Action from Day 1 of the Asian Youth Olympic Games Qualifier
Action from Day 1 of the Asian Youth Olympic Games Qualifier
(Photo: Singapore Hockey Federation)

This week's Asian Youth Olympic Games Qualification Tournament is set to make history as it will be the first official FIH event to use the new Hockey 5 format. The stage is set for this exciting, fast-paced, high-scoring version of hockey to come into the spotlight at the 2014 Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing. FIH.CH took the opportunity to sit down with the chairman of the FIH Competitions Committee, Ken Read, to ask some questions about what fans can expect from the new Hockey 5 format.

This is the first official FIH Hockey5 event. What can fans expect?
A lot of skillful exciting matches played between future Junior and Senior Internationals in this new version of hockey. 10 Asian teams will battle it out for the two Continental places at the Youth Olympic Games, which will take place in Nanjing, China in August 2014. Due to the limitation on a National Olympic Committee’s number of entries for the team sports of football, handball, hockey and rugby – only 1 per gender per NOC – it is in all of the teams’ interests to finish with as high a classification placing as possible, since even a finish in the lower placings may mean YOG participation.  
What are the biggest differences that people will see in the Hockey5 game?
The big differences are the size of the pitch, which is 55m long x 41.70m wide - around half the size of a normal pitch and that a maximum of 5 players per side from each team can take part in the match at any particular time. Each team must have a goalkeeper as part of their five players. The Youth Olympic Games Qualifiers will feature squads of 10 players, although for the YOG themselves it will be squads of 9 players. Matches will consist of 3 periods of 12 minutes with an interval of two minutes between each period. As regards the rules, these are simplified as compared to outdoor hockey. There are no circles, teams may shoot from anywhere, there are no penalty corners and challenges replace penalty strokes. A challenge is effectively a one on one between an attacker and a defending goalkeeper.

Why did the FIH decide to go with Hockey5 for the Youth Olympic Games?
We had seen the success of the 3 on 3 basketball at the last Youth Olympic Games, as well as the impact that twenty 20 and rugby 7s have had on cricket and rugby respectively. Hockey5 is a complementary version of the outdoor game, and we would hope to create the same excitement and interest with this new version of the sport. The smaller squad sizes also enable us to increase the number of participating National Associations at the YOG.
What are the advantages of Hockey5 vs. traditional hockey?
For the Youth Olympic Games and its qualifiers, the rules and regulations must be very precise. However, outside of these tournaments, the advantage of Hockey5 is that while it is closely linked to the outdoor version of hockey, it is both adaptable and flexible in terms of the size of the pitch, the surfaces it may be played on, whether or not boundary boards are used to keep the ball in play and the number of players per team. Additionally the rules are not so complex.

What are the drawbacks of Hockey5 vs. traditional hockey?
Ask me again after the Men’s Asian U-16 Cup Youth Olympic Games Qualifier!
Does Hockey5 have a lot in common with Indoor Hockey? In what ways?
The big similarity with indoor hockey is that Hockey5 is played on a smaller pitch and with fewer players, especially when compared to traditional 11 a side outdoor hockey. The other similarity, we hope, with indoor hockey is that it will be full of end to end action with plenty of goals.

How often/when will the current Hockey5 format/rules/regulations be looked at for revision?
The current Rules and the tournament regulations for Hockey5 have only recently been drawn up. Hockey5 is a new version of the sport so some changes may be necessary in the rules in the short term, in which case the changes will be published on the FIH website. Once Hockey5 is established, we would expect it to follow the same rules cycle as for outdoor and indoor hockey. 

Check back to FIH.CH for updates from the Asian Youth Olympic Games qualifier