Almost EHL time again :)

A lot of things are going wrong in international hockey these days. Argentina sees two major players taking a break from international hockey because of bad management in their federation. Dutch hoofdklasse clubs sound the alarm towards their own national federation, who seems not willing to change the competition format of the renowned Dutch “hoofdklasse” to adapt to a changing international environment. Hockey Australia is so desperate to make hockey a more “attractive” sport they are willing to sacrifice their major competition (AHL) and reduce it to a joke with rules a 6 year old would not even consider because too far fetched. Hockey England still has not understood it is perfectly doable (and even the best choice) to have your national team players also play full seasons with their club team… And to top it of ,we seem to have a president of the FIH – that’s the international federation of hockey for those who forgot – who has lost all interest in international hockey. Almost invisible to the hockey family – outside of India that is – since a year or so. A crucial year, marking the change of major international events, with almost half of the FIH staff, managing our game of hockey, who left the FIH prematurely… with allegations from within the FIH of corruption mismanagement regarding TV contracts for the newest event, the HPL. To the outside world it seems dr. Batra, the FIH president, is fully focussed on politics in India instead of international hockey…

So I started writing drafts of an open letter to the FIH and other critical opinion pieces… Because I love the game of hockey. I think it’s the most beautiful and exciting sport there is… and it pains me to see it mismanaged. But then I deleted them all before posting. I made a choice to stop whining and complaining about what I think is going wrong at the moment. Life’s too short… and I would rather focus again on the beautiful game of hockey I will get to enjoy in the days, weeks and months to come.

I am very lucky to be able to enjoy some of the best European club hockey on a weekly basis most of the year and this Friday I will enjoy the amazing EHL once more at less than an hours drive from home. The KO16 starts this Friday in Rotterdam and on the agenda are some great hockey games with on day 1 for example the debut of Herakles from Belgium versus the Catalan club Atlètic Terrassa. Both are special clubs with a strong family culture and more home grown talent in their team than usual. But day 1 also brings the clash between Kampong, former EHL champion and the German powerhouse Rot Weiss Köln. Saturday I’ll be back to enjoy games between Rotterdam, playing in front of their home crowd in that magnificent stadium against the reigning German champions Mannheimer. Followed by a certain Bloemendaal vs Dragons, top teams with some of the loudest supporters. And it doesn’t stop there… more top hockey between the winners of the earlier games to decide who will make the Final 4 later this year for a shot at the EHL crown. Enough to make this hockey fan get his hockey fix… If you can make it to Rotterdam, you will not regret this I’m sure! Alternatively you can enjoy all of this either on the TV for some countries and on the live stream from the EHL website for others.

When this EHL KO16 & KO8 are over, we return to the exciting phase of the end of several European club competitions, that last stretch towards a national title or also the Commonwealth Games for those with British roots. Just a couple weeks later the EHL will crown a new (?) champion once more and in June we’ll enjoy the last Champions Trophy ever with some of the world’s strongest teams… plus two invites from Asia 😉
Spectacular hockey ahead… All leading up to a World Cup to be played later this year in incredible India.

So instead of worrying about the future of hockey, I will have fun watching the great games on the calendar these next days, weeks and months! We’ll see afterwards if we still have a sport worthy of the name when the people administrating the sport get their act together… Meanwhile, let’s enjoy some hockey !