This NET Masters Hockey World Cup has been over four years in the making and is being staged at the third time of asking. Little wonder that there was so much excitement at the competition being staged as the first Masters World Cup to be held since the pandemic.
World Masters Hockey came into being following FIH regulations for the game to be seen as one global governing body rather than the two originally, the World Grand Masters Association and the International Masters Hockey (IMHA).
In January 2018, applications were sent out to bid for the World Cup, with England’s application accepted to host the over 35s and 40s for men and women. “Everyone has been desperate to get back into real competition around the world. Our event is a global event,” says Steve Floyd, England Hockey’s Masters’ programme manager.
At the Nottingham event, 49 teams from 19 countries are taking part and is the biggest of the World Cups to be staged this year, alongside events in South Africa and Japan later in 2022.
“We want this to be a showpiece for Masters hockey,” adds Floyd. “It is one of the reasons why we bid for the 35s and 40 age group. For the 35 age group it’s the first time they have got involved in Masters and we want to make a showpiece out of it.”
“Sponsorship for hockey is a full-time job and it hasn’t been easy, but we have managed to get a title sponsor (NET trams) plus several others. We have been fortunate and we have been able to increase what we are able to offer in Nottingham.”
This is not an event where you put your name in and turn up for the competition. As far as England Hockey goes, there is a rigid structure in place on both the player and administration front.
First, to the squad programme. “It’s like anything,” says Floyd, “it has its supporters and its critics. But we have found that those players who are committed and trying to get into the programme are very committed to it and give a lot of time, effort and finance to take part.
“What we have tried to do over the last five years is to try and raise the profile of the whole thing by having appointments for managers and coaches. People apply for positions now and they aren’t just handed out. We do insist that players attend trials and it’s an open process for anyone.”
In 2014/15, England Hockey had 13 squads across the age groups, with 17 now in place, while next season will see the launch of the first over-70s side. Floyd recently coached an England over-70s team in Germany this summer. “If you came along you wouldn’t know that they are all over-70,” he says.
The number of squads, says Floyd, also brings its own challenges. “Finding the managers and coaches – remember everyone is a volunteer and everything else is self-funded – is tough but there is a strong and dedicated bunch of people who make it all happen.”
Moreover, the England Hockey restructure and eight areas of governance change means that promotion of the Masters’ game will be heightened, with Masters and Summers Cup and more age group playera aware of what is happening. Floyd says that the Masters sector is the biggest within England Hockey. It’s a fine start to a new era.
The NET Over 35 and Over 40 Masters World Cups is taking place at Nottingham Hockey Centre between Aug 12-21. Entry is free.