SUVA, ( FIJI TIMES) – Fiji now has more chances of retaining its Oceania Hockey World League status after the withdrawal of Samoa in the annual tournament.
Fiji Hockey Federation president Dr Robin Mitchell said our south sea neighbours opted out because of ground problems at home.
“Samoa has withdrawn, so now we have nine teams taking part instead of eleven,” Dr Mitchell said.
“Samoa has problems getting access to their hockey fields because of a national gathering taking place on their hockey field.”
The Fiji men’s team will contain three members from the gold medallist winning team in last year’s Pacific Games in Papua New Guinea.
“They are captain Hector Smith (Jr), Amenatave Veitamana and Christopher Mock,” men’s coach Hector Smith (Sr) said.
“We also have a 16-year-old student from Lautoka who has been playing on grass courts all his life. He is coming to Suva to be part of the team. He is small, fit and a player to look out for in the tournament.”
Team registrations for 12 players were sent to the International Hockey Federation headquarters in Switzerland last night. The names would be dropped to nine players a day before the tournament.
“The tournament starts on June 28 and the first part finishes on Friday for qualifiers for Round 2. The Hockey World League is held every two years and this is a qualifying for the World Cup in 2017. There are nine Round 1 competitions and the first one was in Singapore, ours the second and it goes to Mexico and other countries.
“The winners in the men’s goes to Bangladesh next February, the women’s winner goes to Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur next January.
“The other main event is the preparation for qualification for Argentina Youth Olympic Games in 2018. Fiji will enter two teams in the Oceania qualification and this will come out after the secondary schools competition in Levuka in August.
“The main reason for competing is to get points to qualify for Commonwealth Games.”
Teams: Men: Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu. Women: Fiji, PNG, Solomons and Tonga.