As I watched the exceptional Australian men’s hockey team bring the curtain down on the Rabobank Hockey World Cup in The Hague with a stunning 6-1 victory over the Netherlands, I could reflect with huge pride on another fantastic International Hockey Federation event.
This was one of the largest events we have ever organised. Over 380 players from 24 teams gathered in The Hague with both the men’s and women’s tournaments taking place simultaneously. This is not to mention the hundreds of coaches and support staff who attended, as well as the millions of hockey fans watching both in the stadiums and on TV all over the world.
I was deeply proud of how the World Cup showcased hockey as a sport that is continually expanding through technological advances, innovative ways of engaging with fans, and initiatives to promote hockey to new audiences.
Over 260,000 hockey fans came to both of The Hague’s hockey arenas during the tournament, creating a vibrant atmosphere in every game, which certainly contributed to the exciting, action-packed and tense matches that characterised the tournament. It was wonderful to see The Hague transformed into the centre of the hockey universe over the course of the month, with masters, grand masters and beach hockey tournaments helping to create a festival of hockey for anyone lucky enough to be there.
This World Cup proved to be the most social in the sport’s history. There were over 100 million impressions about the tournament on twitter, while more than half a million fans were sharing World Cup content on facebook. These fans did not have to miss a minute of fantastic World Cup action either, with more than 300 million watching over 120 hours of coverage in 190 countries – it was a truly global sporting event.
In addition, the TV presentation of the games and the tournament at large was the best ever. 15 cameras meant that fans didn’t miss any important action, with UltraMotion showing in detail the incredible skill and speed of the players, and the magnificent SpiderCam providing a genuinely unique viewing experience. We are very excited to see how these technological advances can be built upon through FIH’s partnership with Star Sports, which begins next year.
Focussing on the brilliant off the pitch experience of the World Cup should not diminish from the main event, however. It was great to see the home nation, backed by their passionate orange-clad support, perform so well. The Netherlands’ men’s team were only defeated by the brilliant Australians in the final, while the women’s team went one better to be crowned World Champions as they continue their current dominance of the sport.
It was a privilege to see the spread of competing teams across the world, with participants from six continents at the finals. As the Hockey World League, the first stage of qualification for the Olympics in Rio 2016, begins next month with more countries competing than ever before, I can confidently say that hockey is a fast growing, innovative and exciting sport – something that the 2014 Hockey World perfectly demonstrated.
Kelly Fairweather is the Chief Executive Officer of the International Hockey Federation