ACT set to host first Australian Hockey League matches in six years

Canberra is set to host Australian Hockey League matches for the first time in six years when the tournament is revamped next week.

The two-week competiion has been centralised at the Hockey Australia headquarters in Perth for the past three years, but will move to a home-and-away format played over four weekends.

Canberra Strikers star Anna Flanagan.

Photo: Sitthixay Ditthavong

The shake-up is looking to target a broadcast deal and improve fan engagement, but won't be fully implemented until next year with the 2018 edition will serve as a transition tournament.

The Canberra Lakers haven't played in the capital since 2009, while the Canberra Strikers last featured when the ACT hosted the AHL in 2012.

Hockey ACT boss Gavin Hunt will meet with the other federations in Melbourne on Tuesday to iron out the final details of the September tournament.


Hunt confirmed the AHL will be rebranded from next year and clubs will need to commit $150,000 per season over fours years, with each team expected to host three games from 2019.

"The ACT will get to host content for first time in many years, were slated to host two home matches for Strikers and Lakers then the finals will be centralised in Perth this year," Hunt said.

"There's been a long-held desire to get our teams playing in a home location on a frequent basis, this is an interim step towards a new look national tournament in 2019."

Hockey ACT were previously not eligible for AHL funding but under the format they will be able to apply for grants.

Former Hockeyroos golden girl Anna Flanagan played for the Strikers last year and Hunt is keen to see as many international stars as possible playing at the National Hockey Centre.

"It's an exciting step for the sport moving forward and we'll get to see the Lakers and Strikers here in Canberra and hopefully some Hockeyroos and Kookaburras in that mix too," Hun said

"We have a fixed capacity of 1500 permanent seats but between standing and hill seating we have room for another 1000 and hopefully we can fill the place.

"Under the current model we don't get government funding, the Perth competition does not qualify under the ACT grant schemes, but under the new model it does.

"So it certainly puts us back in the frame to submit for those funds which is terrific and takes the burden away from playing group, we're hoping under the new structure no players will have to pay."

ACT duo Edwina Bone and Kalindi Commerford have been named in the Hockeyroos Tri Nations squad as they prepare for the World Cup in London in July.

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Eamonn Tiernan

Eamonn Tiernan is a sports reporter with The Canberra Times

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