New Zealand and Fiji withdraws from Youth Olympic Games qualifiers
BY ROMULUS HUTA
THE national youth hockey sides participating in next week’s Oceania youth hockey 5s qualifiers have high chances to qualify for this year’s Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in Argentina.
Solomon Islands will be heading into the Oceania Youth Olympic Hockey 5s Qualifiers with entries for both men and women.
The Oceania Youth Olympic Hockey 5s Qualifiers will take place in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (PNG) from April 25 to 29.
Solomon Islands will come up against hosts PNG, Vanuatu, Tonga and Australia.
New Zealand and Fiji withdrew from taking part in the qualifiers.
Solomon Islands Hockey Federation (SIHF) President Nihal Seneviratne said the withdrawal of Fiji and New Zealand poses higher chance for Solomon Islands to qualify into the YOG.
“Fiji and New Zealand are very good hockey playing countries.
“Their withdrawal from the qualifiers reduces the number of the competitive countries participating in the qualifiers.
“Now, the onus is on us to try and beat the remaining countries and qualify,” said Seneviratne.
Oceania has five YOG qualification spots for hockey 5s. Two spots are allocated for the men’s category while the women’s category has three sports.
This means that the top two winners in the men’s and the top three winners in the women’s categories earn automatic qualifications into the YOG.
Tonga is not sending their men’s team for the qualifiers as they registered only their women’s team unlike the other four participating countries who are fielding in teams for both categories.
This leaves the men’s two spots to be battled out by only four countries namely Solomon Islands, PNG, Vanuatu and Australia.
The national youth hockey 5s sides will depart Honiara for the Port Moresby qualifiers Monday next week.
“Hockey is very fortunate that we have more team quotas than the other team sports.
“The YOG qualifier is a huge opportunity for the under-18 hockey players to experience playing in a great event and if our team qualifies to go to the YOG, they will have an experience of a life time.”
This year’s Summer Youth Olympic Games in Argentina known as the Buenos Aires 2018 will run from October 6 to 18.