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Archive for June 4, 2022

June 4, 2022 — The run to 2028, maybe

Today, a city block in Lausanne, Switzerland has been re-done with a 44-meter patch of artificial turf, surrounded with ankle-high boards and seating for a couple of thousand people.

The occasion is a day-long test event for a version of field hockey which many of you know already as Hockey 5s, which is a hybrid version of the indoor game which is envisioned as being added to the Olympic program as early as 2028.

The test event is the first FIH-sponsored event for senior men’s and women’s national teams, and FIH president Thierry Weil knows he’s on the horns of a dilemma, according to remarks he made to the Associated Press last week.

Noting the success of 3-on-3 basketball at the Olympics, he’s looking to try to bring the sport of field hockey to a new demographic.

“We need to make it cool for the younger generation,” said Weil,

In addition, he’s looking to broaden the appeal of the sport to more than just the usual successful hockey nations, noting how Fiji has been doing well in men’s rugby sevens, and that Latvia was the silver-medal winner in 3-v-3 basketball at Tokyo.

He cited Austria, Poland, and Chile as nations which could fare well in the Hockey 5s format, given the form these teams have shown at Indoor World Cups.

Which is why he sees the five-a-side game as one which could diversify the sport worldwide and put more nations in the running for medals.

“Hockey is an athletic sport with good rules but it’s an elite sport. The investment you need makes it impossible to do (in many nations),” he told the AP.

Almost as if to demonstrate the nature of the sport as one which could be played anywhere — including a parking lot or on a tennis court — the Lausanne ground today has a small rise on one end of the pitch. In other words, the competition surface didn’t undergo the kind of laser measurement that is the norm in building a pitch to FIH specifications.

It’s a start. But what will the finish be?