FEATURE: Do you know where hockey is heading into the future as a sport? 

 

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If you would ask the hockey fraternity as to what is the future direction hockey is moving as a sport you would receive many personal views but I imagine little understanding of the plans of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) who govern our sport and how their plans and decisions filter down to National Hockey organisations and then down to ‘grass level’ clubs who are the backbone of hockey development. The power of communication can unite people and groups of people to be one in purpose and direction. 

I believe FIH have been working hard to take hockey from its traditional amateur status as a sport, which has struggled in different parts of the world against professional sports for both recognition and financial support, to become a global professional sport. And as a consequence if you see some of the developmental work done by National hockey organisations who are responding to FIH leading as best they can you will see all are trying their best, which is sometimes being done under great duress. 

It is the intent o this article to share FIH’s strategic plans to improve hockey’s position as a global sport and to improve the quality of the hockey experience for all. It is certainly about establishing the ‘Business of Hockey’. Without doping this hockey will be pushed downwards into becoming a minor sport globally. Sports today are lining up to acquire and keep available sport participants. It is hoped that by reading a synopsis of what FIH have established as the future plans for hockey growth you can find a new appreciation of those who manage our sport at all structural levels. 

What are the plans for the future of hockey?
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Launched at the FIH Congress in 2014, the Hockey Revolution has sparked a new era in hockey worldwide. We have shifted gear and are making a step change – faster and further than at any time in our proud 90-year history! Our purpose is to raise the global status and popularity of hockey. Our strategy is designed to unite the hockey community as we need support from the whole hockey family to reach our ambition – a global game that inspires the next generation.

To do this four goals have been established which are then unpacked into 5 key initiatives to deliver the results desired.

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 1. FAN-FOCUSED ENTERTAINMENT PORTFOLIO 

We will develop a clear and coherent calendar of meaningful events spread through the year and distributed across the world. We will deliver a fantastic experience which will work perfectly on TV and online, attracting new fans and inspiring participation.

GHN COMMENTS: Hockey as a sport is constantly evaluating and establishing new rules variations as well as game formats (e.g., Hockey 5’s) to make hockey more exciting as a spectator sport. They may not always get it right but they are moving forward. Like cricket which implements traditional test cricket as well as Twenty /Twenty and One day Cricket in endeavour to satisfy spectator thirst for action Hockey 5’s and 7’s have their place in the modern game of hockey and as a format to develop introduce new participants of all ages to our sport..

2. WORLD-CLASS TV PRODUCTION AND DISTRIBUTION 

We will revolutionise TV production and distribute it far and wide, giving every person on the planet the chance to fall in love with the game.

GHN COMMENTS: In recent times there has been much progress in securing media interest in televising hockey. The future however for this writer in the long term future of reaching a wider hockey viewing audience which goes vertical top to club levels of hockey competition through IPTV. 

Recent FIH success stories

International Hockey Federation (FIH) Media Partner Star Sports have played a crucial role in driving growth of domestic, regional and continental hockey coverage in recent months, thanks to a substantial increase in the quality and the amount of hockey being broadcast globally e.g., directly at the Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Spain and Belgium and at the men’s Hero Hockey World League Final in India, and by working closely with host broadcasters Canal Siete in Argentina and BT Sport in Great Britain. This has in turn inspired other FIH National Associations and Continental Federations to invest in production of their hockey events. 

GHN COMMENTS
To keep going forward FIH needs to produce world class sports sponsorship templates for local hockey clubs to attract media involvement at all levels. 

3. JOINED-UP GLOBAL MARKETING

We will implement a joined-up approach to marketing hockey, its events and its players, using the international hockey community to deliver global marketing and PR campaigns. Together we will create a consistent and attractive position in the market.

GHN COMMENTS:

Keep bringing the resources, marketing and education for hockey clubs and associations to access, e.g., there is a great necessary to develop a social media model that sees hockey communicated and promoted at all levels and not merely international levels. As one collective body of hockey players we can do much for our sport.

A recent example of what can be done is by the Pakistan Hockey Association who has been through turmoil times as a hockey nation in recent years. Pakistan for its efforts received the Olympic Award at Rio. 

Pakistan:

Between 18 and 26 June, the Pakistan Hockey Federation conducted a number of activities to support Olympic Day 2016. 

 

Hockey5s competitions took place at the National Hockey Stadium and the Hockey Stadium Johor Town, Lahore. Gold medallist Olympians and hockey world champions strongly supported the project and acted as an inspiration and role models for the young athletes. Families attended the matches along with officials from the Pakistan Olympic Association, media and government officials (including the Minister for Sports Punjab). The women’s hockey team also participated in the activities and encouraged young talent to adopt sports as part of their healthy lifestyles.

