This Friday the Unibet Eurohockey Championships (hashtag #UEHC2015 or #EHC2015 to follow it using twitter and instagram) take off at the Queen Elisabeth Olympic Park in London. For those lucky enough to have witnessed the last Olympic Games it has the added bonus of a trip back down memory lane being played in the iconic Olympic venue of London 2012.
I was one of these lucky ones and will be returning there for the semi-finals and finals of the European Championship. Curious to see what has changed, afraid I will miss these incredible Olympic volunteers all over the place who made the Olympic experience in 2012 one I will never forget, but certain to see some great hockey once again with 4 contenders (Netherlands, Germany, Belgium & England) for the men’s title and a very dangerous outsider in Spain. Once again the English managed to put in place an already memorable venue with a pitch representing their Union Jack and for most games the stands will be filled again with some of the greatest hockeyfans in the world, quite knowledgeable and full of great sportmanship even if their team does not have the upper hand (remembering a showcase of some of the best supporters I have ever seen in 2012 during the semi-finals).
But good to know for those not able to make the trip to London they will also be able to follow every game live through social media, most likely some live stream on YouTube and on national TV channels in different countries.
The biggest TV deal in hockey was obviously made when the FIH entered into an agreement with the Indian Star Sports for all FIH events and the HIL. Belgians however are especially lucky in this regard as well. Not only will regional TV, internet & phone provider Telenet be transmitting all Belgian games in London for their “Play Sports” subscribers. As of next season (starting this September) they will show at least one game in the Belgian club competition live (!) and with lots of replays every weekend. Sure only to the subscribers of their sports channel, but still to my knowledge this is a first for our sport. Not even in the biggest hockey country in the world, the Netherlands, they’ve pulled this off before. In Holland the 5th biggest sport in the country has to make do with weekly highlights of a game being broadcasted and the occasional full game when it’s play off time. Still great to have (and probably something most hockey countries could only dream about) but Belgium will be setting new standards as of September with a full game live on TV and of course other related multimedia channels every week. I’m looking forward to this…
Back to the #UEHC2015 starting this Friday. My prediction for the men’s podium is:
Yes I know, a surprising podium maybe. Not sure what the odds would be Unibet would be giving me for this. However for those betting fans, you can also bet (for free) on every game by clicking here… Enjoy!