The EHF’s strategy for the development of field hockey

a hockey game

The EHF – European Hockey Federation – has a great mission statement – “To encourage, promote, develop and administrate hockey in Europe at all levels in order to maintain hockey as an Olympic sport on an Olympic program and maximise participation, standards, enjoyment and community involvement. The work of the EHF and its efforts shall be based on democracy, loyalty, equality and especially recognising the importance of our volunteers.” – and let’s hope they can stick to it, and it isn’t just a lot of fanciful ideals. It's a decidedly bold statement of their intentions and aspirations for the future. However, it does require a strategy.

Understandably, the EHF gave the mission statement a great deal of thought, and consequently launched a strategic plan for 2017 to 2024. The manifesto contains some clearly stated aims and objectives, plus 6 key initiatives, which could only have been deduced by gathering opinion from a wide populous:

Ignoring the corporate styled language, it’s clear that the EHF are serious about their work.
  • Engage and Empower
  • Fan Focussed Entertainment Portfolio
  • World Class Content and Distribution
  • Joined up Global Marketing
  • Commercial Partners
  • High Performing Sport

The EHF development committee has a pivotal role in delivering a variety of promotional field hockey programmes. Committee members are nominated by the national association in order to maintain a well-grounded perspective of the hockey family.

The EHF Club of the Year award was launched in 2007, and continues to be a great asset to any clubs with an aspiring profile. The title is bestowed to hockey clubs that grow and promote hockey in their community, as well as developing their players, volunteers, coaches, umpires and the facilities. The award can have a significant influence when the club approaches commercial partners and sponsors, and certainly a magnificent advertising tool.

Hockey Programs

The Twinning program’s intention is to bring together a National Association and a major European hockey club, who will – with the assistance of the EHF – endeavour to forge a developmental structure for the future growth of field hockey. The EHF has created a 6-point agenda – they must like things in sixes, probably coincidental – to promote a successful and focussed union between the two parties:

  • Governance & Volunteerism
  • Umpire, Coaches & Officials Training
  • Club Development & Administration
  • Event management
  • Facilities and Equipment
  • Team Exchanges

Through the EHF’s supporting national growth program, educators Norman Hughes and Darren Cheesman travelled to Helsinki, Finland, to deliver a number of coaching seminars. Finland has a relatively modest field hockey following but their vision for expansion is through coherent coaching methods. Encouragingly, 19 coaches attended the seminars where coaching styles were discussed along with communicative techniques on and off the pitch.

The FHF – Finish Hockey Federation – are to be congratulated for staging the event in the first place, but more importantly, having the foresight to invest in their coaches. A dialogue has begun regarding the future of coach development, which is the essential bedrock for the growth of field hockey.