layer to the competition, testing players’ endurance and versatility.
Mark your calendars now for Team USA’s first home game on February 16 and check out the full schedule for the Women’s Pro League here. For the full list of matches and locations for the Men’s Pro League, click here.
For more ways to grow the sport in your own community, check out these six easy-to-implement ideas from Team Great Britain’s Alex Danson.