As we reflect back on a year that has been overshadowed and overwhelmed by a global pandemic, it is great to see that the hockey community found positives and opportunities even among a horrible situation.
One such bright light throughout the year has been the tremendous success of the FIH Academy online courses and webinars. While the hockey community couldn’t meet in person on training courses, workshops or conferences, it took advantage of technology – to a quite astounding level.
Over the year, 2,723 participants representing 79 nations have taken part in at least one online course. Many people have joined a multitude of courses.
All five continental associations have thrown themselves with enthusiasm into the digital world of learning and development, with Europe showing the greatest appetite for learning as 30 per cent of the national associations from Europe (23 nations in total) signed up to courses. Not far behind was Pan America, with 26 per cent and Africa with 21 per cent.
The top six countries in terms of participation across the international community were Great Britain, the USA, South Africa, India, Argentina and Zimbabwe.
The range and breadth of courses was also quite astonishing. To this point, 170 online courses have been delivered, with 180 the final total for the year.
These online courses covered areas such as coaching, umpiring, technical officiating and team management at both Level One and Level Two.
There were also 15 different workshops, covering a range of topics. Took the form of short courses focusing on one area of hockey knowledge and are part of an overall programme of individual professional development.
One aim of the FIH Academy is to increase the skill-set of the hockey workforce at each national association. To further that aim, the NA Development Series was launched. The idea behind the series is to share information and best practice and discuss ideas from one nation to another, while recognising essential differences between continents and countries. The series so far has covered Facilities, Marketing and Communications and Gender Equality.
Another initiative that has really hit the spot with participants is the Young Athlete Academy. Offering a year-long player development programme, the FIH Academy has linked top coaches and players with young athletes to provide a mentoring and support network as the young athletes complete a year-long course covering many aspects of player development.
FIH Academy Manager Andre Oliveira said: “We had always planned to introduce online learning as part of the FIH Academy offering this year, but we had no idea how significant and impactful it would become.
“Our prior focus on recruiting and developing a highly talented workforce of trainers and educators has been fundamental to the success of our programmes. Feedback regarding the quality of method, content and educators has been incredible.
“Together with FIH funded Continental Federation programmes, more than 5000 individuals have accessed online hockey education this year.
“The new FIH Academy Education Framework was ratified by the FIH EB on 3 December 2020. In 2021 we will be initiating a National Association qualifications equivalence project that will aim to inform and support the recognition of qualifications one nation to another. We will continue to offer direct national association support for domestic education pathway development following positive outcomes with five national associations this year.
“We very much hope to return to face-to-face course delivery in 2021 and are currently finalising our provisional programme, but of course, it is clear that online courses are here to stay, and will continue to play a big part in the FIH Academy educational offering.”