After a short break, the Hockey Series Open is back in action, this time in Port Vila, Vanuatu.
The joint men’s and women’s event sees some of the developing nations of the Oceania region seeking to start their own exciting hockey adventures.
With one qualification place to the second round up for grabs it really is all to play for. The action starts on Wednesday 15 August and takes the format of a round robin followed by placement matches. The final round of matches, which sees fourth versus third and second versus first as decided from the pool match results, is on Saturday 18 August.
The four teams taking part in the men’s competition are Fiji, Tonga, the Solomon Islands and the host nation Vanuatu. In the women’s event, the same nations are participating.
Favourites for the women’s event, based on International Hockey Federation (FIH) Hero World Rankings (WR) are Fiji who have a ranking of 59. The Solomon Islands are close behind on 63 and will be looking to challenge Fiji for top spot. Tonga (WR:65) and Vanuatu ((WR:74) are both teams with ambitions to move up the rankings and spring a surprise on their higher ranked Oceania neighbours.
In the men’s competition, Fiji again hold the top ranking at 57th in the world, with Vanuatu (WR:64) eight places ahead of Tonga (WR: 72). The Solomon Islands currently sit at 88th in the world.
All four nations competed in the Oceania Intercontinental Hockey5s competition which ran alongside the Oceania Cup in October 2017. The experience of playing international hockey and all the stresses that such a challenge involves will have stood the teams in good stead.
At that event, Vanuatu took the men’s title, beating Samoa by a convincing 11-1 scoreline in the final. Captain Hiro Namu proved that he will be one to watch in the Hockey Series Open as he scored five of the 11 goals. The bronze medal went to the Solomon Islands after they beat Tonga 6-1.
In the women’s event, Fiji confirmed their status as one of the top teams in the region after they beat Samoa 5-2. Like their male counterparts, the Solomon Islands won bronze after defeating Tonga 7-2.
The winner of the men’s and women’s event in Port Vila will qualify for the Hockey Series Finals where there is the potential to then play in Olympic qualifying matches.
The Hockey Series plays a vital role in supporting the FIH’s ‘Equally Amazing’ ethos, which promises equal opportunities for hockey across genders and nations. For more details on the Hockey Series, click here.