Pro League second edition to kick off in January

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The second edition of the FIH Pro League will kick off in January.

At an interaction with select Indian mediapersons here on Tuesday, FIH CEO Thierry Weil admitted there had been teething problems, but insisted things would only get better.

Hockey India had pulled out of the 2019 edition but the men’s team will participate in 2020.

“The first season was a success not only measured by FIH but by the players as well. The main feedback we received was how great it was to play against the best teams in the world at home but also how tiring all that travel had been. We have now tried to change the schedule for 2020 and cut the travel in half,” Weil said.

In addition, the FIH has dropped the Grand Finale in 2020. “This is to give teams six to eight weeks to prepare for the Olympics. But we have not planned to bring it back in 2021. National associations agree it is not realistic to commit (to hosting the finale) not knowing if their team will actually participate in the Pro League,” Weil said.

Pakistan is a prime example, with the team committing to the inaugural edition only to pull out citing financial issues.

Weil insisted that all participating nations had committed to continuing in the Pro League beyond 2020, but the actual scenario would be known only later.

Asked if the Pro League, where the top nine teams play each other twice a year between January and June, would be able to draw crowds, Weil said: “The Pro League is like a quarterfinal or semifinal of a major event like the World Cup every weekend. It’s now our responsibility to make people understand that these are not just friendly games,” he said.



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