Sun, sand, sea and… hockey. What is not to like about the idea of playing your favourite sport under a clear blue sky with the sea as a backdrop?
One of the aims of the FIH Hockey Revolution is to create new and exciting events, while another is to attract new players, spectators and fans. Well, both these targets are being met by the Italian Hockey Federation as its annual Beach Hockey tournament continues to promote hockey to a young audience.
The Beach Hockey Tournament is now an annual event that takes place at beach venues across Italy. This year’s event – the Kilos Cup – will take place in June at at the Bellaria Igea Marina in Rimini.
The event is now in its fourth year and involves two days of exciting hockey action, plus a heap of cool side events for the teams and their supporters to enjoy. More than 70 children, aged between 10-12, took part in the 2016 tournament, with a boy’s team from Sorrento – Potenza Picena – narrowly defeating the Avogadro Roma girl’s team from Capri in the final. The teams were coached and managed by adult players, including some past and present members of the national team.
Beach Hockey is not a new phenomena, a highly competitive event was held alongside the main action at the 2014 World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands, and across the world more than 30 countries play the sport. In Italy, it is fast becoming a popular and regular sport in its own right.
The man credited with the idea of beach hockey in Italy is the current Italian Hockey Federation President, Sergio Mignardi. Back in 2007, he was head of the Promotions Sector of the Federation and was looking for new ways to attract people to the sport. The goal was to promote hockey on a large, flat part of Italy’s many beaches. Mignardi saw the beach as an ideal place to engage with people and offer them the chance to take part in a fun, informal but energetic beach activity.
The idea was an instant success. As a few players started the match, the noise and excitement being generated would draw others over to watch and soon they would also be clamouring to join in. The organisers would supply equipment and soon there were scores of people playing the sport.
Today beach hockey has more structure than in those early days. A huge inflatable pitch is set up and teams are organised into a tournament schedule. There is still time and opportunity for passers-by to have a go, but this informal ‘drop-in’ style is in addition to the actual event.
Tournaments are either 3v3 or 5v5, with a clear set of rules, as set out by the National Association.
Luca dal Bunos is Chair of the International Beach Hockey Federation and says: ‘Everyone who took part in the 2016 tournament in Sorrento will remember it as a fantastic event and occasion. It is also a great opportunity to promote field hockey a new audience.’
For more information about hockey in Italy, visit the Italian Hockey Federation's website by clicking here.