Photo: FIH Academy educator Michel Kinnen

Coach development adjusts to a new 'normal'

May 26, 2020

The FIH Academy works with continental federations and national associations across the globe to support development and education work among the hockey workforce that is so essential to the smooth and professional organisation and delivery of the sport. 

In this article we focus on the work of two national associations – Poland and South Africa – that are working with the FIH Academy and other stakeholders to raise the level of hockey coaching and officiating in their respective countries. In both cases the national associations have had to adopt new methods of course delivery to meet the challenges presented by the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Hockey growth and development in Poland is continuing apace as the FIH Academy is working with the Poland Hockey Association to raise knowledge and experience among coaches, officials and administrators in the Eastern European country.

The education programme, which is an Olympic Solidarity Project, is led by FIH Academy Educator Michel Kinnen. The project manager, overseeing the delivery of the course is Mateusz Grochal, who is currently the Poland Hockey Federation Development Manager. 

In line with the aims of the Olympic Solidarity Project, the Poland Hockey Association is seeking to develop its coaches, officials and administrators through a variety of activities and programmes. Grochal explains that the project, which is in its early stages, is using all the various technological solutions at its disposal. This includes a series of educational movies and clips on Poland Hockey’s Youtube channel and a venture using one of the most recent technological phenomena - online group meetings.

“We have conducted a Zoom conference for our umpires regarding the rules and interpretations,” he says, adding, “a few more are planned for the next few weeks. Obviously, there are no courses in place right now [due to Covid-19] but we are working on it - mostly on technical aspects.

“In addition, the Ministry of Sport is conducing a variety of seminars on Management in Sports and Coach Development, which are available for our members.”

For coaches, a series of webinars and workshops will provide coaches with access to hockey specific knowledge, up-to-date coaching concepts and coaching structures. In addition, much discussion will take place around ways of implementing certain principles on a training ground.

For officials, the Academy Educators course started in November 2019, but in a time when Covid-19 is impacting all activities, the course will now continue an online.

Meanwhile, over in South Africa, there is a heap of work being done to raise the level and accessibility to coach education. The South Africa Hockey Association’s (SAHA) Coaching Pathway and Offer is being redesigned. This is something the FIH Academy has been supporting since last year. Part of the process involves those involved in designing and delivering the courses observing FIH online courses and workshops to gain insight into how they are delivered. 

Gary Dolley is the South Africa Hockey Association project manager and a member of the SAHA Coach Education Committee. His main responsibility is to oversee the initial stages of a country-wide growth strategy for hockey.

He puts the present situation in context: “In 2009/10 South Africa Hockey entered into a partnership with the KNHB (Dutch Hockey Association) to develop a coach education scheme for South Africa. We used the FIH coach education framework [ 2006] curriculum as the basis, using the Dutch expertise and material to construct our coaching scheme. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the organisation to radically adapt to a ”new” normal, so we are reviewing our system. We are exploring online options – there are lots of innovations and some excellent material on the different digital platforms.”

Dolley adds that the course facilitators are currently being retrained to meet the needs of course participants. It is also important to note that SAHA was exploring online options well before Covid-19 appeared and hastened the development of digital courses. 

Coaching in South Africa has been under review for some time, with coaches being trained to offer a more athlete-focused approach. The development of coaches is being led by a team of experienced practitioners. Since linking with the FIH Academy, the national association is able to observe a number of FIH Academy online courses and workshops, has received Level 1 materials and, in the future, an online workshop for South Africa’s coach educators will be hosted by the FIH Academy. 

It is a collaboration that Dolley says will have a big impact: “Having the support and the official backing of the FIH Academy will give credibility to our coach education scheme. It will enhance our operations and increase the quality of our coaching workforce. Quality coaches will improve the general standard of play across our player pathway.”

For furtherr information about the work of the FIH Academy visit:


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