VIERUMÄKI, Finland – For the second time in a row an Administrator’s Education Program was run during the 2014 IIHF Hockey Development Camp. 26 participants from 24 countries listened to Paul Carson from Canada, who was leading the program, and developed their own projects that may potentially become eligible for IIHF subsidies.
The projects varied in size, costs and topic depending on the needs of the different countries in line with the IIHF’s targeted development approach. With the camp focused on women’s hockey many projects were designed for that area while others are aimed at hockey development in general.
IIHF.com had a look at two sessions to get a glimpse of the various problems and attempts to improve the situation.
Daniel Monnin of the Swiss Women’s Hockey Committee focuses on getting more women into coaching clubs and national teams and bringing former female players back into the system. His goal is to have more female coaches in the Swiss Women’s Hockey League and in national team programs and develop female coaches who one day may have the potential to coach the national team. His project is focused on workshops, mentor programs and motivating female coaches to go through coaching education programs offered by the hockey and sports authorities.
Vladan Drozdik from Serbia, where women’s hockey is in a very early stage and only three ice rinks are available in the whole country, focuses on coaching in general with organizing three-day seminars to share knowledge among coaches and other persons, with parents and have ice sessions for everybody to try hockey.
Inara Zvidre from Latvia works on recruiting more girls in the age group 7-12. Although Latvia’s women’s national team plays in Division I Group A, the best players are veterans and few young players are challenging the adults. With recruitment events and promotion she wants to build a positive image of women’s hockey and recruit more girls already at a young age to grow the women’s hockey family in Latvia that currently includes four teams and 70 players.
Kinga Koncsag from Romania wants to develop a national U16 tournament for female players in Miercurea Ciuc. An IIHF member since 1924, Romania joined the Women’s Hockey World Championship in 2003 but hasn’t participated since 2011 when Koncsag was the team captain. The reason is a decline in women’s hockey with the number of teams going down from four to two and the number of players from 74 to 38.
Her goal is to get back to the old numbers and get the girls together who currently play in boys’ teams throughout the country. With the funding she hopes to create three U16 girls’ teams, recruit volunteer refs, hope to get free ice time and pay meals for a national tournament aimed for 6 December. She hopes for growth on the national level, to create a women’s U18 national team and one day be back internationally.
Maria Huber from Germany works on a similar project at the larger scale her country offers. Until 1996 Germany had an inter-state competition for young girls, which she would like to re-implement. The associations from the federal states in Germany shall put teams together for an U15 cup competition to raise awareness of women’s hockey, give girls who play on boys’ teams an opportunity to play with other girls, motivate them to continue playing ice hockey and prepare girls for the U18 women’s national team.
Realistically she sees six provincial teams ready for 2015 with 102 players competing in such a tournament. The first edition is planned for the end of October during a vacation period at the federal high-performance centre in Füssen.
Martin Masek from the Czech Republic wants to recruit more female players with the slogan “Let’s play hockey!” and targets the age group 6-8 to recruit girls at schools and clubs. He also wants to work on retaining them at the age they’d usually leave boys’ teams, on coach education, getting equipment and on promotion to change the coaches’ mentality and gain more respect for women’s hockey. Because “the girls who play live the game and its emotions”.
Hub van Grinsven’s focus is on off-ice officials in Belgium. To improve the situation he wants to work on off-ice official education, a certification program and seminars to unify the process nationwide and improve the work in that area.
In Georgia women’s hockey only started last year with a first group of female players trying hockey during the World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend. But even for men, playing ice hockey is something new in the southern country. “Hockey Week in Georgia – be unique!” is the project and slogan of Sophie Chitadze and Givi Panchulidze.
With several events the Georgians wants to recruit players and coaches in the Caucasian country and use experienced coaches to educate new players, coaches, officials and volunteers, have different promotional activities every evening and “let me play” days. Kids, students and the general population are addressed to recruit more boys and girls and the target is to have the week during school vacation end of January.
Lars Johansson from Sweden works on a project of creating a new national team below the senior and U18 categories. Some European nations have U16 or U15 teams and he thinks it’s time to do the same in Sweden. He’d like to make sure that the girls continue and don’t only work at a regional level at this age but have a national team program and camps.
Yulia Romanyuk from Belarus wants to relaunch women’s hockey in Belarus which started in 2008 and flourished with a professional team from 2010 that folded in 2013 due to financial problems and mostly included foreign players.
Her goal is to centralize women’s hockey efforts in the country by creating a Belarusian Women’s Hockey Development Society as a basement for a future club or national team, centralize contacts of players, coaches, officials and sponsors in women’s hockey.
“Currently girls play in different cities and rarely know each other,” Romanyuk said. The project includes promotional events, camps and seminars to promote women’s hockey in the country that has seen substantial growth in grassroots hockey with many new ice rinks built across Belarus in the last few years.
Hwa Hong Yeon of the Korean Ice Hockey Association presented her Hockey for Fun event aimed to be run in March 2015.
“In Korea girls have little interest in sports. We need to show how cool hockey is,” Yeon said. “A good example is figure skating which also had little exposure among women and has become popular.”
With the events she wants to improve the image of hockey and make it barrier-free for girls and expose hockey with promotional events also during other ice sport events in the country that will host the 2018 Olympic Winter Games.
Claudia Tellez from Mexico wants to work on building an integral hockey environment with her project.
“There are 25 ice rinks in Mexico of which eight have full hockey programs and seven have senior hockey only while the other rinks are not suitable for hockey,” Tellez, who plays for the women’s national team that started to compete in the Women’s World Championship program this year, explained the situation.
Her objective is to implement a coach education program at rinks where little hockey is played especially outside of Mexico City, target 5- to 12-year-old kids and use senior players as coaches at rinks where there’s no youth hockey.
These are only few of the projects worked on during the Hockey Development Camp in the Administrator’s Education Program and also other programs. Other projects in the program included building a path for becoming a female hockey player in Hungary, recruitment programs in Austria, Croatia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, New Zealand and Singapore, e-learning in Chinese Taipei, a beginners’ education program for Turkish clubs, gender diversity management in Austrian hockey, women’s hockey and coaches education in Israel and female player development in the United States.