FIH to award funding for two Synthetic Hockey Development Pitches

?????FIH President Juan Angel Calzado is beginning to see his proposed Hockey Development Pitch initiative take real shape, thanks in great part to the support of IOC President, Juan Antonio Samaranch. During a December meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland between Samaranch, Calzado and FIH Hon. Secretary General, Els van Breda Vriesman, Samaranch agreed to fund 50% of the costs of two Synthetic Hockey Development Pitches to be installed through the pilot programme.

?????"The FIH is most grateful for the tangible and generous financial support being offered by President Samaranch and the IOC for this important pilot project," said Mr. Calzado. "I firmly believe the successful promotion of hockey will be achieved through the spread of synthetic surfaces, and this is an exciting step forward in our ongoing efforts to achieve that goal."

?????It was decided during the December meeting that the new surfaces will be installed on two different continents. In addition, the FIH will contribute US$10,000 toward the 50% of costs not paid by the IOC funding. It is expected that the outstanding 40% will be covered by contributions from the recipient National Associations themselves, National Olympic Committees, local and national governments and/or sponsors. It is the obligation of the nominated National Associations to secure commitments for the additional funding.

?????The five FIH Continental Federations were contacted by the FIH and asked to nominate countries that might meet established eligibility criteria, the most critical being that the country have real hockey potential and that the synthetic surface would be of paramount importance for the further development of hockey in that country.

?????The 15 nominated countries are: Africa (AHF) Ghana Hockey Association, The Hockey Association of Malawi, Uganda Hockey Association; Americas (PAHF) Bermuda Hockey Association, Bermuda Ladies Hockey Association, Federation Cubana de Hockey, Federacion Mexicana de Hockey, Jamaica Hockey Federation, Venezuela Hockey Federation; Asia (AHF) Myanmar Hockey Federation, Sri Lanka Hockey Federation; Europe (EHF) Cyprus Hockey Association, Hockey Association Malta, Romanian Field Hockey Federation, Slovakia Hockey Association; Oceania (OHF) Fiji Hockey Federation.

?????Each of the associations have been contacted and asked to supply detailed information on their ability to meet all the criteria. Replies, which should have reached the FIH by the 1st March, are being considered by the FIH Development & Coaching Committee Strategy Group, the Equipment Committee Chairman and the Executive Director. A recommendation will be made to the FIH Executive Board on the two countries to be awarded the Hockey Development Pitches and two reserve countries. It is expected that a public announcement will be made during the opening weekend of the World Cups in Utrecht when President Samaranch is scheduled to be in attendance.

?????Following many discussions and meetings with FIH laboratories and FIH licensed manufactures, the FIH has established special criteria for Development Pitches, criteria which are less strict than those for surfaces used during FIH and other national and international competitions.

?????"Hockey Development Pitches will not be used to host major international events, and that is not their intended purpose," explained FIH President, Juan Angel Calzado. "They will be durable, low-cost surfaces aimed at meeting hockey development objectives. "

?????FIH Executive Director, Hans Bertels, added, "If all goes well, I expect that both surfaces will be in place by the end of 1998. We will then evaluate the progress and success of the initiative to determine whether it can be continued in co-operation with the IOC on an annual basis."