I am in Orlando at the ESPN Wide World of Sports to witness the Disney Junior Field Hockey Showcase, and wow has this tournament grown. From 29 teams in 2012 to 90 teams this year. The immaculate grounds at Disney World are filled with half fields of U14s and U12s having the greatest time. Some of the young athletes here this week could perhaps represent Team USA at the 2024 Olympics. We are delighted to work with our partners Disney to offer an exciting, fun event for U14 and U12 athletes to participate in. We recently added a U14 division to the National Hockey Festival and last year we expanded the U14 division at the National Futures Championship and the National Club Championship. In 2014, we are looking further at how we can play a leadership role in encouraging greater participation in our sport at earlier ages.
The U.S. Junior World Cup Team departed for the Netherlands late last week in preparation for the Junior World Cup which kicks off on Saturday, July 27 in Monchengladbach, Germany. The U.S. will open pool play at the Junior World Cup against Korea on Saturday, July 27, followed by the Netherlands on July 28. Following pool play, teams will either move into a placement round for the bottom eight finishers or advance to the quarterfinal, semi-final and final round. The 2009 U.S. Junior World Cup roster featured seven athletes who went on to represent Team USA at the 2012 London Olympic Games. We wish U-21 head coach Steve Jennings and his team the best of luck and look forward to following their Junior World Cup campaign over the next two weeks.
I spent last week at the Home of Hockey in Lancaster, Pa. for the orientation activities for the Women’s National Team. First of all...the facilities at The Nook are simply magnificent. Many of you will see them throughout 2014 as we migrate many of our events there, as well as host National Team competitions. We had several folks in from the UK and the USOC who were rendered speechless due to the quality and massiveness. When you see the exclusive hockey area, you will be amazed with the cleverness of the design and the use of high quality materials. The design occurred through input from the Women’s National Team. Meaningful as well is the reception our women are receiving from the Lancaster community. In reception after reception, the excitement and warmth extended to the team landing in Lancaster was continually highly palpable. Our hosts throughout were Sam Beiler, Steve Goris and Lyndsay Warner from Nook Sports, as well as Paul Carroll and Bill Weik from the Orthopedic Associates of Lancaster. You could not ask for better partners. Laura Darling planned the entire week long activity and the orientation was crisp and thorough. Meagan Connolly, Simon Hoskins, Kelly Knapp, Dave Hamilton, Jesse Hoenich, and Craig Parnham were on hand and working hard in their individual areas. Emma Parnham, Craig's wife, was also in a support role and working hard for the team. We also benefited from valuable expert presentations from Kelly Hillyer, Keith Bryant and James Sayno from the USOC, Devin Redcay and Kevin Berger from Adecco, Diana Burke from Devry University and Micah Levy and Michael Harris from Best Sports Consultants. A great start, and now the team heads to Penn State for training in earnest as we build to the Pan Am Cup.
Indoor Hockey Rule Changes In indoor hockey, we have received the below information from the FIH last week announcing Rule Changes for the indoor game, the most substantial of which is decreasing the number of players on the pitch from 6 to 5 players to be implemented September 1, 2013. We are considering how this will impact hockey in the USA and intend to make an announcement by the end of next week. Please see below the notification from the FIH.
INDOOR HOCKEY AND HOCKEY5s
In March 2013 the Executive Board gave their approval to a Taskforce being drawn up from Rules Committee members, players, coaches, officials and other experts. Currently the Taskforce is made up of the following: Stephan Abel (GER - Chair), Christian Blasch (GER), Peter Elders (NED), Bjorn Isberg (SWE), Walter Kapounek (AUT), Natascha Keller (GER), Sally Munday (ENG), Mark Sandhu (AUS), Scott Sandison (CAN), Bahram Shafie (IRI) and a number of FIH Staff members.
The scope of the Taskforce will include consideration of:
· Define the status of Indoor Hockey within the FIH and clarify its role as a separate discipline of the sport
· The role of Indoor Hockey within our sport and its positioning, including how it can be aligned with Hockey5 and vice versa
· The potential participation issues for the various versions of the game, given that some other sports such as Rugby, Cricket & Football have different squads of players for their varying game formats
· The Rules in the wider context of a review of Indoor Hockey
A meeting had taken place in April 2013 between the Chair of the Indoor Taskforce and the Chair of the Rules Committee, along with the President, CEO and other staff members at which the Terms of Reference of the Indoor Task Force were discussed.
Following a report from this group, the Rules Committee (in consultation with other FIH Committees) made various recommendations for FIH Executive Board approval, regarding the dates of advice of Indoor Rules changes to NAs, the date of implementation of these changes, the period which they should apply for and that any reduction in the number of players on the pitch should only be considered following the 2015 Indoor World Cups.
The FIH Executive Board duly approved eight proposed Rule changes and an amendment to bring the stick specifications into line with the Outdoor Rules of Hockey.
Following the pre-meeting it was felt that the scope of the Taskforce needed to be widened to incorporate Hockey5s development and to build upon the synergies between this and the Indoor game. This requires a restructuring of the Taskforce to reflect the changing brief and a revised set of Terms of Reference to broaden their remit. There needs to be a strategic plan for the development of the complementary game and this needs to include a review of the format.
Further to recent decisions by the IOC, Hockey has found itself relegated to revenue category D from C and was among a list of 5 sports that were considered by the IOC to be voted off the Olympic Programme for 2020. Upon further debate, and in light of the importance of protecting Hockey’s position in the Olympic Games, the EB made a strategic decision not to implement the recommendation from the Rules Committee that any reduction in the number of players on the pitch, should only be considered following the 2015 Indoor World Cups. As a result, a change to the Indoor Rules decreasing the number of players on the pitch from 6 to 5 players will be implemented from 1 September 2013.
Finally, congratulations to the teams and players that competed in the National Club Championships presented by Harrow Sports and a special thank you to the umpiring team. It is a superb achievement to make it to National Championships. To those who took home the medals, congratulations, celebrate your success and continue to work hard to be the best you can be. In the U14s WC Eagles (Gold), Northeast Elite (Silver), Xcalibur (Bronze). The U16 champions were WC Eagles (Gold), PA Mavericks (Silver), Jersey Intensity (Bronze), and in the U19 division, WC Eagles again took the title (Gold), the Nook (Silver) and Jersey Intensity (Bronze). WC Eagles were champions in all three age groups, a remarkable accomplishment, and they will certainly be the club to beat as the National Club Championships move to the Home of Hockey in 2014.
Have a great week!
USA Field Hockey