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General History of Field Hockey
( much from http://www.alphalink.com.au/~hockeyv/ )
The Origins of the Game :
Hockey-like games involving sticks and balls have been played for thousands of years. Historical records show that a crude form of hockey was played in Egypt 4,000 years ago, and in Ethiopia around 1,000 BC. Various museums offer evidence that a form of the game was played by Romans, Greeks and by the Aztec Indians of South America several centuries before Columbus landed in the New World.
The National Archaeological Museum in Athens holds a square marble slab measuring 60 cm x 20 cm with four bas-reliefs of ancient sporting events. One of these shows Athenian youths playing field hockey. These bas-reliefs date back to 514 BC and show that a type of hockey was being enjoyed in Greece at that time. This type of hockey, called "ÊÅÑÇÔÉÆÅÉÍ" (Keritizin) in ancient Greece, was very popular. Called such names as "paganica" by the Romans, "hurling" by the Irish and "shinty" by the Scots, the name "hockie" seems to have been first recorded in Ireland in 1527 and probably comes from the French word "hoquet" meaning "shepherds crook".
Over the same period on other Continents, the sport has been refined and developed into other separate sports like field hockey, shinty, cricket, ice-hockey, la-crosse, croquet etc, but most historians place the roots of modern hockey in the chilly climes of northern Europe, specifically in Great Britain and France where field hockey was always a popular summer sport.
Hockey in England in the 17th and 18th century consisted of whole villages playing the game with the objective of hitting the ball into the opposing villages' common ground. Teams often consisted of 60 to 100 players and games occasionally lasted several days or so with injuries such as broken arms and legs not uncommon. Umpires could only arbitrate a decision if called upon to do so by a player from one of the teams. (a situation that sounds familiar even in these days and in 1527 hockey had been forbidden because of the violence among the players!).
When ponds and lakes froze in winter, it was not unusual for the athletes to play a version of it on ice. An ice game known as kolven was popular in Holland in the 17th century and later on the game really took hold in England. In his book, Fischler's Illustrated History of Hockey, veteran hockey journalist and broadcaster Stan Fischler writes about a rudimentary version of the sport becoming popular in the English marshland community of Bury Fen in the 1820s. The game, he explains, was called bandy, and the local players used to scramble around the town's frozen meadowlands, swatting a wooden or cork ball, known as a kit or cat, with wooden sticks made from the branches of local willow trees. Articles in London newspapers around that time mention increasing interest in the sport, which many observers believe got its name from the French word hoquet, which means "shepherd's crook" or "bent stick." A number of writers thought this game should be forbidden because it was so disruptive to people out for a leisurely winter skate.
The Rise of Professional Hockey:(the Fédération Internationale de Hockey (F.I.H.))
Hockey was a strictly amateur affair until 1904, when the first professional league was created - oddly enough in the United States. Known as the International Pro Hockey League, it was based in the iron-mining region of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. That folded in 1907 and an even bigger league, the National Hockey Association (NHA) emerged three years later. Shortly after that came the Pacific Coast League (PCL) and in 1914, a transcontinental championship series was arranged between the two, with the winner getting the coveted cup of Lord Stanley. However, the men running the NHA decided to suspend operations when World War I threw the entire hockey establishment into disarray.
After having made its first appearance in the 1908 Games, hockey was subsequently dropped from the 1912 Stockholm Games, and reappeared in 1920 in Antwerp before being omitted again in Paris in 1924. The Paris organisers refused to include hockey on the basis that the sport had no International Federation.
Hockey is predominantly played as a winter sport by two teams of eleven players (ten roving players and a goalkeeper). The aim of hockey is to score more goals than the other team and to do this players use their hockey sticks to propel the ball toward the team's goal. Players may run several kilometres in the course of the game. Hockey is essentially a non-body contact game (which is sometimes difficult to believe!) and rules restrict the amount of body contact and tackling that is permitted.
The hockey field or pitch is a rectangular field 60 yards wide and 100 yards long (54.90m by 91.50m).
Hockey games are played in two 35 minute halves with a five to ten minute break at half time. Two umpires control the game (one on each side of the field) and to score a goal you must shoot from within the circle (actually a semi circle) and the ball must pass wholly across the goal line.
The hockey stick is approximately one yard long with a curved end, is flat on one side and rounded on the other. The stick is made from hardwood (metals are forbidden) and usually has a laminated handle. Fibreglass is now widely used as a binding agent in the wooden stick. Hockey sticks may have different weights, curves and lengths but there is a maximum weight of 28 ounces and the stick must fit through a 2" diameter ring
The ball can only be played with the flat side and edges of the stick, but there are many situations when it is necessary to turn the stick over with the end pointing downwards in the "reverse stick" position. There are no left-handed hockey sticks, but hockey players who are natural left-handers can still be very successful players.
The ball is the same size and weight as a cricket ball and is covered by a thin shell of dimpled plastic to keep it waterproof. Although white is the traditional colour, other colours may be used - bright orange is often used on sand filled artificial turf fields.
Field players usually wear only shin pads and mouth guards for protection, but goal keepers wear a considerable amount of protective clothing including chest, arm & throat protectors, gloves, leg pads and kicking boots, helmets, etc.
The rules and equipment for both men and women are the same - see FIH rules.
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