The 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast (‘a nice ring to that’) are at the doorstep. The evidence of years of planning and preparation will be witnessed and judged as athletes, officials and spectators come from all nations for the event period of between 5-14 April. Of course there is only one competition that is worth watching and that of course is the men’s and women’s hockey. In this article we look at the event itself and what might look forward to and secondly the legacy of the post Commonwealth Games.

About the hockey competition

A] Who are competing and what is the scheduled draw?

For the scheduled draw CLICK HERE

B] About the teams competing

Of the women’s teams competing there are 3 of the top 8 FIH World Rankings; England (2) New Zealand (4) Australia (5). Of the men’s teams competing there are also 3 of the top 8 FIH World Rankings; Australia (1), India (6), England (7). The lowest ranked team is Ghana (30) for the women and Wales (24) for the men.

Previous Commonwealth Games Gold results in the last five Commonwealth Games were;

MENS

1998 Kuala Lumpur, MAS – Gold – Aust.
2002 Manchester, ENG – Gold – Aust.
2006 Melbourne, AUS – Gold – Aust.
2010 New Delhi, IND – Gold – Aust.
2014 Glasgow, SCO – Gold – Aust.

WOMENS

1998 Kuala Lumpur, MAS – Gold – Aust.
2002 Manchester, ENG – Gold – India
2006 Melbourne, AUS – Gold – Aust.
2010 New Delhi, IND – Gold – Aust.
2014 Glasgow, SCO – Gold – Aust.

As witnessed by the data Australian men’s and women’s teams have dominated the gold. Will this be the case in 2018. The men having the ticketed No 1 FIH World Ranking must be hot favourites to regain the gold with India the next highest FIH World Ranked team at No 6. On the other hand the Australian women have more of a challenge in front of them if they are to retain their 2014 Gold Medal status as they have the higher FIH World Rankings team of England No 2 and New Zealand No 4 to overcome.

C] A synopsis of what to expect (Acknowledged source: sportstg.com ) 

The Pool schedule paves the way for some key clashes before the event even reaches the knockout stages.

The opening day sees England take on South Africa in Pool A. The last time these two teams met in a major competition was the Hockey World Cup in 2014, an encounter that saw England defeated 4-1 by an energetic South Africa side.

Since then, England has rebuilt. Whilst many of the Rio 2016 gold medal winning Great Britain athletes are expected to be included in the squad, as England they took silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and bronze at the 2017 Rabobank EuroHockey Championships.

South Africa showed at the Hockey World League Semi-Final in Johannesburg that they are also a side that has been undergoing a successful rebuilding process after they were omitted from the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The second day of competition sees an all-Asia contest as Malaysia take on India. At the Asia Cup, India beat Malaysia 2-0 but the lower-ranked team has been gaining a lot of international experience in the past two years and will be using all that knowledge to full effect at these Games. The Malaysian’s narrow defeat [5-4] at the hands of China in the Asia Cup demonstrated that they are not too far off the pace of the top-ranked teams.

Monday 9 April will be the day the whole of Oceania tunes in as Australia take on New Zealand. While the Hockeyroos took the honours at the recent Oceania Cup, New Zealand has had a great 2017, qualifying for the World Cup via the Hockey World League Semi-Finals and finishing second in the Sentinel Homes Hockey World League Final in Auckland. Expect fireworks on the Gold Coast as world ranked four versus five gets underway.

In the men’s event, the Pools promise some highly competitive action.

Pool A has current holders and world number two side, Australia, up against New Zealand (WR:8), Canada (WR:11), African champions South Africa (WR:15) and Scotland (WR:23).

Pool B will pitch Asian champions India (WR:6), England (WR:7), Malaysia (WR:12), Pakistan (WR:13) and Wales (WR:24) together.

While Australia has won every edition of the Commonwealth Games to date, there are teams who are more than capable of taking that crown.

New Zealand will be looking to up their performance after they qualified for the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup, Bhubaneswar 2018 by the slimmest of margins by finishing sixth in the Hockey World League Semi-Final in Johannesburg.

