Last month saw the close of yet another successful FIH Hockey Pro League, presented again by Sentinel Homes. This international tournament lets Kiwis enjoy fast-paced hockey action. Hockey New Zealand’s GM of Marketing and Brands Paul Scoringe says plenty of fans showed up, even with so many other things going on at the same time.
“We had wonderful weather and good crowds, and the feedback on the games is super positive. They loved the world-class hockey and the spectacular views,” says Paul.
Stuart Shutt, Sentinel Homes Managing Director agrees it’s been a great season.“It’s been another fantastic year working with the team at Hockey New Zealand. They consistently deliver an exciting, professionally run sporting event that is growing season by season" he says. “They are successfully leading the charge in what is one of NZs fastest growing sports.”
And there was plenty to cheer for. Going into the competition, the Vantage Black Sticks had a “mountain to climb”, with our women’s team holding a world ranking of sixth. The men were at ninth and while came close a number of times, hadn’t won a game in the 2019 inaugural season.
Despite that, we came out swinging, taking home some confidence-building wins. The men’s team beat Great Britain 3-1 in a nail-biting penalty shootout, took the win against Spain, then went on to beat reigning Olympic champions Argentina 5-3 in a boil-over result in Christchurch! The women also beat USA, 3-1 in both games, in Christchurch and finished off with a stunning 5-3 win over then world #2 ranked Argentina in Christchurch.
“That was a good turn-around for them,” says Paul. “It tested the teams in the right direction.”
The women’s performance is particularly impressive, after their long-standing and much-loved strength and conditioning coach Brad Conza passed away suddenly.
Paul says Brad was instrumental in building the team up for competing at a world level.
“They finished last in the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and now they’re ranked sixth and were the runners-up in the World League in 2017,” explains Paul. “Brad had a lot to do with that.”
Brad’s passing came after the Pro League had already begun, which made things especially tough.
“They wore commemorative shirts for him before the game and black arm bands and managed to win the next game. That’s a testament to their resilience and courage,” says Paul. “It’s how our values are lived out, with the hockey community gathering around the teams.”
Hockey is a fast-growing sport in New Zealand, with whole families taking up their sticks – more Kiwis than ever before. That’s in large part down to the efforts of Hockey New Zealand and their 32 Associations around the country, working to promote the game at grassroots level while putting on more world-class hockey matches right on our doorstep.
Hockey New Zealand approaches the sport much in the same way Sentinel does building homes. So, backing hockey also means we’re backing the values we consider most important: teamwork, whānau and integrity.
“Sentinel Homes’ values and family orientation really strongly align with ours,” says Paul. “They’re good people to deal with.”
The presenting partner of the NZ FIH Hockey Pro League, Sentinel Homes has also backed Hockey New Zealand in other tournaments and events – the Sentinel Homes Women’s World League in 2017, the Pioneer Energy Tri-Nations in Cromwell, a test series with Australia and Japan for women in May last year and another in Stratford, the Japan Test Series and the FIH Olympic Qualifiers for Tokyo 2020.
“They’ve been an incredibly supportive partner,” says Paul. “They’re continually looking to support and invest.”
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