The Kookaburras and Hockeyroos will not compete in the next edition of the FIH Pro League, with Hockey Australia (HA) also confirming non-attendance at various other FIH (International Hockey Federation) events over the coming months.
Australia and New Zealand will not take part in Season 3 of the FIH Pro League (scheduled to start in October 2021) as a result of COVID related government travel restrictions and uncertainty in both nations.
All participating countries and the FIH Pro League Council agreed it was untenable for international teams to travel to Australia and New Zealand, as well as for Australian and New Zealand teams to play overseas and return without having to quarantine.
“Based on risk assessment and current Australian government health advice, Hockey Australia is not considering overseas hockey-related trips at this time,” said HA Acting CEO, Michael Johnston.
“The decision on our absence from the FIH Pro League was a collective one agreed on by all nations based primarily on other countries’ difficulty or inability to travel into Australia and New Zealand.
“In Australia it is apparent the easing of international travel restrictions is still a way off and none of the competing countries wanted to enter the next Pro League season without a level of assuredness.”
Hockey Australia remains committed to the Hockeyroos competing at the FIH Women’s Hockey World Cup in Spain and the Netherlands from 1-17 July next year.
The Kookaburras and Hockeyroos will also be part of the Australian Commonwealth Games team that will head to Birmingham in England between 28 July and 8 August 2022.
With COVID causing ongoing challenges and risks with international travel and subsequent quarantine, Hockey Australia has also withdrawn teams from the following tournaments:
– FIH Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup India 2021 (November/December)
– FIH Hockey Women’s Junior World Cup South Africa 2021 (December)
– FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup Belgium 2022 (February)
Further, Hockey Australia has ruled out sending an Australian Masters team to the World Masters Hockey (WMH) Masters Indoor World Cup in the USA in February.
“There is a lot of planning and logistics that go into any international tour,” said Johnston.
“This is why we have stipulated a three month lead in time for any overseas event that our national teams, outside of the Kookaburras and Hockeyroos, are going to attend.”
“We have been working with Hockey New Zealand and there is strong intent from both parties to provide Trans-Tasman competition opportunities where both nations have withdrawn from international events. This will of course be subject to an open travel bubble.”
“As with the situation since the start of COVID, Hockey Australia will continue to review its position on international travel based on available information and the advice of the Australian government and health authorities.”
“We will look forward to participating in Season 4 of the FIH Pro League and Junior World Cup events to be held in 2023.”
HA High Performance Pathways Manager Ian Rutledge, who has been overseeing preparation for Australia’s participation at the FIH Junior Men’s and Women’s World Cups, says it is a blow to the athletes, coaches and officials but the right decision in the circumstances.
“The past 18 months have been such a challenging period for these athletes who are currently in the window to compete at these World Cups and who are aspiring to become the next crop of Hockeyroos and Kookaburras,” said Rutledge.
“Hockey Australia’s top priority is the safety and wellbeing of its athletes and staff and this decision reflects that.”
“While it is disappointing, we will continue to search for alternate competition and development opportunities for our National Junior Squads and be flexible and adaptable in the continual development of our up-and-coming talent.”
The position for any Australian officials appointed by the FIH to international events will be determined on an individual basis.
Any Australians seeking to play in overseas leagues are urged to ensure they are aware of government regulations