Hockey doesn't need 5s format: Charlesworth

Hockey doesn't need 5s format: Charlesworth

Buoyed by the success of five-a-side hockey in the Youth Olympics, the international federation (FIH) is set to go big with promotion of the format next year, but seasoned coaches like Ric Charlesworth feel the game doesn't need a shorter version like cricket.

The FIH is planning an exhibition tournament of Hockey 5s next year but has ruled out the possibility of the format replacing the traditional 11-a-side contest in the Olympics.

The format is part of FIH's efforts to market the sport. But Charlesworth is against too much emphasis on the corporatisation of the game.

"Lot of decisions are made because of money and it's pretty unfortunate. I am worried that there are gladiators in the arena now," the Australian told PTI on the sidelines of the ongoing men's hockey World Cup here.

"Some of the decisions that are now made are not for sports but for the sponsors and I think that's a great danger," he added.

Charlesworth felt the too much emphasis on commerce could end up alienating fans.

"You do need money but you also want people to play sport and not just watch it. That's not ideal. The proliferation of some of the money involved is silly.

"There is pressure to change the way the game is being played. I don't like that. Some sport needed a shorter product, cricket needed a three-hour product but hockey doesn't need that.

"It just goes for hour and a half. There is plenty of action. I don't want to see five-a-side hockey," said Charlesworth, who has also played first-class cricket for Australia besides being the High Performance Manager of New Zealand Cricket.

Not just Charlesworth but other coaches at the ongoing event have also expressed their reservations.

New Zealand coach Shane McLoed said while innovation is the need of the hour for the game, he too doesn't want to see Hockey 5s taking the limelight away from the traditional game.

"The one thing that works for our sport is that we are innovative. We probably haven't seen massive effect with the quarter system. I just think it is a little bit of leveller," McLoed said on the 15-minute four-quarter system that has replaced the 35-minute a side half.

"Hockey 5s really good addition but I would hate for our sport to go in that direction fully," he added.