Trace the History and Development of Hockey and the History of Field Hockey in Nigeria


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Hockey is a game played on the field or ice, where players hold sticks with a flat and rounded side to propel the spherical, hard and usually white ball with the aim of scoring a goal. An hockey team, like it is in football, is composed of eleven field players and a well protectively equipped goal keeper. A score is made when a ball is played within the circle, which marks the ground in front of a goal by an attacker and does not travel outside the circle before passing over the goal line. Hockey is usually low-scoring. In the game, players can not lift their stick over the head of another player, and cannot play with the back of the stick. Dangerous playing such as intentional raising of the ball is prohibited. Closely-fitting colored face masks and protective head covering which must be soft, or eye covering in form of a goggle is often worn.


The game of Hockey has been around from the time of early civilization. Some of the reports find the earliest origin of the game 4000 years back. Field hockey was reportedly played even before the birth of Christ. Basically known as the “ball and stick” game, it was played since ancient times in places diverse as Rome, Scotland, Egypt and South America. The game was referred to in different names but the basic idea of playing the game was the same. The most apt used term was “Hockie” by the Irish. Though the term was coined centuries ago, the word found its way through to the present generation.

Based on Haliburton’s quote, claims were made that modern hockey was invented in Windsor, Nova Scotia, by King’s College students and perhaps named after an individual (“Colonel Hockey’s game”). Others claim that the origins of hockey come from games played in the area of Dartmouth and Halifax in Nova Scotia.

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Today we are familiar with several of hockey forms, including field hockey, ice hockey, roller hockey and indoor hockey. The most popular one is ice hockey, especially in Canada. Regardless of the forms, hockey is a team sport in which two teams play against each other by controlling a ball or a puck trying to get it into the opponent’s goal. All players use hockey sticks during a game.

It is impossible to claim the exact time of the birth of hockey. We will probably never know for sure, but there are records of people participating in this kind of game about 4000 years ago. Since ball-stick games are as old as our civilization, the earliest origins may be from China, Persia or Egypt. Archeologists discovered that an early form of the ball-and-stick game was played in Greece the 5th century BC. At the time when Europeans sailed across the Atlantic and started settling North America, they discovered that Native Indian people had their games which were precursors of lacrosse. Furthermore, some museums today showcase evidence that hockey was played by Aztecs centuries before Columbus even discovered the New World.

Trace the History and Development of Hockey and the History of Field Hockey in Nigeria

The name “hockey” is thought to be derived from the French hoquet meaning “ shepherd’s stave”, however, there are a couple of suppositions of which none have been evidenced. The second supposition derives from the use of cork bangs, called stoppers, in place of wooden balls to play the game. These objects came from barrels containing hock ale, also known as hocky. Still, though, the origin of “hockey” remains unclear.

The modern game was formed in the middle of 19th century by British soldiers stationed in Canada. During the next 30 years, many leagues and amateur clubs were organized in Canada. By the beginning of the 20th century, ice hockey spread to England and the rest of European countries. Today, the sport is highly popular in Eastern Europe and North America.

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The first Olympic Hockey Competition for men took place in London in 1908 where all of the United Kingdom countries were competing separately. Another two countries which participated as well were Germany and France. However, after London Olympics, the game was dropped from 1912 games held in Stockholm due to the preferences of other ‘optional sports’ by the host country. Several years later, in 1920, the ice hockey reappeared in Antwerp but was again neglected in Paris in 1924, despite the formation of the International Hockey Federation that same year. Ultimately, hockey was granted re-entry in Amsterdam in 1928 and has been on the program ever since. As for the women’s hockey, the first time it was included in the Olympic program was in Moscow in 1980.

By the 19th century, the various forms and divisions of historic games began to differentiate and coalesce into the individual sports defined today. Organizations dedicated to the codification of rules and regulations began to form, and national and international bodies sprang up to manage domestic and international competition. Since the Olympics held in Sydney (2000), men athletes have competed in 12-team tournaments and women in a 10-team one.


Field hockey reached its modern form in the 19th century as a game played between two teams of eleven players each. Teams compete on a standard 100 x 60 yard field and attempt to score goals by hitting a ball off the ground into a net guarded by the opposite team’s goalkeeper.

The Hockey game, which had spread through the British empire largely due to activities of the British army had been introduced in Nigeria in 1928, four years after a Hockey Federation was formed to standardize the game internationally. In its cruder form the game was played in ancient Egypt.

Hockey is considered one of the oldest games which have been in existence and played in Persia since 2000 BC. but the game spread through the British Empire because of the activities of the British army.

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History has it that the name hockey’ was derived from the French hockey or shepherd’s crook and it’s being referred to as the crooked stick which can be used to hit a small ball.

The loud field hockey association states that the origin of field hockey is related to the ancient tomb in the Nile Valley 4,000 years ago though some evidence shows that the ancient Greeks, Aztecs and Romans played similar forms of the game.

The first international hockey competition was played in the year 1877 with an already established first official league over a decade later and in the year 1928, the game was initiated in Nigeria four years after the hockey federation was formed to normalize the game internationally.

The sports members were the British Empire inclusive of India, Pakistan, New Zealand, Austria, England, and other nations who recently considered the game to be truly a worldwide sport.

The game is termed to be complete with the hockey team comprising of eleven players which include five forwards, two backs, three halves as well as a well-equipped and guarded goalkeeper equitable to the football sport; the game team size and formation vary depending on the coaching statics and play level.

Nigeria practices and plays field hockey as well as other 70 plus nations around the globe; the popularity of ice hockey is yet to attain that height considering its laminations to ice.

The major difference between ice and field hockey is the device used in shooting the object, the nets and object itself, both have a common primary objective which is to shoot an object into the opponent’s net.

The Hockey sport in Nigeria is less patronized by the Nigerian teaming population of sports lovers, unlike the round-leather game. The sport is challenged with the poor sport-support facilities, sponsorship, positive competitions, and low standard training of the athletes, coaches, and referee.


Unlike football which enjoys so much popularity in every nook and cranny of the country, the game of hockey is still struggling to find its feet. It is not amongst the five major sports in the country. The game of hockey has the potential of being one of the top sports in the country.

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