(Photo: Hein Athmer c ,,cr)

It is not simply the elite hockey players who are enjoying the limelight in The Hague over this World Cup fortnight. It was fantastic to witness more than 100 youngsters with some form of physical disability taking part in a special tournament at Cartouche Hockey club over the opening weekend of the hockey celebrations. Inclusivity is something that FIH is very keen to promote and develop, so this initiative is a great example of providing a fantastic hockey experience for everyone.

Hockey for people with disabilities is a growth sport in the Netherlands and it has attracted some high level support, including through the  Dirk Kuyt Foundation, which has been set up by Dutch football international Dirk Kuyt to help people with disabilities take part in sport.  

"Having physical limitations should not stop you from enjoying sport," says Henriette van Aalderen of the Dutch hockey association KNHB. "That is why we organise all sorts of different activities for people with disabilities – including a league competition and national. Everyone should be able to enjoy that feeling of being part of a club.”

The Netherlands is leading the way in terms of making hockey accessible to people with disabilities. “We are only too happy to share our experiences with clubs, national organisations and others, so that hockey is open to more people than ever,” says Van Aalderen. “We are extremely pleased that the EHF, in the shape of Marijke Fleuren, is keen to spread the word about disabled hockey as well.”

Hockey for people with physical and learning disabilities (known in Dutch as LG and G hockey) is organised as separate sports in the Netherlands. That does mean there are fewer players to compete against, which some teams think is a disadvantage. “More people should take part,” said players from Utrecht club Kampong. “It is great fun to play and if there are more teams, there are more challenges. And we could do with some more players next season as well.”