Algeria is the latest member of the African Hockey Federation to drive forwards with its hockey development after many years of little hockey activity in the country.
One of the motivations for building a hockey culture in Algeria is the reinstatement of hockey back into the African Youth Games (AYG). Whilst a Youth Olympic Games (YOG) qualifying event has been played in the continent before, qualifying Namibia for the YOG in Nanjing in 2014 where they finished a credible fourth, it is the first time a hockey YOG qualifier will be incorporated into the AYG.
This year’s event will be taking place in Algeria’s capital, Algiers, from 18-28 July and the Algerian Hockey Federation are pulling out all the stops to make sure their teams will be competitive at the event.
"This third edition of the African Youth Games is expected to attract many National Associations to participate as well as create a momentum for the young generation in Africa to get more engaged with hockey as a sport."
Ahmed Azmy, African Hockey Federation CEO
More than 400 young players from Algiers schools and clubs are part of a hockey development programme funded partly by the African Hockey Federation (AfHF). Two coaches from Egypt, Hossam Fouda and Ashraf Shafik, are leading the programme.
The coaches bring a lot of international experience with them. They both participated in the Barcelona Olympics of 1992 as part of the Egyptian national team. Hossam became the Head Coach of the Egyptian National team in 2014 and Ashraf became Assistant Coach for the Egyptian Under-21 National team in 2016.
Over the next six months, the 400 youngsters will be put through their paces by the two coaches and eventually a boy’s and a girl’s team will be selected to represent Algeria at the AYG.
Training is held in Algiers on a recently laid multi-sport artificial turf, which was originally made for soccer. The Algerian Minister of Sport has dedicated this turf to hockey for the training period. The Ministry of Sport is planning to lay down a full size hockey turf to be ready for the AYG in time. If those plans do not materialise, they will prepare the multi-sport training turf for the AYG Hockey 5s tournament.
Hockey activity will not cease once the Games have taken place. CEO for the African Hockey Federation, Ahmed Azmy, said: “After the first six months and following the AYG, a second phase of the programme will take another six-month period. The two coaches will be sent to four other different Algerian states to train the schools’ physical education teachers who will in turn train the school students, both boys and girls, to spread hockey all over Algeria.”
Azmy is delighted that hockey is receiving such a boost in Algeria. He says: “Introducing hockey in Algeria, originally a non-hockey country, is very important because Algeria is organising the Youth Africa Games 2018, qualifying for the Youth Olympic Games 2018.
“For the AfHF, this is an important step since hockey was left out of the multi-sport events since 2003 and this year it is coming back after 15 years of absence. Multi-sport events are very important because the National Olympic Committees are liable for funding the participating teams in all sports, which for hockey will be an incentive for National Associations to participate in such events.
“This third edition of the African Youth Games is expected to attract many National Associations to participate as well as create a momentum for the young generation in Africa to get more engaged with hockey as a sport. The AfHF intends to follow-up the progress of this programme by visiting Algeria on regular basis during the coming period.”
This development activity is yet another example of Continental Federation's engaging with the International Hockey Federation's strategy. With an aim of making hockey a global game that inspires future generations, Algeria are an example to other nations looking to reinvigorate hockey by providing access to the sport for young people.
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