Learning and sweating

400 participants in Development Camp take message home

26.07.2011
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The participants of the 2011 IIHF Hockey Development Camp pose for a team photo. The camp saw 400 participants – players, managers and officials. Photo: Timo Pylvanainen

VIERUMÄKI, Finland – The 2011 IIHF Hockey Development Camp in Vierumäki, Finland, was the tenth global hockey development camp. It involved 400 participants from 49 countries: young players born in 1996, coaches, team manager, officials and students from the host – the Vierumäki Sport Institute – that participated in training sessions, seminars, workshops and other events of the various programs:
  • 8 Team Programs
  • Team Coach Development Program
  • Equipment Manager Development Program
  • Team Manager Development Program
  • Goalkeeper Coach Development Program (NEW)
  • Learn To Play Program I
  • Learn To Play Program II (Advanced) (NEW)
  • Development Workshop (Long Term Athlete Development) (NEW)
  • IIHF Game Officials Development Program
  • Skills Challenge Qualification Competition (NEW)

Click here for the photo gallery of the camp.
Click here for a camp video.

“This year we had more participants than we have ever had,” says Darryl Easson, the IIHF’s Sport Development Manager. “We had three new programs and it worked out very well. They fit right into our strategy for our national associations.”

What is a learning experience and fun for the kids is also part of a bigger picture: to operate a leadership program to educate and train the participants, who can upgrade and operate quality educational programs in their hockey association. It is an experience that participants take home for the benefit of their hockey programs, no matter whether it’s Canada, Luxembourg, India, Russia or South Africa.

Another new aspect was the Skills Challenge Qualification Competition that was used as a qualification event of the inaugural Youth Olympic Winter Games in Innsbruck and Seefeld, Austria, 13-22 January 2012.

The participating teams for the men’s and women’s tournaments in Austria as well as the players for the Skills Challenge at the Youth Olympics will be determined once the format has been finalized by the International Olympic Committee.

“The co-operation was very good and the weather held out very nicely, which makes people more relaxed. We got the opportunity to use the new area in the arena that has been built for the Finnish Ice Hockey Association,” Easson says.

New dressing rooms were installed and named after the Olympic Games where Finnish ice hockey teams won medals.

For many players the camp was an interesting learning experience on their way to become hockey leaders in their countries. Of course the level of play between the 49 nations can vary. That’s why teams are mixed with players from countries whose programs are at different levels, and coaches make sure that the lines facing each other during games won’t cause mismatches.

Past IIHF camps included players who have become NHLers such as Johan Hedberg, Anze Kopitar, Rob Schremp or Jeff Tambellini.

The development camps might not be the main reason for their success, but it’s a great learning experience and meeting point for 15-year-old top prospects from leading hockey nations same as for juniors from smaller hockey countries like Bulgaria, Hong Kong or New Zealand. For them it’s an opportunity to share experiences and a dressing room with potential future world-class players. It also offers a valuable cultural exchange opportunity for everybody.

“The most important thing is that participants take the message home,” Easson says. That’s essential not only for the kids, but even more for coaches, officials and managers participating in the events, who can improve their programs back home and bring the long-term competitiveness in ice hockey in their countries to the next level.

MARTIN MERK


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