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Love thy neighbour

Gill Gemming, Continental Development Officer for Oceania, describes how successful “mentoring” has become within the region. 

Two well developed hockey nations, Australia and New Zealand, have played enormous roles in laying the foundations for the success of mentoring. 

Early each year, the two national development managers in  Australia and New Zealand meet to review events and development opportunities within their respective programs and to determine which could be used to facilitate mentoring chances for the other Oceania developing hockey nations. 

These existing events or courses are built into a plan which is published in all countries.  Because travel is a major issue for the island nations, it’s important to utilise events as a major focus such as was the case with the Women’s Olympic Qualifier in Auckland in March 2004. An event like this brings international coaches and umpires into the area and they are usually very happy to give up some time to share with Oceania developing coaches. 

During the South Pacific Games in Suva, New Zealand umpires were appointed to umpire beside island umpires. This not only helped develop confidence but resulted in off-field sessions and valuable relationships for ongoing support. A direct result of the opportunities created in both Auckland and Suva was the appointment of Sue Hicks in Fiji, as an umpire coordinator and trainer who now has a group of umpires being regularly supported during competitions. 

Fiji has a new water based artificial surface and to be able to fully utilise it, Corinne Pritchard, a former international umpire from New Zealand, has also trained officials with regard to judging and running a tournament. 

In April this year the New Zealand Women’s Masters Over 35 team will play a three-match series with the Fiji women’s national team. This exchange will not only provide a competition opportunity but will be used as an umpire and coaching workshop to build on the development started at the South Pacific Games. 

An Oceania Club Development Workshop was held in November in Suva. This was a classic example of the way in which the mentoring and sharing of ideas occurs. Both senior countries provided examples of resources to all participants ranging from umpiring and coaching modules to administrative models providing guidelines for fair processes in such areas as selection or job descriptions for volunteers. 

Uniform and equipment exchange also took place. Each of the senior countries takes a special mentoring role with countries closest to them within the region. Brendan Denning, Hockey Australia’s Game Development Manager, was able to work one-on-one with Papua New Guinea’s Keith Long during the workshop and establish a deeper understanding of the ways in which help can be provided during 2005. 

Tonga, which is closely supported by New Zealand Hockey Federation, were able to work with Gill Gemming and Oceania Hockey Federation president Derek Wilshere to develop action plans and finalise their constitution from models supplied. 

The experiences of the “lead” countries helps to provide solutions and makes it easier to develop structures and pathways instead of having to start from scratch and re-invent the wheel. 

Tonga has no designated hockey field but has an adequate indoor stadium which is under-utilised. A day spent at the stadium with the Continental Development Officer and a group of visiting New Zealand players demonstrated how well the venue lent itself to small games competition from three-on-three matches for junior beginners to eight-a-side for the older age groups. This acquisition of regular time at this venue has now provided real excitement to their anticipated 2005 season.

What do the smaller hockey nations in the Pacific think of the mentoring program?
“Gill Gemming has been there for us ever since the beginning of hockey in the Kingdom of Tonga. She has helped us in so many ways starting from holding the stick and hitting the ball, to developing national development plans. 

“Gill also helped in expanding our horizons by arranging for the Tonga National Women’s Hockey Team to tour New Zealand in preparation for the last South Pacific Games held in Fiji. As the national coach for Tonga, I give Gill a lot of credit for her help. If it wasn’t for her, Tongan hockey would not be up to where it is at the moment. 

“In the framework of the mentoring program, she conducted a series of workshops here in Tonga and did an excellent job. Her understanding and patience in dealing with small island countries is appreciated. Her knowledge of the game and her interpersonal and coaching/teaching skills made it easier for us to understand and enjoy the game of hockey more.” 

Milise Vea, head coach of the Tonga women’s hockey team and Secretary of the Tonga Hockey Federation.

WorldHockey Online
Issue 20, March 2005

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