Netherlands players perform hongi at the welcome ceremony
Netherlands players perform hongi at the welcome ceremony
(Photo: FIH)

The biggest international hockey event ever to be staged in New Zealand begins today as the stunning city of Auckland plays host to the Owen G Glenn FIH Champions Trophy.

A virtual sell-out crowd will watch the action on Saturday as eight of the world’s finest teams take to the field in the FIH’s showpiece event. As well as this, millions of fans around the world will be able to watch the matches courtesy of the extensive television coverage and online via LIVEFIH.CH, the official Live Streaming service of the FIH (more information can be found below).

On Friday, the teams and officials were given a unique and very special greeting at the welcome ceremony.   New Zealand is one country with two people and two official languages – Maori, the indigenous people and the Pakeha, who are New Zealanders of European descent. The ceremony gave a glimpse of the Maori culture as the local iwi (tribe) Ngati Whatua greeted the guests with The Wero, a traditional challenge to ensure that the visitors arriving in a new territory come in peace. The challenge was performed by a young warrior with a Taiaha (spear), who danced in front of the visitors before focussing his attentions on the head of the delegation, FIH Tournament Director Bjorn Isberg. As part of the challenge, a leaf was laid in front of Mr Isberg, who stepped forward and carefully pick it up before slowly stepping back, respectfully keeping his eyes on the challenger at all times. This symbolized that the delegation comes in peace, and was warmly welcomed by the Ngati Whatua.

As well as speeches from various dignitaries including Len Brown, the Mayor of Auckland, representatives from each team were asked to perform hongi (pressing of the noses – the sharing of breath) with members of the Ngati Whatua. This action is symbolic to the Ngati Whatua as everyone arrives as separate people but by sharing breath individuals become one.  The ceremony was organized by Pam Elgar, President of Oceania Hockey Federation and FIH Executive Board member.  It was a wonderful way to set the scene for what promises to be a superb tournament here in Auckland.

Today’s action hits off with an absolutely cracking contest with world number one side Australia taking on Santi Freixa’s Spain at 12:05 (GMT +13), before Great Britain face Pakistan at 14:05. Home favourites New Zealand take on Eurpean Champions Germany at 16:05 before Teun de Nooijer’s Netherlands clash with Korea at 18:05. For information about how to follow the action online, see below.   

 

How to follow the action online …

On www.fih.ch
Comprehensive, official information about the tournament including results, pool tables, match reports, top scorers and action photos courtesy of Frank Uijlenbroek.

On www.livefih.tv
High quality worldwide* live streaming. The live stream is pay per view, but match highlights will be available free of charge. From Tuesday, a video on demand service will be activated, allowing all subscribers the ablity to watch matches at any time they choose. Within Europe, all matches will be available either on LIVEFIH.TV or via Eurosport.

On Twitter  
We will be posting regular goal updates and links to news stories via Twitter. We will be using the hashtag #CTNZ2011, or follow us directly on @FIH_Hockey .  

 

* Due to licensing and contractual restrictions, access to LIVEFIH.TV may be limited in some territories.