Season 5 of the FIH Hockey Pro League is less than a month away! Between the start of the tournament from 7 December 2023, till the final match is played on 30 June 2024, the 18 best teams in the world (9 men’s and 9 women’s) will compete in 144 matches, with the aim of winning the coveted trophy along with an additional benefit introduced this season!
For the very first time, the men’s and women’s teams that win the FIH Hockey Pro League title will receive the added benefit of securing a direct spot at the FIH Hockey World Cup 2026, to be held in Belgium and Netherlands.
With the teams having acclimated to the new mini-tournament format, that helped athletes perform to their peak level in season 4, rapidly improving squads with younger players breaking out, and the added incentive of qualifying for the World Cup and ensuring survival against the threat of relegation, the 5th edition of the FIH Hockey Pro League promises to be the most competitive one yet!
The logistical format of the Pro League games saw an evolution in season 4 with the introduction of the mini-tournaments and season 5 will see the continuance of the same. Each team will face the other 8 teams twice in the season, for a total of 16 games played by each team. But while the old format saw teams travel frequently, the current format drastically reduces the travelling requirements of each team through the mini-tournament format.
The entire season of the FIH Hockey Pro League is split into multiple mini-tournaments, where a set of 3 will gather in one host nation and play all their matches against each other, setting up 6 games per mini-tournament. Through season 5, multiple mini-tournaments will be played across Argentina, India, Belgium, Great Britain and Netherlands. The mini-tournament format contributes towards creating a more environmentally sustainable event, while also reducing the travelling burdens on the teams and athletes, allowing them to give their very best in each game.
For the first time we have two teams promoted into the FIH Hockey Pro League thanks to the promotion-relegation system introduced in season 4 of the Pro League, in tandem with the FIH Hockey Nations Cup. The Indian women’s team were promoted to the Pro League following their victory in inaugural FIH Hockey Nations Cup. USA finished at the bottom of the table in the Pro League season 4, but remain in the competition following New Zealand’s withdrawal from season 5.
In the men’s competition, it was the New Zealand men’s team that finished in the last position and were relegated. South Africa, the winners of the FIH Hockey Men’s Nations Cup secured promotion to the Pro League season 5, but decided to withdraw from season 5, and were replaced by Ireland who finished as runners-up at the Nations Cup.
- The scoring system remains the same as the previous season.
- 3 points are awarded to a team for winning a match inside the regulation 60-minute period.
- A tie in the regulation time leads to each team earning 1 point for a draw, however the match then goes into a shoot-out.
- The team that wins the shoot-out is awarded 1 bonus point in addition to the point awarded for the draw.
- A team losing in regulation time is awarded no points.
A word on the champions before we look at the teams that will be hoping to challenge their supremacy.
Netherlands women’s national team were the dominant force in season 4, having missed out on the title in season 3 to Argentina. The champions of season 1 & 2 romped home to the title once again, breaking multiple records on the way as they went through the season unbeaten, winning 15 and drawing 1 of their 16 games, for a record breaking season total of 46 points! The Dutch were firing on all cylinders with all the top-3 goal scorers of the season belonging to their side with Yibbi Jansen (14 goals) joined by the pair of Pien Dicke and Jossje Burg, who both chipped in with 8 goals apiece, as Netherlands amassed a massive goal difference of +47 through the season. As the current holders of the World Cup, Olympics, EuroHockey Championships and the FIH Hockey Pro League titles, the onus is on all the other 8 teams to displace Netherlands from the top of their pedestal.
Netherlands men’s team made it double-delight for their nation, successfully defending their title in the 4th season of the FIH Hockey Pro League, becoming the first men’s team to win back-to-back titles in the competition. The title came down to the wire with just 8 points separating Netherlands in first place and Spain in fifth place. Great Britain, Belgium, India and Spain had the opportunity to win the title at the back end of the season, but it was Netherlands who made the most of their opportunity and won the title with 35 points. They followed up the Pro League title with another impressive showing at the EuroHockey Championships, winning the title and qualifying for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, showing they are a team firmly on the rise, and it will take a big effort from their opponents to wrest the Pro League trophy away from them.
