Field Hockey in Europe and overseas

Popularity and style of play contribute to Europe and many other countries’ success with field hockey

Euro Hockey League

Public Domain

Euro Hockey League

Katerina Quill, Staff Writer

Field hockey is not a popular sport in the United States (yet); however, the countries overseas have something different to say.  

Many of you know about field hockey because our school offers it to all students. Other schools in Massachusetts offer it as well. In fact, the majority of schools that offer field hockey are located on the East Coast. In the grand scheme, field hockey isn’t popular in the United states. It is considered a sport that has a limited amount of support. Approximately 1.46 million people play field hockey in the U.S, which isn’t a huge number. 

One step closer to world-wide recognition (Jeon Heon-Kyun/European Pressphoto Agency)

However, field hockey is very big in Europe as well as in many of the countries overseas! There are around 2.2 billion fans of field hockey globally! For a comparison, there are around 400 million basketball fans, and 1 billion tennis fans worldwide.

Let’s take a look at Australia. Australia is the country with the most field hockey players and is ranked number 1 in the world as of 2022. This is because ice hockey is not popular and has low participation in Australia. North America’s ice hockey is basically considered their field hockey.

So what makes field hockey in Australia so different from field hockey in the states?

Field hockey in Australia and many countries solely play for enjoyment rather than competition or personal performance. This may not seem that important, but in reality, it is very significant. Athletes in the U.S. constantly deal with pressure not just in field hockey. If we played purely for our enjoyment, our rankings as a country could get better and participation levels may rise.

Osaka is considered one of the biggest and most eye-catching field hockey brands in the world (Longstrength Field Hockey)

Let’s take a look at sticks! Europe and many other countries generally produce better quality sticks. I bought a stick at a recent tournament I played in, and it’s from the Japanese brand Osaka, located in Belgium. You may be wondering why Osaka sticks are so different from other brands such as STX or Grays. Osaka sticks don’t chip as easily and last a lot longer than an STX stick. Osaka sticks have a wide range of custom features to specifically fit your position on the field.

Before I purchased the Osaka stick I had an STX stick. I am a center forward on my school’s team and I was playing with a defender stick the whole season without realizing it. Believe it or not, the Osaka stick I bought (for forwards) has actually benefited my style of play. There are also many other stick brands from other countries that could be equally good or better than the Osaka stick. Even though many of these stick brands from other countries ship to the U.S., this could be a contributing factor to Europe and many other continents’ success with field hockey.

If you go to Sutton Schools or live in Sutton, then you know soccer is very popular here. Many people have their kids start playing at a very young age. I started playing at 3 years old and it was my first sport. Many other people at Sutton High can say the same. This is not only common in Sutton, but all across the United States. The average age people start playing soccer in the U.S. is from 3-5 years old.

The Australia men’s team at the FIH Hockey world cup (Picture by getty images German

It’s not common to offer field hockey at such a young age. I started playing field hockey in 7th grade and I am currently in 10th. I didn’t know the sport existed for the longest time. Most people start playing field hockey in the U.S. during their preteen years, but there are still a  large number of people who have played years prior to their pre-teens. This shows how late people start playing field hockey here in the United States.

Kids in Europe start playing field hockey at a very young age. This contributes a huge amount to many countries’ rankings/success, because they have a lot more years under their belt.

Many reasons make Europe vastly different from the United States in terms of field hockey. Even though Europe/countries overseas generally produce better field hockey players, the U.S. can hold its own. In fact the USA men’s team ranked 4th out of 16 teams for the Indoor field hockey world cup this year. As for the Women’s team, Reese D’ariano was one of the top scorers in the entire tournament with a total of 8 goals (which is a pretty good amount for field hockey).