Some of the world’s best women’s hockey teams will take to the turf next month as the Vantage Hawke’s Bay Festival of Hockey returns. Hockey New Zealand and HBSEEC are excited to announce the return of the Vantage Hawke’s Bay Festival of Hockey this year.

Vantage Windows & Doors, who are the naming rights partner of the Vantage Black Sticks, have also extended their support for hockey as naming rights sponsor for the festival.

This will be the fourth year of the successful event which runs from 31st March – 9th April at the Hawke’s Bay Regional Sports Park in Hastings and Park Island in Napier.

Hockey NZ chief executive Ian Francis said it was tremendous to have this international festival back and he looked forward to plenty of top-class hockey.

The 2017 Festival features 24 teams playing 76 games over 10 days, including the elite Hawke’s Bay Cup which sees the Vantage Black Sticks Women (ranked fifth in the world) go to battle in a four-nations contest against Australia (4th), USA (6th) and Japan (11th).

Festival event director David Nancarrow said he was looking forward to the action-packed festival.

“It’s fantastic to once again be welcoming back to Hawke’s Bay some of the top women’s hockey teams in the world to go up against our very own Vantage Black Sticks on home turf.”

Vantage Windows & Doors, who are the naming rights partner of the Vantage Black Sticks, have also extended their support for hockey as naming rights sponsor for the festival.

“Vantage is a very strong New Zealand brand and to have their support extended even further into hockey is fantastic,” Mr Francis said.

The Furnware Cup is back, with some of the top-ranked girls’ schools from around the North Island participating in the festival.

Mr Nancarrow said the lineup of teams competing was even stronger than previous years with Diocesan Auckland, Iona College, Napier Girls High School, Palmerston North Girls High School, Hamilton Girls High School, Woodford House, Havelock North High School and Gisborne Girls High School all attending.

“It’s great to be able to provide an opportunity for these girls to play at a high level and to have the opportunity to witness elite international hockey at the same time.”

As part of the festival, the Hockey New Zealand Affiliates Tournament will see the addition of the New Zealand Universities teams as well as the New Zealand Indians compete alongside NZ Maori, Hawke’s Bay, Poverty Bay and the National Senior Tournament XI.

The event runs from March 31 to April 9 at the Hawke’s Bay Regional Sports Park in Hastings and Park Island in Napier.

Tickets will be available to the general public online from 9am tomorrow or through the Festival of Hockey website on hockeyfestival.nz.