Although field hockey does not traditionally draw big crowds in the United States, local organizers of the John F. Kennedy Memorial Field Hockey Tournament, a major international tournament, hope to attract attention with the competition Saturday and Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial grounds.
Thirty-two men's and women's teams from seven nations will begin preliminary play at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.
Competition will continue Sunday with the consolation rounds in the morning and finals beginning around 3 p.m.
"The purpose of this tournament is to improve international relations through sport," said Saskia Roskan, a native of the Netherlands who is a member of the tournament committee here. "We try to advance field hockey, especially for men, in the U.S."
Among the teams attending will be India's powerful men's squad, as well as the team from Nigeria, both prominent in international competition. Most of the U.S. teams are from the northeast, with players coming from Philadelphia, Boston and New York.
The U.S. women's national team is touring in South Korea and will miss the tournament. However, men's Pan American team members Mamvar Iqbal and Rawley Cox play for the Greenwich team from New York and Robbie Isaar is a member of the Washington Capitals.
The men's and women's champions will be honored Sunday when play ends around 5 p.m. But other players also will be honored and not necessarily for flawless play. Pursuant to the committee's goal of improving public perception, a trophy will be awarded for what Roskan describes as social performance.
"We not only give a trophy for the winner, but for the best team socially, for their behavior on the field," Roskan said.
"Besides people playing to win, it is also very important to have a fun bunch of people. There's a high level of game and it's a social gathering that's fun, as well."