Hockey Australia and Hockey India today announced a landmark bilateral agreement that will see the Indian men’s national hockey team tour to Australia in each of the next three years, 2016-2018.
In return, Hockey Australia will release its senior men’s national squad athletes for the Hockey India League for the next three seasons, including in 2016, six months before the Olympic Games in Rio.
The strategic initiative was announced by Hockey Australia Chief Executive Cam Vale and his counterpart at Hockey India, Elena Norman, at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, New Delhi, during the Hockey India League finals series.
The agreement will see the World and Commonwealth champion Kookaburras face India, the Asian Games champions and Commonwealth Games silver medallists, in a six-match test series in Australia in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Cam Vale, Chief Executive of Hockey Australia, said, “This is a milestone moment for Australian hockey. This agreement is the first step in honouring our commitment to building a calendar of top class events for Australian hockey fans and raising the profile of the sport. It also demonstrates how seriously we are taking our strategic goal to build a stronger commercial model for hockey.
“We’re committed to showing our support for Hockey India, the Hockey India League and the International Hockey Federation in their endeavours to grow the sport globally. We believe that for the sport to grow the Hockey India League needs to be successful and the inclusion of Australian athletes can play a valuable role in achieving that success.”
Addressing the potential impact on Australia’s preparation for the Olympic Games, Vale added, “Allowing our athletes to play in the 2016 Hockey India League fits with our high performance planning. It will allow them to earn income from playing in the league, which in turn helps them to commit to the substantial demands of our centralised program the rest of the year. It will also provide them with a suitable break from the program. As was the case when they played in the HIL ahead of the World Cup win in 2014, we believe there is ample time to prepare for the Olympic Games after the 2016 tournament.”
Elena Norman, CEO of Hockey India said, “We know that the Australians are World Champions and India has proved itself to be a formidable team on the international arena in the last year. Hence this move will work both ways, as when we play against each other we will learn from each other and better ourselves in the process. Also, with this tie-up it opens more avenues to organise more test series with other nations, too, and create a calendar for the entire year.”
She added, “We are happy with the commitment of Hockey Australia to release its players for the next three seasons and this in a way showcases that Hockey India League is getting earmarked in the calendar of all participating teams. We thank Hockey Australia for this support and assurance towards the League.”