Hockey shoots for bigger slice of sporting pie

Stock image. Photo: Getty
Stock image. Photo: Getty

HOCKEY will attempt to gain a bigger slice of the Australian sporting pie when the new Hockey One domestic competition is launched this week.

The average sports fan in Australia normally has little interest in hockey – unless it’s being played at the Olympics or Commonwealth Games.

But Hockey Australia is determined to convert those fans into hardened supporters, and it’s hoped the new seven-team domestic competition will do the trick.

Hockey One, which will be played from September 29-November 16, replaces the old carnival-style Australian Hockey League.

All games will be streamed live on Kayo.

Each club features both a men’s and a women’s team, with games to be played as double-headers.

After seven home-and-away rounds, the top four teams will qualify for the finals.

Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Tasmania, and Canberra have been named as the inaugural franchises.

It’s hoped that by playing games in Australia’s major cities, sport fans will have the chance to embrace hockey like they do with cricket, basketball, and soccer during the summer.

“In many ways it’s very similar to the sort of move that cricket made with the Big Bash,” Hockey One general manager Tony Dodemaide said.

“Hockey’s such a hugely respected sport, and a lot of people know when the Kookaburras and Hockeyroos are running around in Olympic or Commonwealth Games.

“But we’ve also got these incredible athletes coming up in state land that need more visibility, and deserve more visibility.

“This is a great move to do just that – to bring them out, and rebrand them with a bit of colour and movement and excitement.

“What we are doing now is we’re bringing those high quality matches to the fans. It’s a very bold move, but I think it’s a terrific move at the right time.”

Dodemaide is a former Test cricketer who spent stints as chief executive at both the WACA and Cricket Victoria.

The 55-year-old says there’s no reason why hockey can’t become more mainstream in Australia.

“We’ve got these amazing athletes that consistently rank in the top three of the world,” Dodemaide said.

“It’s a wonderful sport. It’s so athletic and skilful. So why not have that aspiration to really capture people’s attention?

“The more people see it, the more they’ll like it, and it will build from there.”

HOCKEY ONE CLUBS (both men and women)

Adelaide Fire

Brisbane Blaze

Canberra Chill

Hockey Club Melbourne

NSW Pride

Perth Thundersticks

Tassie Tigers.

– AAP