It is every young hockey player’s dream – three days full of intense hockey competition, followed by an evening (into early morning) jam-packed with live music, DJ’s, food tents and other activities. Welcome to Hockey Loverz, the ultimate party for young hockey players.
Spreading as far as the eye can see, rows of large, colourful tents, multiple and varied food stalls and huge musical stages dominate the landscape, although the focus of the action sits on the rectangular artificial turf and pristine grass pitches that ring out to the sound of stick and ball from 11am until the early evening.
Teams of between 11 and 16 players, plus two adult supervisors, take part in the three-day tournament, which is held over three separate weekends in July. Teams from across the globe take part, sporting the flags of their nations as well as their own club colours.
At the 2016 event, teams from Argentina, New Zealand, India, the UK, Belgium and the host nation, Netherlands, all took part in the hockey festival. It is set to be even bigger this year, with two of the three events sold out already.
HockeyLoverz attracts more than 10,000 players to the venue in the Netherlands. And while there is a party atmosphere during the evenings, when it comes to match time, it is serious stuff.
All the players participating must be members of a club and competition is fierce. The event is the biggest fun hockey tournament in Europe and teams can enter and participate in a range of events, both single gender and mixed.
Once the hockey stops there is beach hockey, football, paint-balling, water sports and a host of other activities. There is also a wellness centre for people who just want to chill out.
In the evening, it becomes one big party with thousands of young people dancing and jumping to the sounds of some of Europe’s best DJs. The party on the outside stage stops at 11pm but then the party moves to the Silver Dome, where the diehard party-goers can continue until the early hours.
The value of such a tournament is clear to see. The players pitch their own tents – many of them huge army-type constructions – and organise themselves for the matches and the off-pitch activities. This is team-work, social cohesion, competition and respect for others at its best.
Hockey Loverz is a great way for young hockey players to learn to embody and appreciate the value that sport can bring to all aspects of life. And with the overall aim of the FIH Hockey Revolution to make the sport a global game that inspires the next generation, such events are key to achieving this goal.
Ultimately, Hockey Loverz is about showing that hockey is a fun activity to take part in and, as thousands of players jump up and down to the sounds from the big stage, there is no doubt that the message is getting through.
For more information about Hockey Loverz, visit their Official Website.