Hockey is the oldest known ball and stick game apart from the Irish sport of hurling. Games resembling hockey have been played as early as 2000BC. The Persians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans all left evidence they played a game using a ball and sticks.
In medieval Europe, pictures of men playing a game with hooked sticks feature in stained-glass windows at both Canterbury and Gloucester cathedrals.
It became so popular by the Middle Ages that, like football, it was banned in England for a time because it interfered with the practice of archery, which was the basis for national defence. The name hockey probably derives from the French "hocquet", or shepherd's crook, and refers to the crooked stick.
Hockey began as a sport in the late 19th century. The first hockey club is considered to be the Blackheath Football and Hockey Club in south-east London, which dates back to at least 1861, and possibly the 1840s.
Hockey had truly developed as a British sport before being carried to the four corners of the British Empire by the nation's soldiers and other workers. Accordingly, most of the dominant nations in the sport are, or were, members of the British Empire. This includes India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand and England.
The Olympic programme first embraced hockey in 1908 and since its return in 1920, it has been on the events list ever since. Hockey was originally played on grass fields but in the 1970s artificial turf was adopted, making the game much faster. In 1980, women's hockey became an Olympic sport.
Hockey entered the Asian Games at the 3rd Asian Games Tokyo 1958, Japan.