FIJI has a good chance of playing the elite hockey nations following the initiation of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) World League competition.
The round one of the event featuring the men's and women's teams from Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Samoa alongside Australia Country and New Zealand Maori will be hosted at Suva's National Hockey Centre from December 8 to 15.
The international event to be held every two years will be used to select teams for future Olympic Games and FIH World Cups.
The winner from the Pacific region in round one of the World League will qualify to round two competition featuring tier one nations in India. World League round one tournament manager Hanisi Visanti said Fiji, which finished third in both divisions at the previous Oceania Pacific Cup (OPC), was the top bet to qualify for the second round of the World League. She said the World League would be played simultaneously with the OPC tournament.
"Making round two of the league will improve the rankings of the national side and expose the team to higher level of competition," Visanti said.
"Australia and NZ have already qualified to round two. Fiji last played Australia and NZ during 2005 World Cup qualifiers which was perhaps after 20 years that the national team played a game of that calibre.
"So basically this World League gives us an opportunity to play those top teams again."
Visanti said the preparation to host the inaugural event was on track.
"We have been preparing to host this event for quite some time and its good working with the FIH and following their guidelines to successfully stage this tournament," she said. "The main reason to organise the World League is to breach the gap between the tier two and the top hockey playing nations."
Fiji Hockey Federation president Doctor Robin Mitchell said they had started fundraising and looking for sponsors for the potential trip to India to play in round two in February next year.
He said the players had to pay a levy fees to assist with the trip, if Fiji qualified to the second round of the World League.
"At the moment each player has to pay $3500 levy fees but that depends on how much we are able to collect during the fundraising," Mitchell said.