Our #FridayFocus today shows how the work of the EHF is driven by volunteers!

It may come as a surprise to many to realise that the EHF has a full-time staff of 6 (Angus Kirkland, Director General;  Gráinne Corry, Operations Manager; Siobhán Madeley, Communications Manager, David Voskamp, Competitions Manager; Tom Pedersen-Smith, Development and Education Manager and Ophélie Duquesne, Administration Manager, who are supported by our new intern Thijmen Logtenberg.

So how do we deliver on average 34 EuroHockey events per year, up to 10 UDP weekends, at least 3 officials seminars/workshops, webinars for hosts, a top coaching programme alongside coaches for Europe, ParaHockey forums and events, biennial Youth Festivals and countless other development and education programmes?

The answer comes in the form of literally thousands of hockey volunteers all over Europe who are willing to give of their time to this great sport!

This week alone our Education and Development Manager started his week in Scotland, speaking to Scottish Hockey about their plans to have a ParaHockey team at the Euro ParaHockey championships in Antwerp next year. An ambitious project, led by Grace Cowan but one that was achieved by Hockey Ireland in a similar timeframe.

Next stop was a meeting with Dutch UDP mentors Rob ten Cate, Michael Bruning, Mirjam Wessel and Roel Van Eert around the launch of UDP and umpire development events for 2019 and beyond for the next 3 years. UDP is now a strong established EuroHockey brand that has developed some of the very best umpires in the World! However without the commitment of our volunteer mentors giving immense amounts of time this programme would never have taken off!

Onwards to Belgium and there is no doubt that Belgian hockey’s growth pathways have not only been on the field of play, but they have also built a very strong club base with volunteerism at the heart of all of their clubs. This strong club base means that we are in a position to run two excellent official side events of the Belfius EuroHockey Championships in 2019.

Visiting the impressive at KHC Dragon and talking about coaching, youth leadership & development as they gear up to hosts the 2019 Youth Leaders Festival.  Victory HC will run the Euro ParaHockey Championships. The full volunteer committee (including EHF Youth Leaders Leen Ryckx and Cedric Vermeiren) was out in force in Victory as the excitement rises for the formal announcement on Monday 27th with details of the 2019 event. A quick visit to Belgian Youth Coach Michiel Kinnen to talk all things coaching development, more to follow on this…

Sophie Geerts, a member of the volunteer Gender Balance forum gave us some insights into the gender balance project that will be launched in 2019. Sophie, a businesswoman who combines running her business, life and head coach of Royal Antwerp HC.

Finally, Tom’s week saw him meet with one of the most volunteer-led organisations in the world! Special Olympics, their core message “A Global Stage to Build Awareness”! Talking all about ParaHockey ID and integration into the Special Olympics to ensure that our athletes have a global stage to shine.

We not only have a number of volunteers, but there is no doubt that the quality and knowledge of those willing to volunteer their precious time in hockey is second to none!

Lots of actions to follow from these meetings but for now, we can sign off the week knowing that the EHF is powered by fantastic volunteers!

Pictured: Our youth leaders Cedric Vermeiren and Leen Ryckx with German International Mats Grambusch.