History of Field Hockey

Where Field Hockey Began

Field hockey is one of the oldest team sports in the world, dating back nearly 3,000 years to the Greek classical era, where the sport closely resembled the modern Gaelic sport of hurling. The modern name “field hockey” first appeared in England in the 14th century when King Edward III issued a proclamation outlawing the practice of leisure sports by the working class. After lying dormant in England for the next several centuries, field hockey reemerged in the post-Elizabethan British Empire and began working its way into English public schools in the 18th century. The modern form of the game grew directly from the format originally developed in the English school system, growing to the point where it rivaled sports such as rugby and soccer in terms of popularity. When the British Empire expanded its borders around the globe in the 1800s, the British Army brought the game of field hockey with them, expanding the sport’s practice to the point where it is now one of the most popular sports in the world.

Field hockey reached its modern form in the 19th century as a game played between two teams of eleven players each. Teams compete on a standard 100 x 60 yard field and attempt to score goals by hitting a ball off the ground into a net guarded by the opposite team’s goalkeeper. Blackheath HC (hockey club) was founded in London in 1849 as the first professional field hockey club, but the game truly reached its modern form a few years later when Teddington HC introduced the striking circle and changed the official ball to a sphere as opposed to a rubber cube. In 1886, the Hockey Association was founded in England, publishing a set of rules and standards to be observed by all organized field hockey teams. The sport went mainstream in 1908 when it was included in the Summer Olympics in London, but the sport was dropped in 1924, leading to the formation of the Federation Internationale de Hockey sur Gazon (FIH), which exists as the governing body for all international field hockey to this day.

Hockey experienced its greatest level of success in British colonial India, where Calcutta HC was founded as the first professional field hockey club outside of England in 1885. The sport continued to grow at a blistering pace in India throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries, and when field hockey was reinstated as an Olympic sport in 1928, India proceeded to win the gold medal every year from 1928 to 1956. Field hockey has also experienced great success in the former colonies of Australia, New Zealand, Egypt, Hong Kong, and the United States.
Field hockey is most widely practiced as a women’s sport in the USA and Canada where it is among the most popular women’s school sports. Because field hockey has been played by Americans since the time of British colonial rule, it has remained as one of the oldest college sports in the United States. Soon after the formation of the men’s professional field hockey teams in England, several women’s colleges in the United States formed the first women’s field hockey teams in America. College field hockey has grown in popularity to the point where it is now recognized by more than 250 U.S. colleges and universities. All of this success has made field hockey one of the most lucrative scholarship sports in America.

The NCAA dictates the number of scholarships that each school can award and allows 12 scholarships each year to be handed out by college field hockey programs. With 78 schools at the Division I level and 23 at Division II, there are more than 1,200 scholarships available each year to high school field hockey players interested in playing at the college level. Finding these scholarships can be extremely difficult without the help of an experienced athletic recruiting company such as athleticscholarships.net. Our company has existed for nearly a decade now, and we have worked with thousands of athletes, finding scholarship opportunities for more than 85 percent of our clients. We are well versed in all of the minor rules and technicalities of the recruiting process and have all the knowledge needed to find you scholarship opportunities from across the United States.