About Hockey

Hockey is a popular sport played by both men and women in many parts of the world.  A team sport, it involves hitting, pushing, or flicking the ball with a hockey stick into the opposing team's goal.
Hockey is typically played with a J-shaped stick, about 90cm long, and a small, hard plastic ball.  While the composition and shape of sticks has changed a little over the years, today's field hockey players typically use sticks made of composite wood or glass or carbon fibre, featuring a curved hook at the playing end. The playing side of the hook has a flat side, and the rear side is curved. 
Two teams of up to sixteen players each participate, with eleven allowed on the pitch at any one time. Players strike the ball with the face, edge, or handle of the stick. There are no fixed positions, but most teams comprise fullbacks (defence), midfielders, and forwards (front-line). A single 'sweeper' may be appointed, and often one player is designated 'goalkeeper', charged with preventing the ball from entering the goal circle. Goalkeepers wear protective clothing, as they may block or deflect the ball with any part of their body as well as propelling it with their feet.
Typically played between single-sex sides, hockey is one of  few sports that can be played at any age.  In Australia, hockey boasts players as young as five and up to eighty-one years old.  Though not a popular spectator sport, and currently a sport with few full-time professional players, hockey is believed to be the field team sport with the second largest number of participants worldwide (after association football).
Major variations of the game include Field Hockey (played on natural or synthetic grass), Ice hockey, and Air hockey .  Wikipedia lists dozens of other minor variations of the game, catering to a wide range of environmental conditions and player abilities and preferences.

Field Hockey is also played indoors in some countries, particularly where cold weather restricts outdoor sport.  Team numbers are reduced from eleven per side to six for indoor games, and the field and shooting circle sizes are reduced.  Sidelines are replaced with barriers to rebound the ball, and some changes are made to playing rules.
Hockey is one of the oldest team games, with variations dating back over 4,000 years.  Evidence exists that games resembling hockey were played in Ancient Greece in 500BC, in Inner Mongolia over 1,000 years ago, and in Europe during the Middle Ages.  The word 'hockey' was recorded in the Galway Statutes of 1527. 
Field hockey,  in its current form, was played in schools in England in the mid-18th century.  It became firmly established in the first half of the 19th century, and the first hockey club is believed to have been created in 1840 at Blackheath, in south-east London.  The first international was played in 1895.
Internationally, competitive hockey is governed by the 116-member FIH (International Hockey Federation).  It organises events like the Hockey World Cup and the Women's Hockey World Cup. 
Hockey  has been a recognised Olympic Games competitive sport since 1908, with Men's Field Hockey competitions being part of the summer Olympics every year since, excepting 1912 and 1924. Women's Field Hockey contests have been held at the summer Olympic Games since 1980.