Argentina finished second in season 4, 14 points adrift of winners Netherlands. After going unbeaten throughout season 3, the Leonas dropped points early in season 4 in shoot-out losses against Belgium and Germany, and two outright losses against Netherlands, that gave the Dutch a clear path to the title. However, they remain a major force in women’s international hockey, having finished in the top-2 spots in each season, except the inaugural one. If Argentina can make a quick start, like they did in season 3, they are a difficult team to stop.
Australia returned to the FIH Hockey Pro League in season 4, after their 1-year absence due to the pandemic-enforced travel restrictions and it was like they had never left. The Hockeyroos finished in an impressive third place upon their return to the competition, despite spending much of their season blooding in new young talent that will serve them well for many years to come. They ended up with 31 points, just one adrift of Argentina in second place, with a lot of points gained from losing positions, showcasing their fighting spirit. Ambrosia ‘Rosie’ Malone was one of the big stars for the team chipping in with crucial goals on multiple occasions, leading from the front as one of the team’s more experienced players.
For the second season in a row Belgium finished in the 4th position, which remains their best ever finish in the competition. While Belgium’s hopes of a podium place finish were hindered by an inability to string together a run of victories, they will take positives from their ability to bounce back after each defeat, never losing two matches in a row. 20-year-old Charlotte Englebert and 17-year-old Emily White were two huge shining lights from the Red Panthers campaign, with Englebert grabbing 5 goals and White top-scoring for the team with 7 goals.
Germany had an up and down season, climbing up from their sixth place finish in season 3 to finish fifth in season 4, but failed to register any of their trademark victories against the teams ranked higher than them in the world rankings. Their most impressive performances were in matches they won in the shoot-outs, against Australia, Argentina and Belgium. The Danas will be looking to use continuity from an experienced squad to convert some of those impressive ties into victories in season 5.
Great Britain had a tough mini-tournament to start their season, facing the two highest ranked teams in the world; Netherlands and Argentina, as they claimed no points from their opening 4 encounters. However 5 wins in the next 6 games steadied the ship for them as they registered impressive wins over Australia, New Zealand and China. A total of 42 players played for Great Britain in season 4 of the Pro League, with exactly half of them aged 25 and under! With plenty of youngsters getting their first international hockey experience, Great Britain are poised to carry their late season momentum into the new season of the Pro League and climb up the table.
China spent major part of the Pro League season 4 embroiled in the relegation battle with New Zealand and USA, but managed to survive and finish in the seventh place. They had a reasonable start to the season winning 2, drawing 3 and losing 3, but their season unravelled in the second half as they registered 8 straight losses to finish their season in 7th position. However, they put their disappointing end to the season behind them and won the gold medal at the recently concluded Asian Games 2023, securing qualification to the Olympic Games Paris 2024, and will hope to carry their form into the new season of the FIH Hockey Pro League.
USA finished their Pro League season 4 campaign in last place, 3 points behind New Zealand. But with New Zealand’s decision to withdraw from season 5, USA will keep their spot amongst the participating nations for the upcoming season. However, they will hope to improve on their performances from the previous season if they want to avoid the drop this season, as they look to build a competitive side with an eye on the home Olympic Games in 2028.
India qualified for season 5 of the Pro League thanks to their rousing victory at the inaugural FIH Hockey Nations Cup in Spain. India previously participated in the Pro League in season 3, replacing Australia who couldn't participate due to the pandemic enforced travel restrictions, and produced great hockey to finish in third place behind Argentina and Netherlands. While India missed out on securing direct qualification to the Olympic Games through the Asian Games 2023, they did claim gold in the recently concluded Asian Champions Trophy, winning all 7 of their games, showing they are a force to be reckoned with.
For much of season 4, Great Britain looked like they would stroll to their first ever Pro League title, but four losses in their last six games saw them fall just short, as they finished second, three points behind champions Netherlands. Despite the late falter, Great Britain will take a lot of positives from the previous season, having registered impressive wins over highly ranked opposition, and playing an all-out attacking style of hockey. Sam Ward and Nick Bandurak both got into double digits for goals scored as GB produced the highest goal difference in the league combining a free-flowing attack with a rock solid defence. Great Britain will look to go one step further this season and win the title, and if they can stay consistent throughout the season, they will be the favourites amongst the chasing pack, to dethrone Netherlands.
