Across the international community, the past few months have been tough for individuals, families, institutions and businesses. Emotionally, socially, economically – these are unprecedented times, with an uncertain future to follow.
Which is why it is important that, as an international federation, we plan now for a strong and confident return to hockey action for all our global hockey community: players, coaches, officials, partners and fans alike, when it is safe to do so.
We know that only some things are in our ‘control’, but with so many uncertainties, the best way we feel we can move forwards as a global hockey family is to look at where we are, reflect on where we have come from, and look to build upon our plans for a sustainable structure that works for everyone.
If we are to look for the positives to take from the current situation, it is that working from home has given us a chance to step back from the day-to-day operations and take a long, meaningful look at our strategies and how we can adjust and innovate so that hockey is a sport with a sustainable future around the world.
One of the many things we have been working on is our exciting events calendar, and adapting it to the enforced changes imposed by the coronavirus, and subsequent rescheduling of the Tokyo Olympic Games to 2021. The prospect of the FIH Indoor Hockey World Cup in Belgium in February next year is one that fills every hockey fan’s heart with glee. Fast, skilful action and the chance to see some of the world’s best indoor players in action is something that will set the sporting calendar alight and put hockey in the spotlight. for more information.
We are regularly communicating with National Associations and Continental Federations to discuss organisational matters around the along with the hosts South Africa (women) and India (men), the hosts Netherlands/Spain and the , India.
Qualification for the 2022/23 FIH Hockey World Cups has been the focus of much discussion between FIH officers and the Continental Federations. Final details will be released in June once the format has been approved by the Executive Board.
The future seasons of the FIH Hockey Pro League have also been the subject of much discussion between the FIH and the 11 participating nations. As reported on the FIH website, the Executive Board have approved the proposal that had been agreed between the participating National Associations and the FIH team, to extend the current season to June 2021, ensuring that all the competing nations can complete their fixture list.
Alongside planning for future events, FIH has also been working with partners and stakeholders to develop and implement innovative strategies and new technologies to further build the awareness of hockey, increase participation but all the while taking into consideration the post Covid19 challenges.
Along these lines, one exciting initiative that has emanated from the FIH Academy team has been the launch of online courses. At a time when it is difficult for athletes, coaches and umpires to get practical experience and practical learning opportunities, this is an exceptionally useful development tool. Most of the courses are instantly fully booked, demonstrating their relevance to our hockey workforce colleagues.
The courses have proved an instant success with 22 workshops and courses taking place throughout April, attracting more than 200 participants from 35 nations. For more information on the online courses, along with the many other work streams of the FIH Academy, .
We have also launched a new membership scheme – the FIH World Hockey Membership. This is part of the Hockey Invites initiative and aims to get more people to join our sport and take an active role. This paid-for membership scheme has a number of different categories: coaches, umpires and members, and each category has bespoke benefits, including discounts on the FIH Hockey Academy courses.
You can get more information on the FIH World Hockey Membership and ever evolving FIH Hockey Academy courses .
With the Olympic Games moved to 2021, the next 18 months promise to be very busy. We are in constant discussions with our stakeholders to make sure that plans are in place to ensure that all events can take place as smoothly as possible. We are also working hard with both the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo Olympic Games Organising Committee to support them when it comes to rescheduling.
Of course, the athletes and their welfare are at the heart of all we do, so the involvement of the Athletes Committee in any decision-making has been of the utmost importance.
While live hockey has not been a possibility, it has been great to see athletes from across the globe sharing their training tips on social media using the hashtag #StayHomeStayStrong. Following the removal of geo-blocking restrictions on our OTT platform, we have also produced brand-new programmes that are now available for the global hockey family to enjoy. At the same time, our broadcast partners have made sure that hockey has remained on our screens by enabling replays of some great hockey matches on television screens and online across more than 200 countries. To both our partners from the world of broadcast and our other commercial partners, we are extremely grateful for the support they are showing through this difficult time.
FIH Chief Executive Thierry Weil says: “These are difficult times for everyone and our primary concern at FIH is that everyone within the global hockey community stays safe and healthy at this time.
“When we eventually emerge on the other side of this huge challenge to humanity, the work of the FIH staff, combined with the support of our partners and stakeholders, will have ensured that we are all in the strongest possible position and ready to restart hockey when it is safe to do so.”