New Zealand’s women’s team will not participate in the next season of the FIH Hockey Pro League. This follows a decision from Hockey New Zealand to withdraw from the competition, despite having avoided relegation on the field of play. However, New Zealand’s hockey’s governing body made it clear that the team would seek to rejoin the FIH Hockey Pro League after 2024. To achieve this, the Black Sticks will need to win the FIH Hockey Nations Cup, which is the qualification path to the FIH Hockey Pro League.
As a result of New Zealand’s withdrawal, USA, which finished last in the recently completed season, will keep their spot amongst the participating nations for the upcoming season.
Hockey New Zealand CEO Anthony Crummy said: “As a founding participating nation in the league, this was a difficult decision for us, but the right one to ensure we are best placed to qualify and prepare for the most important event in our calendar, the Olympic Games. The doubling of travel costs in a post-Covid environment, and the volume of travel coupled with the timing of Season 5’s events in a busy 2024 meant it's just not possible to participate in Pro League while qualifying and adequately preparing for the Olympics.”
USA Field Hockey Executive Director Simon Hoskins stated: “We are sorry to learn of the withdrawal of New Zealand women. For USA, we are excited for the opportunity to continue in the FIH Hockey Pro League. Our young and improving squad will be looking to make their mark in Season 5.”
FIH CEO Thierry Weil said: "Of course, it’s heartbreaking to see that a team which had fought so hard to avoid relegation won’t eventually be able to stay. Especially as FIH and the participating nations have collectively evolved and adjusted the FIH Hockey Pro League since the launch to establish a format which is not only more sustainable but profitable to all eventually. But with the commitment of Hockey New Zealand to do their utmost to be part of the FIH Hockey Pro League journey soon again, I’m convinced that we will welcome back the Black Sticks sooner than later. Meanwhile, we very much look forward to seeing the US team competing again in Pro League next season, as they are building up for the future and especially towards the 2028 Olympic Games which they will be hosting in Los Angeles.”
FIH will announce the final match schedule for the 2023-2024 FIH Hockey Pro League season shortly.