As part of our series looking at some of the standout Global hockey Projects from 2016, we look at some projects in Oceania that have the potential to inspire others in 2017...
Two internationally recognised development programmes gives hockey a boost in remote regions of Oceania.
Hockey to give soccer the boot?
“It’s played like soccer, however, hockey is more physically challenging as it involves both the upper and lower parts of the body.”
So says Alan Temoa, one of the recruits to the Solomon Island national team. In 2015, the Solomon Islands came fourth in the Pacific Games. For a first appearance, the results were the cause for optimism.
This year, both the men’s and women’s teams entered Hockey World League Round 1 – a first for the women’s team.
Now, the Solomon Islands Hockey Federation has launched two hockey leagues, one for adults and one for schools.
With the population spread across the many islands, one venue is the focal point for the leagues – all matches take place at the Ports Authority Sports Ground in Kukum. Nine schools signed up for the inaugural league and it is expected that number will grow each year.
So impressive has the Solomon Island’s engagement with hockey been that the National Association was honoured at the 2016 FIH Congress, where it won the Theo Ykema Award for increasing participation levels among women and at all levels from school and club to international events.
Underlying how far the sport has come in a short while, international player Alan Temoa says: “I love hockey very much and representing the Solomon Islands was a great honour for me indeed."
Joseph Iniga, the SIHF Development Officer, goes further: “There are definitely lots of new talents that we are seeing. With the right training and providing more game time, Solomon Islands can become a powerhouse in hockey in the region.”
Going above and beyond
For the girls and young women living in indigenous communities in northern outreaches of Australia, sport – mainly football – was something the boys did. Not for them the life lessons offered by sport – lessons in team work, problem-solving, winning, losing, competing and making life-long friends.
A new programme however is changing all that. Aspire to be Deadly is a project initiated and run by Cairns Hockey that offers mentoring and opportunities to indigenous populations, particularly in remote regions such as Torres Strait Islands, Cairns and Cape York as well as communities in the Gulf of Carpentaria.
The programme aims to link mainstream hockey through a development programme that is educational as well as sporting. Paying all respect to the culture of the local community, the programme has gradually introduced sports activities and competitions to the region providing the youngsters with a chance to participate in healthy activities.
In recognition of its work, Cairns Hockey was shortlisted for the prestigious international 2016 Beyond Sports Awards. While Cairns didn’t win the award, the programme has garnered international recognition and praise for the work it is doing with the indigenous communities.
Among the projects run by Cairns Hockey is an U11 Festival of Sport in the northern town of Karumba, part of the Gulf Savannah Region.
This region is where Cairns Hockey, in partnership with RIHP Hockey, was first invited to develop its programmes and invited by the community to assist in the development of hockey across the region. There was little enthusiasm for female sport. No facilities, no equipment, no awareness, no resources and certainly no hockey programmes or competitive opportunities.
That has all changed in the past 10 years as Cairns Hockey and the community has found a balance that works. This year, 13 teams from schools in the region, plus two teams from Cairns, contested a three-day competition played on two grass pitches marked between the tee and green of the first hole at Karumba Golf Club.