Saturday, September 3, 2011


A stand-off between the International Hockey Federation and hockey authorities in India has landed Hockey New Zealand the chance to host this year's men's Champions Trophy tournament.

While reluctant to give too many details, HNZ chief executive Hilary Poole yesterday confirmed such an approach had been made.

It is understood a decision by the national body could be made as early as the end of this week on whether it is prepared to commit to the tournament which FIH insists must be played on the original December 3-11 dates.

The tournament was handed to India but the FIH has since made it clear it is not happy with what was termed an "agreement" between Hockey India (who the FIH recognises) and the Indian Hockey Federation (who it does not).

The IHF is in the process of instigating a six-week, eight or 10-team professional league along the lines of the IPL Twenty20 cricket competition.

The FIH executive has decided it is neither possible nor appropriate to continue its discussions with Hockey India on hosting rights in the next four-year cycle, particularly the Champions Trophy and the men's and women's Olympic Qualifying Tournaments in February 2012.

Poole said any planning was "in the very early stages" but stressed her association was in no hurry to expose itself to any financial risk.

New Zealand would be a logical choice to host the tournament, which rates only behind the Olympics and World Cup on the international calendar.

Ranked seventh in the world, the Black Sticks are the only team ranked in the top eight not to be included in the roster for the tournament.

Their place is taken by ninth-ranked India.

National men's coach Shane McLeod would welcome the opportunity to play such a tournament.

"It would be great to host a tournament like this as a lead in to next year's Olympics," said McLeod, who is scheduled to take his team to South Africa in late November to play the Champions Challenge from which the winner will qualify for the next Champions Trophy.