Let's go camping!
by Adam Steiss|07 JUL 2019
Over 50 countries and nearly 300 players and staff are gathered in Finland for the IIHF Hockey Development Camp. 
photo: Timo Saarinen
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The International Ice Hockey Federation has kicked off the 16th edition of the IIHF Hockey Development Camp, taking place in Vierumaki, Finland. ­

Set in one of Europe’s premier sport institutes, the Hockey Development Camp (HDC) is an initiative developed by the IIHF Sport Department, the IIHF Committees and the IIHF Member National Associations (MNAs). The camp’s primary emphasis is on development, and employs a “teaching the teachers” approach aimed at providing MNA sport development staff with new insights and teachings on how to develop ice hockey players, as well as hands-on experience applying these lessons by working with the over 100 campers in attendance.
The campers for the 2019 HDC are males born in 2004 and come from all corners of the globe. 
The aim of the HDC is to improve the MNA’s sport development staff’s ability to deliver effective sport development programs in their countries. Combining players and staff, nearly 300 people representing 50 countries will be in Vierumaki for the camp.

“Have fun, there are a lot of cultures and a lot of different countries sitting in this room today, take the time to get to know each other and learn from each other,” said IIHF Council Member Petr Briza in his welcome address to the camp.

A total of 44 countries will be sending 106 male players. The campers are mixed up and split into six teams with each team having three coaches, a goaltending coach, a team manager and an equipment manager. These team staff were selected and nominated to join the camp by their respective IIHF MNA. They are expected to bring the lessons and experience they gain from their time at the HDC and adapt them to their own domestic programs.

“We believe that if we invest into the people’s knowledge that this is a great growth for hockey, we hope that they can learn and organize their own seminars and camps in their own countries, to spread the knowledge and make the game better,” said Briza. 
Petr Briza addressing the campers. 

In addition to the basic camp program, a Learn To Play Program will also take place during the HDC. In this program, 48 local children are set up with LTP trainers, whose job is to run drills that introduce the kids to ice hockey and gives the trainers hands-on LTP and recruitment program experience.  The Learn to Play Program has been specifically designed to educate instructors on how to plan and operate recruitment programs.

“This is another crucial thing because without the kids we don’t play hockey. And we need to learn how to recruit more kids to hockey and attract kids to come to the rinks,” said Briza.

The third pillar of the HDC is the MNA Leadership Development Program. This program provides National Association leaders and personnel with methods to evaluate and enhance their domestic programming. Items covered by the MNA Leadership Development Program include budgets, marketing, PR, and recruitment.

The following development programs will be in operation during the 2019 Hockey Development Camp:
-Recruitment and Introduction to Learn to Play Program
-MNA Leadership Development Program
-Team Coach Development
-Goalkeeper Coach Development
-Team Manager Development
-Equipment Manager Development
-Player Development (male players born 2004)

A new addition to the camp program for 2019 will be a set of 3-on-3 cross-ice games, taking place on Wednesday, 10 July. The six teams will be further split into groups of eight teams, who will play in a 3-on-3 format that will serve as a test for the 3-on-3 tournament that will be introduced at the 2020 Youth Olympic Games in January.

“We will also be using this opportunity to test out the 3-on-3 tournament delivery from the organizational side,” said HDC Director Aku Nieminen. “We will operate the tournament with coaches, equipment managers, on- and off-ice officials, snow boys, and even a DJ. It’s important that we try this out and see how it runs ahead of the Youth Olympics.”

Other activities will also supplement the regular camp program, such as a set of seminars for both campers and staff covering nutrition, Anti-Doping and Integrity in sport.