In the 1960s everything seemed to be fine in field handball. You played in the open air on grass – eleven against eleven. A good decade later, the sport had become virtually invisible in Germany. The indoor version became Olympic, the triumph of indoor handball was heralded.
The fate of field handball could be a cautionary example for German indoor hockey. The situation is not quite as dramatic yet, but it could become. The focus is increasingly on the outdoor sport of field hockey, which has been Olympic since 1928. The financing of the entire sport of hockey in Germany depends largely on the sporting successes at the Olympics every four years.
Ex-DHB President – “The significance of indoor hockey has fallen “
Indoor hockey, on the other hand, now has a niche existence. “In the absolute performance range, the importance of indoor hockey has decreased. We feel the effects of field hockey in every indoor season“, so the former President of the German Hockey Association (DHB) Wolfgang Hillmann. The season has been increasingly shortened by new field hockey competitions like the ProLeague.”The hall calendar is getting tighter“agrees Henning Fastrich, Vice President of the national leagues.
Due to the corona and time, the entire season had to be canceled on Thursday (November 26th, 2020). “There was no alternative to the decision due to the tight schedule“, Fastrich told the Sportschau. The implementation of hygiene concepts – some in public halls – would probably have caused difficulties for some Bundesliga clubs. The national players would not have played anyway because of the 2021 Summer Olympics.
Better U21 wins home European Championship
It is not new that national players forego an indoor season before major tournaments in winter. It was the same in January 2020, when there was no talk of postponing the Olympic Games. While the A-team played a course and international matches in Spain on the field, the DHB sent a better U21 team to the European Indoor Championships in Berlin.
This project alone had already caused trouble in advance. The actual EM host Krefeld withdrew from the organization because an EM without current A-team players “not successful marketingThe DHB men nevertheless triumphed with a perspective team (average age 22), for the 16th time at the 19th European Championship tournament. Germany won a series of tournaments for women and men and also hosted the next European Championship – 2022 in Hamburg.
Elementary part of youth work
The low status of indoor hockey internationally allows Germany to dominate the sport, because in this country sport is an elementary part of youth work. The fast and close game is particularly valued for technical training.
The criticism of the low international importance is there: “The world federation takes no account of indoor hockey at all. Somewhere you have to make compromises as a player. The real A-team never actually plays the hall“, knows Martin Häner, Olympic champion in London 2012 and athletes spokesman for the DHB.
The Secretary General of the World Hockey Federation FIH, Thierry Weil, even admits: “The status at the world association is not sufficient. To be honest, we haven’t made enough of the sport. “ They want to promote indoor hockey more in the future. “It is not enough to have an indoor World Cup every two years“, so because.
Is hockey cannibalizing?
Weil assumes that the two sports can exist side by side, but the world association may pose another cannibalistic danger. “Hockey5”, introduced in 2013, is a small-field variant of field hockey that promises more action, more goals and more spectacle – a third hockey, so to speak.
Hockey5 was officially introduced to make it easier for countries with less hockey infrastructure to access the sport. Hockey5 is actually played on the oceanic islands, for example – the other versions practically not at all.
Offering an attractive alternative for the Olympics, that could have been an ulterior motive. After all, the game is clearer and therefore more TV-friendly and takes up fewer athletes’ places. “We’re too many people for one medal“says Martin Häner too.”In the long run I can already imagine that Hockey5 will be an alternative“. At the 2014 and 2018 Youth Olympic Games, the IOC already opted for Hockey5. In 2023, the first World Cup will take place.
Hockey5 World Cup without German participation
According to FIH Secretary General Weil, Hockey5 and the German parade discipline could converge in the long term, and even the rules could harmonize. So what happens if Hockey5 captivates more people worldwide than indoor hockey? Is it a cut-throat competition?
Fastrich does not see this danger: “Hockey5 will come, but it should be built up as a completely new sport. “Germany, like the other traditional hockey nations, has been reluctant so far. For example, the DHB does not send a team to the premiere World Cup. From next year, however, at least the conditions for Hockey5 should be created in Germany, including the construction of corresponding small artificial turf pitches in To be attacked.
Indoor hockey as a pure Bundesliga sport?
And the cancellation of the current season is not perceived as a danger in hockey. The hall is the only way to practice hockey as a year-round sport in Germany, said Hillmann.
In the future, indoor hockey will have to assert itself against another discipline within its own sport. Field handball has already been on its knees due to a competitive sport. “I can imagine that at some point it will be a pure Bundesliga sport. But I cannot imagine that indoor hockey will fail completely“, Martin Häner is nevertheless optimistic.
Stand: 26.11.2020, 15:30