Sticking with it: The 2014 World Cup in Den Haag, Holland, will provide a supplement to the football World Cup for sporting fans. photo: rosshuggett

Hockey can steal World Cup fever from football

In June 2014, the entire world will be glued to the highly anticipated World Cup, as international competition heats up and top-level sport is pushed to its limit. No, not the football World Cup in Brazil: I’m talking, of course, about the Rabobank Hockey World Cup.

Whilst not attracting quite the same scrutiny of its footballing equivalent, the World Cup is nevertheless an enormous date in the hockey diary, on par with the prestige of the Olympics.

Qualifying rounds throughout 2013 have selected the top twelve men’s and women’s teams from around the globe, listed below, who will travel to The Hague in Holland (pronounced Den Haag locally) in order to compete in a mammoth double event under the tournament slogan: ‘Let’s celebrate hockey!’.

Men Australia (defending champions), Argentina, Belgium, England, Germany, India, Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, South Africa and Korea.

Women: Argentina (defending champions), Australia, Belgium, China, England, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Africa, Korea and USA.

As you can see above, England have qualified for both, and their Twitter feed suggests a gruelling training regime is already underway.

The men have still to complete their World League season this month, which will decide their pools for the World Cup. The women’s pools have already been announced, however, with England unfortunate to be drawn against Argentina, reigning world champions, in the early stages.

Nevertheless, thrilling performances at last year’s qualifying tournaments suggest some show-stopping hockey is on the cards. As they are currently ranked third in the world, aspirations for England’s women to win are not outlandish.

As hosts, the Netherlands were automatically given a place in the draw; however, their convincing 5-1 win against Australia in the recent World Hockey League is a testament to their talent. Check out this snippet from the match to get some idea of the incredible level of hockey that we can expect at the World Cup:

Part of The Hague’s strong bid to host the tournament was their dedication to campaigning to improve the social side of the game. Healthy eating and lifestyle is therefore being given a huge promotion alongside the sport, with workshops ranging from healthy cooking to packing children’s lunchboxes running throughout the duration of the tournament.

The World Forum in The Hague will be a fantastic venue for the opening ceremony (3o May), and a lively promotional village is being constructed in the specially-built Hockey Park to include a large entertainment marquee where video screens will broadcast live matches for those who missed out on tickets.

The entire city will go mad for hockey, with local clubs organising side tournaments for schools and companies. From international beach hockey at Scheveningen, to the central courtyard of the Parliament building being turned into a mini pitch, hockey will be played by youngsters, tourists and politicians alike.

It will be a hard spectacle to follow for England, who will host the women’s World Cup in 2018.

Lastly, though he’s not a patch on Warwick’s Terry, here we have Stockey, the World Cup mascot, alongside the Netherlands’ men’s and women’s captains outside the Kyocera Stadium in The Hague. He looks as excited as we are for the Hockey World Cup…


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