New Premier Hockey League Underway Next Month

Our top men’s and women’s hockey players will feature in a new Premier Hockey League launching next month.

The eight-team (four men and four women), 28-match competition will double as a selection event for the Vantage Black Sticks as they rebuild towards next year’s postponed FIH Pro League and the Tokyo Olympics.

The inaugural league will be held at the new purpose-built National Hockey Centre in Albany, Auckland and matches will be free to attend. The league will run from August 20-23 and September 9-13 for the men, and August 27-30 and September 17-20 for the women.

Hockey New Zealand CEO Ian Francis said they were excited to deliver the competition following today’s funding announcement from the Minister of Sport and Recreation Grant Robertson.

“We’re grateful to Sport NZ and Minister Robertson for the incredible support announced today, and look forward to bringing top-class domestic hockey to our communities”.

“Hockey in New Zealand underwent a comprehensive strategic review to ensure we were fit-for-purpose to achieve one of our key goals for the Vantage Black Sticks Men and Women – to win medals at the upcoming Olympics.

“We have evolved our system to ensure we work more closely with the next tier of players, as well as helping bridge the gap between club and international hockey. This will not only help our national team’s performance on the world stage, but it will continue to grow our game.”

The Premier Hockey League is focused on progressing New Zealand’s top talent into the high-performance environment. Players for the league will be selected from across the country and are all available for Vantage Black Sticks selection. Many are part of the newly developed Performance Network, and all have been back training to prepare for full match play next month.

Hockey New Zealand is also thrilled to announce that Sky Sport is confirmed as the new League’s official broadcaster.

Tex Teixeira, Sky Sport Chief Content Officer commented, “Our aim at Sky Sport Next is to support and encourage New Zealand athletes across a wide range of sports, particularly those with a pathway to the Olympics.  We’re excited that Sky Sport and Sky Sport Next will showcase the Premier Hockey League including the Vantage Black Sticks National Squads – inspiring future world champions, Commonwealth Games athletes and Olympians.”

The previous Ford National Hockey League is now called the Ford National Hockey Championships and is where the 32 Associations will compete for national honours. Along with the K Cup for women and the Challenge Trophy for men, these tournaments remain the pinnacle provincial competitions in the country. They will return in 2021 after Covid-19 enforced cancellations this year.

PREMIER HOCKEY LEAGUE DATES

20-23 August – Men
27-30 August – Women
9-13 September – Men
17-20 September – Women

All matches will be played at the National Hockey Centre in Albany, Auckland

Vantage Black Sticks Men bolstered by former Olympians

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Vantage Black Sticks Men bolstered by former Olympians to take on Japan in Stratford.

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2020 National Squad see big names return

Having secured their place at next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games, the 2020 international hockey season is looking to be an exciting and busy year for the Vantage Black Sticks Women, as the national squad is announced today.
National Women’s Coach Graham Shaw has been able to name several highly experienced former players returning to the 2020 squad which sees the return of Kayla Whitelock, Gemma McCaw, Julia King and Rachel McCann. Whitelock and McCaw will feature in the squad for the first time since the 2016 Rio Games.
There is also a mixture of youth with Kaitlin Cotter (17) and Holly Pearson (21) included having been rewarded with national contracts on the back of some impressive form in the 2019 season, where they will join Central teammate Olivia Shannon (18) who has been selected for her second National Squad.
The three young Central strikers formed a formidable combination at the recently concluded Ford NHL, Shaw will be looking for them to build on this chemistry in the strike line for the national team.
The side will again be led by Stacey Michelsen who in the 2019 season became the most capped Vantage Black Sticks Women’s player of all time when she overtook the record of 274 caps held by Emily Gaddum.
Michelsen, who has previously been to the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, will be aiming to lead her side to the first medal in the programme’s history at the upcoming Games.
There are six players with more than 200 test caps in the side and this experience will be vital as they prepare to improve on their sixth placing at the inaugural FIH Hockey Pro League in 2019.
Graham Shaw commented on naming his first national squad, “We feel the squad has a good mix of youth and experience as we start building towards the 2020 Tokyo games”.
“We have been lucky to welcome back Kayla and Gemma after they stepped away to start families. We look forward to the invaluable experience that they will bring and the pivotal role they will play in helping our team towards our goal of medalling at the Olympic Games”.
Shaw stated on the benefit of the 2019 Season “The FIH Hockey Pro League and Oceania Cup have allowed us to test ourselves against the best opposition from around the world. Having booked our place at the Tokyo Olympics we have been able to plan for the year ahead, which will allow us to have the best shot possible to perform at the Olympic Games in 2020”.