Five-a-side hockey or hockey 5s was played at the Nanjing Youth Olympics this year with China emerging as the women's champion. - EPA
KUALA LUMPUR: Hockey 5s (five-a-side) is likely to take on a more prominent role in the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) development plans in the future.
FIH chief executive officer Kelly Fairweather said the game was a success when it was introduced at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Nanjing, China, last month.
“It was a huge success. We saw more than 2,000 people jamming the stadium on match days and most of them were watching hockey for the first time. This is a format that we can look towards as part of the development for the sport. I am sure that we can use it for other age-group tournaments to further popularise the sport,” said Fairweather, who briefed the members of the Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) during their Congress here on Sunday.
He added that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would like to see hockey being played globally.
“We launched the World Hockey League last year to allow the lower ranked countries to get a chance to play against top-class opposition. For hockey to remain in the Olympics, we need to ensure that there is a wider participation at grass roots level,” he said.
“It is interesting to note that over 20 countries are playing hosts to the second edition of the World Hockey League this year.
“At the YOG, we even had teams like Uruguay, Zambia and Fiji competing in the women’s category. In the men’s category, there were teams from Mexico, Zambia and Bangladesh,” said Fairweather.
China won the women’s gold in Nanjing while Australia emerged champions in the men’s category.
Fairweather also called on the AHF members to attend the FIH Congress in Marrakesh, Morocco, in November.
“We will be talking about FIH’s exciting new vision and strategy for the sport. The World Cup in The Hague, Holland, in June was a huge success with more than 100 countries getting live feed of the matches.
“We need to be innovative for the game to develop at a faster rate,” added Fairweather.
FIH president Leandro Negre was also present at the AHF Congress where Malaysia’s Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah was elected as the new president.