Lausanne [Switzerland], October 8 (ANI): The International Hockey Federation (FIH) on Friday announced that the women's national teams of India and Spain will join the FIH Hockey Pro League for Season 3, which is starting on October 13 with the title holders, World Champions and Olympic Gold Medallists The Netherlands taking on Belgium.
Both teams will replace -- for this season only -- Australia and New Zealand, who last month announced that they were no longer able to participate to this season's FIH Hockey Pro League (as well as the upcoming FIH Hockey Junior World Cups and the FIH Hockey Indoor World Cup) due to COVID-related international travel restrictions put in place by their respective governments. However, Australia and New Zealand will join Pro League again for Season 4.
Whenever possible, the female squads of India and Spain will play on the same dates and venues as their male counterparts, who are already part of FIH's global home-and-away league, which involves most of the best nations in world hockey.
With India and Spain, the third edition of the FIH Hockey Pro League welcomes two teams who played brilliantly at the recent Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. India reached the fourth spot of the Olympic tournament, while Spain only narrowly missed the last four (losing to Great Britain in a shoot-out in the 1/4 finals).
FIH CEO Thierry Weil said: "It's wonderful to welcome such great teams as India and Spain for the next edition of the FIH Hockey Pro League, especially after their brilliant performance in Tokyo. This is great for the athletes and great for the fans! On behalf of FIH, I'd like to extend our sincerest thanks to Hockey India and the Royal Spanish Hockey Federation for having accepted our invitation."
Hockey India President Gyanendro Ningombam said: "We are absolutely delighted that the Indian Women's Hockey Team will participate in the forthcoming edition of the FIH Hockey Pro League. Their participation will not only give them an opportunity to compete against the best teams of the world, but it will also help us increase the fanbase for the Indian Women's Team. With the Asian Games being held in 2022, getting to play strong teams of the world earlier in the year will certainly be a great platform for our teams to get the right exposure before the all-important Asian Games which is also an Olympic Qualification event." (ANI)