In addition, the media coverage and following is also unrivalled. Usually, it starts from under 8 and goes to under 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18 sides, both for boys and girls. The country’s love for hockey started well over 100 years back and most of the clubs have very old history.Here are some figures: the country with a population of 16.8 million has around 350,000 active members who play regularly for their clubs’ various teams. Amsterdam Hockey and Bandy Club (set up in 1892) is the Europe’s oldest hockey club. The big five- Blomendaal, Orange Zwart, Kompo, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, have more than 2,000 members.Australian Jamie Dwyer, the five time FIH world player of the year, was reportedly paid up to 150, 000 Euros a season by Blomendaal. Dutch super star Maarte Paumen whose club Den Bosch has won 15 of the last 17 Hoofdklaase titles as well as 13 Euro Hockey Club Champions Cup during the same period, earns 60,000 Euros.
Some solace for the despondent Pakistani hockey follower: the individual talent is still there.
Apart from the contract money, the big names are also provided with sponsored cars.
There is excellent coverage in the newspapers and every Sunday, one top division match is televised live. Top stars such as Teun de Noijer and some females, including Fatima Moreira and Australian Anna Flanagan, have appeared in TV ads and featured on the covers of popular social and lifestyle magazines. There are two main sources of income: membership fees and sponsors.
The membership fee for a playing member ranges from 300-400 euros per season.
Some make additional money conducting coaching clinics.
Once, the playing days are over, many stalwarts go into full time coaching at clubs as well as the national teams.This makes it more than 2% of the total population. The Dutch league is easily the most competitive as well as the best organised hockey league in the world.The season runs in two phases: September to December and, after a long winter break, March to June.On my first visit to the Netherlands in 2010, I was bewitched by the scene at the MOP hockey club in the small town of Vught, near Eindhoven.One could see from seven years to seventy, people of all ages, of both genders, playing hockey with great enthusiasm on the club’s four artificial turfs. It is not an unusual sight to see the entire family active on different pitches at a club, with father, mother, son, daughter and even grandparents playing for various teams.Complete postseason and managerial data is included as well.