EuroHockey Solidarity Fund: Serbian National Team Support 

Posted On 17/08/2022

Having been awarded EuroHockey Solidarity Grant funding in May 2022 for developing a Serbian national team, Serbian Hockey can report that the funding has already been greatly useful in helping deliver on its purpose. 

The following is a blog by Michael Dorgan, Head of Elite Development, Hockey Serbia

The funding has contributed to the costs of: 

  • a national men’s team kit (home & away), using a local Serbian kit manufacturer; 
  • penalty corner masks and team equipment; 
  • accommodation and travel for our first outdoor international tournament in approximately 12 years. 

This funding allowed us to take a men’s senior national team of 17 players (+ 2 staff) to Zagreb, Croatia, to compete in a 4-nations tournament, organised by the Croatian federation. 

Our squad ranged from 15 to 44 years old and for the majority, it was their first experience of playing international hockey. In fact, for many, it was their first experience of playing hockey on a full-size pitch. This meant that the three days of competition were filled with new experiences that will help the players grow in their ability, as individuals and as members of a team. 

For example, we were able to play two closely fought matches with Croatia and Hungary, which helped our players learn about the tactics for pressing as a team and how to score goals on the break. Likewise, they learned about the physical demands of tournament hockey and the preparation that will be needed for future tournaments. 

By returning to the international hockey community, we made great connections and friendships with the Croatian and Hungarian teams and staff, as well as the officials and local clubs. There are now opportunities to play further hockey in Croatia, whether against international or club sides, meaning our players can experience more competitive 11-a-side hockey. 

While the funding covered specific costs, perhaps its greatest benefit has been motivating our players and support staff to continue developing Serbian national teams. The players are hungry to compete regularly and the most common question asked to the federation is: when are we playing next?  

This enthusiasm and excitement is now going beyond our core group of players with media outlets in Serbia interested in our work. For example, here is a feature on the TV news channel for Subotica: https://youtu.be/ojKmZjqN7lc?t=839  

By participating in this tournament, we have shown that we can compete internationally and have completed the first step in our development plan. We are now looking to use this momentum to: 

  • compete internationally in the indoor version of this 4-nations tournament, to be hosted in Budapest, Hungary, in November; 
  • compete internationally in the EuroHockey Indoor Championships III in Cyprus in December; 
  • grow the number of active players in Serbia; 
  • put together junior and women’s national teams; 
  • work with local and national bodies to build a full-size hockey pitch.

As mentioned in our grant application, this return to competitive international hockey for Serbia has unlocked the opportunity to grow and develop sustainably by building a stronger domestic and regional hockey community. 

Michael Dorgan, Head of Elite Development, Hockey Serbia  “We thank you greatly for your support and we will update you further as we continue to develop hockey in Serbia.”

This project was funded by an EHF Solidarity Grant, a scheme designed to encourage, promote, develop, and support the national growth of hockey development, education, and governance across Europe. For more information on the EHF Solidarity Grants please watch this video 

For further details and how to apply, please contact EHF Head of National Associations Tom Pedersen-Smith via development@eurohockey.org  

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