England Hockey's African adventure

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England Hockey is two years into the Targeted Assistance Programme in West Africa. The project is a partnership between England Hockey, The FIH, UK Sport, Ghana Hockey and the African Hockey Federation.

The programme includes the following:

• Provision of hockey equipment and resources to schools and clubs across West Africa

• The creation of umpiring and coaching pathways to recruit, train and retain more officials and coaches for the sport

• Supporting the Ghanaian women’s national team with high performance coaching and athlete support

• Working with Ghana Hockey to enable them to host more world level events at the Accra stadium

The latest project meant two England Hockey members of staff, Stephen Barlow (Competitions Manager) and Louise Bull (Clubs & Facilities Officer) travelled to Ghana last week. The trip coincided with the Men’s and Women’s World League Round One tournaments being hosted by the Ghana Hockey Association at the National Stadium in Accra.

Stephen Barlow and Lu Bull with some of the Ghanaian delegates

The trip involved assisting the Ghana HA to deliver the event and also running a workshop for the African Hockey Association as part of the FIH Academy Observer Programme. The focus of the workshop was competition and event management.

The universal problem of taping up the goals pre-match

The workshop looked at the following areas:

• Organising an Athlete centred event
• Preparing the Field of Play for Competition and managing it in-game
• Training a Ball Patrol team
• Using events to increase participation & visibility of hockey
• Using social media to promote events and communication plans for campaigns
• Introduction to the FIH TMS match management system
• Security, safety, logistics - Matchday Operational Procedures
• Sports Presentation Spectator Engagement – Spectator journey
• Awards Ceremonies

Ghana line up for National Anthems

As well as classroom activity there were practical sessions undertaken during the event itself.

The delegates, who were all from Ghana Hockey Association, were very engaged with the event and were keen to use their learnings for future events in Accra.

The National Hockey Stadium in Accra is a very well appointed floodlit ground and ideal for hosting events. It has a waterbased pitch (the only artificial pitch in Ghana) and 1000 seats in two stands – one covered, one uncovered. There are also full competition facilities – changing rooms, TD and Umpire Manager offices, sports presentation room and electronic scoreboard. A good range of local food and drink is available to spectators. The Ghana national teams live on site at the venue in a dormitory block.

The Association receive great support from the isports360 media team who took a number of the photos that accompany this article.

On the pitch there was delight for the hosts as both teams won their respective tournaments to qualify for World League Round 2 later this season.

Louise Bull celebrates with the victorious Ghana team

Commenting on their visit Stephen and Louise agreed “It was a wonderful experience. We were hosted so well by our Ghanaian friends and met some brilliant members of the hockey family who work incredibly hard as volunteers to run and promote the sport in their country. We are confident that there will be a legacy from or workshop as there was a real appetite from delegates to put into practice what they took from the course.”

To find out more about the Targeted Assistance Programme and England Hockey's role in it, click here.