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Studio Hockey

Studio Hockey is a podcast about field hockey all over the world. About the way the game is managed, about players, coaches, officials and the major events.

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Studio Hockey is a podcast about field hockey all over the world. About the way the game is managed, about players, coaches, officials and the major events.

Year of the Youth Huddle #3

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The Year of the Youth Huddle is an online conference by FIH Academy. On September 22, 2021 the conference set up 8 different webinars for leaders in youth hockey from around the world. Hosted by the hockey leaders of tomorrow chosen from the European Hockey Federation Youth Leadership Panel we hosted 4 morning and 4 evening sessions. Sessions with top players, top coaches, top umpires and some of the most entrepreneurial young people in the world of hockey. All sharing their experience with the youth who will manage the game of hockey in the future.

In the third episode Helen & Cedric from the EHF Youth Panel talked to Carla Rebecchi from Argentina (Las Leonas) and Tom Craig from Australia (Kookaburras). Both players have got Olympics and World Cups under their belt. Carla stopped playing for Las Leonas just before Tokyo because of family life and is currently playing in Belgium. For Tom the Tokyo Games were his first. He is playing in the Dutch Hoofdklasse at the moment.

Episode 45 was produced by Studio.Hockey for FIH Academy & The Hockey Site. It was recorded on 2021-09-22 & published on 2021-10-01.
Host: Helen Windsor & Cedric Vermeiren from the EHF Youth Panel
Guests: Carla Rebecchi & Tom Craig
Podcast: Studio Hockey

Oct 01 2021

26mins

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Year of the Youth Huddle #2

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The Year of the Youth Huddle is an online conference by FIH Academy. On September 22, 2021 the conference set up 8 different webinars for leaders in youth hockey from around the world. Hosted by the hockey leaders of tomorrow chosen from the European Hockey Federation Youth Leadership Panel we hosted 4 morning and 4 evening sessions. Sessions with top players, top coaches, top umpires and some of the most entrepreneurial young people in the world of hockey. All sharing their experience with the youth who will manage the game of hockey in the future.

In the second episode Helen & Cedric from the EHF Youth Panel talked to Laurine Delforge from Belgium and Peter Wright from South Africa. Both coaches just went to the Tokyo Olympics. Laurine was the first ever umpire who had the honour of umpiring the final at the Olympics on her debut at this event when she went to Rio. She confirmed her status as one of the best worldwide by again umpiring the Olympic final in Tokyo.

Episode 44 was produced by Studio.Hockey for FIH Academy & The Hockey Site. It was recorded on 2021-09-22 & published on 2021-09-27.
Host: Helen Windsor & Cedric Vermeiren from the EHF Youth Panel
Guests: Laurine Delforge & Peter Wright
Podcast: Studio Hockey

Sep 27 2021

30mins

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Year of the Youth Huddle #1

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The Year of the Youth Huddle is an online conference by FIH Academy. On September 22, 2021 the conference set up 8 different webinars for leaders in youth hockey from around the world. Hosted by the hockey leaders of tomorrow chosen from the European Hockey Federation Youth Leadership Panel we hosted 4 morning and 4 evening sessions. Sessions with top players, top coaches, top umpires and some of the most entrepreneurial young people in the world of hockey. All sharing their experience with the youth who will manage the game of hockey in the future.

In the first episode Helen & Cedric from the EHF Youth Panel talked to Katrina Powell, the head coach for the Australian women team or Hockeyroos. As well as with Pasha Gademan, the head coach for the men of Canada. Both coaches just went to the Tokyo Olympics.

Episode 43 was produced by Studio.Hockey for FIH Academy & The Hockey Site. It was recorded on 2021-09-22 & published on 2021-09-25.
Host: Helen Windsor & Cedric Vermeiren from the EHF Youth Panel
Guests: Katrina Powell & Pasha Gademan
Podcast: Studio Hockey

Sep 25 2021

30mins

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India & the Bovelander Foundation

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The Bovelander Foundation uses sports, especially hockey, to support children, young adults and their communities in developing their personal, social, athletic and educational skills to improve the quality of their lives. Former Dutch international player Floris Jan Bovelander fell in love with India during his playing days. So when opportunity came knocking, he used his network and resources to set up the Bovelander Foundation to make a change. Together with Jaspreet Sahni, sports writer for The Times of India we talked about hockey, about India and of course the work of his foundation.
Our apologies for the chirping background noise sometimes. Remote recording sometimes creates extra problems :(

Episode 41 was recorded on 2020-11-05, produced by OSMpodcasts.com & published on 2020-11-09
Host: Ernst Baart & Jaspreet Sahni
Guest: Floris Jan Bovelander from the Bovelander Foundation
Podcast: Studio Hockey

Nov 09 2020

1hr 1min

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Nick Irvine: A game of hockey is also about theatre

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Nick Irvine.... not a lot of hockey fans will recognise the name. The voice however... :) When EHL started to transform our sport, Nick Irvine was the voice that complemented the revolutionary way our game was shown on TV. A decade down the road we know Nick Irvine as the voice of hockey.

"A game of hockey is also about theatre. And every time you go into the theatre you want to be surprised" is a quote by Nick Irvine from our talk with him. We spoke about the way he got started as a hockey commentator, the love of our game, the EHL, the players and teams who made an impression and lots more hockey. Today, Wednesday 2020-10-14, was supposed to be the day the Euro Hockey League would start. Unfortunately a vile virus is messing with our lives and our sport. We all recognise staying healthy is our first concern and playing/watching our sport comes second. But for those who miss our game of hockey, listening to the voice of hockey might offer a bit of consolation until we see better days again :)

Episode 40 was recorded on 2020-10-06, produced by OSMpodcasts.com & published on 2020-10-14
Host: Ernst Baart
Guest: Nick Irvine, sports commentator
Podcast: Studio Hockey

Oct 14 2020

49mins

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So how about the EHL?