Canada should never be under-estimated as they proved when they finished fifth at the Hero Men’s Hockey World League Semi-Final in London, beating India in the process.

South Africa won the continental championships to qualify for the World Cup and re-establish themselves on the international scene and Scotland is a team that has real bite to its attack as it showed when it won the EuroHockey Championship II, beating Wales in the final.

In Pool B, there are some real high quality teams. India and England sit at six and seven in the world rankings respectively and have both enjoyed a good spell of success recently. India won the Hero Asia Cup in Bangladesh, while England won bronze in the Rabobank EuroHockey Championships.

Two Asian teams, Malaysia and Pakistan took second and third respectively in the 2017 Hero Asia Cup and both teams will be looking for a good showing on the Gold Coast before they start their World Cup campaigns later in the year.

Wales, who come into the tournament as the lowest ranked men’s side will be looking to build on their recent rise up the FIH Hero World Rankings. An eight-place jump was the biggest move up the rankings of any team.

A quick look at the schedule and some exciting matches immediately catch the eye.

It is a given that the meeting between Pool B rivals India and Pakistan will be a highly-charged affair, with both teams playing for continental bragging rights.

However, no less intense will be the repeat of the 10-goal pool match between Malaysia and England at the Hero Hockey World League Semi-Final in London, where England ran out 7-3 winners.

The final day of Pool action on Wednesday 11 April is sure to be an action-packed day. Malaysia face Asian rivals Pakistan, then the Oceania giants Australia and New Zealand clash. This is followed by India against England, where two well-matched teams go into the fray and finally, Canada will fancy their chances against the African champions, South Africa.

  1. The legacy of post Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games for hockey

There is no doubt the Commonwealth Games will put the Gold Coast and all its benefits in front of a global audience. Not only for its tourism, and lifestyle but its values for sport overall. For the hockey fraternity hockey will be showcased which is good hopefully for increasing post Games hockey participation rates. However what is the biggest legacy is the venue itself and its potential to promote the Gold Coast as a sought after part of local, national and international events destination.

Locating the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast paved the way for a $16.5 million upgrade. Yes an upgrade that will provide the Gold Coast with a world-class hockey facility that caters for elite training and competition as well as community use long after the Games have finished. An appreciative legacy to say the least. The Key features of the venue upgrades include realignment of two synthetic hockey pitches to meet international competition requirements and major refurbishment of a shared clubhouse facility, including permanent seating overlooking the two synthetic pitches.

Kathleen McCaskie, the GC2018 Hockey Manager said the new facility “provides an incredible legacy for the Gold Coast community. The upgraded clubhouse will become the meeting place for social gathers among the hockey community, while the new pitches provide athletes of all skills and levels the rare opportunity to train and compete on an international facility. We’ve already received significant positive feedback from local and international super stars, putting us in good stead ahead of the April 2018 Commonwealth Games.”

The centre will host two medal events during the Games, and its 500 permanent seating capacity will temporarily expand to 5,000.

In addition, a third hockey pitch to be used as a warm-up venue for GC2018 was completed in May 2016 at the Sports Super Centre  at Runaway Bay. The new synthetic hockey pitch has been built to the same specifications as the new pitches being built at the Gold Coast Hockey Centre. The project design consultant was Arup and the construction contractor was Polytan ST. The Sports Super Centre is a state of the art training facility, sports medicine, leisure facility, and accommodation facility for players.

In summary what is the possible legacy both handed on and what can possibly happen if planned and implemented as a result of what has been received?

  • State of the art playing facilities for local competitions and future local, national and international events
  • Increased hockey participation on the Gold Coast and attraction of higher quality athletes to the Pacific Hockey Institute which is located on the Gold Coast
  • Becoming a hub for Pacific Hockey, bringing national teams from Pacific hockey playing countries to the Gold Coast to train and play
  • Forging more meaningful partnerships with local universities (Griffith University, Bond University) with the sports excellence programs, and the Sports Super Centre in the utilisation of their sport and performance benefits.
  • Ability to attract secure sponsors
  • Become the possible eastern seaboard location of the AIS for hockey in the future

Let the Games begin

Source: various