Hockey5s: Indian teams leave for Lausanne to play in the FIH showcase event

The Olympic capital of Lausanne in Switzerland will witness the elite of field hockey in a showcase event featuring five teams each in men and women sections.

Christened as Hockey5s, this shorter version of hockey, is played in two halves of 10 minutes each with five players on either side and the ball is in play for 90 per cent of that time, thanks to perimeter boards that the ball can be played off.

There should also be a glut of goals as players can shoot from anywhere in the attacking half. 

Though the event has been tried at 2014 and 2018 Youth Olympic Games, the FIH is organising this two-day event on June 4 and 5, featuring besides the hosts Switzerland and India, other teams in both the sections.

Other teams in men’s section include the once powerhouse of the sport, Pakistan, besides Malaysia and Poland.

In the women’s section, South Africa, Uruguay andPoland will join India and Switzerland in the competition. Top two teams in each section will vie for honours on June 5, the final day of the showcase event.

Indian teams led by Gurinder Singh (men) and Rajni Etimarpu left for the Olympic capital hoping to return with gold medals in both the sections.

It may be pertinent to mention that India had finished runners-up in both men and women sections of the 2018 Youth Olympics Hockey5s competition in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The Indian Men and Women Hockey teams left for Lausanne, Switzerland in the early hours of Wednesday to participate in the inaugural edition of the FIH Hockey5s Lausanne 2022, which will be held on the 4th and 5th June 2022.

Indian Women’s team will take on Uruguay in the opening match on June 4 followed by a match against Poland on the same day. It  will then square off against the hosts Switzerland and South Africa, respectively on June 5.

Expressing the team’s excitement  at the time of its departure, Rajani said, “Hockey5s will be a different ball game altogether. Our skills, speed and everything will be tested. It will be challenging for sure, but I think it will be a really exciting format to play. We’ve got a couple of players in the team who are acquainted with this format, and we’ve had good preparations at the camp. We are looking forward to representing our country in the inaugural edition of the Hockey5s.”

Meanwhile, the Indian men’s team led by Gurinder Singh, will play its opening match against the hosts Switzerland, followed by a match against Pakistan on the opening day. It will then face Malaysia and Poland  on June 5.

“We are really excited to play a different version of hockey at an international level that too in a beautiful country. It’s a fast-paced and challenging format. Many of our players have played this format before at the Youth Olympics, so we are confident of doing well,” Gurinder Singh said.

This event, and the increasing number of Hockey5s events world-wide are creating excitement among players and coaches. South African coach Tsoanelo Pholo said: ‘Hockey5s is an initiator into hockey, a developer into the full-field version. If you have a Hockey5s court in three or four places in the country, I am telling you now, we are going to have way more hockey players in developing countries.’

Swiss athlete Sae Fontana said: ‘As early adopters of Hockey5s, we want to gain a competitive advantage, to get better rapidly, as a small country. Hockey5s is a fast game which makes it intense for the players.’

There will be some superstars, both established and up and coming, showing their skills at the Place de la Navigation, near Lake Geneva. 

For India men, Dilpreet Singh is an exciting young player who has already played for the national team 63 times. He and Sumit, who will also be in Lausanne, won a Bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics last year! India men will be a leading contender for the title.

If Dilpreet is experienced with 63 caps, then Nabil Noor of Malaysia is a veritable veteran of the game. With 239 international appearances, the captain will look to lead his side of talented players to a first title.

Pakistan men led the way in the sport throughout the 20th century and it is exciting to see what this young team can do in a new format of the game. The speed and intensity will suit the super close skills of the Pakistan team.

Both Poland and Switzerland men’s teams will be looking to transfer some of the skills and tactics of the indoor game onto the court in Lausanne. Poland is a specialist when it comes to the short form of the game and Switzerland, led by Sebastian Schneider, will have the advantage of a home crowd.

In the women’s section, Uruguay will be bringing some South American flair to the hockey party. They will also bring a lot of experience, with Manuela Vilar leading the way. Elisa Civetta was one of the Uruguay stars of the Junior World Cup in April and will be keen to show her goal scoring abilities.