It is International Olympic Day and, as one of the most popular Olympic team sports, the global hockey community is celebrating the day in style.
Olympic Day is 23 June and sports across the Olympic family are joining together to celebrate the Olympic movement and its ideals, both on the specific day and extending into the weekend following Olympic Day.
All activities to celebrate Olympic Day are taking place under the banner #MoveForPeace, highlighting the part sport can play in bringing communities together, healing rifts and promoting peace and cooperation. Research released by the IOC says that two thirds of the global population believe that the Olympics are an effective means of promoting peace through sport.
So, in what type of activities are the hockey community involved?
In South Africa, at the Vygieskraal Hub in Cape Town, primary school children from across the the area will come together for a day of hockey coaching and competition. The event is part of the wider South Africa Modified Hockey programme, ‘Fun in Action’ and the team delivering the course really emphasise the inclusive nature of the sport.
Meanwhile, in Portugal, the focus is on youth hockey as the Portuguese Hockey Federation is hosting and running an Olympic weekend. Four test matches involving the under-18 men’s and women’s teams against Galicia – a region in north-west Spain - will be played over 25 and 26 June. The matches will take place in front of a long-awaited crowd of spectators at the Lousada Hockey Stadium in Porto.
In Samoa, the national Hockey Federation will be organising and hosting a tournament to introduce new people to the sport. The first activities will see current players and coaches teaching the basics of the game and this will be followed by a 5-a-side tournament.
Managing Director of the Samoa Hockey Federation, Faamausili Taiva Ah Young says the primary focus will be on introducing girls and women to hockey and encouraging them to take up the sport as a regular activity.
There is a plethora of activities across the rest of Oceania. In an innovative collaboration between sport and technology, the continental federation’s Hookin4Health Team are using the Folktale app to create video stories around hockey.
Gill Gemming of the Oceania Hockey Federation, explains: ‘Hook in4 Health is our programme under Australian Government Team Up Sport 4 Development Program. All our members are now using Folktale to record stories - individual profiles, stories of change, impact of programmes, individual programmes outcomes.’
Among the videos made using the app, was a folktale on a hockey player with a disability. This was created by Nasse Maltungtung from Vanuatu and was nominated as Best Impact Story at the first Folktales award ceremony.
With this activity showing how hockey and creative arts can send a powerful message, there is also a heap of hockey activity going on across the region. In the Solomon islands hockey is joining five other sports to celebrate Olympic day at the High Performance Sports Centre and Tonga and Vanuatu Hockey Federations are both holding multi-sport activity days.
In New Zealand individual regional associations are running a range of different programmes. Tauranga, for example, has run a series of workshops over the past month focusing on ‘fun, fair and safe’ sport, with Olympic Week the culmination of the programme.
Across the Asian continent there are a multitude of Olympic day activities as all the national federations rose to the challenge set by Chief Executive of the AHF and FIH Olympic Relations and IOC Commission Member Tayyab Ikram.
Speaking at the Women’s Asian Games Qualifier 2022 in Jakarta, Ikram said: ‘We celebrate Olympic Day to send to the world the message of unity and harmony. We tell the world ‘We are one’, and we should work together to spread peace and harmony.
‘We advocate human rights, we promote culture and heritage, we work to ensure sustainable and positive legacy and we work to promote peace and development.’
There is still time for you, your club or your team to get involved. You can organise an activity that brings people together to play hockey, maybe a 5-a-side game with work colleagues or a school tournament. Share the hashtag #MoveForpeace and #OlympicDay to promote the power of sport to promote peace. And share inspiring stories through words, pictures and videos of ways that hockey activities have brought about peace in your community.