The Fans of HockeyBlogsNew Zealand’s McAleese Speaks on FIH Tournament Format and Olympic Qualification

Shea McAleese, the Black Sticks hockey player, feels FIH (International Hockey Federation) has got the structure of Hockey tournaments wrong. Double Olympian McAleese, who has represented New Zealand in 2008 and 2012 Olympics, feels the current process of Olympic qualification is bizarre and wrong.

Black Sticks Shea MaAleese scoring the opening goal against India during Hero Hockey World League Final 2014 in New Delhi

File photo: Black Sticks Shea MaAleese scoring the opening goal against India during Hero Hockey World League Final 2014 in New Delhi

Shea McAleese, nicknamed Buddha, says our [Black Sticks] fate is in our hands but what about Ireland? They were fantastic at Hockey World League Semi-Finals (WL3), yet hope that Black Sticks lose to Australia so that they qualify for Rio. Similar situation is for India women (refer embedded graphics at the end of this article)

Black Sticks midfielder McAleese also feels that World League Round 3/ Semi Finals should be played after continental championship and so on… Please read through the full text and comment, what do you feel?

Shea McAleese posted on his Facebook profile:
So I’m sending this out pre-Oceania so you all know win or lose I feel the same way!
If you don’t care don’t read, if you love sport or hockey have a read!
If you like what is said, press LIKE if you agree/disagree COMMENT & if you think we need to change for the better of our sport please SHARE!
Here we go…..
FIH has got the structure of our tournaments all wrong! At the moment you can qualify out of WL3 then your continental qualifiers. After finishing 6th at WL3 Argentina we had 3 ways to qualify from other teams and results with the key one being Oceania. This is the same for anyone that finishes 4-6 at WL3. Instead of WL3 being a celebration you are left with having to rely on other results or teams double qualifying to get you into the Olympics this to me is just bizarre and wrong.
At least our fate is in our own hands. But shouldn’t a team like Ireland who were fantastic at WL3 and finished 5th be given the pleasure then and there of going to Rio rather than hoping we lose to Australia to make it?!? Or Canada who upset us going straight away, rather than having to have a team double qualify to confirm it?
WL3 tournaments should never be hosted before the continental championships. Essentially if you qualify at WL3 only ranking points is on the line at continental champs. I have heard lots of talk that teams are taking weakened teams to their continental champs to blood new players as they have already qualified. This is wrong! Would things be different for South Africa Men & Women if they were able to play Africa Games 1st and qualify there? Again it seems wrong that teams are hoping that South Africa win the Africa Games and not go so they can go….It’s crazy!
What should happen is the continental champs go first. So the 5 continents have their champs plus potentially the host in this case Brazil! So 6 spots taken and 6 left (3 @ each WL3)
After this assess the World Rankings of teams and then make sure the teams at the 2 WL3 tournaments are fair with 3 spots at each event.
This then makes it easy. If Argentina win Pan Am’s like they did you now know they don’t need to qualify from WL3. This would mean if they finish 3rd at WL3 then teams 1/2 & 4 qualify, simpler than the current format. Even if Argentina took a reduced team it doesn’t matter as you know there are 3 spots left and all the teams are on an equal pegging going in.
You could even take it one step further and have 2 tournaments excluding all the teams that have qualified to gain the next best 6 teams for the Olympics.
To compensate for those that have qualified missing out on a tournament you could play a continental championships…..just a thought?
The World League system in itself is a mess and needs to be easier to understand. Try to explain the qualification route to non-hockey players is a nightmare.
The crowd goes wild a Sports show in NZ summed it up the best “the NZ women’s team take on Japan in the quarter-final of the world league semi-final to qualify for the semi-final and the world league finals and Rio……..sort it out hockey” they proceeded to say later in the week, “the girls have finished 4th so miss out on automatic qualification so now have to beat Australia in a winner takes all match to Rio….no but wait 3 weeks later our girls have qualified due to another team winning a competition giving our girls a higher ranking and qualifying…do you know how this works?….I’m confused!
Also I am a fan of most of the rule changes, to speed up our game and be more attacking. But 2 of them are turning our sport into ‘lets park the bus and defend hockey’. 1/4’s aids weaker teams (this is OK) but when you add this to straight shoot-outs you get teams that simply play for a shoot-out (Korea Women) its not healthy for our sport and is boring to watch. The game is basically 60 minutes long why not play 2×5 or 7.5 minutes of 9v9 or 7v7 drop-off, to hope that someone scores the winner rather than straight shoot-out. The shoot out is a cool component of the game and should stay 100% but why not do it after extra time?
Also if you talk to any sports person in sport the most consistent teams across a tournament deserve the rewards. Pool play means nothing. So 4 pool games per team actually mean nothing. You might want to avoid someone but this is also shaky ground…will teams purposely lose or draw to avoid another team? Even the thought of this is against the spirit of the game, but with the current format it can be a reality.
If every pool game means something the above simply can’t happen. The most consistent teams are rewarded and you still have finals!
Food for thought!
We as players seem to be the ones who have to force a change, so I have tried to add in players from most Men’s teams around the World! Hopefully the Women’s teams pick it up as well! Please SHARE!

So I’m sending this out pre-Oceania so you all know win or lose I feel the same way! If you don’t care don’t read, if…

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