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Exciting activities in Wales
10 June 2004

During the 2nd annual youth conference held in Cardiff on April 23 – 25, the hockey activators (youth attendees aged between 15 – 21) were charged with the task of planning and delivering a hockey development initiative based on club development, linked to the FIH global youth hockey Marathon.
The Hockey Activators split themselves into 3 groups as they felt the event should be held in each of the three recognised regions of Wales:  West, East and North.
Youth hockey activators who were attending their 2 nd annual conference (2nd Graders) were in charge of organising the event with new recruits having the opportunity to deliver.
The Welsh Hockey Union youth activators who meet quarterly, in September 2003 devised an annual plan of events and projects.  One of their national projects was to devise a skills award to include 3 levels of awards aimed at challenging all players these included: bronze – novice players, silver – intermediate and gold – advanced skills.  It was agreed that each of the activators would develop a skill each and return to Bethan Walsh, who was coordinating the project.  It was agreed that prior to the skills award being prepared for print, that it should be piloted at the FIH Global Youth Marathon event in May 2004.  It is intended to source a sponsor to underwrite the cost of producing the WHU skills award, which will be launched onto the web site and can be downloaded by club coaches to use with players with no charge.

Target audience
Each region decided to target two age groups for development, Under 11’s linked to Welsh Dragon Hockey imitative, as these players are unlikely to be currently playing in clubs.  This age group was selected with a view to linking up with local clubs, with a programme including fun based learning through game related play.  Under 16 where the focus would be on skill development.

The 2nd graders booked the facilities, invited schools and coordinated the player replies.  Player consent forms and registers organised equipment and set the agenda for the day.  They then held a debrief meeting with the 1st graders one week prior to the event to allocate tasks and discuss the agenda.
The 1st graders were tasked with production of certificates for all attendees, along with name badges and club flyers with information regarding their local clubs, contact names, numbers and details of when and where they train.

The programme
The Under 11’s followed the Sports Council for Wales Dragon Sport game cards, which were delivered by the 1st graders, who incidentally had qualified as “Dragon Sport organisers” at the youth conference held in April. 
Wales are hosting the U 21 Women’s B division Europeans in Swansea in July, which requires promotion, and as such each group was asked to then select a team who will be playing in that event.  The teams then played in a mini European festival that was umpired by the 1st graders.  All participants received certificates.  Each event was furthermore “sponsored” by the unitary authorities, who supplied T-shirts, pens and water bottles to all participants.
The Under 16 group programme included piloting of the newly devised WHU skills cards; this was followed by a European tournament in line with the U 11 programme, again promoting the event to be held in Swansea in July. 

Conclusion - What's next?
Despite the varying playing abilities the skills cards appeared to challenge all.  Following minor modifications it is intended to launch onto web site by September 2004 ready for the new season!
An additional development day for candidates will be held in Swansea in July linked to the European Women’s U 21 event.
All hockey activators will meet in September to devise an annual youth programme for 2004 – 2005 which includes establishing their own national youth web site!
The event was attended by club coaches, parents, volunteers and Welsh Hockey Union Hockey Development Officers.

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