On 23 June the world celebrated Olympic Day - a celebration which is much more than just a sports event. It is a day for the world to get active, learn about Olympic values and discover new sports.
Earlier this year, the International Hockey Federation (FIH), in cooperation with Continental Federations, reached out to National Associations in a bid to coordinate joined up global activity to celebrate hockey on this day.
More than 40 countries developed special hockey programmes for this year’s Olympic Day which were attended by thousands of people across the world. Whilst this was an excellent engagement opportunity, it also created a huge amount of content which demonstrated many of the attributes which make hockey such an amazing sport.
This joined-up approach not only showed the positive collaboration between the sport's governing body and its Continental Federations and National Associations, it also highlighted the vast amount of effort and resource that the hockey community put into celebrating this day. This was duly noted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) who were delighted by the huge amount of hockey activity taking place in locations around the world.
Below are some of the activity highlights:
The National Hockey Association of Afghanistan organised numerous hockey events on Olympic Day aimed at promoting their sport by involving schools, teams and their coaches and parents. With the support of their National Olympic Committee, their main activities focused on Hockey5s events held in Kabul and Khust.
The upcoming Olympic Games in Rio were leveraged in Brazil to promote hockey in five different states on the same day,including at the Olympic hockey facilities in Rio. Prominent support came from the players of the Brazilian men's hockey national team that will represent Brazil in the Olympic Games. They were involved in various activities, such as hockey clinics for children, teenagers, and adults.
Hockey India organised special hockey matches that took place in all their member state units for participants from all walks of life, different ages, abilities and gender.
Between 18 and 26 June, the Pakistan Hockey Federation conducted a number of activities to support Olympic Day 2016.
Hockey5s competitions took place at the National Hockey Stadium and the Hockey Stadium Johor Town, Lahore. Gold medallist Olympians and hockey world champions strongly supported the project and acted as an inspiration and role models for the young athletes. Families attended the matches along with officials from the Pakistan Olympic Association, media and government officials (including the Minister for Sports Punjab). The women's hockey team also participated in the activities and encouraged young talent to adopt sports as part of their healthy lifestyles.
In addition to this, summer camps were organised in Shahdrah town (Lahore), Shaikhupura city and in Sukkar District. In total, more than 2,000 local citizens were targeted for the promotion of Olympic Day through hockey competitions and these summer camps.
In addition, Hockey5s tournaments were organised in two rehabilitation facilities (Wazirabad and Karachi) for patients suffering from drug addiction. This was to provide those patients with a healthy perspective in a bid to divert them from drug abuse and, possibly, to become sources of inspiration for local citizens.
Portugal promoted this year's biggest hockey day on 18 June, which saw lots of different matches and fun activities taking place, ranging from development to elite level. ParaHockey was integrated as well.
This year, the Portuguese Hockey Federation tried to reach out to as many people as possible, including hockey players and new participants alike, coming from local communities and schools and regardless of age, gender or ability.
They also integrated parents, umpires, coaches, volunteers, supporters, managers and athletes, with ages ranging from four years old up to over 70, and let them experience, first hand, the hockey spirit and Olympic values.
Hockey5s competitions involving under eights and under 11 age groups took place as well, with seven participating teams, coming from different parts of the country.
Last but not least, all the participants had access to the best of the best, through free access to two elite matches: the women's Portuguese Cup Final and then the men's Portuguese Cup final.
Level 1 Basic Coaching courses took place from 18 to 23 June, targeting more than 40 male and female physical education teachers. In addition to the course, participants were given the opportunity to learn, play and celebrate hockey during a tournament called “Challenge Cup”.
On the final day, Olympic Day, the new coaches graduated having been equipped to start teaching hockey in their schools.
The Tanzania Hockey Association held a two day Hockey5s event on 18-19 June that involved a wide range of age groups. The tournament helped create further awareness of hockey which will hopefully help to boost participation in the sport throughout the country.
The Vanuatu Hockey Federation planned a one-day tournament that will bring schools from eight different villages to the capital city. All teams were of mixed gender (minimum of four girls per squad and two on the field at all times), all of whom were aged 13 and under.
The competition gave participants the chance to compete against other schools for the first time and enjoy the excitement of competing and representing their school/town or island.
The Federation also worked closely with a local youth centre for underprivileged children who cannot afford to attend school. They entered a team. Educators of that same centre we will open the tournament with a educational session regarding health and nutrition.
A practice match of the national men's team, to showcase the sport at the top level to young people, complemented the day.
Full list of countries undertaking hockey activity on Olympic Day:
Africa: Sierra Leone; Tanzania.
Asia: Uzbekistan; Pakistan; India; Vietnam; Nepal; Bangladesh; Indonesia; Afghanistan; Chinese Taipei; Tajikistan; Cambodia; Singapore; Hong Kong; Thailand; Macau; Japan; China; Brunei; Macau; Qatar; Iran; UAE; Saudi Arabia; Oman.
Europe: Lithuania; Portugal; Scotland; Luxembourg; Netherlands.
Oceania: Vanuatu; Australia; Solomon Islands; Tonga.
Pan-America: Brazil; Chile; Peru.
For more information about Olympic Day, click here.