FIH makes significant progress
with Development Pitch installation

The International Hockey Federation has made significant progress on the installation of two hockey development pitches since it was announced in May that Ghana and Cuba would be the first countries to benefit from the new FIH-IOC pitch funding programme.

Theo Ykema, Chairman of the FIH Development and Coaching Committee, paid a visit to Ghana in late August to inspect the proposed installation site at the existing national hockey facility. Mr. Ykema, on behalf of the FIH, signed a protocol agreement with the Ghana Hockey Association, which delineates both sides' responsibilities as well as the timeline for installation.

In early September, Mr. Ykema, FIH Executive Director Hans Bertels, and a representative of leading synthetic surface manufacturer, AstroTurf, met in Paris to sign the contract for the installation of a "starter" or hockey development pitch - a category that has recently been added to the list of FIH approved surfaces. Development pitches are designed, as the name suggests, for hockey development purposes and they are not approved surfaces for top level international competition.

According to Mr. Bertels, Ghana's new surface will be installed by 1st December of this year.

Tony Von Ondarza, President of the Pan American Hockey Federation, met with the representatives of the Cuban Hockey Federation during the recent Central American and Caribbean Games to progress the installation of Cuba's new surface.

The Federacion Cubana de Hockey Sobre Cesped intends to install a water-based surface at the National Hockey Stadium in Havana. A contract with another leading synthetic surface supplier is expected to be signed by the end of September and it is expected that the surface will be installed by the end of the year.

The FIH Hockey Development Pitch Programme was instituted in late 1997 by FIH President, Juan Angel Calzado, who sees the spread of synthetic surfaces as a chief means of promoting hockey around the world.

The International Olympic Committee, through its President Juan Antonio Samaranch, has lent significant financial support to the project. The IOC is providing 50% of the costs of a hockey development pitch for each of the two selected countries. In addition, the FIH is contributing $10,000 US toward the costs of each of the surfaces.

Cuba and Ghana were selected from 15 candidatures to receive the funding. Each had to meet certain eligibility requirements, 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.