5 Reasons Why You Should Attend FIH Pro League Games
In 2019 field hockey went through a revolution with the launch of the FIH Pro League. This global league was a world first as it saw 9 of the top hockey nations from across the globe compete for the right to be crowned the Pro League Champions. 2020 will see the league get even bigger with the addition of one of the powerhouses of the international game, India, coming on board in what is shaping up to be an epic Season Two.
Here are our top 5 reasons why you should get along to support our Vantage Black Sticks in February:
- The Olympic Champions are coming to our shores.
2020 is a massive year for hockey. Not only is it season two of the FIH Hockey Pro League, but it is also an Olympic year. We are lucky enough to have the reigning Olympic Champions from Rio arriving on our shores as they look to build up to defend their Olympic Crowns. The Great Britain Women will be the first to visit when they take on the Vantage Black Sticks Women on February 8th and 9th at the new National Hockey Centre. After a tough 2019 which saw plenty of turnover in the Great Britain ranks, don’t expect this side to roll over in 2020. The Argentina Men will then make their way to Ngā Puna Wai for a battle against our New Zealand Men on February 28th and March 1st.
- We have four double centurions coming back into the fold.
The 2020 National Squads saw the return of four vastly experienced players who hadn’t featured in the black jersey since the Rio Olympic Games. Former captains Kayla Whitelock and Simon Child have been named and are looking to add another Olympic Games to their resume. Both will want to add an Olympic Games Medal to their long list of accolades. Steve Edwards earned his way back into the side after his performances in the qualification games in Stratford. Edwards will be looking to continue his role as the stable force in the midfield as he pushes for selection for his third Olympic Games. Gemma McCaw returned to the turf at the Ford NHL in 2019 with vengeance. She finished the tournament as the competitions leading goal scorer and was eventually named in the 2020 Vantage Black Sticks women’s squads for her efforts.
- Records set to tumble.
In 2019 Stacey Michelsen earned her 275th cap for the Black Sticks Women making her the most capped New Zealand Women’s hockey player of all time. 2020 could see another one of the all-time Black Sticks records tumble. Goal-scoring machine Olivia Merry is currently sitting on 102 goals, just 3 goals shy of Anita McLaren’s all-time leading 105 goals. Merry shot up the ranks in 2019 after tallying 15 goals during the FIH Pro League games and topped off the season with 2 goals against Australia to held the Black Sticks earn Olympic qualification. On the men’s side Simon Child is also within reach of the men’s leading goal scorer title as he currently sits on 142 goals. Phil Burrows with 150 goals is first on the list.
- The National Hockey Centre is open for business.
The North Harbour Hockey Stadium on Paul Matthews Road saw its final international games played on its surface in 2019. This year, the FIH Pro League games will be played at the brand new, $75 million hockey facility, just up the road from the old stadium, on Auckland’s North Shore. On February 1st, the National Hockey Centre will host its first international match when the Belgians come to town. The National Hockey Centre features five hockey turfs, 2 of which are to an Olympic standard. Make sure you don’t miss out on the opportunity to see experience the new stadium vibe or sit in the new grandstand (if you’ve got you’re premium or corporate hospitality seats) which features impressive views of the pitch. But we can’t forget the turf side village green either. This will feature tables and chairs, beanbags and a whole lot of fun and games for the family on game day.
- The FIH Pro League presented by Sentinel Homes will be the only opportunity to see the New Zealand teams at home in 2020
The FIH Pro League in February and March will be your only chance to see the New Zealand teams competing on home soil. You’ll have 4 events days in Auckland to take advantage of the opportunity as we play host to Belgium and Great Britain at the National Hockey Centre on Auckland’s, North Shore. Christchurch will then take their turn as they host the USA Women and Spain Men in back-to-back games followed by the final home game matches of the FIH Pro League on home soil in 2020 against the Argentina Men and Women. Don’t miss out on your chance to see our New Zealand sides at home as they prepare to capture the hearts of New Zealand on their journey to Tokyo.
The team will begin their international season on Saturday 1st of February when they host the Belgium Women in the FIH Hockey Pro League at the new National Hockey Centre in North Harbour.
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