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About field hockey

Hockey is widely played all over the world.  Indeed, field hockey is the second largest team sport in the world played in more than 100 countries.  In Canada it is a popular sport for families, played mainly in clubs by both men and women.  The game also plays in many schools and provides athletic age and social opportunities for players, officials, and administrators alike.

 In British Columbia, field hockey plays more than 8,000 athletes and is assisted by many volunteers, making BC the most active field hockey regions in Canada.  National men and women teams and national coaches for men and women are based in British Columbia.  The national team coaching base is in Vancouver, and the District of British Columbia is proud to have more than 50% of the men and women national team players from British Columbia.

 the game

 Field Hockey is eleven side games played on the field 100 yards by 60 yards with a ball around 23 cm in circumference.  Each player has a round head stick to play the ball and the goal is to score goals by placing the ball in the opposing team’s goal.  The length of the sticks ranges between 28 inches and 39 inches and weighs between 340 g and 790 g.  Protective equipment is worn in the form of full body armor, pillows, gloves, kickers, and helmet for goalkeepers, leg guards, and mouth guards for external players.

 the rules

 Field hockey rules are very similar to soccer rules except that players must use their sticks instead of their feet to play the ball.  There are 11 players in a team made up of goalkeeper, defenders, midfielders and strikers.  The only player on the field allowed to use their feet, hands and sticks is the goalkeeper.  The main rule base difference between field hockey and soccer is that there is no offside rule in field hockey which allows for a very fast game, which can be highly scoring and exciting.

 Play surfaces

 Despite the name “field” hockey, the game has evolved recently (since the mid-eighties) from a sport based on grass to a sport practiced on artificial surfaces.  In BC, the game is played outdoors on grass and artificial surfaces.  Not just outdoor sports, field hockey is also played as an indoor sport (six-sided) on gym floors that allow for a faster game.

 History of the game

 The game’s origins can be traced back to the world’s oldest civilizations, but modern hockey was developed in the British Isles.  The modern game started in England in the mid-nineteenth century, and the first official field hockey club, ‘Blackheath Football and Hockey Club’, was formed in 1861.

 Many rules and concepts changed during the early years as the game spread throughout the British Empire.  From these origins originated not only the colossal hockey nations of India, Pakistan and Australia but the game’s development in more than 100 countries.  As a result, field hockey has become the second largest team sport in the world after football.

 Field hockey has been a men’s Olympic sport since the 1908 Olympics in London.  Ladies’ game is a modern addition, which was first recognized at the Moscow Olympics in 1980. It takes place in hockey at the Men’s and Women’s World Cup tournaments as well as competitions in other international games including the Commonwealth Games.

 History of field hockey in Canada

 While the game developed around the world in the late nineteenth century, so did field hockey in Canada.  Hockey was established for both men and women and flourished in British Columbia before the end of the nineteenth century.  Records show that as early as 1896, clubs in Vancouver and Vancouver Island had regular equipment.  Schools also started playing the game with the first record in a match between a team of girls and boys in 1903 at Vancouver High School.

 British Columbia today, as it was in those early days, remains the primary center of field hockey in Canada.  However, this does not mean that the game was not played in other parts of the country.  Records show the appearance of clubs in Calgary and the game that was played in Toronto, Halifax and Newfoundland in the early twentieth century.  Hockey is now played and enjoyed throughout Canada.

 Today’s game

 BC field hockey is mostly played within a thriving club structure.  The typical club consists of about three to six adult teams, although some will consist of only one team.  Many clubs will have small youth sections and provide opportunities for many ages and different ability levels.

 Competitive opportunities lie in the form of upper and lower leagues that are divided into sections that reflect each level of play.  The club, boycott, and advocacy annual championships complement the league and provide an extended opportunity to enjoy the game.

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