Jeroen Hertzberger
Inframe : Jeroen Hertzberger / Photo Credits : Getty Images

Do you know that field hockey trails only soccer in interest in the Netherlands. The small nation between Belgium and Germany has put up big field hockey results for nearly a century, and the sport holds a significant place in its culture.

Hockey is a family sport in the Netherlands, organised in a professional manner akin to football in Europe. It is not an unusual sight to see the entire family active on different pitches at a club, with father, mother, son, daughter and even grandparents playing for various teams.

You will be amazed to know that the Dutch hockey federation has 350,000 people that play club hockey there — roughly one in 67 residents.

First Club

Amsterdam Hockey and Bandy Club (set up in 1892) is Europe’s oldest hockey club. Every club has memberships that run in hundreds. The big five- Blomendaal, Orange Zwart, Kompo, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, have more than 2,000 members each.

Number of Turfs

The Netherlands, among the world’s wealthiest nations per capita, have committed significant resources to the advancement of the game, starting at the youth level.

All clubs have a number of artificial turfs- as many as nine in some instances. The total number of artificial pitches in this small country is around 450.

Australia men’s coach Graham Reid mentioned that back in the days when he would play in the Netherlands, there were only about 40 artificial surfaces in the country, which was still a huge number at the time.

The nation’s hockey federation currently has over country has 880 artificial surfaces — a massive number for such a small nation.

Stats and Figures

Here are some figures: the country with a population of 16.8 million has around 350,000 active members who play regularly for their clubs’ various teams. This makes it more than 2% of the total population.

How Clubs are organised

Every club has a number of eams. They are organised on basis of age groups, starting from from under 8 and goes 60. Top clubs such as Kampo boast around 35 teams.

How leagues are run

The Dutch league is easily the most competitive as well as the best organised hockey league in the world.

The season runs in two phases: September to December and, after a long winter break, March to June. During this interval, most of the players keep themselves busy with indoor hockey, though not all the clubs have such facilities.

Earnings

Both Men and Women leagues have five divisions with promotion and relegation. The top tier is called Hoofdklasse. Mega hockey stars from all over the world are attracted by lucrative contracts.

How do clubs earn money?

There are two main sources of income: membership fees and sponsors. The membership fee for a playing member ranges from 300-400 euros per season.

The Clubs also have a number of sponsors. Generally, membership fee makes larger contribution, but for the top tier clubs, it is the sponsorship.

It is the members again, who make the Royal Netherlands Hockey Board (KNHB) the richest national hockey federation in the world. Each member has to pay 10 euros to the KNHB.

To have a nation like that produce so many great hockey players is quite phenomenal. Dont you think so?