History of Hockey in France: The Journey to Hosting Paris 2024

As France prepares to host the Olympic Games Paris 2024, the spotlight shines brightly on hockey with a storied past and a promising future. Hockey at Paris 2024 will be played at the historic Yves-du-Manoir stadium, which, back in 1924, stood as the proud host of the VIII Olympiad, and hockey action will be played on the same hallowed grounds where every athlete stepped foot during the opening ceremony of the games in 1924. 
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(Hockey news) As France prepares to host the Olympic Games Paris 2024, the spotlight shines brightly on hockey with a storied past and a promising future. Hockey at Paris 2024 will be played at the historic Yves-du-Manoir stadium, which, back in 1924, stood as the proud host of the VIII Olympiad, and hockey action will be played on the same hallowed grounds where every athlete stepped foot during the opening ceremony of the games in 1924. 

The popularity of hockey has been steadily increasing in France over the past few decades. The Fédération Française de Hockey (FFH) has been instrumental in nurturing the sport’s growth and professionalising its governance, with the growing anticipation for the upcoming Olympics marking a significant milestone in the history of hockey in France.

Hockey in France traces its origins back to the early 20th century. The sport was introduced by British expatriates and quickly gained popularity among French athletes. The first official club, Racing Club de France, was established in 1897, marking the beginning of organised hockey in the country.

The 1920s and 1930s saw a surge in the sport’s popularity, with more clubs being formed and competitive leagues being established. The French national team made its debut in international competitions during this period, showcasing the nation’s growing talent and passion for the game.

The aftermath of World War II brought about a resurgence in French hockey. The FFH, founded in 1920, played a crucial role in revitalising the sport, organising domestic leagues, and promoting hockey at the grassroots level. The establishment of regional clubs and the introduction of youth programs helped in identifying and nurturing young talent.

Throughout the 20th century, France were a regular feature at the Olympic Games, making 9 appearances between 1908 and 1972 in the men’s competition! The late 20th century saw a downtick in performance with the men’s team making two World Cup appearances, finishing in 7th on both occasions (1971,1990), while the women’s team qualified for three editions, finishing 7th (1974), 6th (1976) and 9th (1981). 

The early 21st century saw France return to its position as a regular challenger in international hockey. The French men’s and women’s teams consistently performed well in European championships and World Cup tournaments. Notably, the French men’s team achieved a quarterfinal appearance at the 2018 World Cup, in their first appearance at the event after a gap of 28 years!

France’s commitment to excellence is evident in their state-of-the-art training facilities and robust development programs. The FFH’s focus on youth development, coaching education, female participation at grassroots level, and infrastructure investment has laid a strong foundation for the sport’s future. Their progress is especially evident in the junior stage, where the France men’s junior teams have claimed World Cup medals at three of the past four editions with silver in 2013, bronze in 2021 and another silver in 2023! 

As the host nation for the 2024 Olympics, France is poised to showcase its rich hockey heritage on the world stage. The Stade Yves-du-Manoir has been meticulously renovated to provide a world-class platform for the Olympic hockey events. This iconic venue symbolises the sport’s enduring legacy and its bright future in France.

The French national teams, supported by passionate fans, are preparing to make their mark in the Olympics. With a blend of experienced players and emerging stars, Les Bleus aim to capture the hearts of the nation and bring glory to French hockey.

Emma Ponthieu, captain of the French women’s team, spoke about the future she hopes to see for hockey in France and said: “I hope that the Olympic Games will allow French hockey to develop, to make itself known and to attract people. It’s a sport that is still too little known in France and I hope that we will take advantage of the ‘Olympic wave’ to increase the visibility of our sport.”

Viktor Lockwood, captain of the French men’s team added: “The impact on hockey in France will be second to none given that the last time French hockey was represented in the men’s category was in 1972 in Munich. Also, the last time the Olympic Games were held in France was 100 years ago. Therefore, this is the first time that hockey will be represented at the Olympics by our 2 national teams, and in France!

What’s more, it’s also the first time that we’ll have a “Clairefontaine” – that is, like football, a national centre for hockey – for us after the Olympics with the stadium at Yves-du-Manoir. A unique opportunity! It’s now up to us (women and men) to make sure that our performances make it as impactful as possible!”

The Olympic Games Paris 2024 will be played from 27 July to 9 August.

Also read: FIH Hockey Pro League title showdown in Netherlands!

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