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Ancient Egyptians, shinty, and Khido Khundi: Where did hockey come from?
Did you catch the Jaffa Super 6s Finals in late January? It is one of the most exciting events in the hockey calendar to watch after all. The balls move faster, the space is smaller, and wall rebounds add an interesting twist that field hockey lacks.
It’s just one of many spin-offs of hockey that exist, and each one is fascinating in its own way. It’s left us wondering how field hockey came into the world.
Every game has variants and hockey is no different, able to entertain people in a variety of forms. But each different style of hockey requires different skills from the players, which is why the game is so interesting.
Field hockey started on grass, but now the go-to surface is astroturf. It’s the world’s third-most-popular sport, despite the relatively small media coverage compared to cricket and football which place second and third.
Ice hockey is the official national winter sport of Canada but is also popular in a lot of Eastern Europe, particularly countries which aren’t strangers to icy weather. These include Belarus, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Latvia, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Sledge hockey was born from ice hockey. Both able-bodied and disabled people take part in the sport which involves sitting on a sledge to play a game which largely follows the same principles of ice hockey.
Not everywhere has the luxury of playing hockey on thick ice in the winter or going to their local ice rink. Roller hockey is the alternative, played on both inline and quad skates. It’s particularly popular in Latin America.
Bandy is the official sport of Russia. It’s like a cross between ice hockey and field hockey. It has the same amount of players as field hockey, but they play on ice like ice hockey. However, bandy uses a ball not a puck and a much larger rink than ice hockey.
Ringette is a sport dominated by women, primarily played in North America. It uses a regular ice hockey rink, but due to the way the markings and rink are used, the game is much faster, packed with strategy, fluid skating, and relying on great skill.
This game started as a casual game of ice hockey on paved streets when a rink wasn’t always accessible. Now it’s its own sport with a world championship series.
Indoor hockey is just like field hockey but indoors and on a much smaller field. Because of this, the game is much smaller, faster, and more controlled because of the limited space and ability for the ball to rebound off the sideboards. Field hockey players often play indoor hockey to improve their stick handling skills and vision on the field.
Shinty is a game unique to Scotland which incorporates aspects of field hockey, ice hockey, and lacrosse. It’s most commonly played by people from the Scottish Highlands.
Where did hockey come from?
Because of the large number of games which incorporate a lot of what we class as hockey, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where the game originated. There have been hockey-like games scattered throughout history, but it’s hard to know which one inspired modern-day hockey.
The ancient Egyptians played a game very similar to hockey, with a semicircle-shaped puck made from papyrus fibres and leather. This was around 4,000 years ago. There was also a similar game in Ethiopia, played around 1000BC, and another in Iran around 2000BC. Not to mention similar games in China and Mongolia. It’s possible these could have been the earliest forms of hockey. But it’s as possible that similar games popped up across the world due to the simplicity of the game. All you needed was a stick and something to use as a ball or puck which could be anything from papyrus fibres to a stone.
The Celtic sport
It’s widely accepted that the modern game of hockey originated in England in the mid-18th century. However, this is still up for debate. Some people believe modern hockey is a direct descendant of the Indian game Khido Khundi, and there is a film of the same name which depicts the lives of Indian hockey players, where hockey is the national sport.
In England, public schools popularised hockey, and it also spread throughout the British Empire. But Charles Darwin, a well-known name in science, often documented the sports he played in Shrewsbury, England. He refers to playing ‘hocky’, which isn’t a type, just how the game was spelt back then. In fact, hocky wasn’t even its official name, just a reference to the cork used for the ball. The game of hockey in the UK was likely modelled after what people called hurley, hurling, bandy, shinty, or shinny. It’s a sport introduced by the Celts with origins going back almost 1,500 years.
OK, what about ice hockey?
Canadians often claim ice hockey as their own invention. Canadian born James Creighton was the first to produce an organised game of ice hockey in Canada. While they may have been the first to play an organised game of hockey on ice, there are paintings from the 17th century that depict people playing ice hockey. It’s likely that even modern ice hockey was a European invention (sorry Canada).
Hockey is an intense sport and people enjoy playing it in all its forms across the globe. It’s hard to pinpoint the origins of the game but we’re glad someone invented the game as we know it today. With hockey, there’s something for everyone.
Hockey, in all its forms, is an exciting sport to play. But, with some versions, there is a risk of getting injured among all the fast passes, speeding balls, and flying pucks. Make sure you’re wearing the right protection by investing in a sturdy, high-quality mouthguard so you can enjoy the game and rise to the challenge. Shop OPRO’s mouthguards online today.