VIERUMAKI – Set in one of Europe’s premier sports institutes in the heart of Finland, the 2017 IIHF Global Hockey Development Camp kicked off on Saturday a week of ice hockey training sessions and leadership development programs aimed at enhancing the game worldwide.
The result of a large-scale cooperative effort between the IIHF and its member national associations, the Global Hockey Development Camp is currently in its 15th season.
Combining IIHF resources, along with local operational expertise and manpower from the associations, the camp invited 105 participants for the week-long camp which runs from 8-15 July.
The campers, their mentors, coaches, and support staff come from all corners of the globe. In total 54 countries have gathered together in Vierumaki for the HDC, including form countries as far away as Mexico, New Zealand, Thailand, and the Philippines.
“For the IIHF it’s really important that you act as missionaries when you come back to your countries, that you implement what you learned here and share it with your fellow teammates or coaches,” said IIHF Development Committee Chairman Petr Briza in a welcome address to the camp. “We need more players and we need to grow, and I hope you will get the information of you need to continue to build the sport globally.”
Although the HDC is a great opportunity for player from developing hockey nations around the world to experience their first international ice hockey camp, player development is not the primary purpose of the camp. Rather the HDC serves to provide key educational resources and know-how to the various national association staff attending camp.
“Player development is not the main objective of the Camp. The main priority is the development of National Association representatives attending the Leadership Programs,” said Camp Director Aku Nieminen. “We invite players to attend the camp in order to facilitate education for the adult participants through real-life working experience. The know-how gained from the camp is then to be further distributed in each country to ensure player development.”
The choice to hold the HDC in Vierumaki is an easy one. The institute acts as a centralized sports center for the entire country, a place where various Finnish sports athletes regularly come to train. The quality of facilities has placed the Vierumaki Sports institute among the very best, and with hockey being one of the foundational sports that the institute developed from, the HDC is a natural fit.
“We have organized 14 times with the IIHF. This cooperation which has continued for many years has led to great development programs that fit the goals to build up ice hockey in the home countries of these players, as they always leave with good memories and make new friends through the sport,” said Vierumaki Sport Institute CEO Heikki Hietanen.
The model serves as a solid base for demonstrating to the coaches and mentors in attendance good development and teaching strategies which they can learn and bring back with them to their own associations. In a way, the coaches are here to learn just as much as the campers.
The camp emphasizes development projects, aimed at assisting National Associations in their individual growth and development. The following development programs will be in operation during the 2017 Hockey Development Camp:
1. Learn to Play Program
2. MNA Leadership Development Program
3. Team Coach Development
4. Goalkeeper Coach Development
5. Team Manager Development
6. Equipment Manager Development
7. Player Development (male players born 2002)
“The HDC is a key pillar to the overall goal of sustainable growth of ice hockey is a very high priority for the IIHF and therefore recruitment and retention will be emphasized in these programs,” said Nieminen. “We believe that this can be achieved through the delivery of enjoyable and safe experiences for the players, wherever and whenever they are subject to such.”
The Learn to Play Program has been specifically designed to educate instructors on how to plan and operate recruitment events and programs and to introduce the game to children both on and off the ice. As part of the camp activities a Learn to Play program will take place during the week, where instructors will earn on-the-job experience introducing ice hockey to over 60 local children.
The MNA Leadership Development Program provides National Association leadership and personnel the means and ways to evaluate and enhance their domestic programming.
All of the remaining Programs aim at developing National Association Representatives in their areas of expertise. As such, every single Program operated at the Camp aims at delivering better hockey experiences and through such contributes to our objective of growing our game.
The camp program will also be used as a platform to launch the IIHF’s development and education programs, specifically aimed at assisting each National Association to achieve their objectives, leading to global growth and development of the game. The programs will assist each National Association in upgrading and operating quality education programs within their country.
The IIHF National Association Assistance Program will be integrated with the camp program to assist IIHF Members in planning, organizing and operating domestic development programs, which may be eligible for further IIHF resources and subsidies.
The IIHF will allow the National Associations to request specific participation in programs they wish to further educate their people and to create and execute a Domestic Development Plan. This is to allow nations that are willing to develop certain area(s) and to have the opportunity to receive IIHF subsidy for such.
“The member national associations and the mentor groups participating here…those of you who are in a position of influence should take very seriously what we are trying to accomplish,” said Hockey Canada CEO and IIHF Coaching Committee chairman Tom Renney.
“It’s your responsibility to the adult leadership of the game, that you deliver the same level of passion that we want to create here. At the end of the day it’s our responsibility to make sure that we make this week special for all the right reasons. For the athletes you have a responsibility as well, to work hard so you can enjoy this and have the time of your life and make friendships that will last a lifetime, but also identify with hockey as a lifetime sport.”
All players will also take part in a series of IIHF-run presentations covering important topics such as Anti-Doping and Sport and Integrity, along with the usual fun camp activities like swimming, games, and of course, ice hockey. Click here to access the 2017 HDC page to learn more