Women playing hockey

Fiji enjoys good start at hockey

cropped ABC1187 | February 24, 2024
Hockey made a welcome return to the Pacific Games after an eight-year absence. Photos: Aron Hayes, Pacific Games News Service

After an eight-year-absence, Hockey made its much-awaited return to the Pacific Games on Tuesday in Honiara. This time however, the number of teams competing has increased compared to previous Games.

Back-to-back Pacific Games Hockey champions Fiji lead the list of entries at this year’s Sol2023 Pacific Games, followed by Samoa, Vanuatu, Tonga, Papua New Guinea and hosts Solomon Islands – all of whom are vying for a place on the podium this year.

Wasting little time in sounding the alarm bells on day one of competition, Fiji impressed both in the men’s and women’s categories – stamping their authority and intensions of retaining the titles they have held since 1979.

Fiji’s men’s hockey team eased its way past Samoa to a 6-2 victory and followed that up with a 7-5 victory over Tonga in their opening matches.

Fiji skipper Richard Sekiguchi said of their opening encounters: “Our only hope is to maintain our gold record in hockey again in this year’s Sol2023 Pacific Games. This will only happen if we continue to have the same spirit, the same determination and same belief as we did at previous Games.”

Port Moresby 2015 Pacific Games men’s hockey bronze medallists PNG also began their campaign in winning fashion, thrashing Vanuatu 6-1 before narrowly beating hosts Solomon Islands 2-1.

Despite the defeat, the hosts did produce some goodies on day one, in beating Tonga 7-2 to end their day on a high note.

“Losing a match is always disappointing, however we still have two matches tomorrow that we are confident we can get positive results from. The win against Tonga will help motivate us moving into tomorrow’s matches,” Solomon Islands captain Allen Temoa said.

“This is the very first time we’ve had huge support at any of our matches. This is good as it will help motivate and lift our spirits heading into our final round of matches in the competition.”

In other men’s matches, Vanuatu defeated Tonga 4-1 to wrap up the day’s competition.

Meanwhile, Fiji’s dominance continued through to the women’s competition, beating Samoa 6-1 in their first match and then Vanuatu by the same score margin.

Solomon Islands’ women’s hockey team also secured a 1-0 victory over Tonga and then followed that up with a hard earned 2-1 victory over PNG.

Tuesday’s other matches also saw Tonga defeat Samoa 2-1, whilst PNG and Vanuatu shared the spoils in a 2-2 draw.

By Jeffson Aghi, Pacific Games News Service

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