Report: World Youth Hockey Day Celebration in Ghana
1. Introduction and Background:
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) in a bid to make the game of hockey attractive to the youth instituted a year-long program in 2001 dubbed the Year of the Youth. The program of activities spread through the year and was highlighted by a marathon of events spanning the 5 continents of the world. Ghana had its share of the excitement with an elaborate one-day celebration in May 2001 at the National Hockey Pitch in which the youth took center stage in the main activities conducted. The marathon was followed with a Youth Festival in Hobart, Australia in October 2001 which aimed at initiating a process of giving the youth a voice in the development of the game.
2. Planned Activities for 2002
The FIH has continued to pursue the development of the game focusing on the youth with the institution of annual programs targeted at the youth throughout the world. The program for 2002 aimed at continuing with the process of giving the youth a voice in determining how the game of hockey should be developed from their perspective. The FIH designated Saturday October 26 2002 as World Hockey Youth Day. This day was accordingly celebrated in Ghana with a series of events that placed the focus on the youth development program of GHA.
The activities of the event included the following:
Skill training for the youth as part of the African Hockey Federation (AfHF) Coaches’ Seminar for selected coaches from Ghana and Nigeria in the morning, and
A youth tournament in the afternoon involving all six youth teams of the Greater Accra Hockey Association (GAHA).
In response to the theme of this year’s worldwide celebration, that is ‘giving the youth a voice’, the afternoon session was exclusively for the youth. Umpiring and officiating as well as team management functions were therefore handed over to them to perform.
3. Celebration of the Event
The celebration of the event commenced in the morning with a match played between the Senior clubs of the Greater Accra Hockey Association. The senior players (Average age-about 43 years) then spent the rest of the day participating in the activities of the day.
During the morning session, an International Hockey Federation (FIH) coach Mr. Ivan Boulton, who was conducting a coaching seminar for Ghanaian and Nigerian coaches as part of the AfHF’s development programs for National Associations, took the youth through some passing and hitting techniques. It was a wonderful experience for the youth and this was evident as they put some of the lessons they learnt in the morning in practice during the afternoon session.
The afternoon session was graced by the Ambassador of the Royal Netherlands Embassy Arie C. A. van der Wiel and his wife Matilda who handed over a consignment of equipment made up of 175 junior hockey sticks and 115 hockey balls the Ghana Hockey Association received from the Royal Netherlands Hockey Federation (KNHB) to support youth hockey development in the country.
In his speech before the handing-over, His Excellency the Ambassador acknowledged that hockey was still an amateur sport and as such sponsorship was the main difficulty the sport faced. He paid tribute to those who put in their resources to keep the game alive especially in Ghana and expressed his belief that the equipment gift would be of some help to Ghana on her way back to the top. He pledged that he, together with the Royal Netherlands Hockey Federation and the Ghana Hockey Association will work together to develop hockey in Ghana through the organization of various clinics on different aspects of the game in the near future.
The management of Ghana’s Customs Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), represented by a Deputy Commissioner, also presented 66 junior hockey sticks and a dozen balls to the GHA towards the youth development program.
The management of Ghana COCOBOD presented a cheque for forty million cedis (about $5,000) towards the organization of the K. N. Owusu Memorial Invitational Tournament for the under-21 category which has been scheduled for November 23, 2002. The management of SSB Bank Limited had earlier made a similar donation at a ceremony in Accra.
The chairman of the Ghana Hockey Association Oko-Nikoi Dzani, expressed his gratitude to His Excellency the Ambassador of the Royal Netherlands Embassy and was full of praise for the Management of COCOBOD, CEPS and SSB Bank Limited for continuing to support hockey development in the country. He urged the youth to show more commitment in playing hockey and assured them of the Association’s commitment to focus on the youth in the development of the game.
In a message from the youth which was delivered to the Ghana Hockey Association, they expressed the encouragement and motivation they get when they reflect on the world-wide theme for the celebration, that is ‘giving the youth a voice’. They indicated that it brought them to the realization that they did not have to ‘grow up’ before taking their places in the development of the game they truly loved.
They also expressed their admiration for the fact that most of the key players of the present National Men’s team were the pioneers of the youth development program of the Associations which was started in 1989. They paid tribute to the National and Regional Associations and to their trainers for their continued support.
They called on the National Association to pursue the development of youth hockey through embarking on programs and activities that will focus on the youth as well as the provision of hockey infrastructure and equipment. Finally, having been given a voice on the day, they launched their crusade to take Ghana Hockey back to the top echelons of African hockey.
Matches in 3 categories, under-15, under-21 and ladies climaxed the day’s activities. In the U-15 category, Pepsi Babies beat Avenue JSS 1-0, Madam King XI beat Mrs. Akofio-Sowah XI 2-0 in the ladies category while in the U-21 category, Oko Dzani XI beat Colonel Okai XI 3-1.
On the occasion of the celebration of the World Youth Hockey Day, the Ghana Hockey Association initiated the following:
- Promoting the establishment of a National Youth Panel with the aim of setting up a youth forum which will represent ‘the voice of the youth’ in the planning and development of hockey in the country
- Profiling the activities of the FIH youth Panel to get a country representation on the FIH youth panel
- Launching the FIH Youth Leader Certificate program to acknowledge and reward young players (15-20 years) in Ghana for their active leadership in hockey development.
The Ghana Hockey Association is committed to pursue these activities and the youth development program, and this is well articulated in the five-year Development Plan of the Association due to be launched during the first quarter of 2003.
The GHA will continue to work closely with the AfHF and the FIH to plan and implement programs targeted at the youth. The GHA takes this opportunity to express its gratitude to the two Federations and our local benefactors for their continued support, and wish to congratulate all the countries that made the world-wide celebration of the day a success.
NDK Financial Services, a non-bank financial institution, Beverage Investments (Ghana) Limited, producers of Pepsi range of soft drinks, Multisports Limited, a sports equipment marketing and event planning company and all the senior men and women’s clubs registered with the Greater Accra Hockey Association supported the two Associations to stage the event.
The electronic and print media publicized the event widely, provided coverage for the activities of the day and featured the entire celebrations prominently in their reportage.
The Events and Competitions Committee, Ghana Hockey Association and Multi Sports Limited.