In almost every country in the world, the game of hockey is a recognised and much- loved sport. What most don’t know however, is how the game originated. Like many sports, the beginnings of hockey would be just a legend had it not been for the archaeological evidence, which can be seen in various museums, proving the early existence and forms of the game.
Early paintings and art suggest that a basic version of the game was played in Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Rome and Greece before the 15th century.
GROWTH OF HOCKEY
The game started gaining popularity in England during the 17th and 18th centuries. Here teams consisted of 60 to 100 players, participating in matches which would last over a few days – resulting in frequent injuries and broken limbs! In order to establish some order to the chaotic sport, the first Hockey Association with a formal set of rules was formed in 1876.
In India, a gentler version of the game was taking shape, villagers played “soft hockey” with a bamboo hockey stick and a ball made of bamboo and/or rubber on freshly ploughed ground – leading to the importance of speed, stamina and skill within the sport.
OFFICIAL SPORT ON AN INTERNATIONAL LEVEL
Hockey’s first professional league was formed in the United States in 1904 and in 1924, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) was founded in Paris. The sport took off at an alarming rate throughout the northern hemisphere after this and by 1964, over 50 countries all over the world had become affiliated with the FIH and, today, the federation still stands as the regulator, developer and promoter of hockey.