Hockey ID, World Cup News : hockey players with intellectual disability is a word that has gained acceptance across the world, but at varying speeds. As a result of the sport’s rapid growth and improvement in certain regions, national teams from such regions will be attending the Special Olympics in Berlin in 2023. Countries like this are only getting started on the road to prosperity.
Those nations hoping to open the door for their own athletes to participate in Hockey ID would do well to observe a full tournament in action, taking note of how the technical table, umpiring, and general organization are handled. This is just as important as creating a positive, encouraging, and enjoyable coaching atmosphere.
Ghana, Uganda, Zambia, and Malawi recently had two opportunity to go to Europe to participate in Hockey ID. The African countries sent representatives to the Special Olympics Netherlands National Games and the 2022 EuroHockey ID Championships, both of which were held in Amsterdam in conjunction with the FIH Women’s World Cup. The Hockey Dreams Foundation sent delegates from African countries to both tournaments, which were organized, funded, and supervised by the European Hockey Federation.
For countries just starting out with their Hockey ID groups, knowing what is possible 10 years on is a very strong motivating tool, according to Norman Hughes, the EHF and FIH project lead for Hockey ID. Hockey ID representatives from African countries would benefit greatly from visiting the Czech Republic to observe its progress from a more fundamental level, or the teams from Portugal, Italy, the Netherlands, and Spain to learn from the many years of experience that have led to their current level of development.
Hughes used the example of umpiring, noting how the standards for those working at the highest levels of Hockey ID are far higher than those at the beginner level.
As a group, the four African countries are committed to improving their Hockey ID to the international level. The Special Olympics will be held in Berlin in July of 2023, marking the beginning of the next Olympic cycle.
According to Hughes, the Special Olympics International organization requires participating countries to have programs in place for at least a year before to the commencement of the SOWG Berlin. Because their respective programs are still taking form, no African country would meet this requirement.
Egyptian athletes will be competing in Berlin, however the Special Olympics do not classify them as African athletes since they are from the Middle East.
However, at least one of the African hopefuls may have a chance. A country that registers as a reserve nation has a possibility of being invited to fill one of the 15 open spots should one of the current participants withdraw for whatever reason.
Hughes, speaking about the recent happenings in Europe, stated that the African visitors were amazed by the quality of performance by the teams. He said that there was further proof that regular hockey coaches might have a significant effect on Hockey ID players.
“Many hockey coaches worry that they lack the expertise or medical understanding to teach Hockey ID, but in reality, there is not much difference between conventional coaching and Hockey ID. You put up a session and they have a try; it is truly about little words and lots of action.
A center’s employees and family members handle the medical aspects. Though expertise on the part of the coach is helpful, it is not essential. It’s incredible how fast a coach can get a team ready for a competitive game.
Hughes is also enthusiastic about the potential for an MoU to be signed between the Special Olympics Asia Pacific Region and the Asian Hockey Federation and the Oceania Hockey Federation. In July, the European Hockey Federation and Special Olympics Euroasia inked a collaboration MoU in Amsterdam; we expect these other CHFs to do the same before the end of 2022.
Athletes would benefit greatly from this, and it will open up more doors for them domestically and globally, he added.