Dear hockey friends, ladies and gentlemen,
Friendship for ever, combined with the motto lifelong hockey, of which we are the living proof, is what brings so many of us together here at the Real Club de Polo de Barcelona. On behalf of the Board, it is my great honour and pleasure to warmly welcome all players, coaches, managers, officials and guests to the 9th Grand Masters Hockey World Cup 2018.
Sport has the power to positively connect people, and our past FIH President Leandro Negre once said: “Respect your elders and the world will respect you”. Of course, none of the players here consider themselves to be one of the elders. Nevertheless, every player here has earned the highest respect of the hockey world, because 77 teams, men and women, in the age groups of 60+, 65+, 70+ and 75+ will compete in this tournament.
Fifty-one national teams and 26 touring teams, along with umpires, technical officials and many spectators will once again underline the FIH credo that hockey is a sport that can be played and enjoyed to the full at any age.
We are happy to welcome the national teams of Argentina, Canada and USA who are making their first appearance at a Grand Masters World Cup.
The WGMA has in the past 20 years played a key role in organising events for former elite hockey players and other hockey stars who are still active in our sport and I thank everyone who, over this period, has contributed to the success.
For several years, Spanish teams have been playing all over the world under the leadership of José (Pepe) Borrell, most recently in his role as delegate of the WGMA and, since hosting a WGMA event at St Cugat in 2007, Spain has played an important role in the early growth of our beloved sport for players over 60 years of age. I am sure that this World Cup in Barcelona will be another great success.
The worldwide WGMA membership now stands at a total of 23 countries and at the moment we represent over 20,000 players in the age groups over 60, both men and women. All participants of the Grand Masters World Cup are active members of our worldwide hockey family.
A special word of thanks to the HC Polo Organising Committee and its chairman Jose Maria Batista together with the Castelldefels Hockey Club, for organising this important tournament. I will meet all those involved in Barcelona to express my personal gratitude for a job well done.
Our WGMA congress on Tuesday 26th of June will decide our role, place and future in the new World Masters Hockey (WMH) organisation. For now it’s up to the players to make Barcelona 2018 a memorable tournament and to play for the highest honour of winning the world cup.
To all the athletes and officials I say “have a good, fair and enjoyable tournament” and I wish every team the best of luck in their matches.
Wim van Noortwijk