Pro League hockey’s Perth de­but

Southern Gazette (Belmont) - - FRONT PAGE - Matt Zis

THE next time Aus­tralia’s men’s and women’s hockey teams play in Perth, they will be at the fore­front of an am­bi­tious new home and away league.

In a step away from the tra­di­tional tour­na­ment-style in­ter­na­tional meets, the Pro League is the Fed­er­a­tion of In­ter­na­tional Hockey’s an­swer to a home and away com­pe­ti­tion fea­tur­ing the top nine hockey na­tions’ men’s and women’s teams.

Both the Kook­abur­ras and Hock­ey­roos will play in Perth on Fe­bru­ary 16, against old en­emy Great Bri­tain.

FIH Pro League man­ager Mathilde Grenet said she hoped the Pro League for­mat would lead to greater ex­po­sure for na­tional teams and more op­por­tu­nity for play­ers to be­come sport­ing he­roes.

“Be­fore we had more tour­na­ment for­mats where all teams trav­elled to one lo­ca­tion,” she said.

“The draw­back with that is you don’t al­ways get a home crowd, but now you will have lo­cal fans in each coun­try.”

Ho­bart, Syd­ney and Mel­bourne will also host Pro League fix­tures fea­tur­ing Aus­tralia in 2019 and in a coup for the sport, all games will be broad­cast on Fox Sports as part of a fiveyear part­ner­ship.

Also tak­ing part are New Zealand, the United States, China, Pak­istan, Ar­gentina and Euro­pean pow­er­houses Nether­lands, Bel­gium and Ger­many.

“There are many English peo­ple liv­ing here, so hope­fully Perth will be able to get a good crowd here at the sta­dium,” Grenet said.

The Pro League will fea­ture about 150 matches and con­clude with a fi­nals se­ries in Am­s­ter­dam.

Grenet lives and works in Switzer­land but is a for­mer bud­ding ten­nis star who grew up in France.

She has spent four years work­ing to de­velop the Pro League con­cept and change the col­lec­tive minds of hockey ad­min­is­tra­tors around the world to move away from tra­di­tional tour­na­ments and is ea­ger to see the first games get un­der way in Jan­uary.

Be­fore her visit to Perth in De­cem­ber to check out Perth Hockey Sta­dium and get a feel for Hockey Aus­tralia’s prepa­ra­tions, Grenet said she knew of the city’s ten­nis tour­na­ment – the Hop­man Cup – and its beau­ti­ful beaches.

“It will be nice also for the vis­it­ing teams to get to know Aus­tralia,” she said.

“For Great Bri­tain, I’m sure they will have a great time in Perth.”

www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d489536 Pic­ture: Matt Jelonek

FIH Pro League man­ager Mathilde Grenet vis­ited Perth Hockey Sta­dium ahead of the league’s de­but.

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