The very first Hero Hockey World League came to a close on Sunday with the Netherlands recording a resounding victory over New Zealand in the final and lifted the inaugural trophy.
Strewn in the debris of the tournament behind them were World Number one and reigning Olympic gold medallists Germany who finished in seventh place, Belgium who came fifth and World number two Australia who finished fourth, following a controversial disallowed goal in the last minute against vastly improved England.
There was some great hockey played. There was also some poor hockey played a result of the timing of the tournament, with some countries out of season.
The tournament was in its first year and as one would expect it was bound to suffer a few teething problems. One issue that was raised during the finals series was the fact that it is called a “League” competition, yet it was decided in a knock-out format. Obviously the FIH wanted the competition to be different from the already established Champions Trophy, but somehow in the Finals series it seemed to misfire.
Four teams slugged it out in two pools and then all eight teams made the quarter finals. One suggestion by a former international player was that the FIH should expand the pools to five teams with the bottom two being eliminated, therefore making every team have something to play for. Also it was suggested that the difference in World rankings points between those eliminated and those remaining should be an incentive to remain in the tournament.
One thing is for sure the tournament needs to re-think the finals series as despite the performances of the Netherlands, England and New Zealand it all proved a bit of an anti-climax.
It would also be wise to have a rest day between the semi finals and the final as it was clear that some players struggled to play back-to-back games, and therefore the spectacle was not what it should have been. Sadly the same error is about to occur in the soon to get underway Hero Hockey India League.
Overall though the concept behind the Hero Hockey World League has been a resounding success and if these small issue can be tweaked the second year should be bigger and better than the first!