There is nothing better than a sporting achievement to restore pride in a nation, and none more so than the news that the Irish men’s hockey team have qualified for the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016. For the first time since 1948, Ireland will have representation in a team sport at the Olympics, so their achievement should not be underestimated. Here we look at how they achieved their dream and at the impact that this could have on those who are playing hockey at grass roots level, both in Ireland and elsewhere.

New Generation of Hockey Players

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How They Qualified

To put it simply, Ireland’s men needed Australia to beat New Zealand in the Oceania Cup final to be assured of their place. Although Ireland came fifth at the Hockey World League event in Antwerp during the summer of 2015, their place at the Olympic Games was only confirmed when Australia’s win meant that an extra Olympic place could be allocated from the teams who participated in the World League. As Ireland were the highest-ranking team who had not already qualified for the Olympics in Rio, this meant that a place at the Olympics was theirs.

Impact on the Sport at Grass-Roots Level

When a team representing any country qualifies for an international competition such as the Olympics, the impact can be felt by those who are already playing at grass-roots level or those who fancy having a go but have not yet got around to it. In this instance, for young people or adults who are already playing hockey and doing field hockey drills either at school or at amateur club level, the aim is to inspire improvement and achievement and provide the possibility of playing for their own country in the future.

Hopefully, those watching on television might realise that hockey is an exciting sport, and while practising field hockey drills such as those from may not seem very interesting, it is persevering with these sorts of exercises that makes Olympic champions.

Alongside Ireland, eleven other teams will take part in the men’s hockey at the 2016 Olympic Games, including the hosts Brazil and a team from Great Britain. It is sure to provide an exciting and thrilling competition for those attending as well as the millions who will be watching on television at home.