(Photo: Treebyimages)

As the Rabobank Hockey World Cup enters the business end of the competition, it is garnering praise and admiration from hockey players and fans around the world for the fabulous and exciting platform it is giving to hockey. Full stadiums, a vibrant retail and hospitality area, top class facilities for players and spectators alike, the latest technology and full use of social media to promote the event, has meant that this World Cup has been seen and enjoyed by more people than any previous hockey event. Using The Hague's offering as a benchmark, FIH and KNHB staff led a comprehensive Observer programme, a part of FIH's Hockey Academy, designed to offer nations who are preparing to host hockey tournaments in the next four years a chance to learn, discuss and plan for their event.

Hosted at the Kyocera Stadium over two days, the programme used the shining example set by the Netherlands at this World Cup as a measure of what other nations can aspire to. While acknowledging that not every nation has the hockey traditions or social infrastructure enjoyed by the Netherlands, nonetheless the organisation and planning processes that have gone into making this Rabobank Hockey World Cup such a spectacular success can be used to partial effect by all nations aspiring to run major sports events.

Among the presentations that took place, the 30 plus delegates were able to listen to sessions on the athlete experience; the provision for the media; how to organise and run the volunteer programme, looking after the officials; protocol at such events; marketing and promotion; and of course the experience of the fans. Looking in more depth at one programme in particular, the host of the 'athlete experience' presentation, Martyn Gallivan said: "We looked at the athlete journey as a whole. This included looking at the pre-event journey such as team briefing, logistics and training schedule requests; the qualification process; the logistics of visas, insurance, travel and accommodation, though to the event itself, the closing ceremony and departure. It is a totally comprehensive programme exploring and discussing every aspect of the athlete's experience.

No stone was left unturned as the delegates heard about organising accreditation for media and players; organising back of house offices and front of house customer services. The delegates also saw how the organisation of a tournament can marry into FIH targets of bringing hockey to a wider audience. Speaking after the event, FIH chief executive, Kelly Fairweather said: "This was the ideal situation for representatives from the nations who will be hosting hockey events over the next four years to see for themselves excellent organisation in action. The presentations will provide invaluable information and guidance, but what better way to show just how well an event can run than to actually experience it first-hand. The KNHB has really shown what can be achieved by working with the international federation with a common aim of providing the very best showcase for our sport."

England's Sue Catton was a delegate on the course, she said: "The FIH Observer Programme has provided England Hockey with real insight into the opportunities and objectives for the next cycle of FIH world level events, in addition to a very valuable understanding of the scale and delivery of the Rabobank Hockey World Cup. We look forward to working in close partnership with the FIH to deliver entertaining hockey events and provide a great experience for all our stakeholders."

For more about FIH Hockey Academy and other programs, visit: www.fih-hockey.academy