Hockey is unique. It is the only 11 a side game that can just be played one side; that is to say everyone using a hockey stick must do so with the stick held to the right side of the body whether the player is naturally right or left handed. It does perhaps put left handers at a slight disadvantage though from day one when they handled a stick they did so to play right handed.
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Girls before Men
Hockey was more frequently played by girls than boys during their years of education. Indeed ‘Jolly hockey sticks’ is an expression attributed to schoolgirls expressing their enthusiasm. The fact that it was girls playing the game was largely because boys were offered soccer or rugby as the alternatives. It is now a game however that is well developed at international, national, regional and local level for both men and women. It has been a game played by men’s teams at the Olympics in all but two Games since 1908. The Games in Moscow in 1980 were where the first time women’s teams competed and they have done so every four years since then.
While it is not a game that originated in the UK, many of the prominent countries playing this game are former colonies within the British Empire; India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. It is the National Sport of Pakistan and has a similar honour in India until it was decided quite recently to do away with the concept.
Team sport is very valuable as a means of social interaction. It applies equally well to hockey as any other sport. There are many clubs now in England competing at varying levels including National Leagues which help develop the talents of the best players for international competition.
The best surface for playing the game is arguably on artificial turf which is likely to be a truer surface for the roll of the small ball than a simple grass one. Such surfaces have been laid in many sports complexes throughout the Country. Such expense is largely beyond the resources of a small hockey club which needs to cover the expenses of a hockey kit, the ‘J’ shaped sticks, general and travelling expenses.
Expense is always a factor in sport – not only the essential cost of hockey kit. The further a team needs to travel to fulfil its fixture list the more it is in need of revenue for travelling from sponsorship, special events and perhaps the bar. The game is well administered with the National Body keen to encourage greater participation. That involves clubs looking to develop junior sections, especially where the local schools are no longer playing the game. Clubs perform an important function in society; team games help personal development and hockey plays its part.