As part of our series looking at some of the standout Global hockey Projects from 2016, we look at some projects in Africa that have the potential to inspire others in 2017...
At the end of a year that has seen a lot of hockey development, particularly among West African nations, we catch-up with three projects that have enjoyed immense growth and success.
Ghana Gain Momentum
With Ghana women’s hockey team competing in Round 2 of the Hockey World League in Valencia, Spain, in February after they convincingly won their Round 1 event, the West Africa Targeted Assistance Programme (TAP) is beginning to reap success.
Certainly, one of the coaches, Darren Cheeseman, who has worked on this particular TAP since its launch was positively bubbling with enthusiasm as he spoke about working with the team in the build-up to Valencia.
TAP West Africa started in 2014 when Cheeseman, Seigfried Aikman and Umpire Coach Mark Jarvis visited Ghana and began a programme of coach and umpire education.
Since then the Ghana women’s national team has visited Bisham Abbey to train with England and Great Britain players and the coaching team have re-visited the West African country to update the training and check on progress.
Ghana also came a clear second in the African Championships behind South Africa and saw their world ranking rise to 28 from the mid-30s.
TAP is a collaboration between FIH, England Hockey, UK Sport, the African Hockey Federation and the Ghana Hockey Association. The target is sustainability and longevity, with the three aims of: grass roots development; building an umpire and coach education programme in Ghana and the wider West Africa area; and developing the high performance teams.
All three targets are being met. Equipment is on its way to Ghana, courtesy of a scheme to get players to donate old sticks and goalkeeper kit; the coach educator programme has resulted in 21 level one coaches, against a target of 12; 18 level two coaches against a target of four; plus 21 trained umpires; and Ghana is in line to do well at the African continental championships in 2017.
Cote d’Ivoire taps into potential
Another beneficiary of the West Africa TAP is Cote d’Ivoire. Martial Kouadio, President of the Cote D’Ivoire Hockey Association, is working hard to promote hockey in the West African country.
Along with Vanessa Guenanon – the only female hockey coach in the country – they currently run coaching sessions for more than 110 young players, using just 30 sticks, some coaching manuals and a whole heap of enthusiasm.
“Myself and Vanessa took our level one coaching certificate in May this year,” says Kouadio. “It was organised through the FIH TAP, which is being run from Ghana for West African hockey-playing nations.”
Regular hockey training sessions run two or three times a week, with an event once a month that visits places that do not yet have hockey coaching centres. There is no funding available for the sessions, so Kouadio pays for transport, drinks and any equipment that has not been donated.
Kouadio’s main aims are to build up good youth teams, get hold of as much equipment as possible and build an artificial pitch.
The perfect 10
The Hockey Dreams Foundation's main ambition is to get 10 coaches working within 10 African countries over the next 10 years. Through that simple equation, the founders hope to change the lives of thousands of children by instilling a love of sport and an appreciation of a healthy lifestyle.
It is a system that also changes the lives of the coaches, as the programme offers an education, mentoring and, once trained, a way for the coaches to make a living from hockey.
We first came across the Hockey Dreams Foundation when it was known as the Kadish Foundation. Renamed and rebranded this year, the Hockey Dreams Foundation is the brainchild of Gijs Hardeman, but the Dutchman is now taking more of a strategic, rather than an operational role.
This is definitely a project that changes lives. The oldest coach on the programme is a 35-year-old woman who was illiterate when she joined. She is now working her way through evening school while coaching during the day. A few more years catching up on her schooling and she will be able to get on a course or start her own business.
Samuel is another member of the Kadish Foundation. He is the first Zambian to play for a Dutch club. Hardeman hopes the 90 days he spent at Baarn Hockey Club will turn into a regular slot each year.
The ultimate aim, 10, 15, 20 years down the line, is for the Kadish Foundation, under its new name, to be a wholly African organisation, self-funding, well run and totally sustainable.
For more information about hockey in the African region, visit the African Hockey Federation website by clicking here.