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FIH looks to save water, to change playing surface by 2024

FIH decided that from 2024 Paris Olympics onwards, the sport will be played on a new surface which barely uses water, unlike the current synthetic turfs which need lots of it to control the pace of the ball.

other sports Updated: Nov 04, 2018 19:18 IST
Sandip Sikdar
Sandip Sikdar
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
FIH,Thierry Weil,Hockey 5s
Current synthetic surfaces use too much water. (Getty Images)

Altering hockey rules has become a norm and the sport’s international federation (FIH) is set to continue that.

At its 46th Congress, which concluded here on Saturday, the FIH decided that from 2024 Paris Olympics onwards, the sport will be played on a new surface which barely uses water, unlike the current synthetic turfs which need lots of it to control the pace of the ball.

“We will not play on a turf with water anymore because we cannot continue to be seen as wasting water. We have briefed all suppliers around the world about the turf. They have to work on a system that comes close to the quality turf with water,” said FIH CEO Thierry Weil.

“It’s most probably the combination of turf, ball and footwear that should bring us to a similar level as today. We have to come up with a new turf or system which will give the same quality of play for top level games. We have to make this happen as we cannot waste so much water on the pitch if people next door do not have water to drink.”

In addition, the sport will also use non-synthetic surfaces, including grass, to create a broader fan base. Hockey made a shift from grass to synthetic surface almost four decades back but the sport will be played on grass again, among other surfaces, albeit for second rung tournaments.

“The impression out there was that hockey is an elite sport that can only be played on turf with water. Hockey can be played on any surface. But at the highest level, hockey will continue to be played on turf with water (for the time being),” said Weil, who was named FIH CEO in March.

Hockey 5s

The world hockey body will also focus on Hockey5s – a format that has been used in the Youth Olympic Games.

The format, which is viewed as important for the growth of hockey, is cheaper as unlike the traditional format a Hockey5s squad features only nine players instead of 18.

The FIH will organise international exhibition tournaments in the format from the second half of 2019 in a bid to promote the sport in countries where it is not popular.

However, the FIH CEO said it will not replace the traditional 11-a-side game.

“We believe you can bring five-a-side hockey to the people, who will then start practising the sport. But it will not replace the traditional format. (Its success at) Youth Olympics shows that both formats can exist together. It is much easier for smaller nations,” said Weil.

In another development, Algeria was inducted as 138th member of the FIH.

First Published: Nov 04, 2018 19:18 IST