The Hockey Dreams Foundation has long been at the heart of hockey development in Africa. The Dutch-based charity aims to improve the lives of people in a number of African countries by giving local hockey coaches a chance to build their future around the sport.
Working across Zambia, Uganda and Malawi, the eventual aim is to have qualified coaches in ten African countries. Currently, the project is gaining strength and momentum in the countries named above.
In the next stage of their work, the Hockey Dreams Foundation has now opened its Academy, which has been developed alongside talent development agency Ken & Ben.
Malou Janssen, head of PR and Communications at the Hockey Dreams Foundation explains: “The Academy gives us and the coaches a structure to work with and it is also very helpful for planning new steps to be taken in the future. It’s a collaboration between the International Hockey Federation (FIH), The Hockey Foundation, KNHB [the Dutch Hockey Association], Join for Joy and a lot of other people and organisations.”
Students attending the Academy first enroll on the Game of Change course, and students on this course then graduate to Game Changer status.
The Game of Change course is divided into two levels – basic and advanced. It is a modular course, which leads to a diploma on completion. The basic course is aimed at secondary school pupils, and teaches the basic skills that a Game Changer needs. The advanced course is either part of a business or a college course. The advanced level focuses on management via a series of modules.
Among the modules that are covered are personal planning and presentation, hockey skills, computer skills, management and administration techniques and how to be a tournament director.
"There are plans to build an actual hub functioning as a club house in Lusaka, Zambia. It will provide somewhere for the coaches to meet, study and plan their coaching projects."
As graduates from the course, Academy coaches will receive a regular allowance, guidance and training. In return they reach thousands of kids who now have the opportunity to play hockey on a regular base.
In a practical demonstration of the success of the Foundation’s development strategy, two of the Hockey Dreams Academy coaches from Uganda recently obtained their FIH Coach Level 1 and FIH Technical Official. At present, around 75 per cent of coaches delivering Hockey Dreams Foundation coaching courses at schools and communities have obtained a certificate in the Competent Coaching Module of the Academy, either through the FIH or their national association.
The Hockey Dreams Foundation also offers an equipment redistribution service. With support of the FIH, European Hockey Federation (EHF) and KNHB, it started the Sweetshop project – a collection point where hockey equipment is collected and then sent on to hockey playing communities that have little or no equipment. Janssen adds her own plea: “We desperately need a storage place, preferably in Amsterdam. If anyone would be able to help us out, please contact us at ”
Role models are important to the Hockey Dreams Foundation concept. Currently there are four Hockey Dreams Ambassadors: Maria Verschoor, Bjorn Kellerman, Stijn Jolie and Tristan Algera. These Dutch players visit hockey events in Holland to raise the profile of the organisation to the wider world and sometimes visit Africa to see the projects for themselves and to inspire local coaches and kids.
And some of the African coaches also get to experience life as a hockey player/coach in Europe via return visits. Recently Zambia captain Innocent Mbabali spent time in the Netherlands with the Kampong team, joining in coaching sessions.
And the plans just keep growing. Janssen outlines just some of the events happening throughout the year.
“In July, members of the Netherlands women’s squad Frederique Matla, Sanne Koolen and Maxime Kerstholt will be making their first trips to Zambia as supporters of the Hockey Dreams Foundation’s work. You can join this trip if you want, see In addition, a group of hockey players from the USA, will visit Zambia, through the organisation URU Sports.
“There are plans to build an actual hub functioning as a club house in Lusaka, Zambia. It will provide somewhere for the coaches to meet, study and plan their coaching projects. It will also provide a store for their equipment and be a meeting point for all the kids from the community.”
There is a strong relationship between the Netherlands clubs and the African countries. To this end, in collaboration with SportWays Hockey Camps, one or two of African coaches are invited to the Netherlands to experience a different coaching and hockey culture. The African coaches attend training sessions, meet entrepreneurs to talk about running an organisation, do some sightseeing and then join a hockey camp in Amsterdam with coaches from all over the world. The coaches take a lot of knowledge back to their community – where everyone can learn from it.
And that in a nutshell is what the Hockey Dreams Foundation is all about – collaboration, sharing knowledge and experience and creating a better environment where people can thrive.
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