The FIH has been quite busy these last years implementing lots of new rules, new competitions and even new sports. In Buenos Aires the first of two legs of the third round of the Hockey World League finished yesterday. In Antwerp the second leg of this new tournament will start next weekend. I am a big fan of this HWL even though I would like see a couple of small changes to its format. For starters, it should not be an addition to the very full international tophockey agenda. It should be the replacement of the former prestigious Champions Trophy.
The Champions Trophy is dead! Long live the Champions Trophy…
The Champions Trophy is the Pakistani invention where 6 (sometimes 8) of the best ranked nations would fight on an annual basis among each other for a title with a lot of merit, because there were no weak opponents in this tournament. However these last years more nations started using it as a grooming tournament for upcoming talent instead of coming with their strongest team.
In addition the FIH installed the Hockey World League on the international agenda allowing for more (lower ranked) countries to compete against the best and have their shot at the Olympics. Played in 4 rounds strangely enough it is not the final 4th round that is the most important one but the 3rd round. As of the 3rd round the major nations join in and the top 3 of both legs of this 3rd round win either a ticket to the next World Cup or the next Olympics. The final round is just for the honour and a cup which for now is still not considered a coveted price.
So firstly I would like to see this 4th and final round replacing the Champions Trophy, possibly keeping the name alive because there is a history attached to it. This would free up the overcharged international agenda somewhat allowing for both the traditional European club competitions to continue as well as create some space for the new and interesting HIL in India.
Secondly I would like to add value to the 4th and final round of the HWL. Maybe only the two teams winning the final of the 3rd HWL round should get their ticket to the World Cup or Olympics. So there would still be 4 tickets left to fight for in the 4th and final HWL round?
There is still one issue to remedy of course before this is possible. Today India is guaranteed a place in the 4th and final HWL round as the organising country and major sponsor . This is of course not possible if you want to give the tournament some credibility.
Whatever the future might bring, today Germany, Argentina and the Netherlands are confirmed as participants in the Rio Olympics in 2016 finishing in the top 3 in Buenos Aires last week. As of next weekend the battle for 3 more Olympic tickets will continue in Antwerp where top ranked teams Australia, Belgium and Great Britain will be challenged by the likes of India, Pakistan and others. Want to see who gets in? Click here or even better yet come and visit us in Antwerp! Already looking forward to some quality hockey again…