The Under 18 Festival originally scheduled for India in December 1999, followed by an offer from South Africa to organise the event in January 2000, has resulted in small numbers of acceptances. Consequently, the Competitions Committee and Council have agreed to postpone this until 2001, and in the interim, a questionnaire will be sent out to determine the best time of the year and preferred venues for participants.
A database on venues and tournament organisation is being created to help evaluate venues and performance. This will also assist in evaluating bids for major competitions.
Attention is being given to creating a world ranking system. However, difficulties are being encountered in weighting international matches, 4 Nation's tournaments, and other invitation tournaments against major competitions.
Although the FIH Council created a mechanism to possibly invite a 7th Team for the Champions Trophies for men and Women, the tournaments will remain six teams for each as recommended by the Competitions Committee.
With the introduction of the big screen and other procedures at major tournaments the Competitions Committee has recommended that the FIH create a player's and official's "Code of Conduct".
Various regulations regarding defaulting (not playing tournament fixture), minimum number of players on the pitch, and suspensions are being reviewed or reworded.
The evaluation of Tournament Directors, Technical Officers, Judges, Umpires Managers, and Umpires is being refined with a view to creating a logical and transparent "career path" for individuals, based on merit. Constructive feedback is vital in developing top class technical officials.
After a successful Technical Workshop in Alexandria the Competitions Committee intends to hold a Technical Seminar in November 2000 in Paris during the week of FIH Meetings and Congress. Full details will follow early in the New Year.
The pools for the Olympic Qualifying tournaments have been finalised. (Please consult "For the Record" for details.)
The results of a questionnaire on indoor hockey competitions are eagerly awaited and there is a feeling amongst many enthusiasts that the FIH should consider an indoor World Cup.
The requirement that no light coloured playing shoes, socks, and goalkeepers pads will apply at major competitions in the year 2000 will be strictly enforced by Tournament Directors.
Investigations are being made into whether Masters hockey competitions should be organised under supervision of the FIH.
The Asian Cup for men was moved to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from Lahore, Pakistan as a result of the political situation in Pakistan.
DEVELOPMENT AND COACHING
The following key points were discussed during the recent meeting of the Development & Coaching Committee, held in Alexandria, Egypt in October.
Pitch Development Programme continues - The Committee is pleased to announce that funding has been confirmed for two further synthetic pitches to be awarded in 2000 through the FIH/IOC Hockey Pitch Development Programme. A decision as to where they may be sited would be taken in the spring of 2000.
The plans and budget reports from the Continental Hockey Federations were discussed and it was agreed unanimously as to the level of funding from the FIH for Continental development in 2000.
Promotion Youth Hockey - Development Projects Manager, Gabrielle van Doorn, and Ann Ellis, Chair of the DCC Youth Promotion sub group, have been working diligently on a proposal for a new and exciting initiative, Hockey's International Year of the Youth planned for 2001.
The proposal is seen as a way to push the promotion of youth hockey around the world, but to be successful, it must have the support of the Continental Federation and the National Hockey Associations.
A key element of the proposed plan is a youth hockey tour which entails a succession of FIH organised promotional events in conjunction with each of the five Continental Federations.
Also, a list of 50 suggested ways to celebrate the Year of Youth will be produced, and is expected to help National Associations get involved at national and local levels. It was hoped that National Associations would select four or five ways to celebrate from the list and although the theme is the same it is expected that the activities will change from country to country.
The proposal will be presented to the FIH Executive Board in February 2000.
Coaching - Members were looking for more involvement of the National Hockey Association in the coaching programme. It was hoped to set up a group to co-ordinate input from coaches regarding development and set up links with other committees who may have similar needs.
Workshop: International Hockey Consultants - The Chairman and Gabrielle van Doorn reported on a highly successful workshop that had been hosted by the DCC and organised by Alistair Gray and Ms. van Doorn. The main goal was to exchange ideas and knowledge to see if there were any common ways to approach the development role taking into consideration cultural and national differences.
Zimbabwe: Gabrielle van Doorn spent 10 days recently to help plan their future development. They are looking into twinning with a more experienced country.
Ghana & Cuba: (Olympic Pitch Programme) Both synthetic pitches have been installed and the committee plans to work to try and ensure that developments continue.
Fiji & Lithuania (Olympic Pitch Programme) These countries have been selected for the pitches for this year. The pitch in Lithuania will probably be water-based since they have already a foundation in place.
Olympic Solidarity - Continental Hockey Federations are encouraged to include target countries for Olympic Solidarity Courses in their development plans and offer full support and assistance with the application.
The following key points were discussed during the recent meeting of the the Equipment Committee which met on October 26 in Alexandria, Egypt.
