The chance to experience living in a different country and experience a different hockey culture is not afforded to many players, but coaches across the world agree it is an invaluable part of player development.
For players at two European clubs, the chance to play in each other’s countries has just become a far more viable option with the announcement of an initiative to link two of the top club sides on the continent.
Top club sides Beeston Hockey Club from Nottingham in England and Dutch club, HC Rotterdam, have just announced the initiative, which will bring together the two clubs and their combined 3,200 members.
The European clubs, who have both recently been crowned champions in their national association leagues, have embarked on a ground-breaking venture, which will see them sharing resources, ideas and knowledge to improve the hockey offering to all members at the two clubs.
The agreement came about in organic fashion as the clubs have been developing links in recent years. Former Beeston and England player Simon Egerton joined Rotterdam, where he has quickly established himself as a leading goal scorer in the Dutch Premier League.
He was joined at Rotterdam for the current season by former Beeston league winners and Rio Olympians Adam Dixon and Harry Martin. At the same time, goalkeeper Sofie ter Kuile from Rotterdam is currently playing for Beeston while studying at Trent College in Nottingham.
There are many similarities and shared values between the two clubs: they are both clubs which have successfully integrated high performance sport with an inclusive family-oriented approach which caters for all; they both have prioritised investment into their hockey facilities; and they share an ethos of continuous improvement.
The main aims of the partnership is to establish cross-border links, sharing of best practice and supporting off-field activities, such as events, fund-raisers and sponsorship.
In the first instance, committee members from each club will sit on the other’s Board of Directors. There will also be player exchanges, which will give players the opportunity to live in a different country and experience a different hockey culture, as well as a chance for coaches from each club to work in a different coaching environment.
Further down the line, there will be educational visits, the chance to study abroad while playing for one of the two clubs and opportunities for players of all abilities to take part in hockey tours to each other’s country.
Beeston Chairman, Graham Griffiths, said: "With all the changes at international level that are taking place in the next few years, it is essential that club hockey continues to play a major part in the development of our players. This partnership brings two national giants together as we strive to strengthen club hockey in Europe."
His Rotterdam counterpart, Edwin Brouwers, added: “As a club, we constantly seek for new and innovative ways to deliver value to our membership, both for performance and for recreational players. With Beeston we have found a club that shares our passion for club hockey and the development of teams and players. I am convinced there is a tremendous potential in our partnership.”
The move has the ringing endorsement of two of the game’s stars. HC Rotterdam captain and three times Olympian, Jeroen Hertzberger, said: "This is a fantastic initiative for the two clubs to work closely together. Beeston have a reputation of producing quality international hockey players in the UK so this is a great opportunity, particularly for our younger players to experience and develop their hockey abroad with the option to study as well."
And Great Britain Olympian and current HC Rotterdam player, Adam Dixon, who was a former member of Beeston, said "I'm delighted that my two clubs have entered into this partnership. This is a fantastic opportunity for players from Beeston to experience hockey in the Dutch league and players at Rotterdam to come over to the UK. Beeston are one of England’s strongest clubs and Rotterdam are probably the biggest club in the world so there is much that we can learn from each other."
Sharing best practice and pooling resources is a great way of moving club hockey forwards. This initiative aligns with the FIH Hockey Revolution and its aim to increase the degree of professionalism within the sport. For more information on the Hockey Revolution click here.