The world’s largest field hockey tournament will return to the Palm Beaches this month. USA Field Hockey will partner with the Palm Beach County Sports Commission to host the National Hockey Festival, which dates back to 1922, at the International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington over Thanksgiving weekend, from Nov. 24 to Nov. 27, with games taking place from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and from 8 a.m. to noon on Sunday.
More than 200 teams, consisting of nearly 4,000 athletes and 8,500 total visitors from the United States, Canada, Europe and the Caribbean will visit the area. The participating teams will contend for titles in women’s and men’s divisions, including women’s age group (Under 14, Under 16 and Under 19), boy’s age group (Under 16), and women’s open and mixed (adult). More than 700 field hockey games will take place during the National Hockey Festival, creating an extraordinary volume of competition occurring during a single event.
The National Hockey Festival is familiar with the Palm Beaches. After spending two years away from the East Coast, USA Field Hockey will bring its most prestigious event back to the area. Palm Beach County has been home to the National Hockey Festival on nine previous occasions (most recently in 2012 and 2013) and is the only Florida destination to host the event.
“We are delighted to be returning the National Hockey Festival to the International Polo Club,” said Simon Hoskins, USA Field Hockey’s executive director. “Many in the field hockey community have been hoping to see the festival return to Florida, and we are thrilled that this opportunity became available. We can all be confident that we will strive to put on the very best festival for athletes, clubs and college coaches, umpires, sponsors, volunteers and family members.”
The International Polo Club is a remarkable venue that maintains more than 200 acres of land, consisting of nine polo fields. Very few communities have the capability to host an event such as the National Hockey Festival. This event generates a tremendous economic and tourism impact. In 2013, Palm Beach County received nearly $9 million of direct visitor spending and 12,830 hotel room nights from the National Hockey Festival.
Thanksgiving is about rituals, turkey and football. However, the tradition is changing to include field hockey in the Palm Beaches. The event is free and open to the public. For more info., visit www.palmbeachsports.com.