By Kevin Darling, Games News Service
PORT MORESBY, July 12 – Hockey returns to the Pacific Games at Port Moresby 2015 after a 12-year absence, and in a revamped format.
The sport has only featured at the Pacific Games three times in the past. At Suva 1979 there was a men’s tournament, while in Suva 2003 and Apia 2007 there were women’s tournaments.
Two major changes have been made for Port Moresby 2015. Firstly, men and women will take part in the same Games for the first time. Secondly, matches will be 5-a-side, instead of the traditional 11-a-side.
The three previous Pacific Games hockey gold medals were won by Fiji, and all eyes will be on how its teams fare in the revised format.
Five teams contest the men’s competition at Port Moresby 2015, while four compete in the women’s competition. The Fijians’ three common rivals for gold in both genders will be Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Tonga and – in the men’s tournament only – Solomon Islands.
Every team plays each other in a round robin format, which decides who meets in the final stages.
In the men’s competition, the top two teams will meet in the final, with the third and fourth-placed teams contesting the bronze medal match.
In the women’s event, all four teams will go through to the semifinals, but the incentive for topping the group will be a potentially easier match against the fourth-placed side in the last four.
Five-a-side hockey is quicker and more action-packed than the 11-a-side game, with more shots on goal and simpler rules.
Matches take place over three 12-minute periods on a pitch approximately half the size of a regular hockey pitch.
Shots can be taken from anywhere on the pitch, and instead of penalty strokes there are ‘one-one-ones’, such as those seen in penalty shoot-outs in standard hockey.
Hockey at Port Moresby 2015 will take place at the Sir John Guise Outdoor BSP Stadium from Monday, July 13 until Saturday, July 18.
For information about hockey tickets call the Pacific Games ticket hotline on 180 2015 or download the ticket purchasing guide.