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GB men and women to enter Hockey Pro League

PUBLISHED: 14:00 12 June 2017

England's Sophie Bray (right) and Netherlands' Laura Nunnink battle for the ball during the Investec International at Lee Valley Hockey Centre (pic Nigel French/PA)

England's Sophie Bray (right) and Netherlands' Laura Nunnink battle for the ball during the Investec International at Lee Valley Hockey Centre (pic Nigel French/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

New international competition to launch in 2019

England and Great Britain Hockey have announced that both their men’s and women’s teams have been confirmed in the new worldwide Hockey Pro League.

The new league, which is due to launch in January 2019, will see the nine best men’s and nine best women’s teams from around the world play each other home and away every year, across a total of 144 games.

The fixtures will take place in national stadiums, week in, week out, from January to June and in another huge boost for the sport in the UK, Glasgow will play host to Pakistan’s men in this League, bringing yet more world-class hockey to Great Britain.

As the Hockey Pro League will provide teams with a way of qualifying for the Olympics, both the England men’s and women’s teams will become Great Britain in the two years prior to the Olympic Games.

Winners of the 2017 Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey Cup (playing as Great Britain) and bronze medalists at the 2014 Commonwealth Games, England’s men are a team that has huge ambitions to get into podium positions at major hockey events.

Currently ranked seventh in the FIH Hero World Rankings, at both the Hockey World Cup in 2014 and the EuroHockey Nations in 2015, England finished fourth.

England’s women won the Unibet EuroHockey Championships in 2015 and a silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Playing as Great Britain, they won gold at the Rio Olympics and moved to second in the world rankings as a result.

The confirmation of teams follows approval from the FIH Executive Board, whose decision was based on recommendations from the FIH Event Portfolio Implementation Panel (EPIP) who were tasked with assessing each of the candidate applications against defined participation criteria.

FIH chief executive Jason McCracken said: “We are delighted to announce the official name and teams who will participate in this game-changing new competition.

“Whilst world tours and single venue international leagues are played regularly, this is arguably the first of its kind, with national teams playing one-off matches both home and away in venues across the world over six months each year.

“The Hockey Pro League has been four years in the making and follows an excessive consultation and evaluation process.”

“We strongly believe that this new competition will fuel the growth of our sport for many years to come, significantly increasing revenues for hockey. As a result it will make hockey a career choice for athletes who will regularly be given the opportunity to perform in big, bold, packed and loud venues both in their homeland and overseas. It will also allow fans to engage with more world-class hockey more often, whether on TV or live at their national venue.

“We now look forward to working on delivering a truly exceptional League whilst also ensuring we raise the standard and profile of our other international competitions across all levels of the sport.”

FIH President Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra added: “The Hockey Pro League represents the first major milestone for the Hockey Revolution. It embodies everything our 10-year strategy aims to achieve – making hockey a global game that inspires the next generation.

“Whilst only nine teams have been selected for each League, the quality of information and enthusiasm shown by those who missed out indicates that our sport is developing in an extremely positive way, which clearly shows that hockey has an exciting future ahead.”

England and Great Britain men’s head coach Bobby Crutchley said: “This is great news for hockey in our country and I’m delighted both of our teams have been included. Playing in front of packed crowds on home turf is what will drive the sport forward.”

Danny Kerry, head coach of England and Great Britain’s women, added: “I’m absolutely delighted. In terms of moving the sport forward, this absolutely had to happen. Now I look forward to seeing the dates, and how it will all work.”

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