The EHL returns to Eindhoven for the KO16 and KO8 in 2 days and we expect it will be another brilliant festival of hockey.
The match-ups that came out of the draw are brilliant with lots of really even games coming up in the KO16. One of the great things about the EHL is seeing the world’s best players, lining out with their friends that they grew up with, playing in front of big crowds that feature their families and local communities.
ROUND1 in Banbridge was a brilliant example of this; the Irish club is based in a small, semi-rural town. The majority of their squad went to the same school and they grew up together.
It makes for passionate fans; you saw it last year when Atlètic Terrassa surprised many to battle through to the FINAL4. Again, most of the players all started with the club in Catalonia; some went travelling around for a bit before coming back home and gave their passionate fans something truly special to be involved in.
You see it in the affection guys like Moritz Fürste at UHC Hamburg or Tobias Hauke at Harvestehuder have for their badge, their city and their community.
And I think that this unique environment – an elite international competition with a personal connection – makes the EHL what it is for the last 10 years!
In the early years of the EHL, there was a big focus on making it “the best way hockey has ever been presented”. This included pioneering new rules like the auto-pass and playing the ball over the shoulder, rules which have now become central to the game we see today.
These new rules have made the game faster and introduced a range of beautiful new skills.
One major thing we are expanding this year is the ABN AMRO Junior EHL; we now have teams from six different countries taking part in the Under-14 competition with English and French clubs joining Spanish, Dutch, German and Belgian teams.
They get an EHL experience with the final being played in the main stadium, getting media interviews with their club’s big stars watching on.
We always want to give is fan experience like no other. For this, we are delighted to hear that you guys, the Self Pass boys, are planning to be in the house each day.
The way you are pushing the boundaries of how to promote the game is something the EHL really loves and I think that young fans and skillers will enjoy what you have to show them in Eindhoven.
Another thing we were aware of was that we wanted to announce our events earlier this year than before and we are delighted that Oranje-Rood and Dragons for the FINAL4 took on the hosting so early and with such enthusiasm.
Indeed, we are loving the idea of bringing events to new destinations. Last year’s FINAL4 in Barcelona brought the final games to a whole new crowd and Antwerp will bring the same excitement.
We also love what our hosts clubs lay on, running clinics and meet and greets for kids and party tents in the evenings. We hope it gives the perfect backdrop for the world’s best club hockey.