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Now that lockdown restrictions slowly get lifted in most parts of the world, hope returns our sport will be able to take back its place in our lives. But we have to be realistic... For a certain time it will not be as it was. 

I believe... I have to believe we will be able to sit alongside each other or stand shoulder to shoulder cheering for our clubs and teams in the near future once again. Face masks and social distancing will be temporary, but for now they're a fact of life

That doesn't mean we can not celebrate the small victories in the meantime. A return to training, all be it with certain restrictions. But also some of our top competitions and major events are being rescheduled. Tokyo 2020 will be hosted.... we hope... in the summer of 2021. The European Championship has been moved to June of 2021, a couple of weeks ahead of Tokyo. Our national associations are talking to their clubs about the best way for their country to resume or restart their domestic club leagues, the beating heart of hockey. 

And yes.... the EHL, possibly the best thing that happened to hockey since well.... the Montreal Olympic Games in 1976 introduced hockey to artificial grass...The Euro Hockey League returns in October of 2020.

So we invited Marijke Fleuren, president of the European Hockey Federation to talk about how the current season, now on hold, will finish.What next season might bring us? What will happen to the integration of the women into the EHL? Can we expect some more of these great innovations, such as the self-pass, the EHL brought us?

But let' start with the all important question... or questions... Why does the EHL exist and does it have a future?

Episode 39 was recorded on 2020-05-26 & published on 2020-05-29 by OSMpodcasts.com.
Host: Ernst Baart
Guest: Marijke Fleuren, EHF president
Podcast: Studio Hockey

May 29 2020

43mins

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Talking Tokyo with Lucas Vila and Miki Delas

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Talking Tokyo is our 6-part podcast series ahead of Tokyo 2020 by Studio Hockey. We take 1 player from each team and match him up with an opponent from the opening game at the Olympic Games. The Olympic Games will start on July 24th... we hope. That’s why from now on every month on the 24th we’ll publish a new episode for Talking Tokyo.

In our second episode we have met up with Miki Delas from Spain and Lucas Vila from Argetina about their road to Tokyo.

Miki Delas, aged 35, is a Spanish defender from the mythical club FC Barcelona, mès que un club.... As Miki will explain in 2007 he made the difficult decision to leave his own club for Atletic Terrassa where he won 4 titles in 5 years before moving to Belgium where he played for another 5 years for Antwerp before returning to his beloved Barca.

Lucas Vila is an Argentina striker and a very creative player. Aged 33 he is now one of the experienced players in the team defending their gold medal in the next Olympics. Lucas played in his Argentina, in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and Germany.

Both will play their 3rd Olympic Games in Tokyo.... we hope...

Episode 2 was recorded at 2020-03-23 and published at 2020-03-24.
Host: Ernst Baart
Podcast: Talking Tokyo by Studio Hockey
Produced by: OSMpodcasts.com

Mar 24 2020

47mins

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Siegfried Aikman & his Samurai

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Siegfried Aikman is an experienced Dutch coach with family roots in Suriname and India and for some years now the head coach for the Japanese men or Samurai. Now who says hockey isn't a global sport? ;)

We spoke for an hour about hockey, about coaching, Japan, the FIH Pro League and of course about the Games in Tokyo

Episode 37 was recorded on 2020-02-23 & published on 2020-03-05 by OSMpodcasts.com.
Host : Ernst Baart
Podcast: Studio Hockey

Mar 05 2020

59mins

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Talking Tokyo with Adam Dixon and Austin Smith

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Talking Tokyo is our 6-part podcast series ahead of Tokyo 2020 by Studio Hockey. We take 1 player from each team and match him up with an opponent from the opening game at the Olympic Games. The Olympic Games will start on July 24th. That's why from now on every month on the 24th we'll publish a new episode for Talking Tokyo.

In our first episode we have met up with Adam Dixon from Great Britain and Austin Smith from South Africa talking about their road to Tokyo.

Adam Dixon, aged 33,  captains the GB squad. Originally from Beeston he also played a year at Rotterdam in the Dutch Hoofdklasse before returning to Beeston in England. He played 3 World Cups and Tokyo will be his 2nd Olympic Games.

Austin Smith is a defender, aged 34, who made his debut for South Africa when he was just 18. After a couple of years at Reading in England he now plays his club hockey for Den Bosch in the Dutch Hoofdklasse. He played 3 World Cups between 2010 and 2018 and Tokyo will be his 3rd Olympic Games.

Episode 1 was recorded at 2020-02-21 and published at 2020-02-24.
Host: Ernst Baart
Podcast: Talking Tokyo by Studio Hockey
Produced by: OSMpodcasts.com

Feb 24 2020

55mins

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Colin Batch & Shane McLeod about the FIH Pro League & Tokyo

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Colin Batch, coach of Australia & Shane McLeod, coach of Belgium are the guests in this podcast. The coaches of the current first and second team in the world ranking. The finalists of last years maiden edition of the FIH Pro League and the two biggest favourites for gold in Tokyo.

With the FIH Pro League, season 2, starting this weekend we thought it was nice to talk with these topcoaches about the FIH Pro League and obviously about the number one priority for all this year: Tokyo! Of course these two teams will also be each others first opponent in the new FIH Pro League when they meet twice in Sydney next week.

