Hockey Australia has unveiled Hockey One, their new elite domestic league – and hailed it as “…the beginning of an exciting new era for the code in Australia”.
The first edition of Hockey One, branded as a major shift for the sport in Australia, will feature seven new clubs based in Australia’s major cities playing home-and-away matches from late September before a finals series in mid-November, with concurrent men’s and women’s competitions played in a unique double-header format.
Hockey Australia has named seven clubs – The new clubs are Adelaide Fire, Brisbane Blaze, Canberra Chill, HC Melbourne, NSW Pride, Perth Thundersticks and Tassie Tigers – for the inaugural season, to be staged later this year.
Hockey One will represent elite and unified teams (with males and females under the same umbrella) with a new logo, replacing the Australian Hockey League (AHL) as the elite domestic competition and pathway for Hockeyroos, Kookaburras and the next generation of Australian talent.
Hockey One is described “…as a re-imagined sport and entertainment product that puts fans first, with a new concept, new format, new club identities, new rule innovations and new access for fans with three home match days for every club.”
Regular season games will be streamed live on Kayo with the finals televised live on Fox Sports.
Hockey Australia has also released a video to promote Hockey One.
Hockey Australia CEO Matt Favier said: “This is a significant and exciting announcement for hockey in Australia as we strive to put fans first and showcase everything that is great about our game with this ambitious new league, Hockey One. The feedback we received from numerous surveys and research conducted in recent years with Australian hockey fans, players and officials has shown there is an appetite for a new approach to our domestic hockey league, much like other sports have adopted like cricket’s Big Bash League.
“We’ve worked with our member associations on their club identities which are fantastic and full of life and colour. They are sure to engage existing hockey fans and the next generation. Hockey as a game is a fantastic entertainment product and we want to showcase that to the wider Australian public through Hockey One. Our slogan is it’s ‘Real Hockey. Reimagined’.”
Hockey One will moves from the AHL’s carnival style tournament to an eight-week home-and-away league running from late September to mid-November. The male and female leagues will run concurrently. There will six home-and-away rounds, with each club playing three home matches, before semi-finals and Grand Finals in mid-November. Every match day will always include male and female double-headers.
Favier added: “We’re thrilled to announce that Kayo Sports will live stream home-and-away matches and that the finals will be televised live on Fox Sports.
“This is a major step forward in terms of visibility and exposure for hockey in Australia and we’re delighted to be able to bring this unprecedented access to our real hockey fans.”
The schedule for the inaugural Hockey One season will be confirmed in due course along with information on rules, coach appointments and player signings.
Several rule innovations were trialled during last year’s AHL including ‘Pump Plays’, field goal conversions and ‘shoot-outs’ in the event of a drawn game. Based upon the feedback from players, coaches and fans, these ruled will be assessed for implementation during Hockey One.