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Development Consultancy, Trinidad & Tobago, 2001

Niall Sturrock, FIH Development and Coaching Committee member, went to Trinidad & Tobago to provide the National Association with a development consultancy service.

Q: What was your impression of the situation in Trinidad and Tobago?

T&T have one synthetic water-based pitch which is their national centre where almost all their hockey is played. The standard of play is quite high which is no surprise when you consider the attributes of the athletes from their country. Trinidad and Tobago has produced world-class sprinters (Hasely Crawford and Ato Boldon), world-class footballers (Dwight York and Russell Latapy) and world-class cricketers (Micky Carew and Brian Lara), you can understand the quality of hockey players that the country produces. Kwan Browne who has played in both the English National League and the Dutch 'Hoofdklasse', has shown the European countries the standard of players that Trinidad and Tobago are producing. In tandem with the high standard of play, the level of umpiring is exceptional.

Q: What is most needed for development? What steps can and will be taken in the near future?

Like most national hockey associations that have limited financial support, the problem of equipment to encourage youngsters to play the sport is a major one. When hockey is competing with soccer, which is a large sport in T&T, the cost to the athlete for the equipment to play is a considerable disincentive. Through the FIH Development Funds and also by trying to create links with some USA University and Colleges, it is hoped that new and re-cycled equipment can be secured to continue the development of the game.

Q: What can FIH do to help?

T&T have already benefited from FIH initiatives by having the initial visit of the Development Consultant to help set up a Development Plan. This is the first of a three-year plan supported by FIH. At the beginning of July, top Dutch Coach Norbert Nerderlof, went to Trinidad and Tobago to run some courses as part of the YotY programme.

FIH has also recently added another programme through which support is provided to the National Hockey Associations and funds are now available, on the production of a Development Plan for specific initiatives proposed by the NHA.

Q: What effect is a project like YotY having on the development of hockey in Trinidad and Tobago?

T&T Hockey Board are looking at how they can continue to develop the sport within schools and also make the links with the local clubs. The Ministry of Sport employs two hockey coaches to go round the schools and deliver the hockey programme to the youngsters. The Board is trying to link in with this and set up direct routes for the athletes to continue the sport into the club programme. The Board has introduced an Under 19 league and are looking to extend this to an Under 15 competition in the future. The Board has organised a number of events through their YotY Co-ordinator, Annette Knott, whose infectious enthusiasm ensures that everyone has a great time! One of the projects that the T&T Board are looking into is to have a young athlete on each of their committees, which would really give the youth a voice!

Q: How important is a project like YotY for Trinidad & Tobago?

I think that the YotY project has a major impact for all countries in that it allows them to focus their resources in one area for a specific time. The FIH initiative encourages NHA's to focus on the future of the sport by concentrating energy, finance, facilities and equipment on the people who will hopefully play our sport for the next 40+ years. With the encouragement from the FIH and the Continental Hockey Federations and the YotY web page and newsletters everyone can see what is happening all around the world and be part of a global event.

Q: What will be the next step?

I had hoped to go out in August and run the first Level 1 coaching course under the new structure but the costs of flights are really prohibitive. I have to discuss with the President how we time the next visit for the Board's best results. I have left the Executive and some of the other committees with objectives to achieve over the first six months. It will depend on how they meet these objectives determines as to when they need me again.

Q: Will you stay in touch?

I am in contact with members of the Executive on probably a weekly or bi-weekly basis and also have contact with a number of individuals with hockey in T&T on a regular basis. Email makes all these things so much easier!

Q: How can you assist in the near future?

That is very much dependant on the hockey people of Trinidad & Tobago. I am more of a resource to assist them to achieve their objectives. They have to have a clear picture of where they want to go and then possibly I can try and help them along that road. Through the FIH programme, and this I think is one of its strengths, each country is entitled to three visits from the development consultant in three years. So there is the opportunity for the Executive Board and I to get together another couple of times before they have to try and run with it themselves. Even then however, with the internet and email, they will never be totally on their own.

And here is another side of what you have to be prepared to do as a Development Consultant…

Niall: On the second evening after we arrived we had to do a TV show which was pretty nerve-wracking because it was at 10.15pm Trinidad and Tobago time. UK time was 6 hours ahead and it was hard work trying to stay awake and put on a reasonable image for hockey!


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