Shane McLeod had to rush back to his hotel after a training with the Red Lions, currently in Sydney, so he joins in a little bit later in the podcast after some 10 minutes or so.

Episode 35 was recorded on 2020-01-13 & published on 2020-01-17 by OSMpodcasts.com.
Host : Ernst Baart
Podcast: Studio Hockey

Jan 17 2020

44mins

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10 questions for the FIH

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A year ago, in November 2018, the FIH had its global congress. An event where several important decisions regarding the future of our sport were communicated. Also more or less a year ago we spoke with the "new" CEO of the FIH Thierry Weil, before the global congress on some my worries for the future of our sport. Following the global congress a year ago we had a talk with Mike Joyce, director of development for the FIH about the Hockey2024 plan that was about to launch.
So today, more or less a year down the road, with the end of 2019 in sight, we thought it would be good to have another talk with these two administrators from FIH about the plans launched in 2018 and what has been accomplished since then in 2019 or will be in 2020. We defined 10 topics to discuss with them:

  1. FIH Pro League
  2. FIH Qualifiers
  3. Tokyo 2020
  4. A dry artificial pitch
  5. The FIH.live platform
  6. Hockey2024
  7. Growing hockey
  8. LA 2028
  9. One short format of hockey
  10. Do all stakeholders have a voice?

Please note this column is not an exact transcript (far from it) of the podcast. I do recommend both reading the full column as well as listening the full podcast... ;)

FIH Pro League

2019 has been the year of the launch of the FIH Pro League more than anything else probably. At least in terms of visibility on a global scale.
FIH felt it was very important to give a boost to the promotion of hockey around the world. When they spoke to broadcasters their major issue with our sport was the lack of a fixed calendar, a time of year when broadcasters were assured of enough international games to schedule in their programming. So the wish from broadcasters for a more consistent hockey calendar has been fulfilled. The major learning from this first year of the FIH Pro League has been the home & away games in the current schedule were too much of a stress on the health of players. So the 2nd year will see an important change with double home games for some opponents this year followed by double away games for the same the next year. This means travel is cut in half which is not only better for our environmental footprint but especially will be less of a strain on player health. Feedback from coaches and players, according to Weil, was very positive. But obviously some changes were needed going into year two. The change of schedule for player welfare but also a change in the production of these events for TV. More uniformity in showing a recognisable format of the game on TV. Another issue in year 1 has been the lack of supporters in the stands in some countries. A fact Weil blames on the short preparation time between the final green light and the first Pro League games. Not allowing enough time for some good marketing of these events to draw in the crowds. This time however there is enough time for the marketeers in each country to work on a good ticketing plan and promotion of their home games. For example in Germany this time the marketing agency that was in charge for the very successful indoor world cup will make sure the German hockey supporters will not miss out on their home games again, according to Weil. Financially it's clear this first year has been an investment. A much needed investment in the promotion of hockey. But another equally important goal is to create revenue and profit for the FIH to use for the development of hockey around the world. Because in order to grow hockey, more money is needed. So obviously a business plan for this event at some point in time will need to show profits to be able to do more for growing our game of hockey. Though Weil states he would also be happy with a break even and more promotion of our sport, the business plan by the FIH assumes a profit will be generated to help develop hockey as of 2022 or 2023 at the latest.

Still, even if I consider myself a big fan of top international hockey & the FIH Pro League... I will be curious to see a full evaluation by 2023-2024 to see how much money not only the FIH has invested in the Pro League but add to this also the money invested by the participating countries and do a full ROI evaluation comparing to what we could have expected in growing hockey if this money had been spent directly into development of recreational hockey instead of the promotion of tophockey.
I still consider myself a fan of the concept of more home games for international hockey and do think the Pro League in itself is a good idea to promote hockey. However the way it's organised now, even after some changes, I still believe the burden on domestic club hockey is too much and could be avoided.

FIH Qualifiers

Not really new, though in a reinvented format, 2019 also brought us some spectacular hockey and drama during the FIH Qualifiers for Tokyo 2020. The Olympics is played with 12 countries for both men and women. Both teams of the host nation qualify directly, as do the 5 continental champions. The rest comes through the FIH Qualifiers. Instead of the traditional tournament where the top 6 or 7 got their Olympic ticket, the FIH decided to go with a new format. Based upon their global ranking countries were drawn against 1 opponent and had to beat them in a best of two, played at home for the highest ranked nation.

I will not hide the fact I was somewhat sceptical about this beforehand and would have preferred to keep the existing tournament format. Feeling that would be the fairest format for all to reach for the stars. I still think a tournament has some advantages over the 1 vs 1 format of these new style qualifiers. But I've got to admit the drama and excitement shown during the games played in these new qualifiers were thrilling.
Thierry Weil shared my surprise at the success of these Qualifiers, though for different reasons... His main issue with the new format was the lack of time (only 6 weeks) in between the moment the participating nations were known and the games were played. He feared it would not be enough time to commercialise these events, where my concerns were about the sport and a fair chance for all to go through based upon merits.
So the changes introduced by FIH are about making it more commercial. Obviously if you only (!) look at the commercial side you're bound to make mistakes that could hurt the sport. The FIH idea is to have more time between announcing the participating countries and the actual games in order to "sell" the event to public, broadcasters, sponsors, etc... That makes sense. However if you do not take into account the clubs in your planning you will be hurting hockey instead of growing the sport. So what happens... Because no one at the FIH is protecting club interests they schedule these qualifying games in March. This means clubs and their players get no time to train & practice together (remember the complaints by the German captain Mats Grambusch in our podcast with him during the last EC) and the crucial part of most European club competitions once again is harmed.

