To launch the EHF’s #EquallyAmazing campaign in 2019, Member National Associations joined together to push for greater equality of representation in their respective organisations.
In 2021, we extended our support to our members through the EuroHockey Executive Leadership Forum where nations pledged what they would do and have done to push new doors and make equal opportunities in our sport around the continent.
We have a look at some snapshots of these below:
In Belgium, they pledged to grow their Girls Power initiative and offer specific training on the promotion of women’s governance in club’s boards.
The Girls Power project is ongoing, focusing on recruiting more young girls into clubs, train more female coaches and umpires and recruit more women into governing bodies.
In Scotland, they targeted a 10% increase in the number of youth members coming from state schools by 2025, using this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
The initiative was called Hamish’s Heroes (after their mascot Hamish the Hippo), and involved providing a set of free resources for every school that registered, including: a Welcome letter; Fun Fours (U10s) six week lesson plans for teachers (suitable for P5 and below); Hamish’s Heroes pupil booklet including hints and tips from international athletes; Super Sixes (U12s) six week lesson plans (suitable for P6-7s); Posters advertising the Commonwealth Games match schedule (incl. Scotland games) and pics of international athletes.
Between 240 and 250 schools across Scotland registered; as part of the project, they offered both free entry to a festival programme and free teacher CPD over the summer term. The majority were from the state school sector and they hope this will have a knock-on effect for club membership.
Austria pledged “to bring more females onto the hockey board”. This has proven successful with the governing body now taking the next steps to arrange a meeting with all clubs to aim to implement a 1+1 (1 woman, 1 man) attendance at official meetings.
In a similar vein, Bulgaria welcomed Emilia Vitanova as a marketing and project manager as part of a drive to increase the number of women involved in the organisation.
The Czech Republic also helped create a more diverse and hockey-focused board with Karolina Paterson taking on the central role as the new head of the High Performance Committee.
In their new structure, the two national captains have formed part of an athlete’s committee to grow their input into the organisation. Poland have also introduced a gender-balanced Athlete’s committee – this features four men and women alongside a main convenor to ensure an equal approach.
In addition, Poland pledged their commitment to create new attitudes to volunteerism in the hockey community, showing strong examples from other countries through their social media.
It has has an impact with the amount of volunteers for the international events they have hosted in the past two years more than trebling; particularly pleasing is the youthful age profile.
Cyprus pledged to “bring in more active players, both men and women, by pushing the association to organise more events to promote the sport”.
This has proven largely successful. To this end, the central event saw hockey presented to a wide range of schools in the Olympic building of Cyprus, an event where many federations could set up a mini-pitch/area to advertise their sport to incoming students in different middle schools.
This had the knock-on effect of the GC School in Nicosia requesting a presentation about the sport with other schools in the pipeline.
Lithuania’s focus has also been on youth involvement. They have finalised a Youth Leadership Academy programme to coincide with the 45th anniversary of Lithuanian Hockey while they also now have a fully operational children’s league taking place each week.
Greece fulfilled one of its pledges – to get recognition of the federation from their Ministry of Sports after an eight-year break – while work is ongoing to get their next concrete pledge of a restored hockey pitch is ongoing.
Portugal’s ambitious plans to triple their number of players is underway as they expect to double their tally soon.
They made a “big bet” on the Under-8 and Under-12 age groups with lots of fun outings, halloween tournaments, carnivals, Christmas, Father’s Day and Mother’s Day events.
The growth in female players has allowed them to push to stop having mixed teams at Under-15 and Under-18 level and have only boys and girls teams in due course.
** What the NAs have say about their initiatives **
Poland’s Piotr Wilkonski: “Repeating good examples and showing examples from other countries in our social media, we have increased the interest in supporting hockey as a volunteer.”
Portugal’s Patrícia Filipa Gonçalves Ângelo: “The good work we have been doing so far in Portugal will be reflected years later. We had practically no girls and women playing hockey, so to be able to constitute exclusively female and male teams is a victory. So we will continue to work towards making our sport accessible to all.”
Scotland’s Kelly Fillingham: “Between 240 and 250 schools across Scotland registered for our Hamish’s Heroes project where we offered both entry to a festival programme and a free teacher CPD. We have created good links to have further discussions and further festivals… so that will hopefully develop the pathway from school to club.”
Lithuania’s Ugne Chmeliauskaite: “We already see the benefits of our alumni program; three of them are working on being coaches, five are actively involved in umpiring sessions and others are a huge help in local community building activities.
Cyprus’s Lambros Lamprianou: “We can safely say that we have helped push hockey to new heights in Cyprus”
Croatia’s Renata Gregurek: “It feels it is going in the right direction. In these post-covid times, we managed to enlarge the number of kids in the Croatian hockey family.”
Belgium’s Christophe Tallon: “We commit to continue our groundwork on gender equality in the Belgian hockey community by continuing our grassroots actions in the Girls Power campaign and by organising specific training on the promotion of women’s governance in club boards.”