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.
History of the Women's Hockey Australia (WHA)
On July 2, 1910, the Australian Women's Hockey Association formed and affiliated with the All England Women's Hockey Association. From a handful of clubs, hockey spread rapidly throughout the nation with the sport growing so that every state was able to provide the opportunity for women of all ages to participate in the game through a comprehensive club system; from social to elite level.
The first All Australian women's hockey team was selected in 1914 to play England in Australia, with the inaugural overseas tour taking place in 1930. The Association became a foundation member of the International Federation of Women's Hockey in 1927. Guiding the growth and popularity of the game, AWHA developed into a diverse and highly successful professional organisation.
In 1984 the Australian Women's Hockey Association established its headquarters in Sydney and in the same year the hockey unit at the Australian Institute of Sport in Perth opened. The ensuing decade has seen the Australian women's hockey team produce the most outstanding record of achievement in its proud history; three Olympic gold medals (1988, 1996, 2000), two World Cup gold medals (1994, 1998), five consecutive Champions Trophies (1991, 1993, 1995, 1999) and a Commonwealth Games gold medal (1998).
History of the Australian Hockey Association (AHA)
The need for an Australian Hockey Association was identified as early as 1912, but it did not come into being until 1925. The first sitting of the AHA Council took place in Sydney on 8 May, 1925, at which Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria were represented.
The first Annual General Meeting of the Australian Hockey Association was held on 29 June, 1925. The minutes of that meeting noted that there were 54 teams playing hockey in Australia in 1925. New South Wales had the largest hockey playing community with 18 teams, Victoria 17, Queensland 15 and South Australia 4.
Australia became a member of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) in the same year. As the number of Australian's playing hockey grew, so too did the Australian Hockey Association. The founding members of NSW, Victoria, and Queensland were joined by South Australia later in 1925, WA in 1927, Tasmania in 1934, the ACT in 1972, and the NT in 1979 (full member).
The Australian Men's Hockey team is recorded as playing their first international game against New Zealand in 1922. New Zealand provided the only source of international competition until 1925 when the world-leading Indian team visited Australia for the first time.
India returned to Australia in 1926, en route to New Zealand. The Australian team was severely outclassed by the powerful Indian team which went on to win the Olympic gold medal in Berlin in 1936. In order to become a more competitive force in international hockey, Australia decided to change and adopt elements of the Indian game, and develop a unique Australian version of hockey. This style has continued to evolve over time. The AIS Hockey Unit, established in Perth in 1984, has also been a significant factor in the game's development and innovation, particularly at the elite level and has contributed to the stunning record of its men's teams.
The Australian Institute of Sport Hockey Unit
Hockey was the first AIS sport established away from Canberra. The program began in Perth in 1984 with separate men's and women's programs.
The program has also provided visiting scholarships, which have helped talented young players and senior players in need of intensive pre-competition training. Both the men's and women's programs have given high priority to overseas tours as an important part of player development.
Many of the 16 inaugural scholarship holders in the men's program represented Australia at either senior or junior level in the first year. Initially the training emphasis was on improving speed, mobility and specific skills, but from 1985 onward, sports physiology, psychology and physiotherapy became important aspects of the program.
In 1986, the AIS, in conjunction with the Australian Hockey Association, established a Satellite Coaching Scheme to promote talent identification. In 1990 Intensive Training Centre coaches were appointed in each capital city. Since then the men's program has focused on both national squad players and a development squad of prospective Australian players.
The women's program started with 16 scholarships and initially emphasised individual training programs for players.
As early as 1986 the program included a variety of sport science tests. With the cooperation of the Australian Women's Hockey Association, a Satellite Coaching Scheme was started in 1986, and Intensive Training Centre coaches were appointed in each capital city in 1990.
Since then the women's program has focused on developing the senior national squad, as well as younger prospective Australian players.