6 Jul 2023

Pacific countries vie for 5-a-side Hockey World Cup spots

1:05 pm on 6 July 2023
The Fiji hockey teams with Fijian President, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere

The Fiji hockey teams with Fijian President, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere Photo: Fiji Hockey

Five Pacific countries have the chance to win spots at the inaugaural Hockey5s World Cup in Oman in January 2024.

Fiji, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Tonga will be competing with Australia and New Zealand at the Oceania qualifiers on Australia's Gold Coast.

The International Hockey Federation says hockey5s is a "super-fast, highly skilful, short format of hockey" played with each team comprising four field players and a goalkeeper.

To qualify for Oman a team must finish in the top three in the men's or women's competitions this coming week.

Oceania Hockey has confirmed Samoa has withdrawn because of visa issues.

The teams will play a round robin series, followed by semi-finals, the final and a play-off for the third spot.

Oceania Hockey said this is an exciting development as there have been no Oceania events since the Oceania Cup in 2019 due to covid-19.

Fiji women's team full of experience

The Fijian teams leave for Australia on Thursday.

The players have prepared well in Suva and were blessed by Fijian President, Ratu Wiliame Katonivere, when they made their traditional presentation to him last week.

The Fiji women's team have a lot of experience in them with seasoned campaigners like Catherine Thaggard-Fabiano, Melba Nautu, Lucretia Pickering and Maxine Edwards.

Fiji Hockey said the 10 squad players are "all over the age of 35 with 10 kids between them and over 170 Test caps combined".

"These strong women have put their bodies on the line many times to represent their country; and bring vast experience and skill to the game of 5s and hope to lead their team to their goal of qualifying for the World Cup," the organisation said.

Solomons making use of world-class training grounds

Meanwhile, the Solomon Islands' national teams are at the Gold Coast Performance Centre, where they are finalising their preparations.

The Solomon Islands National Institute of Sports (SINIS) said the Centre, renowned for its state-of-the-art facilities and world-class training grounds, provides the perfect setting for the teams to fine-tune their skills and tactics.

"The camp serves as a vital opportunity for the teams to establish a cohesive playing style and develop a strong team dynamic," SINIS Chief Executive Officer Aaron Aslop said.

The players will be able to work on building their combinations at the training camp.

"The road to the Oceania Regional Championships has been paved with dedication, sacrifice, and relentless training," Aslop said.

"The teams have left no stone unturned in their pursuit of excellence."

Tonga will open the meet on Monday, when they take on Australia. New Zealand will meet the Solomons while Fiji will face Papua New Guinea.

Vanuatu receives a bye in the first round.

With Australia and New Zealand major world hockey-playing nations, the Pacific nations are likely to be aiming for that third spot.

Solomon Islands' hockey teams

Solomon Islands' hockey teams Photo: Solomon Islands National Institute of Sports