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Field Hockey New Zealand

Photo: PHOTOSPORT

We seldom hear about sports that many don’t consider a sport, except to those who dedicate their time to take up a sport that isn’t front and center, especially in Canada.

The game is played with a team consisting of ten players and a goalkeeper and can be played on grass, watered turf, artificial turf or synthetic field, as well as an indoor boarded surface which is not overly common.

The length of the stick is mainly based on the player’s individual height with the top of the stick normally coming to the players hip with the taller players using a much taller stick. 

In most countries the sport is known as “hockey” in most territories, but the term “field hockey” is mainly used in the USA and Canada, due to the fact that ice hockey is a more popular term.

We are hearing that Ian Francis, Chief Executive who served a ten years term mentioned that he will leave his post for Hockey NZ this coming October, all according to the Hockey NZ Board.

He had initially first planned to step down or resign earlier in the year, but agreed to remain in his position so as to help the sport through the corona virus crisis. 

Francis mentioned “I am very grateful for the commitment and willingness of our hockey community to work together in the sport’s best interests, and this has allowed us to drive some real progress and I’m also pleased to leave knowing that New Zealand now has a strong voice at the global hockey table.”

Under his guidance he helped the New Zealand’s Men’s team win the Commonwealth Games Silver medal at Gold Coast 2018 and both the men and women’s teams have qualified for the rearranged Olympic Games in Tokyo next year.

Hockey NZ chair Mike Bignell mentioned “Hockey has an incredibly busy two years ahead and

at the community level, we are working with associations to introduce more competition opportunities.” 

He continued “We are also increasing the depth of our high-performance playing pool through the development of 100 athletes outside our national squads and internationally our Vantage Black Sticks teams, which are both ranked among the world’s top nations, will compete in the annual FIH Hockey Pro League as well as the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 followed by the World Cup and Commonwealth Games in 2022.

The league has around 90,000 registered players involved and overall participation levels are now nearly 50%  higher than 10 years ago.

“Ian has also overseen our Vantage Black Sticks teams moving from amateurs to semi-professional athletes, and he has played a leading role in the development of the new FIH Hockey Pro League as one of just three national chief executives on the Pro League panel.

“Ian leaves a strong legacy behind him, with the sport well positioned for the next chief executive to continue this journey.”

FIH chief executive Thierry Weil wished Francis nothing but the best stating “Ian has been instrumental in the operational set-up and successful creation of the FIH Pro League.” 

At the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, they upset Australia to win gold, becoming the first non-Asian/European team to clinch the gold medal.

They have also won Silver and Bronze at the 2002 and 2010 Commonwealth Games.