Regional structure, under-21 tournament to go

The winning King's High School Rankin Cup team at a special assembly yesterday. Back row (from...
The winning King's High School Rankin Cup team at a special assembly yesterday. Back row (from left): Ethan Booth, Ocean Allemann, Zachary Diehl, Mitchell Fox, Zeke Buschl, James Nicolson, Tom French, Carl von Bismarck. Front row (from left): Adam Greenfield, Sammy Johnson, Henry King, Harry Mason, Ronan McNeill, Patrick Ward, Joshua Paku, Ben Sowman. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Changes are coming for the way hockey is played nationally.

The regional structure is on the way out, the under-21 tournament will disappear and there will be a return to playing for local associations.

A new high performance series has also been announced although details about that option are light.

The changes to the structure of the national competitions announced yesterday by Hockey New Zealand have come about as the result of a review which took two years, ending with the aim of making the sport fit for purpose.

The key elements coming out of the review were the need for the sport to be fun, affordable, sustainable and inclusive. Costs to attend tournaments were climbing and that needed to be reduced.

The national league, which features regions such as Central, Midland and Southern, will take place in Tauranga later this month.

Hockey NZ announced yesterday the national hockey league will return to an association-based tournament next year.

Alongside the change to the national league, the regional under-21 and under-18 tournaments will also come to an end.

There will be an association-based under-18 tournament but no longer any under-21 tournament.

The statement said changes were going to be delivered in conjunction with the development of a performance network with more information around the network announced later this year.

The performance network will better prepare identified athletes to be world-class players to keep the national sides competitive.

Hockey NZ said the current model had advanced the sport in New Zealand to a great place on the world stage and built depth in our sport, but these new changes would build increased local pride and rivalries while putting national teams in a stronger position to succeed in the future.

Hockey NZ chief executive Ian Francis is excited about the changes.

"These changes are important in the evolution of hockey and will help further enhance and develop our participants experiences at all levels.''

There are 32 associations in the country. Many of the regions were just extensions of the main association in the regions and creating isolated groups.

The national league will continue to be played in September.

The under-18 tournament was traditionally an association-based tournament but was changed to a regionally-based format in 2013. The shift back to association-based will put emphasis on local development for players, coaches, umpires and officials.

The under-21 tournament will cease to exist and athletes who fit into this age-group will aim to make their association's national league team.

A high performance under-21 event, featuring 80 players, will be established providing a competition opportunity for identified athletes. Details of this competition are still being developed alongside the performance network.

  • Sixteen 16 King's High School pupils were given the red-carpet treatment at the school yesterday. The school held a special assembly to recognise the pupils who won the Rankin Cup on Saturday in Christchurch. The cup, the pinnacle of secondary school hockey in the country, had not been won by a team south of the Waitaki River since the start of the tournament in 1923.

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