In our sport change has become a constant. Everybody is thinking, criticising and making proposals about the best changes can be implemented, and this process never stops. Hockey has an inferiority complex (Freud could bring some extra light here!) The sport is not attractive on TV, this is a fact, ok, but while changing competition formats and rules every season, the sport still becomes more difficult to be understood by foreigns.
We find the opposite situation in football. The game is fundamentally the same, and will remain the same. Do footballers play like they were playing 50 years ago? No! Therefore I wonder: is innovation always a virtue? The object of innovation is troubleshooting, but when we become innovators we find troubles everywhere and we can’t stop changing. The change temptation is too strong. We are never satisfied about our sport; we’re addicted to change.
The problem is ours, dear colleagues; If hockey would be a single person, I will recommend him to do psychotherapy or to read some Presocratics.
Hockey officials: ‘Don’t change anything else, please!’
CARLOS GARCIA CUENCA
(Spain | Coach Real Club Polo Barcelona, former trainer for Spanish Federation)
(Analysis of the European Hockey)
An inverted logic in European hockey, to be sustained by a structure of clubs and from that structure we should locate and enhance our improvements; the clubs as the base of the pyramid that supports everything else, international hockey and major events…
- The Structure of playtime: (4Qx15min)
Analyzing only from the sportive point of view and without going into other issues (marketing, event organization …)
- Less time to enjoy our sport (the players play less)
- Only the higher level players have benefited from this change, for the younger players is now more complicated the possibility to enjoy minutes. (consider how this fact affects the international hockey in 4 years)
- Major sports teams benefit to lower power so that the low-risk defense and hockey.
In my opinion, hockey must return to traditional playtime or to adopt the old EHL format 4Q x 17:30 min (if we need time for comercial, promo, marketing…)
Also now with the playing time being reduced from 70 to 60 minutes, shouldn’t the penalty time from a yellow card also be proportionally reduced from 10 minutes to 7 or 7:30 minutes?
- The national and international calendar
I think everyone is aware of the need for a change in international calendar. It is impossible to maintain this rhythm for TOP players and simultaneously reduces the stimulus for younger or medium level players.
The 14-15 season has lasted an entire year without the possibility of rest for a player TOP in Europe; consequences:
- Players with overtraining
- Serious injuries
- Mental exhaustion
- Sporting failure
- Raise the profile (level) of national competitions
- European Championship every 4 years (Possibility of a major event, the great festival of European Hockey (Ex. World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands)
- Unfortunately tournaments like Champions Throphy or similar have no place in the calendar of the European Hockey
- The Rules:
Hockey presumed to be evolving but this evolution has become excessive; the rules only must be changed every 4 years and when we have finished our Olympic cycle.
The rules should be simple and close to the fans, (rule nearby area 5m is the best example of a rule that does not work)
We have to make an easy hockey and attracttive to everybody, not only for the hockey world; a lot of times, be simple is the best solution.
For me these are the three main points to be addressed, of course there will be many different opinions and points of view but it is time to create a debate because I think we all agree that in Europe: NO CLUBS, NO HOCKEY!
(Australia/Netherlands | Former International player, Assist. Coach Laren Women’s, trainer Nederlands U16 Dev. Squad)
The International game:
I think that the FIH has been doing an incredible amount of work recently to grow the game and for a lot of it they must be commended. There are however some things that can be improved going forward:
- The qualification system for major tournaments needs to be as clear and as simple as possible. Having teams being able to qualify multiple times (etc..) as is now the case is not beneficial for the development of the game. It only leads to confusion and uncertainty which has an effect on the ability of countries to plan ahead. The case now with Ireland having to wait for the completion of the Oceania Cup is one example as is the fact that New Zealand may end up going to Rio after all if SASCOC don’t allow South Africa to go.
- An international calendar has been spoken about a lot and it really should be a priority. A clear calendar with International ‘windows’ will give national associations the opportunity to plan ahead and work on attracting sponsors to domestic competitions and national teams, as they will know exactly what they can offer. International and domestic competitions should serve to strengthen each other.
- I also thought that Ernst Baart’s suggestion to name the final of the World League the Champions Trophy was a good one. The Champions Trophy has such historical significance and I don’t think we discard the name too quickly.
- A clear International calendar would also help up and coming countries as they would have a solid foundation on which to structure national competitions and national team programmes and allow them to generate more interest and corporate backing.
- A clear international calendar would also need to consider the planning of continental championships and club championships such as the EHL. It is important to create, where possible, a level playing field and peak moments where the teams and players are well prepared. You really want to try and avoid situations like in the EHL last season where German clubs were competing in the final rounds of the EHL during their preparation for the second half of the German competition while Dutch clubs were one week out from the play-offs.
- Some recent rule changes have been fantastic but I think we need to be careful that we are not changing the rules just so that we can continue to be innovative. One thing that I find particularly strange is the situation where different rules are being used in different competitions. For example the Dutch hoofdklasse is still 2×35 while the Belgian League is 4×15
The domestic game:
- For the long-term growth of the game we need to be careful that the focus is not only on international hockey. I’m a firm believer that the future growth of the sport is also heavily dependent on our ability to grow the domestic game and raise the level of domestic competitions, especially in the leading hockey nations.
- In Holland for example the training programme of the national team is being intensified and while this is necessary the gap between international hockey and the hoofdklasse is widening. We need to look at how players, coaches, administrators and clubs can be supported so that the level of the hoofdklasse can be improved. We can’t forget about all the great players out there who don’t make it to international hockey but who struggle to combine a tophockey career with study and work.