Belgium finished third in season 4 of the Pro League, which was their lowest ever finish in the competition, having never finished outside of the top-2 places in the past, and winning the title in 2020-21. In an incredibly tight season, Belgium’s 30 points were just 5 off Netherlands' championship winning total, and their fortune would have flipped on its head, had it not been for the two losses against Netherlands in the final 3 games of the season, that proved to be the difference between Netherlands winning the title and Belgium finishing third. Season 5 will give Belgium another opportunity to win some silverware, as they try to build momentum towards defending their gold medal at the Olympic Games in Paris.
India finished season 4 level on points with Belgium, with a superior goal difference, but missed out on third place, as they had fewer outright wins compared to the Red Lions. With the fourth placed finish, India are yet to finish outside of the top-4 in their three seasons in the Pro League, but will aim to capitalise on their high-powered offence and win the title in season 5. India have been the top scoring team in the past two editions of the Pro League, but have fallen short of winning the title. If they can tighten up their defence to go with their firing offence, the Indian charge will be tough to stop. Indian captain and ace drag flicker Harmanpreet Singh was once again in a league of his own when it came to goal scoring, winning a second consecutive scoring title with 18 goals, 5 clear of Alexander Hendrickx in second place.
Spain, along with India and Great Britain, were the early frontrunners for the title in season 4 of the Pro League, but much like India and GB, their title charge fell by the wayside towards the back end of the season. After losing just one of their opening 8 fixtures, the Red Sticks lost 4 of their final 8 matches, to finish with 27 points, 8 adrift of Netherlands in the first place. Alvaro Iglesias, Marc Reyne, Marc Miralles all chipped in with 5+ goals as Spain’s experienced players continued to lead the way. Pere Amat was one of the best young players in the Pro League last season and the 18-year-old also added 3 goals for the Red Sticks. If the younger players can make the leap towards consistency this season, Spain are sure to be title contenders once again.
Germany finished 6th in the previous season of the Pro League, which equals their worst finish in the competition's history. However, with their success in the FIH Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 coming before the start of their Pro League campaign, Germany used the season to give international debuts to a lot of young players, who they will hope can take a step forward as the World Champions aim to build momentum before the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.
Australia, much like Germany, also chose to use season 4 of the Pro League to give their young players the platform to compete against the best teams in the world as they transition from one generation of hockey players to the next. With the constant changes in the line-ups, the season 1 champions struggled to put together a consistent run of victories, and finished in the 7th spot. However, they had plenty of bright spots with young guns like Joel Rintala, Ky Willott and Jake Harvie showing great promise.
Argentina finished in 8th place in season 4 of the Pro League, which is their lowest ever finish in the competition, but were never pulled into the relegation zone, given New Zealand’s failure to gather points across the season. The biggest takeaway from the previous season for Argentina will be that their main core of players, including the likes of Maico Casella, Martin Ferreiro, Lucas Toscani, continued to perform well and are only just entering their prime years. While Argentina didn’t get near a title charge last season, they are known for their mercurial hockey, and ruling them out for a bounce back season would be a folly.
Ireland finished as runners-up in the inaugural season of the FIH Hockey Nations Cup, but were promoted to the Pro League for the upcoming season, following South Africa’s decision to pull out of the competition. Ireland were standouts at the Nations Cup winning 4 matches in a row before their narrow 4-3 loss to South Africa in the final. A decade on from his international debut, Shane O’Donaghue remains the most crucial player for the Irish, and was instrumental in the team making it to the finals at the Nations Cup, chipping in with 5 goals, which saw him finish second on the top-scorers list. Ireland play with a direct attacking style that gives them the ability to win matches even when they come up against teams that control possession, and their opponents in season 5 of the Pro League will do well not to take the threat of the new entrants lightly.
To see the full match schedule of the FIH Hockey Pro League Season 5, click here.
Where to Watch
With the introduction of the FIH+ pass on Watch.Hockey and the lifting of geo-blocking* on international hockey matches, hockey fans worldwide can now watch all matches of the FIH Hockey Pro League season 5, along with the FIH Hockey Junior World Cups, FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers, FIH Hockey5s World Cups and FIH Hockey Nations Cup through a one-time subscription! What’s more, purchasing the subscription before 20 November also allows fans to avail a 25% discount via the early bird offer! Click here to get your FIH+ pass now!
*except in the Indian subcontinent