11,500 supporters make hockey history in the FIH Pro League

Great Britain's women in the FIH Pro League at the Twickenham Stoop
11.500 supporters helped create hockey history at the Twickenham Stoop on Sunday 23 June.

The crowd made Great Britain's matches against New Zealand the best-attended games in the nation since the London 2012 Olympics - yet another marker for a sport on the rise.

In addition we estimate that the men's match had the biggest ever male hockey attendance on these shores outside a home Olympics.

Since the beginning of the 2012 games, a million supporters have now paid to watch hockey in Britain, with the Olympics, women's World Cup, Commonwealth Games, EuroHockey Championships and many more events contributing to hockey's new status as a genuine spectator sport.

Why were these games important?
These FIH Pro League matches at the home of Harlequins were another move forward, and this technology could be hugely significant, not just for GB and England Hockey, but across the world. The ability to play hockey matches in pre-existing stadia across the globe is a game-changer for the sport. We have already had enquiries from other nations about how the technology can be used globally for what has been dubbed 'Big Stadium Hockey.'

How did the pitch work?
Working with our partner Polypipe we installed Permavoid which allowed us to build a hockey pitch over the existing rugby pitch, providing a strong base, enabling the grass to keep growing and supporting drainage. We also used the new hockey turf developed by Polytan for the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year, which requires up to 65% less water than other pitches. The pitch used at The Stoop will later be installed at Bisham Abbey for the men's and women's teams to prepare for Tokyo, and the Bisham pitch will then move to Lilleshall for young players in the country's National Age Groups. The pitch technology is ground-breaking; ourselves and partners retain the IP and all being well it can be used by other nations, stadia and events in the future. 

This solution is very innovative because it is temporary, removable and repeatable. It is cutting edge technology and a patent has been filed to allow us to continue to develop this work. It is more flexible than the semi-permanent solution used in the Netherlands for the 2014 Hockey World Cups.
Work began roughly 6 weeks before the games take place to prepare The Stoop and create a level field. Future plans would mean that the technology can be brought in and out more quickly (10-14 days).

Who did England Hockey partner with?
England Hockey worked with a number of partners: FIH, Polytan, Polypipe, STRI Group, Harlequins and Sport England. We are very excited to continue working with these partners in the future and are very grateful for their assistance.

With the FIH Pro League coming back to London next year and four big weekends of hockey in the capital in 2020, the game shows no signs of slowing down!