Why focus on club development?
The FIH has recognized a clear need to strengthen the base of hockey through youth development programs. The Year of the Youth project 2001 succeeded in encouraging youth to take part in hockey; and after that a follow up was needed to provide young people with opportunities to continue playing.
One of the strategic focuses of the FIH Development and Coaching Committee for 2003-2004 will be Club Hockey Development. There are several reasons why this initiative has been taken.
First of all we see many teenagers, especially in the 15-18 age group, dropping out, especially in countries where hockey is only played in schools, because there is little opportunity to play hockey after finishing school.
Secondly, there are not always experienced hockey teachers in schools, which can impact negatively on the quality of play. Moreover time is often limited and the players play according to age groups instead of in teams selected on strength.
Thirdly, it is important to create an identity between teenagers and a club at an early age; this will help to bridge the gap between their school and post school period.
This focus on club hockey development does not mean that we should not focus on school hockey anymore. On the contrary, school hockey is an ideal road to introduce many children and youngsters to our sport.