 

In addition to this, summer camps were organised in Shahdrah town (Lahore), Shaikhupura city and in Sukkar District. In total, more than 2,000 local citizens were targeted for the promotion of Olympic Day through hockey competitions and these summer camps.

In addition, Hockey5s tournaments were organised in two rehabilitation facilities (Wazirabad and Karachi) for patients suffering from drug addiction. This was to provide those patients with a healthy perspective in a bid to divert them from drug abuse and, possibly, to become sources of inspiration for local citizens

4. COMMERCIAL PARTNERS WHO SHARE OUR VISION

We will build a broad family of long‐term business partners for hockey who will contribute substantially to delivering our strategy through activation and providing money.

As the Hockey Revolution continues to progress, other examples of excellent, mutually beneficial business arrangements in hockey are becoming more frequent. One of the most notable includes the showpiece Hockey India League. Since 2013, the FIH-approved franchise-based professional men’s League in India has been attracting the world’s greatest players with big financial incentives from numerous sponsors and lucrative broadcast deals. One of these included a title sponsorship deal with Coal India Limited (CIL), the state owned coal mining company. 

 

The company’s Board cleared the decks for the project entailing Rs. 14.73 Crores ($2.1 million USD) as sponsorship payment. This includes the sponsorship fee of Rs. 13 Crores ($1.9 million USD) as well as cash awards to Coal India best goal of the match in each of the League matches, and Coal India most valuable player of the season, plus other expenses. 

The continued growth and staggering success of the Hockey India League is a clear indicator that an increased level of professionalism within the sport is very real indeed. 

GHN COMMENTS:

Because of the Hockey India League and the fact that sport is now positioned as ‘sport business’ national hockey associations need to adopt a swim or sink approach to building their part of the Hockey Revolution. Australia has branded the marketing approach ‘Destination Hockey’ which may take time to reap what it sows but this is why the hockey fraternity need to understand the future of hockey and the part they play in this development. FIH you need to provide presentation templates for local hockey clubs to utilise in attracting partners who share our vision

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As part of its strategic plan, ‘Hockey’s Winning Edge: 2014-2018’, Hockey Australia (HA) set itself the target of diversifying and growing its revenue streams with an emphasis on achieving commercial income of 50% of its overall revenue. They have set out to achieve this by implementing a new events strategy, spreading international content and linking with new commercial partners.

Cam Vale, Hockey Australia CEO has said “Better planned events allow us to drive a broadcast partnership and build a stronger, more sustainable fan base. We can reinvest in our events and competitions, and in improving hockey for Australians across the country.”

 

5. HIGH-PERFORMING SPORT

We will improve our organisational effectiveness and drive global participation rates up. We will provide frameworks, funding and facilitation to ensure our sport is future proofed to achieve our ambition.

How is this being implemented by FIH

In addition to general ethical principles, the updated Code will strengthen measures relating specifically to loyalty (avoiding conflicts of interest); integrity (bribery) and match-related integrity (corruption, betting and misuse of inside information) to provide all those individuals who assist the FIH in its role as international governing body with a clear understanding and appreciation of acceptable conduct. 

This new model of events will support growth across all levels of the sport and will completely change the landscape of international hockey. Designed to provide a regular calendar of must-see events played in packed stadia across the world throughout the year, a new annual global home and away league involving the world’s leading hockey nations will complement the Hockey World Cup and Olympic Games tournaments. This system will see international teams play against opponents once at home and once away each year in this league. Following several months of competition, the top ranked teams will then qualify for a stand-alone grand finale tournament which will determine the winners of the competition. This will form part of a three tier system, identical for both the men’s and women’s game. 

This is the latest major advancement made by the sport in relation to the Hockey Revolution. Those attending the FIH Congress in Dubai later this year will receive a comprehensive update on this project as part of our 10-year strategy aimed at making hockey a global game that inspires the next generation.

GHN COMMENTS:

These are great seeds that have been sown to steer hockey into the year 2024. It is an optimistic future which needs to be communicated effectively to all hockey stakeholders worldwide, e.g., unprecedented social media campaign. We should not be in the dark about this. The great foundations that have been laid need to be communicated and as one of those stakeholders Ihave a part to play in ensuring its SUCCESS by communicating this to Go Hockey News readers.    

Source: FIH website