Two more FIH/IOC Development pitches awarded

Lithuania and Fiji will be the next two countries benefiting from the International Hockey Federation/International Olympic Committee Development Pitch project, now in its second year. The programme provides funding from the IOC for a maximum 50% of the cost of a hockey Development Pitch (up to $100,000 US), with additional funds provided by the FIH for consulting, testing and management fees. The funding for the remaining costs must be guaranteed, through itself or other sources, by the individual Federations to whom the fields were awarded.

The decision to award the pitches was made based on the recommendations of the Development and Coaching Committee, as well as the presentations from both the Lithuanian and Fiji Hockey Federations.

The Lithuanian Federation intends to install the new field of play in Siauliai, the fourth largest Lithuanian town. It is home to the country's biggest hockey school, four clubs participating in Lithuanian championships, two women's clubs participating in European Club tournaments, it is the site of annual school sports training, and the LHF holds roughly 60% of all its events in the existing stadium.

The Fiji Federation intends to install its field of play at the Bhindi Park complex in Suva, its capital city and the home of the Fiji Hockey Federation. The Fiji Hockey Federation states in its proposal that hockey development is hindered due to the lack of an artificial turf, and that existing surfaces are multi-sport and not dedicated specifically to hockey.

The FHF intends the new field of play to serve as Regional Hockey Centre for the development of the sport in the Pacific Islands region, with the potential to serve players in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, American Samoa, the Solomon Islands and Tonga. It would also now hope to host Oceania Hockey Federation events, and is already confirmed to be the host of the South Pacific Games in 2003, with hockey on the schedule, thanks to the awarding of the FIH/IOC surface.

Agreements between the FIH and the Lithuanian and Fiji Federations are expected to be signed in late August, followed by a tendering procedure in early September and completion of the installation by early 2000. The first two surfaces awarded through this project have been successfully installed and are now in use in Ghana and Cuba.