Hockey is a very old sport, with evidence of it being played in Persia in 2000 BC. In the modern era, field hockey developed in Great Britain in around the mid-19th century, with the first team founded in 1861 at Blackheath Hockey Club. Some years later, in 1886, the Amateur Hockey Association was formed and the game was exported to the four corners of the British Empire. Today, the sport is played the world over.
Brief overview of the rules
Field hockey is played by two teams of 11 using hook-shaped sticks to hit a hard ball into the opposition’s goal on a large grass pitch over four 15-minute quarters.
In its early form, field hockey was played on natural grass, but the heavy turf made the game quite slow. The decision to move to plastic turf intended to modernise the game, making it quicker and more exciting. The pitch is also watered, which means the ball travels at an even faster pace.
To further accelerate play, the decision was made in 1996 to abolish to offside rule. Consequently, additional space was created on the playing surface, the game became even quicker and teams began scoring more goals, thereby creating a more exciting, dramatic sport for spectators. Since the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games, the men’s and women’s tournament has been contested by teams from 12 nations.
Hockey made its first appearance at the 1908 Games in London, before becoming a firm fixture on the Olympic programme from the Antwerp Games in 1920. The women’s game was introduced at the 1980 Moscow Games.
Given its modern Anglo-Saxon roots, hockey is dominated by current and former members of the British Commonwealth. India’s men’s team has proved to be the most overwhelmingly dominant at the Olympic Games, having won eight golds and six consecutive titles between 1928 and 1956. Throughout this period, the team enjoyed an impressive run of 30 games unbeaten.
International federation : Fédération Internationale de Hockey
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