So my wish for hockey in 2020 and beyond would be a protected window of 2x 3 months for domestic club hockey! September, October and November + March, April, May should be dedicated to domestic club hockey. International hockey could have his fair share with December, January, February + June, July, August. That way broadcasters know which months they can focus on international hockey, plus they could/should focus some of their attention during these other months also on the top domestic leagues and market these all over the world. There is some spectacular hockey to be seen between clubs as well!

Unfortunately, the FIH claim they understand the importance of clubs and recognise these domestic club leagues are the foundation of our sport. But words are cheap... All that really matters is what you do! When push comes to shove it's all about the international games for the FIH. So the answer to my concern on these qualifiers to be played in March was the need for a long term international calendar. Home & away games instead of two home games and more time to market & sell these qualifying events. And some shuffling around with the FIH Pro League games in those months to create a little bit more breathing room for the clubs. In my opinion that will not solve anything, the domestic club leagues and international hockey need to divide the year into manageable blocks of time sufficient for both to add their value to the game of hockey. Some half-hearted compromises won't do the trick. In 2020 the FIH says she has given the month of April back to club hockey. That's just not enough!

Tokyo 2020

Weil is pleased to have two major events in hockey with both the World Cup and the Olympic Games. When at first he stated it should all be about the World Cup, he says a year in the job he now has a better understanding of the importance of the Olympics for hockey. He is very enthusiastic about the venue for hockey during the Tokyo Games. Close to the city centre, with two fields within walking distance from each other. Ticketing sales is doing very well according to Weil. The two host teams managed to qualify on their own and not just for being the host nation. That is remarkable and good results from a host nation will help make the Games a success as well. We have the best teams for both men & women from all over the world with nations from all continents. Not a lot of team sports can claim this...

Weil also confirmed the participation of the South Africa women. Although they did not meet all the criteria set out by their own national Olympic committee, South Africa did confirm both their men and women will take part in the Tokyo Games. So the drama of refusing the men to go to Rio 4 years ago is not repeated.

Dry artificial pitch

More or less a year ago, during the FIH global congress it was announced the 2024 Games in Paris, would see our game played on a dry artificial pitch without any water. Obviously the idea is not to go back to grass or sandfilled turfs. Hockey has evolved because of the waterbased pitches to an ever faster, 3D game. So the ambition is to have the same playing conditions players and coaches have today but on a turf without any water.

Even though many experts (listen for example to our podcast with Arnoud Fiolet from RSI) still doubt the feasibility of this ambition, Weil maintains it will be done.

In the beginning of 2020 players and coaches will be involved in testing the first steps towards a dry pitch. Weil states ideally the next World Cup in 2023 would already be played on this dry pitch. For the Youth Olympic Games in 2022 in Dakar (Senegal) a turf without any water is a must.  That means we will see the first dry pitches to test the new technology at the very latest in 2022, ideally even in 2021.... according to Thierry Weil that is.

As many others, if not all, I applaud the ambition of wanting to achieve this. Water is a scarce resource in many parts of the world. However until today I have not yet met the company stating they will be ready by the end of 2021 with a turf that will guarantee the same playing conditions without the use of water. Most manufacturers will state the new generation of turfs will need significantly less water, but none will guarantee a dry artificial pitch to my knowledge. I hope Thierry Weil will prove us wrong here!

FIH.live

Another promise launched during the global congress a year ago has been the dedicated OTT platform to showcase hockey: FIH.live ! The platform announced had all kinds of wonderful features that would help change the way we experience hockey. However when FIH.live launched in January it was kind of a disappointment. The promised added value compared to the existing YouTube channel was missing.

But Weil assured us the original vision and ambition was still there and a relaunch of the platform is foreseen for March 2020, so in just a couple of months. Including most of the added value features promised a year ago. The OTT platform, as it is called technically, will allow finally for the FIH to start collecting data on its audience. So yes, some of it will be behind a paywall. But better to have some content we previously could not see because of contracts with certain broadcasters, now available without geoblocking. Even if sometimes it's behind a paywall. So by March we will get a peak of what a revamped FIH.live platform could look like. I'm curious....

Hockey2024

The global development plan , called Hockey2024, was launched during the global congress a year ago by Mike Joyce. We had a long talk about this then with Mike in another podcast. So where are we now? A year down the road....
Promotion & development go hand in hand...according to Joyce. The Pro League & co also help development, these act as our shop window.
Hockey 2024 is also about having the plans ready to maximize on these moments where hockey gets to shine. So for Tokyo for example the FIH is doing a lot to help grow hockey in Japan. 
At the congress we spoke about the 3 pillars for development: participation, education and infrastructure. Meanwhile a fourth pillar was added: inspiration. 
Equally amazing was the hashtag for 2019 and some great work has been done around the world concerning that topic (gender balance) according to Joyce. Hockeydreams will be the hashtag for 2020, getting youth more involved.
Regarding education, the existing programs continued. 46 courses , 750 individuals certified in 2019 and these should be doubled in 2020. But obviously growing hockey is the number 1 priority for global development of hockey.

