By Rosie Foley
European Hockey is in touch for a big change with the EHL Women’s league being introduced. It will raise the game for club hockey in Europe, giving the players a goal to aim for in the short term. Previously, female hockey players only had long term competitions to aim; European championships, World cup and the Olympics.
Events for women in Europe were started in 1947 with the introduction of Club Champions Cup. With a surge in demand for events, the EuroHockey Club Champions Cup saw a revamp in 2010, by introducing five divisions and allowing up to 40 clubs to compete from all over Europe. This event turned into the EHCC in 2014, where the best eight clubs in Europe played each other in a knock-out competition with divisions below the top event having access to promotion or relegation.
The EHL has always wanted to make the women’s game equal to the men’s.
“Our drive towards EHL Women has always been on the agenda so that we could present equally amazing women’s players with the same razzmatazz as EHL Men.”
Adding to this, Kate Richarson-Walsh took to twitter promoting her want for equality in the hockey leagues, saying ‘It’s taken 12 years to catch up with the men and finally we can show that we’re #EquallyAmazing’
The new EHL Women’s League will see eight women’s team compete at FINAL8 in conjunction with the EHL Men’s FINAL8 team to see who will become EHL Champions and lift the desirable Trophy.
The performances that the women athletes have been producing recently have allowed hockey to get a bigger platform in the sporting sphere. With EHL saying that the whole competition will be able to be viewed by all. German captain Janne Müller-Wieland praised the EHL for implementing this new league creation with such coverage.
“Full TV production, video referral, equal prize money, what’s not to like. The EHL have done a great job for taking European club hockey to the next level.”
Qualification for the EHL Women will run in a similar manner to previously, the top two nations (German and Holland) on the EHL rankings table will earn two places for their top two clubs, leaving the remaining six nations, Spain, England, Belarus, Ireland, Russia and Czech Republic, only having one entry.
Alongside this the EHL are going to introduce an EHL U14 Girls competition that will run alongside the boy’s tournament too. Their aim is to run all four tournaments on one big EHL weekend.
However, this may see UK players move to clubs abroad so that they can get the platform they need to showcase their talents.
The future of European Women’s hockey is on the up, although the fate of UK hockey could be on rocky water.