King Willem-Alexander was in attendance at the Opening Ceremony of the Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014 in The Hague AFPGetty Images

May31,2014(ISN) – The Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014 officially opened today as the Opening Ceremony was marked by appearances from King Willem-Alexander and The Hague Mayor Jozias van Aartsen.

Held at the World Forum Theatre in The Hague, the Ceremony was attended by all 24 men’s and women’s teams as they get set to compete in the 16-day event, regarded as the pinnacle of the sport outside the Olympics. 
The Ceremony included entertainment from the Netherlands Blazers Ensemble, who treated guests to a cultural music tour of all 15 participating countries.Members of the band sported the different uniforms of the teams, while accompanying photos and videos gave everyone a preview of what is to come over the next two weeks.Heleen Welschen, chairman of the Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014, marked the official opening of the competition when she banged the gong to open the day’s trading on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange.”The Hockey World Cup is the climax of the international hockey calendar and the culmination of several years of intense preparation for the 24 best men’s and women’s teams in the world,” said International Hockey Federation (FIH) President Leandro Negre.”I know that each game will not only entertain the world but also inspire a global passion for this incredible sport.”Today’s Opening Ceremony was a superb start to the tournament highlighting all the different facets that make hockey so brilliant.”
 
King Willem-Alexander posed with captains from each participating team during the Opening Ceremony of the Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014 ©AFP/Getty Images
 
King Willem-Alexander posed with captains from each participating team during the Opening Ceremony of the Rabobank Hockey World Cup 2014 
 
In celebration of the World Cup the central square next to the Dutch Parliament in The Hague has been renamed the Haags Hockey Plein for the duration of the tournament and was opened with a surprise flash mob by the Dutch Don’t Dance Division and hockey players from local clubs.”This tournament is more than just a platform for top class international sport,” said Jan Albers, President of Koninklijk Nederlandse Hockey Bond (KNHB), the governing body for hockey in the Netherlands.”It is also a way of bringing together and uniting adults and children from all walks of life.”We want to create a movement that will live on after the hockey tournament is over.”The Hague is the third city in the Netherlands to host the FIH’s flagship event following Amstelveen in 1973 and Utrecht in 1998.The 2014 edition of the World Cup marks only the second time in its history that both the women’s and men’s tournament has been staged together, with the last time being in Utrecht.The 76 matches are set to be played predominately in the Kyocera Stadium, home to professional football club ADO Den Haag, with some games due to take place at the smaller GreenFields Stadium.The World Cup is scheduled to take place from tomorrow (May 31) to June 15 with Australia’s men hoping to defend the world title they won in Delhi in 2010 and the Argentine women looking for a repeat of the result in Rosario, Argentina the same year.

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