National anthems…

letscelebratehockeyIn 3 days time the greatest hockeyparty of 2014 will have started. Opening game at 10:30h in the morning will be Australia – Malaysia in the men’s competition in this magnificent Kyocera Stadium, redesigned to become thé hockey temple for this World Cup. Most likely we’ll see a lot of goals in this first game with the fast attacking game of the Aussies versus the lowest ranking team taking part in this WC. However it will not be the huge difference in the level of play that will be the biggest threat to promoting our game, but the empty seats in that huge stadium… I sincerely hope the Dutch crowd will not be as chauvinistic as the hockey supporters from India, when the World League, earlier this year, had to be played in an almost empty stadium in New Delhi, because the home crowd only came out to watch their own national team play for the evening game.

The FIH has the luxury in The Hague of two stadiums on the same venue. IMHO it would have been better to schedule most of the games in the smaller stadium so the TV images would show a decent crowd instead of a lot of empty seats. But maybe I will be surprised by the turn out of the Dutch and international fans at this WC, let’s hope so…

The evening games will not be short of supporters I am sure. Most of the game days are almost sold out and the late afternoon or evening games of the home teams Oranje will surely see an immense crowd. For the Olympic Games of London a temporary stadium was built for more or less the same amount of people and this generated an incredible feeling for both players and supporters. I will never forget when, just before the semi finals in London, the national anthems were sung. First the Dutch “Wilhelmus” by a couple of thousand supporters, followed by an even more impressive “God save the Queen” by some 10 to 12.000 British fans.  I was blown away by the mere volume and intensity. Spectacular… if you were lucky enough to hear it live!

Another impressive and surprising rendition of the national anthem was performed by the Belgian national teams during the European Championship last summer. The a capella version of the Belgian anthem I’m sure gave everybody present goose bumps. Rumour has it they will continue this nice young tradition of the a capella singing during this World Cup starting this Saturday… 🙂

My Belgian friends will forgive if I am looking especially forward to the first rendition of the Wilhelmus in the Kyocera stadium, accompanied by some 15.000 dutch voices… as the start of hopefully some spectacular hockey.

Let’s celebrate hockey… and let’s get ready to rumble !!!