Growing hockey

For me growing hockey is mostly about having more infrastructure and growing the number of active players. My fear is (still today) too much focus is going to growing the number of fans & followers instead of recreational players. How is the growth of active players being measured globally and is there growth? In 2020 a new "state of the game" survey will be performed to see what the impact has been. It will still be difficult to measure the difference between registered and occasional players... a problem for all sports. So the impact will become more clear when the new survey has been done in 2020. But my fear is we will be happy to see a growth in participation while unable to prove the number of players have grown.

In order to get more players infrastructure is key. But still... with the important message at the congress that hockey can be played (also for official tournaments and events) on any surface, we should not get stuck on the lack of artificial turf pitches around the world.
A major message by Weil is not to worry so much about having "the right infrastructure". Just go out and have some fun playing hockey.... on whatever surface is available! He's right!

So what has been done regarding development in 2019. TAP East Africa involved 7 different nations to get started in hockey, but that's not all. Lots of initiatives were held in other regions also to promote playing hockey. According to Joyce it is expected 4 or 5 new nations will join the FIH at the next global congress. 
Joyce also stressed every year 1,1 million dollar is invested by FIH into continental federations to help develop hockey in their region
As Weil also stated, every penny made by FIH will be invested into development of the sport, but according to their thinking promotion and events such as the Pro League also counts towards investment in development. I guess, he's got a point. But it's important it is tracked money is pent on projects that grow the amount of players, not just the amount of fans and followers. Weil says it's best practice to not separate these....  But in everything Weil does it's clear his first goal is to grow the audience, hoping the players will follow. It's a wrong focus according to me. Yes we need both, but the ultimate goal is to have more people playing the sport. That goal is more important compared to the growth of the people watching the game, according to me.

LA 2028

When asked if hockey will still be played in LA 2028, Weil leaves no room for doubt: yes, hockey will still be in the Games in 2028....
Obviously we need to continue doing the right things to promote our sport and become more relevant of course. But hockey will still be on the Olympic roster according to Weil. When asked Weil also confirms hockey5s will not replace 11-a-side hockey in the Olympics. But he hopes 5s or a short format will be added next to 11s.... so we will have more medals which seems to be an important criterium for the IOC.

However I will not rest assured until the IOC has confirmed our traditional format of hockey for the LA Games...

One short format

My position regarding the creation of Hockey5s as a new sport remains unsupportive. Listen to my podcast on this topic entitled "Hockey5s: our Frankenstein's monster" if you want to know more on this.

Yes, a short format next to the traditional main format of the game (11-a-side) is interesting for different needs. But why not use the existing short format of the game (indoor hockey) and adapt this to better suit your (future) needs? If anything our hockey family around the world has proven not to be wary of changing for the better... And yes, indoor hockey is suitable for playing outdoors as well.

Thierry Weil says he thinks indoor hockey and hockey5s will become one short format! Within 2 or 3 years this should be 1 format!  If that means playing with 5 outfield players and 1 goalie, playing with a scoring zone (the D or circle) an a game where dangerously hitting the ball is not promoted, I'm all for it. Even if it means some specific "indoor" characteristics such as not lifting the ball in play would be removed, even if back boards would be added as well.
I'm sure some indoor lovers would not be happy with some of the changes but anything is better than the existing format of 5s. And I do agree with Weil, as I have said all along, there is no room for 2 short formats of the game.

Do all stakeholders have a voice in FIH?

The executive board (EB) of the FIH is where decisions are made. Even though Weil disputes this, claiming most recommendations made by the different FIH committees will be accepted without change by the EB. The current EB members are elected through politics (including, according to some, lobbying, "alternative" facts, bribes and empty promises) by administrators instead of representatives of all relevant roles in hockey.... Today the members of this EB are from 2 FIH, 1 player representative, 5 representatives from every continental federation and 7 administrators chosen by their fellow administrators during the congress.

I distinguish 5 so called stakeholders in our game of hockey that should be proportionally represented within the decision making unit in the FIH.

  • Players: should have multiple representatives with at least 2 active (!) top athlete, 2 recent ex top athletes and 2 active young U23 top athlete... each time 1 male & 1 female, ideally from all continents
  • Coaches: 1 male & 1 female coach from a top 10 nation and 1 male & 1 female coach from nations outside of top 10, ideally from different continents - could be coaches or high performance directors- but need to be active
  • Clubs: 2 representatives from top clubs and 2 representatives from recreational clubs, each from 4 different domestic leagues
  • Administrators : 1 representative from each continent + FIH president + FIH sports director
  • Fans: represented by CEO & marketing director FIH

Mike Joyce claims the FIH is listening to what different stakeholders are talking about even if the y are not represented among the decision makers. That's a start, but will not do... stakeholders need a seat at the table where decisions are made.

Thierry Weil says his door is always open for those who have a problem to discuss or for who has ideas to make our sport even better. Recommendable... but again, not good enough. Stakeholders deserve their seat at the table. That's more than just being heard.

My 3 wishes for hockey in 2020... and beyond

Unfortunately it doesn't work this way, but should there be a "genie in a bottle" granting me 3 hockey wishes for 2020 and beyond, my 3 wishes would be:

  1. The guaranteed continuation of 11-a-side hockey as our main Olympic sport beyond Paris 2024
  2. All stakeholders, including players, coaches and clubs, represented in the EB of the FIH
  3. A fixed calendar, respecting both international and domestic hockey, with each 2 periods of more or less 3 months uninterrupted & protected for either domestic or international hockey.

Let me know what your wishes would be... ;)

Please note, as mentioned above, this column is not an exact transcript of the podcast. I do recommend both reading the full text as well as listening the full podcast.

