A range of partners in Asia are working hard to bring Hockey ID (intellectual disability) to the wider community through projects launched in Pakistan and Malaysia to deliver top quality coaching and competitive opportunities for students with special needs.
Known as Hockey ID, the aim is to develop a number of training camps and then bring students together for regular tournaments. Hockey ID has been invited to be part of the Special Olympics Asia Pacific (SOAP) Regional Games in Jakarta in 2021 as a demonstration sport and 6 nations are needed for this tournament.
In Pakistan, excitement surrounding the Hockey ID project is high. An initial camp of approximately 25 students is already running in Karachi, working with Habib Public School who provide the facilities. Habib School has an impressive hockey tradition as national team players Sohail Abbas, Hassan Sardar and Qamar Ibrahim are all former students.
While the Karachi camp is looking to expand its numbers, National Director of Special Olympics Pakistan, Daniyal Alvi is delighted that there are also moves to start a second centre in Peshawar, with a coach in place already.
Alvi is also delighted that the International Hockey Federation (FIH) and Asian Hockey Federation (AHF) is supporting the project by providing equipment such as sticks, balls and goalkeeping equipment.
Malaysia was the first nation in Asia to start to deliver Hockey ID, its development driven by the positive energy emanating from a wide range of organisations. Special Olympics Malaysia were very proactive throughout the process, doing much of the groundwork and engaging with all stakeholders, including the Perak Royal Family. This is a case of stakeholders seeing the big picture and coming together to provide an inclusive hockey environment.
In a push to offer top quality hockey coaching and the chance to participate in an exciting competitive environment, the Asian Hockey Federation, Special Olympics Asia Pacific (SOAP), the State Education Department of Perak and the Majlis Sukan Negara (National Sports Council) of Perak have joined forces to create a programme which offers hockey to students from the Clifford School in Kuala Kangsar.
The initial Hockey ID project, which came into being in April of this year, provides 33 students, aged 15-18, with the chance to receive regular hockey training sessions culminating in a tournament in September.
The coaching is provided by qualified hockey coaches and teachers who specialise in teaching students with special needs.
Other partners joining with the Clifford School Kuala Kangsar in delivering this project are the Education District Office of Kuala Kangsar and the AHF-Raja Ashman Hockey Academy in Perak.
The training sessions and the tournament will all take place at the Universiti Sultan Azlan Shah in Kuala Kansar.
Funding for the project has been provided by Special Olympics Asia Pacific (SOAP) and extra fund-raising efforts are being organised to cover the cost of providing suitable turf shoes for all the students. Again Asian Hockey Federation provided sticks and kit for the group.
A second Hockey ID programme in Kuala Lumpur will start this month [July], with a tournament being planned for November.
These are just two areas where Hockey (ID) is taking off and becoming an established part of a National Associations hockey offering. Norman Hughes is FIH ParaHockey (ID) Sports Director and he is delighted with the direction of travel. “In a very short time period Asian Hockey and our partners Special Olympics Asia Pacific have energised nations to grow Hockey (ID). Our challenge now is to use these best practice examples and spread Hockey (ID) across many more Asian hockey nations”, he said. Adding, “I am sure that if we continue to work closely with our partners in SOAP we have a good chance of growing Hockey (ID) and really developing Hockey4All . Hockey can show it can offer so much to society and how teamwork and friendship enriches lives.”