As the EuroHockey Indoor Club Championships get underway this weekend, we pause for a moment to highlight two members of our Hockey Family.

It was our pleasure to chat to two typical volunteer members of the EHF, who give up a huge amount of their free time for the love of the game and wanting to improve how we work!

Firstly Harald Steckelbruck, aka Stekki, who retired as an official at the EuroHockey Indoor Championships in Prague in January.

EHF – When did you start you involvement in international hockey?

Stekki – About 1984 and at that time I started as a member of the FIH Youth Competitions Committee.

EHF – What was your first major tournament? 

Stekki – The Junior World Cup in Vancouver in 1985, where I was nominated as a Judge. This was followed by a lot of appointments for international practice tournaments as well as official Championships, of which I don’t want to highlight a specific event, because during nearly each tournament I could experience something uniquely special; –  unforgettable facets of our great Hockey-Sport-community.

EHF – As you now retire from being an Official at EuroHockey events, what advice would you give to Daniel (also pictured) who starts his Technical career at the EuroHockey Indoor Club Champions Trophy, Pavlovskii Posad, Russia, 2016

Stekki – I hope that Daniel and the next generation of Officials will find the same challenges and have the same fun. Good luck to Daniel!

The EHF would like to extend a huge thank you to Harald who always was forefront in the how we ran our events, often creating excellent pre-AltiusRT intranet systems in Germany to run events, in particular at the GANT EuroHockey Championships in Monchengladbach. On his retirement, Marijke Fleuren and Leandro Negre had the chance to thank Stekki in person!

Baton

We also chatted to Daniel Gass from Sweden who now starts his Technical career, as Stekkie passed on the baton.. 

EHF – Daniel, your term on the EHF Communications Committee ended in December, how do you look back on your 4 years on the committee?

Daniel – I’ve really enjoyed the 4 years I spent working with the two committee chairs, all of the committee member and the EHF staff. During all of our meetings, you could always feel the passion that every participant had for hockey and the energy that we brought to the table meant that the committee helped shape some important projects in hockey. The list is far too long to mention every single project, so standardised prize giving ceremonies, a big push on social media and the recent efforts in live streaming are all connected to communications committee ideas or initiatives. Unfortunately, other hockey commitments mean that I simply don’t have the time to continue my work on the committee.

EHF – Your project on the Communications committee has been “Project Results”, how did this come about?

Daniel –  As a fan, I was always following my favourite teams in their EuroHockey tournaments, and really wanted to see results in a more convenient way, for example in my twitter feed, which I was checking for sporting news and updates from tournaments anyway. Having just started to learn some programming, I realised that there were so many things that could be done. After starting some similar changes in Sweden, I was appointed to the EHF Communications Committee and had the chance to put my ideas into practice on a European level. It’s fantastic to see that we are Beta testing this weekend a new feature of AltiusRT with auto tweets at the end of every game!

EHF – The project has fundamentally changed the way that results from EuroHockey tournaments are communicated… 

Daniel – It truly has! The project has fundamentally changed the results-related processes from what essentially was a free-text solution (similar to a word document is) to a database driven system. That allowed for a broad range of improvements, such as automatic ranking calculation, result tweets, and updates directly by the tournament organisers which meant results become available within minutes or seconds after a match has ended. Also, match reports are now easily and quickly available directly next to the results. More importantly, the enormous time savings from eliminating unnecessary results “processing” means that staff and volunteer time is now dedicated to bringing our fans live updates on Twitter, articles which preview and recap the day, and lots of great content.

EHF – What has the impact and feedback been over the three years that the system has been in use? 

Daniel – The impact has been tremendous and feedback has been very positive from day 1. Over the three years that the system has been in use, results from 2,912 matches at 165 tournaments were managed. In this time, results pages were requested more than 1.5 million times. At absolute peak on the 22 July 2015, 16000 requests were made within the space of a few hours, meaning that every other second someone was checking results on the website. Alongside millions of impressions of result tweets, this is a tremendous success. Demand for detailed match report has also grown significantly over the years, and match reports are now being downloaded on average 200 times per match, peaking at nearly 500. Despite file compression, this means that several hundreds of gigabytes of match report data alone were served over the years.

EHF – The new year sees the new AltiusRT and FIH TMS replace the results system, what’s your conclusion after three years in operation?

Daniel – That is correct – after three years in operation, the EHFRS is retiring. I’m very proud of the contribution to hockey and positive impact I’ve been able to make with the project. Many of the functionalities of TMS were part of the initial brainstorm for the project, but haven’t made it into the project roadmap or live system, I’ve simply not had the time to build the significant additional functionality that is required. I think that it makes a lot of sense to use one standardised system for all hockey events and to eliminate the overlap that has arisen between EHFRS and TMS. I’m very happy to see that TMS takes results and tournament updates to the next level with live updates from the table and thus continues the important work that “Project results” started.

EHF – Looking ahead, you have plenty of other hockey responsibilities. This week sees you travelling to Moscow on your first appointment as a tournament official. Why did you decide to start a career in officiating and what do you hope to learn in Russia?
 

Daniel – I have to say that I really enjoy the buzz, atmosphere and energy at EuroHockey tournaments. There is something special about teams from all of Europe coming to a tournament and trying to perform their best in a fair competition after months and years of hard work. I see the role of the team of officials as managing that passion, enthusiasm and energy, solving problems that arise and above all ensuring that there is a level playing field for everyone with consistent enforcement of rules & regulations so that all teams can focus on performing their absolute best. I’m really looking forward to working together with other people who share my passion for hockey and look forward to what’s ahead!

In the words of American author H. Jackson Brown Jr.
“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” 
To our hockey volunteers who make EuroHockey events happen – THANK YOU!