Episode 34 was recorded on 2019-11-27 & published on 2012-12-26 by OSMpodcasts.com.
Host : Ernst Baart
Podcast: Studio Hockey

Dec 25 2019

1hr 17mins

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Jon Wyatt about qualifying pathways & a new global ranking

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So it's the middle of November. In Lausanne, Switzerland where the FIH is based first snow has arrived. But that did not stop FIH from launching a couple of press releases in recent days. Announcing some novelties following the meeting of their executive board last week.

In today's podcast & column here we will only be addressing two of these. So the first ever world cup to be held in two different countries will not be on today's agenda. Nor the controversial choice for Bhubaneswar for the men's world cup, meaning 3 out the most recent 4 world cups would be hosted by India.
The choice to start a world cup for Hockey5s by 2023, a possibly fatal choice for our 11v11 game of hockey, will also have to wait for another time. As will the launch of the FIH Intercontinental Cup, basically the 2nd division for the FIH Pro League. We will discuss these choices in separate podcasts & columns in the near future…

However today we will limit ourselves to less controversial though important changes: first we will discuss the new system for our global ranking to be launched in January of 2020. Secondly we will talk about the road to Bhubaneswar and future world cups. Wether these will all be hosted in India is for some other time.

Who better to talk us through the new global ranking and the new pathway to qualify for a world cup then Jon Wyatt, sports & development director for the FIH… We spoke with him before when the idea of a new global ranking was first announced in March (listen here), but now we're close to the launch.

Why we need a new global ranking

As Wyatt explains the current global ranking is based upon tournaments, where the new ranking will be match-based. Since most nations only got to participate in FIH tournaments when qualified, some only got to play for points once or twice every 4 years. Because only some 20% of all official matches played in the international scene were being played in ranking tournaments. So 80% of the games being played did not have any contribution to the world ranking.

That is a problem. Because most nations would have to show to their government or the sports funding bodies in their country some kind of progress to be considered for support. If you hardly ever get to play for world ranking points that becomes a difficult task. So this was one of the more important reasons to rethink the global ranking. But it's not the only reason.

In the previous ranking most everybody will agree there was too much subjectivity, especially in the relative importance given to different continental championships. This led to a flawed ranking. A match-based system will to a certain extent eliminate this subjectivity. Because it will now focus on the relative strength of the two teams playing a game instead of trying to figure out and compare the strength of entire continents.

Besides this, the new ranking will be more simple and dynamic... making it easier to create some extra buzz about individual international games of any level. Because the immediate impact of a win or loss will be easy for all to see.

How & when

The new ranking system will take effect from 2020-01-01 onwards. However FIH has chosen to make the change more gradually. So as not to throw everybody off balance from the get go... Even though the position of the FIH is high performance directors of the nations should not focus on this global ranking, but rather on performing well at key moments such as the Olympics and the World Cup. It is clear an immediate change of the ranking, recalculating the results of the last 4 years for example, would not be fair on those who made their choices in those days based upon the old system. That is why the points for each country in the global ranking on January 1st will be exactly the same as today. But for every game played from that day on the new calculation per match will take effect. Hence for the new system to take full effect it might take some time. It will take 4 years for the points from the old system to be washed out. I would have loved to see an immediate upset of the world order, but have to admit this slower implementation is the fair way of doing it.

So let's dive in... what will it look like?

When the new ranking is launched the FIH will have a full and detailed explanation of the algorithms used plus a FAQ (frequently asked questions) based upon all remarks the FIH got from international coaches and performance directors when asked for their input. But let's take a look at what it will become...

First principle is the standard amount of points for a win is 10, which means the loser of that game will also lose 10 points. Whatever the calculations that will follow, the amount of points won by the winner will always be exactly the same amount of points lost by the loser of that match.

Two factors will have an effect on the standard amount of 10 points won or lost:

  1. the difference in ranking points before the match is played
  2. the importance of the match

The difference of ranking points between both teams in a match is used to calculate the first multiplier. Based upon this the standard amount of 10 points could max be doubled (factor 2) or minimum reduced to zero (factor 0). Meaning the amount of points won or lost could maximum be 20 and minimum 0 depending upon the difference in ranking points. Because if team A (ranked for example in the top 5) plays team B (ranked for example between 8 and 12), it would be a bigger accomplishment for team B to win the match. That's why based upon the difference in ranking points team B for example would win 15 points instead of 10 (and team A would lose 15 points) if team B beats team A. However if team A would win it would be less of a surprise. That's why team A in case of a win would for example only win 5 points instead of 10, meaning team B would only lose 5 as well.

The above scenario would be true in case of an ordinary official (practice) match. But a second multiplier would be applied based upon the importance of a match. So the minimum multiplier would be 1 for regular official matches. But for matches with more importance the amount of points at stake could rise drastically:

  • x2 for official invitational tournaments with 4 nations or more
  • x3 for official qualifiers to continental championships
  • x5 for the FIH Pro League as well as the new FIH Intercontinental Cup (or the 2nd division to the Pro League)
  • x6 for the continental championships as well as the FIH Qualifiers (for both World Cup or Olympics)
  • x10 for both the World Cup and the Olympic Games

So a win at the Games or WC against much higher ranked nation could possibly result in 200 points.
The main reason for adding more weight to games in invitational tournaments (4 or more countries involved) compared to regular one-on-one test series is because FIH wants to promote/encourage tournaments. And as expected the Games and World Cup would be the events where the most points can be won (or lost).

What about our short format of the game?

