Hockey 5s is a fast sport that promises to get even faster at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games. Change in playing time promises to make five-a-side action even more frenetic and non-stop.
A reduction in the playing time adds yet another element to the significant uptick in the discipline’s non-stop action and speed, which came as a result of reducing the size of the field and number of players.
Teams play five-a-side instead of 11-a-side, and the field of play is 48 metres long and 31.76m wide (including boundary boards) - smaller than the traditional size of 91.40m long and 55m wide. At the Nanjing 2014 YOG, each game was played in three 15-minute periods, but this time in Buenos Aires 2018, hockey games will consist of two halves of 10 minutes each.
“This is the first time for me playing five-a-side hockey,” said Robinson Omutekete, who represents Kenya. “I like both disciplines, but this one is harder for me. It’s faster and the ball will never leave the pitch.”
Kenya are one of 12 men’s teams that are divided in two groups of six. Argentina, Malaysia, Mexico, Poland, Vanuatu and Zambia will compete in group A. Australia, India, Bangladesh, Austria, Kenya and Canada will complete in group B.
The women’s competition has the same format, with India looking to build on what could be a great relationship between a new version of a beloved sport for that nation and a playing style that traditionally embodies some of the elements more visible under this set of rules.
“The sideboards have been the biggest challenge in adapting from 11-a-side to five-a-side,” said Australian David John, India’s team manager. “It takes some getting used to, but I think the style of this discipline suits Indian players because they can use their skills. This is not a defensive game, it’s very attacking and India likes playing in this style.”
For the women’s event, India, Austria, Argentina, Vanuatu, South Africa and Uruguay will compete in group A. Australia, China, Mexico, Namibia, Poland and Zimbabwe will compete in group B. Each team will play each of their group rivals once, with the top four from each advancing to the quarterfinals. The medal games will be played on 14 October at the Youth Olympic Park Hockey Field.