by David Butcher
First published in ACCESS Summer 2014 e-zine
The Hague is certainly a city that is experiencing an increase in profile on a global stage. This year we have already hosted the Nuclear Security Summit. The next major event was the Hockey World Cup, which took place in June.
All key sporting events bring logistical challenges for a city and I am well aware of the excellent preparations that have been put in place for the Hockey World Cup. I particularly applaud the fact that the theme behind this world cup is one of celebrating hockey itself with a true festive party atmosphere.
Whilst hockey is not regarded as a major world sport, it still has a very strong position in many countries (the Netherlands being a prime example) and like sports such as volleyball and squash, it has been innovative and pro-active in changing the rules to make it more popular and to enhance the interest of spectators.
My first encounter with hockey was at the National Sports Centre in England, Lilleshall. I was on an England Schools cricket pre-season training camp and the England Under 18 Hockey team was also training at the time. We could not believe the speed and accuracy that they hit the ball at - 130kph - our best batsmen could not get close to this speed when they tried it. When I was at university I had friends who played hockey at a high level and I was amazed at their fitness levels. I remember talking to some Great Britain Hockey players prior to the 2000 Sydney Olympics about their training regimes – they were seriously fit.
At the International School of The Hague (ISH), we are proud of our girls’ hockey teams and they have been very successful over the years participating in the International Schools Sports Tournaments (ISST) and at club level in the community. As a school, we are fortunate to have staff on the faculty who have a deep love for the game and moreover want to share their passion for sports and coach our youngsters. We are also delighted to be actively involved in this once in a lifetime sporting opportunity. We will be sending our students to watch the live games.
So roll on the Hockey World Cup; I have no doubt it will be a fantastic sporting experience that will be typical of a knockout event, giving The Hague another fantastic opportunity to showcase itself as a great city.
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