Germany-Belgium FIH Pro League games to mark global hockey resumption
International hockey will return to action after a six-month hiatus because of the pandemic. These matches will complete Pro League engagements for September. Action will resume on October 27 with hosts Netherlands men and women taking on Great Britain at Amstelveen.Updated: Sep 21, 2020, 20:54 IST
International hockey will have its first brush with the bio-bubble when it adopts Covid-19 protocols for the resumption of the FIH Pro League at Dusseldorf, Germany on Tuesday. It will be a weeklong affair comprising two matches each for the men’s and women’s teams of Germany and Belgium and its success could clear the path for more international competitions and bilateral tours in the buildup to next year’s Tokyo Olympics.
International hockey will return to action after a six-month hiatus because of the pandemic. These matches will complete Pro League engagements for September. Action will resume on October 27 with hosts Netherlands men and women taking on Great Britain at Amstelveen. The fixtures will end on November 15. Matches will resume on January 24 and continue till the finals in June. India will get into action in April.
“We fully implement the hygiene concept drawn up with the International Hockey Federation and the responsible authorities in Düsseldorf. This includes the secure bubble as well as distance and hygiene rules for all people present who are not part of the bubble,” German Hockey Federation media officer, Christoph Plass, said in an email interaction.
The four teams will be staying in two different hotels, have their own locked-in area and will have no contact to other hotel guests. The players will be tested before joining the bio-bubble and once again, as per local government protocol.
“International competitions under the new Covid-19 guidelines have already taken place in Düsseldorf, so we will use the expertise,” he said.
Germany will go into competition under-prepared, having got together for the first time since January only a few days ago. Belgium, the world No.1 men’s team, is ready.
The players have followed the programme set by the coaching staff during the lockdown and were at peak fitness when they assembled for training, according to Belgium chief coach, Shane McLeod.
“We were able to do a lot of technical stuff when we could have training sessions. I would even dare say, for a lot of players, they made some gains during their time because we were able to focus quite individually on each of the athletes. The big negative was not playing together so we have had to rebuild our game a little bit,” McLeod told the FIH website. Both men’s teams will also field junior players as they build up for Tokyo.
Germany men will look to avenge their 0-8 thrashing by the reigning European champions in their Pro League meeting in 2019. Germany made a solid start against Spain in the second edition of the Pro League before matches were suspended.
Kais Al Saadi, Germany men’s head coach, said the team would compete well against Belgium despite not training together enough. “Pro League has been very good for us in 2020. We were looking forward to the games. Our start in Valencia (against Spain) was okay. I don’t have motivational concerns, but the team is far from sharp and ready. We will learn a lot and compensate with excitement and motivation.”