While references to a game that somewhat was on similar lines to field hockey date back to 510 BC to ancient Greece, the modern version was first played in English public schools in the early 19th century. The first Hockey Association was founded in 1886 and the first international game was between Ireland and Wales in 1895 with the former winning 3-0. Rules of the game were officially framed after the establishment of the International Rules Board in 1900.
Field hockey is one of the few games that saw simultaneous development in the men’s and women’s sections. The first ladies field hockey club, the Mosley Ladies was founded in 1887 and the first national association was the Irish Ladies Hockey Union founded in 1894. However this body was not recognised by the Hockey Association. The quick growth of women’s field hockey led to the formation of the International Federation of Women’s Hockey Association in 1927. This Association did not include a few European countries where women played the game under the aegis of the men’s hockey association.
Field hockey was first introduced at the Summer Olympics at London with a game between Germany and Scotland. It was played at the 1920 Games too but was dropped in 1924. This resulted in the formation of the Federation Internationale de Hockey sur Gazon (FIH) by seven hockey playing nations of Europe after which hockey was restored as an Olympic event in 1928. Entering the Olympics in the same year, India won all five games without conceding a single goal and went on to claim the Olympic title from 1932 to 1956 and 1964 and 1980. Pakistan won in 1960, 1968 and 1984.
The oldest competitions in field hockey are the Irish Senior Cup instituted in 1894 and the Irish Junior Cup a year later. This was followed by the Beighton Cup and Aga Khan tournament which was started at the turn of the 20th century.
Traditionally, a game of hockey has been of two halves of 35 minutes each with a break of 5 minutes. There has been a change from 2014 wherein an effort has been made to make the game fast paced and more spectator friendly. A game is now split into four quarters of 15 minutes each with 2 minutes break between each quarter and a five minutes break between quarter 2 and 3. The same rules were followed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games held on the Gold Coast of Australia.
Each team has 11 players comprising of a goalkeeper, 2 full backs, 3 half backs, and 5 forwards. This 2-3-5 formation is just the basic and teams change it depending on whether they want to play an attacking or a defensive game.
Field hockey today has a large following the world over with the leading exponents of the game being Australia, the Netherlands, Germany and Pakistan.