Are our sport officials doing what it takes to preserve our sport on the highest podium of all, The Olympics? Or is their focus too much on other matters? Probably also important to our sport, but I don’t think anyone will argue the fact that further developing our sport on a global scale to keep its place in the Olympic family should be on top of their priority list…
More or less a month ago I felt the urge to put some of my random thoughts in writing about the future of my sport, field hockey. The first article was “The future of hockey” and I followed it up by an open letter to the FIH & EHF. As all bloggers and wannabe writers I of course have the need to be read and heard… and applauded 😉 Hey, I’m human… However I was not as naive to think I would get an actual answer from the federation presidents I addressed with my open letter. I got some fans, some (international) players, some coaches, some club presidents and actually also some presidents of national federations to acknowledge the ideas in these articles. But you’ve guessed it… no answer from the people I actually wrote it to… no suprise there.
Last weekend the hockey community enjoyed once more the EHL, freezing their ass of in Amsterdam or warm & cosy behind the computer or TV at home or… even on the move the nice new EHL app gave us the possibility to enjoy the live streaming images from the Wagener Stadium. The people from Pro Sport and the EHF helped change the hockey sport for the better when they introduced their EHL 5 years ago. I was fortunate to be the organizer of the very first EHL at my club Antwerp (together with the dutch club HGC) and immediately became a big fan of their innovations. As you would expect not all of the aspirations for the EHL from those early days came true, the economic crisis struck hard when it was to time to harvest the potential sponsors to help fulfill the dreams they had at the start. But you’ve got to admire and respect those people at Pro Sport and especially the ABN Amro for sticking with it and continue to build the brand of the EHL and hockey. They might not have scored the biggest crowds for all matches, nor the other sponsors (yet) to help build the sport. But they’ve brought us a new standard of TV images promoting our sport and several innovations in the rules of the game that truly have added value to our sport and you have to applaud that…
Another recent and very welcome additional event for our hockey sport has been the recent HIL (Hockey India League) which has brought his own innovations to the sport and has immensely been appreciated by the international top players, the Indian sponsors, media and public. However I do not see any benefit in wanting to integrate both these wonderful initiatives as read in the press recently. The HIL is different from the EHL and that should not change because India is different from Europe and it has the potential to help revive Indian (and Asian) hockey to new standards and help them regain their position among the top in the world.
Which of course would also be beneficial for our sport on a global scale… Important to help keep our sport on the agenda for the Olympics. Because we must not neglect the warning that has been given recently by the IOC about the Olympic status of our sport. We might have been a big hit as a sport at the London Olympics last year, but this was not the case in Beijing or Athens and most likely hockey will not draw the biggest crowds to the Rio stadiums either.
To keep our Olympic status the international federation (FIH) has to focus on two issues that are hurting us at the moment :
- We need hockey representation within the IOC, which has been lost when Mr Negre took over the FIH presidency from IOC member Mrs Van Breda Vriesman.
- We need to focus on (re)developping our sport on a top and (!) grassroot level in important countries such as France, Spain, Brazil, USA, India, Pakistan, Japan, China, etcetera…
In the developped countries (in hockey terms) the focus should be on broadening the basis of our sport, with good infrastructure, better youth academies and a strong focus on further developping both recreational and top hockey. It is not a necessity to become a competitor for a sport such as football, but we do need to grow in numbers as a family friendly sport where respect is not just a catchphrase in marketing but seen and lived on and alongside the hockeypitches all over the world. That will attract the corporate sponsors we need to help improve our sport every year.
We can only assume (or maybe hope is a better word) our officials in national and especially international federations are working along these lines but to be honest I think it is a bit alarming we see so little evidence of this. In governement politics – somewhat related or similar to sport politics I would guess – one of the hottest items at the moment is “open data“. I do think we need some of that from our federations as well to help us understand in which direction our sport is growing, what is being done and what could be our contribution…
Maybe with the newest shareholder of the EHL, Infostrada Sports Group, they could get some (data & communication) expertise in house for such an “open data” project. Because frankly I am worried when I (as an engaged hockey supporter) once again see & hear tales about these ideas for a new global club competition from the officials. We do not need such a competition! It will not attract new hockeysupporters nor players nor sponsors that last and really contribute to the development of our sport. And in my humble opinion it will even be damaging for our sport because it takes the focus away from those things that do need to be done : development of our sport in those countries that can make a difference (both developped and developping countries with regards to hockey) through infrastructure and improving tophockey to stimulate recreational hockey!
