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30 april 2014

‘Best of the best World Championships hockey’

“The World Championships hockey will be the best tournament ever in history.” This tournament will be held in The Hague from 31 May until the 15th of June. All hockey fans are eagerly looking forward to this hockey highlight of the year. The World Championships are organised by the KNHB (Koninklijke Nederlandse Hockey Bond, Royal Dutch Hockey Union). JOEP DERKSEN reports.
The official announcement that The Netherlands would host such a prestigious tournament was made in January 2013 by Johan Wakkie (60), director of the hockey union. He predicted that ‘around 200,000 visitors’ are expected to look at the hockey achievements from the men and women players. Therefore, he spoke of a “double tournament” and said: “We strive for the best of the best.” Wakkie was quoted in the Telegraaf on 24 January 2013: “This tournament will not solely be a Dutch party. Fans from countries of all five continents will come to The Hague. The world should and will feel at home at our tournament.” The motto of the tournament is ‘Let’s celebrate hockey’ and 76 duels will be played in the football stadium of ADO Den Haag and the temporary GreenFields Stadium, which is located besides the Kyocera Stadium.
Arjen Rahusen is spokesperson for the KNHB and he informs The Holland Times: “Everything is going according to schedule. Nine days have been sold out already and we are very proud of this. Apparently we are able to get in touch with the right people.” What does Rahusen mean by this comment? “In the world of hockey, it is remarkable that you can sell 15,000 tickets per day. It is possible that this is also due to the fact that this year’s world championship involves the matches from both the Dutch men and women.” Does this success mean that the KNHB wants to organize more events like the World Championships? Rahusen laughs: “It does taste sweet, but we are also depending on the types of tournaments that are allocated to us.” One of the special events that are organized, is a ‘warmloopdag’ (warm up day) for all volunteers on 29 May. “That way, they know what goes on at such a tournament,” says the spokesperson. Also, local tournaments are organized at hockey clubs throughout the country, to remind the children of this special world championship event that is being held in the Netherlands.
For adults and children, an ‘Embassy Tournament’ is organized on 29 May as well. Around 2,000 people are expected, linked to the EU, international organizations and embassies of all participating countries. Before the competition starts that day, the children can enjoy a flag parade. The ‘national teams’ (landenteams) compete with each other to attain ultimate glory. This tournament ends with a competition between national politicians and the ‘rainbow team’, consisting of representatives of embassies from different nations. All proceedings will go to the charity ‘Save the children’. As is customary with any tournament nowadays, the organizers have also introduced a new mascot: ‘Stockey’. This mascot is a stork with a curl in his beak, symbolizing a hockey stick. Stockey is said to be the cousin of Storky, the (stork) mascot of the football club ADO Den Haag. In the social media the name ‘Stockey’ was ridiculed by some Dutch citizens. It was claimed that this would mean ‘asshole’. According to Urbandictionary.com, the description of ‘Stockey’ is: “Short people with a lot of muscle that will [expletive] your day up quick if you piss them off.” However, according to Rahusen, these statements are incorrect. “We have asked many British citizens whether ‘Stockey’ is a foul word in English, but this is not the case.”
During the tournament, it is not only all about hockey. Visitors have plenty opportunities to enjoy music, food and drinks. Many of the matches of the Rabobank Hockey World Cup can be seen on national television. The audience is entertained during the intermissions. Not only because of the enthousiastic cheerleaders, but one lucky viewer can also return home with a brand new Volvo, playing a hockey variant of the jeu de boules game.  The children in the audience are also eligible for prices, when they catch any of the plastic balls that are being shot into the audience. Do you want to let your family and friends know that you are part of the hockey crowd? Then you can use the ‘fan cam’; tag yourself via the social media and show the world where you are. And if you’re really lucky, the ‘kiss cam’ will be aimed at you. Kiss the person next to you and win any of, hold on…, not one but three pairs of toe slippers! The opening match is between Australia, reigning World Champion, and Malaysia. In their very first match on 31 May, the Dutch women hockey players compete against Japan on prime time (7:45 pm). The Dutch men play the next day against Argentina (4 pm). The two final days, 14 June (women’s final) and 15 June (men’s final), were the first to be sold out. With a budget of 12.5 million euro, this tournament is sure to become a huge success.