Lausanne, Switzerland: The International Hockey Federation on Wednesday released their match schedule of the second edition of the FIH Pro League which includes 144 matches. The opening match will see China and the Netherlands (Women) on 11 January 2020 while a European dual between neighbours Belgium and the Netherlands, Men and Women, will conclude the League on 28 June 2020.
As approved in April by the FIH Executive Board upon recommendation from the National Associations participating in the FIH Pro League, this schedule includes the following principles:
The 2020 edition welcomes India who will be joining the Men’s competition for the first time. Indian Men’s Hockey Team Captain Manpreet Singh expressed his team’s excitement following the announcement of the schedule for the second edition of FIH Pro League today.
India will take on The Netherlands in their opening match on January 18 next year in India. The weekend matches on 18 and 19 January against the Dutch team will be followed by matches against the World Champions Belgium on 8 and 9 February. The home matches will also see India play Australia on 22 and 23 February before the Indian team leaves for away games in Germany as well as Great Britain on 25 and 26 April and May 2 and 3 respectively.
India will return to play on home soil on May 23 and 24 against New Zealand following which the team will leave for Argentina to play matches on June 5 and 6. The Indian team will play the last leg of the Pro League round-robin matches in Spain on June 13 and 14.
“We are really excited to begin our first FIH Pro League campaign on home soil in January. The league provides a great opportunity to play against top teams in the world and we expect all the matches to be challenging. I am sure playing continuous top-level matches will be beneficial in the all-important Olympic year and this could also mean good match exposure for all players in the core group,” stated Manpreet Singh on the sidelines of the on-going National Coaching Camp in SAI, Bengaluru.
India will play a total of eight home games with six matches in January and February and two matches in May. Manpreet believes this will provide ample opportunity for Indian fans to catch their favourite players in action against the best hockey-playing nations in the world. The skipper added:
Meanwhile, Indian Men’s Team Chief Coach Graham Reid emphasised on the importance of regular competition against top teams ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
He said, “We are very excited about the prospects of playing in the Pro League next year. Having experienced it first-hand, I know how important it is to have regular competition. To play against the best teams in the world and test the depth of this talented young squad will be ideal preparation for the Tokyo Olympics should we qualify in November.”