Hockey New Zealand have come to an agreement with the Players' Association to ensure the country's top male professionals will be able to play in the lucrative Hockey India League.
Hockey NZ and the Players' Association today announced a new memorandum of understanding, which sets out the terms and conditions governing player contracts and the high performance environment.
The agreement is effective until July 2015 and contains some amendments from the existing deal, signed in 2011. One development is that both organisations have agreed to further assist players in the careers outside of hockey, an important aspect of a sport in which most internationals are semi-professional.
Aiding the players' pay packets is the Hockey India League but, when that tournament was established, there was concern the participation of New Zealand's top players would be restricted by commitments with the national team.
Nick Wilson and Simon Child were the only Kiwis selected in the auction for the inaugural edition and both played after overcoming an impasse due to the tournament coinciding with a national team training camp.
The new agreement will prevent such issues, with a four-year calendar set out with a clear window during the Hockey India League to allow players to compete and earn money without risk of it hampering their selection with the Black Sticks.
"As a sport, especially at an international level, we are working to lock in a four-year calendar which will go a long way to help athletes effectively manage their time between study, work and hockey,'' said Hockey NZ chief executive Hilary Poole.
"While hockey remains a largely amateur sport but in the early stages of professionalism, the demands on elite hockey athletes continue to grow as we work hard to remain internationally competitive - this is particularly evident as our world rankings continue to improve.''