Hockey 5s for All

August 31, 2023

Hockey 5s for All

Hockey is constantly being reviewed in order to make it more dynamic, more entertaining, and safer. Rule modifications directly relate to these premises. But there's a greater purpose that adds to these goals, and that is for it to reach every corner of the world. Thus emerged Hockey 5s, a variant that requires less space, less time, and fewer resources.

In this way, it could be used as a first step to introduce and establish hockey in countries with limited budgets. The nations of Central America, including Costa Rica, Panama, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Guatemala, were among the first to show interest. They hold an annual Development Tournament, rotating the hosting duties. This arrangement allows them to spread, showcase, and experience this sport "at home" at certain intervals. The goal is clear: to generate interest and pave the way for its growth. The next tournament will take place from November 15th to 19th in El Salvador.

While this format has been implemented in international youth tournaments for almost a decade (first appearing at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games), it has gained ground in recent years due to the aforementioned reasons. In 2022, there was a maiden exhibition for adults in Lausanne, Switzerland, where Uruguay (women) and India (men) took home the trophy. Now, the world debut is anticipated in Oman in 2024.

Nicolás Tixe, the Head Coach of the Uruguayan teams, shared how his country strongly supports hockey's development in general and particularly Hockey 5s. "It allows developing nations to compete on a better international level with fewer requirements. It's new, different, and a lot of fun," he explained. He added, "The tournament in Switzerland was significant because we were acknowledged by the International Federation. It was a demanding tournament with teams ranked above us. Additionally, we received a prize of 25,000 Swiss francs, which greatly helped our growth. It garnered a lot of exposure due to television coverage, and upon our return, we were received by the President of the Republic." This was said by the leader of the team that not only secured the gold but also received awards for top scorer and best player of the tournament, awarded to Teresa Viana.

For the Middle East event next year, a qualifying round took place in Jamaica where Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Panama made their debut. The qualified teams included the United States, Paraguay, and Las Cimarronas in the women's division, and the United States, Trinidad and Tobago, and the host nation in the men's division. Fabián Stewart, the president of the Jamaican federation, commented, "Hosting the qualification was very important for us for several reasons: it's part of our strategy to develop the sport in the country, a pillar of growth to enter international competition, and it helped spread the sport throughout the nation, especially after the pandemic. In terms of impact and development, it put us back on the map and was fantastic, especially that the Jamaican team secured third place."

The format of five-a-side in a smaller space, much smaller than an 11-a-side field, two halves of 10 minutes each, goals valid from the center of the rectangle, and the dynamic feature of side and end boards to prevent the ball from going out make the game naturally more appealing and adaptable in different countries with varying economic situations. It's also feasible to set up the field on any surface. These conditions assist places with fewer players, a limited number of facilities for play, and the need to reduce costs since tournaments are shorter.

"In Costa Rica, we don't have an official hockey field, and this format allows us to adapt any synthetic football field to play," said Andrey Umaña, umpires manager from the Central American country. He added, "This also gives us the opportunity to host Development Tournaments as we did in 2019 and 2021, and we even went to the Jamaican Pre-World Cup. That's more challenging with 11-a-side; we don't have the structure."

Hockey 5s was born with a purpose: to provide the entire planet with the opportunity to play with the stick and ball. And it's succeeding in doing so.

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