An equality showcase from around the world

March 7, 2020

A week of celebrating International Women’s Day has proven testimony to how hockey is among the leading international sporting federations when it comes to equality. Perhaps the best way of showing that equality is a treasured part of our sport’s psyche is the fact that it is now rarely commented upon.

Perhaps the best working example of this took place earlier this year when a team of four umpires – two men and two women – took to the pitch to officiate the men’s and women’s FIH Hockey Pro League matches between New Zealand and Belgium. As Black Sticks stalwart Sam Charlton points out, it really made no difference to the game whether it was a man or woman blowing the whistle.

Of course, there are parts of the world where equality is not so readily observed and, in these areas, our Equally Amazing message continues to be pertinent, serving as a reminder that hockey is a sport for all, with everyone an equally accepted participant. It is to the credit of our Continental Federations and National Associations that so many projects are being run to promote equality, with hockey as the platform from which that message is delivered.


Over the past five days we have highlighted ways in which women are leading from the front; creating opportunities; smashing down gender barriers. From Oceania Hockey Federation we focused on a visionary project that gives young Indigenous women the opportunity to lead through hockey coaching. Indigenous children are the recipients of their coaching and leadership sessions – thus two often disadvantaged groups enjoy mutual benefits. Read full story and atch the video here.


The African Hockey Federation celebrates the long years of service from three dedicated members of the international hockey community. For more than three decades, Sheila Brown, Ginny Ross and Marelize de Klerk have been at the forefront of officiating and administration, running top tier tournaments with relentless efficiency as well as guiding and supporting their less experienced colleagues. Read full story here.


Danae Andrada is the face of development in Uruguay. The current President of the Uruguay Hockey Federation and FIH Executive Board member started out as one of the youngest members of the national team. Now she is at the coal-face when it comes to driving hockey forwards in the South American country. Read full story here.


It is refreshing to hear Svitlana Makaieva say that female coaches are not so rare across Europe, but it is still true that female coaches operating as head coaches to national teams are still a minority. We spoke to two female Head Coaches to discover how they reached the pinnacle of coaching and what life is like at the top. Read full story here.


Our story from Asia is the moving account of an Afghanistan hockey player who defied her country’s war-torn recent history and the raft of barriers to women playing sport. Khadija Achakzai is captain of the national women’s team of Afghanistan and her story is a truly inspiring tale of how her determination to play hockey is helping other women in Afghanistan participate in sport, and start to enjoy all the physical and mental benefits that activity and exercise can bring. Read full story and watch the video here.


Our final story to wrap up this week of celebration is one that really sends a message that we are a sport where equality is truly achievable. In a world’s first, a four-person umpiring team took control of FIH Hockey Pro League matches between New Zealand and Belgium. A male and female umpire were appointed to each match, the first time top tier men’s and women’s matches were umpired by a mixed gender umpiring team. We interviewed one of the players, Sam Charlton, to get a player’s perspective. Read full story and watch the video here

Speaking for the FIH

Reflecting on the stories that have emerged from all corners of our global hockey family over the past five days,  FIH President Dr. Narinder Dhruv Batra says: “On the occasion of his visit to FIH last year, IOC President Thomas Bach commended FIH for its gender equality policy, stating it 'really is best practice' and ‘a role model for many International Federations’. We welcomed these words with a lot of appreciation but, more importantly, they provided FIH and the global hockey community encouragement to do even more, so that we can reach a fully gender-balanced sport, not only on the field the play but also off it. I can only urge all Continental Federations, National Associations, Leagues and clubs to continue to strive for equality across all aspects of our sport.”

Marijke Fleuren is chair of the FIH Women in Sport Committee as well as a member of the IOC Women in Sport Commission. She has a clear vision of how FIH will continue to drive forward in its mission to ensure the sport has true parity across the genders.

“International Women’s  Day is an excellent moment for our Women in Sport Committee to inform you about our main goals,” says Fleuron.

“We are seeking to create awareness within all our national associations that men and women are stronger together. Not only on the field of play, but also in other realms of life. 

“FIH’s special goals are realising this amongst coaches, umpires and board members.

“So please think about it, look for role models and make this next step to togetherness! Everybody can do it. Really!”


And on a weekend where the entire hockey community around the world came together to celebrate International Women's Day, the captains of Australia and Argentina men's teams added their own voice of support. Eddie Ockenden (AUS) and Pedro Ibarra (ARG) read supporting statements ahead of their FIH Hockey Pro League encounter. To hear these messages, click here



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