At a time when major international sports have their shorter versions adding to their popularity, field hockey will unveil its shortest version at its biggest stage later this week, stepping into the race for more eyeballs and support.
The sport is hoping to emulate cricket, whose Twenty20 version has spawned leagues across the world and which will make its debut at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, football, whose miniature version, Futsal is already well established, and basketball, whose 3×3 version was quite popular at last year’s Tokyo Olympics.
The international hockey federation (FIH) is hoping that the Hockey 5s Lausanne 2022 event will be a world-first that will provide a showcase for hockey and take the sport to new audiences.
The FIH Hockey5s Lausanne 2022 is the first official senior World Hockey5s competition to be organised by FIH and it builds on the success of Hockey5s events that have been taking place across the world, including the Youth Olympic Games events in editions at Nanjing (2014) and Buenos Aires (2018).
Taking place in the centre of the Olympic Capital Lausanne on June 4-5, Hockey5s Lausanne 2022 will be two days of hockey action, fun, and entertainment.
In the fray will be men’s teams of India, Malaysia, Pakistan, Poland and Switzerland, competing in a round-robin style tournament, with a final between the two top teams.
The women’s competition, following the same format, will see home nation Switzerland take on teams from India, Poland, South Africa and Uruguay.
Spectators at the event will be able to enjoy fast and skillful hockey action. Hockey5s is a shorter, more intense style of play. A match comprises two halves of 10 minutes and the ball is in play for 90 percent of that time, thanks to perimetre boards that the ball can be played off.
There should also be a glut of goals as players can shoot from anywhere in the attacking half.
This event, and the increasing number of Hockey5s events worldwide, is creating excitement among players and coaches, the FIH informed in a release on Tuesday.
South African coach Tsoanelo Pholo said, “Hockey5s is an initiator into hockey, a developer into the full-field version. If you have a Hockey5s court in three or four places in the country, I am telling you now, we are going to have way more hockey players in developing countries.”
“As early adopters of Hockey5s, we want to gain a competitive advantage, to get better rapidly, as a small country. Hockey5s is a fast game which makes it intense for the players,” Swiss athlete Sae Fontana was quoted as saying in the release.
There will be some superstars, both established and up and coming, showing their skills at the Place de la Navigation, near Lake Geneva.
For India men, Dilpreet Singh is an exciting young player who has already played for the national team 63 times. He and Sumit, who will also be in Lausanne, won a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year. India men will be among the favourites for the title.
If Dilpreet is experienced with 63 caps, then Nabil Noor of Malaysia is a veritable veteran of the game. With 239 international appearances, the captain will look to lead his side of talented players to a first title.
Pakistan men led the way in the sport throughout the 20th century and it is exciting to see what this young team can do in a new format of the game. The speed and intensity will suit the super close skills of the Pakistan team.
Both Poland and Switzerland men’s teams will be looking to transfer some of the skills and tactics of the indoor game onto the court in Lausanne. Poland is a specialist when it comes to the short form of the game and Switzerland, led by Sebastian Schneider, will have the advantage of a home crowd.
In the women’s section, Uruguay will be bringing some South American flair to the hockey party. They will also bring a lot of experience, with Manuela Vilar leading the way. Elisa Civetta was one of the Uruguay stars of the Junior World Cup in April and will be keen to show her goal-scoring abilities.
Like their male counterparts, Switzerland will enjoy a home crowd cheering them on. They are early adopters of Hockey5s and will relish this opportunity to star on the international stage.
Jade Mayne and Dirkie Chamberlain are veterans of the South African team and bring a wealth of experience. With a compelling mix of experienced and young players, the African challengers will be looking for a top-of-the-podium finish.
Poland have the most overall experienced side at the competition and will be looking to use their indoor hockey skills and tactics to make a big impact in Lausanne. The Poland U18 team finished seventh in Buenos Aires at the 2018 Youth Olympics, so will be tapping into that experience too.
The fifth women’s team in Lausanne is India. Having enjoyed a silver medal performance in the Hockey5s in Buenos Aires in 2018 and fourth place at the Tokyo Olympics 2020, Indian women will be determined to continue their upwards trajectory.