For those in love with the short format of our game, indoor hockey, the ranking will remain as is and only be changed after the next World Cup so as not to upset a qualification route to the World Cup half way. Indoor hockey however will follow in the footsteps of outdoor hockey as soon as possible is expected. By the way... isn't it time to stop calling our short format of the game indoor hockey? Yes there are countries where it is played outdoors as well ;)
Let's call it Hockey6 or SuperSixes or whatever cool name FIH marketing could come up with and make sure the rules are flexible enough to have this game played indoor or outdoor and on any smooth surface. Because this is the one and only short format of hockey that is supported, has a legacy and a loyal fanbase around the world... if you catch my drift ;)

New qualifying pathways to the World Cup and Olympics

Back to outdoor hockey... FIH also announced a new pathway to qualify for the next World Cup in Bhubaneswar. No, obviously FIH never said anything about Bhubaneswar being the chosen venue once again. But since money was the deciding factor to determine the hosts for the World Cups we all know it will be Odisha and Bhubaneswar once again.

IOC still wants two different pathways within reach of every (!) country to qualify for the Games. Hosting the Games (or World Cup since it follows the same path) is still the first way to qualify. So , the host country takes the first available spot. Remember: 12 participating countries for the Olympic Games and 16 for the World Cup.
Next up, the winners of the continental championship qualify immediately as well. That would be the first route to qualification. The second route to qualification comes through FIH Qualifiers who will determine which countries will take the remaining spots for the main event. This set up will remain the same.... with some small changes for the FIH Qualifiers.

That is where it gets a little bit more complicated... For Tokyo 2020 the FIH Qualifiers were played in a best of two format at home for the highest ranked nation. Where in a semi guided draw, the highest ranked nations - not yet qualified - would be matched up with the lowest ranked nations. And sub-top nations would be drawn in a similar way to lower ranked nations. Winner takes all where the winner of these two games at home for the highest ranked nation would be determined by the aggregated score of both games.

So what will change for the FIH World Cup in 2023?

First change is with regards to the timing of these Qualifiers. The time between deciding who was playing the Qualifiers and the actual games was too short for Tokyo. That means for the hosts of these games there was not enough time to really do some powerful marketing for these incredibly important games according to FIH. So, for the next World Cup the FIH Qualifiers will all be played in March 2022!

Yep, that's right... in March! Once again the FIH completely ignores the important domestic leagues. In our traditional European domestic leagues competition restarts in March every year, after a short winter break... because of climate, international hockey and indoor hockey. March through May/June are the key months of these domestic leagues, as well as the EHL. One can only say... incredible! And I might even add.... incompetent!

The second change is of less importance, though I do not agree again. The FIH qualifiers will become home & away games, instead of two home games for the higher ranked nation. FIH thinks this will make it fairer, my thoughts are the higher ranked nation has earned the advantage of playing at home twice. It's the challengers who need to make the extra effort to change the order. Added bonus, according to FIH, would be a lower ranked nation that will have the opportunity to host a home game for their fans against one of the top nations. This, I agree, is a real bonus. The first game would be played at home for the lower ranked nation. The second and deciding game would be played at home for the higher ranked nation.
Not only is this bad for the ecological footprint of our sport, but it will add costs for both nations who now both have to invest in travel & accommodation for the away game as well as the significant costs of hosting a top event at home. Both will have the revenues of hosting a top event at home as well, but for a lot of countries these might not cover the cost I fear...

A third change will make things possible even more complicated. Maybe more balanced as well, so it could be worth the headache of explaining it though. The third change is in the way countries will be selected to play these FIH Qualifiers. Because here the FIH will determine the number of countries per continent allowed to play the Qualifiers based upon the global ranking. meaning it could very well be a higher ranked nation would not be allowed to play the FIH qualifiers if his continental quota has been filled and instead their spot would go to a lower ranked nation from another continent. However the FIH feels this will add excitement to the continental championships because, entering these, each nation will know what is expected of them to either qualify directly (win) or get picked up for the FIH qualifiers... Ah well, we might have to wait for the written rules concerning this to actually determine what is what.

Summary

So to sum up... we got some good news with a new and improved global ranking as of next year. And we got some bad news with poorly planned and more expensive FIH Qualifiers. But what stings the most is the complete disregard of the FIH for the extremely important domestic club competition. I'm repeating myself, but it's worth repeating until heard... These domestic club leagues are the foundation of our game. If we do not respect the domestic leagues our game of hockey will rush towards the end of hockey as we know it...

Nov 16 2019

32mins

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#EHCdaily 12 : The one with Marijke Fleuren – “Together we are better!”

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The one with Marijke Fleuren, president of EHF and executive board member at the FIH. Within these organisations but also within IOC she is known to be the champion for #EquallyAmazing and all matters related to gender balance in sports. Because "together we are better"!

Every day during the European Championships we published a new podcast before 8am about #EHC2019 ! In this 12th and last episode - a week after the last whistle more or less - we talked hockey, European Championships and gender balance because “together we are better” with Marijke Fleuren.
This will be our last podcast in this series. We hope you enjoyed them all… and rest assured we will come back later with not only season 2 of the Belgian Hockey Podcast (Dutch language only) but also several new episodes of Studio Hockey (in English) about the international game.

