IHA chief executive Paul Varian said the projects will increase participation rates in hockey in Ireland. Said Varian: “These are exciting time for Irish hockey. For the first time, the Association is in a position to directly fund well-planned, long-term strategies and projects that will increase the number of Irish citizens engaging in healthy lifestyles through the enjoyment of hockey.
“Twelve months ago, when we originally announced this project, the IHA committed a sum of €250k to it over a three year period, 2007-09. The sum of €260k for 2007 is a high commitment from the Association and an indication of the importance the management board of the IHA places on successful development of hockey at grass root level.”
The Association has committed to recruiting two new full-time Regional Development Officers responsible for the implementation of the regional development plans. An Eastern Regional Development Officer will be responsible for development in the Leinster and Southeast Branches, with a Western Regional Development Officer managing the Munster and Connacht territories.
The Association will also establish a centralised coaching and coach development programme which will see the training of at least 10 new hockey tutors and the development of the sport’s Level 3 NCTC Coaching Award in 2007 as a priority. Introductory, Level 1 and Level 2 coaching courses around the country will also be in place.
The IHA has announced grant funding towards a variety of branch-led development initiatives focusing on volunteerism, mini-hockey, U14/U16 leagues and competitions and the enhancement of school-club links.
“The idea has been to take a bottom-up approach to development, whereby actual programmes to increaseparticipation are crafted locally at club level through the IHA Branches’ regional development plans,” explains IHA National Development Officer Robin Madeley.
“The regional development plans are then supported by the IHA, depending on the extent to which they match the IHA’s National Development Plan.
“This way, there is local creation and ownership of development initiatives at grass root level, but higher level strategic direction through the National Development Plan and associated funding directions.”