This Friday, we are proud to have a feature on a very important member of the EHF staff, Norman Hughes. At the recent FIH Congress in Dubai, Norman was awarded the prestigious Etienne Glichitch award, which is awarded every two years by the FIH Executive Board. The recipient is selected for his or her ‘significant contribution to the growth and development of the sport at a local, continental, national or international level, particularly but not limited to administration, and recognising innovative ideas and selfless dedication to the sport.’

To those who know him and work with him, this is a very apt description of Norman Hughes. Norman has been working with EHF since 2002, but his love affair with hockey dates back to 1968. We sat down with Norman to ask him about his passion for hockey, what the award means to him and what keeps him moving forward.

 Norman, we work together so we are often in the midst of arranging courses, keeping budgets in line and planning, but your relationship with hockey goes beyond the professional. What attracted you to the sport first and what keeps you in it?

Norman Hughes: My maths teacher said I was too small for the football team.After a lot of pushing my friends encouraged me to play hockey. Hockey was and is still perceived as a girls’ game in England with football and rugby dominating for boys but I was good at cricket so soon got the hang of hockey. Hockey is such a fantastic team sport with a great family and social offering. My club Wakefield HC is just a great place to be. I have been privileged to travel around Europe and be inspired by so many key people who work hard to grow hockey with so little resource available locally. They are the true hockey heroes.

Through your work with EHF, you have been instrumental in creating and delivering some of our key programmes and strategies: the three tier approach, the Top Coaches Programme (TCP), the EHF Youth Panel, and ParaHockey are just a few examples. What is the best advice for other hockey lovers who want to make a difference in their club or nation?

NH: Find key people who are full of drive and passion. Money is important of course but people are the most valuable resource hockey has. Invest in these people. Train and support them and their ideas and always look for the next generation. Never give up, be stubborn and be positive. Anything is possible if you keep pushing for it. I love to be around and support optimistic leaders- people who make things happen in spite of difficulties.

You are an Olympic medalist from Los Angeles and an Olympic coach, having coached England at World Cups and GB at the Barcelona Olympics and have received many other accolades. What does the Etienne Glichitch award mean to you?

NH: It’s just wonderful yet humbling. It was a big surprise to be honest. I love my job and to be recognised like this is great but I accepted the award on behalf of the big team of volunteers right across EHF and Europe who have helped me by delivering our programmes and ideas. Development and Education is a team game so this award is really for everyone who has added value to our Development and Education programmes

EHF recently unveiled its newest Strategic Plan, with the main goal as ‘To inspire our passion for Hockey in the next generation’. How does Development and Education fit in with this strategy?

NH:Our main focus is to train the workforce right across Europe by sharing knowledge.

Any other words of advice to give to young hockey enthusiasts across the world?

NH: Play and work with a smile on your face. Show respect to others and have fun together! We are so fortunate that KNHB is partnering EHF over the next 2 years to deliver a twinning programme. Through this we are linking key groups and people and hopefully forming relationships that will last for a very long time and benefit both parties.

EHF President Marijke Fleuren said of Norman: “Norman is a very respectful, reliable person, always thinking how he can make the other better. I am very grateful to him that he shares his valuable time with all of us in EHF. It is a joy to have him around. A real joy!

Norman, congratulations once again on this award, which is very well deserved! You are an inspiration to the whole EHF family!

(Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images)