NEXT month, Wales men’s field hockey team will compete in the 2023 FIH Hockey World Cup for the first time in their sporting history, with the backing of new sponsor Study in Wales. After securing their place on home-turf in Wales at the October 2021 World Cup Qualifiers, the team will be competing in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela, India.
Wales will join top hockey nations from around the world, including India, Germany, England, the Netherlands, and Australia in the competition, which runs from January 13-19, 2023.
Bringing education and sport together, the partnership between Study in Wales and Hockey Wales will see engagements with international education institutions and their students in and around the tournament locations. The Wales men’s team will be visiting the Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology in Odisha on 17 January, two days before their match against India, to give talks and interact with students from various schools in the area. Up to 2,000 school children from across the region are expected to attend and will be treated to a mini hockey practice with the players, as well as learning more about the international study opportunities available to them in Wales. There will also be an evening reception, where key individuals in education and sport in India will be hosted by Study in Wales.
The number of Indian students choosing Wales to further their education has been increasing year-on-year since the introduction of the Graduate Immigration Route in 2019, which allows students completing an undergraduate or postgraduate degree to apply to stay and work, or look for work, in the UK for two years. Wales, known for its rich heritage, low living costs and outstanding natural beauty, saw a 37 per cent increase this year in the number of students from India enrolling onto a course at one of Wales’ universities.
And for those particularly interested in hockey and other sports, either as a study option for a professional career, or just for fun and leisure, Wales has plenty to offer its international students. From state-of-the-art pitches and equipment to social sessions and university tournaments, there are endless opportunities to pursue sport.
Study in Wales is part of Global Wales, which promotes Wales’ universities and colleges; the Study in Wales brand forms a core part of Global Wales’ strategy to promote Wales to the world, by building partnerships and sharing study opportunities. The Study in Wales and Hockey Wales partnership is driven by the shared desire to inspire change, and both organisations fully support promoting Wales as a country that has a strong focus on equality, diversity, and inclusion.
Professor Ben Calvert, Chair of Global Wales, said, “International students play an invaluable role in diversifying and internationalising Welsh university campuses and communities at a time when retaining an international outlook is more important than ever.”
“This partnership is another welcome step for Study in Wales, sports diplomacy and the ongoing development of our relationship with India. It is a positive initiative for Welsh universities, enabling the sector to reach international audiences through hockey on the world stage.”
“Our involvement in the hockey world cup creates even more opportunity to promote Wales as a study destination and encourage students from India to take advantage of the unique opportunities on offer at Welsh universities to develop the skills and abilities that today’s employers are looking for.”
Ria Burrage-Male, CEO of Hockey Wales, said, “We’re delighted to partner with Study in Wales, a like minded and passionate Welsh brand which, like Hockey Wales, is dedicated towards ensuring Wales has a prominent position on the global stage and showcasing the nation’s talent and opportunities. There’s a natural synergy between the two organisations; we have players and staff who are current students and alumni of Welsh universities, who are able to speak enthusiastically about their experiences of what it means to study in Wales.”
The relationship between Hockey Wales and Study in Wales is also strengthened by relationships with the players themselves. Several members of both the men’s and women’s squad studied at Welsh universities, and men’s team captain Luke Hawker is employed as a senior lecturer in Sport Coaching at Cardiff Metropolitan University.
Luke said, “Welsh universities are continuously developing the sport at both an elite and fun level, creating an inspiring and inclusive community of field hockey athletes across the country. State-of-the-art facilities and overwhelming support from faculty both hugely contribute towards Wales’ sporting success.”
“We also know first-hand the lengths that our universities go to, to provide a foundation for future success in people’s personal and professional lives, as well as on the sporting field.”
Wales will face home nation rivals England in their first match of the World Cup on Friday 13 January, followed by Spain on Sunday 15 January and India on Thursday 19 January.