Sticks - The proposal for the Hockey Rules Board to allow the use of sticks with heads made of other materials than wood (except metal) at the international level with immediate effect was supported. The proposal was subsequently approved by the FIH Council, and manufacturers and National Associations have been informed. Please see related story in this issue.
Sand-dressed pitches - The proposal to give sand-dressed pitches a special status was endorsed by the Committee and has received Council approval. The new status will allow qualifying tournaments on a Continental level to be played on sand-dressed pitches.
Background: Over the past ten years, the FIH has distinguished between two types of pitches: unfilled and sand-filled. Unfilled may be used for any level competition, while sand-filled may not be used for world-level events nor qualifying tournaments for world-level events. Based on new technology, however, a special type of sand-filled surface has been developed in recent years which meets all the performance requirements of the FIH, but because of low sand fill, has the appearance and playing characteristics of unfilled pitches. Moreover, the installation costs of such pitches are about 65-70% of that of unfilled pitches.
Indoor Hockey - Equipment needs for indoor hockey were reviewed with a determination that goals (similar to those used by Team Handball), flooring and side boards were the only distinctive equipment.
Equipment seminar - The 3rd FIH North American Equipment Seminar was held at the Hotel Northampton in the New England College town of Northampton, Massachusetts on August 13. Record attendance was due in part to a broader range of invitees, done without changing the Seminar's purpose of providing the equipment oriented segment of the North American hockey community technical and marketing information in a pro active environment with plenty of opportunity to network.
The theme for the Seminar was "Looking Ahead".
The featured speaker, Brenda Read, gave a presentation full of information and details about what's going on in Hockey Equipment World and where it is headed.
Supported by very positive feedback from Seminar attendees, plans are already being formulated for number four tentatively scheduled for some time in 2001. A small sub-committee of manufacturers, distributors and other will be formed to help plan the agenda.
MEDIA & PUBLIC RELATIONS COMMITTEE
During the October meeting of the Media & Public Relations Committee in Alexandria, Egypt, the following main points were tabled:
TV Rights sales contract to be renewed - The Committee strongly recommended, and the Executive Board and Council subsequently approved, the signing of a four-year TV rights sales contract with London based CSI, Ltd. The FIH had previously been represented by API Television, which is no longer in existence. CSI has been successfully handling FIH properties since it "inherited" the contract from API - the result of a buyout - approximately a year ago. The details of the new contract are currently being worked out, and it is expected that a formal agreement will be signed early in the new year.
Media & PR Strategy Plan presented - Committee Chairman, David Burt, and Communications Manager, Mary Coyle, presented a comprehensive Media & Public Relations Strategy Plan to the Committee members, and subsequently, to the Executive Board. Positive feedback was received for the strategy plan which emphasises key communications objectives, including:
- To communicate clearly the various activities of the FIH;
- To ensure clear and effective two-way communication with the FIH's internal and external audiences;
- To help raise the profile and perceived value of hockey throughout the world;
- To enhance the public profile of the FIH and its standing in the world of sport.
Goals will be achieved through various channels of communication and projects, some existing and some proposed. Implementation of the comprehensive plan will begin in the new year.
FIH Media Officer Criteria - The Media & PR Committee has drafted and approved Media Officer Criteria which will forwarded for Executive Board approval. The aim is to establish a basic set of criteria for Media Officers appointed to major FIH events. Once formally approved, the criteria - along with a Media Officer "job description" - will be forwarded to National Associations who will be asked to submit the names and appropriate details of individuals whom they feel have sufficient experience to serve as an FIH Media Officer. A source list of individuals will be established and, in future, can be consulted when making FIH Media Officer appointments. Eventually, the list of potential Media Officers may be categorised based on experience for appointment to various level tournaments. It is expected this list will also serve as a resource for Continental Federations and National Associations when appointing Media Officers for their events.
Player of the Year Awards - Committee members were pleased with the inaugural International Player of the Year Awards, particularly with the amount of positive coverage and publicity generated as a result of its initiation. Member David Agius was especially thanked for his role in managing the project, as were selection panel members. It was agreed to undertake an evaluation of the process in order to implement improvements for next year's award.
Committee mourns Sydney Friskin - Members of the Committee wish to express their deep sadness at the recent death of well-known hockey journalist, Sydney Friskin. A nearly constant figure at all the world's major hockey tournaments, Sydney was known, liked and respected by Committee members, the world hockey media and all those in the hockey family who knew him.
Dr. Chin Sim Teoh of Singapore has been appointed to the FIH Medical Committee to fill the spot vacated by Dr. Richard Dodd, whose professional commitments make it impossible for him to continue as a Committee member.
See "Umpires Upgraded".