In the beginning.
The roots of hockey are buried deep in antiquity. Historical records show that a crude form of hockey was played in Egypt 4,000 years ago, and in Ethiopia around 1,000 BC. Various museums offer evidence that a form of the game was played by Romans and Greeks, and by the Aztec Indians in South America several centuries before Columbus landed in the New World. The modern game of hockey evolved in England in the mid-18th century, primarily around schools.
The first Olympic Hockey Competition for men was held in London in 1908 with England, Ireland and Scotland competing separately. After having made its first appearance in the 1908 Games, hockey was subsequently dropped from the 1912 Stockholm Games, and reappeared in 1920 in Antwerp before being omitted again in Paris in 1924. The Paris organisers refused to include hockey on the basis that the sport had no International Federation.
Hockey had made its first steps toward an International Federation when in 1909 the Hockey Association in England and the Belgium Hockey Association agreed to mutually recognise each other to regulate international hockey relations. The French Association followed soon after, but this was not considered sufficient.
The British Army has been credited with the spread of hockey throughout the world, but in Australia’s case, the British Navy deserves the honours. In the late 1800s, Australia did not have a naval fleet of its own and relied upon the Royal Army for the security of the coastline. The British Naval officers stationed in Australia taught the locals the game of hockey and laid the foundations for a sport which Australians have developed and mastered.
Records do not show where or when the first game of hockey was played in Australia, however private girls’ schools were playing the game in 1900. It has been suggested that as South Australia was the first state to form an association, the first game took place there.
The South Australian Hockey Association was formed in 1903 while Victoria and New South Wales formed their own associations in 1906. Clubs sprang up in Melbourne and Sydney and hockey rapidly became an established sport in Australia.
Hockey was played in Western Australia as early as 1902 but the West Australian Hockey Association was not formed until 1908. Queensland was a late starter, not forming a governing body until the late 1920s.
The AIS Hockey Unit was established in Perth in 1984 and has made a significant contribution to the development of Australian teams.
* Source: FIH and Hockey Australia