Field Hockey: The Essentials
Last Updated: Monday, September 13, 2010 | 5:05 PM ET
By Jesse Campigotto, CBC Sports
Field hockey (officially called just plain "hockey," but we'll adjust here for an ice-loving Canadian audience) is an optional Commonwealth Games sport introduced in 1998 in Kuala Lumpur and included on every program since.
As the name may suggest, field hockey is basically a combination of hockey and soccer. Playing on a pitch approximately the size of a soccer field (and usually made of artificial turf), teams of 11 a side use hockey sticks (the blades are shorter and more curved than their ice hockey equivalents) to attempt to knock a small ball into one of the goals positioned at either end of the pitch.
The goals measure 12 feet wide by seven feet high and are usually guarded by a goalkeeper. Field hockey is generally a low-scoring game, partly because scoring can only occur from inside the goal circle, an arc that extends 16 yards out from the goal.
Australia owns the event at the Commonwealth Games — they've won all three men's gold medals and two of the women's. India's victory on the women's side in 2002 in Manchester is the only thing that prevented an Aussie title sweep.
Canada has never won a medal in field hockey at the Commonwealth Games or the Olympics, and the task won't get any easier this time around. Seven of the 10 teams in the men's draw played in this year's World Cup, which was also held in Delhi. Canada finished 11th in that event, rebounding from an 0-5 pool round to beat Pakistan in the classification stage.
At the Commonwealth Games, the Canadian men will play in Group B with former medallists England and New Zealand, as well as South Africa and Trinidad & Tobago. Group A is the Group of Death. It includes newly crowned World Cup champion Australia and two-time medallists Pakistan and Malaysia.
Canada's green women's team was drawn into Group B with powerful England (a three-time Commonwealth medallist and the third-place team at the World Cup in September), New Zealand (Commonwealth bronze in '98), Malaysia and Wales. Group A has former champs Australia and India, plus Scotland and Trinidad & Tobago.
India: The 2010 Commonwealth Games hosts have won eight Olympic gold medals in field hockey — twice the number of the next-best countries. But the Indians are in danger of becoming relics in the sport — they haven't even played for an Olympic medal since 1980, when the men's team won the last of the country's titles and the women lost the bronze-medal match. Recently, infighting among rival organizational factions disrupted the selection process for the Commonwealth Games. Still, India has a strong contender in Delhi in its women's team, which has played for gold at each of the last two Commonwealth Games, winning in 2002. The men have played for a medal just once, losing the bronze match in 1998. They finished eighth in the 2010 World Cup.
Day 10 (Oct. 13)
- Women's gold and bronze medal matches
Day 11 (Oct. 14)
- Men's gold and bronze medal matches