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Field Hockey History

Main article: Field hockey history

Games played with curved sticks and a ball have been found throughout history and the world; for example, there are 4,000 year old drawings in Egypt of the game being played, hurling dates back to before 1272 B.C., and there is a depiction from 500B.C. in Ancient Greece. There were various hockey-like games throughout Europe during the Middle Ages, and the word 'hockey' was recorded in the Galway Statutes of 1527. The modern game of hockey grew from the game played in English public schools in the early 19th century. The first club was created in 1849 at Blackheath in south-east London, but the modern rules grew out of a version of hockey played by members of Middlesex cricket clubs for winter sport. The Hockey Association was founded in 1886, the first international took place in 1895 (Ireland 3, Wales 0), and the International Rules Board was founded in 1900.

Hockey was played at the Summer Olympics in 1908 and 1920. It was dropped in 1924, leading to the foundation of the Fédération Internationale de Hockey sur Gazon, or FIH as an international governing body by seven continental European nations, and hockey was reinstated in 1928. Men's hockey united under the FIH in 1970.

The game had been taken to India by British servicemen, and the first clubs formed there in Calcutta in 1885. The Beighton Cup and the Aga Khan tournament had commenced within ten years. Entering the Olympic Games in 1928, India won all five of its games without conceding a goal, and went on to win in 1932 until 1956, and then in 1964 and 1980. Pakistan won in 1960, 1968, and 1984.

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Women's field hockey, played on grass. Universal until the 1970's, this is now quite rare for competitive hockey in many countries

In the early 1970's, artificial turf fields began to be used in competition. The introduction of synthetic pitches instead of grass ones has completely changed most aspects of hockey. The game, as well as the material used to play, has taken a definitive turn, gaining mainly in speed. In order to take into account the specificities of this surface, new tactics and new techniques have been developed, often followed by the establishment of new rules to take account of these techniques. The switch to synthetic surfaces essentially ended Indian and Pakistani domination of the sport, because artificial turf was far more expensive than grass; too expensive for the two countries to implement widely in comparison to the wealthier European countries, and since the 1970's Australia, The Netherlands, and Germany have dominated the sport at the Olympics.

Women do not seem to have played hockey widely before the modern era. Women's hockey was first played at British Universities and schools, and the first club, Molesey Ladies Hockey Club, was founded in 1887. The first national association was the Irish Ladies Hockey Union in 1894, and though rebuffed by the Hockey Association, women's hockey grew rapidly around the world. This led to the formation of the International Federation of Women's Hockey Associations (IFWHA) in 1927, though this did not include initially many continental European countries where women played as sections of men's associations and were affiliated to the FIH. The IFWHA held conferences every three years, and the tournaments associated with these were the primary IFWHA competitions. These tournaments were non-competitive until 1975.

By the early 1970's there were 22 associations with women's sections in the FIH and 36 associations in the IFWHA. Discussions were started about a common rule book. The FIH introduced competitive tournaments in 1974, forcing the acceptance of the principle of competitive hockey by the IFWHA in 1973. It took until 1982 for the two bodies to merge, but this allowed the introduction of women's hockey to the Olympic games from 1980 where, as in the men's game, The Netherlands, Germany, and Australia have been consistently strong.

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