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The Beginning

20 Jan 2004

It all started back in October 2001. A group of youngsters that came from the five continents met in Hobart for the World Youth Hockey Festival, and had the experience of a lifetime.

Bethan Walsh, FIH World Youth Hockey Promoter 2002 and former chair of the FIH Youth Panel explains…

Each of us had new and fresh ideas on how to improve the sport that we love so much. The Festival was a success, everything that was on the programme was awesome, but we all felt that we could do something more. Something to continue the ideas of the 'Year of the Youth' for later years and later generations. We came up with the idea of forming a 'Youth Committee', and we knew that that was the missing piece of the World Hockey Festival. After discussing the idea with the Festival staff, we decided that it would be beneficial for world hockey to form a Youth Panel.

We got to Hobart as complete strangers, but we left as brothers and sisters. So let’s work together to unite the youth of the hockey world. This new Youth Panel would have two main objectives:

  • To give the youth of the hockey world a voice.
  • To help develop, promote and diffuse youth hockey worldwide.

We have been working hard since our departure from Hobart, and we have several ideas and programmes. We need your help and support to have a successful development of these programmes, so please get involved, participate, and let us know what you think.

Where are we now?

The Pen Pal program is now well underway!  The Panel has already helped to pair up many contacts and now has about 150 working pen pal pairs – that means that over 300 people from across the world are currently corresponding with each other!  However there is always room for more pen pals to join the scheme, and if you are interested in becoming a pen pal with a fellow hockey player (either from your country or from around the world) please contact Stephan Haumann () and look out for the upcoming online Pen Pal form on the FIH Youth website.

Youth forums are successfully in place in Malta, Trinidad and Tobago, Germany, England, Belgium, Spain and Wales.  In addition, the United States promoter is in the process of developing regional youth forums, and the promoters for Mexico, South Africa and Poland are also planning to set up their youth forums in 2004..  Youth forums are critical to youth hockey development as they help to fundraise for and initiate youth hockey events throughout a country.  The forums also serve as a good way for youth hockey enthusiasts to discuss youth hockey development, as well as effective ways to interact with their national hockey association. 

The Umpiring Project is also being completed with the final finishing touches, and the Young International Umpires program will be ready to be launched in 2005 to coincide with the FIH Year of the Umpire 2005.  This project aims to give exposure to potential international umpires (aged under 25) in the international arena so that they can improve their performance and gain valuable experience.  It will be linked to an awards system so that umpires will know exactly where they are in their development and will know what they need to work towards.

The FIH has planned a Global Youth Marathon for the weekend of May 15th/16th 2004.  This weekend is designed to introduce hockey to those who are unfamiliar with the sport, and to get all those people who are involved in the sport heavily involved in running the event and taking part too.  The theme of this year’s Marathon is “Junior Club Development” and this coincides with the new FIH program for club hockey development which is being launched at the start of this year.  To offer young hockey enthusiasts a high quality and a lifetime opportunity in hockey we need to provide structures for sustainable hockey development and a club can be one of these structures. Junior clubs can give young hockey players access to quality coaching and good, safe competition and the club environment will encourage young players to contribute to the organization of hockey, for instance by taking up youth umpiring, coaching or administration. When parents are well looked after in the club, they will stimulate their children to continue playing.

Some 43 Panel members attended the World Youth Hockey Festival in Amstelveen in August 2003.  This Festival was similar to that held in Hobart in 2001, where the idea for the World Youth Hockey Panel first developed.  The Panel encouraged all National Hockey Associations to nominate young people to attend the event, which ran alongside the Men’s Champions Trophy and the Women’s Four Nations Tournament.  All participants gave a presentation on Youth Development in their country and the best 6 presentations were chosen for the Final, where the presentations were given to several important hockey personalities from FIH, Continental and National Associations.  The eventual winner was Carien Roberts of South Africa who gave an account of the hockey development activities in the “Rainbow Nation”.  At other stages in the week, participants were able to watch some high quality hockey, and also learned many things from the organised workshops, which included the tiles: “Junior Club Development”, “Organising a Hockey Camp”, “Communication and Marketing” and many many more.

The next World Youth Festival is already in planning for sometime in 2005.  The exact dates and location have not yet been officially confirmed, but we will keep you up-to-date on the latest news when we have it.  In the meantime, you guys need to talk to and warn your national governing body that this big event is coming up, and you need to start saving up your for your flight- which is the only thing that you have to pay for!  Standby for a once in a lifetime experience.

The Panel also supports an Exchange Program which works in two different ways.  Firstly, there is the possibility to organise “Hockey Exchanges” where two teams from different countries travel to each other and are hosted by the other team in a hockey camp environment.  The first took place in the summer of 2003 when a German team was invited to a camp in Malta where they were well looked after!  Look out for more of these in the future.  The second is that we support the “Exchange Equipment” program where people can donate their second hand hockey equipment, (sticks, balls, goals, even old pitches) as long as it is still useful, to other countries where perhaps the young people can’t afford al this equipment.  This enables children in these countries who cannot actually buy their own new equipment to have some second hand kit which they can use to go and play hockey.

FIH Youth Leadership Certificates are also being awarded to young people for outstanding contributions to hockey leadership in their country.  The National Hockey Association Youth Development Officer can nominate any young person aged 15-20 for a Youth Leader Certificate if they have made a massive contribution to hockey in their country in any field, from playing, umpiring, administration, coaching and communications amongst others.  Awards are made annually in July to the best nominees from all over the world.  The deadline for nominations is 25 June 2004.

As you can see, our programs are all running successfully, but there are still many countries that do not have any youth promoters on the Panel.  All countries are entitled to two members on the FIH Youth Panel, and if you are genuinely interested in putting in some work to help us to improve youth hockey all around the world, get in touch with your National Association and get them to put your name forward to join the Panel.

Mindy Dhanda, Chairman of FIH Youth Panel, January 2004

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