So my message to the FIH and other relevant officials is please do continue developping the World League, but please forget about this global competition for clubs and focus on getting our IOC representative back and on developping hockey in key countries on every continent. And maybe invest some more attention towards open data (and communication) to reassure (or at least inform) us about the direction our officials are taking our sport… because I’m not reassured by some kind words from the parting IOC president Rogge about our sport. I think we need to do what needs to be done to make sure our sport is never doubted again to be a deserving member of the international family of sports.
Let’s start by congratulating Belgium for their amazing progress resulting in a well earned silver at the Rio Games in 2016 and a first gold medal at the most recent World Cup. The secret to their success is a simple formula : a stronger domestic league + an ambitious long term plan/vision not just on […]
The future of hockey
Mar 27, 2017 • 00:44:13
We discuss the future of hockey with Jason McCracken, CEO for the FIH and Marc Coudron, president of the Belgian hockey federation and board member at the FIH. We talk about the new event the FIH will launch for 2019, the impact of this on domestic hockey, the HIL, the…
Robert van der Horst about EHL and more
May 8, 2017 • 00:30:09
Robert van der Horst from HC Oranje-Rood talks about the EHL and the upcoming Final 4 for them. Mats Grambüsch from HC Rot Weiss Köln was supposed to join in but had some technical difficulties. Presentation by Floris Geerts and Ernst Baart. Also available on video : https://studiohockey.com/video/hockey5tv/robert-van-der-horst/
Monologue: The end of hockey...
Jul 5, 2018 • 00:12:19
Monologue by Ernst Baart on the so called “end of hockey”… or at least the end of hockey as we know it. Read all about it at be-hockey.com, as well as the answer from Thierry Weil, CEO at the FIH.
Monologue: the good, the bad and the ugly
Aug 11, 2018 • 00:14:19
The year 2018 is a World Cup year for hockey! The women’s world cup is done and dusted by now and the men’s is just around the corner. We’ll make some time for a more thorough evaluation of the women’s world cup when the dust has settled and we’ve had…
Monologue: The FIH is making a mess of it...
Aug 18, 2018 • 00:09:25
Monologue or should I say rant (don’t worry, it’s just a short podcast) about how the FIH made a mess of it mixing up Hockey5s and real hockey and not being clear about the future of our game of hockey… Listen to it here or read about it here on…
S2E6 : Behind the mask
Aug 24, 2018 • 00:42:23
Talking hockey with some of the best goalies in the world: David Harte from Ireland & Kampong (NED) and Tobias Walter from Germany & Dragons (BEL). If you prefer you watch it as a video at studiohockey.com as well 😉
Hola EHL 🙂
Sep 6, 2018 •
The EHL is back…almost… We talked to the voice of European hockey Nick Irvine for our podcast ⬆︎ about the EHL returning to the city of Barcelona and Thursday 2018-09-06 at 11am CET (that’s 10am in London, 5pm in Perth or 6am for the early risers in Buenos Aires) we were also…
Studio Hockey goes Africa
Sep 14, 2018 •
Friday 2018-09-14 we talked hockey with some South African hockey legends… Austin Smith, Lloyd Norris-Jones, Rassie Pieterse & my co-host for the occasion Tyron Barnard, sports writer and hockey enthusiast from South Africa as well. We discussed all things hockey such as the Premier Hockey League, South Africa’s version of the…
Monologue: Hockey is coming home... or is it?
Sep 24, 2018 • 00:22:45
Hockey is coming home. It’s the FIH slogan for their newest event about to start in 2019 and meant to be instrumental in the Hockey Revolution, the 2014-2024 strategy for the FIH. We’re half way their 10 year plan and entering Money Time. Let’s recap where we stand today… Prefer…
Monologue - Real revolutions do not follow the downtrodden path
Oct 30, 2018 • 00:16:18
Let the Hockey Revolution change the way we show hockey instead of the way we play it! While hardly anyone is noticing it, I do think the future of our sport will be decided in the years to come. We are at a turning point… Prefer to read about it?…