The members of the hockey family present in Los Angeles this week for meetings, Forum and Congress took advantage of Thanksgiving day for an excursion to Palm Springs for a traditional Thanksgiving lunch and a visit to the Hockey Festival, one of the biggest hockey events in the world.
After a wonderful outdoor lunch introducing hockey family members from all around the world to the traditional Thanksgiving fare of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie, the group continued to the Hockey Festival, a four day tournament held annually by USA Fieldhockey since 1922. This year's event features more than 220 teams and over 4.000 youth athletes playing in five divisions, with matches played concurrently on 26 fields set up on the grounds of the Empire Polo Club.
Delegates walked the vast grounds, watched matches, and had the chance to meet some of the participating players. While the young participants were excited about meeting hockey people from places as far away as Uganda or New Zealand, the vistors were equally impressed.
'It was fantastic,' FIH Vice-president Toni von Ondarza commented, 'to meet these young people who were so enthusiastic, and so interested in who we were, where we came from, whether we had played hockey, and whether it had been difficult for us.'
Even FIH President Els van Breda Vriesman, who regularly travels to hockey events of all levels around the world, was surprised by the Hockey Festival. 'We have never seen anything like this,' she said, 'Even I have never seen anything like this'.