Host : Ernst Baart
Recorded : 2019-08-25
Published : 2019-08-31
Part of : #EHCdaily

Aug 31 2019

29mins

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#EHCdaily 11 – The one with the marketeers behind our sport

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The one with the marketeers behind our sport... Every day during the European Championships we will publish a new podcast before 8am about #EHC2019 ! In our 11th episode we talked hockey, business and "doing things together" with Bob Verbeeck, CEO Golazo - a renowned expert in making sure sports and sports events are able to reach their audience - and the organisation behind this European Championship.
Our second guest in this episode is Tom van Kuyk, manager sponsoring for the Dutch Rabobank, probably the most loyal partner for our game of hockey around the world.
This will be our last podcast in this series. Well... kind off. We will do one more somewhat related to this event which will probably go online in a week or so. We hope you enjoyed them all… and rest assured we will come back later with not only season 2 of the Belgian Hockey Podcast (Dutch language only) but also several new episodes of Studio Hockey (in English) about the international game.

Host : Ernst Baart
Recorded : 2019-08-25
Published : 2019-08-26
Part of : #EHCdaily

Aug 26 2019

33mins

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#EHCdaily 10 – The one with Adam Commens

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The one with Adam Commens. But before we hear from the technical director of the Belgian hockey federation, listen to the post final comments by Red Lions captain Thomas Briels and his team mate Alexander Hendrickx. Every day during the European Championships we will publish a new podcast before 8am about the day ahead at #EHC2019 ! In our 10th episode we spoke at length to Adam Commens, technical director in charge of the amazing rise of Belgian hockey.
Join us also tomorrow for our last podcast in this series. We hope you enjoyed them all… and rest assured we will come back later with not only season 2 of the Belgian Hockey Podcast (Dutch language only) but also several new episodes of Studio Hockey (in English) about the international game.

Host : Ernst Baart
Recorded : 2019-08-24
Published : 2019-08-25
Part of : #EHCdaily

Aug 25 2019

27mins

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#EHCdaily 9 – The one with Michelle, Lidewij and Nike

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The one with Michelle, Lidewij and Nike. Every day during the European Championships we will publish a new podcast before 8am about the day ahead at #EHC2019 ! In our 9th episode we spoke to Michelle Struijk from Belgium, Lidewij Welten from the Netherlands and Nike Lorenz from Germany.
Join us also tomorrow for yet another podcast. Every day a new episode until the champions are known! We hope you enjoy…

Host : Ernst Baart
Recorded : 2019-08-23
Published : 2019-08-24
Part of : #EHCdaily

Aug 24 2019

13mins

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#EHCdaily 8 – The one with Adam Dixon and the happy Belgians

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The one with Adam Dixon and the happy Belgians. Every day during the European Championships we will publish a new podcast before 8am about the day ahead at #EHC2019 ! In our 8th episode we first spoke with Adam Dixon, captain for England following their victory over Ireland. Following this is Simon Gougnard from the Belgian Red Lions after their epic win versus Germany and some short Belgian soundbites with Shane McLeod, Florent van Aubel, Antoine Kina and Alexander Hendrickx.
Join us also tomorrow for yet another podcast. Every day a new episode until the champions are known! We hope you enjoy…

Host : Ernst Baart
Recorded : 2019-08-22
Published : 2019-08-23
Part of : #EHCdaily

Aug 23 2019

13mins

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#EHCdaily 7 – The one with the striker, the coach/columnist and the defender

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The one with the striker, the coach/columnist and the defender. Tom Boon from Belgium, Todd Williams - an Aussie coaching and writing in the UK and Dutch defender Margot van Geffen.

Every day during the European Championships we will publish a new podcast before 8am about the day ahead at #EHC2019 ! In our 7th episode we first spoke with Todd Williams about hockey in the UK and about choices & consequences... Tom Boon talked about the pathway of Belgium, his hockey family and future challenges. Margot van Geffen was very happy they finally registered a win and resumed the road to gold and Tokyo with the Dutch women.
Join us also tomorrow for yet another podcast. Every day a new episode until the champions are known! We hope you enjoy…

Host : Ernst Baart
Recorded : 2019-08-21
Published : 2019-08-22
Part of : #EHCdaily

Aug 22 2019

28mins

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#EHCdaily 6 – The one with Mats Grambusch, Kenny Bain & Marc Salles

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The one with Mats Grambusch, Kenny Bain & Marc Salles. A German, a Scot and a Spaniard walk into a bar and... No it's not a joke. It's the 6th episode of the EHCdaily ;)
Every day during the European Championships we will publish a new podcast before 8am about the day ahead at #EHC2019 ! In our 6th episode we host German captain Mats Grambusch after beating the Irish, Scotsman Kenny Bain who was happy to play the David v Goliath game with the Netherlands and Marc Salles who made the semi finals with his Spanish team. Their last time playing for the EC medals was 2009, so he was very happy :)
Join us also tomorrow for yet another podcast. Every day a new episode until the champions are known! We hope you enjoy…

Host : Ernst Baart
Recorded : 2019-08-20
Published : 2019-08-21
Part of : #EHCdaily

Aug 21 2019

17mins

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#EHCdaily 5 – The one with not one… but two legends

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The one with not one... but two legends. Every day during the European Championships we will publish a new podcast before 8am about the day ahead at #EHC2019 ! In our 5th episode we host two legends of the game because there is no other description worthy of both Taco van den Honert and Jamie Dwyer. Discussing the differences between today's hockey and the game from when they started playing and all things hockey.
Plus we added a bonus post-game reaction by Alexander Hendrickx after his game with the Red Lions vs England.
Join us also tomorrow for yet another podcast. Every day a new episode until the champions are known! We hope you enjoy…

Host : Ernst Baart
Recorded : 2019-08-19
Published : 2019-08-20
Part of : #EHCdaily

Aug 20 2019

26mins

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