What are the Biggest Events in Field Hockey?

Figure 1 Men’s international hockey is popular around the world

When it comes to American and Canadian audiences, hockey refers to what the rest of the world call ice hockey – and, usually, the rough and tumble of the NHL. Although there are obviously some similarities between the two sports, the two games require some very different skillsets.

The Stanley Cup is the big event in ice hockey – and is the culmination of a long and grueling season in the NHL. But there are some very big events when it comes to our version of hockey as well. They may not attract quite as much interest or traffic as the online NHL betting sites at finals time, but there are some big international tournaments in hockey that showcase the superstars of the sport.

Read on to find out what the biggest events in men’s hockey are – and which teams are currently world-beaters.

Olympics

Men’s hockey has been a long time standard at the summer Olympics, having first been introduced at the 1908 games in London. Although the sport hasn’t been a feature at every single Olympiad since then, it has made an appearance ever since being reintroduced in 1928.

The early years saw India dominate men’s Olympic hockey, winning six consecutive gold medals from 1928 to 1956. Pakistan challenged in the years after, sharing the title with India until the 1970s, when other countries from around the world were able to break the south Asian stranglehold.

Germany became a hockey powerhouse at the beginning of the new millennium and has been involved in the medal matches in each of the last four Olympic games. India also bounced back on the scene to win bronze in Tokyo earlier in 2021. But it was Belgium that went one better than the runners up spot it earned at Rio 2016, when it beat Australia in a penalty shoot out to take the gold and become the reigning Olympic champions.

Figure 2 The Olympics is the biggest event in men’s international hockey

FIH Hockey World Cup

The World Cup was introduced in 1971 and was designed to bridge the gap between Olympic tournaments. It is also held every four years and can sometimes be used as a good indicator of who to look out for at the bigger event. India’s domination of the game had waned slightly by the time the World Cup was first played – and it was Pakistan that won three of the first five tournaments.

Pakistan did win another World Cup title in 1994, but the gold medals have been shared around a little more since then. The Netherlands and Germany have both won two World Cups each, while Australia was triumphant in back-to-back tournaments in 2010 and 2014.

In a sign of things to come, Belgium beat everyone else to win the World Cup in India in 2018, although they did need a penalty shoot out to overcome the Netherlands after a goalless final. The next edition is scheduled to return to India in 2023.

FIH Pro League

The third hockey tournament in terms of importance is the Pro League that took over from the Hockey Champions Trophy that ran almost every year from 1978. Australia, Germany and the Netherlands dominated that previous incarnation of the event, with the Australians managing to win seven of the last eight editions.

The FIH Pro League took over in 2019 and has also served as a qualifier for the Hockey World Cup and the Olympic Games. Belgium is the current champions of this competition as well – winning in 2021 – and are also top of the league for the 2021/22 season in its very early stages. The tournament is scheduled to run through until June 2022.

By Pablo Mendoza

Pablo Mendoza is an FIH Hockey Academy Educator and the owner of A Hockey World. Contact: pablo@ahockeyworld.net