Hockey, with a fan-base of 2+ billion people around the globe, is the third-most popular sport in the world. But, have you ever wondered how the game of hockey began to be played? This article will let you in on the history of this amazing game. Have a look…
Hockey has its origins in some of the most ancient cultures of the world. A game similar to modern-day field hockey has been found depicted on 4,000-year old tombs in Egypt. The picture depicted two men with sticks having curved ends, standing over a ball. It has been evidenced that Arabs, Persians, Romans, Ethiopians, and even the Aztecs played a version of hockey.
The Romans called the game ‘Paganica’. The Irish had a game of hurling dates, which goes back to 1272 BC. A game called ‘Chueca’ was depicted to be played in Argentina by the Araucano Indians. The Australian Noongar people played a game called ‘Dumbung’.
In Europe, a hockey-like game was played in early times. It was called ‘Cambuca’, ‘Comocke’ or ‘Cammock’ in England, ‘Shinty’ in Scotland, ‘Jeu De Mail’ in France, and ‘Het Kolven’ in the Netherlands. The game has also been called ‘Clubbes’, ‘Hurl-Bat’, ‘Baddins’, and ‘Shinnops’. The Statutes of Galway had even forbidden the game in 1527.
It is said that the name ‘Hockey’ has been derived from the French word ‘Hocquet’, which is used to describe a shepherd’s crook. Or, it could have been derived from the Anglo-Saxon word for hook, which is ‘Hok’.
Therefore, one cannot be certain about who invented hockey, as such, or who was the inventor of hockey as a game.
History of Field Hockey
A game like hockey was played in English Public Schools in the 19th Century. Like any other team games, its popularity increased with time. At the time, this game was played on a larger field, and players used a cube of black rubber with rough sticks which were planed on one side. The first English Hockey Club was Blackheath, and was formed around 1849.
The modern game of field hockey was then further developed by the Teddington Cricket Club. The members of the club were looking for some form of winter exercise, and did not particularly care for football. Between 1871 to 1874, they experimented with the game, and began to formulate rules for it.
The Hockey Association was formed in 1886 by seven London Clubs, and the game grew from then on. However, most of the clubs did not agree with the rules, and formulated their own rules of the game.
The Blackheath club preferred to use the rubber cube, along with catching, marking, and scrimmaging based on rugby. The Teddignton Club, however, played with old cricket balls, and began the use of the striking circle.
Soon enough, the game of hockey reached all the English territories of the time, predominantly India and Pakistan. The first hockey club was formed in 1885 in Calcutta. In the ensuing 10 years, the Beighton Club and the Aga Khan Tournament were introduced in India.
Women’s Hockey developed a little separately from the Men’s Hockey. It was first played in the British schools and universities. The first women’s hockey club was the Molesey Ladies Hockey Club, which was formed in 1887.
In 1895, the International Rules Board was formed for the game of Hockey.
Hockey first appeared in the Olympics at 1908, which were played in London. There were 3 teams involved―England, Scotland, and Ireland.
In 1924, the International Hockey Federation was formed under Paul Leautey. Austria, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Spain, Hungary, and Switzerland were the founding members of this federation. After WWII, the development of this federation was under the leadership of Rene George Frank, a Belgian.
In 1927, the International Federation of Women’s Hockey Association was formed.
By the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, men’s hockey had become a permanent part of the games. In the 1928 Olympics, India won all their 5 games without conceding a single goal. India continued to win at the Olympics from 1932 to 1956, and then in 1964 and 1980. Pakistan won in 1960, 1968, and 1984.
Women’s hockey was introduced into the Olympics in 1980, and teams like Germany, Australia, and the Netherlands have held their strong position here as well.
Today, hockey is played on a synthetic turf. This was first introduced in the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Astroturf has become an integral part of the modern game of field hockey.
Hockey sticks were traditionally made out of wood. Later, material such as fiberglass, carbon fiber, and Kevlar began to be applied to the wooden surface. Nowadays, players use sticks which are made out of synthetic composite material.
Even the ball has now changed from a cricket leather-type ball to a very hard plastic ball.