Opening International Grand Masters Hockey Festival, 23 June 2024


Dear all, wherever you are from, whatever age you have, young or even younger, welcome (or welcome back) to Europe, The Netherlands and The Hague,

Dearest fieldhockey veterans, please feel at home here,

In these troublesome times it inspires me that so many of you took the trouble to come, united in your love for sports.

On the verge of the start of the Olympics, while the European soccer championship is going on, we enjoy this very special senior hockey event in The Hague.

A tournament of the very toughest in this sport. 53 teams and all aged 60 and above.

And as a first: a full competition of four teams with players over 80 years old. Compliments to Klein-Zwitserland for this initiative.

You are probably already familiar with The Hague as the seat of government and as the international city of Peace and Justice.

As the home of major international institutions, organisations and companies. You may even have heard that we will be hosting the NATO summit next year.

More relevant in this case is our reputation as thé sports city by the sea of the Netherlands.

Known, among other things, for last year’s World Sailing Championship, the Ocean Race, Beach Volleyball and, of course, as the host city of the European and World Hockey Championships.

And … on august 12th the first ‘maillot jaune’ outside of France will be awarded when the Tour de France Femmes will finish in The Hague.

Furthermore, it is exactly ten years ago that hockey club Klein-Zwitserland successfully organised the first edition of this international veterans’ tournament.

While we’re on the subject of anniversaries, it is worth mentioning that this tournament is the culmination of the 50th anniversary of the merged club Klein-Zwitserland.

In your perspective, 50 may be very young … but if we include the hockey history of the two merger clubs, we are already going back 115 years in the Hague hockey history.

This tournament makes a wonderful contribution to The Hague’s international allure.

A great example to residents of The Hague – of all walks of life – an example of the role sport plays in a long and healthy life.

And, of course, it is a boost for the city that some 1000 guests will not only come here to play sports for a week, but also stay in our hotels, eat in our restaurants and hopefully visit our museums.

Let us all enjoy a week full of sports. To sum up: let the games begin.