In less than a month’s time the FIH Pro League, the revolutionary home and away league involving world’s leading hockey playing countries will get going when newly crowned men’s hockey world champions Belgium travel to Valencia to take on Spain.
The battle between Belgium’s Red Lions, who defeated the Netherlands in the finals to win the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018, and the Red Sticks of Spain on Saturday 19 January 2019 will be the start of a six-month-long league. More than 20 venues in 11 nations will play host to 144 international matches, from January to June in a competition that is very much seen a genuine game-changer for hockey.
After the completion of the 144 matches that will feature in the ‘League’, a further eight matches will then be played at the showpiece Grand Final, which will take place at the Wagener Stadium in Amsterdam, the Netherlands between 27-30 June 2019. The winning men’s and women’s nations will be crowned as the FIH Pro League champions and will receive the single largest financial prize in the sport.
India is the only top team which is not participating in the league owing to some logistical issues as well as the reason that even if you play the league you cannot guarantee an Olympic berth.
Belgium will be rightly considered as one of the favorites. Although Spain, who Belgium will meet in the opening FIH Pro League fixture on 19 January at Valencia’s Estadio Betero, did not enjoy a long run in Bhubaneswar, will want to show the world that they are very much a force to be reckoned with.
The Estadio Betero will also be the venue for game two of the FIH Pro League, with Spain’s men facing Great Britain on 25 January. The GB team features the vast majority of the England side that Head Coach Danny Kerry guided to a fourth-place finish in Bhubaneswar including Phil Roper, Liam Ansell, and goalkeeper George Pinner.
About the Author
Suposh Sharma, keenly follows Hockey, Athletics, and other Olympic sports. He also has a penchant for writing humour and is an avid traveller