In the fourth episode of Hockey5s, an interview with Thierry Weil, CEO of the International Hockey Federation (FIH). How does FIH envision the future of Hockey5s? And does Will predict that Hockey5s will eventually come out 11 to 11?
To get straight to the point. Many major hockey nations fear that Hockey5s will replace eleven-eleven in the Olympics. Is this fear justified?
Thierry Will: No. It’s not an issue at all. I understand the big hockey nations are afraid of it, but there’s no reason to. We see Hockey5s as something that exists alongside eleven against eleven. Not instead.
Is it a goal to make Hockey5s an Olympic sport?
“Maybe the goal has been pushed too hard, but the result may be. Hockey5s are more urban than field hockey. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is giving more and more urban sports. Skateboarding and break-dancing have become Olympic sports. Anyway There is a trend that everything has to be faster, more exciting and more exciting.Look at Rugby Sevens and Basketball 3×3. So if the Hockey5s take over, I expect the IOC to follow it with great interest.
Hockey5s were played during the 2014 and 2018 Youth Olympic Games, but now they seem to be taking off slowly. Last summer, the International Football Association Board (FIH) hosted an official coaching tournament in Switzerland, Lausanne. The first World Cup is scheduled for 2024 in Oman. What does FIH want to achieve with Hockey5s?
“That’s actually two things. First, to introduce more people around the world to hockey. I come from France, from a region where hockey is not known at all. Let’s say you want to set up a club there, that would be very difficult. How do you get enough players?” And in the field? Introducing Hockey5s is a lot easier. You don’t need a permanent field for it. You can also play anywhere: on the beach, on the tennis court, in the city squares. Hopefully, once players get to know Hockey5s, they will take a step About 11 to 11 more quickly.
Second, we want to give as many countries as possible the opportunity to play international matches. Now there are many countries that do not have the players, the financial capabilities and the infrastructure to play at the top level. For those countries, Hockey5s are more accessible. That’s why we created the World Cup. Thus, qualifying matches are played on every continent. This opens the door to international competitions for many smaller hockey nations.
In June, the tournament was held in Lausanne [zonder Nederland]. India won in the men and Uruguay in the women. How do you look back on that tournament?
This was the first time we organized such a tournament. Our goal was to bring Hockey5s to the people. The field was on the Place de la Navigation, a busy square in the city. I expected passersby at most to stop, watch a minute or two, and then continue walking. But what happened? They grabbed a chair and stayed for the whole match. This is exactly what we wanted. We heard from many spectators that we knew ice hockey, but we didn’t know field hockey. It’s a big plus because they’ve become so familiar with the sport. We saw the same in the first European Championship in Poland. Switzerland’s players said they played in front of 500 spectators for the first time. Fabulous.’
At the European Championships in Poland, England, Germany and Spain were missing. The Netherlands and Belgium were the only major hockey nations to participate. Do you understand the concerns of the major hockey nations?
Many of the major hockey nations are already suspicious of Hockey5s. I fully understand if the federation decided not to participate in Hockey5s for the time being. There are countries that have invested heavily in eleven versus eleven over the past fifteen years. Take Belgium, for example. How much effort did they put in to become champions of the Olympics and for the world. But I’m sure all the major hockey nations will eventually cross the bridge. The Netherlands also wondered for a while if they should go to the European Championship, but in the end saw it as an opportunity to give other players in addition to international players a chance to play matches at the highest level. I expect other major countries will also come to this conclusion.
Countries such as Poland, Scotland and Switzerland are against participating in the European Championship for “A” countries. Aren’t you afraid that they will focus entirely on Hockey5s and be allowed to shoot eleven on eleven? In other words: Aren’t you afraid that the introduction of Hockey5s means that no new major nations will be added to eleven over eleven?
“I spoke to a lot of people about the Swiss team in Lausanne. They announced that they would continue to focus on both branches. Of course it could happen that the small hockey nations that realize that they will never reach the top 11v11 will focus one hundred percent on Hockey5s. But for To me that’s fine. I’ll totally understand. I’d rather they already know that they’ll never have a World Cup in the next 15 years.
The Netherlands won their first European Hockey 5s Championship. Aren’t you afraid that Hockey5s will once again come under the control of traditional hockey nations rather than mini hockey nations and thus miss their target somewhat?
No, I don’t expect that. This doesn’t happen in indoor hockey either. I am sure that the field of hockey 5s world cup and world cup participants on the field will not be quite the same.
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