Jacob Anderson fired a superb hat-trick as Australia hammered Great Britain 6-1 to book their place in the final of hockey’s Pro League Grand Final in the Netherlands on Friday.
Field hockey needs to be attractive to television audiences to compete with other winter codes, says Australian games record holder Jay Stacy.
Hockey Australia’s Australian Hockey League (AHL) is an interstate competition that is not well known to the Australian sporting public. It lacks funding to be able to compete with other sports.
“It does come up well,” Stacy said.
“But Hockey Australia can’t get anyone to put five or six cameras at a ground.”
Stacy thinks the best way to infiltrate the television market is to show highlights programs, similar to that of the English Premier League on Fox Sports.
“Not everybody watches EPL matches in full but a lot of people watch the highlights,” Stacy said.
Field hockey has strong participation numbers in Australia, with 106,623 players in 2005, but payment to professional athletes has always been down compared to other sports.
Jamie Dwyer’s Hockey Australia contract is reportedly $39,000 compared to Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke, who is worth over $2 million.
State players that compete in the AHL, hockey’s equivalent to Shield cricket, receive nothing, while state cricketers’ contracts begin at $50,000.
The introduction last year of the Hockey India League, similar to that of cricket’s Indian Premier League, has seen top players earning upwards of $50,000 for the four-week competition.
“It’s just reward because it’s not only those five or six weeks but the other 42 weeks that they’re performing,” Stacy said.
“They certainly don’t get paid back home like they should.”
In India however, there are 14.6 million people watching on television and the teams represent cities, helping to increase financial support and interest in hockey.
“There is a lot of advertising and huge TV rights, and players are getting a slice of that,” Stacy said.
Stacy thinks that once hockey starts getting on Australian television and generating money in advertising, the value of players’ contracts will start to increase.
He said hockey has always been successful around Olympic time but there is not enough money for it to compete against AFL, NRL, cricket or football.
Stacy played 321 games for the Australian Kookaburras between 1987 and 2000, scored 160 goals and was voted world player of the year in 1999.
This year’s AHL will run in Adelaide from October 4.