Over just one day, 160 players--on three teams from the United Kingdom, three from Belgium, two for the Netherlands and one from France--hit the pitch for Luxembourg’s 7th Field Hockey Tournament.
Photo: Mike Zenari
“The tournament is ultimately a way to raise the profile of this sport that we love,” said Lee Godfrey, vice president of the Luxembourg Hockey Club, which organises the fundraiser. “We realised after the first year that we drank so much beer during the day, that we made a profit. So, we decided to get some sponsors and do it for charity.”
Players and spectators are warmly encouraged to eat and drink as much as possible: all for a good cause. As of this writing, the total raised this year has not yet been confirmed, but previous editions have netting up to €12,000.
This year’s proceeds will go to KriibsKrank Kanner, which supports children fighting cancer and other life-threatening diseases, and their families, here in Luxembourg; and to Pour un Sourire d’Enfant, an educational charity in Cambodia.
During the event, held on Saturday, the mix of people on and off the pitch is commendable. Following a safari theme, men, women and children--the youngest player aged ten, the oldest in his sixties--mill around in the sunshine sporting animal ears, tails stuffed down shorts, animal printed socks and pads, fluorescent t-shirts and hula skirts.
“Different teams brought more players down this year, mainly because people love the atmosphere. It’s a chance to play against international teams and to visit Luxembourg. We all love the sport, and the fusion of people of different ages and background’s is amazing,” said Godfrey.
For Julien and Mathilde of the Luxembourg Elephants, it’s a good start to their first year. “It’s great, you have everything here you could want. Beer, burgers and hockey!” said Mathilde. “We’re really proud of how we did today. It’s been great,” added Julien.
Rob Reckers, a field hockey player from the Netherlands, during the Hockey Club Luxembourg’s international charity tournament, held at Boy Konen stadium in Cessange on Saturday 8 July 2017. Photo: Mike Zenari
Alongside the games, a small hockey camp for kids takes place, with international players and Olympic medallists sharing their knowledge. Rob Reckers of the Dutch national team explained how events like these were paramount to his development as a professional hockey player.
“They get the chance to meet their heroes, it’s how I decided that’s what I want. Being here, talking to the children about your experience and your life, it’s a way to wake their interest and to generate enthusiasm for the sport,” Reckers stated.
“Even if they don’t like hockey, if you can stimulate anyone to be active, it’s positive achievement. It’s healthy and clears the mind. Events like these, they provide a golden combination: the adults play on one pitch, the kids on the other. The organisation has been great,” he said.
Sunbury player Emily reiterated the positive experience gained from the tournament: “It’s great in terms of socialising and meeting people. The skill level is high, and it’s played the way it should be played: friendly and naturally competitive.”
Quentin from Nancy, in France, agreed: “You really see an amalgamation of generations, skills, and ages. The atmosphere is fantastic. We’re all here to have fun, everyone’s friendly and there’s a real sense of togetherness.”
The conclusion of the day’s activities saw the announcing of the winners and runners up: the Luxembourg Elephants bagged third place, Safari Sogood (Sunbury) finished second and the London Academics landed first place.
In a closing speech, Godfrey restated the reasons for coming together: “one, promote hockey; two, bring people to Luxembourg and to see the facilities, and three, a great chance to raise money for children.”
Breaking into a rendition of “Singing In the Rain”, Godfrey ends his speech with one last request: “How do we make more money for charity?” and is answered by a chorus: “Drink more!”