Hockey Australia today unveiled Hockey One, their new elite domestic league – and hailed it as "...the beginning of an exciting new era for the code in Australia."
Hockey One is being branded as a major shift for the sport in Australia "...as a re-imagined sport and entertainment product that puts fans first, with a new concept, new format, new club identities, new rule innovations and new access for fans with three home matchdays for every club."
Regular season games will be streamed live on Kayo with the finals televised live on Fox Sports.
The first edition of Hockey One later this year will feature seven new clubs based in Australia’s major cities playing home-and-away matches from late September before a finals series in mid-November, with concurrent men’s and women’s competitions played in a unique double-header format.
The new clubs are Adelaide Fire, Brisbane Blaze, Canberra Chill, HC Melbourne, NSW Pride, Perth Thundersticks and Tassie Tigers.
Hockey One aims to unify and celebrate both male and female hockey as a gender equal sport, with all clubs bringing together their teams under the one umbrella of one team name and always playing double-headers to enhance the fan matchday experience.
Hockey Australia CEO Matt Favier said: “This is a significant and exciting announcement for hockey in Australia as we strive to put fans first and showcase everything that is great about our game with this ambitious new league, Hockey One.
“The feedback we received from numerous surveys and research conducted in recent years with Australian hockey fans, players and officials has shown there is an appetite for a new approach to our domestic hockey league, much like other sports have adopted like cricket’s Big Bash League.
“We’ve worked with our member associations on their club identities which are fantastic and full of life and colour. They are sure to engage existing hockey fans and the next generation.
“Hockey as a game is a fantastic entertainment product and we want to showcase that to the wider Australian public through Hockey One. Our slogan is it’s ‘Real Hockey. Reimagined’.”
Favier added: “We’re thrilled to announce that Kayo Sports will live stream home-and-away matches and that the finals will be televised live on Fox Sports.
“This is a major step forward in terms of visibility and exposure for hockey in Australia and we’re delighted to be able to bring this unprecedented access to our real hockey fans.”
The schedule for the inaugural Hockey One season will be confirmed in due course along with information on rules, coach appointments and player signings.
HOCKEY ONE FACTFILE:
Hockey One is the new league name, representing elite and unified (with males and females under the same umbrella) with a new logo, replacing the Australian Hockey League (AHL) as the elite domestic competition and pathway for Hockeyroos, Kookaburras and the next generation of Australian talent.
Hockey One moves from the AHL’s carnival style tournament to an eight-week home-and-away league running from late September to mid-November. The male and female leagues will run concurrently. There will six home-and-away rounds, with each club playing three home matches, before semi-finals and Grand Finals in mid-November. Every matchday will always include male and female double-headers.
NEW CLUB IDENTITIES
There will be seven new clubs with new names, colours, logos and identities in Australia’s seven major cities, with male and female teams unified under one name. The clubs are Adelaide Fire, Brisbane Blaze, Canberra Chill, HC Melbourne, NSW Pride, Perth Thundersticks and Tassie Tigers.
NEW ACCESS FOR FANS
Fans will have unprecedented access to watch Australia’s elite domestic hockey, with Hockey One home-and-away matches to be live streamed on Kayo Sports and all finals on Fox Sports. Every club will host three home-and-away matchdays in their market offering fans in every major city unprecedented access to their heroes.
Several rule innovations were trialled during last year’s AHL including ‘Pump Plays’, field goal conversions and ‘shoot-outs’ in the event of a drawn game. Feedback from players, coaches and fans is being assessed for inclusion in the rules and regulations for Hockey One to help create celebratory moments and excitement for fans without altering the integrity of the real hockey contest. Further announcements will be made closer to the inaugural season.