Runway 4 Performance Hockey Workshop successful in raising the bar for athletes

Five Pacific Hockey Federations sent 16 participants to a workshop held in Tauranga, New Zealand in March earlier this year.  Two athletes and one national coach were selected to represent each nation with the objective of lifting the performance levels of the athletes in preparation for a very big competition program over the next 10 months (Stages 2 & 3). A huge thanks to OSFO for the opportunity to gain funding to support this workshop as it was crucial to be able to bring athletes and coaches together to make an impact on raising the level of performance, individually and collectively.

Athlete welfare and the development of flourishing teams was front and centre during the workshop, with athletes and coaches working collaboratively together to understand each other’s needs, both on and off the hockey pitch. All participants completed the FIH Coach Level 2 over the four days, which involved both theory and practical sessions. FIH Trainers John Mowat (AUS) and Gill Gemming (NZL) facilitated the workshop, and they gathered a comprehensive team of presenters and coach developers to support the participants. Former Black Sticks NZ players, Steve Graham and Sandie Mackie, together with NZ U21 Men’s Assistant Coach, Sam Bartholomew, presented in practical sessions, while three-time Olympic Umpire, Kelly Hudson also of New Zealand, and FIH Umpire, Rachel William, (ENG) shared their knowledge of officiating, especially rule interpretations. The participants had all received a whistle so had fun learning how to get the right tone out of their whistle!

The participants were divided into two teams with two coaches assigned with each group.  A Hockey 5s match was contested every afternoon and this was an opportunity to try out their newly acquired technical skills and tactical knowledge. The matches were videoed, and these recordings became a valuable part of learnings for all participants together.

As Runway 4 Performance Stages 2 and 3 are being held later in the year – the FIH Hockey5s World Cup Qualifier on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia from July 10 to 14 July, and the Pacific Games in Honiara, Solomon Islands in late November – the participants of each nation worked on plans to take back home, as well as meeting with Oceania Hockey Federation (OHF) Secretary General, David Peebles, to discuss their needs, especially in terms of equipment and methods of funding.

Several unexpected positive outcomes added to the quality of experience. The first was the appearance of Lance Forkgen, who has been through his companies – Select Sports, Just Hockey and Go Hockey – OHF’s biggest equipment sponsor, and a huge Pacific Island supporter for many years.  He sent an invitation to come to his warehouse, which was close to the workshop venue, and much to the joy of the participants he presented them all with a top-quality hockey stick and carry bag.  This reduced some of the participants to tears as it was the first time that some had their own stick rather than using their Federation’s owned ones.

The second was the donation of uniform once the workshop was publicised.  Hockey NZ had changed uniform sponsor and so they provided two playing shirts, shorts and socks to each participant. Entrance Hockey Club from the Central Coast in New South Wales, Australia also donated shirts and socks, and these all went back to
Honiara.  The NZ Masters had also just finished their national tournament at the same venue, and left four cartons of donated shoes and shin guards for the participants.

The third opportunity came from an approach from Tauranga Hockey, the hosts, to take part in their newly-organised Pacifica hockey youth group.  So, on the second night, the workshop participants ran the practical session of small games for the 24 youth participants. After a shared dinner, a great cultural exchange took place with song and dance, and a Q&A panel answered questions about their own Pacific Island nations and the development of hockey as a sport. This provided a leadership and role model opportunity for the Pacific hockey representatives to not only promote their sport, but also their country.

Fiji: Terence Corrie, Maxine Edwards, Catherine Fabiano and Hector Smith
Samoa: Faamausili Taiva Ah Young, Etuale Poufa and Matautia Tutumanu Iki
Solomon Islands: Sally Hiro, Paul Luiramo and Allen Temoa
Tonga: Masalu Feiloaki, Hiko Fungavaka and Susana Mahe
Vanuatu: John Iawila, Nasse Maltungtung and Joana Yalou