Lausanne: The International Hockey Federation (FIH) on Friday said that India and Spain will play in the upcoming Women’s Hockey Pro League as replacement teams only for this season. The third season of the Women’s FIH Hockey Pro League begins on October 13 with Olympic and world champions Netherlands taking on Belgium.
“FIH is pleased to announce that the women’s national teams of India and Spain will join the FIH Hockey Pro League for Season 3,” the International Hockey Federation said in a statement.
“Both teams (for this season only) will replace Australia and New Zealand … However, Australia and New Zealand will join the Pro League again for Season 4,” it said.
Last month, Australia and New Zealand withdrew from the league as well as the upcoming FIH Hockey Junior World Cup and FIH Hockey Indoor World Cup due to COVID-related international travel restrictions imposed by their respective governments.
The FIH said that whenever possible, the India and Spain women’s teams will play on the same dates and venues as their men’s counterparts, who are already part of the FIH’s global home and away leagues, which include most of the best nations in world hockey. . .
Both India and Spain had performed brilliantly in the recent Tokyo Olympics. India reached their first semi-final while Spain only missed the last four after losing to Great Britain in a shoot-out.
FIH CEO Thierry Weil said, “It is wonderful to welcome great teams like India and Spain to the next edition of the FIH Hockey Pro League, especially after their stellar performances in Tokyo.”
“It’s great for the athletes and for the fans! On behalf of FIH, I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to Hockey India and the Royal Spanish Hockey Federation for accepting our invitation.”
Hockey India President Gyanandro Ningombam said that the country’s participation in the upcoming FIH Hockey Pro League will not only give the players an opportunity to compete against the best players in the world but will also help in increasing the fan base of the team.
“With the Asian Games due in 2022, playing the world’s strongest teams at the start of the year will certainly be a great platform for our teams to get the right exposure ahead of the all-important Asian Games, which is an Olympic qualification. There’s also the program,” he said.
Santiago Deo, President of the Royal Spanish Hockey Federation, said: “The participation of the women’s team in the FIH Hockey Pro League will enable our team to play against the best teams in the world. It will also give them better preparation for the FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup in Spain. and the Netherlands 2022.”